Mourning in America

Spend any time in a coffee shop or popular local breakfast spot and you hear a lot of doom and gloom about the future of America.

This country is in trouble, there’s no doubt on that issue. My local eatery is filled with people scanning the want ads of newspapers or talking with others about the jobs they lost and the bills they can’t pay.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may tell us the recession is over but that doesn’t ring true with the millions of Americans out of work and losing their homes.

My wife and I fell victim to the economic downturn last week when we made the painful decision to close our studio and gallery in the Southwestern Virginia town where we moved in 2004. We’ve started, and closed, two businesses here since leaving Washington.

Two is enough. The day after we decided to close the business, I went online to the Social Security Administration web site and filed for Social Security. My benefits start in January. Given our earnings this past year, that monthly benefit will be a pay increase.

For too many, the American dream is now a nightmare. Savings accounts are gone. Retirement programs too. A future that once looked promising now looms dark and foreboding.

Many blame George W. Bush and the many misdeeds of his administration for our current mess. Some blame current President Barack Obama. Some point blame all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.

Dusting off my high school Shakespeare, I think the answer lies not with our leaders but within ourselves. We can point fingers until the cows come home but the real blame lies with each of us.

Amy and I have enjoyed many good years during our 30 years of marriage. I’ve enjoyed a good career in both journalism and politics. I’ve made — and spent — a lot of money, some of it wisely but a lot foolishly. We didn’t need to own two Porsches but — at one time — we did. We didn’t need lavish vacations in exotic hideaways but we took them anyway and spent more for two weeks of pleasure than many Americans make in a year.

Like too many others, we enjoyed the fruits of the “good life” and now the bill has come due. We spent, we squandered. We wasted. We thought we had planned for the future but we risked that nest egg to start two new businesses. Both failed.

We aren’t alone. Too many Americans lived beyond their means for too long.

Yes, the banks made it easy to fall into the excessive consumerism trap with easy credit, no-disclosure loans and loan shark techniques but the final decision to sign and spend fell on each of us.

Earlier this month, I told the volunteer staff at Capitol Hill Blue that I might have to shut the web site down because I could no longer afford to supplement the expenses not covered by ads. We talked about asking readers for donations and, for a short time on Sunday, I posted a notice on Capitol Hill Blue telling readers that this web site could not survive without their help and asked for donations. But I took the notice down.

I’m not wired to beg for donations. I’m not the type to ask others for a bailout. If Capitol Hill Blue is to survive, It should do so because I should be able to find a way to keep it on the Web without depending on you, the readers, to come riding to the rescue. It’s not your responsibility to make this web site work. It’s mine.

However, I’m not a fool. If some readers want to help, I’m grateful and will accept it. Some have told me that I should accept donations and I appreciate the fact that some are willing to do what they can to keep CHB afloat during these difficult times.

But Capitol Hill Blue will not fall victim to the economy. I’ve put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this web site over the past decade-and-a-half and I’m not about to write that kind of investment off. CHB will not fade into oblivion. We celebrate 15 years on the Internet on October 1 and I expect to celebrate many more birthdays in the years to come.

We’re here to stay. To hell with the naysayers and the doomsdayers. We’re just getting started.

Update: 4:45 p.m. OK. Several readers have suggested that it’s downright hypocritical of me to say I don’t need help and then provide a “donate” button to accept it. I’m sorry for the confusion. This is very difficult for me. Yes, we can use all the help we can get but I’m a proud man and asking for such help is not easy. I’ve often been hypercritical of web sites that ask for donations. Now I understand why some do. I will do everything I can to keep this web site on the Web and help from our readers will certainly help me accomplish that goal.

Update: 9:01 a.m. A number of readers have contacted me via email or phone and asked how they can contribute to help Capitol Hill Blue out at this difficult time. I appreciate the offers of support and will accept donations through our Blue Ridge Photography PayPal account or you can send donations by check to:

Blue Ridge Photography
PO Box 67
Floyd, VA 24091

Please make the checks out to “Blue Ridge Photography.” All expenses for Capitol Hill Blue are paid through that account.

Thank you for your generous offers of help. You can contribute via PayPal by clicking on the “Donate” button below:


  1. woody188

    I just sent $15. I’ll try to send some every time I get money into my PayPal account.

