Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Life and Death and Then What?

Christopher Hitchens died last Friday. He was 62. Though it’s too early to say with surety, it seems he died as he lived - convinced that as the title of his last book declared: “God is Not Great,” and further convinced there was no such thing as God. Many of us wondered whether he would have a change of mind and/or heart after being diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus but, so far, there are no reports that he did.

Unlikely as it would seem, Hitchens interested me as he did other conservatives. Unlikely because he was an apologist for communism, an admirer of Leon Trotsky who, with Lenin and Stalin, led the Russian Revolution, and he was a bitter critic of Mother Teresa. He was a darling of the left because he was an intelligent, articulate, atheist socialist.

He was a champion for the principles of leftist orthodoxy until he came out in support of President Clinton’s impeachment in the late 1990s. The left was in shock. Then he wrote a book about the Clintons called “No One Left to Lie to: the Values of the Worst Family.” That was heresy for a “progressive.” Next came the September 11th attack on the United States which, among other things, made him decide to become a US citizen. Following that, he exposed the left’s myopia in its refusal to condemn radical Islam in spite of its treatment of women, homosexuals, its denial of free speech, freedom of religion, and its willingness to use violence wherever and whenever to impose sharia on everyone. The final straw occurred when in 2003, he supported the US invasion of Iraq.

Hitchens pursued truth as he perceived it. He had heart and he had integrity. That’s more than I can say about most of the people I encounter on life’s journey. We perceived the world differently but I trusted the man in some intuitive way. He seemed to put the search for truth above himself, and I’ve discovered that I can relate only to people who do that. I’ve come to believe that Truth has a capital T but Hitchens denied that to his death.In his last essay for Vanity Fair Hitchens wrote:

Before I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a year and a half ago, I rather jauntily told the readers of my memoirs that when faced with extinction I wanted to be fully conscious and awake, in order to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive sense. And I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span. However, one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And there’s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that "Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger."
He was referring to the debilitating effects of chemotherapy on his body.

That last quote is, ironically, attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche - author of the famous phrase “God is Dead” that has become the mantra of 20th century secular nihilism and championed by Hitchens during his lifetime. Nietzsche, however, predicted that the post-Christian 20th century would cause a decline in civility, indeed of western civilization itself, because Christianity has been responsible for the rise of those cherished western values including individual freedom and equality. As frequent Hitchens’s debate opponent Dinesh D’Sousa put it: “Unfortunately for the critics of Christianity, even values they care about will, according to Nietzsche, eventually collapse.” Nietzsche, Hitchens and millions of others like them believed the universe, our world, and those of us in it just happened by chance, and our existence doesn’t mean anything. That’s the essence of nihilism, which has which has become the ruling ethic - if you can call it that - of our age. Ironically, Christopher Hitchens had a brother, Peter Hitchens, also a writer, who is both a Christian and a political conservative. Evidently they were never close, even in childhood, but they were civil to each other most of the time. Often they debated God publicly and politely. After his brother’s death, Peter Hitchens wrote:

While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher's passion against God grew more virulent and confident. As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe.

So it seems Peter Hitchens’ belief in Christianity is informed more by Pascal’s Wager than by intrinsic faith. During one of his debates with brother Christopher he said: “I think both the atheist and the Christian fear there is a God, but the Christian also hopes there is one.”
Christopher Hitchens believed fervently that his body would turn to dust and that would be it - lights out. I wonder what he’s thinking now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cultural Clues

As American culture gets more strange, people’s ideas about what is attractive get more and more strange too. A couple of hours at the Maine Mall last week depressed me as I looked around at people and mannequins. Sloppy is popular. People go to great pains to look unkempt. They put enormous time, money, and effort into trying to appear as though they don’t care how they look. It’s oxymoronic. Jeans and hats look worn out, but they’re for sale. Trendy stores sell clothing that would be rejected at the Salvation Army or Goodwill thrift stores, but they’re expensive at the GAP.

Mannequins I saw there appeared unfinished. It was as if clerks started to put clothing on them but got called away before they had time to button the shirt or tie the laces. The jeans had patches in them - crudely sewn at that. It’s fashionable to look like you don’t care how you look, but yet it’s obvious that the mall rats who dressed just like the mannequins cared very much about trying to look that way. They were posing just as the mannequins were too. The mall rats moved around, but might otherwise be mistaken for the headless plastic models.

