July 31, 2011

Regardless of what happens in regards to the haggling over how best to increase the debt ceiling, the fact remains that the USA still has a major problem to deal with – government size and spending. Rather than me blather on, I leave it to Florida senator Marco Rubio to speak, as the liberals like to say, “truth to power”.

And how. This, me buckos, is worth watching from start to finish. If Senator Rubio isn’t on the 2012 ticket as a VP, whoever ends up getting nominated ought to have their heads examined.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:59 | Comments (3)
July 30, 2011

I don’t care what side of the political aisle you’re on, the fact that we have two houses of the people elected passing (i.e., the House) or refusing to debate (i.e., the Senate) legislation supposedly carved from the “best and the brightest” without any inclination to debate it in public before the people makes me both disgusted and angry with Washington beyond words. Where is the people’s interest? Where is the accountability? I don’t care about assessing blame, and I certainly don’t care about who so-called “wins” and who so-called “loses”.

This country has a spending problem, and the only solution Washington should be discussing is how much to cut, when, and how to stop us from ever getting in this position again.

It doesn’t scare me that the Republicans are falling all over themselves and negotiating with themselves while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Barack Obama stand by without any real plan of ther own. This is what scares me, and it ought to scare the living daylights out of everyone. (Hat tip: NRO’s Corner blog)

I leave it to the esteemed Victor David Hanson to tell it like it is:

The agenda of the poorer and lower-middle classes is championed mostly by an affluent elite located on the two coasts, who find power and influence in representing “the people,” and are themselves either affluent enough, or enjoy enough top government salaries and subsidies, to be largely exempt from any hardship that would result from their own advocacy of much higher taxes and larger government expenditures.

Lost entirely in all these disputes over taxes, relative affluence, and government entitlements is any serious examination of whether federal payouts themselves consistently alleviate poverty or accomplish what they are intended for, or whether, in the age of high-technology, dirt-cheap imported manufactured goods and huge government subsidies, the notion of being poor itself should be redefined. The point is not whether the hundreds of billions invested in, say, a Head Start actually improved school performance, but, implicitly, whether thousands of constituents were employed in its administration, and, explicitly, whether its advocates felt a sense of transcendent caring in such public magnanimity (often not so easily evidenced by the fact of where they otherwise live or send their children to school).

Finally, if you add all of candidate and president Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric up (e.g., “redistributive change,” “spread the wealth,” at some point “made enough money,” hundreds of thousands of dollars in unneeded income, fat-cat bankers, etc.), collate it with the reversal of the Chrysler creditors, the NLRB’s attempted shutdown of the Boeing plant, the government takeovers, the gorge-the-beast deficits, the constant harangue to increase taxes, the creation of a new $200,000 annual-income Mason-Dixon line, and so on, you can sense how insidiously we have entered a new era of class warfare. Quite simply, Barack Obama will be remembered not so much for being the nation’s first African-American president, or even the man who ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, or even for his Obamacare, but as the president who grew government the largest, ran up the largest deficits during any presidential tenure, and laid out most candidly and confidently the argument of why the United States is an intrinsically unfair society and how that must be remedied by government.

It’s pathetic. It’s not just an abdication of leadership on all accounts, but the fact that most of the American people are too stupid to even know just how bad things are, and just how close to a financial Armageddon we are.

Because it elected the incompetent clowns that hold the leadership in the House, the Senate, and most importantly, the White House, this country deserves whatever it gets. Now THAT’s what I call hope and change.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comments (0)
July 29, 2011

Few contemporaries in my view lived as full and an apostolic life in Matthew’s view as the Anglican evangelical John R. W. Stott, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90. I’ll let others share their memories and mark their rememberances of this giant of Protestantism, but for me, his books (“Basic Christianity” is an absolute must-to-have), ironically, did much to foment my view that modern-day Protestantism (of which the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the US are among its Anglican representatives) was nothing short of a cancer – not just to Christianity but to people’s souls as well, ultimately leading me to Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, thanks in great part to Dr. Stott, I remain enthusiastically an Anglo-Catholic.

