Category: Life


“Out There”, “Flyover country”, “beyond the lights”.  I have heard those terms with varying frequency, at various times over the past, oh, twenty years or so.  They are terms that many in politics, and media, especially media, use to describe the rest of the country.  The country beyond the Beltway, between the coasts, the places beyond the city lights of the cosmopolitan urban centers.  It’s a disparaging term, and used as a pejorative to describe anyone not from those privileged, comfortable, and sophisticated bubbles of “civilization”.  You know those places, where they absolutely lost their minds when Donald Trump won the Presidency, those same people, bearers of the double standard, spewed nasty, spoiled-rotten-brat rhetoric about Hillary Clinton losing the election, about how she was cheated, it was misogyny, it was sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever label they decided they wanted to stick on it.  They called the rest of the country “rubes” and “uneducated”, or “bigoted”.  They acted as if they alone knew what was right for us, and how DARE we decide we want something else. (For the record, I did not vote for either candidate, I found them both odious) So, a large portion of this country, mostly on college campuses, urban areas, and inside the Beltway, had a collective temper tantrum that almost six months later, is still going on.  News outlets engaged in stories designed to defame, discredit, and  de-legitimize the election of Donald Trump.  Now, all of the sudden, after 8 years of worshiping at the Altar of Obama, the press decided that they were journalists again.  The words “Fake News” quickly gained currency, and networks, newspapers, and cable news outlets, were routinely putting up stories about the so-called “Collusion with Russia”, and then, were having to correct themselves, issue retractions, or straight up apologize.  Trust in the media, already in the toilet, was sinking even lower.  No one in these elite, liberal, college educated bubbles could understand what was going on.  They all asked “What is wrong with the American people?” instead of asking what was wrong with themselves.   I know, introspection, and self-awareness is hard.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, if you are not a user of the social media platform, then you missed it, there was a minor revolution, or even, a revelation of sorts brought to us by a couple of reporters.  Real reporters.  Journalists who went out, and sought out the people of the United States, what some people call “Real America”, to find out the reasons that Donald Trump got elected, and how that happened.  One of these reporters, a Salena Zito with the Washington Examiner, routinely posts stories about the people she talked to, the places she visited,  and what she found.  It was a revelation of sorts.  (Of course, those of us here in “Real America” already knew about it) Salena actually reported on what she found, no spin, no slant, just actual stories about what the people who live in this country actually thought, and what they thought about the election in general, and what their communities are going through.  They were stories about jobs, the opioid crisis, the economic woes still felt by many small towns across the country. They were stories about the people, they weren’t about what either reporter thought. They didn’t editorialize, or inject their politics, they listened, and they wrote.  With all of the garbage in the news, or, what passes as news, stories by Salena Zito, and another gentleman, Chris Arnade,  put a face on a nation of people dismissed by Hilary Rodham Clinton as a “Basket of Deplorables”.  The unique thing was that these two people at different times, climbed into their cars and traversed the back roads, highways, and  byways of this country, to find their stories (Yes, folks, they drove, they got on the road to go find these stories).  No pretense, no pomp, no qualifying, just reporting, and good reporting at that.   The stories brought to the fore the people of this country.  I am one of them.  I live near one of those “urban bubbles” if you will, and what I read from both Mrs. Zito and Mr. Arnade served to confirm what I already knew.

Here is why Trump won: People like me, and I can only speak for me, got sick and tired of the constant message from our elected officials, and from the media, and Hollywood, that the things we hold dear, our beliefs, values, rights, and ideas needed to be changed.  We were rubes, we were “bitter clingers” “deplorables’ and routinely called “racist”, “homophobic” and what ever other kind of “-phobic” they decided to stick on us.  In the weeks leading up to the election, Clinton and her campaign and her media enablers were acting as if she was not a candidate, but rather “President in waiting”.  It was disgusting, and it was enough to inflame anyone.  The display of arrogance and ego was astounding to me.  I got sick of it, I got tired of being told I was evil, or bad, or somehow mean for expressing my views, holding fast to my values, and wanting to just be left alone so I could live my life.  I did not want Hilary to win, I shuddered at the thought of her being president (I shuddered only slightly less at the thought of Donald winning)  So, now, here we are.  The “rest of America”, since November 8th, has somehow become the riddle that needs to be solved.  So, not to be outdone, the liberal media (because they are) has decided they are going to go out and find “America”.  the Huffington Post has decided to send a busload of their journalists on a 23 city tour of America, to do (in their mind) what Salena Zito and Chris Arnade have already done.  However, they are doing it by bus, and they are going to 23 cities, and the cities they are visiting, not surprisingly, were cities that Hilary won a majority of votes in.  So, in essence, this has become the Huffington Post “bias confirmation tour”.  Its amazing, and it is as if the liberal media has not learned a thing, nor do they understand just how despised they are.  The fact that they are going to cities, and not the rural, suburban, and semi-rural areas the other reporters went to, shows that they are merely going doing this so they could say “me too”.   Talk to Trump voters?  No, several of the reporters in this entourage have stated they are not going to talk to any Trump voters.  What they are doing, is going out to find Hilary supporters and have a good cry together, and share some mutual outrage, but try to mask it as an attempt to find “real Americans”.  This whole thing has inspired a Twitter hash tag #HuffPointheHeartland, and it is hilarious.  Instead of finding some integrity, and acting like the reporters they claim to be, and going out and objectively pursuing a story, they are going out to find stories, and people that agree exclusively with them, and of course, find people who have been negatively impacted by the Trump Administration, or the GOP, or both.  I also expect they will make something up if they can’t find it.   They are despised, and they just don’t understand it.  I am not sure whom I dislike more, Hollywood types with big mouths, idiotic politicians, or reporters and media types.  None of these people are even remotely qualified, regardless of their education level, to tell me how to live my life, what to think, or what to say, or what is right for me.  Yet, they seem to think that doing that is their job.  I hope one of these HuffPo reporters decides to walk into a diner in Southern Illinois, and start talking down to the folks that are there, and winds up wearing a plate of mashed potatoes.  I also hope one of the locals records it on their iPhone.

