Friday, August 1, 2014

A Simple But Powerful Lesson

You may have seen a picture I posted on Facebook recently of my elementary school PE teacher, Emilio Mendillo, and me- - -together again after almost 60 years. It was a moving and very emotional moment for me and my comments under the post reflected as much. Here’s why.
In the fall of 1956 I was a 6th grader at Colbert Elementary School in Hollywood, Florida. The school Principal, Marseline S. West, had hired a 27 or 28 year old ex-GI as the Physical Education (PE) instructor for all classes- -a really progressive concept at the time. The ex-GI, who had been stationed in post WWII Italy, was a young Italian-American fellow- - -Emilio Mendillo- - -or Coach Mendillo as we all called him. Whatever the sport Coach Mendillo could easily teach eager young minds and bodies the fundamentals and the rules. Basketball, baseball, football, kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, track and field- - -he knew each sport and took great delight in teaching all of them to kids who thrived on the participation and the competition. Over the years he would directly and indirectly touch thousands of young lives in that town.

I don’t know what prompted Coach Mendillo to do so but early in the school year he decided to put together an elite group of boys to form a military style “Drill Team”. I was one of those chosen. He would teach us how to march and drill, just like the soldiers in the US Army. As he did with all things, he first explained why “marching in cadence” was important (an efficient, effective way of moving bodies of people, on foot, from one place to another without chaos or incident) and then demonstrated the fundamentals of marching and of obeying “marching orders”.  Understanding and executing marching commands is NOT as easy as it looks- -timing is everything- -but within a few hours we had the basics down solidly and it wasn’t long before we were a cohesive team capable of proficiently displaying the intricacies of “close order drill” in public.  In fact, we got to be good enough to march in the Fiesta Tropicale Parade that year and win wide spread recognition for our school- - -Colbert Elementary. When the school year ended in June of 1957 I would not see Coach Mendillo again until July of 2014. But that didn’t mean we lost touch with each other over that span.  

Coach Mendillo, while stationed in Italy, had met and married a beautiful young Italian woman- -Dolores—who was the product of a classic European education and who, years later would be my Latin teacher at SBHS. Through her and through her daughter, a friend of my youngest sister, The Coach and I each had some idea of what was going on with the other during the intervening years. More recently, social media has allowed for periodic updates- -each with the other- -through mutual friends. 

As I was driving back from Hollywood to Tampa a couple of days ago- -a 5 hour trip- -I had a lot of time to reflect on the re-union with Coach Mendillo (arranged by his daughter Laura) and it occurred to me that the lessons he taught us as 11 year old schoolboys in a drill team were, in fact, the lessons that stuck with me and guided me through most of my adult life. Let me explain. 

When the “troops” are assembled and in formation the day’s objectives and the goals of the march about to be undertaken are shared with everyone. Then, when it is evident that everyone has a clear picture of the task at hand and it is time to begin, a very simple but powerful command is given: Forwaaaaard. . .March.  The first word- -forward-is loudly emphasized and drawn out in order to alert the troops that they are about to be given an executable command. The second word- -MARCH- -is barked out tersely and with maximum emphasis. At that command each man in the ranks takes that first step forward and immediately becomes aware of what each man in front of him, behind him and either side of him is doing. Teamwork and discipline become the watchwords of the day. And it was this ability to give, take and execute marching orders, taught to me by Coach Mendillo, that allowed me to secure a leadership role in my own US Army basic training days several years later. 

 While on the tedious drive home and giving thought to those lessons learned from Coach Mendillo it dawned on me that in “marching” as with life in general, the solution to the task at hand always starts with, “FORWARD” MARCH. It NEVER begins with “To the left, march” or “to the right, march” or even to the rear, march”. FORWARD, march. ALWAYS forward. It was then that I realized I had applied those same lessons, learned from Coach Mendillo as an 11 year old, to a long and reasonably successful business career especially in those assignments where I was mandated to create change from stagnation, bring order out of chaos or create an achievable vision of the future. The solution was always the same: Assemble the troops; look for those who already knew how to “march in cadence”(understood the concepts of teamwork and discipline)  and make them leaders; formulate goals and objectives of the “march”, share that vision with every single “trooper” making sure they too had a clear vision of the desired end result, then finally giving a simple but powerful command: FORWAAAAARD, MARCH!!

