Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Core of the Issue

Just north of Dallas, where I now reside, the morning paper is full of Tom DeLay. When a leading congress-critter gets indicted, it is going to be big partisan news. When he’s a local, the news takes on an entirely new dimension. It’s huge! It’s evil! It’s a whitewash! It’s a witch-hunt! It’s something or other, but it ain’t good for democracy.

Here’s just one example of reporting on the issue, from a “fair and balanced” source: Spinning Wheel Keeps Turning

Even the most objective of readers will find it difficult to avoid some sort of visceral reaction to the reportage. Why how could a respected member of Congress flout the law like that? Or, maybe, how could a district attorney stoop so low as to attempt to bring down a high-level member of the administration? Or, possibly, how corrupt are the Republicans? Or even, how scurrilous are the Democrats?

Yet, we seem to be missing the essence of the argument. What is going on here? The charge is that DeLay solicited corporate contributions for candidates for local office. That doesn’t seem either evil or unusual for a political leader. But, he “laundered” the money, by taking it for a PAC (Political Action Committee) which then contributed to the Republican National Committee. OK, that still doesn’t seem bad. The RNC then contributed to the Texas Republican committee. Of course, that seems reasonable. The Texas folks gave money to local candidates for office. And the rest, as they say is history. Texas Republicans took control of the State Legislature. Good for Republicans, bad news for Democrats. Violation of Texas campaign contributions restrictions.

The essence of money laundering is that you put dollars in one pocket, and then engage in a series of transactions at the conclusion of which money shows up somewhere else. Along the way the routing is so circuitous that it is difficult to recognize if the same dollars show up or they are entirely different dollars.

Did DeLay raise money? Surely he must have. Did Republican candidates win? Yep. Ergo, Q.E.D., therefore, and to wit, there must be a violation of the campaign finance reform laws.

Ahh, did you now get the core of the issue? Yep, the core of the issue is whether or not it is reasonable and proper for an involved citizenry to express their political will in support of a candidate or an issue.

But, you point out, money is the root of all evil and giving large sums of money to a candidate must be stopped at all costs. Yet isn’t support of candidates who espouse your own ideology the very essence of political participation? Should you not be able to speak your mind (think 1st Amendment here,) and associate with like minded folks (think 1st Amendment here,) and write your political opinions for publication (think 1st Amendment yet again.) The best way I can think of to express your political preference is NOT a vote for the candidate or issue of your choice! Sounds heretical, I know. The best way to express your political will is with your checkbook. Vote, of course, but contribute.

If someone passes laws (they have and will do so again) that prohibit you from expressing your political will, they are violating the first amendment. If they pass a law that says you cannot express as much support as you want for a candidate—from whisper, to spoken word to exuberant shout, they are violating the first amendment. If political support is equivalent to contributions then limiting the dollar amount of your participation is muzzling in violation of the 1st Amendment. C’mon, how can we say $5 is OK, and $500 is still acceptable, but $1500 is too much? Setting arbitrary numbers is a feel good solution to a perceived, but generally non-existent principle that large contributions result in a corruption of government.

It isn’t whether DeLay solicited contributions. No doubt he did. It isn’t whether those contributions came from someone seeking to aid a candidate. Clearly they must have. It isn’t whether those contributions went to candidates. That was exactly the point. The core issue is the unconstitutional restriction of our freedom of political expression that the campaign finance reform acts represent.

Maybe the DeLay indictment will bring attention to this disenfranchisement of the electorate, but somehow I doubt it. I was naïve enough to believe that McCain-Feingold would be overturned by the Supreme Court a while back. Maybe next year…

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Charity Flawed?

I recall a proposal during the George H. W. Bush administration to reduce the dependence of the American people on government largesse. It made sense, it was ridiculed by the leftist intelligentsia, and it didn’t seem to go very far. Maybe it was the oft-touted lack of “the vision thing” that was used to make fun of Bush-41’s often imprecise language. Maybe it was a sincere conviction that government is the nanny of us all and should not be undermined in taking care of us. He called for “A Thousand Points of Light”—a metaphor to reflect the fact that the social structure and man’s inherent charity can often do a better job of easing life’s woes than a government bureaucrat.

