Monday, August 31

Taking Care Of Business..."

I decided to take my "clunker" of a truck to the local car wash this past Saturday. Upon arriving I noticed that the line of vehicles waiting to enter the establishment was inordinately long. Having waited patiently for close to a half hour, I decided to exit my vehicle and saunter up to the head of the line to see if I could surmise the cause for the delay. The answer...

I greatly admire a person who recognizes that they have made a gigantic lapse in judgement and undertake the necessary steps to make amends, don't you?

Unless you spent the better part of last week cowering under your bed, you probably got wind of the news that the last member of the Kennedy monarchy assumed room temperature. Ted Kennedy, the alleged "Lion of the Senate," shall roar no more with his boorish proclamations of self-righteous elitism. I am sure he will be sorely missed by his fellow liberal legislators, but I have no doubt that they will find a way to suffer along without him. They might even find a way to immortalize him by attaching his name to that wonderful national health care bill. Now wouldn't that be hunkey-dory? I think it was my grandmother on my mother's side who first said to me, "If you can't say anything good about the dead, then you ought not say anything at all." Sage advice. "He's dead. Good!"

And finally.... Senate Majority Harry Reid managed once again this past week to place a large red capital "A" on his wrinkeled forehead that stands for "Arrogant" and "Ass" when he told an employee of Nevada's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "I hope you go out of business." Apparently Mr. Reid has little personal regard for this particular publication, in that it has failed to unabashedly embrace in its editiorial opinions his expoused liberal policies. Today, the publisher and president of the Review Journal, Sheman Frederick, printed a letter in response to Harry's thinly veiled bullying tactics that in whole could be summed up as follows, "Kiss Our Ass, Senator." Well said, Mr. Frederick. The only sentiment I might have added to the letter was America's fond hope that come Mr. Reid's next attempt at re-election that he too "will go out of buisness."

Friday, August 28

Remember The Little Girl From Poltergeist?

Well, "they're back..." Got another derogatory piece of claptrap in the mail today attempting to malign the public service record of mayoral candidate Bill Foster. This time it is underwritten by the world renowned Citizens Speaking Out Committee, Inc. I'm sure you've heard of them... They are the first cousins to that other infamous political action group, Committee For Responsible Representation, Inc., the presenters of yesterday's flirtation with half-truths. With any luck I'll probably receive in tomorrow's mail another piece of similar file 13 rubbish from their third cousins, twice removed: The People's Committee Up In Arms That There Is Crabgrass In The Cracks Of The City Sidewalks. I'm only surmising here, but I'm guessing that there toils away in a darken corner of some dingy campaign office, a lone, disheveled individual whose sole responsibility is to dream up names for these political action committees. That must be the most pressing and arduous task, as presenting any information that is even close to being factual appears to be of little importance. Why everyone knows who practices dirty politics, "Why tell the truth when a lie will suffice?"

This particular type of trash reminds me the occasional piece of mail one receives that comes in an official looking envelope, like from some top-level government agency, and is marked "Time Sensitive," and if you don't open it right away three guys in a nondescript sedan with blacked-out windows will appear in the middle of the night and haul you, your family and your dog off to some God-forsaken place like Rhode Island, never to be heard from again. With great consternation and trepidation you immediately rip open the envelope only to discover that it is some out of state company wishing to award you a five percent discount if you allow them to put aluminum siding on your house.

Here's the bottom line, folks... Any time you see a political advertisement that opens with the words "Official Record" or "Here's The Truth About," and you can't immediately identify who the sender is and what axe he, she or they have to grind, it is neither "official" nor the "truth" about anything. If the sender doesn't have enough guts to put their real name(s) on the document and chooses instead to resort to hiding behind some fictitious, high-sounding name like the Committee To Ban Cowbells From Rays Baseball Games, then do yourself a favor; cut the card stock into one by one inch pieces and use them to pick your teeth. At least that way the trees that were felled to produce the slanderous piece of litter will not have died in vain and the Committee To Permit Only Kentucky Fried Chicken To Be Served At Tailgate Parties will be greatly appreciative.

