Failed Policy of Nation Building

As I write this post, it is with great sadness that I mourn the loss of so many young men and women killed or wounded in service to their country while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Each of these individuals fought with honor and dignity because they believed in this nation.

We have let them all down.  We have shown that we have an amazing fighting force.  We can fight multiple wars in multiple locations.  Not an easy feat.  Just look at World War I and II.  Winning the war is easy compared to winning the peace.  We got lucky in Germany and Japan following WW II.  Both defeated nations could have resorted to insurgency and we might still be dealing with them.

What we struggle with and what any occupying force struggles to control is an insurgent fighting force.  It happened to the British during the American Revolution.  It happened to Germany in France or the East during World War II and it happened to us in Vietnam.  

As a people, we have never been really good at the peace part.  Not because we want further war.  We don't.  Not because we don't see how hard it was to win.  We do.  We just don't have the mental toughness to grind it out for decades.  We once did.  We have strong allies in the Germans and the Japanese.  But the Korean War broke our spirit.  It was too close to WW II.  It was too close to becoming a nuclear war and we got gun shy.

We recognize that as a lone superpower (whatever that means), requires a police force mentality.  Unfortunately, we don't have that mentality.  We swoop in (drones today, bombing during Gulf War I) and keep American casualties to a minimum.  That is how we wage war today.  We don't have the desire to get bogged down in a long ground war.

That isn't all bad, but when the action you take requires decades to come to fruition you can't have a hit and run mentality.  Either go in for the long-term or politely decline the invitation.  That is the failure of our current American policy.  It didn't start with the current administration, it began long ago (probably with Nixon).  

We just don't want to be in a hot spot for too long.  Iraq and Afghanistan are both long-term issues.  None will be solved (if ever) in a short-term military action.  US forces are not peacekeeping forces.  Peace Keepers wear the powder blue helmets and give out humanitarian aid.  We roll in, destroy the enemies capacity for war and leave. 

If you don't believe we should be in Iraq or Afghanistan, then you probably could find many who would support that position.  While it is easy to make that call more than a decade after entering each conflict, the information we had at the time (however flawed it may have been) presented a different picture.

We needed to enter each conflict with the belief that decades of occupation would be in our future.  While there was a clear and present danger from both countries (through their terrorist ties at least), we didn't want to believe that it would take that long.  We believed that regime change in both countries would lead to democracy.  What we failed to understand was that maybe these two regions don't really want American style democracy.  We were a means to an end for a rebel group, but only because the current regimes were worse.

We are not loved in the Middle East or the Muslim world.  Everyone knows it but us.  We seem to think they love and respect the US.  We forget that in most of this region we have backed the wrong dictator because it was politically expedient.  Do you remember which side we backed in the Iran/Iraq war?  How about during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan?  Our friend today can quickly become our enemy because they were never truly our friend.

So you are asking yourself, what is the point of this post.  It is simply this.  We squandered the lives of our young people needlessly.  Sometimes war is necessary and sacrifices have and will be made.  Unnecessary war is always unnecessary.  We should always have a clear agenda and a plan to accomplish that agenda.  We need to stop picking the lesser of two evils, because that always blows up in our face. 

We need to start displaying the American representative democracy.  A group of people can't be artificially grouped together and called a nation.  They need to want to be together.  It didn't work so well for Yugoslavia, why should we expect it to work in Iraq.  When we walk into a room and announce that we are the United States we should be prepared to defend why that is a good thing, not simply expect everyone else to fawn over us.

We have a wonderful and diverse history.  We are the great melting pot, but historically speaking we took in the groups of people who often couldn't get along with their neighbors in the "Old Country".  We shouldn't expect those Old Countries to have changed to the point where they suddenly become ultra tolerant of those groups they didn't care for in the past.  Lead by example and they will follow.  Tell someone how to behave and they become resentful towards you and in the case of nation building, violent.

Private Property

Most Americans have a desire to own something.  It is built into our national philosophy.  Maybe it is a home.  For some it might be a business.  For others it could be a vehicle or even a timeshare vacation spot.  Whatever your dream might be, it all revolves around owning something.  If you are a loyal reader of Political Dogma then you know that our government (Federal, state and local) can seize your home if they decide it is in the best interests of the community (read more tax dollars).  Your vehicle can be seized if the authorities can reasonably assume (not prove) it was used in the commission of a crime.  Your business can be shut down if you refuse to serve a customer based upon your personal religious beliefs if they clash with a potential customer.

All of these things sound like a bad dream, but all have happened throughout the US. They may rear up in your life in the not too distant future.  Based upon the rulings of our courts, you as an individual or small business have very little chance of prevailing.  According to our government, you don't actually own anything.  Just because you bought the property doesn't mean it is yours.  You may not even have a right to the ground on which your property resides (even if you thought you did).

Recently, I learned that I don't even have the right to my own information.  Have you ever tried to get a copy of your medical records?  Good luck.  Just because you paid for the service and the records are about you, you aren't entitled to a copy.

Have you ever had your identity stolen or at least had your credit card information stolen (I'm talking to you Target and Michael's customers)? If you were affected by these hacks, then you should contact the 3 credit bureaus here in the US (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).  You can place a 90 day hold on your credit.  There is an option to place a 7 year hold, but this requires a police report documenting that you have actually been a victim of fraud.  So to get this straight, it is my credit and I don't have the right to limit who gets to see my information unless I have had money stolen from me.  Wow.  That makes complete sense in some bizarro world.

What I have been reminded of recently is that I own nothing except myself.  I don't own my house, car or even records about me.  It is enough to make me question why I even bother trying to fight it.  Then I realize that my satisfaction comes from educating all of you about these issues.  If you know and I know and all of your friends and family know, then suddenly we have a large group of people unwilling to accept the status quo.

Demand access to your records.  They are yours, you deserve to see them.  Why should  a credit card company you do business with be able to ruin your credit through their error and you have no way to fight it? Why should your insurance company have access to your medical records and you don't.

Demand that government seizure of property err on the side of the consumer, not the government.  Just because you happen to own a valuable piece of property does not mean the local government should be able to seize it  to raise revenue for the tax coffers.  If you have fulfilled your end of the social contract, why can they change the rules when it suits their purposes and not allow you to do the same.

Stand up for your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I know that comes from the Declaration of Independence, but it still applies today.  You paid for it, shouldn't you have the right to keep it.

Progressive Hypocracy

Why won't Nintendo let you be Gay in its new life simulator?

HGTV cancels "Flip it Forward" after allegations stars David and Jason Benham are anti-gay extremists.

Humanist group sues NJ school district over "under God" in Pledge of Allegiance

"Duck Dynasty" family releases statement on A&E's suspension of Phil Robertson, suggests show could be cancelled if not reinstated

"Child-Friendly" Satan Statue for Okla. State Capital awaits final judgement.

If you have been reading the news over the last couple of months, you may have come across these headlines.  If you are not familiar with the stories, click on the links above and read closely.  As a loyal Political Dogma reader, you should be accustomed to reading between the lines since none of these stories are exactly what they seem.

The Progressive Political movement began at the end of the 19th century and continues today.  In the intervening years, it has definitely morphed into what we see demonstrated daily.  You see from a Progressive standpoint, you should do whatever makes you feel good.  Everyone should be "free" to do what they want, when they want and with whomever they want.

What we see today would have been unthinkable 10 or 20 years ago.  So in the interests of projecting what we could see in the future, lets take this to the extreme.  Progressives would have you believe that if you don't support their agenda then you need to be shouted down and painted as an extremist.  We have all heard the story about Nazi Germany.  As groups of people were being persecuted, the rank and file said nothing because they weren't part of the persecuted group.  Over time, after all the other groups had been removed, it was the general populace that suffered.  At this point it was too late and millions died because of their inaction.

From a Progressive standpoint, they all know better than the rest of us.  They are smarter, more enlightened and infinitely wiser than you.  Just ask them, they will openly admit this.  As Vanilla Ice once said "If there was a problem, Yo, I'll solve it".  You see Progressives have never found a problem they didn't think they could solve.  Unfortunately their "solutions" involve creating class, gender, race and socio-economic divides.  They find a way to blame everyone but themselves for failure and take every opportunity to shout down anyone who dares to question them.

I will admit that some of these Progressives are intelligent from a book sense.  I disagree that they offer any solutions.  Increasing my taxes, removing God from my schools and making it easier to become dependent on the "Government" does nothing to build up this country.  

All problems can be traced to legislating behavior.  You can't do it.  Legislating alcohol turned out wonderfully.  We had a tremendous increase in crime and people were still drinking alcohol.  We "legalized" abortion and we have removed millions of lives from the population. The term Pro-Choice seems to imply that such a decision should be no more monumental than choosing what to have for dinner.  If this was truly "Pro-Choice" wouldn't the baby have a choice.  It takes two to create this life, it should involve ALL of the involved parties (mother, father and baby).  Pro-Choice as it's practiced today only involves the mother.

