Thursday, December 16, 2010
December 9, 2010
“BOBBY” The bastardization of history for the narcissistic need of a self-aggrandizing filmmaker.
I finally got around to watching the movie “Bobbie” not too long ago. It’s a pretty good movie, detailing the lives of fictional characters inserted for the actual five individuals injured in the attack that took Bobby Kennedy’s life.
As a story, it tends to fluctuate between intriguing and mundane. I found myself wondering, “why should I care about these individuals?” – of course, at the end you realize what they all seemingly have in common and you have that ‘Ohhhhhhh so THAT’s why!’ moment. So it ends up being an intriguing film afterall.
But then, for a history purist like me, I was darn near pissed off that “Bobbie’s” characters were NOT based upon the actual individuals who were injured in the attacks. So many thoughts went through my mind – were the true stories not intriguing enough?… how can someone intentionally bastardize factual events?… How many people will walk away thinking these were the true events?… Don’t we have an obligation to honestly and factually report history?… Has the rewriting of history gotten so out of hand that it’s no long done subtly or subversively but blatantly and unapologetically?
Soooo…. Being who I am, I immediately ran to the library to find a book stating the facts of the RFK assassination so I would have the real story. And yes, the stories of those also shot by Sirhan Sirhan were intriguing… as are the intrigues and possible conspiracy theories.
So, why did Emilio Estevez have to tweak with history… change history… LIE about history… why?!? If he just wanted to present a cross-section docudrama about various social strata of the 1960’s, couldn’t he have done that through a completely fictional movie? Was he therefore using RFK and his assassination to project his (Estevez’s) own statement about the 60’s? At that point didn’t he cross the line of intellectual necrophilia and disgustingly dismiss historical fact as a disposable hurdle to his own creative juices?
I admit I’m a historical purist… a somewhat intellectual snob… and an unapologetic, intolerant, passionate foe of dishonesty, spin, subterfuge, and lies. Emilio Estevez’s “Bobbie” goes beyond the Oliver Stone style of twisting history (which can be described as illuminating an alternative point of view) – this goes to out-and-out rewriting history and presenting as fact something that is any but! It is unacceptable!
Friday, December 03, 2010
James Montgomery Flagg Illustration
“Wake Up America!” Poster
1917, Library of Congress
I’m afraid there is no easy way to put this. You, and the representatives you have been electing are killing me! It’s been slowly progressing since the late 1800’s, but I fear I am reaching a point of no return, a point where I will become irreversibly terminal, and it is for this reason I need you to listen to me now before it’s too late!
As always develops in the relationships between offspring and their parents, the time has come for us to have a serious conversation. You see, I feel that my time on this Earth is coming to an end. And before I pass, there are things that absolutely must be said!
I call you my child although you are grown, matured, and independent far beyond childhood. I write this with full respect for your self-sufficient nature and your adult demeanor, but I can still call you ‘my child’ because you are. I am America and you, the beneficiaries of all I am, are an American – you are my child.
It is not unusual for one to have misconceptions and false judgments about one’s parents even into adulthood, and so it seems we need to be frank with one another about who I am, my past, my nature, as well as my hopes and dreams for you and your future.
There are times I honestly feel you didn’t know me, and haven’t for some time. Let me set you straight on something before we begin. I am not a country! Let me repeat that. I am not a country! I am found primarily in The United States of America, but nevertheless, I am not a nation, nor am I any particular government. I am not even a geographical location, although all of those things have been attributed to me at one point or another.
I am an ideology, a state of mind, and a way of thinking. I am neither Democrat, nor Republican. I have no political affiliation and I am not subject to one specific religion or another. Don’t take that to mean I’m Godless! Your government, press, and powers-that-be may be agnostic or atheistic, but my parents brought me up with a full understanding and appreciation for The Creator, and it is to Him that I am pledged to protect you. We will talk more about that later. I am greater than any political party or interest group. I have outlived, (and hope to outlive) every President, Congressperson, and Supreme Court Justice. Natural disasters and man-made tragedies have struck the United States time and time again, yet I live on uncompromised and unabated. My cities may fall into ruins, my population may be decimated through causes natural or not, but unless I am forgotten, I will still survive. I am an extraordinary entity consisting of ideas, beliefs, resolves, and character. I am of no race, but a beautiful bright light made up of all the colors of the rainbow. I have been described as a shining city upon a hill and a thousand points of light. My ideology is neither conservative, liberal, nor moderate but made simply of the love and adoration of the Divine human creation. I cannot be killed, but if I am forgotten I will surely die!
I am America
Who am I?
I need to set you straight about my youth. Although my character and essence were being formed for nearly 300 years before, I was technically conceived on July 2nd, in the year of our Lord 1776. The announcement of my impending birth was given two days later and you now celebrate that day as Independence Day. Fifty-six brave and somewhat eccentric men conceived me in that hot, humid Philadelphia summer. My fathers represented a multitude of different cultures, backgrounds, and social classes. Not true “diversity” by today’s standards, but for the late 18th Century they were a very eclectic mix of traders, writers, lawyers, cobblers, landowners and so forth. My parents were so diverse that those of the north couldn’t fully understand the dialects and drawls of my co-parents from the south. My southern fathers were primarily farmers and my northern parents were mostly traders. One was Catholic and many were Masons and Protestants. Over half were preachers or held degrees in religion. They were collected from thirteen separate geographic areas, held different ideals and dreams, different priorities and beliefs, different trades and incomes, but eventually they would all come together to give me my start in this world.
These highly knowledgeable and respected men recognized that the society, the culture - the very nature of the colonists they represented were different than any population in history. On this point, my grandparents (the British) were in enthusiastic agreement! In their eyes, the colonists were brash, uncultured, rude, ill mannered and terribly violent. Even the exceptionally gifted and intelligent Doctor Benjamin Franklin was considered “beneath” the standards of English society. At a Privy Council in London on January 29th, 1774, Dr. Franklin was defending himself, and the prosecutor spat the word “American” at him as though it were the most base of insults! This much was true; the colonists were British only on paper. Their souls and minds were of an entirely new and different sort – they were Americans! My fathers therefore proposed a new nation be created, one that reflected the new ideals, dreams and state of mind of the new world - a mix of ideas, beliefs, resolves and character that was already in the air and running through the blood of the colonists. All that was left to do was to give it a name and an identity, and that’s what happened when I was conceived in the summer of 1776. Ever since that summer, my character has most readily been personified in the immortal phrase “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As you can imagine, it was not exactly a wanted pregnancy by the grandparents back in England. Revolutions may seem commonplace today, but before I was born, it was absolutely inconceivable for a colony or group of colonies to break away from a mother country. It just wasn’t done! Certainly there were revolts against the Roman Empire in one province or another, but the idea of leaving your mother country and starting an entirely new and untested form of government was, in a word – revolutionary! It took eleven whole years before I would actually be identified as a country. In that time, over 25,000 men would die to make sure I wasn’t aborted or miscarried. Of the signers of the Declaration, nearly every one had their property seized and destroyed by the British. Nine died during the war either through hardships or in battle. Five were captured and imprisoned. All of my parents were considered traitors by the British and had bounties placed upon their heads, the heads of their spouses, children and even their business associates and friends.
On September 17th, 1787 I was born. My birth certificate, which I still cherish, is called the Constitution. According to my fathers, the pregnancy was not an easy one. I was nearly stillborn. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, disagreements between my fathers grew so great; it seemed they couldn’t agree on anything! It was only after heeding the advice of Dr. Franklin and taking three full days to do nothing but pray for guidance that they could finally come together and create what has become the longest surviving Constitution in history.
There are a few issues I wish to go over with you however. While in some cases, you have exceeded my hopes and dreams, in others you have either built away from the foundations my fathers laid or have disregarded the ideals of the American family all-together!
No parent likes to chastise a child, and I will do my best to be as patient and understanding as I can. I am only telling you these things because I feel firmly that as you continue to deny the very ideals and foundations on which this family was based, you will wake up one day and will no longer be living in the greatest, most free, most advanced country in the world. I am America, and I don’t want you to lose me.
What is “American” and “un-American?”
It’s sad that this even needs to be addressed. Basically, this has nothing to do with where you choose to stand on the political scale. A conservative can be just as un-American as a liberal. It has nothing to do with who you have voted for in the past, or to which party you belong. The only requirements for being an American are an acceptance of the ideals of freedom, liberty, and rule of law on which I am based, and the willingness to protect and defend those ideals. One can even be against the government in Washington DC and still be a true American through and through! In fact our brave men and women in the Armed Forces pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, not some individual, not some administration or regime! What is “American” is anything and everything that promotes liberty over tyranny, self-sufficiency over dependence, the individual over the collective, the choice of the person over the dictates of the state, the rule of law over the rule of men; free will, entrepreneurship and individuality. Freedom! The true test of ‘what is American’ can be determined by answering a simple question, “That would the founders do.”