Vote for Bill Foster for Mayor on this coming Monday, September 1st. Enough said...

Thursday, August 27

"Reading Between The Lines..."

I received in the mail today, as I suppose many of you did as well, a slanderous piece of political action committee garbage attempting to denigrate mayoral candidate Bill Foster's public record while he previously served on the city council for St. Petersburg. I suppose there will evidently be a small gaggle of "chicken littles" who, upon a furtive glance at this slick, four-color flyer, will regard this collection of prejudicial misrepresentations as a sure sign that the "sky is falling!" Well, dear hearts, put your hard hats away and see this colossal waste of good quality paper for what it's worth: one of the other candidates for the office of mayor has seen the handwriting on the wall (read: public opinion poll) and realized that he/she is getting their posteriors decidedly booted around the proverbial city block.

I have no doubt that there actually lurks in some candidate's back office a Committee For Responsible Representation, Inc., just as much as I actually believe that there is a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny. What we should each embrace as fact is that for some grasping politicos, who fragile egos cloud their perception of fair play, is that "winning at any cost" justifies their debasing themselves into the despicable employment of dirty politics. For some, who find their backs against the primary wall, it means to come out slinging mud with both hands. How convenient it must be for a candidate to hide in the shadows of some nefarious collection of sore losers, electing to forgo further laudable attempts to tout their personal qualifications for the position in order to pursue the easier and far lower road of impugning another candidate's past efforts of being a servant to the people of this community.

It may never come to light which candidate this alleged Committee For Responsible Representation is actually fronting for. Authors of such disreputable tactics rarely surface into the glaring light of public scrutiny. So be it. Here is what you need to consider. Bill Foster is an honorable God-loving, family loving and community devotee who has dedicated unselfishly his entire adult life to making St. Petersburg a better place to work, live and raise our families. He doesn't need some clandestine political action committee to place these truths into factual evidence. His record of laudable public service, his life as a dedciated servant of the people, and the thousands of his fellow citizens who will go to the polls on Primary Day, September 1st, and cast their vote for Bill for mayor is far and away testimony enough.

Wednesday, August 26

"Heading In The Wrong Direction..."

I am a political news junkie and I take my politics very seriously. However, nothing would suit me more than to revert back to simpler times when our nation's only pressing concern was whether or not an increase in the minimum wage from a $1.25 to an outlandish $1.50 would ruin the national economy. Those were the days when our country actually had a thriving national economy. Flash forward to 2009 and and we find ourselves in the midst of a recession unlike anything comparable in history, with a deficit of financial resources being measured in the incomprehensible trillions of dollars. Yet the current administration shrouds itself in a complete abdication of having any responsibility for this cancer on productivity other than to say with a straight face that it was not of their making. "We inherited it," is their banner cry. That's the kind of leadership we elected; a crew of fools steering our ship of state onto the rocks while casting a wary eye rearward to the horizon of no return.

Yes, I'd like to revert back to populating this blog with entries of no major import. But my addiction, if you will, to news talk radio shows and political web sites drags me relentlessly back into the throws of warring political ideologies of which I cannot dismiss as irrelevant to my life or to what I perceive as a sea change in the direction that our country is traveling at tsunami speed. Wish, do I, that I could without reservation adopt the newly determined direction of my dear North Carolina childhood friend who no longer listens to the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity, believing that the die has been cast for America to dissolve into dictatorial anarchy. I am not ready in exasperation to throw the towel in yet, but I can certainly understand and empathize with his justifiable pessimism. To deny the plausibility of that potential outcome is to purposefully insert one's head into the sand and pretend that we are not as a country in whole on the road to pending perdition.

I, however, cling to the unwavering belief that there remains a growing multitude of my fellow citizens who possess a profound sense of self-determination to reclaim the heritage of personal freedoms bestowed by our country's founders, who are standing up in town hall meetings all across American to proclaim that the 545 elected and appointed Federal government officials do not constitute an elitist ruling class who, with purposeful disregard for their constituents, rubber stamp personal agendas for their own aggrandizement and for the benefit of their special interest minions. The tide is turning. The sleeping giant that is the American sense of fairness...of right and rousing. The arrogance of power that permeates the Halls of Congress and confabs in the thrones of power within the West Wing, conspiring to thwart the will of the people, shall no longer be tolerated. The change that we all can truly believe in comes not from within the beltway of Washington, D.C., but from the hearts of the American people who have made this country for generations the shinning light of personal liberty set resolutely upon the hill of inalienable, God ordained freedom.

