Disabled Vet Speaking FREELY…With NO Apologies!

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So, UK…How Are Those Open Borders Working Out for Y’All??

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Okay…look, I don’t mean to be callous about the most recent ISLAMIC TERROR ATTACK that occurred in Manchester, England this past Monday night, but it’s high time we Americans (especially those on the Left), STOP ‘rooting’ for the enemy via their “open borders” and “tolerant” bullshit rhetoric when it comes to the radical ragheads!

Yeah…we see how well that has – and is – working out in the UK, huh?

It’s also high time that ALL free nations around the world stop appeasing to the Islamist radicals and their so-called “religion of peace”…which is ISLAM!!

People around the world saw photos and the video and the sounds that have become all too familiar. A flash of light – a massive explosion – horrified screams of the dying and wounded.

This time in Manchester, England – at a concert filled with young teenagers and their parents.

What was supposed to be a night of music and dancing and childhood frivolity – ended in carnage.

“Horrific, horrific injuries. Terrible,” President Trump said. “Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity.”

An untold number of children and their parents were massacred by Islamic radicals – all killed in the name of the “religion of peace.”

Yet, how do the lost souls of the Left respond? As always…ridicule and criticize true leaders like President Trump who are trying their level best to prevent this same type of ‘war’ by the ragheads here in America! They’ll stomp and burn our AMERICAN FLAG; belittle our Armed Forces and those men and women fighting for our country; advocate for a socialist society here in the USA…and more.

Oh…they’ll also have their candlelight vigils and calls for “peace and understanding”. But what they never seem to comprehend – or admit – is that the Muslim jihadists do NOT want peace. They want death!!

The Islamic radicals will not stop until they have killed every last one of us — Christians, Jews, gay, straight.

The time has come to eliminate this evil from the face of the planet. The time has come for nations around the world to stop appeasing the Islamists.

“We must drive out the terrorists and extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world,” President Trump said. “All civilized nations must be united in this effort.”

And we must do our part in the United States. We must secure our borders, we must investigate those who come here from the birthplace of this radical ideology and we must do whatever is necessary to prevent American blood from being shed on American soil.

Sadly, there are still apologists for the radical Islamists – from Hollywood to the halls of Congress. They seem to think we can win over the hearts and minds of the jihadists with bouquets of flowers and gentle hugs.

That sort of philosophy is not only foolish but it’s downright dangerous…and FATAL!!

Look, the Presbyterians and the Lutherans are not the ones strapping on backpacks filled with nails and blowing themselves up. The Methodists and Baptists aren’t beheading people. The Catholics are not flying jetliners into buildings.

So spare us the politically correct BULLSHIT!

How many more children must die at the hands of radical Muslims – slain in the name of the “religion of peace”?

How many more citizens of the world must be sacrificed to satisfy the bloodlust of these brutal savages?

How many more times, America? How many more times?

It’s now reported that Manchester bomber Salman Abedi apparently wasn’t the only member of his family to harbor extremist views, as Libyan officials arrested the suicide bomber’s father and two brothers and uncovered what investigators called a plot for a new attack.

Hashim Abedi, who was born in 1997, was arrested in Tripoli on Wednesday evening by the Libyan counter-terrorism force Rada on suspicion of links to the Islamic State, and was planning a new attack on the Libyan capital, a government spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.

The father of the bomber was arrested in Tripoli on Wednesday, a Libyan security spokesman told The Associated Press. The father, Ramadan Abedi, had said another brother of the bomber, Ismail, was arrested Tuesday.

What’s more, two U.S. defense officials confirmed to Fox News that Salman Abedi spent three weeks in Libya prior to the Manchester bombing, returning to England just days before the Ariana Grande concert Monday, when he launched his attack at the concert venue.

Manchester’s police chief told reporters on Wednesday that it is clear “this is a network we are investigating” as he gave an update on the probe into the bomb attack.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said Wednesday that police are carrying out extensive searches across Manchester as part of their probe.

And how did British Prime Minister Theresa May respond to the Islamist terror attack?

The morning after the attack, May said, “It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester, and of this country, have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack…”, conveniently leaving out the word ISLAMIST in front of the word “terrorist”! Hmmm…where have we witnessed this before?

She then went on to say, “But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future, to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence, and if there turn out to be others responsible for this attack, to seek them out and bring them to justice.”

Uhhh…don’t count on it there Theresa May until you recognize the enemy in your midst and start doing something about it rather than embracing them. You keep letting people into your country from the mid East and then it surprises you when things like this happen?

She then concluded with, “our country and our way of life will always prevail.”

HA!! Did someone spike her tea with psychedelic mushrooms?

‘Mizzz’ May allowed these known terrorists to take over many towns in her country and she can’t say she has no responsibility for this terrorist attack. So tell us about Islam being a “religion of peace” again.

Look, people are getting tired of hearing politicians spouting cliché lines. Instead we should be hearing statements like, ”We are going to target the root cause of radical terrorism, Islam itself!”

PC correct words won’t save lives. Neither will continuing to take a step back to avoid “offending” and confronting those responsible. Deal with the Muslims today or your children and grandchildren will deal with them tomorrow!

I suggest the British Prime Minister should get fitted for her Burka now. The UK like most of Europe is in for big change by allowing all these ragheads in. They have sealed their fate. Islam and Muslims will not stop until they have converted everyone to Islam or killed and enslaved those who will not convert. We in the USA need to look carefully because we have a window into Europe and should be worried here!

But hey, for the leftists, it doesn’t matter if they have to sacrifice a club full of people every now and then – as long as nobody thinks they’re “racist” or “Islamophobe “.

I agree with President Trump when he said, “I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.”

Lastly, I would like to show strong reactions by a true, red-blooded American politician about Monday’s Islamist terror attack in Manchester.

Denton County (TX) Sheriff Tracy Murphree (shown below), took to Facebook to express his thoughts on the deadly terrorist attack that killed at least 22 people and injured 59 Monday night.

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Denton County (TX) Sheriff Tracy Murphree

 

“I’ve never shied away from telling you my beliefs or how I feel about things. I’m not politically correct,” Murphree told CBS11.

Sheriff Murphree’s statement reads in part, “This is what happens when you disarm your citizens. When you open your borders without the proper vetting”. Murphree also urges America to “wake up.”

Murphree wrote on Facebook, “Pay attention to what you see in Manchester England tonight. Pay attention to what is happening in Europe. This is what happens when you disarm your citizens. When you open your borders without the proper vetting. When you allow political correctness to dictate how you respond to an enemy that wants to kill you.”

Sheriff Murphree adds, “When you allow these radicals to travel to Afghanistan and Iran and simply let them back in. When you give up your city’s and your neighborhoods to a religious ideology that says you must convert or die. A ideology that treats women as property, kills gays and women and Christians [sic] with complete impunity.”

Turning his frustration at the American politicians, Murphree writes, ”The left tells us we must submit and accept these radical beliefs and bend over backwards to make sure we don’t hurt anybody’s feelings. The left wants to cater to the very group that would kill every group they claim to support. Folks this is an enemy hell bent on killing you. Committed to forcing you to convert or die. This enemy will strap bombs to their own body and blow themselves up killing children.”

He adds, “I’m sick of it. You better wake up America. While you are distracted by the media and the crying of the left, Islamic Jihadist are among us and want to kill you. What will it take? This happening at a concert in Dallas or a school in Denton County? If we don’t do something quick this country will die of political correctness and the fear that someone’s feelings may be hurt. It may very well be to late for Europe.”

When contacted later Tuesday by 1080 KRLD’s Cameron Fairchild, Murphree, despite receiving some criticism, didn’t back down from what he had written on Facebook.

“I’m just sick and tired of kids dying around the world. When you’re chastised and called names because you use the words radical Islamic terrorism. It baffles me. when I made that post I thought everyone knew that radical Islamic terrorism was a problem in the world.”

AMEN, SHERIFF!!!

Then we have libtard commie and Hollywood pop singer Katy Perry, who made a libtard plea for people to “co-exist” and said that “barriers” or “borders” could ruin that goal in an interview after the terrorist bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K. on Monday.

In an interview Tuesday with Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, this whacked out twat stated that people “unite” following the tragedy.

“Whatever we say behind people’s backs, the Internet can be a little bit ruthless as far as fan bases go but I think that the greatest thing we can do is just unite and love on each other,” Perry said, adding, “No barriers, no borders, we all just need to co-exist.”

Uhhh…okay, Katy…you can “unite,” “hug,” “co-exist,” and bend over for these raghead terrorists all ya want…but DON’T speak for us TRUE AMERICANS! Also, perhaps YOU should first remove your massive, Soviet style front gate from your $18 Million dollar mansion before ya start blabbing about “open borders”, huh?

STUPID BITCH!!

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The GATED, AND ARMED entrance to fucktard Katy Perry’s $18 Million buck mansion!!

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Uhhh…N0, My Dear Libos…Trump Did NOT “Bow” to King Salman!

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Unlike Obozo, President Trump did NOT “bow” to the Saudi king!!

It seems the past several weeks that President Trump’s accomplishments still have the loser lefties collective panties in a wad. Whew! I got some catching up to do, huh?

I was actually in a quandary of what topic to choose to pick up my posts here. Hmmm…should I begin with the MSM fake news about Trump and Russia? Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey? (hell, the loony lefties STILL don’t know what side of the proverbial fence to get on about this one!). Or a smorgasbord of other libo BULLSHIT (err, I mean ‘coverage and commentary’), either directly or by implication, presenting President Trump as “incompetent,” “sinister,” and “dangerous,” and a “threat to democracy in the United States and peace and stability abroad.”?