The bottom line is this.  This effort by the Huffington Post is just another attempt by the liberal media to make people believe they care, and they are in tune with the people.  What it actually is, is a tour of safe spaces, where they won’t be challenged, but can feel like they accomplished something.  If anything of any substance comes out of this, I will be truly surprised.

(Note. Salena Zito is also a CNN, and New York Post contributor.  You can find her on Twitter @SalenaZito. Chris Arnade is on Twitter as @Chris_arnade, and at The Guardian)

Outside of Donald Trump, one of the biggest issues that seems to take up most of my Twitter and Facebook feed, is gun rights, and the associated Second Amendment legislation stuff that goes along with it. For much of my life, I never paid very close attention to Second Amendment rights, and things like that, always figuring they would always be with us, it’s not that I am against guns, or I didn’t care, I just didn’t pay attention.

Now, guns have never been a part of my life, outside of the odd BB gun.  My dad never owned any, but I did have an uncle who had a few guns.  However, even though guns were never part of my life, I was pretty familiar with them.  Being a military historian, and avid student of World War II, becoming familiar with guns, at least on paper, is part of learning about the history of the conflict.   That being said, I had always wanted to shoot a gun for real, however, being that I grew up here in Illinois, my dad couldn’t just go out to the local sporting goods store, by a .22 and bring it home for me to plink away with.  As I grew up, and became of age, I did manage to get a Firearm Owner’s ID card, but never bought a weapon, because money was always needed for something else.  Anyway, the upshot is, I never really paid much attention to 2nd Amendment stuff, but I did know that anti-gun types were rather irritating.

Fast forward twenty years, and things have changed.  Still not a gun owner, but,  I was gaining a better understanding of what the “gun grabbers” were up to, and what gun rights supporters were doing to counter that.  I began to understand that 2nd Amendment rights dove-tailed with First Amendment rights as well as all of the other rights in the Bill of Rights.  Even more so, I have also had a very strong belief that everyone has the right to defend themselves, by what ever means necessary, and, if that self-defense includes a gun, well, then, so be it. Honestly, a person gets shot breaking in to another person’s house, the, that person had it coming.   Don’t want to get shot? Then don’t do things that will lead to that happening.  Harsh? Well, yeah, but that’s how it goes.  If one intends to harm someone, and that individual gets hurt, or killed, because their intended victim put up a fight, well, then, there is no sympathy, or excuse.   But, enough of that.

A couple of years ago, as my two oldest sons became of age, they relocated to Texas (one because Uncle Sam said so) and, I had always heard that Texas, as far as guns went, was considered by many to be a “free state” in that regard.  Certainly, less restrictive than Illinois.  Two years after they both moved down there, okay, one was stationed there, and the other moved there, figuring he would do better making a living than he would in Illinois (He was right).  We decided to take a vacation to Texas to see both boys, and see the sights.

And get in a bit of shooting.

Yes.  That was the main reason outside of seeing my sons (one of whom was back from his second tour of Afghanistan): Getting a chance, finally, to shoot a gun for-real.

I had never handled a gun, a real one, but, in the late 80’s I was building model guns from model kits that our local hobby shop sold.  They were expensive, but, when finished, they acted like their real life counterparts.  On our first trip to the range, I was about as excited as a kid at Christmas.  I was looking forward to shooting both rifles and handguns, and my better half an I agreed that the kids (my two youngest were in Junior High at the time) if they were allowed to shoot at all, we would rent them .22 caliber handguns.  Full disclosure:  I will admit that I found the fact that one can rent a gun at a range rather interesting, because I had never heard of that before. (Remember, I was rather naive on the “gun culture”) At the first range we went to, we were warmly welcomed.  The employees were super friendly, and they went over the range rules with the seriousness that they required.  The range also had a gun store, and that is where we paid for, and rented the guns, signed the paperwork, and got our lessons on how to load, hold and shoot the 9mm Beretta, .45 M1911 and the .22 Ruger for the kids.  After that it was into the range.

Shooting was fun, I was nervous at first, but was able to handle the weapons with confidence, and I found I also enjoyed helping the rest of the family with loading, and clearing the guns.  Like I said, I had never used one, but I had  accumulated knowledge on how they worked, so I was ready to put my “book” knowledge to real life use. We had a great time interacting with the range staff, and some of the other shooters that were there. I also enjoyed talking shop about the various weapons with the range staff, as well as some other folks there.