For far too long the American people have allowed the insatiable appetite of our unbridled Federal government to consume more and more of our livelihoods in the form of ever increasing intrusive and stifling taxes to fund ill-conceived programs that cost more to administer than benefits derived. We have apathetically abdicated our rightful role as masters of our elected servants and have become slaves to their arrogant whims of elitism. It's time to throw off the shackles of government dependence, to reject the failed notion that government is the panacea of our country's social challenges, and remembering it is they whom we elect who work for us and not the other way around. Be, therefore, part of the solution. Take back with patriotic vigor your right to speak your mind, to disagree with the elitist and to say "No! We have had enough! This is our country and we will tell you what is best to preserve and defend this republic!"

The destiny of our nation, as envisioned by our country's forefathers, lies with "we the people." A new direction is at hand, formulated from the bottom up, not from the top down. To be convinced otherwise is to surrender like lemmings to the status quo. I refuse to surrender.

Wednesday, August 12

"Plenty Of Heat & Light..."

I received an email this week from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee requesting a personal monetary contribution in order that this austere group (with my "much appreciated assistance") can continue to "stand up against a tiny, vocal minority of far-right fringe organizations" that have been riotously engaged in disrupting the democratic town hall meetings being conducted sporadically of late across America. Within the text of the message I looked diligently for a return comment location where I could express my heartfelt sentiments regarding their request. But nowhere was there a space where I could type, "Kiss My Ass!!" Please pardon me for resorting to such crude language, for as a rule I am by practice not usually quite so crass in expressing my opinions that differ from another's, electing instead to attempt to either rationally debate the issues in question or just shoot the person dead on the spot. However, having evaluated the personage and motives of these particular individuals, I still with gusto say, "They can pucker up and plant a big old wet one my conservative hindquarters on the courthouse steps and I'll even spot them twenty minutes to gather a crowd!"

The old adage, "Do as I say, not as I do" apparently holds no perceptible credence with the miscreants on the democratic left, as may be evidenced by a now conveniently ignored excerpt from a 2003 stump speech given by the then presidential candidate Hillary Rodam Clinton, who vehemently decried the accusation that any American who would dare criticize the Republican administration in office were "unpatriotic." And I quote... "I am sick and tired of people who say if you debate and disagree with this administration, some how you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say we are Americans, that we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration..." Well, old gal, you got it right then...but why doesn't this same admonishment carry as much equal weight today?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently is of the contrary belief that such a right of free speech is to be granted only to those ideological faithful who march in lockstep with the current Democrat party's agenda. From Nancy's August 10th Washington news conference, I provide the following quote... "These disruptions" (emanating from the more vocal participants in the Town Hall meetings, voicing opposition to Obama's health care plan) "are occurring because opponents are afraid of not just differing opinions - but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American." Excuse me, Ms. Pelosi, but here is a widely help observation that you can sink your partisan teeth into; whenever you open your mouth we rabble of un-patriotic dissidents automatically assume that you are lying through your capped teeth!

So vociferous have the opponents of the health care reform debate become that the White House has established a "war room" to advise Democrat congress members on how to combat dissension among their district constituents, and has also instituted a special email address ( ) in order that citizens may report fellow citizens who speak out against the plan. If that doesn't speak of a Soviet Union KBG style tactic of opposition suppression, I don't know what does.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opined in sum that the uproar by a minority of dissidents represents "more heat than light." Apparently Mr. Gates has had few occasions to spend any time in the proverbial kitchen. He, along with his boss and the ideologues on The Hill, should come to grips with the realization that the ever increasing heat being generated by thousands upon thousands of grass-roots Americans, who believe their government is out of touch and out of control, is simmering into a bonfire that shall be fully ignited come the mid-term elections of 2010. Those who would choose to continue to label ordinary, hardworking Americans as un-patriotic for exercising their free speech right to voice disagreement with this administration had best start consulting the want ads in their local newspapers. They'll find that they are out of a job come next November.