Let me let you in on a little secret.  There is a foolproof way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.  Come closer, I will whisper it to you.  Here it is.  If your life is too busy, you are too young, or simply don't want children then you have a guaranteed way to avoid having children.  DON'T HAVE SEX.  Simple.  Any other method you choose leaves you with the chance to become a parent.  Of course that would require both the man and the woman to keep their urges at bay and make sensible decisions instead of alcohol or hormonally influenced actions.  See if my method doesn't reduce abortions.

Our Progressive friends think it is okay to remove God from our public schools, courthouses and some cases private businesses.  They often cite the separation of "church and state" clause in the US Constitution.  Here is the link to the US Constitution.  Ask your Progressive friend to point to this clause.  Go ahead.  This is a great party trick (you probably won't be invited back though).  You see the clause is not in the Constitution, Bill of Rights or any other Amendment.  It comes from former Klansman and later US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in 1947.  He based it incorrectly as it turns out on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, written in support of Baptists in Anglican Virginia.  There was not legal precedent, it was a letter.  Written by a US President, but still just an opinion with no legal standing.

I don't believe Satan should sit on the lawn of any state capital or in any public setting whatsoever.  I don't believe our video games are required to encompass every sexual lifestyle choice, creed or belief.  Can't games just be that games.  When you try to escape into virtual reality, that clearly tells me that your real life must be less than satisfying.  HGTV and A&E have the right to employ whomever they want.  Just make those decisions for the right reasons.  Don't cave to pressure from anyone.  The cancelled show was cancelled because some individuals didn't like that private political stance of one of its hosts.  It also wasn't making the network any money yet.  The Duck Dynasty situation was resolved because the show was the highest rated show (think money) on the network.  Nintendo apologized for not including everyone who might crawl out of the woodwork (when are they going to allow avatars to going on a killing spree and get sentenced to death row in the game, it happens in real life doesn't it).

At no time should you presume to mistreat our Progressive friends.  That would be sinking to their level.  Every human being deserves the same consideration to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  EVERYONE.  Not just those who agree with Progressives.  EVERYONE.  While I don't agree with the Progressive philosophy on anything, I still think they have a right to think it. I just don't have an obligation to listen.  I will work tirelessly to show them the error of their thought and in the end some will accept the fallacy of their beliefs and others will not, but we have to try.



Net Neutrality and You

If you don't follow technology happenings, you might have missed some proposed FCC filings around net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, without discrimination as to its source, destination, or content. - Derek Kessler, Androidcentral.com

In essence, the FCC through its appointed leader Tom Wheeler (a former and probably future lobbyist for the Cable Industry) wants to have companies pay extra to make sure their internet traffic gets priority speed.  The FCC will decide on a case by case basis how much this cost should be.  By creating a "fast lane", there has to now be a "slow lane".  Guess which lane your internet traffic will be traveling.

The FCC is stating that the only way to move forward is for the companies that provide internet access (ISP's like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc) is to charge more to any company that feels their service deserves priority.  Understand something here that seems to be lost in this discussion.  Every customer pays to get internet access.  I pay for an internet connection with my local ISP, as do all of you.  Every business also pays to have internet access from their locations.  The larger the company the more lines they need, but they all pay for their service.  Now the FCC says that ISP's can charge more to make sure the business in the HOV lane instead of the bumper to bumper traffic at rush hour.

This extra fee doesn't get you or the company faster internet service in your home or business.  It only makes sure that the data is transmitted ahead of other data.  Video for instance might get moved to the front of the line instead of your newest game software or that VOIP call you are making.  Think about that for a minute.  When you begin ranking what gets moved to the head of the line you are necessarily ranking some things lower.

Now what happens when Comcast goes to Netflix and says they need even more money.  Yes we know you already paid a certain amount to make sure your videos would be at the top of the list, but another company has come along and purchased that spot so if you want to move back to the first position you will have to cough up some additional money.  Seems to be an unending "protection" racket sanctioned by the FCC.

I can only see one winner in this type of scenario and it isn't the customer.  I am certain every ISP is in favor of this new set of rules.  Every small business or startup which has hopes of making it big will find that to be nearly impossible going forward.  Name all of the top internet companies we have today, Facebook, Google, even Apple might not exist today or most certainly wouldn't be the companies they are today.

Allowing all traffic on the internet to be equal as far as the ISP is concerned is the only way to maintain growth.  If the FCC wants rules such as these, then the only way to make this palatable for consumers is to allow more companies to enter the ISP game.   The consolidation currently underway between Comcast and Time Warner Cable will not make this better since the new combined company will have 56% of all of the internet customers in the US.

Political Dogma is in favor of a capitalist economy.  Every company has the right to make as much money as they can and has every right to charge what they want for their product.  That only works when there is competition though.  Most consumers in this country have one or two ISP providers (maybe one DSL and one Cable).   Hardly the same thing as competition.  Comcast will tell you that they laid the copper lines to each home.  If this was truly the case then I would be the last to stand in their way for charging what they like.  Unfortunately, Comcast (and their predecessors) were given tax breaks to provide service, preferential exclusivity for guaranteed customers and the ability to set their rates on a service by service area.  Have you ever wondered why your cable bill (for the same channels) is more or less than your neighbors (even across the street)?  Thank your local government for that negotiated price.

If the playing field had been equal and the Comcast's of the world had completely funded their own growth then they might have the right to charge what they want when they want.  Since that didn't happen, it is time to open up those copper and fiber lines to anyone and everyone who can make a business go of it.  Tell the FCC you don't like their rules.  Tell them and the FTC you oppose the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable since it will only hurt you, as the consumer.

We have seen that big government is about controlling the consumer not helping them, but maybe in this case there will be enough consumer outrage to change those odds.

Differences

What separates you from your neighbor?  I don't mean the size of your house.  Or the size of your bank account.  What really makes you different from everyone else you see on the street every day?

Can't come up with anything?  Then you probably aren't any different from all those other people you see.  You go to work daily, spend time with your family and friends and go to sleep in your home at night.  By all appearances you have the same routine with very few differences each day.  You live for you and your family with very little concern for the needs of others.  You act as though your needs are more important than anyone else, because they are yours.

Admit this to yourself if to no one else.  When you see a line of cars, you make every effort to get to the front as fast as possible.  When eating your favorite meal, you tend to take a little more for yourself since it is YOUR favorite.  If a co-worker needs to make a little less money so that you can make a little bit more, then that is okay and you really don't lose any sleep over it.

We think about ourselves.  First, only and often.  We think about how everything affects us (and sometimes even some others we might care about), but it is a small sub-group of the population. Our current and future needs are foremost in our thoughts at all times.  Our wants and desires are somehow portrayed as needs.

All day, every day.

With no concern for how this affects anyone else.

Because only we matter.

If you are not familiar with Doctor Umanos.  Please follow this link to learn more about recent events.

CURE Hospital Shooting

Now watch this video.



I know.  Pretty amazing.  Do you feel bad about your self-centered mentality?  Great.  Now go change it.  Provide value to someone other than you.  Give up something to offer someone else.  Go ahead.  Soon you will find that even though your general mentality is self, you can receive so much more by helping others.

If you want to help the legacy of Doctor Umanos, go to CURE.org to learn more about the organization he served and the children he helped.  Maybe you can offer a small donation or even your service.  Who knows, you might actually have a legacy of your own some day.


Comic Wisdom

Just because something is shared in a comic or a comic movie doesn't mean it doesn't still have an impact.  Read the following two quotes and you will understand what I am saying.

I believe there is a hero in all of us. That keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble and finally allows us to die with pride.  Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most. - Rosemary Harris as Aunt May in Spider-Man 2 (2004).
These are the years that a man changes into a man that he will become for the rest of his life.  Just be careful who you change into.  Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. - Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben in Spider-Man (2002).



Now you can dismiss these thoughts as childish, but I would ask you to reconsider.  

As parents, we constantly work to teach our children right from wrong.  We make every effort to get them to share and be nice to others.  Don't talk to strangers and eat your vegetables.  What happens as we age.  We hoard everything we can for ourselves.  We try to get whatever we can regardless of the costs to others.  We still don't talk to strangers or each other for that matter.  Eating a carrot stick once a week is now considered healthy eating.

We forget that every human has a certain skill set.  Not that skill set, but other skills.


Skills that we can help better the lives of others.  Have you ever volunteered your time?  I don't mean because your company forced you to do so.  I mean given up your time and energy to help another human being with no thought of reward or payment?  If not you are not failing in your responsibilities.  You have an obligation to help those that you can.

When we act only to meet our own needs, we miss entirely the point of our existence.  Doing something for another human being without publicity or recognition is the truest form of service.  If you see someone "volunteering" their time with a camera crew, you can be sure the only purpose was the postive publicity.

 Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. - CS Lewis

I believe integrity also involves helping others when you can.  Not for the publicity.  Not for the endorphin rush you might get for doing the right thing.  It is not about you.  It is about the other person.  It may have been a small thing to you, but huge to them.  It is simply treating others in the manner you would like to be treated.

It may be telling the waitress that you want to pay for the meal of the family in the corner.  You know the one I am talking about.  The children are acting out, the parents look like they haven't slept in weeks and they are just trying to make it through the day.  You don't know them, but you can understand the emotional roller-coaster they are on.  They will never know that is was you who took care of their meal, but I can guarantee they will tell everyone about it.  You had an impact on their lives and they won't forget it.  Maybe down the road they will have the opportunity to do the same for someone else.

