Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 71 – August 2006

Kimber’s Men are back from sailing. A week on the tall ship ‘Stavros S Niarchos’. We were hoping to sail from Portsmouth to France and then maybe to Jersey or Ireland, or both, before finally landing at Brixham in Devon where we were to be met by local TV, radio etc. The winds however weren’t very kind so we simply sailed to Falmouth for 24 hours where the ship went under repair for a bit. But it was an experience that none of us will forget and we met a whole host of wonderful people, many of whom I’m sure will remain friends. There were basking sharks off Falmouth as we left, but as I was working the wheel at the time I only had fleeting moments to look at them. My eyes were fixed on the wheel and the screen beyond indicating our direction. I was too busy confirming to our Captain that I was steering the ship in the directions he was asking to look at basking sharks. I guess they got out of the way of us; I don’t remember us getting out of the way of them.

One of the main reasons we were invited was to sing shanties whilst we actually worked. Of course pumping and capstan shanties are nowadays redundant when working. These jobs are now done mechanically. But it was interesting to sing halyard and bunting shanties and very rewarding to discover that not only did the shanties actually fit the job, but that the crew found the work easier with us all singing.

So it was a rewarding trip, marred only in Brixham to discover that we were expected to give a concert in a large marquee with a bar to about three hundred or more people without use of a PA. This was a very serious oversight by the management that should be rectified if they ever decide to do a similar trip with another band. However another of our duties on board was to teach the crew some shanties so at least we were able to overcome the noise problems when later in the evening we had 20 or so of us on stage together.

For my part I don’t think I will be sailing like this again. The sleeping quarters are designed for younger folk than me and I found sleeping in a pipe bed with arthritis most uncomfortable. Getting in and out of them was not easy either. Older folk have done it and will doubtless continue to do so; but if I go again I want my own room with a bunk along with the afterguard in the bow of the ship. Toilets on board leave a lot to be desired although they were kept pretty damn clean (by us the crew), but I find I’m getting fussy in my old age about cleanliness and toiletry things. However at least I can say that I’ve done it; which I probably would not have done without a lot of persuasion by the other members of the band.

You will find some pictures of the trip on the Kimber’s Men/Joe Stead web site. Simply go to www.joestead.com. And follow directions through to “Photo’s”. The new photo’s will be at the bottom of that page.


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Here’s a song I learnt form Pete Seeger. Pete didn’t write it. Read the song, try to remember what I said about the planet in the July Rambling’s, then take a look at the web page indicated beneath the song. The more I examine myself, the more I examine where the world is going (did you know they expect the Amazon to be dried up in 100 years and the forestry gone with it?); the more I hear President Bush blathering nonsense to this world the more I fear that the Muslims trying to destroy the western way of life are actually mankind’s only hope of redemption. Of course if we destroy ourselves we are likely to destroy all living creatures with us. Later in this piece there is a long letter taken from the web site of Doug McIntyre - Host, McIntyre in the Morning - Talk Radio 790 KABC in America. It is entitled AN APOLOGY FROM A BUSH VOTER and is worth reading.

But first the song, then the web site you should all try to open. After that, a couple of reviews, our gigging list and your letters. Of course a few funnies follow Doug McIntyre’s missive.

To make a long, long story terse
Be it blessing be it curse
The lord designed this Universe
With inbuilt obsolescence
Each little shining star and sun
Enjoys its own atomic run
Exploding when it’s time is done
With cosmic incandescence

Astronomers predict some day
That our own sun will blaze away
There’ll be a glorious display
Of sunburst helium masses
Our little planet Earth below
Will join this pyrotechnic show
With burning hydrogen aglow
And hydro nuclear gasses

Thank God this great combustion day
Is several million years away
So as philosophers so often say
Why fret, why fume, why worry?
A jillion moons will wane and wax
Sit down make out your income tax
Enjoy your life, be calm, relax,
For God is in no hurry.

But ah my friends I have a hunch
Mankind might beat God to the punch!

