Category Archives: cruising

Foreign Cruiser Opinions about the United States

I have been remiss about addressing the questions, concerns and opinions of our fellow, foreign cruisers about the good old United States of America.  Most of the people we have interfaced with have either been from the United Kingdom, Australia or Canada.  There are many people from other countries, but it appears we are drawn to the people from the English speaking countries.  Speaking of which, I perfectly understand the Canadians and Australians, but those people from the United Kingdom are difficult for me to understand.  Is that really English?  Do the people of Scotland really speak English?

Anyway,  here were some of the topics discussed during our recent cruises by our foreign friends.

Guns and Violence

Glen and Willene were a very pleasant couple from Canada.  They sat at the adjacent dinner table for about five weeks during our recent South America cruise.  Willene, being the strong minded and opinionated person that she is, was appalled by Americans owning so many guns and the gun violence in America.

So, Willene, this is for you.  When America gained its independence, they got it from Great Britain.  At the time, Great Britain was ruled by a dictatorial meanie named King George III.  After winning this war, (with the use of guns) the biggest concern was that we did not form a government that would allow a dictatorial meanie to rule the new America.  The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1789.  Federalists claimed that the new government would only have limited powers expressly delegated to it.  This wasn’t enough assurance for anti-federalists like George Mason.  These anti-federalists wanted explicit guarantees to certain rights in order to prevent any potential encroachment by the federal government on state or individual rights.  Mason wrote:  “A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural , and safe defense for a free State.”

The Second Amendment was specifically included in the Bill of Rights to prevent this.

Currently, the population of the United States is approximately 330 million.  It is estimated that there are about the same number of guns in America.  I personally believe that gun estimate is low.  Coming from a Midwestern state, hunting was popular.  Most hunters had a gun for every hunting occasion.  (It is the same principle as women having shoes!)

We introduce guns to our children at the earliest age.  After all, once a child is done with a pacifier, a sippy cup or a play pen, you can easily find these items in a garbage can.  But you will never find a Colt, a Glock, or a Smith & Wesson in a garbage can!  In the age of technology, a handgun is very much like using a computer mouse…..just point and click!

OK, now that I have your attention, I will admit that I don’t think anyone needs an assault weapon.  I have never seen anyone hunt with an assault weapon.  Police and military – si.  Everyone else – no.

Being a country of armed citizens does have its advantages.  Japan decided not to invade the United States during WWII because they realized the populace was well armed.  Most of the people serving during the two World Wars in the 20th century from the USA were not strangers to weaponry.  I believe this can be said about Canada at the time, also.  This weaponry knowledge contributed to the winning efforts.

America is the third most populated country on the planet.  There are more people in the state of California (38 million)  than there are in the entire country of Canada (35 million).  Whereas a Canadian would have to travel hundreds of miles to commit a homicide, we Americans do not have any such restrictions!  One more thing…..which state in the US has the most concealed handgun permits?   Texas?  (the most logical choice) Oklahoma?  Arizona?  The state with the most concealed handgun permits is………….Florida, with over 1 million permits representing over 5% of the population.  You may want to remember that before raising a ruckus at Disney World.  Mickey could be packing heat!  Don’t even think about pinching Snow White!  The United States does not even crack the top ten for homicides per capita.

Because of our vast American movie and TV industry, it really does appear that everyone is murdering everyone else on a regular basis in America.   Just think of the most popular shows on TV: NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Blacklist, Castle plus many more.  These are some of our favorite programs and they all are murder mysteries.  And……….the only way to have a murder mystery is to begin with a murder!  Unfortunately, this is what we are exporting to our foreign friends on TV.  We no longer have the once popular comedies and variety shows of my formative years.  It is murder shows and reality shows, with just a few comedies worth watching.

Movies?  We are already at Fast and Furious 7.  Most of our movies?  Murder. Sex. Violence.  How many parents would drop their children off at a movie theater today without knowing which movies were playing?  None.  But, this is what my parents did while I was growing up as our theater would not show anything not appropriate for all ages.

So, Willene, we are not all really killing each other off here in America.  But my offer to you still stands.   If you ever feel unsafe in Canada, you can come to our house.  We’ll protect you.

National Debt

Robert is a production manager for a company in Australia.  He was one of my smart trivia teammates.   He asked me, “How can America have such a huge national debt?”  What he really meant was, ‘How can we have such a huge national debt and survive?’  ‘How can we pay it off?

I explained that this is the first year of the Obama administration, when the Republicans gained control of both Federal houses, we have had a budget.  Harry Reed, as the Democratic gatekeeper to hell, vowed to never allow a budget bill to be presented to the US Senate for a vote.  He kept his word.  Now that Harry is no longer Senate majority leader, we surprisingly have a budget!

