Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Night Videos: Workin' for a Livin'

Today I saw a video clip of the union-backed Wal-Mart protests. As I watched the news segment I saw a woman holding a sign that said “I make $8.60 an hour.” Given the nature of the protests against Wal-Mart I would figure that woman’s sign was not necessarily displayed to show gratitude for the money she earns.

A little over six years ago I took a job that paid me $8.50 an hour, because I needed work. I had put myself in the place that I needed work, which is different than the position some find themselves in today, but nonetheless I took a job at a place that was willing to employ me and I did the best I could to prove to my new employer that he had made the right decision. I worked hard, and continued to work harder, in the effort to show my value for a couple of reasons; as a way of giving thanks to the man who offered me the opportunity to earn the wages he put before me, and as a display that I was ultimately worth more than the initial wage agreed upon at the time of my hiring.

Today I am a member of the management team at that same company. I am compensated with a salary well above that initial starting wage I received years ago, but my ethic has never changed. Every day when I go to work I strive to prove I am more valuable than the pay I receive, and because I have maintained this standard I have seen my pay raised more than probably any other individual within our company over the past few years. Yet I feel no guilt or shame; instead, I feel pride, gratitude, and a responsibility to be a better member of the team that has accepted me and provided me with the wonderful opportunity to use my skills to the betterment of all around me.

An $8.60 per hour job is not really supposed to be a career. A job at that level is supposed to be a building block; a place where a person can learn work ethics, perhaps find a skill, or get by during difficult times. In my opinion, generally speaking, a person who attempts to make a career of an entry level position in any industry is not expecting enough of his or herself, and needs to aspire for greater achievements.

One of the complaints registered by some of the Wal-Mart protests had to do with stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. While I can sympathize with the sentiment, I cannot in good faith agree with the complaints. For years I worked on nearly every holiday, depending on the industry of my chosen work. Tow truck drivers drive year round, and many restaurants and bars are open during times most people are home relaxing.

Retail is expanding its horizons by opening on Thanksgiving Day, but times are tough all around these days. These places of business are making an effort to serve the interests of two fronts; investors and customers. By offering customers more shopping hours and lower prices, retailers hope to liquidate more of their inventory and add to overall profits, which serve investors who expect a return on their risk. And while this scenario requires hours of work from some that may not necessarily enjoy getting off the couch while the turkey is still digesting, to many individuals it provides an opportunity for more income, a fantastic price on an item otherwise not easily attainable, or a check that says thank you for risking your capital in our business.

Of course we can argue the merits of wanting “things” and whether or not the things sold by these big box retailers are worth the price paid in many ways by many individuals, but in my opinion that is a deeper discussion about the moral decay of society that has led to lines being blurred between needs and wants.

Back in 1982 times were also tough, and an upstart rock band called Huey Lewis and The News wrote a song about what it means to be that person, struggling to make ends meet while not having to borrow from family and friends, yet understanding that it’s always important to be grateful to have the income we have. The song is a mainstay on radio still today, and the message still rings true; whether you’re a bus boy, bartender, grease monkey, or an ex-junkie who has worked hard, been responsible and shown gratitude for an honest day's pay for the work I put in...

I’m taking what they’re giving, ‘cause I’m Workin’ for a Livin’.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Give Thanks

For family, and friends; for my kitties and my home.

For the work I have, at the place that provides me the ability to live a good life, and for the good people with whom I share that experience.

For opportunities, adventures, and insights… for learning that within certain limits I can control my own destiny rather than accept what fate brings upon me, and for the understanding that in the end it is all in God’s hands to guide me in the right direction… to accept and learn from the consequences of my actions and be a better man because of the lessons therein.

For this great nation in which I was born and which I shall always live, for there is no greater nation than The United States of America.

For all these, and for so much more… Today, and every day…I give thanks.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Night Videos: Where the Streets Have No Name

The city's aflood, and our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind, Trampled in dust.
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain,
Where the streets have no name...

Today I had planned to discuss my interest in the subtlety and innuendo contained in the lyrics of Jim Morrison and the music of The Doors, but there’s something more important I need to share today.

Just as do the streets in Staten Island, our streets out here in Phoenix, Arizona have names. I moved miles away from a place that sees weather much more harsh than might ever be seen in my new chosen home, but just because I’ve relocated miles away from family and friends does not mean my love has turned to rust. I have chosen to live in a place very near that high desert plain Bono speaks of in this song… And we Phoenicians will tell you... although typically our climate is very ideal (at least we think so), we've all been beaten and blown by the wind, and many of us know all too well what it feels like to be trampled in dust. I’m pretty sure that all of us, in some way, at some time in our lives, have needed the help of another.

I'm eternally grateful today, because right now my life affords me the opportunity; I can and have today helped my fellow man in a time of need. It's not always been that way for me. Much of that has been of my own doing I admit, but today is a new day, and I shall seize the day, because I am blessed to have been given this and every day, by someone who loves me very much.

I know we all have lives to lead, and some may not be able to give financially. But if we have a blog, Twitter or Facebook we can help, simply by spreading the word. It costs nothing but a little of your time to cross-post this in whatever way you see fit within the means you have at your disposal, even if it means removing my words and just linking to the donation page. But if you give just that little effort of yourself, I believe you’ll be doing a good deed, because you’ll be passing on the word, to others who may be able to offer help in our brothers’ and sisters’ time of great need. And if you feel you are able to help financially, here is a link you can follow that offers the ability to donate securely through PayPal.

I have faith in the goodness of this request I bring to you today because I have it on trusted authority our help is needed. That trusted authority is a good man with a kind heart named Eddie, and I believe Eddie is to be trusted, because after all, he is The King of New York Hacks. KONYH is a taxi driver in The Big Apple who shares with me a side of life I’ll likely never see, and he shows me what is good about a city I’d otherwise likely never understand. I’m just not a New York City kinda guy, but that’s okay, I’ve got Eddie to give me his guided tour, and it’s been fun getting to know him along the way.

