Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 15, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page B:5



 Mountain Views News Saturday, June 15, 2013 

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Pat Birdsall


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Ron Carter

Rev. James Snyder

Bobby Eldridge

Mary Carney

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Greg Wellborn

Dr. John Talevich

Ben Show

Sean Kayden

Jasmine Kelsey Williams



You can imagine my 
feelings when I recently 
found out that 
good old Uncle Sam 
was checking up on 
my phone calls, email messages and the rest 
of the social networking. Finally, somebody is 
really watching out for me.

It is more than that. Somebody is so interested 
in my affairs they are getting involved in my 
telephone conversations. I must admit that at 
first I was a little suspicious about all of this.

For example. What does Uncle Sam know 
about me and my phone calls that I do not 

I get an awful lot of telephone calls during the 
course of a week. Some are friends, some are 
family, some are trying to sell me the Brooklyn 
Bridge. Even if I lived in New York City, I 
would not want to own the Brooklyn Bridge. 
Can you imagine how much it cost to keep 
that thing up and running?

As I said, at first I was a little suspicious about 
somebody listening into my phone calls. Then 
I remembered that back in "the day," everybody 
did that. We had what was called the 
"party line" telephone system. That meant that 
everybody was connected to everybody else.

My grandmother for example, lived in a valley 
up in the mountains. She was on the party line, 
of course, and everybody had a special ring. 
Grandma's ring was two long and one short 
rings. Whenever the telephone rang, dear old 
grandmother knew who was being called and, 
being a nosy person, she usually listened into 
the conversations. I am not picking on my 
grandmother, for everybody did it. Everybody 
knew everybody was doing it.

It was gossiper's heaven.

I think there is something to be said for everybody 
knowing everybody's business. That way 
everybody is up and up on the things they are 
talking about.

Of course, there is a dark side to it. I am semi-
ashamed to reveal that I was part of that dark 

Whenever anybody wanted to send out a rumor 
there was always the party line telephone 
system. My cousin and I got together and 
cooked up some juicy rumor about old Henry 
up the valley. Henry had never been married 
and was probably in his 70s at the time.

We started the rumor that Henry had a 

It did not take long for everybody in the valley 
to know that Henry, who had been a bachelor 
for over seventy years, now had a special love 
interest. The big question coming through the 
party line was, who is this lucky woman?

Before long, this got a little out of control. 
Everybody believed that Henry had a special 
love interest and it got to the point that Henry 
himself believed he had a love interest.

I remember going with my grandmother to 
the grocery store and we happened to run into 
good old Henry. My grandmother, who was 
the queen of the gossipers, took this opportunity 
to speak to Henry.

"Oh Henry," she said as we approached him. "I 
heard the news that you have a girlfriend. I'm 
so happy for you. You'll have to bring her over 
to my house for coffee and cake some time."

"Thank you, Mary," Henry said with the biggest 
smile I have ever seen him wear. "I've 
never been happier."

At this point, I did not know what to do. Everybody 
was so happy with this rumor, especially 
old Henry, that the truth would have 
destroyed the entire valley. I did think of starting 
a rumor that Henry and his new girlfriend 
had a fight and broke up. However, on second 
thought, Henry was so happy these days, I just 
hated to spoil his life.

I never knew how that turned out. The last 
time I saw Henry he was smiling and thanking 
people for congratulating him on having 
a girlfriend. Some people need to feel happy, 
I suppose.

I guess it is my time to be fooled by my uncle, 
and I deserve it.

I really do not mind if good old Uncle Sam 
is going to listen in on my social networking 
"party line," but I do have a few rules that I 
would like to establish.

Rule number one. Uncle Sam do not repeat 
anything you hear said on my "party line." 
Let's keep some of that stuff between us. 
Okay? Some of what you're going to hear may 
not be altogether, what should I say, truthful. 
Especially, if you only hear a portion of the 

Rule number two. If while listening in on the 
conversation of mine and the other party happens 
to be some salesman trying to sell me 
something, please feel free to butt into the 
conversation. After all, the salesman is trying 
to take a dollar out of my pocket and you 
know how much you want that dollar!

Rule number three. If the conversation you 
overhear is concerning you, keep in mind 
we're talking about the "other" Uncle Sam.

It is hard to keep anything secret these days. In 
fact, there is not much to keep secret anymore.

