Monday, February 21, 2011
We had endured a lot of heckling in our time in Madison. I kept having protesters come up to me and rudely tell me that Wisconsin ranked second in ACT/SAT scores while states without collective bargaining rank 5 states rank 44th,47th,48th,49th & 50th, but when I'd ask them out of how many these rankings were, they'd just look at my with big eyes and then slowly walk away. They never thought somebody would question their data.
I said goodbye to Leo whose dad was a strikebreaker back in the 30s and Helen who always had a smile and an Obama joke when our spirits were low and I went back into the Howard Johnson's to pack up my own things. Though there was a bit of language barrier, I was able to explain to the hotel maid just how bad unions were by talking loudly and slowly and using gestures for her.
After, a quick lunch at the George Webb, I awaited my limo to take me to the airport for my flight back to D.C. Not spending time at home with my family was difficult, but since returning the phone has been ringing non-stop. I was the only Congressman in Madison for the riots and many of my colleagues were jealous. On the plane, I was able to write down a few truths that I had learned from the experience:
1. Madison is just one front in this war - I'd love to say union leaders are intelligent people who are open to compromise, but I wouldn't be fooling anyone. Even if we meet them half way, they will refuse to simply dissolve their unions and go home quietly. They are already mobilizing in Indiana and Ohio to take on the governors there and we must stand strong. You know the word union appears nowhere in the Constitution. They should appear nowhere in this country.
2. Patriots don't let the fact they're not from a state, stop them from working hard to fight for the Governor that other people worked so hard to elect - There were very few Wisconsinites at our counter rallies, but that didn't stop us from reminding the protesters that elections have consequences and unlike a television, you can't return your Governor a month later.
3. Unions are unnecessary in this day and age - Unions are a vestige from a time when corporations put their bottom line ahead of everything else. Nowadays, if you want something from your boss, the simplest thing to do is to ask your employer. That's what I used to do before I entered politics when I worked for my dad.
4. We will never compete against economies like Germany when we have unions - They are an albatross that slow us down and make us too slow, costly, and inefficient.
5. We will never compete with emerging economies in the future like China unless we eliminate antiquated ban on child labor - Children have certain talents that can make them very valuable to corporations. They eat less so they need shorter lunch breaks and their hands are smaller and much better able to reach into clogged machinery to unclog it. Their smaller size makes them ideal for fitting into the sometimes claustrophobic tight spaces of coal mines.
6. Public employees caused our current crisis. Now it's up to them to sacrifice in order to fix it - There are just under half a million public school teachers in the United States. Assuming each one of them has been overpaid by an average of $10,000 per year that would cost our country's taxpayers that's $50 Billion dollars per year. With that kind of money, we could bail out AIG every two years.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Much as Cortes burned his own boats before conquering the savage Aztecs, the brave Tea Partiers who came here from Virginia saw the Koch Brothers order the buses to drive away after everybody was off so that none would be tempted to flee from confrontation with union thuggery. We huddled for warmth and support as we advanced through the blizzard that Madison was experiencing.
We were joined by 6 hearty souls from Wisconsin. Here I met Leo who at 82 years young was able to pepper me with memories of his childhood when his father used a club to disperse strikers during the 1935 Lindemann Strike. He believed in the cause so much he came out himself though he was far too old and frail to wield the ancient piece of wood he showed us.
We began protesting, but were soon driven inside by the howling winds. We gathered at a local Denny's where we faced our first adversity. My chicken noodle soup was tepid and watery and I was not alone, but driven by our patriotism, we would not let this break us.
Emboldened by our respite, we build a snow Obama, but found our heart wasn't in it. Cold, we none the less marched forward to the capital, where Joe the Plumber and Andrew Breitbart had just spoken yesterday and I led our brave patriots in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before saying a few words myself. After, spending the evening at the George Webb, I made my way to the Howard Johnson's where I had reserved a room. The hotel was kind enough to let the other protesters wait in the lobby as they shivered and waited for the Koch Brothers buses to return. We should have worn heavier coats, but we came, we persevered, and we made our voices heard for freedom. This was our Valley Forge moment and it is one I shall not soon forget.
Governor Walker's attempts to broker a compromise with the unions, appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the unions have agreed to give in on salary and pension demands, but have stopped short of agreeing to dissolve their unions and go home.