Oh well…not to worry, I’ll address all those in future posts.

But I decided to begin with the president’s visit’s to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Rome while on his way to the NATO and G-7 summits.

Now, Trump’s first stop Saturday was in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh where he was greeted with a red carpet and grandeur (shown at top of this post).

I watched the event on FOX news, and it was indeed a sight to behold. With trumpets blaring, cannons booming and fighter jets streaking overhead trailed by red, white and blue contrails, President Trump arrived in the scorching heat of the Arabian desert on Saturday hoping to realign the politics and diplomacy of the Middle East by forcefully reasserting American support for Sunni Muslim countries and Israel against Iran’s Shiite-led government.

The images beamed to us Americans back home here showed a president seemingly in command of a world stage, as well as making every true American PROUD!

The Saudis treated him like royalty, with red carpets, lavish meals and American flags flying everywhere. They repeatedly used the word “historic” to describe his visit, gave him a medal, projected a multistory image of his face on the side of the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel where he was staying, and treated him to a colorful dance display in which his staff joined in with scores of white-robed Saudis and even the president himself swayed back and forth.

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ABOVE: President Trump and members of his administration took part in a traditional “Ardha” sword dance.

 

At a joint news conference in Riyadh, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister praised the president for renewing ties between the two countries, and pointed to the “extremely, extremely productive and historic visit.”

The president announced a nearly $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia as evidence of a renewed commitment by the United States to the security of the Persian Gulf region. The package includes precision weaponry that OBOZO had held up over concerns that it would be used to “kill civilians” in the war in neighboring Yemen, as well as an antimissile system.

A forum bringing together American and Saudi corporate executives Saturday also produced a series of multibillion-dollar deals. Among them: Lockheed Martin signed a $6 billion letter of intent to assemble 150 Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, and General Electric announced projects it valued at $15 billion.

Trump called his first stop of his trip “a tremendous day” that would bring “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Sunday, President Trump was scheduled to deliver a speech that White House aides described as a call to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world to unite against extremism (i.e, ISLAMIC TERRORISM”!)

It was refreshing to see that we now have a REAL AMERICAN as President of the United States, whose first trip abroad is not an “apology” tour for American exceptionalism!

It was also refreshing to see that First Lady and First daughter, Melania and Ivanka Trump did not wear traditional Islamic headscarfs known as the “hijab” while in Saudi Arabia Saturday – as Killary and MOOchelle  did! (see below).

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It was also refreshing to see that Trump did NOT “bow” or even “curtsey” to any Saudis as our loser leftie friends allege – (well, unless of course, everyone who is over four feet tall “bows” when receiving a medal).

Unlike Obozo, who DID bow down when he greeted then-Saudi King Abdullah during a G-20 conference in London in 2009 (below), President Trump was awarded a medal and dipped his head to receive it because he is considerably taller than King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

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Trump is 6’3″ King Salman 5’9″ and Obozo 6’1″ and Saudi King Abdullah 5’11”.

 

So of course, the left is coming unglued with screeching accusations of “hypocrisy” over Trump chastising then-president Obozo for bowing to the Saudi Arabian king.

The left’s defense, then, you may recall, was that President Bush had also “bowed” to the Saudi king…except he didn’t. He, too, was receiving a medal from the king and bowed his head so the much shorter king could place it around his neck. (Bush 6’0″ King Abdul Aziz 5’11”)

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Now, if our po widdo libby pals would take a few minutes to come out from under their respective safe places, and view the video here ( https://youtu.be/P2j_OAHn8bo ), they will see that once Trump and first lady Melania Trump disembarked Air Force One Saturday at the Riyadh airport, they were immediately met by King Salman and what appears to be a translator. Then, video shows Trump and Salman shaking hands. I challenge any of ’em to show where Trump actually “bowed” – as opposed to leaning over when receiving the medal that was presented to him!

The libos still seem to be in denial that when Obozo greeted Saudi officials at the international meeting in 2009, the video clearly showed Obozo bowing to then-King Abdullah, breaking with official State Department policy that advises the U.S. president to NOT bow to any world leaders!

So, again, my dear libo friends – view this video and y’all tell me if Obozo was bowing (without receiving anything!), or was Obozo just cleaning the floor ( https://youtu.be/LEUif1–r38 ) , or perhaps gonna shine the king’s shoes…or sandals?

The bottom line is – our poor, leftist loser pals seem to be in a perpetual frothing-at-the-mouth state to find anything, no matter how irrelevant, to criticize about the president by pouncing on Trump’s “bow,” but (as I showed here), a comparison of the Trump video and the Obozo video seems to show, quite clearly, there was a world of difference between the two moments.

Memorial Site for Gerri

http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/GerriStahl/Homepage.aspx

Should a Loved One Be Cremated or Buried?

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My friends, the answer to the question in the header of this post is really a ‘no brainer’. The answer is simply to do as your loved one expressed in his/her will, or what they may have conveyed to you before they passed on.

Problem solved!

Or is it?

What if they had no will or other written document-s that stated how they wanted to be ‘disposed’ of? Or, if they never told you verbally?

Well, in that case, my suggestion would be just to do what you feel in your heart how they would want to be buried. Easier said than done, I know.

Of course, I would venture to say that the vast majority of people have expressed – at one time or another – to various loved ones’ whether they would want to be cremated or buried.

Sadly, all too many people choose the traditional burial because it’s just that…TRADITION! Many also choose it because of their respective religious traditions; ‘laws’; and/or customs; rituals; culture; etc. Many who are atheist or agnostic may just prefer burial over cremation – or vice versa (or may not give a hoot how they’re disposed of). Either way, I pass no judgment on how anyone chooses to be disposed of, or how their loved ones’ do after they depart this earth.

The decision is entirely up to the wishes and desires of the deceased and/or their immediate family member-s, and I for one, would respect whatever they choose.

All that being said, and as many of you know by now, my beloved wife Gerri passed away on March 30th while in the cardiac care unit of the hospital. For the past several years we had discussed with each other about having DNR’s (see previous post), as well as whether we wanted to be buried or cremated after our death.

Now, up until about 2010 or 2011, we did both opt to be buried and given a traditional burial, funeral service and wake, with all the proverbial bells and whistles. What I refer to (now, and with all due respect to those who have had it), the traditional “Dog and pony show” – more for the friends and family of the deceased (to make them ‘feel good’), than for the deceased themselves.

Anyway, after literally several months of research, and after Gerri and I had both suffered prior heart attacks (as well as myself having two ‘mini-strokes’ aka TIA’s in ’08), along with both of us being hospitalized several times during the last ten-years, we had a serious discussion about this subject. We finally both decided that (for us), cremation, with a private ‘wake and memorial service’ at our home with a few close friends and family members was not only the most cost-effective, but also (again, for us), the most flexible, respectful and loving way to be remembered and ‘laid to rest.’

Let’s be honest, no one really wants to think about a funeral, let alone plan one. I know I sure as hell didn’t. I screwed up by failing to work and plan things out in advance and buying life insurance to cover the costs. I was thankful that the hospital admin gave me the name of a funeral director that offered do a basic cremation for Gerri free of charge. Of course, it was just that – a BASIC cremation. I am nevertheless grateful to him.

Now, as a veteran, sure, I could have had Gerri buried in a veterans’ cemetery at no cost. But there’s many reasons why I did not choose that option. First was (still) the cost! You see, the VA will only pay up to $749 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2016 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $749 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery).

$300 bucks?! A decent sized (12″) urn costs more than that! As for being buried in a national cemetery, the closest one to where we live is in Sarasota, about 45-minutes away. And…what if I decide to re-locate again? At least with cremation (as Gerri and I had discussed), the remains can go wherever we go, in addition to some of them being buried and/or scattered wherever our loved one liked.

Now again, with all due respect to funeral directors, they are not your friend (just like car salesmen). Let’s be honest here once more, shall we? Funeral directors say you don’t want to skimp because funerals aren’t just about the deceased. The ritual involved in burying a loved one provides support and healing to the family, they say.

But consumer advocates caution that this is how funeral directors make a living. “When you hear the ‘value of a funeral,’ you’re hearing the recitation of the business mantra,” says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is almost $6,600, according to the most recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association. Cemetery services, including the gravesite and vault or liner, can cost an additional $3,000, Slocum says.

When I got the price list from my funeral director (he said that per Fla. law, even if they’re providing free services, they still must give me one), if I had to pay for the ‘basic’ cremation it would have cost $1895.00! A basic traditional burial starts at $4,500...PLUS the cost of the coffin (minimum was $3,800 – unless ya chose a literal cardboard-type box), PLUS the cost of the cemetery plot (add a few more grand); PLUS the cost of renting a viewing space (minimum 4-hours at a total cost of $450.00); as well as incidental expenses like memorial cards, music equipment, etc. Depending on how elaborate you wanted to be, the costs (all-inclusive) ranged from a low of $7,550 up to over $18,000!!

The quoted prices also include the professional services of the funeral director and staff and can include planning, permits, certified death certificates and copies, storage of the body, and coordination with the cemetery or crematory.

“Remember, funeral homes are in business to make money,” adds Slocum.

Last August TIME magazine had an article (that I showed to Gerri), about how cremation is now outpacing traditional burial in the U.S.

The article stated:

When Robert Boetticher, Jr., was in mortuary school in the 1980s, his teachers barely mentioned cremation. And that mindset was reflected in the funeral homes he managed in California the following decade, which weighed heavily toward traditional burial. The fledgling cremation business, meanwhile, was often given to the youngest employees.

“The thought was, ‘It’s just a cremation family,’” Boetticher says. “That was how we managed the process. We didn’t talk through what kind of ceremony they would want. We didn’t focus the kind of energy on it that was often associated with burial.”