It was this trip that moved me from being a passive 2nd Amendment guy, to an active one.  I gained a deeper understanding about guns, the people who own them, and how important those rights are to us.  Not only that I learned that shooting is fun, and it’s a worthwhile activity.  But, I began to understand the Second Amendment even more.  I am a holder of a gun card again, here in Illinois, but after a second trip to Texas this year to see my sons, and my brand new daughter in law, and for some more shooting, I am thinking that moving to Texas would be a great idea……

So, now, I stand for the 2nd Amendment, and I am not passive any longer. I follow what is going on with gun laws around the country, as well as legislation, and I pay attention to those politicians who wish to restrict our rights.  I know now, its a never-ending battle, because, fighting for one right, means fighting for all of them.  I am actively aware of things that go on now regarding gun rights, as well as encroach on free speech, and other rights.   To those who are passive on the issue, or or those who would say “Well, I am not a gun owner, so it doesn’t matter”. I say this:  As Americans, we should be vigilant in protecting all of our rights, fighting for all of them, not just the ones we feel we “are part of”. Because if we fight for one, and not others, we stand to lose them all.

The View From Here.

I guess I can say that we live in “unique”, for lack of a better term, political times. Never before in my life, do I remember this kind of dynamic between people and politicians.  Growing up, and in my youth, I learned that politicians are the people who run things.  Not always trustworthy, always glad handing, speaking, and making promises, but people who ran things all the same.  There was then, as now, a certain level of cynicism regarding the process (especially since I live in the Chicago area) but, you could generally count on the politicians to go to Springfield, or Washington and “bring home the bacon” as it were.  You voted for the guy who got that done, and that pretty much was the way it went, or, it was my perception of it,  There was also the sense that the person in office, be it in Springfield, or Washington, was part of the place he or she came from. You knew where that person grew up, what Chicago neighborhood, or suburb they came from.   That person carried with them some of the traits from where they grew up, one could identify with them, one could actually feel, that that elected person, knew from whence they came. It was comforting in a way, because the person that everyone elected was “one of them”.  If you lived in the same town, or neighborhood where an elected representative was from, you got to hear stories from the people who knew that person as a child, or student, or altar boy, or cheerleader, or whatever.  They may have been a politician, but they were “your” politician.

Not only that, you could count on seeing them at the local neighborhood festival during the summer, or at the County Fair, Village Picnic, or “Gathering on the Green”, walking around shaking hands, swapping stories, greeting old friends, and neighbors.  In many cases, whether forced, or sincere, these elected officials acted as if they were still part of the old neighborhood.  You could actually talk to them, shake a hand.  Perhaps they walked about with a couple of assistants, but they were there and they were visible.

Yes, it was still politics, and yes, they were still politicians, doing what politicians do, but at least, back then, they gave the impression that they wanted to talk to their constituents, and remind the voters that they  themselves came from the same place, and they were their champion in Washington, or the state capitol.  As I stated, in a way, it was comforting, if I cast my vote for my Congressman, or State Representative, I felt more or less, that they would take my interests to Springfield, or Washington with them.  Of course, it wasn’t always the case, but, hey, these were politicians, we expected this from them. There was still corruption, scandal, and all of that, let’s be honest, politics has always been that way.  Back then, however, I always had the impression that most politicians devoted some effort to connecting with their constituents.  It’s never been perfect, and never was, but back then, 25, 30, 40 years ago, it was different in some ways.

That was then, this is now.

Back then, the impression I got, was that my elected representatives were accessible, on some level.  If you spoke to them, wrote them a letter, sometimes you got a form letter, other times, you got a personal response, but, you got a response from them.  These days, I am not so sure.

Regardless of the charm they try to exude, many of our elected officials come across as fake, and arrogant, and above the rest of us.  Condescension seems to be the norm.  We are dismissed with a pat on the head, and a condescending form letter reply to our concerns.  Sometimes, we don’t even get that.  We might get a tweet, or even, a Facebook response with an emoticon.  It feels like a brush-off, a “Get away from me boy, you bother me”.   In Springfield, as in Washington, we have  elected people who just don’t mesh with us anymore.  Summer Festivals?  Sure, their staff is there, with pamphlets, and a booth, and brochures touting accomplishments. Questions?  Concerns? “Sure, the Congressman is on Twitter, and Facebook, be sure to “Like” us!”  The elected representative might even show up at the event for some photo oppurtunities, with other local politicians, and perhaps labor, or civil rights leaders, but not with the people who put them in office.

What has been even more transforming over the last twenty years or so, is their transition from “politicians” to “Ruling Class”.  It started with Bush and Clinton back in the early 90’s.  You  could see it, the sense among the elected, that they were there, because somehow, they knew better than us.  The attitude is prevalent on both sides of the aisle.  There are no more “men and women of the people” in our Statehouses and especially in Washington.   We are given the brush off, we are spoken to like wayward children.  Even campaign literature has a note of condescension to it.  They are, for the most part, Ivy League educated, or products of elite universities. Taught by the same professors, the same theories, and develop the same attitudes and outlooks. In the “Ruling Class” Democrat and Republican are indistinguishable. Through the 90’s the Clinton’s and their ilk began to solidify the “Ruling Class” as it were.  If there were starting point for the elite arrogance that pervades these people, it would have to be the Clinton Administration.  Yes, the first Bush Administration had it too, but the Clintons and their ilk brought it home.  They institutionalized it in Washington.  They made it part of the landscape.  The attitude, however, infects every one of them in Washington, even to the lowliest intern.   The Clintons were the first to tie the bonds between Washington and the Hollywood Left.  No longer did we matter, here in the rest of the nation, we became “Fly-over Country”.   Hollywood’s big and powerful slept in the White House, hung out with the Cliintons, testified in Congressional hearings (remember the whole Alar thing? Actresses giving speeches to Congress on the dangers of the chemical, because they played a farmer in a movie) Spoke on Climate Change (then “Global Warming) policies.  All of the sudden, we had Hollywood types telling us to listen to Washington because they knew better.