Hairstyles followed similar themes. Men, if one could call them that, stood around with affected carelessness. It seemed their intention was to look like they didn’t have time to comb their hair after getting out of bed. They had put some kind of stuff in it to make parts stand out perpendicular to their scalp, while other parts stuck out at different angles. Many kept their pants down below their butts as well. I’d hoped that trend would have died out by now, but no. On it goes.

Dye-jobs, tattoos and metal stuck in faces abounded. I wrote about this in a column called “Skin Graffiti” last year. It annoyed the pierced and tattooed around the world for months as one can read in the comments that followed. If you’re seeing this in a newspaper, they can be found here: . I described people who stretched out their ear lobes by painfully inserting ever-larger discs into them. Others stretched out their lower lips in the same way and I wondered what they were going to do when such things went out of fashion as they inevitably will. They’ll likely search for a plastic surgeon to fix them. There are specialists who repair cleft upper lips on newborn children so I guess they could repair stretched-out lower lips on crazy people just as well.

Speaking of which, there have been some bizarre stories of botched plastic surgeries in the news lately. A woman in Miami impersonated a plastic surgeon and was arrested after she had injected “fix-a-flat” substance into the face of another woman. You know that substance you can buy in a pressure can for $5.00 at the auto parts store that will plug the hole in a flat tire and inflate it as well? That’s the stuff. The “patient” ended up with bubbles in her cheeks. The “doctor” had also injected fix-a-flat mixed with cement into her own butt, presumably to make herself look attractive. How did she look? Just as if she’d injected tire inflator into her butt, that’s how. She must have thought “buns of cement” would be a less strenuous alternative to “buns of steel.” The arrest photo showed her dressed in stretch pants and a stretchy pullover - items she’s going to have to stock up on in her wardrobe from now on.

A young man in New Jersey had silicone injected into his penis by a woman in New Jersey who was also pretending to be a doctor. He later died of a blood clot and the woman was arrested for manslaughter. It’s hard to believe someone would be dumb enough to seek out that kind of service. Thinking about it though, it’s a relatively short step from getting pierced or getting dye injected for tattoos. I’ve heard that many have had these things done to intimate parts of their bodies. To a narcissist, silicone breast implants to silicone penis injections would seem a short step too.

All this makes me think I’m fortunate to have been born before the 1960s. Though I lived through them and their aftermath, I can still remember what it was like before that awful decade, and can hold out hope that someday we’ll overcome the insanity it catalyzed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cracks In The Veneer

Civilization is but a thin veneer over the seething mass of humanity.

That outlook on the human condition is attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and shared by others, myself included. A more recent example would be William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” that novel baby boomers had to read in school. It resonates with me still and more so lately. For the unfamiliar I’ll summarize the plot: A plane crashed near a remote island. On board were early-adolescent British boys and some teachers, but only the boys survived. They had to stay alive on the island without adult supervision, and how well or badly they did that is the main theme of the book. Mostly, they devolved. Their innate savagery emerged and became stronger than the civilizational constraints with which they had been imbued.

Golding obviously believed humans to be innately prone to savagery, able to overcome it only by the constraints of civilization which they receive through western tradition, and which is maintained by the supervision of elders within that civilization.

An opposite view of humanity held by many in the west would be that of the “noble savage,” the idea that humans in their natural state are given to peaceful coexistence. Such adherents would write a different kind of novel - one in which the boys shared and cooperated on the island rather than fighting and killing one another. Anarchists within the “Occupy Wall Street” or OWS movement would hold such a view - that without the constraints of government to control them, the default mode of humanity would be one of sharing and mutual cooperation. It was interesting to observe their naive attempts at uber-democracy such as their cult-like chanting repetition of a speaker’s remarks, and their refusal to move in any direction unless there were a
group consensus supporting it.

During the short life of OWS, the notion that we’re all inherently good and nice when not influenced by capitalist greed was not being borne out. Fights, assaults, rapes, thefts, drug overdoses, and vandalism abounded in virtually every camp across the country. In nearby Portland’s relatively peaceful “Occupy Maine” camp, three were arrested when one beat on his drum to wake up the rest of the campers in Lincoln Park, only to be choked by another and hit with a hammer by still another who wanted to sleep in. The western mainstream media heralded the “Arab Spring” as a renaissance of secular democracy against oppressive military dictatorships across Muslim North Africa. I wrote weeks ago how Van Jones, President Obama’s disgraced “Green Jobs Czar,” declared OWS to be an “American Autumn” in the spirit of the Arab Spring, as if it were comprised of smiling happy people holding hands in blissful anarchy, but none of that is panning out either. Egypt’s recent elections have given over control of the country to radical Islamists who will impose Sharia on everyone. It won’t be long before Egyptians start pining for the relatively blissful days of Mubarak’s military control. A year or two should suffice. Ask the Afghans. Ask the Iranians. I wouldn’t want to be a Christian, a woman, or a homosexual in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over.

