Mister Trump Goes to Washington

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

A curious dream awakened me this morning, tying an old Jimmy Stewart movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with current political situations.  Wiping the sleep from my eyes it occurred to me how President Trump and the fictional character Jefferson Smith, newly appointed Senator, have much in common.


The corrupt political machine run from behind closed doors by a mover and shaker named Jim Taylor, had the puppet strings on just about everyone in their state, to include long time Senator Joseph Paine, played by Claude Raines.  Jefferson Smith idolized Paine, his having been a close friend of his own father.  Little did Smith know the underhanded dealings that were being pushed through by Senator Paine and his buddies, legislation which would greatly enhance their financial holdings by selling out their constituents.

With a little effort, very little effort, it would be easy to insert George Soros’ name for Jim Taylor and then trade out the Clinton Crime Syndicate/Obama Crime Syndicate along with Joe Biden and Son Criminal Enterprises.  So, we’d have former Senator Hillary Clinton and Former Vice President Joe Biden taking the place of Senator Paine.  Remember, we’re making a movie, purely fictional, just a silly movie for entertainment purposes only.  (Yeah, right)

The plotline would have to be altered a bit; but basically, the corruption would easily work the same way.  President Trump, upon taking office was unaware of exactly how much corruption was involved as his every move to clean up Washington was under fire.  Those involved in moving taxpayer’s money overseas to corrupt politicians so those politicians could line their pockets; but in return would pay huge kickbacks to the Clinton Foundation or to Biden family members to launder that money; all this was done to enrich the crime syndicate members.

The Obama administration “allegedly”, have to remember to include allegedly, had moved a large number of munitions illegally from the U.S. Government to our enemies, arms which eventually were used to take out one of our helicopters.  Unfortunately, the serial number for the ordinance which took out the helicopter was identifiable and belonged to weapons that were supposedly still in U.S. military possession.  Long story short…an arrangement was made whereby those weapons would be transferred back into our hands in a place called Benghazi.

It was supposed to have gone smoothly but as they say in the Middle East, “Shiite Happens”. Those friendly terrorists murdered the U.S. diplomat (arms smuggler) and three unexpected special forces heroes who defended the embassy for a couple of hours.  The Obama administration claimed the terrorist attack was the result of a YouTube video and arrested the maker of that video in order to distract the public.  Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State, erased thousands of email entries from her illegal server to eliminate any connection with illegal arms sales to Islamic terrorists and the FBI and Justice Department, “allegedly” working under the direction of President Obama, turned a blind eye to the entire incident.

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden “allegedly” set his son Hunter up as a bag-man between corrupt Ukrainian government officials and the U.S. taxpayers.  Money was handed over to the politicians so they could line their pockets and the Ukrainian crime bosses “allegedly” hired Hunter to a high paying position which only existed on paper in order to launder money back to the Biden Crime Family account. This process was “allegedly” duplicated with the Communist Chinese government with even more U.S. taxpayer money being laundered back and forth.

Had Donald Trump been defeated and Hillary Clinton become president the American public would never have known about any of the criminal activity that was being covered up with a phony FBI investigation followed by the Justice Department sweeping any left-over dust under the rug.  Hillary Clinton, as we have recently found out, didn’t want the public looking into all her email transactions.  What better way to throw off the spotlight than to cook up a phony document making it look like Donald Trump had violated his office by asking for an investigation into former VP Joe Biden’s crooked dealings over in Ukraine?

The Democrat Party was then given the task of making the phony Ukraine investigation look legitimate which included the 40 million-dollar Mueller Investigation which led up to the phony impeachment hearings.  At one time those involved in an attempted coup would have been rounded up, charged with Treason, and tried for their crimes; but that has not happened.

It can be officially called an attempted coup, we now have a ‘smoking gun’, the information found on Hunter Biden’s laptop computer.  Apparently, the FBI had this information for over a year and kept it from the public’s view, hoping that Biden would win the Oval Office and this whole mess would blow over.  But the information got out before the November elections and, even with the help of the major news media outlets refusing to share the story along with Twitter and Facebook censoring stories linked to the Biden’s corruption…the public can now connect the dots.

Unlike Senator Paine in the movie, whose conscience caused him to break down and admit his own corruption there on the Senate floor, there are no individuals with any honor left in them; referring to the Obama Crime Syndicate, the Clinton Crime Syndicate, and the Biden Crime Family.  They are content to remain silent as to their “alleged” involvement; instead, ramping up their attacks on President Trump, hoping the November elections will make this all go away.