I first came to know Dr. Stott through his writings on David Virtue’s Virtuosity website; no matter how far astray the Episcopal Church was heading in its trading of Jesus Christ as its Lord and Savior for the more amorphous triune god of “acceptance, tolerance, and diversity”, one could always count on Virtue’s preambles to contain a snippet of Stott’s wisdom to make you pause and think about what basic and (to borrow C.S. Lewis’ phrase) “mere” Christianity was. The sad truth is that, no matter how quiet, humble, and powerful Stott’s writings were, they could never be a match for the kind of rabid, self-destructive forces post-modernism, feminism and its stepchild the gay-lesbian-transgender movement brought to the mainline Protestant churches. As David Virtue writes:

He was a rare breed of clergyman most of whom seem always to be looking for the next rung in the ecclesiastical ladder. Stott neither sought nor cared for preferment. He sought only to preach and teach the word to anyone who would listen. His evangelistic forays to universities were thoughtful, unemotional, rational, logical presentations of the gospel. He did not dodge the hard questions.

Stott was a man who lived as simply as possible, writing some 50 books in a simple cabin in Wales. He never married, and was called “Uncle John” by hundreds of younger people to whom he was a mentor.

When he spoke, it was with firm conviction. He never wavered in the pulpit. He was not a topical sermon preacher. He focused on Scripture and the big issues of the faith. He always kept his eye on Christ as the author and perfector of our faith.

Someone wrote that he was polite, not because he was an Englishman, but because the grace of Christ requires it. “Stott demonstrated spiritual leadership not because he built an organization or led an institution. He led by planting the seeds of truth-widely, deeply, continually, over a period of decades. In John Stott’s final public address he raised the question: what are we trying to do in the mission? In his mind the answer was unambiguous: to help people become more like Christ.”

John Stott was one of the, if not the last, giants of Protestantism. Sure, Stott came from another age – an age where the focus was not on you, yourself, and forcing the Church and others to accommodate you so you can feel good about the reckless choices you’ve made in your life. But he and his writings represented a timeless age of humility and living the Gospels as they were designed – not as a way to further one’s own pathetic and corrupt agenda to the ultimate destruction of the Church and its teachings and traditions.

Stott never wavered in his love for Anglicanism and the unique place it once held (yes, unfortunately I’m talking past tense) in Christianity, yet his writings were typically and increasingly at odds with the Church of England’s (and the Episcopal Church’s) leaders of the past forty years. Who was right? Take a look at the health and well-being of today’s mainline Protestant branches and you be the judge. His departure leaves the Church and its traditions and teachings that much poorer, but most assuredly God’s eternal kingdom is the beneficiary.

Rest in peace, Dr. Stott you’ve won your just reward.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comments (0)
July 28, 2011

beachboys There’s so much I want to say about the whole debt ceiling debate fiasco going on in Washington between Republicans (who lack the guts to commit to their “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan so critical to the long-term economic health and stability of this nation) and Democrats (who lack the guts to put forth a plan that raises every tax they can think of in order to fund their big government / tax the rich agenda), while an arrogant and petulant, way-in-over-his-head President chastises both parties and deliberately attempts to scare seniors and people on disability without offering even the slightest plan of his own, but I’m not gonna do it.

Maybe another time.

Instead, check out this unreleased Beach Boys gem from their 1976 “15 Big Ones” sessions: it was never released but it ought to have been. I once played it for my late godfather Milt and he loved it; I can’t listen to it without thinking of him. May he rest in God’s peace.

This is an interesting recording; I love the bass line and the complex “ha ha hallelujah” harmonies in the chorus (athough I wish they were just a little more distinct in the mix), but it nevertheless remains a wonderful unreleased Brian Wilson production. Listen for the steel drums at the end of the first verse, a nice touch. Some critics say it might be a little long, I can’t disagree with that – a few edits to tighten it up, and it would have been a Beach Boys classic.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comments (0)
July 27, 2011

You can bet Rob and Dave are pretty hepped that the NFL owners and the players have reached a new 10-year agreement that will get everyone back to work and protect the 2011 NFL season in its entirety. I’m not much of a football fan myself, but all I could think of during the work stoppage were all the people who would be affected should the season be lost or shortened. Think of all the workers in the stadiums, bars, restaurants and parking lots whose livelihoods would be affected far worse than any of the millionaires and billionaires haggling over millions of dollars in revenue. Especially with the economy the way it is now, the last thing this country needs is major league sports taking a siesta.