As I say a prayer today for my brothers and sisters everywhere, I think just a little bit longer about the struggles on the East Coast. I think of people I’ve never met and the moments they’re struggling through, and I’m feeling so blessed to have never seen the troubles they find themselves facing at this moment in our time. By all accounts Staten Island today has been devastated much as was the Ninth Ward when Katrina hit New Orleans, and much like was the case in that time the relief just doesn’t seem to be reaching quickly enough those most in need.

Since “Superstorm” Sandy hit, Eddie has been acting the part of Facebook DJ in the effort to bring happiness and hope to our brethren along the East Coast, and while I’ve not had the time to enjoy all the tunes he’s offered, I greatly appreciate his gesture because music inspires me like not much else in life can. Eddie has been a Facebook DJ since long before the storm, and I have no doubt Eddie and I shall be spinning tunes, sharing pictures and making memories together across the miles for many years to come. I’ve never met The King, but I’m grateful to trust that in Eddie I’ve made a lifelong friend.

So it is with that thought in mind that I share with you The King’s request, and I ask his permission to take the turntable for just a moment. And just as I know Eddie will, as will those in need… I thank you very, very much.

Once again, here is the link that will take you to the donation page.

If you’re interested, you can find and follow KONYH on Twitter here and his blog is listed in my sidebar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Magnificent Day

I had the most wonderful drive in to work this morning. I got out of bed a little late, but that’s okay; I made time up somewhere along the way and as I started the Jeep I was back on my normal schedule, which since the election (and this mind riot) has been about fifteen minutes later than I need it to be. I really should be saying good morning at about 6:25 or 6:30 instead of 6:42 each day. I shall hold myself accountable.

The sunrise was beautiful beyond description this morning, although as is usually the case my camera just couldn’t capture the vision I saw before me. I know that, had I no sense of responsibility, I’d have called in sick and run for the top of a hill after grabbing my Nikon from the apartment. But awaiting me was a busy day, and I couldn’t let the team down, so I stopped and snapped a couple of photographs with the iPhone and continued on my way to seize the day.

An afterthought; I tried to take pictures while driving this morning, but it was just not work the risk. I shall no longer risk life for a picture. And again, I shall hold myself accountable.

First thing as I walked in (three minutes late, as is mentioned in my recording) was the request, “I need to see you as soon as you can, but no huge hurry.” Coming from this particular individual, I’ve learned that such a statement usually translates to, “Hurry up, because I don’t know what the heck I’m doing and I’m about to mess something up big time.” So I made my way to the back of the building where my office is located (the running joke is that I’m a loose cannon so they hide me), unloaded my bag and set up my pens and stamps, initiated my daily PC reboot, and started towards the front again.

I barely made it two steps away from my desk when I was stopped and asked to deal with another issue quickly. No more than had I started that task and another came to my attention. Thankfully neither of those concerns was life threatening, and I was able to solve those problems quickly and start back on my path toward the three-alarm fire I had originally been called to put out.

As it turns out that situation was nothing more than a misunderstanding, because sometimes too many people have their hands on too much information that really doesn’t pertain to them, and they start misreading information or reading too much into something they really never should have read into, in the first place.

I work within an antiquated and imperfect system of spreadsheets that are individually populated rather than linked, because until the past few of years the company I work for has maintained all its information within a DOS program and handwritten ledgers. At the end of 2009 we had and order misinterpreted by a vendor; they read a 7 where they should have read a 2. This happened in part because our purchase order form was handwritten and faxed, and in part because the individual responsible for writing purchase orders (you’re looking at him) was excessively busy and didn’t slow down enough to write perfectly. It cost us a pretty penny, that situation; we eventually used all the material, but the effect of the interest lost due to cash out of our bank account combined with an immediate expense not justified given the actual requirements to do business was something we didn’t need. With the struggling economy, we just didn’t have the luxury of such situations coming to pass.

A quick back history; my employer is a wonderfully kind man of 78 years. He is not from a technologically comfortable generation, but he’s tried to adapt. Unfortunately back in the early 1990’s he had a computer crash; my understanding is that all his data that was digitally stored had been lost, and it took him months if not years to recover from that incident. Therefore he’s very, very leery of computers in general, and when it comes to computers involved with issues related to his cash flow he becomes even more skittish, which is certainly to be understood. He is a car guy, and so I’ve been able to talk with him about computers as an assembly of components much like an automobile, and over time he has actually come to understand and respect my knowledge in the PC realm in a way I don’t think he’s been able to trust anyone else who’s not a paid outsider specifically contracted for computer work only.

So… As the individual responsible for the internal error (which I took very personally – I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a little OCD sometimes) I took it upon myself to affect change for the better. As my solution for the problem I recognized needed solving, I created the first digital purchase order and corresponding “PO log” in my company’s nearly forty-year history. At first we printed the spreadsheet files, scanned them, and began to send emails with purchase orders attached rather than faxing. Suddenly relationships with our vendors began to improve, and costly errors were reduced by a noticeable percentage. Eventually a discussion was had about the benefits of our company owning a copy of Adobe Acrobat, and since I am the “computer guy” at my shop, that program was installed on my PC. The digital revolution continued, as now I was able to print-to-pdf rather than having to leave my desk to scan. I also started to create fill-able forms, and overall efficiency was improved greatly.

At some point I moved away from purchasing and into Quality Assurance, which involves inspection of parts. Inside that department, I took our basic concept of an inspection report and followed the same digital path I had started in Purchasing. Instead of using a blank template and handwriting in the information, I showed how we could use spreadsheets to create individual, permanent inspection forms for each part we produce. Within those files I showed how when changes were made we could easily use the “find/replace” function inside Excel to do quick and accurate modifications. I also showed how we could take the base file, enter a few basic parameters such as the customer’s PO number and our work order number, and save a new file inside a parent folder on our server, with one file representing each work order that had flowed through our system, which then is easily searchable by part number, work order number or customer PO number. I cataloged the base inspection reports inside one master spreadsheet, creating hyperlinks between the catalog spreadsheet and the individual files, so that we now have a searchable file that will bring us the base document we needed in a few clicks and keystrokes, rather than digging through filing cabinets for misplaced and ragged pieces of paper that would require extensive work if updates were needed and could not realistically be backed up, as we have since done with all the data on our server.

