Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hoyt's Mountain

"Hoyt's Mountain"
18 X 24 acrylic

by Craig Willms

For an old friend. His father was moved from his beloved home due to health issues. Here's hoping this painting brings some comfort and joy.

See more paintings at


Saturday, July 23, 2011

But can he (she) win?

Going into the political season, which by the way starts earlier and earlier each cycle, the field of candidates to challenge President Obama is setting up nicely. Personally I will enthusiastically support any one of them to replace Obama. I honestly don't see how anyone can look at Obama's record and the direction the country is heading and be happy about it. Looking out on the horizon who can see good times ahead?

The truth is America needs to be unleashed economically. Obama and his ilk are restraining the economic engine of the most dynamic country the world has ever seen - and to what end? Someone please answer that.

In my view and the view of many, many others Obama and the "government is the answer" crowd has got to go or this country is going to be ruined. Government should be a facilitator not a dictator.

The Republican field of candidates has two things against them from the get go, and neither of them trivial. One is the power of incumbency and the other is the fawning, adoring media that will not turn on Obama even when this disaster of a presidency is so evident. Each candidate will have to endure a blistering attack from the media while knowing that not one aspect of Obama's shortcomings will even be discussed. Unfortunately the media has already unjustifiably poisoned some of these fine people in manner never seen before.

When each of these candidates is examined against the reality of the pounding they'll get from the media the question "but can he (she) win," becomes paramount. The greatest conservative darling in the world does no good if he or she can't win.

Let's take a look:

Newt Gingrich - no
Too much baggage, conservatives respect him but realize he is damaged and most of it by his own hand.

Herman Cain - maybe
Not well known, but is a marvelous speaker and has excellent business and economic instincts. Very light on foreign affairs. He would need to be more specific in his speeches and debates to balance his beautiful rhetoric.

Michele Bachmann - no
Frankly she's not ready for this. Her Christian morality play will be pummeled and some of her old mis-steps will bury her. While I like her and am impressed by her personal story I find her the weakest of all the candidates when the campaign gets to the major leagues.

Jon Huntsman - maybe
He's not even as well known as Cain. In media circles he is well known and is often said to be the Republican that liberals like. That's low praise in conservative circles. He does not win any points for being President Obama's ambassador to China either. He was a popular governor of a small western state which doesn't help. I don't think he can get the nomination. If he did could he possibly beat Obama, maybe...

Tim Pawlenty - yes
If he wins the nomination that is. Pawlently's problem is two-fold; a mis-interpretation of his personality and Michele Bachmann. Bachmann sucks the oxygen out of the room. He's actually a first rate executive and as wonky as he need be, he absolutely could go toe to toe with Obama. He will not be given the chance unless something breaks his way early.

Mitt Romney - yes
Romney could beat Obama, of that I am certain, but it will be without enthusiastic support from the conservative base. There are many conservatives who will stay home rather than vote for him. He is another John McCain in their eyes. While his business credentials are a major plus as well as his reputation for turning around failing enterprises his support is wobbly in the party and especially with conservatives.

Sarah Palin - ???
Palin is a big question mark. She should be given points for withstanding an onslaught never before seen in American politics. She doesn't deserve (no one does) the vile hatred she has endured for nothing more than being nominated for the vice Presidential post in 2008. Nothing she'd done justified the ridicule and scrutiny she endured and continues to endure. The media has purposely fomented a kind of hatred toward one person that hasn't been seen since Adolph Hitler. I would vote for her in a second just out of respect for the strength she's shown. But can she beat Obama? If she even got close you and I know what she's seen so far would be paddy cakes.

