Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yes, that’s right. I said, thank-you Jimmy Carter, we Conservatives will forever be in your debt for your inane and ill-considered comments made this past week claiming that Conservative opposition to Obama is rooted in racism. And while I’m at it, thank you to NBC for being irresponsible enough to give him airtime. What? You missed Carter’s pathetic performance in progressivism? Well here’s where you can see it.

Carter’s remarks coming on the heels of the 9/12 March on Washington DC were the topic of much of the heated and emotionally charged online debate in the middle of last week. People who often stay out of the fray were, because of the incendiary nature of his assertions, given to highly agitated responses both for and against his position. But I was mind-boggled that not one Liberal or Progressive I communicated with last week was capable of associating the 9/12 March with anything other than racial issues and to them the words of a former President were all the rationale they needed to brand over a half million protestors as racists. In fact, one comment I received from a Progressive I know well really made me stop and think. He said, “How come I didn’t see any people of color at that rally carrying signs that said “Give Us OUR Country Back’?

When Liberals and Progressives hear Conservatives say, “Give us our country back” they apparently believe that to be ‘code’ for “we want a WHITE America”, not a statement that says we want to return to traditional values - - -values that can be and are supported by people of all colors. They refuse to acknowledge that we want to return to values such as:

*Personal responsibility
*Hard work
*Personal accountability
*Less government intrusion into our lives
*Valuing education
*Private ownership
*The right to reap the rewards of one’s own success
*The right to fail
*The right to pass these values on to our children without public intervention.

Instead, they insist, we are all racists because they saw SOME people in the 9/12 March carrying signs with swastikas, others with Hitler style mustaches drawn on BHO’s picture and, even a few idiots with signs likening BHO and his staff to monkeys- - -images NBC was too glad to air over and over again as the only footage worthy of being shown from the event.

But, I still couldn’t help but wonder why Liberals and Progressives and that embarrassment of an ex-President, James Earl Carter, persisted against all logic to brand millions of Conservatives as ‘racists’ because of the actions of a few. And then it hit me. It’s because Liberals and Progressives have no cogent, logical and sustainable argument against the traditional values I mentioned above. They simply cannot build a case as to why those values are wrong so they need to shift the debate away from those values by odious tactics such as name-calling and branding. And BHO buys into that position completely.

Because BHO is black the Far Left and Carter shift the debate away from “traditional values” to "race" and brand all dissenters as racists. If BHO had been “gay” they would have shifted the debate to gender identity and branded Conservatives as “homophobes.” If Hillary Clinton had been President the debate shift would have included charges of sexism against those in dissent. But, in no case would it ever have included a reasoned argument against the traditional values that are at the core of Conservatism. They will always shift the argument away from traditional values and onto something else. In fact, I’m quite certain that either publicly or privately I will get a response from some liberal zealot attempting to shift the focus from the traditional values listed above to so-called family values and the charges of “hypocrisy” being leveled because of the human failings of some prominent Republicans. (Yes, of course they will ignore John Edwards and Bill Clinton, that’s no surprise.)

So again, let me say, “Thank you” Jimmy Carter. You have exposed yourself and all your friends on the Far Left for the frauds that you are. You don’t have the courage to argue against the call for a return to traditional values. You don’t have the intellect, in spite of your PhDs and elite educations, to build a cogent argument against those values. You can engage only in obfuscation and name calling. You have no game and now the whole world knows it. We Conservatives are forever in your debt.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Visit To Ground Zero: A Personal Story of New York After 9/11.

This past Friday was the 8th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The images of the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and, of course, the devastated towers of The World Trade Center in New York City will remain with all Americans forever. But, for those of us who actually experienced the sights, sounds and smells of the aftermath of the attacks in New York, the memories are somewhat different. In remembrance of the the attacks of 9/11 I want to share with you the letter I wrote to friends and family after visting "ground zero" on November 4, 2001, just six short weeks after that horrible day.

My wife and I just returned from New York. We went there to cheer on and support our oldest daughter who ran in and completed the New York City Marathon last Sunday. We arrived on Saturday, staying at the Hilton on Avenue of the Americas in mid-town Manhattan. And even though we have been there many times, we still spent most of Saturday walking around 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza and, of course, Times Square.

Sunday was dedicated to the Marathon and our daughter's participation in it. And let me tell you, the New Yorkers were incredible! They cheered the runners enthusiastically exhorting them to “hang-in-there” and “keep going” just as though every runner was a member of their own family. And they did this not only for the elite runners at the front of the pack but for the average runners and stragglers alike—from the 11:00 AM start until the dark early hours of the evening.

On Monday, we went to the Empire State Building and spent an hour on the newly re-opened 86th floor observation deck braving the wind and enjoying the views. Then we went to “ground zero.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like there. “Awe” is the word that comes to mind first— ‘awe’-some, ‘awe’-inspiring, ‘awe’-full. In fact, the experience borders on sensory overload—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are all challenged by the remains and aftermath of September 11, 2001, just a scant 6 weeks ago.

The “sight” of the charred buildings blackened by the fires and twisted into unsolvable puzzles of iron and steel by the explosions hits you first. Then, as your eyes survey the scene, you are forced to stop and dwell on the hose cranes still pouring water on the yet burning fires below and the clouds of steam and ash continuing to rise from what must be, tragically, the world’s largest and most active crematorium. At that venue, it is relatively quiet with only the sounds of traffic on the streets behind you and the faint rumble of heavy equipment in front of you. From the scattered clumps of astonished bystanders, there is no audible sound.

