Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A few things I would ask you to consider this morning as I reflect on recent and upcoming issues regarding our President. While this is not a "political" blog, I did say from the outset that I would sometimes comment on politics, "For What It's Worth".
One of the most important (and long lasting) actions taken by the Chief Executive involve the appointment of Judicial nominees, especially that of the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal Judges serve for life. They are not elected by the people, and can only be removed from office by impeachment for cause. the Judicial branch of our Federal government (outlined in Article III of the U.S. Constitution) serve as an important part of the checks and balances, wisely written into the Constitution by it's framers.
As you know, Associate Justice David Souter has announced his intention to retire from the High Court at the end of this session. So, only four months into his first term, the duty falls to our new President to appoint his first Supreme Court Justice. Many commentators believe that appointment could come as early as today. Speculation is that Mr. Obama's appointment will likely be a woman, and possibly one of Hispanic descent. Common sense and experience would indicate that the candidate will also be philosophically aligned with the liberal political views of the President. I have no problem with any of this, because that is the way the system works. The President makes the appointment, and the Senate confirms or rejects the nominee under it's "advise and consent" responsibilities in the constitutional process. It should be apparent to the most casual observer, that a conservative President will appoint conservative judges, and a liberal Chief Executive will appoint liberal jurists. When Barack Obama was elected President, no one should have had any doubts where his priorities lay involving judicial nominees.
I personally would like to see a more conservative jurist appointed to the High Court, but one would only assume that the new nominee would be ideologically aligned with the opinions of Justices Souter, Stevens, Bryer, and Ginsberg. What does concern me more is what the President recently said that he is looking for in a Supreme Court Justice. He says he will nominate someone with "empathy".
Empathy? What the heck is THAT all about? Does "the boy president" even understand the constitutional duties of the Supreme Court? The American Heritage Dictionary defines empathy as:
1. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. (See Synonyms at pity.)
2. The attribution of one's own feelings to an object.
The duty of the Supreme Court is to interpret the law. The Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the U.S. It's main functions are to interpret the Constitution and to examine every law passed whether federal or state and determine if said laws adhere to the Constitution of the United States. Empathy doesn't come into the equation. Applying the Constitution, and not one's feelings, opinions, and pity, is the criteria for the work of a Supreme Court Justice.
The statue of the "Lady Justice" at the Supreme Court building depicts our justice system as blindfolded to outside influences, judging only by the scales in her hand.
It is not that this President "doesn't get it". No, not at all. It is simply another glimpse into his strange view of what America is really all about.
It's been about 10 days now since Mr. Obama's much ballyhooed speech at the Commencement Ceremony at Notre Dame. The invitation to speak in South Bend was controversial because of his "Pro Choice" views on abortion and the traditional "Pro Life" stance of the Roman Catholic Church. The debate raged on for some time on the cable news networks.
Should Mr. Obama be invited to speak at Notre Dame?
Well, why not? He IS the President of the United States and the honor of having the nation's Chief Executive speak at a commencement is a major one. Obviously his appearance was popular with the audience.
Should Mr. Obama have been conferred an Honorary Doctorate? Absolutely not!
The former question speaks of respect for his office. The latter is an abominable decision that a Catholic university would confer an honorary degree upon a politician who has no respect for the basic human "right to life."
In his speech, the President made reference to the differing views on abortion. He made no bones about the fact that the two differing viewpoints are at polar opposites and that there are certain irreconcilable differences between the two camps. Duh! He certainly has a tremendous grasp of the obvious...
What is more amazing, however, is that he stated that both sides must find "common ground" on the issue of abortion. Pardon me for asking, but HOW in God's name can we find "common ground" on the matter of terminating a human life in what should be the safest place on earth - it's mother womb. The matter is a simple one. Abortion stops a beating heart. Innocent life is terminated - often under the oblique heading of "choice" or "reproductive rights". The practice is either right or wrong. Where, please tell me, is ANY possibility for "common ground". Unborn life is either sacred, or it is not. Try as hard as you like, straddling the fence on this issue is impossible.
The thing that amazes me, is that many of the same politicians who have decried the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on terrorist prisoners, are the same characters who approve of inserting scissors into the base of the skull of a partially born baby, and sucking the brains out, all in the name of "choice". Talk about inconsistent... now THAT is torture.
Common ground, Mr. President? Impossible!