The article went on:

Last year, the consumer spoke quite clearly. According to industry figures obtained by TIME, cremation surpassed traditional burial rates for the first time in the U.S., a milestone in the transformation of the $16 billion death industry decades in the making. According to the figures TIME reviewed, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) projects that in 2015, the cremation rate was almost 49% nationwide compared to the National Funeral Directors Association burial rate estimate of 45%.

“Cremation has become the new tradition,” says Barbara Kemmis, CANA’s executive director. “It’s a seismic shift in the profession.”

In 1980, the cremation rate around the U.S. was just under 10%, and the percentage has been shifting toward cremation since. Part of the reason is cost—cremation is often thousands of dollars cheaper than burial because it doesn’t require a casket, embalming, or a cemetery plot. It’s been increasingly accepted by organized religions, including the Catholic Church, which historically opposed the practice.

The number of funeral homes has fallen almost 10%, according to the NFDA, from 21,495 in 2005 to 19,391 in 2015, in part because of cremation’s popularity. The NFDA projects that by 2030, cremation rates will top 70%, a full reversal in roughly 30 years.

Cremation also eliminates the need for a casket, embalming, burial vault and cemetery plot. This alone can save thousands of dollars.

According to the NAFD (National Association of Funeral Directors), here in SW Fla alone, about 6 in 10 families now choose cremation as the preferred disposition option in Florida. As a retirement and snowbird destination, cremation has become popular as an easy means to conduct an immediate disposition and then ship the remains back to a home state.

Because cremation accounts for over 60% of all funerals, it is possible to arrange a cremation at a low price in SW Florida. Some funeral home cremation costs start at $596 for a complete direct cremation package. A cremation with a 6-hour visitation can be arranged for $1,796.

The direct (no-charge, i.e, “charitable”) cremation that the FH gave me for Gerri is also sometimes referred to as an immediate cremation or a basic cremation. It is where a cremation is performed but no services, visitation or ceremony is held. It is the simplest method of disposition available – and the cheapest cremation option if one has to pay for it.

Now, they did supply me with a small (egg-size) purple urn to put some of her cremains in at no cost. The bulk of her cremains will be given to me in a secure, hard, box-type container, to place and/or dispose of as I see fit to carry out her wishes. I’ll plan a small, ‘service and wake’ here at our home for her with a few friends and family, and bury and spread some of her ashes in the back yard and front porch where we would sit, talk and have our evening coffee, and enjoy the lake view behind our home. We’ll also spread/bury some around my late parents’ graves. The rest will be placed in a few small vases (cheaper than urns) to give to family and the rest to be placed in the below large (personalized) vase I ordered for her – to be forever kept with me in our home.

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Now, like anything else, both cremation and burial have their advantages and drawbacks. From what I have learned, however, the PROS outweigh the CONS with cremation.

With cremation, the PROS are:

It’s less expensive. With no coffin, burial, monument, or plot, a cremation can cost as little as a sixth of what a traditional burial costs.

It’s more flexible. Ashes are much more easy to deal with than physical remains. Funerals can sometimes be rushed due to the perishability of the remains, which can be very stressful for loved ones. With cremation, you can take more time to plan a ceremony and consider how much you can spend.

It’s portable. If you have loved ones or family members who live in different parts of the country, you can plan a ceremony in a place that’s easier for everyone to get to—urns are portable. With a traditional burial, you don’t have as much flexibility in location.

You can put your loved one to rest anywhere. With a cremation, you aren’t restricted to a cemetery. You can distribute the ashes anywhere that your loved one and loved ones would have felt most appropriate. A drawback to cremation funerals is that you don’t get to have a concrete memorial, but you can re-visit the place where you scattered the ashes, and it may be more meaningful to you than a cemetery would be.

The CONS:

Cremations aren’t available everywhere. Not every community has a funeral home with the proper equipment to perform cremations. Depending on where you live, you may have to do some research and go a little farther afield than you prefer.

Agreement is more difficult. Not every family will have trouble reaching an agreement around cremation. But many families do, especially those with members who have strong religious beliefs or adhere to more traditional expectations. But hey…if you’re the legal spouse or one with power of attorney, carry out the wishes of your deceased loved one, as I did – piss on any so-called ‘family members’ who may oppose it!

BURIAL PROS & CONS

PRO: Burials are more widely acceptable. Burials are the most widely-accepted option—so you are highly unlikely to ‘offend’ or ‘bother’ anyone by choosing burial. This option conforms to most Judeo-Christian religious traditions as well, and this can be important especially if the deceased followed one of these religions or many people in the family do.

PRO: You have a place to visit. Family members and loved ones often derive a great amount of comfort from having a specific place to go to remember the deceased. A headstone or other type of memorial can be extremely important to survivors, especially if it is located in a family plot near others who were close to the deceased.

CON: It costs more. Burials can be more pricey than cremation—sometimes a lot more. The burial plot, the time and labor of the gravedigger, the coffin, and other related costs can all add up as I showed here.

CON: Cemetery rules can be restrictive. Some cemeteries have very strict rules about the type of monument you can have, visiting hours, flowers and other remembrances, and other points that can be constricting for loved ones who want to mourn. Some forbid the use of cameras on the grounds.

Lastly, for those biblical legalists, et al,  who condemn cremation, allow me to put on ‘pastor’s’ garb here a minute, and refer to my past, formal biblical education at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary where I was working towards my Bachelor of Biblical Studies (BBS) degree.

Now, many of these legalists will argue that burning the remains of the dead is mentioned (a few times) in the Bible, although the modern practice of cremation is not specifically addressed. They’ll cite one account that describes a man being stoned and then burned due to his “reprehensible behavior” (Joshua 7:24-25).

Theyll also refer to “valiant” men who rescued and burned the remains of King Saul and his sons to prevent further “dishonorable treatment” of their bodies (1 Sam 31:8-12).

They’ll also argue that burial was the norm, as depicted in the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). And the bones of Joseph were important enough to be maintained and carried out of Egypt. Ultimately, the fate of the wicked is to become “ashes under the feet of the righteous” (Malachi 4:3).

Ahhh…however, notice that every argument they make is based on the OT. Why is that important? Because OT ‘laws’ were fulfilled (i.e, made ‘null and void’), by Christ dying on the cross.

Of the last sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more important than when He said, “It is finished.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring the debt owed to His Father was wiped away completely and forever. Not that Jesus wiped away any debt that He owed to the Father; rather, Jesus eliminated the debt owed by mankind—the debt of sin.

Also completed was the fulfillment of all OT prophecies, symbols, and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah. From Genesis to Malachi, there are over 300 specific prophecies detailing the coming of the Anointed One, all fulfilled by Jesus. From the “seed” who would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, to the prediction of the “messenger” of the Lord (John the Baptist) who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah, all prophecies of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were fulfilled and finished at the cross!

I also remind these biblically incorrect (albeit, well-meaning) legalists that the key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the ‘Law’ is knowing that the OT law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the OT law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the OT law (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23–25; Eph. 2:15).

In place of the OT law, Christians are under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

Now, this does not mean the OT law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the OT law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The OT law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the OT law applies to Christians today is biblically incorrect. The OT law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the sacrificial system, He fulfilled ALL of it.

There is nothing in Scripture that indicates that the modern practice of cremation is inappropriate. Decisions on how to treat the remains of loved ones seem to be largely guided by the culture in which one lives.

The Islamic faith prohibits the burning of bodies after death but this is a religious preference. The Apostle Paul indicated that he would be willing to have his body burned for Christ’s sake if need be: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” ( I Cor. 13:3, KJV).

This is not actually an endorsement for cremation but it also seems to indicate that it is not necessarily a sin either. Paul never mentioned cremation in the New Testament nor was it mentioned in the Old Testament. This would appear that God does not prohibit cremation, particularly if it were for financial considerations. Since God did not specifically prohibit this in any of the OT Mosaic Laws it seems likely that He would be indifferent to it being sin or not. Where God clearly indicates His will, He normally spells it out plainly in the Law and cremation is never mentioned in the Mosaic Law as being forbidden.

No Christian needs to fear losing their afterlife if they are cremated since God will someday resurrect both believers and unbelievers (1 Cor. 15:35-58; 1 Thess. 4:16). Hence, nowhere in the Bible, either the OT or NT does it appear to support nor does it prohibit cremation specifically.

Some people are concerned whether cremation stems from pagan religious practices, but as previously noted, the Bible neither condemns nor condones the practice. Had it been sinful, God would have certainly condemned it just as He did other misguided religious customs. Therefore, what believers do is entirely a matter of personal choice.

Cremation in no way interferes with God’s ability to resurrect the dead—to give us life after death. People have died in countless ways throughout history, from accidents to warfare to being lost at sea, and yet, God will still resurrect them in the future.

Consider how God will resurrect any of the dead. He will not simply put life back into bodies, for that would be possible only if He returned someone to life immediately after dying. The reality is that even if the body remains intact upon death, it will eventually decompose. Plainly speaking, the bodies of most people who have lived since creation will no longer exist by the time of the resurrection.

As Ecclesiastes 12:7 notes: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was.…” All physical bodies decay after death. The verse concludes with the words, “and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

So, we see that cremation is an acceptable means of dealing with the dead. Cremation does not conflict with the Bible nor does it interfere with God’s ability to resurrect the dead.

Again, this little ‘sermon’ is for those (legalist) Christians who want to condemn other Christians who opt for cremation.

Deciding which is right for you depends on your loved one’s preferences. But whichever side you’re on, it’s important to know both the pros and cons of your and your loved one’s preferred choice.