I’ve come to understand that I’m a problem solver. I have developed an uncanny ability to take a given task, work with it for a short amount of time, and develop a system to do it more effectively and more efficiently. As a result I am able to reduce labor costs as well as the overall cost of doing business when mitigating factors such as paper and toner costs are added to the equation. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better at it every day, as is the case with all aspects of my life; I’m on a constant journey of self discovery and self-improvement.

I wish those who we elect to represent us in government would see things as I see them. We don’t need the people who have the most money, the most familiar name, or the most connections elected as our representatives. We also don’t need the most handsome, pretty, or eloquently spoken individuals representing us, although those are all admirable and beneficial traits that can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, to be sure. But we need problem solvers in Washington today, not politicians who are more worried about what the polls say than what the bottom line says.

I believe real reform comes when we find a way to do more, with less. I live that in my work life, where it directly affects the bottom line. I also make the effort to live that in my personal life, in simple ways and intricate places too. I do so when I find the most efficient route home on days I need to make a stop or two along the way, and I’ve learned many other little tricks around the home that save me time and effort. Even something as simple as watching my NASCAR races on DVR saves me a couple of hours on any week I choose to watch the race, and I generally treat all my television in the same way.

Our nation’s bottom line is being affected every day by individuals who believe they need to give us more and more in order to please us, so we will vote for them the next time an election comes along. In my work I don’t worry about an election, per se, but I do work my backside off to be a better, more responsible and more efficient employee, and occasionally my hard work is rewarded with compensation, as happened today.

I’ve mentioned here before that I am an hourly employee at my workplace, and I’ve discussed the difference between hourly and salaried employees being that the hourly workers take on all the tasks given to them by the salaried managers, so the managers can work on bigger and sometimes more important or more pressing issues. I also discussed how I see the responsibility of the hourly employee being to work harder than all the other hourly employees, because those who work the hardest and show the most determination to excel are most often those who are rewarded when the time comes for the company to recognize the efforts of its team.

Today I was informed that effective next Monday, I have earned the privilege of working on some of those bigger, more pressing issues, and that in addition to a much appreciated compensation increase I will assume the title “Purchasing Manager.” Starting Monday I will no longer have to punch the time clock, but I’ll never forget what time it is. I’m always on duty now, the way I see it, and I’m going to hold myself very accountable to the expectations that come along with the title and compensation bestowed upon me. I’ll not forget the ethics I’ve been blessed to have been taught by my parents and all my family, which are the same ethics my employer has held within himself, and expected of his staff, for nearly forty years.

The job I hold today is as much a blessing in my life as any blessing I’ve ever known. When I was at my lowest point in life and needed something around which I could center my attention, my employer took a chance and extended what started as a 1-week stint thorough an employment referral agency, and accepted me as a permanent employee. He and I have had many disagreements over the six years I’ve worked under his guidance, yet every time there’s trouble and someone needs to step up it seems I’m the first one called upon to step in and right the proverbial ship.

This entire situation... my promotion and all... would have never come to pass, had we not been forced to part ways with a good, yet very troubled man, a man I wish I could call my friend. But I can’t be friends with people who will not help themselves. I’ve been that guy, and I just can’t get too close to that place in life again. Too many skeletons jump out from other people’s closets and scare me too much; I think that is how I might explain it, if I were to try to explain it at all.

It pains me to see another human being suffer in ways with which I’m all too familiar, yet it’s the familiarity of his issues that keep me from helping any more than I’ve already tried. Sometimes there’s nobody who can help you but yourself, with a lot of help from God, and perhaps a swift kick in the backside from a family that loves you more than maybe you’ll ever understand.

Today has truly been a magnificent day, and I am so grateful I can share it with you. Thank you for the time and insight you share with me; it truly inspires me to be a better man.

My Thoughts on the Presidential Press Conference

I'm writing this at lunch, because it's a chance I have to vent my pressure-cooker mind. As I expel my thoughts this afternoon I know the Presidential press conference has already happened, but I've not seen or heard anything about it because I've been busy working. I know my local talker didn't interrupt their usual simulcast.

If I were a reporter at that presser, I'd not ask about Benghazi or Patreus, because everyone will be asking about those issues. At least I hope they will, with all the diligence due such important issues.

Instead, I'd respectfully ask The President why he had, Center for American Progress, and union leaders at The White House yesterday, as was reported to me by Dennis Prager's Facebook page.

The President doesn't need to hear from his base of special interests; he needs to listen to Americans down in the trenches.

I'd suggest President Obama listen to business owners like the man who owns the company I work for. I work for a 15 person manufacturing facility in Arizona that's owned by a Korean War veteran who started his own business in his garage almost forty years ago.

I'm sure there are other companies... some larger & some smaller, in red states & blue states & swing states, all of which are owned and operated by regular guys like me and my boss, all of whom care passionately about America... just as I need to believe President Obama cares passionately about the nation that afforded him the magnificent opportunity of becoming the 44th President in our history.

President Obama sued the state I call home over an immigration law written in direct correlation and cooperation with existing federal law. He also put Arizona gun sales facilities in an unfair spotlight and in perilous legal standing by not standing up fully for the government's exploits in the "Fast and Furious" gunwalking scandal.

In fact, the only time President Obama has shown my state respect is when a good woman from his side of the political aisle was tragically shot along with a number of innocent civilians by a raving lunatic, and at that time he called for more civility in the American conversation.

I agreed with him at the time, when he said we need more civility. Indeed we do.

And then I watched "his side" of the aisle pummel conservatives as whack job right-winging gun fanatics wholly responsible for Gabby Giffords and others being attacked by a man who doesn't even seem to understand what day of the week it is.

And yet The President did not come to our defense and ask for civility to be shown toward us, as was the case when he defended Sandra Fluke from the inappropriate comment leveled by Rush Limbaugh.

After the past three plus years having presented myself as uncooperative and more toward the fringe, for love of country I'm working harder today and moving forward, to do my fair share and present my opinions in a civil fashion.

President Obama campaigned in 2008 on change we can believe in, and in 2012 he said we still have much work to do. And while agree with him, it is not my personal belief that CAP, MoveOn and union bosses are a fair representation of all Americans. Those are his buddies in the political arena, and by now he knows full well what they expect of him.

