Friday, July 30, 2010

Being human.

I didn't always stick to my convictions, in fact for a long time I was afraid to. For a long time I was afraid of being me. There was a time I was afraid to just be me because I wanted to be liked. Yeah I know, why wouldn't people like me? Well some people just spend a great part of their lives wondering why others don't like them, when really, the problem is more of an inner thing.

One of the many life lessons I've learned is that the only opinion of you that matters is the one you have of yourself. So, before I could get anyone to like me, I had to like myself. I'm not sure why I didn't like myself, maybe because I didn't think I was good enough. Good enough for what? I don't know. I just know I felt I had to be better. But what was better? I have no idea. I thought about how I could reinvent myself when in the end it turned out I couldn't reinvent something I knew nothing about. If you don't know who you are, how do you know what needs to be changed or what is just fine the way it is?

I don't know when it happened but one day I just became "me". That doesn't mean I like everything about myself, I still struggle with that every day. I struggle with changes I need to make and the obstacles I tend to throw in my way subconsciously sabotaging myself. But while I'm trying to overcome the struggles I can say that I like who I am. I know I am a kind, compassionate person who cares about others. I know I try to help when I can and I don't like to see other people hurt. Most of all I don't like to hurt others and I feel bad if I do. I think I'm a good person. And in this life I tend to judge people in two categories, good and bad. There are people who are bad, very bad, consciously bad. And then there are people who though they have faults, are good people. I think most people are good. Call me crazy, that's fine. But I choose to believe that people are inherently good and that there are two kinds of bad, the first being people who are good who, because of personal experience, environmental or other factors have turned to the dark side and the second being people who just have some screwed up genetic code which inhibits any good from being exposed. One can change, the other can't. The way I see it, everyone is born "good" but something happens to change them.

Anyway, I know I got off track but part of who I am is trying to give others the benefit of the doubt, believing their story until they prove me wrong. I try not to be cynical though it pops up from time to time. I try not to be critical but that too pops up from time to time. Those traits I have learned, have been instilled in me due to environmental factors--people I hang around. There's a few people close to be who are cynical at times, thus it rubs off on me. By nature I am not nor have I ever been that way. Ask my mom, she'll tell you.

I'd like to think that someday when I'm dead and gone, I'll be remembered. I used to think I needed to be remembered for some great big thing I'd done in my life, some big accomplishment the world would remember. I think that I needed that because I figured the only way I would make an impact was to do something so incredibly BIG nobody could forget. And then I realized the biggest impact you can make really comes in the smallest ways. The things we do every single day, the little things, that's what people remember. People don't care about your "one big accomplishment" they care about your life, the way you touched others, the way you cared. And so, I'd like to think that if I've learned anything in this life, it's that everybody has a story, everybody matters. I matter.

And it's because I matter that I have to stick to my convictions. I have to be me. To be anyone else would be a waste of my life, a lie. Who wants to live a lie? What's the point? Exactly, there is no point and so even if I have to go through life disliked by some people for whatever reason, it's still better than going through life being disliked by the most important person, me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And he was dead serious too.

Despite thirteen allegations of misconduct and being officially charged by the House Panel for ethics violations, Representative Charlie Rangel said "The good thing is that no matter how this thing ends, corruption and dishonesty have never been on the table."

There's really nothing one can say to follow that....ya know? I mean really, it speaks volumes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shut up Bill McCollum!

I'm so sick of hearing your commercials bashing your opponent Rick Scott. Now before you think I'm a Scott supporter, I'm not, in fact I never heard of him before your campaign ads. So while I am not voting for him, I don't think I'm voting for you either. Instead of wasting time and money telling us how awful Rick Scott is, how about instead spending it discussing your past achievements and what things you would like to accomplish in the Governor's office.

If you can't do that, you don't even deserve a second glance from me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Making Promises You Can't Keep

Yes, I know, this current administration is not the first, nor will it be the last to make promises it can't (or for whatever reason won't) keep. We're told "hey, that's politics" but does it have to be? I mean for once I'd like somebody up there to stay true to their word about something.

Sadly it's just not meant to be.


Obama speech in Nashua, New Hampshire, February 2, 2010

"That’s why I’ve proposed cutting more than 120 government programs – consolidating ones that are duplicative, reducing ones that are wasteful, and eliminating those that just don’t work. That’s why I’ve proposed to cap government spending over the next three years. Spending related to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and our national security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. And that’s why I’m grateful that both the House and Senate have now voted to reinstate the PAYGO rule that helped create those record surpluses back in the 1990s instead of the record deficits we had when I came into office. The concept here is very simple: you pay as you go. You want to start a new program? Go ahead. But you’ve got to cut another one to pay for it."

