HORIZONS by Ken Booth

August 24, 2009

No Nonsense About Common Sense

Filed under: Uncategorized — ycazso @ 8:07 pm

    “You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

    It’s a common sense answer to those who would take what you have earned and dictate that it be handed to someone who did not.  It is but one of many quotes recorded during a celebrated 50 years of ministry by the late Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers who served an unprecedented three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Protestant denomination.

   He had the ear of five different Presidents of the United States and as an active participant in a national leadership position he often personally consulted with each of them.

Adrian Pierce Rogers  1931-2005

Adrian Pierce Rogers 1931-2005

   The author of 18 books, Rogers also edited another 49 published booklets, 18 of them in Spanish.  Today, nearly four years after his death in November 2005, the “Love Worth Finding” ministry he founded can still be seen every week on more than 14,000 television outlets around the world and heard on about 2000 radio stations. He retired as pastor of the 29,000 member Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee only months before he was overtaken by cancer and pneumonia.

    Former President George H.W. Bush said of his friend, “…a great man with a lot of influence and a lot of wisdom…”

    There’s a whole two volume work surrounding quotes from Rogers called “Adrianisms: The Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers,” but some seem somehow altogether entirely worthy of remembering in view of what is happening in front of our eyes.

     Can you recall anything in contemporary United States government to which the following 1984 Adrianism might apply in 2009?

     “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.”

     As for the on-going Town Hall meetings in which thousands of citizens, many of them quite frustrated with currently proposed government programs seek to confront their elected representatives, Adrian Rogers might well have endorsed such speaking out. Long before the current uproar he said, “It’s what you sow that multiplies, not what’s kept in the barn.”

     And this quote might be applicable to those members of Congress who seem unwilling to listen, “Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense.”

    

August 23, 2009

Recession No Deterrent To Size Of Ms. Obama’s Staff

Filed under: Uncategorized — ycazso @ 10:00 pm

   Leave it to foreign media to provide the kind of information we might not have ever seen anywhere in the so-called American “mainstream media.”

   What brings this to mind is a chain email making the rounds concerning a large stable of paid attendants to First Lady Michelle Obama.

   First, by way of full disclosure, I don’t truck much with the title First Lady. It’s annoying.  A president’s spouse is the wife of an elected official, nothing more to it. She is not a government employee and is neither appointed nor elected. Simply, it is a label contrived to create some kind of notion of royalty which is something we don’t need any more now than the then newly-forming nation did 233 years ago. But back to the email assertion.

   The message it conveys under the title “Recession, Depression, What Michelle Worry?” is traced back to a copyright article published by Canadafreepress.com late this month which alleges that Ms. Obama requires more than twenty attendants whose combined public salaries total just a smidgen under $1.7-Million. This, at a time –the original article points out- when “tens of millions of Americans (are) facing destitution, earning less than subsistence wages” who are coming to realize that the elite benefit packages thrown in for these servants “are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public.”

    For perspective, Jacqueline Kennedy’s office consisted of one person who acted as supervisor of nine full and part time employees, according to the archivist for the Kennedy Presidential Library. Mamie Eisenhower as well as Bess Truman personally paid the wages for personal secretaries.

    And for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth by her critics and the media at the time, you would have thought they were screaming, “What in the wide world of sports is gong on here?” –to borrow the line by Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles– when Mary Todd Lincoln bought china for the White House. Gasp!

    So, who are the members of Michelle’s army? According to Dr. Paul L. Williams and the staff at thelastcrusade.org (which bills itself as –among other things, the last bastion against complacency) they are:

 

1. $172,2000 – Sher, Susan (Chief Of Staff)

2. $140,000 – Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy And Projects For The First Lady)

3. $113,000 – Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary)

4. $102,000 – Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady)

5. $ 102,000-Winter, Melissa E. (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

6. $90,000 – Medina , David S. (Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

7. $84,000 – Lelyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)

8. $75,000 – Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)

9. $70,000 – Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)

10. $65,000 – Burnough, Erinn J. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)

11. $ 65,000- Reinstein, Joseph B. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)

12. $62,000 – Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator For The First Lady)

13. $60,000 – Fitts, Alan O. (Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director for the First Lady)

14. Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)

15. $52,500 – Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary To The First Lady)

16. $50,000 – Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide To The First Lady)

17. $45,000 – Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence For The First Lady)

18. Tubman, Samantha (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)

19. $40,000 – Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Assistant to the Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

20. $36,000 – Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)

21. Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)

22. Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)

      Is this an unprecedented number of staff members attending to Ms. Obama when a record number of people (about 34-Million) are having to rely upon food stamps or their equivalent just to get by?  According to D’Angelo Gore of factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the actual number is 24 not 22 as listed by Williams.

    Gore got that number when he spoke with Katie Lelyveld, Ms. Obama’s press secretary who he said declined to name the additional two staff members. Still, the 24 number does not include the full time hair-dresser and makeup artist assigned to Michelle Obama, he said.

    To be fair Laura Bush was no penny-pincher either when it came to personal staff with a list of 15 persons assigned to positions whose salaries totaled just under $1.1-Million.

    When she shared the White House Hillary Clinton had a staff of 13.