> http://fromisraeltolebanon.info/


Reviews
Don’t take the heroes (CD) By Kimber’s Men
Although recordings started for this new CD in late March 2004, work on it was not completed until January 2006 owing to the death in April 2005 of Roger Hepworth. Needless to say, Kimber’s Men realised that they would never sound the same again since Roger contributed not only his wonderful harmonies but also great guitar playing to the group’s sound. And so, in a way, this CD is a new beginning for the outfit and a memorial in music to a friend and fellow ‘crew member’.
There are 25 tracks here. They range from shanties like ‘Haul Away Joe,’ ‘Yellow Girls,’ ‘South Australia’ and ‘Tom’s Gone To Hilo,’ to traditional songs like ‘Get Along Down Buddy,’ ‘The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite’ and the forebitters, ‘Go To Sea No More’ and ‘La Pique.’ Alongside these ‘oldies’ are more contemporary songs like Roz and Neil Kimber’s tribute to the men of the RNLI, ‘Don’t Take The Heroes,’ James Gordon’s ‘Frobisher Bay,’ Stan Rogers’ ‘Northwest Passage,’ and Roger Hepworth’s moving ‘Quiet As The Grave,’ a song about the demise of Britain’s fishing industry.
Now, traditionalists might not be altogether happy with the double tracking and some of the changes to timing and harmony that are evident on some numbers. However, Kimber’s Men believe that traditional songs should not be set in stone. For them songs are passed on through the generations not by constantly regurgitating the same tunes and words but by keeping the music alive with vitality so that the listener will want to hear them more than once. And for this reviewer that approach has resulted in a superb CD. Kimber’s Men sing the shanties with great attack so that the music both sounds and feels as if there is actually some work being done, whilst the songs are sung with real feeling which nevertheless never descends into the maudlin and sentimental. Not only that, the recorded sound is a credit to all involved and the CD comes with a booklet that gives background notes and lyrics to each of the numbers. In short, this latest CD from Kimber’s Men is a must and as with their CD ‘See you when the sun goes down’, a percentage of the proceeds from each sale will go to the RNLI.


Don’t take the Heroes – Kimber’s Men – APL11
Kimber’s Men in respect of this CD, comprise, John Bromley, Roger Hepworth, Neil Kimber and Joe Stead. I thoroughly enjoyed the singing of all four men but particularly wish to single out the voice of John Bromley. John has as fine a bass voice as can be heard anywhere on the Folk scene.
Amongst the 25 tracks there are many classic or standard shanties but also some excellent sea songs, my favourite ones being, Don’t take the heroes (N+R Kimber), North West Passage (Stan Rogers) and Death of Nelson. Don’t take the heroes is a strong moving account of the loss of the lifeboat ‘Soloman Browne’ which in 1982 went to the aid of the ‘Union Star’ off southwest Cornwall. The weather conditions were so bad, a hurricane force 12, that all lives on both ships were lost.
There is a considerable amount of double tracking in the recording, which Kimber’s Men unashamedly acknowledge. Yes, I agree that the multi tracking does add to the presentation of this type of material – in some instances the chorus is almost explosive. But I personally disapprove of multi-tracking on the basis that the listener should expect to hear in a live performance what is produced in a recorded session. However it would appear that multi-tracking is accepted as the norm these days.
An area that is often neglected in the production of a CD, is that of accompanying information. That is positively not the case with ‘Don’t take the heroes’. The track notes accompanying this CD are amongst the most informative that I have ever read, and are especially informative from an historical perspective.
This CD is an excellently produced collection of sea shanties and sea faring songs. I say in main with respect to the first track, Haul away Joe. This track lasts for only 17 seconds and I feel is something of a non-event. Yes, I appreciate that it is intended to ‘set the scene’. But I think that there is little merit in those 17 seconds, balanced against the whole of the following 24 tracks, which are excellent in themselves.
If you enjoy full robust singing, shanties and like songs, sung at full throttle, then you will enjoy this CD.
Ken Hinchcliffe – What’s Afoot – Devon Folk Magazine – Autumn 2006.

Joint Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead.

