Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 24, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, August 24, 2013 


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder

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




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


(But frequently, or at least possibly true)


Pay Attention!

 Can it be true that the Los Angeles area has been without 
a professional football team for almost twenty years? Of course 
it’s true. What is the possible reason? Bickering between 
millionaires and politicians, I guess. Who’s hurt? Just the 

 Is it possible that bickering between huge corporations 
prevented many people from watching Lakers Games on television last year? Yes, 
it’s true. Unfortunate DISH subscribers were unable to home-view these games last 
season. I experience the pain of this prohibition quite personally as I have disabled 
relatives and friends who are DISH subscribers and for whom Lakers Basketball is a 
great source of enjoyment. Alas. C’mon Cable and Satellite companies—please get 
things together!

 Is it possible that the squabbling is even worse this year? Right now Channel 
2 and Channel 9 and Showtime and I don’t know what else are being dropped from 
certain TV providers. It’s disgraceful.

 I just heard on the CBS Morning News (which I am fortunate to still receive) 
that New York Yankee ownership had possibly instructed their medical staff to cause 
injury to their star player, Alex Rodriguez, so that his contract could be voided. For 
those who don’t know or don’t care, Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in 
baseball and had previously not performing up to the expectations of his corporate 

 Speaking of baseball, isn’t it incredible that the player who had the most 
hits (Pete Rose) and the player who hit the most Home Runs (Barry Bonds( and 
one of the greatest pitchers of his generation (Roger Clemons) are prevented from 
acceptance into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of certain allegations made 
against them. If records are supposed to mean anything these records should be 
allowed to stand for themselves and induction into the Hall of Fame should be 
based on these accomplishments rather than allegations. The Baseball Hall of Fame 
is already filled with drunks, racists, and felons. The Hall should be about baseball 
records not criminal records.

 Staying with the Baseball Hall of Fame for another paragraph or so, to me 
it’s really amazing that Marvin Miller is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Who’s 
Marvin Miller, you might ask. Marvin Miller is the mustachioed Labor Lawyer 
who put together the Unions that made it possible for the actual baseball players 
to earn their fair share of profits from the sport. Today the player’s astronomical 
salaries seem to make a mockery of the whole sport. These huge salaries seem to be 
an illustration of the disease so inherent in our society where money flows to only 
the few while the rest of us struggle as best we can. It is true that Babe Ruth was 
asked in his prime how was it defensible for him to receive a higher salary than that 
received by the President of the United States. “Simple”, it is reported that the Babe 
responded, “I had a better year than he did.” Really, there’s something wrong with 
that thinking notwithstanding the fact that it makes some sense,

 Moving on from the President to politics in general; Is it believable that we 
have an absolutely do-nothing Congress dominated by Republicans who seek only 
to defeat the President and nothing else. How many times have they passed useless 
bills designed to nullify Obama-care even after its passage and the 2012 re-election 
of the President. If you don’t like it here boys (and a few girls I guess) go back to 
Russia. Oops, wrong era and wrong party!

 Is it possible to believe the present consequences of the Arab Summer? 
This morning’s TV News (which I was able to receive) contained the news that 
almost 1,000 people have been killed in the battles between the Security forces and 
the military which know runs the Country. Much of this killing is financed by 
American dollars which continue to flow to Egypt as our government refuses to call 
a Coup a Coup because that would result in the suspension of American obligations 
to Egypt. What’s going to happen to the Suez Canal (so vital to world trade) and 
what’s happened to the global hopes for Democracy in the Middle East? Meanwhile 
who can believe that Mubarak, the deposed former ruler of Egypt could soon be 
walking the streets as a free-man?

 It’s all unbelievable; but for me the most unbelievable thing around these 
parts at least is that this article is my 300th consecutive weekly article. How did I do 
it with no pay, little validation or recognition, and undoubtedly limited talent as an 
article writer? Is it unthinkable? No it’s not and I plan to keep writing these things 
until someone stops me. In some strange way my writing and your reading (surely, 
someone must read these things) is a testament to the most unthinkable thing of 

Enjoying a casual 
evening at home, I 
reclined in my favorite 
easy chair reading, 
while the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage 
was chatting on the telephone. I rarely pay 
attention to telephone conversations. After 
all, I only get one side of the conversation, 
which may be misleading at the very best. 
I've been caught in that trap before with some 
pretty dire consequences. I'm not going to get 
caught again.

Then an odd phrase caught my attention: 
"plastic surgery." My ears perked up and I 
heard my wife say, "I certainly agree with that 
article and I'm going to do some plastic surgery 

Well, you can imagine what thoughts were 
racing through my head. When she hung up 
the telephone, I queried her about it.