Through the Bush Administration, it ease off, but not much. Hollywood may not have been visiting as much, but the arrogance and elitism were still there. Government became bigger, and more bloated, and more bureaucracy  With Obama’s entry into the White House, it only got worse.  Hollywood was back in the White House, bigger than before.  The arrogance grew in volumes, and politicians turned their backs firmly on the American people, and began a process of dividing us against one another, and also beginning to show shades of the tyrants they wish to be.  Obama began acting like the emperor that he wished he could be, what he displayed he wanted to be with his “I have a phone and a pen” comment.

What also changed was everyone’s perception of the government.  Instead of being ‘the government” they became “The Government”.  Back in my formative years, Washington was viewed with a bit of disdain, and cynicism.  Why not?  Bureaucracy moves slowly.  Getting anything done requires massive amounts of time, energy and paperwork.  Washington was an annoyance, something to gripe about, but not really worry too much about. We could go about living our lives without worrying about the government doing anything to us for the way we lived, unless, of course, we ran afoul of the law, and got the FBI’s attention.

That is definitely the one thing Obama changed.

I never used to fear the government.  I do now.

Are they going to come kicking my door down, and take me away somewhere? No, I don’t think they will, but I live with the fact that now, it is much easier to run afoul of the government than it was at any time in the past.  More regulations, more rules.  Special interest groups that used to be fringe organizations, are now sitting in the White House helping to draft policy. Groups that want to take away our rights to speak our minds, to own guns, to travel where we wish, even groups that want to regulate the lunch you send with your kid to school. It was never like this. I didn’t have to worry about my barbecue grill and it’s capacity to pollute.  Now I do. I never had to worry about “Carbon foot print” or “thought rape” or “hate thoughts” or “white privilege”. I have to now, however.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I don’t want to have to worry about my grill, and the smoke it emanates, or if something I say is going to come back to haunt me in some way, or even worse, demonize me for simply having an opinion.

As an everyday American, I feel less like a citizen, and more like a subject.   When looking at the broader landscape, it is not hard to see how a Bernie Sanders and a Donald Trump are rising now.  Many people see Washington the same way I see it: Overbearing, intrusive, and bigger than it needs to be, as well as totally disconnected from the needs of this nation.   American citizens are wary, suspicious, and cynical, and we feel like no one in Washington even knows we are here. Crisis come and go, people die, and the President picks and chooses where he is going to get involved.  His disdain for American people is evident in the way speaks, and his actions while in office.  A crisis finds him on the golf course more often than not. Only the plight of certain people and groups in this country garner his attention, and then, it’s fleeting at best. There is no leader in Washington.  The Republicans we elected have waffled and caved, disappointing use even further.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are packing in the crowds, garnering TV time, and dominating news cycles. I do not support either Sanders, or Trump.  But, I fear either one of them could get into office, simply because a sick and tired America wants someone who will do something to fix what is wrong with this country, and not really care how it is done, just so long as someone pays attention to us, and fixes some things. Or, at the very least, kicks most of the elites out of Washington.

On the GOP side, we need to dispense with The Donald and his Circus.  We need to take on Hillary, and Bernie, and repudiate their ideas.  We need to unite everyone as an American, and find a way to begin healing this nation.  Four years of Trump, Hillary, Biden, or Sanders will just make things worse.

Today. 9/11

I am sitting in my living room.  The house is quiet, the kids have all gone to school.  A light breeze blows through the open window next to me, while the sun shines in a bright blue sky this morning.

I still feel it.  It never goes away, not after 11 years.  It was a morning like this, that tragedy, aggression, and, quite frankly, an act of war was perpetrated on this country.  The memories are haunting to me.  I remember with striking clarity the events of that day, and the days after.   I have never visited Ground Zero, or the memorial site, not that I don’t want to,  I have just never had the money to travel to see it.

It is incongruous, sitting here, it’s a bright sunny September day, and it feels out of place.  It’s like this day is completely locked in to those horrific scenes from New York.  Even more so, it happened on  Tuesday, my day off from my Computer Technician job that I had at the time.

The TV specials that will air tonight, and probably throughout the week, bring home every memory, which are still as vivid in my mind now, as it was on the day it happened.

America changed that day.  We all saw it, we all remember it.

Now, those changes have changed again.  This America that we have today, is not as united as we were in the aftermath of 9/11.  We are divided among party lines, among class lines, and among racial lines as well.   We are a country that is hurting in ways that will not heal overnight.   But, someone has to bring the healing in order for that to happen.   The agents of divisiveness are the ones that are out there now, claiming to be the “healers”.