So you have to ask yourself.  What are you willing to sacrifice for another human being?  Not an obligation, but a true sacrifice.  Find yours today and recognize how important it could be to another.

Techno Democracy

I was reading an article today that clicked something in my mind.  I had been mis-understanding the beliefs of a group I thought I knew quite well.  The reason I thought I knew how this group thought is because I count myself a member of this group.  Think about that for a second.  You go about your daily life in whatever capacity you like.  You go to the office, factory or school and think that you are just like everyone else around you.  You identify with those around you because "obviously" you have the same life experiences and the same daily issues.  You couldn't be more wrong.

Here is a link to the article that spurred this thought process.  I was completely wrong in how I thought.  I assumed that if you believed in something it was okay to believe it.  You wouldn't be driven out of town for believing something.  Especially if you are surrounded by self-proclaimed apolitical techno nerds.  I will say again.  I was wrong on so many levels.


I believed that if someone claimed to have no political affiliation, then they either believed whatever was convenient to their needs or simply hadn't found a political movement that they closely identified with at the time.  Wrong.

I believed that a community that prides itself on openness and liberal thinking could be open to diverse ideas from all comers.  Wrong

I believed that just because the mainstream media proclaimed an idea didn't mean we should believe it.  Wrong again.

You see, the anti-political technorati are in-fact quite political.  According to the mouthpieces for this group, they believe everything is okay as long as they think it is okay and "evil" if they think it is so.  There are no two sides to the story.  There is only their side.  If you disagree the openness gets slammed in your face.  The only opinion is the one that the high holy techno leaders of today state are correct.

The technorati view San Franciso as a modern day Garden of Eden where all things tech are possible. They believe they are on the forefront of testing a new world order that will soon be ushered into the rest of the world. What these insular minds fail to realize is that many in the rest of the world view San Fran as a modern-day representation of Sodom and Gamora.  The technorati hold the exact belief that they accuse the US government of having towards the rest of the world.  We are right and you are wrong.



Amazing how these liberal ideals break down when confronted with the hypocrisy of their statements.
Double standard time here again.  Recently a cloud storage system, Dropbox, added Condeleza Rice to its board.  She served as the National Security Advisor for President George W. Bush during his first term and as Secretary of State during his second term.  This is what has the internet up in arms.

Miss Rice is tarred with the same blame game as her boss about the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.  She is associated with the Patriot Act because she was part of the administration when this law was passed.  Simply put, she is identified in the public as having only existed during President Bush's time in office.  She is given no credit for her accomplishments before or after.

The internet has taken to openly calling for Dropbox to remove her from the board.  The internet attack has also encouraged others to stop using Dropbox altogether and choose another service.  Certainly the internet minority is encouraged by the recent ouster of Brendan Eich from the Mozilla Foundation.

What those technorati fail to recognize, is that by their own logic everyone in the US is responsible for the NSA spying on the rest of the world since we are citizens of the US.  Miss Rice didn't craft, create or vote to enact the Patriot Act.  She may have had an opinion.  She may even have agreed with the principle.  She has been vilified on the internet for having been around when this law was enacted.  Forget that their beloved Obama administration has renewed it twice (February 27, 2010 and May 26, 2011).  This same administration has expanded the use of the FISA court and used drones to target civilians throughout the world.  The things they rail against Rice for doing they still use for their own purposes.

What the techno elite and liberals in general fail to realize is that more government involvement in our lives (even a little bit) can quickly be expanded and used for deleterious effects.  In the wake of 9/11, there were very few dissenting voices against protection at all costs.  I was one of those voices, but I was cast out into the wilderness.  Federalizing the TSA didn't make us safer.  It gave the appearance of safety.  That isn't to say that the TSA hasn't disrupted some levels of terrorist activity.  Is simply means that by giving a minimum wage security guard a fancy new uniform, toys and a pension does not make that same individual any better at the job they were originally hired to do.

We all run the risk of shaping our beliefs based upon the company we keep.  We assume (incorrectly) that because we think it and our friends think it, then it must be the same thing that others believe, as well.  Maybe they do and maybe they don't.  We should never assume anything.  Trust but verify should be the watchword of political action.  Just because a "rational, moral, law-abiding" person wouldn't do or think something doesn't mean someone else will not have an equal and opposite opinion.

The English people in the 1770's couldn't believe anyone would want to leave the British Empire.  The French of the 1790's believed that the only way to change things was to kill anyone who disagreed.  Even in our own country during the 1950's, McCarthyism ran rampant throughout the land. Just don't presume that you have the only answer or the only position.  True openness comes through empathizing with the other party.  You can agree to disagree at the end of the day.  Ultimately we will all be judged for our actions, not by history which is fluid and subject to the power of the day, but by the true legacy we leave behind.






Agree to Disagree


... the question of whether a CEO can leave his beliefs at the door when he walks into work seems to have been answered firmly in the negative. When a CEO’s values clash with the values of the company he leads, expect the company to win. - Casey Newton, The Verge

This was the conclusion of one reporter.  The situation involved the now former CEO of the Mozilla Foundation.  If you are not familiar with the name Mozilla, you may be more familiar with their most popular product, the internet browser Firefox.  What has to be ironic is that the gentleman in question was actually a co-founder of the Mozilla Foundation.

His name is Brendan Eich.  He was the former CTO of the company and invented the programming language of JavaScript.  The reason he is no longer the CEO of the company had nothing to do with financial maleficence.  It wasn't gross incompetence.  It wasn't a sexual affair.  It wasn't political scandal.  In the end it was all of these and none of these as the same time.

Mr. Eich had contributed $1000 to oppose Proposition 8 in the state of California in 2008.  In fact, 52% of the voters in the state of California agreed with him and Proposition 8 passed.  Now, if you are not conversent in California politics, you may not know what I am writing about.  Prop 8 was written to deny same sex marriages in the state of California.  The law was eventually challenged in the US Supreme Court and by a 5-4 ruling determined to be unconstitutional, effectively allowing same-sex marriage in California.  

This post isn't about anyone's particular feelings on same-sex marriage.  Regardless of your feelings on the topic, this is about the chilling effect of believing in something that your employer does not.  The Mozilla Foundation believes in the right to marry for all.  Mr. Eith does not.  Somehow, even though he was a co-founder of the company he was not permitted to disagree with the majority of its US employees.  Notice I say US employees, the employees in other parts of the world aren't necessarily in agreement with the companies values.

Think about that for a minute.  Six years ago he made a donation to a political organization in support of a position he wanted to endorse.  Six years later, after ascending to the top job at a company he co-founded and built he was forced out after 11 days in office.  Eleven days.  

A key developer (who by the way is in a same sex relationship) sat down with Mr. Eich and demanded an apology for what he had done.  He threatened to stop developing for Firefox OS if he didn't get satisfaction.  Mr. Eich did not apologize and instead resigned from office when he realized that the company he had helped build would not survive if he remained at the helm.

Now, if the reverse was true, would Mr. Eich have been forced to resign.  Suppose Mr. Eich had opposed Prop 8.  The developer in question demands an apology (in this scenario, the developer is not a same-sex proponent).  Mr. Eich declines to apologize.  In this scenario, I am quite certain he would have been lauded for standing up to a bully and not backing down from his beliefs.

In our political drama today, the only way you will be accepted by the general population or the general media is if you agree with them.  If you happen to hold a position that is opposite, you will be ridiculed, threatened, publicly mocked and ultimately expected to slink away in shame.  It is a shame that having an opinion is only an option if it is the majority opinion.  That isn't an opinion, at least not in the correct sense.  Everyone has an opinion on a vast number of topics. It doesn't mean that the majority opinion is correct, it simply means that this opinion is held by a larger number of people.  This is what passes for insightful journalism today.

When confronted by a someone who tells you they are open-minded, respond with an opinion that you know they will disagree with you about.  Suddenly, that open-minded person shows their true colors when they tell you why you are wrong for your opinion.  Open-minded should mean what is says, open to all options.  Try it sometime and you will find that the open-minded individual is just a closed-minded bigot with a smile.  Bigoted behavior with a smile is still bigoted behavior no matter how you dress it up.



Freedom of Speech Part 2

I have spoken about Freedom of Speech in the past, but a recent event has caused me to revisit the issue.

If you haven't been paying attention to an event in California, at the University of California Santa Barbara, take a look at this article to get a recap.



Regardless of where you stand on the issue being discussed, the facts remain constant.  One party was legally permitted to express their opinion in a designated spot on the college campus.  The other party didn't agree with the views of the first party.  None of that is in question.

The parties involved are a 16 year young lady named Thrin Short a Pro-Lifer in one corner and Mireille Miller-Young a professor of black cultural studies, sex work and pornography at UCSB.  Let that sink in for a moment.  One woman wants to end the killing of innocent babies and the other wants to take your tax dollars to teach her students about exploitation and the destruction of lives.

When reading this story it would seem we have entered the Twilight Zone and this could only be a Hollywood script.  In fact it appears that we are actually in an opposite world.  Up is down, black is white and right is wrong.