In my book, plastic surgery is a big step.

"You do support me in this plastic surgery 
plan, don't you?"

There are times to disagree with your spouse, 
but as a husband for over 40 years, I have 
never discovered that time. Forcing a smile, 
I nodded in the affirmative and told her she 
had my full support in whatever she decided.

I had to admit that the "time" had finally come 
to our humble abode. Who am I to fight it? I 
go by this motto, "He who smiles and agrees 
with his spouse lives to smile another day."

I plan to smile until the day I die.

I never really thought about plastic surgery, 
but perhaps my wife was right. Perhaps she 
could use a little face-lift. For me to get a 
facelift, the surgeons would need a huge construction 
crane. Then comes the awkward 
part, what do they do with my face after it 
was lifted?

Women, more than men, are a little sensitive 
about their appearance. For a man, "appearance" 
means he showed up. A woman has 
an altogether different approach to the term 

Some women look in the mirror and see 
where some improvements could be made. 
For example, they see bags under their eyes 
that could not get through the airport carry-
on luggage size requirement.

Then there is the problem with their nose, 
which could stand a little tweaking. For all 
practical purposes, one of those double chins 
has to go. Moreover, what woman couldn't 
use a tummy tuck and other snippings of the 

Believe me; I never would have brought it up, 
but if that makes my wife happy, then whatever 
it costs, we can put it on a credit card. 
The only problem with putting something 
like this on a credit card is that by the time 
you pay it off you need another procedure.

She is worth it in my checkbook. I have no 
compunction whatsoever of writing out that 
check. Each day I checked the appointment 
calendar hanging on our refrigerator to find 
out when she would be going in for the surgery. 
Daily I looked, but could never find any 

I supposed she was sensitive about the whole 
thing and did not want it staring at her day 
after day on the appointment calendar. Whatever 
the reason, she had my silent support, 
for all that was worth. I am sure she would do 
the same for me. That is what marriage is all 
about. Supporting one another in the developments 
of life, whatever that development 
might be.

I decided to tuck this little bit in the back of 
my mind and, however it developed would be 
all right with me.

One day this week, I went to the Slurp N' 
Burp Café for a quiet lunch. The issue was far 
from my mind as I enjoyed a delicious repast. 
As I finished my last cup of coffee, the waitress 
brought my bill and I pulled my wallet 
out to pay for it.

In searching my wallet for a credit card I discovered, 
much to my double chagrin, that 
there were no credit cards to be found. Somehow, 
I'd lost my credit cards. Perhaps, in the 
morning when I was getting dressed, they 
dropped out of my wallet as I was placing it 
in my trousers.

The problem with that theory was that all the 
other cards in my wallet were intact.

Fortunately, I had my cell phone and called 
my wife.

"Honey, I've lost all my credit cards. I'm here 
at the restaurant and I can't find any credit 
cards in my wallet. Do you have any idea 
what I did with my credit cards?"

"I cut them all up."

"You did what?"

"You said you supported my plastic surgery 
plan, didn't you?"

"But, I thought..."

"You, thought what?"

Oh boy.

Dear reader: please disregard the first part of 
this column. If you happen to read my obituary 
in next week's newspaper, you will know 
that my lovely, vivacious, eternally youthful 
wife did not disregard the first part and I'm 
currently Resting In Pieces.

I must confess that my hearing is good; it 
is my understanding that falls so far short. 
The only exercise I am really good at is 

This is common among many people who call 
themselves Christians. Their hearing is good 
but their "doing," is not up to par.

The apostle James understood this truth quite 
well. He writes, "But be ye doers of the word, 
and not hearers only, deceiving your own 
selves" James 1:22 (KJV).

It is not so much what you hear that pays 
dividends in life, but what you do.

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HOWARD Hays As I See It

GREG Welborn


“And my head I’d be scratchin’ 

 While my thoughts were busy hatchin’

 If I only had a brain.” 

 Lyric by E.Y. Harburg, “The Wizard of Oz”

Most people know what a two-fer is. It’s 
something that gives you two benefits 
for the price of one. Usually, one of them 
is intended or desired and the other just 
comes along as an extra benefit. Well, it 
seems Illinois has experienced a two-fer 
that may just be perfect for California. Both 
states suffer from severe budget deficits 
and deteriorating public education quality. 
Illinois found a way to improve both. Let’s 
hope our politicians in Sacramento can learn 
this lesson.