We walk through the morass that this country has become on some levels, a growing dependency culture, millions unemployed, optimism at an all time low… and we have an Administration, that is trying to tell us that this excrement sandwich that they are trying to feed us, is roast beef, and we should pick it up and enjoy it.

On this 11th Anniversary of 9/11.  I sit and remember America.  My country. Our Country.  The nation of people that have adapted, and overcame throughout history.  We are the American People.

We don’t belong to Government.  They belong to us, and it’s high time they are reminded of that.

This our Country built by those who have come before, from every corner of this earth.

This is a country of people.  Of Free Citizens, of self determination, and a desire to not only succeed, but excel.

I am tired of those who wish to apologize for, or try to minimize our greatness.  Our greatness as a country was earned.  Not given.  It was earned through the blood, sweat, toil and sacrifice of 230 years  of people just wanting better for themselves  and for others as well.

This is America, in all it’s stunning imperfection.  I love my country, and it’s people.

“Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect. But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values.”

As I watched Condeleeza Rice last night, that line stuck in my mind.  In fact, I kept thinking about it while I was working last night, and then catching up on Twitter and my other news feeds.

During the perusal of my RSS last night, that line echoed in my head as I came across a photo of a “Code Pink” protester dressed as a female body part, and holding a sign that said “Abortion on demand”.  The juxtaposition of that image, and Ms. Rice’s speech showed just how stark the contrast is between those who believe in this country, and those who don’t.

I saw some more photos this morning, all taken at the convention.  Ann Romney, Janna Ryan, Condi Rice, Mia Love, as well as a few others.   These women are proof of the line from Ms. Rice’s speech, and again, I contrasted these photos, showing strong, intelligent, graceful, and even beautiful women with the photo of the protester dressed as a, well, you know……

One group of photos showed accomplishment, achievement, intelligence, generosity, and purpose.

The other photo showed “gimme, gimme, gimme”.

There is no other way, in this country to get anywhere.  You go as far as you allow yourself. You go as far as the effort you put into your life takes you. But, that is something that is falling on deaf ears with many in this country. We have gotten to a point where success, any kind of success, is vilified, demonized, and even, if some had their way, criminalized.

I saw another picture. It was of one of the Occupy Movement protesters, holding a sign that said “What about me?” And then, I looked at my wall, and there was a photo of my dad.  Dad worked hard. Dad demanded that we work hard.  Dad guided us, and filled us with the values of hard work, honesty, integrity, decency, faith in God, and faith in our abilities.  Dad was a manager, a firefighter, and then Fire Chief, he was also a small business owner.  Dad could burn the midnight oil like nobody else, get up the next day, and do it all again.  I remember the times when I was a petulant teenage know-it-all challenging any value he held, and remember being shown, not told, how I was wrong in my self-righteous and self absorbed beliefs.  I was shown  the example Dad showed and lived.  See, he didn’t tell me, or my brothers and sister, he showed us.

So, with that image in my mind, I see this clean cut college student, smart phone in hand, back pack on his back, with the logo of a popular computer manufacturer on it, doing his best to look like he is down and out, holding a sign that said “What about me?”

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

You have to.

I need.

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Entitlement abounds.  People, especially young people, not only want, but demand that things be given to them at the expense of others.  And when someone dares to speak about how that isn’t going to be, the speech is met with viciousness.  Not disagreement, no. Viciousness. Verbal attacks calling for the destruction, death, or injury of the speaker. If that speaker just happens to be a “person of color”, the attacks are even worse.  It’s not fringe lunatics doing this either.  It’s the mainstream.  Actors, Actresses, “news” anchors, commentators on national networks. This isn’t disagreement, this is hatred.  It is “You either agree with me, or face the consequences”.

This is where we are at.

We live in a society that is more than ever before, lazy, self indulgent, demanding, and amoral.  We are at the precipice.

We are at the cusp of a future that can either lead us back, or take us out.

It’s not just about the President we elect either.  It starts, or ends, with the decision that is made in November.  It is going to take more than a Presidential election, or even gubernatorial, Congress, or Senatorial.  Those are all starting points.  The changes, the real changes have to come from the people.  We have to start pushing back against the tide of corruption, ignorance, immorality, decay, debauchery, and destruction that this society has become. We, as a people, have to pick up the standard of values, and start carrying them.

We have to be like my Dad.  We have to show, not tell.  Dad did things for people without any other consideration, beyond the fact that they were a person who needed something. We don’t have to do big productions, we don’t have to call attention to calling for a moral shift.  We just have to act. When we act in the small ways, eventually, it changes the big things. We start, by teaching these things to our kids.

This is the future of the United States of America. Romney and Ryan can set the course, we must steer the ship. It’s not enough to have jobs and prosperity.  We have to show what this country has always been about, we have to live the values, not just talk about them.  It may seem impossible, but,  we must make it inevitable.

Jesus told us to “be the light of the world” and a “city on the hill”.  That we must do.  Whatever your faith, it is what we must do.  We must bring this country back, not only in the economic, and leadership sense, but as a society of values.

It can’t be any other way.

“Watch your mouth”

Words that my father and mother always used to speak (or shout) when one of us kids’ vocabulary wandered into “off color” territory.

