Tag Archives: texas

Teaching, Taxes, Texas and Lincoln

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Well my friends it has been a very busy day. A day full of teaching and writing. A day of filing taxes, thankfully I’ll get some of what I paid in back, and tomorrow I will be heading to Houston, Texas for a Chaplain Training conference at my denomination headquarters. I will return home on Monday afternoon.

Today it was the first meeting of my ethics class and the first meeting for the Gettysburg Staff Ride. I also did a modified version of last night’s post  on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to send to my colleagues and students at the Staff College.

While doing my taxes tonight I watched the movie Lincoln again and as I saw the flags flying half-staff on the base this afternoon I pondered the depth of the loss of the late President 150 years ago today. As I did so I thought of both the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address, for I so much desire the day that all of our citizens shall embrace the ideal that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

But now, I need to pack as I need to be at the airport at 4:30 A.M. and get to bed. So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve Remembers the Alamo

alamo

“I Messed With Texas and Now I Have a Rash” General Antonio López de Santa Anna

I remember the Alamo.  I have seen the movie, at least a couple of them and been to the Alamo. Needless to say the actual Alamo did not live up to the movie billing.

It was on this day in 1836 that the garrison of Texans defending the outpost across from te Burger King and Walgreens in downtown San Antonio was overwhelmed by the Mexican Army. Led by William Travis, James Bowie and his brother David, Fess Parker or John Wayne playing David (Davy) Crockett the other 133 Texians as the called themselves, outnumbered and outgunned by about one million Mexican troops finally succumbed to the inevitable after a 13 day siege. They were slaughtered but the cry “Remember the Alamo!” reverberates to this day.

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I always felt misled by the media about the Alamo. From my time watching Disney and John Wayne movies about the Alamo I assumed that the fortress was well out of town, preserved for the sake of posterity and surrounded by parking lots and souvenir stands. However that was not the case and I found out this bitter truth in the summer of 1983 while going through my Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston.

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Those were the times of the heady Reagan military build up and my class had no room to stay on the base. We were billeted in amid the squalor of the Riverwalk Marriott Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Having to take a lowest bidder Bluebird school bus to and from the base every day was a difficult task for we newly commissioned officers however, we made do.

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One day I had to stay late to do some research and missed the Army bus. I had to take a city bus from the base to the hotel. However the bus did not drop me off at the hotel. It dropped me off in Centennial Square, near a large granite phallic symbol which I later learned is called a “Centopath” a now extinct life form from the late Neosporin era. As I got my bearings I noticed the Walgreens, the Burger King and the venerable Joske’s department store. But nestled among them was a small and less than impressive building. I thought to myself that “that looks like the Alamo.” However I immediately dismissed the thought because I knew from the movies and Disney TV shoes that I had seen that the Alamo was on the outskirts of town and surrounded by parking lots. I then thought, “what a stupid place to put a replica of the Alamo” and proceeded to my hotel.

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When I got to my room I told my roommate, then 2nd Lieutenant Barry Mitchell, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel about my discovery of this “fake” Alamo. Barry looked at me like I had grown a third head. He knew that I was a history major. However, in my defense I studied Europe and Nazi Germany, choosing to learn my American history from the movies and the Bible like everyone else.

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As I looked at the expression on his face I realized that I had been had by the media. Barry said “that is the Alamo” and I replied “but the Alamo is out of town surrounded by parking lots…” Barry looked at me and told me that indeed that this was the real Alamo. It was humiliating.

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So the next weekend after I had drank too much at Dirty Nelly’s tavern on the Riverwalk I went and made pilgrimage to the Alamo. I was supervised on the tour by some women from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who had seen the battle in person and shepherded through the exhibits, maintaining a certain reverence for the site of this battle.

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Now since then I have been to the sites of many battles in the United States, Europe and Asia and never seen a site so unremarkable as the Alamo. The fault is not that of the building, or the brave men that died defending it, but by the callousness of the citizens of San Antonio who allowed the hallowed ground to be reduced to about a city block surrounded by crappy looking commercial structures and an horrible monument.

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Now the fact that the Mission building remains at all is because of these very long lived women that supervised my tour. Those brave women, who echoing the Isley Brother’s song “Fight the Powers that Be” fought the powers that be to preserve the site much as had Colonels Travis, Bowie and Crockett in 1836.

Fess Parker

Now admittedly the Alamo holds a special place in the hearts of all that love Texas, Fess Parker and John Wayne. I will also never forget to “Remember the Alamo” but not for the reasons of so many Texas patriots. I will remember it because it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

So my friends, Remember the Alamo!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Fires Earthquakes and Hurricanes Oh My! I thought God loved Red States more than Blue States

Denny Crane Alert! Over the top prose and satire contained in this post. Read with caution! 

Massachusetts is a Blue state. God has no place here” Denny Crane

Well it seems that things are getting a bit sporting back here on the East Coast, even the Red States those favored by God and Fox News are being afflicted with plagues that are more common in Godless Blue States like California and Massachusetts.  After all everyone knows that God loves the Red States more because they like God more than the Godless Commies and Socialists in the Blue States.