Miss Young claims she had a moral right to denounce Miss Short because she was offended by the images on the signs (Pictures of unborn Fetuses).  This is the same woman who shows pornography in her classroom that is offended by a picture of a fetus.  Really?

Miss Young took a sign (private property) and stormed away.  She is accused of physically assaulting Miss Short as she tried to retrieve her sign.  Miss Young doesn't really dispute the story, she simply claimed she was justified in her actions because she didn't like what she was hearing.

Miss Short and the rest of the protestors were in a Freedom of Speech Zone on the campus.  They had permission to be there and were clearly exercising their First Amendment Right to do so.  Miss Young disagreed.

To make matters worse, the vice-chancellor for student affairs, Micheal D. Young issued a statement to the entire UCSB community.  He "apologized" for the incident by calling the Pro-Life Group extreme, intolerant, offensive and peddlers of hate.  Quite the apology don't you think.  If that is an apology, I would hate to hear what he might say about something he was attacking.

The crux of the problem isn't that you have to agree with either party.  You don't.  It isn't that we aren't constantly assaulted by images and words that offend us on a daily basis.  It isn't.  The Freedom of Speech guaranteed in the First Amendment applies to all.  Yes.  Even if you don't like what is being said, as long as it isn't inciting a riot or causing physical harm the courts have upheld the right to say it.  In recent years, "hate speech" has entered our national consciousness, but it is truly hard to define at this point and remains tougher to prove.

In the end, I would say to Miss Young, her students and Mr. Young, that either Freedom of Speech applies to all or it applies to no one.  You can't pick and choose what you don't like and then it is free game.  A better question is, after this incident and "apology" would it be better for the parents of every child at UCSB to consider removing their children from this school for fear that the young impressionable minds studying here might be sent into the world with a warped sense of right and wrong and a completely wrong view of the rights that the Constitution affords every one of us.

I am thankful every day that I have the right to share my beliefs.  I am also thankful for individuals like Miss Young and Mr. Young to continue to show in the extreme that our work is not done.


21st Century Progressive America

The problem with modern progressives and the constitution is this:  they believe that the constitution is a living breathing document.  That it should be updated to reflect the society of today not 18th century America but 21st century America.  To do that they enact laws, appoint judges and create executive orders all in an attempt to "bring the constitution into the modern era".  What they fail to realize it that the framers understood that society might change, and they couldn't predict the future.  To this end they gave us Constitutional amendments.

Unfortunately, that is too big of a step to progressives.  Imagine if the people (through state governments) had the ability to modify the constitution.  It hasn't happen since 1992 (and that one took over 202 years to get approved).   Wow it has been over twenty years since a constitutional amendment.

We have had a huge number of courts cases decide the future of this country (Roe v Wade, Obamacare, 2000 Presidential Election).  Amazing.

Maybe someone should mention this to the progressives in this country.  You know just in case they haven't read the constitution and don't know that a fix already exists for their grievance.  Instead of enacting laws repeatedly that we don't enforce or executive orders that aren't really laws, but get enforced like they are.  We could just pass a constitutional amendment and fix anything we deem "not modern".



Here are the ways this can occur for anyone out there who is not a constitutional scholar.

The framers of the Constitution, recognizing the difference between regular legislation and constitutional matters, intended that it be difficult to change the Constitution, but not so difficult as to render it an inflexible instrument of government. The amending process they devised, codified in Article Five of the United States Constitution, has two steps. Proposals to amend the Constitution must be properly Adopted and Ratified before becoming operative.A proposed amendment may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification by either: OR To become part of the Constitution, an adopted amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):
  • The legislatures of three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period—if any;
OR


Now since we know how to change the Constitution, we just have to get enough of those pesky state legislatures to agree and then we can have our new country.  Oh yeah.  Why do it the right way when we can complain that the constitution should change but go out of our way to not change it but continue to enact laws and executive orders that are unconstitutional just because we want to.

Thanks to our government for failing to do the right thing when the wrong thing is so much easier.  Maybe we should ask our representatives why they feel that so many of our "rights" need to be codified, yet they refuse to take the necessary steps to permanently protect these "rights".  They want the wiggle room to change their minds when it is politically expedient instead of making it permanent.  This should tell you how much they truly care about your "rights".  

Twilight in America?

There was an election ad in 1984 run by Ronald Reagan.  The ad asked voters: "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?"  Based upon the election returns in 1984, a large amount of the country felt that they were in fact better off in 1984 than they were in 1980.


I would pose the same question to our country today.  Remove the individuals whose career relies on creating differences between races, classes or even genders.  Are we better off today than we were 50 years ago.  Let examine this a bit closer.

In 1964, most families were still parented by two individuals.  I don't presume that each of these homes was happy, just that a majority were two parent households.  Nearly all of these homes had a single breadwinner in the family (usually the adult man).  The career paths for women consisted of one of the following for most women of the age: homemaker, nurse or teacher.  There were obvious exceptions, but again this was the standard.



In 1964, race relations were strained at best.  White on black discrimination was certainly evident in the South (and in the North as well).  The Civil War had been over for nearly 100 years, and the former slaves families appeared to be free in, name only.  Jim Crow laws and separate but equal were the way of most people living in this country.  School integration had begun, and Rosa Parks had taken a stand (or to be precise a seat) that began a peaceful protest for change.  Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr. was a nationally recognized Civil Rights Leader.  The race riots would flare throughout the remainder of the decade and continue at times into the 1990's.

Vietnam was beginning to ramp up in terms of US involvement and troop commitments.  Nearly 60,000 young men from the US would die in this conflict.  This doesn't take into account the loses by the North and South Vietnamese, Cambodians, Loasians and French.  All told this conflict began at the close of World War II and lasted on and off for another 30 years.  Draft dodger entered the lexicon at this time, and we have been forever haunted by this experience.

Fast forward 50 years.  Remember the Reagan ad?  Are we better off today than we were in 1964?

While there are still two parent families, this is fast declining.  More and more children are born out of wedlock or are children of divorce.  Too many families are forced to rely on two breadwinners just to keep up.  The world has opened to women as far as careers.  A woman can now hold nearly any job that a man can.

The average lifespan for both men and women has increased to the mid 70's up from the early 60's fifty years ago.  Along with that increased life span has been increased medical costs and technology.  For some this is wonderful, for others it becomes about prolonging life at any cost regardless of the quality of that life.

There haven't been any major race riots in over 20 years in this country.  This does not presume that racism is gone from our society, but it is certainly on the decline and hopefully on the way to the dustbin of history.  In 1964 it was common to have a poll tax, writing test or simple intimidation to keep away those deemed unworthy to vote.  Today we require no identification to vote in nearly every precinct in the country.  This has some undesired effects since some of those individuals voting either have already voted elsewhere or have no right to vote (non-citizen).  The same intimidation tactics have now been applied in reverse and have been used to intimidate votes in ethnic neighborhoods and highly political areas.

Mural in South Los Angeles, CA. 2009 - Image from carnegie.org
We have a war on terrorism that shows no end in site.  We haven't lost nearly as men soldiers as we did in Vietnam, but it has only been slightly more than a decade.  History will decide in another 20 years if this was worse than the past era.  It does not take into account again all of the turmoil caused throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the other nations affected by terrorism.  All told, there are so many costs associated with these wars that have yet to be fully calculated.

We have a political apparatus that instead of trying to solve the class, race and gender issues, is instead trying to foment anger and resentment amongst all of these groups against the other.  Are we better off?  You decide.  Don't look at the past with rose-colored glasses.  Look with a critical eye.  We are better off in some ways but worse in others.

This blog is dedicated to telling historical truth.  The past had weighty issues, and the world was a dangerous place.  Today our lives may seem better and in a number of ways they are, but we seem to have forgotten that the world is still a very dangerous place.  We live longer, but with more illness and limited resources with which to treat them.  We have more opportunities for careers, but in all reality most of us will change our careers on average of 4 times throughout our working lives.  We don't have the race issues that plagued the past, but we certainly have the class issues to replace them.

Are we better today than we were 50 years ago?  Maybe, but we are still a work in progress.  Hopefully we can ALL make the changes necessary to be better 50 years from now.



Greatness

Take a moment to think back on a person in your life that you feel was great.  I am not going to define exactly what great means.  I will do that later.  At this time, you can define great in anyway you like.  Go ahead.  Some of you may need to think harder than others to come up with even one person.  Have you got a person in mind?  Good.  Now hold on to that person as you read the rest of this post.

Photo Courtsey of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Currently our nation is facing yet another international crisis.  It should come as no surprise that internationally, the United States is possibly at its lowest respect level since the founding of the country.  We are a joke internationally.  Think about these incidents and tell me if I'm not wrong.  In the last few years we have had incidents in Egypt, Libya (Bengahzi anyone), Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, China, Russia and the Ukraine.

The NSA appears to be collecting data on everyone everywhere in the world.  We have gone to great lengths to play heavy handed with our allies in all this.  It is one thing for our allies to think we are spying on them, and quite a bit more to actually give them proof of our spying.  We have alienated everyone, and it is starting to result in loss of prestige and sales for American companies.  Exactly what we assume is happening with Chinese Government owned tech companies could be applied to our own tech companies.