Those words should also apply to political candidates.

Todd Akin should have, this past weekend, at least ordered his thoughts before speaking.  His remarks were out of line, and completely ill-informed.  When one wishes to speak on a subject, one should had least have some knowledge of that subject.

Unfortunately, knowledge escaped Mr. Akin.

Once remarks like his hit the airwaves, no explanation, no matter how reasonable, or, truthful, is going to bring those words back, nor change the interpreted meaning.  Note that I said “interpreted meaning”. In many cases, especially things said during a political campaign, people hear what they want, as opposed to what is being said.  Akin’s remarks just fed into the “war on women” narrative, being waged by Left. However, in his case, his remarks needed little interpretation.

What Mr. Akin should have said, in response to that reporter’s question was: “I am pro-life. Next question please”, or, “That’s a decision between a woman and her doctor, abortion in the case of rape, incest should be on a case by case basis”  The first response would have put the the Left in to it’s usual response mode, decrying all Republicans as “anti-woman” and etc.  But, at least the answer would have been un-ambiguous, and pretty much benign, and therefore, of limited value to the pro abortion crowd.  The second response would have gotten a negative reaction from many pro-lifers, but, since it is such a touchy issue, the response would have been muddled at best, and not approaching “outrage” levels.

Unfortunately, Mr. Akin did neither.  He said something, that in his mind probably sounded reasonable and well thought out. After he spoke, it sounded so off key, and out of line, it couldn’t help but garner the reaction that it did.

So, now, amid calls for Mr. Akin to step down, this campaign has now become about abortion, and women’s rights. Mr. Akin has just handed the Democrats something to run with, something they will use to overshadow the economic issues that are the most important thing going on right now.

“See, Republicans HATE women.”

I can hear it now. There is nothing like using a moral/social issue to trump the economic ones that Romney has been beating up Barack Obama with over the last week. Especially one that inflames passions on both sides.  The Romney campaign, in a move that absolutely reeked of wisdom, condemned Mr. Akin’s remarks, and moved on, thereby distancing themselves from the problem.  For if Romeny were to embroil his campaign in this Missouri Mis-step(right into it) it would have completely taken the focus off of the major issues, and focused it completely on a sideshow.  The Obama campaign, however, would love the focus to stay right there, because it plays into their hands, and they can get a ton of mileage out of this and the “war on women”.  They can use it to steer the narrative, and keep it, (and voter’s minds) off the economic, energy, and employment issues that are really the central issues.  Not only that, it gives every floundering Democrat a lifeline to grab on to.

Mr. Akin, please step down.

Seriously. It’s time to go.  We need the focus off of you, and on the economy.  You are not showing “courage and determination” by staying in the race, you are showing that you don’t get what you said, and how much damage it has done.

In a sane world, explaining what you really meant, along with an apology probably would have cleared things up for some people However, this is not a sane world. This is politics.

A presidential election year, no less.

Something like this has consequences, especially when the stakes are this high.

Sorry, Mr. Akin, but, really, it’s time to go.

Chicken, and Free Speech

The whole “Chick-Fil-A” thing this past twenty four hours was not about gay marriage, contrary to what some want to believe, or some would want you to believe.

It was about Freedom of Speech.

In it’s simplest form, that’s what it was about. It was about showing support for the one right we have that probably matters the most.  The right to express an opinion without fear of prosecution, persecution, censure, or any other kind of binding restriction.

Why were the people there?  They can’t all be intolerant-Christian-anti-gay-bigots, can they? Because, as we all (are supposed to) know, Chick-Fil-A is run by a bunch of intolerant, hateful people…….. you know the drill.  Anyone who comes out in disagreement with anything the Left says, is a hateful, intolerant bigot.

Well, the Left, those people who are full of love, and charity and kindness, and most of all “tolerance” would like you to believe that.  The twitterverse was alive with tweets from those tolerant people, wishing death, disease and diarrhea on those “Christian bigots’ who were enjoying their chicken sandwiches, and waffle fries. I find the use of “Christian” and “bigot” in the same phrase by people whose very lives are defined by bigotry of the worst kind, quite ironic.

Anyway.  The issue at hand was not gay marriage, or gay rights, or what have you.  In fact, let me go on record as saying, I really don’t care who you sleep with. It really doesn’t matter to me.  However, the militant, gay activist left seems to want to make it my business, and make it matter to me.

The real issue at hand was freedom of speech, and the reason for the huge turnout at these restaurants, was not a repudiation of gays and their desire to be married, it was about people being fed up with a bunch of bullies trying to silence someone who voices their opinion, an opinion that they are entitled to.  There were people from all walks of life at the restaurants, eating chicken to show support for the freedoms that matter to all of us.

Sorry, progfail lefties. Your attempt to silence a person, and demonize their business failed miserably, because by and large, Americans, despite the disparity of our beliefs,  like to be able to speak our mind without being punished by those who think they know better than the rest of us.

The statement that was made today showed that Americans simply are not going to tolerate this kind of infringement on our freedoms.  The statement was not made by conservatives, or Christians, or bigots, or racists… it was made by Americans.  People sick and tired of groups of people, as well as a government that think they can dictate what we should be thinking.

It’s the 9th anniversary of 9/11.

