October 18, 2012

Hope & Change 2: "It Doesn't Have to Be This Way....

I've put this off, and I've put this off.

Now, it's time to comment on the upcoming presidential election, and the whole process that's occurring this time around.

If I don't, I'm gonna pop!

First, let me say, for the past 35 years or so, I've considered myself a moderate. Not a moderate Republican, nor a moderate Democrat. Just a moderate. In the past couple of years, however, I've found myself increasingly thrust to the right – and not by any conscious effort on my part. The news media, too many of my liberal-leaning friends, and the actions of our current president all seem to want me there. On the other hand, the tendency of my right-leaning friends to see government conspiracy under every rock dampens my urge to shave my head, grab my survival knife and run off into the woods screaming, "My country, right or wrong!"

Incidentally, I, as I suspect most Americans, don't enjoy either candidate or his minions calling the other a "liar." The presidency is supposed to have a bit of dignity attached to it, and name-calling and character defamation is NOT dignified.

At this point, I believe the Left (read, "Democratic Party") is worse. What I've considered for most of my adult life to be reasonable, common-sense views, the Left now characterizes as "right-wingnut." They don't attack only the Right, nor even just the Far Right. Instead, they go for anyone who does not agree wholeheartedly with our president. Personally, I experience very infrequently the once-common "Everyone-are-entitled-to-their-own-opinion"  attitude. Now, it's "You don't know what you're talking about!" "What are you, nuts?" or worse. America's version of Britain's "loyal opposition" is now labelled "racist" or "whackjob," if the press are to be believed.

I gotta tell ya, that offends me – deeply.

What really has kept me near the middle, though, has been the combination of the shrill bumper-sticker mentality of my fellow Americans all along the political spectrum, and my own search for reason and sanity in this sewage-strewn field of politics.

And note, People.

If we don't have the ambition, or intelligence – or if we just aren't at least curious enough to do a little digging to examine the candidates' qualifications and records, so be it. We're just like more than half of our fellow Americans. But then, we have no right to attack someone else because he/she doesn't agree with what we accept as fact because we saw it in a TV ad or heard someone repeat it.

That's every bit as wrong – and evil – as bigotry.

Me, I'm fed up with being labeled a racist because I don't love our president. I'm fed up with being painted as a fanatic because I believe in traditional family values. I'm fed up with being described as intolerant because I am a Christian. And I'm fed up with being viewed as un-American because I see the frustration from which the Tea Party rose, just as I see it in the Occupy... movement, and I agree with certain things each champions.

As I have mentioned many times before, I did not vote for our current president. He came out of nowhere, and his campaign seemed built on fluff. He seemed too ready to promise anything to everyone. I voted for his opponent, but only because I knew more about him. I knew nothing about Mr. Obama.

Once we elected him, though, I promised myself that I would support him until he gave me reason not to. That reason came in the manner he jammed the health reform bill, "Obamacare," down our throats. Since then, he has gotten worse. He has circumvented Congress; he has "ruled" by executive decree; he has exhibited no real desire for bipartisanship; and he has proved to me that he is not up to the job of President of the United States. In short, he is a small-time Chicago ward-heeler politician steeped in cronyism and in over his head.

"Hope" and "change" were bywords of our president's successful election campaign four years ago. In the months and years since, blame has been the name of his game. Our president and his administration has been quite eager to take credit, but exceedingly reluctant to take responsibility. We've all heard  ad nauseam his "excuse" that "It's my predecessor's (or the Republican Congress's) fault," until the utterance now is a whine rather than a defense.

The topper, however, was the vice president's "Intelligence never told us!" – he crybabied at the vice presidential debate.  I may be wrong, but I believe the recent second presidential debate was the first time I'd heard Mr. Obama man up for something (the Benghazi fiasco) that wasn't a positive.

I personally now embrace Mr. Obama's 2008 election slogan. I hope the American people change presidents.

If not, we probably won't feel like dancing....

May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Is for Remembering

I've been thinking about Memorial Day and what it means. Something entirely different than what was intended.

With his Gen. Order 11, Gen. John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in 1868 unofficially established Decoration Day. Although a Southerner, he fought for the Union and intended the directive to honor those "soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion" that was the War Between the States. Apparently, fallen Union soldiers.

Quickly, though, states on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line used it to honor all their fallen soldiers. Especially after WWI, the observance came to be seen as a way to memorialize all the nation's war dead and in 1971, then-President Lyndon Johnson replaced "Decoration" with "Memorial" and established the day as a national observance.

After that, however, the basket started filling up and heading south. That is, the meaning of the holiday has gone to Hell in a handbasket. Today, too many Americans see Memorial Day as a chance to stampede department stores and car lots for those "great deals" the holiday ads tout. The day's become a celebration of the unofficial start of Grilling Season and an excuse to partypartyparty. We now see it as our duty to drink beer until we puke, thereby prepping ourselves for the really important patriotic holiday, Independence Day. (By the way, some of you may not realize the Fourth of July IS Independence Day.) That holiday's different. It's when all true Americans buy things we don't need and can't afford, partypartyparty, drink beer until we puke, AND turn our children loose to blow off several minor appendages with easy-to-get illegal fireworks.

