Survived the weekend…

It was busy! I’ve been looking forward to this last weekend for some time. I mentioned a couple of months ago that my ham radio bug has returned in full force. The connection to this last weekend was the Ararat Shrine Hambash. When I was first licensed, it seemed as if there was a Hamfest every month somewhere in the area. Now there are only three or four a year.

Be that as it may, I had a reason to go to the Hambash. I’d hoped to be able to take my Extra class test. Unfortunately, I was too late and there were too many already testing. I really didn’t expect to pass; I just wanted to see the differences in the testing process. It has been over forty years since my last Ham test.

I took my General/Advanced class tests at the Kansas City FCC office. A ham friend who was also the FCC Engineer-in-Charge, WØAT, administered the written tests. He gave me the General class written test first. Passed. Then the Advanced Class written test. Passed. Then the Extra Class written test. Passed.

The code test was next. Thirteen word-per-minutes test: passed. That made me at least an Advanced class. The Eighteen word-per-minute code test was next. Failed. Only 17wpm. In 1972, you have to get X number of consecutive letters/numbers/punctuation, correct. I was a few letters short for an Extra class ticket. Life and work then intervened and I never went back to retest the code.

I didn’t get to test Saturday. I really wasn’t prepared but I thought, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,”…and perhaps I’d get enough correct answers on the written test to pass. Technology and Ham Radio has changed in forty years. I needn’t be bothered to remember my old tube-technology on the current test.

Regardless, it was an interesting Hamfest and the hall was filled, elbow-to-elbow, with people. One vendor had come from Minnesota. I saw a lot of old ham gear of the same models I once owned and operated–Heathkits, two models of Heathkit HF amplifiers (I built one back in the ’70s,) early Kenwood transceivers, it brought back a lot of memories.

Next on my schedule was to rush home amidst driving rain like an upended bucket to get Mrs. Crucis (why does it always rain on hamfests?). We were off to our Grandson’s birthday. He was fifteen this weekend. Time must pass faster as we get older.

Friendsofthe NRA-2015-2Later in the afternoon we were off again. This time it was to the Heart of America Friends of the NRA dinner. I had been to the one in Harrisonville, MO, last year and met many personal friends there. This time my wife came along. Like the last NRA dinner, we met some personal friends and sat with them.

Other than dropping our ticket stubs into the jar for door prizes, we didn’t buy any raffle tickets. I supposed I could have afforded to drop $20 on the top item, a prized Henry lever-action in 44-40. On the other hand, being on a fixed income places restraints on our ‘disposable’ income. In other words, we spend our money carefully. I’d rather spend that disposable income with friends. (And, truth be told, renovating my ham station is not going to be cheap.)

The banquet hall was packed. I don’t know the exact count of people. There were Kansas and Missouri politicos present, a few local PD Chiefs and retired LEOs and many, many NRA members and their families.

The most welcome was the Johnson County 4-H Shooting Team. The team was a collection of boys and girls who were the Kansas state champions. The banquet was designed to be family friendly and there were many more than a few kids present with their parents. When the auction started, two of the items were designed to be for, “Kids-only.” One item was a large watergun. The other was a semi-auto nerf gun. The 4-H kids helped show the auction items throughout the evening. I think they had more fun than the older attendees.

Ted Nugent Stars and Stripes Guitar

Ted Nugent Stars and Stripes Guitar

The top auction item was a Ted Nugent, numbered and autographed, Red-White-and Blue, Stars and Stripes Gibson guitar. It sold for $2500 if I remember correctly.

It was a fun night. Mrs. Crucis won a door prize, a bouquet of flowers. I, on the other hand, won nothing. That was OK, too. Frankly, I don’t think I’d have room to mount some of the prizes.

The weekend is over. This coming weekend is busy, too. Friday is the Cass County Lincoln Day celebration. I’ll be bringing one of the silent auction items like I did last year. I’ll let you guess which it is if you come. Come and be welcome. Tickets are $30 at the door.

Cass County Lincoln Day

Friday, April 24, 2015, 6:00pm, Peculiar, MO, Lions Club.

Guest speakers: State Senator Ed Emery, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.

The State of the Disunited Missouri Republican party

The Cass County Lincoln Day dinner was held last night. I had attended one Lincoln day dinner last year as an extra hand to hand out candidate flyers. That one was in Lexington, MO. This was the first dinner for my wife. She met an old friend and they stayed together most of the evening. It was a nice gathering in a new facility in Belton, MO. My state Senator and Representative attended and I had an opportunity to speak, briefly, with both.

One of the two guest speakers was Tom Schweich, Missouri’s Auditor. He was in interesting speaker, a former associate of John Bolton, our former UN Ambassador. Schweich gave a brief recap of the changes he had made in the Auditor’s office, the improvements and a brief review of some particular cases. He is a hands-on auditor in contrast to his predecessors. He has done an excellent job as Auditor and hinted that he would run again in the next election.

It was also obvious that he had another mission at the dinner—to help heal the wounds that has divided the various factions of the Republican Party—basically, the moderate and the establishment faction vs. the Tea Partiers, Conservatives, and the Paulbots.  Schweich, perhaps inadvertently, lumped Conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Paulbots into one group, while attempting to differentiate between the moderates, aka RINOs to the rest of us, and the establishment. Schweich didn’t care for the term, RINO. Unfortunately, the description is all too fitting for many wearing the label of a republican.

The problem with his approach is that several of the factions on both sides have no intention of healing those wounds. The establishment would welcome all the others back into the collective fold—as long as they, the establishment, maintained their control.

The so-called moderates, RINOs to many, believe success is only through emulating liberals. That belief is failure. If there is no difference between the moderate’s political view and the liberal’s political view, why bother claiming to be Republicans. Just admit you are a liberal!

On the other side, there is a lot of agreement between the Tea Partiers, Conservatives and Paulbots. The remaining differences, however, are critical. The Paulbots claim to be the libertarian wing of the party. They suffer from the same issues as does the Libertarian Party, the inability to unite a cohesive group and viewpoint. They are also burdened with a personality cult for Ron Paul. If that personality cult evaporated, they could be a significant force. They and the conservatives would have few, if any, differences.

There is little difference between Conservatives and Tea Partiers. That primary difference is party loyalty. The Conservatives, like myself, still try to work within the Republican Party. The Tea Party, on the other hand, will work with any group or party that has, or claims to have, the same goals.

That difference can, and has, lead to a dilution of the voting power of the Tea Party. This occurred at many levels within the party during the last election. One of the most visible was the campaign of Cynthia Davis for Lt. Governor. She was a former republican but in the last election chose to run on the Constitution Party ticket. When she left the ‘Pubs, she took a significant number of votes with her. Peter Kinder, the Republican candidate, won the election, but by a smaller margin. Davis had a large support from Tea Partiers on the east side of the state but not enough to win the election. Her split from the Republican party diluted the impact of the Tea Party in that race.

I applaud Schweich’s attempt for unity. He has a steep road to walk. I like Schweich. I voted for him in his last election and will probably vote for him in the next one. However, his attempts to heal the party will fail as long as the state’s party hierarchy maintains their paternalistic attitude and their continued efforts to control the central committee.

Unless there is significant change, they will fail. Ed Martin unseated David Cole as Chairman of the MO Central Committee. Martin ran for Attorney General as a Tea Partier. I’ve met him and I was impressed with him. He now has a formidable task, the reunification of the Missouri Republican party. I await him to begin that reconciliation—before it is too late.