The more it stays the same…

credit: worldnewscurator.com

credit: worldnewscurator.com

“All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” – President Obama

While this statement was pretty much focused on the unsuccessful gun control efforts driven by the massacre in Newtown, the ramifications and considerations are obviously more widespread than just that incident.  Yes, the NRA is a big part of the issues of the level of violence we are seeing – not all but a strong contributor.  However, we are a nation of ADHD.  The outrage and attention this past week on the events that began on Monday at the Boston Marathon will all but disappear to most by the end of the month.  The shock and sadness from the recent tragedy at the Texas fertilizer plant will begin to fade for most within two weeks.  Most in this country have all but forgotten about the 21 children brutally murdered less than 4 months ago.  The inability of our people to sustain any real focused intensity for any extended period coupled with the obvious apathy and unwillingness to take action of any sort leaves most decisions to the small few in Washington DC who, to any person who actually pays attention and can think, have little interest in reflecting the wishes of our people.  We have become accustomed to violence to the extent that I would suggest that no other civilized country is at.  And much of it sits with our love affair with guns.  Ignoring over 11,000 gun-related deaths a year should be no easy matter but yet it is.

thCASPXAKI

Can we just blame the politicians?  Not entirely but we the people are who should shoulder the real blame.  We put them there and we let then stay there.  These politicians really voted against increased gun control because of the 10% of the American public against the increased control vs. the 90% who supported it.  Figure that math out.  Many of the politicians knew the bill was the right thing to do but voted against it because those 10% are the ones they know will come out to vote.  So the problem is with the 90% who voice that they care but are too lazy to extend the effort to execute their civic duty.  How sad is that.  I will guess that those 10% also were the ones that took the time and energy to write or call their politicians and made their voice heard.  I actually wrote to mine this time around – and I’d like to think that it had some impact on Senator Pat Toomey’s (my senator in PA) decision to join Senator Joe Manchin in legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns while preserving the rights of law-abiding people to do so.  Both Senators are from gun happy states and they figured it out and potentially put their next election at risk – and maybe they heard more from the people they represent.  But obviously in many other states, the senators either didn’t hear from their constituents and/or lacked the conscience or fortitude to do what it right and what is needed to better protect our people.    People, time to pick up a pen, a phone or your keyboard – is it really that hard to take that small step?

On the other hand, we still have organizations like the NRA who actually exist primarily to ensure that business, in this case gun manufacturers (and related industries) make as large a profit as possible.  I, for one, have quite a problem with the power that has been handed off to an organization like the NRA.  No matter their stated intent or objectives as an organization, there is something wrong where an entity that only really represents the interest of 10% of our country can influence so much.  So to all you NRA supporters – do you really think they are looking out for your best interest?  And it extends well beyond this recent stance against universal background checks. We can also see it in another perspective that is directly tied to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Luckily, given the events of the week we have a conclusion (of a sort) in less than 5 days – we know who, which is really the core of any other actions.  But let’s say that events didn’t unfold as they did and the perpetrators were a little smarter and we didn’t know who they were.  We would still be looking at evidence left behind and a good deal of effort would be on the homemade bomb remnants, looking for traces of where things came from as a way to track back to individuals.  If we were dependent on this evidence at this point, we can thank the NRA for the difficulty that would be encountered in tracing back where the devices were made based on the explosives used.  And as a result, we are all a bit more at risk.

Almost 40 years ago the government developed a way to mark explosives to help trace terrorist bombs. But Congress blocked the research, even after a test of the device helped catch a bomber in Baltimore.  Who was behind Congress in voting it down? – the explosives industry and the National Rifle Association, citing safety concerns.  More likely driven by lost profit resulting from increased costs and oversight of the process.  Then the Oklahoma City bombing put it back on the table and President Clinton proposed legislation to resume the Treasury Department study of the feasibility of mixing tracers, called “taggants,” into dynamite and other explosives. There was discussion to include the fertilizer used to make the Oklahoma City bomb, or other materials that detonate such bombs.  A blast would scatter these tiny plastic tracers, which survive as a clue to help find the bomber.   Opponents said the government had not proved the devices were safe. Tampering with explosives could put miners and others who work with them at risk, the Institute of Makers of Explosives said. Opponents also argued that the taggant program would be too expensive.  The NRA again raised similar safety complaints about taggants in gunpowder, and also likened it to federal registration of firearms. The government wanted to mark the black powder used by owners of old-style muzzle loading guns because it is often used in pipe bombs.  Oh-oh – another possibility of federal government in their house. Again, Congress took direction from the NRA and cut off all funding of the taggant program.  Interesting, one of the phrases thrown around a the time was “The problem’s not fertilizer, the problem’s people.”  Boy, does that sound familiar to the rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby today.  Different day, same shit.