All of this can be laid at the feet of our fears.  The Patriot Act was rushed through congress following 9/11.  And much like Obamacare eight years later, the ramifications to these laws were never truly understood or completely thought out.  We were told to be afraid, so we were afraid.  We gave up something precious and then seem surprised when the law was applied with much broader strokes than intended.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It is easy to give up a right you didn't think you needed, right up until you need it.  Then it becomes dramatically worse when you realize you could have stopped it.

This is where we find ourselves in 2014.  We are being pummelled repeatedly by international incidents.  We are failing to reinvent our economy and struggling to try to turn back the clock on jobs and training.  We have no solution to our immigration issues, because no one wants to take the hit on making the tough decisions.

The only thing that has come back into fashion is fear.  Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).  We are afraid of everyone.  We are afraid to send our children to school.  We are afraid to enter a tall building or a mall.  We are afraid to talk on the phone, send an email or download anything from the internet for fear we will be dragged from our house by the police for doing something deemed illegal by a secret court.  We are afraid to travel overseas.  We are simply afraid of everything and everyone.

We are told not to judge all Muslims by a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge all gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.  

In times of strife, you need someone great to provide a steady hand.  You need a leader you can trust to lead.  Remember that great person I asked you to think of at the beginning of this post.  By your own criteria, is there anyone in our current government that could even liberally be called great?  Anyone?
Me neither.

It is easy to look to the past for inspiration, but in all reality no one is as great at the publicity ascribed to them.  Do you think Winston Churchill was afraid during the Battle of Britain in 1941?  Sure.  Who wouldn't be.  He didn't sound afraid because as a leader he knew that if he showed fear, then those weaker members of society would despair.

Have we had any great leaders in the United States in the 20th or 21st century?  Some might cite the Roosevelts, maybe Reagan but in all fairness no one stands out.  Great speeches have to be backed up with great actions.  Name a great action by any of our leaders of the past.  Washington or Lincoln come to mind.  Both had their faults, but both had the faith in their convictions to follow the course.  There were dark times to be sure, but in the end they pushed through, and the country survived.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I don't know who this leader is.  Maybe we have already met them and maybe they are still living in obscurity.  I only ask that this leader step forward.  Step up and show yourself.  We have never needed you more, and I am afraid that if you don't arrive soon it may be too late.  There are monsters everywhere, but when a strong leader rides in the cowards scurry for a hiding place.  They crawl back into the shadows where they belong.

Now back to what defines great.  I define great as someone who inspires you to reach your full potential.  Someone that pushes you further than you thought possible.  Someone you may not have even liked to this day, but respected for how they talked, behaved and lived.  It could be someone you knew personally or someone you only read about.  All could be considered great since through force of will they are able to move a nation forward even when a majority of the population isn't supportive.  When we find this person, I only hope that we are smart enough to listen.

We need more of the founding father's wisdom and less of the constant poll numbers driving decision making.  Just because a majority of the population thinks you should do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.  It only means that a majority of the population answered a poll in a particular way.  Greatness speaks for itself and greatness is often surrounded by the like.  One person can not do it all, but they can inspire others to join their cause.  If you see incompetent people around a leader, there is a good chance the leader is not great either.  Poor leaders will often tell you to disregard the mistakes of those around them and tend to amplify the mistakes of others to draw attention away from their own failings.

People don't change fundamentally.  You will always be exactly who you are today and even with the right PR, you are still the same person.  Take a look at all of the failed Presidential campaigns over the last thirty years.  Did any of those candidates that lost the top spot really deserve the Presidency?  That doesn't mean that the winner was the best choice, just better than the other option.  This needs to change.  We need those people who can make a positive difference to stand up and seek the highest office. Demand greatness from anyone who claims to want to lead.

Freedom of Speech Equality


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition, Amendment 1 of the US Constitution

This amendment to the US Constitution receives a great deal of publicity in our society today.  Whenever anyone makes a comment that isn't shared by the opposition someone invariably shouts about Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of Speech is used to justify anyone's desire to say something publicly.  Let's look at some examples.  Decide which of these is freedom of speech and which are not.

1) You are sitting at a football game cheering on your favorite team.  At the height of the action, the guy six rows back yells "BOMB! BOMB! BOMB!".  The crowd panics and runs out of the stadium causing numerous injuries to people trampled by the crowd.  It is later determined that there was no bomb, but it was all a hoax.

2) A celebrity puts out a tweet filled with expletives directed at a minority group in this country.

3) Your employer is involved in a messy trial involving product liability.  You don't think your company is in the right, and you decide to leak some damaging documents that will benefit the other side.  Your employer finds out and decides to terminate your employment.

4) You stand on your front porch yelling obscenities at each passing car.  The police arrest you for your actions.

If you answered that any of these incidences fall under the Freedom of Speech amendment you would be completely wrong.  

The US Supreme Court has ruled that yelling something in public that causes a panic or incites a riot is not protected (remember that peaceable assembly line).   

A celebrity who shoots off their mouth (or tweets it off) is not protected under this amendment either.  The government has not enacted a law that restricted this, but maybe the celebrity in question should give up control of their social media.  

Just because you believe your employer is in the wrong during a trial does not give you the right to leak confidential documents.  It looks cool on TV and in the movies, but again the government passed no laws restricting this.  Other laws would apply though.  

As for yelling obscenities publicly, while not protected here it is more than likely restricted by numerous other laws in your local community.

You see, many people in our society have never read the US Constitution or any of the amendments.  They think they know what is in each based upon the news media.  If you learn nothing else from this blog, learn this.  You cannot believe everything you are told.  Learn from the primary source.  Actually read the Constitution before you try to tell someone else what is in it.

Depending on the source of the statement in question, you can guarantee that it will either be received negatively or just laughed off just another joke.  Take Vice-President Biden.  Our esteemed Vice-President has made a career of shoving his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.  There is even talk that he may run for President in 2016.  What most people today forget is the Joe Biden ran for President in 1988.  He withdrew early in the process due to plagiarism.  He was accused and later admitted that many of his stump speeches were lifted directly (without credit) from other sources.  You see, he tried to pass off as his own, that which was not.  This is the same man considered as a contender in 2016.



Does anyone remember President George HW Bush (1989-1993)?  He made a famous campaign promise "read my lips, no new taxes".  This was a foolish statement to make, and eventually he had to raise taxes to meet our financial obligations.  Unfortunately for him, he was voted out-of-office the following year and replaced by a man who didn't even win a majority of the vote.  President Bush had the right to say what he wanted, but it didn't work out so well for him.

We have the right to express our opinions as long as they don't endanger someone else.  We also need to be held accountable for the statements we make ... equally.  Hold every elected official or person of authority up to the same standard.  Hold our media to do the same.  The media loves to talk about journalist ethics, yet biases are clearly evident in what is reported.  The reality is that we are all human, and our opinions are shaped by our experiences.  We have the right to say it, but there is no right for someone else to listen.  IF you want people to listen, you need to be careful what you say and when.

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it. - Maurice Switzer (often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain)

How Much is Enough?

The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency.  It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgement to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man as their president.
 The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America.  Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.
The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool.  It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president. 
Vaciav Klau, Former Premier of the Czech Republic

Now the above quote could easily be applied to nearly all of the Presidents during the history of our country.  There are some obvious exceptions to that, but as a rule the 40 plus men that have held the highest office are mostly only remembered because of the office they held, not for any significant accomplishments they had.  As an example, can you name either of the President's pictured above.  The man above was John Tyler elected Vice-President in 1840.  He was the first vice-president to assume the presidency in 1841 with the death of William Henry Harrison (the man on the left) who died one month into his presidency.  See you probably didn't know either of them and why would you.  As an additional bit of trivia John Tyler has 2 living grandsons (Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr and Harrison Ruffin Tyler).

Our founders tried to limit the significance of the populace on Presidental elections by creating the Electoral College.  Many of you might not be aware that US Senators were "elected" not by the populace but by their respective state legislatures.  This changed early in the 20th century, but imagine that half of your US Congress (not by number but by body) was not directly elected to their six-year term by the people they represented.

Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.


Vladimir Putin - 2013
Again, the statement could easily apply to many world leaders, but this quote reflects the first one at the beginning of this post.  We elected this man, we are responsible for how he represents our country throughout the world.  He may be the face of the problem, but we are the problem.

In a recent article, it was reported that a retired Sheriff in California was suing Ventura County for an increase in his annual pension.  He retired in 2011 with a pension of $227,000, and it has since been increased to $276,000 with additional cost of living increases guaranteed to up his annual pension even more in the coming years.  He claims it is not enough and is suing for an additional $75,000 because it is allowed under the law.  An Orange County attorney retired with an annual pension of $224,000 ($14,000 more than his final yearly salary).  Over 20,000 people in California have annual pensions exceeding $100.000.