Now that the NFL has gotten its act straightened out, here’s hoping the NBA owners and players see the light as well.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:13 | Comments (4)
July 26, 2011

Check this picture out. It’s a real pic, a diver and a whale shark. But the diver isn’t in as much danger as you would think, whale sharks are vegetarian.

whaleshark1

A great picture nonetheless. Diver comment provided by Tracey. :-)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:56 | Comment (1)
July 25, 2011

I have to admit right off the bat that best-selling author and conservative fire-brand Ann Coulter has not always been my cup of tea. While I’ve pretty much agreed with her message over the years (that being that Democrats and liberals are the most hypocritical creatures on the face of the earth and the greatest danger to this country’s future), the messenger has often been a little too strident and bombastic for my tastes. Nevertheless, as a student of history, when I heard of her latest book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America and its basic premise that liberalism (and by extension, the Democratic Party) are as connected to the French Revolution as conservatism (and, by extension, the Republican Party) is to our own American Revolution, I was intrigued.

As it turns out, it surpassed every expectation I had. Suffice to say, for any political junkie it is a must-read.

This is an important book – not just for conservatives who will undoubtedly agree with much of what she writes, but for liberals as well, as Coulter’s expose of liberalism and its reliance on mobs and mob rule illustrates the dangers to civil society and the rule of law. As Coulter notes, even the most radical of the leaders of the French Revolution were ultimately put to death by their own kind. One of the Amazon reviews by a “S. Peek” really nails it, far better and more concisely than I ever could:

A word of caution: Those who are hard core Democrats and/or liberals will likely hate it. The observations and commentary are very tough on these groups. For anyone in those camps open minded enough to read and ponder it, this could be a real eye opener. Coulter’s observations may be harsh at times, but they are usually very accurate.

For those who are just regular people (heirs of the American revolution, rather than the French revolution, according to Ann), this has lots of great stuff. Ms. Coulter is brilliant, funny and extremely tough. She teaches some real history (as opposed to that politically correct variety popularized by the media and educational establishments) that will enlighten. She does a superb job of showing how the Democrats have been the party of the mob, love simplistic slogans rather than real ideas, have a cult-like devotion to some who have damaged the country greatly including FDR. Her chapter on ‘Contradictions’ is a must read.

Although anyone who is familiar with the ending of slavery and the civil rights fights is well aware that the Democrats were the party of protecting slavery and fighting civil rights. Their buddies in the media have totally convinced most people of exactly the opposite today, but Coulter sets the record straight. As she states, ‘Not every senator who opposed black civil rights was a Southerner, but every one was a Democrat.’ Uncomfortably for those who like to portray the opposite, she shows how such Democrat icons as Mike Mansfield, J. William Fulbright (Bill Clinton’s mentor), Robert ‘Sheets’ Byrd (the former KKK leader and ranking senate Democrat until his death a couple of years ago) were stauch Civil Rights foes. There is much more to make Democrats/liberals squirm.

This is exactly right, and Coulter’s incredibly well-researched and heavily-footnoted book makes a case that even the most die-hard progressive would be hard to challenge. They may hate the message and the messenger, but in the end facts are, as they say, stubborn things. From the Boston Tea Party and Shay’s Rebellion right through to modern times with the Vietnam War protests, the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle, and, most recently, the attempts of Wisconsin labor unions to shut down the state government there, Coulter lays out the history of, and the dangers posed by, these kinds of mob actions and how they are integral to the political strategy of modern-day liberalism.