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

Will increasing the gun laws fix every problem and keep incidents like Newtown from ever happening?  Not at all and that argument by the NRA should be soundly called as bullshit.  To not realize as a country that we need to take steps to begin to reduce the likelihood is where the focus and conversation should be.  I have reached a point in my life where absolutes never matter – it’s really about the journey to get there and what we can accomplish on that path forward.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” – Old Chinese Proverb

Fire with Fire

It has now been probably 10 minutes since President Obama finished the news conference on actions to curb gun violence in our country.  While I don’t tweet or watch trending issues among those that do, I expect the internet is swarming with irate NRAers and the rhetoric will take on an even higher dimension of fear and threat as the efforts Obama has put into play become more real.  I expect there are those already heading out to re-supply their food and ammunition coffers as they undoubtedly see this as only one step from the government knocking down their doors to take their guns.  Just that picture alone and that there are those who actually believe it is pretty amazing.  I have to wonder how some of these people would score on an MMPI, Rorschach Ink Blot or even Myers-Briggs Personality test.   But I digress.  It is obvious that Congress will likely be a large part of the problem in making change so depending on that will be futile.  As the President said it will be incumbent on all of us to make sure our politicians not only understand what we want but that we will hold them accountable for their actions – or lack there of – in not taking the wants and needs of the majority of the US public into account when making the decisions they do.  We need to make it clear that while these politicians might fear a loss of money from the NRA and other related lobbyists, those we elect must realize that all that money won’t make a difference when they are no longer in office.  It is time to tell these politicians we will not only not support and not vote for them, we will actually vote against them – no matter who is running.  Start the letters, emails, phone calls, whatever works for you.

Anon1

In the meantime, speaking of fire with fire.  While not really surprised at the depth of human nature the NRA has stooped with their latest ad drawing the President’s children into the issue, it becomes increasingly clear we are not dealing with thinking and feeling human beings.  It is obvious that common sense, compassion, empathy, and a myriad of other real capabilities will not work with these people.  It is time to take it to a level they understand.  It would be nice if the group Anonymous had some sort of signal like Gotham City had for Batman when they needed him that we could just shine it up onto the clouds but let me just reach out and make a suggestion to them – I doubt they haven’t started down this path on their own but wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if we could see the names, home addresses, pictures, personal email addresses, telephone numbers of not only all the leadership of the NRA (both past and present) but also have the same info for all their families – wives, children and grandchildren as the case may be – posted somewhere out for all to see.  Of course they would cry “foul” but maybe this would jolt some of them into some semblance of human form.  If it was good enough for the Westboro Baptist Church, why not the NRA.  Both pretty despicable organizations.

Wrapping up 2012

I am never one to lament the completion of another year as I spend relatively little time looking backwards.  To be honest, much to the chagrin of my wife (who is quite the planner), I spend relatively little time looking forward either as I’m usually absorbed in the here and now.   I find there is enough to deal with in the present.  As with most of my years on this earth (and there have now been almost 60 of them), 2012 was a year with some good and some bad – and in some cases pretty horrid.  Luckily, my life and my sphere of influence fell mostly on the side of the good stuff.  I am happy with that but I am disheartened by all the not so good stuff I see around me – again feeling lucky that most all of it has chosen to remain outside of me and my family but never feeling so insulated and safe to not recognize that at any moment it could easily intrude.  That possibility is never that far away and with everything going on in this country at the moment, nothing is a certainty.

While most anyone else probably doesn’t care about the personal side of my life, this is really for me – by seeing it in writing it re-emphasizes the gift I have and how lucky I am to have the people around me who are my immediate family.  It ensures I never take it all for granted.

Let’s talk about the good first.

