Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Not that I'm going to watch, but I'm curious as to what President Obama will say about Syria tonight.  And I have a serious, legitimate question on Syria for conservatives/Republicans. 

(NOTE--I’m not asking the other side, because they’ll likely, predictably support whatever President Obama decides, even though, should it involve military action, would be counter to what they’ve always preached in the past.   Hypocrisy is rampant among both sides, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

My question, then, is this: what would President Obama do or say tonight on Syria that would be “good” in the eyes of conservatives/republicans?
Because I’m thinking he’s stuck between Iraq and a hard place.  If he bombs, he’s doing it against the will of the people, at least according to some reports.  If he thinks about it more or tries to use diplomacy, he’s indecisive.  If he does nothing, he’s a wimp. 

So I ask again, what would you have him do? 

Don’t answer yet.  First, consider, what would Mitt Romney have done?  What would one of the Bushes have done?  And would you have supported it, if it involved military action?
You might say “no,” but wouldn’t you at least have said, you have to admire him for being decisive, doing what he thought was right?  Isn’t that a lot of what was said after no WMD’s were found in Iraq, by the staunchest Bush defenders? 

And does that same logic apply to a Democratic president you hate?

Now, with regard to Syria, and what Obama should do, I’ll ask one last question that I’ll wager we all already know the answer to: what would Reagan have done?

I'll tell you:
Reagan would have gone on television a week ago, given us a serious turn to his folksy countenance, and then convinced us that it was time to be decisive, and act on the side of morality.  And then he would have bombed the ever-lovin’ shit out of them— the bombers probably would have been in the air before the TV lights in the Oval Office cooled following the address.
So, what should Obama do?

Beats me.  But whatever he does, he’s going to get skewered by FOX News, even if he does the exact precise thing that St. Ronald of Tampico would have done.

Friday, December 21, 2012

This Gun Opponent Agrees With the NRA

Listen, I think as an organization, the NRA is about as repugnant as PETA or HSUS.  And I’m about as anti-concealed carry as you can get.  But I have to say I agree with it on its proposition to put armed police in every school in America.

Why?  Because for as much as you might wish, guns are never going away.  Period.  Would I love to live in a society where guns didn’t exist, except in the hands of the army?  Absolutely.  This isn’t the frontier anymore.  We should have evolved as a society.
But the fact is, for as much as we’d like to be able to drop our kids off at school and not have to worry about them not coming home, that will never, ever be the case anymore.
So why not protect them?
Guns aren’t going away.  You might as well give them a fighting chance with someone there who can defend them from a lunatic.  It doesn’t matter if that lunatic has an illegally obtained Uzi or a spork from KFC—at least the kids would have a chance.
Does Columbine or Sandy Hook happen with an armed officer at the door?  Maybe.  But, maybe it’s not as bad.  Maybe the attempt at a defense buys more time for people inside to alert authorities.  Maybe the mere presence of a defender will deter some of these cowards, who pick on defenseless children.
But guns aren’t going away.  I said previously that I believe in one’s right to defend one’s home or property with a firearm.  I believe in one’s right to hunt for sport or sustenance.  I believe in one’s right to go to a gun range and plug away at a target.  But those aren’t really the kinds of guns we’re worried about.  We’re worried about the assault rifles, the automatics and the semi-automatics.  We’re worried about the ones that were made for one purpose, and one purpose only—to slaughter human beings en masse.
But—I hate to break it to you—those aren’t going away, either.  Why?  Because of the gang bangers.  Because of the NRA and its “you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands” attitude.  Because of the people who, within 24 hours of Sandy Hook, were posting on Facebook that “maybe we should outlaw spoons because they make people fat” or “let’s ban cars because they kill more people than guns.” 
That’s idiotic.  And if you believe those things, you’re an idiot.  You seem to forget the fact that neither spoons nor cars were made to kill vast numbers of people.  An automatic assault rifle was.  Big difference. 
Those people are stuck in a John Wayne world, and there’s nothing we’re going to do to change their Neanderthal attitudes.  We just have to accept it.  If you disagree with that, you’re not living on Planet Reality.
Yes, let’s enforce the laws that are out there.  Yes, let’s put more money into mental health treatment.  No question those issues are part of the equation to make sure Sandy Hook never happens again.
But, what will be more expensive and time-consuming?  Building more facilities and training more experts to treat mental illness?  Training and deploying hundreds of thousands more new police officers and ATF agents? 
Or putting one cop in each school?
Who’s going to pay for these new facilities, experts, training and personnel?  Any hands going up?  The states, especially my state, Illinois, sure as hell can’t pay for it. 
Public school gets a public, on-duty officer, in uniform and badge.  Private school hires an off-duty public officer, also allowed to wear his or her uniform and badge.
But most of all, they’ll have that deterrent, that repellent.  That gun.  It might not keep my kids completely safe, but it will keep them safER. 
And right now, that’s all I can ask for.


It's been brought to my attention that there were two armed guards at Columbine.  Yes, they both shot at him and missed. Klebold and Harris got in the school and did their damage anyway. But--the first guard got the authorities on the way immediately and both guards forced Harris to spend time and ammo in the parking lot. Maybe if they weren't there, Harris and Klebold get into the school completely unmolested. Then, no telling what happens, and what the final body count is.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some Thoughts on Number Two

“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

That’s the text of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted December 15, 1791, for those of you scoring at home.  There are perhaps no other sentence that is so divisive in U.S. law, bar something out of Roe v. Wade.  Those 27 words have been subject to millions, if not billions of pages of legal arguments, and billions, if not trillions of dollars to lobby over.
But just what the hell are we arguing about?  I’m no legal expert, but I do subscribe to logic and reason—and, yes, I quite realize law and logic don’t often intersect.  So without looking at thousands of pages of case law and judicial interpretation, I’d like to offer some thoughts on the matter.
Those who would defend as absolute the rights of citizens to bear arms often get back to the intent of the Founding Fathers.  Some would say that the people have the right to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.  That has some merit.  After all, we had just come from the oppression of the English government during colonial times.  But, adopted in the Bill of Rights, at the same time as the Second Amendment, was the Fourth Amendment, which states,

