me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

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These are my
Mission Statements.

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These are my longer "deep-dive" articles on specific subjects so they don't get lost.

This is wrong and here's why

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My Masonic fate is rapidly barreling toward me. Before my anticipated departure from the Fraternity, I wanted to share something to show just where I think the "less than" Most Worshipful Grand Master of Tennessee Billy Ray Cutlip is heading.

First of all, to commemorate a Grand Master's year, he gives out a commemorative lapel pin and sells pocket knives. Here is a picture of the current pin:

TNGMPin

This pin is unremarkable from previous Grand Masters pins, except for the symbol on the right side, the Christian Cross. Unless you are a Mason, the significance of this will escape you. I will clearly explain why this terrifies me and should likewise terrify all good Masons.

For some context, here are five of the 6 last Grand Master's pins. I do not have one of PGM Hastings' pins:

fivegmpinsEach pin reflects something personal about that Grand Master. Going from Left to right, Past Grand Master Boduch's pin is shaped like a Doctor's black bag and has a caduceus because he is a Physician. #2 is for PGM Mack Johnson and it has a star reflecting where his Lodge is within the state (just off the left tip of the square) and has his initials under the star. The middle one for PGM Laddie Wilson has the symbol for the Marine Corps, since he is a former Marine and a trowel, one of Masonry's symbolic tools. PGM Etherton's says "200 years of brotherhood," since his year was 2013 and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee was formed in 1813. PGM Musick's pin is University of Tennessee orange and a star over Memphis, where his home lodge is located.

Before I can go into why GM Cutlip's pin is terrifying, I must dispel the myth that the Masons are a religion. While it is a requirement that a petitioner believe in a Supreme Being and publicly express that belief, beyond that the Masons do not inquire as to the exact religion or Supreme Being. I do not care the manner in which my brothers worship their Supreme Being and they likewise do not intrude on my communion with my Supreme Being.

The Masons accept men of all religions without preference or prejudice. That's the standard to which we hold ourselves and our brethren accountable to. No one religion, even the primary religion of the land, is to be elevated above the others in Masonry.

The symbolism of this pin is terrifying to me as a Mason, even though I am a Christian. I do not begrudge a brother from wearing any religious regalia, in fact I support it because it shows he is not afraid to show his love for his Creator and will freely share his beliefs to all who ask about it. That being said, when the "less than" Grand Master Cutlip decides to promote his religion at the exclusion of all others as part of the symbol of his office, he might as well be saying, "NO KIKES, RAGHEADS OR OTHER NON-CHRISTIANS ALLOWED."

Do you think I am engaging in hyperbole? Could it be possible I am exaggerating? It has been tradition for over 100 years throughout Masonry that you don't discuss politics and religion in a Lodge. Because of the passions many people feel on those subjects, discussion of these subjects lead to disharmony among the brethren. We as Masons try to work in harmony for the betterment of ourselves, each other and the world in general. Preferring Christianity over all other religions sticks a big knife in the back of every non-Christian Mason that lives in or travels through Tennessee. I don't care if 999 out of 1,000 Masons in this state are Christian, why does the "less than" Grand Master Cutlip want to make that one brother feel unwelcome here? I don't care if that lone brother is Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Shinto, Pastafarian or any religion, it is not GM Cutlips' (or any other brother) place to exclude another brother because of their religion.

Just to make it clear, I understand Christianity is important to GM Cutlip, however I would be just as concerned if instead of the Cross it was the Star of David, the Islamic Crescent or any other specific religious symbol. I am not concerned about the phrase "Put God back in America" because I see it to be non-sectarian. The word "God" is actually a generic term, "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" (more precise Names for the Christian God) would be unacceptable for the non-sectarian Masonic fraternity.

This is what happens when you let extremists drive the bus. It doesn't matter if they are political or religious extremists, anyone who does not submit to the drivers' brand of extremism tends to end up under the bus rather than in the bus.

My shortest career

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As they say, "That didn't last long."

I've tried for the past month to work a job in sales, specifically car sales. The one thing I discovered was that it isn't for me. What attracted me was that I had recently become a "free agent" and a training class for this field dropped into my lap as I received news of my impending "free agency."

The potential for a high level of income is there in sales, if you can withstand the demands. Make no mistake, the people I worked with over the past month were great, supportive and sharing in encouragement and knowledge.

The downfall is it's a "feast or famine" kind of job. When you arrive in the morning, you get on the phones to make calls to people in your tickler file, review any appointments for the day. Then you do sales training, motivation exercises and product training. This usually takes 1-2 hours. Then you wait until a customer comes. Until that customer walks onto the lot, you're stuck in a high alert mode. Once you make contact with a customer, you have to be high energy until the customer leaves, which can be anywhere from 30 minutes if they are "just looking" to 5-6 hours after which they leave in a new vehicle.

