And now for something completely different

I started this blog process as one means to find what was hopefully a more healthy outlet for the increasing angst I have been building up given the state of the country today.  To be honest, as an outlet there seems to be some catharsis going on as my wife has noticed somewhat of a change in my mood (to the positive).  I’m a bit less intense and she has even commented that I’m not going out into public and coming home without recounting some jerk in the store, on the road, etc., etc.  I’ll see that as a good thing but have to wonder if there is really a change or if I just happen to have hit a dry spell of idiots.  As I don’t believe in miracles, I’ll guess it is more the latter.  But in any case, we’ll take any improvement for most any reason.

But being a thinking person (at least I’d like to think so) and one whose mind doesn’t really ever seem to shut down, I decided to look at this a little closer.  As I read back thru my blog posts, I can see why it could be happening as I’ve taken this outlet as an opportunity to pretty much lash out at what I see as the crux of much of the issues I see out there.  I’m not talking about world peace or curing cancer but more the issues that are more germane to our daily lives (not diminishing the impact of cancer by any means).  The issue is really people. I know that much of my frustration is the result of my inability to change or influence others so as the next best thing I’ve pretty much gone after those that epitomize the people I view as representative of the problems and they just happen to be sitting in the realm of politics at the moment.  By this time, if you’ve read any number of my posts, you should see a pattern that somewhat defines a part of me. This has been an entertaining means to find ways to ridicule and mock those whose apparent life choices are that different from mine.  In some sense, paraphrasing a “Limbaughism”, I’ve started to act like them and have dropped to their level.  I have become personal and demeaning in my observations.  That disturbs me on some level as I’d like to think I am above that approach.  But at the same time, as I think it through, I can see there are some differences between me and “them”.  That view is partly attributable to my phenomenally well-tuned and well-exercised power of rationalization and I expect that anyone reading this any further could likely see that same defense mechanism in play with any explanation that might follow. I also can’t lose sight of the fact that this is somewhat enjoyable – again somewhat disturbing on the personal level but no so much that I plan to stop.

We all think we have it figured out and that our view is undoubtedly the one that is “right” and reflects reality more closely than those other people who just don’t get it.  It’s always the other guy that doesn’t understand or is short-sighted or, more likely, is just plain stupid.  To be honest, I think that most of the time. To be more honest, I don’t really care that others think the same thing about me.  In some specific areas, they might be right.  However, where I see a difference is where we try to go with those thoughts and how much we determine it is okay to not only think and act different from others but that we develop a point of view that our way is so much more “right” that others should think, act and follow the same ways.  Of course I think my way is usually better and that most other people could live better if they followed my way.  Here’s the difference – I really don’t give two shits if anyone else does it my way or according to my beliefs.  They work for me and generally speaking, it is unlikely that when I have a choice, I will spend much time with those that traipse well outside that circle of my reality – probably why I keep a rather small circle.  I maintain what could be called an “inch deep” philosophy – I don’t delve into others too far and, to the astonishment of many around me, even when I do interact, don’t ask too many questions.  Mostly because I don’t really care to know.  I’ve got my hands full just figuring out me – and I still have a way to go on that front.  I get along with others and many actually find me to be a nice guy but that’s about it.  But to the original point – where I think the main difference is between me and them:

1.  I’m not looking to have others live under my life “rules” or beliefs.  To be honest, you can marry a cow if you want.  I don’t understand how anyone can believe that the bible is real and that praying to God or Jesus actually does anything – but I recognize your right to live that way – just don’t tell my I need to follow those rules.  “They” will say they don’t do that – but then explain to me how trying to get some amendment passed that recognizes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman isn’t taking that path.

2.  I’m not so threatened in how others live or what they believe – as long as it doesn’t impinge on my life.  I will never understand why being or believing something different is such a threat to so many people.  Could only be in my view but if you are truly confident in your view and beliefs, why such a forceful reaction to something different – I’ve never seen a good answer to that one.