Obama and others have been preaching PAYGO since day one. The objective of PAYGO is that Congress must save/cut a dollar for every dollar it plans to spend. Since the campaign Obama and others have talked of utilizing the PAYGO system. Well the problem with PAYGO is it sounds good but doesn't work. Congress passed and Obama signed the unemployment benefits extension with no room to pay for it. Ahh but wait....there is a way to pay for it. There's that thing called pork. Ahhh yes, the other "white meat" which brings me to...

#2: PORK

State of the Union, January 27, 2010

"Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. "

In April 2009 Obama signed the $636 billion 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill loaded with $4.2 billion in pork projects and as FoxNews.Com reports it goes a little something like this:

1,720 pet projects, including:

∙$5 million for a visitors center in San Francisco
∙$23 million for indigent health care in Hawaii
∙$18 million for the Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts
∙$1.6 million to computerize hospital records in Oakland
∙$47 million for anti-drug training centers around the country
∙$20 million for the World War II Museum in Louisiana
∙$3.9 million grant to develop an energy-efficient solar film for buildings
∙$800,000 for minority prostate cancer research
∙$3.6 million for marijuana eradication in Kentucky
∙$2.4 million for handicap access and a sprinkler system at a community club in New York

Now what in hell do any of these things have to do with DEFENSE? Not a damn thing. But you knew that right?

Personally, I don't know what to do. I'm at my wit's end and and while it should be comforting to know I'm not alone in my feelings, it isn't. Millions of Americans are frustrated because they're not sure what to do. Now why do you suppose the Tea Party and other movements like it are so appealing to so many people? It's because Americans are frustrated and don't know what to do or how to express their anger. They need something to bring them together. Whether you agree with these "other" movements or not doesn't matter, that's not the issue.

The issue is what can we do? What are we going to do?

This is not a Democrat thing, it's not a Republican thing, it's a common sense thing and if you don't get it now, you may never get it. In the meantime, the best thing the "don't get it" crowd could do for the rest of us is to stop voting and making things even worse.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Missing classmates, Mexico, a shopping center, WTF??

Last night's rather dreams...all seemed to run together, one after the other. Not sure which one was first or last but here goes.

The Class of '87 had another reunion, I think it was an informal get-together. But people were missing. We couldn't locate them anywhere. There were a series of accidents. One mishap caused a whole chain of events that never should have happened. I remember an ambulance with a patient heading to a hospital crashed and caused another mishap, I don't know who was involved but it seems like I found out later on that most of my former classmates were involved in the mishaps that took place. I remember going to the football stadium during a game and one of my friends fathers was calling the game. He was not sitting in the booth though, he was in the crowd with one of those old microphones like you'd see in the principal's office. Anyway, I went up to him and asked him for the microphone and then I told the crowd that half of the Class of '87 was missing but I don't know what else I said.

Then I remember the class members got together, we had to cross this footpath across a valley in order to get to the person's house we were having it at. It was a wooden footbridge held up by ropes on the sides and it stretched a long way. We were carrying food and stuff across the bridge to where we were going. One wrong move and it could change everything. We were being so careful not to do anything out of the ordinary so we didn't cause a chain of events that was not supposed to take place. I remember getting to the last part of the footbridge, the wooden path was missing or burned away, I don't remember much after that. But in recalling the fact that a series of events took place killing a lot of people, events which NEVER should have taken place had it not been for one single was scary.

Later in the dream, I'm at this shopping center with a glass front. You had to enter through these glass doors in order to get to all the shops. The windows were slightly tinted and I think there was the name of an arcade on the outside but I can't remember. I went inside and there was this Chinese restaurant right inside the doors, you could order to go. I remember going to the counter a lot. I needed a ride home but when the evening shift in the restaurant began it was a different restaurant. It was like it was one restaurant before 6 pm and another restaurant (both Chinese) after 6 pm. I knew the people who worked there before 6 pm but not after and I didn't trust the people I didn't know to give me a ride home.

Outside in the parking lot were many cars, a few of which belonged to people I knew, I'd gone to elementary school with them I think. One in particular was an old friend from kindergarten. His car was full of crap in the back seat. Like years worth of books, clothes and stuff. I was cleaning it out but I can't remember why. He and someone else were sitting in the front seat and next to them was a car full of their friends. As they chatted I was going in and out of the car cleaning out the backseat looking for something.

At some point in time, in the same dream, I had these long pipes connected together with something about "lobster" on it and I took the pipes in my hand and walked into the shopping center with the pipes ahead of me, people were moving out of the way. I have no idea what that was all about.