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In other words, Number Four says the government can’t come in your house without something else called “probable cause.”  So, with that protection, why would you need a weapon?  Besides, in modern times, the po-po showing up at your door with a warrant and probable cause will probably have you out-gunned anyway.
Speaking of modern times, let’s talk for a moment about the “arms” to which the Fathers referred.  Probably what most people had back then was the old Brown Bess musket, which took a highly trained user 15-20 seconds to load and fire—in other words, three shots a minute.  They were still 70 years away from the Gatling Gun, and could not even fathom a modern assault rifle, which could fire those same three rounds in under a second.  Part of the reason that people carried “arms” back then, sometimes even required, was so that the government didn’t have to supply them with weapons in the event of a military event which required the activation of a civilian militia.  No such problem now.  Uncle Sam has plenty of guns.

Now, before I go any further and be labeled a soft, wussy bleeding-heart, scared-of-guns liberal, let me declare the following: I firmly believe in the right of a home/landowner to defend with a firearm his or her life and property from hostile parties.  I believe that right is absolute, and non-negotiable.  You know that old saying, “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”?  Well, your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of my shit ends when you enter my house unwelcomed.  I have the absolute right to repel you by force, because shouting the text of a  law barring breaking and entering isn’t going to stop you in the process of coming for my flatscreen—or worse yet, my kids.  Now, what kind of force should I be allowed to repel you with?  We’ll get back to that.
Let me also declare that I firmly believe in the right of hunting as sport.  Now, personally, I’d never go out and kill Bambi for fun, but for some people, northern and southern, it’s a way of life.  I’ve got no problem with that.  I also have no problem eating what they kill—love me some deer sticks.  But shooting a weapon at something that’s no threat to me doesn’t seem very sporting.  Now, what kind of weapon should you be allowed to use for hunting?  We’ll get back to that.