2006
July 30th (KM) The Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge. 4pm – Free (hat collection).
Aug 5th (KM) Conwy River Festival – North Wales
Aug 12th (Joe) Amsterdam Sea Festival – Amsterdam Scheepvaart Museum
Aug 13th (Joe) Amsterdam Sea Festival – Amsterdam Scheepvaart Museum
Aug 25th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 26th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Ulley Sailing Club, Near Rotherham 6pm (Private Dinner)
Sep 26th (Joe) Bilton Men’s Forum. 2pm – Valparaiso round the Horn
Sep 27th (KM) The Cross Keys Folk Club, Uppermill.
Sep 28th (Joe) Cleckheaton Probus Club – Valparaiso round the Horn
Sep 30th (KM) Halifax Traditions Festival
Oct 3rd (Joe) Hove Edge 65 Club. 2pm – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 4th (Joe) Garforth Probus Club 10am – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 6th (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 7th (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 8th (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 13th (KM) Minstead Village Hall, New Forest, Hampshire.
Oct 14th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival
Oct 15th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival
Dec 2nd (KM) The Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.
Dec 14th (Joe) St Paul’s Church, Harrogate Men’s Forum. – Valparaiso
2007
Jan 12th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Music Festival, County Clare – Provisional
Jan 13th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Music Festival, County Clare – Provisional
Jan 14th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Music Festival, County Clare – Provisional
Mar 5th (Joe) Rossett School, Harrogate. (Life and times Paul Robeson)
May 5th (Joe) Sweeps Festival, Rochester. – Provisional
May 6th (Joe) Sweeps Festival, Rochester. – Provisional
May 7th (Joe) Sweeps Festival, Rochester. – Provisional
May 11th (KM) Clennell Hall, Alwinton, Northumberland National Park
May 12th (KM) Clennell Hall, Alwinton, Northumberland National Park
Aug 12th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival – Provisional
Aug 13th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival – Provisional


Letters

Dear Joe
Thanks for your last Ramblings. There's always something there to amuse, disgust, alarm, agree with, disagree with - or otherwise provoke comment. I heartily agree with Shep Woolley's sentiments when he says "What a scary foolish place the US is".
I am prompted to relate this amusing/worrying little story: Some time ago, shortly after the Americans severely stepped up their airport security checks, my wife and I were returning from New Zealand via Los Angeles where we had a six hour wait before boarding the plane home. Passengers who had finished their journey in LA were interrogated, searched, photographed and fingerprinted, but we were able to avoid such rigorous investigation and, because we were only in transit and not intending to stay in the USA, a cursory glance at our passports was enough to satisfy them. It was a nice day so we enquired at the information desk if we were permitted to leave the airport for a while. The chap we spoke to said that would be no problem and was very helpful in furnishing us with maps and bus timetables. Thus equipped we left the airport, stole a car and, a few days later, arrived in New York where we met up with fellow terrorists and spent a couple of weeks plotting, planning and finalising our next devilish attack on humanity. Actually, I lied about that bit. In truth we hopped on a bus and travelled to Santa Monica where we had a bite to eat and I bought a nice leather jacket and a pair of Levis. Then we returned to the airport and boarded a plane for the next leg of our journey back to the UK - but it makes you think, doesn't it?
Regards
Nigel Thornbory


Hi Joe,
Just a quick note to say thank you so much for your music with Kimber's Men!
My Name is Ross McOwen, I’m 23, I live in Luddendenfoot, and I play guitar in a funk/rock band called Modeliste... our sound is very far removed from your own!! (our website is www.modeliste.co.uk).
I saw Kimber's Men for the first time at the Puzzle Hall Inn at an outdoor festival perhaps 2 years ago now, and again most recently at Hebden Bridge Trades Club earlier this year. I purchased your record - 'See You When the Sun Goes Down' at that particular gig, and it hasn't left my ipod since!
My grandad recently gave me a cassette of sea chanties arranged by the late Percy Grainger, performed by Windlass Shanty, Charles Rosher, that I believe were recorded in the early 20th century of which I am particulally fond, including the chanty 'Shenandoah'. The Kimber's Men rendition on 'See You When The Sun Goes Down' I greatly enjoy.
I listen to your work very often, and I just wanted to say a big thank you for your music and hope to see Kimber's Men again very soon.
All the best,
Cheers!
Ross McOwen