“But why put such importance on your founding fathers? They lived 250 years ago, haven’t we grown, learned, and advanced beyond their primitive attempt at creating a government?”
This is an excellent question, my child. Keep in mind, however, that our founders knew more about government than most of today’s professors know about FDR. They were better versed in world history, Roman federalism and imperialism, Greek democracy, Russian, French, and English monarchy, tribalism, feudalism, oligarchies, autocracies (and every other type of governance ever tried) than most Ivy League graduates. When creating their new country from scratch they were free to choose whatever form they wished; they chose to create an entirely new type of Republic… gleaned from all the best parts of every system that had come before. Their greatest stroke of wisdom was in their reliance on the individual citizen. They realized if they divided power among the millions of citizens, no single citizen could become a tyrant. Furthermore, understanding human nature and the tendency of humans to unfailingly work towards their own best interests, they developed a system in which the counter-efforts of self-interest would keep society, the economy, and even the government in check. Their other great innovation was in forming a system based upon process rather than outcome. They weren’t as concerned with who, precisely, would lead the country, but rather the process by which that person would be chosen. This is akin to creating a detailed recipe rather than just saying, “You need to make a really tasty chocolate cake.” This founding belief (which has proven accurate) was that if the process was adhered to, the result will be assured. The process, and the foundation of that process… liberty and freedom… were what truly mattered. This trust and reliance on freedom, and this focus on the freedoms and liberties of the individual citizen are what makes America unique and exceptional! Free markets and freedom of choice within those markets are a major part of this! An American nature promotes life, liberty and an individual’s pursuit of happiness. It allows for difference of opinion without threatening to silence dissent. It recognizes that a person can rise from the lowliest of circumstances to the highest of heights through nothing more than their own hard work, faith and ingenuity. Again, I go back to Freedom and Liberty, for they are the core of everything American.
There is yet one more aspect of an American that cannot be overlooked because it is at the very heart of everything that was created in 1776! Without this final key to the puzzle, everything else is mutable, secondary and meaningless! It is the glue that bonds everything else. Without it, there is no America!
The source of human rights
It may pain you to hear this, but according to the wise men who laid this nation’s foundation, a true American must recognize that each individual is a creation of the Supreme Being, God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, or however else you recognize the Divine Creator! Furthermore because of this divine birthright, you are entitled to respect and self-governance. This includes respect not only from your fellow citizens but from your government. This may seem trivial, but it’s not! My grandparents in Europe ‘valued’ their subjects based upon who their parents were, or how much gold they had, or their family associations. This meant that if an individual wasn’t rich, ‘connected’, or a member of a wealthy and prestigious family, he or she was literally worthless! Sound familiar? Today the ‘elite’ maybe politicians, ‘experts,’ television commentators, or CEO’s of incredibly powerful companies -in short, only those who can give massive campaign contributions or can ‘boost’ a campaign through favorable coverage. They are treated better, given preferential treatment and favors.
There are, in the words of Senator John Edwards “two Americas.” But unlike the assertion of the privileged Edwards, the two America aren’t the rich and the poor, but the elite and the forgotten. How sad that you have returned to the very class system my fathers fought so hard to destroy! How sad you are once again in a world where all are equal, but some are more equal than others! My parents fought and died to change all that! You must discard this double standard, this idea of the “special” and the “ordinary.” There is no such thing as a common or ordinary American, and the sooner you learn to embrace that fact, the sooner you will be the happy, prosperous nation you were meant to be!
You, the individual citizen, are worthy of great respect! In fact any citizen who is old enough and fulfills the residency requirements can be elected President. Not only that, he or she must be a citizen! If the candidate holds any title or rank in the military or elsewhere, they must give up that title and become a citizen before taking office. Only in America is the title ‘citizen’ considered the highest rank or position one can attain! Again, this is because only America recognizes the divine nature of each individual, only in America are the people considered the supreme authority over the government, rather than the other way around.
Because even to this day, no other country recognizes that rights come from God and then the citizenry gives those rights to the government, you, and our entire system is different than anywhere else. We are the exception, and this is the foundation of American Exceptionalism! In most other countries, rights are given to the people from the King, the Parliament, the Caliphate or some other government ‘on high’. Now listen carefully! Those governments can take ‘rights’ back or pass them out willy-nilly. This very core belief in other countries (that the government gives out rights), prompts other governments to give rights to some while withholding them from others. They don’t distribute favors equally or fairly because under their definition of ‘rights’ such entitlements are not a gift of the Divine Creator. They do not believe all citizens are created equal, or have to be treated equally. Only here in America is that right to be treated equally guaranteed. And it is because you are all equally divine by your creation. You have the supreme power in the United States and this unique arrangement is evident throughout all the writings and speeches of my fathers! Those who do not believe in a God maybe offended by all this, but I view them in the same light as those who may feel the world is flat, Elvis is still alive, or Saddam Hussein was a nice guy… they’re an adorable lot, but not to be taken seriously. There is an Almighty, deal with it!
Here, in America, the government can never hold any right that you do not hold yourself. Nor can the government deprive you of your rights without your permission! The government is ALWAYS the servant of the citizen (individually and collectively) and never, ever dictates to the individual! Does is sound as if I’m talking about some foreign country? It’s not! This is what it means to be American! It was defined this way by my fathers in their speeches and writings, and is still true today. ANYTHING that runs contrary to those beliefs, no matter if it is “legal,” “set in precedent,” or accepted as fact… ANYTHING contrary is by definition un-American! Sadly, many things are in place right now, both legally and culturally, that are un-American but you mistakenly call ‘American!’
State sponsored lie: “a total separation of church and state”
My children, I would never have imagined we would become a country that would even consider that there wasn’t a Divine Creator! It baffles me and would sadden and dishearten my fathers. I often hear you bastardize a phrase my father Thomas Jefferson used… the ‘wall of separation between Church and State.” When Mr. Jefferson used this phrase he was writing to the Danbury Baptists to assure them that the Government could not interfere with their Church’s beliefs and practices – NOT the other way around! He wrote of freedom of religion, not freedom from it! In fact, my fathers had no problem with each individual state having its own official religion; they only forbade the Federal government from forming a nationally established faith.
“But what is wrong with a faith-neutral stance in the courts, schools, and government?”
From my point of view, as the personification of the America my fathers created, there are two major problems. Firstly, the absence of faith is considered Atheism, and when the government removes all references to the Divine Creator, it in fact creates a State-mandated “approved” series of thoughts and beliefs. In other words, you have created, or allowed to be imposed, an established religion – that of Atheism. Atheism is the absence of religion, and the government sanctions the absence of religion in its......"
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
I adore the show "Undercover Boss" because I enjoy seeing that lightbulb above an administrator's head light up when he sees how he can make lives better... for his employees as well as his customers.
But the Subway edition had me steaming!!!
In the Sunday, Nov. 21st episode Don Fertman, the Chief Development Officer of the Subway franchise chain, went undercover learning to be a "sandwich artist," as well as being a delivery boy and taking on several "menial" entry-level tasks.
Okay, I can understand the whole desire to look like a nice guy on TV.... but isn't part of being a boss preventing hostile work environments and age discrimination?????? This boss was being pushed around by the kids... NOT in a productive manner like we've seen in the Waste Management or Frontier episodes... but just out-an-out hostility for (it seems) primarily, not being a young kid!
THIS CHICK ("Jessi") was just an out-and-out BITCH! She should have been FIRED, not helped with her college education! ("Oh... but that's so meeeeaaaan! She needs help!") No, she needs a swift kick in the ASS and a lesson or two about how to treat other human beings!
This is the first episode that has prompted me to NOT shop or apply for a job at a featured company. If disrespectful, arrogant, age-discriminating managers like Jessi are REWARDED... then I will shop at Quizno's thank you very much! Thank you Mr. Fertman for showing me the TRUE face of Subway!
Monday, November 01, 2010
The Voting Test
I wish the Democrats in the south during the 1940’s – 1960’s hadn’t so sullied the ideas of ‘conditional voting’ by racially imposing Poll Taxes and other slanted Jim Crow laws! Because I really, REALLY wish there was a type of intelligence test required for voting! I mean, really! If you’re too ignorant of the government and the foundations of this country, you really shouldn’t be making decisions that affect it! Should anyone be allowed to do brain surgery just because their heart is in the right place? Would you let someone work on your car who didn’t know squat about automotive mechanics? And yet, we allow ignorant people to make the most vital and life changing decisions in the voting booth when they have no clue as to what they are doing!