Don't fault the employees, you're no different than I am, everyone wants to get paid as much as they can.  So they ask for it and elected officials, at the time, and over the past 35-40 years, granted those increases.
Geoff Dean, Current Sheriff of Ventura County, California (in response to the former Sherriff suing the county for an increased pension)
The purpose of presenting all of this information is not to point fingers at anyone in particular.  Our public mindset cannot be to take whatever we can get.  Sheriff Dean may speak for himself and many others, but he doesn't speak for me.  That is not to say that I don't want to be paid a living wage that is comparable to those around me with a similar job.  I will never be rich, but I should never have any expectation of making more in retirement than I did actually working.

Our country is stuck with the mindset that getting as much money is the only goal in doing any work. Money does not bring joy.  It can make life seem simpler, but it doesn't make life better in all cases.  The stories of bankrupt lottery winners are quite long.  Former athletes who blew it all, yeah that happens frequently.  Rags to riches to rags is a very American story.

We all have the dream of being rich, but each of us has to decide what being rich truly means.  How can we expect our leaders to "fix" things, when we can't even agree on what fixing really means.  Ask 100 adults how to fix the economy, and you will probably get 50-60 differing opinions, parroting of some talking heads and at least a handful with no idea whatsoever.  If you aren't happy with your current circumstances, you have one of three options: 1) improve your circumstances to better match what you want for your life 2) stay exactly where you are but learn to enjoy the ride instead of envying others around you 3) remain miserable and envious of the "rich" even though it is a false dream and rich isn't always better, just different.

It would appear that a large percentage of the voting public in our country fall into option 3.  Until that changes, our once great country will continue to descend.  Our current (past and future) president is elected by the largest portion of the country.  We need to find more people in categories 1 and 2 if we have any hope of change.  Remember you elected all of these officials and you are responsible for choosing correctly.  If you can't find a good candidate, run yourself.  It certainly can't be worse than what we already have, you may actually be better.  We should always be happy in the moment, because everything could always be worse.  There is beauty all around you and things to be thankful for instead of being bitter and angry.  Work to improve yourself, enjoy the ride, and you will make this country great again.


Responsibility

Try to imagine you are a foreign national coming to the United States for the first time.  You have heard many things about this country.  Depending on your national origin, it could be good, or it could be bad.  Perception is a tricky thing.  Let's assume you come from a Western European nation and you are vaguely familiar with the USA.  You might even have met some tourists as they made their way through your section of Europe.

You land at JFK (the modern version of Ellis Island from yesteryear).  You are immediately confronted by various languages, media and clothing.  Food may seem familiar, but slightly off from your what you know.  If you came from an urban area of Europe, then JFK would most likely seem rather normal.

You make your way into New York City and again, while slightly different from what you know, it would still seem familiar enough that you probably wouldn't feel too out of place in most parts of the city.  You decide to wander around the city.  You see pockets of various ethnic neighborhoods, and maybe you feel homesick or excited to experience something new.  You still feel comfortable, and if you speak English then you are quite capable of enjoying all that the city has to offer.

Your plan when coming to the United States was to fully immerse yourself in the culture of America.  If you remain in an urban center like New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles then you would have a very similar experience, and it would feel much like home.  If on the other hand you decide to venture out into the rest of America you could become quite shocked.  While the major cities seem similar to your European sensibilities, the more rural areas of the country would feel very, very different.

Our urban European traveler would be unable to relate to the vast majority of this country.  Looking at editorials in Montana would differ to a great extent in tone and topic from those in Los Angeles or New York.  Upon returning to Europe our traveler would likely be unable to clearly and correctly describe Americans.  He would feel a connection to those of like mind he found in the US and express frustration with those he didn't understand.  He would claim to be open minded, but in reality he would only feel comfortable with those that thought as he did.  That is the great political lie put forth by our politicians today.  Open-mindedness doesn't exist any more than unbiased journalism.  Both claim to have no preconceived opinions, yet every reporter has an agenda and every person is closed to certain issues in their lives.

When we disagree with someone it is much easier to blame them for all of the ills of our lives.  Simply put there is enough blame to go around, and where you live probably says more about whom you hold responsible.  You see, outside of the urban centers in this country, people behave, believe and think differently.  Geographically they are larger but on a per capita they are much smaller.  Take a look at the map below from the Chicago Sun-Times Voices Blog.



What this graphic shows is that during the 2012 Presidential Election, President Obama carried the major urban areas of the country (and in some cases this was enough to carry the state) even though geographically Mitt Romney carried the largest sections of the country.

Our politicians would love to talk about income disparities, but that isn't actually what this map shows.  It shows that urban areas are overwhelmingly Democratic in voting practices, while the vast majority of the counties in the USA are much more Republican in nature.  This shapes your beliefs in what direction you think the country should take.  The rub is that every single one of these politicians is responsible for the mess of our country.  Political parties are not relevant to the discussion.  Let me share two emails I received recently.

 545 vs. 300,000,000 Peopleb
by Charlie Reese
Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?
Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.
You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equate to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.
I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government,then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.
If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ...
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.
There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish;
to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators,
to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.
Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like
"the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from
doing what they take an oath to do.
Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power.
They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.
Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees..
We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!
Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.
What you do with this article now that you have read it... is up to you.
This might be funny if it weren't so true.
Be sure to read all the way to the end:


Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he's fed.


Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.


Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!


Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.


Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.


Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.


Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.


Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.


Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.


When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.


Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid...


Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'


When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
What in the heck happened? Can you spell 'politicians?'

So who do you hold responsible for the plight of our country.  If you want to continue the same divisive practice that got us into this mess, them more of the same will follow.  IF on the other hand you want to make a change in the future of our country then hold your representatives accountable.  Elect only those individuals who aren't looking for a career in politics, but simply to serve their time and make a positive difference.  In most cases if your politician has been in office longer than you have owned your current underwear, then like your underwear it is time for a change.



Pulse of America

I received two emails this week that I wanted to share with my audience.  While I can't say they speak to every person in our country, I am confident that a large number of you will agree with much of what these two gentlemen wrote.  Without further ado here they are.




"I'm 75 and I'm Tired"

I'm 75
Except for brief period in the 50's when I was doing my National
Service, I've worked hard since I was 17. Except for some serious
health challenges, I put in 50-hour weeks, and didn't call in sick in nearly
40 years. I made a reasonable salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my
income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, it looks as
though retirement was a bad idea, and I'm tired. Very tired. 

I'm tired
 of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who
don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the
money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I'm tired
 of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I
can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and
daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight
offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't
"believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning
victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls;
all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and
Shari'a law tells them to.

I'm tired
 of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries use our oil money to fund mosques
and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in  Australia ,  New Zealand ,
UK ,  America and  Canada , while no one from these countries are allowed to
fund a church, synagogue or religious school in  Saudi Arabia or any other
Arab country to teach love and tolerance..

I'm tired
 of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global
warming, which no one is allowed to debate.

I'm tired
 of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help
support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ
rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses
or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?

I'm tired
 of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of all
parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful
mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting
caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

I'm really tired
 of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and
actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination
or big-whatever for their problems.

I'm also tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and
early 20's be-deck them selves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making
themselves un-employable and claiming money from the Government. 

Yes, I'm damn tired.
 But I'm also glad to be 75. Because, mostly, I'm not
going to have to see the world these people are making.
I'm just sorry for my granddaughter and her children.
Thank God I'm on the way out and not on the way in. 


Quite a bit of sentiment there.  How do you feel about what you just read?  Angry? Resigned? Fired Up?  Apathy?  If you aren't at least a bit bothered by the state of our country from the view of these two gentlemen you have to ask yourself why?  Take a look around you and figure out who and what you can affect in your local community that will change things for the better.  It is one thing to recognize there is a problem, but it is a much bigger benefit to solve that problem.


The Hidden Costs of the Affordable Care Act

Much has been made of the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  Regardless of your feelings about this dramatic change to healthcare, it has some unintended consequences you probably aren't aware of yet.

Let's do a quick review.  In April 2010, both houses of Congress approved a sweeping change to how healthcare is paid for in this country.  The law had some immediate changes that kicked in (most notably the ramping up of the bureaucracy of instituting the law).  Not surprisingly, most of the congressional leaders in favor of the law either hadn't actually read it, couldn't articulate it or really had no idea how to institute it.  The institution took place and by October 1, 2013 sign-ups were opened to the public.  That portion of the law has been well documented at this point and deadlines were missed and pushed back numerous times.

What hasn't really received the same level of publicity is what the law starts to mean to the healthcare professionals charged with actually providing that care.  Again, there has been quite a bit of conjecture and posturing by both sides.  I am here to share my scary prediction about what is coming.

A smaller part of the ACA is the Sunshine Act.  This act requires every penny (above $10 per occurrence and/or $100/year) to be documented for every healthcare professional with a license.  This means every doctor, nurse, physicians assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapist etc. is to be assigned their portion of all monies spent by Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Device Companies, Nursing Home Sales Staff, Hospice Sales Staff, Therapy Service Sales Staff and Health Insurance Companies.

Now I know the first reaction will be negative.  I am sure each of you has been sitting in the waiting room of some physician and seen well dressed men and women walk back behind the closed doors.  Your doctor is late, and you assume it is because that sales rep is keeping your doctor from doing their job. Maybe you are just upset with the cost of your services or pharmaceuticals and you assume that they are just ripping you off.  You have read all the articles that tell you the cost of that pill should be closer to pennies instead of 10's of dollars.  Well as usual Political Dogma to the rescue.