3.  I’m don’t really lead of life of hypocrisy.  I recognize there is at least some hypocrisy in most all of us but generally speaking, what I say and what I believe is pretty well reflected in how I live my life.  I’m a strong believer in family values – but I haven’t had 3 or 4 wives and traded them in when it was convenient or met a different need.  I don’t go to church on Sunday, profess to be a Christian and follow the ways of Christ and then basically live the life of a heathen the rest of the week.  I have made my choice to not believe or follow religion but I had a lot of years of good Protestant teaching – and if my understanding of the teaching and ways of Jesus are correct, can’t say I’m seeing much of that out there – especially the intolerance and damning of others.  I am amazed there is not more outrage among those who profess to be so religious and so righteous given the transgressions and acts against core teachings of the church by many of the leaders so vocal against anything to do with sex.

4.  I actually believe that everyone can co-exist and can peacefully live in one society – but that is predicated on people focusing on their own life rather than trying to manage everyone else’s.  They seem to believe we can all live together only if we all live and do things the same way.  Pretty boring.  

I’m sure there are some other differences but I’ve really said enough.  I hope nobody reads this and takes away that if you live as I live and follow my beliefs, then all would be better.  I really don’t believe that – and more importantly I really don’t care if you do – just stay out of my life.

I do need to make one political comment as it almost wouldn’t be right if I actually posted without somehow taking a jab at the current crop of Republicans – just heard some of a speech Ricky made today – no doubt in the South – He made the observation “Obamacare is the death knell of our freedom” to which he received a strong round of applause.  Here’s another place where I’m different – on one hand, I should give a damn whether anyone else has healthcare as I, and my family, are well covered.  I don’t worry about needing to go to a doctor or whether I can afford a medicine that will make a difference in my or my family’s life.  But I do believe that universal coverage is a good thing – if for no other reason my costs don’t pay for the treatment of those who can’t or chose not to have coverage.  I would only suggest that if the general consensus is to not force universal care, then keep those who choose to forgo coverage from treatments that I need to pay for.   Ricky’s ongoing push of his beliefs and views of life don’t seem that different from others we have historically found unacceptable.

How different really?

Bring it On – Part 2

Easy to go the "Bring it on" route when you have nothing at stake

Hard to believe that after almost 6,400 American deaths (75% age 30 and under) in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ricky Santorum can stand up and bash President Obama for his apology toAfghanistan and its people.  I find is amazing Ricky can trash Obama when the President’s action shows a real thought process (something I suspect is somewhat foreign to Ricky) and some level of personal responsibility for the lives and safety of our men and women still in combat.  Ricky’s comment and basic stance of “tough shit” reminds me of our former President who found it appropriate to challenge Iraq with the threatening “Bring it On!”.  One has to wonder how many of our 6,400 dead and 34,000 wounded might not be a statistic if not for such foolish bravado.  But then again, Ricky is stuck in the past as he shows time and time again.  I wonder if he even realizes that women actually service in combat positions at this time.  As with Bush, who really didn’t get it, easy to be tough when he never really saw anything resembling combat – but at least he stepped near a fighter jet.  I strongly doubt that Santorum ever has unless it was part of a campaign photo op and I doubt he ever lost a night’s sleep concerning the possibility of his being in a situation where he might have to serve the country as the actual draft was abolished before he came of age.  I myself did not serve in Vietnam but I remember vividly a large group of us college freshman sitting watching the draft “bingo” as they picked the balls with birthdays to determine the order of who would get drafted.  Luckily, while my birthday was picked 53 out of 365, I did not serve but that time and the results of the Vietnam war has no doubt had a lasting effect on me.  Apparently none on Ricky.

Oh - he doesn't really mean "fight" for our country...

While I think the reaction in Afghanistan is a bit over the top and there are likely many there taking advantage of the situation, President Obama’s attempt to do something to quell what is already an untenable position for the US is a justifiable position if for no reason as a means to not add more danger and risk to our people that remain in that country.  He shows some forward thinking and some responsibility for actions and repercussions.  Yes, as a culture it is sometimes hard for Americans to understand and relate to why and how other cultures and poeples react to things as they do but we can at least recognize that many of us don’t get it and try to reach a point in our perception where we admit that we don’t get it rather than taking the Santorum route and basically throwing kerosene on what is already a burning platform.  But again, the Santorum’s of the United States don’t ever really understand any point of view other than their own – again evident in Santorum’s views on life and willingness to have everyone fall under that hammer.

