Stanstamper’s Blog

April 14, 2010

Let us be thankful for the fools…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 4:22 pm
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A tragic chapter in the history of southeast Oklahoma is presently being written.
It involves the taking of the waters of Sardis Reservoir without any significant benefit being realized by the region.
The benefit will be given to Oklahoma City and its suburbs, which already enjoy the state’s best jobs and highest income levels.
The city’s desire to acquire the waters of Sardis is not without opposition from a group of citizens primarily in Pushmataha county. We fear that they don’t have the political clout to derail the metro’s desire for the water.
Whether or not the lake will become like Atoka, and have a yo-yo lake level, frequently drained to serve the needs of the metro—is yet to be determined.
The pursuers of the lake’s waters promise that they will abide by a minimum lake level agreement, but mysteriously, that agreement hasn’t been stipulated.
It may be that the last bastion of hope for the residents around Sardis Lake and in Southeast Oklahoma, is the Choctaw Nation, which has both the financial resources and the threatened loss of Tribal assets at stake.
There is well more than enough water in the Kiamichi to provide for the needs for Oklahoma City and central Oklahoma without Sardis Lake becoming a casualty to their needs.
Herein lies the problem—greed and leadership.
The city has the greed and absolutely no reluctance to take a regional asset, and the state is absent the leadership to affect meaningful and commonsensical change.
It would surprise us if Governor Henry would show some backbone and demand practical options that would provide for the metro’s future water needs, without long term damage and insult to our beautiful part of Oklahoma.
I would bet that the architects of the Oklahoma City water grab are quoting Mark Twain: “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed.”

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January 19, 2010

Lookin’ Like a Fool…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 2:06 pm
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I’m probably not the only redneck to lament over the sight of someone walking with their “pants on the ground.”
And out of nowhere comes a 62-year-old civil rights worker from Atlanta, Ga., and on “American Idol,” no less, he sings his version of “Pants on the Ground.”
“You call yourself a cool cat…you’re lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground.”
Larry Platt has become an instant celebrity. Even football legend-hero Brett Favre celebrated in the locker room after the Minnesota Vikings’ big whoopin’ of our beloved Dallas Cowboys, singing his own version of “Pants on the Ground.”
“You’re lookin’ like a fool with your hat turned sideways and your pants on the ground.”
It will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks and months, to see if any of our “future leaders” decide to pull up their britches and spare us a look at their shorts.
Thanks to General Larry Platt for taking this message to the top of the media world. Even “The View” aired his song as did virtually all of the late night talk shows.
“You call yourself a cool cat…you’re lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground.”

January 8, 2010

Cold Weather Ranching…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 4:59 pm
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People who have never raised or cared for livestock probably don’t understand some of the implications that cold weather might have on the animals’ care.

Even before I was a teen, part of my daily chores included getting up before sunrise and feeding cattle and horses.

I remember being a bit surprised at how thirsty the stock would get during frigid weather. I couldn’t believe they could drink so much icy water when it was below zero.

Dad made it clear to my brother Steve and me that we needed to take a chopping axe with us on our morning and evening feeding rounds so we could chop through the ice on the ponds and allow the cattle to drink.

I discovered that thirsty animals could be just as aggressive wanting to get a drink of water as they could be if you walked through the herd carrying a sack of breeder cubes.

Chopping ice, especially when the weather was in the low teens, could get to be hard work.

Now I’ll have to admit that faced with the prospect of work, that was both hard and cold, I put my thinking cap on and tried to figure out a way to “work smart, and not so hard.”

That’s when I got a really great idea.

I could drive the front two wheels of our John Deere tractor out on the ice, and voila! They would break the ice, and with the big rear wheels of the tractor on solid frozen ground, as soon as I backed away, the cattle would rush in and get their drink.

This worked extremely well, and I was delighted at how well my intelligence had worked for me.

Dad was surprised on one such morning, when I made it back to the breakfast table about a half hour earlier than before, and was able to assure him that the cattle were indeed getting all the water they needed.

Well, my wits continued to save my back for a number of days, until the wintertime temperatures plummeted and stayed cold for a week.

I noticed that the ice on the ponds got thicker by the day until at last, the weight of the tractor’s front wheels was no longer enough to break it.

Being on the eighth grade basketball team, our practices began at 6 a.m. sharp each morning. I  had to bribe my brother Steve into taking me to practice by cooking his breakfast every day after I fed the stock.

But, dadgumit, I was going to be late because the tractor couldn’t break the ice, and I would have to go back to the barn and get the choppin’ axe after all.

I put the John Deere in reverse and backed up just a couple of feet, selected fourth or fifth gear, and angrily popped the clutch.