I still remember that day, it affected me deeply.  I will never forget the airplanes, and the collapsing twin towers.

But, there is something that bugs me about 9/11.

For all of the severity, and tragedy of the attack on the World Trade Center, the whole “remember 9/11” thing is becoming a pop-culture cliche.

People post Facebook and MySpace statuses about “remember 9/11” and “Never Forget” or “Our Freedom Is Precious”… and I can’t help but wonder if they are posted because it’s the way the feel, or if they are posted because someone feels they have to…  Sometimes, I wonder if some people even have a clue about what the freedom that they hold so precious really means?

The other thing that bugs me about the whole “9/11 Memorial” industry regards the FDNY Firefighters, NYPD officers, and Port Authority officers that perished in the towers.  On 9/11 the fire service in this country was profoundly affected by the loss of so many brothers in one day.  And I do use the term “brothers” because firemen develop that sort of bond.  It was a profound loss that affected firefighters across the country, and in the fire service that loss is still felt.  Fire engines across the country have memorials to the FDNY firefighters painted on their engines, or as small window stickers, or decals on the sides, and in many cases, large American flags flying from the back step of the vehicle. They will most likely remain there for years.  Even more, many fire departments across the country have renumbered a piece of apparatus with the number “911” either permanently or symbolically.

This is where I tread upon touchy ground:  As a past member of the fire service, and as someone who grew up in and around a fire house where my father was Fire Chief, I understand how firefighters grieve, how they hold up those lost in the line of duty, and go to great pains to remember those who gave their lives saving others.  It’s a solemn thing to remember those men, and it is a deeply felt tradition in the fire service.

That being said, I understand the desire of those outside of the fire service, law enforcemnt, and public safety in general to remember the members of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority who died.  The emphasis, however, appears to be on the fire fighters, because of the place they hold in American society.   It’s the way they are remembered that, in my opinion, is fast becoming a pop culture cliche.  After 9/11, stickers, T-shirts, and other paraphernalia emblazoned with “We will never forget” and “Gone but not forgotten” in an attempt to memorialize those who died, the loss of two iconic buildings and the over three thousand civilians who died were everywhere, it’s as if a cottage industry popped up overnight.   It all seems so cheap, in my eyes.  T-shirts?  Give me a break.  I have never said anything about this in the past, but as we near the 10th Anniversary of the assault on this country, it seems the attempts at  memorials are getting more maudlin, more plastic, and frankly more “pop-culture” than the serious, solemn event that it is.

With the loss of 343 firefighters on that fateful day  the public in this country has become more conscious than ever of the sacrifices that our firefighters and police officers make for us every day, and that has translated to an “over the top” mourning, in my opinion, every time a Line of Duty Death is reported in the news.   Just recently, the Chicago Fire Department lost one of their own, while fighting a fire in a restaurant.  The next day on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, people were posting such things as “God needed another hero Chicago Firefighter (name here) rest in peace” or “Another hero has passed” and other such things.  The postings were maudlin, and, to be quite frank, silly.   I get the need to mourn, to show support for the men and women who come to our aid when we need them, but it is getting to the point of cliche, and that takes away from the loss, the solemness of the situation, and, really, intrudes on the members of the fire service, and their need to mourn, their way.   Folks, if you don’t understand the fire service, have never been a part of it, please, dispense with the “look at me, I’m part of this too” type of memorialization.  If you want to mourn the loss of one of our bravest,  say a prayer, observe a moment of silence, or something similar.  If you are near where the funeral goes by, stand in silence, and say a prayer for the fallen, and for those who will continue to carry on.  Fly a flag, plant a flower, plant a tree, commission a plaque, a piece of sidewalk, a park, or a street in their name, because those types of memorials have meaning,  but please, dispense with the t-shirts, bumper stickers, and all other such cliched nonsense.  To be honest, it really looks bad, when some drunken slob is in a bar, stumbling about with a “FDNY We will never forget” t-shirt, it looks tacky, and in my opinion is disrespectful.  The t-shirt that I dislike the most, is one that has the standard memorial phrase on the back, and a white badge on the front, over the left chest, with a black band through it, and “FDNY 9/11/2001” underneath.  The black band over the badge is really something both law enforcement, and fire service folks do to show they have lost someone from their department.  That gesture, is one of the ways firefighters and cops mourn, it has a powerful meaning to those who wear the uniform, it is a reminder as well, of why we did, and still do the job, and the sacrifice,  that those of us who have worn, and still wear the uniform, and our families understand.   It’s not something that should be plastered on a t-shirt, and sold. It cheapens it, and takes away the meaning.

I understand everyone’s desire to remember that fateful day, and show their support, and how if affected them.  I choose not to wear those items, because I firmly believe they have no place.  They have turned a national tragedy, a deadly act of aggression into a piece of pop culture, and that is wrong.

Like I said, if you want to memorialize all of those who have given their lives to protect and serve their fellow man, then raise a flag, plant a tree, or a garden in their memory, do something lasting, and something that will make an impression, and will be there for future generations to see.  Not some t-shirt that will fade, wear out, and become full of holes after too many washings.  It wasn’t a concert, or event, or some other piece of culture, It was a barbaric, horrific act of aggression against a people, a country, a way of life, and over 3,000 people died simply because they were the targets of evil men, who wished to hurt us, who desire to destroy our way of life.