There has been a spate of events lately that are making me wonder about God’s love for his chosen people in the Red States.  There were earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia, fires in North Carolina, floods in the Midwest, drought in Texas and the Deep South and most of these places are Red States where God’s real people live.  I could understand if they were Blue States since God isn’t allowed in them.

I grew up on the West Coast, mostly in California where I also did my undergraduate work before I was commissioned as an Army Officer. That was back back in the good old days of the Cold War when the United States and Soviet Union held back chaos by dividing the world into us and them.  Saint Ronald was President and 80s power ballads were hot. But I digress….

I grew up in California, up and down the state, Oakland where I was born, San Diego, Long Beach, Stockton, and the good old San Fernando Valley.  Back in those days I got used to plagues, we had droughts, the Medfly, Jerry Brown, riots, Earthquakes and massive fires and mudslides.  It was good living.  Plagues build character ask the Egyptians and you never forget them.

I mean I have survived big earthquakes the 1970 Los Angeles quake, the 1980 Mammoth Lakes Quake while I was at a Christian retreat.  That weekend was strange there was nice weather, then snow, then hail and finally a thunderstorm before the skies cleared only to have a 6.8 on the Andy Richter Scale earthquake interrupt a class.  Now this was a Presbyterian Charismatic Communion retreat and if you didn’t know that some Presbyterians have this in them you needed to be there.  The building started shaking like a perverted Rock Star gyrating his hips and all of a sudden everyone around me was speaking in tongues, shouting and rebuking the Devil and some even rolling on the floor. I moved underneath a door frame as I was taught in school to do and wondered what was going one.  I survived as did they.  Well I’ve been through other earthquakes of varying intensities, most bigger that the wimpy 5.8 Virginia quake, I’m sorry that’s namby pamby, or even worse namsy pansy. I can’t imagine a namby pamby quake striking a Red State.

The problem is that instead of the Blue States getting these plagues of late as they rightfully should being that there are Godless Communists that love those ho-mo-sexual wedding planners, or weddings or whatever.  Just know that God doesn’t like it but for some reason it seems that all the plagues are afflicting the Red States now days.

Rick Perry’s Texas and Tom Coburn’s Oklahoma are going through a drought like the Dust Bowl days, except to escape it they don’t dare to go to California like people did in the 1930s and risk becoming ho-mo-sexual and having God send them to Hell.  Of course the drought has been going on for some time now but for goodness sakes a couple of days ago there was an earthquake in Colorado home of  James Dobson, Focus on the Family and the Coors Empire.  Red to the core, even the Birkenstock wearing tree huggers are red in their hearts.  Big church ministries move to Colorado from California and even more to Texas. But Colorado had an earthquake and Texas has a drought. North Carolina and Virginia have been fighting fires in the Great Dismal Swamp that won’t go out because of the richness of the peat soil and layers of American made pine needles. Now Virginia which is definitely back in the Red column after crushing a brief  Blue uprising has a really big earthquake by namby pamby East Coast standards.  My goodness the government of Virginia is in church more often than they are in session and are giving a new meaning to the Old Dominionists, but they had an earthquake strike near a nuclear power reactor; shut the place down for a while.  I wonder are they not praying hard enough or are there still enough of those Blue people hanging around to garner the wrath of God? And now there is a bitch of a hurricane named Irene that is threatening the good Red people of North Carolina and Virginia with devastation of Biblical proportions and since I live where the big “hit me sign” is, I am concerned.

This can’t be just.  The Virginians and North Carolinians have been throwing the leftist Democrats out of office at a cyclic rate of late, for goodness sakes they’re doing the work of God and this shouldn’t happen to them.  If God was just this would happen inNew York or Massachusetts where they do all sorts of Godless things and put Democrats in office and let ho-mo-sexuals be wedding planners and even get married to other ho-mo-sexuals.  This should be happening inMartha’s Vineyardwhen Obama is on the golf course with all his liberal commie pinko fellow travelers.

I think that Pat Robertson needs to get out his knee pads and flying carpet to pray this on away like the one he did back in the 1960s.  His place is in the path of Irene and they felt the earthquake down inVirginia Beach too.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

Remember where you heard it.

Padre Steve+

Back to reality, if anyone is taking this seriously they need to get a life. Yes it’s serious, but the seriousness is in the satire. If you don’t understand read my other “serious” posts. However mark my word there are already a lot of preachers out there claiming that this is all the judgement of God against America. But even so Pat Robertson should still be praying as probably all of us should. Besides I am not Red or Blue, I’m a Red White and Blue American Moderate and proud of it. Padre Steve. 

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Return to the Great Montana Dude Ranch Sleepover: Padre Steve’s Cure to Politics as Usual

I wrote this about a year ago and after the fiasco that we have endured during this long and all too painful year think that it is time to revisit the topic. Since I have been rather morose of late I figure that this should break things up a bit.