Hey Joe.
Keep it coming mate... I enjoy every one.
Just thought you might like to know... I heard that the government sells 'shit loads' (I can't remember how much) of British water to Europe every year. They charge us for water... limit our use... so there's plenty to sell to the EU. It’s very clever if you ask me... but I don’t like it.
Over the years I've heard you express some regret over never recording this song, or that song. I want you to understand that you have my services and studio gear at your disposal whenever you wish free of charge. You should have no song regrettably unrecorded Joe. I'll leave it with you.
Take it easy.
Dean Jones


Hello Joe,
Well how depressing! Even the funnies at the end didn't help. I was feeling a bit fed up yesterday no Harry and no Whitney. Whitney is in England with Lesley. I thought I'd turn the computer on and treat myself to the latest Ramblings. It quite honestly plunged me into depression because once again I think you are totally right. I don't doubt that the world population problem will be controlled by people like Bush in the future. Have a war now and again. We've got a big immigration problem here. Venezuelans with Canarian roots are returning to escape Chavez and his corruption and bad management. Most are educated and are able to invest this and sometimes money into the economy. Not so bad but we have an incredible influx of people from North Africa arriving daily in fishing and rowing boats with no education, no money and normally their only possessions are the T-shirt and shorts they have on. Some sometimes have shoes. A couple of weeks ago 500 arrived in Tenerife in one day alone. This is putting a huge weight on the economy and doesn't look like it's going to improve although we may have a lull when the winter seas start up again! They probably won’t stop loading into the boats but will probably drown. These people are so desperate in their own country that risking their lives crossing the seas in open boats overloaded is well worth the risk. We have to try to make things better in these countries so the people will think twice before wanting to leave but what is the point in investing money in countries with such corrupt governments that a few greedy people blatantly swallow the dosh?! What's the answer?
You are right about arriving at a point when we just have to move on. We can of course un-invade Iraq but we cannot undo the slave trade and put all black people back into Africa or take all the whites and blacks out of the USA and give it back to the Red Indians. Paco's uncle is over from New York and has been living there now for something like 50 years. I like him very much but he really believes the USA is saving the world! I had a real argument with him the other day. He walked out because I said I wasn't interested in how many American soldiers died saving Europe from Hitler. The lovely thing about the people here though is that you can have a terrible argument with someone one minute and be having a laugh and a beer with them the next. Definitely no bad feelings so that's something positive. I'm going to go off down to the beach to have a couple of beers. Hopefully I will see Paco's cousin who doesn't share his father's views. Very educated and knowledgeable and a delight to chat with knowing that there really are North Americans out there who don't agree that the USA is the centre of the universe!
Rhonda Tauman – Tenerife.

Joe,
Everyone knows that there is no danger of over-population because the Good Lord provided us with plagues, famine, droughts and wars. And if these don't do the job, there’s always bad food and nuclear bombs. So don't panic. The Good Lord is always available. Oh, yes, let us remember that the Good Lord also provides is with other antidotes to over-population including volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and political parties.
Oscar Brand.

Joe
Just to say that politically I no longer vote for mainstream political parties since I see no prospect of change from the leading three. In the local elections I voted National Pensions Alliance, do not know who they are but there it is. I would vote NF if they were brave enough to stand in Croydon and my ward, just because politics in this country need an almighty kick up the arse.
Frank Field recently only spoke the truth, when he said heaven help us when the NF get a leader of substance."
A normally liberal Chris who believes in electoral reform.
Chris Roche