That hypervigilance combined with 50+ hour work weeks became a detriment to my health. I was also unable to help my family because they are night owls due to my bride's sun sensitivity, while I naturally wake up at 5:30am most days. So, I wake up and do my morning routine and other minor stuff until I left for work at 8:30am or so, work 9 to 11 hours then come home. Once home I only had 2-3 hours to do everything before heading to bed.

I am not afraid of hard work. I will do whatever I can by legal and moral means to secure the emotional, physical and economic health of my family.

Shading Nuances

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With Liberals, the agenda always comes first. Everything and anything must be done to advance the agenda, no matter the cost. In this case, gun control.

Katie Couric and Director Stephanie Soechtig (figuratively) shoots themselves in the foot with this "documentary," Under the Gun. They are so intent on advancing the agenda they massively compromise their integrity by doing this:

That nine-second "pause" after her "question" was derived from what is called "B-roll footage" shot before the interview began. If you notice between the video above and audio below that the question Katie asks is slightly different, which certainly implies that the video question was dubbed in during post-production (when they were adding in the B-roll).

Kudos to Katie's pro-Second Amendment "targets," the Virginia Citizens Defense League, because they did not trust her and thus covertly recorded audio of the interview. Here is the salient part:

So, the film implies that the people interviewed by Katie were left speechless and without an answer, while in reality the answers were prompt, concise, rational, thoughtful, realistic and totally against the documentary's agenda.

Director Stephanie Soechtig indicated that she, not Couric, had editorial control. She tried to justify the deception by releasing this statement:

"My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans' opinions on background checks."

To tell you the truth, I could have accepted Soechtig's statement, if the responses from the VCDL had been included after the "pause." But since they weren't, I have to conclude that the intent for the exclusion was deception because the responses didn't advance the agenda.

I especially like that phrase, "...the facts on Americans' opinions..." because opinions do not change facts. People's opinions can agree or disagree with the facts, depending on how knowledgeable they are on the subject. If opinions are derived from biased commentary by the media on the subject of background checks, it is the fault of the media providing biased (instead of balanced) commentary and the people listening for not performing their own due diligence on the subject before parroting the biased information.

I also do not accept Soechtig falling on her sword (figuratively) and accepting all of the blame. If Couric (who was the interviewer for the film and also the Executive Producer, who is the bankroller of the documentary) had any integrity towards the truth rather than advancing the agenda, she could have been critical of the documentary. Instead, Couric released this statement after Soechtig released the one above:

"I support Stephanie's statement and am very proud of the film."

I have also discovered that the makers of this "documentary" scheduled an hour to interview John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime. Mr. Lott was an anti-gunner who in the 90's performed a study to prove his side of the argument. What he discovered conducting that study caused him to switch sides in the debate. Again, they scheduled an hour to interview him and the interview ended up with four hours of tape. How much of that four hours made it into Under the Gun? Zip, zero, zilch, nada. Because nothing he said advanced the agenda.

Just in case you think that there might be a slight possibility that this could be a balanced documentary, please check out the partners of the film, I have the links below. Eleven pro gun-control groups, zero pro-Second Amendment groups. Kind of telling, eh?

I ask that you click on each link, so this blog shows up in their refer lists. I want them to follow the links back here and know I am against their agenda. They will open in individual windows so you don't have to keep clicking "back":

 

Americans for Responsible Solutions   Everytown for Gun Safety   Sandy Hook Promise
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America   Violence Policy Center   Purpose Over Pain
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence   Jessi's Message   Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence   States United to Prevent Gun Violence    

Follow up on Nevada

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This is a quick post, expounding on what I have learned since I made the post on Those in power... a few days ago.

First of all, I have learned that delegates for Sanders were intentionally given the wrong information on the time and place of the meeting. I am unaware of any Clinton delegates receiving erroneous information, and all of the Sanders delegates did not receive that bad information. This can only mean that the Party wanted to make sure to "shave" any votes in Clinton's favor.

Second, the initial votes on rules changes were held while many Sanders delegates were still outside the hall, in line trying to register. I have heard it both ways that the vote was held earlier than scheduled, or not delayed because there were delegates were still filing in.

To show the other side of things, I have heard that many Sanders delegates were not properly registered in time. Remember, Sanders was an Independent who only "caucuses with Democrats." He had to join the Democrat party to run against Clinton. I guess not all of his followers did the same thing. As far as the "rapping the gavel and walking off," I have also learned that that meeting had run a couple of hours over the scheduled time and the hall had to be cleared, plus the cost of security was about to go way up because the security personnel were going to start getting overtime.