There are many, many everyday average Joe's out here in gun and Bible country who are willing to listen, share experience and discuss lessons learned, and take responsibility for the future of this great nation... but we feel like we are being excluded.

And as I say that, it's important that I mention that we here in middle America aren't all gun owners or bible readers, and we aren't all from the far left of the far right of politics. But we all believe in the American dream, and we are all willing to do a little more... we're all willing to spread the work around... as long as in doing so we are making the best effort we can, so we can save the American dream for generations to come.

I hope that at the end of the day President Obama listens to voices like that of my employer, and other reasonable voices of regular guys in middle America who may have a world of knowledge that he's just not going to ever get from his favorite special interest groups.

Because the appearance created by continuing to toe the special interests' line is division, and divided we shall fail. We need President Obama to listen to all of us, so we can move forward, together, for love of country.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I've taken some “creative license” as I post this latest iPhone rant.

Actually this is not a rant. There’s no obscene language, and no raised voice or shouting today. In fact, today my thoughts took me in a direction quite contrary to my previous offerings. It is fascinating to come home from work and listen to my own voice, words, and thoughts as they stream from my mind as I drive to work.

Today I see no need for parental advisory, per se, aside from this standing common sense advisory: Always consider the possibility of politics and life’s bigger issues being topics discussed as I share my thoughts with you. I am an adult (in age, anyway), alone in my vehicle speaking to people I expect are adults. I operate in this space as a free speech zone with no requirement for censorship, outside of my own desire to self-edit for the sake of clarity or any other purpose I see fit.

And while I know children may be in some of your lives periodically or on a daily basis, I ask that you take responsibility for the words those children may hear so I don’t have to in this forum. And on the occasion I may have something to say that you consider within the scope of their maturity, you’ll make that decision just as you make many other decisions with their best interests in mind.

Anyway, I mentioned creative license; as I spoke today I discussed something already written, which I planned to put up with this clip. Yeah… not so much, I've decided. I changed everything, as is my right. I've got a good draft working for a “Friday Night Videos” entry, but today after listening to myself speak (and laughing a bit, I might add) I need to take a different approach.

On more than one occasion I have been told by a coworker that I am far too awake for such an early hour; yet when I arrive at work, I feel I am still very much not awake.

My employment involves great attention to detail. Our company fabricates gaskets for the aerospace, medical, automotive, communication and other industries including contractors that supply components directly to the United States military. While it is not all my job entails, much of my work entails reading blueprints. From there, depending on what stage each job is in within our company, I am either responsible for purchasing materials or comparing fabricated parts against the requirements set forth by the information provided therein. Sometimes that requires seeking multiple sources of information. References can be made to material specifications, packaging requirements, other drawings, change order notations created as revision levels change for various reasons, and many other factors.

I have a very active mind and I can be easily distracted. Methamphetamine accelerated that activity to the point that I became a danger to society. So that, plus the fact that my teeth were falling out and my insides felt like they were not as they should be was just not appealing anymore when I realized I was going to be homeless if I continued to...

My job has been an excellent place for me to find myself. In my work I am required to slow down and be certain of each and every detail, for it is my signature that represents our company when the parts we create arrive on a receiving dock. That’s a great amount of responsibility to bestow upon one individual, and while we work as a team and we believe success and failures are achieved together, I take the certifications we provide and my signature on those documents very seriously.

The day I was at my lowest, I lived the most. On that day and from that point forward I decided to affect my destiny rather than accept my fate. With the help of God and the many blessings he bestowed upon me I was saved, even though I did not know it then.

There are things I will discuss here which are not for shock value; they are for reference, and for healing.

I've really been working on becoming comfortable with myself for a long time now. I have it on trusted authority that we all suffer from this affliction at some level, and that same trusted authority has also suggested I continue to share what I've learned, so we can all grow together.

Thank you all so much for the time you share with me. You're helping me find my way, and I greatly appreciate your help. The process of becoming comfortable in my own skin is a remarkable experience, and I'm so grateful to be sharing it with you. I am truly blessed.

Oh, one more thought, aside from the general grammatical errors I hear in my own speaking from time to time, which I will work on as we have more of these early morning conversations. It’s “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Not “upon you,” as I said this morning. Sorry Mom.

Like I said, it’s fascinating.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Giving Thanks

My younger sister is doing the letters of the alphabet in thanks corresponding with the day of the month, all month in November. It’s a really neat idea; I’m guessing mostly women participate, because women have an ability to express themselves in ways that men just don’t. Well, usually anyway… lol.

Today is November 10th, and the tenth letter of the alphabet is J.

And although I’m likely going to upset him by putting him on the spot like this, I’ll take that chance at the risk of doing what feels absolutely right at this moment. I’m going to once again dip into my sister’s neat idea and represent; this time with Jeff.

Jeff is my brother, and my best friend. Given the mess I’ve been in my life and the emotional wear and tear I’ve likely put him through I’m amazed we’ve made it this far, and I am incredibly grateful to have him as my brother and as my friend.

I don’t do a very good job at holding onto friendships. I’ve led a life that once brought my mother to say to me something about how it must be the gypsy blood in me… so I guess from that you might gather that I’ve never had any real constant in my life. My family is my only foundation, outside of my relatively new relationship with God, and I guess my kitties. And while I have no doubts about the love that exists between my parents and I as well as the love my sister and I share, the bond I share with Jeff is something very unique, and very special to me. Up close and personal he has watched me go through through some pretty stupid times in my life, and supported me nonetheless. He knows more about me than anyone else alive, maybe even more than I know about myself.

Just as is the case between God and me, Jeff and I have troubles communicating sometimes and it strains our relationship… until it strengthens it. And I’ll be man enough to admit, just as is usually the case with God, it is pretty much always me that ends up asking for forgiveness. Sometimes I have a tendency to be a pretty much… how do I put this… a loose cannon, I guess you’d say. I have been known on more than one occasion to shoot my mouth off in ways or places I don’t need to, or to not listen when I should, or do things I shouldn’t… I’m a work in progress, what can I say…?