The majority of our budget is spent on social-welfare programs.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social security, Food stamps, welfare a hundred ways………take up the vast majority of Federal Government expense.  The military, the usual first target for budget cuts, takes up approximately 22% of our budget.

We will have to eliminate/reduce many welfare programs, revamp social security and address many of these dubious federal departments and policies.  This is going to take a strong willed POTUS and a strong willed Congress that will be willing to tackle these huge issues and finally, finally do what is right for America and for the future of America.  Paying off the debt?  Not during my lifetime.  Maybe my grandkids will see it.

America at War!

Rudy was from Canada, one of my trivia teammates, and totally against war.  The imposition was that America went to war.  Often!  Well, let me think.  Since 1900, we have only been in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan.  That’s not so bad for 115 years is it?  One war every 20 years.  That sounds about average.  Oh yeah, then there was occupation of Nicaragua (1912-1933), occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), occupation of Dominican Republic (1916-1924), Russian civil war (1917-1923), Bay of Pigs (1961), occupation of Dominican Republic II (1965-1966), Invasion of Granada (1983), Invasion of Panama ((1989-1990), Somali Civil War (1992-1994), Kosovo War (1999), Libyan civil war (2011), and military intervention against ISIS (2014-?).  Did I miss any wars, invasions or occupations?

What can I say?  Summer television reruns really suck and we need to keep our military in shape with practice.

Seriously, I agree with Rudy.  It would be a much more enjoyable world if there weren’t any more wars.   My sister-in-law joined some peace organization and asked me if I took offense to her membership, being that I was a retired military officer.  Here was my response.  “I absolutely support your efforts to achieve world peace.  I don’t know of one soldier that wanted to go to war to prove his manhood.  You have me convinced.  Now go convince our enemies.”  She was taken aback by my response.

So Rudy, you are correct about the United States becoming too involved in world affairs that result in military intervention.  But the world, in particular our allies, have thrust the mantle of world power on us, so we have become an easy target.

What concerns me more than the number of military interventions we have been in is this; who are our allies and who are our enemies?  Are we helping the dictator of Syria, Assad?  Who are the bad Muslim extremists?  Sunnis?  Shia?  Is Iraq our ally or are they going to do the guppy flop to Muslim extremism?  Nukes for Iran?  What is our stance concerning Israel?  I am totally confused as to what is our national policy and who are our enemies and friends.  In the meantime, we are still committing military resources all over the world.

So there you have it.  My thoughts and responses by three very intelligent people to three legitimate issues concerning our country.

Even though no one from the United Kingdom really expressed their opinions about the USA (I think they are still smarting from losing the Revolutionary War!), I very much admire them for one thing.  The political campaign season in the United Kingdom is 6 weeks long!  OMG!  Our next national election is still 18 months away and I am already suffering from sensory overload as to the potential bazillion candidates from each party.  Didn’t we learn anything from them?  There ought to be a law!


Some Baggage Is Just Too Heavy

Grandma P and I have recently returned from an extended cruise around South America.  Truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip.  It was marvelous, and I would recommend that cruise as a ‘bucket list’ event.

Getting ‘geared up’ to write this blog after this hiatus has been very difficult.  As I have said many times, “Retiring is tiring!”  Consequently, I have needed additional time to reignite my creative juices.  There were plenty of events taking place during the cruise that were worthy of a blog, so material was certainly not the issue.

It is always fascinating to meet so many interesting people on a cruise, especially a long cruise.  Not only are there the Americans, but the ship had many Canuckians, Brits and Aussies.  Having an opportunity to hear their opinions about the United States really did pique my interest about their perception of our country.  Answering their questions about the United States, especially about our politics,  kept me on my toes!   I digress, but I will discuss this further in a later blog.

The one thing that has been constant in all our travels is Grandma P’s ability to limit the amount of baggage that we take on vacation.  All of our luggage for the 49-day cruise consisted of two large bags that had to be checked, and two carry-on bags.  All of this fitted nicely in the back of a rented Ford Escape on the way to the departure port, and in the hold of United Airlines after leaving the ship.  But just like the television infomercials, “But wait!  There’s more!”  Grandma P is so adept at packing, that we made it home in good order with all the trinkets and souvenirs that we purchased in our concerted effort to stimulate the economy of South America!  Yes, she did an amazing job of limiting our baggage.

There is one person that I am familiar with that has way, way more baggage than Grandma P, and that would be Hillary R. Clinton.  You know Hillary.  She has announced her candidacy for President of the United States for 2016.

Here is just some of the baggage with which Hillary has to contend.

The Clinton Foundation

According to one source, “The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its ‘watch list’ of problematic nonprofits last month.  The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.”

