Dec 26, 2009

Observations on Christmas Day Travel

This Christmas was the first time I ever traveled by air on Christmas Day.   I've flown on Christmas Eve before, and I think my wife and I may have driven to my parent's home once on Christmas Day.   But,  I've never been to an airport on Christmas until this year as we flew to Seattle on Christmas morning to visit my in-laws.

Being the Christmas Eve shopper that I am, I have noticed a distinct difference between the shopping experience on Christmas Eve and that on the day before Christmas Eve, known as Christmas Adam.   December 23rd is a stressful, busy, and hectic shopping day, full of bad attitudes and tired people fighting with each other.  But December 24th has a different feel.

Christmas Eve shoppers are more friendly, have more joy, and while they are tired, people respect each other more.  I don't know if its because Christmas Eve is a special day on its own, or maybe its because Christmas Eve shoppers are already on vacation from work.  Perhaps its because Christmas Eve shopping is a shared experience with other like minded procrastinators; its always easier to get along with people for which you have an affinity.  Regardless, there is a difference between the two days, and Christmas Eve is a better day to shop.

So, I wondered if I would notice a similar difference between air travel on Christmas Eve, which unlike the shopping experience of that day, is hectic and stressful, and air travel on Christmas Day.

I took some notes.

  • Traffic is almost non-existant on Christmas morning.  The flow of freeway traffic held only 3 cars, including mine.
  • The airport was busy, but more orderly than usual.  Everyone took time to say "Merry Christmas"to each other, while parking, unloading luggage, checking in, boarding, etc.  Even the Federal Government TSA employees said it to everyone.   I didn't hear anyone say "Happy Holidays", not even airport employees.  "Happy Holidays" is about fear for most people, not sincre greeting.  Few really say it for positive reasons, so few actually say it unless they are forced by fear.
  • Even most of the airport workers seemed more relaxed and friendly than usual.   Many people working on Christmas are voluntarily giving up thier day off for extra pay.  I figured the few grumpy workers I saw were the ones being asked to work because not enough of thier co-workers volunteered.
  • I should have expected long term parking to be full, especailly the better lots.  However, I found parking quickly and without hassle.
  • Our parking shuttle driver, Maria, was very talkative.  In the 5 or 6 minute drive, her passengers learned all about her family and what is going on in her life.  Her mother in Tijuana had angioplasty last month and is doing very well.  Maria is glad that she is alive and home for Christmas.  Sadly, Maria's Christmas plans were to finish her shift and then go to the city jail to visit her son who was just arrested for stealing cars.  She assured us that he committed no acts of violence, and that she lights a candle for her son each day hoping he will remember how he was raised.  I think this kind of personal story would be irritating to most passengers on most days.  But on Christmas Day, she had everyone's kind attention.  No one seemed to mind that I delayed their disembarkment from the shuttle to say a quick prayer for Maria and her son.
  • There are lots of kids and babies at the airport on Christmas morning.  They all seemed tired and subdued.  I saw two kids about 10 years old with thier heads down on the talbe in the airport McDonald's.   I figured they were up very early to have Christmas unwrapping before leaving, or they were just doing all they could emotionally to cope with the fact that they wouldn't be opening gifts till much later in the day, wherever thier destination might be.  Either would have been tough for me at their age.
  • The terminal was much more festive than usual.  Everything was decorated, even the little booths the ticket agents stand behind when they scan your variously obtained boarding passes.
  • More than just saying "Merry Christmas," the TSA was also in a great mood, and entertained us with these announcements:  
    • "Ladies and Gentlemen, if your feet are colder this Christmas than usual, then perhaps you should come pick up your socks that you left in a tub at the security check-in line."
    • "Ladies and Gentlemen, there's no better time than while waiting for your flight on Christmas morning to call some loved ones and wish them a Merry Christmas.  If you want to call your loved ones, but are unable to, then please return to the securtiy checkpoint and pick up the mobile phone you left with our screeners."
    • "Ladies, if you would like to rekindle the joy you had as a kid at Christmas time, then you might consider coming back to the security area and picking up your age-defying make-up kit."
  • People with children under two years old get to "pre-board" the aircraft, which means board before anyone else.  Normally, this may be only a family or two, but the pre-boarding line was very long.  I stood in line contemplating the meaning of "pre-boarding", wondering how one could board the plane before boarding the plane.  They should call it something else.
  • I witnessed a Christmas tradition that is reluctantly shared by many American families.  I watched one father and one mother putting thier kids on a plane on Christmas Day to go and spend it with their other divorced parent.
  • It was clear that many people fly on Christmas Day who don't fly very often.  They are hesitant about each part of the routine.  They actually pay attention to the safety lecture given by the flight attendants before the flight.
  • Passengers are dressed much nicer on Christmas Day than usual.  Perhaps this adds to the better demeanor and well behaved kids.
  • I only saw only one rude customer.  He was out of sorts because he was ticketed to be in aisle one, and although it was First Class, he kept telling the now frazzled lady at the gate, "This just won't do."  I have sat in that seat before.  Its the one where you have to stare directly into a wall 2 feet in front of you for the entire trip, as there are no seats in front of you.  It is the worst seat on the plane.  By the time you land, you have lost a measurable percentage of your sanity.  Unfortunately for him, and the attendant he was harassing, no one was willing to trade with him.
  • People at the airport where we landed were less in a good mood.  Tired and ready to finally reach thier destination, everyone was quiet, except for a couple having an argument about what elevator to take down to the baggage claim.
  • The passenger loading area outside the baggage claim was the only difficulty.  Lots of cars, one broken down, and tons of luggage not fitting into the cars they were to be picked up in.  It was good to get out of there in one peice.
My wife and I often fly using airline award miles and sometimes we can't get on the same flight.  Also, sometimes she leaves to visit her folks before I do and comes back later than I do.  This allows her to have a longer visit, but also to give much needed help around the house.  But it makes it so we don't actually fly together much of the time.  This Christmas, I got to fly seated next to my wife and my son.  That alone made it a great flight and a great Christmas morning.