The British government is preparing for riots when the Euro collapses - and they’re not even in the Eurozone. Greeks are rioting already - and they’re not in default yet. What will happen when they are? Western democracy is a wonderful thing, the highest attainment of western civilization, but it’s not sufficient by itself. If democracy were imposed on the island described by Golding in his novel, who would win power? It wouldn’t be the civilized Ralph.

Jack, leader of the savage group, would prevail and then what? There wouldn’t be any more elections, that’s for sure. Hitler, remember, attained power in a democratic Germany. The majority in any democracy can elect a government that President Reagan described as like a baby: “an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other,” a government that will tax, borrow, spend and print money until everyone is destitute. That is what’s happening in Europe and in the United States. When those governments collapse it won’t be pretty. What will it be like? Look at Somalia. Look at Afghanistan before we invaded. That’s what it will turn back into when we leave too. Authority will be in the hands of whomever controls the most men with automatic weapons riding in the back of pickup trucks. That thin veneer of civilization is showing cracks in Europe as hard times approach, and we’re likely see more in 2012. What scares me is that we’re on the same path Europe is, just a bit further back. If we don’t change direction soon, look out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Change Course Or Collapse? Choose

Hard times are ahead. As a nation, we’re marching toward a cliff and the question is: Will we continue and go off the precipice or will we change course? Anyone with a basic knowledge of arithmetic knows things cannot go on as they are. Political leaders have promised that we can provide medical care for the poor, the elderly, and now everyone else as well - forever. They talk as though it will be possible to provide food, clothing and housing for anyone who asks too. I’m no math genius, but even I know that’s impossible. Yet our political leaders insist that if we increase taxes on the rich we’ll be able to keep marching. They have to know that even if we taxed the rich at 100% it would only provide enough revenue to keep going for a few more months before bankruptcy.

So many Americans have depended on government for so long, they don’t know how to take care of themselves. But if the country goes bankrupt - if we march off that cliff - all that government assistance will end abruptly. Then what? Chaos, of course. Many are preparing for exactly that scenario to one degree or another and I see what they see, but isn’t there still some way to avoid it?

That we cannot continue as we’re going is indisputable, but what’s the alternative? How can we avoid marching off the cliff? Can we make cuts to the checks and programs slowly? Can we do it slowly enough to both avoid the cliff and give dependent Americans time to adjust to making their own way? Will they? There was a time in America - still in the memory of living citizens - when people did live by their own labors. Those who could not were supported by families or by churches and private charities. Can we gradually return to that kind of nation? Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I prefer to think we can. I prefer to think there are still enough Americans who realize the path we’re on leads to bankruptcy and chaos. I prefer to think there are enough of us to elect a congress and president who will cut the behemoth government has become - cut it surgically, systematically and incrementally. If we do it gradually, can we avoid chaos? Can we avoid violence? Whoever we elect must also be capable of explaining to the American people in terms they can understand why cutting is vital to our survival, why it has never been possible for government to fulfill the promises it made. Look at Social Security alone: it can only work when there are more people being born than are growing old - as long as children in American families outnumber parents. That’s how it was in America while I was growing up, but it isn’t that way anymore. Those who dreamed up Social Security during the New Deal and added more expensive social programs during the Great Society, then started preaching about over-population. They championed birth control and abortion to prevent births, then justified it all by preaching that “the planet” couldn’t sustain them. What they conveniently overlooked was that the world they thereby created couldn’t sustain their beloved Social Security either. The children they prevented or the 45 million they killed in the womb since Roe v Wade in 1973 would not be paying FICA taxes. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme with elderly baby boomers as its beneficiaries until it collapses. Those children they did allow to be born are the ones who get stiffed. Medicare and other Great Society programs have similar scenarios. The handwriting is on the wall. Unlike Babylonian king Belshazzar, we don’t need a biblical prophet to translate it for us. We don’t even need a calculator because the arithmetic is simple. The handwriting on the wall for 21st century Americans reads: “Change course or collapse.”