Wow!  Double wow!!  $140 million?  According to their 2013 tax forms the charity spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on conferences, conventions, and meetings; $8 million on fundraising, and nearly $8.5 million on travel.  They must travel first class on the space shuttle!  Now here is the amazing fact.  None of the Clintons are on the payroll.  This includes Hillary, Bill, Chelsea and whoever………..  But, they all enjoy first class flights paid for by the foundation.

Some of the tens of millions of administrative costs finance more than 2,000 employees, including aid workers and health professionals around the world.    But that is still far below the 75 percent rate of spending that nonprofit experts say a good charity should spend on its mission.  Charity Navigator, an organization that rates charities, refuses to rate the Clinton Foundation, as it does not meet their criteria.   Hmmmmm.  There are allegations that the Foundation has a ‘Clinton Family Slush Fund’ at its core.  (Are we surprised?)

Another large ‘red flag’ concerning this foundation is, “Who are its contributors?”  It appears that political favors granted when Hillary was Secretary of State have manifested as donations to this foundation.  While in that position, Hillary signed off on a deal that allowed a Russian government enterprise to control one-fifth of all uranium-producing capacity in the United States.  Rosatom, the Russian company, acquired a Canadian firm controlled by Frank Giustra, a friend of Bill Clinton’s and member of the foundation board.  Giustra has pledged over $130 million to the Clinton family charity.  Ronald Reagan has got to be turning over in his grave!  Russians?  Our uranium?

Recently, there have been other inquiries about other foreign contributions during the time of Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State.

That foundation alone provides enough proverbial baggage to fill the overhead compartments of a few large passenger planes.

Deleted Emails

I could not possibly say anything about the deleted emails as well as what was said by the National Post, a leading Canadian news source.   In that regard, I am going to share with you three paragraphs of their lengthy report on Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary, during her tenure as Dowager Empress at State, decided, all on her imperious own, that normal practice for record keeping, as required by law and precedent, did not apply to her.  (How could it?  She’s Hillary.) For her entire tenure – so she tells the world – she stayed off the State department’s own encrypted and secure system, and instead set up her own computer, on her own server, in her own house.

On that private and secret system, she conducted both personal and State Department business.  Then about two years after stepping down, under force of exterior revelation, she held a press conference to announce she had her staff review them all, extract what she said were official emails, and sent those self-selected emails back to State.  The rest, 30,000 according to her, were personal, and they  – along with the server! – were then destroyed.  There is now a memory hole in the history of U.S. foreign affairs.  The record of the second-most powerful office in the world, where it is not a perfect void, is questionable, selective and, inarguably, imperfect.

These emails are not text messages from a high school dance organizer.  The Secretary of State is not a teenager.  The record of diplomacy, the electronic conversations with staff, with foreign leaders, with her President, are not for her to dispose.  She has blotted out part of her own country’s diplomatic history.  This one practice alone should bar her from seeking the presidency.  It was the most monumental piece of official arrogance since the ancient Chinese Emperor declared the beginning of his reign was Year One.”

Wow!  Those Canuckians are brilliant!  That really sums up that piece of baggage quite well.  I can move on.


Here is a Hillary situation that will not go away.  Benghazi involved the slaying of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  There is a House Select Committee that will again meet in the coming months concerning this event.  If I am reading the ‘tea leaves’ correctly, the original focus of the investigating committee was to determine if the deaths were caused by mismanagement by Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State.  And then, and then……..they discovered that most documents surrounding this event were emails destroyed in the 30,000-email massacre!  This has provided more fuel for an already burning fire.

But wait.  Rumor has it that as the House is now controlled by Republicans, they are going to take a silk glove approach to this matter.  Why?  Because they do not want to appear to be bullying Hillary before the 2016 election.  They are afraid they will look bad and create a sympathetic vote for Hillary.  (If she were President, do you think Vladimir Putin would use the silk glove approach?)

While being questioned by yet another committee, this one concerning Benghazi, it was asked if the State Department thought this was a terrorist act, or if these people were out for a stroll and decided to kill some Americans.  Her reply, “What difference does it make?”  It makes a huge difference, because it was obviously a well-planned terrorist attack and our government decided to give it a pass.  What I want to know is if the rumors are true that a military relief force was on the way from Italy, and our government directed the military to cancel the mission.  These rumors indicate that Obama made the decision based upon State Department input, meaning Hillary.  So much for saving the Ambassador and those Americans defending him.  Another big piece of baggage.

Bill Clinton 

I believe Bill Clinton brings more baggage to this campaign.  “I did not have relations with that woman.”  “It all depends on what the definition of is, is.”  Remember all of that?  How long are the Clintons going to continue this sham of a marriage?  If they are living within 200 miles of each other, I would be surprised.