The green machine  spun the tires and slid sideways well out onto the frozen pond to the point that it was at least 10 feet from the bank.

And then I got a lesson in physics and anger management.

Ka-whoosh!

I just thought the morning air was cold.

I made the quarter-mile walk back to the house wondering what I would tell dad. I was relieved to find that he had already left for work in Idabel where he had just purchased the Gazette.

I’m sure Coach Landreth didn’t know why I wasn’t very attentive during that particular practice. I was worried about what kind of trouble I had gotten myself into.

Doug Rawls wasn’t able to get out to the farm with his big semi-wrecker that day, but assured dad he would the next.

I met him after school and remember his amusement at seeing only the muffler and the top of the steering wheel of the tractor sticking out of the frozen ice.

I had my work cut out for me to get the winch cable to the drawbar at the back of the tractor, but I got it done.

When Rawls pulled the winch cable, not only the tractor, but the entire frozen pond came with it.

I was so excited I called some of my friends to come out and we would try our own version of cow-pasture hockey.

Other than paying the wrecker bill and a maintenance bill out at L.B. Anderson’s John Deere, I thought my embarrassment would quickly go away.

At least until about a year later when I was working during the summer at the McCurtain Gazette newspaper in Idabel.

Dad sent me over to the bank to make a deposit and the president of the bank eyed me curiously.

I thought I’d show some good manners and introduce myself.

After I walked over and shook his hand and introduced myself, with a broad grin he said, “I’ve heard all about you. You’re the young cattleman that breaks pond ice with a tractor.”

After my face turned bright red, he cut me some slack. “Don’t feel bad, I did the very same thing when I was a kid.”

I left, glad that dad was satisfied that I had learned a lesson, and didn’t feel the need to apply the belt on top of my embarrassment.

After that, I checked all the Army surplus stores I would pass, but I never was able to find any surplus hand grenades or dynamite

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 4:12 pm
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In the year of our Lord, two-thousand and nine, we, who are temporary stewards of the earth, have a lot on our plates.
As is always the case, we first pause to bid goodbye to family and friends whose worldly hours have elapsed. In so doing, we cannot do justice to the contributions they made during their labors, but we can endeavor, as did they, to leave the world better than we found it.
Without question, our work is cut out for us.
No matter how frustrating or challenging the work before us often looms, we should never allow ourselves to fail to recognize how blessed as a nation we truly are.
Most, if not all of these blessings, have been paid for by plain hard work and sacrifice by our forebears. To the extent that our freedoms and our blessings may have become constrained, we can only blame ourselves.
The work of maintaining Liberty and Freedom is never done. Similarly let us not forget from whence we came.
For millions of Americans Christmas is a time to recognize a living God who gave his only begotten Son to the end that all who believed in Him would enjoy everlasting life.
We hope this Christmas finds you and your family in good health, good spirits and thankful that more than 2,000 years ago, a true and living God permanently entered our lives.
To the individuals and families who find themselves in the grips of grief or adversity, we offer our hope and prayers that God will lift you up and comfort you.
Beyond these realities, our spirits are lifted as eager faces and sparkling eyes look upward to those who nurture them and give them comfort—in anticipation of Christmas and the important celebration of the birth of our Lord.
We join in the celebration and extend our own sincere wish to our readers and friends—Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009

Three Americas

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 8:59 pm
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A few months ago, this column focused on that inescapable fact that America continues to grow more and more divided.
We talked about “two Americas” in which political ideology was becoming more and more pronounced.
But today, we ask if this split is not changing again.
Perhaps there are actually three Americas.
Between the well-entrenched political left and right, we have the tea baggers, and their numbers are said to be growing. They are quick to deny their loyalty to any political party.
The tea baggers are growing more and more frustrated at the two party process. They appear to be more centralistic—some would say fair-minded.
By some counts, the tea baggers outnumber both the left and the right, but political historians say they can’t crack the two-party system and won’t ultimately hang together.
On our opinion page today, these diametrically opposed political philosophies are very obvious right here in Oklahoma.
Democrats appear to back health care “reform at any cost” and Republicans say, “Is it reform, and who gets financially hurt in the process.”
But, that is what a two-party system is all about, and it is this enormous gap in the middle into which the tea baggers are flocking.
Many taxpayers are growing more appalled at the quality of leadership in all facets of government. Meaningful reform plays second fiddle to personal gain and party ideology.
Sure, there are a few exceptions, but they quickly grow weary of constantly fighting the system.
Like many vocations, when an individual comes along with the skills, integrity and desire to be an effective political leader…that individual can simply step into corporate America and be more successful without having to carry all the frustrating baggage that comes with the job.
And some, of course either get “Potomatic Fever” after arriving in Washington, or “Oklahoma River Fever” in our grand state.
It’s some kind of unfortunate virus that converts them from sensible to party hack, and it doesn’t take long.
Having an old geezer standing around one of these political newbees, constantly reminding him or her of their roots and of their once proud values, can delay this process. But unfortunately, few have that old geezer and fewer still would listen to him.
For those who enjoy being an observer of the political process, this is an exciting time. The natives, on both sides of the political spectrum, are restless—ready to go to political war in support of the party’s causes.
As always, to the victor, goes the spoils.