What Comes First

Family, that's what. The older I get the more I realize it. Here are Lila (my newest granddaughter) and her mother (my daughter Annie) in their pew just before Lila's baptism.Love in in my daughter Annie's face.

Here, Lila becomes a child of God thanks to Father Paul Dumais. Andrew is Lila's father.Water must drip off her head for an official Catholic baptism

Looks like it took.
Lila is pleased

We take the granddaughters home to give Annie and Andrew a break sometimes. They're still little enough that both fit in the kitchen sink for a bath.Claire and Lila

Before you know it though, they'll be teenagers amazed that they were ever that small.

My wife Roseann and I went walking on Westport Island, Maine where we've been staying over Thanksgiving. These two guys were doing off-season carpentry work on a vacation home and took a lunchbreak sitting on sawhorses. Beyond the lamp post on the left is the lighthouse on Southport Island in the distance. Beyond that, the Atlantic.Lunch break on Westport Island

We were all together in the big rental house for five days - grandchildren, adult children, sons-in-law.Riley, Alex, Sarah, Claire

It went good. I'd forgotten how it was living in a house full of children. It's nice, but as you hear so many grandparents say - it's good when it's over too.Coloring with Auntie Annie

I love oak trees. My ancestors used to worship them in Ireland before St. Patrick set them straight.Oak trees and ocean

Next morning the sun rose through more oak trees outside our bedroom.Sunrise over Sheepscot River

Then it went down over the other side of the island.Sunset over Westport Island, Maine

Tomorrow we head back home. It was a nice Thanksgiving with family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks for November

Don’t think I’ll ever want to go south for the winter. I’m a New Englander. As such, I savor the smell of each new season. Though I’ve experienced sixty of each, I love the feel - the changing light, the scents wafting on the breeze. I love the crunch of new snow underfoot, and when I feel it for the first time each winter, memories of all the similar sensations from previous years come right back, and I feel that this is where I belong.Smart's Hill in November

Late November sun illuminates but doesn’t warm much. There just isn’t as enough of it. What there is doesn’t last as long and seems more precious as a result. In July we take it for granted, but not during these short days. We who live in the woods become more aware of sun at this time because leaves have dropped from most of the hardwoods except for oaks and beeches. Its angle in the sky is lower too so it illuminates the exposed bone structure of those hardwoods. After the brilliant color of October’s foliage, we see hardwoods as grayish frames. Smooth bark on upper branches shows light gray against darker gray shadows. On a distant hillside, a thousand skeletal treetops mesh into soft grays interspersed with dark greens of pine groves.

Animals and plants know to prepare for winter when late fall is evident all around. Some humans know too but others remain unaware of the changing season - insulated from nature in buildings, their sense of the world filtered through television or computer screens they stare at all day. They don’t hear wind rattle branches, only sounds produced in studios - electronically filtered through magnetized speakers. No smells come with electronic sights and sounds - no feelings either except for whatever has been stored away from past experiences.Kezar Lake looking north from Pleasant Point in November

November has been warm and peaceful around here this year. For three consecutive days, Kezar Lake was so smooth and tranquil that just being around it was calming. Water mirrored sky and shore more perfectly than I’ve never seen, and so quietly the sound of my camera’s shutter seemed to echo.Looking northeast toward Quisisana

November also brings Thanksgiving. To Whom do we give thanks? When I was teaching, I’d ask students that question and most of them would say it was “Indians.”

“Where did you learn that?” I’d ask.

“In school,” they’d answer. That’s because God is persona non grata in public schools and has been so for decades. American history is being distorted to push God out - with consequences beyond historical ignorance. But that’s for another column.

Thanksgiving is a time for Americans foster an attitude of gratitude, focusing on what we have rather than what we’d like to have.That’s a good thing, especially in these challenging economic times. We’re more likely to be thankful for simple things like a warm home, a job, good health and the presence of loved ones.For all this, I'm thankful

That’s especially true in my family this year, it being only a few weeks since “little” brother Paul was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer. He begins chemotherapy as I write. Family and community are pulling together to support Paul and his family of wife and seven children. He’s self-employed in the plumbing and heating business and we often talk early mornings since he does all that work on the properties I manage. He’s a big, jolly guy always quick with a joke. He told me he’s going to be “Chemo-Boy” this winter and I said “How about we call you “Kemo-sabe”?Paul with daughter, Aimee

He laughed, though his throat was sore after removal of a cancerous tonsil. Radiation follows chemotherapy and laughing will be more painful - but if I know Paul, that won’t stop him. He’ll laugh through his eyes.