As it has been said before, "The truth is a three-edged sword; your side, my side and the truth." No side is totally right, no side is totally wrong. I always look at the facts of the matter and what the truth actually is.

Memorial Day

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This weekend is not meant for you to have a day off, an excuse to grill out, or to participate in various sales to buy things.

It is to honor the men and women who have given their lives for this country and the concept of freedom. From the Concord Green to the Middle East, the citizen soldiers who have answered the call of duty and fallen in battle in foreign lands.

Please choose a day this weekend to visit your local veterans cemetery. Tread lightly, for heroes sleep there. Never forget those who died at sea, for the ocean is their grave.

If you have attended a veterans function, you may have seen a display like the one below. This table honors our POW/MIA's. For those of you who do not know the symbolism of each item, let me tell you:

pow mia table

This symbolizes that our Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action are with us, here in spirit.  

The Table is round, to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.  
This small table is set for One, to symbolize the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors. 
The Tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.  
The single Red Rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and their loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.  
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting for our missing.  
A slice of Lemon, on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.  
A pinch of Salt, symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who need answers.  
The Bible, represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. 
The Glass is inverted, to symbolize their inability to share this day's toast. 
The Chair is empty, they are missing.

Freedom is not free. It must be paid for by the blood of Patriots and Tyrants who seek to oppress us.

We are never more than one generation away from losing all we hold dear.

My take on Presidential politics

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Here you go. This is my take on what I see in the current Presidential candidates. To try and remain neutral, I am listing them in alphabetical order by their last name.

Hillary Rodham-Clinton

I perceive this woman to be so fascist that she would give Hitler a hard-on. I see her as the controlling partner of Team Clinton. She is angry, elitist and driven to run things. Hillary was the driving force behind the Clinton Universal Healthcare, she destroyed the names and reputations of the women Bill had sex with who had the unmitigated gall to actually speak out against Bill. She loves the "little people" so much that when an Arkansas State Trooper who protected her said, "Good morning" to Hillary, she went off on the trooper like she was a drill sergeant. She was the head instigator in Travelgate and probably many other "-gates." I have little doubt she managed the assets that probably had something to do with the 20+ people who were close to the Clintons and came to untimely and questionable ends, Vince Foster and Ron Brown among them.

Most of the MSM is firmly in her pocket, ideologically and probably financially. While there are occasional news articles on things like Benghazi or her email scandal, they are downplayed by the reporters. I showed here where her contributions to state Democrat organizations has induced over 500 superdelegates to openly support her, months before the election.

She has made it clear that she is anti-business, as in among other things, openly stating she will destroy the coal industry. She is decidedly pro-gun, as long as the government is the only one with firearms that is. Hillary "misspeaks" (lies) more often than she says something resembling the truth.

Bottom line: Hillary has limited "real world" experience. It looks like every job and position she has held are nothing more than check marks on her resume to get her to the Oval Office. Hillary is after power and she is not afraid to use force of any kind to reach the ends she sees that she deserves.

Bernard Sanders

"Bernie" openly admits he is a Socialist. And we all know how wonderful Socialism is, that is until you run out of other peoples' money. Many of us older folk saw how wonderful Socialism worked in the old Soviet Union and its puppet states, the Cultural Revolution in China and how it is playing out right now in Venezuela. He joined the Young People's Socialist League (the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party) while in College at the University of Chicago (1960-64) where he received a PolySci degree.

He landed his first steady job at 49 years old when he lucked into being elected as the Mayor of Burlington, VT in 1981, serving a total of four two-year terms. Bernie had been running for various political offices since 1971. After a short attempt at teaching at a pair of colleges, he was elected to the House in 1991, then Senator in 2007. In his Congressional career, he has sponsored 362 bills, of which three became law. One was a COLA adjustment for veterans, the other two were the same bill, one in the House and one in the Senate to rename a Post Office in Fair Haven, VT. This can actually be considered average, as I checked several other Senators, Boxer (sponsored 827, 18 signed into law), Hillary (417/3), and one of my own Senators, Lamar Alexander (167/8).

Bernie's economic plans of "free" almost everything would bankrupt this country even faster than Obama is already trying to. Just because college students would get their degrees for "free" doesn't mean that someone doesn't have to pay those bills. The various levels of government already take 40%+ of our income, to try and pay for the Trillions of dollars of programs he wants to enact would boost our taxes to the 60% (or higher) level.

The MSM has basically ignored Bernie. If he gets coverage at all, it's in the "someone named Bernie Sanders is trying to ruin the coronation of Queen Hillary."