The idea was that families, friends, charities, faith-based organizations can all help us when things go poorly. I don’t think that was a throwback to a long-gone generational concept. I’m pretty well convinced that if I’ve got a problem I’m more likely to be helped by my old buddies, my veteran’s organizations, my school chums, my family, my church, my fraternal groups, and the guys down at the local watering hole than I am to be bailed out by (pause for drumroll….) FEMA. Yep, charity begins at home. And goodness is its own reward.

But, what then of this piece from the Washington Post: Flickering Points of Light

When Katrina and Rita laid thousands low, there was a huge effort by those unheralded Thousand Points of Light to aid their fellow man. Churches, schools, small communities, groups of all kinds leaped forward to offer assistance. It shouldn’t have been unexpected. It’s what good people do. It’s right. It’s appropriate. It’s the essence of humanity.

But, what’s going on now with the expectation that FEMA and/or the federal government should be reimbursing churches for their charity? The blatant politicization of the issue is appalling. First, we’ve got politicians scrambling all over themselves to dispense money. Send a check from Washington and take credit when re-election time rolls around. And, there’s no downside. Later you can use the expenditure to clamor for higher taxes, demand withdraw from world responsibilities, support cuts in defense, and demonstrate to the masses the failures (if you’re in the minority) or the successes (if you’re in the administration) of your party and yourself.

Then, we’ve got the usual suspects from the secularist movements. No! God forbid (excuse the descent into religious-based vernacular,) that non-denominational money should flow into religious coffers regardless of the reason. That’s a non-hunting dog from the git go. If an organization, regardless of fundamental or fundamentalist beliefs, experiences a reimbursable loss, they should get paid. But, that begs the question of whether or not this is a reimbursable expense.

Third, there is the natural emotional reaction. “We”, meaning the nation as a whole and specifically the dispensers of dollars in the capital, should bear the expense and cushion the blow to the locals—even when it is a church. Sorry, but call me hard-hearted here. Emotion always makes bad public policy. Reason trumps emotion every time. If you give because it’s right, should you later demand repayment for the “gift”?

So, what gives here? If one of the “Points of Light” steps forward voluntarily and does what their faith directs them to do for their fellow-man, then they should take pride in their charity and go on their merry way. They should not expect reimbursement, particularly if there was no promise of compensation before the expenditure.

When I give to a church or a charity, it should be for the purpose of them doing good works with the money. That’s the essence of the gift. If I give to the church or charity for them to do the right thing, then they get reimbursed by the feds, where does my money go? Why should I ever contribute? What’s the point of the sermon about sacrifice, if there is no sacrifice involved? If Big Brother will handle it, why have private charitable organizations in the first place?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Presidential Pick Influences?

Kathleen Parker offers an enlightened over-view of presidential history of the second half of the Twentieth Century in an editorial on the possible results of the recent hurricanes: Parker on Presidential Picking

She’s got a summary of succession that should be mandatory reading for every high school government student in the nation. It’s true beyond question that events, the more current the better, will influence the next presidential election. When good things happen and a leader looks competent, we get re-election. We sometimes get re-elections that suspend common sense and abandon the Washingtonian tradition of self-limited tenure. Franklin Roosevelt seemed to be overcome by his reshaping of the Constitution and the relationships of the nations of the world while simultaneously expanding the power of the federal government, correcting the economic woes of the free-market and curing the common cold. He sucked up a third and then a fourth term and led us inevitably to the 22nd Amendment. When the system can’t be trusted to limit power, we modify the system.

But, will Katrina and Rita call the election of 2008? Nah! It’s way too far away and events move much too quickly in the modern, media-driven world. George Bush can’t be re-elected and Dick Cheney won’t be the candidate under any circumstances. We’ve got three years of developments to weather before we get to tap those touch screens, blacken those bubbles, punch those chads or clip the wings of those butterfly ballots. There will be new names, new issues, new tragedies to rehash by then.

It is undeniable, however, that events color the perceptions of the body politic. When the economy is soaring, we will re-elect the incumbent. When unemployment is high, we will flush the bums out of office. When we feel threatened, we will grab the aggressive candidate who promises us security. If we feel discriminated against, we will lean on the left for sympathy and policies that will empower us. It’s all natural.

Ms Parker notes that Bush 43, who (at least now) doesn’t drink, party or engage in illicit sex was a natural reaction to Clinton who seemed to do all of those to excess. Clinton’s voluble nature was a reaction to the Ivy League reserve of Bush 41, who was a backing off of the cowboy confidence that we saw in Reagan. Ronaldus Magnus was a correction from Carter’s pacifistic preaching and economic disasters while Jimmah C. was a breath of moral fresh-air to recover from the scandals of Watergate. Nixon was a reaction to LBJ’s socialist tendencies and JFK was charm and culture after the dullness of Ike. All true, as far as it goes.