I would suggest that they also save a spot for Mr. Obama in the unemployment line. He'll be joining you a couple of years there after.

Thursday, August 6

"From The Land Of The Hanging Chad...."

Dateline: Everglades, Florida... Just when you thought it was safe to again venture forth into the land of sun and fun comes a disturbing report that yet another more lethal species, aside from the average confused south Florida voter, is propagating in ever increasing numbers in the 1,400,000 acre wildlife preserve just north of burgeoning metropolitan Miami; the Burmese Python. The latest estimate from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission puts the python's current population conservatively at or near 110,000. Great googly-googly, that's a lot of snakes, ladies and gents!

"Well," you might ask, "with a million and a half acres in which to slither, who cares if all of these snakes mind their own business and stay where they are?" That's part of the dilemma... They don't just stay where they are suppose to. And because a fully mature Burmese python, measuring anywhere from 16 to 25 feet in length and weighing in at a very stout 200 lbs, their carnivorous appetites are more voracious than a convention of half-starved weight-watchers at a pie eating contest! When they are not otherwise engaged in reproducing offspring like a June bride in a feather bed, the challenge of obtaining a decent meal is ever a constant concern in their day-to-day existence. 110,000 of these heretofore unencumbered critters are literally disproportionately consuming at an alarming rate the dwindling Everglades' wildlife food sources. Even their arch rival for available food, the Florida alligator, is now on their menu of delicacies. Like any self-respecting reptile, liberals included, when sustenance becomes increasingly scarce, one has no choice but to expand one's territory. This marauding menace is now migrating slowly but most assuredly north, as recent news stories are regularly being reported throughout the south attest.

What to do? Answer... Let's get the government involved. (I didn't say is was the best answer.) Since the Burmese Python is listed by the Federal government as a "threatened," thus a "protected species," it is against Federal statue to exterminate them. Now what? Answer... Let's hire a bunch of licensed trappers to venture out into the Everglade swamp and entice these creatures to give themselves up peacefully. And how's that working out so far? To date there is exactly seven...count ' trappers traipsing around in hip-weighters who have thus far captured and removed six...count 'em...six of the lethal constrictors. Let's do the math, shall we? Six captured. That leaves 109,994. Talk about your job security... These boys haven't run up against such over-whelming odds since General Custer ventured forth in the badlands of South Dakota seeking legendary fame.

Not to despair, however, our Governor, Charlie Christ, is contemplating the extension of the current limited duration of the trapper's permits until October 31st. Seems the cold-blooded python is significantly more active in the temperate summer tropical climate of our state, and, aside from being excellent swimmers, also possesses the enviable ability to evade detection by quickly submerging themselves below the water's surface for up to thirty minutes without coming up for air. I dare say your average politician would sell his mother-in-law down the river to posses this same face-saving talent! That aside, by extending the capture permits until the late fall it is hopefully anticipated that cooler weather will relegate the snakes to spend more time above water on solid terra-firma, thus affording the trapper's an increased chance of bagging them. Good luck with that...

Of course nobody bothers to ask me how I would eradicate the problem. Obviously the piddly number of trappers currently on the snake hunt ain't gonna cut it. Let's hire a couple hundred of the construction workers currently unemployed in this state, give each a burlap sack, and a guaranteed bounty of, let's say, $25.00 per snake captured, and set these boys loose on the problem. I dare say the pythons wouldn't know what befell them. Then there is the problem of what to do with all of then captured snakes? Hum-m-m-m... I've got it! Rent a few U-Haul trucks and transport them all to Washington D.C., throw the doors open and let them slither into the Halls of Congress! Nah... That wouldn't be fair to the snakes.

That's the latest news from the State of Florida, where the sky is blue, the tropical breezes balmy, and there are snakes in the grass everywhere. Thought you'd like to know...