Illinois, like California, uses a scoring system 
for calculating pension benefits which 
creates a substantial economic incentive for 
older teachers, who perhaps are “burned 
out”, to stay in their jobs well beyond the 
time when they would want to and beyond 
the time when they are actually productive. 
This is not to say, by any stretch of the 
imagination, that all teachers who are older, 
or who have lots of experience, are burned 
out, or that they are hanging on beyond 
the time they should leave. But, there are 
a significant number of teachers who meet 
both criteria – their productive, creative and 
enthusiastic days are behind them, but they 
stay in the job because to leave earlier would 
mean significant reductions in their pension 

Illinois has a significant budget problem. 
Like California, it has promised more in 
benefits than its tax revenues can support. 
Illinois, like California, also has seen the 
quality of its public education deteriorate 
substantially. Because of the budget crisis, 
though, Illinois took what they thought were 
radical steps to keep the doors open and 
services provided. Illinois offered teachers 
over 50 years of age the opportunity to 
purchase “extra credits” in their retirement 
system at an attractive rate. By paying a 
modest sum up front, a qualifying teacher 
could essentially purchase more years of 
service for pension calculation purposes 
and thus retire early without giving up the 
pension benefit that normally be available 
only if the teacher stayed on the job for 5 or 
even 10 years longer.

Critics of this special offer complained 
that “experienced” teachers would leave in 
droves, only to be replaced by younger, less 
experienced, and therefore seemingly lower 
quality, teachers. It was obvious from the 
start that the school districts would benefit. 
They would be able to replace an older, 
more expensive, teacher with a younger, less 
experienced teacher. The younger teachers 
wouldn’t have tenure, so the districts would 
also gain the benefit of increased flexibility. 
If a younger teacher didn’t work out, he or 
she could be fired; an option not available 
should an “older” teacher with tenure prove 
to be derelict in his or her classroom job.

What wasn’t obvious was whether the 
program would actually benefit students. 
The program was so unique that Cornell 
University economists Maria Fitzpatrick 
and Michael Lovenheim studied it and 
their results were published by the National 
Bureau of Economic Research. The results of 
Illinois’ program 
were clear cut. 
Not only did the 
budget improve, 
but education 
in the affected 
schools improved 
markedly. Simply 
put, enthusiasm 

Now, this does not 
in any way imply that all older teachers are 
bad. Nor does it imply that experience is 
worthless. But Illinois’ results clearly show 
that where school districts have the flexibility 
to consider the actual quality of the service 
rendered and to hire and retain the best 
talent possible education quality improves. 
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In private 
business, every one of us (teachers included) 
recognize that competition improves quality. 
If I don’t like the service that restaurant A 
provides, I take my business to restaurant B. 
The fact that I can make that switch means 
restaurant A’s owners are motivated to make 
sure I get the best service possible. 

Unfortunately, this basic logic isn’t applied 
to the education industry. Somehow, we’re 
supposed to believe that retaining teachers 
irrespective of the quality of their teaching 
(academic freedom is the excuse for this 
antiquated practice) will result in excellence 
in education. Human nature doesn’t work 
that way. 

We all are motivated by rewards. If I do a 
great job and get a raise because of it, I’ll do 
a great job. But if I know I’ll get the same 
salary for a so-so job as for a great job, it’s 
only a matter of time before I’ll settle into 
so-so performance. In defense of teachers 
(and many of my friends are teachers), many 
of them know that they’ve reached the point 
of burn-out. They’d like nothing better than 
to move on and clear the field for younger, 
more enthusiastic, teachers. But a pension 
system that rewards years of service, not 
quality of service, keeps many burned out, 
poor-performing teachers in jobs where they 
stifle the minds of too many young people.

Hopefully, Illinois’ experience can influence 
our legislatures in Sacramento. We face 
substantial budget shortfalls and suffer 
inferior education achievements. If we 
allow those who are burned out to move 
on without forfeiting substantial pension 
benefits, we’ll save money and improve 
educational standards. 

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 reached gregwelborn2@gmail.

 It didn’t make sense 
to me. How could a 
ribboned, rolled diploma 
bestow intelligence? Or 
an oversized medal instill 
bravery? How could 
a heart-shaped clock 
on a chain substitute for a real one? But the 
answer became obvious; the traits had been 
there all along, they just hadn’t realized it - like 
Dorothy not realizing that home had always 
been just three heel-clicks away.

 As more recognize those traits within 
themselves they’ve had all along, fewer are 
cowed by the Great and Powerful, flame-
spewing voices on Fox News and talk radio. 