I would like to think that people seeking political office are doing it to improve the ‘greater good’ of the electorate.  They need a plan to outline their goals and a plan for achieving those goals.  Have you heard any of what those goals are from Hillary? (Hope and Change worked for Obama.  Why have a goal or plan?  Rainbows and unicorns seem to be enough promise for voters.)   I know I am being overly optimistic about my expectations for politicians, but I do believe the only reason the Clintons are together is because of their quest for power.  Power brings money.  Power brings prestige.  Bill has been to the top and Hillary wants it, too.  She experienced it as a U.S. Senator representing a state she never lived in, and as the Secretary of State.  Both of the Clintons are automatons when it comes to the quest for power.

So there you have it.  Even with Grandma P assisting, I do not believe Hillary could manage all her baggage.  There is much more luggage in her closet than what was discussed in this piece. (Travel gate, Whitewater, Vince Foster…)  We managed our baggage with a Ford Escape, Hillary would need an aircraft carrier.

My biggest hope, is that the electorate of the United States will wise up and see through the facades of many of these presidential candidates.  Let us do something different this time and elect someone who has a goal for the country, a plan for obtaining those goals, one which protects Americans and America and places God and country first.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  Feeling HOPEful for real CHANGE!!!

American Media Goes Hog Wild

I have often said, “Retiring is tiring.”  So being a man of resolve, I, along with Grandma P, have just returned from a 20-day Caribbean cruise.  After all, when the going gets tough, the tough go cruising!  (I should copyright that as a bumper sticker.  It can’t be as bad as some of the other crappy bumper stickers that I have seen!)

We always have a wonderful time in all our little adventures.  This cruise was notable for two reasons:  Firstly, I again had to struggle with my BACON!!! addiction.  Secondly, I met some really great people from other countries.  It is interesting to converse with a non-American on their opinions about the United States.

First the addiction.

I blame Princess Cruise Lines for enabling my bacon-aholic addiction!  While going through the breakfast line, the first thing you do after washing your hands is take a plate.  So far, so good.  Then you let your senses kick into warp drive!  The first sense would be smell.  And what is the first thing you smell?  Bacon!  Next, the visual senses are stimulated.  Looking two feet past the plate pile, I see  a  large pan filled of corned beef hash.  I love corned beef hash, but I can pass it up.  So far, so good.  The next  large pan contains fried potatoes.  I love potatoes, but I can pass it up.  So far, so good. At this point, I am feeling good about my ability to resist calorie-laden, carbohydrate-driven temptations.   Maybe I won’t gain any weight on this cruise after all?  And then…….and then………..there it is.  The dreaded, yet highly anticipated third large pan.  Three feet past the plate pile.  Mounds and pounds of bacon!  I’m screwed.  So much for resisting carbohydrate-caloric temptation!  Any thoughts of maintaining or losing weight on this cruise just went out the door along with the next largest hole in my expanding belt.  This must be the reason for the expression ‘hog wild’!  How could Princess Cruise Lines be so cruel?

But wait!  Isn’t this America?  I can’t possibly be held accountable for my bacon-aholic addiction.  It must be someone else’s fault.  Where is that government program when I need it?  The government is not readily available on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  Then who is to blame?  Whom can I hold accountable?  My intellectual acuteness finally adjusts to the real culprit.  Princess Cruise Lines!  It has to be their fault!  So my next step was to use my persuasive powers to coerce Princess to take responsibility for my addiction.

Here is how the conversation unfolded at the passenger assistance desk.

“Hi.  My name is Grandpa T, and I am a bacon-aholic.”

“What can we do for you, Grandpa T”

“Could you burn the bacon a little, so that it does not smell as good?” (I thought this to be a reasonable request.)


“Can you relocate the large pan containing the mounds and pounds of bacon at least six decks away just prior to me coming to the buffet?  It would be out of my way in the library, as no one uses that room anyway.”


“Could you organize a chapter of ‘bacon-aholic anonymous’ on the ship?”

“What would be anonymous about people who are 60 pounds overweight, drooling over a pile of bacon?  They are pretty easy to differentiate from the slender yogurt-and-fruit-junkies.”

Damn it.  Foiled again by sound reasoning.  I hate it when that happens!  OK.  I did not have a conversation with Princess Cruise Lines about my bacon-aholic addiction – but if I did, I suspect it would have gone down just like that.

Australians, Canadians and the Welsh.

I met some really interesting and intelligent people from other countries on this cruise.  David and Petra were from Australia.  Catherine and Keith were from Wales.  Jeffrey and Claire currently live in Canada, but they have lived all over the world.  This made for a great trivia team, as well as for interesting conversation.  Gail was from Illinois.  This, too, made for some interesting conversation.

What we had available on our ship for outside information was an in-room TV that had two financial channels, two ESPN channels, the BBC, and Fox News.  There were also some other shopping/travel/shipboard channels.  That was it.  The one thing we were missing was any local  TV channel.  These are the channels that give you the good news taking place in your area or in the country.  Apparently, it is against media ethics to show positive things happening in the world in general, and in the US, in particular. (OK.  Fox News does televise some feel-good news items, but those were certainly overshadowed by other events.)

