Monday, November 29, 2010

Let the Traditions Begin!

There are Christmas traditions with which I grew up that have not translated well into adulthood. The cardboard fireplace, for example. Absolutely the hokiest decoration ever. I have no idea where on earth Mom picked it up, and after the first year I suspect I was the primary reason it got assembled every subsequent year until the poor thing itself became a fire hazard. But I loved it. Since I was the one to assemble it, I guess I took on a pride of ownership sentiment; it was one of the few things that I could actually build year after year that didn't look like a really bad shop project in junior high. I can remember sitting for hours and staring at the cheap little tin propeller that spun over the red light bulb and simulated "fire" glowing in the fireplace. Growing up in Simi Valley it was the closest to a real fireplace that I'd ever seen. Not much call for them except for two or three weeks out of the year, really.

By the time the fireplace became fodder for the recycling bin, I'd moved on to bigger and, arguably, better traditions.

Most of those traditions revolved around Christmas music. Not any particular song, necessarily. Just the joy of singing wonderful music centered around this unique blend of the spiritual and the secular that result in just about the most fun a musician can have and still be considered legal.

By the time I'd entered high school, my internal calendar pretty much revolved around a standard concert season. Most concert seasons seem to be based on the standard school calendar, beginning in fall and ending either in spring or early summer. After an all-too brief hiatus in the summer, it's back to the rehearsal grind and the arrival of the first octavos of...


In high school we occasionally had a reprieve of a few weeks before the good stuff showed up, whilst our director dithered over whether to bother with a fall concert. When working with kids, that's not a lot of time to slam together a concert of any length with two or more of your active groups, only to turn around and have them begin to memorize the Christmas repertoire. More typically we'd keep a few generic pieces that could be performed at the drop of a hat at, say, the Knights of Columbus hall, or the VFW, and spend most of our fall rehearsal time working on the holiday tunes.

My life has chugged along in this pattern, year after year, whenever I've been fortunate enough to work in an active choir.

For the last seven years, though, our actual holiday "season" hasn't officially gotten underway until our annual Messiah Sing-Along. The Yorba Linda Arts Alliance was looking for a really, really cheap tenor soloists that first year who would work for the right price (FREE) and I was recommended by a mutual acquaintance. I've been the tenor soloist for this event every year since. (Proof here.)

So there are two things that make this a wonderful way to begin our season. First, the family gets to listen to Daddy do a not-bad job on a mildly challenging solo ("Every valley shall be exalted"). Even better, we begin our celebrations with a recitation of some of the more significant prophecies surrounding the birth and mission of the Savior by listening to a setting that comes nearer to celestial music (in my mind) than practically anything written before or since.

Musically, "Messiah" (I will NOT entertain the whole "The Messiah" vs. "Messiah" debate here... Schirmer wrote "THE MESSIAH" bold as brass on my 1912 edition of the score that I use every year, and I have to continually remind myself that many music snobs get VERY UPSET when you use "The" in front of "Messiah." Phooey, I say!) may quote extensively from Handel's earlier works, but what musician doesn't borrow from their own work when they live and die by the commission? We love the music, and find it a perfect companion to our festive spirit.

All this by way of saying that our traditional holiday season has begun here at Hacienda Woody. May yours be every bit as celestial as you can possibly make it this year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flying the Flag

My dear spouse yesterday reminded me that we had utterly failed to fly the flag for Veterans Day. I was deeply chagrined, as I enjoy flying the colors for every appropriate holiday so long as we are in town. We fly the flag because it represents our feelings towards this country we call home. We are truly grateful to be citizens of the United States of America, and flying the flag is an appropriate expression of that citizenship.

That's why this particular story raises my blood pressure a few notches.

Understand, however, that it is not the actions of the school administrators involved with this incident that have me seeing red. They acted on information that they possessed and experiences that they had recently had with the flying of a Mexican flag during Cinco de Mayo (according to at least one account), and decided to ban the adornment out of safety concerns for their students. It was probably a reflexive reaction to a situation and driven at least partially by a desire to not have any child's blood on their hands. I can understand the sentiment.

What leaves me short of breath in this case is the need for making such a decision in the first place.

If you read my post from yesterday, wherein I honored my Dad as part of my Veterans Day celebration, then you understand how I feel about this country. Displaying an American flag on American soil is fundamentally no different from displaying any given nation's flag on their own soil. It is, in fact, encouraged in most countries to display the banner of their homeland, often in ways far more aggressive and ostentatious than we do here in the United States. Certainly it was that way in Guatemala, and I have seen plenty of photographic evidence from other countries as well.

Citizenship 101 would also indicate that, even if you choose to honor the country of your birth and fly a flag from any other nation, say, Mexico as an example, then that flag should always be flown underneath the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate that you recognize the United States as your country of choice and the nation to which you owe your circumstances, including the opportunity to earn a living and provide for your needs and those of your family.

I myself come from a background that is heavily English and German in origin. I do not, however, feel any overwhelming urge to fly the flags of either nation here at home. I am grateful for the heritage, and may even try to emulate certain of their traditions in my own life, but I owe them no other allegiance whatsoever.

My feelings can best be summed up thus: Flying any other nation's flag above the Stars and Stripes indicates to me that you do not belong in this country, or, at the very least, do not appreciate being here. And for those who simply hate the United States, the exits are clearly marked and always open.

It really is that simple.

I try to be a tolerant man. I have no ingrained or deep-rooted prejudices against any race or nationality of which I am aware. If I have a lack of tolerance, it is mostly reserved for those people who lay claim to living and working in this country, while clearly despising everything else that this country represents, including those most basic of rights wherein we may freely express our thoughts and opinions, and worship as we see fit. If these things make you uncomfortable, you ought not to be here.

So the next time you see a kid riding a bike with an American flag attached, remind yourself to not only be grateful that we have such a privilege, but that we should jealously defend that privilege when suffering the mockery and scorn that so many other nations level at us when displaying such patriotism.

Don't just tell me you want to live here.

Prove it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring a Veteran

He was a double veteran, actually. Served twice, in two different services.

Timing was everything. He joined the Army just at the end of World War II when everything was winding down. Just couldn't graduate high school quite fast enough, it seems. No matter; he joined the band. Did his stint and accepted the thanks of a grateful nation.

Then came the Korean "conflict." He decided to join up again, but this time opted for the Air Force, and once again served in the band. Did time in Alaska. Made, I believe, Staff Sgt.

He told exactly two stories about his time in the military. To me, at least. One had to do with lips freezing to the mouthpiece of his horn in Alaska. The other was a story with a moral. Something about having "borrowed" a superior officer's Jeep, but under orders from his own superior. When the offended officer called him on it, his response was, "Guilty with an explanation, SIR!" I always got a kick out of that one.

At some point, probably in his military career, he got a tattoo. He pointedly refused to ever discuss it. No idea what the circumstances may have been. Certainly at that point he would have been considered a man of the world, and in my imagination could well have been out on furlough with some buddies, imbibed somewhat more than would be considered legally safe these days, and got the tattoo. But we'll never know that story now, at least not in this life.

This veteran is, of course, my father. Dad passed away about a decade ago. There's a marker at his grave denoting his two branches of service. I've not been back to see it since the funeral. I've meant to, of course. In fact, the one time I tried during one of our family excursions the cemetery was closed. It doesn't trouble me that I've not been back. We'll get there one of these days, and the desire to see it hasn't fled. But I'm comfortable that my memories of Dad are still fresh enough that I find comfort in them.

Dad was loyal to his country. I don't say patriotic, because that smacks of more overt acts of flag-waving and pontificating that were never Dad's style. His was a quiet patriotism. But he understood, as well as or better than most, just how important this country was in the wide scheme of things throughout the world. Why else join two branches of service only to suffer through two different boot camp experiences and never see combat? It was because he saw it as being important. A duty that he would not shirk.

I would venture to guess that none of these thoughts were terribly profound to Dad. He had been brought up to love and support his country, and he took his citizenship seriously. According to his mother, who all but declared that the man walked on water, he was just built that way. More likely Dad took a pragmatic view of his service at the time. Certainly he never bragged about it in later years. It was just a fact of his life up to that point. Something that added to his world view and his luggage full of experience.

That his oldest son would be somewhat more openly patriotic would not have surprised Dad. While I have a lot of Dad in me, I also represent Mom and her expressiveness. This is where my desire to write comes from. Dad was never that expressive. While serving my mission he wrote me exactly two letters. One encouraging me to stick to the work. The other giving me a few details of his wipeout on his Vespa (long story). Those represent the only two letters I received from my father ever. At some point he kept a journal, but mostly because it was on a computer and he loved to tinker with computers.

I appreciate two things about Dad's service in the Army and the Air Force. First and foremost is an appreciation of all things we love about our veterans. Their willingness to serve and protect our nation from enemies of freedom. It is, however, his love of and devotion to this country that I appreciate most. It is that characteristic that I have adopted in my own life, and I treasure it. I was never brave enough to volunteer for service; the draft ended by the time I was old enough to enlist, and the mandatory registration requirements weren't reinstated until I had just passed that age limit. Probably would have gone Navy if anything, but Dad would have been cool with that. But even without having served directly, I have long supported our military by helping in a small way to build the materials that they need to be able to carry that fight wherever duty may require. It is a work that I cherish beyond simply bringing home the bacon.