So I propose a simple, basic 10-question requirement for voting:
1) The three branches of government are:
____________________, ___________________, ________________
2) From the Declaration of Independence: (Fill in the blanks)
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they ________ _______ ______ __________ __________ with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are __________, _________ & ______________________. – That to ___________ _____ ___________ Governments are __________________ among ___________ deriving their _______ _____ from the __________ of the __________”
3) Who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence?
4a) Name two Presidents from the 1700’s
4b) Name two Presidents from the 1800’s
4c) Name two Presidents from the 1900’s
5) The current President of the United States is:
6) Name the 4 people (and their job) next in line in Presidential Succession
____ __________ Title: __________ __________
_____ __________ Title: _________ ___ ____ _________
______ __________ Title: __________ _____ ___________
_______ __________ Title: __________ ______ __________
7) Presidential Veto, Advise & Consent of the Senate, Judicial overview, and Impeachment are all examples of:
C__________ & B___________
8) The first 10 ___________ of the Constitution are called the ______ ___ ________
9) Any bill dealing with finances can only come from ___ ________ ___ __________________
10) Name three current Supreme Court Justices and the Chief Justice:
Chief Justice: ______________________________
Associate Justice ____________________________
Associate Justice ____________________________
Associate Justice ____________________________
Okay… really not that tough. For bonus points ( a chance to still get 10 right even if you missed one above) – Name the 5 members of the Committee to draft the Declaration of Independence
Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments?
Okay, onto the collection of blog entries I've ammassed since my last visit to the InterNet...
October 29, 2010
We dodge a bullet… AGAIN!
Today’s flurry of reporting on multiple “suspicious packages” coming out of Yemen brings attention to the current status of our War on Terror …. Whoops! I mean our overseas contingency operations.
Once again, OTHER COUNTRIES pulled our butt outta’ the fire and protected us. The packages that actually had explosives on them were intercepted in Dubai and Great Britain. IT WAS NOT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT that saved us… AGAIN!
Just like the Detroit Christmas bombing attempt, we’ve been more lucky than anything else. How long can we keep successfully calling “heads” or “tails”? Eventually, our luck WILL run out! And how long will the American public keep thinking it’s our ‘skill’ or ‘preparation’ that is keeping us safe? We’re getting REALLY good at fixing barn doors after the horse is running in the field. As long as Dubai, Great Britain, can keep an eye on the most dangerous horses before they get out, we’ll be fine. For our part, we arrest a low-level wannabe in Washington DC that never hooked up with any group more nefarious than the FBI (who set up the sting to begin with.) We didn’t disrupt an already-formed and developed terrorist cell – we created a cell and caught some guy who was attracted to the cell WE created! Really?! Does that make you feel any safer?
Our efforts to fight this war through drone attacks is pure Clinton-era arm’s-length denial warfare. Didn’t we learn anything from the ‘90’s? Drones are great an all, but they don’t collect vital Human Intelligence! We aren’t listening-in, or sitting-in on Al-Qaeda meetings, nor are we cultivating relationships that would permit such listening-in. We’re just dropping bombs from remote-controlled aircraft. Essentially, we’re bombing the horse after he’s gotten out of the barn… and if not for the screeners at Dubai and Great Britain we’d be counting body bags right now. We really need to wake up and open our eyes, folks!!
Just a side note – it’s two years since the ascendancy of the Anointed Chosen One, the one who was going to bring the world together, who was going to bring civility and would restore the World’s love to America. If we just voted for him, the world would love us again – he would restore international relationships and the United States would be adored by the whole world. In short, countries wouldn’t hate us anymore and would stop attacking us.
How’s that working out for you?!
October 28th, 2010
Groupthink – group identity and the destruction of community
It is impossible for a conservative to be a racist – IMPOSSIBLE!
This is not spin, hyperbole, or fantasy; it’s a FACT! You see, conservatives see individuals one-on-one. Contrary to the false presumptions found in the media and history text books (both products of liberal Progressives), the Jim Crow laws, and other condoned governmental racism – if you read the actual FACTS of history – were the products of southern liberals, not conservatives. The last remaining KKK member of the Congress was the late Robert Byrd, a DEMOCRAT. The most famous racist in recent Congresses was Strom Thurmond – a Democrat when he spoke in racist terms, but later converted both in heart and in party to become a Republican. Lyndon Johnson, that great pillar of ‘racial progressives’, repeatedly voted AGAINST the Civil Rights Bill when he was Speaker of The House, only to switch sides for political gain when he became President.
Conservatives, and the few Republicans that fit into that category, don’t speak in terms of ‘the blacks’, ‘women’, ‘the rich’ or ‘the working class.’ They (we) see individuals with little concern for their color, gender, race, or income – we see individuals. Although the leftists try to paint any of us who disagree with Obama as ‘racists’, the fact is many of us would have voted for Condi Rice for President, or Colin Powell. Race just doesn’t matter to us… WE DON’T CARE! Nor do we JUDGE someone by his/her color, creed, sex, or anything else he/she can’t control. We tend to judge a person by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we must venture past who sees the world as various ‘voting blocks’ and go to the heart of ‘what’s wrong with seeing groups?’
In nearly every Democrat/Liberal/Progressive argument you will hear the cries of victim/perpetrator. Just think of the targets of recent Administration policies – the evil banks, the racist Cambridge cops, the horrible doctors and HMOs that amputate kids’ feet for more money, horrible lending companies, racists and xenophobes in Arizona, Or, as he recently described them… “enemies.” This is pure Saul Alinsky.
This is also the core of what makes groupthink so insidious! When one identifies themselves, or others, by a certain group, it can only result in animosity, envy, conflict, and eventual hatred. What if – instead of calling all Wall Street bankers ‘evil’ – corrupt individuals were pointed out? Would that not open up the possibility of utilizing good bankers (yes, there are some out there!) for fixing the problem? Of course, that wouldn’t allow the government to take over the financial system, now would it?
PEOPLE WAKE UP! The Democrat/Liberal/Progressive agenda is ALL about divide and conquer! YOU ARE BEING USED! You are pawns in a larger game to gain power and control! You are being divided… most effectively and strongly into rich folks / poor folks… and they (those attempting to gain more power) are using your envy to gain more control over you!
“Now, Charles, you are speaking of the horrors of groupthink and dividing folks into separate groups, and yet I’ve read here on the blog you often rail against illegals – grouping all of them together. Hypocritical, are we?”
Good question, but you’re leaving out one major thing… actions vs. nature. There is nothing wrong with grouping illegals, felons, molesters, atheists, or even liberals because those generalizations are based on ACTIONS that define those individuals. No one chooses to be black, white, female, or male.
But it is the ACTIONS of a group of individuals that unites them. And, yes, you can lump ‘millionaire fat cats’ into a group – but ONLY if you truly believe that ALL millionaires and fat cats are alike in their actions. I don’t believe that all millionaires got rich through ill-gotten gains. In fact I would tend to be prejudicial the OTHER way. I think most rich people are like Bill Gates or Lawrence Ellison, or Sam Walton, or Andrew Carnegie… they EARNED their money through ingenuity and hard work (and should therefore be REWARDED instead of punished!)
It’s all based upon actions. And one of the actions that I tend to judge people on is how they CHOOSE to identify themselves. Do you identify yourself as ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘male’, ‘female’ or some equally innate characteristic? I had nothing to do with what color I was born… it has nothing to do with any effort or talent on my part. I had literally nothing to do with it. So why would I brag about it, or identify myself with it? I just don’t get that. It’s not like John McCain identifying himself as a POW survivor… he EARNED that title by surviving great hardship. His courage, bravery, tenacity, faith, and strength got him through a very difficult time, and that should rightly be part of his self-identification. But your great-great-great-grandfather was owned by a white man? Really, what exactly does that have to do with you and the person YOU are? It’s not as if you survived the lashings and indignities yourself. Heck! My grandfather had a cross burned on his lawn in the 1920’s because he was a Catholic. It has nothing whatsoever to do with who I am. It, perhaps, serves as an example that my family has overcome hardships and adversity in the past, but really has very little to do with where I am today. I guess I could whine and talk about how picked on I am because of what happened 110 years ago, but I know I’d be lying. I’d be playing the victim when I was never really victimized in the first place.
So that’s where I just don’t get the groupthink. I am an individual. The effects of my blood relatives, their histories, and our family’s past have so little influence on me and the kind of person I CHOOSE to be…in fact, I’ve even chosen to ‘get beyond’ things that HAVE happened in my past. If I don’t identify myself by THOSE, how could I possibly be so weak as to identify myself by things that didn’t even happen to ME?!?!