I don’t know about you but as a passionate moderate I am fed up with the nasty politics as usual that is killing our country.  Our political ruling class appears to be hell bent on destroying the country all to satisfy their respective need for power and to satisfy the basest wants of their most strident supporters. The corruption and malevolence of the career politicians on both sides of the aisle have bankrupted the country, cost American lives in war, cost American jobs, destroyed our manufacturing base, placed the interests of financial traders who produce nothing except promote the evil practice of usury because it makes them money which they in turn contribute copious amounts of said money to their political patrons.  Then to top it all off they pass laws that make no sense and that you have to have an army of lawyers to understand.  They are out of touch with the everyday concerns of real Americans and have done their best to destroy the fabric of our society in their quest for power and they are many times an unseemly lot who do things that regular people could never get away with. The number of ethics violations, criminal charges and convictions and resignations due to shady financial dealings, backroom deals, sexual scandals and sometimes rather nasty criminal cases are too numerous to catalogue unless you are Matt Drudge.  I won’t list them here but they include notable Democrats as well as Republicans, nor will I go into all the idiotic things that our government, both Democrat and Republican controlled administrations or congresses have done as the task would be ginormous. Since we all get spun up about different issues usually in tune with our own political or social viewpoints I leave it to you my readers to fill in the blanks and comment on what you think they are screwing up.

Part of the problem is that our political ruling class, the Federal Government particular is completely out of touch because they live in the netherworld ofWashingtonD.C.  This city has become the symbol of all that ails the country and since our political class only leaves it to raise money for their next campaigns they have no earthly clue of what the rest of us are experiencing.  Thus they can coddle up to their big financial supporters and most demented party extremists and unseemly lobbyists representing some of the vilest elements of our society.  As a result for at least the past 10 years and I am sure a lot more they have for the most part forgotten the people that they are supposed to represent. The political class doesn’t live in our world, thus they do everything that they can not to look at what is best for the country but rather what is best for them, for their party, their supporters and their agendas.  If you ask me its all out of whack and they really all should be whacked.

Since they all spend far too much time inWashingtonor raising money to stay there it is high time that they get out of Dodge so to speak.  This is my idea of how we fix this situation.  My suggestion is definitely not politics as usual.  Instead it is based on relationships built from shared suffering and since we are suffering why shouldn’t they suffer too? So here’s my idea. First we shut down the government for a month. Now before you think that you won’t get what the government owes you I don’t mean the people that actually do the work.   What I mean is both houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.   We shut them down.  Let the clerks of the court do their thing, let the White House staff do its job and congressional aides deal with constituents.  Give the Russians and Chinese, the Iranians, Al Qaida, the European Union and everyone else a message that we’re busy the next month so don’t bother us.  We’ll tell them that if they mind their own business that our stand ins with itchy fingers won’t nuke them. where is Al Haig when you need him the most?  Hey MAD (mutual assured destruction)  worked during the Cold War, after all nothing like an ICBM loaded with multiple nuclear warheads to keep people in line and not do anything really stupid.

So do you hear me Mahmoud and Osama? Do you hear me?  All that would come between you and nuclear annihilation are a few disgruntled civil servants with road rage that just got to work after being stuck in Beltway traffic for 3 hours. Go ahead make our day.

Once we shut the place down we put all of these guys and gals on Greyhound buses packed to the gills.  Each bus would have a mix of members of each party really making sure those that hate each other most sit next to each other.  Secret Service and FBI agents on the buses would have the option to Taser anyone that tries to switch seats.  Then we drive them all to some big assed dude ranch inMontana, outfit them in silly looking cowboy clothes with boots that are a bit too tight and leave them there in the charge of a bunch of cowboys at least two of which have had a recent “BrokebackMountain” experience.

They would have no cell phones, computers or communications with the outside world or even their minions back in D.C., nope, just them and Mother Nature sharing the experience of high plains living.  In fact to liven the place up we need to bring a few folks back into the mix, some former Presidents and Speakers of the House would do fine. Also the addition of the most strident Cable TV and radio talking heads and commentators would be good too, but I digress, too many extras might spoil the moment.  Maybe we should have a separate sleepover of Rush Limbaugh and Maureen Dowd or Sean Hannity and Keith Olberman later?  No, we’ll throw them into this one to make it more fun.

This dude ranch living would be a bit Spartan. Since most of these folks a Spartan way is driving in a luxury car or SUV, having to fly First Class, staying in a luxury suite or eating at a 4 star restaurant they might have a hard time with what I propose but that would just be tough.    They made this mess and by God we’re going to get them back in touch with the real world and in the process get them to build real relationships with each other instead of the artificial life that they have led inside the beltway for years.