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Gerri’s cremains and small urn that Ciara and I picked up today at the funeral home

Should You Have a ‘DNR’ for a Loved One…or Yourself?

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I was somewhat surprised when I found out how many people (especially seniors), have no idea of what a DNR is. Many I talked to actually told me they never heard of one.

In sum, a DNR means “Do Not Resuscitate.” DNR orders are written instructions from a physician telling health care providers not to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). CPR uses mouth-to-mouth or machine breathing and chest compressions to restore the work of the heart and lungs when someone’s heart or breathing has stopped.

If you do not have DNR orders, health care providers will begin CPR in an emergency!

This was the case when my beloved late wife, Gerri, had her first major heart attack in 2004. She literally had machines breathing for her and thus, keeping her alive. She was eventually able to come off the machines. She had a mitral valve repair and a pace maker inserted. However, she was never really the same afterwards, and as the years passed her health – more specifically, her heart function, continued to deteriorate.

Gerri and I had many talks about whether we would want a DNR. We both agreed that we do NOT want to be kept alive via machines, nor do we want to be resuscitated if it would be to no avail.

You see, many people don’t realize that CPR is not a panacea. It is a vigorous emergency procedure and it is not always successful. Experience has shown that CPR does not restore breathing and heart function in patients who have widespread cancer, widespread infection or other terminal illness. It will also not keep an already weakened heart beating, especially in an elderly patient (as was the case with Gerri), coupled with her many other medical problems.

So, we both decided we do not want CPR attempted when:

There is no medical benefit expected. CPR wasn’t meant for people who are terminally ill or have severe health problems. CPR is not likely to be successful for these people.

Quality of life would suffer. Sometimes CPR is only partly successful. Though the patient survives, they may suffer damage to the brain or other organs or permanently may be dependent on a machine to breathe. This can be particularly true for the elderly and very frail.

Death is expected soon. Persons with terminal illness may not want aggressive interventions but prefer a natural peaceful death.

What happens when CPR is given?

Well, CPR includes vigorous chest compressions to restore heart function and mouth-to-mouth breathing to restore lung function. In Gerri’s condition, the docs told me this could very well result in the (accidental) breaking of her ribs. In addition, if her heart stopped several more times (which was very likely), within a short time…this would have to be performed over and over.

Additional interventions could have also included:

Intubation – The insertion of a tube into the mouth or nose to help with breathing.
Mechanical Ventilation – The use of a machine to move air into the lungs.
Medications – Given through a vein, drugs can help with blood pressure regulation, heart rhythm, and blood flow.
Cardioversion – The use of a controlled electrical shock to change heart rhythm.

Again, Gerri was also well aware of these procedures, as we had talked about them many times. We both agreed that it would amount to ‘torture’, that we would not want to put on one another. I had seen this type of ‘torture’ in literally hundreds of patients during the 12-yrs I worked at a hospital in South Fla.

Of course, patients do have the legal and moral right to accept or refuse medical treatments, including CPR. Like many aspects of health care, the decisions about treatment are made together by the patient (or when a patient is unable to speak for him/herself, a health care proxy or family member) and the physician and other health care providers.

Making a decision about a DNR – especially for a loved one – must be a personal decision, preferably to be mutually agreed on by you and your loved one (as Gerri and I had done).

Like all health care decisions, a decision about resuscitation should be based on a combination of your own values and preferences together with the medical facts and options for treatment. This should occur in a conversation with your physician and other health care providers that you know and trust. Talk to your doctor about what he/she would recommend, knowing you and your condition. Think about what is important to you and talk to family members and friends. It may be helpful to seek counseling from clergy, therapists or social workers, especially when you are making a decision for someone else. But in the end, in my considered opinion, the final decision should be to carry out the known wishes of your loved one – whether YOU agree with that decision or not.

Also remember that if you want to change a DNR orders, you must talk to your physician. Because the DNR orders are a physician’s order, the physician must be involved to change it.

From my experience with Gerri, I learned that all other medically indicated treatment is continued, (unless I/we decided to limit it, which we did not). In other words, they continued to give her oxygen, pain medication and overall make her as comfortable as possible (though, from what I was told, she passed almost immediately after her heart stopped).

Remember also that DNR forms are used in hospitals so the staff will know how to respond in case of an emergency.

However, there are also DNR forms that can be used outside of a hospital by emergency medical personnel or in assisted living. Those are often called pre-hospital DNR. Make sure you have the form that’s right for you and your loved one’s current situation. Some people may need both (again, as Gerri and I had/have).

And, the doctor must sign the official DNR form and should have access to the appropriate forms for your loved one’s state. To prevent the DNR from being rejected in an emergency, make sure the form is filled out accurately and completely.

Remember, a DNR can only be honored if people know it exists. Notify doctors, nurses, caregivers, family members, and assisted living staff about your loved one’s wishes and that they have a signed DNR.

Also make sure doctors, hospitals, and any assisted living communities have the DNR on file or posted prominently in your loved one’s room. Print copies on neon colored paper for your family members. Also post it prominently in your home – emergency medical teams are likely to look near their bed or on the refrigerator.

Lastly, I can’t say it enough – regardless of whether you or your loved one wants a DNR or not, LET YOUR WISHES BE KNOWN if you were the patient! Respect the wishes of your loved one! If for any reason your loved one cannot speak for themselves, and they have no DNR on file (especially if it’s your spouse), then YOU and you alone as their husband/wife, must make a decision based on what you know their wishes might have been. Yes…I know (now), from personal experience that it is hard to let a loving spouse pass on (Gerri and I had been married 41-years). I also know that had it been myself, she would have carried out my wishes of the DNR.

It’s been a little over a week since she passed on, but Ciara (our adult daughter), and myself know that Gerri would want us to carry on with our lives – though she will never be forgotten. I’m not sure when – if ever – I’ll get over the periods of loneliness I still experience.

I hope this post may help others who may be faced with a DNR decision.

“She’s Passed…”

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ABOVE: Gerri and myself having dinner at Outback Steakhouse last year

 

“She’s passed…”, those were the words from the nursing supervisor that hit me (and Ciara, our daughter), like a ton of bricks as I walked into Gerri’s room after I got the call from the hospital last Thursday afternoon to “Come as soon as you can back to the hospital, Mr. Stahl.”

You see, I had been there visiting Gerri only about a half hour before I got the call. I had left about noon that afternoon to go pick up her new glasses at the eye doctor’s. I then left there about 12:30 or so and went to the hospital to give them to her and visit with her awhile.

I got there about 12:45 and as I entered her room, she was sitting in the chair next to her bed, just finishing up her lunch and sipping on some iced tea. I gave her the new glasses, and as she put them on she joyfully laughed and said, “Oh my gosh…I can ‘see’ again! They’re GREAT!” She had just had cataract surgery in both eyes only a month or so before.

Anyway, we talked and she was telling me that she may be in the hospital a few more days, as the docs said her O2 level was still low, as well as her heart rate and blood pressure being “abnormal.”

Overall, however, she seemed in good spirits and her only complaint was that she “felt cold,” even though the temp in her room was set at 75. I kicked the thermostat up to 77 for her and then she said she was “sleepy,” so the nurse helped her get back into bed. I put another blanket on her, and we talked for about another 15 minutes or so. She smiled when she said how happy she was to see our son, Dylan, and daughter-in-law (Jessie), and our grandson when they drove up from Broward county that previous Saturday to visit her (pic below). We all had a nice visit with her, and Dylan and fam stayed the night with us at our house, and then we all went back to see her the next day (Sunday), before Dylan had to go back home to Broward.

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ABOVE: Dylan, Dylan Jr, and our daughter-in-law, Jessie, visiting with Gerri last week-end

So about 1:30 or so, she told me she was “tired.” She then told me, “Mike, why don’t you go home and take your nap too, and then later on you and Ciara can come to visit me.” I told her, “Okay, sweetheart, that sounds good.” I kissed her good-bye and asked her if she wanted us to bring her anything. She said, “Yes…bring me an apple pie and a ‘good’ cup of coffee from Mc Donald’s.” I told her I would and then kissed her again and left.

Now, from the hospital to our house is literally only a little more than a mile – about a 5- minute drive. I got home about 1:45, was telling Ciara about Gerri’s new glasses and how she loved them, and my visit with her – as well as telling Ciara (laughingly), “Oh yeah…remind me to stop at Mickey D’s when we go back to see her, because she wants an apple pie and some ‘good’ coffee.” Ciara laughed and said, “Okay, I will, dad.”

Ciara and I talked some more until about 2:15, and I then told her I was gonna go take my nap. “Don’t let me sleep past four o’ clock,” I told her. “Okay, I won’t, dad.”

As I got up off the sofa to go to the bedroom, the phone rang. Ciara said, “Dad…it’s the hospital calling.” As she handed me the phone, a woman asked, “Is this Mr. Michael Stahl?,” I said it was. She then identified herself as the nursing supervisor, and told me, “Mr. Stahl, we need you to come back to the hospital.” I asked “Why…is there a problem?”, she then just said, “Come as soon as you can back to the hospital, Mr. Stahl.”

Well, I know from working in a hospital for 12-years that they won’t go into much detail with the family over the phone, so I told her “I’m on my way.”

I told Ciara what she said, and we both got our things and left to go back. I figured perhaps she had to be rushed in to some type of surgery…I don’t know…my mind was going a ‘zillion miles a minute.’ All I know is that it would NOT be good news!

We got to the hospital, parked the car, went as fast as we could up to her room in the cardiac care unit, and as we stepped off the elevator and walked the few feet to her room and entered it, I saw that Gerri ‘appeared’ to be sleeping peacefully in her bed, and at the same time is when the nursing supervisor told us, “She’s passed.”