The final thought I want to share with you today comes from page 92 of the May 25th issue of "Newsweek" magazine. It is a telling graphic which shines a bright light on Mr. Obama's Three Trillion, five hundred, fifty Billion dollar budget he has submitted to Congress. In figures, that's $3,550,000,000,000.00! Seth Colter Walls did the research that appears with the illustrations by Peter Arkle in an eye opening picture of "What You Could Buy With Obama's 2010 Federal Budget". Here is a breakdown, without the illustrations:
With the money in President Obama's 2010 budget, one could buy -
- Everything produced in Italy in 2008 - PLUS
- A refund for everyone defrauded by Bernie Madoff - PLUS
- The International Space Station - PLUS
- An electric car for every 16 and 17 year old in America - PLUS
- All the oil in Saudi Arabia - PLUS
- The Big Dig, Boston's urban-infrastructure money pit - PLUS
- Full funding for the Krasnow Institute's project to map the Human Brain - PLUS
- All the tea in China - PLUS
- The treasure of King Tut's Tomb - PLUS
- Recession era bargain: an Upper East Side NY Condo on 94th Street - PLUS
- The 1909 mint condition Honus Wagner baseball card - PLUS
- A week long staging of Stockhausen's seven-opera series - PLUS
- One $.99 MP3 download from iTunes for everyone in America - PLUS
- A pair of Marc Jacobs 214S sunglasses, with dark gray lenses - PLUS
- A burrito at Chiptole in Manhattan.
Kind of puts it in perspective doesn't it? I would have included the dollar figures, but there are way too many 0's and my fingers are tired! You can look it up in Newsweek for yourself.
Enough of this for today.
How's that "hopey, changey thing" going for you?
Monday, May 25, 2009
On this Memorial Day Holiday, many folks will be attending cookouts, and going to ball games. Some will be enjoying the day off by boating on the rivers or lakes, some will splash in the recently opened public and private pools. Many will be travelling by planes, trains and automobiles, taking advantage of a three day weekend. Life will go on in the USA as normal. But on this day, especially, we should all take a moment to remember those who gave their lives to preserve our American way of life. We must also never forget those brave men and women who are presently serving in our military forces. Many are in harms way today as we fight on two fronts against an insidious, yet invisible enemy in an ongoing war on terrorism.
Today our President will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our veterans in all wars. Earlier today, in Kabul, Afghanistan, active duty troops have already had a memorial service for their fallen comrades. Across the river in Ironton, Ohio, the streets will be lined by hundreds of people to view the longest continually running Parade in America - the 139th Annual Ironton Memorial Day Parade. Ceremonies like these will be held on military installations, in cemeteries, parks, and streets of big cities and small towns all across America today. This is fitting and proper because of the many veterans who gave "their last full measure of devotion" while fighting various enemies under the Stars and Stripes that represented their homes, families, freedom, and American way of life.
May we never forget the sacrifices they (and their families) have made for us.
My personal family has had its share of men who have served, and I am proud of them all. My great grandfather, Cumberland Adkins (Sr.) a Civil War soldier, and my grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr served in the Army in WWI. He was gassed in the Argonne Forest and eventually died of lung cancer at a relatively early age. Dad (Caudle, Jr.) and his older brother "Buster" served in the US Navy during WWII. Dad's younger brother, Sammy, enlisted in the Air Force during the mid 50's. An uncle on my mother's side, Jerry "Bob" Stidham also served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. My brother, Bruce and I both had Viet Nam era service - he in the Navy and I in the Air Force.
On Linda's side of the family the heritage is just as rich. Her Grandfather, Cornelius Bowling was a WWI Doughboy, his brother, Andy, was held as a POW by the Germans. Linda's father, Burgess, served under General Patton, taking part in invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy during WWII. Her uncle, William Smith, Jr, (a Marine) was the only family member to die while on active duty - although his death was not combat related. Linda also had several cousins who proudly served in the Armed Forces.
My brothers in law, Danny, Burgess Ray, and Bob Bowling were also veterans. Danny was an Airman, stationed in England and Langley AFB, Virginia. Burgess Ray (who later died in a mining accident) did two tours of duty with the Marines in Viet Nam and served for several years as a Marine Recruiter. Bob, also a Marine, was injured while on duty, just before his discharge in the early 70's. A couple of my nephews have also served - young Dan Bowling and Christopher Bennett also served in the Air Force. My younger son, Benji, enlisted in the US Marine Corps and faced enemy fire in Kosovo.
That's the way it has gone down through history. There have been a number of career military men and women during the history of our nation, but the vast majority of our veterans have been like those listed above - average Americans who give of themselves to serve their country. Many of them never returned to their families and homes. Let us never forget their great sacrifices on our behalf, nor the unimaginable loss suffered by their families.
All gave some, some gave all.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Patsy Ruth was the oldest of five children, born to Jerry and Mary Stidham, in Logan County, WV in 1929. Yep, that makes my Mom 80 years old this month! Her sister, Hessie, died from leukemia at age 12, and a baby brother known as "Buddy" died in infancy. Her siblings who survived were younger brother, Bob (now deceased) and sister Dori. Papaw died in 1968 and Mamaw joined him in 1996. So now, it's just Mom and Dori remaining from the original Stidham family.