I can’t understand those who are enslaved by their identity as part of some group. I can’t imagine not thinking for myself. I can’t imagine voting for person “A” because all the other Catholics, or white guys, or 40-something are voting for them. I can’t imagine being that easily led. Maybe those that buy into the groupthink are individuals who are unwilling or unable to stand on their own. Hmmmmmm Something to think about.
Maybe those who choose to primarily identify themselves with a larger group are just folks who are too weak, cowardly, or insecure to stand on their own and have their own opinions. And maybe that lack of self-image is what allows them to have such a poor image of others, and see others as nothing more than sheeple and faceless entities in the larger crowd.
Wow! I like where this stream-of-consciousness is going. Adolph Hitler identified himself as part of the Aryan master race, and likewise saw the Jews as a single monolithic entity… so he had no qualms with slaughtering them. Was it his own lack of self-esteem (as a failed soldier and artist) that molded his outlook and projected his own self-loathing upon others? Do folks who have little or no self-identity outside one group or another share this same tunnel vision? Is this why it’s so easy for ideologues to demonize their opposition?
This blog has already taken up too much of your time, and I appreciate your interest in my musings. But just a few last questions to top this entry off.
Do you identify yourself by your accomplishments and triumphs, or by things you have no control over?
How do you view and identify other individuals? Is it by things they have no control over… or by what they have triumphed above and achieved?
When you first see someone, do you prejudge them by their looks, race, age, sex OR BY THEIR ACTIONS?
Do you truly believe all blacks are ________, or all women are _________, or all Asians are_____________? Do you believe all rich people are ______________?
How do you feel about people who primarily identify themselves (an action they choose to take) with things they have no control over such as color, race, gender and such?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Juan Williams fired by NPR
Wow! It’s now official that National Public Radio is enslaved to left-wing, liberal special interest groups. Last night on The O’Reilly Factor commentator Juan Williams quite candidly mentioned he gets nervous if he is on an airplane with individuals in Muslim garb. He then explained that it wasn’t right to ‘profile’ or judge, but that it was his honest reaction when on a plane with Muslims.
CAIR – a Muslim activist group - called for “action” in retaliation to the supposedly bigoted speech… and NPR fired Juan Williams.
Other blogs undoubtedly will dissect if the comment was appropriate, accurate, bigoted or whatever. We may even get Obama to state that NPR acted ‘stupidly’… but that’s not where I’m going.
During the campaign and just after the election, Mr. Williams was a definite cheerleader for Obama and the progressive tract of the administration. This lasted a few months. But then I was shocked to see him drift moderate – even conservative. He agreed that the Health Care Bill went against the will of the people, was far too complex and convoluted. He recognized the abomination of 2000-page bills that were being passed unread. I was thrilled – Juan Williams was coming to see the light.
Then someone got to Juan Williams. I don’t know if someone told him he needed to ‘get back into his place’ or what. But the result was as obvious as a cockroach on a white carpet… the old Juan Williams was back… with more Kool Aid than ever! Since the Summer of ’09 he’s even more of an apologist for the Obama/Pelosi/Progressive agenda than ever.
Then this happens and NPR fires him. NPR. Not exactly the most ideological “level playing field”. A left-wing news outlet gets rid of a moderate. He’s carried so much water for the liberal left and they just cut him loose for speaking his mind. The supposed champions of free speech – the left – show themselves for what they are. They are hypocrites who only support the free expression of their speech. This is why it is only conservative speakers like Ann Coulter that are assaulted at college appearances. It is why Tess and I witnessed hecklers here in Denver shouting down Newt Gingrich during his presentation at the CELL function. It is why liberal operatives like Mara Liason, Bob Beckel, Susan Estrich will consistently turn a dialogue into a cacophonic shouting match – trying to prevent the other side from speaking their mind.
=== ADHD moment --- why won't Susan Estrich just ONCE sing Hello Dolly?!?!? I would buy Pay-Per-View for THAT one ---
Conservatives (like me) agree strongly with Thomas Jefferson’s opinion that the cure to ‘bad’, ‘unpopular’, or even ‘hate’ speech is not censorship… but more speech. Obviously the liberal fascists don’t agree… to them any speech that conflicts with their own progressive agenda must be silenced. When do the book burnings begin?
And the vital part of this argument, that I doubt many others will address – one I alluded to before – No matter how much Juan Williams did to promote the liberal agenda, the moment he (forgive me) ‘went off the reservation’, he was cut loose. TOTALLY cut loose from the liberal left and disowned.
Now, granted the GOP cut their members loose as well, but (here’s the key) only in cases of unethical behavior or even accused unethical behavior. The Progressives on the other hand throw their comrades under the bus when they don’t tow the liberal line. Time to look up Saul Alinsky. Rev. Wright, Van Jones… and now Juan Williams. It’s getting awful crowded under that bus!
AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
October 20, 2010
Lately, I’ve been borrowing the TV show The Pretender from the library, catching up on episodes I missed. I love The Pretender like no other series I’ve ever watched. Why?
I truly empathize with Jarod in so many episodes!
Of course I recognize the differences - I’m not a genius as Jarod is. Of course, no one is… at least I hope not. Not because I’d be worried or afraid of someone with that much knowledge, but because I realize that a ‘Jarod’ couldn’t exist without all the pain becoming ‘Jarod’ would require. (Pain that is accurately shown in the flashbacks of the series). Look at Bobby Fischer, or better yet Michael Jackson… here was truly a musical genius (a phrase far too overused, but appropriate with MJ)… and that genius was the result of a childhood few of us would envy. And so it is with many prodigies. Often they excel in their ‘youth’ because they are escaping something. They throw themselves into their learning as a type of self-medication or as an escape. This gives them a different perspective and ‘starting point’ when compared to the rest of us, and it forever shapes their lives. Genius like that doesn’t come without a price.
In the Pretender, the bad guys always get what’s coming to them. Not only will they be found out, found guilty, and punished… but there is the added bonus that they will be made to feel as their victim felt. Along with Quantum Leap, there are very few TV shows that I can think of that have a core of beliefs truly dear to my heart –
One person can make a difference
Our minds are limitless, we can be anything we want to be
Nothing is as important as helping others, and nothing is more fulfilling
Seeking justice is right, but one must always be vigilant not to cross the line to vengeance, for that makes you no different than the perpetrator.
None deserve love and assistance like the innocent and the young
Sometimes people get the ‘short end of the stick’ through no fault of their own… sometimes through the malevolent, evil, or greedy design of others. It is our responsibility as decent human beings to correct those wrongs!
Everyone has the opportunity for redemption, with the condition that one admits their own mistakes and make amends first
We change the world with one person, one simple action at a time
There is no weapon like knowledge
There is nothing so precious as fairness, and nothing so worth fighting for
Doing the right thing is honestly its own reward – kindness with attention is not pure and therefore not kindness, only grandstanding.
ALL THE ABOVE IS MEANINGLESS WITHOUT LOVE
I guess most of the old shows, from “Adam 12”, “Cheers”, “M*A*S*H” and even “All in the Family” have some essential lessons and many of them are common from one show to the next. But when you look at a “6 Million Dollar Man” or a “McGuyver”… yes, they have the moral lessons, but overall they are action/survival shows. The Pretender could be safe, rich, and successful… actually incredibly wealthy if you think about it, if he just kept his head low and didn’t try to help others. But he wouldn’t be happy if he were only selfish and concerned about self-preservation. His happiness is in using his abilities to help others.
“I’m amazed how, after all you’ve been through, you still have the compassion to help others.” – Jarod’s Dad in the episode “Donnoterase”
Another thing I love about the series is its fidelity to roles Jarod takes on. He doesn’t just mumble some great sounding mumbo-jumbo to sound impressive… the medicines he describes as a doctor, he describes accurately, the SEAR techniques he refers to as an Army Survival trainer are actual Army techniques and practices. They must have had a BOATLOAD of technical advisors on staff!
Dialogue, Episode “ Risqué Business”
• Jarod (As a sex therapist) – “I have a case that’s starting to trouble me.”
• Dr. Arnett (Another sex therapist) – “Maybe I can help you with it.”
• Jarod: “Maybe you can. Being that you have such insight into the mind of sexual predators. You see, I’m having trouble understanding his motivation.”
• Dr. Arnett: “You know, Jarod, it’s control. Sex maybe the avenue they choose, but underlying motivation? It’s always control. To get it, to put the victim down, debase his very humanity… it’s the only way the predator can convince himself he’s worthy.”
• Jarod: “And if he refuses to seek treatment?”
• Dr. Arnett: “Without admission of responsibility… very little hope of improvement.”
• Jarod: “Then guess I better figure out a more radical form of therapy.”
