July 4th Oration Notes

July 4, 2004

It is said, “A man’s patriotism is not measured by the size of the flag he flies.”

Today let’s consider some of the great men who brought forth this great nation, then
consider what things we might do to preserve liberty.

Let’s do a little exercise. Voting statistics illustrated.

One important event in our history was the Declaration of Independence, the reason we celebrate every 4th of July.

55 men signed the Declaration of Independence.

It had taken many months of debate to write.

One of the men most influential in its adoption was John Adams. (Put book up.)

In this picture he has sideburns long enough to be in style in GQ today, but just a little
too bushy.

What does the Declaration say? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
…(created equal),
that they are endowed…by
whom (by their Creator)
with certain unalienable
That among these are …
(life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)
It is to secure these rights that governments are made and they get their powers from the consent of the governed.

This was our complaint with the British and King George III. They made the government and imposed it on us without our consent!

So we said in here that we are going to be free, independent of Britain. We declared our independence.

The closing lines read, “With a firm reliance on the protection of diving Providence, we
mutually pledge to each other our lives, our … (fortunes), and…(our sacred honor).

These men, and their wives, knew well what they were risking by signing.

Here is where John Hancock signed. His name is the biggest. He said he wanted King George to be able to read it without his spectacles.

Six weeks after passing the Declaration, the British attacked in New York. It was their
30,000 against about half that many on our side. They had thirty ships; we had none. 1,000 of our men were killed, wounded or captured. British losses were about 400. Two days later, in the dark and in the rain, the American army escaped across the river, rowed by many volunteer fishermen.

Two weeks later the British commander sent a note to Philadelphia asking for some
Congressmen to come talk to him. Franklin, Rutledge, and Adams went. They had a cordial meal, then got into discussion. Admiral Howe asked, “Is there no way of treading back this step of independency?”

He further said he was not talking to the three as members of Congress because Congress was not acknowledged by the King. He considered them men of great ability and influence, private persons and British subjects.

Adams objected. “You may consider me in any character which would be agreeable to your lordship, except that of a British subject.” He said he was determined “not to depart from the idea of independency.” Admiral Howe turned to the
other two: “Mr. Adams is a decided character,” with a gloomy emphasis on the word decided. Years afterward, Adams would better understand the gloomy look on Howe’s face, when he learned that before leaving London, Howe had been given a list of those American rebels who were to be granted pardons if peace could be
arranged. John Adams was not on the list. He was to hang.

Such were the risks these signers entered.The meeting ended without

John Adams left behind a profitable law practice, making, as a member of Congress the same wages as a farm laborer. And we must not forget the women of the
Revolution. John’s wife, Abigail, was farming and raising their children alone near Boston, while John spent years in Philadelphia in Congress. They exchanged many tender letters. Her sacrifice for this country matched his.

Among the other signers, Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. So did Morris and Livingston. Thomas Nelson had a beautiful home in Yorktown. The British captured it and used it as a headquarters. As the British approached, Nelson stood beside George Washington. Nelson gave him the go ahead to open fire. The home was completely destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

Truly they made great sacrifices.

We can support liberty by:
serving on juries,
testifying in the legislature,
writing and calling elected representatives,
running for office,
assisting campaigns.

We can also keep our marriages and families strong through love, prayer and sacrifice, for strong families and righteous people, people reliant on divine
Providence, are what make this nation strong.

Random Thoughts “Inspired” by a trip to Las Vegas

Vegas Trip


One reason I don’t gamble is that I’m afraid to embarrass myself sitting at a machine
trying to figure it out.

The lady at her table in the buffet room at Sunset Station has a Keno easel, meaning, I guess, that she is playing Keno through a “runner” while she stokes up
on biscuits and gravy. How did she learn about that? Did she feel
silly asking for help her first time? Doesn’t she have to see the
facial features of her opponents to win? Or, is that only in the
movie The Entertainer? She munches so serenely, looking into the
distance. She must be a seasoned gambler to maintain such composure
in the middle of a Keno struggle! I envy her stoicism.

I can tell I am in the heart of this casino’s demographic slice. Paul Simon’s “Slip
Slidin’ Away”, and Little River Band’s “You’re Still the One” are the background music.

This buffet prides itself on having every possible breakfast food. Not so. At home we have exotic amaranth seasoned with Brasilian Stevia, an herbal sweetener.
They do have grits. I try some.

The pleasures of Las Vegas, like those of skiing are for soloists. People range from
machine to buffet to machine to buffet, frequently alone, unconnected. Skiers are lone actors, too. Their selection of runs is highly individualistic. Brotherhood is fleeting, easily shucked when a buddy needs to eat or chooses another run. It is hedonism with occasional hollered greetings at passing acquaintances. Little
self-sacrifice is called for on a ski hill.