Once we get them to the big assed Dude Ranch we pair them up the best we can with a liberal and a conservative in each cabin.  We would try to keep the cabins of the same gender not to cause too much scandal but would make a few exceptions to that rule.  Now by cabins I don’t mean those really nice cabins that people take real vacations at, no I mean really rustic, Spartan tiny cabins with no amenities and only one bed, a full sized bed that our new roommates would need to share. The cabins would have no couches, easy chairs or love seats, no sleeping bags not even a bearskin rug, nope nothing else but the bed.  They would have a rather rustic communal outhouse to share with everyone else over a deep pit latrine and share their meals in a rather dilapidated chow hall eating off of tin plates and drinking from tin cups.  There would be a camp saloon but it would be like those of the old west, nothing but rotgut whisky, no mixed drinks, no foo-foo appetizers, no micro-brew beer. They would sleep together, eat together and have to participate in trail rides, fly fishing, Grizzly Bear hunting, rodeo events such as bull riding and calf roping as couples, odd couples, but couples nonetheless.  This togetherness would be enforced. Those Secret Service and FBI agents with their tasers… they’ll be out there too.  Anyway when our leaders go on the overnight trail rides the fun really starts.  After they eat their beans from tin plates, sing really bad western songs and take a swig or two or more of rotgut whiskey and then relieve themselves in the manner that the cowboys did in the old West they would get to curl up together in their own two person pup tent, a really small one and spoon.  This would help break down the walls that separate them and force them to get to know each other, some possibly in the Biblical sense of the word, but in the spirit of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I won’t go there.

There is something about shared suffering to bring people together and make them realize that there is more to life than their own narcissistic agendas and power trips.  No this wouldn’t be prison for them as much as a lot of Americans think that prison would be fitting for them; prison is far too easy for our political class. Instead this would build character, character that if once they had they lost over their years inside the Beltway.

Of course they would not get to pick their room-mates so here are some of my suggestions:

President Obama and Rush Limbaugh: I know I said that the media should have their own version of this but since Limbaugh is the leader of the conservative movement he has to come and buck with his pal Barry.

Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch: They’re both Mormons so they can at least pray together.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Rachel Maddow: I don’t know it just sounds right.

Nancy Pelosi and Antonin Scalia: Sure it’s an opposite sex pairing but they are both Italians they should have fun.

Tom Tancredo and Janet Napolitano: Let’s make a run for the border and mend some fences together

Russ Feingold and Ron Paul: Government control and Libertarianism two great tastes that go great together

John Ensign and Barbara Boxer: He can’t seem to hold it in and she looks like that she could use some loving

Al Franken and Clarence Thomas: A comedian and a straight man…what a combination

John Kerry and John McCain: Both Vietnam Veterans, they understand the value of camaraderie

Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer: The just look like they need to be together

Diane Feinstein and Michael Savage: ASan Francisco treat

Barbara Milkulski and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson: Why not?

Joe Lieberman and Tim Pawlwnty: Not opposites but they seem to go together

Samuel Alito and Maureen Dowd: It just sounds right

Eric Holder and Glenn Beck: I sense real chemistry here

Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich: He’s running and she’s not but why not?

Barney Frank and Sean Hannity: They debate on his show often enough let them really get to know each other

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden: Not a recognizable cognitive thought between them all hormones and testosterone

Sheila Jackson-Lee and Ann Coulter: Salt and Pepper

Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and Pat Buchannan: It can’t get any better than this

John Boehner and Joe Biden: I think that they could really come to love each other

Plus some new additions

Allen West and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Bringing Florida together

Michelle Bachmann and Ed Schultz: That Heartland feeling

Herman Cain and Kieth Ellison:  Building bridges of faith

Rick Santorum and Lawrence O’Donnell: It can’t get any better

Unfortunately some of our more interesting members of our political class have passed on I would have loved to throw Teddy Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and any number of others into the mix, but what can I say?

So after 30 days our political elites would board their buses and go back to their home districts or home towns.  Then they would have some real town meetings as couples, holding hands, looking dreamily into each other’s eyes and bringing peace to the political landscape.   With those pesky Secret Service and FBI agents and their tasers at the ready our leaders would have to listen to their constituents and not the lobbyists. Speaking of lobbyists they all get sent toNew Guinea.   As for the Congressmen and Senators they and their new found friends would have to spend 8 months a year living in their home state or district. The would give up their palatial estates in favor of homes that are in the median real estate price for their area. They would send their kids to public schools, go to PTA meetings, coach little league or soccer, deal with local government officials as the rest of us are forced to do.  They would have to do their own grocery shopping, fight lines at  Wal-Mart, take out their own garbage and spend time sitting in traffic behind the wheel of their average car or SUV. They would fly coach or business class and go through the TSA checkpoints like the rest of us, maybe even getting the full body scan once in a while. They would sit in the drive through line at Wendy’s, make a run for the border, Taco Bell that is and shop for the lowest priced gasoline.   The four months that they spend inWashingtonDCwill be devoted to actually fixing things that they have fouled up over the years.  They would have to pass non-pork laden budgets passed, reduce the deficit and do everything that they can to bring industry back into this country, rebuild the manufacturing base, protecting the environment as they rebuildour nation’s infrastructure and eliminate the barriers that keep small businesses and entrepreneurs from developing solutions to the challenges that face the country.  Likewise they would need to repeal all of the draconian laws that intrude on the everyday life of ordinary Americans. I want the Federal government out of our churches, out of our local public schools, out of our bedrooms and out of everything that they don’t belong in. Freedom baby, I love it.