    “…in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much.” –Michelle Oboma

   

 

August 19, 2009

LA’s TROUBLING TRADITION

Filed under: Uncategorized — ycazso @ 5:13 am

There’s a joke to the effect that if you look up the word scandal in the dictionary there’s a picture of the state outline of Louisiana. The second definition, as the story goes, includes the state outline of New Jersey.

    When a major corruption case broke in New Jersey recently, one television wag even referred to that unfortunate situation as having taken place in “Louisiana north.”

     It’s no wonder. My home state of Louisiana has a long and undistinguished record of political roughhousing, rowdiness and high-jinks more likely than not to include indictment, conviction and jail.

     Many historians trace it all back to the 1800s and lay the tradition at the feet of Jean Lafitte who periodically emerged from the dark swamps of southern Louisiana to swipe the cargo carried along French and Spanish shipping lanes.

      A rogue to be sure but he was one of the state’s favorites mainly because he distributed his stolen loot to the poor folks. That won him a lot of favor from people in high places.

      It’s not a proud tradition in pelican politics but one that has endured from then until now, nonetheless. Along the way we have witnessed the jailing of two governors, an attorney general, a covey of insurance commissioners and countless lesser office holders all the way to the court houses, city halls, cop shops, and one or two parish (county) water district chief executives.

      The most recent example, of course, was the conviction of long-time, now former, U.S. Representative William ‘Dollar Bill’ Jefferson who this month was found guilty on 11 counts surrounding public bribery involving business deals with Nigeria and other African countries. Among those counts was a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization Act (R.I.C.O).  He was accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars, 90 thousand of which was discovered in plastic baggies hidden under the beans and corn in the freezer at his home. The episode generated a whole new round of laughs around the terms ‘cold cash’ and ‘frozen assets.’  He faces 150 years in a federal prison.

       Ironically, it was a Nigerian national holding a public position in Monroe, Louisiana who brought world-wide attention to the state just prior to the congressman’s conviction.

       Patrick Onymechara was that city’s tax collector when he was arrested in late May and charged with 27 counts of felony theft involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, a sum that may wind even higher. He is being held in the local parish lockup in lieu of $2.8-Million bond while a cluster of local, state and federal agents continue their investigation.

      Initial court hearings in Onymechara’s case are in limbo while his lead defense attorney, former State Senator and Chair of the legislative Ethics Committee, Charles Jones, prepares for his own trial in January on two federal charges of making a false tax return and one count of tax evasion.

 

 

      Why a Nigerian national was ever hired in the first place by Abe Pierce, the first Black mayor of Monroe since reconstruction, has provided many questions in and of itself.  The employment of a foreign national involves a tedious, time-consuming, labor-intensive process and in a community with an abundance of qualified accountants some wondered why the Pierce administration would go such lengths at a time when city hall was under intense scrutiny in an on-going federal-state investigation of bribery that ultimately ended in convictions of the city’s Community Affairs Director and a private contractor. Onyemechara was elevated to director of Taxation and Revenue by the late Mayor Melvin Rambin, Pierce’s successor.

      For historical perspective, it should be noted that Onyemechara is not the first Monroe, Louisiana tax collector caught up in a case of missing money.

      In September of 1856, the then tax collector, R.M. Routon, could not account  for $291.75 when confronted by the city’s Trustees (Council) when they reviewed the Town Assessment Rolls. At that nighttime meeting, the Trustees voted to spend $3.50 to buy some candles and candlesticks and then voted to initiate court action to bring settlement against the tax collector. Did I mention that Mr. Routon also served as police chief at the time? By December, the missing funds had still not been repaid and Routon resigned as tax collector. A new police chief was elected.  

 

       

August 17, 2009

DREAM WEST

Filed under: Uncategorized — ycazso @ 5:02 am

   Newt was surprised.  The Captain never shared his decisions with him, and yet it seemed that the decision to leave had just been made, right there, behind the wagon.

   “Captain,” he asked, “how far is it, up north?”

   “Well, north is not a place, Newt. It’s a direction,” the Captain answered. It struck Call they should have educated  the boy a little better.  — Lonesome Dove

   “Up north,” may be a direction but “out west” is indeed a place. Oh there is not a dead black line that can define it but “out west” is anywhere that is far enough from the East to be out from under it and those folks who spend a lot  of their time trying to out-suffer one another it seems.

   No, it begins when a soul can find elbow room and freedom; wherever he can escape from crowds and the obsession of their strange superstitions; wherever he has space to stand erect and must stand because he will and not because he is so wedged in that he could not fall down if he tried.

   “Out west” is a place where a man alone can find direction. There’s freedom here in this place so blessed by a landscape the likes of which exist nowhere else. There’s freedom to really explore the land and one’s soul and the relationship between the two.  There is that kind of exploration here that is deeply rooted in history.  There is that kind of exploration here that teaches you that you cannot change who you are but that what you are is always changing.  I hope we never lose the cowboy ethic and allow the wrecking of the best of the last, best places.

August 15, 2009

PANORAMA BEGINS. No Paradigms

Filed under: Uncategorized — ycazso @ 1:45 am
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