I felt my legs becoming weak and ‘rubbery’ as the tears came and I walked over to her bedside to hug her and kiss her. Ciara was hyperventilating and had to sit down immediately.

Words can and will never describe the pain, sorrow, anger, and a host of other emotions that hit you all at once when you lose a loving spouse. This October 16th, Gerri and I would have celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary.

Ciara and I knew we had to be strong for each other now. We stayed with Gerri for almost two hours and then knew we had to leave her. We were both in a proverbial fog…was this a bad dream?

We both have realized, however that Gerri was now truly at peace…with no more pain and suffering. She had been through so damn much pain the last several years with her open heart surgery; then she took a fall about a year ago and had bleeding in the brain; was on life support; had a feeding tube inserted in her; eye surgeries; and was in a rehab home for almost 3 months! It pained me to see her slowly deteriorate the past several years.

The events that led up to her latest hospitalization, I posted on my Facebook page. Some of what I posted were the following:

“Asking for your prayers: Had to call 911 at 1:30 this afternoon (Fri, 3/24) as Gerri Stahl was feeling weak, face real pale, felt COLD, nauseous and chest pains. Ambulance came and they had to immediately give her O2 and an IV. Anyway, as it stands now she’s still in the ER where she’s still on O2 and they also gave her morphine for pain. The doc says it appears she had (another) heart attack. Will know more when all tests and blood work come in. She’s just waiting for a bed to become available now in the cardiac (ICU?) unit. Thank God she’s at least alert and aware of her surroundings. Ciara Cancel and I were with her until we came home about a half hour ago.”

“Just talked with Gerri, she’s still very ‘groggy’, but thus far, the docs said she did suffer a heart attack. They still have her on O2. They plan to take her for a coronary angiogram this a.m. They moved Gerri Stahl to the cardiac ICU today.”

“Gerri is still in the cardiac care unit, but seems to be doing a little better. Still weak and on O2. The doc said they do NOT recommend open heart surgery due to the “weak” condition of her heart, He consulted with the other docs and they agreed (as Gerri and I have), to continue to keep her on her current meds via the IV to dissolve the clot in her heart. If there’s no complications she could be discharged by this week-end and just stay on oral blood thinners. Though, the docs did say there is “no guarantee” that she will not have another heart attack, nor will the oral meds “COMPLETELY” dissolve the clot – but all things considered, it seems to be the lesser of the two evils, as opposed to any open heart surgery.”

“Gerri still in the cardiac care unit. Doing better but still has many issues with her heart and O2 level.”

Apparently, from what I gather from the docs, about ten minutes or so after I left her last Thursday, her heart monitor suddenly went off, indicating “danger”. As they entered her room, she had ‘flat-lined’. She passed on almost instantaneously from what I was told. They didn’t attempt CPR or any other recusitory efforts as I had signed a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order (that Gerri and I had both agreed on with each other, when, in the professional opinion of the MDs’, it would be to no avail). I’ll be writing more about DNR’s in a later post.

I’m still waiting on the funeral home to call me to pick up her death certificate as well as her ashes, as we have opted for cremation (which I’ll also be writing about in a later post), and we plan to have a small, informal ‘service and wake’ here at our home with a few close friends and family shortly after I receive her ashes.

The shock of her passing has now gone away, but the loss, sadness and loneliness will never go away. Ciara and I know that we must go on with our lives, as Gerri would have wanted it that way. But nevertheless, there is – and will remain – that ‘open wound’ in our hearts. We have our fond memories, and I have, and thank God above for blessing me with 41-plus years of memories with my beloved Gerri.

My family and I wish to thank all of you who gave us your support, kind words, and caring during this time.

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“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Rev. 21:4

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” – John 14:2

“My Woman, My Woman, My Wife”

Hands, that are strong but wrinkled
Doing work that never gets done
Hair, that’s lost some of its beauty
By too many hours in the sun
Eyes, that show some disappointment
And there’s been quite a lot in her life
She’s the foundation I lean on
My woman, my woman, my wife

Everyday has been uphill
We climb but we can’t reach the top
I’m weak and I’m easily discouraged
She just smiles when I want to stop
Lips, that are weary but tender
With love, that strengthens my life
A saint, in a dress made of gingham
My woman, my woman, my wife

When she reaches that river
Lord, you know what she’s worth
Give her that mansion up yonder
Cause she’s been thru hell here on earth
Lord, give her my share of heaven
If I’ve earned any here in this life
Cause God, I believe she deserves it
My woman, my woman, my wife
My woman, my woman, my wife

In Memory of My Loving Wife of 41-Years

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Above: Gerri, after her discharge from her last hospital stay last year

 

My wife, Gerri, who WAS my life, heart and soul, was called Home by The LORD this past Thursday, March 30, 2017. We were married here in Pt. Charlotte, Fla on October 16, 1975. I’ll be writing more about her passing during the coming week. Our son (Dylan), and his family and our daughter (Ciara), as well as myself also wish to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to my ‘big’ bro, Phil and his lovely wife Janice for their words of kindness and emotional support to us during this time…Thank you, Phil and Janice

Gerri…

The Lord saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be,
So He put his arms aroud you
And whispered “Come with me.”

Although I loved you dearly,
I could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
Your beautiful smile at rest.
God broke my heart to prove,
He always takes the best.

It’s lonesome here without you,
I miss you so each day.
My life just isn’t the same
Ever since you went away.

When days are sad and lonely
And everything goes wrong,
I hear you gently whisper,
“Cheer up and carry on.”

Each time I see your picture,
You seem to smile and say,
“Don’t cry, I’m in God’s keeping,
We’ll meet again someday.”

Part 2: We’re Back From Our Biloxi Trip

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Ahhh….there’s NO place like home!!

 

I ended my last post by writing:

“Now, during the three days we were in Biloxi, we also drove around the area to see how it changed. And, man did it ever – though not for the better as far as we’re concerned.”

As many of you may know, we had lived in Ocean Springs, MS in ’98 after I medically retired from LE. Ocean Springs is just about 7-miles east of Biloxi on Hwy-90 (Bienville Blvd in Ocean Springs). We moved there because of the low cost of living, as well as the slow-paced, uncongested ‘Southern’ way of life, and the people there (for the most part), were friendly and very cordial and helpful to newcomers and visitors alike.

There weren’t too many businesses in OS at the time we lived there, either. There were still the casinos in Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis. Our favorite was the Grand Casino in Biloxi. Gulfport also had a Grand Casino. There were also quite a few hotels in the area at reasonable rates. Ditto with eating places of all sorts and tastes.

We moved back to Fla, however due to we just couldn’t take the cold winter, with the ‘slush’ ice or the extremely HOT summers.

Also, the cost of living there has skyrocketed! It’s now the equivalent of when we lived in South Fla!

Driving along ‘The Strip’ (Hwy-90), from Ocean Springs to as far away as Bay St. Louis (about 33-miles), that covered Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties was also a nice, scenic drive. Even ‘in season’, which on the coast is during the summer (as opposed to the winter months here in Fla).

Since both locals and visitors alike had kids, many casinos like the Grand Casino had on-site sitting services that were age-based (from 6-months to 12-yrs old). And the rates varied, depending on the age of the kids. They also supplied meals, nap times, etc. There were also all-u-can-eat buffets at the majority of the casinos where you could get b’fast, lunch or dinner – again, all at reasonable prices.

Now, the average cost for the buffets are abour $30 per person, and the quality is not nearly as good as it used to be – nor are the selections. Visitors with kids must now hire local places to keep them while the adults go to the casinos (as kids are NOT allowed in the casinos). Average cost? About $20 per hour…depending on the ages – and usually with a 4 or 5 hour minimum. Sure glad we don’t have young kids anymore!

Visiting any casino was a breeze. You could just pull up in front of the casino of your choice for (free) valet parking, get your valet ticket from the attendant and walk no more than 15 or 20 feet – and you were inside the casino. You could also self-park your car in parking lots that provided ample parking (including disabled parking), that were not that far away from the main casino entrances. In addition to that, the vast majority of the casinos had several security personnel driving the lots in golf carts to provide courtesy rides to and from the casino entrances as well as providing security for the patrons and parked vehicles.

Again, driving was not stressful. Sure, arguments could be made for the various reasons, e.g., off-season; small population; low visitors; etc. Note that this was all pre-Katrina as shown in the pics below:

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ABOVE: (The south side of the Grand Casino Biloxi complex, looking from the Grand’s north parking garage. U.S. Highway 90 runs under the enclosed walkway in the lower portion of the photo.)

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ABOVE: (Isle of Capri looking south across U.S. Highway 90 on the Beach in Biloxi)

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ABOVE: (Casino Magic (foreground) and Isle of Capri (background left) in Biloxi looking southeast. These two casinos, and Grand Casino Biloxi, which is a short distance to the west of this photo, make up “Casino Row” in Biloxi. All three are within easy walking distance.)

 

As we drove around Ocean Springs, we also noticed constant traffic jams (keep in mind that this is off-season). Granted, the city has grown since we lived there in ’98, but it seems that most of the ‘new’ residents there (as well as in Biloxi), are the riff-raff that has been moving in from out of state to look for work (preferably in the casinos) – and, from what I gathered, the majority of the casinos (as well as other businesses), are hiring any ‘warm’ bodies.

The worst part for us was driving into and out of the casinos. You see, Katrina literally destroyed damn near every casino on the Gulf Coast, and especially hit hard were Biloxi and Gulfport. As the re-building began, many ‘big name’ casinos came in to take the place of the former ones’ that, IMHO, were more customer-friendly – perhaps because they were ‘local’.