I ask you, is this the sort of man who should be running a country?  A man who doesn’t think but just reacts based on some emotional fuel.  A man who is more than willing to put others at risk but doesn’t set the same rules for himself or his family.  The only justice here would be to have the war extend long enough to somehow have one of his spawn have to serve in the service of our country – although highly unlikely given the Republican track record of managing to avoid serving their country in some capacity).   There are already enough assholes at various levels of power that adding another is pushing the balance much further than we, as a country, can continue to absorb.  Let’s not forget the path that Bush and Cheney took this country down – at least 40,000 families whose lives have changed for ever won’t forget…

C'mon - Ricky's got a few sons - he can sacrifice at least one.

Santorum – ad nauseum

ad nau·se·am – (d nôzm) –adv.
To a disgusting or ridiculous degree; to the point of nausea.
[Latin ad, to + nauseam, accusative of nausea, sickness.]

Actually, as the thought of this blog entry began to take shape, in usual fashion, my choice of title was something that just jumps into my head – as it was with this particular post. However, after typing it, I googled it just to make sure I spelled it correctly. How serendipitous to find that the actual definition was so clearly accurate in describing how any extended exposure to Santorum makes any thinking human being feel.

The come-back of the sweater vest - the Tea Party uniform.

Two other points – first, I had not intended to make this blog a political one to any great extent but with the sudden popularity of Santorum as the Republican debacle continues, the fodder is almost too good to pass it up.  Second, he is such a flaming jerk and monumental neanderthal that I hope that anything I write that incenses his supporters can only help the cause.

In many ways this explains why Ricky is the way he is today

Okay – the real stuff.  This morning in our local paper, The Pocono Record, I read an article that was front page referring to Santorum as Pennsylvania “Favorite Son”.  First off, most anything in the Pocono Record is suspect to begin with – it is a rag beyond belief and somewhat of an embarassment to many of us – but that is another blog entry for the future.  One needs to question any portrayal of Santorum as “Favorite son” given the ass whooping he got in the 2006 Senatorial election where he got soundly defeated by Bob Casey Jr. Santorum not only lost to Casey by over 700,000 votes, he achieved the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent senator since 1980 and achieved the largest losing margin for an incumbent Republican senator ever.  Not sure that necessarily puts him in the Favorite Son category but I guess there is something to be said for achieving something no one had ever done.

While I expect there were many reasons why Pennsylvania soured on the man who had been their senator for many years, there are several that stand out.  For this reason alone, I’m hoping that Rick makes it to the Republican nomination because that’s when the fun begins and all the baggage and skeletons are on the table.  It’s one thing when the Republicans fight among themselves.  I can’t wait until the Democratic Party engine begins to purr and things really take off.  But in the meantime, for those of you who haven’t really looked at Santorum’s history and why he is attempting a comeback rather than just continuing a long, illustrious and uninterrupted political career.  I won’t drain the detail but let it suffice to do the fly-by of the highlights of his career.

– Santorum has twice been cited by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ) as one of America’s most corrupt Senators – not once, but twice.  You can dismiss CREW as being liberal leaning but they are pretty accurate in the details and, while including more Republicans than Democrats in their listing, it does not take away from the questionable actions that have been cited.  Facts are facts.  Santorum made the list in both 2005 and 2006. (Links: 2005 Report – http://goo.gl/cKL4U  2006 Report – http://goo.gl/6a1tu ) Hopefully these links work but the reports are also available directly at the CREW website). You can read the details in the reports but to really set a perspective, Santorum, who entered the Senate as one of the least wealthy congresspeople, bought a $2 million, 5,000 SF house in Great Falls, VA in 2007.  This went along with the numerous rental properties he had accumulated over the previous years while in office.  The number of corporations he helped with legislation he supported who gave him campaign donations while he was in office and then followed up with personal remuneration once he was out of office is staggering.