Finally just to make sure that our now properly schooled public servants don’t forget the lessons of the Great Montana Dude Ranch Sleepover they would for two weeks each year have to do this again. Maybe it could be a trail ride inTexasandOklahoma, a swamp safari inLouisianacomplete with no mosquito repellent. Perhaps a winter camp out at the Donner Pass, a gang- reenactment camp in East L.A. or an Appalachian family get together, still building and moonshine making contest in some holler in West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky. The possibilities in our great country are endless after all learning should be a lifetime event.

Of course my pairings of political bedfellows may not work for you, maybe you have better ones.  If so feel free to add them as a comment and on this one no pairing will be denied because it’s all about togetherness.  Because as I see it everything comes down to relationships and if we can just get these folks out of Washington to share some hardship, to eat together, ride together and even spoon together after all who can’t say that they don’t feel closer to someone after spooning together?

Now before you think that I am advocating that they all have higgily-piggily sex together I am not.  However if it does happen and they get right with each other and start to work together for us what can be wrong with it? Half have probably had nasty sex with people that aren’t their spouses anyway so what difference does it make? It would be a sacrifice that they make for us, their fellow Americans.  I know that I don’t want to sleep with any of them and figure that you don’t either and I really don’t want to know what happens when they spoon.  Don’t ask don’t tell baby, don’t ask don’t tell.  Besides would you want to know what happens when Sean Hannity and Barney Frank spoon? I don’t. I’ll say it again, don’t ask, don’t tell that’s my rule for life.

If this works maybe just maybe that they will finally start looking to the issues that Americans care about. Maybe they will finally understand the desire that we all have to see our children grow up to have the opportunity to outdo us, that our children might have a better future and that the country that we live in would come together like we did in the Second World War to overcome all the obstacles that stand between us and a better future. Call me a genius or call me crazy, chalk it up to Mad Cow, after all I can’t give blood because I lived inEuropeand ate too much beef. But remember “Padre Steve” is a “Uniter” not a divider, a decider not a ditherer and a real American for real Americans.

Padre Steve: a passionate moderate with radical ideas.  Sleepover anyone?

Peace and laughs

Padre Steve+

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The Great Montana Dude Ranch Sleepover: Padre Steve’s Solution to Politics as Usual

Sleepover on a Dude Ranch anyone?

I don’t know about you but as a passionate moderate I am fed up with the nasty politics as usual that is killing our country.  Our political ruling class appears to be hell bent on destroying the country all to satisfy their respective need for power and to satisfy the basest wants of their most strident supporters. The corruption and malevolence of the career politicians on both sides of the aisle have bankrupted the country, cost American lives in war, cost American jobs, destroyed our manufacturing base, placed the interests of financial traders who produce nothing except promote the evil practice of usury because it makes them money which they in turn contribute copious amounts of said money to their political patrons.  Then to top it all off they pass laws that make no sense and that you have to have an army of lawyers to understand.  They are out of touch with the everyday concerns of real Americans and have done their best to destroy the fabric of our society in their quest for power and they are many times an unseemly lot who do things that regular people could never get away with. The number of ethics violations, criminal charges and convictions and resignations due to shady financial dealings, backroom deals, sexual scandals and sometimes rather nasty criminal cases are too numerous to catalogue unless you are Matt Drudge.  I won’t list them here but they include notable Democrats as well as Republicans, nor will I go into all the idiotic things that our government, both Democrat and Republican controlled administrations or congresses have done as the task would be ginormous. Since we all get spun up about different issues usually in tune with our own political or social viewpoints I leave it to you my readers to fill in the blanks and comment on what you think they are screwing up.

Part of the problem is that our political ruling class, the Federal Government particular is completely out of touch because they live in the netherworld of Washington D.C.  This city has become the symbol of all that ails the country and since our political class only leaves it to raise money for their next campaigns they have no earthly clue of what the rest of us are experiencing.  Thus they can coddle up to their big financial supporters and most demented party extremists and unseemly lobbyists representing some of the vilest elements of our society.  As a result for at least the past 10 years and I am sure a lot more they have for the most part forgotten the people that they are supposed to represent. The political class doesn’t live in our world, thus they do everything that they can not to look at what is best for the country but rather what is best for them, for their party, their supporters and their agendas.  If you ask me its all out of whack and they really all should be whacked.