Bottom Line: Bernie has been a leech his entire life. He never held a job of any importance before his political career. He sponged off friends until he got into political life, and has continued to sponge off the People of the United States at various levels for the vast majority of the thirty-five years since then. He is a pacifist who will ruin the country economically and militarily before we are reduced to banana republic status and probably attacked by another country.

Donald Trump

As far as "The Donald" goes, I am not fully in his camp. He sounds like a Republican however I am not fully convinced. I like what he says despite the MSM distortions and half-truths. Example: the MSM says he wants to throw all of the illegal immigrants out of the country. That statement is factually correct. What they don't say is how he would let the immigrants back in under the current immigration laws.

I have a meme that states that had Trump taken his inheritance and safely invested it, he would have several $Billion more in assets than his current net worth. That again, is factually correct. The truth is he risked his fortune and did go broke several times, however he has managed to come back each time. Had he come out on top in all of his deals, he probably would have surpassed Bill Gates in net worth.

While I don't have all of the facts for a lot of his stories, they do have a theme of doing the right thing for the right reasons. From offering free use of his airliners to get troops home after the first Gulf War, to helping veterans get what they need from the VA, he appears to be genuine in his concern for others. I hear little stories about how he has helped others anonymously and refuses any fanfare.

When you truly look at it, The Donald has had Hillary, Bernie, the MSM, all of the other Republicans running for the president and the Republican power structure attacking him from every angle simultaneously. Yet he made it to the top of the heap and unless there is a major sea change in the few remaining primaries, he will be the Republican nominee for president.

The Donald also has one skill that both Hillary and Bernie lack: the experience of having to make a payroll. The economic experience of having a budget to complete a task and having dire consequences if he blows the budget. Hillary and Bernie merely call to raise taxes or borrow on our children's future if they go over budget.

As far as the MSM goes, if they had vetted Obama half as much as they are "vetting" (attacking) Trump, Obama wouldn't have made it to the Oval Office. A couple of days ago, the MSM was all in a panic because Trump "didn't pay any income taxes." Again, that is the truth. The context is, that was back in the 70's and was like two or three returns. Trump was able to exploit the tax laws to his advantage to avoid paying any income taxes. If you have a problem with that, let's go to a flat tax rate for everybody no matter their income. I always thought it was BS when Bill Clinton was buying votes with "targeted tax cuts," which were specific ways to help out those friendly to him. Most people heard the "tax cuts" part, never realizing that regular people could never qualify for them.

Bottom Line: The Donald is a risk taker. I once heard the saying, "A leader can be right or wrong. He must never be indecisive." If you take risks, you will occasionally fail. How you fail and how you recover are the important points. Donald has demonstrated he can bluster, bluff and make a deal. That being said, business is downright polite next to the bloodsport that is politics. Billions of people could die if one of his deals goes bad the wrong way. A single wrong estimation could cause hundreds of nuclear ballistic missiles to be launched against us.

When faced with a choice between these three, I do not like any of them. Hillary and Bernie in the Oval Office would be totally ruinous, just in different ways. Trump is still an unknown to me. He looks good, he sounds good. I still say there is a difference between good, sound ideas and ideas that sound good. There are subconscious alarm bells going off with him. Nothing I can put my finger on right now though.

Eating their own

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I asked a rhetorical question about why Hillary had over 500 declared superdelegates in this post.

Then, I come across this article explaining why so many superdelegates are openly declaring their support for Hillary so early. The answer is simple, she bought them. I think Democrats actively and aggressively going after their "presumed" presidential candidate.

Daily Koz, an obviously left-leaning website, has this article, How Hundreds of Superdelegates were "bought" by the Clinton Campaign.

You see, these Superdelegates are members of their State Democratic Parties, upon whom they rely for support and funding for re-election. And the money that will be available for those re-election efforts has, in many cases, been provided by Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has provided funds for these candidates through a sophisticated system of money laundering that has allowed the Clinton campaign to funnel billionaire’s donations to State parties in return for their participation in a massive money-laundering payback system to also funnel money to the Clinton campaign itself.

So, just to spell it out and not leave anything to misinterpretation:

So if a Superdelegate whose State voted overwhelmingly for Bernie switched her support to Sanders under the reasoning that she was representing the will of her State, then Clinton’s Campaign COO would shut off the spigot and all that sweet, sweet billionaire cash would stop flowing into the coffers of her State Democratic Party — and the candidate herself.

The qualities of an effective head of state are an interesting mix. You must be personable, diplomatic and likeable, yet ruthless. An empathy for other people, while relentlessly and assertively pursuing the best interests of those whom you represent. The only thing I see in Hillary are the ruthlessness and aggressively pursuing her own private gains at the expense of the people she "serves."