The only secret I'm really interested in is what 
God has. His promise to me is, "Call unto me, 
and I will answer thee, and shew thee great 
and mighty things, which thou knowest not" 
(Jeremiah 33:3 KJV).

God hears me all the time and knows everything 
about me.

 As I’ve been 
writing now for 
quite a while I’m 
quite depressed 
about the state 
of the world and 
its seemingly insoluble problems. I 
haven’t had much of an idea of what 
I can do to be of help and I’ve felt like 
I’m sinking along with everyone and 
everything else. This negative attitude 
came out on Saturday when I was at 
a family get-together honoring my 
cousin’s seventy-eighth birthday. It’s 
rare that I see my cousin and this was 
a chance to see her and her son and 
his family. Included in that family are 
two kids, 17 and 11 and I like to talk to 
the kids as a way of taking the future’s 

 So I got into this conversation with 
this seventeen-year old and his father 
and frankly, I was horrified at what I 
heard. First a little background. The 
seventeen year old, who is without 
question a really bright kid, told me 
that he was graduating with mainly 
D’s. He explained that most of what 
went on in School was just a waste 
of time and he seemed quite proud 
that he had not bought into that 
nonsense. He said that he had used 
his time in other productive ways 
and had acquired skills in art, music, 
and technological understanding. As 
to his future plans, his parents had 
agreed to allow him to remain at home 
for only thirty days after graduation 
unless he agreed to search for a job or 
enroll in Community College.

 Okay; ready now to hear his plans. 
He was not going to go to College 
or Trade School. He was not going 
to look for work nor did he plan to 
travel and stay with friends. What he 
plans to do is move on to some land 
that somebody’s father owns and live 
there with a bunch of his anonymous 
friends known only over the internet. 
Once on the land, he and his as yet 
unknown cohorts plan to establish 
a self-sufficient culture living off the 
grid, planting and growing and, I 
guess, eating their own food. He has 
no Driver’s License and does not plan 
to own a car or very much else, but 
tells me that there is this vast network 
of people that are doing the same 
thing and that they will change the 

 So how do you think I responded? 
I got crazy and told him he was 
arrogant and stupid. I told him that 
he was not the first person to have 
such ideas and that his plans or lack 
of plans was just crazy. In the middle 
of my rant he stopped me and asked 
why I was so angry; why it seemed like 
I wanted him to fail. I told him that 
my parents and grandparents were 
also his relatives. I explained to him 
that they had lived through pogroms 
and swam across frozen rivers and 
walked across Poland and worked in 
sweatshops (most of this was true) so 
that their descendants, Him, could 
live better lives. He was willing, even 
eager, to throw away all the privileges 
that their struggles had earned for 
him and to go somewhere to dig in 
the dirt. He asked me if I didn’t think 
that these unknown ancestors of his 
would not be proud that perhaps, as 
the results of their efforts, he was now 
free of the restrictions that faced them 
and could now go out and try and live 
a better life and create a better world. 
I just laughed.

 On Sunday, still angry, I went to 
the post Office and picked up a copy 
of the Mountain Views News. First I 
looked to see if my column was in the 
paper as it has been for the past 289 
consecutive weeks. There it was, and I 
felt that satisfaction that I had actually 
accomplished something. What it is 
that I think my column accomplishes 
I really don’t know; but I imagine 
that by managing to write the weekly 
article, and being as honest as I can 
be, I am doing something to make 
the world a better place and that feels 

 After looking at my column I 
thumbed through the rest of the paper. 
On page 5 I noticed Christopher 
Nygeres; column about homesteading 
in the City. His column led me to 
google sustainable living communities 
and Permaculture. I am now much 
better informed about what my young 
cousin was talking about. He is not 
alone and perhaps, with the help 
of the Internet, people will come 
together and create something new 
and wonderful. Check this stuff out. 
Who knows; the internet has already 
helped to foment revolutions. 

 We humans, like my Russian 
relatives, my young cousin, and Chris, 
and you and me are really special. 
Our most precious skill is the ability 
to adapt to changing conditions. Let’s 
see if it works this time. 

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HOWARD Hays As I See It

“Anyone who says they 
remember what happened 
at Woodstock wasn’t really 

- anonymous


 I look forward to 
Greg Welborn’s column, 
because he always gives me 
something to look into. Last week, he quoted 
Bill Clinton as having said, “Obama doesn’t 
know how to be president. He doesn’t know 
how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s 
an amateur!”