Finally, let me also declare that I have no problem with sport shooting at a gun range.  I’ve done it twice in my life—once, with a shotgun shooting at clay pigeons about 15 years ago, and once with a handgun at an indoor range with my dad last year in Arizona.  I sucked with the shottie, but was very good with the pistol, especially for a first-timer (thank you, Halo).  And I’ll do it again—I had an absolute blast.  Now, what kinds of weapons should you be allowed to use on a gun range?  We’ll get back to that.
Let us return to the prompts for this piece—the awful events in Newtown, CT.  And Aurora, CO.  And Littleton.  And the Giffords event in Arizona.  And others.  Gun control has again, suddenly, been thrust into the national discussion like never before.  It seems that even some staunch pro-gun supporters think that there at least needs to be a little bit of an examination of current regulation and enforcement policies.
But is it too soon for that examination?   That’s a political hot potato in and of itself.  “Let us grieve for the children, and then we’ll talk,” say some.  That, however just seems like it’s coming from those who are against stricter gun laws, in hopes that after the grief goes away, so will the fervor to take action.  Lockstep liberal U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) penned an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune less than 48 hours after Sandy Hook, so, clearly, he wasn’t waiting.  And there’s plenty of turmoil at FOX News, whose weekend coverage was ordered to NOT discuss gun control, despite FOX parent company boss Rupert Murdoch pleading on Twitter for tighter gun controls within hours of Sandy Hook.  That’s in direct conflict with FOX News Channel President Roger Ailes, who, according to the linked article, has a concealed-carry permit in New York.  And, bless his heart, the only anchor at FOX who knows what the deal* is, Chris Wallace, had on Durbin and fellow Democrat Joe Lieberman to talk gun control despite the order not to.
So, let’s examine—and I’m not going to get into individual states’ or cities’ laws or anything too terribly specific.  I’ll leave that to the politicians.  But I want to start with concealed carry.  It took me a long time to understand why some people are in favor of it, until it finally occurred to me:  some people just like carrying guns.  Carrying a sidearm makes you feel cool, it makes you feel powerful, it makes you feel like John Wayne.  And there’s no tragedy, not even one like Sandy Hook, that’s going to change the minds of people like that.  They’re just going to want to carry a gun so they can feel like a badass.  “But, it’s for my own protection!” they’ll protest.  Well, unless you’re in a forward military zone, you really don’t need to worry very much, now, do you?  I wonder how many times people who have been mugged or something, have actually used their concealed weapons to successfully defend themselves.  Chances are, the bad guy jumps out unexpectedly, whaps you over the head, steals your purse or your wallet and runs off.  Now, he’s got your gun, too, after he pulls it out of your holster or if it was in your purse.  Congrats.  You’ve just armed another bad guy.  Would concealed carry have stopped any of the mass shootings we’ve talked about?  Not likely.  It might stop a guy sticking up a grocery store or going into a place of business after he kills “only” one or two people.  But a lunatic with an assault rifle, however untrained or inaccurate, will likely do much more damage than a soccer mom with a Glock trying to stop him.  I’m against concealed carry.  This ain’t the Wild West anymore.
I asked earlier what kind of weapon a person should be allowed to use in the defense of their home and property.  I think pretty much any handgun is up for discussion, semi-automatics included.  You want a Dirty Harry-style .44 Magnum that will allow you to get one shot off before it knocks you on your ass, go for it.  How about a shotgun?  Maybe, probably.  But does one need an assault rifle?  Some might argue that they have the right to determine what is the proper amount of force needed to defend themselves and their property, and that an assault rifle might qualify.  Well, why not a bazooka, then?  There has to be some kind of limit.  And there should be some kind of extra insurance for people who have weapons in the home.  I got an A in Driver’s Ed and aced my road test and took it all very seriously and was a good and responsible driver from a young age.  But my parents still had to pay through the nose to add me as an insured driver on their vehicles.  Well-trained and responsible doctors and surgeons, who do nothing but try to help people and save lives must carry insurance in the event of an accidental death.  Why would a person who owns a weapon, even a responsible one, not be required to do the same?  You could be the best-trained shooter out there, and responsible as the day is long.  But if someone breaks into your house while you’re gone and steals your arsenal, now you’ve just contributed to the problem.  Sounds unfair, but that’s the truth.  Maybe home gun ownership restrictions should be limited to population density.  Out in the country, a little more lenient—in a high-rise, a high-caliber handgun or a shotgun that can travel through walls might not be such a good thing.  Limit on-site possession to one handgun and one shotgun or rifle, and no more than a 10-round clip in ANYTHING.  If you have emptied the clip on your Smith and Wesson in the face of a threat and haven’t stopped it, and have to grab your Desert Eagle, a) you’re a threat to the general public with your lack of accuracy and shouldn’t have a gun to begin with, and b) you’re pretty much fucked anyway.
I also asked what kind of weapons should be allowed for hunting.  Depends on what you’re hunting for, I guess.  I have no problems with people owning rifles with scopes, or rifles that can take down elk or elephants, or shotguns to blow poor little defenseless ducks out of the air.  But let me ask you this—why not have those kinds of guns stored elsewhere?  Have them in a secured facility, where you can go and, in advance of your hunting trip, check your guns out and return them when you’re done?  I mean, how many hunting trips are spur of the moment, anyway? 
And what kind of guns should you be able to shoot at a gun range?  Frankly, anything you want, provided you have the proper training, of course.  If you’re ex-military and want to send some M-60 rounds downrange out of nostalgia, I have no problem with that.  Rocket launcher?  Why not, given the proper facility.  Sniper rifle?  Sign me up.  But there’s no reason to have those things in your trunk coming and going to the range, and certainly no reason to have them at home, even safely stored, once you’re done with them.  Ranges could have those kinds of weapons available on site for rental use, that way they never have to leave the building or grounds.  Talk about a revenue stream!
I’m sure the above four paragraphs are sacrilege to many gun owners.  Yes, those kinds of concepts mean additional restrictions on your freedoms and perhaps being a little overly regulated.  But let’s get back to Number Two.  Isn’t the phrase “well-regulated” mentioned in there somewhere?  Oh, right, “well-regulated” are two of the first three words.  Isn’t it worth erring on the side of caution (i.e. well-or-overly regulated) when it comes to the kinds of weapons that the Fathers couldn’t have even remotely envisioned?
Advocates might also scream that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”  Fair point.  But, what are the most sacred rights listed in the Original Top Ten?  I would argue, in this country, freedom of speech is probably number one, with freedom of religion number two.  The First Amendment prohibits “the free exercise” of religion and the “abridging the freedom of speech.”  Pretty cut and dried, I’d say.  However, even those most sacred rights have restrictions.  You can’t partake of human sacrifice as part of your religion and you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater.  So, if those sacred freedoms are subject to restriction, why shouldn’t the right to bear arms also be?
Now, if you ‘ve made it this far, congratulations.  I appreciate it.  But I want to make one other gigantic, critical point.  All this money that we could spend on these gun centers and putting trained law enforcement in every school in America (I’m all for it, by the way—put John Effing Rambo at the front door of Fairview Elementary, as far as I’m concerned), I want to say this:  for every dollar we put into gun control measures, we should equal the amount of spending on mental health treatment and facilities in this country.  Dollar for dollar.  Doing one without the other makes no sense at all, because an untreated mentally ill person can do plenty of damage with even the most restricted of weapons.  It has to be done, otherwise, well, I might as well go get a FOID card and apply for concealed carry when it becomes legal in my state.  As a Facebook friend posted this morning, “If you believe gun control is THE solution, you're being foolish. If you don't believe gun control is PART of the solution, you're being ignorant.”
But how are we going to pay for all of this?  Each school district has to pass a tax referendum to pay for full-time guards in schools?  You can’t even get some conservative teabag asshats to consider paying a nickel more for new textbooks or computers until the school boards cut their union-bloated liberal-agenda-ed budgets, especially if they don’t have school-age kids.  And some liberals would spit their Starbucks at the notion of a loaded weapon in a school building, especially if they have school-age kids.  How are you going to fund new mental health treatment centers, especially in a financially ruined state like Illinois, that’s already closing down existing state facilities?  The “gun centers” could at least be privately run, subject to state/federal regulation and inspection, and those places could make a hefty profit, I would think.  But the rest of it—I’m open to suggestions, as are, I’m sure, the people we send to represent us.
In the wake of 9/11 and some of the additional security restrictions we faced, some folks brought up something Benjamin Franklin said in 1775, and are again haughtily repeating: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Fine.  If you’re willing to put your life and the lives of your children in the vision of a man born more than 300 years ago whose idea of rapid-fire was two shots per minute, I offer the following statement from a modern logician like me: click here.
*In this video, fast forward to the 9:25 mark to hear Wallace's statement about the side of the story FOX News tells, and then again at the 10:45 mark when he does not endorse the rest of the network's programming.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Few Wishes

I wish conservatives weren’t generally so smug and condescending.  I wish liberals weren’t generally so sanctimonious and self-righteous.