So what did our foreign friends observe on the TV?

Well, when we first got on the ship in mid-November, the two big news topics were the Ferguson grand jury still being in deliberation and the fact that the POTUS just announced that he was circumventing an inert Congress and was going to use executive order to grant amnesty to 1.5 million illegal aliens.  Add to this mix the story about one economist, Jonathan Gruber.  You remember Jon-Boy?  He was the Obamacare consultant that stated that Obamacare would not have been passed if it were not for the “stupidity of the American voter.”

So there you have it.  The dominating new headlines were: Ferguson grand jury, illegal immigration Executive order, and a government consultant calling the American electorate stupid.  Do you see anything positive for the good ole US of A concerning any of these news items?  What would you have thought if you were a non-American.  I can only surmise that they were quietly happy that they were not Americans.  After all, Australia, Canada and Wales were not experiencing such disasters and embarrassment in in their countries.

Now we are a little further into the cruise.  Obama is being fried over his executive order.  As was poignantly pointed out, he had overstepped his presidential authority.  He said he had not overstepped his authority.  The Ping-Pong game of blame begins.

(As an aside, I pointed out in my last blog that I was fearful as to what both the POTUS and Congress would do before the Republican-controlled Congress was seated on January 5.  I did not think any action such as this executive order would take place so quickly.)

Jonathan Gruber becomes a media sensation.  The White House denies knowing him, even though he received about $500,000 for consulting on the proposed Affordable Health Care Act.  There is documentation that he visited the White House 19 times.  Nancy Pelosi denies knowing him even though there are pictures of her and Gruber together.  Gruber’s name is specifically mentioned by Obama and Pelosi during speeches, but they still deny knowing him.  He is videotaped making the statement about the ‘stupidity of the American voter.’

The tar pots are being heated!  There are chickens being plucked all over America to assure we don’t run out of feathers and KFC doesn’t run out of chicken!  So what happens next as we are further into our cruise?  There was only one salvation that took Jonathan Gruber and the Illegal immigration executive order off the front page of the news networks – the timely Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision!

There it was.  In all its blazing (no pun intended) glory.  A good, old fashioned burning and looting demonstration conducted by some of America’s finest citizens.  How convenient for the POTUS to have this occur as the heat was being turned up both on his executive order and his association with Jonathan Gruber.

America’s democratic and judicial systems were laid bare for the entire world to see.  According to the POTUS himself, we are a nation of laws.  Apparently that does not apply if you disagree with the law.  It must not apply when you don’t want to support the people that enforce our laws.

Who, in their right mind thought for one second that there was not going to be rioting/looting in Ferguson regardless of the decision?  That is called civil disobedience.  I certainly assumed there would  be.  Apparently the POTUS did not.  Because much as Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the POTUS really did nothing to alleviate the building tensions in Ferguson.  Hasn’t he claimed to be the ‘unification’ president?  I believe this country is more racist now than it has been for the last 50 years.  (Gruber may be on to something about American stupidity.  We conveniently forget about what comes first – the crime or the arrest!)

Here is what our leader should have said: “The loss of any young life is a tragedy.  But, we are a nation of laws, and we must let these laws work to preserve our great society.  In this instance, a grand jury has been diligently working to assure that justice is being served.  Regardless of the outcome, all Americans can be assured that all evidence was evaluated, all witnesses have testified, and all professional authorities have been heard regarding this case.  Therefore, I call on all Americans to maintain peace and civility during these emotional times.  Civil disobedience, terrorism, looting, rioting and the destruction of property are uncalled for and will not be tolerated.” (The reason I mention terrorism, is that some idiot burnt his hand while trying to light and throw a Molotov cocktail!  That pretty much moves this event from a demonstration to terrorism!)

Did you hear anything from our President that sounded anything like what I just wrote?  Unfortunately, I did not, either.

Now the end of the cruise is nearing.  The destructive scenes of the damage done in Ferguson are shown on BBC and FOX.  There are scenes of lesser destruction in other US cities.  Most of this additional destruction was sanctioned by agitators, such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and even by our POTUS due to his convenient inaction and lack of law enforcement support following the initial Ferguson events.

What did my foreign friends think as we got off the ship in Florida?  I can only surmise that they were happy to be returning to their own respective countries.  Y’all come back now, ya hear?  Things can only get better.

Who Gives a Duck?

Can you believe the media sensation surrounding one redneck from Louisiana?  (I am not talking about Drew Brees or the Bayou Mauler!)