    FYI, is popping a 404 error.

    If you would share your bandwidth requirements with me I still could possibly take on hosting CHB as a donation. I understand you host it now, but I have a large chunk of bandwidth I’m paying for each month going unused. I’m using 1.03GB per month and have 250GB available.

    Is your bandwidth beyond that?

    You can catch me at Write that and I’ll send you a private email address or my cell number so you can text me or whatever if you are interested.

    Congress is elected to represent, not to direct, the people.

  2. Doug Thompson


    Many thanks for the donation and offer.

    CHB’s traffic requires a dedicated server (we use 1,000 to 1,500 GB a month). We end up needing dedicated servers for both the CHB news side and ReaderRant. Both are heavy traffic sites that eat up a lot of server resources.

    Thanks for the heads up on the 404 error. I’ll fix that.


  3. Doug Thompson

    I appreciate the offer but our bandwidth requirements currently exceed 500gb a month (which is part of the reason why keeping CHB on the web is expensive).

  4. CheckerboardStrangler

    Same here…I have 500 GB of outbound bandwidth a month and even after hosting several half hour web TV shows with thousands of viewers I still only see a faint blip on my bandwidth usage meter.

  5. gazelle1929

    You may not beg for donations, but if one were to want to make one, what mechanism do you have for accepting same? I’m good for a hundred.

  6. Doug Thompson

    That’s very generous Gazelle and I appreciate the offer. If you want to make a donation, you can through PayPal at the button below. The donations go through my Blue Ridge Photography account but any an all donations will be used to pay expenses for CHB.

    My many thanks for your gracious offer.

  7. gazelle1929

    I don’t have paypal. How about if I send you a check? OK to send it to:

    P.O. Box 67, Floyd, VA 24091 ?

    I’d drop it off myself but it’s lousy weather to be driving the Gazelle around in.

    Gazelle goes away singing,

    People who need Paypal are the luckiest people in the world. Now how long is it gonna take to get that earwig out of your head???

  8. Doug Thompson

    That would be fine. Just send it to:

    Blue Ridge Photography
    PO Box 67
    Floyd, VA 24091

    (Please make the check out to: “Blue Ridge Photography.”

    BTW, you don’t have to be a member of Paypal to use it.

    Again, many thanks.


  9. Sandra Price

    I can relate to the mourning mood you write about. I’ve given up voting and even commenting on the condition of our government. CHB/RR is the only site I continued to visit as I value the opinions of your members and of course, yours most of all.

    It seems that each member of CHB has his/her own desire for what we expect from D.C. I think we are very close to representing the general public.

    Personally, I am in the middle of the snow bird bible belt and the frustration of this attitude has nearly driven me mad. Basically the people are decent and face the same problems shared by the younger folks here.

    I have decided to go back to Hospice here in this area after several years of doing this in another part of Arizona. I will take additional training for Hospice patients to learn more about the problems facing all of us over the age of 65. Dementia and Alzheimer’s will be my focus and maybe I can do something other than whine. Now if I can just find my keyes I will check this out today. Yes, my own memory is slipping but I can still help those in worse shape.

    I knew if I came back it would inspire me to work for the people again.


  10. remoran

    “Never stop questioning.” Einstein

    I know how you feel while the Fed and Banksters continues to steal our money as this once great nation slides slowly toward the abyss. We are in such trouble and there is no one who has the courage to make a difference. CHB is a terrific site I come to nearly every day as a source of real news that cuts through the BS Washington puts out in hopes of papering over the emerging disaster our economy is slowly headed for. Keep fighting, never quit because you are making a difference.


    Bob Moran

  11. woody188


    That really surprises me since most the site is text based and scripted from a database. You must have a lot more traffic than I imagined. A heckava lot more than I imagined!

    It would be a great loss to see CHB go offline. Happy to help any way I can. My offer for proof-reading still stands as well.

  12. Doug Thompson

    A lot of traffic comes from our archives. We have more than 30,000 static hmtl files along with photos and graphics dating back to 1994. Add that to the 20,000 articles plus photos in our current database and you can see where the load comes in.