It isn’t much different than the original movie; thugs pushing young boys carrying their home edition newspapers into the ditch and stealing away any news of the Shadow Government’s involvement while their own big-city newspapers unleash all manner of lies about President Trump.  “Your Comment Violated Community Standards”, oh, and Trump must be destroyed or we’re all going down!

The only thing that matters is holding onto or obtaining power.  Secret Combinations are made between those willing to sell their souls for a piece of the pie.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Appreciating the Moment

By: T.F. Stern

These last few weeks have been fun as I’ve been able to improve the audio-video capabilities of our modest home theater system.  We updated the audio quality by switching to an optical digital cable that’s now hooked to our television, and anything that goes through the television to the soundbar speakers.  I had no idea the difference would be that noticeable, speaking as a half-deaf senior citizen.  We also changed out the RCA type cables that run from the LaserDisc player to the back of the television to ‘Monster Cables’ that are supposed to have the better transfer of information.

But that’s not why I’m writing today…

One of the laserdiscs enjoyed this morning was Horowitz in Moscow.  There were images of various patrons soaking up the music produced by this world-class pianist. There was a camera shot from the balcony seating area where someone had placed their personal cassette recorder hoping to capture the experience so it could be played again once they’d gone home.

Here I am on the other side of the world watching and listening to a command performance given many years ago as if I were there.  I’m fortunate to own a laserdisc that captured each moment visually along with crystal clear reproduction of music.  It’s a good bet the audio reproduction on my copy far exceeds anything that was on the cassette recording made from the balcony.

The image shown includes a couple of items of importance.  Center stage is Horowitz as his fingers carefully and methodically move across the keyboard; but secondarily, as the laserdisc progressed, are images of those in the audience taking in the performance.  It occurred to me that I was among those in the audience, no different than if I’d purchased a ticket to sit among them as my reflection ghosts in from my vantage point on the sofa, nearly invisible until you study the image looking for that ghost.

Do we express our appreciation for the gifts we’ve been provided?  Perhaps we should say Thank You more often, not only for the things which are pleasing; but for the challenges that make us appreciate when things aren’t quite so hectic.  Gratitude is our way of paying for those moments, tears of sorrow for the passing of someone close, someone who was part of our world and made a difference, tears of happiness that they’ve gone home to continue their eternal progression.

Think I’ll put on the laserdisc with Harry Chapin’s Final Concert, the one that has Cat’s in the Cradle; yeah… “but he smiled as he did and he said, I’m gonna’ be like him, yeah, you know I’m gonna be like him”.

It dawned on me, my father passed away four years ago, those tears must be for the beautiful music I’ve been enjoying; yeah, must be the music…


Safety Issues Tied to Police Cutbacks

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

The public is starting to realize that using the Police Department as a ‘whipping boy’ for all the ills of society has consequences.  An article by Melanie Torre of CBS Austin relates some of the safety issues associated with cutbacks to police services.

“The Austin Police Association says understaffing is causing 911 calls to go hours without a response.

According to APA president Ken Casaday, Saturday night some shifts were staffed at just 50 percent.”

A little further in the article more information was shared:

“Casaday says — on the shifts he’s worked– the department has enough officers to respond to Priority 0 calls. According to Casaday, Priority 0 includes shootings, stabbings, assaults and serious crashes. He explains, Priority 1 calls are where there’s been a delay. Priority 1 calls include criminal trespass, simple assault and non-active burglaries.”

Citizens requesting police service might see this as a minor inconvenience since really important calls are being handled in a timely manner.  Being told that you’ll have to wait an hour to file a burglary report or some other non-life-threatening incidents might not be as bad as all that.

The City Council in Austin decided to cut-back police services and payroll; and, after all, slower response time goes with the territory.  These measures were taken to make a bold statement, that police brutality, shooting suspects without cause and such won’t be tolerated.  Other major metropolitan cities like Portland, Oregon have taken a similar stance.

To be sure, those municipalities which are making such drastic cuts in police services have turned their police departments into political footballs with little regard for either the safety of their law-abiding citizens or for the police officers performing these important services.

Several years ago, prior to my retirement from the Houston Police Department we were considerably understaffed; perhaps matching the observation made by APA president Ken Casaday, working with roughly 50 percent of the number of police officers needed.