People are going to vote for her simply because she has a vagina and they believe "it's time." They ignore the influence-peddling, bribery, strong-arm tactics that would make the Mafia blush and the large number of "accidental" deaths of people around both her and Bill.

We will be well and truly screwed if she makes it to the Oval Office.

Why I do not celebrate today

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I have placed this in the Recovery category rather than the Personal category because this is about my recovery. I have not spoken about my issues that led to the creation of this blog in a long time. I think today is the day to break that streak.

Why do we enthusiastically celebrate a child's birthday? Why the swats, with "one to grow on" and the extra candle? Because as late as the 1950's, a significant number of children died young. They died from diseases we have either eliminated totally (Smallpox) or rendered irrelevant through general medical science and vaccines specifically. Diseases like Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio ravaged children back then. Today they are almost unheard of because of vaccines. I am one of the last to be vaccinated against Smallpox. They don't vaccinate against that anymore since it has been eliminated.

Because a child's' next birthday was never guaranteed, we held out hope that the child would live to next year by placing next years candle on this years birthday cake. The same basic concept goes for the "birthday spankings."

Once I reached adulthood, my birthdays never really mattered to me. I was amazed that one day I was considered a child and under the law a non-entity and property of my parents, yet the next morning I was magically an adult, able to enter into contracts, serve my country and be ultimately responsible for myself.

I continue that tradition today, and I'll tell you why.

When Robin Williams died in 2014, a lot of people said, "It is a tragedy he died so young [at age 63]." I regard that he lived until 63 as a miracle. In the 1970's and early 80's (up until his friend John Belushi died), Robin was self-medicating his depression with cocaine and alcohol. If he had completed suicide or overdosed on something like a speedball that took Belushi's life in say, 1981 at the height of Mork & Mindy, that would have been the true tragedy, because we would have lost him 34 years earlier when he was 29. Think of everything he had done after Mork & Mindy, then think those roles would have been performed by other actors or maybe not at all.

During my dark days of 1999-2002, I stood toe-to-toe with Death and got into a staring match with him several times. Each time, I made Death blink first. I could have missed out of all the experiences I have had with my wife and son between then and now or will have with them in the days yet to come. People with a mental illness die on average twenty years sooner than a person who never experiences depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any of the other mental illnesses.

I don't celebrate the anniversary of my birth anymore, because I celebrate every day that I wake up. I thank my God that I am alive and able to get out of bed and move forward each and every day. At this point of my life, because of what I have been through, every day is my birthday.

Those in power...

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...will do anything to stay in power.

The leadership of both the Republican and Democrat (not democratic; democratic is a process, not a group of people) parties are screwing over their members so that the power structure can decide who their presidential nominee is, rather than the voters.

Make no mistake, I charge both parties with the crime of Being Assholes. The difference between the parties is at least the Republicans stick to the rules they made, good or bad. Republicans pushed through rules changes last Presidential cycle that have come back to haunt them this time around. Trump has won the Republican nomination because he operated within those rules and exploited them to his advantage.

I remember during the 90's, during either the 1992 or 1996 Democrat Conventions, when the various subcommittees would develop "planks" for their parties platform (the parties official position on various stances like abortion) they would state, "This is the position of the party. All in favor say 'Aye', *raps gavel* motion carried." Notice there was no "All opposed say 'Nay' in that.

The same thing basically happened this past weekend in Nevada. A motion was made by the Chair of the Nevada Democrat party, Roberta Lange to perform a delegate recount, which was seconded by a member of her staff. I had to at least read up on Roberts Rules of Order for last year, and the person running the meeting is supposed to be neutral and cannot make motions. It's also "bad form" to have an underling second a motion. Ms. Lange then called for 'Ayes' but not 'Nays,' before rapping the gavel and walking off, leaving armed security to break up the Bernie supporters.

To get back to how the Democrats "fix" is in, the Democrats "superdelegates" are their way of controlling who gets elected to represent the party. Just like when you vote for President, you're not voting for the actual candidate, you're voting for someone who will vote for that candidate in the Electoral College. The presidential primaries run off the same system, you vote for delegates who will attend the convention and are pledged to vote for that candidate on the first ballot only. If there is no winner on the first ballot, these delegates can then vote for whomever they please. The Democrat superdelegate is never bound to a particular candidate and can vote for whomever they want on all ballots. Just as a rhetorical question, why are any superdelegates already "pledged" to a delegate?