  • I remain happily married and in love – kind of corny on one hand but having the type of relationship I have with my wife after 32 years is one that happens far too little in our society – I am very fortunate.
  • All four of us in the immediate family are healthy.  Those of us over 55 are feeling our age but that’s it.  There is nothing life threatening we need to deal with and we can do most everything we want – and I am thankful for that.  My joints make much more noise than they ever have but I take this over most of the alternatives.
  • As a family we have remained pretty much unscathed by the economic travesties of the past couple of years.
  • My two kids continue success in their careers and jobs – and they have good jobs.  Not as a result of luck because they have both worked hard and have not waited for things to be handed to them.  And I am (we are) extremely proud to have raised these types of adults.
  • I can also see the fruits of the time and effort we put into parenting over oh so many years (and it never really stops – it just changes).  I believe my kids are contributing members of society.  Perfect with no faults – not at all – they were raised by imperfect but caring parents.  They are thoughtful, intelligent and caring of everything that is around them.  They are not myopic and self-centered which seems to be more the rule than the exception any more.

gunther1

On the personal “not so good” side, I actually can’t come up with too much that has happened this past year.  In fact there is only one thing that has been bad that I can really think of.  For anyone who has a family pet, you will understand.  For the rest of you, probably not.   If you look at the photos in my blog header and probably dispersed around other places, you will see a few of Gunther – our Jack Russell who has been a member of our family for the past 13 years.  I’ve had a good number of dogs over my time but there has been none that have been like him.  He is the embodiment of attitude and coolness.  This was a dog that was all id, in your face, spirited beyond belief but loveable and warm through it all.  His health issues began actually almost two years ago but it has been this past year we’ve watched him change the most.  Where he was a friend to any person who walked into our house, he now moves away from everyone other than a couple of us – even those he readily jumped on just a short time ago.  He is often confused and seems disoriented – his cataracts have gotten worse so it’s hard to tell if it is because he can’t see or if it is really the canine dementia the vet has diagnosed.   We are lucky (again) that we have the resources to make sure he gets the treatment and care that he needs.  Not sure if cataract surgery is in the future or if the medicine for the dementia will actually help him but I am hopeful.  I know I’m blessed that this has been the only real downer on my year but that doesn’t take away the pain of watching the changes taking place and knowing what is happening to him – hoping his discomfort is more evident to us than to him.

On a broader note, some of the most recent happenings in our country have been tough to watch and often harder to understand.  I don’t have answers to all the problems as I don’t believe there is any problem that has one or two causes and given the complexity of people and their varied ways of perceiving that around themselves, there will never be a “fix” that everyone sees the same way.  That being said, there is some common sense that might factor into what we do or at least how we approach some of our issues of the day.  Nothing magic or deep on my part or even maybe helpful but given this blog was a way to dump that which is in my head, so be it.

Guns and killing in America  – Good topic top of mind – and one that could use some common sense applied.

  • Let’s start with the premise that I don’t think that anyone really wants to take everyone’s gun away from them.  I could give two hoots about what animals you want to kill – I don’t do it, I don’t really understand it.  I have had guns and I’ve hunted – first time out deer hunting I quickly realized I couldn’t ever shoot a deer – and luckily one never showed up.  I hear the talk of personal freedom, 2nd amendment, it’s an equalizer, etc. etc.  I look around and see the evidence that guns breed more violence and death.  There is no other civilized country with the number of guns we have in the US and there is no other country with a murder rate that comes close to ours.  Not sure that adding more guns to the mix will improve the situation if we are really focused on reducing gun violence.  Banning assault weapons and mega-clips seems to be a logical step forward.  Yes, it won’t get rid of the guns and clips already out there.  But if logic were to prevail, if we are not making more assault weapons then there won’t be more people with them.  Does it fix the problem and make sure that no-one will again use an assault rifle or use a mega-clip to kill a bunch of people?  Not at all but if it keeps someone who doesn’t have one now from getting one and creating another Newtown incident then maybe it makes sense.
  • Armed guards in our schools – unfortunately, the state of our society has already resulted in some surprisingly high number of schools where there are already armed guards protecting something.  I would surmise it might not be a result of protecting against terrorist or crazy person attacks but more for internal school problems but that is neither here nor there.  As has been heavily discussed, Columbine had armed guards.  Will it possibly stop another Newtown?  It might and if I follow the logic I see on an assault weapon ban, if having an armed guard saves lives in one instance, maybe it makes sense.  That being said, having the likes of a Wayne La Pierre walking the halls to protect our children sends chills down my spine.  While I have no doubt there are NRA members with the right skills – both gun and people – to maybe pull it off, sorry, if armed guards is the answer, then we need to talk about some real special people.  The last thing we need is an internal disaster resulting from this “fix”.  Arming school administrators and teachers – sorry – that is another disaster waiting to happen.   Pretty sad this is even a topic we need to discuss.
  • Violence in the movies and in video games – nice, easy target but if we again use common sense, the US isn’t the only country with violent movies and video games.  Take a look at Japan – not without violent movies and definitely not without violent video games – take a look at their murder rate.  Is the amount of violence a problem?  I think there is something wrong here but focusing on this area isn’t going to get the desired results.
  • Taking religion out of schools – Mike Huckabee, a man who never saw a barbecue he didn’t like, was quick to jump to this one.  Not much to say other than “what an asshole”.
Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