I’ll never forget the first time I went home for Christmas after I had quit my substance abuse. Dad and I hammered out the details of the flight schedule and such and one of us sent out an email. Sometime shortly later, Jeff replied, giving thanks to all involved in making my return home happen and expressing his excitement.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so close to him as I did at that very moment, and it’s a memory that will never leave me. After all the damage I had done to my relationships with all my family, it felt overwhelming to receive such acceptance. That year, as has been the case every year since, Christmas was an amazing experience. But the feeling all started because Jeff let me know we were going to be okay.

And so I am learning, with lots of lonely moments, plenty of tears, and some Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream once in a while, that when Jeff and I have a disagreement it sucks in the heat of the moment, but I have learned to have faith that in time we will come around to each other, mend the fence and heal the bruises of our battle, and be better for it together as will I as an individual. We continue to do this time and time again, because we are brothers… and that’s what good brothers do.

I love you, Jeff. We don’t say it often enough… that’s another ‘gender’ issue, but you’d better get used to hearing it, because I need to be able to say it, and I hope we will both be better for it.

The Day I Tried To Live

Words you say never seem to live up to the ones inside your head, and the lives we make never seem to ever get us anywhere but dead.

The day I tried to win, I wallowed in the blood and mud with all the other pigs, and I learned that I was a liar.

The day I tried to live, just like you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

We All Have Something To Say

Another day, another rant. I'm pretty sure I have found a new method of communication I find helpful to my growth.

There is some adult language about halfway in, so be warned... it's in context, and I don't apologize for it. Please do not listen to this around the little ones.

Friday Night Videos: Land of Confusion

When I started writing here, I would put up post after post of whatever information I could find that presented the case I was trying to make against what I saw as the most oppressive and repressive force in America; our newly elected President, Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the liberal establishment media in America.

Many times in those early days of my blogging experience I posted things that went over the top in their rhetoric. Some of those things were shared from others; some were words of my own. I put up pictures, video and audio, and writings created and shared by others with whom I found a common bond. We were joined unanimously in our desire to state our case against the political ideology we saw as intrusive big government, higher taxes that led to waste, fraud, and abuse, and the general decline of the country we love so passionately.

In the process of stepping away from this space and now returning to begin a new era of growth, I have come to learn I lost my own voice in the effort to speak as loud as, or louder than the voices of others, and ultimately I now see I was becoming exactly that which I was speaking out against. I greatly disliked the “blame Bush” mantra of the political left, because I knew it was wrong and based in ideology over substance, yet I was first in line to blame Barack Obama for everything, sometimes without gaining a greater understanding of the situation.

One thing I did enjoy about blogging back in the day was my Friday posts; “Friday Night Videos” I called them. I’ve decided I’m bringing them back.

When it was released in 1987, I disliked the Genesis song “Land of Confusion.” I disliked it because I was burned out on Phil Collins and the band Genesis, and because I didn’t appreciate the way it made fun of our President. Those Muppet-like characters and the image of Ronald Reagan as a senile old man who had lost his senses so badly he hit the “nuke” button instead of the “nurse” button was right out of the leftist playbook at that time in our history, and the imagery of such a kind and decent man as some kind of throwback to the dinosaur era ripped at my sense of patriotism. Even though I didn’t then understand the greatness of The Great Communicator, I found the visual presentation of this song to be greatly offensive, and so I disregarded the music and lyrics as unworthy of my attention.

Today on the radio in the background at work I heard Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” for the first time in a long time, and I started to listen… to really listen... and I was quite astonished as I realized the magnificent words I had not been hearing for all those years. I actually got a little choked up because I couldn't believe how much this song tells the story of today, which is the story the Reagan years, which is the story of the tumultuous 1960's when I was born, and I’m sure it is the story of generations and generations before then...

After a little more thinking, I realized that more than likely, it will be the same story tomorrow. There are too many people making too many problems, with not enough love to go around. It is a very idealistic statement, but it holds great truth. We are constantly fighting amongst ourselves over issues we really do not disagree on all that much in the first place.

Visual symbolisms sometimes speak louder than the important words to which we ask others listen, and sometimes it is extremely important to look past the hyperbole and over-the-top rhetoric and actually listen to what people with differing opinions are trying to tell us. While it may very well be true that a picture says a thousand words, what we sometimes forget is that listening to just a few words can make the difference between salvation and sorrow.

I am pretty sure we all agree life should be respected as the most sacred creation of our kind and loving Creator, and the majority of us place protection of the innocent above the needs of those who should be responsible for their own decisions. At the same time, some people find themselves in circumstances that no other human being can understand, with some of those circumstances being no fault of their own. Because of that, and the desire for a less intrusive government, it would be wise for all of us to take a step back and listen to someone who may know more than we do about the effects such trauma may have on an individual.

I believe as Americans we all basically agree that the individual should be free to pursue his own happiness. We agree that our greater good as a community is the greatest responsibility of our government at all levels; we differ about the exact definition of “greater good” sometimes, but generally we agree it is best to return to the sanctity of life as a measure of responsibility for our government.

The issues of health care and abortion are two places I see where people of a conservative value set can learn a little bit. Within the confines of fiscal and moral responsibility we can present our case to, and make agreements with those who see the other side of these highly contentious issues.

I personally understand the abortion situation from both sides; when I was a teenager, my girlfriend got pregnant. Blessed to have good parents to guide us, we were given the choice of abortion with our parents’ understanding, but instead we opted for adoption. To this day I am overwhelmingly grateful that in our youth and relative ignorance about the incredible decision we had before us, two young people listened to voices of those with more wisdom than we could ever understand. We agreed that the life we would save was far more valuable than our own desire to avoid peer pressure. We didn’t take the easy way out; we did the right thing. I believe more often than not people will do the right thing when difficult circumstances arise, just as my girlfriend and I did in the midst of an emotional firestorm.

When I moved here to Arizona in February, 2001 I was very active, and I was specifically very into mountain biking. There’s quite a bit of personal history that led to my move here and I’ll be writing more about that in the coming days, weeks, and months. But for the sake of this discussion, suffice it to say I was young, limited in finances, and running from emotional troubles to find a fresh start.

One hot day in late May, just a couple months after my arrival in my new home city, I flipped my bike as I was riding down a very steep blacktop road. I tore myself up really, really bad. I had road rash all across my left arm and shoulder, my hands were shredded, both my arms had small fractures in them, half my left ear was dangling by threads of skin, and I hit my head so hard I was on concussion monitors for two full days and nights.