Thank you Coach Mendillo- -now 85 years young- - for that simple but valuable life lesson. Thank you for teaching me that even the shortest journey starts with but one step . . . FORWARD.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



In an odd turn of events I find myself in total disagreement with both Liberals and Conservatives about how to re-act to the downing of MA 17 last week in Ukraine by Russian separatist forces and what our response should be to Vladimir Putin’s recent foreign policy of taking what he wants by aggression.  Liberals, to no one’s surprise, back either a policy of strict economic sanctions or one of “turn the other cheek”, be a friend and eventually he’ll stop. Conservatives, also as expected, are screaming for a show of force and military strength. Both groups, in my opinion, are completely wrong.

As anyone can tell from the photos of Putin (carefully staged and released by the state-controlled Russian media) showing him shirtless and engaged in so-called “manly pursuits” the guy has a HUGE ego. Reading his speeches and analyzing his actions clearly paint a picture of a man who sees himself as a world leader, a statesman and the George Washington of the “New Russia”. He believes he is invincible because his ego will not allow him to believe anything else and because the leaders of the rest of the world have been spineless in dealing with him. The President of the US, Barack Obama, has been notably and most particularly feckless in his dealings with Putin at a time when US leadership is sorely needed. But the POTUS could change all this quickly by showing the same kind of leadership demonstrated by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan in confronting Russian aggression. And if I were Obama’s Chief-of-Staff I would insist he do so by delivering a speech at the UN and calling Putin out in front of a world body. It would sound something like this.

Friday July 25, 2014

10:00 AM

The UN General Assembly

New York


POTUS stands at the dais of the UN and welcomes those in attendance as required by protocol. He pauses for a moment (for dramatic effect), shuffles his “notes”, discards them with flourish then proceeds to speak.

“I came here today with the original intent of addressing this world body about several current global events. And if you were to see the notes I just threw away you would know that was the text they contained. But as I rode here from my hotel I changed my mind about the content and purpose of my speech this morning. Yes, I still want to address this body as a whole but in so doing I want my message to be unmistakably targeted to someone who isn’t here- -Vladimir Putin. So, Ambassador Churkin would you please dispatch someone from your delegation to phone President Putin and let him know that as I stand at this podium I am talking directly to him.” 

POTUS shifts, smiles and acknowledges the sea of flashes from the cameras of the startled world press and cups his ear to take in the growing murmur of the assembled diplomats. Then he continues. 

“Recently the world was shocked and saddened by the downing of Malaysian Air Flight 17 by Russian separatists in Ukraine. 298 innocent people who had nothing to do with the politics of that region died. And why did they die? They died because you, Mr. Putin, did not respect the laws of international sovereignty and took Crimea by force. Then while signaling that your designs did not stop there you installed a proxy army of unschooled partisans inside Ukraine and sent your military advisors to arm and train them. The problem is that your advisors and trainers made two errors with the proxy army you installed in sovereign Ukraine territory: They over armed them and under trained them. Thus the blood of those 298 people is on your hands as head of an aggressive Russian state.

By now Mr. Putin, as you watch from your office in the Kremlin, you are probably angrily sneering, “What hypocrisy coming from a man who leads a nation which has armies stationed in Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea, Okinawa, The Philippines  and virtually every western European country. . .how dare he lecture me about a comparatively small “proxy army” in Ukraine!”

But consider this: in Afghanistan as it was in Iraq, Russia did little to stem the forces of global radicalism- -forces that are as much a threat to the Russian people as they are to the people of the western democracies. And so it was left to a coalition of the willing led by the US to try to turn that tide. And what have you done during that period? You’ve armed those radicals and their sponsor states like Iran and North Korea with the ability to make and deliver atomic weapons ignoring the fact that in so doing you are probably handing the rope to your own executioners.  Also consider that every other country in which the US has military bases, the people of those countries are politically free, secure and economically prosperous. Yet, almost unanimously the former Soviet states are seeking alliances with the western democracies because they want that same political freedom, security and prosperity. What does that tell you about the message and the universal needs of people as well as the intent of America and the world’s great democracies? 