So we honor our veterans (Mrs. Woody's Dad also served) on this day. May their devotion to duty never be counted against them, and may God protect them, one and all.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Aftermath

While not a bad night overall for Republicans (control of the House, gains in the Senate), here in California we have proven that, no matter how bad things are, it can always get worse.

First, the Propositions. Uncle Woody did about as well as expected, but is still sore about the whole redistricting commission thing. See my summary of results in the Curmudgeon's Guide.

As far as candidates go, I always do better with local and county slates just because we still live in a predominantly conservative section of California, but one that is quickly becoming a conservative oasis in an otherwise progressive wasteland. My picks for Anaheim mayor and city council came through. We'll see how long before Disney Appeasement Syndrome kicks in (characterized by an overwhelming urge to plant lips on Disney's fanny).

Races for things like local school boards really don't pique my interest as I have no dog in the hunt. Likewise court positions. Since I try to live such that I won't need to avail myself of their services, I don't tend to keep an eye on them. (That said, the one fellow I voted against in this election made it handily anyway. More power to him.)

It is, of course, at the state level where the sting is most sharply felt. Republicans were, once again, pathologically incapable of fronting any candidates serious enough to challenge the oppressive Bay Area progressive junta. The closest we came to a victory was Steve Cooley, and as of now it looks too close to call but is leaning toward the Democrat.

I can't really claim to be surprised that Boxer won. Fiorina had her points, but not enough of them to overcome the liberal's ultra-left Darling in the Senate. The wrench, though, is Jerry Brown re-entering the Governor's office. (One immediately wonders whether he'll avail himself of the Governor's mansion this time around, now that he's, you know, married and everything.)

The only thing I can figure is that enough voters were young enough this time around to have no memory of Brown's first attempt to destroy the state of California. As I told a friend of mine last night, the next sound you hear may very well be helicopters loaded with more malathion to dump on your families trees.

Oh, well. I have high hopes that Cooley may still pull off a miracle so we can watch the dynamic between a Governor who has no regard for California law, and an Attorney General who would actually work to enforce it. Still, we can look for ol' Moonbeam to make for plenty of late-night comedy fodder over the next several years.

Utah is looking better all the time.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day Reminder


It is the most basic responsibility of citizenship in this country. Our ability (and right) to vote separates us from so many nations, we should consider this right to be both precious and significant.

I voted absentee this year for the first time in many elections, and it still feels good today. I know that I have participated. I hold no delusions that my choices will agree with everyone else, but I am certain that my voice has been heard. Above all, I can (and often do) speak volumes about the foibles of our elected officials, knowing that if I disagreed with them I did so at the ballot box.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Woody Is a Doll

In the run-up to tomorrow's big election, I've been monitoring site activity to watch how many hits the Curmudgeon's Guide gets (which, by the way, see, if it's not too late!). Usually folks come here having looked for some form of the search string "conservative voters guide," and manage to find the Woundup in the process. Some folks even stick around for a bit and actually read the Guide. I thank you for even considering my opinion while forming your own.

Every once in awhile, though, this blog is visited due to some rather, oh, peculiar search strings that have little or nothing to do with politics. I do still get searches for "montebello hoax," meaning that school teachers are still assigning students to write about the incident wherein a Mexican flag was flown over an inverted American flag during a protest at Montebello High School a few years ago. Sorry, teachers, it really happened. That fact has simply been too well documented to insist on calling it a "hoax." Blame for that incident is still widely disputed, but not the incident itself. Back to your social engineering blackboards with you.

The search that caught my eye today, though, was "how to fix Woody's head." It is a question that has, I confess, triggered a primordial response deep within my psyche.

First, of course, there's the obvious fact that I was completely unaware that my head was in need of fixing. Not that various liberals and alternative religionists haven't gently suggested such a thing in the past. My comments section is chock-full of folks who somehow question my intelligence. But even when they do, they never imply that my head needs fixing. Re-educating, yes. They universally seem to agree that I need serious re-educating. But not fixing.

Then I looked to the source of the question. The chap (we'll assume a male of the species for strictly generic purposes) is based in India, or at least was using the India version of Google, so there may be something of a language barrier at play. I spent time in Guatemala some thirty years ago, and the local Mayan dialect used the question "is your face good?" to ask whether you were, in fact, feeling fine. "Good my face," I would reply (although not, obviously, in English) which seemed to satisfy local custom. Perhaps "fix head" is, in one of the Indian dialects, an indicator of bad taste, as in "you would better appreciate this snake stew if your head weren't broken."

But, no, I have long known about my blog's title and its uncomfortable similarity to "Woody's Round-up" which figured so prominently in "Toy Story II." Now, I have every admiration for Pixar and their writing teams, and I picked the name "Woody's Woundup" as (I thought) a clever play on my long-standing nickname and the allusion to Toy Story, but which could also be interpreted as my being constantly "wound up" about something or other (meaning politics). Hence I get visited by numerous folks — primarily in Japan for some reason — who are looking for information on the Round-up. Google's infamous search engine uses that fabulous proximity logic of theirs and sends them here. Thanks, Google!

Hence, in the final analysis I'm forced to conclude that this individual was actually concerned with the state of Woody's head, meaning that he has a Woody doll from the movie, and has somehow broken the poor thing's melon. It is a tragedy, to be sure, and one for which I hope this person finds immediate relief. After all, a cow may be sacred in India, but who knows what significance a Woody doll may have?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters (AMENDED)

California General Election 2010 Edition (AMENDED) (UPDATED TO REFLECT RESULTS AS OF 11:00 PM)

Scroll down for updates in red

It's time once again, boys and girls, for Uncle Woody's Patented (Pend.), 100% Effective, Accept-No-Substitutes-or-Imitations Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters®©™.

Every election that rolls around here in California (and believe me, with as many fault lines as we have here in California, when I say they "roll," I mean they slosh around like loose barrels on a storm-tossed dinghy) gets this treatment from your genial host (remember him?). We suffered through the Primary Election back in June, wound up with mediocre (at best) candidates from which to choose, and now we prepare for the General Election, which will (or perhaps won't) be a turning point in Congress during this so-called mid-term election cycle. It will (or perhaps won't) be an indictment of President Obama's numerous failures to do anything except learn how to kow-tow before various heads of state (see: Seat of Pants, Government by). So the results will (most likely in this case) be interesting, to say the least.

So, fellow citizens, we come to bury the Propositions here in California, not praise them. I will examine them one by one, attempting to rein in my hyperactive gag reflex, and tell you in as concise a manner as I am capable how I think you Young Conservatives should vote. Or not. This is a very relaxed voters guide, here at the Woundup.

First, though, allow me to provide you with a handy clip-out summary of the measures so you can carry Uncle Woody's brilliance with you to the ballot box check the results as of late Tuesday evening (I'll blog about the candidates tomorrow):
MeasureUncle WoodyCaliforniaUncle Woody's Reaction
19 - Legalizes Marijuana Under California But Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.NONO (56.1%) Send the pot-heads to Mexico to deal directly with the cartels!
20 - Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional AmendmentNOYES (64.p%)Uncle Woody is not surprised, though disappointed.
21 - Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs, Grants Surcharged Vehicles Free Admission to All State Parks. Initiative StatuteNONO (61.4%)It failed the duck test.
22 - Prohibits the State From Borrowing or Taking Funds Used for Transportation, Redevelopment, or Local Government Projects and Services. Initiative Constitutional AmendmentNOYES (63.8%)Don't blame Uncle Woody when they grab your property for a strip mall.
23 - Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions that Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for a Full Year. Initiative StatuteYESNO (58.1%)Kiss those jobs bye-bye, Young Conservatives. Progressives have once again proven they want everything paid for with non-existent revenue.
24 - Repeals a Recent Legislation That Would Allow Businesses to Lower Their Tax Liability. Initiative StatuteNONO (60.6%)The news is not all bad. Progressives must have been caught sleeping on this one.,
25 - Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Related Legislation From Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional AmendmentNOYES (53.7%)Hoo, boy. Hopefully Uncle Woody will be able to retire to Utah before they pass their first simple majority budget. After that there won't be any retirement money left in the state. The unions will get it all.
26 - Requires That Certain State and Local Fees Be Approved by Two-Thirds Vote. Fees Include Those That Address Adverse Impacts on Society or the Environment Caused by the Fee-Payer's Business. Initiative Constitutional AmendmentYESYES (55.5%)Fees = Taxes. They finally got it!
27 - Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting with Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.YESNO (60.9%)Again, predictable. Uncle Woody further predicts LOTS of belly-aching over the first attempted gerrymander by the Kommission.
Anaheim Measure JYESYES (62.3%)No real passion or controversy with either of our city measures this time around.
Anaheim Measure KYESYES (72.9%)Let's hope we're not proven wrong on this one.

