>>> A PAINFUL REALITY <<<

21 02 2018

Reverend Graham’s passing is a stark and painful reminder of just how far we have strayed from the world of our youth.  May those memories be a lasting final gift and a beacon of hope in a troubled world from this man who placed his faith above all else.

The question that begs an answer:  Did the world change, or did we change?

After World War II, there has been a global shift toward prosperity fueled by advancements in all sectors:  Manufacturing, Technology, Medicine, Business, etc.  Some have suggested we are living in the “real” Renaissance, the previous 30 years being the “real” Dark Ages.

While many are experiencing a crescendo of achievement and unheard-of success, there are underlying factors that remain unchanged or have even gotten worse: poverty, disease, violence, etc.

The reality is that we have changed.  We were born with an innocence that our parents protected and fostered.  Having struggled through the darkness of the Depression, dishonest and immoral leaders, and war, our parents tried to protect us from the realities of a difficult life.  The most common parental expression was, “I want you to have a better life than I had.”

They wouldn’t let us wear sneakers or jeans to school.  There were kids we weren’t allowed to associate with.  Their authority was well-established through a difficult and challenging system of punishments for even minor infractions of rules carved in stone.  “Children don’t speak unless spoken to!”  “Go to your room!”  “You’re grounded!” “Bring me the paddle!”

On the positive side, there was Boy/Girl Scouts, Brownies/Cub Scouts, Sunday School, Youth Fellowship, and Dancing School.  School included Band, Choir, Student Council, etc.

Parents tried to shelter us from the vagaries of a violent and sometimes evil world.  We were devastated when tragic deaths stole classmates and friends from us.  Death was anathema to us, our only prior exposure being comedic representations in Farmer Gray and Ben and Jerry cartoons.  There was no way to equate Wiley Coyote’s murderous pastime with the reality of our lives.

There is no innocence in today’s world.  Children from the earliest imaginable age are just one click away from the most sordid, evil, violent sides of life.  Video games strive to deliver the most realistic depictions of violence and mayhem.  Information of all types is delivered unfiltered to the masses.  Who knew anything about presidential promiscuity when you were growing up?  Posted by students, live videos of the Parkland massacre spread throughout the Internet like wildfire.

There is a pervasive thought that evil only exists in the minds of naïve, backwards thinking, people who are out-of-touch with the world.  The concept of “good vs. bad” has been supplanted with “better and best.”  Win or lose, everyone gets a trophy.  Away with negativity.  Reinforce positive behavior.  Downplay all else.

The result is a world where “morality” has become an outdated cliché.  We have failed to introduce balance in the human value proposition.  Without a guide, compass, or beacon, young people do not comprehend the concept of a “path through life.”  They are scattered, distracted, and lost with thoughts and emotions that are beyond their understanding yet nurtured by unlimited resources.  In today’s world, if a person chooses to worship chocolate bunnies, there probably exists a myriad of sources supporting the importance – the value of that endeavor.

Having allowed that world to evolve, grow, and consume our youth, we as parents and grandparents have no choice but to watch the devastation and death foisted upon us by youthful miscreants devoid of values and lost in their self-centered world.

We changed the world, and now we must suffer the pain of our permissiveness.  Let us pray that someone with clarity and purpose, with the strength of conviction, will rise and speak in a voice that will carry a message of hope to the world.

It happened – once.

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WHICH WINE WOULD YOU BUY?

6 02 2018

CHARDONNAY #1

“The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards in the Carneros region owned by the family and select growers…

Sustainable farming practices throughout the growing season were tailored to each block with the assistance of aerial photos produced using NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) technology. The fruit was hand-picked at night and sorted in the vineyard.

The grapes were gently whole-cluster pressed while the fruit was still cool. The juice was pumped to tank to cold-settle overnight before it was racked to barrel for primary and malolactic fermentation.”

CHARDONNAY #2

“Enticing aromas of vanilla, melon and mango are layered with apricot, creme brulee, butter and a slight minerality. Those scents are echoed as flavors on the creamy, rich palate, along with peach, pie crust and baking spices. The long, smooth finish is marked by mouthwatering acidity.”