Style is uncomfortable. Girls must show their extra 10 pounds between pant and shirt, the place where accretion is most likely to begin. What a shame, you have
to show your first ten excess pounds. That’s also the last ten
pounds to go, when losing weight. The designers zeroed in on the most
troublesome region for a girl. How thoughtless. Boys must wear
stocking caps even at 72 degrees. Maybe that’s why head shaving is also cool.

In a buffet it is hard to abide Thoreau’s advice to “eat to live, not live to eat.”

Kids are rare around here.

I could tell I was being led to the SHOT Show, (the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show), when, ahead of me in traffic was a dually Dodge with Texas plates.
One occupant wore a cowboy hat, another a camo cap. “This is my group”, I thought.

The food at
the Aladdin Buffet:
Lamb, stuffed pork,
(that’s the dish, not me and all the other patrons), primavera,
sauteed vegetables, prime fresh pineapple, strawberries in
vinagarette, shrimp with red sauce, crab legs, crème puffs,
tort, Asian chicken stir fry, Viet noodles and tofu, red potato,
pecan pie, apple crisp, fish wrapping a crab stuffing. Wow!

I saw a man at the gas station wearing red and white patent leather wingtips. Anyone wearing those should not have to subject himself to the ignominy of gassing
up a car.

NASA Loses the Mars Rover

Mars Rover

We’ve lost the Rover! NASA is embarrassed. They shouldn’t be; the little
machine is a zillion miles away. I have a hard time finding my screwdriver and flashlight though they are no more than 35 feet away from me, in the same house.

Might I help NASA? I got out my binoculars and peered at Mars. Nope, I
couldn’t find the lost robot either. Now I can really see what
their problem is. I hope they have better binoculars than mine. Maybe
if we had a neighborhood spotting party, where we got everybody’s
binoculars and duct-taped them in a row, we could see up there.

Losing the rover brings up a conspiracy. Have you heard from Al Gore lately?
A guy like him is hard to shake loose. If he were within shouting
distance of earth, we would be hearing from him. Giant radio
receivers are listening for signs of extra-terrestrial life and even
they haven’t heard from him. It is entirely possible that House
Republicans kept the space program alive, and refrained from shutting
down the government just for this purpose, so they could abduct Al,
stuff him inside the Rover and catapult him up to Mars, then feign
innocence when communication is terminated. I bet Al is inside.

I sympathize with NASA losing its link, for I use the internet. My
modem connection is like that. Sometimes I desperately want to
connect so I can check my spam and download viruses, but my internet
provider gnome is down. This normally happens at 5:01. The service
desk remains open until 5:00. Maybe NASA should consider a new
internet service provider. It would only take ten days and three
house calls from a $60/hour internet shaman to switch. Then they
could, like me, be sure not to miss any spam, static, or dating
service ads. Not to mention calls from the Rover.

When the Rover landed it was a big triumph. Then when the link was lost it stunk. But NASA’s public relations department, all 1,500 of them, glazed that burned cupcake. That the mission had gone so well to that point was a pleasant surprise, we were told. Why weren’t we told, when Congress budgeted for this that it would be surprising if it worked? I need a couple of their publicists to explain things to my banker.

You should feel richly rewarded”, I say, backed up by Arthur Anderson,
a retired NASA publicist.

Richly rewarded? You only made one of your 360 payments. And that was six
months ago!” says the bank president.

Look how far he got. Even getting his doors open in such a speculative
business was a major triumph,” Arthur says.

What do think this bank is, a dumb taxpayer?” the president says.
He thinks we should be embarrassed. But Arthur and I are hard to
embarrass. If not being able to find my goosedown coat in one of the two
closets in our home can’t shame me, a little tardiness in bank
payments shouldn’t either. As soon as I make payment number two,
I’ll call that a fabulous triumph.

I can learn from NASA. No failure is so great that a small success can’t
redeem it. When my wife rolls her eyes at having to find my wallet,
palm pilot, work keys, car keys, and toothbrush, I say, “But honey,
I found my own shirt. Don’t you think I did good? Now where was
that job application for NASA?”

No Teacher Left Behind

A bill in the Montana legislature would pay school districts $1,000 new money for each teacher, each year. This amounts to $13 million annually, or $56.27 in new taxes per Montana family.
Some schools are losing students. Since the amount of money a school gets
depends on the number of students enrolled, schools are losing money.
One might think that fewer students may need fewer teachers. That is,
unless one was a teacher’s union president or the sponsor of the
bill. It appears that public schools exist to serve the interests of
teachers as much as, or more than, the interests of students.