I wish conservatives would realize they don’t corner the market on patriotism.  I wish liberals wouldn’t roll their eyes at people who are proud to fly the flag.
I wish conservatives wouldn’t feel the need to carry a Glock into the grocery store.  I wish liberals would realize that some people just like guns, and that it’s legal to own and use certain kinds of guns, and that it always will and should be—especially when it comes to protection of one’s home and property.  Don’t like guns?  Don’t own one.
I wish liberals would realize lots of people believe in God, and that they’re going to let their beliefs dictate how they vote.  And that that’s okay.  But I wish conservatives would realize that not everybody believes that God should dictate what’s in our constitution, whether it’s gay marriage or abortion.  Don’t like gay marriage?  Don’t marry someone of the same sex.  But don’t “fix” the constitution so that your morals apply to everyone.
I wish there were term limits.  The president has term limits, why not apply limits to other offices?   I used to be against term limits, after all, we have natural term limits in place—they’re called elections.  But if a candidate or party is so powerful that a race is practically guaranteed to be unopposed, something is wrong with the system.  Maybe the limits will encourage the PACs and SuperPACs to spend their money finding and grooming good new candidates instead of spending money on telling everyone how the [insert a party here]’s candidate is really from hell and will ruin everyone’s lives.  Yeah, we’d lose some good public servants because of term limits, but we’ve lost some good presidents due to term limits, too.  Think Reagan or Clinton or maybe Eisenhower wouldn’t have gotten a third term? 
I wish supporters of BOTH parties would stop being offended when the party they don’t support does something they think isn’t right or fair, and then act like their party would NEVER do something like that.

How is ANYTHING that Ann Coulter says NOT considered hate speech?  As far as I’m concerned, she, and the FOXers, along with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann can go find a remote island somewhere and get stranded there.  And that no news outlets reported on anything that came out of there.

I wish conservatives didn’t want to hoard all the power and money. I wish liberals didn’t want to spread it equally among everyone.

I wish conservatives would realize that you can’t just bomb everyone that disagrees with us, that it makes us seem like a bully on the world stage, and that will just encourage extremist lunatics to try to pick us off in small doses when they can.  I wish liberals would realize it’s okay to bomb the ever-loving shit out of someone if they do something to support/enable someone that’s actively hurting Americans. 
I wish conservatives would realize that if you waterboard someone, they’ll tell you anything to get you to stop, so it doesn’t do much good.  But I wish liberals wouldn’t care, because if one good piece of intelligence prevents some extremist from hijacking the plane my family is on, I’m all for not smashing into the ground at 600 miles per hour instead of going to Disney World.

I wish conservatives wouldn’t assume that liberals were just stupid, and that if they were better informed or more patriotic, they’d be conservatives.  I wish liberals wouldn’t assume that conservatives were just greedy racists, and that if they weren’t rich or wrapped in the flag or the bible, they’d be liberals.
I wish conservatives would realize that global warming is a fact, and that humans likely have something to do with it.  I wish liberals would realize we all don’t want to drive the equivalent of electric golf carts on anywhere but a golf course.

I wish conservatives would realize that for 99% of people, sexual orientation isn’t a choice.  I wish liberals would realize that you’re probably not going to change the minds of people who think homosexuality is gross and/or wrong, and trying to guilt them into changing is stupid and wrong.
I wish I weren't glad that Obama won just so that conservatives could feel the same dread and hate that I felt the night George W. Bush got re-elected. 

I wish partisans would realize that all the good ideas aren’t exclusive to one political party.  I wish people would realize that there’s a time to take a conservative approach to things, and that there’s a time to take a liberal approach to things.  And that those times split right about 50-50. 
I wish people would realize that moderates don’t want compromises that result in nothing.  Moderates want the approach that not one side has all the answers.  And in this country, that seems to be a radical idea.
That's why I consider myself neither a democrat nor a republican, but a Radical Moderate.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Day After Tomorrow

Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m not going to be happy.  This election cycle seems even more rancorous than the last three (Bush-Gore 2000, Bush-Kerry 2004, and Obama-McCain 2008), and if we were still not a little fragile from the events of 9/11, I think either of the 2004 or the 2008 elections could have created permanent rifts in the country.  Who knows…maybe they have.