Joe
It is clear from the approval ratings of recent months that a substantial majority of Americans are very dissatisfied with the performance of both the Congress and the President. To have any reasonable expectation for the performance of our elected leaders to improve, the reasons for this dissatisfaction must be made explicitly clear to them.
Consider the state of the world today compared to the time immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Bin Laden was known to be the perpetrator of those attacks, and the entire world was sympathetic to our cause to bring him to justice. But the subsequent diversion into Iraq may be recorded by future historians as one of the biggest blunders of modern times. Thus began a complete turnabout of American prestige in the world, and a huge boost in the recruiting ability of terrorists.
America was previously seen as both militarily and morally strong. But our inability to catch this most-wanted terrorist after nearly five years, our continuing disastrous experience in Iraq, and the revelation of our use of torture have tarnished our reputation forever. What was not understood, or perhaps was blithely ignored by the Bush team, was that as bad as Sadham Hussein was, the Iraqi regime nevertheless contributed to the stability of the region. Now that Iraq is on the brink of civil war, the balance of power has spun so severely out of control that it may be impossible to undo the damage that has been done.
Another example of bad judgment in the opinion of many is the attempt by the current administration to boost its sagging poll numbers by extending overtures to the Religious Right. This has led to the attempt to legislate a number of social issues that are guaranteed to be divisive at a time when many feel it is more important for the nation to become united on critical issues such as homeland security, an exit strategy for Iraq, jobs, and health care. The Founding Fathers, as evidenced by their autobiographies and their personal correspondence, clearly recognized the dangers of an ideologically driven administration, and opted for a secular American government precisely for that reason. Had it been the other way, the United States might now be as volatile as the Middle East.
Richard M Weed.