Few people outside the counseling/social services fields know this very simple fact, have considered it, or even heard of it. It’s this kind of fidelity to plot that permeates every episode, and makes every episode so enjoyable. It is also for this reason that episodes aren’t just empty costume parades… an endless fashion show of personas and abilities (this week he scuba dives, next week flies, wait for him to take off in a shuttle!) He’s a cop, or a fireman, an NTSB investigator… he’s not a Congressman or President… the plausibility is never beyond the acceptable. I’m halfway through Season 4… can’t wait to see the rest!!
As soon as I can, I’m buying the whole freaking series on DVD! If you get the chance, rent it and watch it. Or do what I do, get it from the library! It’s well worth your time.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Much has been made and said (here as elsewhere) regarding the Community Investment Act. This boneheaded move by President Carter, advanced by Clinton, and spearheaded by Barney Frank placed the government in a fascist position of forcing banks to loan to unqualified buyers. The banks knew darn well the buyers couldn’t afford the houses they were buying, but were threatened with the wrath of the federal government if they (the banks) didn’t make the unsecured and unwise loans.
The argument then, and now, is that the Community Investment Act opened opportunities to lower income families and made the American Dream attainable to millions of Americans stuck in the dead-end of renting.
BUT there is a key aspect to this scenario that has been totally ignored. There WAS a program designed to do the very same thing… on that worked very well even BEFORE the Community Investment Act. HUD homes served the exact same purpose and worked very well. The way HUD homes used to work was this:
Let’s say someone bought a house for $200,000 but stopped making payments after $80,000. The bank foreclosed and turned the house over to HUD. HUD then put the house on the market for $120,000. The bank was happy; it made $80K. HUD was happy; it made $120K. The new buyer was happy; they got a $200K house for only $120K. A lower-income buyer was able to get a good house for an amount they could reasonably take on.
BUT THEN the government got greedy. (Aren't you shocked!!) They switched from trying to help citizens to trying to collect money. They decided, “Why make only $120K on a house worth $200K? Lets make as much money as we can!” So they switched from turning around houses and giving lower-income folks a chance at home ownership to soaking more cash from the citizens. They instituted a bidding format by which those wanting to buy HUD homes had to present sealed bids which would then be compared by a HUD board… the highest bid would win the house. WHEN THE GOVERNMENT ENDED THE OLD WAY OF GRANTING HUD HOMES, they created a “crises” - a ‘crisis’ they could then fly in and fix through more government intrusion by way of the Community Investment Act. There’s a part of me that thinks, “If they had just left things alone, then we wouldn’t have the problem in the first place.”
But then my Libertarian/Founding principles side kicks in and I ask, “Why does the government need to be involved in the first place?” Couldn’t banks just… on their own… decide to sell that house for the $120K that’s still owed? It would be like a transfer of a car when the owner just wants someone to assume the payments. The bank hasn’t lost any money, again someone has grasped the American Dream, and the bank isn’t holding a ‘bad asset.’ Best of all, the government doesn’t have its greedy paws on a private transaction.
It’s examples like this that show just how LITTLE we need the government, and furthermore how getting the fed involved will screw things up even worse than they were to begin with. When individuals (especially liberals and Progressives) say that Capitalism doesn’t work they don’t recognize that we haven’t had Capitalism in the United States since FDR and the New Deal! The fed has gotten its grubby paws on the free market and caused problems that weren’t there to begin with! The majority of banks and bankers in America are true Americans - like George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) in It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s the GOVERNMENT that has more in common with Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore)! Do I think we should go back to a Capitalist free-for-all with limited rules and regulations? ABSOLUTELY! Contingent upon a return of morals, ethics, faith, and standards! We must reinstitute the number one regulator of free markets – the golden rule; treating others as you would have them treat you. Respect, shame, self-restraint, and yes – Christian attitudes – are the only thing that will make it work!
But it CAN work! It HAS worked! Before the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century, these were the ideals considered ‘commonplace’ throughout the country. ‘Progress’, ‘Change’, and ‘moving forward’ ARE NOT always a good thing – if that change and forward progressiveness takes you in the wrong direction!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Look, I’m as enthusiastic as anyone in pointing out that Obama is a self-serving Progressive with a self-loathing of this great country. He is a blame-America-first apologist in foreign affairs and a staunchly redistributive Socialist in domestic affairs.
As far as his place of birth, the evidence is extensive yet specious on BOTH sides, so I wouldn’t be surprised either way. When I see the emails like the ones referring to “Cattle Guards” I check sources and quickly dismiss the obviously bogus assertions. I don’t ‘bite’ for just anything that happens to be anti-Obama.
When this hullabaloo regarding his faith “30% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim” emerged, I took it with a grain of salt as well. My initial reaction was, “It doesn’t really matter what he says he is… what are his actions?” After all, isn’t it the bible that mentions we shall know what a tree is by its fruit? When I was growing up in Catholic schools we would sing the song “The shall know we are Christians by our love.” It was the prime example of ‘actions speak louder than words.’
But what has Obama himself said about faith?
Here’s a quote from an article he wrote in Time Magazine in October of 2006:
“This isn’t to say [my mother] provided me with no religious instruction. In her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household, the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad-Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek Norse and African mythology.”
It appears he views the Bible as little more than any other series of mythic beliefs. But he goes further…
“I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part…”
Imagine a guy who sees relationships the same way… who sees sex as requiring ‘no sustained commitment.’ It would be the kind of guy who keeps books like the Kama Sutra on a shelf next to his Penthouse collection alongside Dr. Laura books on relationships… they are all just different views of relationships and sex; good resource material. But the need for commitment isn’t there… one doesn’t have to be invested in one book or another, because various views of sex and relationships are all equal.
[such religious samplings required] no introspective exertion or self-flagellation. Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways – and not necessarily the best way – that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.”
So religion is to Obama an ‘expression of human culture.’ Like art, or music, it is only a way to communicate beliefs. It certainly isn’t something ‘real’ or ‘concrete’ as George Washington, Ben Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson saw it. Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad- they are little different than John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Bob Dillon, or Hercules or Isis. He’s not talking about the Creator of the Universe (as Jefferson phrased it in the Declaration of Independence) or the ‘Almighty God’ that Lincoln invoked in the Emancipation Proclamation when he requested His ‘gracious favor.’
This is a man who sees religion as a set of viewpoints, observations, and expressions but not really “real.” This explains his condescending and dismissive attitude when he spoke of Americans ‘clinging to their guns and religion.’ This is also why, for over 20 years, he associated with a church that was more interested in a political philosophy (Black Liberation Theology) than a purely gospel/epistle foundation. If you read through Jeremiah Wright’s sermons (not just the overplayed sound bites) he is far more a political speaker and activist than a biblical scholar. Which is exactly what drew the Harvard Law Student and Community Organizer Barry Obama. And let’s take this one step further. It explains the ‘objective’ and ‘detached’ position he takes regarding the Jews and Palestine – when one removes the religious significance of Jerusalem (those silly superstitious beliefs), one sees the Jews and Palestinians as quibbling over a few square miles of real estate and certainly not deserving of deference one way or the other.
Obama is a “post religious,” “post faith,” and “post God” president. He doesn’t need to follow the same myths and superstitions that the hoi polloi cling to. So from his vantage point, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jim Jones, or David Koresh are all the same. He doesn’t really care if he’s considered a Christian or Muslim any more than he cares whether he’s considered a Beatle’s fan or a Korn fan… they are all just expressions of belief anyways. As Obama wrote in the above mentioned article, “[religion is] a phenomenon to be treated with suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.”
In the words of John Lennon, “Imagine no religion.”
Monday, October 04, 2010
The Non-Profit world
I guess my first exposure to non-profit organizations was back in 1972 when Fr. Dennis Dwyer brought me on board for the Catholic Youth Services’ The Original Scene. With The Original Scene I performed in Heaven Help Us!, Oliver!, The Sound Of Music, The Music Man, George M! and a number of showcases called “Bits ‘o Broadway.” In all I was with The Original Scene from 1972 to 1981.
Since 2007, I’ve been involved with the Littleton Community Music Association. Consisting of a number of bands, including The Skylarks Octet, The Windjammers Jazz Orchestra, the Rootin’ Tootin’s Dixieland Band and most recently, Sock Hop! 50’s and 60’s band, it is dedicated to bringing musical opportunities to the citizens of Littleton and the surrounding areas. Alternating monthly, regular performances are scheduled at the Buck Recreation Center and Lone Tree Recreation Center. With LCMA, I have been a vocalist, roadie, office worker, marketing specialist, and general helper.
Before that, between 2000 and 2006, I was associated with Magic Moments of Colorado. In 2000, 2001, and 2002 I served as volunteer vocalist and then, in 2003 joined the board of directors – a position I held for two years.