This is a very hard time for corporations in the state. Nearly 1/3 are forced to pay taxes even though they all contribute to the state in various ways from giving moral support to sponsoring little league teams to donating to political candidates. It's a time for shared sacrifices and corporations are hurting too even as they are seeing record profits---only it's a suffering on the inside kind of thing that is less visible to people outside the company.
So what would make patriots make the long trek to Wisconsin to stand up to firemen union thugs and police union thugs? I asked this brave Tea Party activists for their motivation:
A machinist from Iron Gate, Virginia named Larry explained it to me this way, "I don't have a union. I make $8.50 an hour and when my thumb got cut off, I not only had to pay for it out of my own pocket, I couldn't leave work to do so until my shift was over. Why should these clowns get unions just because they're public workers?"
Gale, a housewife from Tappahannock, Virginia said, "These union thugs are getting rich off of our tax dollars---or at least the tax dollars of the people of Wisconsin."
John, who was actually from Wisconsin, drove to Madison from Kenosha himself. "I'm on disability, so I'm able to watch a lot of news programming and I can't believe the number of people expecting the government to take care of them for the rest of their life. The ones behind this are the ones in the middle east. They want to start a caliphate here too."
Sadly, I will have to leave tomorrow, but I intend to let my voice be heard today. To the people of Wisconsin, I urge you to get out there and counter this rebellion. If the people in Virginia care enough to fight fr your hard earned tax dollars, you should too.
Friday, February 18, 2011
I find myself becoming increasing alarmed by the rioting in Wisconsin this week. These people in Madison do not represent most of the people of the state regardless of what polls may say. The hearts of the people of Wisconsin are with the Tea Partiers on the bus from Virginia to come counter protest.
It bothers me that it has become so confrontational when this is really a simple economics issue. Everybody was thrilled when Scott Walker cut corporate taxes, but now comes the time to pay for those cuts and unfortunately it calls for shared sacrifice. Nobody likes to have their salary cut or their union crushed, but it's that spirit of all for one and one for all that has made our country great.
Word is that the rioters have agreed to make all the pay concessions the Governor is asking as long as he leaves their collective bargaining rights alone, but the problem is that collective bargaining inevitably costs employers money. When child labor was outlawed, businesses lost a valuable commodity as small children could fit their hands into machinery to unclog it in tight places where an adult hand could never reach. What has the 40 hour work week done except to give the American worker more time off from work, which requires him to spend more money. It becomes a vicious cycle as employees are forced to foot the bell for giant televisions, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.
As you may know, I am on the executive board of Last Stand For Children First (www.laststand4children.org). I see that many of these protesters are teachers who are complaining that they will need to take second jobs. I can't think of anything more valuable that they could bring to their students than the life experience of outside work. Also, if you are frying your students' burgers, welcoming them to Wal-Mart, or taking their tickets at the movie theatre, it would give students a great chance to get to know their teachers in another setting.
Everybody wants something for nothing and we all were thrilled to see corporate tax rates drop around the country. When I heard that the income of the upper class exploded in the past decade, nobody was more thrilled than I was, but now comes the time to pay the piper. We all need to sacrifice and even union members must do their fair share. I hope that Governor Walker (or as I like to call him Moobarak), will continue to stand tall for the people of Wisconsin and the people from Virginia coming to protest.
NOTE: Some have pointed to the presence of Arabic writing in the photo. It is well known that Wisconsin has a very strong Arab influence so this is not uncommon. The Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA played in the MECCA Arena for 20 years.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My advertisements on Craig's List were seeking out used manshaping or if you will manscaping products. As said products were being sought by myself a male and I was looking for products designed for a male body, I may have inadvertently placed my advertisement in the wrong section of Craig's List. The fact that I described myself as a bear was only to describe my luxurious coat of back hair, which I was seeking to remove.
I am demanding an apology from any liberal blogs that have speculated on these pictures. I have done nothing wrong and I believe my explanation should put an end to this discussion. I remain firmly committed to my loving wife of 25 years.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
[The following section is an excerpt from my memoirs entitled Profiles in Courageousness: The Jack Kimble Story. This is still in draft form, but it tells the story of how Ronald Reagan helped me to overcome the untimely death of my older brother Joe Kimble and how he ultimately brought our family together.]
Monday night, July 17, 1978 was a scorcher. An angry sun was beating down most of the day reminding us all that California had once been a desert and despite modern attempts to the contrary, the state was a mistress that you could never really take home to meet your parents. In a game played under the unrelenting sun, the Heritage Valley Tigers defeated the Hampton Jazz 5-2 behind their star Joe Kimble. It was summer vacation and the Heritage Valley players were looking to celebrate.