 The quote, it turns out, originated in a 
book on President Obama by Edward Klein 
that came out a year ago, “The Amateur”. 
Klein alleges Clinton offered this assessment 
during a heated discussion with his wife, 
the Secretary of State, urging her to quit the 
administration and challenge Obama in the 
2012 Democratic primaries – strange advice 
coming from one regarded as a political 
genius. Klein’s source remains unnamed, 
with no corroboration. Seven years earlier, 
Klein came out with “The Truth About 
Hillary”, in which he asserted Chelsea 
Clinton was conceived through marital rape, 
and wrote at great length about the younger 
Hillary Rodham’s deficient personal hygiene.

 The above Woodstock quote came to mind 
when news broke of the NSA’s acquiring the 
totality of Verizon’s phone logs. As I listened 
to those claiming the program has helped foil 
terrorist plots, and others claiming with equal 
certitude it hasn’t, it seemed those you’d find 
publicly expounding on the inner-workings 
of our most secretive intelligence-gathering 
operations would be those who were never 
really there.

 Some on the left bemoan that President 
Obama is continuing the abuses suffered 
under President Bush. Shortly after 9/11, 
Bush secretly authorized the NSA to 
eavesdrop on Americans in the United 
States – without warrant. Previously, such 
activities had been conducted by the FBI – 
with a warrant. According to the NY Times, 
under this program 500 conversations were 
being listened-in on at any given time. The 
FBI’s activities expanded to digging into 
library lending records and internet use, and 
monitoring the activities of peaceful antiwar 

 In 1994, the Supreme Court rejected the 
administration’s argument it could imprison 
indefinitely anyone it labeled “enemy 
combatant”, without access to the courts. The 
Times quotes an internal memo from John 
Yoo, the Justice Dept. lawyer who argued for 
torture, “the government may be justified 
in taking measures which in less troubled 
conditions could be seen as infringements of 
individual liberties.”

 The ACLU took the administration to court, 
and Judge Anna Taylor ruled, “It was never 
the intent of the Framers to give the President 
such unfettered control, particularly where 
his actions blatantly disregard the parameters 
clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.” 
The ruling was overturned on appeal, on 
the grounds that since none of the plaintiffs 
could show they’d been wiretapped by the 
NSA themselves, none had standing to sue.

 Bush later claimed that although he abided 
by Congress’ mandate that no domestic 
eavesdropping occur without approval from 
the FISA court, as a “wartime president” 
he retained authority to order on his own 
whatever domestic spying he pleased. Bush 
insisted ultimate authority rested with the 
president; President Obama upholds that 
ultimate authority rests with Congress, the 
Courts, and the Constitution.

 Eric Snowden, the NSA/Verizon leaker, 
claimed, “I had full access to the full rosters 
of everyone working at the NSA, the entire 
intelligence community, and undercover 
assets all around the world. . . I, sitting at my 
desk, certainly have the authorities to wiretap 
anyone — from you or your accountant, to a 
federal judge, to even the President.”

 I envisioned some Master-of-The-Universe 
figure; someone with a career advancing 
unseen through the ranks of our intelligence 
community to achieve such awesome power. 
He turns out to be a 29-year-old high school 
drop-out, who’d been on the job three 
months, enjoying the good life in Hawaii with 
a live-in girlfriend described as an “acrobatic 
pole dancer”. (To assure the thoroughness 
of my research, I checked out her video on 

 Mr. Snowden’s position was not with 
our government, but with a private 
contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton. The Bush 
Administration turned an unprecedented 
amount of our nation’s defense over to profit-
making corporations; from supplying our 
troops to guarding our embassies to torturing 
our prisoners. Our intelligence operations 
were relegated to those committed not to our 
national interest, but the interests of their 

 Though it seems extraordinary someone 
like Eric Snowden held such access, a report 
from the Director of National Intelligence 
states that, as of 2012, 483,263 employees 
of private contractors held the same “Top 
Secret” clearance as Mr. Snowden’s. Once 
given, such clearance is hard to take away 
– reviewed only once every five years. The 
NY Times reports that, according to the 
company’s own securities filing, half of Booz 
Allen’s 25,000 employees hold top secret 
clearances, with “access to information that 
would cause ‘exceptionally grave damage’ to 
national security if disclosed to the public”.