Rick Perry - yes
Though undeclared as a candidate Perry may be the strongest of them all. The media has so little to attack him on. The angle they will take is that both he and George W. Bush are Texan's. That association is the biggest stick they have against him. Unfortunately it would be willow stick. Bush and Perry are not tight, there is no real association. Perry has been a very successful governor of a pretty successful state. Texas has done almost exactly the opposite of what Obama has prescribed for America and Texas prospers and grows, America - not so much. I like what I see with Rick Perry

Ron Paul - no
Ron Paul is an enigma. So much of what he says is right on. He seems to look right through political rhetoric and gets to it's common sense essence. But his manner and demeanor is strange and uninspiring. He would not fair well in a debate with Obama. He would not inspire confidence. Unfortunately for Paul, people like to be bamboozled, they like to believe that those in authority known things we don't and that's why they do crazy, nonsensical things. Paul Paul is too sane. What a sad commentary on American politics. He cannot win.

Obama is beatable - and he has to be defeated before the country (perhaps the world) collapses economically, but the Republicans have to put up someone who can win.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Life is a distraction

From what, you ask? From death, of course.

In a recent post on his teaching blog Bruce Charlton tosses out some quotes by Blaise Pascal a 17th century thinker that have really stuck with me for some reason.

the quotes courtesy of Mr. Charlton:
Who does not perceive the vanity of the world? So, who does not see it, apart from young people whose lives are all noise, diversions, and thoughts for the future?

But take away their diversion and you will see them bored to extinction.

Them they feel their nullity without recognizing it, for nothing could be more wretched than to be intolerably depressed as soon as one is reduced to introspection with no means of diversion.

Not that I've been thinking about death so much as I have been thinking about life. I suppose its because I recently reached a milestone age-wise and that my children are grown and will soon be off living their own lives. Pascal is saying that if we removed all the noise and distraction from our lives all that would be left is quiet introspection. Left with only this we would see the futility of life itself.

We are born, we live, we die.

Unless we are actively engaged in working to put food on the table or directly caring for children everything else is a distraction. Distractions that without we would become insane with boredom.

Professor Charlton takes it a step further and delves into how this is manifested in the current culture. Youth, he says, is incapable of seeing the futility of this life because they live in constant noise and diversion and lack the ability for introspection. These are the traits that make being young so much fun. When you scold a child and say, "how would that make you feel" you are forcing them to examine themselves. Children almost always become sad when forced to do that.

In this new culture, the one that has been championed since the 1960's, the culture I grew up in, we are not allowed to grow up, says Prof Charlton. I believe he is right. Everything outside of work is positioned around having fun and being youthful. Seriousness is frowned on.

Those who look at the world in a larger sense are sometimes criticized for being too serious and being no fun at all. Why drag people down with your bitterness and negativity. If you're introspective about your country and your culture you run the risk of coming off as a grownup. Not good. Look at everything being sold from night cream to Viagra, it's all about being youthful.

What's wrong with that? What is the alternative? Surely if we didn't surround ourselves - especially as we get older - with TV, sports and hobbies and any number of busy-body activities we would soon be bored with our own company and likely fall into depression. The question is are some of these activities even worthwhile? Are some destructive? Wasteful? Of course. Vanity is usually destructive, wasteful.

We could lose ourselves in the glory of God too... But no, this culture clearly frowns on that. Our culture is drifting into destruction by our own unserious hand. While we culturally worship youth we are financially transferring the wealth to the old - in the most wasteful and inefficient manner, potentially destroying both. The one thing that could bring things together is the one thing the new cultural overlords hate the most - that would be God Himself.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Doing my part

The economy is still in the tank, no news there. I remember way back in the early 80's America faced similar economic doldrums. Reagan was elected President in 1980 and after a few years things started to pick up. They started calling it the Reagan Revolution. It wasn't that the economy was great by 1983-84, but it was because the mood, the outlook and the prospects looked so much better than they had just a few years earlier.

I was married in '83 and we bought a house in October of that year. We spent money like crazy back then. We needed everything. We used to joke that we were the Reagan Revolution! Well I'm here to say this year I'm doing my part to jumpstart this morbid economy despite all the evidence that I'm spitting in the wind.

This year alone I bought a new refrigerator, a new lawnmower, a new dehumidifier, a new gas grill, 2 new cell phones, a new 18-speed bike, building materials for deck project, paid thousand$ in medical bills and I'm sure much, much more. I will need a new car soon as well.