Of course, I am talking about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame..  Phil, much like Paula Deen before him, is being castigated in the media because of his interview with GQ magazine.   The interviewer asked very pointed questions of Phil.  These questions centered on his Christian faith and his family values.  In the event that you have been living under a rock these last few days, I will tell you that Phil said that homosexuals, as well as those engaging in other behaviors frowned upon in the Bible, are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God.  Phil was trying to be nice in saying that people practicing these behaviors were ‘going to hell.’

Can you believe it?  People practicing these behaviors took exception to his comments!

Because GQ is also media, the magazine just could not resist creating interest in their upcoming January issue, all in the hope of selling more magazines.  They did this by releasing the contents of the interview with Phil.  Thus the media storm.

I have never watched a Paula Deen program.  I have watched most of the Duck Dynasty programs. Why?  Both Grandma P and I like to be entertained without the excessive use of foul language, blatant sex, violence or gore.  Such offensive programs were not prevalent in our formative years, but they monopolize the programming today.  Along came Duck Dynasty.  A program not afraid to illustrate people who openly and proudly practice their Christian faith.  A family that is not ashamed of demonstrating their family values.  A zany cast of characters, some with beards and camouflage clothing, that appears to be having a really good time.  It provides good entertainment.  The family dynamics are amusing.

Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the family.  He is devoutly Christian.  He is honest.  He is rich.  He is a target.  He is a target because he speaks what is on his mind and when he does, he can get himself into trouble.  The ‘politically correct’ disagree with his life philosophies.  More on that later.

Because of their reality show on A & E, we know quite a bit about Phil and the entire Robertson family.  He frankly admits that he was both an alcoholic and a womanizer until he found faith.  Not too many people would fess up to that, but Phil does.  As a child of the 60s, he has stated that early life was ‘sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.’  That is totally understandable to me as I am a child of the 60s.  The temptations were there.  Life choices are a bit blurry when you are subjected to so many temptations as a teenager.

But enough about Phil.  After all, he is what he is.  He is the patriarch of a family that has the most popular show on cable television.

What I find most interesting, is  A & E’s initial response to Phil’s interview:

‘We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty.  His personal view in no way reflects those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.  The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.’

Champions of the LGBT community?  That indicates to me that A & E are supporters of that lifestyle, and embrace it as being more important than any other lifestyle.  When you champion a cause, is that not what is meant?  I could be in trouble!  On all these forms that I have filled out over the years asking sexual preference, I have always  answered ‘flaming heterosexual.’   Admittedly, the writer of the A & E response is gay.

A & E, do you really believe his personal beliefs are not reflected in the Duck Dynasty program?  Do you ever watch what you televise?  His beliefs are everywhere in that program!  Look at his sons.  Are they not a reflection of his beliefs?  Alan is a minister.  Look at Phil’s daughters- in-laws and grandkids.  Phil’s imprint is everywhere!  Have you not seen them closing each show with a prayer at a family dinner?  It is usually at Phil’s house.

I am not an advocate of gun control, but maybe we need to revisit that issue when it comes to stupidity.  A & E has the most popular cable television program ever, and then someone decides to shoot themselves and the network in the foot with that stupid response.  Thus the gun control for stupidity.  I am sure Phil would lend a shotgun to the A & E writer of the response.  He would likely throw in the ammo.  What makes this all the more amazing is that A & E receives royalties for all things Duck Dynasty!  Bring extra ammo, Phil!  (Duck Commander and Buck Commander are strictly the Robertson family.)

What are some smart responses?

Under Armour,  the maker of all that fine Duck Dynasty camouflage clothing and hunting gear responded: “We are obviously aware of the situation, and his comments are not indicative of Under Armour’s views.  We have no plans to change our current relationship.”  Short and sweet.

The Walmart comment was that it would have ‘no comment.’  I find that interesting as they were one of the first companies to dump Paula Deen during her media crisis.  All in the name of political correctness. (It is also interesting to know that you can still buy Paula Deen items on the Walmart website.)  Maybe capitalism is winning over ‘political correctness.’

Duck Dynasty is another animal.  (Pardon the pun.)  The latest Wall Street estimates are that Duck Dynasty has created over $400 million in merchandise and clothing sales.  Walmart is estimated to be responsible for half of that total.  By far, the most popular line of clothing sold in Walmart is anything that has to do with our favorite bearded, camouflaged family.  That is for both men’s and women’s clothing!  That’s not chicken feed!

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, said it best, “The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.”

I could not agree more.  As I have mentioned in numerous posts, I am tolerant until someone engraves their cause on a Louisville Slugger, and hits me between the eyes.  I had to look up what LGBT meant.  I am more than tired of the media attention given to states that are allowing same-sex marriages.  In Minneapolis, the mayor married 50 same-sex couples in city hall the day the law went into effect.  Am I becoming homophobic, or are these people attempting to impose their lifestyle on our society?  In referring to the A & E response about being ‘champions of the LGBT community,’ I think the Louisville Slugger has been swung.  And we now know in which direction they swing.