And I had no medical insurance, because although I was working two jobs to make ends meet, neither offered me insurance because I was a new hire.

I was given the care I needed, because that is what is required of hospitals at the emergency level my injuries met. I was required to fill out a truckload of paperwork; financial disclosures, mostly.

The thing that worked against me which I had no control over was this wonderful gift my parents had created for me at some point in my youth; a “whole” life insurance policy. That policy had a cash value which exceeded the amount designated by the hospital and state as eligible to receive government assistance, by about twenty dollars. And because of those terms dictated between the hospital and the state of Arizona, I was sent home with about $20,000 of hospital bills.

I decided my top priority was payments to the surgeon who did the plastic surgery on my ear, because I felt his particular expertise was most worthy of my effort to do right. He did keep me looking pretty handsome, after all…

I wanted to be responsible and pay all the bills, but I was never able to, and ultimately I ended up in a situation that was so dire I filed bankruptcy. It wasn’t a proud moment, but I used the resources available to me through the American economic system to wipe my slate clean and have a fresh opportunity, and since then I am proud to say I’ve been responsible to those who extend me credit.

My story falls in line with the reasoning presented by supporters of “Obamacare,” yet I vehemently opposed the concept, and largely still do. I received treatment for the injuries I needed taken care of as would be expected regardless of my fiscal circumstance, and when I was not able to be responsible to the costs of that treatment I worked within the system to alleviate myself of the burden caused by the costs of the help I received. I don’t know all the details of the other side of a bankruptcy case, except that my creditors were notified and given opportunity to petition the case in open court as my hearing was held.

I understand there are circumstances more extreme than mine. The idea that people are refused treatment for conditions beyond their control due to credit worthiness is very difficult for me to comprehend, and I pray my family and I never face such a situation. People who are born with conditions beyond their control certainly deserve to be treated humanely; I don’t know if there is a line to be drawn, but I do maintain my position as life being sacred so I am open to discussion.

Yet there must remain the standard of individual responsibility. People cannot just expect that they can live life however they wish, consequences be damned, and that the “greater good” will look out for them when their irresponsibility catches up with them. Some things people do to themselves cause illnesses or medical conditions that clearly could have been prevented by understanding what it means to be accountable to one’s own actions. Just as elections have consequences, so do cigarettes, alcohol, Big Macs and cheesy poofs. And when your fingers turn orange, the junk food may be tasty but it’s destroying your insides. Try a salad and a banana, you’ll thank me for it later.

Somewhere between Karl Marx and John Galt, I believe we will indeed find Superman. We will never find our Superman through the cult of personality of a politician which is what we saw happen right before our eyes in 2008. I believe we will find Superman within ourselves, if we all just listen a little more closely to one another.

We need to listen to our coworkers, fellow students, neighbors and friends. We must listen to and learn from our parents, and we must teach our children well. We must listen to, and always hold close the love we share with our brothers and sisters, both those tied to us through the bond of blood and those with whom we've never spoken, those whom we may never see again.

I am learning to see the bigger picture through communication with those people I hold most close to my heart. I am learning to speak my mind with my voice. My voice is my writing, mostly; I am also learning to speak more clearly and more distinctly in the spoken word, which I believe is greatly improving my ability to communicate in written form. While I’ve not perfected communication yet and likely never will, I know my greatest strength comes when my words are polite, yet strong and certain. I am learning to make the extra effort to listen closely to those with opinions different than my own.

I am learning more and more every day to value each and every second of this wonderful existence we call life. I am learning to appreciate the little things in life, while being constantly amazed by the magnificence of the world around me. It is a wonderfully unpredictable journey, this thing called life, and I’m so grateful I am learning to recognize the important role I can play in society, even though I am just one individual amongst a world of so many other unique and wonderful voices.

It took me a long time and a lot of hardship to understand, but today I understand that it’s in my best interest to control my own destiny rather than accept the fate that befalls me. So it is with that in mind I am making the extra effort to take ownership and responsibility for every step I take, every word I speak, and every act I make toward my fellow man. Sometimes I will stumble, because to err is human after all, and I am just a man, no greater than any other man, yet I feel a deep yearning to reach higher, to become the greatest man I can be. I may not be Superman, or maybe I am. Maybe I’m a little more Clark Kent on a daily basis, but when that moment arrives I’ll have my cape ready.

I am learning to be the ball. I am learning to make the effort seize the day, every day. I push myself to saddle up, grab hold the reins and hold on tight. I do all this because after all, this is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given. So I will use them; my hands, my words, my ears, and my heart. I will use the tools given to me by the grace of God, and I will use them always trying to make this a place worth living in.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elections Have Consequences

Unfortunately, the reelection of Barack Obama may have some consequences that some in our nation’s voting electorate did not understand would come to pass. In this case, it has affected the lives of 22 residents of Nevada, who have been let go from their place of employment in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s Obama victory.

A business owner who wished to remain anonymous (for fear of retaliation by outsiders, I’d assume) let go 22 of his 114 workers yesterday, and by his account he predicted this result was coming.

Here is a transcript of a phone call he made to a local radio station, as provided by CBS Las Vegas:

“I’ve done my share of educating my employees. I never tell them which way to vote. I believe in the free system we have, I believe in the right to choose who they want to be president, but I did explain as a business owner that I have always put my employees first. I always made sure that when I went without a paycheck that [I] made sure they were paid. And I explained that I always put them first and unfortunately I’m at a point where I’m being forced to have to worry about me and my family now and a business that I built from just me to 114 employees.

“I explained to them a month ago that if Obama gets in office that the regulations for Obamacare are gonna hurt our business, and I’m gonna have to make provisions to make sure I have enough money to cover the payroll taxes, the additional health care I’m gonna have to do, and I explained that to them and I said you do what you feel like in your heart you need to do, but I’m just letting you know as a warning this is things I have to think of as a business owner.