Around 10:00 the players were able to buy some Schaefer’s Beer. They headed out behind the school and began drinking heavily. The sun had set and the night air was refreshingly cool. Tank McBride the catcher on the team had suggested going to the zoo and with everybody’s minds clouded by alcohol consumption this sounded like a terrific idea.
Just after midnight, 8 members of the Heritage Valley baseball team hopped the fence at Canyon Point Zoo. When that awful night was over, only 7 would leave. The players made their way through the park and were immediately drawn to the big cats that Canyon Point was famous for. The players began to heckle the Bengal Tiger who growled a few times, but for the most part ignored their taunts. Finally, it was decided that the tiger should have a pair of pants on instead of running around a public zoo naked. As leader, it fell to Joe to put a pair of baseball pants on the tiger.
Even through a drunken haze, the players displayed amazing teamwork as they slid Joe down the 14 foot wall encircling the cat habitat. This should have been their finest moment as a tea—the type of crazy stunt the cements bonds and fosters a one for all attitude for years to come. Unfortunately, tragedy intervened. Joe snuck up behind the tiger and managed to get the legs of the pants over the tiger’s hind legs. He even managed to stuff the tiger’s tail down one of the pants legs. It was only when he attempted to zip the pants that the tiger exploded with primal ferocity. Joe never stood a chance. The other players called for help, but by the time rescue workers arrived on the scene, Joe was already dead..
For years, my dad carried the weight of Joe’s death on his shoulders. People took one look at him and could tell he changed. He continued to rail against the communist takeover of America and fluoride in the drinking water, but you could tell that his heart just wasn’t in it anymore. My mom seemed to take things pretty well on the outside, but she had her doctor double her Miltown prescription. Bobby seemed to throw himself even more into his studies hoping to make dad proud of him. I remember that Gladys was sad about Joe’s passing too. It seemed like the whole Kimble family had been turned upside down.
A month after Joe’s passing, I tried to comfort my father, but he wasn’t ready to be consoled not would he be for quite sometime to come.
“It’s hard to lose Joe,” I said, “He was like a brother to me, but life has to move on, doesn’t it dad? You’ve still got Bobby and me and a daughter too.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and shook his head in resignation. “This probably makes me a horrible parent for saying this, but Joe was special.”
“Sister Agnes said that I was special too,” I beamed proudly.
“That’s just because you couldn’t figure out shoe laces until you were 11. Joe was the best hope this family had of really making it big. He could have been an astronaut, or President, or owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You and Bobby can’t compete with that. I don’t expect you too.”
”You’re wrong dad, I’m going to show you,” I said storming out of the room. I’d like to say that moment changed my life and that after I stood up to my dad I was forever inspired to make something of my life to prove my father wrong. The truth is, like the rest of my family, I was spiraling into an abyss. Tragedy hits everybody differently, but my 14 year old backbone was too weak to struggle against the grief that was holding me down for long.
When I returned to school in September, my grades immediately began to plummet. If not for my father’s skillful cross-examination of teachers during parent-teacher conferences, I probably would have been looking at more Fs than I did receive, but I certainly was no longer the B student that I had been during my freshman year. I had trouble concentrating on my school work with what was going on in my home life and knowing the lowered expectations that my father had for me didn’t help. In retrospect, it seemed that every time my father had told me about the great Kimble lineage or dreams for the future he was also addressing Joe. When he talked to me alone, it was usually about mundane things like taking out the trash.
A schism had developed in the audio-visual club over two competing formats. The school had 1960s era film players and wanted to switch to more modern recording devices. My friends and I fought bitterly with another group that thought VHS was the way to go. A lot of the skills that serve me well in politics today, I learned that Fall in the audio-visual club format wars. The debate grew hot and heavy, but finally in January my group prevailed and we looked with pride on the $5,000 that our school district had spent on new betamax equipment for our high school.
That winter Dave Kenny brought a strange box into our Tuesday afternoon chess club meeting. It looked like an ordinary game box, but I could feel the evil that was emanating from the box. Had I been my usual self, I would have cast the box from the club room and called on Jesus to destroy its evil. Instead, in my weakened state I was intrigued. The game was called Dungeons and Dragons and by now it has become quite famous as a tool like Harry Potter for leading unknowing nerds into the occult.