Why is Phil the target of so much venom by the ‘politically correct?’  Short answer: He is a Christian and he believes in the Bible.  In essence, he swung his bat, and the ‘politically correct’ don’t like it.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of Phil Robertson’s beliefs, but I do support his right to state his beliefs.  After all, we are subjected every week to brainless comments made by athletes, entertainers, and politicians.  If they can get the podium, Phil should get it, too. (Charlie Sheen, the epitome of virtuous lifestyle, has jumped on the Phil bashing bandwagon.  Need I say more?)

Here are the repercussions of Phil’s interview.  Firstly, prominent people have risen to his defense.  Too many to mention.  Secondly, the Duck Dynasty merchandise is flying off the shelves in support of Phil.  Many of the Walmart stores have run out of the DD merchandise.  Thirdly, the silent majority has become very verbal in their defense of Phil.

Sorry, A & E, I do not see Duck Dynasty continuing without Phil.  They have enough money.  You need them more than they need you.  Good luck in negotiating further contracts with the Robertson family.  How many major networks do you think have contacted the Robertsons?

Aha!  I finished this article, and while the Bayou Mauler was editing it, lo and behold, the A & E network released a statement:

“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A & E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family”

Well isn’t that just ducky?

The network has put aside their moral dilemma to keep their ducks afloat.  They’ve been offended, but not so offended they would completely abandon the Number 1 series on cable TV.  To completely ruin their alliance with the merchandising phenomenon would be a bad call – a bad duck call, that is.


December 28 is the one year anniversary of Common Sense by Grandpa T.  We have received over 43,000 hits on the blog site, about 40,000 more than I thought we would get.  I have enjoyed writing it and hope you have enjoyed reading it.  My thanks to Grandma P, Houston Nefoo, and my hotshot proof reader, Bayou Mauler, a proud Christian and Louisiana gal.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Grandpa T

Cruising, Bacon, and Obamacare.

Grandma P and I have just returned from a 28 day Pacific cruise.  It was wonderful.  We visited four of the Hawaiin Islands, three islands in French Polynesia,  American Samoa and Western Samoa.  I am firm in my belief that ‘being retired is tiring!’  Thus the cruise.

As a result of this adventure, I am going to discuss dining on a Princess Cruise ship as well as the limited access to both news and live sporting events on such cruises.  (Before you tune out this blog, those who know me personally, please know this is not going to be a mere travel log.  Rest assured,  I will weave my political wit throughout the piece!)

Let us start with a question that has political/social ramifications that are earthshaking.  How many days can one man eat bacon at a breakfast buffet on a twenty-eight day cruise?

Before I answer, I would like to point out that a woman will spend two minutes attempting to separate two slices of bacon from a ten-pound mound of bacon that is stuck together.  Of course, this is all done in front of an extensive line of hungry men.  When I finally got to the awaited mound, my only concern was whether or not I could get the 6″ tongs to spread open to 8″.  Over the length of the cruise, I did coerce those tongs to accommodate manly servings, lest I feel shortchanged.

To answer the question.  A mound it was, and a smaller mound it shall be!   I ate bacon 27 of my 28 days onboard!  I decided one morning, on the 21st day, that I should experiment with some of the other fine cuisine offered at the breakfast buffet.  As a result, I climbed out onto the epicurean limb and had pork link sausages.  The last seven days were again devoted to bacon.  Old habits are hard to break!  To support my bacon habit, I am now convinced that Princess Cruise Lines has a hog slaughtering operation somewhere in the bowels of that ship.  Thank you Princess Cruise Line!

Despite all the many advantages, entertainment and adventures available on a cruise ship, there are, inevitably, some disadvantages.  On a 28-day cruise, we had nine ports of call.  The remaining days were spent at sea.  You have to be able to find your own, comfortable entertainment on these ‘sea days.’  Grandma P worked on crafts.  I read 11 books and played trivia twice a day. (I’m not bragging, but our team bested 30 other teams 10 times on 35 occasions.  OK, I’m bragging.  Get over it.)    Even though every cabin has a TV, you are at the mercy of satellite reception for programming, news and sports.  Most of the time, we did receive the BBC news channel.  The BBC will tell you everything you want to know about what is happening in India, Pakistan, Indonesia.  On occasion, we received the Fox News Channel.  This news was closer to home and certainly with a keener eye on American happenings.  MSNBC was available about half the time.  Nothing is more relaxing than to be on a vacation and watch your portfolio tank.