But I digress.

Luckily, the conflicts our nation have endured in recent decades
have reminded some of us of the true meaning of the coming holiday: to honor our real heroes -- those who have truly served our nation.

They include the "Greatest Generation, WW2 vets who gave their all, certainly. Those real heroes, however, also include those who didn't fall in battle and survived. They include some of my schoolmates who saw service in Vietnam as their duty. Some didn't return, and some did. The real heroes also are the vets of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, whether they've returned or not.

A fallen hero isn't necessarily a serviceman or -woman who died in battle. I keep thinking of a young marine I knew when we were stationed in Puerto Rico during Vietnam. He'd been assigned to the guard company as reward, I guess, after his combat stint. Ashamedly, I can't remember his name. I remember what he did, however.

While standing a "midwatch" (graveyard shift), he put his .45 in his mouth and ended whatever terrible torment he'd brought back.

No one will ever tell me this young man isn't a "fallen" hero. So are the young pilot who was shot down in Iraq and the young corporal whose legs were blown off by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and the national guardsman whose family is barely making ends meet while he's spending a year posted on the other side of the world. And I include the firefighter who is disabled when a burning building collapses on him, and the patrolman paralyzed by a drunken driver as he stood beside a car he'd just stopped.

Or any of the other countless young men and women through the years who have made extraordinary sacrifices while serving their neighbors.

Too many of these heroes are "fallen," but not in the way we usually think. And while we certainly should honor those who have died in the line of duty, we also should think of, and pray for, those who have "fallen," but live on.

This Memorial Day, think of those who have, and do, protect you. And whose sacrifices, however varied, however menial, allow you to stuff yourself with hotdogs and guzzle beer until you puke, and generally take for granted everything you have and everything you do.

For, if we can remember our fallen heroes, and be thankful for them...

...Well, maybe we can just dance....

February 9, 2012

Our "Leadership" Is Just Unbelievable!

I just saw an interesting article saying scientists speculate humans may have descended from sea sponges. I think they're onto something. Without getting into the theology of such a discovery, I offer proof:

Anyone who doesn't believe that we descended from sea sponges only needs to take a good hard look at the U.S. Congress.

I rest my case....

I have a question about the No Child Left Behind Law.

We -- I say "we," Congress -- passed it in 2001. Basically, it mandated that all public school-educated children be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

It's now 2012, and we learn that the president is granting compliance waivers to 10 states and plans to let, what, 28 more off the hook? My question:

How did this happen?

Without even getting into the folly of government by fiat our president seems to favor, I want to know, first, how can any school in this country take 11 (that's right, ELEVEN) years NOT to teach any kid of average smarts reading or mathematics? I'm not an educator, but I'm confident I could teach such a child not to read or work fractions in a LOT less time than 11 years!

For some time now (by that, I mean years), the NCLB Law has been criticized for being all but impossible to implement. As I understand it, certain "unworkable" aspects of the law were uncovered almost immediately. Did no one in government think to say, "Hey, maybe we better take another look at this thing. We certainly don't want to pass an unreasonable law."?

Professional "educators" and our federal "leaders" wouldn't even have had to get off their butts just to THINK about it a bit.

Once again, I have this bit of advice to offer to our federal officials:



If you know me, you know I GOTTA say something about our president's increasing tendency to skirt Congress. I can understand his frustration. Some of his efforts I applaud and think they certainly are worthy of consideration, at least. A couple of his goals may even be noble.

But he's started down the proverbial "slippery slope." I don't believe the American People elected him to rule by decree. (And if we did, we shouldn't have and shame on us!) As our chief executive, he's our top manager. The last time I looked up the words "manager," "executive" or "administrator," "dictator" was not a synonym.

One man does not rule the United States. Obama is becoming an imperial president, and that has to STOP! Congress MUST get its collective head out of where-the-sun-don't-shine and hit the brakes on this bus. Either by taking away his license to drive or, at the very least, getting up and taking back the steering wheel!

If not, all we'll have left is just to dance....

January 25, 2012

Opinions are like...everybody has one!

I must respond to Ian Moone's comments on my previous blog. Then, that will end it.


I applaud your apparent ability to research and your apparent study of history. Your life has colored your opinions just as my life as colored mine. Maybe that accounts for the cynicism and bitterness I sense in you. Regardless, I do not call you ignorant because of them.

You see, Ian, the difference between you and I is that you seem bitter and to have given up on our nation -- perhaps on people, too. Conversely, I believe in our country, and I believe in the innate goodess of the individual.

We as a nation have made a great many mistakes over the course of our existence, both recent and "ancient." We've undoubtedly committed some acts for which we should be ashamed. For my part, however, I choose not to dwell on the past.  It's gone; we cannot change it. We can only hope learn from it. And try to better our behavior and the lives of those around us for our children.

Does that excuse those mistakes and actions? No!