I'm flying home on New Year's Day.  I doubt I'll write anything about it.  I'll just want to know who won the game when I land.


Nov 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and Washington and History Speaking for Itself

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be - That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks - for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation - for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war - for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed - for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions - to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually - to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed - to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord - To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us - and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nov 10, 2009

My View of the Berlin Wall: Ideology Has Consequences

With this week's 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I am reminded that one of the most important experiences I've had in my life is that I got to see and feel that wall - and I don't mean just the powerful museum pieces at certain Presidential Libraries. I mean the real deal, in Germany, separating West and East Berlin. I will never ever forget it. Its stench is palpable to me even now.

When I saw it, I was in high school, in Germany on a church mission trip (another story for another day.) But the impact for me wasn't the mission in this case, it was my tour of what was then still East Berlin.

We got off our West Berlin tour bus at Checkpoint Charlie, and got onto a special East German tour bus. Before being allowed to enter East Germany, each one of us was questioned and frisked by machine gun toting military personnel. They did this right on the bus, row by row, keeping everyone confined until they were done.

After a bunch of threats related to rule keeping and staying with the tour group, verification of our identities, and finally being approved for entry, we were assigned a special government sanctioned tour guide. He was a large man with a friendly, yet intimidating way about him. I don't know if they were allowed to have bowling leagues in his country, but if they were, he was definitely a part of one. He wore the right shirt, anyway. I think he sincerely loved his job as tour guide. By the time we returned, I decided that he had the best job in the Eastern Bloc.

As we entered into East Berlin, the sun became blocked by a thick gray cloud cover that was mysteriously not present on the West side. Many of us remarked about this, and then the bus full of casually dressed tourists got quiet as we drove further into the country. The cloud gave the promise of rain, but didn't let out a drop. It merely provided a gloomy atmosphere that matched the looks on the faces of the East Germans we would encounter.

The tour guide had a well prepared script, filled with sometimes laughable communist propaganda. He proudly noted that there were ten building projects going on in East Berlin as part of a Gorbachev initiative with the East German government. Ten building projects didn't seem like a big deal to me. But, looking out the window of our rickety tour bus, it was clear why this rather hopeful statement was being made.