My grandfather was a coal miner, who later worked for the United Mine Workers of America, eventually serving the union as an International Representative. He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1948 as a Democrat from Logan County. During his time in office, he served in the House with future West Virginia Governors Underwood, Barron, and Moore, and with future United States Senator Robert Byrd. He was active in several fraternal organizations and was well respected in Logan County and throughout the coal fields of southern West Virginia. He was an unpublished poet, and in 1964 was named West Virginia Poet Laureate by then Governor Hulett Smith. In 1960, he gave his life to Christ and was later called into ministry. He served as Pastor at a church in the Charleston area during the brief time that they lived in Kanawha County, and eventually served as Pastor of the #20 Whitman Community Church (the church were he was saved in Logan County) until the time of his death. I remember him as a kind but strong man who loved and served others.
My grandmother was a "domestic engineer" and one of the most dedicated Christian ladies I have ever known. Her life revolved around her Lord, her church, her husband and children, her special friends, and her 10 grandchildren until the day she died. She was a woman of prayer and great faith. She had the ability to make each of her grandchildren feel that they were her favorite. Mamaw was kind and generous, and would give her last dollar to someone in need.
Mom seemed to inherit the best qualities of both of her parents.
Her early life couldn't have been easy. She suffered from a bout with polio as a child, and has gone through life with one leg slightly smaller and shorter than the other. She grew up in the small dirty coal camps, living in little houses owned by the coal companies. As the oldest sibling she had the responsibilities of helping with housework and helping to care for the younger kids. Mamaw always said that Mom was a good girl, but that her only fault was that she had a "sassy mouth" at times. That was hard for me to imagine, because the Mother I knew was such a sweet and godly woman. I rarely ever heard her even utter a cross word.
Mom excelled academically. She was an honor student at Logan High School and was offered a college scholarship, but opted to go to work for Island Creek Coal Company. Her first job was as a clerk in one of the Company Stores and then later in the payroll department of Island Creek's main office in Holden. She had given her life to Christ as a young girl and was actively involved in her local church. She was a beautiful young lady and there were a number of fellows in the Holden area who came calling from time to time, but God had someone else he was preparing for Mom to meet.
That meeting came at the old Franklin's Dairy Bar on Stratton Street in Logan, when a friend introduced her to Caudle Adkins, Jr., a U.S. Navy veteran and young Baptist preacher. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mom and Dad were married on July 3, 1949 at her parents house with both families and several neighbors in attendance. I came along in October, 1950, Bruce joined us on Valentine's Day, 1955, and Carl discovered America in September of 1960. The three of us and our families will be honoring Mom and Dad by celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary in a couple of months. We hope many of their friends and neighbors will join us.
My mother was a stay at home mom for many years. Her days and nights were filled with caring for the three of us, and keeping things organized for Dad, who was a very busy bi-vocational evangelist for many years. She was sharp as a tack and took care of most of the "business" of the family. She read constantly, loved to discuss the Bible, and taught teenage girls in Sunday School. She also always worked in Vacation Bible School in the summers. As Carl got older, Mom decided to get back into the workplace. She worked for a while in the local drug store, and for several years in the offices of two Huntington doctors. First for Dr. Martin (a dermatologist) and later for Dr. Hoffman (a urologist).
Sometime in late 1995 we begin to notice some changes in Mom. Mamaw told me, "I'm worried about Pat. She is getting awfully forgetful." And she was. What we first passed off as "absent mindedness" eventually became reason for concern. She obviously had trouble with her short term memory, and her behavior patterns were changing. She might mop the kitchen floor, and then come back a few hours later an mop it again - with no memory of having done so earlier. Losing her car in the supermarket parking lot became a more and more common occurance. That, and a combination of other circumstances over a period of time led us to decide that something was wrong and she should seek the advice of a physician.
When the diagnosis came back - Alzheimer's Disease, her life, and ours changed forever.
For Linda and I, the last 10 years have been a real mixed bag of joy and sorrow. We have welcomed four precious grandsons into our family, but we have also experienced loss. We lost her mother suddenly to death, and we are losing mine little by little each day. Now she is only a shell of the sharp, vibrant woman that I remember. Her eyes, that once sparkled with life, now seem strangely empty. She still knows Dad and each of us boys, and our wives, but she is now having trouble remembering and recognizing her grandchildren, and the great grandsons are just a mystery to her.
The one who once was the rock that anchored our family, now cannot tell you the name of the President, the day or year, or even her own age. She is unaware of my battle with cancer. She doesn't know that Dad had surgery and was hospitalized for seven weeks. Her days are spent in a fog like existence, alternating between long periods of silence, lots of sleep, and times of constant chatter, asking the same questions over, and over, and over again. What a cruel disease for such a dear lady to endure.
With Mother's Day arriving tomorrow, and Mom's 80th Birthday coming a couple of weeks later, I know that no gifts or flowers or cards that we give her will be remembered for more than a few minutes. I also know that the day will probably come when she will not even know who we are. But we will know who she is, and will continually thank God for giving us such a dear and precious Mother.