Those well dressed men and women spend on average less than 2 minutes per visit with the doctor.  When they go behind those doors, they go sit in another area also waiting for your chronically late physician.   You just don't see that and assume otherwise.  Those prices you pay at the pharmacy do seem quite high until you recognize what you are paying for is not the actual cost of the that one pill.  You see it takes on average about $1.1 Billion dollars to bring any new product to market.  That is Billion with a B.  Then you need to recognize that 9 out of 10 products never make it to market.  Millions and often Billions are spent on products that never make a penny for the company trying to bring them to the public.  This doesn't account for the costs of marketing the product.  It may seem that the products sell themselves, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  Also, when you see that price on your receipt, that is often the price you would have paid had you not had a discount (insurance, coupon or some other item that really lowers the price).  You pay your $25 and then complain that the drug cost hundreds of dollars.  You didn't pay that much and neither did your insurance company.  This is like the MSRP you see on every other item you buy.  The manufacturer suggests a price, but very few actually pay that price.

Since we have dispelled some of the myths around sales reps and healthcare, lets get to the heart of the problem.  You remember that your physician is always behind with their schedule.  That is because to make the same amount of money (remember just because there is a certain price on your receipt does not mean the doctor gets that amount from your insurance company - they get far less), the doctor is trying to see 30-40 patients per day.  Prior to the late 1970's most physicians could see 10 patients or less per day and make a very good living.  They could spend an hour with you and it really wasn't a problem.  Not anymore.  You get 15 minutes per visit (if you are lucky).  If you need more time or have more issues, then make another appointment so the doctor can get paid for another visit.  It seems silly, but then that is how politicians think.

Beginning in October 2013, all monies spent to gain access or educate these very busy healthcare professionals is going to be allocated and reported to the Federal Government.  The numbers are due by March 2014 (and every quarter thereafter) so that these monies can be placed on a web site accessible to the public.  Yes, that is right, you will be able to see how much your doctor received from those sales people.  This may make you happy to know that someone else is getting what they deserve.  You think doctors make too much already and get special privileges so why should they get even more.  That is a class warfare idea, and it is just wrong.  You should aspire to earn as much as you like and not be torn down because you had the drive and opportunity to do so.

So you say, so what.  The doctor gets embarrassed and maybe they won't spend any time with those drug reps.  They won't get any freebies.  Agreed that is probably what will happen in some cases.  These are the places you should be concerned most about.  You see that same physician that needs to see 40 patients/day just to make the same (or sometimes less) money than they did seeing 20-30 patients just 5 years ago, he or she doesn't have the extra time to learn about new treatments.  They are exhausted when they get home, and they certainly don't want to spend their precious free time reading articles and going to seminars or spending time doing more training.  They want to spend time with their families, they want to go on vacation or even get some sleep.

How do they stay up to date with new treatments, drugs, laws or devices.  They used to get the "Cliff Notes" from these sales reps.  It might encourage them to do some research on their own.  No more my friends.  That will be gone.  They will not see these reps again, and the studies that they used to have abundantly available to them now cost money.  A paper copy of a drug study costs money to print, license and distribute.  Remember everything has value.  So when a rep gives that doctor the study to review on their own time, they have to charge them for it.  The charge is not an exchange of money (yet), but it does get reported to the government and up on that website.  So guess what, no studies get distributed.  One more barrier to that doctor gaining more knowledge since now they will have to start looking on their own (and again who has the time to do that anymore).

Those samples you beg your doctor for, come from those drug companies.  How long until the government starts taxing you or the doctor for them.  They cost money and if your doctor is not learning more about how these drugs can help you, then they start to disappear.  The reps start to disappear as well.  We are not talking about buggy whip producers from the end of the 19th century.  I am not suggesting you keep drug reps around simply because they aren't able to change with the times.  I am just mentioning that without these drug reps you lose a key educational component for healthcare.  You lose the drug reps (and currently that is the most effective method to generate sales), and you start to lose the money for Research and Development that is trying to come up with the treatment for other diseases or better options than are currently available.  Drug companies have tried to replace the sales rep, but nothing short of a face to face discussion has been even remotely successful.  Certainly you shouldn't care, but without new products the Drug Companies slowly fade away.  No new innovations, no new products and no new breakthroughs.

So if you are happy withe every treatment for every disease then you shouldn't care.  If you like generic drugs that work okay and do things well enough then move on.  If on the other hand you believe that a cure for cancer, AIDS and birth defects is out there, they you should care quite a bit.  Remove the personal animus you might have been taught regarding those with more education or who make more money.  This isn't about any of that.

When fear rules decision making, people suffer.  Physicians afraid to be on a "list" make bad medical decisions.  If they can make up the educational deficit great.  How many do you think will do that?  There is an old joke around the medical field.  It goes like this:  What do you call the man or woman who graduates last in their class from medical school?  The answer is: Doctor.  That is right, just like in every other profession some are better than others at their job.  It would be nice to assume that every doctor is amazing and superior to the general population.  They aren't even close.  They are human just like the rest of us, and they make mistakes.  Unfortunately, some flunk out of Veterinary School and become your personal physician.  That is very true and also very sad.

Forget the class warfare tribble you have been force fed by the popular media.  Someone will always make more money than you.  Someone will always be smarter than you.  It is what you do with what you have that is important.  No one has ever made themselves great by showing how small some else is.  This is no exception.  Demand that your physicians remain vigilant.  Tell them you don't care if they are on some list.  You care that you know about all of the options available to treat you.  The good physician has earned their position and should be compensated accordingly.  If your doctor is not on that list, you should be concerned.  This is the litmus test of cutting edge medicine.  You want the doctor willing to try something new instead of continuing with the old simply because they don't know better.

I have attached two videos below.  One speaks about celebrating humanity and our shared achievement (caution there is some cursing, but it is worth a listen).  The other takes on that much ballyhooed notion that taking from the rich will somehow solve all of our problems.  It is entertaining to see this fallacy dispelled.  Remember education is not a short-term undertaking.  You can never just stand still in life.  Either you are moving forward or backward, but you will never be at the same spot because life moves forward with or without you.






Divided = Conquered

As a politician, our current Commander-in-Chief takes every opportunity to divide the country.  I don't say this lightly.  I say this with great sadness.  Dividing groups creates animosity that can go far beyond the political purpose at present.  Once you believe something about one group, or another, it is hard to change that perception.  Stereotypes persist because there is just enough belief that they could be true.  The more general the stereotype the easier it is to find a representative of that stereotype.  Are all blondes or peoples of Polish decent stupid?  Hardly, have you ever heard of Copernicus? He determined that the earth revolved around the sun.  Not a popular idea at the time, but now accepted as fact.

Nicolaus Copernicus


When a "leader" seeks to divide it is usually for political expediency.  It serves a purpose, but it makes relations between these groups much harder in the future.  Should Republicans and Democrats constantly battle over the future of this country.  No they should not.  We are all Americans, yet we try to easily paint the other group as evil and uncaring.  Imagine a world where we all worked towards the same goal.  I know it is hard to fathom a country where political wrangling doesn't exist.  Allow me to explain my dream.

In my world, all of our political leaders come from the ranks of successful business men and women.  I don't want someone with no experience straight out of school.  I want someone with some life experience.  By life experience, I mean someone who has held a job that required them to earn a paycheck working for a company (not only government at any level).  If you have never held a job that required you to interview and perform then you are automatically removed from the possibility of election to a government role.  If your experience comes from a job you were appointed to then you are not qualified.

So every member of Congress would have been required to have work experience in the private sector.  Another key to being in Congress would be leaving Congress.  That is right.  In my ideal world, Congress would not be a career.  There would be no member of our government that had a career in "public service".  If you are serving the public then it should be reluctantly and briefly.  Most American's can't afford to volunteer for 20 hours a week, so why should I consider a member of our government "serving" me for 40 hours a week.  If you are "serving" the public good then you could never consider it a career.  You take your turn in government and get back to the real world as soon as possible.  Isn't this the reason why the US House serves terms of 2 years and the Senate 6 years.  There was no reason why a Congressman or Congresswoman should spend over half of their term campaigning and fundraising for their next term.  You are being compensated for two years of service, yet you are giving less than half of the time expected to the role.  Ask yourself if you would still have your job if you only showed up every other week.  I know I wouldn't still be employed and neither would you, yet that is exactly what our members of Congress do.



When there is turnover in the government ranks, two things happen.  No single member of the government can hold all of the power.  They can't create a base of support that allows them to dictate policy.  We would also get new ideas.  Instead of constantly recycling the old ideas, we might actually have something new.  There would be no established power structure that might require these new ideas to work their way through years of scrutiny before they might actually see the light of day. Economically this might be good, and it might be bad, but in light of the system we currently use, would it really make a difference.  Could the economy really be in worse shape?  Could the jobs available to most American's be lessened if we did things differently?  Hardly.