You may not like or even agree with the messenger, but in this case, Coulter’s message is an important one, and one that needs to be read. As the saying goes, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:18 | Comments (0)
July 24, 2011

It’s too hot to post, so I leave y’all with a great Jimmy Buffett tune, both on terms of wordplay and melody:

I come from where the rivers meet the sea
That’s part of why I’m so wild and fancy free
I was early into crazy ways
My folks said, “It’s just a phase”
They were hopin’ for better days

Now in my line of work I seem to see a lot more than most
Write ‘em down, pass ‘em around
It’s the gospel from the coast
Reflections not just replays
Takin’ time to escape the maze
Lookin’ for better days

I spent a year of my life one night
On the beaches in old Beirut
Seems that all they’re aimin’ for there
Is to hang around and shoot
Each others lives away
Bloody winds on a distant bay
They’re lookin’ for better days

Lookin’ to the left
Lookin’ to the right
Lookin’ to the stars to shed some light
Hopin’ for a breath
Hopin’ for a break
Hopin’ for the give without the take

The dreamers line the state road
Just to watch the runway show
Slouched behind their steering wheels
They just watch the big jets go
Streakin’ through the mornin’ haze
Focal point of a distant gaze
Lookin’ for better days

Pale invaders and tan crusaders
Are worshipping the sun
On the corner of walk and don’t walk
Somewhere on U.S. 1

I’m back to livin’ Floridays
Blue skies and ultra violet rays
Lookin’ for better days

I’m back to livin’ Floridays
Blue skies and ultra violet rays
Lookin’ for better days, lookin’ for better days
Lookin’ for better days
Lookin’ for Floridays

It really doesn’t get that much better than this. This song really touches my soul.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments (0)
July 23, 2011

The horrific and gruesome news about the terrorist attacks in Norway appear to have been done not by Islamic fundamentalists, but by a lone whack-job for reasons yet to be determined. Regardless of who did it and why, it serves as a poignant reminder that, no matter how safe and secure we feel in our own lives and situations, that safety is an illusion; every day should be lived to its fullest and embraced for whatever it might bring, be it good or bad.

The unfortunate truth is that in free and open societies there is very little that can be done to prevent something like what happened in Norway to happen here. Especially in a country as vast and open as the US is, where people are as as mobile as they are, the fact is that the only safety we really share is that very same vastness and openess: the chances of any one person being in the wrong place at the wrong time for any particular individual is really pretty remote.

But there’s no doubt it can happen to any one of us: there’s little anyone can do to stop someone intent on blowing themselves and others up, or taking their anger out on dozens of innocent people and creating general mayhem if they’re truly committed to it. My guess is that in the days and weeks to come, the person responsible for the death and destruction in Norway will have have no small paper trail of activity behind that could have at least hinted at their intentions and prompted some investigation. These things don’t just occur out of thin, globally warmed air, you know.

My candle this week burns for those killed and injured, and the families whose lives have been changed forever. May they come to know God’s comfort, strength, and healing presence in this world and the next.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:25 | Comments (0)
July 22, 2011

The heat is on, and it’s just about everywhere. Goodboy Ron “Cubby” Myerow is right in his comment to yesterday’s post – it’s a damned good thing Goodboys Invitational weekend was last weekend and not this weekend, else we’d all have been blubbering piles of sweaty goo by the time Sunday afternoon came around.

Back East in the big cities, when it gets hot like this folks retreat to their apartment building rooftops to get away from the blistering heat of the streets and sidewalks – just like the old Drifters tune, they go up on the roof.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, we’re used to this kind of thing, but the sun itself is so hot no one in their right minds would be up on any kind of roof, for any reason, this time of year unless they absolutely had to.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to my sister-in-law’s rabbits Cookie and Sherman (a.k.a., the “Beatie Boys”), whom I found this morning around their breakfast time hanging out on the roof of their two-floor bunny abode:

beastieboys1

Cookie’s the black one, Sherman’s the other. And not even the sights and sounds of their food being served sent them down to their typical eating place on the floor, so they had their breakfast “up on the roof”:

beastieboys2

And is there anything more refreshing than an ice-cold beer up on that rooftop? Hell,yeah…even the Red Sox pitchers and catchers agree.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments (4)

goodboys.jpg


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