A benefit supper for him and his family will be held at the Lovell Fire House - intersection of Hatch’s Hill Road and Main Street in Lovell Saturday, December 3rd from 4:00-7:00 pm. Spaghetti - with and without meat - rolls, dessert for $8.00 per person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Focused? Come On

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) isn’t “focused” as Nancy Pelosi claims. It’s about as many grievances as there are people in attendance at its multiple sites around the country. I’ve questioned people at two local sites in my futile search for unified themes, but the only constant I found other than discontent was class envy. Those who have worked through envy know it when they see it - and it’s always ugly. That’s why envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

Democrats fertilize and exploit envy, especially of the rich. Evidence indicates they catalyzed OWS through their public-employee unions and remnants of ACORN. Pelosi and Obama both endorsed it but it may backfire on them. Violence, drug dealing, overdoses, sexual assaults, filth, disease, and death are all escalating as OWS gets crazier every day, especially on the left coast. John Nolte of is keeping a running tally of lawlessness at all the OWS sites, lately called “Obamavilles” by those of us who see Saul Alinsky fingerprints. Each Obamaville is a microcosm of the Democrat Party: socialists, communists, anarchists, homosexuals, revolutionaries, trust-funders, students, and others including radical Islamists in their keffiyehs spouting anti-semitism. By the time this is published, more violence may have occurred as cities evict left-wing squatters from public parks this week - especially on the left coast.From Zombietime

The old saying that “It’s as if the country were turned up on its side and all the loose nuts rolled into California” is verified again by OWS Obamavilles in the Bay Area. There are left-wing loonies everywhere of course, but San Francisco and Oakland have the highest concentration. Traditional Democrat constituencies at these Obamavilles aren’t getting along with each other though. They’ve segregated themselves in Oakland as evidenced by a photoessay. One area is fenced off with pink ribbon and a sign declaring “Women, Queer + Trans ONLY.”From Zombietime

Another sign declares “PEOPLE OF COLOR TENT!” Some Obamaville homosexuals “of color” had an identity crisis over what victim group they most identified with, so another area was designated “POC/QPOC - People Of Color - Queer People Of Color - information - conversation.”From Zombietime

If they can’t reconcile, there’s a giant white board featuring workshops to attend at the OWS Oakland Obamaville including: “Medic training with the Black Cross” (What’s the Black Cross? I’m sure I don’t know); “Anti-capitalism”; “Anarchism & Anti-colonialism”; “Marxism 101”; “What To Do When The Police Come”; “Resistance Training”; “Gang Injunction Presentation”; followed by “What Are Gang Injunctions?”; followed by “Student Speaking Out About Gang Injunctions”; followed by “Ken Knabb: The Occupation From A Situationist Perspective.” Yoga and Meditation workshops interspersed all others.From Zombietime

Don’t those sound exciting? What else would we expect from the Bay Area -headquarters for the Land of Fruits and Nuts?

When leftists around Conway, New Hampshire got the urge to join the OWS movement, I had to drop in to ask questions. About 40-50 people occupied four street corners for an hour, and I visited each. At the first corner I asked a man holding a sign declaring: “GET BIG $$ OUT OF POLITICS!” how he proposed to accomplish that.

“Who are you?” he asked, and I identified myself. “I know you,” he said disdainfully. The local Conway Daily Sun has published my column with a picture for years. Others on that corner murmured and cast sidelong glances my way.

“You’re about as welcome as chlamydia!” Someone said over my shoulder. Turning, I recognized a radical feminist who wrote columns in the Sun critical of me and whose email address was “Madamovary@[something-or-other].com”

“You’ve had chlamydia?” I asked her.

“No,” she said, as the conversation continued downhill. A short, bearded guy with a hostile look came over holding a big microphone and I thought it prudent to walk over to another corner. Madamovary mentioned my visit on her web site describing me as “Our local purveyor of hate speech.”

At the next corner another woman recognized me and shouted: “You’re the devil incarnate!”

“And you’re abrasive,” I said.