– While in Congress, Santorum passed out over a $1.6 Billion in earmarks — chunks of money directed to one specific recipient — according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. He voted for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska and in the 2006 Defense appropriations bill, he personally inserted 54 earmarks that delivered $154 million of your tax money to special interests. Interesting, those special interests donated over $200,000 to his 2006 campaign.

– Very specific to why we loved him in Pennsylvania was he acceptance (and refusal to return) of $73K for tuition reimbursement from the Penn Hills school district for an online charter cyber-school even though he lived in Virginia.  No question his kids might have attended the cyber-school but Virginia does not reimburse for attendance of a cyber-school – Pennsylvania does.  Yes, he had a house in the Penn Hills school district but it is tough to position it as being a PA resident when he rented out that property for that timeframe.   Scumbag behavior at best – unethical again.

– Remember the John Ensign adultery scandal (another fine upstanding Republican when it comes to family values)?  Santorum, who was working for Fox News at the time, and another Fox reporter, were notified by Doug Hampton (the husband of the woman Ensign was sleeping with) who wanted to meet to decide how to best go public – sounds kind of stupid to me but they were all Republicans so who’s to know.  Ricky immediately called Ensign to tell him the shit was about to hit the fan.  Ensign worked to get ahead of the story but, in the end, had to resign anyhow after the Senate Ethics Committee determined he violated Federal law but the point here is more around Santorum’s ethics – or lack thereof.

– Special Treatment on his Mortgage – Philadelphia Trust is not your “everyday” bank where most of us would go for a mortgage.  There customer base are those of more means and affluence.  It offered special low mortgage rates to investors in the bank who have a quarter million dollars or more in liquid assets. Although Santorum’s financial disclosure filings prove that he did not meet either requirement at the time, the bank still gave him a $500,000 five-year loan at the low rates. The officers of the bank also donated a bit of money to his re-election campaign at that time.  Again, a question of Ricky’s ethics.

Last point – I am far from a Sarah Palin supporter but I have to say that when someone like she dings Santorum, he must be pretty bad.  A quote from Palin after Santorum criticized her in a 2011 interview:

“I think the reports were much worse than what he really said. I think some things were really taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.” – Sarah Palin

Let’s talk Handicapped

No – this one isn’t about Santorum (but I expect we probably could but chronically brain dead isn’t necessarily a handicapped category).  I’m talking about the number of people who have managed to finagle one of those handicapped plates or tags that allow them to park close to the grocery store, the mall entrance, the casino – whatever – and there are not really handicapped in the true sense of the word and as it was originally meant to cover.  As much of a shit that I can be in believing that most people are actually manipulating the system to get some sort of perk or advantage, you have to admit that this thought has crossed your mind – at least 50 times when you’ve been looking for a parking space and you notice that person who appears to be pretty able-bodied park and scurry into the store or whatever.  I’ve heard it many times that not all handicaps are visually obvious (back to Rick Santorum) but, c’mon, you know that a good number of these people seem to be pretty much intact when you see them tooling around the grocery store with no apparent problem.  Does that mean they don’t have any physical challenges – no – but in my world if you can wander around a mall, casino or a large grocery store without assistance then you really don’t qualify for that special sticker or plate.  You might say “well, just confront them”.  Think about that – to prove what?  Unless they are carrying a Dr’s note or whatever, there is really nothing to be gained here…and even if you are right, they are not going to change on their own.  If they would, they wouldn’t be parking in a handicap space anyhow.

The issue and resolution lies in several places.  First, people should stop figuring they are owed something and it’s okay to beat the system – no matter how they rationalize it.  Okay – that is not going to happen but one can dream.  We should also hold doctors to a bit of a higher standard when it comes to signing those papers needed to get the state to issue the plate or tag.   Okay – also highly unlikely the doctors are going to change – much easier to just write out the approval than to actually spend time in discussion as to what a handicap really is – and those office business managers assume a certain throughput on patient processing.  Maybe we should see if we can get tougher enforcement of the rules at the state level – like at the DMV – we know all those people are willing to step up and help.