Wednesday, August 5

"Let The Fun Begin..."

It has taken me years to establish, my reputation for being a prankster, but I wear that label with no small amount of pride. I like having fun and sometimes, if the opportunity presents itself, at another person's expense. Never anything malicious, mind you, just a firm poke in the ribs at a person's dignity usually does the trick.

Some times my partner in concocting these various ruses is my dear wife who likes a good joke as much as do I. One of our most favorites is to present an extra special gift to a friend who happens to be celebrating a very public birthday. The ingredients, all of which can be obtained from any grocery, is as follows...

The amount of the various food items utilized in the final mixture depends on the size of the vessel in which the gift is to presented. (More on that component later.) We suggest that you begin by crumpling up several slices of banana nut bread. To that base layer mix in several large chocolate oatmeal cookies, each of which has been shredded into small bite size pieces. Next blend in copious amounts of chocolate covered peanuts and raisins. To bind all together, liberally slather on equal portions of chocolate and caramel syrup, the type used for topping ice cream. If you really want to go wild, mix in a few bite size Reese's peanut butter cups and perhaps an additional squirt or two of maple syrup. Yum!! Make that the final product is not too running, but has enough consistency to be served and consumed with a fork or spoon.

And now for the piece de resistance...the container into which this palette pleasing concoction is to be gift-wrapped: a bed pan - the size, color and shape to be of you choosing. I happen to have a ready source supplied by an equally fiendish friend who works at a local hospital, who assure me of their pristine virgin quality. You, on the other hand, can obtain this unique serving dish from a medical supply outlet or local drug store. A certain degree of precaution is required to assure that the recipient of the gift doesn't inadvertently mishandle the gift prior to it being opened, and thus spilling the contents out of the bed pan. We recommend first placing the bed pan in a sealed plastic bag, then placing it into a box that will be gift wrapped. We also pointedly instruct the lucky recipient that the gift is extremely fragile and should be very carefully handled, especially upon opening. Then we just sit back and wait for the anticipated reaction by the birthday man or woman. It is usually priceless.

This past Saturday night we attended the 50th birthday party of my cousin Kim. When it was that time to publicly open all of her many birthday cards and gifts, she seated herself on an elevated stool so all in attendance at the party could observe as she oohed and awed and expressed words of grateful appreciation for each well chosen gift. Ours was last. "We love you Kim, and this gift is from the bottom of our hearts." Carefully, as previously instructed, she gingerly removed the gift wrapping from the outer box. Holding the the still covered item in her hands, her expression displayed doubtful consternation about the genuineness of our gift, she being fully aware of my long established reputation for being a tireless originator of practical jokes. Slowly she continued removing the outer wrapping, then her mouth feel open. "Ewe-e-e-e! What is this!?!" "Happy Birthday, Kim!! It's our world famous Bed Pan Brownies!!" Poor thing, she almost fell off her stool as she held the dark chocolate souffle at arm's length. "What am I suppose to do with this!?" she exclaimed. "Well," said I, "if you run out of birthday cake, you can serve the brownies." Everyone loved the prank, even Kim...eventually. Several of the guests requested the recipe, expressing a keen desire to pull this joke on their friends at some future birthday parties. Ah yes.... Another success story. My Mother would be so proud!

I'm not sure if this practical joke is original with us, but I couldn't find any reference to it on Google. That ought to tell you something. Whether or not the recipients ever actually consume the contents of the bed pan is up for conjecture, but I'm thinking that everyone will sooner or later find a practical use for a bed pan, a gift that keeps on giving. So, if you have a birthday party of a friend to attend in the near future and you're pretty sure that they are not card-carrying members of the NRA, you might want to whip up your own version of Bed Pan Brownies and enjoy the shocked reaction that is sure to occur. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 4

"Celebrate...Celebrate...Dance To The Music..."

Today marks a special anniversary for me. A year ago this date I underwent successful open heart surgery. (Obviously it was successful, you loon. You're blogging about it aren't you?)