President Putin I know that you have a strong desire to be considered a world leader, a great statesman and the founding father of the New Russia. So, I am calling you out here and now. I am issuing a “put-up or shut-up, yes or no” challenge. Will you join the leaders and statesmen of the western democracies in working jointly to stem the tide of radicalism? Will you stop arming proxy armies and client trouble makers? Will you give up your policy of aggression for one of international détente? Will you put Iran and North Korea on notice that you will no longer bankroll their subversion, sponsorships of terrorism and dreams of world domination?  Will you become a true leader, a respected statesman and a founding figure? The answer to each of these questions is a simple “yes” or “no”- -“Da or Nyet”. Any other response of any sort or explanation is unacceptable. So Mr. Putin, what is your answer? The world waits? It’s your move. Pick up the phone, call Ambassador Churkin who is sitting just a few feet away from me and tell him to stand up and say, “Da”.  If you do, and demonstrate it, the world will start to change tomorrow. If you don’t the continuing danger and chaos will be on you. It will be your legacy. Yes or No? 

POTUS leaves the podium and for several seconds there is a  stunned and complete silence in the Assembly Chamber. Then, one by one, each delegation stands and applauds loudly. The applause is broken by the ring of a telephone in the Russian delegation. Ambassador Churkin walks to the podium and utters one word. . . 

OK, so I’ve put forth an improbable scenario. But the improbability is there only because unlike Kennedy and Reagan who were true leaders and can easily be imagined delivering such a speech, Barack Obama is unlikely to have such courage. After all, what are we expecting from a man with such a paucity of experience and a scarcity of leadership skills on his résumé not to mention a complete lack of testicular fortitude.
And meanwhile, Rome burns.




Monday, September 17, 2012


A short look at a few million years of history and why “religion” per se isn’t the problem.

I have lost count of the number of times recently when I have heard liberals, progressives, atheists and a myriad of “freedom from religion” activists quote these poetic and empathetic lyrics from the John Lennon song, “Imagine”.  

“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too”

The context in which it is USUALLY quoted is within an argument being made to abolish religion, erase national borders, do away with governments and outlaw capitalism, as if by doing so all the peoples of the world will immediately live in peace, harmony and security with love and concern for each other regardless of race, language or values. 

It is a wonderful thought and when Lennon wrote those lyrics in 1971 and released the song as a single in 1975 his thoughts were considered “revolutionary”. Indeed, in the turmoil of the 70s his words were hailed as the kind of “new thinking” the world needed. However, as great a musician and songwriter as Lennon might have been he was an absolutely lousy historian. What John Lennon forgot when he laid out his dream in song is that . . . we’ve been there already in the course of human history. Yes, we have. It’s called “The Pleistocene Epoch” and it began just shortly after the Ice Age when early humans first showed up on earth- -an earth with no countries and no religion- - and started to gather themselves into clans and tribes in order to provide security, work more effectively, lessen their chances of being prey and assure their continuity. 

Fast forward a million or so years from the Pleistocene Epoch to about 200,000 years ago when man had pretty much populated most of earth’s habitable continents and began to organize themselves into “cultures” and “cities”. Still no countries and still no religion, too but- -you guessed it- -there were plenty of wars. Tribes routinely invaded each other, stole possessions, raped, maimed and murdered with a great degree of regularity. 

Now let’s move up another 150,000 years to a time that was a “mere” 50,000 years ago. Still no countries as we know them but war and hatred existed because, as human nature dictates, one tribe will always covet what another tribe has and will try to take it forcefully if they cannot provide it on their own. It was about this time, in an effort to find a way to mitigate the bellicose nature of man that the early elements of what was to become Hinduism emerged as a means of giving humans some clear values by which to live. Yet, in spite of the attempt to promulgate values, early Hinduism was rife with images of war and vengeful gods and didn’t become the more pacific religion we know today until the appearance of the Vedic Scriptures about 5,000 years ago.  An amazing 12 centuries after the Vedic Scriptures, Abraham laid down the foundations of Judaism. 18 centuries later Jesus preached the gospels that became the basis of Christianity. 14 centuries after the death of Jesus Mohammed, in 610 AD, received the first revelations of the Quran.  