Never forget those who died

Work so it doesn’t happen again.

Do something so it is never forgotten.

Pray for those who wish to harm us, and pray for those who stand ready to come to our aid, in our time of need.  They all wear a uniform, some of them drive police cars, some drive fire trucks, and still others drive Hummvees, and armored vehicles.  But, they all stand ready to protect and to serve, and to defend.

Don’t forget them.  Support them, remember them, and honor them in a tangible, meaningful way.

A t-shirt doesn’t do it.

I am having a dilemma. And, it’s kind of serious, because I don’t know if I am being a whiny jerk, or not.

Being as how I am not working right now, and the girlfriend is the only one working, money is tight, and because of that, we get food from a couple of local food pantries, to supplement the groceries.  With a total of six people to feed, it’s kind of necessary… But, that’s not the problem.

The problem is:  Should I be thankful for something we receive even though I don’t like it?

The other day, we got a package of Chicken Franks from the food pantry…. To be honest, I had never had them before, and since we were kind of short on what to make for supper, the Chicken Franks filled the bill, because they were fast, simple, and the kids were not in the mood for the pork roast in the freezer, and I didn’t have any hamburgers, regular hot dogs, or polish sausage around the house.

I discovered I hate Chicken Franks.  They are gross. Seriously gross.  The kids liked them.  Me? Not so much.

So, should I even be complaining?  After all, in the immortal words of my grandfather, “Be thankful you have something to eat.”  Which is true…. I just wish it wasn’t Chicken Franks.

To be clear, we aren’t starving around here… we get plenty of great things from the food pantries, and frankly, I am darn thankful for their generosity. And, with the groceries we buy, we have plenty….sometimes we have to do without extras, but that’s how it goes.

I just wish they would withhold the Chicken Franks.  I don’t know why this is bugging me so much but it is.  I don’t want them ever again, but, in all seriousness, we will get them again, because we don’t get to pick what we want, generally, we just get handed bags of food, and it’s a “you get what you get” kind of thing.  And sometimes, the food pantries get what ever the stores don’t sell, or what ever kind people clear out of their pantries, and generally it’s the things they won’t eat.  I don’t see Chicken Franks breaking sales records….anywhere.

Is it wrong to be less than thankful for something you don’t like?  Or because of the whole “beggars can’t be choosers” thing am I being a jerk for not liking/wanting something that someone,(corporate or individual)  out of the kindness of their hearts, donated to the food pantry. After all in these tough economic times, we all need all the help we can get….

I just wish Chicken Franks weren’t part of that help.

What’s with TLC anyway?

I am within seconds of nicknaming them the “Freak Show Channel”, or something like that.  In general, to me, most television is pretty pointless.  I have my favorite shows, but, if they went away, I could live without them.  However, there are those programs that I regard as “useless and/or pointless” television, and TLC seems to have the bulk of them.

What is up with “Little People, Big World”, or “The Little Couple”???  Seriously.   Now, don’t misread me, it’s not their condition that makes call the show “useless” it’s the whole concept of watching someone else’s life.  I don’t like the “Duggars” too much either.  “John and Kate Plus Eight” was just as annoying, and yes, that is a totally useless show, as is the upcoming “Kate Plus 8” special.

Actually, I find reality television rather tiresome over all.  It makes no sense to me why anyone would want to waste time watching someone else’s life.   Shows like “Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Apprentice” are mildly interesting, only because of the competitive aspect to both shows.  The contestants are trying to win something on each program, and, on “Biggest Loser” watching the changes the people on the show go through is inspiring.  But, that’s where it stops.  I won’t even waste time with “Jersey Shore” or “Real Housewives of (insert city here)” , or even worse. “Toddlers and Tiaras”.

The thing I hate about the “little people” shows, is that they almost seem exploitative, and there is just something about them that bugs me to the point that I cannot watch them.  Around my house, however, the “little people” programs are rather popular.

On the other hand, some reality programs are great for “people watching”.  Notably, the “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” programs.  Talk about a bunch of desperate, hard up, horny, lonely, border line crazy people.  Where does ABC find them? They must peruse Match.com and EHarmony.com for potential cast members….  This latest season (I don’t watch it, I happen to be in the room when it is on) is another collection of neuroses, psychoses, as well as a few other “oses”.   There is ego, social maladjustment, deceit, more social maladjustment, some minor paranoia, delusion, manipulative behavior, and some low self esteem thrown in for good measure.   Oh yeah, and the thing that really bugs me about that show is during the “rose ceremony” when Chris Harris come out and says. “Last rose, gentlemen, last rose for tonight.”.  Uh, yeah, Chris, we can see that…. But, then, there are those out there with short attention spans that probably are not aware and need reminding.  The other stupid line on that show was during the last season when Chris Harris said: “Now those of you who didn’t get a rose tonight, remember, it’s nothing personal.”…. Huh??  How’s that again?  Nothing personal?  Sounds like one of the writers didn’t double check the script.

There are good shows, and interesting shows, and there are shows that one watches where there is nothing on, and in some ways, I can justify watching for the sake of watching, but, nothing  justifies a useless TV show.

So, I go about my day, waiting for the next season of “Gray’s Anatomy”….and searching the Military Channel for a show hosted by R Lee Ermey.