So here we are, less than twelve hours until the polls open.  Early voting, of course, has already begun, but the real deal starts tomorrow.  And when the dust settles tomorrow night—if we’re not faced with some sort of Florida 2000 scenario, I’m dreading what lies in front of us, regardless of who wins.
Because we’ll all lose.
If Barack Obama gets re-elected, a great deal of the country, which seems to already hate him, will smugly be thanking liberals for four more years of socialism.  And a great deal of the country will be smugly dismissing conservatives with the election as proof that we don’t want mean, rich white guys as the ruling class anymore.  Of course, there will be a large contingent of people who will have again elected what they perceive as the lesser of two evils—people who will be uneasy having chosen someone who didn’t live up to the promise of four years ago over someone who seems to not care about the half of the country that isn’t going to vote for him.  The devil you know, you know?
And if Mitt Romney gets elected, a great deal of the country will smugly be dismissing everyone who ever even considered voting for Obama as a socialist liberal, unpatriotic and deserving of banishment to the fringes while the adults go back to work, while a great deal of the country will be smugly thanking Rush and Ann and FOX for leading us back to Karl Rove-style douchebaggery.  Of course, there will be a large contingent of people who will have again elected what they perceive as the lesser of two evils—people who will be uneasy having chosen a guy with a weird religion they know nothing about, who flip-flops a lot (but at least is a Republican) over someone who, while under his administration, things got a little better but not as much as he had promised.  This guy has to do better than the last guy, right?
Doesn’t Wednesday sound like fun?
As for me, about twelve hours until the polls open, I’m still undecided.  And by that, I mean I’m undecided about whether I’m even going to vote—for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I live in Illinois, and my vote won’t matter because of the Electoral College.  Obama will win Illinois whether I vote for him or Romney, so what’s one more vote more or less for either guy here?  Second, I’ve sort of come up with a theory—and if everyone subscribed to it, it could lead to real change.  That theory is, if no one votes, neither of the lesser of two evils can take office.  George Carlin had a great observation in one of his acts—and I’m paraphrasing here:  'If you vote, and you elect incompetent, dishonest people and they get into office and screw everything up, YOU caused the problem, YOU voted them in.  I, who stayed home on election day, had NOTHING to do with the mess YOU created.'
Amen, brother. 
I voted for Barack Obama four years ago, and I think he’s done lots of good things.  But while his supporters look at his specific accomplishments, I look at the overall tone of his body of work, and I don’t like how he’s done some of it.  Remember, four years ago, he campaigned on Hope and Change.  I took that to mean a new attitude in America after the divisiveness of the Bush years—a breath of fresh air; a genuine effort to work together with different points of view and come to a consensus on what’s best for America, not just for a political party.   Mission Not Accomplished.  He rammed through health care reform on party lines, he continually blamed his predecessor for the state of things, and he has demonized those fortunate enough to earn a good living.  Sound like Change?  Not so much.
If Barack Obama gets re-elected, I’m afraid of what the next four years will bring.  I think he will view a re-election as a mandate to continue the same kind of divisive campaign against the rich that got him re-elected.  It will be four more years of class warfare.  I’m not going to call it socialism like those on the right will, but class warfare is what it is.  I mean, yeah, generally, I think rich people try to get out of paying taxes and that they’ll screw anyone to hoard an extra dollar, but that’s America.  That’s their right as capitalists.  But how is class warfare a good thing?  How is making them seem like villains going to move the country forward?  It doesn’t solve the fundamental problem that we spend more than we take in—a problem that, despite what the right would have you believe, is NOT limited to Democratic administrations.  Plus, Republicans hate Obama so much, in a second term they will vindictively block anything he wants to do even if it means the country suffers for it, thereby guaranteeing a Republican president in 2016. 
But if Mitt Romney gets elected, I’m equally afraid of what the next four years will bring.  He might improve the economy and create jobs, though I think a president’s influence on the economy doesn’t really amount to much.  But you heard what he said in his famous 47% remarks (which he has since stepped back from, ever so slightly—not that I buy this supposed remorse).  He basically has no respect for half the country.  How can we have a leader like that?  And how can we elect a leader whose morals might dictate that certain kinds of discrimination are just fine?  Is it better to have an improving economy but diminished civil and human rights?  If so, at best, it makes it the 1950’s again.  At worst, it makes us China.
What it boils down to is that we have a president who, in my view, who hasn’t lived up to his promise running against a challenger who doesn’t deserve the office, with the losing side hell-bent on screwing the winning side--and the American people along with it.  My advice is to buy plenty of stock in K-Y.
Doesn’t Wednesday sound like fun?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Speech You Will Never Hear

Here is the speech Mitt Romney could give that would win him the White House.  Trouble is, we'll never hear it.

"My fellow Americans:

In a political campaign, it’s no secret there’s lots of strategizing, particularly when it comes to communications.  You have to be popular to win, and so candidates tend to lean toward popular ideas when campaigning.  In other words, you promise things to get votes.  That’s as old as politics itself.
But you also have to balance those populist messages with the hardliners in your party who want nothing to do with not only opposition ideas, but even centrist ideas as well.  It’s their way or the highway.  And if you don’t kowtow to them, you don’t get their support, you don’t get their money, and you don’t win the election.
In my campaign in particular, it’s been difficult trying to woo independents in the center who voted for President Obama’s message of hope and change four years ago, while trying to appease those party hardliners with the money and influence.

And it hasn’t really worked.  So it’s time to change tactics.  Not that I was dishonest before, but, now, it’s time to be honest—not only to you, the voter, but to myself as well.  I’m going to campaign on what I believe in, results be damned.  I’m behind in the polls anyway, if you believe them, with almost no chance to win, so it’s time to bring REAL change to our politics.
During this campaign, one word has dogged me in particular.  It’s flat-out vilified me, in some people’s eyes.  That word isn’t “Mormon.”  It’s “rich.”

He’s rich, so he must be bad.  He must be greedy.  He must want not only his own fortune, but everyone else’s money, too.  So I better not vote for him.
Well, let’s talk about that word, rich.
Am I rich?  Yes, I’m rich.  But here’s my question:  so what?   Isn’t that the American dream?  Why am I being demonized because I have a lot of money?  President Obama has a lot of money.  President Bush and his father before him had lots of money.  President Clinton had a lot of money.   It’s nothing new to have a wealthy man in office.

Why, all of a sudden, is it bad to have one now?
Sure, I got some help from my dad, but lots of people get help from their parents when they first start out.  Maybe they help out with your first car or your first house.  My father helped out with my first company.  It’s a matter of scale.  What I did from there was my own doing.  I worked my tail off my whole adult life to take what my father gave me and build upon it.  The same way that someone takes that first house their parents helped them buy, pays it off, or most of it off, and then buys a nicer, newer house.  Or a nicer, newer car.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  When did it become a bad thing to aspire, and to achieve?

President Obama has built his campaign—has built his whole presidency—on class warfare.  “Get the rich to pay their fair share,” he says, and crowds go nuts.
“If Mitt Romney gets elected,” he continues, “the rich will get richer and you’ll end up supporting their lavish lifestyles.”  Rich, rich, rich.  Rich is bad.