One Friday night prior to the beginning of our shift several of us were in the kitchen area of the police sub-station enjoying ice cream bars donated by the local Borden Creamery.  An Assistant Chief of Police entered and I recognized and welcomed him informally to the younger officers who might not have known who he was since he wasn’t in uniform.  I asked if he was here in an official capacity or was it simply a casual visit.

His answer was polite; but hinted at something he had on his mind. “I’ll wait until Roll Call when I can address everyone at the same time.”  He smiled as if he had been dealt a winning poker hand, not wishing to tip his cards just yet.

I responded directly, “Then you might as well tell us now; this is the entire shift you’ll be addressing.”  There were only six of us in the room.  Consider the area we were assigned to patrol on a Friday night in Houston, Texas, an area that stretched from the 610 Loop out to the city limits between the I-10 corridor and Highway 290.  That’s a two-man unit and a one-man unit in Four District and the same in Five District, four police patrol units to cover the area equal to Rhode Island. In layman’s language, don’t get into any situation that requires a back-up unit, there won’t be any, none.

The cheerful countenance the Assistant Chief had upon entering quickly vanished as the reality of our being understaffed well below anything reasonable landed on his mind.  Originally, he’d planned to give us some kind of Pep-talk; but we’ll never know since he changed his remarks, sounding more like an apology for putting us in harm’s way without sufficient manpower should anything, anything at all go badly.

My retirement date came up a couple of years later and it’s with great pride that I display a shadow-box hanging on the wall of my office, a small reminder of my twenty years of service as a police officer.  I also am well aware of the dangers each police officer faces, a danger multiplied to an unacceptable level when those they work for don’t like police officers in general or appreciate the hazards that go along with that job.

One line that most officers are familiar with is shared at the end of each Roll Call prior to hitting the streets.  It’s both a warning and a reminder, “Y’all be careful out there”.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Irregulars and Militias – Are Militias Still Legal in Texas?

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

(Image: The Concord Minute Man of 1775, a monument created by Daniel Chester French)

The most uncomplicated definition of Militia – military force composed of ordinary citizens.

The question has been asked, “Are Militia groups legal in the State of Texas”?

“From 1903 to present, following the Militia Act of 1903, the Texas Militia is legally empowered by Title 32 of the United States Code and Article 4, Section 7 of the Constitution of the State of Texas to “execute the laws of the state, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions”.

Wikipedia addressed the topic of Unorganized Reserve Militia as follows:

“Militias thus can be either military or paramilitary, depending on the instance. Some of the contexts in which the term “militia” can apply include: forces engaged in a defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws, the entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state available to be called to arms…

a private (non-governmental) force not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government, (emphasis added)

an irregular armed force that enables its leader to exercise military, economic, or political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state, an official reserve army composed of citizen soldiers known as the militsiya, a select militia composed of a small, non-representative portion of the population…

The definition is wide open for interpretation; however, that one line, “a private (non-governmental) force not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government”, leaves such an interpretation up to the individual rather than leaving that interpretation up to the government.

Wikipedia went on to include:

“Within the United States, since approximately 1992, there have been a number of private organizations that call themselves militia or unorganized militia.  In states such as Texas, the state constitution classifies male citizens between the ages of 17 and 45 to belong to the “Unorganized Reserve Militia”.  The Texas constitution also grants the county sheriff and the governor of the state the authority to call upon the unorganized reserve militia to uphold the peace, repel invasion, and suppress rebellion, similar to the early “Texas Rangers”.”

It should be noted that the age limitation mentioned as 17 to 45 represent those individuals who can be drafted according to the mandates of the Governor of the State of Texas; however it does not preclude the involvement of individuals who are younger than 17 or older than 45 from being able to serve voluntarily if they so desire.

Other points of interest brought out through further links provided include the following statement:

“Most militia organizations envisage themselves as legally legitimate organizations authorized under constitutional and statute law, with reference to state and federal law of an “unorganized militia”.  Others subscribe to the “insurrection theory” which describes the right of the body politic to rebel against the established government in the face of tyranny. (In the 1951 case Dennis v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the insurrection theory, stating that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, “political self-defense” cannot be undertaken.)”

Bare in mind much of the article related to militia groups focused on those groups formed to respond against governmental tyranny, real or perceived rather than on citizen groups organized to maintain law and order being threatened by domestic terrorists such as Antifa and/or BLM thugs.