The bill should be called the No Teacher Left Behind Bill.

CHIP and medical communalism

March 16, 2003

To Members of House Human Services Committee:Please vote against SB 314.

I am a member of the Union of Concerned Taxpayers, a group of mostly Gallatin County voters, who oppose further communalizing health care. We think that individualism is better for all concerned, taxpayers, recipients, providers and the
economy as a whole. We are concerned when we see baby-steps taking us
further toward central, state-controlled health care. The taxpayers
of the state are broke. Income-wise, we can’t afford the extra $1
Million. Montana is the “Mississippi of the Northwest”.

A baby-step you are asked to consider is SB 314, which would expand CHIP to kids whose families’ incomes fall below 175% of poverty, so-called. Do you realize that roughly half of all Montana households fall under 200% of poverty? Do you really intend to put half of Montana on the medical dole? (Cheerleaders for CHIP expansion want to eventually get to the 200% level. SB 314 is merely a step in that direction. Expansion will occur in another legislative session.)

Families under 175% can provide their own health insurance. They need to economize, and work long hours. It can be done. Most of my married life, I have provided insurance for my wife and four children while living near or under
this income level.

The more functions the state picks up, the less fathers are needed as breadwinners. Women more readily slough their husbands. Men breed, then run. More
children struggle through life without fathers. The economic obligations of fathers, now made less important, are more easily shirked. Families disintegrate, and family breakdown is the driving force behind escalating social service costs.

It is unfair to saddle taxpayers from the other 49 states with $8,000,000 in new costs. Just because it is “Federal money” doesn’t mean it is free money.
Six new employees added to the state payroll adds to the rapidly growing bureaucracy. Here’s a chance to arrest that growth.

Though this bill appears to be a way for you to look generous with mostly “Federal money”, resist the urge. Each advance towards complete social medicine must
be thwarted. Please vote against SB 314.

Thank you for your

Principles of Leadership at Marathon Seat Covers, Inc.

Few Principles of Leadership

A leader is not an overlord; a leader is a helper.

A leader helps people to achieve their potential, to realize their goals.

A leader is a servant, not a nag or a tyrant.

A leader inconveniences himself or herself for the people in the organization or the

customer. One way he or she does this is by absorbing criticism when
it is not warranted, and by asking for input, though it may run
counter to his or her plan or preferences. This means subjecting
himself or herself to the barbs and digs of people who frequently are
not as gentle in their opinions as the leader strives to be. A leader
knows that employees’ barbs and digs will sometimes have nuggets of
truth in them and will seek these out by listening carefully, taking
notes, and reflecting on what is said. Sometimes good advice comes to
us in the critical comments of others, in spite of the difficulty of
receiving these.

A leader also inconveniences himself or herself by making up jobs that the employee was not able to finish, working shifts when they are sick,accommodating their needs for time off, working in their stead. These are some ways of serving others.

A leader also inconveniences himself or herself by holding their tongue and not

pointing out, unnecessarily, the flaws in others.

A leader persuades people to follow the program; he or she doesn’t demand, pressure, or coerce. All employees are volunteers. If they feel cornered, belittled, or forced, they will leave.

Company policies will spell out relatively few things. We don’t multiply picayune rules. Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles, and the people govern themselves.”

The Good Side of Obesity

The Good Side
of Obesity

Most Americans are kind
enough not to offend: we don’t call loggers tree murderers,
pedophiles perverts, the insane crazy, the unemployed lazy, or
criminals crooks. Presidential candidates, though, are not like most
of us. Their success is directly proportional to the brutality with
which they can heap filth on their opponent.

Candidate A: “You are a
truth-shading, immoderate womanizer.”

Candidate B: “You are a
lying, adulterous, lush.”

Voters: “We want
candidate B.”

Given the cowardice of the
rest of us, it is a little surprising that we call the gravity-
enhanced obese. But it is commonly used even in the ultra-sensitive
media, so we had better get used to it.

Since the obese are likely
to be with us for quite some time, (we can only train 300 stomach
stapling doctors each year), and since one heavyweight can flatten
several gravity-challenged pencil necks like me, it is prudent to
find all the good we can in obesity and the obese.

In the following treatise,
the term obesity is used interchangeably with the term fatness, but
only for variety. It is, of course, not meant disparagingly. I
believe in personal safety.