Well, here’s a question for you:  Doesn’t everyone want to be rich?  I would say that 99% of Americans—not that 47% I stupidly and incorrectly bad-mouthed to impress a few hardliners—want to be rich.  And that’s probably an underestimate.  There’s nothing wrong with that.
So here’s what it comes down to.  President Clinton, when he campaigned in 1992, had the mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” 
Fast forward twenty years, and it’s the same story.  It’s the economy.  It’s jobs.  It’s rebuilding the American Dream.  Too many Americans have been struggling for too long.  Too many Americans want—and need more money. 
You want more money?  Elect me.  I’ll lead by example, using my experience as a rich person.  Under a Romney Administration, we’ll enact policies and practices like I did in my businesses. Those policies will help all Americans, not just the rich ones to get richer.  You grow an economy, you GROW wealth by BUILDING wealth, not by spreading around what a few people already have.  It’s a noble idea to take from the rich and give to the poor.  But it’s not a good long-term business model.  You want poor people to have more money?  Me too.  But if you just give them money that other people have, what happens when that runs out?  Then nobody has any money.  It’s like that old adage, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.  I can teach America how to build wealth so that there are more people with more money, not just a few people forced to share the money they have.  That’s the American way.  We teach each other to fish!  That’s how we help each other!    That’s what made America great, and what will make America great again!

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!!"
If only.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Five Best Sentences You'll Ever Read

So I've seen this thing on Facebook pop up, "The 5 Best Sentences You'll Ever Read."  Aside from the hyperbolic nature of the title (and some grammatical errors which automatically exclude them from being the "best"!!!), I have some problems with the content.  Don't get me wrong, in theory, they're an excellent set of principles and in an ideal world, would agree entirely.  However, the world, far from ideal, does not live on principles.  I will first post the five original sentences:

1.  You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
2.  What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3.  The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does first not take from somebody else.
4.  You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
5.  When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Pithy, and, again, in an ideal world, very true.  But allow me to respond:

1.  You cannot wish for all capitalists into playing by the rules; some will lie and cheat and steal and think nothing of leaving nothing for those in their wake.  That is why legislation must exist.
2.  When one person works and doesn’t receive enough, another person (in an enlightened society, or, if you prefer, a Christian society) should be glad to spare a penny or two to help a fellow person, else that less fortunate one become a much bigger strain on society in the form of a thief, a homeless person, an addict, etc.
3.  The government would likely have to take less from everyone if those among whom the wealth is concentrated didn’t hide their money overseas or in tax shelters; or send jobs in their companies to Mexico and India; or didn’t cook the books and plunder the retirement funds of their employees.
4.  You cannot multiply wealth by hoarding it among the few.
5.  When the bulk of the wealth and power is concentrated among a small minority, the poor and weak majority will band together and force equality.  That is also the beginning of the end of any nation.  (See France, 1789).
Yeah, yeah, yeah, liberal idealist eletist bleeding-heart socialism.  Probably.  But I think I'd rather live in the kind of society where people look out for each other instead of trying to screw each other out of every nickel.

And, as always, the true five best sentences lie somewhere in the middle.  That's why I label myself as a "Radical Moderate."

Have fun, do good.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

RE: Health care ruling, for what it's worth

As someone who has written from time to time on matters political, I’ve been queried as to my opinion of the health care ruling.  And despite my recent radio silence on Facebook and darkening of my blog, I feel compelled to scribble this little missive.

Honestly, I haven’t much followed the debate.  I don’t know what’s in the bill, and I really don’t know much more than democrats love it and republicans hate it.  Yawn.
But I’ve been following the rather predictable responses from supporters and detractors and I don’t really have much in the way of observation except the following.
If you’re one of those wailing from the rooftops about how this is a horrible day for our country or how the Supreme Court’s ruling (which included a majority vote from a Bush nominee) has shaken the very foundation of our democracy for time and all eternity, I say this:  you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
Our country has survived civil war, assassination, resignation, depression, terrorism and Warren G. Harding.  Yet, we’ve managed to keep humming along.  I don’t think this ruling will bring more upheaval than any of those events.
And for the record, before I’m accused of being a lock-step liberal, let me say up front that I’m sick of Washington, I’m sick of politics, and I’m sick of the fact that every one that gets sent to DC is already bought and paid for before they ever cast their first vote, regardless of which party they represent.  I’ve been disappointed by President Obama, but I don’t think anyone else would have done any better.
Further, look back to the last issue that those on the left said was so damaging to our democracy: Guantanamo and the interrogation of terrorists.  I gave credit to President Bush for keeping us safe after 9/11.  The processes at Gitmo led to the information that got us the name of bin Laden’s chief courier.  And that led us to his compound.  And that led him to meeting his 72 virgins.  If pouring water down the throat of some extremist lunatic keeps me and my family from plunging out of the sky into a building, I’m all for it.  If I have to wait in line an extra ten minutes at the airport and take my shoes and belt off, fine.  I’m a selfish, fat 21st century American—I don’t want to die to give Constitutional protection to one of “them” that doesn’t even believe in our system anyway.
So as I gave W credit for that, I’m giving Obama credit for the health care law.  At least he did something about it.  Like it or hate it, right or wrong, right or left, he did something.  Not a lot of people can go to DC and get something done about anything, let alone one of the biggest issues facing our country.  Even one of the most popular presidents in recent memory, Clinton, failed at health care.
So at least give credit where credit is due.  Now excuse me while I laugh at the idea of that kind of maturity in this country.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Fractured States of America

I start to write this having just come from a 9/11 memorial at the fire station, which is kind of ironic considering the subject material. That’s because September 11, 2001 was the day that brought us all together after a contentious 2000 presidential election, in which Al Gore won the popular vote but not the electoral vote. More than half the country had a president it didn’t vote for. Everybody was either Red State or Blue State. We weren’t America anymore. Things were starting to get a little ugly.

But that all changed when some extremist lunatics vaporized nearly 3,000 American civilians on a beautiful sunny Tuesday morning.

Suddenly, American flags were everywhere: on homes, on buildings, sticking out of car windows, hanging off of bridge overpasses. People were donating money by the millions to the Red Cross and other charitable organizations, to help the victims and their families. We were all a little more polite, a little more patient, a little more tolerant. I think we just didn’t know when a plane was going to scream out of the sky into our kitchen, and we didn’t want our last moments on Earth or the last impression on the people around us to be that of an angry jerk.