So, in the history of humans on this earth- -spanning some 200,000 years- -“countries” as we know them have been a segregating issue for less than 10% of that time and “religion” as we know it has been an isolating influence for less than 3% of that time. Yet, progressives, atheists and a large number of believers will tell you that “more wars have been started in the name of God than for any other reason”. While that simply cannot  be mathematically possible it has become an oft repeated “truism” and is used to rationalize a growing vendetta against all religions. It shouldn’t be. And, here’s why. 

Atheists and other anti-religion types just love to point to passages in the Torah and the Bible that call for stoning and other harsh punishments for what we consider today as ridiculous “offenses”. Several passages in Deuteronomy regarding adultery and blasphemy come to mind. (You can look them up for yourself.) But to do so is completely disingenuous and they know it. Why? Because it is a matter historical fact that Judaism has transformed itself over the past 3,800 years by adopting values and reason from other cultures and recognizing that all things- -including religious beliefs- -eventually must be modernized to fit and meet the needs of humanity. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century was the beginning of a long period of re-thinking what Christianity should be and how it should serve the needs of not just believers but of all of humanity. As a result of that transformation and reformation Christianity and Judaism have modernized . . . clearly not perfectly so . . . but certainly light years beyond the times of Moses and Jesus.  But not Islam. Islam has not yet had its reformation. It has not undergone any sort of transformation nor modernization. It is exactly the same religion it was 1,400 years ago with the same outdated values and priorities  

I’m certain that at this point any of the PC crowd who may have been reading this are in an absolute spasm of anger and ready to lynch me from the nearest light post. But before you get the rope ready consider these few challenges. I challenge you to:

·       Find any Jewish congregation anywhere in the world that still believes it’s OK for wives to be beaten for disobeying their husbands

·       Find any recognized Christian sect anywhere in the world that still believes that men and women should be stoned for the “crime” of adultery.

·       Find a film clip anywhere on the Internet showing Hindus, Jews or Christians caught in the act  of burning down mosques. (Yes, many clips of charred Qurans with narrative blaming Christians and Jews for it in the aftermath but no clips of angry mobs—just accusations)

·       Show me the crowds of Jews, Hindus or Christians storming and burning the embassy of any nation because of some perceived “blasphemy” against a figure in their religion much less murdering the people inside. 

My heart goes out to those brave Muslims who, after the murder of the US Ambassador in Libya on 09.11.12, held up for the world to see, signs proclaiming their sorrow for such an act and stating that it is not ‘the Islam we know’. But until those who appear to be moderate outnumber those who are militant and force an “Islamic Reformation” this will continue. And as long as atheists, progressives and others in the West simply classify this militant behavior as typical of religious believers of ALL kinds as a ruse to further their own liberal agenda, this violence will not stop.
Yes, John Lennon, you were a lousy historian. But you were a wonderful musician and a great poet and will always be one of my heroes.





Sunday, March 20, 2011


There is a wonderful website which “The Sage” highly recommends to everyone regardless of your age, your politics or your gender: The Boomer Broads . “The Boomer Broads”, Anne-Marie Aigner and Janet Prensky, two of the brightest, funniest and most articulate voices on the Internet today are partners in the Aigner-Prensky Marketing Group a Boston based marketing, public relations and, promotions firm with an impressive list of clients. Their respective bios are equally impressive and reflect the successes each has fought for over their long careers.

I’ve known Anne-Marie Aigner since high school days and have always been a fan of her wit and intellect. I like her- - -a lot. I’ve never met Janet Prensky but I hope to someday because I just know I’d like her every bit as much as I like Anne-Marie. So, I’m hoping what I’m about to write won’t turn Janet Prensky into “a friend I’ll never make” nor Anne-Marie Aigner into “a friend I once had”.

Every week these two wonderful folks produce a 10 to 15 minute video commentary on the hot topics of the day. These videos can be found at their site and on You Tube. I never miss watching their commentary because it is fast paced, generally dead on target, unusually insightful, often thought provoking and always entertaining. I am a huge fan of “The Boomer Broads”. But, in this week’s video “Celebrating Women’s History Month” I think Janet Prensky got it wrong when she went into a short monologue about Sarah Palin in which she referred to Palin as a “woman [who] has set back women” and one who has “set our gender back”. Then she added that “we” (presumably all women) “are in flux because of the tea party woman”.