Anyway, Harrah’s Corp is now where the Grand Casino used to be; The Golden Nugget is now where the Isle of Capri was; and the Hard Rock has taken the place of the former Casino Magic.

I-110, which intersects with Hwy-90 has expanded by 2-more entrance and exit lanes onto Hwy-90 (contributing to much of the traffic congestion). Hwy-90 itself has also expanded from the 2 and 4-lane divided hwy when we lived there to now 4 and 5 lanes (including poorly marked turn lanes, which contributes to many fender benders).

Below are some pics as it looks now:

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hard rock

This bottom pic is the entrance ‘area’ to the Hard Rock that has poor signage letting visitors know where to enter. The entrance for valet parking is up by the traffic light, yet there are NO signs telling visitors that. I turned here and got fucked up in the self-parking garage! Notice also that there is NOT a traffic light here to make the left turn. Ya do so at your own risk!

 

When we first entered the Hard Rock, I saw no prominent “entrance” signs to the casino parking (other than the valet parking, as shown above). After about 15 frustrating minutes, I finally saw the entrance to the parking garage. Again, no prominent signs telling us first time visitors where to go. Okay, fuck it – I just follow the damn arrows. After driving up to the 4th floor, I saw only TWO disabled parking spots (that were, of course, taken). After driving around another 10 minutes of so, I saw a spot about half a city block from the elevator that is supposed to take you down to the casino entrance.

I park the car, we walk to the elevator, take it down to the “casino entrance,” and lo and behold, once we exit, we find out that the “casino entrance” was still about another full city block to get to! I guess the greedy-ass owners have a method to this madness. You see, even though you are technically “inside” the casino, you must walk past a slew of high-priced eating places; shops; and other places before you actually “enter” the gaming area. Glad I had my rescue inhaler with me…ditto with Gerri, who had to sit and rest several times before we got to the gaming area. Leaving the casino to go get our car and go back to the hotel was the same ordeal!

Anyway, after that, I just said, “fuck it…I’ll valet park from now on!”

Now, valet parking was better…but not by much. Sure, we could walk just a few feet into the actual casino, but still had to take elevators or escalators up to the gaming area...but only after walking about another few hundred feet past all those high-priced shops, etc.

Now, don’t get me completely wrong here. Overall we enjoyed our stay. We were just very disappointed with the casinos as I described above, as well as not encountering the ‘friendly’ people we did when we lived there, or when we visited there 12-yrs ago and before. We just have no desire to ever go back there again. I’m sure many people will visit (or who have visited recently), will not share our same thoughts on the place – and that’s fine. To each his own, as they say. We’d still like to take that cross country trip to Vegas one day, and stop in Colorado Spgs to see my ‘big bro’ and his wonderful wife – though we’d do it in an RV and take our time driving.

Lastly, the trip home was pretty smooth going. We stopped again at the same HoJo in Midway, Fl that we did on the way to Biloxi. Got to see Paul again as well.

However, when we hit the road that Saturday a.m., we were making pretty good time, until…we got on I-75 south around the Wildwood exit where I-75 and the Turnpike intersect. HOLY SHIT!!! Traffic was literally backed up for miles. The fuckin’ interstate was a virtual parking lot. Took us 45-minutes to go about 5-miles until the jam finally cleared.

I guess there were a lot of events and shit going on that week-end (because of spring break?), because every time we’d come to a major city on I-75 southbound, we’d encounter the exact same ‘parking lots’ for miles! E.g, the Tampa area where I-75 intersects with I-275; Sun City Center; and various other spots along the way until we got to our Pt. Charlotte exit.

We got home about 4:15 that Saturday, unpacked the car, then went to go pick up Sammy at the ‘Pet Hotel.’ Man…was he glad to us – and vice versa!

Anyway, we’re still all ‘recuperating’ from our vaca. As Ciara said, “We need a ‘vacation’ from our vacation.”

We’ll now get back to ‘normal’ life here in Pt. Charlotte (GAWD…HOW WE MISSED IT!!!). If we do take another vaca any time soon, it’ll be to Hollywood, Fl to see Dylan, Jessica and our grandson…only a 3-hr drive…including the stops (LOL!)

So, that’s it folks. Time now to catch up on current events and start giving the libos hell once again…(wink…wink…)

Later….

Part 1: We’re Back From Our Biloxi Trip

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Biloxi Visitors Center

Well, my friends, I wanted to write a post before we left for our family vaca to Biloxi, MS this past Monday, but I was just so busy with everything that I simply didn’t have time.

Anyway, here’s how it went…

Last Sunday night was hectic, as we were gathering everything together to put in the car on Monday to leave. We had everything packed except the toiletries that we were gonna need in the morning, then we’d pack them. By 10pm Sunday night I was in bed.

Wifey and I woke up about 6am Monday, and we woke our daughter Ciara up about 6:30. After having coffee and getting awake, I went to Mickey D’s to get us all breakfast.

After b’fast, we gathered up Sammy’s belongings and dog food and a few of his toys and favorite blanket, and took him to the ‘Pet Hotel’ here, where he’d be staying and playing with other dogs for the next week. We then came back home and finished packing the car, gave a spare house key to our neighbor (who is also our cleaning lady), who was also going to be bringing our mail in and keeping an eye on the place while we were gone, and we then headed out by 10am.

Now, I must admit that at times the stress from the constant interstate driving and periods of heavy traffic not only ‘kicked my ass’, but was also stressful on me. You see, it’s been over 12-yrs since I drove to Mississippi. In 2011, we drove straight through to Beaufort, SC for our son Dylan’s graduation from Parris Island, and that was the last long road trip we took before this past week. We took a few short trips from here in Pt. Charlotte, Fl to Hollywood, Fl to visit Dylan and his wife and our grandson – but hell, that only takes about 3-hrs or so. I found out this past week that I’m not as young as I used to be – or think I am, huh?

Anyway, we got on I-75 and headed north. We made a few stops to gas up and use the restrooms, eat lunch, etc. Now, although the speedometer on our car goes up to 140-mph, I set the cruise control at 72-mph. Of course, there’s still those crazy bastards that were passing me like I was standing still, and that had to be going at least between 85 and 95 mph! Stupid fucks!! Makes me wish I was a cop again.

So, we continued on I-75 until just past Lake City where we picked up I-10 West. I-10 was great – as far as traffic was concerned. Little to moderate traffic flow. We drove to Midway, Fl (just outside of Tallahassee), and got a room at the Howard Johnson’s there. It was about 6pm when we got there. So, we had driven about 380 miles on Monday.

I also have an old cop buddy of mine that I’ve known for 33-years, and who I used to work with in the early 80’s in Palm Beach county, who is now working PT as a cop there in Midway. His name is Paul. God bless him, as he’s 74-yrs old; an old Army vet, and still going strong and able to do LE work. He’s also a shift Sergeant with the PD. I consider him not a “friend,” but FAMILY…MY BROTHER!! We were able to hook up with him (as our hotel was in Midway where he happened to be on duty). Man…could we tell the stories of the shit we got into as street cops in the 80’s (right, Paul?) …heheheheheee…Luv Ya, my brother!

Our visit with Paul was short, as he had to go answer a few calls that were coming in. We then went across the street to Denny’s and had dinner, came back to the hotel and went to sleep.

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My ‘brother’ Paul and me as we stayed in Midway, Fla. (Don’t let that ‘mean look’ on him scare ya. He’s a pussycat at heart!)

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‘Brother’ Paul and Ciara

Tuesday, we got up around 7am, had our morning (in-room) coffee, dressed and put our things in the car, got b’fast at Denny’s and were on the road again by a little after 9am.

By noon or so, we were coming into ‘Alabama the Beautiful’, and stopped at the Welcome Center there for about a half hour, then continued on to Mississippi and stopped at the Welcome Center there as well.

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Me and Ciara at the Alabama Welcome Center

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Me and Ciara at the Mississippi Welcome Center

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Me, with the Mississippi State Flag flying in the background. God Bless the Great State of Mississippi! 

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Mississippi Welcome Center

 

We got off at the Ocean Springs exit (as we used to live there, and wanted to see how the place changed). We gassed up there, and then continued on Hwy-90, across the Ocean Springs/Biloxi bridge to our hotel at the Hyatt Place in Biloxi. We arrived there about 3pm, checked in and relaxed in our suite.

I must say, the Hyatt there is A-plus! A nice guy named “Joseph,” who was a baggage handler loaded all our luggage on one of those big baggage carts and took it to our room (on the 2nd floor) for us. At check-in, the reservation gal even upgraded us (for free), to an ‘Ocean View’ room.

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Me, relaxing with a stogie at the Hyatt Place Biloxi

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Our hotel in Biloxi

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Our room at the Hyatt

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Our bathroom

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Ocean View 

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Wifey and me relaxing by the pool

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Seats by the pool area at the Hyatt

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Pool at night

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Fire burning by the pool at night

The hotel had just about every amenity you can think of, and every employee we encountered was above reproach, and helpful in every way. The hotel also had a complimentary full b’fast from 6-9am every morning. Eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, biscuits, toast, pancakes, coffee, juice, milk, cereal…you name it.

After relaxing, showering, taking a nap, and going out for dinner Tuesday night, we decided to drive around and try our luck at the Beau Rivage casino. We stayed until almost midnite – and I left $40 ‘down,’ wifey left being $60 ‘up, and Ciara left $15 ‘up’.

Wednesday a.m. we got up, had the complimentary b’fast and came back to our room and slept until about noon. We then got up and decided to get some lunch and since the sun was shining and it was a nice 78 degrees, Ciara went in the pool and jacuzzi, and wifey and I just sat by the pool relaxing. That nite, Ciara wanted to stay in the room and relax, and wifey and I went to the Hard Rock casino (broke even).