“I wondered what I’d do if I ever met you - and here you are!” she said.Woman on right called me the devil incarnate

“Yup. Here I am,” I responded, and then spoke to an older couple about their sign as she continued glaring. They were peeved that some corporations paid no income tax but weren’t sure what to do about it. I asked if they would support a flat tax with no deductions for corporations and people. They would, they said, and we found ourselves in agreement.Guy Fawkes guy on right

At the next corner were the local Unitarian/Universalist minister with the obligatory rainbow banner, someone wearing the obligatory Guy Fawkes mask and holding a sign proclaiming: “THE PEOPLE ARE TO (sic) BIG TO FAIL,” and others holding signs you’d see at any OWS site. I wanted to ask the Guy Fawkes guy if he advocated violence - given that the real Guy Fawkes stockpiled gunpowder under the House of Lords in 1606 in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Parliament. The hour was nearly over however and I didn’t get a chance.

I found no one at local OWS sites who understood Constitutional government. People were angry and resentful but had little idea how to address their myriad grievances. OWS is anything but focused. It’s a discontented mass that could devolve into an ugly mob if history is any guide.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Time, Money, and Government

Government should stay away from regulating time, just as it should most other things. It bugs me that I have to set all my clocks back in the fall and ahead again in the spring. Even though I figured out how to change the time on my pickup truck clock last spring, that doesn’t mean I remember how to do it again this fall. Six months is too short an interval for the procedure to stick in my feeble brain. The procedure is different in my little car and in my wife’s car of course. I can’t remember them either and I’m sometimes driving while I fidget with various buttons in my effort to remember how it’s done. Not a good thing. Most of us are perfectly capable of screwing things up all by ourselves without government complicating things further.

Time zones were not invented by government. It was private business - particularly railroads - first in England, then in other countries. People didn’t have to comply with those zones if they didn’t want to, but most eventually discovered it was advantageous to do so. Government doesn’t have to be involved then and doesn’t now either, but it is of course. Benjamin Franklin had lots of good ideas, but Daylight Saving Time wasn’t one of them. Some people think it’s wonderful to “get an extra hour of daylight” as if they really did. Neither do I change the batteries in my smoke detectors at this annoying interval either. I wait until I keep hearing that irritating beep for a day or two before I start searching around for another nine-volt battery.

There are mechanical clocks and digital clocks and body clocks. My body clock sets itself it adjusts to the gradual diminishing of sunlight in fall and the gradual increase of it in spring. It gets me up before dawn and puts me to bed after sunset, except during winter when I say up a few hours after the sun goes to bed. I don’t like it when government interferes with that process twice a year and I have to rely on alarm clocks to wake me. Though some government-lovers may think it really can control the sun, it only pretends to. Barack Obama can’t control the ocean levels either no matter what liberals may believe.

Speaking of things government screws up, President Obama announced that Fannie Mae will now refinance people with mortgages under water up to 25%. Government should get out of the housing business altogether. The “troubled assets” still plaguing our economy were caused by the same sort of thing: government forcing banks to lend to people those banks considered bad risks, and then taking over and guaranteeing those sub-prime mortgages through Fannie Mae. That put taxpayers on the hook - not only by bailing out Fannie Mae, but also banks and insurance companies who invested in various forms of those shaky mortgages - now called troubled assets. These assets were troubled by giving mortgages to people who never should have gotten them. Further tinkering of the type Obama announced last week won’t fix it.

Government intervention in the form of artificially low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve and then making mortgage guarantees it couldn’t afford to make has caused the bubble in housing prices. That bubble needs to deflate entirely. Prices have to bottom out if the housing market is ever going to recover. Long-postponed foreclosures must be processed. All that foolish spending by people and banks must wash out eventually so let’s just get it over with. Lots of people are waiting for that before they invest in real estate again. Last-minute Obama-bandaids only postpone the inevitable and cost taxpayers further billions as government tries to fix what it screwed up in the first place.Government has always controlled our money. The Constitution gave Congress power to coin it - which means print it, or create it digitally, or in whatever other forms it may take - but has chosen to give over that power to the Federal Reserve. Its chairman - bald, bearded Ben Bernanke - has been creating trillions of dollars out of thin air and buying Treasury bonds nobody else wants. That makes the dollars in our wallets and in our bank accounts worth less and less. Government, through him, is stealing our wealth. That’s why so people many are buying gold - they don’t trust the Federal Reserve or Congress, and who can blame them?

Ben Franklin was right about at least one thing when he said: “Time is money.” My wish is for my government to stop messing around with either one. We’d be better off making our own decisions about such fundamental things and dealing with those consequences as individuals.