Let's begin, then, with:

Proposition 18

Hah! The joke's on us, Young Conservatives! There IS no "Proposition 18." At some point (August 10, 2010, according to the ever-helpful "Official Voter Information Guide") this proposition was removed by both the Legislature (motto: "Budget?") and the Governor (motto: "Budget?"). Can they even do that, Young Conservatives? Did anyone happen to inform Proposition 18 that it was no longer running for office? Did they let it down gently, or was it (more likely) some soul-less form rejection letter?
Dear Proposition 18,

We regret to inform you that your services are no longer needed by the State of California. As such, you will be summarily removed from the ballot for the November 2, 2010 General Election...
Heartless and cruel, that is.

Oh, well. Moving on.

Proposition 19 - Legalizes Marijuana Under California But Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.

Apparently, Young Conservatives, whoever came up with the title of this Proposition had already had a toke or two, if you ask Uncle Woody. Not that I have ever toked, Young Conservatives. Although, since Uncle Woody was in high school in the 70's, it's entirely possible that I inhaled without ever knowing it.

Anyway, Uncle Woody cannot for the life of him figure out where these initiatives come from. Aliens would be Uncle Woody's guess (the UFO kind, not the illegal ones) (although, by definition, the UFO kind would be here illegally too, right?). We're supposed to believe that legalizing the weed will somehow weaken the drug cartels, for example. Right. Legalizing something that nearly everyone currently living in Berkeley grows in their front yards, for Pete's sake, is really gonna take a huge bite out of those Mexican drug lords' profits.

Uncle Woody suspects that the real reasons for this initiative lie in the doped-up title of the Proposition itself: Words like "tax" and "regulate" make this the work of the Democrats, or Uncle Woody is much mistaken.

Don't light this one up, Young Conservatives. Bury it. Uncle Woody votes NO.

Proposition 20 - Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Oy. This one is silly, Young Conservatives. We voted on Proposition 11 back in the General Election of 2008. Uncle Woody, you may recall, urged a No vote on this Commission but was shouted down by 50.5% of California voters (this happens a lot to Uncle Woody). Now, Proposition 20 appears to try to somehow empower this already-voter-established Commission to actually do the job they were created to perform.

Since the Commission itself is nothing but a boondoggle, Uncle Woody could not care less whether they receive any actual "power" to redistrict this state, period. There's no way any resulting redistricting will ever be considered "fair" to anyone but the benefactors of such gerrymandering, so how will this be different from any redistricting done in the past?

Uncle Woody is a STRONG NO on this one, Young Conservatives. See my notes on Proposition 27 later.

Proposition 21 - Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs, Grants Surcharged Vehicles Free Admission to All State Parks. Initiative Statute

Uncle Woody smells Sierra Club somewhere in all this, but I can see why they want this. If there's one thing California does relatively well, it's preserve significant portions of the state in the form of State Parks. We also boast a number of National Parks, along with monuments, and other forms of refuge that are intended to provide us with a protected environment as well as aesthetic enjoyment for years to come.

Here's Uncle Woody's beef: Creating the surcharge means everyone who drives a car in California will be paying what amounts to a usage fee for these parks whether they actually use them or not. It's already bad enough that in California we have to pay the State to not drive our junk cars every year, so why should we pay to use parks or facilities that we may not ever use? I personally have been known to go years without ever visiting a State Park.

The other part of that beef is that none (read closely, Young Conservatives: NONE) of the promised benefits that have increased our vehicle license fees over the past several years have ever come to pass in this budget-wasteland of a state. I repeat: NONE. So, I stubbornly refuse to believe that any of this $18 "surcharge" (a tax by any other name...) will ever end up benefiting our State Parks.

Uncle Woody votes NO

Proposition 22 - Prohibits the State From Borrowing or Taking Funds Used for Transportation, Redevelopment, or Local Government Projects and Services. Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Skeptic that I am, Uncle Woody may actually be tempted to vote for this one. Not that I believe it has a snowball's chance of actually preventing politicians from ever robbing their own coffers, but because it should at least be on the books that they're not allowed to. Also, Uncle Woody notes that the primary opposition to this Proposition comes from a union, and Uncle Woody is not feeling any too friendly toward fat-cat union bosses these days. They're part of the reason this country is in this current fiscal nightmare.

Uncle Woody breaks with his own protocols and votes YES on Prop 22.

Uncle Woody has repented, Young Conservatives. After reading an editorial by the OC Register, Uncle Woody is reminded that "redevelopment" is a euphemism for "land-grabbing by local government because they can't stand the fact that landowners enjoy, you know, owning land." That fact alone kills this proposition in Uncle Woody's mind. Vote NO on Prop 22.

Proposition 23 - Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions that Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for a Full Year. Initiative Statute

Whew! That's a mouthful, Young Conservatives, and it magnifies one of the biggest problems with our current political environment. In today's political world, Young Conservatives, everything that happens, whether natural or not, has got to be someone's fault! "Global Warming" is one of those catch-all phrases that encompasses everything that's filthy in today's politics. What's that phrase, Young Conservatives? "Lies, damned lies, and statistics!" We have seen report after report debunking the Al Gore-created myth of anthropogenic global warming, and yet the spittle-emitting extremists still insist that we have the power to turn back the earth's natural warming and cooling cycles.

Worse, we continually sacrifice jobs on the altar of Global Warming because it makes someone, somewhere, feel better when we do. This proposition appears to take a somewhat more practical tone by suspending crippling legislation that has killed more jobs than any politician cares to admit, and allows us to stay suspended until unemployment drops to 5.5%.

Uncle Woody thinks it's worth a try. Uncle Woody votes YES on Prop 23.

Proposition 24 - Repeals a Recent Legislation That Would Allow Businesses to Lower Their Tax Liability. Initiative Statute

See my notes under Proposition 23 above, Young Conservatives. But be careful; where Proposition 23 requires a Yes vote in order to provide relief to California businesses, this Proposition requires a No vote in order to give businesses a necessary break.

Hey, Uncle Woody is all for having everyone, businesses included, pay a fair share of taxes to the state of California. But Uncle Woody would like to remind California of a couple of things:

1. Businesses are revenue generators for the state. When you cripple them with larger tax burdens, those businesses either fold up or leave the state. Hence you receive no taxes from those businesses for your precious social programs.

2. The State of California is apparently incapable of budgeting within their means in any given year, so whether you continue to tax businesses in this manner or not, it won't make a lick of difference to the budget. Speaking of which, how's all that Lotto money working out for our schools?

Reason Number One to Vote No on Proposition 24: The California Teachers Association (see: Evil, Personified) wants us to vote Yes.

Uncle Woody says we should man up and vote NO on Proposition 24.

Proposition 25 - Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Related Legislation From Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Another waste of tax-payer time, Young Conservatives. Either you pass a budget (i.e., live within your means) or you don't. The move to a simple majority only means that it will be that much harder for Republicans in this state to stop Democrats from spending money they never intend to have on projects that benefit no one but the labor unions of this state.

What Uncle Woody would prefer to see is to give the Governor line-item veto authority over the budget. Uncle Woody realizes that this can be a dual-edged sword, but when the Legislature hands you a crock of a budget, you need the ability to cross things out.

Uncle Woody votes NO on Proposition 25.

Proposition 26 - Requires That Certain State and Local Fees Be Approved by Two-Thirds Vote. Fees Include Those That Address Adverse Impacts on Society or the Environment Caused by the Fee-Payer's Business. Initiative Constitutional Amendment


Uncle Woody sometimes wonders what our legislators are smoking, up there in Sacramento. There are numerous reasons why this state is one of the (if not THE) most expensive states for cost of living in the country. Uncle Woody has already determined that he will not be retiring in this state because he simply will not be able to afford it. And while there is much about California that he would miss, Uncle Woody can always visit (at $18 per State Park, it's a bargain, right?).

That said, Uncle Woody somehow instinctively knows that if California is ever to survive and not turn into the largest hippie commune in the country, it needs to find ways to encourage businesses to not only stay in this state, but find a way to help them make a profit as well. This is the sort of thing that encourages businesses to hire people to work for them, as opposed to laying them off and sending their work to other business-friendly states like Texas or Utah.

Uncle Woody therefore likes the idea of making it harder for our insatiable state legislators to continually burden our businesses with fees and other charges that make it impossible for them to maintain healthy staffing levels and provide benefits for them.

Uncle Woody votes YES on Proposition 26.

Proposition 27 - Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting with Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

If you were reading my notes under Proposition 20, Young Conservatives, then you can probably guess that Uncle Woody would not mind having you vote Yes on this one. Uncle Woody did not like the idea of a Commission back in 2008, Young Conservatives, for one primary reason: They never work. Really. When was the last time, Young Conservatives, you ever heard the Public Utilities Commission do something useful? Me, neither.

Commissions have a way of becoming entrenched, in Uncle Woody's experience. Entrenched is not a good word, Young Conservatives. It's one of the contributors to the Entitlement Culture that has created a strangle-hold on our economy in the past several years. The more entrenched a commission becomes, the less likely they are to ever represent you or anyone related to you on any issue.