So…If a group of local citizens living in a small community organized themselves into an Unorganized Militia for the purpose of defending their lives and property from those who would violate the laws of the State of Texas, such a non-sanctioned group would be within their Second Amendment Rights as protected by our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Since their militia does not fall into the “insurrection theory” aspect alluded to in the above paragraph, that portion does not apply (even though the Supreme Court got that one wrong; but that’s a whole other article).

The Lone Star Watchmen Militia is an unorganized militia group in Texas which apparently fits the legal parameters which other communities might consider as they work to protect each other’s lives and property.  The following was copied from their website:

“Lone star Watchmen is a Texas Mutual Defense Group. We are Second Amendment based (first and foremost) and are sworn supporters of the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution. Our Mission is clearly defined as providing for the protection and survival of our families, communities and ultimately Texas through medical, tactical support/security and survival training.

First and foremost we are your average American citizens. We are your citizen soldiers who are always ready to serve.  We are doctors and lawyers; firemen, EMT and police; teachers and tradesmen; retirees and young families like everyone else in your local community.  We come together as a group united by our moral beliefs, and our loyalty to our Constitution and Texas. We live by and support what the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights decrees.

We are not revolutionaries. We are not a hate group. We are not Anti-Government. We are, however, in favor of promoting education and resources for the protection against Tyranny and the corruption of Government officials, bad and unconstitutional legislation.

The word Militia has been linked to many negative groups in the past so now is a good time to learn the truth. We are not a militia- because you are already a part of the Militia.

Everyone is welcome regardless of age, race, religion, gender or political affiliation provided you believe in our great country and the Constitution being the supreme law of our land.  We are a diverse group of ordinary citizens with a love for our Country and for Texas.  We promote the Constitution as a way of life and the only medium for our lives.  Our forefathers fought for us to have this Constitution and we will carry the torch of liberty they lit for us and our future generations.”

That should be enough information to validate the legality of forming a militia group as long as their stated purpose is to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the State of Texas.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


The Alvin York Solution

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

(Image from the movie, Sergeant York, courtesy of Amazon.com)

I’ve been watching the chaos created by the BLM and Antifa movements as their scorched earth policy march across our nation, destroying businesses and lives everywhere they go. Governors and mayors in some states have refused to put an end to their lawless actions while some have even come out in support of these anti-American domestic terrorists.

Portland, Oregon comes to mind first as one of the cites where the streets are no longer safe. Even after police officers have arrested criminal combatants in the act of looting, attacking random citizens, trying to injure and maim police officers, burning businesses, police stations, and courthouses; the District Attorney refused to file charges and released them back on the streets.

If you enter into a discussion in one of the social media forums such as Facebook there is a wide variety of opinions on the topic of how to deal with this civil unrest. Many have fallen for the LIE that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is exactly what the words proclaim, a grassroots attempt to raise awareness of the injustices which have in the past been directed towards individuals living in Black communities.

The sad fact that must be recognized; the BLM movement has absolutely nothing to do with that last paragraph. They are a communist front group created with the intent of destroying our constitutional republic and replacing it with a Marxist totalitarian state. You don’t have to take my word for this, Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement is proud to exclaim, “We are trained Marxists”.

An article in the Washington Times explained the actions of Antifa, those individuals the left-leaning media continues referring to as “peaceful protesters”, those violent, faceless cowards hiding behind black shirts and masks as they mingle with useful tools marching to avenge some dead criminal shot dead during his last act of heroism by racist cops who supposedly wear the badge so they can kill Black people. (I love a good run-on sentence now and then)

“What makes the shadowy group unique is its willingness to use of violence, what Antifa organizers and sympathizers call “direct” action in support of the anarchist and Marxist-Leninist agenda. That often involves setting fires, looting, throwing bricks and bottles at police, and in one case the apparent use of a milkshake laced with quick-dry cement in attacking an opponent in the face.”

Did I paint the picture accurately?

How are we as a civilized society supposed to confront this abnormality, this semi-declared war on our way of life? Many of my Christian friends are at a loss to give an opinion, fearing any response other than “love your fellow man as Christ would”; any response other than that shows you haven’t really been converted, that you’re still acting as the ‘natural man’ would act.

My own answer is fairly straight forward, if you catch someone looting, setting fires, or attacking others during one of these “peaceful demonstrations”, shoot them and leave them on the street to scream and die as a warning to others. Yes, that’s about as cold a response as is possible; but is it really the wrong response?