Yet, Parker’s examination is too superficial. While her summary succeeds, it ignores the most important aspect of 21st Century presidential politics. It doesn’t notice that what we think are the important issues and what we think the character of a candidate contains is quite often only what we get from the loudest braying of the media.

Repeatedly we were told of the 10,000 dead in the wake of Katrina. How many died? Regrettably a few hundred. Sad, but a long way from the headline numbers. Was Mayor Nagin as incompetent as some portrayals? Hard to believe. Was Governor Perry in Texas that much more in command than Blanco in Louisiana? I don’t know for sure. The point is that what we read in the headlines caters to what we want to be told. What the facts are can often be quite different.

Why is that important? Because, if a republic is to function; if a representative democracy is to be effective in selection of its leaders; if voting by the citizenry is to be efficacious at all, we must know what is true. The over-simplification of complex issues is the norm and it also holds the potential for the death of the grand experiment in governance which is America.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Chads Might Be Hanging

It was unfortunately obvious in my political science classes that even college students in the US of A often don’t understand the differences between parliamentary systems and our own presidential form of republic. The concept of multi-party politics which is basic to most parliamentary systems (except for the remarkably stable British model), is alien to Americans who are steeped in a two-party history—even though we usually can’t explain the various mechanisms that perpetuate that either. So, it is remarkable the amount of coverage we are seeing in our newspapers regarding the recent German elections.

There’s a lot going on in that election. Some points to note right at the beginning: Germany has been, to put it kindly, in the economic doldrums for several years. Unemployment is high, taxes are high, production is low, and a strong case could be made that pacifism, socialism and ennui in the younger generation are fomenting a decline of unprecedented magnitude. Americans were, in large measure, surprised when Chancellor Schroeder’s government was less than supportive in our war against global terrorism. We might have considered the fifty years or so of US military defense of central Europe in general and the former Federal Republic in particular as contributing to the genesis of those attitudes. But, despite our considerable sacrifices on their behalf, Germany wasn’t eager to offer blood, sweat, tears or Deutschmarks to the effort.

Germany has been under strain since reunification. The economic powerhouse of a capitalist FRG had allowed a very prosperous lifestyle and the institutionalizing of loads of welfare programs, such as “kindergelt” which paid for procreation, the “kur” which paid for spa vacations for workers every couple of years, the health care, the retirement programs, the five week per year vacations, etc. When reunification came, suddenly the integration of the six lander of the former DDR caused instant class envy. The former Communists had high expectations for services and low dedication to the sort of hard work that the West Germans were comfortable with. Receiving to meet their needs was demanded, but contributing according to their ability was mostly expected from the more prosperous West. The impossible task of raising the East to the level of the West without a deterioration of the standard of living in that West was apparent.

The surprise then is that we suddenly have an election in which the conservative, free-market capitalist candidate who wants to cut welfare, increase individual responsibility and downsize government is a former DDR citizen. The incumbent who had presided over the economic slump was born and bred in the democratic West. Early polling showed the conservative with a huge lead—indicative of a nationwide dissatisfaction with the status quo. In a parliamentary system, that translates to a lot of legislative seats shifting to the party of the conservative leader. A majority in the parliament means their leader becomes chancellor (or prime minister.)

But, in a multi-party system, a pure majority is a tough goal to reach. Lots of parties mean a dissipation of the vote as the electorate finds just the perfect party nuance for their ideology. A spectrum of party positions means that the usual outcome will be a plurality for a major party but not an outright majority. And, that’s what happened. What is remarkable though is how the victory of Angela Merkel is being downplayed. Winning Can be Losing

Yep, she won the election—not by a lot, but she DID win. Reading the newspaper though you would think she lost. Even Ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who LOST thinks he really won! The difference in percentage of the total votes is a thin 0.9% of the total. The difference in Bundestag seats between Merkel’s party and Schroeder’s is only five seats. But, Merkel got more total votes and Merkel’s party holds more seats than Schroeder’s bunch.