OK, time out for disclaimers. The Sage, although a political conservative, is NOT a Palin supporter and would never back her for any sort of run for national office on any ticket. Sarah Palin simply brings nothing new in the way of actionable ideas to the national debate. There is staleness to her political rhetoric that leaves me cold. Whatever she’s saying is always something I’ve heard before. But simply because she brings nothing new to the national discourse and debate does not mean she hasn’t contributed to it. In fact, I believe she has contributed to the political architecture of this country like no other politician in my memory.

Sarah Palin has done the improbable in completely energizing an army of conservative, stay at home, keep your opinions to yourself, wives and moms who suddenly find their opinions do matter and their thoughts and values regarding family, equality, career and “choices” are not necessarily in line with the shriller voices of the more strident segments of feminism. These women- -Palinistas- - are organizing themselves into powerful voting blocs. They are running for office at the local and state levels and- - -they are getting elected. Just ask SC Governor Nikki Haley.

But Janet Prensky- -someone who strikes me as a committed feminist but not a shrill or strident one- - - isn’t alone in her disdain for her gender mate, Sarah Palin. My wife cannot stand her. Neither can my daughters, nor can most of my liberal/progressive female family, friends and acquaintances. And I think, after talking to them, I understand why.

Ever since Betty Friedan first published “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963, the book widely viewed as the manifesto for “second wave feminism” in the USA, there has been an expectation among women of a kind of uniformity and conformity within the “sisterhood”- - -what’s good for one woman is good for all women- - -especially when it comes to the clash with men and the battle against stereotypes. This demand for conformity has been an accepted and unchallenged concept within the vast ranks of feminists who have emerged over the last 50 years. Unchallenged, that is, until Palin and her ilk came along and suddenly proclaimed to women it’s OK to stay home and raise the kids if you want; it’s OK to work part time or not at all if you choose and, it’s OK to want to choose life if your conscience or your religious beliefs won’t let you choose the alternative. With a message like that it’s no wonder Palin is thought of as a traitor to the generally perceived goals of the feminist movement. But saying Palin is someone who has “set our gender back”? I don’t think so. That just may be the antithesis of what is actually happening.

In arguing that Palin has set women back, feminists have implied that somehow women have lost ground, have had opportunities taken away and equality truncated. They would have us think that since Palin emerged on the scene women have been denied tenure, passed over for promotions, fired, not hired and, overlooked in increasingly large numbers. But there doesn’t seem to be much real evidence of any such thing. In fact, I challenge anyone to point to just one woman, by name, in the public eye, who has been denied any opportunity as a direct result of something Sarah Palin has said or done. In reality just the opposite seems to have occurred. Women, especially conservative women, are getting elected to leadership positions in record numbers. Again, just ask Nikki Haley.

So perhaps there is a viable case to be made that Sarah Palin, rather than setting women back, has made a strong contribution to the advancement of all women not just a select and elite few. It might just be that she, more than someone like Maureen Dowd, is doing more to bring about intra-gender equality rather than focusing on inter-gender politics. Maybe she deserves an "atta-girl" or two from all women.

And for the record, Janet, I agree with you about Kate Gosselin. Forget about setting the gender back- - -she may have set the species back!!

One last thing: I’m planning a trip to Boston this summer to see family and renew a couple of old friendships. I hope to make a new one while I’m there.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gen X-ers Have a Way With Words.

I loved the slang terms of the 60s especially the terms we used when we were angry at someone or simply wanted to degrade them or hurt their feelings. We referred to girls we didn’t like as a slut, skag, skuzz, skank or sweat hog (why all the‘s’ words, I wonder?). And for the guys we didn’t like- -which were always the guys who seemed to exhibit traits we thought were “girlish”- - - we ascribed the terms candy-ass, dork, fag, wuss or panty-waist. Yet as much as I loved the descriptive terms we “Boomers” used, I have come to really enjoy some of the terms invented by Gen X-ers and Millennials particularly as they relate to the changing stereotypes of the men in their generations.