“Well unfortunately, and most of my employees are Hispanic — I’m not gonna go into what kind of company I have, but I have mostly Hispanic employees — well unfortunately we know what happened and I can’t wait around anymore, I have to be proactive. I had to lay off 22 people today to make sure that my business is gonna thrive and I’m gonna be around for years to come. I have to build up that nest egg now for the taxes and regulations that are coming my way. Elections do have consequences, but so do choices. A choice you make every day has consequences and you know what, I’ve always put my employees first, but unfortunately today I have to put me and my family first, and you watch what’s gonna happen. I’m just one guy with 114 employees — well was 114 employees — watch what happens in the next six months. The Dow alone lost 314 points today. There’s a tsunami coming and if you didn’t think this election had consequences, just wait.”

Wealthy people only have so much money. It is certainly reasonable to ask people to contribute a proportional rate of their earnings to the greater good. But we must understand that what we are beginning to witness is the result of expecting too much from those who provide jobs to those of us who do not own a business.

There are predictions being floated that if our government does not solve this impending “fiscal cliff” we are likely to see immediate job losses for nearly one million Americans. The example above is mostly related to policy put forward by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, but right now we must hold all of our elected officials feet to the proverbial fire or it’s going to get really ugly, really fast.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A New Morning in America

I woke this morning with a renewed sense of self, and an overwhelming excitement about the future.

The reelection of Barack Obama did not and shall not affect me in a negative way. I know that I voted and that's what matters most. I voted for love of country, which is the reason to vote as I see it, rather than voting for 'revenge.'

I know there are so many things greater in life than my passion for politics and concern for which candidate won an election. In the big scheme, all this chatter is much ado about nothing.

I feel a renewed sense of purpose. All is not lost; there is much work to do and there is much to be gained.

I feel I have had a great and important task placed before me, which is driving my spirit... at least for today, until the adrenaline wears off...

But today this feeling I have is stronger than it was in early 2009 when I first started writing. Back then I knew just enough to be dangerous. Today I know enough to know better. I have spent the past four years learning, studying, analyzing… pretty much obsessing about our political system and those we have chosen to lead us from within it.

I have about nine pages written in MS Word that I need to sort and filter through, so I will have a lot more to say.. perhaps tonight, and definitely in the coming days. But right now I need to feed the machine, and my kitties want some loving, so I am going to do something different.

I'm coming out of my shell tonight in a new way, and exposing a side of me I've been working toward accepting. I have a voice. I write, and that is my voice as you know me here, but I have a voice and I like to speak my mind.

I have been learning to use the Voice Memos application on my iPhone to record my thoughts as I drive. This morning I was full of piss and vinegar, but generally I like what I had to say, so I uploaded it to YouTube.

This is raw, unedited Soloman at 6:30am today, so my mind was a bit blurred from lack of sleep and my emotions were still running wild, but nonetheless…



From celebrities and media personalities both left and right, the most troublesome remarks I've heard regarding last night's election.

Michael Moore:

“And you, Mother Nature, with all your horrific damage, death and destruction you caused last week, you became, ironically, the undoing of a Party that didn’t believe in you or your climate changing powers.”

The Donald:

“This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!”


“Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters hav a president to destroy America.”


And saving the best for last... I know he has since apologized, and I know he said some other stuff before this came out of his pie-hole, but let's be honest. This is the real Chris Matthews.

The other interesting point to be made here is that many on the right (including this blogger) have said the media is guilty of corruption for not treating the storm with the concern it was due for the sake of the victims, with the perceived desire of protecting their partisan political interests.

So in some twisted way, I suppose we owe Tingles a debt of gratitude for making our case.

The best of America will rise above the rhetoric and affect positive change, for love of country. We should always hold our principles as the standard by which we judge the actions of our elected representatives. If we are doing this correctly, there is no need for any of this rhetoric.

Another First for Barack Obama

For the first time in American history, an incumbent President has been reelected with less Electoral College votes than the number he achieved in his first election. President Obama has won reelection, but make no mistake America; this election is no mandate for a far-left agenda. The popular vote is extremely close, The House of Representatives remains in Republican control, and unfortunately we still have the no-budget, do-nothing Senate led by Harry Reid, who is as big a partisan hack as there is in Washington today.

So we still have divided government.

For the remainder of this post I am going to put on my “analyst” hat. I do not intend this to be a personal attack on President Obama and his campaign staff; I am simply offering my opinion about the election as I saw it unfold.

It is my belief that Barack Obama and his surrogates won the 2012 Presidential Election by dividing Americans against each other using wedge issues that do not stand up under scrutiny. Over time I plan to break those issues down one by one and present well-reasoned arguments for conservative values as those values relate to each issue.

Early on in the campaign, Team Obama defined their own strategy as […] preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background. “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.

This became known in media talk as the “Kill Romney” agenda.

President Obama and his supporting cast made a kind and decent man appear to be something he is not, and they did what we conservatives believe liberals do best. They told each and every special interest group exactly what they wanted to hear, while castigating business owners as hateful and selfish and portraying conservatives as wanting to return to Jim Crow laws. They played “us” against “them,” with “us” being every special interest group that received a promissory note from the campaign, and “them” being business owners, wealth earners, and people who hold a more traditional set of values.

Team Obama created a “War on Women” by telling women that men don’t care about them and their “reproductive rights,” which equates to guaranteed free birth control at the expense of their insurance company and assurance of extremely liberal policies regarding abortion. They also told women that they deserve equal pay for holding the same job title, regardless of productivity and other mitigating factors. They pitted gays and lesbians against those who hold traditional values when President Obama made his 11th hour announcement of support for gay marriage after a lifelong stance against the same, and for the first time in history a Presidential administration did not stand in defense of standing federal law when the Obama administration refused to defend The Defense of Marriage Act. They played racial politics with a lawsuit against Arizona, the border state that is most directly affected by illegal immigration, and they doubled down with an 11th hour executive order modeled in part after the “Dream Act” that made Hispanics believe President Obama and the Democrats are their supporting cast. Yet over his entire first term President Obama did nothing to move forward on real immigration reform. Nothing.

And of course we know I’ll be deemed raaaaacist for saying so, but the employment numbers in Black communities has worsened since Obama took office, yet he garnered support from that community at a percentage that would make reasonable thinker believe that Blacks are a monolithic voting bloc who cast their votes entirely on skin color.