Since they all spend far too much time in Washington or raising money to stay there it is high time that they get out of Dodge so to speak.  This is my idea of how we fix this situation.  My suggestion is definitely not politics as usual.  Instead it is based on relationships built from shared suffering and since we are suffering why shouldn’t they suffer too? So here’s my idea. First we shut down the government for a month. Now before you think that you won’t get what the government owes you I don’t mean the people that actually do the work.   What I mean is both houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.   We shut them down.  Let the clerks of the court do their thing, let the White House staff do its job and congressional aides deal with constituents.  Give the Russians and Chinese, the Iranians, Al Qaida, the European Union and everyone else a message that we’re busy the next month so don’t bother us.  We’ll tell them that if they mind their own business that our stand ins with itchy fingers won’t nuke them. where is Al Haig when you need him the most?  Hey MAD (mutual assured destruction)  worked during the Cold War, after all nothing like an ICBM loaded with multiple nuclear warheads to keep people in line and not do anything really stupid.

So do you hear me Mahmoud and Osama? Do you hear me?  All that would come between you and nuclear annihilation are a few disgruntled civil servants with road rage that just got to work after being stuck in Beltway traffic for 3 hours. Go ahead make our day.

Once we shut the place down we put all of these guys and gals on Greyhound buses packed to the gills.  Each bus would have a mix of members of each party really making sure those that hate each other most sit next to each other.  Secret Service and FBI agents on the buses would have the option to Taser anyone that tries to switch seats.  Then we drive them all to some big assed dude ranch in Montana, outfit them in silly looking cowboy clothes with boots that are a bit too tight and leave them there in the charge of a bunch of cowboys at least two of which have had a recent “Brokeback Mountain” experience.

They would have no cell phones, computers or communications with the outside world or even their minions back in D.C., nope, just them and Mother Nature sharing the experience of high plains living.  In fact to liven the place up we need to bring a few folks back into the mix, some former Presidents and Speakers of the House would do fine. Also the addition of the most strident Cable TV and radio talking heads and commentators would be good too, but I digress, too many extras might spoil the moment.  Maybe we should have a separate sleepover of Rush Limbaugh and Maureen Dowd or Sean Hannity and Keith Olberman later?  No, we’ll throw them into this one to make it more fun.

This dude ranch living would be a bit Spartan. Since most of these folks a Spartan way is driving in a luxury car or SUV, having to fly First Class, staying in a luxury suite or eating at a 4 star restaurant they might have a hard time with what I propose but that would just be tough.    They made this mess and by God we’re going to get them back in touch with the real world and in the process get them to build real relationships with each other instead of the artificial life that they have led inside the beltway for years.

Once we get them to the big assed Dude Ranch we pair them up the best we can with a liberal and a conservative in each cabin.  We would try to keep the cabins of the same gender not to cause too much scandal but would make a few exceptions to that rule.  Now by cabins I don’t mean those really nice cabins that people take real vacations at, no I mean really rustic, Spartan tiny cabins with no amenities and only one bed, a full sized bed that our new roommates would need to share. The cabins would have no couches, easy chairs or love seats, no sleeping bags not even a bearskin rug, nope nothing else but the bed.  They would have a rather rustic communal outhouse to share with everyone else over a deep pit latrine and share their meals in a rather dilapidated chow hall eating off of tin plates and drinking from tin cups.  There would be a camp saloon but it would be like those of the old west, nothing but rotgut whisky, no mixed drinks, no foo-foo appetizers, no micro-brew beer. They would sleep together, eat together and have to participate in trail rides, fly fishing, Grizzly Bear hunting, rodeo events such as bull riding and calf roping as couples, odd couples, but couples nonetheless.  This togetherness would be enforced. Those Secret Service and FBI agents with their tasers… they’ll be out there too.  Anyway when our leaders go on the overnight trail rides the fun really starts.  After they eat their beans from tin plates, sing really bad western songs and take a swig or two or more of rotgut whiskey and then relieve themselves in the manner that the cowboys did in the old West they would get to curl up together in their own two person pup tent, a really small one and spoon.  This would help break down the walls that separate them and force them to get to know each other, some possibly in the Biblical sense of the word, but in the spirit of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I won’t go there.

There is something about shared suffering to bring people together and make them realize that there is more to life than their own narcissistic agendas and power trips.  No this wouldn’t be prison for them as much as a lot of Americans think that prison would be fitting for them; prison is far too easy for our political class. Instead this would build character, character that if once they had they lost over their years inside the Beltway.

Of course they would not get to pick their room-mates so here are some of my suggestions:

President Obama and Rush Limbaugh: I know I said that the media should have their own version of this but since Limbaugh is the leader of the conservative movement he has to come and buck with his pal Barry.

Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch: They’re both Mormons so they can at least pray together.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Rachel Maddow: I don’t know it just sounds right.

Nancy Pelosi and Antonin Scalia: Sure it’s an opposite sex pairing but they are both Italians they should have fun.

Tom Tancredo and Janet Napolitano: Let’s make a run for the border and mend some fences together

Russ Feingold and Ron Paul: Government control and Libertarianism two great tastes that go great together

John Ensign and Barbara Boxer: He can’t seem to hold it in and she looks like that she could use some loving

Al Franken and Clarence Thomas: A comedian and a straight man…what a combination

John Kerry and John McCain: Both Vietnam Veterans, they understand the value of camaraderie

Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer: The just look like they need to be together

Diane Feinstein and Michael Savage: A San Francisco treat

Barbara Milkulski and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson: Why not?