We were driving past these construction projects that were supposedly the first major projects since the end of World War II, more than 40 years earlier. Construction workers were clearing debris piles that had been left there since the end of the Nazi regime. For decades, citizens had lived among the bombed out buildings with who knows what under the piles. No wonder ten building projects was a good sign.

It is these workers that drew my attention the most. First of all, there were very few of them around, for what appeared to be large projects. Leaning on shovels, slowly tossing mix into cement mixers, these workers were hardly working. I remember their faces vividly to this day. Dirty and sad. They were moving slow and all had pronounced frowns as they looked longingly toward us free people on the bus. Every one of us noticed; no one said a word.

We eventually stopped for lunch at a government approved tourist break area. They had a western looking soda and ice cream shop, and a western looking bar and lunch stand. They even had western looking employees who wore the only smiles I saw outside of our bus.

I wasn't hungry.

It is at this point that one friend and I decided we'd like to visit some of the "non-tourist approved" locations, so we wandered off. We shouldn't have left the tour group. I'm also sure the tour guides shouldn't have allowed us to sneak off so easily. But somehow, we slipped away unnoticed.

We walked along a river that ran through the city until we came to a dock with some small rowboats tied to it. We stepped out and attempted to rent a boat from a recreational rental shack at the end of the short pier. The sad man inside clearly needed some business as no one was in a boat or riding a bike anywhere that we could see.

Now, I'm not sure where exactly we thought we would row, or what we would do when we got there. We had to know that we would eventually get caught and thrown into some gulag, but this didn't deter us at all. Instead, it seemed like we were doing something right, something important, something that might undermine the entire communist system, if we just rented a boat and paddled around for a while in defiance of the strict rules we had been given.

Looking back, I think I must have seen too many James Bond movies. I probably figured that if something went wrong and we were left behind by our tourist group, I could get out of East Berlin on my own. Someone would help me, either some old inventor like Q hiding out in some catacomb under a pile of rubble, or perhaps some Felix Lighter with the CIA already working on the inside. More likely, it would be some inappropriately named woman who would invariably be sent to kill me but would have been swept off her feet by my charm and wit. She'd help me get back over the wall like some modern day Rahab. Regardless, I wasn't worried that I couldn't escape.

What about my buddy who wandered off with me? Well, let's just say I was 007 and he was, well, 008, and we all know what always happens to 008, usually before the opening credits...

Oh, the row boat...

As we approached the hut where one would actually rent a boat, the man inside looked at us and closed the shutters and sealed himself inside. This seemed like an odd thing to do. But as we walked down the streets along the river, we got the same treatment from each shop owner. Apparently, they were not allowed to sell merchandise to naive free people who had wandered from their tour. They were business people just following orders. They behaved as if they were not happy about it, but my friend and I suspected that they knew they were being monitored and had no other choice. This suspicion led us to believe that we were also being monitored, so the James Bond fantasy ended. We made it back to our tour and back on the bus without anyone commenting on our disappearance.

We stopped next at the Soviet War memorial, Treptower park, full of graves and monuments to the massive Soviet war dead during WWII. There were huge statues and sayings of certain famous thinkers with great academic ideas that didn't account for human greed and corruption or reality in general. Notions of a society where each person would contribute according to their ability and need; an interesting ideology. Its the way of thinking that led to the building of the Wall - a wall not to keep people out, but to keep people in.

I left some illegal literature around the park that I sneaked in to the country. Opium, the statues would call it.

I don't remember much else of the surreal experience, except that somewhere along the way, I found some East German coins and I smuggled them out in my socks.

Before we could get off the tour bus, we were all individually quizzed again about our identities and the information in our passports. This took quite a while to accomplish. They were much more aggressive this time than when we had arrived.

Everyone got the same questions, except for my buddy and me. We were the last two on the bus and got the third degree from a couple of machine gun toting scruffy looking military men. According to the translator, they wanted to know where we went when we left the tour group, why we wanted a boat, who we talked to, and what, if anything they gave us. They threatened to strip search us but reluctantly let us go, because it was time to do their fancy goose step changing of the guard thing.