That brings me to the title of today’s article, The Alvin York Solution. They made a movie, Sergeant York, about his life with Gary Cooper playing the lead role. It told the tale of a backwoodsman whose life was changed from being a no-good hard-drinking hooligan into a God-fearing Christian after having been struck by lightning while on his way to go kill a fellow who’d done him wrong. Alvin gave up drinking and living in sin, devoting his time to bettering himself and supporting his widowed mother by farming as best he could.

This all happened while WWI was going on and the military draft found its way down to Alvin York. He was determined not to become involved in the war effort. He told the government officials about his being a conscientious objector, that he saw any killing, even in war, as violating the teachings found in the bible; he was inducted into the Army anyway.

He was an expert marksman and needed no training on how to shoot, but remained doubtful of his ability to serve as it went against his deepest feelings. His superiors let him study American History to sort out his feelings; expressing their belief that he would make the right decision when the time came.

That time came soon enough and Sgt. Alvin York rose to the occasion. According to York’s fellow soldier’s exaggerated version of what happened, those who’d been pinned down by enemy fire and couldn’t help, Alvin single-handedly took out the “whole German Army”. When his superior officer asked him why he’d been able to kill so many of the enemy, his answer was more than he could have expected.

“Well I’m as much agin killin’ as ever sir. — But it was this way Colonel. — When I started out I felt just like you said, but when I hear them machine guns a goin’ and all them fellas are droppin’ around me — I figured them guns was killin’ hundreds maybe thousands and there wern’t nothin’ anybody could do, but to stop them guns. And that’s what I done.”

This movie came out in theaters at the beginning of WWII and had such a patriotic effect on many young men that they walked over to the Army Recruiting Station directly from having seen the movie. The movie affected me in a similar fashion; the way I see the destruction and mayhem being inflicted on the country I love so much.

Maybe it’s time to incorporate the Alvin York Solution, take out the immediate threat in order to save the rest of this great country. I don’t think my Savior would hold it against me for having stated my opinion on the matter.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Windows 10 Reboot August 19, 2020

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

The past couple of weeks I noticed some of my Apps weren’t functioning properly; but the one that stuck out as most annoying was having to restart the computer each time rather than simply touch the screen and it comes back on from sleep mode. All this happened right after one of those auto-updates that come during the night to ‘fix’ some issue you didn’t know you had.

(The image was from our trip to New York City where we rode in the front car of a subway train, standing with the camera pressed against the glass while zipping past a lighted station.)

I wanted to repair the issues by going into the control panel back to a date when I knew the computer was working properly. If you haven’t guessed by now; I’m not a computer geek. I know about some things; just don’t know what they’re called or where to find them when I need them.

Anyway…I looked for that important location only to be informed that since the computer was recently updated that function was no longer available. There was a suggestion that I reload Windows 10, that along with a cautionary statement that some of my Apps might be lost during the process; but that my data files would remain intact.

So, yesterday evening I committed to jumping off that cliff; I instructed the computer to shoot itself in the head, using only a small-caliber pistol that would knock itself out but not permanently damage or kill. A screen flashed letting me know the process would take about twenty minutes.

Three hours later…another screen popped up letting me know there had been some issues; but that it would only take a little longer.

It was about 11:30 when the computer actually appeared to be in working order. Several Apps had vanished leaving only ghost icons to let me know there was plenty of work to do if they were to function again.

Having been through this with other computers over the years I had one thing on my side; I’m old fashioned and had the original CDs containing the Apps along with the activation codes taped to their sleeves. The first to be inserted was the one that protects from Internet viruses and things like that.

Some technician probably saw a light come on at the office alerting them that a dinosaur version of their program had just been activated, again.

“Hey John, look at this. Someone has a version created before either of us were even born.” They can laugh all they want, but it’s paid for and I don’t like paying for the same stuff twice.

Next was loading the CD containing Microsoft Office, the one I bought back in 1998. I only use the part containing Word so it’s not all that much different than the newer versions…and as you can see, it still performs nicely.

I did have an issue with Dropbox when it showed my old email address, the one that got hacked. He did a good job of trying to establish his newly cloned identity so that account has been closed for years. Thankfully, I still had an index card showing the old password as I typed in the information.

“Our records indicate your Password has expired. We are emailing you a temporary password at this time”. Wonderful, some hacker is getting a temporary password so he can download the updated version of Dropbox; but I don’t have access to that information. Breathing out slowly I decided it might be wise to put this off until I’d gotten some sleep and start off with a clear head.