Some etymologists hold
that the word obese comes from ancient Sweden, where it could
have meant “long smorgasbord”. My personal favorite derivation
for the word comes from proto-Texan where obesity is a
transliteration of the name of the popular Stone Age franchise,
Golden Corral. Some experts claim obesity comes from Old
Samoan, OS, and translated means “many luaus”. Samoans associate
fatness with social status. Only rich people can host many feasts, so
evidence of frequent feasting, is evidence of wealth. A really rich
man is as stupendous as his wife.

Wealthiness is a universal
source of esteem, except among progressives, who, though frequently
wealthy themselves, despise wealth in others. Samoans are fatness
egalitarians. They would be perfectly happy for everyone to be fat,
and are working on it.

Football coaches recruit
wealthy Samoans because football is becoming a game of obstacle
avoidance. The team with the biggest obstacles frequently wins. It’s
getting to the point where in order to score against a defensive line
of exceedingly big players, the halfback has to run to the sidelines,
around the chain gang, behind the cheerleaders, and behind the
cameraman before turning downfield. His greatest threats come from
opposing players sitting on the bench. There sits the 2nd
string kicker, the whole game, if not the whole season. The kicker
trips the halfback, prudently using his non-kicking foot. The whistle
blows and the defensive line gathers into a huddle, which from the
cheap seats resembles a Hummer sales lot.

Shrewd offensive
coordinators rush luau dishes to the line of scrimmage and drop them
in front of the defensive line. Linemen fall to their knees to
partake, whereupon the halfback pole vaults over them. Rules and
strategies are going to change; the game could attract more viewers
as obesity increases.

I am grateful for the
chance to become obese. People in Vietnam are not obese, and it is
not because they would not want to be. They have no opportunity. Give
them Outback Steakhouse, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and movie popcorn
and they would gladly give up their figures, though imagining fat
Vietnamese is as hard as imagining penguins that soar, or the Red Sox
winning the Series.

Let’s use obesity to our
advantage: export fast food and Medicare simultaneously, to China.
This will fatten their elderly and promote diabetes and strain their
social service budgets. They will not become a military threat.

Having 64% of your adults
overweight is good for the economy. The textile industry sells more
fabrics for apparel. Airlines sell two seats, where before obesity,
each person only needed one. Big and Tall stores thrive. Dairies, hog
farms, and dog kennels, where they grow Hush Puppies, are booming.

Sometimes it costs more to
be obese, but sometimes less. Half the water in a tub will suffice
because of displacement. Uripides proved this. (Or was it
Aristophones?) He lowered himself into a bath and shrieked, “I’m
obese! Yahoo! Eureka!” Refrigerators stay cool longer, and more
cheaply, if they are kept full, especially of meat and cheese. The
contents provide a critical mass. The obese save on their utility
bills, which, as we all know, is one way to save the environment. We
praise them.

After you’ve mastered
looking for the silver lining in obesity you could say, “Hey, you
are pretty obese, have you thought of trying out for the Dallas
Cowboys?” It is hard to imagine this offending any body. You’re
just looking for the good.

Uninsured in Montana

Uninsured in

Another View


Tom Burnett

169 Meadow Brook Lane

Belgrade, MT 59714

The study of the uninsured
is now complete. It is thorough and professional. My response to
items in the Executive Summary is below. Quotes from the Summary are
in italics. My observations are in regular type-face.


Young adults,
particularly between the ages of 19 and 25, were more than twice as
likely to be uninsured than the general population.
(Page 4).

Young adults take an
informed risk. Their chance of catastrophic expenses is low compared
with the middle-aged and golden-agers. This should trigger no alarm.

Montana’s American
Indian populations experience uninsurance at much higher rates that
were two times higher than the statewide average and represented
about 24,000 American Indians within the 173,000 Montanans without
health insurance.
(Page 4).

Most American Indians who
choose uninsurance, do so because they have copious benefits through
IHS. They are not exactly uninsured.

A profile of Montana’s
uninsured shows that they:

Are employed (77%).
(Page 4).

Therefore, 23% are
unemployed. Unemployment is a gateway to uninsurance. Lack of work
causes neediness in health care and other areas of personal wealth.

Being uninsured is not
voluntary with 90 percent of the uninsured reporting being unable to
buy health insurance after paying for food, clothing, and shelter.

(Page 5). Are Montana’s Uninsured forced because of cost,
or do they choose to be uninsured?
(Page 24)

Being uninsured is
largely voluntary, a matter of personal budget priorities. Of course
people will say they “can’t afford insurance”, if asked. They
will say the same about saving, investing, or affording college
tuition. By shifting their priorities, and working more, even low
earners can afford health insurance. Many of the uninsured maintain
four wheelers, new pickups, snowmobiles, horses, high speed internet
connections, or premium cable services. Some spend enough on dog
grooming and pet food to pay half of a premium. I know the uninsured
who do.