As Dave tore open the game box, I saw dice of the like I had never seen before. While normal dice had 6 sides, some of these dice had 4, 12, and 20 sides. I knew that madness was the gateway to Satan and surely such dice were pure evil. In fact, grabbing one of the dice I noticed it was warm to the touch despite being in a cold locker for the last 7 hours.
“This is Dungeons and Dragons,” said Dave, “My older brother Gary bought it for me.”
“He’s strange. I think he’s taking drugs and he is always mumbling something under his breath,” said Julie. She was one of two girls in the chess club and she usually spoke her mind.
“I guess he’s odd, but this game is great. I’ll be the Dungeon Master and by playing this game you’ll be able to tap into real power,” said Dave excitedly.
“Real power? That sounds scary,” replied Julie.
“I don’t know,” I said, “Won’t this get in the way of our chess?”
“Chess is fine, but this game will be even better,” said Tom.
The others began to share in his excitement for the game as if overcome by some demonic power. If only I had stood up for my faith then, I would have saved us all, but instead I picked up the box and studied it further.
“Wow,” I said, “This is an odd game. It’s printed in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin”
“I had an uncle who lived there once,” said Julie, “The fog rises off of the lake and the townsfolk here the dogs barking and an eerie laughter, but nobody can see what it is. That town is evil. Trust me.”
Against my better judgment, I took to Dungeons and Dragons with relish. The chess club soon got a name change and became the gaming club. Late nights frequently found me sitting at a table with my fellow gamers using our critical thinking to escape the clever traps that Tom was laying out for us. We grew closer together as a group and those table sessions soon became therapy sessions as we shared the many problems we were having. I opened up for the first time about my brother’s death. It was unnatural, but at the time we couldn’t see that.
One of the most insidious parts of Dungeons and Dragons is that you take on the persona of a character. Role-playing can cause the participant to actually experience, emotionally, the role being played. Many of the chess players were extremely introverted and would never say much even to their friends. However, when taking on the role of a hero they began to get more outgoing and friendly both in and out of the game. I could only put this change in their behavior down to a sort of demonic possession or a sample of the occult power that we were foolishly playing with. I found myself lost in a malaise. Like this country, I was going through the motions without any faith or belief or values. I was existing simply to exist. Nothing seemed to matter anymore as I had abandoned my pride, and my values.
Two men changed my life. Coach Jack Bonner was 52 years old, pot-bellied, and he smelled of cigarettes and cheap bourbon, but he knew something about instilling character in young men. I first met Coach during study hall during my senior year. It turns out he had seen me at lunch eating a double helping of Sloppy Joes and he was impressed.
“How much do you weigh kid,” said Coach clearing his throat.
“About 112 pounds,” I replied.
“You’re what 5’10” and you eat whatever you want?” coach asked.
“Yes sir. I’ve got a fast metabolism,” I smiled
“Well, how’d you like to join the wrestling team?” he asked.
In high school wrestling it seems, being able to stay under 103 pounds is an athletic skill. Joining the wrestling team would mean losing 12 pounds so that I could wrestle an assortment of dwarves, freshman, male anorexics, and in one case an amputee. It wasn’t a tough choice for me to make. I took the challenge and began training hard for wrestling season.
Around the same time, I became acquainted with another charismatic man who knew something about character. I had heard Ronald Reagan’s name since I was old enough to talk. California Republicans are sadly not as common as one would like and Reagan had been the state’s governor. However, it was during the 1980 campaign for President that I really began to understand Ronald Reagan and the vision he had for this country. Reagan radiated confidence and optimism and the enemies of freedom sure noticed. Reagan had a passion and conviction that showed his belief that we could be great again and maybe just maybe so could the Kimble family. Through the Teenage Republicans, I began to pass out flyers and campaign for Reagan. I worked towards his election with the fervor of an immigrant landscaper determined to bring Dutch home a winner.
At home, my dad finally started to come around. He could see how hard I was working to be successful with the wrestling and my newfound enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan. Dad had been reinvigorated politically as well. In the 1960s, Reagan had been staunchly supported by the Robert Baird Society when he ran for Governor of California and dad believed Reagan was one of the few people who would root all the reds out of the government. When I’d bring home Reagan campaign literature from the Teenage Republicans, dad would always want to see it. We began to connect again in a way we hadn’t since that horrible night when Joe died.
As a wrestler I wasn’t very good, but I worked hard. I ran everyday to get in shape. I was blessed with extremely active sweat glands. For a wrestler this is a great thing. I was able to start a day at 108 pounds and sweat my way down to 103 in time for the big weigh in. Then as I drank water and replenished my lost bodily fluids, I’d be able to wrestle at 108.
