Let me begin by saying that I regard Randy Vinson as intelligent, articulate, insightful and a sincerely good person, but I never forget Randy is a planner with one concept of how the world should be planned.
It's an off-year election, and the White House is securely in the Democratic camp for two more years. That means the focus is turning instead to down-ballot races.
This is a splendid time to remember the First World War. It started 100 years ago this month with the June 28 shooting of the Austrian archduke and his wife. By the end of the summer, much of Europe was engaged in a war that lasted about four years, toppled four empires, precipitated the communist revolution, created by fiat the modern Middle East, recognized Zionism, made the U.S. a world power and cost the lives of about 10 million fighting men. Historians are still trying to figure out what happened.
In my home hangs a photograph of a rather large and deep hole on the side of an asphalt road. It is the aftermath of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) - or in more simple terms, a homemade bomb - that went off just as the Humvee in which I was riding passed over it.
Those of you who regularly check this space know this, but to the newcomers out there: I am a whiner.
Like Goldilocks, I whine when the porridge is too hot. I whine when the porridge is too cold. But unlike Goldilocks, I whine even when the glop is just right.
Driving my children to and from various events earlier this week, we had a discussion about what makes a good story. They are both working on writing a book (as am I - we'll see who finishes first).
Stories, I explained, are interesting because they have conflict. There are most often two forces that push against each other. In classic stories, it's good versus evil. Really interesting stories have subplots, which reflect conflicts within conflicts.
What's become of our society? Our youth? Our parenting? Children used to dream of being able to go to middle school instead of working in factories, let alone high school. Why has the parenting become so laissez-faire that our teens no longer wish to learn and become educated? Why has the "education" system lowered its standards simply to accommodate for the lacking of our generation? Why is our society sacrificing education and knowledge for the sake of schooling?
Our dropout rates are decreasing, but each teenage generation as a whole seems to care less about education than the previous ...
The 1970s were described famously by novelist Tom Wolfe as the "Me Decade" in a 1976 article in New York Magazine.
If I were asked to pin a label on the period we live in today, I would call this the "Who? Me!?" decade.
Any doubt that Mitt Romney would win the Republican presidential nomination vanished when Rick Santorum left the race. It also marked the end of Romney's time as the defining figure in the overall contest for the White House.
On a warm day, back in the dark ages when Richard Milhous Nixon was the Emperor of DC and double-knit polyester was the darling of the fashion industry, I was scouring my school's library for something good to read. I had already polished off Thomas Edison's biography, every "Three Investigators" detective story I could find, and a piece about the father of the telegraph: Samuel F.B. Morse. And then I found it - a big, hardcover book on robots. Robots!
Outside of Chinese sweat shops, Americans are by-and-large regarded as the hardest working people on earth. This is particularly true when compared to the long-time history of less-work-and-more-play written into law in major European nations. That practice may be on the decline because of the massive government debt crises in places like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, among others. Ample pensions, early retirement and long vacations contribute to the imbalance in government revenues that is threatening the stability of those countries - and leading to riots in many places contesting the cuts to pensions, play and pay.
The United States House of Representatives has passed a Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan. His budget has been dubbed "The Path to Prosperity" which is aptly named since it starts the reversal of current trends and knifes through the controversy. The Ryan budget is not just a blueprint for spending. It's a platform for governing that deliberately and self-consciously advances "the timeless principles of the American Idea"- among them limited government, free enterprise and economic liberty.
I tend to daydream. Sometimes I look at the shape of the clouds above me and I can see a tea kettle or maybe the little fat guy that used to run North Korea. And then sometimes I just close my eyes and think of headlines I would like to see, such as:
President Obama says teleprompters make him say dumb things
There have been many scientific discoveries in my lifetime. Some helpful, some not.
Certainly the fruition of John Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon should be near the top of the list. Then there was the ability to create and harness atomic energy. I'm not sure if that can be categorized as helpful or not helpful.
We are taught at a very early age, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
It's one of those things so positively stupid it makes you think it might not be a bad idea.
As Mitt Romney assumes the role of presumptive Republican nominee, polls suggest a competitive general election matchup between the former Massachusetts governor and President Obama. Typically, both candidates poll in the mid-40s, while 10 to 12 percent remain uncommitted to either side.
Among these uncommitted voters, Rasmussen Reports polling shows that just 22 percent approve of the way the president is handling his job. Seventy-two percent (72 percent) disapprove. As for intensity, just 2 percent strongly approve, and 40 percent strongly disapprove.
I'd like to think I'm in complete control of my life, but I'm wise enough to know that it would just be a fancy-pants illusion - a convenient myth to help me survive another night without screaming into my pillow in a major case of self-pity. I know I'm not in charge of my life. If those people are right, and it really "takes a village," then I'm just another hapless village idiot, relying on strangers and their beautiful gifts of kindness to help me through the day. In fact, I probably owe my life to ...
The best advice longtime local attorney Don Ballard ever got came from an unusual source, and he's never veered from it. It became his personal, professional and political mantra that he follows to this day. Back in 1952, Ballard set up his law practice in partnership with the late Col. C. C. King in downtown Covington. Col. King was the father of beloved local historian, Charles C. "Charlie" King Jr., now 97.
Not long afterwards, Ballard won a seat in the state House of Representatives, in a district that included Newton, Rockdale, Morgan, Jasper and Putnam Counties. "I had ...