 

End of the day, as President Obama has said, because the problem is too complex isn’t a reason not to do something.  If we can save one life, it is a start and an action worth taking.

Looking ahead I expect there is much more to rant about and I expect 2013 will offer plenty of fodder to continue my blog.  Speaking of fodder, how about that Congress?

 

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

Happy New Year to all.    Here’s to a great 2013 for everyone.  A little peace and prosperity for all.

th

A Day of Thanks

In light of most of my rants and ravings there is relatively little time where I am not grateful for what which I have been blessed.  While there are many days where I consciously spend brain cycles recognizing how lucky I have been in my life, Thanksgiving provides a better time to share.  Whether read or understood by anyone else, writing these down and having the opportunity to see the words helps solidify and deepen the appreciation I should never lose sight of.

I am thankful for many things – some personal and some a bit broader:

1.  My wife – the most important person in my life.  She is my best friend and she has provided me guidance, advice and support for almost 32 years now – despite me often pushing back or trying to ignore it.  She has got to be one of the most caring and giving people I know and she has been an ongoing balance to much of the imbalance I’ve brought to the party.

2.  My kids – they were a lot of work (as all kids are – if you do it right) but they have both blossomed into great, capable and caring adults.  They are a source of both pride and ongoing discovery for me as they grow, learn and continue their journey thru adulthood and all that goes with it.

3. My life in general – I am extremely blessed for what I have.  Yes, I have worked for it but there are many that work hard and meet greater challenges and have less.  I want for little and don’t really have to think twice for anything I really need that I don’t have.  I am blessed that when the unexpected comes up I don’t have to make the hard choices that many do.  I can take care of my family as needed without much concern other than recognizing that I can’t fix everything. (sorry Erin…).

4.  My health – yes, I’m getting older and there are aches and pains that come with that and I have had to have a few parts fixed so they will continue to work as I get even older.  But I am healthy and my family is healthy.  How does it go – when you have your health… –  a saying that becomes more and more true if you look around and see what many deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Anything I have pales in comparison so my complaints don’t really count for much.

5.  It might sound strange but I am thankful for what lies ahead.  We have planned well and have been pretty balanced in how we have lived life so as I look out towards retirement (not that far away) I don’t feel panic.  We will be okay.  I have a life partner to share it with, we will be far from destitute and we will have time to discover new adventures for ourselves.

6.  I am thankful I have lived during a time where the change in this country has been dramatic.  Growing up and coming of age when things like civil rights and equality for women had their roots, experiencing the impact of the war in Vietnam as well as Woodstock, JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr.  – it has all been instrumental in helping shape who I am today.  It all helped my form a sense of conscience about we as people and how a society should be.  It helped establish a view that we need to be aware of others and that we, as a society, have an obligation and responsibility to take care of others who need help and support.  Not sure what happened to a lot of my peers but for me it is hard to ignore.  And we had the best music.

7.  I am thankful for this younger generation.  While it is important to realize that my generation reared many of them and that is why much of the attitude and perspective is there, how refreshing to see a generation of young adults who are less bigoted and biased.  There is a core of our society that truly doesn’t see people around them as less deserving or 2nd class because they are black, gay, a different religion, whatever.  It gives me hope (and some solace) that my son will be able to live a normal life and will be able to marry and live without constant discrimination because he is gay.

8.  I am thankful for this last election and the American public that made it clear it isn’t just about the economy and it isn’t just about the present at the expense of the future.   Because enough of us cared about others and not just ourselves, we will have at least four more years of progress in rights for women, rights for our LGBT community, forward progress on our environment and global warming, healthcare rights and reform, maybe some fairness in terms of tax reform, etc.  For those of us on the side that won, it was pretty much goodness and a break from having to worry about what progress we’ve seen being rolled backward.