>>> TRUMP BASHING: A BAD HABIT <<<

3 02 2018

Carl Hiaasen, a columnist with The Miami Herald for 33 years and author of a series of novels, observed in his column on February 2, 2018, that:

FBI agents are more courageous than Trump will ever acknowledge

Hiaasen went on to describe in painstaking detail as only he can, the violent deaths of agents Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove, an event that touched him deeply.  The emotional reflection upon this event, however, drew Hiaasen away from his Trump-bashing theme.

There is no question that the President has been extremely hard on the FBI, and not without cause.  Without listing the litany of FBI missteps here, even CNN acknowledges that “Trump is right about the FBI” in a story released on 12/30/17.

The story confirms that “The FBI has traditionally enjoyed a highly favorable reputation among a majority of the nation’s citizens,” and not without reason.  In its 109 year history, 67 agents have “lost their lives in the performance of their duty.”  36, including Grogan and Dove, have been designated as “Service Martyrs,” having been “killed in the line of duty as the result of a direct adversarial force or at or by the hand of an adversary.”

There have been 20 FBI directors with 8 of those serving as acting directors.  Few realize that 8 FBI directors and 1 acting director have been implicated in a variety of questionable and even criminal acts resulting in forced resignations and terminations for two:  William S. Sessions and James B. Comey.

While J. Edgar Hoover was by far the most controversial, here is a partial list of others:

Louis J. Freeh Judicial Watch pointed to a ‘legacy of corruption’ at the FBI under Freeh, listing the espionage scandal at Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as “Filegate, Waco, the Ruby Ridge cover-up, the Olympic bombing frame-up of Richard Jewell, [and] falsification of evidence concerning the Oklahoma City bombing.
Clarence M. Kelley Kelley misleadingly (though apparently unwittingly) claimed the FBI had stopped conducting illegal break-ins in the mid-’60s. (They’d continued into the ’70s.) On top of this, there was the affair of the valances (as it was called at the time): It is not the job of the FBI to install window drapes in the home of its director, but they did for Kelley at his house in Bethesda, Maryland, and he got caught out.
L. Patrick Gray L. Patrick Gray stepped in to replace Hoover as acting director and was nominated by Nixon to serve as the permanent director. He soon withdrew his nomination, however, and resigned as acting director in April 1973, after admitting to destroying Watergate-related files.
William J. Burns Burns “dispatched agents to dig up dirt on Sen. (Burton) Wheeler (who uncovered the Teapot Dome scandal). Not finding any, he and (Attorney General Harry) Daugherty concocted baseless corruption charges against Wheeler that only backfired.”
Alexander B. Bielaski During Bielaski’s tenure, Congress investigated mass federal enforcement of the Selective Service Act. The FBI rounded up and illegally detained Americans until those who were detained could prove they had registered for the draft. Ultimately, Bielaski was forced to resign in February 1919 for his handling of the raids.
Stanley W. Finch Congress finally took its revenge on Finch in 1913 by starving his specialist anti-prostitution unit of funds, once again charging financial irregularity — and forcing his retirement.

 

The following is an excerpt from a CBS News story published on February 19,2004:

“An internal FBI report kept under wraps for three years details dozens of cases of agents fired for egregious misconduct and crimes, including drug trafficking, attempted murder, theft, misuse of informants and consorting with prostitutes.

The report, released Wednesday by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, found that about one in 1,000 agents was dismissed for serious misconduct or criminal offenses by the FBI during the period examined, from 1986 to 1999. The average was between eight and nine per year.”

Is Hiaasen’s reverence for FBI agents misplaced?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  The agency’s accomplishments far, far outweigh its shortcomings.  Our country would be an entirely different, lawless place without the dedication and diligence of FBI personnel at all levels.  Consider the sordid past of Phenix City, Alabama.

