The government, at all levels, squanders billions of dollars on questionable endeavors that leave many of us scratching our heads.
Tax dollars are spent on such things as sidewalks along Florida’s rural highways that are scarcely used and even overgrown in places with weeds while other more prioritized improvements receive little or no attention.
An excellent example is the barricaded Friendship Trail Bridge between Pinellas County and Tampa that was so popular with cyclists, walkers, skaters and anglers. Part of the original Gandy Bridge, bureaucrats closed the trail due to salt water corrosion. Instead of seeking ways to pay for the necessary improvements to keep it viable, our esteemed public servants are instead groveling for cash to tear it down.
We have entered the last half of the current year, and I’m glad. I’ve always liked the second six months of a year more than the first. I’m not sure why, but I can guess.
For one thing, the first half has too many holidays to keep track of. You begin with New Year’s Day and all that resolutions baloney, followed by Martin Luther King Jr., Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, Presidents Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Memorial Day and a few others not worth mentioning.
Legal holidays are a valuable part of life. They force hard-working Americans to take a break from the rat race. But they also can be a pain. You need to make a bank deposit, but the bank is closed.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews he thinks that Mitt Romney will run for president in 2016 and that “he will be the next president of the United States.” The former Massachusetts governor lost the GOP primary in 2008 and then the general election in 2012. What would his 2016 slogan be, “the third time’s a charm”?
Former GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough urged fellow attendees at Romney’s now annual GOP summit last month to join the draft movement. More than 50,000 have signed a “Draft Mitt” petition. Onetime Romney aide Emil Henry wrote “The Case for Mitt Romney in 2016” in Politico. Only Romney, he argued, can “roll into any major money center like New York, Los Angeles or Houston and mobilize his fundraisers on demand.”
I think Romney ran a solid campaign in 2012. Like 45 percent of respondents to a Quinnipiac poll, I believe that America would be better off today with Romney in the Oval Office. And I relish the debate in which Hillary Clinton and Romney find themselves agreeing ardently that a couple can own two mansions and still be “dead broke.”
A visit to the library is the ultimate treasure hunt. If you’ve spent time in a great library, such as Largo’s, you know what I mean.
Even if you exit the library empty-handed, you know you eventually will return and come across a book that will be so spellbinding that it leaves you with something - maybe for the rest of your life. And all it costs you is time.
Since I was a child, I’ve wandered the aisles of libraries, large and small, whether doing research for a school term paper or just hoping to find a book to read at my leisure.
The latest developments in the Mideast have surprised that small remaining percentage of observers who mistakenly assumed that the Muslim religion was unified. That delusion portrayed Islam as a tight-knit, disciplined body of believers who regard Islam as the only true faith and all other religions as misguided assemblages of infidels, worthy only of contempt and ultimate extinction.
But in the past few weeks we have learned (or re-learned) that Islam is just as fractured as Christianity. The two warring branches are the Sunnis and the Shiites, whose primary purpose is to kill one another, take control of Iraq, and then go on to conquer the world in the name of Allah (provided, we must assume, that Allah can be shown to be either a Sunni or a Shiite.)
The argument between the two sects goes back to 632, when Islam’s founder, the prophet Muhammad, died. Leadership then went to a Sunni. But the Shiites felt their man should have been named boss. That started the feud. Today most Muslims are Sunnis. But Shiites dominate in a significant number of other countries. And guess who’s trapped in between the two factions? Good old Uncle Sam.
It’s time to pass the hat for Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state has tried to distance herself from her weeks-ago assertion that after husband Bill left the White House, the couple were “dead broke.” She told PBS that the line was “inartful,” but only after she told a British paper that she does not count herself among the “truly well-off.” Nobody knows the troubles she’s seen.
In the United Kingdom pushing her latest book - for which she received a reported eight-figure advance - Clinton told The Guardian that the Clintons should not be seen as out-of-touch swells: “We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well-off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
Let us check the boxes of that quote. The Democrat essentially asserted that U.S. income taxes are cleaning out the family coffers. Expect her to call for tax reform a la Mitt Romney, as she believes that paying taxes has kept the Clintons - who, according to Politico, reported earnings of $109 million in the eight years preceding 2008 - from being truly well-off.
I’m aiming this column mostly at grandparents, let’s say people aged 60 and older with grandchildren who are 10 to 20 years old. This week, as we celebrate the 238th birthday of our beloved country, I’d like you to roll the calendar forward 50 years.
You won’t be hanging around at that time, of course. Nor will I. But our grandchildren will still be on deck (or so we hope). Today I want you to picture your grandkids standing at your gravesite or thumbing through a family photo album. Imagine, as they think of you, that they ask this question: “I wonder what Grandpa or Grandma did, or even thought, about global warming way back then, when there was still time to do something about it?”