9.  From a different perspective, I am thankful that the likes of Romney, Ryan, Rove, Trump, Santorum, McConnell – the names can go on and on – were unable to really hide who they really are – which are pretty much self-centered shit heads and assholes – to the extent that it became pretty obvious and helped move the election in the direction it went.  Taking nothing from Obama and the Democratic machine, the other side and their views of a “new” America, was so out of touch it became almost laughable if it hadn’t been so sad.

10.  Lastly, thankful I live in a country where I can say and write all the things I have in this blog and not have to worry I’ll be in jail or shot for it.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

If You’re a Republican, Politics Trumps America Every Time

McCain caught doing his best Rodney “I don’t get no respect” Dangerfield imitation

There is no doubt the killing of four Americans in Benghazi is a tragedy and there should be the required reviews and assessment of the situation to learn what we can, understand what was not done that maybe should have been and to work to reduce the likelihood this will happen again.  I say reduce as I expect to take any position that implies there is anything we can do that will prevent these sort of incidents in the future would be stupid and illogical – especially given the temperament of the world today.  I would doubt that any ambassador or any staff member in a US embassy in most of the rest of the world recognizes they take the position with some element of risk being evident.   Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to protect them but we are not dealing with people or situations where we can anticipate every move and action.   There are actions to be taken but to turn this political is unacceptable.  This brings me to today’s “Head in the Butt” award.

The Dynamic Duo of 2008 – Two halfwits not adding up to a whole

There was a time where I had a lot of respect and time for John McCain.  He was a man who had served his country and a man who appeared to obviously have some standards for which he stood – and he actually seemed to be a pretty nice guy  – at least from afar.  My naiveté.  As he took the national and global stage in his run for President, it quickly became clear that behind the public persona I had seen was someone who was pretty much a jerk, someone who was pretty angry and basically a man who was pretty much a bastard.  With his pick of Palin for VP he further showed his inability to understand what was important and the degree of his shortsightedness.  To think he could have foisted that half-wit of a governor on this country is unconscionable and the fact he would allow the Republican Party to push that on him puts his leadership ability seriously in question.  His recent attacks on Obama and Susan Rice continue to show this is a man who has an ax to grind and again reminds us of the Peter Principle in practice.  I can only imagine where this country would be four years later and with the challenges we have faced.  But I digress.  These most recent McCain political attacks show that he is no different from the rest of his party and he will put politics before country.   His grandstanding and his obvious lack of civility brings only one good thing to the forefront – we get to see the newly enthused Barack Obama start to show the muscle and attitude many of us have figured was there and were waiting to see.  So on that note, thanks, John.  You’re still an asshole but every cloud has a silver lining.

So today, please take a bow and accept the most recent “Head in the Butt” award.  In reality, I think it is long overdue.

There was a close runner up but not this time Lindsey.   Lindsey Graham, by joining the same chorus with McCain, definitely put himself in contention for the “Head in the Butt” award.  Unfortunately, this time around you weren’t quite up to the same level of cluelessness but I have to give you some slack given your area of study in college – one I expect leaves you entirely out of step with many of us but probably more in line (or at least a little ahead) with many of your Republican peers.  Your B.A. in Pseudoscience actually implies you have some inkling that science might have some bearing in our lives.  I, for one, didn’t know this even existed as a major in any college.  It seems somewhat contrary to most of what I would expect from any college curriculum but that could be my shortcoming.  For others in my same stead, Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories (Wikipedia).  I expect this helps when you want to basically ignore fact and make it up as it meets your need.  So, Lindsey, I’m not of the mindset you should get the “Head up the Butt” award but have no issue giving you a runner up prize of the other award of notice – the “Bag of Shit” award seems appropriate given I can’t expect you to look at anything beyond the use of vague and unprovable claims.

Yes Lindsey, that is pretty rank – on par with your recent attack on Susan Rice.