So I have some worthless East German coins, and a valuable dose of the fear of tyranny.

The sun appeared again as we re-entered the West. Our western tour guide immediately took us to see the memorials on and around the wall of people who had been shot by their machine gun toting countrymen as they tried to go over the wall and enter freedom.

We then stopped at the spot where just one week earlier, President Ronald Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." The tour guide was in tears as were many of us, as he quoted the great speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin Wall was truly a monument to the focus of evil in the modern world. It belongs on the ash heap of history.

No, it belongs in museums. It belongs in the public view, in free cities, reminding us that freedom cannot be taken for granted, that our fellow human beings are capable of the most ruthless things. And its not just the communists or the ones everyone already call "bad guys." Hitler was elected freely and legally by the people. Even after it was clear he was a crazy thug and had consolidated power to himself, the shortsighted and selfish electorate still voted to approve his policies to a tune of 85%.

The memory of the wall should remind us of a simple truth:

Ideology has consequences.

It matters what our leaders actually believe. Tyranny and war follow when smart people don't ask independent questions they know need to be asked, but are afraid the answer might contradict their academic position or political gambling. So they don't ask, figuring its not really about life or death, its about who wins and who loses. Until everybody loses.

So, here's to those leaders in the 20th century, and there are several, who had the courage to question and expose the ideology of the enemy for what it was, in the face of controversy and criticism. They are why the Wall came down.

I wonder what leaders will do that in the 21st century? I hope those people come onto the scene soon.


Nov 9, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall Anniversary: Reagan and Kennedy Speeches

As we celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I thought it would be great to review two of the greatest American speeches of all time. I'll post separately about my personal thoughts (I got to see and experience the Berlin Wall and East and West Berlin in 1987), but here, see President Reagan's and President Kennedy's speeches at the Berlin wall.


President Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

(Transcript is below video - Don't miss Kennedy video below as well)

Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the City Hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city.

We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it's our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom. But I must confess, we're drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer Paul Lincke understood something about American presidents. You see, like so many presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same--still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

President von Weizsacker has said, "The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed." Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State--as you've been told--George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos."

In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: "The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world." A strong, free world in the West, that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium--virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty--that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany--busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city's culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there's abundance--food, clothing, automobiles--the wonderful goods of the Ku'damm. From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn't count on--Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.]

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: "We will bury you." But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind--too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent-- and I pledge to you my country's efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides.

Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles, capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counter-deployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counter-deployment, there were difficult days--days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city--and the Soviets later walked away from the table.

But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then-- I invite those who protest today--to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. And because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.

While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative--research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled, Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.

In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place--a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete.

Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safe, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.

And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.

To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control or other issues that call for international cooperation.

There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I'm certain, will do the same. And it's my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.

One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea--South Korea--has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West? In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You've done so in spite of threats--the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there's a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there's something deeper, something that involves Berlin's whole look and feel and way of life--not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence that refuses to release human energies or aspirations. Something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says yes to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin is love--love both profound and abiding.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower's one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere--that sphere that towers over all Berlin--the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: "This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality." Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again.

Thank you and God bless you all.
Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

President John F. Kennedy - June 26, 1963

(Transcript is below video)

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany--real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."

President John F. Kennedy - June 26, 1963


Jul 4, 2009

A Document Forgotten, Due to the Fatiguing of Us into Compliance with Their Measures

I wonder how many of us have read this whole thing? Very few I'll bet. It's clearly no longer all that important, at least, not as important as certain trips to Argentina, obsessions over someone with 8 kids and a selfish marriage, the enchantment of the First Family, and of course Michael Jackson in general.

Since we know our government officials are no longer interested in reading legislation, even important life-altering legislation known to everyone to be "bad", perhaps We the People ought to do some reading. Those of us who can still read, anyway.

If you are in representative government today, this long forgotten museum piece ought to give you pause, maybe even the willies. I encourage you to read it as well. Those of you who can read, anyway.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Happy Independence Day!