Joe Lieberman and Arlen Spector: Not opposites but they seem to go together

Samuel Alito and Maureen Dowd: It just sounds right

Eric Holder and Glenn Beck: I sense real chemistry here

Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich: He’s out of office but they both want to be President

Barney Frank and Sean Hannity: They debate on his show often enough let them really get to know each other

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden: Not a recognizable cognitive thought between them all hormones and testosterone

Sheila Jackson-Lee and Ann Coulter: Salt and Pepper

Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and Pat Buchannan: It can’t get any better than this

John Boehner and Chris Dodd: I think that they could really come to love each other

Unfortunately some of our more interesting members of our political class have passed on I would have loved to throw Teddy Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and any number of others into the mix, but what can I say?

So after 30 days our political elites would board their buses and go back to their home districts or home towns.  Then they would have some real town meetings as couples, holding hands, looking dreamily into each other’s eyes and bringing peace to the political landscape.   With those pesky Secret Service and FBI agents and their tasers at the ready our leaders would have to listen to their constituents and not the lobbyists. Speaking of lobbyists they all get sent to New Guinea.   As for the Congressmen and Senators they and their new found friends would have to spend 8 months a year living in their home state or district. The would give up their palatial estates in favor of homes that are in the median real estate price for their area. They would send their kids to public schools, go to PTA meetings, coach little league or soccer, deal with local government officials as the rest of us are forced to do.  They would have to do their own grocery shopping, fight lines at  Wal-Mart, take out their own garbage and spend time sitting in traffic behind the wheel of their average car or SUV. They would fly coach or business class and go through the TSA checkpoints like the rest of us, maybe even getting the full body scan once in a while. They would sit in the drive through line at Wendy’s, make a run for the border, Taco Bell that is and shop for the lowest priced gasoline.   The four months that they spend in Washington DC will be devoted to actually fixing things that they have fouled up over the years.  They would have to pass non-pork laden budgets passed, reduce the deficit and do everything that they can to bring industry back into this country, rebuild the manufacturing base, protecting the environment as they rebuildour nation’s infrastructure and eliminate the barriers that keep small businesses and entrepreneurs from developing solutions to the challenges that face the country.  Likewise they would need to repeal all of the draconian laws that intrude on the everyday life of ordinary Americans. I want the Federal government out of our churches, out of our local public schools, out of our bedrooms and out of everything that they don’t belong in. Freedom baby, I love it.

Finally just to make sure that our now properly schooled public servants don’t forget the lessons of the Great Montana Dude Ranch Sleepover they would for two weeks each year have to do this again. Maybe it could be a trail ride in Texas and Oklahoma, a swamp safari in Louisiana complete with no mosquito repellent. Perhaps a winter camp out at the Donner Pass, a gang- reenactment camp in East L.A. or an Appalachian family get together, still building and moonshine making contest in some holler in West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky. The possibilities in our great country are endless after all learning should be a lifetime event.

Of course my pairings of political bedfellows may not work for you, maybe you have better ones.  If so feel free to add them as a comment and on this one no pairing will be denied because it’s all about togetherness.  Because as I see it everything comes down to relationships and if we can just get these folks out of Washington to share some hardship, to eat together, ride together and even spoon together after all who can’t say that they don’t feel closer to someone after spooning together?

Now before you think that I am advocating that they all have higgily-piggily sex together I am not.  However if it does happen and they get right with each other and start to work together for us what can be wrong with it? Half have probably had nasty sex with people that aren’t their spouses anyway so what difference does it make? It would be a sacrifice that they make for us, their fellow Americans.  I know that I don’t want to sleep with any of them and figure that you don’t either and I really don’t want to know what happens when they spoon.  Don’t ask don’t tell baby, don’t ask don’t tell.  Besides would you want to know what happens when Sean Hannity and Barney Frank spoon? I don’t. I’ll say it again, don’t ask, don’t tell that’s my rule for life.

If this works maybe just maybe that they will finally start looking to the issues that Americans care about. Maybe they will finally understand the desire that we all have to see our children grow up to have the opportunity to outdo us, that our children might have a better future and that the country that we live in would come together like we did in the Second World War to overcome all the obstacles that stand between us and a better future. Call me a genius or call me crazy, chalk it up to Mad Cow, after all I can’t give blood because I lived in Europe and ate too much beef. But remember “Padre Steve” is a “Uniter” not a divider, a decider not a ditherer and a real American for real Americans.

Padre Steve: a passionate moderate with radical ideas.  Sleepover anyone?