AN APOLOGY FROM A BUSH VOTER

By Doug McIntyre - Host, McIntyre in the Morning - Talk Radio 790 KABC

There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.
So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period.
In 2000, I was a McCain guy. I wasn’t sure about the Texas Governor. He had name recognition and a lot of money behind him, but other than that? What? Still, I was sick of all the Clinton shenanigans and the thought of President Gore was… unthinkable. So, GWB became my guy.
For the first few months he was just flubbing along like most new Presidents, no great shakes, but no disasters either. He cut taxes and I like tax cuts.
Then September 11th happened. September 11th changed everything for me, like it did for so many of you. After September 11th, all the intramural idiocy of American politics stopped being funny. We had been attacked by a vicious and determined enemy and it was time for all of us to row in the same direction.
And we did for the blink of an eye. I believed the President when he said we were going to hunt down Bin Laden and all those responsible for the 9-11 murders. I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them.
I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan, after all, that’s where the Taliban was, that’s where al-Qaida trained the killers, that’s where Bin Laden was.
And I cheered when we quickly toppled the Taliban government, but winced when we let Bin Laden escape from Tora-Bora.
Then, the talk turned to Iraq and I winced again.
I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, “The Project for the New American Century.” It’s been around since ‘92, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, “Democratizing the Middle East” and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, “pre-emptive war.” Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous.
But the President shifted the argument to WMDs and the urgent threat of Iraq getting atomic weapons. The debate turned to Saddam passing nukes on to terror groups. After 9-11, the risk was too great. As the President said, “The next smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud.” At least that’s what I thought at the time.
I grew up in New York and watched them build the World Trade Center. I worked with a guy, Frank O’Brien, who put the elevators in both towers. I lost a very close friend on September 11th. 103 floor, tower one, Cantor Fitzgerald. Tim Coughlin was his name. If we had to take out Iraq to make sure something like that, or worse, never happened again, so be it. I knew the consequences. We have a soldier in our house. None of this was theoretical in my house.
But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th.
I have watched the President say the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war won’t be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can’t do on the ground and any commander who did not go along with the administration was sacked, and in some cases, maligned.
I watched and tried to justify the looting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I watched and tried to justify the dismantling of the entire Iraqi army. I tired to explain the complexities of building a functional new Iraqi army. I urged patience when no WMDs were found. Then the Vice President told us we were in the “waning days of the insurgency.” And I started wincing again. The President says we have to stay the course but what if it’s the wrong course?
It was the wrong course. All of it was wrong. We are not on the road to victory. We’re about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear armed Iran in our wake. Bali was bombed. Madrid was bombed. London was bombed. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It’s unspeakable. The liberal media didn’t create this reality, bad policy did.
Most historians believe it takes 30-50 years before we get a reasonably accurate take on a President’s place in history. So, maybe 50 years from now Iraq will be a peaceful member of the brotherhood of nations and George W. Bush will be celebrated as a visionary genius.
But we don’t live fifty years in the future. We live now. We have to make public policy decisions now. We have to live with the consequences of the votes we cast and the leaders we chose now.
After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I’ve reached the conclusion he’s either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both.
Presidential failures. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Warren Harding-— the competition is fierce for the worst of the worst. Still, the damage this President has done is enormous. It will take decades to undo, and that’s assuming we do everything right from now on. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments.
And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let’s talk for a minute about President Bush’s domestic record. Yes, he cut taxes. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public’s money. We’re drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren’s credit cards. Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?
Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. He lied to the country about its true cost. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry. It helps nobody except the multinationals that lobbied for it. So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, or environmental protection, and/or worker’s rights.
I’ve talked so often about the border issue, I won’t bore you with a rehash. It’s enough to say this President has been a catastrophe for the wages of working people; he’s debased the work ethic itself. “Jobs Americans won’t do!” He doesn’t believe in the sovereign borders of the country he’s sworn to protect and defend. And his devotion to cheap labor for his corporate benefactors, along with his worship of multinational trade deals, makes an utter mockery of homeland security in a post 9-11 world. The President’s January 7th, 2004 speech on immigration, his first trial balloon on his guest worker scheme, was a deal breaker for me. I couldn’t and didn’t vote for him in 2004. And I’m glad I didn’t.
Katrina, Harriet Myers, The Dubai Port Deal, skyrocketing gas prices, shrinking wages for working people, staggering debt, astronomical foreign debt, outsourcing, open borders, contempt for the opinion of the American people, the war on science, media manipulation, a cavalier attitude toward fundamental freedoms-- this President has run the most arrogant and out-of-touch administration in my lifetime, perhaps, in any American’s lifetime.
You can make a case that Abraham Lincoln did what he had to do, the public be damned. If you roll the dice on your gut and you’re right, history remembers you well. But, when your gut led you from one business failure to another, when your gut told you to trade Sammy Sosa to the White Sox, and you use the same gut to send our sons and daughters to fight and die in a distraction from the real war on terror, then history will and should be unapologetic in its condemnation.
None of this, by the way, should be interpreted as an endorsement of the opposition party. The Democrats are equally bankrupt. This is the second crime of our age. Again, historically speaking, its times like these when America needs a vibrant opposition to check the power of a run-amuck majority party. It requires it. It doesn’t work without one. Like the high and low tides keep the oceans alive, a healthy, positive opposition offers a path back to the center where all healthy societies live.
Tragically, the Democrats have allowed crackpots, leftists and demagogic cowards to snipe from the sidelines while taking no responsibility for anything. In fairness, I don’t believe a Democrat president would have gone into Iraq. Unfortunately, I don’t know if President Gore would have gone into Afghanistan. And that’s one of the many problems with the Democrats.
The two party system has always been clumsy and imperfect, but it has only collapsed once, in the 1850s, and the result was civil war.
I believe, as I have said countless times, the two party system is on the brink of a second collapse. It’s currently running on spin, anger, revenge, and pots and pots and pots of money.
We’re being governed by paper-mache patriots; brightly painted red, white and blue, but hollow to the core. Both parties have mastered the cynical arts of media manipulation and fund raising. They’ve learned the lessons of Watergate and burn the tapes. They have learned to divide the nation for their own gain. They have demonstrated the willingness to exploit any tragedy for personal advantage. The contempt they have for the American people is without parallel.
This is painful to say, and I’m sure for many of you, painful to read. But it’s impossible to heal the country until we’re willing to acknowledge the truth no matter how painful. We have to wean ourselves off sugar coated partisan lies.
With a belated tip of the cap to Ralph Nader, the system is broken, so broken, it’s almost inevitable it pukes up the Al Gores and George W. Bushes. Where are the Trumans and the Eisenhowers? Where are the men and women of vision and accomplishment? Why do we have to settle for recycled hacks and malleable ciphers? Greatness is always rare, but is basic competence and simple honesty too much to ask?
It may be decades before we have the full picture of how paranoid and contemptuous this administration has been. And I am open to the possibility that I’m all wet about everything I’ve just said. But I’m putting it out there, because I have to call it as I see it, and this is how I see it today. I don’t say any of this lightly. I’ve thought about this for months and months. But eventually, the weight of evidence takes on a gravitational force of its own.
I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don’t believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we’re on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and it’s rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.
So, accept my apology for allowing partisanship to blind me to an obvious truth; our President is incapable of the tasks he is charged with. I almost feel sorry for him. He is clearly in over his head. Yet, he doesn’t generate the sympathy Warren Harding earned. Harding, a spectacular mediocrity, had the self-knowledge to tell any and all he shouldn’t be President. George W. Bush continues to act the part, but at this point whose buying the act?
Does this make me a waffler? A flip-flopper? Maybe, although I prefer to call it realism. And, for those of you who never supported Bush, its also fair to accuse me of kicking Bush while he’s down. After all, you were kicking him while he was up.
You were right, I was wrong.
Doug McIntyre - Host, McIntyre in the Morning - Talk Radio 790 KABC