It’s a New Day

Back from vacation – turned out to be a great week – almost 6 days in Las Vegas (Disneyworld for adults where real life only intrudes in small pieces) and an election that pretty much worked out as I had hoped.  I will admit there was a point a week or so before the election where I had I had my doubts as to whether we would bring back President Obama for another four years but as the election grew nearer I was pretty sure we would be okay.  I already expressed some of my initial feelings on election night – posted from my cell in our room right around the time Romney appeared to deliver his concession speech.  I was not awfully elegant nor was I gracious in the least but I’ve reached that point in my life where I realize that conciliatory is not necessarily better – something I hope the Democrats keep in mind as I expect the Republicans are far from looking to make things work going forward.

Not much I can add at this point re: the election results other than a couple of thoughts:

1.  The fact that it would seem the entire Republican Party, most importantly Romney, was totally taken off-guard when they didn’t win is pretty reflective of the lack of connection with reality Mitt would have brought to the Presidency.  While we all have a tendency to see things as we wish them to be, this takes it to a new height.  I think this is also reflective of the type of CEO Mitt probably was – surround yourself with only those who tell you what you want to hear.  Doesn’t make for a company (or a country) that can realistically deal with the real problems and solutions.  Only thing I wish is that I could have been in the room when the realization that they lost became clear.  There’s a sweet picture.

2. At some level, my faith in the people in our country is a renewed.  I was disheartened thru much of the election cycle by what appeared to be the same level of intellect and lemming-like mentality that re-elected Bush the 2nd to office twice.  To have an election that wasn’t really a close one was an uplifting experience.  Nice to see there are enough people out there not focused purely on economic considerations that the care and focus on people and social issues has not been lost.  No doubt we need to fix things from an economic side – but to do it with no consideration of other human costs is not a palatable strategy.  It’s not just the economy, stupid.

3.  I am most elated with the progress in the results of Gay Rights.  Aside from a plethora of elections of GLBT candidates to the Senate and House, the shift in state votes on gay marriage was monumental as same-sex marriage was legalized in three more states using ballot referendums and not legislation.  This was the people talking – this is the voting public.  Kudos to Maine, Maryland, and Washington who all voted to allow same-sex  couples the right to marry in their states as well as to Minnesota which became the first state to have voters reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  While opponents to gay rights have quickly put their spin on why and how, the tides continue to change and we continue our march towards a country where all citizens are recognized equally under the law – how disheartening is it that this is even a statement that can be made in 2012.  The future for my son is looking better and while I labor under no illusion that there remain many out there who would have him stay a second class citizen, they are slowly losing.  In reality, there will always be stupid and hateful people around but we can only hope (as I’ve offered on many ocassions) that they die off quickly as they are a dwindling breed.  They remain a bane on our society all while sucking out everything they can while giving nothing back.

4. Nice to see that the idiot men whom so eloquently gave us insight into their prehistoric views of women and how they are treated in regards to sex, rape and all that were so soundly defeated.  Nice to see that there are some things that no level of spin can help.  The larger stain here is that the Republican leadership was essentially absent in their condemnation – yes, there was the attempt to distance but not the outrage one would expect (at least one who actually believes that men and women are equals and that rape is never legitimate).

5. The lack of influence of the Tea Party this time around was refreshing.  I guess watching all these old and uneducated people who are taking Social Security and Medicare rant on about getting the Federal government out of their lives resulted in a moment of cognitive dissonance for many in our country.  Trying to have it both ways is somewhat disingenuous –  another thing that Romney seemed to forget about.

6. Additional kudos to the youth of our country for showing up again – despite all the dire predictions.  It is good to see they all recognize they have quite the vested interest in making their voices heard. I know both my kids were there without prodding – my daughter even stood for hours in line down in Washington DC.

7.  I remain somewhat embarrassed at the obvious bias and bigotry that remains with white voters.  To think that only 39% of white voters were with Obama is disturbing.  Sure, I’m sure that there are many whites who would position that it was about policy and platform differences but we all really know there is much more beyond that.   As a white male over 55 I am definitely out of step with the majority of my peers – and boy does that feel good.

8.  Last point – after watching Obama speak to the crowds after his re-election and most pointedly in his talk with his campaign staff, I again saw probably what I saw as one of the main reasons I voted for this man – it was obvious he was tired and worn out from the process but his emotional reaction was not scripted and we got a good glimpse into the type of person we just re-elected.  His level of emotion and his deep sense of caring was obvious.  He wasn’t and hasn’t been playing a part or emoting a position based on who he is speaking to.  This is a man who, at least in my view, truly cares about this country and it’s people.  Not just some of the people, not just those who can help him.

Boy, do I feel better.