I won’t attempt to imagine the answers to that question. Instead, I’ll list some possible situations our grandchildren may face at that time, a half-century from now. For example, if they’ll be living in Florida, odds are strong their homes will be inland, far from what you and I today regard as the Florida coastline. Much of the coast will have been diminished, washed away by steadily rising tides.
Everybody seems to be taking aim at VA facilities these days.
Even Gov. Rick Scott climbed aboard the bandwagon to harvest headlines at the expense of VA healthcare.
“With 1.5 million veterans that call Florida home, we’re committed to being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation - and reports of deaths, neglect, poor conditions and a secret waiting list in federal VA hospitals in Florida are unacceptable,” Scott was quoted as saying.
Kiwanis Breakfast Club meeting
SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole meets Tuesdays at 7:15 a.m. in the third floor card room at Lake Seminole Square, 8333 Seminole Blvd.
On the second, third and fourth Tuesdays of the month, the group features speakers from different organizations.
Visit kiwanisseminolebreakfast.com or call 319-8343 for more information.
MLK Neighborhood Center Coalition planning sessions CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center Coalition hosts weekly planning sessions every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 1201 Douglas Ave. It also hosts a neighborhood community market each fourth Saturday, with the June market set for the 28th.
The Community Outreach Team invites people to join them in making phone calls or writing letters to the residents in the neighborhood surrounding the center to inspire neighbors with the progress that is being made.
Monthly educational series on hemp and cannabis
Witch’s Brew plans series on cannabis
PALM HARBOR – The Witch’s Brew Café/Pub will host a monthly educational series on the subject of hemp and cannabis beginning Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 p.m.
The eight-month series will be presented second and fourth Tuesdays. It will run through October. Each month will highlight a certain facet of the issue, with topics such as marijuana as medicine, economics of the “cannabusiness industry, politics of getting it legalized, spiritual/recreational/creative uses, current and future laws and the opportunities with hemp.
Each gathering will showcase a documentary or talk show on the subject to be followed with discussion. One of the presentations each month will be a screening of an episode of “The Captain Cannabis Show,” an Internet talk radio show dedicated to the hemp and cannabis industry in Florida.
The Witch’s Brew is at 1219 Florida Ave., Palm Harbor.
Qi Gong meditation classes ST. PETE BEACH – Weekly Qi Gong moving meditation classes are held Tuesdays, 8:30 to 10 a.m., at the Warren Webster Center, 1500 Pass-A-Grille Way.
The cost is $10 per class.
Classes are lead by acupuncture physician Joyce Lockwood who studied Qi Gong in China and
is certified as a Qi Gong practice leader in the U.S. through the Institute of Integral Qi Gong and Tai Chi.
Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates slow graceful movements, breathing techniques and deep relaxation.
Support group for addicted teens meeting
LARGO – Take a Hand, a new support group for parents and caregivers of teenagers suffering from substance abuse and behavioral issues will meet Tuesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in portable 1A of Anona United Methodist Church, 13233 Indian Rocks Road.
The first meeting will be Tuesday, March 4.
The group, started with the support of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, will invite guest speakers to offer advice and support to those caring for addicted teenagers, including information about the judicial system, residential treatment and more. The meetings are designed to be a safe place for parents, relatives and friends.
Financial aid workshop ST. PETERSBURG – The Eckerd College Program for Experienced Learners plans a workshop Wednesday, July 23 that includes a presentation on how adults looking to finish their college degree can finance for their return to school.
The free workshop will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Franklin Templeton Building, Room 209, at Eckerd College, 4200 54th St. S.
College staff will cover the financial aid process and how it can be different from the process for traditional undergraduate students. Other topics will include common mistakes made while completing the process and the different types of federal assistance resources available for adult students.
The Program for Experienced Learners gives busy adults the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in a classroom-learning environment. Small class sizes and high-quality faculty create a premium college experience, along with the opportunity to network with other professionals.
Students can take classes at PEL’s St. Petersburg or Tampa locations.
Wednesday afternoon book club
TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Library offers a Wednesday afternoon book club called “Expand Your Horizons.” Fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres are discussed each month. For the date of the next meeting, call 943-4922 or email email@example.com.
Community memorial service SEMINOLE – A community memorial service will be presented Thursday, July 24, 6 p.m., at Chapel on the Hill, 12601 Park Blvd.
Chapel on the Hill will join with Suncoast Hospice to host this service. The service is open to any and all bereaved members of the community and is not grounded to a particular faith. Anyone who has lost a loved one with Suncoast Hospice is invited to attend.
The service will last about 45 minutes and consist of music, inspirational readings, a reflection on a theme and a “reading of names” of those who have died and are being remembered.
Fellowship and refreshments will follow the service. Those interested in attending are asked to call the church office at 391-2919 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.