Jun 8, 2009

Obligatory Bible in 90 Days Plug

According to a recent poll, 75 million Americans have a lifelong goal of reading the entire Bible. Its a worthy goal for anyone - not just people to go to churches that teach the Bible. After all, its the best selling book of all time, its the most researched document there is, and it is the foundation of western thought.

Did you know that in less than an hour a day, you can read the entire Bible, cover to cover in 90 Days? 12 pages a day. That's it. The whole thing. 3 months and you are done.

I've asked our church to do this with me. Starting yesterday, June 7, by the Labor Day weekend, people who keep up will have read the entire Bible (you can start anytime you want of course.) Not a bad answer to the question "What did you read this summer?"

Too many Christians never bother to read it, which is why they misuse it and fall for the tricks of the TV preachers... and worse. Every person who claims to be a Christian needs to read this book, which shouldn't have to be said, but it has to be said. Christians who do read through the Bible experience amazing life change, sometimes dramatically.

The troubles and errors of the Church in history do not come from the Bible; they come from a misreading and misapplication of the Bible, usually caused by a fruit salad approach to it - pulling verses you like out of context to make a point or defend a bad position. This is also the source of most people's trouble with the Bible who don't believe it. They take a verse here or there out of the greater context and make a falsely informed decision about God. Sometimes they believe a Christian's interpretation that is wrong in the first place. The book is meant to be taken as a whole, not as a collection of glib religious suggestion and gobbledygook.

And for my agnostic friends out there - you can't be a good agnostic and not read the Bible. Don't be a hypocrite agnostic! Read it.

Atheists? Well, a recent Pew Research poll suggests 21% of atheists believe in God. No joke. Guess you better read it too and then decide whether you are an atheist who believes in God or not.

A few years ago, someone gave me a Three Year Bible. I was instantly amused... and somewhat disturbed. The advantage of the 90 day approach is that you can enjoy the story that is told all the way through the Bible, rather than a disconnected bits and pieces you would get in a 3 year approach. When read straight through, its an epic drama, with heroes and villains, sex and violence, fall and redemption, struggle and victory. And in the end, good defeats evil - love wins!

The Bible is a scholarly book, but it isn't written for scholars. Its a collection of stories and history and poems and songs written most often by the worst of sinners. So, while some of it is hard to understand, most of it is easy to understand. Reading quickly, you can just keep moving - the story has its slow moments, but there is a great payoff for each difficult passage.

As well as a good story, this is a book that also makes bold and certain claims about God and our relationship to him, purpose and meaning of life, and eternal destiny. At minimum, its worth an open read, wouldn't you say?

So, this is not intended to start a debate or even to push buttons. Its just to say that this is a great way to read through the Bible, a goal everyone has a good reason to accomplish.

Here are some helps:

A daily reading plan bookmark

My own 3 minute daily podcast with my reading reflections (cheesy music included!) (iTunes required)

You can use any Bible translation you want, however, lots of Bibles have study notes and small fonts and other things that make the task seem much bigger. Additionally, a modern translation will help so you don't feel like you are reading Shakespeare for 90 Days. Please note that "The Message Bible" is not a Bible, its a commentary, so it doesn't count. I recommend the New International Version. (If you are using a Catholic Bible, the "apocrypha" is not included in the 90 Day plan, so you could tack on another month if you really want to.)

There is a Bible published that is specifically designed for the 90 Day plan, reading plan included, as well as some other supplementary material (audio versions, group study materials, etc.) I am setting up a link for these items through our church that will pay a commission that we will donate 100% to a San Diego charity, likely the Rescue Mission. You can find these items here for the time being.

Enjoy your summer reading... let me know if you have any questions.


Jun 6, 2009

D-Day, Eisenhower's Mom, and Tribute

Its always quite moving for me to watch the D-Day memorials and festivities, especially on the special anniversary events that are staged at the memorial in Normandy every 5 years. It was a good show today, 65 years after the invasion.

I love visiting the official Presidential Libraries. They are an incredible way to learn about our history and leadership. President Eisenhower's Library is located in Abilene Kansas.

This statue of Ike is in the middle of the Eisenhower Center, which is in the middle of a wheat field, which is in the middle of Abilene Kansas, which is in the middle of nowhere.