Uncle Woody urges a YES vote on Prop 27, Young Conservatives, even though he suspects it'll never happen.

Uncle Woody's Recommendations on Candidates

Normally, Young Conservatives, Uncle Woody simply tells you to vote your consciences and pray for the best. However, there are a few candidates that Uncle Woody feels a need to pontificate about, whether Uncle Woody knows what he's talking about or not.


It is with heavy heart that Uncle Woody endorses Meg Whitman for Governor. The reason is simple: Voting for Whitman is the only viable way to keep Jerry Brown out of the Governor's office. Voting for any other candidate, even if that candidate is Mickey Mouse and would probably do a better job than the last three governors put together, is effectively a vote for Jerry Brown. There's a reason, Young Conservatives, why we called Jerry Brown "Governor Moonbeam" back in the day. He was living with Linda Ronstadt, for crying out loud. We also called him "Governor Med Fly" or "Governor Malathion" because of continual fruit fly infestations in this state which resulted in frequent Malathion rain, generally without notice. Anyway, if anyone remembers far enough back to include Brown's administration in Sacramento, they MUST VOTE FOR WHITMAN AT ALL COSTS. Not because she's any sort of true conservative — in many ways I fear she'll be even more moderate liberal than Schwarzenegger — but at her absolute worst she still has to be better than Jerry Brown.

If that's damning with faint praise, it's the best I can do.

Lt. Governor

I really don't care who you vote for in this case, Young Conservatives. Just don't vote for Abel Maldonado. He has betrayed the conservative wing of the Republican party far too many times to be given any serious consideration for any elected job, including dog catcher. Heck, vote for the Libertarian, if it makes you feel good. The Lt. Governor of California is perhaps the only job even more ceremonial than Vice President of the United States.

United States Senator

Another move on the chess board, Young Conservatives. Go out and vote for Carly Fiorina. As with Whitman, there is much about Fiorina that I don't trust, but I trust Boxer far, far less. If we have any hope to break the liberal gridlock from California, it's Fiorina.

Everyone Else

Now Uncle Woody is ready to tell you Young Conservatives to go vote your conscience. Vote Republican if it makes you feel good, or pick and choose. Damon Dunn is running for Secretary of State and has the delusion that if he grills the businesses that are packing up and leaving, he'll be able to tell the Legislature why they're leaving and the Legislature will then fix the problem. Not sure what the weather is like on Mr. Dunn's home planet, but if he believes that, then okay.

I can't say much about Steve Cooley for Attorney General, primarily because he wasn't all that visible while serving as DA for Los Angeles. He'd surface every few months whenever a high-visibility crime was being prosecuted, then retreat into his office to hibernate until the next press conference.

Mike Villines figures he'll protect consumers and crack down on fraud as Insurance Commissioner. I've got news for Mr. Villines: he'll be so busy trying to figure out why insurance companies are going out of business because of Obamacare, that his first fraud case will probably not cross his desk until three years after he's voted out of office. He'll be spending most of his time trying to dodge questions about how he (Villines) could possibly let the insurance companies go bankrupt when Obama promised us that we'd all have free health care for life!

Additional Notes, Including Local Issues for Orange County and Anaheim

Rather than paint this entire section red, just consider this to be one of the amendments to the Guide, okay Young Conservatives?


Propositions 20 and 27

Uncle Woody knows he's swimming upstream here, and doesn't care. I don't like the idea of a Commission for redistricting that we can't vote on. Period. Just because they consist of members representing all viable political parties in this state, there is NO GUARANTEE THAT THEY'LL REPRESENT MY OWN INTERESTS IN THIS PROCESS. And no one can ever guarantee that to my satisfaction. This is politics at its absolute worst, Young Conservatives, and I refuse to trust any commission, no matter how well intentioned, any more than I trust any given incumbent politician today. [/RANT]

City of Anaheim Measures

Measure J allows the use of design-build procurement for public works projects that support the city. Not a problem for Uncle Woody: this is just an acknowledgment that the rules of procurement can evolve over time as new methods for accomplishing things in a more efficient manner are discovered. Uncle Woody votes YES on Measure J.

Measure K wants to prohibit ever allowing the city to install a red-light camera at any time. Uncle Woody is of two minds on this issue, my young friends. On the one hand, red-light cameras are more an invasion of privacy and smack of "big brotherism" than I believe they're worth. Also, many, many people have made the point that the business case for red-light cameras actually saving lives has never been made. Agreed.

My only hesitation is that there may one day be a case where it can be absolutely proven that not doing everything possible, including installing such a camera at a given intersection, would be irresponsible if it has any chance at all of preventing traffic fatalities.

After some vacillation, however, Uncle Woody must agree with the majority here. Traffic cameras are unproven deterrents. Uncle Woody votes YES on Measure K.

Batting Clean-Up

If you're at all interested or care in any way, here's a run-down on how Uncle Woody plans to vote for candidates not mentioned elsewhere:

Lt. Governor: Uncle Woody is making good on his threat to vote for the Libertarian in this race, Pamela J Brown. I cannot and will not pull the lever for Maldonado.

Secretary of State: Damon Dunn. Yeah, he's deluded, but he means well.

Controller: Tony Strickland. I'm a big fan.

Treasurer (State): Mimi Walters

Attorney General: Steve Cooley

Insurance Commissioner: Mike Villines. Do these people ever understand what they're getting themselves into?

State Board of Equalization - 3rd District: Michelle Steel

US Representative, 42nd District: Gary Miller

State Assembly, 60th District: Curt Hagman

Judicial: I'm only voting one name down in this entire list, and that's Carlos Moreno. Nothing personal against the man, really, except that he espouses some opinions with which I happen to disagree. I have no idea if the man is a good judge or not.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Larry Aceves. You might think that Uncle Woody, being a homeschooler, could not possibly care less about who helms the education department of the state. You couldn't be more incorrect. Homeschoolers have everything to lose if the wrong person makes it to this office. The real problem with our two choices is that neither candidate, Aceves or Torlakson, would go on the record as to where they stand on homeschooling as a right of the parent. So, in this case, the absence of such statements makes me at least hopeful that whoever wins will, as others have done before them, pretty much ignore homeschooling in the state of California for the next term. It's the best we can hope for. In voting for Aceves I am only acknowledging that, were my kids in public school, he more closely mirrors my own vision for school reform and accountability.

North Orange County Community College District:
Barbara Dunsheath (Area 2)
Jeffrey P. Brown (Area 3)
Darlene Allen (Area 4)

Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District:
Karin M. Freeman (Full Term)
Kim Palmer (Full Term)
Susan M. Eckles (Short Term)

Treasurer-Tax Collector (Orange County): Shari L. Freidenrich

City of Anaheim - Mayor: Tom Tait
City of Anaheim - City Council:
Gail Eastman
Kris Murray

End of Amended Post

Good luck, Young Conservatives! Our future is in your capable hands. Uncle Woody will be in Utah, if you need him.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Come and Get Me, Joe

Hey, Mr. Vice President! Your federal budget stinks and you guys have no idea how to fix it. Whatcha gonna do about it? (H/T: Drudge)

Money quote:
He quickly added: "To the press, that's a figure of speech."
Uh, huh.

Well, as one of the VP's potential targets, all I can say is you'd better bring your cast-iron underwear, Joe. Hair plugs will not save you in 2012.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beaming Up the United Nations

I wish I could say I made this up, but I can't.

It's one of those stories where the mockery almost writes itself.

The United Nations, having finally solved their last remaining problem now that we've elected an Apologizer-in-Chief in the United States, has created the "Office for Outer Space Affairs" or "Unoosa." (Yes, yes, I know... sounds a bit like "unusable," doesn't it?)

Scarier still, they've actually appointed an ambassador to fill this office; a woman by the name of Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist. I'm not implying that Ms. Othman is scary, mind you, but rather that it scares me that the UN would 1.) create such an office, and 2.) staff it.

Being an inveterate consumer of pulp science fiction movies like "E.T.," or "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," this announcement brings up all sorts of wonderful possibilities.

First, there's the rather obvious problem of communication. In "Close Encounters," the aliens left extremely helpful hints about how best to communicate with them when the inferior earthlings had finally gotten a clue. This enabled the eggheads (we were never certain whether they were UN eggheads or just US military eggheads in the film) to build a super-computer capable of carrying on an intense conversation that no one, including the eggheads that designed the thing, were able to understand.

I think Ms. Othman's best bet in the absence of such a super-computer would be the online Klingon dictionary:
[Othman, while making the Vulcan sign that Kirk could never master]: "nuqneH!" ("What do you want?")

[Aliens, with puzzled expressions on their faces]:

[Othman, undeterred]: "Hutlh may'ron!" ("Have an accordion!")

[Alien 1 speaking to Alien 2 with a British accent]: I say, Sheldon, you were right. They don't quite seem to have mastered the art of communication yet.
Of course, there's always the hope thought that the aliens would simply take out whatever highly advanced weaponry they've brought along with them and blast the entire delegation into another dimension.

