Friday, August 5, 2011


Admittedly, a rant.

The Church of the Open Road believes that the following terms (and, perhaps many, many more) are uttered for their emotional value, not because they have any bearing in fact or practice. If we blacklisted these terms, perhaps we could get back to having real discussions about the real problems that confront us – and along the way, come up with real solutions to achieve that elusive “greater good.”


The media report the news. Legitimate news organizations send reporters into the field who make observations, interview individuals and write reports. Editors vet the reports for accuracy and balance before they are aired or printed. The fact that an individual doesn’t like what is being reported doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the report. It is easier, however, to vilify the messenger than to admit one’s own bias. Thus, we call the media “liberal” and permit ourselves to ignore the good work and warnings of the fourth estate at our peril.

Liberalism, it is said, is something folks achieve as they are exposed to more knowledge, ideas and thought. People are better equipped to weigh one against the other, good versus evil, right versus wrong, and truth over falsehood when they have a broadened range of ideas through which a fact or a situation can be filtered. Time was when a college education was something to which everyone aspired. The time has become that the average Joe’s kid likely won’t be able to afford that education. Under such circumstances, how does our society advance? Who wins?


Like the sands in an hourglass or the tides on a beach, wealth is constantly being redistributed. In some periods, the working class family does well, in some periods, not so well. Those who may be considered “haves” always seem to “have.” There is always that mansion on the hill that folks aspire to. Some folks, through hard work and smart decisions, climb the hill. Others borrow, and like Jack and/or Jill, are destined to come tumbling down.

Those at the top of the hill, it seems, are loath to allow too many people to enjoy the view. Specious arguments about taxation that benefit a small percentage of the wealthiest among us should raise questions about whether those in charge are actually acting on behalf of all of the people. Should the poor and middle class expect to be handed something from the rich? Absolutely not. But should they expect to have an opportunity to climb at least a portion of the hill? Absolutely. Who is preventing that from happening, do we suppose?


The wealthy have the potential to create jobs. But jobs are only created when there exists a demand for a good or a service. Not taxing the uber-rich does not create jobs. Nor does it stabilize the economy. Nearly a decade ago, the super-rich enjoyed huge tax cuts lowering their marginal rates to historic lows. Note what has happened to employment figures over that time period.

Government can create jobs. History is replete with examples. Tax moneys pay workers to engage in public projects. Those tax dollars go to workers who spend those dollars in communities in stores, restaurants, theatres and all manner of private enterprises. Thus, the economy is restored. Capping government outlay in times of need is anti-ethical to one of government’s most important functions. Capping government outlay serves somebody – just not “the people.”


My long-ago commute buddy, Evan, had worked as an ambulance driver for Mr. Van Hook in Chico while Evan attended college. On gray days, he would share the stories of those who were rolled into the Cadillac wagon with a pulse, but didn’t have one by the time they arrived at the ER. This is what “Dead on Arrival” is all about.

Mr. Boehner, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell, if you don’t wish to look at the fine work of those from the other chamber, kindly step aside and allow someone with more dedication and a stronger ethic to do so.


Long ago, we should have learned that our values are fine values but our values may not work in every culture or society populating the globe. We have yet to learn that military intervention is, at first, quite costly both in terms of the country’s treasury and in terms of the impact on the lives of the citizenry. Further, our intervention in far-off corners is viewed as saviorism only for a short time. An errant shell, an ill-advised remark, or malfeasance on the part of a uniformed nineteen-year-old – the exception, by all means, not the rule – can easily turn hearts and minds away from our sincere efforts.

The tougher decision is not when to intervene with our might, it is how not to intervene. The toughest decision is to know when to quietly slip out the back and allow those conflicted lands to resolve their conflicts with less help on our part. “Cutting and Running” means we somehow lacked courage, yet courage is all about making the right and learned decision in the face of forceful political opposition that demands something expedient and less reasoned.


The original tea party was organized after much thought and consternation by learned men who “more than self their country loved.” They pledged lives and sacred honor to a cause more dear than their own well-being or security. They forged this country by giving of themselves to others not by holding for themselves the paltry riches they may have had. Their argument was not about taxes, it was about representation. You can look it up.

The Tea-Party Patriots of the early 21st century fall short of recognizing this. Selected reading of history by self-described “constitutionalists” does not further the cause of the nation. Nor does selected reading of the Constitution itself.  Or the Bible, for that matter.


We were never designed to be a Christian nation. This is actually a good thing. Cynically, this is good because collectively, we don’t play the Christian game very well. On the world stage, we’re not very good at loving our neighbor, especially if our neighbor doesn’t have a product or commodity we need. On the freeway, we’re not so hot at this, either. Practically, this is good, because our nation is enriched when peoples of many faiths coming together in a land that supports and defends their religious freedom.

YEARS AGO FORMER PUBLISHER of the Sacramento Bee wrote an opinion piece in which he asked “when did America become so self-centered?” In a letter I asked not be published (glibly thinking that it might) I responded: I don’t know, but I suspect it happened sometime in the span beginning when, in a Presidential inauguration speech, a young Jack Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you…” and ending when a successor asked: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

It is time we looked inward and turned outward. There is a greater good.