I just remembered another part of the dream. Mom and dad were going on a mini vacation. I was at their house and asked where they were going, thought maybe they were just going out to dinner that day, but mom said they were going to Mexico that afternoon. I was thrilled for them but also told mom that she would need an awful lot more documents now than in the old days. I told her they needed a passport along with drivers license, birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. Then I proceeded to tell her about this ninety year old woman who needed to renew her license and had been married sixty years. She didn't even know where her marriage certificate was but she had to get it so she could PROVE that her married name was her married name--even though it was so for sixty years. Mom seemed frustrated. I told her that a friend of mine I work with had been to Mexico and he would be able to tell her exactly what was needed.

Then while at mom's house I was trying to find something to wear that matched. I was wearing hose too which I used to wear a lot but hate now. I was having a hard time finding something I liked, appropriate for whatever I was going to be doing later on, that matched perfectly.

I'm sure I'll remember more soon...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sick of survival reality shows...

I am so sick of the reality survival shows. I made the mistake of watching a few where the guys wound up killing animals on the island, in the forest, or desert, for food. I guess I get pissed off because THEY ARE NOT REALLY LOST! It's a damn television program, there's a camera with them, they have help not far off. I don't have a problem with a person who is really and truly lost killing an animal (humanely) for food and using as much of the remaining animal as possible. But these bullshit reality show assholes kill these animals for entertainment. You might say "oh they are trying to show people how to survive" yeah ok, how many of us are going to be lost in the desert or on the island of Belize? PLEASE!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bringing hope to the hopeless...

I've been sitting back recently pondering the situation in the Middle East, the fact we have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq (which I originally supported believing we had no choice and Iraq was an imminent threat) and wondering what it's all about. We have troops there now fighting and dying for what I believe now to be a lost cause. How can we possibly believe we can bring democracy to a part of the world that doesn't want it? We can't. No matter how long we stay there and try to convince them, if they don't want it, they won't accept it. And you can't possibly force freedom and liberty on to a people who refuse it.

This doesn't mean I don't support our troops, I do, especially as a veteran and especially knowing so many military folks and their families. I come from a family of veterans going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Many men and women have given their lives so we could be free. I just wonder these days if the battles our soldiers are fighting in the Middle East are more about politics than about freedom. I mean, look at the rules of engagement. Our soldiers are forced to be politically correct with the enemy. If this had happened during WWII, we would be speaking German right now and most of my family would have perished in Concentration Camps.

I guess I believe that we have to pick and choose our battles wisely, this wasn't one of them. Our soldiers have freed many in Afghanistan and Iraq but the battle rages on and considering the enemy, not to mention the clash in cultures, the battle could likely never end. The Middle East has been at war for over a thousand years and it will not end. It'll go on forever. How long can we last there?

Speaking of the Middle east, this brings me to a book one of my grad students gave me, it's called Stones into Schools and it's about Greg Mortenson, a mountain climber-turned-humanitarian who founded the Central Asia Institute which has built over 130 schools in the most remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The main purpose is to bring education to the millions of girls who have been denied an education. There are boys in the schools but one of the provisions of building the schools is that girls be allowed to attend and their enrollment increased until their numbers are equal to the boys. It is believed in these countries, that while the education of the boy is an education of the individual, the education of a girl is the education of an entire community. What is amazing is that even former members of the Taliban have handed over their guns and become teachers and supporters of the schools. I guess it depends upon each individual but sometimes a person gets tired of all the killing and destruction. Unfortunately the numbers of reformed Taliban are small.

I'm halfway through the book but I am really inspired by his work. I think this book should be required reading in our high schools. It brings a point of view we don't often see, which is that of the actual people of these countries. I like to believe that overall, people are generally good, it's the government that sucks. The politicians in many Middle Eastern nations may be corrupt and evil but the people generally are not. The people are the ones who usually suffer at the hands of such a government. Greg Mortenson has gotten to know the natives of the remote villages where the schools have been built, he's learned their customs and their ways. And he relates to us what life is like for these people. He has encountered so much graciousness and kindness in his travels and work with the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. What he and his staff and CAI have accomlished is truly remarkable. This is the kind of thing that adds to one's pride as an American.

Greg Mortenson's previous book, "Three Cups of Tea" is actually required reading for military officers now. In that book he describes how he built his relationship with the people in the villages he served. He describes how he won their hearts and minds.

It just makes me think about how wonderful it is to do something to help others. It feels so good to do something for someone who needs help. I can only imagine the great things that will come from all the schools built in these remote areas. The people will have a chance to learn how to sustain themselves and how to prosper. And by prosper I don't necessarily mean just money, I'm referring to the ability to live life to the fullest. Imagine the world's poorest and most destitute people having a chance like the rest of us? Who knows.