After nearly two months of intense training, my big moment came on a Tuesday in November, when I had to wrestle the team’s wrestler in the 103 pound weight class from the previous year. Jennifer Hillebrandt had joined the team before after a long argument with the school board over Title IX and the lack of a girls wrestling team. She faced a lot of teasing from the boys who never really thought of her as a teammate. She was one of two female wrestlers in our conference and both wrestled at the 103 pound weight class.
Despite being nearly a foot taller than she was, wrestling against Jennifer was intimidating. In addition to the general awkwardness of having to wrestle a girl, Jennifer was an experienced wrestler who had one 3 matches the year before. I was a good six inches taller than she was, but I was the one with all the nerves as everyone watched us take to the mat. I could hear the boys on the team cheering me on and hoping to get rid of the female interloper from their previously all male domain. We stood next to each other in the neutral position and eyed each other trying to look intimidating.
Unfortunately, things went down hill very quickly. Jennifer had obviously been training hard since last season, while I had counted on my natural ability to sweat buckets to see me through. She nearly pinned me twice and soon had me in a hammer lock before the first period had ended. The second period had me starting out on offense, but ended much the same way. The boys on the team were visibly upset and I could see the coach’s disappointment. “I really expected more from you,” he said to me.
Entering the third period down fourteen to nothing, I knew that I had only one real chance to win the competition and that was to get a pin. Complicating matters, if she got one more point on me before I scored, she’d win. I tried to look intimidating. However, with her crouching over me in the offensive position to start the match, I didn’t see much hope of that happening. Then I thought of the words of Ronald Reagan, “The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”
As Jennifer grabbed for my shoulder I bent slightly forward and shot my elbow backwards, connecting dead solid with her nose. Blood began to spurt profusely in all directions. This was before we knew about some of the diseases we know about nowadays or I would not have been so nonchalant as her blood began to soak my wrestling clothes. The blood was just the distraction that I needed to reach back for her hair and throw her to the mat. As she lay there dazed, I straddled her for the pin. Coach was beaming with pride as he raised my hand high above my head. All the boys on the teach jumped up and down in excitement and ran to the mat to congratulate me. I had won my spot on the team.
For the rest of the year, Jennifer and her friends Sue and Lisa would be waiting for me after school. They’d throw my books in the street, give me a pink belly, take my money, and generally bully me. In fact, sprinting home the long way to avoid them became a big part of my training regime. I learned a lot about the value of being a gracious loser from watching how Jennifer reacted to me taking her spot on the wrestling team.
When I got home it was a little after 5PM. My mom and dad were watching television in the living room and they were just projecting the country for Ronald Reagan. The polls hadn’t even closed in California yet, but it looked like a huge landslide for Reagan. They projected him as the winner and my usually stoic dad turned to look at me with tears trickling down from his eyes to say, “He won. Reagan did it!”
“He sure did dad,” I said smiling ear to ear, “He sure did.”
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
As Americans, it is very simple to look on the protesters getting attacked in Egypt and feel sympathy for them. We're Americans that's what we do. Most of us would like to be John Wayne and go over there and tell those inciting violence "knock it off before I knock you out." However, there are some serious issues that I hope the Obama administration has considered.
1. Mohamed al Baradie -He has emerged as one of the leaders in the protest movement. For those of you who don't remember, al Baradie was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who kept telling us Iraq had abandoned their weapon program before the war. He wound up with egg on his face when we eventually invaded. Why did he provide cover for Saddam Husseim? and what are his motivations here?
2. The Muslim Brotherhood - I do not know much about this organization, but they sound like they are Islamic to me. Can we afford to have Egypt become a Muslim country? There is no doubt if the Brotherhood has their way that is exactly what will happen and if it does, we become that much closer to having Sharia law enforced on the entire planet.
3. Relations with the United States - Egypt has long been an ally of the United States and it is important that it remains one. If Egypt wants a real Democracy, that's fine, but a real Democracy will continue their close relationship with the United States and if they don't, they may need to be overthrown.
I won't go far enough to condemn the protesters, but these troubling questions need answers before we can really support their rebellion. I do want to withdraw earlier comments I made that the struggle for Democracy in Egypt was because of George W. Bush. I can see now, that this instability is clearly Obama's fault. The other day Ann Coulter had a great point and that remains a huge sticking point for me, “Mob riots like this,” she warned, “have never led to something good.”