Awards of the Day – Politics as Usual

It has been quite a week for many on the East coast including many of us not exactly on the coast.  To a great extent, we in the Poconos were pretty lucky.  As Hurricane Sandy made her way to landfall, we managed to pretty much be in the path of the eye of the storm – not that there wasn’t damage and impact.  For many in our area, they remain without power.  We lost power Monday evening and did not get it back until Wednesday afternoon around 3pm.  Inconvenient yes, but not the disaster that unfolded across much of the tri-state area.  I at least had a generator so within an hour of the loss of power, we were sitting in a lit house and our refrigerators and sump pumps were all functional.  The real inconvenience was we quickly ran out of water as there are relatively few areas with public utilities so when the volume of water in our captive air tank was exhausted, that was about it.  Luckily, we have learned to plan and were well stocked with water and other things we needed.   Again, this was an opportunity to realize how lucky we were which wasn’t clear until we got our cable and internet back and we could see what many had and will continue to have to deal with.

That brings me to probably to me what was so different from what has been front center almost every day for the past, I don’t know, 6 months or so – the presidential election.  I can’t say I thought too much about it and it was actually refreshing to get a break from the explosion of ads and political rhetoric with which we have all been inundated.  It also meant I got a break from blog material – less that incensed me and less to somehow find catharsis for.  But wait, it didn’t take too long.  So today I’m going to actually recognize some positive and give some kudos as well as cite some of the usual bullshit that I continue to be astonished that so many believe and embrace.

Let me start with the positive.  In the past I have not always been kind to Chris Christie, NJ Governor.  There is much of him that exemplifies everything I despise in Republican Party.  However, I need to give him credit for two things this week.  One, it is obvious the man says what he believes and feels – I have to respect that quality whether I agree with the content or not.  Secondly, Christie quickly put politics to the side and was unabashed in his praise of President Obama in light of the support and attention he got for NJ when it was most needed.  And I expect he knew he would take shit for it from his fellow Republicans.  Again, kudos for having some balls.  So today, I want to award Chris Christie the “Hero of the Day” award for being real.  I don’t labor under any illusion that when things calm down he will quickly move back into the fold but that’s okay – he at least showed he is not the imbalanced jerk that most of his Republican peers are.

BFFs

 

My other award today is actually related to the “Hero of the Day” award.  Let me say that the recipient demonstrated behavior that was not a surprise and is consistent with being probably one of the most vile people on the planet – so I guess there is something to be said for consistency.  But he does lose points for lack of creativity.  In any case, the immediate condemnation of Chris Christie by our recipient is indicative of his general lack of compassion, empathy and most other generally positive human emotions and feelings.  Yes, I expect many will have already guessed it – it is no other than that shit hole of a human being – Rush Limbaugh.  He again takes lowlife to a new level – as hard as that is in his case.  I might also suggest that his loyal followers get to share in this award given their general inability to deal with life in general – demonstrated by their blind allegiance to someone of Rush’s calibre and character.  Rush, take a bow – oops, you dropped one of your pills – is that a Viagra or a oxycodone?

A Triple Crown Winner! Take your pick – Head up the Butt, Horse’s Ass or Bag of Shit or any combination of the above!

 

I think it is also fitting to also recognize the runner-up for jerk of the day – a man who isn’t used to being 2nd in much of anything – Donny Trump – for a myriad of stupid ass things that come out of his mouth – he again provides some pretty interesting support that man did evolve from apes – some less than others!

 

Don’t feel bad – you are only runner-up today. You still are one of the biggest shit bags I see out there today!

 

US Budget Deficit – Credit where Credit is Due

And you made quite a few of us older Americans cry also!

It’s hard to decide which topic to pick on any given day in the current Presidential race but there is one that I find particularly irritating.  The Obama contribution to the current deficit at $15 trillion is one that impacts everyone – or at least the deficit does.  The Republicans have had no shortage of data spinners in this area.  As we saw with the admission from a Romney Pollster, Neil Newhouse, (who has worked on the Republican side of the aisle for a good number of years, including working with Romney in his run for Governor in Massachusetts in 2002) the Romney campaign  messaging and ads will “not be dictated by fact checkers” ( or as I like to say “Let’s not confuse things with the facts”), the Republican leaders have given Obama credit for the large rise in the current budget deficit.  Paul Ryan, in a phenomenally inaccurate RNC speech filled with lies and mis-statements, has obviously taken the approach that most Americans are lazy and/or stupid and won’t dig any deeper than needed.  True at some level but just in case, let’s throw some real data out there.