This morning I found there’s a cubbyhole with the ‘bodies’ of all the Apps that vanished. Some of them included links where the only action needed on my part was to click and reestablish the App as if it hadn’t died and been swept away. Acrobat Reader was one of those along with…no, that was the only one that was easy to fix.

I tried several ways of getting my LDS Library and LDS Tools to come back, but that hasn’t worked out so far. Both of those Apps are on my cell phone and each time I tried to download them onto my laptop the App store reminded me that the program had already been downloaded. Breathing out slowly again…

I suppose I can always have my cell phone next to me while on the laptop, at least until one of my computer geek friends stops laughing long enough to show me how to get these apps back up and running on my laptop.

Lastly, and this is important; the simple version of Solitaire has to be downloaded. An easy task or it should have been. Before letting go of state secrets like Solitaire Microsoft needed to know the serial number of my laptop?

I just downloaded the President’s Atomic Football access codes and all they wanted to know, “Do I want to Make America Great Again?”; but for Solitaire they needed my laptop’s serial number.

(Image of MAGA ball cap courtesy of eBay)

I looked for the 12-digit serial number that was supposed to be on the bottom of the unit or in the recess for the battery. I found lots of numbers, some with Chinese letters next to them; but none of them had 12-digits. Looks like I’m not playing Solitaire for a while either.

It’s time to take a break, and for the record; Yes, I do want to Make America Great Again.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Property Tax Scam

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

All these years we’ve been playing a game with the Property Tax Assessors; they’re telling us what our property is worth according to market value so as to obtain as much tax from us as possible.  We attempt to mitigate that figure to something more palatable through the appeals process and eventually pay something very close to what the original assessment bill had been.

(Image courtesy of The Daily Herald)

The game is simple, pay your taxes or they place a lien on your property, or worse, foreclose on your property and auction it off to the highest bidder.

There is an inherent problem with the entire notion of letting property tax assessors tell us what our property is worth.  They work on the assumption that owners of the property are planning to sell at the current market value.  This assumption improperly negates the idea that owners, when purchasing the property, planned on keeping the property until the day they died.

If I purchased a house for, let’s say twenty thousand dollars in 1975, and have kept it in reasonably good repair, that house might be sold in today’s market at around two hundred thousand dollars.  The tax assessor comes by, jots down the location and considers what other houses in the area are selling for and sends in his/her perceived estimate of what the taxing authority should bill us for the opportunity to live in that neighborhood.

A month later we received a bill from the taxing authority telling us our house is currently being taxed for its market value of one hundred and ninety thousand dollars; their having lowered the assumed market value in order to avoid our appealing the estimate.  But wait; I purchased the house for only twenty thousand dollars and have no intention of ever selling.  The yearly taxes are approaching what the house was originally purchased for.  It becomes burdensome to remain in the house and so you begin contemplating putting it on the market; sell in order to live where the taxes aren’t quite as high, perhaps moving to a retirement apartment community.

Here’s the solution; the taxing authority and the owner will agree that at the time the property was purchased it was worth what the buyer paid.  This figure is easy to find as it will appear on the bill of sale.  The house will always be taxed on the amount which the purchaser agreed was a fair market value at the time of purchase.  That others all-around may wish to sell is irrelevant, the only individual capable of determining the value of the property is the owner.

This would put a squeeze on local governments as they tighten their belts; having scammed the public for so long as to believe their scam was legitimate.  This would also put tax assessors on the unemployed list since there would no longer be a need for them.

But, the tax assessors would say; “What about improvements made to the property after it’s been purchased?  That would increase the value of the property and warrant additional taxes, wouldn’t it?”

No, those improvements are made to satisfy the owner of the property.  It becomes a matter of speculation that the owner made improvements simply to increase the property’s value in order to sell it to someone else.

My wife loves watching a show on the HGTV network, Love it or List it.  David and Hillary are the competitors showing houses in need of transformation by Hillary’s team of construction workers in order to meet their needs and desires.  At the same time, David takes them around to other houses or neighborhoods where they are shown properties that match up with their needs and desires.

After showing a house that exceeds their budget; but has everything imaginable under one roof he explains that they’ll have everything they want in this new house.  How could they not jump at such a perfect house?

David then takes out a piece of paper showing what their house is currently valued at, adds the cost of improvements along with the estimated new current market value.  He then reminds them what the new house is selling for and explains how they really can afford to purchase the new house in spite of it being thirty thousand dollars more than their top end limit.