Thursday afternoon wifey and I went to try our luck at the Treasure Bay casino. Didn’t do too bad. Wifey won $117 and I won $48. That night after dinner, we all went back to the Hard Rock, and again, broke about even.

We got back to our room about 1am and got to sleep about 2am. We then were up at 7:30 Friday morning – got b’fast there, and started packing to head back home. The baggage guy came up to load our stuff onto the cart and take it down to our car for us while I checked us out.

We then were on the road back home here by 10am Friday morning.

Now, during the three days we were in Biloxi, we also drove around the area to see how it changed. And, man did it ever – though not for the better as far as we’re concerned. But, since its getting late now, y’all are gonna have to stay tuned for Part 2 in my next post to hear about that, as well as what a pain in the ass the trip back was as far as traffic is concerned.

Cut the Wasteful, Touchy-Feely Good, Libo Programs…NOW!

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President Trump (as most of us know), plans to increase the military budget by $54 Billion. Now, to pay for some of it, he also plans to cut (or eliminate altogether), many of the current, useless libtard touchy-feely good programs (which I’ll elaborate on later in this post).

Now, many of our leftist friends say, “But, those are good programs.” Oh really? “Good” for who? The answer is obvious…“good” for the libos!

And…the first wasteful program on the list to go should be AmeriCorps!!

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Recall in 2014, when Obozo welcomed a flock of AmeriCorps recruits to the White House to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary, they were joined by former prez Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton, who founded the program in 1994. Now, while AmeriCorps has produced many photo ops that warmed politicians’ hearts, the “national service” revolution the agency promised remains a mirage.

Now, AmeriCorps is reported to consist of 75,000 members who collect up to $17,800 a year in salary and education benefits for laboring on social, environmental, education and other projects authorized by the agency headquarters. According to CEO Wendy Spencer, “For twenty years, AmeriCorps has been a powerful and proven solution to community needs across the nation.”

Now, I’ll admit that there may be some well-intentioned AmeriCorps recruits who work hard and have helped their fellow Americans, but research shows that many of the agency’s projects are spurred more by feelgood foolishness and political profiteering than by real community needs.

Hundreds of members are serving as “recess referees” with Playworks AmeriCorps – one of a handful of those ‘touchy-feely good, pc, libtard programs that teaches “anti-bullying lessons” and “conflict resolution” to elementary school kids. Playworks says it brings “safe and inclusive play to all students” and that having AmeriCorps members “play alongside of children” adds “an important element of silliness and shared humanity.” But, c’mon, seriously – do we really need federal playground monitors?

Also, what if a kid wants to play ‘cowboys and injuns’? Or ‘cops and robbers’? ‘War’? Will those kids be “inclusive”? I think not!

If a kid is being ‘bullied’ on a playground, tell the kid to do what I learned to do in the 1st grade – BELT THE SONOFABITCH IN THE MOUTH!! Bullying problem solved!

This wasteful and useless program also has thousands of AmeriCorps members busy attempting to teach reading to young kids – a task for which public schools already spend billions! If the little imps can’t read, FIRE THE TEACHERS (and I use the term very loosely!). Thanks to Obozo’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative, AmeriCorps partnered with the Justice Department to enroll and mentor “disconnected youth” – the same task for which the Job Corps was created 50 years ago.

So, what happened?

Sure, some AmeriCorps programs sound good but are little more than window-dressing for public policy disasters.

AmeriCorps members are oftentimes used to fight political brush fires. People forget (or are not aware), that the Obozo admin had sent AmeriCorps members into immigration courts to help the flood of unaccompanied young illegal aliens avoid deportation.

One of AmeriCorps’ key “performance measures” for itself is boosting “the number of uninsured and economically disadvantaged individuals connected to or utilizing health care services.” AmeriCorps co-sponsored National Youth Enrollment Day on February 15, 2014 to boost ObamaCare sign-ups prior to the deadline that year for coverage.

And this is where our tax $$$’s are going?

Now, yes…Congress had enacted a law prohibiting federally-funded food stamp recruiting, but AmeriCorps continued (and still does) continue, paying scores of members to entice people onto the dole. AmeriCorps, along with USDA, is bankrolling the National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps whose primary goal is “increasing participation” in food stamps. Joel Berg, the director of that program, pockets a six-figure salary while issuing apocalyptic statements about “America’s injustice to the poor.” And, of course, USDA denies bankrolling recruitment campaigns – but also insists that it is only “recruitment” if someone seeks “to persuade an individual who has made an informed choice not to apply for food stamps to change his or her decision and apply.”

No wonder the ‘lame and lazy’ loved Obozo, aka “The Food Stamp Prez”! Last year (2016), the number of food stamps recipients went up by 10.7 MILLION people, a 32 percent jump, since Obozo took office in 2009, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2009, 33,490,000 people received food stamp benefits. As of October 2016, the last month reported for FY 2016, 44,219,123 people received food stamp benefits, an increase of about 10,729,000!

Now, AmeriCorps headquarters does little or no oversight to assure that grantees obey the federal ban on political advocacy. AmeriCorps is also scorning a federal law passed in 2010 to curb improper payments, instead simply ignoring whether grantees make proper use of the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive. A June 2014 Inspector General (IG) report condemned the agency for “shocking waste of taxpayer funds, lax oversight, unauthorized contractual commitments and widespread noncompliance with rules, regulations and sound contracting practices.” AmeriCorps failed to even use almost a third of the products for which it paid contractors. While AmeriCorps boasts that their time “serving” radically changes AmeriCorps members’ lives, it canceled a long term study of former members’ civic engagement and life skills after spending more than $3 million for the project.

And former prez “Slick Willie” Clinton and others boast that AmeriCorps recruits have put in “a billion hours of service” since 1994. But counting the number of hours clocked by government employees tells us nothing!

Lastly, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), complained in 2003 that AmeriCorps focuses myopically on “the amount of time a person serves, as opposed to the impact on the community or participants.” The Government Accountability Office (GOA), slammed AmeriCorps in 2010 for using performance measurements that “do not demonstrate results,” are “poorly aligned” with stated goals, and ignore “the quality of service provided.” AmeriCorps’ supposed achievements are largely based on self-reported data from grant recipients that GAO derided as unverified and unreliable.

So, after 20-plus years, AmeriCorps continues to be little more than social work tinged with messianic delusions. It’s time for Trump and Congress to draw the curtain on AmeriCorps’ “body count” and gut the entire worthless program!

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Other cuts that President Trump (and Congress) seriously need to look at are: (Source for the following comes from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW):

– ENERGY

Sell the Southeastern Power Administration and Related Power-Generating Assets

1-Year Savings: $0
5-Year Savings: $1.2 billion

The Department of Energy owns and operates four Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs). The largest is the Southeastern Power Administration, which consists of 23 hydroelectric projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, southern Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The PMAs sell energy at low, subsidized rates, but these rates are not targeted to low-income areas or disadvantaged consumers. In fact, according to a 2009 CBO “Budget Options” report, the communities that receive PMA service “are similar to neighboring communities that do not,” and they “meet only a small share of the total power needs of households in the regions served.”

Selling Southeastern would allow it to operate in the private sector, where it should have been all along. The sale would be an important step in reducing the size and scope of the Department of Energy, which has expanded well beyond its original mission, and would be relatively painless for customers served by Southeastern. A 1999 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stated that users “would see their monthly electricity bill increase by less than $1, while the maximum increase in their electricity bill would range in most states between $1 and $8.”

Selling the Southeastern Power Administration makes fiscal sense, as there is precedent for unloading PMAs: the Alaska Power Administration was privatized in 1996.

Sell the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Electric Power Assets and Privatize its Non-Power Functions

1-Year Savings: $5 million
5-Year Savings: $1.1 billion

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a multibillion dollar federally owned and operated corporation established in 1933 in an effort to bring electricity and development to some of the most underdeveloped parts of the Southeastern United States. TVA’s non-power responsibilities include recreational programs, the promotion of public use of federal land and water resources, and the operation of a national fertilizer research center. Congress appropriates nearly $140 million annually for these non-power duties.

As the CBO pointed out in its FY 2011 “Spending and Revenue Options” report, “unlike private utilities, TVA does not have to provide a return to equity holders – in this case, the taxpayers, who are exposed to the risk of having to make up for future revenue shortfalls.” According to TVA’s FY 2017 budget proposal, its debt is projected to reach $29 billion by FY 2017, bringing it perilously close to the $30 billion debt cap established by Congress. Despite this huge debt, the TVA has not relinquished its hold on electric utilities across the Southeast by turning its duties over to the private sector.

Many TVA supporters mistakenly believe that privatization would lead to rate hikes that might harm consumers, especially in low-income areas. In reality, the TVA charges rates that are in line with what the private sector would charge. Because of the TVA’s poor financial position, savings would be minimal in the first year after the sale and privatization of TVA assets and functions, but would reach $1.1 billion after five years.

– ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Eliminate Targeted Water Infrastructure Grants

1-Year Savings: $157 million
5-Year Savings: $785 million

In his FY 2012 budget, President Obama proposed eliminating targeted water infrastructure grants because they “are duplicative of funding available for such projects through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), but are not subject to the State priority-setting process for these programs, which typically funds cost-effective and higher priority activities first.” In other words, the grants are another example of the hundreds of redundant federal programs that should be eliminated. Since FY 1996, 1,823 earmarks costing taxpayers $1.1 billion have gone toward water infrastructure.