Aside from lying about the closure of the GM plant in his home district, Paulie’s crap about how the Obama Medicare plan is that different from his, his ignoring of the Republican role in the US credit downgrade as a result of their holding the debt ceiling hostage, Paulie made it clear that “President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him” and proclaimed “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.”  Let’s spend a minute or so and look at the data.  I can’t speak for 100% accuracy in every bit of the analysis, but the data is consistent across multiple sources so I’ll take a risk that it isn’t too far off.  Looking at this data, it becomes pretty clear that rather than the $5 Million attributed to Obama, he can take credit for less than $1 Mil – quite a different picture.  I’d suggest you actually take a step out to the articles for more detail and context.

Both graphics make the point very clear.  Of the $5 Million or so added to the deficient on Obama’s watch, the majority (say 80%) can be attributed to the previous administration.  When the Republican idiots throwing this crap around are actually looking for the right recipient, I would suggest they look a little further in the back of the Republican crowd – only you don’t see Georgie W. Bush and anyone else from his administration who put us in this mess anywhere to be found.

I’d like to think that Georgie has a conscience (there’s that idealistic side of me) and, if so, I expect he would be drinking again – I imagine it is tough to have the sinking of the American economy (and all that goes with it) as well as the deaths of over 6500 US soldiers on your head.

So when we put almost all our ills together today, I have to think it is only right to present the latest “Head up the Butt” award to former President Georgie W. Bush.  Take a bow – wherever you are!

Mitt – just another one of the common folks

Credit: Huffingtonpost.com

Overall, we all know that Mitt has a problem with his Likeability as he trails Obama by over 23 percentage points in the most recent Gallup Likeability Poll.  Not sure why that is any surprise given the way Mitt manages to portray himself to the American public.  Could just be me but Mitt’s efforts to downplay his stature well up near the top of the 1% don’t seem to resonate with him being common folk.

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried to relate to the rest of us.

Couple of examples –

Highlighting he hasn’t paid less than a 13% effective tax rate in the last 10 years was no doubt an attempt to show his sharing the same tax bracket as those common folk making $30K or so (at least the single filers – maybe $80K for those married).

His visit to a hardware store in New Hampshire – when asked what he bought, he quickly offered “hardware stuff” – probably to use when he has to do “stuff” around the house.

As he shopped at a grocery store, also in NH, he offered he was going to be doing the cooking that evening and that he had some people coming over.  I guess someone should have informed him that the two ears of sweet corn that he picked up from the stand outside the store would likely fall short in terms of helpings – or maybe he was going to break those ears into several portions – just like the common folk do.

Sure, last time I made a bet with someone, I said , without hesitation, “Bet you $10,000”.

In trying to make connections and show he was one with the myriad of NASCAR fans, he shared that “My friends own NASCAR teams”.  I’m sure we all have friends like that.

Like many of us, the Romney’s own a horse.  We did for a good number of years.  What I missed was anything close to the $77K tax deduction Mitt managed to get for Ann’s dressage horse.  Actually, it wasn’t that my deduction wasn’t close, I never got a deduction.

One of my favorite of Mitt’s attempts to relate to the public was on an early campaign stop in Michigan.  “The trees are the right height,” he said in Michigan, trying to show his love for his native state.  I know I comment on the height of the trees in Pennsylvania all the time.  Is Mitt intimating that Michigan trees are somehow better than trees in other states?

Okay, while not really seen as likeable, Mitt does get the nod when it comes to how people see his ability (vs. Obama) to fix the economy.  Here he beats Obama 52% to 43%.  Of course one key way he will carry out that fix is his management in taxation of Americans.  Oh, Wait – something looks askew…

Undoubtedly looking out for the common man!

Before I go, I can’t ignore another bonehead move by Mitt.  Again showing he is relatively clueless about what he should say and how it makes him look, he cracked a joke about his own birth certificate while campaigning Friday in his native Michigan. “No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate,” Romney said. “They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”   Given his Likeability ratings among Americans, you would think he would think twice about a comment that immediately puts him alongside one of the biggest assholes ever to grace corporate America – Donny Trump.

Computer generated photo of Mitt and Don – if they had not been separated at birth