At the end of the repairs, the owners must decide, “Do we love what Hillary’s done and keep it, absorbing the cost of those improvements… or… Do we buy the fancy new house David thinks is perfect for us and put the old house on the market, its value increased by the cost of those improvements?

Before the owners are given the chance to commit one way or the other, they break for several commercials; trying to sell premium value house paint, easy to install cabinet replacements, state of the art kitchen appliances, or solar roofing panels to offset your electricity bills.  Now, back to our program, “Are you going to Love it…or are you going to List it?”

If they decide they’re going to Love it, the camera pans over to David’s face showing incredulity at their having turned down the perfect property he’d picked for them.  How could you not want a newer, nicer house to live in?

Then again, Hillary’s team has turned their caterpillar into a Monarch Butterfly, so to speak.  How could they not stay in this marvelous house which they already own but can now appreciate it to the fullest and not go through the trials of moving?

So, what has this got to do with property tax assessments?  The property owner is the only one who can assign a value to any property; and that value is determined at the time of purchase, not five years, ten years or forty years later.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Suspicious Ordnance Boxes and the Bomb Squad

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

This afternoon there was an article on Facebook about a French Air to Air Missile that had been found at MacDill Air Force Base, something that put them all on alert.  It included a picture of the bomb squad loading the item onto a transport vehicle to be taken away.

“It’s not every day that the bomb disposal team from MacDill Air Force Base gets called out to deal with a French air-to-air missile. But last Friday was no ordinary day.”

That brought back a memory from when I was a police officer back in 1980.  My partner, Donnie White, and I were assigned a walking beat in downtown Houston, part of an attempt by the police department to establish what they called Community Policing.  Basically they wanted us out meeting local business owners and the public in a less threatening manner rather than driving by in a patrol car on our way to a call.

While performing the duties as assigned we observed a delivery truck parked next to a multi-level parking garage owned by Foley’s department store.  In the back of the pickup truck were two OD Green military style ordnance crates strapped together, one being about four foot long and the shorter one about two foot long.

(Image of a similar crate configuration courtesy of Dreamstime)

What got our attention was the stenciling in bold letters.  I wish my memory were better, but the one in the smaller of the two boxes was listed as a Warhead for a certain type of rocket launcher while the box below it was listed as that type of rocket launcher.

We hadn’t seen the delivery truck driver and so we waited a while and waited some more.  Each passing minute gave us time to be more concerned.  Perhaps something or someone had spooked the driver away as we never would leave.  It was about this time that we called our supervisor and asked if it might be a good idea to have the bomb squad check by our location.

About twenty minutes went by before the bomb squad technicians showed up in their specialty box truck.  They carefully examined the ordnance boxes and were about to open them when the driver of the delivery truck happened to come along.

They asked to see the paperwork for his delivery items, mostly to see what was listed in the two ordnance boxes.  The inventory sheet showed they contained industrial bearings.  Upon opening the boxes, very carefully I might add, it turned out to be just that, industrial bearings for some kind of oil field project.

Whoever packed the bearings didn’t bother to paint over the military ordnance markings, something which is required by law.  It all made for an interesting dry run for the bomb squad technicians and a memorable day for two walking beat police officers.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Instinctive Reaction – Rationalizing Criminal Behavior

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

Having been around on this spinning planet for quite some time, I thought I’d heard most of the excuses for bad behavior.  But; there’s a prosecutor in the Portland area who added a new twist, a dangerous precedent in rationalizing criminal behavior.

It was difficult believing what my eyes were reading in a PJ Media article explaining that most of the individuals arrested for rioting in Portland would not be charged or their charges dropped due to their Instinctive Reaction to extreme circumstances caused by…the police.

“Multnomah DA Mike Schmidt says some of the actions of protestors represent “the instinctive reaction of people who have been gassed repeatedly, who have been struck with kinetic projectile weapons, and who have seen other protestors arrested in ways they deeply disapprove of”…

Well, there you have it; when you are involved with a riotous group and don’t want to leave when the police tell you that you’re violating the law it’s now permissible to set dumpsters on fire, burn the American Flag, spit on anyone wearing a MAGA hat or throw rocks at those attempting to enforce the law because it’s only an Instinctive Reaction.

My head is still spinning after reading what a District Attorney has claimed is reason enough to drop charges against those arrested in the Portland riots.