So, ask yourself the reasonable question—how large was the Schroeder mandate from the previous election? Well, he won by around 1% of the total vote cast and his party held a five seat margin. Makes me reminisce about the American presidential elections. Where is the outrage? Where are the pickets with the signs declaring the outcome was rigged. Who is complaining about the disenfranchisement of the down-trodden minorities of the former communist lander?

This is going to be interesting. Merkel certainly squandered a lot of votes with a poorly run campaign—most analysts are accusing her of being TOO HONEST! She actually was saying what she believed. She was announcing what was wrong in the nation and describing the tough measures she was planning to enact if elected to cure the economy, restore national vitality and elevate Germany to a proper leadership role in the EU.

I can only hope that she gets a chance.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Truth Hurts

I confess, I seldom go to Slate to seek unbiased truth. I go to explore alternative views to my own. I know that Slate tends to be a bit—make that more than a bit—to the left of my own positions on virtually everything. That’s why it took the Dallas Morning News republication of an item by Jack Shafer before I saw this: Don't Refloat

What incredible insight! Written eleven days ago, when emotions over the damage in the aftermath of Katrina were at their highest and expectations for the future were at their lowest, Shafer musters a strong argument against restoration of New Orleans. And, surprisingly, there has been little to emerge in the past eleven days to really prove him incorrect.

He suggests very strongly that there is no practical way to restore the Big Easy, and really no one should want to. Restoration of the poverty, the depression, the unemployment, the corruption, the lack of education and the arguable lawlessness of the town which most tourists didn’t see isn’t a goal worth pursuing. Dumping several hundred thousand dollars per former occupant into the reconstruction of an area that will never be secure from a recurrence of the hurricane/flooding/looting disaster isn’t a very good idea at all. And, please note that the current estimates of costs for the recovery are exactly at that level--$200 billion. Divvy that up among half a million former residents and it comes to a tidy sum per capita.

Senator Landrieu doesn’t like such honesty. Governor Blanco won’t tolerate such realism. Mayor Nagin, from his newly purchased home in Texas, governing in abstentia, wouldn’t like to see the opportunity for his own compensation in “administering” the recovery programs diminished by such truth. No, they’ve all got a deeply vested interest in seeing money poured from federal coffers into state and local government budgets to be doled out (with concurrent spillage) into their associates’ hands.

But, the real question is what should we really do? The city has historic value. There are some industrial needs that can be met by the port and related infrastructure. There is probably a justifiable reason to restore the French Quarter and the Garden District for tourism. The rest of the city might well be abandoned without much regret.

A couple of hundred thousand former residents are dispersed around the country. Many of them left little behind and have little desire to return to the conditions of their prior lives. They already are discovering that conditions of life in Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston, and hundreds of smaller communities are a considerable improvement from what they left and lost. They won’t return and they shouldn’t be paid to do so by a guilt-stricken federal government.

When Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, suggests maybe rebuilding a city on a lake bed is foolish, we should be listening. The truth can hurt, but there is significant benefit to hearing it despite the pain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Be Very Afraid? Or Not?

It has begun and it looks exactly as I had anticipated. I’m not sure yet whether this is a demonstration of the pervasive ineptitude of our United States Senate or the remarkable appointment of President Bush in the selection of John Roberts for the Chief Justice position. Let the Inquisition Commence

So far, as I watch (actually listen, since there isn’t much to see beyond talking heads) the hearings I’m impressed with the demeanor of Judge Roberts and equally appalled by the manifest ignorance and venality of the interrogators. The blatant attempts to overwhelm the candidate with trivia, historic inaccuracies, contrived convolutions, and sound bites from the Democratic National Committee talking points is downright scary.

The best sound bite of the entire show may have already been heard. Roberts used it in his introductory remarks which consumed only six of his allotted ten minutes. He likened the role of justices of the Supreme Court to the umpire in a ball game and noted quite correctly that no one goes to the game to see the umps.

That’s pretty appropriate to the role of the courts as the Founders envisioned it. The Court, as it was irretrievably shaped by John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, is not to throw the pitches nor to bat the ball or run the bases. The Court is there simply to apply the rules as they have been established in the Constitution.

But, I’ve just been watching Patrick Leahy and I’ve got to say that while he looked sincere he sounded foolish. He threw mud at the wall and dredged up every red herring of the past forty years to see if the stench could cover Roberts. We got some Iran-Contra, a bit of Vietnam, an oblique allusion to lack of WMD in Iraq, some torture of terrorists and even reference to an imperial presidency. None of which have much to do with John Roberts.