As of today, Hillary has 1,716 pledged delegates, while Bernie has 1,443 pledged delegates, for a lead of 273 for Hillary. There are also 564 superdelegates, of which 524 are "for" Hillary and 40 "for" Bernie. As a "what if," if all of "Hillary's" superdelegates were to suddenly change their minds and switch to Bernie, he would have a lead of 281 rather than Hillary's current lead of 767.

The bottom line, the fix is in our national politics, it has been for a long time and until the current power structure is kicked out and replaced, it's going to keep happening.

A true definition of leader

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I found this video last night and I was really impressed, because Simon Sinek gets it. He understands and clearly conveys what a leader truly is. From an A-10 over Afghanistan, to the chemicals our body produces and why, Simon talks about why we get addicted, or feel good when he help others, or are helped, or even watches one person helping another.

He talks about endorphins, dopamine, seritonins, oxytocin and cortisols, and why they are produced and what they do for us.

The most important thing he talks about is being a leader. Again, he gets it. Alphas eat first, because they are the biggest and strongest of us. Out of those Alphas, the ones who make sure everybody eats and feels safe in the group are leaders. CEOs who unflinchingly sacrifice hundreds of jobs to preserve quarterly earnings (and his annual performance bonus) are not leaders. A cleaning supervisor (head janitor) at such a company, if he truly looks after safety and well being of the people he is responsible for is more of a leader than the CEO.

Leader is a title that cannot be given you buy your job or position. It can only be earned by your actions of selflessness and concern for the entire group you belong to, be it your family, the company you work for, the society where you live, your country.

Take heed about why you should talk with someone face-to-face (or over the phone if you can't see them) after they send you an email asking your opinion about something. If we all did things like this, the world would be a better place.

Watch it, you must. Learn and enjoy.

I am proud to see this

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I heartily congratulate Shades Valley Lodge #829 in Birmingham, Alabama, for on May 5th, 2016, they took a step that I wish Tennessee Masons could or would take.

On that day, they raised Brother Ronald King to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. While they have been integrated for some time, Brother King is the first Black man to go through the degrees in an Alabama Lodge.

During my year as Master of my Lodge, I tried several times to integrate a Lodge that was recognized throughout Tennessee as one of the best Lodges in the state. In 2014, when our Grand Master was from another Memphis Lodge, when he toured the state, he didn't talk about his lodge, he talked about Bartlett #211 as the standard all Lodges should strive for. We could perform all the degrees without the help of visitors (although all parts were offered to visitors first) and we had more Pins of Excellence than any other Lodge in the state. However, each time a Black man visited us, a cold shoulder was given to him.

As Masons, we are taught to judge a man by his internal qualifications (honor, integrity and character) rather than the external (riches, appearance or skin color). To see men denied solely because of their skin color has always upset me. I am glad to see this advancement in Masonry.

The stupid is strong with this one

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This post is filed under the category, "Duct Tape Alert." Since I haven't used this category in a while, let me repeat what this means: A Duct Tape Alert means that I suggest you wrap your head in duct tape before reading, because when (not if) your head explodes, you will be able to find all of the pieces.

So I find this on the Huffington Post, and I am seriously wondering, "Who ties this guy's shoelaces???"

Justin Curmi has a three part series (so far) on "A Revision of the Bill of Rights." Part I, Part II, Part III and Part III, Questions Unanswered. All I can infer is there will be another seven articles until he has gone through nine of the ten Amendments in the Bill or Rights. I'm thinking he will probably skip the Third Amendment.

Justin misses entirely the purpose of the Constitution, which is a limitation on the scope of a federal government. I do agree that the Preamble sets the tone for the entire document, however he misses the overall point. He also seems to consider the Bill of Rights to be a secondary Constitution, rather than what they are, changes to the scope of original document.

The original Bill of Rights actually consisted of twelve, not ten amendments. The first has never been ratified, it being a plan on how to change the proportions of citizens to representatives as the population of the country grew. In 1911, Congress fixed the number of Representatives at 435. The second amendment ultimately became the 27th Amendment in 1992.

There is a preamble to the Bill of Rights:

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution. [Emphasis mine]

So, the Bill of Rights is a recognition that the rights of Man come from a Higher Power and the government constituted under this document must respect and not infringe upon these Rights. Every word of the Constitution as originally drafted and the Bill of Rights have the sole purpose of clearly defining and restraining the power of the federal government.

So, in Part II he says this:

If there are grievances, the people have the right to peaceably protest and write the government to address the grievance. Thus, the government cannot make a law but if there is a grievance brought to them by the people, they can ban or bar what is causing the grievance.

Again I am asking myself if someone pushes the straw into his drink box for him...