Any contact by computer was also reliant upon satellite reception.  Sometimes it was good and at other times, it was miserable.  We went two to three days at a time without computers.  It was impossible to open or send an email.   This has its advantages and disadvantages.  That did not bode well for information junkies. (I want to point out that it is not the fault of the ship.  At times, we were 2000 miles from anywhere.  Draw a line from Tahiti to Los Angeles, and you will see we crossed about 4000 miles of nothing.  Our safety was in the hands of the vaunted Mexican Coast Guard!  Never heard of them?  Neither have I.)

The three biggest news stories during our cruise?

One was the shooting of the TSA agent at Los Angeles.  Since our ship departed from Los Angeles, there was much interest about that event.  Most everyone on our ship was going to be flying out of LAX upon our return.  We were worried about how difficult it would be to get through security and make our flights upon disembarking.  (No problem.)

The second was the typhoon that devastated the southernmost islands of the Philippines.

The third news story, 24/7 was the exasperating rollout of the Affordable Health Care Plan, alias Obamacare.  We saw Congressional investigations being conducted, politicians scrambling to propose modifying legislation, rhetoric about the advantages and disadvantages of the program – all of this absolutely dominating any US new coverage.

My question is this.  How long does it take to realize that when you put lipstick on a pig, you still only have a pig?  (I bet you did not see that segue coming!)  Common sense indicates that most people would realize that a pig with lipstick is still just that—a pig.  But Congress is not that astute.  Congress passed a law which they did not read, thereby instituting a program they had no idea how to manage, yet they are surprised that the American public disapproves.  It appears many Americans are being harmed by Obamacare, because they have lost their former insurance policies!

It has become evident that this program was predicated on the establishment of another ‘pyramid’ scheme.  (Social security being the other.)  Pyramid schemes work wonderfully if you have enough people to feed the bottom of the pyramid.  In Social Security, the one-time bottom baby boomers have now moved to the top of the pyramid.   Problem is, there are not as many workers to feed the bottom.  In Obamacare, the younger, healthier people the 20s, 30s and young 40-somethings are not buying the program at all.  Their logic?  Why should I fund the insurance program for old farts that have not taken care of themselves, drink too much, eat too much and smoke too much, when I can obtain private health insurance cheaper.   I would have felt the very same way when I was in my 20s!  And now, finally, the normally quiet younger generations are contacting their legislators about this program.  The older Americans, after losing their coverage and realizing the increased Obamacare costs, are howling to their legislators!  It is obvious that some of the Liberals are jumping ship on this program!  (Just don’t take the bacon from my ship!)

One day, when reception was excellent, I watched two Congressional committees grilling the people responsible for rolling out the Obamacare website.  The House was conducting one session, but the Senate grilling session was the most interesting.  One senator on the panel asked one of the responsible techies if they had done a ‘total system’ test before making the website available to the public.  The techie responded, “What do you mean by total system test?”  I thought that senator, whose name I have forgotten, was going to have a televised coronary.  It brought back memories of Clinton’s response about, “It depends on what the definition of is is.”  My first reaction was, “Who are these techies?  Where did they get this bunch of supposedly competent smart people to construct this website?”  I flipped to the House panel.  It was going in the same direction.  The all-too-common responses to the very pointed questions were:  I don’t know, I had no idea, That was not my responsibility…….Are you seeing a common theme?  Have you heard these responses before?  My second reaction from watching these two panels was, “Are they contractors or government employees?”  My third reaction was, “Are we going to pay these guys for something so dysfunctional?”  But my fourth, and most important reaction was, “Who hired this bunch of incompetents?”

Is anyone going to be held accountable for this disaster?  Will anyone in this administration be held accountable for anything during this President’s term in office?  IRS targeting?  Obamacare?  Obamacare roll-out?  Benghazi?

Here is my Grandpa T  Common Sense Solution for the Affordable Health Care Act.  Repeal it.  It is a pig.  The lipstick, all the changes being proposed, are not making it look any better.  If the people of America want a comprehensive health care program, enact a program that is comprehensible, fundable, realistic – one that contains medical malpractice liability limitations.  My advice?  Balance an over-inflated budget first.  Our need-to-have programs are much more important than our want-to- have programs.  Federalized health care falls into the second category.  The ‘want-to-have’ programs are typically put in place to purchase votes.  Do your jobs!   Enough is enough!

Note:  Enough is enough – unless you are talking about the amount of bacon on a breakfast buffet on a cruise ship.  Princess Cruise Line is our cruise line of choice.  Grandma P and I have been fortunate to be on their ships over 112 days in the last 42 months.  We have enjoyed each cruise immensely.  I want to thank my six-person trivia team.  It amazes me that five normal people could have so much useless crap in their minds!  ‘Grandma and the boys’ were a great team.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  I was a sophomore in high school sitting in math class when the announcement was made.  It was the equivalent to the baby boomer ‘Pearl Harbor.’  I will never forget it.