Is President Trump’s criticism of the FBI wrong?  DEFINITELY NOT!  Bad apples appear on every tree.  The owner of the orchard is obligated to demand and oversee their removal before someone becomes ill from contact with poison fruit.





Can Palm Beach County ERM learn from its mistakes?

27 11 2012

According to a Palm Beach Post article dated June 19, 2012 (“Jupiter’s DuBois Park earns national design award”), Palm Beach County spent $6.2 million  to restore, redevelop, and add new features to DuBois Park.  One of those features is a “1-acre snorkeling area and artificial reef.”

Less than 6 months later the Post, reporting on damage from Superstorm Sandy noted, “At Dubois Park in Jupiter, erosion along the shoreline exposed irrigation lines.  The damage totaled at least $200,000, officials said.”

There is an explanation for this damage.  An engineering solution called a “perched beach,” was improperly applied.  Unless the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Department (ERM) reexamines its plans for beach stabilization at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA), Cato’s Bridge Beach is destined to endure a similar fate.

A limestone breakwater, was built parallel to the beach to provide a snorkeling area and stabilize the beach at DuBois Park. Work was completed in March 2012.

An aerial image taken from an April 2012 ERM document depicts steps taken in Phase II (Shoreline Stabilization & Recreational Amenities).  A wall of stone with small openings was installed to protect the beach area and provide a snorkel lagoon. This design is so closely similar to the JILONA design plan that ERM made the comparison in a presentation to the Jupiter Town Council in 2011.

Proposed breakwater design for the eastern JILONA boundary extending south from Cato’s Bridge.

Recent storm damage at DuBois Park will require $200,000 to repair

Look at pictures of DuBois Park taken 2 weeks after Superstorm Sandy.  Note the severe erosion to the beach area.  Clearly, ERM’s beach stabilization is a dismal failure with a $200,000 price tag to repair.  If a similar situation occurs at JILONA, the damages could include destruction of the historic lighthouse.  We cannot allow this to happen.





A Nation Grieves

11 09 2012

10 years ago today my close friend, Lee, and I were driving from Wisconsin where we had taken ownership of an old Chris-Craft Holiday, to our homes in Florida.  The radio stations saturated the airwaves with patriotic music as we sliced through our nation’s heartland.  Every overpass on I-65 had an American Flag suspended from it’s railing.  On some, people proudly waved flags back and forth for everyone to see.  Cars and trucks passing below saluted their support with enthusiastic hand and arm gestures and sharp horn blasts.

Tears came to our eyes as we reflected on the tragedy of a year earlier – tragedy that touched the lives of every American in the most horrific way.  Our country came together on that day to honor and glorify the memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice for being Americans.  Our chests swelled with pride as we saw that we were surrounded with people we didn’t know, people we would never encounter again, people who joined together in defiance of terrorism,

The fervor has cooled. The expressions of patriotism are more controlled.  While that exuberance has passed, the deep sense of loss remains.  We all lost something dear to us on that day eleven years ago.  Perhaps it was our innocence… our naïveté.  Had we put up a psychological wall to shield ourselves from the pain, no one would have been surprised.  No one would have criticized us for compensating by turning cold-hearted.

That’s not what Americans do!  We cried.  We beat our chests in sorrow.  Then, our nation buckled down and faced the task at hand with intensity and conviction. Individually, we rose to the occasion.  We mustered a drive from deep inside that enabled us to push through the pain and move forward in a positive direction.  The struggle has been long and hard.  The human sacrifices continue to mount, but progress can be found every day.

Will our world return to a pre-9/11 blindness?  Never!  We stand prepared to join together to defend our homeland, to prove to the world once again that we will protect the American way of life!





Finding the Path to Prosperity.

2 09 2012

There are many paths to the same destination. They each have their own set of challenges, and they vary widely in difficulty. Whether you’re traveling from Florida to Alaska or attempting to reestablish growth and prosperity in a faltering economy, it’s the arrival that is of tantamount importance.