The statue is perched upon a pedestal that has 5 sides, each one boasting official Seals of different offices this man would earn. He would become a 5 Star General, Chief of Staff of the US Army, Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Commander of NATO, and President of the United States. Not a bad resume for a kid who grew up in the middle of nowhere.

The house he grew up in is still there, and it remains furnished mostly the way he would have remembered it. His mom lived there until a few years after the war, and they have kept the house the way she left it. There is something very interesting about seeing the roots of a person who would grow up to do amazing things.

My favorite thing in the house is a rocking chair, perched next to a radio. Its likely that this is exactly the place that Mrs. Eisenhower would sit and listen to news reports of her son's activities. In particular, she would have sat there listening to reports of D-Day, 65 years ago today.

Ike's mom, Ida, had seven sons, with Ike in the middle as the third child. All of them were successful in their own right as leaders in various institutions. Shortly after D-Day, Ida was asked by reporters on the porch of this house about the events of June 6, 1944 and the success of the invasion. When asked "Are you proud of your son?", she gave one of the best mom answers she could give. "Yes, I am very proud of my son. Now which one are you referring to?"

I love that.

Now that I am a parent, I can imagine even more how amazing and surreal it must be to see what your kid actually accomplishes. Few accomplish the things Ike did, but each kid can accomplish great things in his or her world. I am also strangely moved in a new way as I watch the D-Day festivities today and look at my newborn son, and realize that sacrifice of that day was for his freedom as well as my own.

Its a moving day, and I appreciated the ceremony today. But with respect to contemporary speakers, there is still no tribute better than President Reagan's in 1984.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. - President Ronald Reagan, 6.6.84

It is truly a different era that we live in today. Full of doubt and threats greater than any day in the last 65 years in my view. But I believe and pray that rising from our doubt, we will soon have a renewed hope.


Mar 18, 2009

Blogging Angst

Angst - |a ng (k)st; รค ng (k)st| noun
a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. (from whatever dictionary is loaded onto my MacBook)

I have angst. I've had it for nearly a year. Its not the worried or stressful or hand-wringing kind of angst. Its not causing me to lose sleep and its not creating distraction in a detrimental way. Its not the kind that results in not trusting God. But there is a constant angst in me caused by discernment which seems to be suggesting some very big things are afoot.

I appreciate this definition above because my angst is "unfocused." I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it is related to the human condition and the state of the world in general. That's a big subject. And there are very big things going on. I believe a lot of people have this same angst right now.

I think this angst is somehow related to the fact that while I believe most people have this angst to some degree, and most people also believe that most people share this angst, it doesn't seem like anyone knows how to effectively discuss and respond to this angst over these big things going on, and the people who should be talking about these big things going on don't seem to have a clue that big things are going on. Someone needs to address this angst in a productive way. It seems to just linger, like a storm visible off shore threatening to create destruction, yet promising to relieve drought; but the weather channel won't acknowledge its presence.

Are you following me? If so, it can only be because you have this angst too. I think this angst is emotional and spiritual. There are big things going on.

Why am I telling you this, my faithful yet dwindling blog audience?

I think this angst of mine is the biggest block to my blogging. Because it is unfocused, it is difficult to even know where to start working it out. Every day, I have something I feel like I could blog about, but its difficult to get started because of focus - where do I start? It gets overwhelming and time consuming. My blogs could easily be thousands of words on a subject, whatever it is, and I don't have time to type all of that. This makes it especially hard to blog on serious subjects where I want to be thorough. If you know me, you understand that I can be a bit wordy (I recently preached a sermon that clocked in at an hour and six minutes. Take that Rob Bell!)

Another block is that some of my readers are people from my church where I pastor, which means some readers will take very seriously things I have to say about serious matters. So I need to becareful to post disclaimers, indicating whether my thoughts are strong conviction or mere speculation or commentary, especially when dealing with unspoken angst that many people are feeling but not expressing. Have no fear, remaining faithful readers, I'll still post some fun and an eventual exhaustive explanation about why Lost is the best show on TV.

I have some angst that Lost is not going to end well next year, but that's another issue.

Why am I inspired to blog now all of a sudden?