I think this should be required reading in high school. I think teenagers would really benefit from this book. At an age where there's a lot of confusion about what life is all about and what to do with one's life, this book at least gives young people a new perspective on life and envision the great things they could do with it. It's not about politics it's about empowerment. Teach these teens they can do anything they want and show them that even the most seemingly impossible task is actually possible and challenge them to take a shot at it.

I mean we have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

And back to the situation with our troops in the Middle East. I don't have the answer, I guess if I did, I'd be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or I'd be President. I don't know if anyone has the answer. It is what it is and we have to deal with the reality of the situation and try to make the best of it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oh to be a fly on the wall of the US District Court...

I would love to be the fly on the wall when the US District Court hears US v. State of Arizona on July 22nd. The suit claims that while the federal government has the ultimate authority to regulate matters of immigration and that the states "may exercise their police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens" the states are "not allowed to establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws."

US v. Arizona also calls into question the provision in SB 1070 that allows for legal residents of Arizona to sue any official or agency that adopts a policy that "limits or restricts enforcement of federal immigration laws."

The United States is arguing that this law directly "imposes significant and counterproductive burdens on the federal agencies charged with enforcing the national immigration scheme, diverting resources and attention from the dangerous aliens who the federal government targets as its top enforcement priority."

The United States is also concerned that the law will inadvertently catch authorized persons, immigrants and citizens "who do not have or carry identification documents specified by the statute." and it is concerned that SB 1070 will completely ignore humanitarian concerns and disrupt the relationship between the US and Mexico."

Though I'm no legal scholar (and won't claim to be one), I read through SB1070 a few times and honestly I could find nothing to support the above claims. Rather, the bill supports already existing federal law. Now if the federal government had NO immigration policy then I could see where SB1070 could be a violation of the federal government being the supreme authority on such matters. But immigration policy exists and I can't imagine that it could possibly be wrong for a state or local government to pass a law which supports already existing federal law.

As a matter of fact, every day state and local law enforcement agencies support federal laws, do they not? An example would be existing federal drug laws. If the state and local governments were having a major problem in enforcing anti-drug laws because the federal government just sat by and did nothing (for example trafficking drugs across the border from Mexico and Canada), and the state government decided to create a law which directly supported in every way, going after drug trafficking across state borders--would the federal government intervene and say the state had no authority? In the case of drug enforcement, the federal government would have a difficult time fighting this considering the fact that it spends billions every year on drug enforcement activities including education and awareness.

So why SB 1070? Why would the federal government want the state to stand-down from upholding federal law?

Well for one, it makes those in the federal government responsible for enforcing federal law look like incompetent fools.

Second, the State of Arizona is pissing off the Mexican government (and we're not supposed to because we need them for.......?) The Mexican people as a whole are really a nice, hardworking, honest and family-oriented people, it's the government that sucks. And why do we even give a rat's ass what the Mexican government thinks of our policy? They do nothing for us, there is no benefit to us kissing their ass. Unless of course we're concerned that the corrupt Mexican government will cease its war on border gang-drug wars and illegal border crossings....and well we can see clearly that the Mexican government's alleged "enforcement" is not having much of an effect as it is.

Or third, Arizona's law is going to actually force federal agencies to work harder and smarter. I don't mean the men and women in the trenches either. I am talking about the bureaucrats who run things. The lawsuit alleges that Arizona's law is going to significantly hinder federal agencies ability to do their jobs in regards to immigration enforcement and nabbing dangerous "top priority" individuals. We've got federal agencies wanting to monitor every action of every American not to mention x-ray/strip searches of little blue haired old ladies and babies in strollers at airports but we can't control the people who cross our borders daily.

I'd say the main reason for the lawsuit is simple. The State of Arizona just made the federal government look really incompetent (not that we don't already know that). I mean a state passing its own laws UPHOLDING existing federal laws is an act of clear defiance. It says "look pal, you're not doing your job, in fact you downright suck at it, so we're going to it ourselves."

That's exactly what the State of Arizona has done here. Instead of little brother waiting for big brother to finally get the balls to take care of his responsibilities--mainly protecting little bro from being bullied and pushed around, little brother, who got tired of waiting around while he got the shit beat out of him finally said "you know what big bro, you're a weenie, I don't need you" and so he decided to take on the bully himself.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Not what JFK had in mind

"When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering,"

---NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

The Space Program which began as a quest to dominate the Soviet Union in science and technology and eventually morphed into mankind's most incredible accomplishment yet---traveling into space and sending spacecraft into the farthest edges of our solar system and beyond---in search of the beginning of everything---has now become no more than a public relations tool designed to win the hearts and minds of Muslim nations.

Just friggin' great...