 One of more than a thousand private 
contractors employed by our intelligence 
community, Booz Allen was paid $1.3 
billion for its work over the past fiscal year. 
Such work doesn’t come cheap. According 
to a 2007 report by the Senate Intelligence 
Committee, the work of a $126,500-a-year 
government intelligence analyst costs us 
$250,000 with a private contractor. The 
Project on Government Oversight testified 
before the Senate Homeland Security 
Committee that intelligence work costs 83% 
more when contracted out. Early in the Bush 
Administration, a consortium was formed 
including Booz Allen, SAIC and Northrup 
Grumman to enact project Trailblazer, 
privatizing the analysis of signals intelligence 
coming over the internet. The project was 
scrubbed in 2005 after blowing through $5 
billion in taxpayer money and producing no 
actionable intelligence.

 There’s also the government/corporate 
“revolving door”. Director of National 
Intelligence James Clapper is a former Booz 
Allen executive. The DNI under President 
Bush, John McConnell, works for the 
company now. 

 In response to the leaks, President Obama 
stated, “I welcome this debate, and I think 
it’s healthy for our democracy.” This should 
be about whether our interests in protecting 
our security and values as a nation should be 
relegated to those whose primary interest is 
in making a buck.


 Messages count in our culture, especially when it comes to 
children. What we communicate to them in both words and deeds 
impacts how they see the world and how they participate in it. This 
week, the Obama administration chose to send a very destructive 
message to young girls by siding with a district court which ruled 
that the “Plan B” morning after pill must be made available to all 
females irrespective of their age.

 We’ll skip the lengthy criticism about this president’s hypocrisy and lack of integrity 
on the issue, but suffice it to say that candidate Obama was clear in his opposition to 
allowing “a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore to buy medication 
that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect”. Instead, 
let’s focus on the broader issue here: the messaging that’s being directed at our youth.

 Anyone who’s been a parent knows that from their earliest ages children are 
sponges. Whether it’s the toddler who follows our every move or the argumentative 
teenager who is quick to pounce on any perceived hypocrisy in his parents, they’re 
always watching and learning – picking up the cues as to what really is expected of 

 When we tell a teenager who is still under age that he or she can get a condom at 
school, we’re not promoting “safe sex”; we’re encouraging them to have sex. When 
we tell a young girl that she can now walk into any pharmacy and purchase a pill 
powerful enough to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall (the 
morning after pill), we’re telling them there need be no consequences to the very 
adult act in which they’ve just engaged. When we forbid that same child from buying 
cough syrup without their parent’s permission, we’re telling them we don’t trust them 
to make a simple decision. When we give grown men and women the right to remain 
on their parent’s medical insurance until well into their maturity, we’re discouraging 
them from growing up or taking responsibility for their own way in the world.

 The messaging in each of these is the same. There is no reason to grow up, take 
responsibility for your own life or make decisions wisely. We’re one step (maybe even 
several steps) closer to eliminating the need for parenting by the parents at all. We’re 
telling them the all-powerful state will take care of them, remove the consequences 
of irresponsibility and force their neighbors to take care of them well beyond any 
reasonable measure of true poverty.

 What’s so surprising is that we’re actually surprised that the generations seem 
more narcissistic than previous generations, that they seem to be drifting more in 
life, trying to “find themselves”, that they are postponing until much later in life the 
normal markers of maturity, responsibility and community participation. We’re 
treating them like immature idiots and surprised that they then act that way.

 I personally know too many young college graduates who bemoan the fact that 
they don’t know what they want to do with their life. This is a fantasy of wealth and 
privilege. I’m not referring to the wealthiest among us. I’m referring to a whole 
generation which, en masse, has grown up with more wealth and privilege than any 
other nation’s youth or any other generation in history. 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 
200 years ago young adults didn’t have to care about what they wanted to do with 
their life. They had to care about feeding, clothing and housing themselves. They 
had to get on with the job of becoming productive members of their community. 
This was a good thing, and it built many fine communities. In fact, it built a nation.


 The most critical function in any society is to raise up future members who will 
be productive members and enable that society to continue for another generation. 
There was true self esteem in meeting that responsibility head on and doing a job 
well – whether it was milking cows or working in a factory. You didn’t have to find 
yourself, because you had never lost yourself in the first place.

 Today, we’re coddling our youth and morally eviscerating them. We’re messaging 
that they don’t have to grow up, and then we’re surprised to find they’re unhappy, 
unfulfilled and unproductive. We really shouldn’t be. After all, they’re doing exactly 
what we told them to do.

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several 
civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Los 
Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community. He can be 

GREG Welborn

Mountain Views News

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