Well, another blogger, another pastor, found a way to express some of the angst he is feeling about changes coming to the church world. This is only a part of the angst I feel, but its relevant to it and a good place to start. Even if you aren't familiar with church terms or how church works, the issues discussed impact our culture significantly, whether you go to church or now. This relatively unknown blogger posted an article was picked up my major news magazines and websites and has caused a lot of buzz, especially in church circles. So I thought I would use his articles, entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse to spur some writing of my own. We'll see if this works...

Disclaimer: These articles will cause you to think about your angst. Also, I don't necessarily agree with all of what is written, and my perspective is more optimistic - the changes he suggests are coming will lead to very good things in my view. But change is a comin', and I don't mean the political slogan tomfoolery we think of currently.

You can read all three parts at the link below. Feel free to comment on my blog if you wish to express your angst. I'll use this to inspire some blogs in the coming days.

If I can keep it short...


PS: "Tomfoolery" was not in my MacBook dictionary. A moment of angst about whether I should have stayed with a PC soon followed, but was quickly resolved.

Jan 27, 2009

Yes, I Am the Guy - Here's the Answers to your Questions

Yes, I am the guy.

If you don't know what this is about, then don't worry about it.  If you do, keep reading.

It will matter more to you if you live in the UK anyway.  I am posting this because I am getting inundated with email and I don't have time to respond to all of it - so I'm thinking people may get what they need here...

If you do know what this is about, here are the answers to the questions I have been receiving today.  I hope this will suffice...

1. Yes, I am the guy.

2. Yes, the company later contacted me.  They were rude and inconsiderate as usual, and offered absolutely nothing.  Not even an apology.  I thought might get some kind of discount coupon on an oil change or something.  Nope.  Nothing.  They told me that they "forwarded it to the engineering department."    I was surprised to learn that such a department actually existed.

3. Yes, I did send it to all the people listed as copied at the end.  They received it via US Mail.  None of them responded.  However, I imagine I was investigated and my phone was tapped, and there may have been some restraining orders against me I was never made aware of.  This happened before the 2000 US election, so I was covering my bases.

4. I eventually "sold" the car; but I had to barter it actually.  Seriously, I traded it to some kid for a bunch of cell phones and other items that I could sell on eBay.  That is absolutely true.  (The cell phones were legit, I checked into it, just in case you bought one from me.)

I considered donating the car to a local radio station for one of those fundraisers where people give $50 per swing for a chance to take a baseball bat to the car.  Apparently, there is much fun in that and much money to be raised.  But the radio station decided they needed a more well built car that could sustain more hits so they could raise more money for their charity.  They figured my car would only earn them about $175 before it collapsed or disintegrated, so they went with another make, a Yugo probably.

5. The car never did explode while it was in my possession, unfortunately.  However, the kid I sold it to never changed the registration and the car was impounded and resided in some police lot for months.  I spent a considerable amount of time with the impound lot and the Department of Motor Vehicles trying to convince them that it was no longer my car and I am not paying for its impound.  Can you believe it?  Just when I think I'm out, they keep pulling me back in!  Eventually, they left me alone.  For that kid's sake, I hope he never got it out of impound either, and is now, as one person suggested, being used as a doorstop or paperweight somewhere.

6. I currently own one Honda Accord and one Toyota Corolla, both made in the USA by American workers in an American factory in the great states of Ohio and Tennessee.  They have had zero mechanical defects and all of the paint is still shiny and still on the car.  I have written the current US government informing them of my opinion on which US auto maker should NOT be saved by a federal bailout.

7. I estimate that by the time I paid for repairs and paid off the debt accumulated in part because of my crucible with this $13,000 vehicle, it cost me over $50,000.

8. Yes.

9. There was a class action suit, but it fell apart because there were so many problems with the car, they couldn't establish a consistent pattern of failures which, for whatever reason, was necessary for a successful suit.  My story was not unique.

10. No, never again.

Again, if you don't know what this post is referring to, just let it go, I'm not going to explain it.  I'll post something else relevant soon.

Scott Clifton Furrow - Chrysler Neon Complaint Letter UK telegraph FARK