I don't believe, though, any rational person can equate U.S. actions in modern times, however horrible they may be/have been, with Stalin's. He incarcerated, tortured and murdered MILLIONS of his OWN people!

Note: I define Middle America as a group of people of all races, religions and social standing trying to make their ways through life as best they can. They're NOT one ethnic group of one economic level in one area of the nation. Some of them are liberal, and some of them are not. Mostly, they want to be left alone. They're certainly not dupes of some faceless giant industrial/political/economic conspirator intent on keeping them downtrodden. To indicate they are is to paint with a broad brush, much in the way bigots and racists wield stereotypes.

I have a rhetorical question to you: If you are a U.S. citizen, and if you believe Scandinavian or other nations are edens, why are you not a citizen elsewhere? Undoubtedly, you and others with whom you're acquainted would be much happier.

...Then, we can all just dance....

January 24, 2012

Throwing stones only breaks stuff....

I recently engaged in an interesting thread on Facebook that has inspired this posting;specifically, from one Ian.

This is not an attempt to denigrate Ian in any way. His comments galvanized my thoughts, and I thank him for that. I hope I've understood him correctly. (If I haven't, Ian, please tell me.) My take is that Ian believes "the entire U.S. is populated by right-wingers" and both major political parties have sold out to the money interests. Additionally, he praises Europe's approach to similar problems and says the U.S. pursues recent "policies that would have made Stalin blush."

As I drafted my reply to his postings, I found it too long for my liking for Facebook. Thus, this blog, a sort of "open letter" re Ian's comments.

So. Ian....

I agree with much of what you say. We indeed have a lot of problems in this country. On other things, though, I respectfully disagree.

First, I assume your comment re Stalin is hyperbole. To actually believe that is, I'm sorry, absurd. That's all I'll say on that.

Continuing, indeed, we must get the taxation system straightened out. The health-care system certainly could be improved, as well. However, I don't think our problems are as dark as some paint them, nor as bright. I don't believe we should blindly follow the "European model" (my quotes, not your's) to solve our problems. Europe has its own brand of troubles.

Our nation is unique and as such needs unique solutions. It was founded on individual freedom and initiative and based upon the belief that all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That doesn't mean that I have the right to your earned wealth simply because you have more than me. (That seemed the purpose of the Occupy movement, but that's another topic.)

Some would have us shift wealth to the point that everyone gets something for nothing. We've operated under that misconception far too long and, unfortunately, it's an impossible scenario. Such a state becomes welfare/socialist and, if let grow unpruned, removes incentive, thereby killing individual initiative.

If we learned nothing from the shredding of the Iron Curtain, we should have learned that.

Does this mean that we should keep muddling along, bickering and accomplishing nothing? Certainly not! Name-calling, intolerance and ridicule only destroy; not build.

We've come to rely on Uncle Sugar too heavily since the days of FDR, and we have become too lazy and complacent. That's led to our electing lazy, complacent leaders with no moral compass who embrace, if not the moneyed interests, at least the goal of remaining in office forever. And we've allowed them to be fiscally, socially, morally and politically irresponsible without holding them accountable.

They lie and equivocate. They squander our wealth with the intent of pleasing everyone, with no thought to the nation's future. And we Americans, wallowing in self interest, let them.

Now, however, I see a groundswell of discontent with the status quo. People have begun to wake up, have gotten frustrated with what they've seen and have gotten involved. As caring Americans, we should celebrate that involvement, not ridicule their ideas or slander their intent.

I don't agree with everything the Tea Party puts forth, nor do I believe everything the religious right expounds. As someone moderately conservative and a Christian, I certainly strongly resent being characterized as "right wing." Likewise, Democrats and Republicans, I'm sure, resent being painted as "long-haired, hippie-type pinko fags" (Charlie Daniels' lyric) and mean-spirited fat cats, respectively. Stereotypes are easy to wield, but no more valid than racial slurs. (We all know them, so no need to list them here.) It's all hateful.

My belief is that Middle America is filled with folk who are hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic and family-oriented. We may tend towards conservatism, but by no means are we lynch-mob Bible-pounding isolationists. We may have made the mistake of trusting the foxes to guard the hen house, but I don't think that'll be a problem any more. I hope we've awakened.

Finally, Ian, I agree: I think both the established parties have failed us, and our government is long overdue for a general housecleaning. But let me add one more thing:

When I entered the U.S. Navy in January 1968, I did so thinking I might just expatriate when my hitch was up. In my particular job, I visited eight countries in Europe and the Mediterranean, plus the Caribbean. Most of those places, I lived on the local economy, so my outlook was less colored by the military. Several of them were nice, but I found nowhere that made me think living there was better than in the USA. And I looked hard. Why do you think we have an immigration problem? Our nation has its warts, certainly. But it's the best place to be on this planet, I have no doubt!

I enjoyed our interchange, Ian. Thank you.

I pray America'a citizens, no matter where they sit on the political or social spectrum, aren't content just to bellyache, point fingers and not try to make life better for all of us in these United States

...Then maybe we can all dance....