Given the unlikely scenarios above, we will likely need to re-define the definition of “handicapped” as well as set some new rules.

  • Being fat and lazy shouldn’t count as a handicapped condition.  It is obvious that some of these people could use the extra walking to drop a few of those extra pounds.
  • If you are well enough to smoke, you should forfeit your ability to be in that camp.
  • If you can drive a Hummer or a small sports car, you really shouldn’t be able to call yourself handicapped – especially considering what it takes to just ge tin or out of one of them.
  • Just driving the car with the tag doesn’t give you the right to use the HC parking space. Hey – sorry that one of your relatives might be one of the people that are really handicapped but you being a lazy asshole doesn’t given you the right to abuse the privilege.
  • The cost to get a handicapped tag or plate should be proportional to the handicap.  It should not be “one size fits all”.  If you have to use a wheelchair or walker to get around, we can start at no extra cost (beyond the normal processing fee in your state).  If you are just fat and that is causing the issue with you not being able to walk 200 ft, then maybe an extra $1,000 – and make that a yearly charge.  Side benefit is that there will be less to spend on food.
  • It should be set that each tag or sticker needs to be renewed every year – there is no option for permanent. How many people do you think are using tags from those who are no longer with us? Might also make doctors a little less willing to ease the path if they need to fill out the form every year.
  • Make it a requirement to have a copy of all the paperwork (including the dr. note) in the car with the tag.
  • Put a bounty on people who abuse the system – if you identify someone who really shouldn’t be using the tag, you get $25.  Also will need a 1-800 number set up where one can call (or maybe a site where a picture of the license plate can be texted).
  • Bring back caning as a punishment for those caught illegally using a tag.

I know there will be those who will find it rather low to pick on handicapped people.  I would submit that I’m not.  I’m going after those lowlifes who park in spaces they shouldn’t really be in and take away that privilege from those who really need it.

End of the day, aren’t you starting to really get tired of all those people taking the easy route?

Santorum – back to the 50’s?

No matter how you look at it, the lack of insight as well as the hypocrisy that sits in the head (not sure a brain exists) of Rick Santorum is obvious and rather disturbing.  His latest attack on President Obama and those not part of the “right” again show the depth of not only his lack of connection with the real world but his total disregard for anything other than his shortsighted and anachronistic views of the world and where we are as a society and people in the 21st century.

First the lack of insight and hypocrisy (and I quote – taken from MSN) – “Santorum said, I’ve been pretty clear that the left in America has their own moral code in which they want to impose on this country. You can call it a theology. You can call it a moral code. You can call it a world view, but they have their own moral code that they want to impose on everybody else. While they insist and complain that somehow or another that people of Judeo Christian faith are intolerant of their new moral code that they want to create here. I’m just saying they the ones who are intolerant in imposing their will on in this case the Catholic church.””  Okay, what am I missing here?  It would seem that I could replace the work “left” in Santorum’s statement with the word “right” and other than the fact that it would no longer impose will on the Catholic Church and it would pretty much read to mirror the intent of those leaning to the right in our country to inject their views and rules into everything the rest of us do and how we live our lives.  Whether it be the Tea Party, Born-again Christians, the Catholic Church, etc., etc., the mantra is essentially “if you are not with me, you are against me” and we of dissimilar faith (or no faith at all) are now the target of their set of delusions.  In this case, if it was up to Santorum, no one would be using contraceptives (maybe other than an aspirin) and we would all be paying for even more of the Santorum offspring issues as a result of being too old to reproduce.

Tweedledick and Tweedledumb

I also find Santorum’s statements on the “Face the Nation” regarding the environment to be somewhat of a throwback view – one I would expect from someone stuck in the 50’s.

“I am talking about his world view, and the way he approaches problems in this country. I think they’re different than how most people do in America,” Santorum said in the broadcast interview.