Then, someone put Teddy of Chappaquiddick on the microphone—either because of his seniority on the committee or because he loses some coherency after lunch. He spent his fifteen minutes of questioning time creating some sort of strawman that sought to wrap Roberts in a sort of Ku Klux Klan mantle of racism. Even after carefully reading the preparations of his staff which sought to elevate the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the early ‘60s (the legacy of pathetic Ted’s wiser and more able brother), he couldn’t quite get the anti-equality implications to stick. Unabashed, however, he still was reluctant to let Roberts reply to the convolutions of his “question”.

Now, I’ve got Hair Club for Men member, Joe Biden trying to get Roberts to commit to decisions that he’s going to make in future court cases. Pretty tough to get spontaneous rulings on theoretical cases, but Joe’s still trying. Gotta admit though, that Biden’s much more personable and was really charming with his baseball allegories of Supreme Court judges having the freedom to define the strike zone. Ahhh, but Biden goes on to demand that Roberts follow a newly defined “Ginsberg Principle” in which he wants Robert to follow the path the Justice Ginsberg trod during her confirmation. Ginsberg talked about future positions and now Joe wants Roberts to either do the same or be cast as the bad guy. And, Biden can’t keep his big mouth shut or bridle his sarcasm. Disgusting actually.

I’m scared, very scared. The Senators are demonstrating such incredible stupidity and venality that it frightens me. And, more frightening than that is the fact that most Americans may not even notice.

But, I’m also feeling pretty good that we’ve got a candidate for Chief Justice who apparently is pretty damned sharp.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Whither Federalism?

Emotion will trump facts and logic every single time. Show me people suffering, hungry, thirsty, sick and homeless and I will be sympathetic. Immerse them in chaos and lawlessness and I will demand to know why “somebody” isn’t doing “something.” But what ever became of federalism?

Remember the big argument at the founding of our nation? Remember the discussions about the dangers of a strong federal government? Remember that concept of frontier independence and the demands for local autonomy? Got any recollection of that old cliché regarding “delegated and reserved” powers? What happened to it last week?

Stand back for a moment from the images of human misery. Take a deep breath and start at the beginning in assessing blame or inordinate dependence upon the largesse of the nation. We’ve got a metropolis, a huge arguably modern city populated by a demographic mélange heavily weighted toward ethnic minorities and poverty. The overlay is of a city dedicated to tourism, hedonism and “Laissez les bons temps rouler”.

Convention-goers and Mardi Gras revelers would bunk in the high rise, air-conditioned hotels, stroll the Riverwalk, dine at Emeril’s or Antoine’s, slum through the flesh pots of the French Quarter and spend the morning across from Jackson Square munching beignets and sipping chicory coffee at Café du Monde. The drunks and druggies roaming the Quarter filling a plastic cup with the dregs of discarded liquor bottles culled from the garbage of the previous night’s revelry were largely over-looked.

But, this was a major city and it had hundreds of thousands of folks living down darkened streets in small houses and apartments—some neat, some unkempt, but all of them below sea level. From Canal Street’s terminus in front of the Trade Center you could see the ships passing by along the Mississippi ABOVE your head! The entire city was in a huge basin surrounded by water and defended by levees and pumps. Picturesque possibly, but unwise in the extreme.

Now, let’s consider federalism again. Who is responsible for where people choose to live? Not Washington. Who is responsible for local government? Emphatically not Washington. Who maintains order, provides services, plans for the future and carries out the will of the local electorate? How about the City of New Orleans?

The Blame Game

When problems extend beyond the city limits or are regional in nature who then should be dealing with them? If you said Washington, please go back to paragraph one and start over. The answer is the state and parish governments. Yep, we still haven’t gotten to the federal level of responsibility.

So, historically we know some things about Gulf Coast weather. There are hurricanes and they seem to occur in greater or lesser severity every year. When they come up the Gulf and hit the soft underbelly of the US, in places like Galveston, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile or Pensacola, the damage can be severe. We know all this.

What then should a prudent city administration do? How about have a plan for the inevitable? How about preparing an evacuation plan? How about preparing shelters and stocking them with minimal survival supplies? How about creating a back-up communications network? How about training and instructing folks on what can and what should happen in the event of an emergency? Is anyone holding the city administration responsible here?