 The Scarecrow came to mind as I’d heard 
so many “straw man” arguments over the 
past couple weeks: if you can’t come up with 
a compelling argument, you just invent the 
other position and then argue against your 

 A couple weeks ago, nobody paid much 
attention to the rodeo clown at the Missouri 
State Fair who came out with an Obama mask, 
stuck a broom handle up his rear, engaged 
in some good ol’ racist lip-bobbling as the 
announcer had the crowd whooping by asking 
how many wanted to see him trampled by a 

 Fair officials called it “inappropriate and 
disrespectful . . . We strive to be a family 
friendly event and regret that Saturday’s 
rodeo badly missed that mark”. Missouri’s 
Republican Lieutenant Governor tweeted; “I 
condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS 
the other night. We are better than this.” White 
House spokesman Josh Earnest commented; 
“I can tell you as a native Missourian, it was 
certainly not one of the finer moments for our 

 That would’ve been it, had it not been for 
straw man inventions like those of Rep. Steve 
Stockman (R-TX); “Liberals have targeted 
this man for personal destruction to create a 
climate of fear . . . They want to crush dissent 
by isolating and polarizing anyone who 
questions Obama.” Glenn Beck explained 
that liberals “are terrified . . . They know this 
thing is falling apart; that’s why they’re going 
after the rodeo clown, they’re freaking out!” 
He likened it to McCarthyism and declared, 
“We are all rodeo clowns!”

 Liberals weren’t “going after” any rodeo 
clown. The “liberal media” gave it coverage 
primarily to relish Beck’s self-identification 
as a clown, and to note the bizarre lengths the 
right will go to find stories they can “freak out” 

 On the drive home, I heard John and Ken 
on KFI express disgust over liberals who 
won’t condemn the acts of fellow Democrats 
NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and 
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. No evidence 
provided; just those ubiquitous straw men. I 
got home, turned on TV, and heard the most 
sustained, severe condemnation of both 
politicians from the liberal hosts on MSNBC. 
Liberal office-holders, commentators and 
voters seem less tolerant of transgressors 
among their own than those on the right, for 
whom all it takes is a tearful press conference 
alongside stoic wife, recounting prayer and 
Christ’s forgiveness.

 In his column last week, Greg Welborn 
wrote that liberals feel individuals should 
not be held personally responsible for their 
own actions. His evidence is a NY Times 
column by Nicholas Kristof which wasn’t 
about responsibility, but mandatory sentences 
arising from the crack epidemic of thirty years 

 In the cited case of Edward Young, under 
federal guidelines twenty-year-old burglary 
convictions gave Young a record as a “violent 
felon” (though neither violence nor firearms 
were factors in the burglaries), unable to 
possess guns or ammunition. In helping a 
neighboring widow move furniture to a flea 
market he ended up with a dresser, in which 
he later found seven shotgun shells. He hid 
them away to keep them out of reach of his 

 They were found in the course of another 
burglary investigation. As a result, what 
could’ve been a few years in state prison on 
the burglary charges with possible probation 
or parole became a mandatory minimum 
fifteen years in the federal penitentiary for the 
seven shotgun shells. He could’ve gotten life. 
The judge explained to Young that under the 
law he had no discretion in the sentencing, 
describing the case as something out of 

 If there’s a difference in views on personal 
responsibility, it’s that those of us on the left 
feel no segment of society should be exempt. 
I doubt I’ll hear anyone on the right agree 
that those who endanger our health and 
heritage by ruining our environment for 
corporate profit, or who wipe out thousands 
of retirement funds and tank our nation’s 
economy by defrauding investors and gaming 
financial markets, should be held personally 
responsible for their actions as well – and not 
simply allowed to reach a settlement to be 
written off as a business expense.

 As Dorothy put it, “If you were really great 
and powerful, you’d keep your promises!” 
Thirty years ago, wizards on the right 
promised that with cutting upper marginal 
and corporate tax rates the benefits would 
trickle down to the rest of us. Twenty years 
ago, they promised Bill Clinton’s budget would 
devastate the economy. Ten years ago, the 
promise was that our troops entering Baghdad 
would be greeted as liberators in a war to last “. 
. . six days, six weeks. I doubt it would last six 
months.” (Defense Sec. Rumsfeld)

 Now the promise is to shut down our 
government unless the Affordable Care Act is 
defunded – and this promise they threaten to 

 As people rediscover the brains they’ve had 
all along, they know that the intimidating face 
on the screen, booming voice and authoritative 
message are all as phony as the promises. They 
realize there are special interests behind the 
scenes pulling the strings and controlling the 
microphone – and they’re refusing to heed 
warnings to “Pay no attention to that man 
behind the curtain!”

Mountain Views News

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