And previously still, since 1990, I have performed for Angels Unaware, countless senior- and retirement-homes, charities, and given yearly shows for the North Metro Community Association.
Therefore (especially since 2000) I have had a great deal of experience with not-for-profits. I love them, I love working with them, and I love what they do! They are a wonderful, caring, selfless, and deeply devoted segment of our culture. Yet they hold a somewhat “otherworldly” and unrealistic view of the world… a slightly nieve and absolute view of the world totally disconnected from the ‘real’ world.
These are organizations that survive entirely on the generosity of others. Therefore they have an utterly skewed look at the world, the people outside their realm, and the concept of compensation in general. Since they don’t earn, but rather solicit, for their funds, they make no connection between quality of work and payment. They collect their donations either way, so there is no motive towards excellence or growth that a competitive environment would demand.
In a non-profit, there is no measurable import in anything, anything other than the organization’s goal. For this reason, little appreciation is placed in quality – what does it matter how good the product or the extent of effort as long as the true purpose (of collecting and distributing funds) is accomplished? Unprofessionalism, lack of talent, ability, or effort are discounted as long as the grants and donations keep coming in. Even less is expected as far as efficiency or accountability. And above all, compensation – bluntly, pay, income, cash is almost seen as dirty, nasty, and perverted. Non-profit workers are made to feel as if their talents, their sweat, and their hard work are to be given for free. How dare they expect to be compensated for what they have given! Again, the ends are of sole importance, not the workers or their industry.
The purpose of a non-profit is to be generous, specifically, to be generous with other peoples’ money. In this sense, non-profits are the quintessential liberal organ. The ends is all-important, the people are a tool for achieving those ends, and the volunteers should be satisfied – not with any compensation or appreciation – but with the fact that they are ‘being charitable.’ Often the volunteers willingly take on the hardships, the lack of appreciation and wear it as a badge of proud martyrdom.
But, the point is, that when funds are given out of generosity, rather than in exchange for services rendered, those services will forever be lacking. Those that work hard will be patted on the head, told, ‘your contributions are so appreciated’ and left to be satisfied only in their own sense of generosity and pride. Meanwhile, many others will expend the least possible effort, knowing their sub-standard performance will not be in any way penalized. After all, they are so kind for just showing up and helping the cause!
Unlike the real world, the non-profit realm is one void of consequence, unaware of the connection between hard work and increased rewards. It is one that expects everything – from the grants that are their lifeblood to the long hours of their volunteers. Entitlement and assumptions are at the very core of a non-profits’ very being.
Wow! As I’m reading over this, it sounds much more upset and passionate than I intended. I’m neither angry nor vengeful as I’m sitting here… these are just some absolute truths I have observed over the last five-to-ten years.
It’s not that non-profits or those that lead them don’t care about their volunteers; they are kind and friendly towards their subordinates overall… but in no case is an individual volunteer or worker anywhere near as important as the cause, and this is reflected in the priorities.
We now have a community organizer at the head of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. He rules along with a Congress that acts as though the United States Government is the only important charitable group out there. And the mindset of Washington is veering strikingly towards that I have witnessed in typical non-profits.
Both collect funds, and don’t earn them per se.
Both are ‘ends-focused’
Both feel competition and compensation are at best unfortunate necessities, and at worst evil.
Both give a sense of offense if results or returns on investment are demanded.
Both snub competition and competitive spirit (outside the upper tiers of organizers, you will never hear comparisons with other similar non-profits)
Both consider their base (volunteers / voters) as not too much more than the means to their ends.
Think of Air America… which was also run in the style and efficiency of a non-profit… had the same unrealistic expectations of free money (grants) and return on investment.
But perhaps this is just applicable to small and medium-tier non-profits. It would make sense that successful, large-scale non-profits (American Red Cross, Amnesty International, Greenpeace….) have adopted much more business-centered tactics and structures. Certainly, we’ve heard of the Non-Profit CEO’s with incomes in the millions of dollars as well as the ENRON-like financial scandals many of them have been involved with.
So, dang it! This went somewhere I didn’t expect it to go… The federal government isn’t being run like a non-profit… it’s being run like an amateur non-profit!
Friday, September 03, 2010
What needs to change…
There are times I really worry that my increased reading / learning is doing little more than increasing my frustration and shortening my life. The more you learn about George Soros (The Shadow Party by David Horowitz & Howard Poe), Progressives (Theodore Roosevelt, The Progressive Party &... by Sidney Milkis, The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, The Progressive Presidents by John Blum, and Liberal Fascism by Jonas Goldberg), the New Deal and FDR (New Deal or Raw Deal by Burton Folsom Jr.), Anarchists (The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee), and the Obama Administration (Culture of Corruption by Michelle Malkin), the more frightening the world seems.
Whenever I read these books I keep in the back of my mind ‘careful you’re not getting sucked into some kind of ‘new world order’ conspiracy theory. But when I actually read the statements of the individuals (like Soros, Hillary, Van Jones, Cass Sunstein, et all…) I realize there are some very, very powerful individuals with very anti-American (anti-Founder’s) ideals. There are truly groups and individuals who honestly feel Americanism, and Capitalism, are bad things. They openly admire Mao, Chavez, Stalin, Marx, Castro and other totalitarian despots. These individuals really want to ‘fundamentally transform’ the United States into a class-less Socialist ‘utopia’. And let’s get this straight right now – OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST! It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a fact! Merriam -Webster’s definition of “Socialism” is –
"1: any of various economic & political theories advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
2: a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property. b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage in society of Marxist theory transitional between Capitalism and Communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done"
Considering what Obama did with Chrysler (overturning years of contract law by giving Unions the lion’s share of bailout when secured bondholders should have been the first to be paid back), AIG, Student Loans, the Auto Industry, Goldman Sachs, GE’s CEO actually one of Obama’s top advisors… and all the other collusions between Government and Business… Socialism in America since Obama took office (in two out of the three definitions)IS A FACT, not just some hyperbole thrown out as political fodder!
So, for someone like me, who absolutely LOVES America and the ideals on which it was based, I can’t help but seeing how far we’ve built away from our foundations. And it’s not just some problem I have with Obama – we’ve been moving away from our ideals since Teddy Roosevelt, and haven’t had a REAL conservative President - who holds to the founders’ ideals - since Calvin Coolidge. Yes, I really, REALLY admire Reagan, but his immigration policy stunk (as did GW Bush’s), and I appreciate GW’s attempts to put power back in the hands of the people (with his attempt to partially privatize Social Security, as well as other policies) but again, the immigration policy was lacking – that... and he totally sold out to the Democrats when they took control of Congress in 2006.
So, what exactly, needs to be fixed? With the elections 60 days away, candidates are promising a whole plethora of ‘fixes’ from repealing Obamacare to restoring fiscal responsibility… such a list of small adjustments would require hundreds of bullet points. So, instead, I will present three (only three) broad aspects that need to change in America immediately. These will filter down into all the other minutia and things will get fixed in turn. So my master list of what needs to be fixed –
1) Ethics and Morality: This not only needs to be fixed in our politicians, but in us. WE need to stand up and say representatives who lie, cheat on their wives (or taxes) or engage in unethical behavior will NO LONGER BE TOLERATED! We demand integrity, honesty, morality, and all the traits we used to admire in Superman and other heroes – both real and fictional. We can start with the ideals the military still holds true – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor (and honesty), Integrity, and Personal Sacrifice. We must insist on these traits in our elected representatives and in ourselves! Only when we purge ourselves of our own ‘little white lies’, spins, hedging the truth, taking advantage of others, and cheating the system can we expect as much from our elected officials. We MUST elect 535 “Mr. Smiths” to go to Washington… and we can only do that when we are nearly blameless ourselves.
2) American Exceptionalism: We must once again recognize that America IS ‘special.’ This isn’t some prideful nationalism or Americentrism – it’s a FACT! We are still the only country that is based on the philosophy that “all men are endowed BY THEIR CREATOR” with their inalienable rights. This makes us the ONLY country that places such an importance on the individual citizen and contends he/she controls the government, and not the other way around. This isn’t some small matter… it is EVERYTHING! It is the very basis of our liberty and freedom. When we lose this, we lose our liberty and freedom – because once we lose the idea that freedom and liberty are OURS BY GOD-GIVEN RIGHT, then the government can hand them out and take them back willy-nilly. This truly would make us like every other ‘free’ country out there. We must recognize this uniqueness – this exceptionalism – and return to it. We must give freedom back to individuals and yes, even to companies – by taking it AWAY from the government! Either the people are in control of the government, or the government is in control of the people – YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS – they CANNOT coexist! We must recognize the wisdom the Founders had in pitting individuals’ self-interests against one another… total and unabashed freedom… and let the system work as it was intended. We’ve tweaked and fiddled with it for over one hundred years – no wonder it’s not working! We must RETURN AMERICA to what MADE it exceptional in the first place – it worked before and it will work again!