November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Thougths…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 3:19 pm
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Giving thanks has been a tradition in our country that started long before European settlers landed on our coasts.
Almost daily, we use this column and this page of our newspaper hoping to inform and enlighten our readers on matters of importance—things that have an impact on their lives.
We think Oklahomans, and Choctaw Countians in particular, are among the most charitable people you will find anywhere. Virtually everywhere you look there are volunteers, giving the most precious thing they have, their time, trying to make life better for someone else.
Choctaw Countians serve their fellow man through many organizations: civic clubs, youth groups and church projects. Each seeks to give something back, as our forebears gave to make things better for us.
Our blessings are pretty remarkable and perhaps too often we allow petty issues to divert our attention from the vastness of the blessings and opportunities that surround us.
Here at the Hugo Daily News, we are all thankful that we have the freedom to publish a small community newspaper and say things that would land journalists in prison in many countries.
In our county and its cities within, we see many people who haven’t lost the old-fashioned work ethic that made America great.
We are thankful that our readership has never been higher and our opportunity to serve our customers has never been greater.
At this time of Thanksgiving, our thoughts and prayers are with individuals and families who are facing difficult times and illness.
Though challenges often materialize, and some are daunting, we will always have the freedom to draw upon the inner strength given to us by God in large measures — to overcome adversity.
So we extend our wishes that you and your family have a happy, safe and memorable Thanksgiving.

November 17, 2009

Why Hurry Mega-Health Plan?

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 3:25 pm
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Proposed health care legislation in Washington continues to generate concerns among all but the youngest of American citizens.
Seniors are worried about what will, or will not be covered. Some fear the new legislation will throw them under the bus.
Business owners are also fearful of being forced by the government to provide coverage. Many businesses are struggling financially and simply cannot afford several thousand dollars a month in new expenses.
From our vantage point, given the financial challenges our nation faces, we don’t like what we hear coming from the President concerning his desire to “rush this bill through.”
The most expensive piece of legislation in our nation’s history deserves more than a rush job through the Congress—especially our current Congress, which seems oblivious to what anything costs and who will pay for it.
Senate Democrats are in a conundrum. Rush the bill through now and face the wrath of voters back home, perhaps giving voters time to “forget” before next fall’s elections.
Or will they run the risk of taking their time and opening the gates of negative public input.
With only a few more than 20 legislative days remaining this year, odds are against a 2009 bill passing.
America’s most successful companies, which provide elaborate health plans to their executives are screaming about some Democratic plans to place an excise tax on “high cost” plans.
Another Democratic plan suggests that employers be forced to withhold more from employees which earn over $200,000—all intended to subsidize the cost of insurance for low-income recipients and what many fear will suck from the system—illegal immigrants.
Democrats have their work cut out for them as 39 of their members in the House voted against the House version of the bill.
Many of our readers have called to get phone numbers of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation so they can voice their opinions.
All but a handful oppose the present health care proposal, as do we.
It would be out of character for the Congress to take the time necessary to find a sensible balanced plan that did a minimum amount of harm in the free-market.
But using the word “character” with many members of this Congress is a bit odd in itself.

November 6, 2009

Media Improving?

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 1:58 pm
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We have passed the one-year mark with a new president.
This has been an interesting year, to say the least, with respect to how the media industry has conducted itself.
A year ago, you didn’t have to be very savvy to notice that certain media outlets from across the spectrum of print, television, radio were clearly in the tank for certain candidates.
American voters had no problems excusing their media darlings, who obviously shared their political views. They also had no problem speaking out against media outlets with an opposing bias.
Bias is the operative word here.
Just as the media have put Barack Obama and the new government under the microscope, the media itself has also undergone internal and external scrutiny.
Some reporters and those who supervise or spin their work, have come under fire for obvious bias. Same is true for networks and virtually every media outlet.
The bottom line for all of this is that we believe media reports have improved. There are still shows, programs and columnists that remain slanted to one political ideology or another.
Despite the fact that media bias still exists, some media outlets are mixing in some occasional “fair” reporting, which offers opposing viewpoints.
The system will never be perfect, but it is better. Today, some of the ultra-liberal agencies of only a year ago have surprised readers and viewers with stories pointing out questionable performance by present government leaders.
We have constantly expressed our views that many of the challenges which our country faces were created on the previous administration’s watch.
Stories elsewhere on today’s page by the Associated Press, surprise us in that they point out errors in Obama administration and government reporting.
It shows at least some movement in the agency’s coverage from the far left, back to the center or the realm of fairness, from which responsible media outlets must reside.
There will always be bias in the media and some will suffer as viewers and readers will elect to spend their time elsewhere.
We find it encouraging that the media seems to have grown up a bit in the last year, digging a little deeper on important stories and grilling elected officials a bit harder on critical points of legislation that affect citizens’ lives.
That is more like the media the framers of our Constitution had in mind in the formative years of our nation.
We hope that a year from now we can say this positive trend has continued. Just like government, the media has some work to do to restore its esteem in the minds of the American citizen.