By now we are all familiar with the term “metrosexual”. The online site “Urban Dictionary” (love it!!) tells us that a metrosexual is a heterosexual guy - -definitely not gay- - who has a high sense of refinement and a taste for the better things in life. He is one who takes great care in his grooming even to the point of “manscaping” (another Gen X term that is the rough male equivalent of bikini waxing). The Urban Dictionary gives us this humorous example of being metrosexual:

“You might be "metrosexual" if:

1. You just can't walk past a Banana Republic store without making a purchase.

2. You own 20 pairs of shoes, half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, just as many watches and you carry a man-purse.

3. You see a stylist instead of a barber, because barbers don't do highlights.

4. You can make her lamb shanks and risotto for dinner and Eggs Benedict for breakfast... all from scratch.

5. You only wear Calvin Klein boxer-briefs.

6. You shave more than just your face. You also exfoliate, moisturize and manscape.

7. You would never, ever own a pickup truck.

8. You can't imagine a day without hair styling products.

9. You'd rather drink wine than beer... but you'll find out what estate and vintage first.”

I also like a couple of other terms invented by the anti-Boomer offspring we raised. Like “moobs” the term used when a guy has let himself get so out of shape he appears to have man-breasts. Or “bromance” the term the UD uses to describe a “close relationship between two guys to such a point where they start to seem like a couple”. But my absolutely unequivocal favorite of all the Gen X "guy" terms is (drum roll please. . .) ‘mangina’. Once again the UD has a great definition for mangina:

“The derisive term for a man's feminine side - especially when he's picky, touchy or emotional about something seemingly minor.”

The term imbues such men with all the negative traits stereotypically associated with women such as: cattiness, whining, victim-hood, gossiping, petty jealousy, friend hoarding and drama.

And just in case you don’t get the context in which such a term might be used, here it is:

“Crap, Steve, all I said was your car needs washed... you didn't have to flash me your mangina!”

Now, since I am “The Sage” and it is MY blog you didn’t think I could resist some political reference in all of this did you? Of course not! So-o-o-o-o, the next time Speaker of the House John Boehner starts sobbing in front of the cameras will some Gen X journalist PLEASE step up to the plate and ask:

Good grief Mr. Speaker can we get on with the nation’s business and deal with the issues of your mangina later?”

I think the rest of us would be ever so thankful to you Gen Xers for that. And please don’t stop inventing such colorful and descriptive terms. Our language needs some punching up without the constant use of the f- word as a modifier.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blaming "Boomers" For The Social Security Mess

Much has been written and spoken lately about the Social Security Retirement Fund and its near lack of solvency. Almost always the term “entitlement program” is used in apposition with “Social Security” thus lumping Social Security Retirement Benefits in with food stamps, aid to needy families and other social welfare programs created by LBJ’s “Great Society” push of the 1960s. Pundits use the term “entitlement” in a sarcastic manner as though those receiving Social Security retirement benefits are doing so solely through the charity and largesse of the gainfully employed tax paying public. And no group is singled out more directly as the cause of the near insolvency of the program than we “baby boomers”.

And as usual the fact is the media has shown their disdain for the truth in favor of their liberal bias. The media need to be honest in their reportage on this subject rather than implying we boomers are just greedy folks undeservedly feeding at the public trough. Let me explain

• I've been paying into Social Security since I was 14 years old--- 51 years in total, so far.

• For most of my corporate career I earned salaries well into six figures thus I paid the maximum amount into Social Security each year for over 30 years.

• At the current rate of SS payments to someone my age I will have to live to 97 years old just to break even and get back the money I paid in.

• I've been paying into Medicare since it's inception in the mid 60s and have paid the maximum amount almost every year since. Barring any catastrophic illness and allowing for only 4 doctor visits a year, one physical exam and one colonoscopy annually I will never get back in benefits what I paid into the program unless I live to be 102.

If the Social Security Trust Fund had been left untouched as it was originally mandated and we were promised by FDR, we would easily have the money to pay for all LEGITIMATE retiree benefits today and into the future but instead two things happened.