3) We must learn to trust our fellow Americans. We all know that none of the people we associate with would allow a child to starve, or go without a roof over their head, or do without. Neither you, nor your friends would cheat someone out of their retirement. So, basically we are all good folks – it’s always the unknown ‘them’ who would do all these cruel things to others. I contend that these evil ‘them’ are nearly non-existent. We outnumber them! Yet the government spends billions upon billions of dollars to protect us from the horrible ‘them.’ The government needs to have a Welfare program because without it ‘they’ won’t take care of the poor and unfortunate. Obamacare is being pushed because ‘they’ won’t give the unfortunate health care. Government needs to step into Wall Street because ‘they’ will squander your investments. Yes, there are unscrupulous individuals who will take advantage of others, I freely admit that. But consumers can ruin a company through bad press (just ask Kathy Lee Gifford!), through stockholder meetings, through internet and press… the millions upon millions of consumers and private consumer advocates can be much more effective than ANY government program. RID YOURSELF of the phrase ‘we need the government to….” and realize that you, me…. WE can do a much better, more effective, and less expensive job! You have bought into the false belief that we need the federal government – it’s a LIE! THEY NEED US – WE DON’T NEED THEM!
Just rethink and re-examine exactly what you believe. Do you really need the government to take care of the poor? Even with the confiscatory taxes that are taken from us… we, individually, each and every one of us, are STILL the most generous of any civilization in the history of the planet! We give more, personally, to earthquake ravaged, hurricane destroyed, famine infested people than any government could possibly give! Do we REALLY need the fed to do it for us? NO we don’t! Do we really need the federal government to tell us to engage in fair business? Would you honestly cheat someone? I don’t think so! I have faith in you… after all… you, unlike the government… believe in those archaic rules, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” and “love one another as I have loved you.” That’s what comes from having something the government doesn’t have – faith in God.
Friday, August 27, 2010
We all have a God. Even the atheists and agnostics have a God… a model by which we live, a personification of that which is most important to us…a perfect example of our values and beliefs. With all the online tests out there that can tell us “What kind of kisser” we are, “what famous movie star’ we are most like, and so on, I would love someone to put together questions that would truly reveal who our personal God is. Questions could be asked like…
Do you believe honesty is a trait that should never be compromised even on taxes and spreading rumors?
Do you feel it’s okay to lie if it puts your enemy in a bad light?
Is it okay to tell a white lie if you can gain a few more bucks?
Do you feel you have a right to change people for the better through anger, intimidation, and threat?
Do you define yourself by your beliefs, your job, or your sources of pleasure?
Is it worse to commit a crime or to cover for someone else’s crime?
Do the ends justify the means?
Is it worse to kill someone, rape them, or financially ruin them?
Is it okay to marry for money?
Can you still feel compassion for those you passionately disagree with?
With your last five dollars would you buy a gift for someone else, a mocha, donate it, or save it?
Could you love someone who hurt you?
When disagreeing with someone do you try to change their mind or do you try to destroy them personally?
Would you forgive someone’s horrible, even criminal, ‘mistake’ if overall that person is pretty okay?
Is it okay to work on the Sabbath?
Is stealing someone’s property or reputation okay if it’s to ‘teach them a lesson?”
Do you get past difficult times through hard work, faith, government assistance, or friends?
I wish I knew how to put such quizzes together! The possible outcomes would be “The Biblical God Yahweh,” “lucifer, the god of hedonism,” “You, yourself are your own God,” “The Almighty dollar is your God.”
I guess I’m playing with the idea that God isn’t just somebody we visit one day a week, He’s (it’s ) who/what we turn to in our everyday lives, with countless decisions and choices.
If we’re praying to win the lottery to get us out of our troubles, then aren’t we looking towards money as our savior? Does that not make money our god?
If we go to church on Sunday… but at work Monday-Friday we stab a coworker in the back so we can advance… aren’t we spending more time worshiping ourselves than the hour we spent worshipping God at church? That’s a 40:1 ratio of worship if you think of it!
If we daily want to destroy those around us we disagree with… I mean really destroy them… rather than debate, discuss, or communicate with them… can that coincide with worshiping someone who told us to “do unto others…?”
If we identify ourselves by our car, our fashion, how much we can drink, snort, have sex, or endure… are we deifying hedonism? Are we in fact making pleasure our god?
If we spend 15 hours a week at the gym focusing-on perfecting our body… aren’t we spending more time worshipping ourselves than God? Does that not make our body in effect our god?
If we look at it in purely and hours-invested and importance-assigned… who would our real God be? I’m as guilty as anyone on this… it’s just a random thought.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Beatles and Elvis
If you saw the movie Pulp Fiction, you may remember the conversation Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) have at Jack Rabbit Slims just before their twist dance. Mia states that everyone is either an Elvis fan or a Beatles fan… you can’t be both. Although I would be the first to agree (for the most part) with her assessment, there are a very very few of us that really enjoy both.
The Beatles and Elvis each defined a decade and their fans are terribly possessive, each in their own way. Their respective impersonator/tribute band fan-bases are a bit forgiving. They enjoy the memories, the songs, and the whirlwind of nostalgia that whips through a venue whenever their respective ‘favorites songs’ are played. It is for this reason you see so many impersonators/tribute bands that aren’t exactly ‘right on’ vocally, musically, or visually but still maintain unfailing loyalty from the fans. To this fan base NO person can recreate the magic of the King or the Fab Four, so they really don’t expect them to. No priest could walk across water or turn water into wine… so what’s the use in expecting it?
For those that perform exclusively for these audiences (at conventions, contests, and showcases,) the unending accolades and standing ovations can be a sweet assumption!
I, on the other hand, have spent the majority of my two decades as a professional entertainer singing, performing and impersonating in front of much more critical and discerning audiences. Nothing against my brother Elvi on the contest circuit, there just aren’t that many contests and opportunities between Chicago and Las Vegas. I’ve been forced to take on a greater breadth of characters, a wider scope of eras and a more challenging range of styles – from big band to 90’s. At times, this eclecticism has made me ‘persona non grata’ in the Elvis circles, but that’s for another blog… this one’s not about me.
Okay… after all that verbal foreplay I’m finally getting to the meat of what I wanna say.
The presence, charisma, and vocal magic of Elvis… and the harmonies, absolute musicality and soul of the Beatles are all terribly, terribly difficult to recreate for a non-fan-base audience! You have no idea how difficult! This was evident and fully in play in a show I saw tonight.
Tonight the “Captain Quirk and Friends” performed the Abbey Road Show at the Soiled Dove Underground club. It was a fundraiser for Craig Hospital and PHAMALY (a wonderful organization that assists those with a wide range of disabilities.) I am better than casually familiar with a number of the musicians. The drummer, Larry Ziehl, is one of the finest percussionists I have ever worked with, and is the drummer for my band Sock Hop. Keyboardist Donna Debreceni (again, one of the finest in her field) and the equally talented Mitch Jervis and I have worked together before and aren’t members of my band only because I can’t afford them and their schedules are too booked. Austin Hein on bass I knew by reputation. So I assumed the show would be good.
I was wrong.
It was SPECTACULAR… GREAT…. AWESOME… choose your adjective! The harmonies were spot-on (which is not an easy task with Beatles’ songs!) Mitch’s guitar licks and Larry’s tempos were not only note-for-note precise, but the subtle inflections and hits were straight off the record albums. I have never ever enjoyed hearing cover songs as much as I did tonight. I almost feel guilty pointing out only a few musicians because each person on stage was just as professional and entertaining as the next. There is no keyboardist with the talent, spunk, and energy of the Awesome Goddess herself, Donna! The vocalists – Dan Langhoff and Regan Linton were both of a level that they could be the lead in any band. I was a bit disappointed the soundman didn’t have the bass levels a bit higher (considering how McCartney’s bass was such a mainstay of Beatles songs) and from what I could hear, Mr. Hein was every bit up to the caliber of the other band members. But aside from that, I couldn’t find any noticeable shortcomings in the entire 2-hour show.
And it wasn’t as if they leaned back on the 5-chord blues basics of the early 60’s. They took on the complex, intricate and impossible tempo-changing songs like “A Day In The Life” and “Dig a pony!” The highlight, for me was hearing “Because” – starting with the keys…vocals and Mitch’s guitar only (a subtle, almost imperceptible tempo being playing - almost inaudibly -by Larry.) As in the original, the rest of the band fills it out about halfway through. It was intoxicatingly beautiful!