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A Weird Day, a Great Team and Some Fractured History

Today was one of those weird days for me, very busy, pretty good work and good intellectual stimulation n an ethics committee meeting.  I’m also still pretty tired from the past few weeks, not feeling bad but I know that I need to pace myself while we are short staffed in our department this summer.  It is a good thing that I have the boss that I have as he is making sure that I am okay on a pretty regular basis.  He knows that I will push myself hard until I hit the wall, which I did about a week and a half ago.  The thing is it is not just me that is feeling the strain. All of us on our staff have been pushed hard caring for folks during the recent deaths of two military staff members, regular work on our wards, administrative tasks as well as the extra load imposed by being short staffed.  But this is what we do as chaplains.  The good thing is that we are doing our best not just to look after our flock, but to look after each other.  We have a great team which I am proud to be a part.

Thus today my mind was a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.  In fact it was awash in so much that I should have written them down.  The mind is like a sieve sometimes.  Since it is late I am going to stick with a few observations from this day in history which seems to still have significance today June 17th.

On this day in 1579 Sir Francis Drake sailed his ship the Golden Hind into San Francisco Bay.  Immediately he was picketed by anti-imperialist and environmentalist protesters who had come down from Haight Ashbury in their Birkenstocks.  Ignoring them Drake’s crew hit on women and some men in Golden Gate Park, had lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and took in a Giants game.  At least that’s what they wanted to do, but they were 400 years or so too early.  Instead they sat around wondering why it was so cold in the middle of summer as they repaired their ships, had the chaplain celebrate Eucharist and then claimed everything in sight for England calling it New Albion.  The Spanish realtors in the area took umbrage to this and never recognized the claim.

On this day in 1775 was fought the battle of Bunker Hill or more appropriately Breed’s Hill.  The American soldiers defending the hill gave a good account of themselves against the British who were trying to drive them off of the hill.  An American commander on the front line uttered the cry which did not become in military history “Don’t fire until you can smell the Redcoat bastards.”  The insensitivity of the comment regarding the Colonial’s British Cousins body odor, which wafted over the battlefield, offended some of in the snior commanders who had a hard time smelling the gunpowder over their own body odor.  When the Pentagon heard about it the offending officer was sent to Ft Polk Louisiana and the utterance was officially changed to “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”  After the clash the surviving unwounded opponents gathered at Sam Adams pub where they consumed vast amounts of his original Boston Lager beer as they played darts and argued the merits of English versus American Football.  Some went to the Yankees Red Sox game at Fenway later in the evening.

On this day in 1815 Commodore Stephen Decatur commanding a Task force from the 6th Feet conquered the Algerian frigate Mashouda in an action that finally helped bring an end to the Barbary Wars and drove the Barbary Pirates from the Mediterranean.  Within 48 hours of defeating the Mashouda he was in Algiers harbor exacting peace on the Dey of Algiers.  This ended the period of where  Barabry Pirates excercised domain over the Mediterranean. Getting with British sailors on liberty in town with which they had recently been at war, the Americans and Brits spent the evenings at Murphy’s Irish pub drinking Guinness and Kilkenney with Irish and other expats while watching Arsenal play Bayern München on pay per view.

On this day in 1856 Republican Party opened its 1st national convention in Philadelphia.  Immediately Randall Terry demanded equal time to speakers demanding the end of slavery while Ron Paul was ignored.  Others lobbied for the Flat Tax until they discovered that there was not yet an income tax.  Up and coming Illinois legislator Abraham Lincoln gave the keynote address recommending a bigger Federal role in solving disputes between states while Newt Gingrich presented a “Contract with the Union” to deal with the various tensions.  Fox News covered the event

On this day in 1916 US troops under General John Pershing marched into Mexico to bring Pancho Villa and others into custody.  The expedition was not successful as many troops were inflicted with Montazuma’s revenge while KBR failed to get the porta-poties in place in a timely manner.  The Easern European sub-contractor walked out and KBR replaced them with men from the Indian Subcontinent area who had each paid $4000 to an agent for the job and recived $300 a month working 16 hour days 6 days a week.  However the campaign  did give US troops experience operating in harsh climates which would serve them well when stationed in Texas over the next century.  General Phil Sheridan had once said of Texas that “If I owned Hell and Texas I would live in Hell and rent out Texas.”

On this day in 1938 after conducting military operations against the Chinese for over 5 years the Japanese declared war on China.  Chinese leaders Chaing Kai Shek and Mao Tse Tung issued a joint statement agreeing to work together and declaring “It’s about damned time they admitted that they are at war with us.”

On this day in 1940 the French after having their asses handed to them by the Germans yet again asked for surrender terms.  General Charles DeGaulle immediately departed for England to continue the war against both the Germans and his fellow Frenchmen.   Upon his arrival DeGaulle immediately complained about the bad food, plain women and miserable weather.  He was embraced by Winston Churchill who got him drunk, left him passed out in a brothel and blamed the Vichy government for it. Churchill wrote afterward, “that man is a pain in the ass.”  DeGaulle always doubted Churchill’s version of events every time he looked at the tatoo of a German tank on his ass.

On this day in 1944 Iceland declared independence from Denmark.  No one noticed until 1953.

Most importantly on this day in 1960 Ted Williams hit his 500th home run. and today the Nationals beat the Yankees and the Orioles beat the Mets.

Peace, Steve+

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