Funnies

First (especially after that last piece) take a look at this……….

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3934788900154749704

or try this………
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEb3YknGUks

LETTERS DEAR ABBY ADMITTED SHE WAS AT A LOSS TO ANSWER.

1. Dear Abby, A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I've never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?
2. Dear Abby, What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on My VCR?
3. Dear Abby, I have a man I can't trust. He cheats so much, I'm not even sure the baby I'm carrying is his.
4. Dear Abby, I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It's getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don't know him well enough to discuss money with him.
5. Dear Abby, I've suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything and said it would never happen again.
6. Dear Abby, Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?
7. Dear Abby, I joined the Navy to see the world. I've seen it. Now how do I get out?
8. Dear Abby, My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years. He must be crazy.
9. Dear Abby, I was married to Bill for three months and I didn't know he drank until one night he came home sober.
10. Dear Abby, My mother is mean and short tempered. I think she is going through mental pause.
11. Dear Abby, You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?


Lovely Old Lady
Miss Beatrice, the church organist, was in her eighties, and had never been married. She was admired for her sweetness and kindness to all. One afternoon the vicar came to call on her, and she showed him into her quaint sitting room. She invited him to have a seat while she prepared tea.
As he sat facing her old Hammond organ, the young minister noticed a cut-glass bowl sitting on top of it. The bowl was filled with water, and in the water floated, of all things, a condom! When she returned with tea and scones, they began to chat.
The vicar tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its strange floater, but soon it got the better of him and he could no longer resist. "Miss Beatrice", he said, "I wonder if you would tell me about this?" pointing to the bowl.
"Oh, yes," she replied, "Isn't it wonderful? I was walking through the Park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground. The directions said to place it on the organ, keep it wet and that it would prevent the spread of disease. Do you know, I haven't had the flu all winter?"


Another golfing story
A nun was sitting with her Mother Superior chatting. "I used some horrible language this week and feel absolutely terrible about it."
"When did you use this awful language?" asked the elder.
"Well, I was golfing and hit an incredible drive that looked as if it was going to go over 280 yards, but it struck a telephone line that was hanging over the fairway and fell straight down to the ground after going only about 100 yards."
"Is that when you swore?"
"No, Mother," says the nun. "After that, a squirrel ran out of the bushes and grabbed my ball in its mouth and began to run away."
"Ah, is THAT when you swore?" asked the Mother Superior.
"Well, no." says the nun. "You see, as the squirrel was running, an eagle came down out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in his talons and began to fly away!"
"Oh, so THAT’s when you swore?" asked the amazed elder nun.
"No. As the eagle carried the squirrel away in its claws, it flew near the green and the squirrel dropped my ball."
"That must have been the point," said the Mother Superior, becoming impatient.
"No it wasn’t, because the ball fell on a big rock, bounced over the sand trap, rolled onto the green, and stopped about six inches from the hole."
The two nuns were silent for a moment.
Then Mother Superior said, "You missed the f*****g putt, didn't you?"


Thank God for church ladies with typewriters.
These sentences have appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
2. Announcement in a church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals."
3. The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
4. Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
5. "Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands!".
6. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
7. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
8. Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
9. Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
10. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
11. Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
12. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.
13. The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."
14. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24th in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
15. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
16. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
17. Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
18. Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
19. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
21. The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment and gracious hostility.
22. Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
23. The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
24. This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
25. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
26. The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
27. Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 pm. please use the back door.
28. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
29. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
30. The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."
31. Our next song is: "Angels We Have Heard Get High."

Keep smiling, keep singing,

Joe Stead