Then, of course, Ms. Othman would need to familiarize the visitors with the rules and regulations of the United Nations:
[Othman]: So the Security Council can vote to censure any member nation, but only one dissenting vote is sufficient to veto any such action. This has been particularly useful in denying the United States anything but an occasional attack on peace-loving nations run entirely by psychotic ego-maniacs. China continues to do pretty much whatever it likes, and the rest of us sit around and think up ways to blame mankind for every natural disaster that the planet experiences. Also we get diplomatic immunity in the United States so we can all keep our illegal drugs flowing through their country without fear of reprisal.

[Alien 2, slapping Alien 1 on the back of the head]: "We don't need the Universal Positioning System on this trip," you said! "If there's intelligent life in this galaxy, I'll find it," you said! This is absolutely the last time I let you get away with that sort of nonsense, Griswold.
So I'm certain that Ms. Othman has her work cut out for her. We desperately need, after all, to make a good first impression. She'll be kept plenty busy developing the precise protocols needed in establishing that all-important first contact. It's unclear at this point, of course, whether bowing would be part of that ceremony, but I'm sure Obama could give her some tips.

Still, as I once read on a coffee mug: The surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that none of it has ever tried to contact us.

'Iq Ha'DIbaH

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To Profile, Or Not...

I keep my 9/11 remembrances pretty much to myself. The images and feelings are still there, deep in my memory, to be recalled on certain occasions. It's not just an anniversary thing, this horrific event. No more than Pearl Harbor was merely December 7 to our parents and grandparents. It was a life-changing thing, and it has shaped my perspective on life — and the tenuous nature of life — forever. I don't need September 11 to roll around every year in order to remember what it meant, and means, to me.

But thinking about it a little extra today did shunt my mental engine off onto a spur, if you will. I found myself pondering the idea of profiling, and how this nation can possibly believe that profiling is some great evil that creates targets where none exist.

Truth to tell, this train of thought began not so much because of 9/11, but rather because my youngest daughter has been watching Disney's "Peter Pan" the past couple of days. It's one of my favorites from Disney's Golden Age. Good story; terrific animation; well written and directed. But it would never play in today's politically correct universe. In fact, when the studio finally wrote a follow-up to the original and decided to use Wendy's daughter Jane, they brought back nearly all the denizens of Never Land except for the Indians. That disappointed me, even if I understood why they couldn't. In today's world of hyper-sensitivity to all things diverse, any attempted caricature of an indigenous culture would bring down the wrath of every tribal council, race-mongering hypocrite, and civil rights grievance group you could possibly imagine.

Likewise, Disney's "Song of the South," which has some wonderful music to accompany the delightful animations that featured Br'er Rabbit and the rest, will likely never again see the light of day. Not even as a special release from "the Vault." Too demeaning of black culture, that one is.

Folks have tried to tell me that I couldn't possibly know what it means to be profiled. To be denied the life I want merely because of the color of my skin. Yet I am profiled nearly every day in some way, shape, or fashion, by numerous people who feel that my own white skin has somehow magically entitled me to a life of carefree self-indulgence.

The sad truth is that this perception is a fallacy. At work they hold me back; not because I'm white but because I do not hold a college degree. It is the last bastion of prejudice to which Corporate America can cling today without incurring the wrath of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. While many around me have taken the plunge late in life to return to school and get that diploma, circumstances in my life have precluded my doing the same. For these circumstances I am not bitter. Life is what it is, and I made choices many years ago that I was, and still am, willing to live with. However, that does not stop my incredulity at the idea that my lack of a degree makes me in any way less valuable to the company than many of the educated idiots people that leapfrog over guys like me to enter the ranks of management.

There are similar prejudices at play in my choice of religion. If I were still tweeting (gave it up as a worthless hobby), I would tweet something to the effect that "Islam may very well be the second most misunderstood religion in the world today." Every day I read analysis after analysis and report after report that all claim to understand completely what Islam must mean to every one of its followers. Yet I can't shake the feeling that all their analyses may only apply to a relatively small percentage of its adherents. Most believers and followers of Islam would likely love to be left completely alone and wish never to bother anyone else, yet because of the actions of the demonic few, we paint them all with the same wide brush.

If my own religion weren't even more misunderstood than Islam, I'd probably feel sorrier for them. (If I tell you that I am a Latter-day Saint, does that answer the question of which religion is more misunderstood?) We may be at war with Islamic nations, but not because they adhere to Islam. (That may be why they are at war with us, but that's beside the point I'm making here.) Yet this country drove my ancestors out of the country because of their religious beliefs and were never adverse to slaughtering us for refusing to renounce our prophet. Even those "enemy combatants" at Gitmo have never been asked to renounce Islam.

So, yes, I understand a thing or two about profiling. True, anyone who profiles me is not likely to deport me. I have nowhere to go. I was born here, can prove it, and besides, England wouldn't know what to do with a conservative like me. They'd kick me back across the pond faster than they can down a pint of Guinness'. But have I been "denied" things because of who I am or choices that I have made? Most certainly.

The way I see it, kids who wear gang colors and pants that hang down around their ankles are literally flashing a giant marquee on Times Square that says "PROFILE ME." Want to live in this country but refuse to learn English? I reserve the right to believe that you might not belong here legally. In other words, I profile. It happens every day.

Interestingly enough, there is a relatively new market next door. "Wholesome Choice" it calls itself. It features exotic foods that you are less likely to find at your local supermarket from parts of the world that you are even less likely to have visited. Spices, sauces, even certain fruits and vegetables, all from middle eastern or southeast asian cultures. I have shopped there on occasion and found everyone who works there to be very pleasant people. If I despise the store for any reason, it is because they are so busy that I have difficulty finding a parking space anywhere within half a city block of my barber shop. Or Baskin-Robbins. Otherwise, I have no problem with the store or its employees. Likewise, because I happen to speak (some) Spanish, I am conversant with many Latinos who live and work nearby. Fine people, all. If I have profiled them, at least I choose to keep it to myself.

But can I stop profiling them? Not likely.

The day I stop is perhaps the very day that I see someone who should have attracted my attention. Someone who may try to cause the next life-changing event in this country. And for that reason alone I cannot, and will not, stop profiling.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Trying to Buy an Election

Elections aren't cheap, even with our current down-valued economy. Heck; unlike thirty years ago or so, your election dollar just doesn't stretch as far as it used to.

Part of the problem is that we're not manufacturing dollars anywhere near fast enough to fund all these stimulus packages that President Obama is so convinced are the only way to put America back to work.

Now, even though President Obama is not up for election himself this fall, plenty of his enablers in Congress are. Unfortunately for the President, the price tag for re-electing these enablers has skyrocketed in direct proportion to the precipitous drop in value of our current money supply.

Having already committed to spending $896 billion for a stimulus package that itself seems to be in desperate need of Viagra™, the President is running out of options. He needs a sure-fire way to convince Americans this November that Democrats hold the answer ("spend more money that we don't have!") to all of our economic woes.

His answer:


The President's advisors ("Spending Your Money So You Don't Get To") have come up with a brilliant plan to plug up existing tax breaks for oil, gas, and multinational corporations to the completely made-up tune of $50 billion in order to pay for a huge upgrade to existing infrastructure projects. Things like rail lines, runways, and highways will magically — a la historical Works Project Administration boondoggles — create jobs. Which, if memory serves, was what the original $896 billion stimulus was supposed to do.

Where are we at now? 9.6% unemployment? If my own company is any sort of bellwether, we're not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. Every internal communication in the last several months has said something to the effect that "we can't possibly predict when this economy will improve to the point where we can quit laying people off, let alone start hiring again."

The President, as always, urges patience on the part of those of us who are either laid off, about to be laid off, or struggling to keep up with all the work that still must be done in the absence of our laid off colleagues. Stimulating the economy is never an overnight thing, he cautions. Hey, once Congress actually gets around to reading the Health Care package they ramrodded down our collective throats last year, they may have to further modify their projections to include all the doctors and nurses that will be out of work because no one will be able to afford them without incurring huge penalties.

But I think the President has a plan for that, too. Here's how Hilda Solis described this latest $50 billion gravy train:
In a Labor Day interview on CBS'"Early Show," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the plan Obama was to unveil Monday would "put construction workers, welders, electricians back to work ... folks that have been unemployed for a long time."
I know this plan. Many companies are adopting a similar scheme wherein workers agree (on pain of extermination) to not work for one or more days every month. "Work furlough days," I believe they're called. The idea being that if you don't work that day, the company doesn't pay you for that day and saves an undetermined amount of money for their bravery.

Well, according to Solis, the idea here would be a twist on the work furlough idea: Take the people who have been out of work the longest — in this case, electricians, construction workers, and the like, who are all, in an incredible coincidence, union workers — and put them back to work with this freshly inked money. At the same time, give those workers who have been struggling vainly to keep everyone else's unemployment benefits afloat a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labors by having them take the unemployment money for awhile. Certainly Obama and his congressional enablers will just keep those benefits recharged ad infinitum for the next several years. This way, instead of taking a day off without pay here and there, we'll have American workers take entire years off without pay, and nothing but unemployment benefits to tide them over until the economy gets tired of all the stimulus being thrown at it, and decides to wake up on its own.