  1. Nephew Robert opines:

    You make many good points. I'm surprised to hear you sounding so partisan, as you are often a more moderate voice it seems. I take issue with your statement that the extreme right is driving our country into the ground, however. I would say that the world economy has long been headed in this direction and only within the last 20 (or so) years have technology and transportation made it so that companies wishing to avoid the excessive costs of production in the U.S. can so easily do so by simply moving to second-and-third-world countries, thereby enriching the people of those countries (OK, not enriching, but providing some work, probably greater than they were able to achieve before) and taking away jobs from Americans. This isn't something that has been created by any one administration or institution, but something that has been driven by a desire to maintain and improve the "American" standard of living. Problem is, we've priced ourselves out of what has become a true Global economy. Supply and Demand

  2. Good comment, 'Bert. While I won't cop to being partisan, I would suggest that we would do better as a nation if we "demanded" at bit less and shared a bit more.

  3. Good post. You tagged it with the collection of phrases some of which are oxymorons and others that are literally moronic and yet others that reference morons.

    To Robert's comment, I don't see how this issue could be addressed without you sounding partisan. I like it!

  4. Well Written Mr Brilliant I only wish I could get through to your brother. The way i see it partisan politics are going to inhibit any positive change in our nation. Media is outlets are controlled by both of the corrupt political parties. In my opinion the only way to get the change our president campaigned on is to vote for the person who you know is best for the job. People who vote need to educate themselves on the issues of the day and on all parties who submit a candidate. If after doing so they feel that one of the 2 major parties has the best position then thats who to vote for. If upon doing some independent research on 3rd party candidates they find one who better represents them they need to vote 3rd party. Im convinced the solution to all these problems is education. Perhaps another phrase or idea we need to stomp out is the myth that a third party vote is a waste of a vote. Like i've been saying for years the exact opposite is true. Thanks for your insightful opinion. Just one question. How would someone go about installing an am frequency scrambler on a 1998 Dodge pickup truck?

  5. There is a marked difference between the output of "Media Outlets" and the content of the news. Being factual or even telling the truth may not be among the missions of those talking heads to infest some radio, some television and some print resources. Rather, their mission is to sell product.

    News organizations, first and foremost, exist because the public must know the machinations of their government in order for their government to serve that public.

    The sad fact is that while advertising dollars for legitimate news sources seem to be in decline, revenue for those who simply spout off seems to be growing.

    This is a telling and tragic commentary on our declining values - and it explains why I do not buy Snapple products.

  6. Yeah, history can tell us much, if only we pay attention. Problem is, some have an agenda and don't want to learn the lesson.
    It pays to remember the original Tea Partiers were tired of the very same thing today's T.P. folks are...
    Bein' taxed to death and not feeling they are getting proper representation for the outlay.

    I'll also remind an earlier commenter in this string (although I agree with the spirit of his thought) that capital fled Great Britain during the late 1960's and early '70's because it was possible even back then...
    The Beatles, Clapton, and other monied artists took their money and ran, while George Harrison penned "The Tax Man". (Which stands up pretty well in today's political climate, by the way.)

    Someone here used the "Pay me now or pay me later" Fram Oil Filter truism in an earlier comment.
    We're now paying the Piper "later".
    Much of our citizenry knows nothing but how to play the system of gimmes...
    It's gonna be an ugly and expensive ride for a while.

  7. Thanks, Greybeard. I think you've quite a few hit the nails on the head. (You and I might disagree a bit on our views of the Tea Partiers, but that's quite okay.)

    Someone once said that the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

    Seems like we keep proving this point. The result, as you said: Ugly and expensive.

  8. Have you been to T.E.A. Party meetings, Brilliant?
    I have. They are multi-class and multi-racial, friendly get-togethers and participants have one thing in common:
    All want smaller, more efficient government, less taxes, and less wasteful spending. Anyone saying they don't have the same intentions as the original T.P. "Indians" needs to attend a couple meetings and find the truth.

    You and I have much in common. I own a '93 MG SPIII, an '84 R80RT Airhead, and an '89 GoldWing. (I'd buy a couple more bikes if I had room to store 'em.)

    I think we can agree on history this way-
    "Doc, it hurts when I do this!"
    (Doc)- "Don't do that".
    Sums it up pretty well, I think.

  9. Going to one this coming Tuesday (unless I get a better offer.) Going because I may not agree with their premises, but believe they must be being misrepresented in some manner or other.

    My brother has an R80 RT. Nice bike. Bullet-proof. I had an R-65 back int he day. Good bike as well, but my inseam was too long for the thing. Still, I put 42,000 miles on it before I gave it up.

    PS: Your last quote is absolutely spot on!

  10. That said, Tea Partiers are misguided if they think they are not represented. My Congressman is further to the right than any creature coming out of Texas, and he couldn't garner my vote on a bet. But that doesn't mean I'm not represented. My congressman, Tom McClintock is a straight, straight arrow (and, I suspect, a very good guy) who happens to not represent my point of view, but he does represent me.

  11. We'll agree to disagree on that one, my friend.
    I was ADAMANTLY opposed to the health care reform bill and told my Congressperson so in person. Up until the day he voted he said he'd vote against it, that 80% of his constituents were telling him the same thing I was. He then voted party line... for it.
    It's an unconstitutional, horrible piece of legislation, and the cause of much of the uncertainty being shown by small business owners, leading to our present economic malaise and the ugliness we agree may be coming.
    Where is my (and that 80%) representation?

  12. Where is you representation? Waiting in the wings to be elected. Campaign hard for your incumbent's replacement. Good luck.

  13. Good that we agree I'm not being represented and need a change.
    I'm certainly "Hoping" for BIG "Change" in '12.
    Our children's children's children's children's children will look back at us with less admiration than we have for our forebears.
    And some say "we still haven't spent enough of THEIR money".

  14. We're certainly not leaving a better place than the one we inherited.

    Bring the R-80 out. Let's ride sometime.