Where was I? Ah, yes...the surgery. Anyway, as I was saying, it is hard to believe that a year has passed already since I remember being prepped for the procedure, being dry shaved from collarbone to toenails by a very cute attending nurse, imploring her to "be gentle," as this was my first time and "I try not to kiss on the very first date." She laughed one of those "I've heard it all before" laughs and proceeded to go about her assigned task that I have no doubt she had performed dozen of times previously on patients who had far more original and humorous lines of banter than did I.

The next thing I remember was waking up (if you can call being as mentally sharp as a floundering carp being awake) in my SICU room with more tubes coming our of me and monitoring cables attached to me than the space shuttle is required to have prior to lift off. My dearest wife whispered in my ear, "The operation was a complete success. I'll put your last will and testament away in the safe deposit box and call all of your creditors and tell them to keep those cards and letters coming." Funny...

As the anesthesia began to fade, I became acutely aware that there must be someone or something sitting on my chest, as I could only breath in tiny, laboring sips. "Well, Mr. Latchford, how are we feeling?" said my first attending nurse. (Don't you just hate that question?) Good thing I could not muster up enough breath to venture forth a vindictive answer, but the look on my face I am sure convinced her that had I been able to get to my feet I would have desperately attempted to beat her within an inch of her life with my bedpan! "We must begin ASAP to accomplish two things: get you to your feet and have you breath into this breathing monitor." "Yea," thought I, "when pigs fly!!" A week later, however, I was not only walking around the unit on my own, I was breathing into that torture device well enough to be discharged from the hospital to begin my 8 week convalesce at home. Now 365 days hence, I feel great...except my knees creak when I walk and my hip joints are an ever present source of annoyance. Hey, it could be worse...I could have piles! All being said, I am thankful...

There is no doubt that our health care system is in need of a major overhaul. The cost of obtaining medical attention for even something as risk free as an annual check-up is far too expensive, and projected to continue to increase in expense well in advance of the annual cost of living. (My triple by-pass cost over a $100,000. Thank God at that time I still had health insurance and my church picked up the deductibles that we could not pay due to the fact that I was laid off from my previous employer the Friday prior to my scheduled operation.) The two driving forces behind the present state of affairs is the insurance companies unregulated quest to derive more and more profits to cover fewer and fewer cherry-picked policy holders, and unscrupulous trial lawyers who envision a multi-dollar malpractice suit behind every decision a physician deems prudent, if not necessary. Doctors, 99% of the time, do not order more and more tests just to drive up their profit margins, but to hopefully minimize the real and persistent threat that their failure to explore every diagnostic avenue to address a patient's malady, and thus resulting in a successful outcome, leaves them open to second guessing by an ambulance chasing law firm waiting behind every television and radio advertisement extolling their bulldog tenacity to extract a pound of flesh for their opportunistic client's complaint of an infected hangnail gone awry.

Make no mistake, however, and be thankful that we live in America where the world chooses to come for medical treatment. It is by-and-far the best and most advanced practice of medicine of any nation in the world. Yes, my operation did cost in excess of one-hundred grand. But I am most appreciative and thankful that my cardiologist recommended that I undergo a stress test, that for having done so my rapidly deteriorating heart vessels were diagnosed, and the surgeon who performed the triple by-pass repaired by heart so that I now have many more years yet to live rather than mere months.

Could my type of operation be performed at a far less expensive cost? I absolutely believe it can and should, but I do not believe that President Obama's plan for health care reform is the answer. Our nation is comprised of the best and brightest minds. There is no problem which, when we assign these intelligent and inquisitive minds to the task, we cannot solve for the greater good. The answer lies not within the buttressed walls of Congress, but in the determined tenacity of the American people who must make their voices heard so that those who would burden generation upon generation with suffocating debt will finally and resolutely bow to the will of the people. Health care reform is a must. But let's not be so foolish as to believe that by allowing our present government leaders to tax us into submission is the answer. Our health is at state. It is we who should dictate how it is to be made available, fairly and affordable for all.

In the mean time...I am celebrating my anniversary. Lord willing (and I can once again afford to purchase a health care policy) I'll be celebrating again for many more years to come.