There you have it. Well worth the $50 billion, I'm sure, and the President won't waste any time selling it to a war-weary populace.

But will it buy him an election? Time will tell.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Another Milestone!

During what we now grandly call my "starter marriage," we wore our then-teenage daughter completely out. She had come into the family with an already one-year-old brother, and two more foster brothers almost literally around the corner. As she matured we started giving her more and more opportunities to babysit until, finally, she was literally our on-call sitter. If Mom and Dad decided they needed to go somewhere, we just took it for granted that our daughter was ready to step in and watch the kids.

Flash forward about fifteen years, and we're finally in a position once again to have a teenager available to babysit for Mom and Dad for an occasional short date or shopping trip. Jelly stepped up to the plate this week for the first time so that Mrs. Woody and I could go to the movies and see "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." (Not bad. Completely predictable but nicely done. A few nods to the Fantasia version of the story here and there.)

Upon returning home we were delighted to note that a) the house had not burned to the ground, and b) the kids were still speaking to each other. This becomes treacherous ground as the older sibling takes on more responsibility and walks that strait path between being a helpful junior home exec on the one hand, and a tyrant-in-training on the other.

Back in the day, yours truly held no delusions about being a helpful anything where his siblings were concerned. I was a full-fledged tyrant until about the time baby sister appeared on the scene. She was the first one who would benefit from my new, more mellow approach to life. Whereas with my other siblings, and particularly my brother, I would simply handle any conflict with a balled-up fist, at least with the baby I was more likely to put it through some cheap paneling on the wall.

Jelly, on the other hand, has inherited more of her mother's genes than mine. At least where older-sibling issues are concerned she has, and that's a good thing. It means that, while they occasionally still get into it like a couple of sparring cats, for the most part they handle their own conflicts in a far more diplomatic way than I ever did at that age.

It's another one of those milestones that remind parents just how fast their kids grow up. I'd say it's not fair, but, heck, I've been waiting for this day for quite awhile now. About thirteen years, in fact. Cute as she was from the moment she was born, my fatherly instinct to have ready-to-order babysitters in the house kicked in at about the third diaper I changed. When Doodle came along, that instinct intensified. Now that moment has arrived, and I like it. I like the idea that we can leave our daughters alone for limited amounts of time while Mommy and Daddy have some adult time together. Alone.

There is, of course, the bittersweet angle as well. The girls are growing, as I've mentioned before, far too quickly. Our phone answering message still has a five-year-old Jelly's voice announcing, "We can't answer the phone right now. Please leave us a mes... sage." That hesitation in "mes... sage" is vintage Jelly, and it's far too cute to ever discard willingly. Now she's the secretary for her Beehive class and actually uses the phone more than her telecomm-challenged father. Likewise Doodle, who is nearly 11, is not truly in need of a babysitter at this point. She looks after herself just fine, and in another era would likely have been left alone by her parents as I frequently was at that age.

As a parent, however, I worry. Worry is part of the Master Plan, isn't it? I worry for my kids as my parents worried for me, and their parents worried for them. There's always something. It might be whispers and then shouts of war. It might be drugs and radical culture. It may be that predators abound that lure innocent children into worse-than-death experiences. Whatever the cause, the worry is essentially the same: how can I ever hope to keep my babies safe? What can I, as a parent, do that would ensure they live a long and prosperous life?

The answer is that we continue to do what we have been doing to prepare them for life. Keep praying. Keep talking. Keep understanding. Keep it up.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Jelly's working up a pretty good head of lather these days. Here's to many more repeats.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Attention Hypocrites San Francisco and Los Angeles

Looking for a state to boycott? May want to look a little closer to home:
834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully
cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization
Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is
suspected of being present in the United States in violation of
federal immigration laws.
(b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected
of being present in the United States in violation of federal
immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the
(1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen
of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent
resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time
or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of
immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not
be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and
place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding
documentation to indicate his or her legal status.
(2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien
who is present in the United States in violation of federal
immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal
justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or
leave the United States.
(3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United
States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal
status and provide any additional information that may be requested
by any other public entity.
(c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city,
county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with
jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent
or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly
The key, of course, is the state Attorney General who doggedly refuses to enforce California law. Or, more accurately, enforces only those laws he supports. The rest of the Penal Code, being highly inconvenient to his viewpoint, is blithely ignored.

San Francisco, in particular, would have a huge problem with this law as it directly interferes with their standing policy of offering sanctuary to dangerous alien felons. Oh, well. It's not like they support our state constitution, either.

Monday, July 05, 2010

When Single Women Ask Me...

...if I have a brother, I say, quote, "No."

Thoughts From the Fourth

I've been fighting a blazing head cold all weekend, which scuttled our travel plans and made it hard to truly enjoy the real spirit of this holiday. But watching the vicarious celebrations hosted on CBS and NBC last night helped bring a few thoughts into focus.

First, who were these people?? I recognized (nor cared about) not one single "celebrity" that performed on the CBS Macy's celebration. Not one. They do this to me with the Thanksgiving Day Parade, too. In fact, the only recognizable part of the entire hour was during the fireworks when I could at least identify the composers and, for two songs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Next came the Boston Pops celebration on the Esplanade. Now, follow me here: The event is sponsored by the Pops, right? So you would expect to hear a lot of music performed by the Pops, right? So how is it that we get injected into the middle of the 1812 Overture when the show begins (waiting until just about the time the guns are fired off across the river)? Then we get to listen to them provide backup for Toby Keith for a couple of songs, plus the sing-along.

Big whoop-dee-do.

Even funnier: with an orchestra sitting right there in the amphitheater, they have to use a soundtrack during the fireworks. Television at its laziest.

Oh, well... I don't much like Keith Lockhart anyway.

At least they had Craig Ferguson to host this one. Recent attempts to highlight certain celebs have proven to be downright painful. Dr. and Mrs. Phil, for example. That was an embarrassing nightmare. The word "vapid" just kept scrolling across my mind all night like a Times Square marquee with only one message.

Compare and contrast with our local community Patriotic Concert that was held last weekend. We do this every year. There's a town council, of sorts, that sponsors several events every year for the 4th. The Patriotic Concert is our kick-off event. We throw together a small (but mighty!) choir from the community to perform between 30 to 45 minutes' worth of patriotic tunes. The highlight is our Salute to the Armed Forces, which takes us through the hymns for all five services (don't forget the Coasties!), and gives us a chance to clap and whistle for the folks who stand to be recognized during the song. We have a color guard composed of either local Marines or Boy Scouts, depending on who's available. We also get to sit and listen to several speeches from the committee. These range from begging for more funds so we don't have to cancel events (last year it was nearly the fireworks; this year the parade got deep-sixed) to presenting our senior Mr. and Mrs. Anaheim Hills and our citizen of the year. Scholarships are handed out. And we get introduced to the current Miss Anaheim Hills, who has been practicing the Rose Queen Wave. Finally, a speech from our representative on the Anaheim City Council, Bob Hernandez, who never fails to give us a terrific speech (in both substance and length of time) reminding us all that this country is a gift of providence, and we need to keep ourselves grounded in religious principles if we are to succeed as a nation.

We follow all this with a good old fashioned Ice Cream Social so we have a chance to rub elbows with members of the community.

Being of a more-or-less old fashioned bent myself, I much prefer our local celebrations to the national ones.

It's funny, really. It seems to be easier to feel patriotism at the local level than it might be at the national level. I suspect it's at least in part because we feel more connected to our community than we do the nation as a whole. Is there anything I can really do about the rest of the nation directly? Not generally. But I can make a difference here locally by participating and striving to make it a good place to live. That's all that's really required of us who claim citizenship in the United States.

Some of us, of course, have gifts for participating at higher levels. Those who feel they can will try to make a difference at a county, state, or national level. (As an aside, I did get one chuckle this weekend: One pundit in Great Britain, writing for the Globe, I think, and having solved all their own problems, wondered what in heck we were doing over here with such a "gifted" president. His word, not mine. We seem as a nation to be wasting the poor chap, according to this writer. My advice for him would be: look to the source of the trouble. It wasn't G. W. Bush.)

One thing I've noticed over the past several years: perhaps it's really been the result of my blogging for the past six years or so, but I've noticed that "patriotism" as a concept is getting more of a bum rap than it used to. There are many people throughout this country, it seems, who really can't stand those who feel a sense of patriotism for this nation. They even claim to be offended by something as simple as the Pledge of Allegiance, as if we were asking them to indenture themselves to some terrible tyrant, rather than remind themselves of the very principles of freedom that allow them to think and act for themselves as no other nation on earth will allow.

These are people who, I believe, confuse patriotism with politics, and can't see past the abuses or excesses of any given administration, thus allowing themselves to feel embarrassed or ashamed to be an American.

I don't know about them, but my patriotism is not constrained by my feelings about the evils of the current administration.