So, I am doing my part to create an Obama Revolution. I just wish he would.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

A gun to the head...

I don't want to turn this forum, meager as it may be, into a routine tirade against President Obama, but this latest one can't go unnoticed.

During the aftermath of the Tuscon shootings last winter where Rep. Gabrielle Gifford was severely injured by a crazed gunman we were all treated to an excoriation of Sarah"gun toting"Palin and all conservative talkers. We were to understand that it was incendiary violent language that had caused marginally sane people to go on shooting rampages. The debate that followed became all about Sarah Palin who had absolutely nothing to do with any of it.

Palin had "targeted" Gifford's re-election race as winnable for the Republicans and therefore she and she alone was responsible for this tragedy. We all know that war analogy's are rarely ever used in political campaigns (pun intended).

When I was listening to coverage of President Obama's electronic town hall and heard him utter the phrase - - "the debt ceiling should not be used as a gun against the heads of Americans to retain breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies"- - I was a little stunned.

The imagery was simple - Republicans were threatening to put a bullet in the head of Americans by not capitulating to Obama. A rather violent picture.

So I waited for the storm of outrage over a politician using such violent and incendiary language. Crickets. Doing a Google search - maybe it was Bing- I found a few odd mentions and no outrage at all. Here and here.

Yeah, you're not going hear any feigned outrage. Why didn't the conservative punditry make hay with this? Because it would be stupid, disingenuous tripe. I mention it only to prove that the media in general, so bent on destroying Sarah Palin was unrestrained and gleeful to have such a grenade to throw at her. Calling out Mr. Obama would be counterproductive to their goals.

So here goes: Shame on you President Obama, I'm outraged that you would use such violent and incendiary imagery.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

To Fetch a Pail of Money...

According to George Will a new book called “Reckless Endangerment” is a study of contemporary Washington, where showing “compassion” with other people’s money pays off in the currency of political power, and currency.

It's worth noting that despite all the things written about the financial crisis that still grips America and the world it does have an embryo and a focal point. I have not yet read the book, but it appears that names and faces will finally be applied to the culprits.

We've known for quite some time that "Wall Street" was to blame for the implosion of 2008, right? In reality Wall Street's part in all this was a reaction, a devastating reaction to the rules laid down by Washington. The slime merchants of credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations should not go unscathed, however the gleeful manipulation of lenders, borrowers, investors and insurers was almost an inevitable result.

It started in the Carter years with the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act which pressured banks to relax lending standards. As a way to spread the American Dream to folks whose incomes, assets, or abilities to own a home would never pass muster in the home loan department of a bank the CRA was the epitome of liberal compassion. The embryo if you will.

President Clinton stepped upped the ante by putting teeth behind the compulsory lending standards but then offering banks a way to protect themselves. In comes Fannie Mae, a “government-sponsored enterprise” or GSE. The focal point emerges.

This set in motion the events that eventually (inevitably) led to the housing market meltdown that still grips us today. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became perhaps the most powerful financial institutions in the world. While the stage was being set to bring down the most powerful economy in the world James Johnson, the head of Fannie Mae at the time and his - mostly Democrat - friends and associates walked away with millions in bonuses. The money flowing out of Fannie and Freddie for campaign contributions went mostly to Democrats and it was mostly Democrats who defended and then obstructed any attempt to stop the speeding locomotive.

The rest is history. Wall Street did what they always do by creating complicated financial vehicles to maximize their profit. Losing grip on reality and sinking of major "too big to fail" firms was ultimately a bump in the road as we watched the Federal government ride to the rescue with TARP and other bailouts.

Average homeowners, the real losers in all this were thrown a bone with new Financial Industry Reform legislation. Intended to assure us that the banks will never do this again, incidentally written by the same men (Democrats) who brought us reform in the 1990's. They missed one little thing in all the fine print. The reform didn't address Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac at all. Hmmm, were the Democrats behind the legislation still angling for cash for next years campaign?

You may have noticed that I mention "Democrats" once or twice in this story. I'm just trying to set the stage for the inevitable fall guy... It was all George Bush's fault!!!