So we were all on the same page again, with the exception of some wack-a-loons who probably still think 9/11 was an inside job. We invaded Iraq, invaded Afghanistan, killed off most of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, caught and killed Saddam Hussein, bought houses and big flat-screen TVs, put magnets supporting our troops on the backs of our SUVs, and America was great again.

Then we figured out there was no way out of Iraq and that we didn’t do enough in Afghanistan. Then we had another election, and though that one wasn’t as close as 2000, it was probably more rancorous, reopening those Red State/Blue State wounds. Then gasoline went up over 4 dollars a gallon. Then we found out about secret prisons where the people we captured in Iraq and Afghanistan were abused and tortured. We still had no way out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and more and more of our soldiers were dying. We still hadn’t found Bin Laden. People started pointing fingers again. Then the economy tanked—big time—and that was the final straw. We found out that if you hit Americans in their pocketbooks, nothing else really matters. The gloves come off. The left blamed the right for allowing and encouraging all the corruption and greed in Corporate America. The right blamed the left for pushing into houses people that couldn’t afford mortgages, thereby nearly destroying the banking and real estate industries. The president at the time was on his way out, a lame duck who was not going to be able to do thing one about very much at all.

Enter the 2008 election. Now I will state up front that I voted for Barack Obama, but that I would have been, with the exception of knowing Sarah Palin was a 73-year old heartbeat away from the presidency, very comfortable with John McCain as president. I think he’s a good and decent man, just as I think Obama is. But people couldn’t see that. The campaign was broken down to The Empty Suit vs. More Of The Same. It was All Talk, No Action vs. the Grumpy Old Man. And when Obama won, it seemed that, finally, while not a landslide by any means, there seemed to actually be a general feeling of relief that it was over, and a chance for fresh start. Even the classy McCain tried to impart a spirit of cooperation with his concession speech, saying he’d work with the President however he could, and scolding those who booed.

Well, here we are less than eight months into BHO’s presidency, and any feelings of optimism and cooperation have been completely flushed down the toilet. We’ve gone Thelma and Louise into a divide that might not be able to be repaired. Ever.

And the evidence of having reached that divide is stark: I present the boorish behavior of Congressmen Joe Wilson of South Carolina and John Shimkus of—you guessed it—Illinois. During the President’s health care address to a joint session of Congress, Wilson shouted “You LIE!” in the middle of the speech, in front of the whole world. And Shimkus flat got up and walked out. Now, whether you agree with Wilson and Shimkus or not, those are just things you don’t do—at least, apparently, up until now.

Congressman Wilson apologized almost immediately, saying his emotions got the better of him. But a lot of people defended him, saying the breach of respect was justified. And how many of the Republicans who professed dismay over Wilson’s outburst were actually secretly wishing they had the church bells to do that? There was actually such little fallout because of his immediate apology and the President’s subsequent acceptance, that, in fact, the next day, Wilson said that while he stood by his apology, he defiantly said in a web video seeking campaign donations that he wasn’t going to back down from his attacks. Shimkus’s mouthpiece, meanwhile said the Congressman left after hearing the president repeat "an accumulation of rehashed talking points." Nice.

That’s certainly their Founding Fathers-given rights, but I fear the lack of consequences will further embolden those who believe Wilson and Shimkus were justified in their behavior and lead to a complete catastrophic breakdown of any remaining decorum in this country. I’m not just pointing at the right, either. When people on the left do it in the future—and they will—the right will naturally complain, but the excuse will be the ever-popular (and mature!) defense: “but you did it too!”

What bothers me most is that the number of people with whom you can have a logical, reasonable discussion about the issues is evaporating rapidly. It used to be that the only ideologues out there were politicians, old people and college students. But now you can’t talk to a soccer mom without discovering in about point-three seconds where she stands on health care, even if you’re discussing plans for the PTA fundraiser. (Here’s how any phone conversation with my dad can go, by the way—Dad: “So how’s everybody?” Me: “Pretty good. The girls have swimming coming up, and then we’re going to…” Dad [interrupting]: “Yeah, so how about that Nancy f*cking Pelosi. That’s one scary broad. You see what she and Harry Reid are trying to stick in that health care bill?” This is no exaggeration. Except for him interrupting. He might let me finish my sentence.) Either you’re right or you’re left, you’re right or you’re wrong, you goose-step to Rush or guzzle the Olbermann-Aide, and if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to yell at you and insult you until we part ways or come to blows.

And it’s making me very afraid of what’s next. Obviously, any civility or decency in a public forum is completely out the window. The town hall meetings on health care have been bad enough. But with Wilson’s scot-free verbal assault in the middle of the President’s address in the middle of the House of Representatives, it’s just going to get that much worse. You’re going to see a lot more personal attacks on not only our elected officials, but among other people in the room who are in disagreement. You’re going to see a lot more verbally along the lines of what you might have in the past only read in anonymous online comments. If there haven’t already been—and I suspect there have—you’ll see flat-out fistfights at these things. And what’s going to happen when the President makes an appearance somewhere—anywhere? After all, aside, perhaps, from a courtroom, church or funeral parlor, there is no place that’s even close to requiring the decorum expected inside the U.S. Capitol. So what happens when the President makes a campaign stop at a Chick-Fil-A on Main Street, USA? Are we going to see someone HERE throwing a shoe?

Or, perhaps, the unthinkable: someone throwing a bullet?

In fact, I made that comment just last night. I would not be surprised if, in the next three months, somebody takes a shot at him. And then, Katie Rose bar the door.