Eliminate the ENERGY STAR Program

1-Year Savings: $52 million
5-Year Savings: $260 million

The ENERGY STAR program, a joint venture between the Energy Department (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), started in 1992 as a voluntary labeling program to identify energy-efficient products. It includes a “Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR” messaging program and funded the construction of exhibit houses in nine cities in an effort to convince more Americans to use energy-efficient products.

The program’s website brags, “ENERGY STAR has been a driving force behind the more widespread use of such technological innovations as efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.” Others would argue that high energy prices and a more environmentally-conscious society have been far more responsible for increasing energy efficiency. In other words, taxpayers do not need federal bureaucrats telling them how to save energy.

A March 2010 GAO report found that the ENERGY STAR program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse. The GAO submitted 20 phony products for certification, 15 of which were cleared, including a gas-powered alarm clock. Indicating how much reliance consumers place on ENERGY STAR labels, “two of the bogus Energy Star firms developed by GAO received requests from real companies to purchase products because the bogus firms were listed as Energy Star partners. GAO reported that “certification controls were ineffective primarily because Energy Star does not verify energy-savings data reported by manufacturers.”

Only four of the 20 products submitted, or 20 percent, were required by ENERGY STAR to be cleared by an independent third party. Taxpayers should not be forced to tolerate ENERGY STAR results that are close to the Mendoza Line.

– HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Reduce Medicare Improper Payments by 50 Percent over Five Years

1-Year Savings: $4.3 billion
5-Year Savings: $21.7 billion

Medicare is plagued with the highest reported amount of improper payments of any federal program. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) FY 2015 Comprehensive Error Rate Testing report, the improper payment rate was 12.1 percent and the improper payment amount was $43.3 billion. Because of its chronic vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, the GAO has for 20 years designated the Medicare program as “high risk.”

In a bipartisan effort to reduce improper payments and help stave off the impending bankruptcy of the Medicare Trust Fund, Congress first implemented a Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) demonstration project for Medicare Parts A and B that ran from 2005 to 2008 and recovered more than $900 million in overpayments to providers. Congress enacted legislation to expand the program nationwide and make it permanent, a process that began in early 2009 and was fully implemented by September 2010.

In 2010, Congress further expanded the scope of RACs to include auditing for Medicare Parts C and D in the Affordable Care Act. The legislation also required states and territories to establish RAC programs for Medicaid, noting that the RAC program was a proven, valuable tool in reducing improper payments.

Since the beginning of the RAC program, $11.3 billion has been returned to the Medicare Trust Fund. In FY 2013 alone, RACs collected $3.65 billion, according to the Medicare Trustees’ report to Congress on the program. Only $57.6 million of that amount, or 1.6 percent, was overturned at the first level of appeal. In addition, only 9.3 percent of all claims that reached the top level of appeal to administrative law judges were overturned in FY 2013.

RACs have an average accuracy rate of 96 percent, which makes them far and away the most successful tool Congress has ever implemented to protect taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries from rampant improper payments. The Trustees’ FY 2013 RAC report called the RAC program “an important initiative in CMS’s goal to reduce improper payments and pay claims accurately.”

Attempts to gut the RAC program contravene CMS’s own data that the RAC program led to a reduction in the error rate of Medicare improper payments. After the rate of improper payments dropped from 10.8 percent in FY 2009 to 8.5 percent in FY 2012, they rose, as previously noted, to 12.1 percent in FY 2015.

Criticism of the RACs by hospitals and other providers have been a significant factor in pushing both CMS and Congress into suspending audits. These complaints are both overblown and inaccurate. RACs audit only 2 percent of claims and must receive pre-approval of audits by CMS. Each audit is overseen by a medical professional.

The suspension of the RAC program is a subversion of the will, if not the letter, of the law. Members of Congress should not only stop giving in to pressure to gut the RAC program, they should reinstate and safeguard the RACs. Otherwise, Medicare will have little chance of dropping down from its current – and growing – position as number one in improper payments.

– HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Eliminate Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs)

1-Year Savings: $3 billion
5-Year Savings: $15 billion

In the 1970s, many American cities suffered from destitution and blight.

For a variety of reasons, including rent control and inept local governance, America’s urban centers looked very different than they do today. During the 1974 World Series, swathes of New York’s South Bronx burned to the ground as Howard Cosell narrated on national television. Before the end of that year, Congress created CDBGs in an effort to revitalize low-income areas in cities across the country.

The money was intended for infrastructure investments, housing rehabilitation, job creation, and public services in metropolitan cities and urban counties. The program was intended to be flexible, but more than $100 billion given away to local governments over the last 35 years has fallen short on both accountability and results. Buffalo, New York, has received more than $500 million in CDBGs over the last 30 years, with little to show for it, and Los Angeles handed out $24 million to a dairy that went bust 18 months later.

The CDBG formula for eligibility does not take a community’s average income into account. As a result, several very wealthy cities with robust tax bases, such as Greenwich, Connecticut, have received CDBG dollars. A September 2012 GAO report found that “some cities with higher unemployment rates received less funding per unemployed person than other cities with lower unemployment rates.” Even President Obama has recommended reducing CDBG funding because “the demonstration of outcomes [is] difficult to measure and evaluate.”

Eliminate the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks America)

1-Year Savings: $167.7 million
5-Year Savings: $838.5 million

Congress established the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation in 1978 to revitalize “older urban neighborhoods by mobilizing public, private and community resources at the neighborhood level.” In 2005, the name was changed to NeighborWorks America.

In 2010, GAO found that NeighborWorks America was one of many federal programs to have supplied grants to ACORN, the community organizing group accused in recent years of voter fraud and other scandalous behavior. ExpectMore.gov, the George W. Bush administration’s rating system for federal programs that was managed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), called NeighborWorks America only “moderately effective,” and stated that it “lacks measures that focus on neighborhood change or outcomes in the lives of those it assists.” According to CBO, NeighborWorks duplicates low-income housing, community development, and homeownership programs that already exist within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

– LABOR

Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act

1-Year Savings: $512 million
5-Year Savings: $6.3 billion

The Davis-Bacon Act, passed in 1931, requires that contractors pay their employees the “prevailing wage” on federal projects costing more than $2,000. The mandate raises the cost of government projects by 15 percent and costs taxpayers $512 million annually. Davis-Bacon has been touted by labor unions and politicians as essential to ensuring fair compensation on government jobs. In reality, the “prevailing wage” tends to correspond to union wages, especially in urban areas. This effect is no accident. Davis-Bacon was passed as part of an effort by high-skilled, high-wage, mostly white workers to keep out lower-paid, non-union, minority competition. In 1931, Rep. Miles Allgood (D-Ala.), arguing for the act’s passage, complained of “that contractor [who] has cheap colored labor which he transports … and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.”

Davis-Bacon supporters have argued that hiring low-wage workers would result in shoddy work. But the federal government is aware that this is not accurate. Davis-Bacon was suspended in the aftermath of Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina to facilitate reconstruction, and the GAO reported in September 2009 that many stimulus projects were delayed for months because of onerous Davis-Bacon requirements. A January 27, 2010, Heritage Foundation study found that suspension of Davis-Bacon under the stimulus “would allow the government to build more and hire 160,000 new workers without increasing the deficit.”

A 2013 CBO analysis found that repealing Davis-Bacon would save taxpayers $13 billion between 2015 and 2023.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supports repealing Davis-Bacon. Its elimination would “spur local economic growth by making it easier for state and local governments to fund federally subsidized projects such as school construction and improvements to the transportation infrastructure,” and “create an estimated 31,000 new construction jobs and remove a barrier that keeps many smaller and minority owned construction firms from bidding on federally funded construction projects.”

End Susan Harwood Training Grants

1-Year Savings: $3 million
5-Year Savings: $15 million

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers Harwood grants to nonprofit organizations to provide safety training to workers. Although the grants are competitively awarded, President George W. Bush repeatedly targeted this program for elimination for three reasons: it duplicates more cost-effective OSHA education activities; there was no data proving the program was successful; and, grantees found it difficult to get workers to attend the training programs. Two projects funded in FY 2012 provide more justification for termination: a combined $418,472 to four different organizations to teach employees how to avoid falling and $120,000 to Kansas State University for a program on “Grain Handling Operations.”

– OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

Eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

1-Year Savings: $335 million
5-Year Savings: $1.7 billion

Created in 1965, the NEA and NEH have become examples of dabbling in fields that should be entirely free from government intervention. As lawmakers look to downsize the federal budget, NEA and NEH should be easy cuts. But getting them on the chopping block will be difficult, because special interest groups and their political allies fight for every drop of funding.

For example, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) helped defeat H.R. 1, the Full-Year CR for Fiscal Year 2011, which, among other spending reductions, defunded the NEA and the NEH. On March 8, 2011, Sen. Reid described the proposed termination in a Senate floor speech as “mean-spirited,” stating that, were it not for the NEH’s federal money, the Cowboy Poetry Festival and “the tens of thousands of people who come there every year, would not exist.” This earned Sen. Reid CAGW’s “Porker of the Month” in March 2011.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) identified dozens of absurd NEH and NEA expenditures in his 2015 Wastebook: The Farce Awakens, such as $150,000 for puppet shows and $60,000 to fund a play on zombies in Washington, D.C.

Plays, paintings, pageants, and scholarly articles, regardless of their merit or attraction, should not be forcibly financed by taxpayers. Actors, artists, and academics are no more deserving of subsidies than their counterparts in other fields; the federal government should refrain from funding all of them. Anything else is anathema to taxpayers.

There’s a boat load of more wasteful, libo programs that also need to be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether – but those mentioned here are just a few where Trump and Congress must begin with!

Let’s pray that the pols’ on both sides of the aisle do the right (not the popular and pc), thing!

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