1. The rules were changed in 1956 to allow Social Security Disability Payments to be made to injured people who NEVER paid a dime into the system thus inviting unchecked fraud and waste. And while this is a separate fund from the retirement fund, your payroll deductions and mine- -when they were increased- - helped fund that program rather than our retirement benefits. There are law firms advertising on TV their ability to help a person get "Social Security Disability even if you've never been a part of the system before". An open invitation to defraud the system and yet, no one raises a finger to stop it.

2. In 1986 the US Senate led by none other than that Gen-X hero Al Gore allowed the Social Security Retirement Fund "lock box" to be opened so the government could "borrow" money from the Social Security Retirement Fund to pay for other giveaway programs such as food stamps. True to form the government has failed to repay the Social Security Retirement Fund and the ever growing IOU is part of the "national debt" we face today.

So I get really angry when Gen-Xers make snide remarks about having to fund "entitlement" programs like Social Security retirement because of the "greedy baby boomers". In fact, what they are funding is the REPAYMENT of the money stolen from us by their pals the liberals and progressives through their operatives the Democrats. Money I, like every other boomer, paid into the system under the promise by those same liberals and progressives that the money- - -our money- - - the money we boomers are entitled to would be there when we all started turning 65 this year.

I hope I live long enough and my faculties remain intact long enough so I can see what happens to the Gen-Xers who buy into the media lies and Democrat’s political promises about their own retirement because- - - I want to laugh at them.

(c) The Sage of Tampa 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Changing the Definition of Remarkable

Today’s Sunday newspapers in New Hampshire are all running headlines about the fact that yesterday Mitt Romney won their first-in-the nation Republican Presidential Straw Poll. Romney is by all accounts an extraordinary man with an accomplishment filled résumé . He boasts an impressive business and political pedigree as well as true conservative credentials. He is noteworthy and newsworthy; a truly remarkable man deserving of all the front-section reportage that will continue during the coming week. But somewhere in the back pages of the Laconia Citizen newspaper this week will be a very short story of a man some would call ordinary and unremarkable. The Laconia Citizen will run the obituary of Ron King who passed away yesterday and that obituary will read like those of everyone in that town who passed before him without fame or notoriety. It will be unremarkable in its content and tone. But, it shouldn’t be.

I first met Ron King and his wife Sue almost 7 years ago when their son Josh King married my daughter Cristina Andrews. Josh and Cristina had each been married previously and each of them brought a child from their prior marriage into the new marriage. Josh brought his daughter (Ron’s granddaughter) Maddison and Cristina brought her daughter (my granddaughter) Emma. It didn’t take long to see that Ron and Sue King welcomed Emma into their family and their hearts in exactly the same manner that my family and I welcomed Maddison into ours. To Ron King, Emma was simply one more granddaughter to love- - -precisely how I felt about Maddison. And then about 2 years later Josh and Cristina gave birth to Keegan King- - -a grandson who shared a bit of Ron’s blood and mine too.

At Keegan’s baptism Ron and I joked good naturedly about what a handsome little guy our grandson was with each of us claiming to be the source of his good looks. At one point during the day when Ron and I were just standing next to each other and quietly watching Emma and Maddi fawn over Keegan with big-sister delight Ron elbowed me, pointed at the three of them and said, “We did alright didn’t we Hal. . ." "Yes, Ron” I responded, “We did great. . .”

Ron King, a man of staunch Catholic faith, passed away yesterday. He had been shoveling snow off the roof of his house- - -a house he had built in a town he had lived in most of his 67 years, not far from the company he worked for his entire career. He went in the house- -the home in which he and Sue raised their two sons- - and told his one and only wife of 41 years, he was tired and went downstairs to rest. He passed while asleep in his chair.

By the current measure in today’s celebrity obsessed society Ron King, a rock solid husband, father and grandfather would not be considered “remarkable”. But given the frailties and failings of the people we look up to perhaps we need to give some serious thought to a new definition of remarkable- - -one that includes men like Ron King.

I don’t know how much more time on this earth God has allocated to me but, in the future I will remind my grandson Keegan that he was lucky enough to have had two grandfathers who loved him. It’s the least I can do for Ron. It’s the same thing I know he’d do for me.

God keep you and protect you Ron.

(c) The Sage of Tampa 2011