Somebody won’t go after him because he’s a Democrat. Somebody won’t go after him because of the Economic Stimulus Bill. Somebody won’t go after him because of health care reform. Somebody won’t go after him because of the silliness over his birth certificate. And somebody won’t go after him because he’s black, either, although that will likely be the perception, thus triggering a race war in this country that will make Watts look like a charity picnic.

Somebody will do it because his “emotions got the better of him.” And nothing is off the table anymore.

So to answer the long standing question posed by Rodney King in the wake of the L.A. riots, “Can’ t we all just get along?”—

No. No, we can’t. Sorry, Mr. King. And that means, like all great civilizations that collapse and die under the weight of their own corruption, greed and internal strife, the beginning of the end is, in my humble opinion, coming sooner rather than later for the Fractured States of America.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Last One

I rather wish I hadn’t used the title from the final episode of M*A*S*H (“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”) in an earlier blog post, because I think it would be fitting and proper to use those words here and now.

You see, this entry will be the final one for this blog; I have decided to retire from writing.

In fact, I’ve decided to retire from a lot of things, but primarily, I’m giving up on the putting of words to paper with the intent of having other people read them.

I enjoy writing, I really do. And I really wish I could make a living doing it. But it’s just not possible, not for me, anyway.

That’s why I’m going to stop writing on my blog, and I’m going to cease efforts to get my novel published. I think about things all the time—politics, philosophy, religion, sports, relationships, etc. And I think I have some pretty good things to say about all of them. However, it’s become overwhelmingly apparent that I just do not have the resources to market those things rattling around in my head.

I spent more than six years on and off writing my novel. I thought about it every day. I’ve thought about it every day since it’s been finished. I spent about a year sending letters and e-mails to agents. I’ve been trying to find a way the past two years to get to a conference, after finding out that’s the best way to get an agent to lay eyes on my work. But I just can’t do it anymore. It hurts too much to keep pursuing this dream. I can’t keep thinking, oh, if I can just get this thing published, our money problems will go away, and I can quit my job to write full time. I’ve got two more ideas for novels in my head, a play I started years ago, and ideas for two television series that I’d like to work on.

But then I think about the cost. Do I come home from work and hole myself up at the computer and bang this stuff out every night until bedtime, obsessing over this dream? Do I miss watching my kids do swim lessons and tee ball? Do I miss more talent shows and dance recitals because I’m off at conferences, spending money we don’t have?

For some career-driven parents or business entrepreneurs, those sacrifices are worth it. However, it’s not for me. I don’t want to be the dad whose kids wonder why everything else seemed more important.

I had one of those dads, and I know how it feels.

My dad wasn’t really career-driven, though; he would just rather lie on the couch and watch TV or work on his fishing boat than do stuff with me. I can remember a whopping two times growing up that we played catch. I would ask him to take me to the batting cages at Wright’s Barnyard, and he’d laugh and he’d say, “Yeah, right, get a job.” I remember in 8th grade when he sold our ski boat that we used on the lake by our little summer cottage to get that stupid fishing boat. I was crushed, but I tried to be optimistic: “We’re going to take that to the lake, right?” My dad laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. The fishing boat, I was told in no uncertain terms, was HIS, and was going to be used only for fishing trips. Never mind that we’d use our ski boat every weekend from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and lots of weekdays during summer vacation. That fishing boat was HIS, and it was only to be used the one or two times a year, when HE wanted to go fishing. (He even tried to enter a fishing tournament once—I don’t know if he had his own dreams of being Jimmy Houston or Al Linder—spending more time and money getting into that. He and his partner finished dead last. Didn’t catch a single fish.)

So I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to spend my time and money fixing up a shitty old fishing boat to use once or twice a year in lieu of doing things with and for my family.

For instance, do I spend about $500 and a few days away from my family so I can go to a writing conference so I can meet an agent or publisher about my novel, in hopes that MAYBE someone will want to work with me on it? Or, do I put that $500 toward a new play set or patio for my family, and spend those few days working on them? I have so much that I need to do and should do that I can no longer justify doing what I want to do. I don’t have infinite amounts of time or, more critically, money, to take care of the things that I need to do and try to further my own ambitions and dreams.

Part of the problem is that there are just so many things I want to do or try, I know there’s no way I’ll ever accomplish them. I obviously want to write. But I also want to learn to play the guitar and piano again. I want to be in a band. I want to coach football. I want to be back on the radio, hosting a show this time. I want to travel, and write about traveling. I want to cook. I want to learn to build things and fix things without having to ask for help. I want to golf—a lot. Of all the wants I have for myself outside of my children’s happiness, the only thing I’ve been able to accomplish is a well-maintained lawn.

So that’s why I’ve decided to retire from writing, as well as any other personal ambitions. I just have to put out of my head all of those things I want to do, because it just eats away at me day by day, little by little, that I can’t do any of them. I can no longer stand to be selfish, as I have been most of my life. My selfishness has just about cost me my marriage. I learned—probably too late—how to not think of myself first. The only things that matter to me are the smiles on my kids’ faces. Will any of my own personal accomplishments bring smiles to them? No. So why bother? I’d rather be lying on my deathbed regretting that I never became a full time writer than regretting I didn’t do more for and with my kids. I don’t know if my dad will regret anything on his deathbed—including moving a thousand miles away from his grandkids—but I doubt it. He doesn’t seem the regretful type.

Sounds like I need therapy, no? I probably do. But therapy would be for my own personal fulfillment, too, so that's not gonna happen. I really feel, however, in reaching this decision, like a large weight has been lifted from me. I no longer feel the crushing burden of carrying the load of all those things I want for only myself. I feel free. So at least there’s that.

Thank you to all who have read and commented on this here bloggy thing. I really appreciate you taking time to leave your thoughts, and for the kind words that some of you have said about me and my ideas and my writing.

Through all this, my philosophy hasn’t changed: have fun, do good.