The 4th of July is, for me, a nearly sacred holiday. If Christmas is sacred because it celebrates the birth of the Son of God, July 4th is sacred to me because it celebrates the birth of a nation conceived by men who understood that God's law, to which they referred as natural law, should be our ultimate authority. It is God's law alone that can truly liberate a people. The Founders understood this, and those who have been great leaders in this country through the ensuing years have also understood this principle. When our leaders are righteous, the nation prospers. When our leaders are self-absorbed demigods, we suffer accordingly. The correlation is fairly striking.

Patriotism is not truly dying in this country. It may be taking a beating. It may even have become a hiss and a byword among certain sectors of society. Yet it will live on so long as those of us who still remember the higher purposes of this republic refuse to let it go.

God bless this land.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Maybe She Meant the Canadian Border...

Every once in awhile, someone puts truth to the axiom "It's better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt."

I mean, really: what are they teaching up there?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pardon the Dust

The Woundup was in need of spring cleaning. Fresh coat of paint, new look, streamlined gadgets in the sidebar.

Got rid of things like the "Twitter" gadget. I fell in and out of love with Twitter pretty durned quick, truth to tell. It encourages thinking in sound bites. If it can't be said in 140 characters, it's not worth saying? Thanks, but I can't even tell you my name in less than 140 characters.

Likewise I have severed my temporary ties with Haloscan's annointed (and annoying) successor, Comments have reverted back to Blogger control, and that's fine. I'll probably enforce a little more moderation on comments because the Google spammers are coming out of the woodwork again.

One change, strictly for fun, was to turn the labels display into a cloud. Kind of fun to see which ones I use over and over. Equally dismaying to see how many I've created over time that have never been used more than once or twice.

Anyway, I like this new layout, I think. It's cleaner and feels less crowded. Now if only I could think of something worth writing about...

UPDATE: Full comment moderation now. The spammers seem to feel they've wasted their time if they haven't slipped in all sorts of links to malware, porn, or other dangerous content.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters - 2010 Primary Edition

It's time once again, boys and girls, for Uncle Woody's "Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters;" the only voters guide that has consistently provided the fewest possible facts in election after election while still claiming to know what it's talking about. The only such guide that could, if nominated, do a better job at governing than most of the current slate of candidates. The only guide that could conceivably cause severe headaches and abdominal swelling if ingested. The only guide with a preamble that should have ended about three sentences ago.

This is primary season, Young Conservatives, and as such it's important to realize that NOTHING YOU DO NEXT TUESDAY WILL MAKE A LICK OF DIFFERENCE. Oh, sure, certain people may be forced to drop out of the race, and our entire political process may change irrevocably for the foreseeable future, BUT THE HIDEOUS POLITICAL COMMERCIALS WILL STILL INFEST YOUR TELEVISION. Let us be clear, Young Conservative Voters: if Uncle Woody hears the phrase "let us be clear" one more time, he will sue President Obama and his estate in perpetuity for the next twenty five generations. Uncle Woody has heard that phrase in every commercial, news report, and radio commentary for what feels like the last fifty seven years, and Uncle Woody is NOT THAT OLD. Not yet, anyway.

But you're not here to listen to Uncle Woody carp about election advertising, Young Conservatives. You're here to listen to Uncle Woody carp about the carp for which you're expected to vote next Tuesday. So let's get to it, beginning with the inevitable and ad nauseum

California Ballot Propositions

There are only four of them this time around, but there's a lot of stealth politics embedded in these little jewels. They're supposed to cure everything from lazy voters to how electricity is generated and provided to new customers. In other words, lots of pork, plenty of chicanery, and almost zero accountability for wasting our taxpayer-subsidized time. First up:

Proposition 14 - Elections, Increases Right to Participate in Primary Elections

The most telling statement related to this boondoggle-in-boondoggle's clothing comes straight from (WARNING: Incipient Fact Notification) the California "Official Voter Information Guide." Right there, on page 14, bold as brass, are the words "Encourages increased participation in elections for congressional, legislative, and statewide offices by changing the procedure by which candidates are selected in primary elections." This proposition even includes a graphic showing how that process would, in fact, be changed. Bottom line: this is less about motivating "participation" than it is a pathetic attempt to winnow the number of players that reach the General Election stage by limiting the final slate to two candidates of "any party," meaning you could conceivably wind up with two Democrats in the General Election, or, worse still, two Green Party candidates.

At least one analysis that I've read calls this a move towards a "caucus" system for California. The only way you'll get this state to become a caucus is if you equip everyone's SUV or Prius with video conferencing equipment. Uncle Woody says absolutely not!

Proposition 15 - California Fair Elections Act

Call this the "Leveling the Playing Field" proposition. It sounds very high-minded and altruistic except for one teensy little flaw: it would never work. Certainly not in California, to put it mildly. What this really seeks to do is pump more taxpayer money into the campaign coffers of more politicians during an election so that everyone has equal abilities to spew lies like used car salesmen on television and over the internet.

Uncle Woody never fails to be amazed at how surprised everyone is when a candidate says "I will never accept money from lobbyists," only to find out exactly three minutes after his opponent concedes the election that they did, in fact, accept money from XYZPac for the express purpose of having wind turbines built in the middle of Lake Tahoe. Do we honestly think that employing legislation of this nature is suddenly (after numerous failed attempts at the federal level) going to result in "fair" elections? If Uncle Woody is stupid enough to donate money to a candidate, he deserves whatever he gets. Keep our taxes out of it, thanks. Uncle Woody says no way.

Proposition 16 - Imposes new two-thirds voter approval requirement for local public electricity providers. Initiative constitutional amendment.

Uncle Woody really wants to like this one, Young Conservatives. It requires a two-thirds vote before a municipality can provide or expand service to new customers, and that sounds really nifty. Gee! They want my approval before they're allowed to act! But a closer reading of this proposition leads Uncle Woody to believe that what they're really trying to do is limit the availability of public funds and bonds for what may be necessary expansion of service into territory currently claimed and serviced by existing utilities. Truth to tell, Uncle Woody thinks they're barking up the wrong tree here. Far better in Uncle Woody's mind would be to eliminate the existing Public Utilities Commission and create a board that has enough teeth to actually punish utilities when they're found in collusion for hiking rates without justification. This proposition will actually end up costing us more by having long and expensive court battles over such issues in the long run. Uncle Woody says vote this one down and come back with something that works.

Proposition 17 - Allows auto insurance companies to base their prices in part on a driver's history of insurance coverage. Initiative statute.

Pardon Uncle Woody while he yawns and lies down for a quick nap. Insurance regulations frankly bore Uncle Woody because he's old enough and experienced enough to have earned his Good Driver discounts and tries to drive safely. This proposition wants to allow insurance companies to come up with another new "magic" discount for drivers who have a continuous history of coverage. The problem here is that we're trying to reward behavior that is already required by law. Period. If you don't have insurance, you're not supposed to be driving. So even though he has insurance, and has had insurance (with extremely brief lapses here and there because he forgot a payment) for his entire adult life, why on earth should Uncle Woody receive any monetary consideration for obeying the law in California? This sounds like entitlement run amok to Uncle Woody.

The other problem, of course, is that thanks to Obama Care, we have no idea what the insurance industry in general is going to look like in a few short years, and Uncle Woody certainly wouldn't want people to get addicted to discounts that may just as suddenly disappear because the companies are going belly up at a frightening rate. But that's mere conjecture on Uncle Woody's part. Vote no, Young Conservatives, and tell the insurance-mongers to get a real job.

Finally, Young Conservatives, Uncle Woody actually has one or two recommendations for elected officials this time around. Uncle Woody normally avoids recommending one candidate over another, but this election has been a little different. Specifically, this is the first time Uncle Woody can remember in recent years that Republican candidates are calling each other "liberal" on any number of issues, and trying to remember when the last time was that we could get away with making "liberal" a dirty word. So, Uncle Woody's two key picks:

For Governor

Uncle Woody has to side with Steve Poizner on this one. Meg Whitman has some very impressive credentials, Young Conservatives, and Poizner has his history of unreliable alliances with the Dark Side. But Poizner has a necessary stand on illegal immigration that Whitman does not share, and Whitman refuses to acknowledge that taxpayer-subsidized abortions ought to be verboten. For those two reasons, Poizner gets the nod. Fiscally, Uncle Woody doesn't believe California is poised to achieve any significant growth until the nation as a whole begins to recover in a meaningful way, and there's just no telling how long that will take. Uncle Woody doesn't see economic recovery as Priority One for our next Governor. Important, certainly, but not as important as doing more to control the flood of immigrants into a state (and country) that has insufficient resources to support them.

(As a sidebar, Young Conservatives, Uncle Woody doesn't really care who you pick for the largely ceremonial job of Lt. Governor, so long as it isn't Abel Maldonado. He had his chance and blew it.)