"The government cannot make a law but if there is a grievance brought to them by the people, they can ban or bar what is causing the grievance?" Really? Really? Of course they can make a law. And the various federal agencies can make additional regulations. They make these laws and regulations "public" in the Federal register, which it takes a special breed of person to effectively make their way through that and retain their sanity.

The United States is founded upon three Boxes: the Soap Box (as in the free expression and exchange of ideas and political opinions), the Ballot Box (throw the bums out of office) and the Cartridge Box (armed revolution if the first two don't do the job). If the government makes an unpopular law and the People protest, the government has two choices: either they can amend the law to remove the offending sections or void the law entirely, or tell the People to go screw themselves and start punishing people for violating the law. The People then have the option at the ballot box to vote in people to overturn said bad law, or rise up, overthrow the current power structure and try this experiment in freedom again.

His last paragraph in Part II almost gets it:

If a person is unaware of his or her rights, they will be doomed to laws that establish religions, prevent religious expression, limits free speech and press, and the right for people to protest peaceably. Ultimately ignoring the powers that an individual has, which is a detriment to democracy.

I agree, if the People are unaware of their Rights and Responsibilities, they will be doomed to laws that encroach upon their freedom.

It's Part III that really gets my blood boiling. It's about the Second Amendment. Again, Justin gets it wrong on the most basic level. Oh, sure he gets some of it right, but again, he misses the true intent by attempting to be nuanced.

The Second Amendment exists to recognize the Deity-granted right of citizens to defend themselves and limits the government from limiting that Right. It doesn't matter if the attacker is a local criminal or the federal government. That weapon is the power of the citizen to put an exclamation point to the word "No!"

Justin also does not grasp the basic concept of what exactly a "trial" is. In this instance, a trial is a legal process where another citizen or the state makes an accusation that another citizen has violated a law of the land. During this process, the accuser (the government) shows what law was broken and why the accuser believes the accused is the one to have committed the act. There are standards that the accuser has to meet, as far as the integrity of the investigators and the facts used to show the accused actually committed said offense. When we say "fair trial," we intend that the accuser must prove guilt, not the accused must show he did not commit the offense. If the accused must show innocence, this would be like standing outside on a sunny day at Noon, then trying to prove at that moment that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. You can't do it.

If a criminal just so happens to select an armed citizen as their next victim and the criminal becomes dead in the process of unlawfully imposing their will on the victim, that was the criminals fair trial. I am 100% sure that if the criminal had not performed the act, the citizen would not have forced the criminal to assume ambient temperature. As Baretta said, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

In Part III, Questions Unanswered, Our boy Justin gets it totally wrong, again. He questions the fair trial concept in the Fifth Amendment and fails to comprehend at any level what it means.

The appropriate part of the Fifth Amendment Justin is not understanding is:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;

In order to stand trial for a capital crime (generally felonies), the accuser (district attorney) must present their evidence to a Grand Jury, who will either approve or "no-bill" the charges. The accused nor the defense team is present at these proceedings. This is purely to determine if enough evidence exists to possibly prove the guilt of the accused. If someone is in the military under active duty status, they do not get the Grand Jury step of the process. An officer on the field of battle can summarily execute a soldier under their command right then and there for something like Cowardice Before the Enemy, desertion of his post or a similar offense that could result in the entire unit getting killed.

It is plain to me that Justin does not understand the concepts he is talking about. His views are so contorted and convoluted I have no frame of reference to truly comprehend this mans ignorance.

Another Major Life Change

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Last week, I received an unexpected call from my supervisor to come over and see him. I immediately made the 10 minute transit to his office to see what was up.

He was reluctant to give me the bad news I had actually been expecting for a while. You see, I was hired to my current job to develop and maintain the company website and manage the social media. The social media side didn't work out (a long story that I'm not going to get into) and I have brought the website to fruition and it is currently in "maintenance mode." At the last Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that my position be curtailed to the hours necessary to maintain the website. I am being cut back from 40 hours a week to 8.

As my supervisor sadly relayed this information to me, his assessment of my was confirmed beyond all doubt.

Like I said, I had been expecting this for a while. After the initial shock had passed, my first question was, "Is there anything I can do for the company that will allow me to keep my hours up?"

I subscribe to a cycle that everyone goes through many times a day. Something happens to you. That event produces a feeling inside of you. You assign a thought to that feeling, then you make a decision on how to act based on that thought before you actually react to what happened to you. Many people run through that entire cycle without pause. They let the most important part of that cycle go by without consideration. Because you can control everything after the feeling. You can pause that cycle to actively consider and choose the thought, decision and action you take based on that feeling. Or you can "knee-jerk" (reflexively) act.

Most people would be shocked and scared to know they are taking an 80% pay cut. Many people would have an angry or belligerent response. My response was to see what I can do different to help the company.