Montana’s uninsured
did have coverage in the past with only 20 percent reporting no
previous health insurance.
(Page 5)

People go in and out of
insurance, a simple fact, calling for little lamentation. There are
only 20% of 173,000 chronically uninsured, or 34,000. This could be
mostly the American Indian population, who have medical care.


Please be careful when
studying these findings. The policy changes they suggest are far from
clear. Personally, I do not find in them a reason to raise taxes,
form new programs, or increase subsidies in existing programs.

Wasting Embryos


The Caller to

May 26, 2005

Stem Cell

KEMC’s Marvin Granger
hosts a call-in program called, “Your Opinion, Please”. Tonight’s
first caller addressed the stem cell research bill pending in
Congress. He called the vote, “the most important…ever”.
(Historians would shudder.) He supports stem cell research. The vote
could hardly be called the most important ever because it is sure to
be vetoed by President Bush. That makes the vote practically
meaningless, and meaningless things are, by definition, unimportant.
Granger tried to point this out to the caller, unsuccessfully. Maybe
the caller means that stem cell research is the most important thing
ever undertaken by human beings. He suggested that the treatment of
disease was paramount. Maybe that is what he means by “most
important”. Also, this bill only affects federal funding, a small
part of the scene in biomedical research. Private labs and foreign
labs will go forward with or without US taxpayer dollars.

The caller first pointed
out the contradictory beliefs of those opposing stem research who
are, to him, the same citizens who like war in Iraq. (Basically he
meant that these citizens are happy to kill Iraqis and send soldiers
to be killed in Iraq, but unwilling to kill embryos.) Certainly
President Bush matches both criteria. He carelessly named the
religious Right as the larger group. Maybe he calls the group of
which he is a part the Darwinian, un-religious Left.

The caller said all these
embryos would just go to waste, and that using them would be a
non-crime in comparison to warring against Iraq.

One thing each person
should remember when talking about human embryos is that they started
out as an embryo. Human embryos have a higher value and status than
animal embryos, animals or insects. This status requires some

But let’s look at the
caller’s objection to waste. We allow much waste. We think it
improper to experiment on aborted, living fetuses. We waste them. In
China, the bodies of executed prisoners are sometimes harvested for
their organs. We prefer to let the bodies of executed prisoners “go
to waste”. In many European countries, the bodies of the dead
become the property of the state, to alleviate the waste of a
valuable resource. In America we do not allow hospitals to keep
basements full of newly dead, brain dead, ventilated and intubated
bodies so they can harvest skin and bone marrow for ten years. This
constitutes a great waste from a healing and economic point of view.

To say, “They’re just
going to waste”, steers our thinking into considering the 400,000
embryos as “waste” to start with. That is the first mistake we
should guard against. The second is forgetting that human dignity
already prompts us to “waste”, wisely, many human bodies and
organs that could be put to profitable use in healing and research.

Once we get comfortable
prodding, severing, cutting, tweaking and otherwise performing
research on these 400,000embryos, which come from in vitro
fertilization labs, we will likely find it important to continued
success in research to create embryos just for this purpose.
The caller would seem to approve of this, because so much medical
progress could be made toward the treatment of disease. Prudence may
necessitate stopping here in order not to be tempted to go there.

I went to the
Congressional website and read the text of the bill. It requires the
“parents” of the embryo to sign over the use of it. If scientific
progress is so imperative, why do we let the rights and interests of
the parents, or the father and mother, or the donating parties, if
you want to be so crass, get in the way? The use of the term
“parents” puts this matter in quite a different light, too, at
least for me.

Tobacco Use Control

A better
tobacco control method

Presently tobacco
cessation and control funds mostly benefit bureaucrats and
advertising agencies. They claim to show success in lowering the
number of kids starting to smoke. But the graph was headed downward
before the settlement money arrived. It is doubtful if any of the
decrease in kids starting to smoke is due to advertising and lectures
from public health nurses at schools.

Let’s create some real
incentives. Take $2 million of the roughly $4 million presently being
spent. Buy a dozen loaded Jeep Wranglers for $350,000. Spend $1.65
million on blood testing. Any kid of driving age who could prove to
be tobacco-free in a blood test would be entered in a lottery and
could win one of the Wranglers. This would be exciting! Imagine the
buzz! This is something kids can understand.

Stop feeding state and
county employees and billboard, and TV station owners. Give the
benefits to the kids. Watch tobacco use drop.

Tom Burnett

169 Meadow Brook Lane

Belgrade, MT 59714

April 6, 2003