Just fifty yards or so farther south down the sidewalk is a Catholic church that was blackened on 9-11 but otherwise undamaged. It is still the feeding station and contemplative refuge for the workers at ‘ground zero.’ And along the 8-foot high wrought-iron fence that runs the length of the block in front of the church are thousands of ‘memorials’ left by people from all over the world. Banners, cards, floral arrangements, stuffed animals, posters of missing loved ones and messages of support, sympathy and encouragement in hundreds of languages are affixed to almost every square foot of that fence. As you stand there taking it in, you slowly become aware of the cacophony of languages being spoken around you as people seek to find just a little space to leave one more flower or write one more message of support— “for your country from my country”—as one man said to me. There is also something deeply spiritual and maybe even ‘religious’ about this particular aspect of the ‘ground zero’ experience.

In Genesis, Chapter 11, the story of the “Tower of Babel” is told. In it, the descendents of Shem BUILD a ‘tower unto heaven’ but the motives for building the tower are displeasing to God so He “confounds” their language. Thus the workers, unable to communicate with one another, abandon the CONSTRUCTION of the tower and disperse themselves throughout the world. How strange it is that the DESTRUCTION of the World Trade Center Towers has brought people from all over the world to convene at this spot in front of a church and that no matter what tongue they speak the message seems clear and somehow the language is not “confounded.”

Farther down the street, the ‘entrepreneurs’ are at work. In whatever manner and on whatever medium the ‘Stars and Stripes’ can be replicated, you will find it for sale by an immigrant street vendor. On pins. On jackets. On caps. On glasses, cards, posters and photos, old bricks, wooden planks—anything anyone can deem as tasteful or tasteless—everywhere you turn is an image of “Old Glory.” There is no excuse for failing to find your own desired way of displaying your “patriotism.” And then there are the scammers and schemers. Con-artists all, looking to find a way to get you to put cash in their buckets for “the victim’s families, you know.”

But above all, there is the ash. It coats every surface and grinds its way into every opening. It stings your eyes. It crunches between your teeth and crackles under your shoes. It drifts along with the wind and brings with it the underlying and faint but unmistakable scent and taste of decay and death. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

These 15 square city blocks comprise truly hallowed ground. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s not.

Hal Andrews

November 5, 2001

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Do We Mean When We Say What We Say?

If you read these posts on a regular basis you have every reason to believe “The Sage” is totally consumed by politics and the continuing struggle between Progressive and Conservative ideologies. To some degree that’s true. I am intrigued by the Yin and Yang of our two party system and the broad spectrum of ideas and values the system has spawned. But not today. No politics. I have a different “issue” to rail about today; the issue of the inadequacy of the English language.

As an undergrad I was an English major and I must admit that even though I am a terrible typist and punctuation isn’t my strong suit, I am a committed grammar and vocabulary snob. And nothing irritates me more than the overuse of certain words to the point at which they’ve lost their original meaning or their ability to convey intent, depth, intensity or difference. Take the word “great” for instance.

The folks who compile Webster’s Dictionary tell us that “great” means, among other definitions, “remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree or extent.” Yet consider the use of the word ‘great’ when it comes to sports and sports announcers. In that context a routine backhanded snag by a third baseman going to the hole and then making a long throw to first is hailed as a “great play.” The commonplace 15 yard reception by a wide-out going across the middle and reaching above his head to make the grab is acclaimed as a “great catch” and is usually accompanied by the exclamation that the quarterback made a “great throw.” And, the three-point shot launched from just beyond the line never touching the rim as it drops cleanly through the net is, expectedly, described by every basketball color-man these days as “great.” So, if all these routine sports feats are great what word do we use to describe the feats that are truly “remarkable or outstanding”? I simply don’t know. That's what I mean by the inadequacy of our language.

Then there is the problem of the word “love”. Wow, talk about words that are overused to the point of confusion and lack of clarity, intensity and depth, the word “love” leads the list. Another look at Webster’s lets us know that love is generally intended to mean “an intense affection for another person. . .” Yet somehow in our modern world we love our dog. We love football or baseball or hockey. We love Thai food. We love our kids, our sibs, our parents and grandparents. We love God and God loves us. We love the color red or blue or green. We love Oreos, chocolate ice cream and a really good donut. We love old Scotch and fresh beer. We love our friends. We love our jobs and our officemates. We love our cars and our homes. We love roses. We love the seashore and the ski slopes. And, yes, we even love politics.

In fact, there’s hardly anything we don’t “love” anymore. But if we love all these things –some significant, some not– what term do we reserve for that person for whom we have an “intense affection”? How do we tell them that affection is different yet greater than the affection we have for our dog, or our kids or- - - Oreos? What do we say to the one individual in our lives who excites, energizes and inspires us? What do we say to the person who is the intense focus of that affection? What do we say to the only person who fills the hole in our soul and heals us? Somehow, “I love you” just seems to lack depth and intensity and doesn’t convey the difference between adoring someone and simply liking them. But until a better word comes along, “love” will have to do. So, when you say "I love you" to that person who invades your dreams and is the face on all your fantasies – make sure you say it with the depth and intensity that cannot be mistaken for something less.