My supervisor, Cordell Walker is a man of great personal integrity and character. I have known him for years and he became my friend long before he was my supervisor. How he carries himself gives you the impression that he is like a granite obelisk. Tall, solid and unshakeable. He gave his honest assessment of me, stating he was pretty sure that would be my response to the news. He is impressed every day with my professionalism, demeanor and outlook on my job and my life. He knows and supports my first objective, the financial security and stability of my family.

With friends like him, I cannot fail.

The religion of hate

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The religions of man are many. The various methods of expressing worship of the Deity are almost too many to count. As with all religions, there are two basic methods all religions use to recruit their members: coercion and inspiration.

Coercion takes many forms and methods and are all based on the lack of choice. Instilling the moral teachings of a religion in a child is not a bad thing and can be considered a mild form of coercion. That being said, a child does not have the learning or reasoning capacity to make such choices. A more intense form is to browbeat one emotionally and/or intellectually into believing as another. The worst method is the choice of either convert or die.

Inspiration by example is a much better way to obtain believers. But who is counting? Just because one method of worship has a billion followers and another having only ten followers does not put one of those religions over the other.

Once a person becomes truly self-aware, their spiritual quest may lead them to stay with what they know, or lead them through many different religions before they find their spiritual peace. The most important point is each person be allowed to make this journey for their own benefit.

This has been said many times before in many ways, "If your religion leads to hate others, you're in the wrong religion." Those who forcefully exclude others who do not believe in the same way actually hurt themselves, because it is by exposure to other beliefs and pools of knowledge we might come to a better understanding or modification of our own beliefs.

And just so I am perfectly clear, I see coercion of others in Christian, Muslim and most other religions as well. I am disgusted with people who use religion as a weapon. Religion and the love of Deity is supposed to be a unification of Mankind, not a violent separator. I am not naive, I know more people have died in the enforcement of one religion upon another than from any other cause. This enforcement of religion gave us that wonderful phrase, Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. "Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own."

When I mean "unification," I mean that all should worship the Deity as they see Him, or Her, or Them. That they worship is much more important as how they do so.

Forcing all of Mankind into one religion would be like everyone having the same make and model of automobile. Imagine how well things would work if every person of legal driving age was given a Smart Car and only a Smart Car. You know, the two-seat car that's not too much bigger than a roller skate? While this would work fine for young, single people, or those who only transport themselves inside the city where they live, what about the couple that has five children? Or those who haul cargo long distances? Or the traveling workman who must carry his tools and materials long distances? This variety of transportation needs is why we have Smart Cars, Minivans, Tractor-Trailers and vans of all shapes and sizes. One type of car is not good for most people throughout the span of their life. Why should a much more important aspect of a persons life, their religion, be any less flexible? Would it not be better for a person to visit, observe, learn about and try other ways of worshiping Deity so they find what suits them?

I have many people in my life who do not worship as I do. And you know what? I am glad they worship as they see fit. My personal agreement for or against their religion is totally irrelevant. If I see friend A try to force their religious beliefs on friend B, who believes differently, I will step in and protect B from A. That goes equally as well of B were trying for force A, I would protect A from B.

Think about that. Think about what I have said before you start saying, "My God, the God of Love and Peace tells me to hate and destroy those who do not believe as I do!"

The war on work

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I admire Mike Rowe. He is a rare breed of man. He is not afraid to get dirty. He is a champion for skilled labor. He laments about the crumbling infrastructure, then points to all of the young people who want to go to college. These young people come out of college, unprepared for real work because they have a degree in Comparative Icelandic Literature and zero practical skills. He is doing the Lords work, through his mikeroweWORKS website where he helps people learn skilled work. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and all of the other good-paying skilled labor that would fix our infrastructure problems.

Here he is at a TED talk discussing this. The first 2/3rds is him waxing anecdotally about castrating sheep with his teeth (mentioning anagnorisis and peripeteia along the way) and being on a crab boat in 50 foot seas. The important part starts about 15:00 into the video.

 

 

As long as all of us look with disdain upon the skilled worker as some type of Morlock, this situation of empty factories and crumbling infrastructure will only get worse. The large, publicly traded companies who only have their eyes on beating next quarters' stock dividend predictions can include themselves in the blame for this predicament we are in. Many of our skilled labor jobs will change as things progress. There are many types of jobs that no longer exist and there are many jobs that no one could have conceived 30 years ago. However there are still many skilled labor positions that will be around for a long time to come.

It is time we laud their efforts and encourage young people to pursue the skilled trades.

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Markisms To Live By

A democratic society depends upon an informed and educated citizenry.
Thomas Jefferson