In 2008, the slogan that captured the most votes for President was: "Change".  In what and from what were never made clear.  In 2012, the same candidate "changed" the slogan to "Forward".  How do you move forward unless you know where you are and where you have been?  You can't.  While catchy slogans may get votes, they do nothing to actually advance the country.  At no time will words alone change the world.  Actions are how we are judged and how every President is judged.  Sometimes history needs to look back over a long period of time to determine if policies were positive or negative regardless of how they were viewed at the time.  

Most of the Presidents in this country were effectively benign.  They neither advanced nor diminished this country.  It is the rare individual that is exceptional even at the highest level.  The misconception that even an overwhelming victory for one candidate means the populace values that candidate and their ideas is false.  Because we usually only have two main candidates for any political office, the voting is simply to say that one candidate was preferred over the other.  This doesn't mean they were even the best candidate all along.  They survived and won but only because the other option was less preferred at each stage.  Politicians should remember this.  You were better than the other person, but you need to maintain a focus on continually trying to do better.  You can always be voted out at the next turn.


Dividing our country along political lines, race lines, height lines or any other lines is simply short-sighted.  We are all Americans.  What is good for one group should be good for another.  When each member of our society pulls their own weight, that leaves much less for the rest of us to do to make up the difference.  Certainly some will be always be able to do more than the others, but the if more did for themselves we would all advance further together.  Instead of pointing out the faults of others, maybe we could do our part and expect the same from others.  Just a thought.



Dear Government

Dear Government,

I am writing today to share my thoughts and feelings about the state of this country, suggestions for improvement and praise for success.

First let me start by thanking you for being founded in the first place.  It wasn't an easy fight and there really was no single successful model to follow.  Sure there were mistakes.  There was no book on how to govern outside of a monarchy.  Sometimes it seemed as though you took a few steps back for every step forward.  Early on things were quite delicate and even though we were all one country, we still fought with each other like brothers.  You dealt with it all and somehow made us stronger for it.  That is rare in the history of the world and should serve as a shining example of reconciliation.



Rarely in history has a transfer of power gone smoothly.  Often the military is involved by enforcing the will of one group on another.  This has never happened here.  The losers haven't always handled the loss well, but never have they stopped the process from eventually happening smoothly and on time.  We are all human after all and accepting our fate is not always easy.  It has happened and while still a learning process you have always maintained Government even during the transition.

You enact and enforce laws to protect us from dangers both inside and outside the country.  You provide for the common defense and allow the pursuit of happiness as we define it.  For most of your existence you have allowed each member to pursue success or failure to the greatest extent possible.  Just like children we will always push up against the rules to challenge the boundaries, but we need those rules to have a sane and rational society.

Now, it is with a heavy heart that I need to share some of my concerns for you, Government.  Previously I mentioned rules being necessary, but sometimes too many rules stifle the pursuit of happiness.  I trust the government to protect me from danger, but I also expect the government to let me live my life and pursue my happiness.  I admit there is a fine line, but of late, government you have been overstepping. I use the following example.  Seat belt laws have been in existence for over 30 years in most states.  I am old enough to remember when seat belts were optional.  Now I will admit that I use my seat belt at all times, but I support a person's right to decide for themselves.  I do not think that the government should have any role in forcing someone to wear a seatbelt.  It saves lives, but that is a choice each individual should be able to make.  The same could be said for motorcycle helmets.  I would always wear one, but the government should never tell me I have to do so.  We have had the moralistic over-stepping of government with the 18th Amendment which was later repealed by the 21st Amendment (the prohibition of the sale of alcohol and the end of this prohibition).  The US Constitution should not be altered without serious consideration of the consequences.  Some Amendments are easy to justify, others maybe not so much.

This country has taken an extreme left turn into trying to be everything to everyone.  Government you seem to believe that you have the obligation of dictating every aspect of our daily lives.  Here I would disagree with you Government.  Provide for the common defense, allow the functioning of daily government and let me alone to pursue happiness.  I love nature as much as anyone else, but telling me I can't swat a mosquito that is about to sting me because it is endangered is ridiculous.  It is endangered because I am about to kill it.  Hunting is about more than rednecks shooting guns at defenseless animals.  It is about those rednecks controlling the population and providing sport and food in the process.  Without hunting there would be mass starvation of the animal population because there will not be enough food to sustain the entire population.  Regardless of your feelings about guns, a deer killed quickly should be preferable to a slow starving death.



More taxes are not the answer.  Taking more from those who make money and giving it to those who don't will not solve the problem.  You have simply made an individual more dependent on Government to provide instead of giving that person the will to attempt to provide for themselves.  Spending money to eradicate poverty has not worked.  We have had 50 years of this and poverty still exists.  Attaching assistance to improvement in skills is the only way to lessen poverty.  There will always be a group considered at or below the poverty level.  If you rank a group of people 1 to 100 (the criteria don't matter), someone will always be 1 and someone will always be 100.  You will never have a 100 way tie for 1st.  Just look at the Bell Curve use in college courses.  Someone at the top, more bumped up in the middle, and there are still those at the bottom who fail.  We live in a society of winners and losers.  A winner can't win every time and a loser can learn to be a winner occasionally, but there will always be a winner and a loser.

In summary, Government, I am proud to know you.  You have done many great things for many people.  You haven't been perfect, but since you are staffed by fellow humans how could I expect anything different.  You have some work to do to regain the trust of myself and my fellow citizens.  Know your boundaries and stop trying to overstep them.  You exist to provide a framework for society.  You don't need to control every aspect of our lives and when you try you usually fail.  Know your strengths and learn to temper your weaknesses.  We all have them, stop trying to act as though you don't. We have much to be proud of and with some nudges in the right direction we can again be proud to stand upon the world stage as a "shining light on the hill".  Accept this constructive criticism in the spirit it was intended, improvement for the sake of betterment.

Your Friend,

Political Dogma



Accountability

Football is gauged on wins and losses.  Win and you are golden, lose and you are the goat.  This win/loss criteria apply to the head coach as you would expect, but surprisingly it also applies to the starting quarterback.  There are at least 21 other starters for each game, yet the QB is the one who gets the credit for the win and the blame for a loss.  Even if the QB had very little to do with either outcome they still receive the credit or blame.  This got me thinking about politics and an extreme lack of accountability.

As you are reading this Governor Chris Christie (R - NJ) is facing a scandal with his aides and a possible political retribution issue.  It really doesn't matter what happened when (this will be hashed out as reporters sift through the emails and statements from all of those involved to find the one phrase that supports their view of the story).  It doesn't matter what the federal probe turns up at the end of all of this.  It doesn't even matter how you feel about Governor Christie.  Right or wrong, he is now forced to focus on this issue instead of running the state during his second term.  Unless some miracle occurs, he probably won't be able to consider a Presidential run in 2016.



The question here is accountability.  When you lead you are responsible for all that occurs under your command.  That means the good and the bad.  If your secretary comes up with a way to save the company a bundle on expenses, she might get flowers, but you could get a promotion.  If on the other hand you approve an expense report for the rental of a tropical island, well then even if you didn't rent the island you will still be looking for work elsewhere.  In Washington, this doesn't seem to be the status quo.  If you mess up, it was obviously someone else's fault.

As a citizen of this great country, I demand accountability.  I told a former supervisor I was willing to accept all of the blame for a failed strategy, but I expected all of the praise for the successful one.  This manager wanted to blame me completely for the bad (even though I shared responsibility equally with another), and he minimized my success (even though I was the only person responsible).  This is not how it should work, and this is not how it works in real life.

During 2009 through even today, the current party in the White House is blaming previous administrations for the failings of this country.  High unemployment (don't believe the government rates since they don't count the people who stopped looking for work), the stagnant economy, the housing decline, diminished prestige overseas and the downgrading in the credit rating for the United States.  Now in the interests of being fair I am willing to admit that previous decisions made by the government have a lot to do with the economy and could be looked at as successful for a period of time.  Running on a ticket of change should not mean for the worse.

When you take control of the government, you take control of all of the government.  Not the parts you like.  Not the parts you have experience running.  EVERYTHING.  You are now in charge and from this day forward you are solely responsible for fixing what you claimed was broken.  You can't blame anyone else.  President Truman is famous for the phrase "the buck stops here".  Even if he didn't cause the problem he was responsible for fixing it.  What a novel concept.  Don't blame someone else.  Fix the problem.  Don't claim no one will compromise when you won't compromise.  If you can reach across the isle then do it, don't just say it.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing former Press Secretaries Dee Dee Myers and Dana Perino debate the state of our country and the politics in Washington.  As you might expect, both women were supportive of their party.  It was thoroughly enjoyable, but one comment stands out to me.  This came from Ms Myers.  She stated that just like Fonzie from Happy Days, President Obama has a very hard time saying he was wrong.  He is too quick to blame others instead of taking responsibility and fixing the problem he caused.  I can't say it any better than that.


In summary, take responsibility for your actions.  The good and the bad.  We are never as bad as anyone claims, but we are never as good as we think.  We are somewhere in between.  We should always try to learn from the mistakes and temper our ego following the good.  It is never going to be all good, but thankfully it will probably never be all bad either.