The former Pennsylvania senator said Obama’s environmental policies promote ideas of “radical environmentalists,” who, Santorum argues, oppose greater use of the country’s natural resources because they believe “man is here to serve the Earth.” He said that was the reference he was making Saturday in his Ohio campaign appearance when he denounced a “phony theology.”

First off, nice Texas Two-Step on the Theology remark – at least have the balls to hold your ground.  That explanation doesn’t even make sense in try to tie “phony theology” to Obama’s take on environmental issues.  Second, good to see that in the world of Santorum, anyone who takes a view that says that the environment is important and that it is important to consider the impact of what we do as man on the earth is a radical environmentalist.  Of course there is no history or evidence that man ever disregards how what we do impacts the environment and the ability of the earth to deal with it.  Oh, that’s right, in the world of the Right, global warming is not real and is something that has no scientific basis.

So this is the one of the contenders for our next President.  Wow, wonder at what point we start to hear it is time that pants for women are outlawed and it’s skirts only – and at least two fingers below the knee.  Looks like The Honeymooners reruns – “To the moon, Alice” – oh wait, that’s Gingrich territory.

Considering the First Amendment

Okay – I don’t expect the career Republicans in the fray of battle to acknowledge it.  I really don’t expect the majority of the Republican base to understand it as most are lemmings looking for a cliff.  What I don’t understand is those in the media that do the interviews of the politicians and those thinking independents or core Democrats with a voice and the ability to question and challenge.  Not that anyone will change the minds of these people – but there is nothing wrong with making them look like the bigots and jerks they really are.  What am I missing in the defense of religious freedom that draws on the First Amendment and takes a position that the government is treading on religious freedom when it addresses issues such as contraception or gay rights that can be viewed from a perspective equally valid in non-religious terms?  Why is it that imparting or recognizing rights to those not of any particular religious denomination is any less valid than protecting the rights of those whose religion are central to their existence?  How is it that the decision by the Bush debacle to not fund stem cell research (that was based purely on religious beliefs) not seen as an issue by these same people who are having issues with birth control or gay rights?  I know the answer as does anyone that thinks and actually can chew gum and walk at the same time.

What is it that makes it so threatening to these on the right that someone is different, has different beliefs or holds other ideals to be more important.   I would submit that if you were truly of faith and belief, you felt it to your core and you actually followed the teaching of Jesus, we of little faith wouldn’t be seen as the enemy.  You wouldn’t feel the need to have us talk, walk, and look like you.

Interesting fact about Rick Santorum: his wife, Karen Santorum, had an abortion in 1996 during her 19th week of pregnancy Karen Santorum’s fetus caused an infection inside her and had to be removed to save her life. How can Rick Santorum oppose all abortion in all cases when terminating a pregnancy saved the life of his own wife? **

To be honest, I’m okay with the tax dollars of good catholics not funding birth control or abortion because, of course, no catholics use birth control or have abortions.  Equally so, I think, as a long standing atheist, I should have equal say in my Federal tax dollars (now into six figures) not funding anything that smells of organized religion – charities, schools, you name it.  Where do I sign up for that?  Yes – we can write our Senator and Congressperson but that won’t go anywhere because most of them have no balls.  At the end of the day, I would expect that my contribution to the Federal budget wouldn’t be funding the exorbitant medical costs of Rick Santorum’s last child (yes Rick, there is an appropriate time for birth control) – as I would expect given the Santorum’s as the religious poster family, the care is being provided in a Catholic hospital.  You see, it goes both ways.

**Update:  In the spirit of fairness and in anticipation of how the termination of the Santorum’s pregnancy in 1996 could be positioned, it would appear that the Santorum’s, given their pro-life stance, took a different route to terminating the pregnancy.  Rather than a direct abortion, they had the doctor induce the pregnancy using pitocin, which is used to induce labor.  They were aware that there was little (and I mean little) chance of survival of the baby at that age and it did die within two hours.  I have no doubt that Santorum (and pro-life supporters) will have every explanation of why this was not a “true” abortion but, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.