Hannibal crossing the Alps

The key element in any journey of magnitude is leadership. It was Hannibal’s leadership ability that enabled him to cross the Pyrenees, fight off local tribes of barbarians, cross the Rhone River, scale the Alps with an army of 50,000 Carthaginians, enter the Po Valley and defeat the Roman Army in a series of battles during the second Punic War.

A study of that campaign reveals not only his tactical superiority but also Hannibal’s negotiating ability, his political awareness, and his organizational skills. Most important of all was the manner in which he “managed” his army. He deployed them in ways that assured their freshness, reduced desertions to a minimum, confused his enemies and assured maximum strength upon entry into the Po Valley. Management is a critical element of leadership.

Romney’s successes with the Olympics and during the course of his governorship in Massachusetts may be a reflection of his management abilities, but management alone did not deliver his achievements in the face of opposition. While reviewing his history, reflect also upon Obama’s successes.

Is Obama able to forge a consensus from opposing elements? Is he successful in ending stalemates through compromise? Strength of leadership outweighs political platforms. Does Obama forge a consensus from opposing elements? Is he successful in ending stalemates through compromise?

Do not allow volumes of rhetoric distract as you strive to identify leadership skills in the candidates before you.





Let’s Pick a Leader For President, A Real Leader!

27 08 2012

The eyes of our nation are cast upon the upcoming presidential election; many not by choice.  Televised talking heads fill moments of planned escape from the vagaries of life with seemingly endless political diatribes.  Virtually every digital and print publication is saturated with advertisements and “news” stories extolling each candidate’s position on a wide variety of subjects or excoriating their comments, actions, or behavior.

The public is struggling with a difficult decision at a difficult time in the history of our country.  Clearly, we haven’t found the information we need to make the decision that our entire country depends upon.  Is President Obama’s position on healthcare, Romney’s position on right to life going to be the determining factor in this election?  Will the future of our economy or our military commitment in the Middle East sway your vote?

There will be no better time than right now to heed the words of the philosopher, George Santayana:  “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”  We need only look back in the history of our country to identify the criteria we should all use in selecting our next president.  Our greatest presidents were our greatest leaders. George Washington was a great leader.  Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the greatest leader of all.  Look carefully at Lincoln’s presidency.

Prior to 1861 when Abraham Lincoln took office, not one of the previous eight presidents (Buchanan, Pierce, Fillmore, Taylor, Polk, Tyler, Harrison, Van Buren) earned reelection.  The country was in turmoil as secessionists were tearing it  apart.  In his Inaugural Address, Lincoln said, “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.”

President Lincoln’s Cabinet

Unlike the “yes” men who commonly serve as cabinet level advisors, Lincoln chose his cabinet from a list of his greatest adversaries.  That nearly every one of them became intensely loyal, supportive presidential confidantes speaks more eloquently than words of Lincoln’s leadership.  Picture for a moment an Obama cabinet comprised of John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Paul.

When the war began in 1861, one month after Lincoln took office, there were 16,000 men in the US Army.  Lincoln initially called

Civil War Volunteer Recruitment Poster

for 75,000 volunteers to serve three months, time enough to put down the “insurrection.”  In July of 1861, Congress authorized a volunteer army of 500,000 men.  Ultimately, between 1861 and 1865, 2.5 million men served in the Union Army.  The majority were volunteers.  Of those, 360,000 died and 280,000 were wounded.

Congress, under Lincoln, authorized the first US Income Tax in 1862, in order to support the war effort.

Faced, as Commander-In-Chief, with leading a burgeoning war effort, Lincoln created and administered a foreign policy that prevented the intervention of other countries in the Civil War.  He crafted and successfully delivered the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  He held the country together and began the process of reconstruction after the war.

Lincoln was reelected…

…by Union and Confederate soldiers coming home from war, by political friends and foes, by the citizens of the reconstituted United States, the first president in 38 years to earn that honor.

That is leadership.  As you listen to the political commentary and read the stories, as you scan the ads and weigh the endorsements, seek out references to leadership successes.  Which candidate has most effectively demonstrated leadership skills that have delivered significant, important accomplishments.  That’s the candidate who deserves your vote.