No matter how good a vocalist you are, there is a wonderful security when you know there are brass, keys, guitar, bass and drums to help mute any possible mistakes you may make. To go out there acapella (or very nearly to it) you are really hanging yourself out there… just begging to have your faults displayed for all the world! It’s the vocal equivalent of walking onstage bare naked! So I heard that opening riff of Because and thought…wow! Are they really gunna’ try ‘n pull this off? Most bands and singers wouldn’t even go NEAR that song! But they attacked it with the charisma and confidence they showed in every other one of their songs! And sure enough, they nailed that…. song, harmonies and all!
I’ve heard concert performances by Ringo and McCartney, and even they don’t sound like the original recordings. In fact they don’t even try to replicate the original versions. As someone who has made his living trying to replicate styles, inflections, and ‘tonality’ as one director described it… I can tell you it is exasperatingly difficult to replicate anywhere close to such well-known and often heard legends as Neil Diamond, Nat King Cole, Orbison, Holly, Louie Armstrong, and Dean Martin. The Beatles and Elvis? That’s a whole level higher still! And every musician on stage… Larry on drums, Donna on keys, Austin on bass, Mitch on guitar and the melodic voices of Dan and Regan accomplished the task with command and apparent ease. Even Larry took a shot at vocals with Octopus’ Garden and did better than Ringo. Okay, that’s not saying that much. Okay.. Larry was GOOD! As was Donna with her vocal lead. (A little Help?!.. not sure)
The Abbey Roadshow was a unique and magical once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the chance to hear exactly the songs you want, exactly the way you want to hear them. It felt like a private performance of favorite songs flawlessly played! It was a show I would return to time and again, just to hear the melodies… to hear the Beatles as the Beatles should be played!
Friday, June 25, 2010
June 25, 2010
According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, Obama’s disapproval rating is higher than it has ever been at 48 percent. What amazes me is the remaining 45 percent of “true believers” that refuse to face the facts. I have one such friend myself… a very good friend that just baffles me! The other day I asked him “If G W Bush had taken over the auto companies, ousted a corporate CEO and began dictating the day-to-day affairs of the company, he’d be rightfully accused of being a power-grabbing dictator… but Obama does it and nobody seems to have a problem with it. Why?” His response was simple.
“Because it’s Obama.” And he was completely serious!
Really? Are you kidding me?!?!
There are so many actions taken by this president – that had anyone else had even attempted them, liberals, the media, and everyone else would be up in arms!
He promised transparency, but has conducted everything from BP meetings to Health Care negotiations behind closed doors and in the shadows.
He promised bills would be online for the entire public to view before any major issues were voted on, yet health care, cap-and-tax preliminaries, the stimulus package, TARP II, and the omnibus bill were all shoved down our throats without even a SINGLE DAY of the bills being placed online.
He promised that the age of lobbyists’ influence would be ended, yet has signed countless waivers in order to appoint dozens of lobbyists to his administration.
He promised to represent not ‘red America’ or ‘blue America’ but the United States of America and yet never before – not even under the supposedly demonic GW Bush administration- has the language from the White House been more vitriolic and partisan.
He has failed to support the most patriotic, loyal, and devout Americans among us, in particular our police (Cambridge,) our CIA (pressing forward with criminal investigations,) our military (prosecution of Navy SEALs,) and even the governors of our states (Jindall and Brewer.)
He has betrayed our closest allies (Israel and Great Britain as well as his removal of defensive weapons from our Eastern European allies) while embracing enemies like Hugo Chavez.
Defying the will of over 60% of Americans, he shoved the socialized health care bill down our throats.
Defying the will of 70% of Americans, he is taking an oppositional position on the Arizona law regarding illegals.
His department of labor created a public service announcement featuring Secretary of Labor Hilda Salis telling illegals that they are entitled to fair pair whether they are documented or not.
When the democrats and the administration couldn’t get bills passed by the legal and constitutional manner demanded by the Constitution, they reverted to sleazy and underhanded parliamentary tactics to shove the legislation through.
Obama refused to even mention the attacks against men and women at Ft. Hood until he gave a ‘shout out’ to a guest at the press conference – spending a full two minutes before addressing the attack on soldiers and civilians – clearly showing the lack of concern he has for those who wear the uniform of our country.
Also along the lines of disrespect and disregard for the military, Obama has consistently taken contrary positions to his military advisors (re: troop levels as well as the don’t-ask-don’t tell policy) completely discounting the opinions of military experts, choosing instead to dictate his terms and social policy regardless of the effects on the performance, moral, or effectiveness of the Armed Forces.
He has strong-armed not only private businesses, but individuals in congress, invoking practically fascist attitudes in coercion; embracing the philosophy of ‘not only the force of persuasion, but the persuasion of force.’ His administration as intimidated, threatened, and coerced anyone foolish enough to get in their way.
To unprecedented levels, he has demeaned, insulted, and put down America on the world stage – choosing to blame America first and utterly failing to embrace or praise the land of his birth… err… the land he represents.
He has defended and befriended domestic terrorist groups including the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.
Obama has created a virtual ‘shadow government’ of advisors and Czars unconstrained to the checks-and-balances ensured by Senate confirmations. These Czars have included self-declared communists, socialists, and radical revolutionaries with admittedly anti-American and anti-capitalist beliefs.
When a court struck down the oil-drilling ban, the administration disregarded the court orders brushing aside judicial jurisdiction and pressed forward with yet another ban.
According to the New York Times, Obama is now considering giving a blanket amnesty to illegals by fiat – also called ‘executive order.’
Then there’s all the things that haven’t come to light, such as the billions of dollars Obama’s friends have to gain from Administration policy regarding BP and drilling (Soros and Petrabus,) Cap and Trade (Shore Bank and Obama’s Chicago cronies,) the Smart Grid (Immelt and General Electric.) These are SO far beyond anything that happened regarding Halliburton under the Bush administration – we’re talking about literally TRILLIONS of dollars of business just in the case of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX!)
In order to justify the moratorium on oil drilling, the administration tampered with a peer-reviewed recommendation, adding two whole pages to the review after it had been signed-off on by the experts. Those two pages entirely misrepresented the views and conclusions of the experts, who later condemned this fraud perpetrated by the administration.
The corruption and cronyism as well as the lack of transparency – the Chicago style politics – have risen to a level never before experienced in this Republic! So again I ask –
IF GW BUSH DID ANY OF THIS, WOULD YOU BE OKAY WITH IT?
The most glaring difference between today’s liberals/progressives and the conservatives lies in the fact that if GW Bush had been guilty of any number of the above usurpations and draconian power-grabs, they would have been the FIRST calling for Bush’s resignation or impeachment. It says so very much about the progressives that they have no problem with dictators, fascists, and autocrats – as long as it’s their fascist dictator or autocrat!
I haven’t even included the typical partisan Washington BS – like blaming Republicans for ‘obstructionism’ when it is numerical impossible for them to obstruct anything! The Democrat party has a supermajority in the House and is only one vote short of the same in the Senate. That means there is absolutely NOTHING the GOP can do to obstruct ANY bill going through Congress! The Republicans could stay home and not even show up and it would make no difference.
This administration is the absolutely worst in history, far outpacing the fascism of the Wilson administration, the corruptions of the Harding or Nixon administrations (I mean really – breaking into a campaign headquarters to get dirt on hookers-for-donors seems rather tame today, doesn’t it?) The dictatorial lengths to which this administration has gone have already outpaced the New Deal and the current socialist tendencies have dwarfed the Great Society. The one-trillion discrepancy between GW Bush’s inherited surplus (based upon the emasculation of the military by Clinton)and the deficits he bequeathed to Obama (due more to the internet bubble burst, Katrina, 9-11, and the wars rather than the tax cuts) have been completely eclipsed by the quadrupling of the debt by Obama! I know the lefties screamed the hyperbole “the worst president in history” through the 8 years of Bush, but point by point by point, there are FACTS that support the argument when it is applied to Obama.
When lefties screamed about Bush’s suspension of Habeas Corpus regarding terrorists, there was a precedent in the Lincoln administration – unwarranted wiretaps and the Patriot Act, a precedent set by Clinton in the War on Drugs - military tribunals, a precedent set by FDR during World War II. The only precedents applicable to the actions of the Obama Administration lie in the Weimer Republic, The Soviet Union, The Peoples’ Republic of China, and the Third Reich of Germany. No, I’m not saying Obama is replicating all the aspects of Nazi Germany – only that his actions bear a striking resemblance to those of 1930’s Germany – pre-concentration camps.
“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- George Santayana
“Those who never learned the past to begin with… they will recreate the past without even knowing it!”
- Charles King Byrne