Am I the only one who noticed the evacuation traffic jams on the outbound lanes of the highways while the inbound lanes remained empty? Has no one there ever gone to a major sporting event and noticed how traffic is managed to use all of the lanes to get people in and then they are reversed to get them out?

What about those school buses that weren’t used? How about water and MRE storage in designated shelter sites? What about security and health care? Why was an attitude of disregard for warnings of impending doom allowed to develop over years of hurricane exposure? Either there was no plan or there was no one in charge to implement it.

And, most importantly, who taught all of those folks who disregarded the warnings, disobeyed the orders and then found themselves in dire straits that the folks in Washington DC were responsible for getting them food, water, health care and security on demand? Now we’ve got Oprah wailing, Geraldo in tears, and Reverends Jackson and Sharpton implying that hurricanes are a racist plot by the Bush administration.

The poor of New Orleans were ill-served, but it wasn’t Washington that served them poorly. It was their local government that failed them. Their Mayor and Governor didn’t prepare well and then didn’t respond well when faced with the results. All they could do was lead the whining and blame Washington.

Now, the damage is done. Many are dead and much will be required to fix the foundations of our society. We’ve seen how thin the veneer of civilization can be and we should be very disappointed in that which we have fostered. In the coming weeks the posturing will continue as politicians seek to float their own boats and insure their own success in future elections. We’ll regularly hear the cause stated in the passive voice, “mistakes were made” but we’ll seldom hear who really made them.

But, most of all we’ll see yet another stake driven through the heart of American self-reliance and independence. Federalism increasingly is becoming a relic of a distant past. And, that is too bad.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Simpler Life

So, you’ve probably been asking yourself, “Where’s Ed?”

The answer isn’t a simple one, or then again, maybe it is. I’ve been in the rather hectic process of relocation.

When I retired from the Air Force, I swore that I’d never move again. I’d been regularly uprooting for more than twenty years and had found a place in Colorado Springs where I could happily finish my run without need for more turmoil. Nice town, nice people, nice weather and lots of the things I like to do such as skiing, hunting, fishing, camping, fine dining, and stirring the local political pot.

That was 1985 and the town was 165,000 people. The road past my house was two-lane and the subdivision was just built. Today, the town is over 444,000, the road is going to be expanded from four to six lanes divided and congestion is a daily fact-of-life. I haven’t skied in ten years, I’ve begun to consider staying in a three-star hotel as “camping”, and although I still hunt, I’ve found less beauty and more blemish in the local community in recent years. Yet, I wasn’t primed for what happened last June.

A long time friend had moved from southern New Mexico where he had a beautiful place nestled in the foothills below Sierra Blanca mountain in Capitan (final resting place of the legendary Smoky Bear), to a small town about 65 miles north of Dallas near the shores of Lake Texoma. We’ve known each other for 25 years—he ex-military and former cop, she a retired teacher like my wife—and we’ve visited each other regularly. It was a natural when he finished building his new home last year that we would visit shortly thereafter.

We went for four days in June. His home was beautiful. A brick rancher with air-conditioning, built to his custom specs and with a separate three-bay, three-car garage. I sized it up based on Colorado Springs costs and asked what he’d spent. Turned out to be half my estimate. The hook was set.

Next day we got into discussions of taxes, utilities, and cost of living. Shortly afterward, he mentioned a lot nearby that his builder had ready for construction. A couple of drives around the area awed by the green grass, rolling hillsides, beautiful lake and the friendly people got the idea into form. I could sell the Colorado Springs home (which, although well-maintained and regularly upgraded, would be needing a new deck, new furnace, remodeled baths, and re-sodded lawn in the next year or two) and build a dream home, bigger and better with money left over!

By the time the four days were up, we had gone from never moving again but expressing grudging admiration for my friend’s home, to commitment to make it happen for ourselves. A call to the builder the morning after we returned to Colorado confirmed the price and the lot. A call to an old AF friend who was in the real estate business to list my house for sale closed the loop. Twenty one days later, Colorado house was under contract. Less than sixty days after that fateful trip, I’m living in a furnished apartment, watching my house being built and marveling at life in the heartland of America.

Whitesboro is a small town, only about 3500 folks. But, it’s a short, uncongested drive to Sherman which has all the “big-box” shops you could ever want. And, if you’ve really got to satisfy the Jones for a traffic jam, a crowd and some urban unrest, you can always get to Dallas in about an hour.

I think I’m lovin’ it!!