For United States Senator

You might think, Young Conservatives, that Uncle Woody would be happy to throw his support to anyone who could unseat Barbara Boxer this November, but you would be wrong. At this point, the odds seem to favor Carly Fiorina, of dubious Hewlett-Packard repute. But there are facets to Fiorina's personality that worry Uncle Woody. Perhaps it's a sexist thing and Uncle Woody is somehow threatened by Fiorina's decidedly feminist statements. Or perhaps it's because Fiorina seems to Uncle Woody to really be just a Republican version of Boxer herself with an affinity for large government and dangerous open borders leanings. Whatever the case, Uncle Woody just can't pull the lever in her favor.

Neither can he support Tom Campbell. Uncle Woody had high hopes early for Campbell, but those hopes faded with Campbell's opposition to Proposition 8 and that's all you really need to know about him.

That leaves Chuck DeVore. DeVore appears to have the conservative creds that Fiorina lacks, particularly in fiscal management. He also sports endorsements from some high-powered conservatives whom Uncle Woody admires. Chuck DeVore gets Uncle Woody's vote next week.

* * * * * * * * * * *
So that's about it for this edition of the Guide, Young Conservatives. The Curmudgeon, as always, just encourages you to get out next Tuesday and vote. Please! But vote your conscience, because after this election it may be all you have left.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jack McConnell is being "termed out" as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction this year, and the field of potential replacements is large. Education is, rightly, an area where folks tend to have strong emotional preferences, and this particular slate of candidates is no exception.

While Uncle Woody is busy priming the pump for the inevitable "Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters" in support of the June primaries, allow me to share with you the thoughts of one particular candidate for SSPI this year, Leonard J. Martin. He wrote the following to Michelle Huele, a homeschooler in Yucca Valley:
Home schooling's appropriate for children who have special difficulties that make it impossible for them to participate in traditional schooling. But under California law, a parent has the right to home school provided the parent is qualified to offer instruction. Personally, I believe nearly all kids would benefit more from being in traditional schools. Many parents home school for religious reasons, because they still hold outdated views on race or ethnicity, or for what they consider to be moral reasons. Since we have provisions for students to attend a school outside of their local community when there are legitimate reasons to do so, home schooling as an alternative to "unsafe" campuses is hardly a legitimate alternative. For the most part - overwhelmingly - the public schools of California are not only safe but are providing a high quality education. Yucca Valley should be no exception. If it is, as Superintendent I would like to hear the complaints.

There has also been a tremendous amount of fraud connected with home schooling. Corporate organizations have sprung up to drain precious taxpayer dollars from the state budget to "supervise" home schooling. That has been to the detriment of those children, who by necessity, must be home schooled.

My advice? Send the kids to a traditional public school.

Best Regards,
Leonard J. Martin
Home (661) 297-4815
Cell (661) 400-0059
If McConnell was no friend to homeschoolers, he at least had sense enough to not try to enforce a liberal interpretation of the "law" mentioned by Mr. Martin in his letter. The real problem with that law is, of course, that the label "qualified" is highly ambiguous and, of greatest interest to homeschoolers, does not include the word "credentialed." McConnell made some noise early on as he "fretted" over the unregulated masses of homeschoolers infesting the Golden State, only to back down under pressure from numerous homeschooling support groups and the Home School Legal Defense Association.

I bring attention to Mr. Martin, however, because his statements are quite typical of public education elitists, and reflect the fear-mongering approach that such politicians (and political hopefuls) always enlist when discussing the vastly complex issue of homeschooling.

Note that his very first statement brings up the taboo of homeschooling only being appropriate for kids with "special difficulties." This is particularly telling of Mr. Martin's predisposition to anti-homeschool bigotry. We instantly understand that homeschooling is something to be sneered at; a mess on the sidewalk over which we carefully step. Only "disadvantaged" children would ever "require" homeschooling; the rest must submit themselves to Dickensian workhouse-like apparatuses where the collective will of the children can be better molded to a carefully state-approved curriculum.

Let us never forget that, however well-intentioned and altruistic the concept of public education may have begun, it has over the years become nothing more than a union-run autocracy, sponsored by the state, and dominated by liberal think-tank elitists. This is why our schools have become the sorry ghosts of what they once were. Mr. Martin's attitude strongly suggests maintenance of the status quo, so far as political exigency is concerned. He will not rock the union boat, except to threaten to "fire bad teachers."

His bigotry is further revealed in this statement: "Many parents home school for religious reasons, because they still hold outdated views on race or ethnicity, or for what they consider to be moral reasons." Now, having raised these "reasons" for homeschooling, you might think that Mr. Martin would then address them. He does not. Instead, he focuses on school safety. Not only does he pooh-pooh the idea that schools may be unsafe (they are "overwhelmingly" safe, he believes), he also uses the canard of being able to attend a school "outside of their local community" where "legitimate reasons" exist. This is patently absurd. Anyone who has tried to get an exception just to attend another school intradistrict can tell you that the local education bureaucrats tightly control those movements, and "unsafe" schools are not one of the politically correct reasons for granting such a request. The moment you threaten one school's per-child budget, they start digging the moat and raising the drawbridge.

The final shaft in his quiver is to decry the "tremendous amount of fraud" in homeschooling. He brings up something he calls "corporate organizations" that have sprung up that "drain precious taxpayer dollars" to "supervise" homeschooling.

Huh? To what organizations does he refer, and why haven't I heard about these things before now? Certainly such corrupt corporations would be big news in a money-starved state like California! More amusing to me is the idea of supervising homeschoolers. The only possible reason I can even think of for supervising a homeschool family is where that family chooses to participate in a school district-sponsored homeschool program where supervision is the trade-off for having use of district resources and district-sponsored testing. Would those school districts qualify as the "corporate organizations" being vilified by Mr. Martin? Even were that so, it wouldn't affect me or my subversive academy because we answer to no one. We file our little Private School Affidavit form every October, in return for which the Great State of California valiantly ignores us. Every other effort to supervise homeschoolers necessarily fails because, as I have mentioned before, homeschoolers are the most unorganized bunch you'll ever come across. (Caveat: there are, Uncle Woody admits, some fabulous homeschool organizations in California. They tend to be aberrations.)

At the end of the day, even a politically dangerous candidate like Mr. Martin will have his hands full if he wins the election. Our public schools are undoubtedly in a serious decline. Whoever takes that office will be so busy balancing the needs of a voracious union with the seriously under-regulated public school cuisine requirements that there will be precious little time available to go after those seditious homeschoolers.

He won't be getting my vote, though.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cameron moving to Wordpress

Howdy, Greg. Just on the off chance you see this before you see my notice on Facebook, I'm moving the bulk of my blogging activity over to Wordpress.

Would you mind removing me as a participant on Woody's Woundup? Nothing personal, of course. I'm just in a real serious Let's Get Organized! moods right now.

My new blog is here.

Woody: We'll miss him here on the Woundup, but I understand the restless feeling. That's one reason why I moved "Inner Dad" to Wordpress last year. I just haven't killed the old site yet. The trick is what to call his new blog on the blog roll. His masthead says "Music. Literature. Stuff." But the URL says "culturalrumbles," which would be cool, too. Maybe I'll just compromise and call it "The Blog Formerly Known as Way Off Bass."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Trudge through Drudge

I went wandering around Drudge today. Two items caught my limited attention. (Head cold, y'see.)

1. Drudgeline: "GROVE: Death of the White House Press Corps..."

Seems the White House press corps is feeling more like the White House press corpse these days. Not surprising, since the O hasn't given a formal press conference in, what, nine months now. Yet, buried in the angst as reported by Lloyd Grove for "The Daily Beast" was this chestnut:
Every so often, the president takes his revenge, as Obama did on Friday, mocking skeptical reporters who have been questioning the positive impact of health-care reform. "Can you imagine if some of these reporters were working on a farm and you planted some seeds and they came out next day and they looked—Nothing’s happened! There’s no crop! We’re gonna starve! Oh, no! It’s a disaster!" Obama told a town meeting in Maine. “It’s been a week, folks. So before we find out if people like health-care reform, we should wait to see what happens when we actually put it into place. Just a thought.”
And there it is in a nutshell. The real reason why the health care reform package so recently thrust upon us is so dangerous: the idiots who voted it into existence and signed it into law truly have no idea what will happen until it happens.

Remember all those promises? "If you like the coverage you have, you won't have to give it up." "Death squads? What death squads?" "This bill will provide universal coverage without causing a deficit." The problem with promises is that they're only valid if the one making the promises actually knows that he can deliver. Obama's request to "wait to see what happens when we actually put it into place" can (and should) be translated to mean: "We have no idea what we just created, but we want you to shut up about it until someone shows up at your door to arrest you for refusing to buy into it."

2. Drudgeline: "Reid mocks Palin during campaign speech..."

[Stunned silence]

Um... Matt? I kinda thought the whole reason for reporting things was to point out something that we didn't really know before. That's the definition of news, right? What's the old adage? "If a dog bites a man, that's not news. If a man bites a dog, that's news."

Well, Sir Drudge, I've got news for you: Reid (or any left-leaning politician and more than a handful of Republicans) mocking Sarah Palin is not news. Now, if Reid or any of his ilk actually said something like, "Hey, that Palin just might be a force to be reckoned with...," THAT would be news.