September 18, 2009

One Nation..Divided

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 12:47 pm
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Are we seeing the emergence of two Americas?
From my vantage point, I see precisely that.
The leadership of the Democratic Party appears to embrace a national direction aimed substantially at socialism.
The Republican Party, which is clearly responsible for many of the problems which have led to financial market upheaval (lack of major banking regulation) is trying to rally conservatives against nationalized health care and the current administration’s socialistic trends.
I seldom read syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan’s column, but last week’s was a doozy.
Buchanan asks, “Is America coming apart?”
He reminds that conservatives were branded “fascists,” “racists” and “evil mongers” because they gathered peacefully to express their disdain at current government trends.
He says that Americans have never seemed to disagree with one another any more than today, but points out that Americans involved in these disagreements have grown to “hate” and “detest” one another.
He also points out that our nation is not only divided on politics, but on faith, morality, school prayer, the Ten Commandments, homosexuality and the teaching of evolution.
His closing said it all.
“E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — was the national motto the men of ‘76 settled upon. One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum? One sees the diversity. But where is the unity?
In the days and months to come, the common citizen in our nation will be looking for the rarest of political leaders—the statesman. Few, if any, remain.
Such may be an extinct breed, for they have the ability to listen honorably to public debate, and sensibly and responsibly voice their support or opposition to that debate on its merits, without vitriolic outbursts aimed at the other individual’s character.
I don’t think America is actually breaking up.
I do think we are divided and will remain so until we are able to identify leaders who can convince voters of both parties that their proposals are fair and well thought out.
With virtually all of the recent major directives coming out of Washington being “rushed through” the process to prevent public debate and scrutiny, many Americans are understandably upset at our current political process.
The emergence of true leadership isn’t likely to happen any time soon, so as citizens we should expect more of the same from Washington.
This time, Buchanan hit the nail on the head. Lots of E pluribus — no unum.

August 27, 2009

Politics gone mad!

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 3:18 pm
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I think American politics has gone mad.
Not only have the politicians gone mad, many of the bureaucrats have also.
Of course some bureaucrats follow political pressure like a small calf with a set of bull tongs in his nose.
Given all the issues our country presently faces, many of which are not this administration’s fault, the Obama administration continuously seeks to pacify factions of the political left by making efforts to discredit the Bush/Cheney handling of the interrogation of terrorists.
Take a moment and rewind.
Let’s rewind to that moment in September (the anniversary of which is fast approaching) when thousands of Americans (and many non-Americans) peacefully began a day of work. Their lives were ended in the most horrific acts of terrorism in history.
Pages could be written about how truly devilish these acts were, including New York City, The Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 in the skies over Pennsylvania.
Can you imagine how you would feel today if a member of your family had been on one of those four planes, or working at the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon?
Not surprisingly, the ACLU has been reported to support these investigations.
Recently, The Washington Post reported the Justice Department had launched a new inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo Bay detainees. According to the report, the pictures of covert American CIA officers — “in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes” — were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.
The Post said the ACLU undertook the so-called “John Adams Project” with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The ACLU’s team targeted 45 CIA employees and tailed and photographed agency employees or obtained other photos from public records.
Then, according to the Times report, they showed the images to suspected al-Qaida operatives implicated in murdering 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil.
The Times said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero refused to comment on Project CIA Paparazzi and instead whined some more about the evil Bush/CIA interrogators.
While we stop well short of condoning torture, once you get past the enormity of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting human carnage and the trillions of dollars Americans lost in the collapse of the financial markets, there followed months of fear and concern about the safety of all Americans.
There are a lot of Americans who think President Obama and the Justice Department could be directing taxpayer resources in better ways, such as actually telling Americans where billions of our tax dollars have been loaned overseas—to whom, and for what? (Might these dollars be used to help buy down the cost of health care?)
Political polls are showing some long-time entrenched politicians are clearly vulnerable and may find it hard getting re-elected next fall.
Actions have consequences.

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