The Rule of Law is being tossed in the garbage along with common sense.

Let’s take this “Instinctive Reaction” for a test spin, see what it can do; kind of like taking a new sports car out of the showroom prior to purchasing one…

Consider if you will…There’s a line of police officers standing in front of an unruly mob burning American flags, aiming high powered lasers at them in an attempt to blind them while at the same time tossing flaming bottles of incendiary liquids at them.  Is that a fair picture of what’s been going on in Portland?

Instead of ordering the rioters to leave or be arrested, some of the officers “deeply disapprove” of how these individuals are behaving based on societal norms.  Using the DA’s own words, these police officers “deeply disapprove” of the assaults being waged against them and draw their weapons in defense of life and property.  A hail of bullets takes out several rioters and the rest leave with their tails tucked between their legs.

According to the rationalization of “Instinctive Reaction”, the police officers shouldn’t be charged with any criminal act since they had been subjected to hours of harassment and minor physical assaults which culminated in their “deep disapproval” of the situation.

I remember the first time I watched the movie, The Blues Brothers, where the NAZI Party was holding a protest, shouting and rebuking those who didn’t agree with their cause.  It was a welcome sight to see the Blues Brothers drive their car through over the bridge forcing these NAZI protesters to jump into the water in order to keep from being run over.  I suppose the Blues Brothers “deeply disapproved”, as did most of those watching the movie as folks were laughing and slapping their knees in agreement.

I don’t think America is ready for the application of criminal law that would turn America into a lawless chaotic third world country, a country devoid of the Rule of Law.  Perhaps Portland’s citizenry will figure out that “Instinctive Reaction” is just another excuse for not upholding the laws of the land, they’ll replace their District Attorney with someone who actually intends to do their job.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


Sharing an Important Message

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

You might recall a wonderful black and white movie from the early 1950s, The Day the Earth Stood Still, with Michael Rennie playing the part of Klaatu, an extra-terrestrial humanoid type being who came to visit Earth.  Don’t confuse this movie with the environmental alarmist garbage movie made in 2008 that had the same title.

(Image courtesy of Hulu.com)

After circling the globe at phenomenal speeds (bear in mind that in 1951 when this movie was made 4,000 mph was considered beyond our capabilities), everyone was glued to their broadcast radio station as it headed toward the Mall in Washington, D.C.  In its day the movie captured the imagination and praise of moviegoers.

As the movie unfolded, the alien’s spaceship having landed with media outlets covering the event along with most every available military unit on hand ‘just in case’ the alien wasn’t friendly…where was I…  Oh, yes, there appeared an opening in the spacecraft as a ramp presented itself to everyone’s unified gasp of hysteria.  Every weapon in the Army was trained on the alien as he ventured onto the ramp holding some unknown object out from his body.

Ka-blam!  A shot rang out striking the object and injuring the alien visitor.  The soldier who fired the shot was simply too frightened of the circumstances and accidentally pulled the trigger.  He’d been told all his life to be afraid of the unknown and his reaction almost got the alien killed.  The object that he’d been holding was an interstellar encyclopedia, for lack of a better term, a means of understanding the mysteries of the universe that mankind had been seeking ever since leaving the safety of the cave.

It’s been a long time since viewing that movie so I can’t remember exactly how the scene was presented or the order it was shown; however, Klaatu looked at the destroyed object and remarked how important that item was, how it was intended to help all mankind.  There was a look of disappointment on his face that said more than words could express.

Why do I bring this scene of an old Sci-fi movie up today?  Good thing you asked; I was about to explain that.

Yesterday I posted a comment on a friend’s Facebook page that contained my testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon being the word of God.  Instead of thanking me for sharing something personal and of great spiritual value; the comment was erased as if it had never been shared.

There was no explanation given, no text message asking me to buzz off, no reply to my email inquiring what happened.  My first thought was of anger, but that quickly changed to one of sadness.  I’d offered something that had been in the making for thousands of years and protected by the Lord Himself to be brought forth in our day; but instead of learning or reaching out to accept the gift, it was tossed away like an unwanted Kleenex.

While watering the garden this afternoon, back in the recesses of my mind came the image of Klaatu looking at the object which had been destroyed, the galactic encyclopedia of science secrets that had been prepared for all the Earth.

The loss of information doesn’t have to be permanent; but for now, it is unavailable to anyone who doesn’t see the value of a gift, much less a gift from an old friend.  Perhaps one day…

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.