Oh, and he and his team spiked the football that was Osama bin Laden’s head after insisting that was absolutely against our American values, all for the purpose of political gain. “Osama is Dead, GM is Alive,” over, and over, and over again, so much that when we were attacked by terrorists in Libya and Egypt on September 11th there were people holding signs and chanting, "Obama, we are all Osama."

To be fair, Romney and his team did not offer enough scrutiny of the messaging put forward by President Obama. So those business owners will now likely continue to see their taxes raised and profits reduced. Small business like the one I work for will struggle to survive in the face of more and more taxation and regulation.

Americans will continue to buy more and more products from companies that operate overseas, which benefit from the massive difference in tax rates as well as the lack of exorbitant union labor demands, and therefore offer their products at a lower cost. America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world and President Obama has promised that he will raise taxes even more on those who succeed in the business world, while at the same time insisting that he will bring jobs back to America. I hope he is able to pull off what appears to be a miracle, given his policies and all the discussions I've heard about the effect of those policies on business' ability to operate effectively.

Ironically, Barack Obama stood before a crowd and told supporters that Mitt Romney is an excellent salesman. In my opinion had Romney been such a good salesman, he would have won this election. Romney appeared to have had everything in his favor; a lagging economy, high unemployment, a terrorist attack overseas and questions still unanswered about what our leaders knew, and a devastating storm that should have made FEMA under Obama look like FEMA under George W. Bush, had the media only reported on it in the same manner.

It is President Obama and his messaging machine that sold enough Americans on the idea that Mitt Romney is evil. And in trying to prove to America just how kind and decent man he truly is, Mitt Romney refrained from doing exactly what he needed to do most; define Barack Obama and his messaging machine as the divisive political machine that has long used small issues to divide a great nation. Romney avoided Benghazi like the plague because Candy Crowley showed him that the media was working against him on that issue, and the media played Romney like a fool for his attempt to be charitable at a campaign rally.

Okay, the analyst hat is off. Now back to being me again.

I know there are those who do not see things as I see them, and as I hear President Obama in the background right now I understand much of why. He is indeed a great orator. His ability to emphasize at the right moment, in the right tone, when giving the big speech is phenomenal.

But there are now four years of reality in front of us. Lofty rhetoric and great speeches do not bring unemployment down, and they do not stop bad people from wanting to do Americans harm. For four years we were promised shovel ready jobs, a better discourse, and real change. What we got was, in my opinion, a lot of finger pointing backwards at the last administration, more division than ever, and more government dysfunction than before he took office.

As I said in my previous post, when President Obama does right by America I will support him, and when he acts against what I believe to be in the better interest of America I will speak my mind. And if I learn along the way that I am wrong then I will be man enough to admit it.

I have no dislike for Barack Obama personally. I do not buy into the conspiracy theory that he is a foreigner, as many over the past four years have claimed. He is a politician. He is neither my family member nor my friend, but he is our President. I pray every day for his safety and I hope he leads this great nation in the direction that serves all Americans best.

I believe Barack Obama has three options: he will move to the center and work with Republicans in the House of Representatives, he will preside over the most pathetically partisan divide in American history, or he will use the Executive Order in ways never seen in this nation’s history. I pray the centrist approach is the course of his choosing.

Of course I am just a guy with an opinion and a blog on which to write my opinion, so only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Freedom’s light is burning warm in my heart, because I voted today. Today I felt pride like I feel on the Fourth of July and an overwhelming sense of patriotism much like I feel on Thanksgiving. Nothing could stop me from having a good day today, because I was able to exercise my God-given right to express my beliefs with a vote for the candidates of my choice.

This election, I requested and received an early ballot. I enjoyed the freedom to complete my ballot in the comfort and privacy of my own home, but I specifically held on to my ballot for a couple of reasons. I enjoy the experience of going to the polling place, for one. Also I don’t believe it is wise to cast my vote before election day because one never knows what sort of information may become available at the proverbial 11th hour, as CBS proved with the release of that clip they edited out of their September 12th ’60 Minutes’ broadcast.

It was with great pride I took that early voting ballot to the polling place as is allowed in my home state of Arizona. I drove to the school which is my polling facility (located up the road from my home), walked up to the building and through the door with my chest puffed up and my head held high, said hello to the gentleman at the door, and within about one minute I had deposited my ballot in the box as required and was walking out the door and on my way to work.

The early ballot deposit box was near the door as I walked in, but the procedure is for all voters to walk completely through the polling place and exit through a door at the rear of the building. I was surprised by the fact that I was not required to show my ID as I deposited my ballot, although the gentleman monitoring the early ballot deposit box did ask to check the envelope to make sure it was signed and sealed.

It has been interesting to hear the reports throughout the day of various issues; an electronic ballot box apparently was mis-calibrated and the voter captured the problem on his cell phone. The machine was re-calibrated and reportedly put back into service. The New Black Panthers were at it again this year in “The City of Brotherly Love,” and I heard some chatter that some Navy Seals might plan to go “deal with” that situation. In my opinion it is shameful the way our Attorney General handled that mess four years ago, especially when he threw in the “My people” line when asked about his position on the case. After all, I thought the Attorney General was appointed by The President, and The President is the top law enforcement officer and primary representative of ALL Americans.

For one night some sorrow will affect the loser of this Presidential race and his supporters, while joy and relief will be felt by the victor and his backers on the other side of the aisle. I know many conservatives will feel the desire to celebrate if Mitt Romney wins tonight, and likewise liberals will feel cause for jubilation should Barack Obama prevail. But regardless the results of this years' election, there should be very little celebration by either side, because there is much work to do in America.

We have some painful decisions to make, and we must hold our elected representatives accountable. We have over $16 trillion in debt, an annual deficit over $1 trillion and rising, and our government has not produced a budget for the past three years. Millions are unemployed or underemployed. We have an underground society of immigrants who are inside our borders illegally, most of whom are good and decent people, but all of whom we have no account. Immigration reform is absolutely needed in this nation of immigrants.

We must be critical of how much foreign aid we offer, to whom we give that aid and under what guidelines it is extended. The issues with our ‘entitlement’ programs MUST be dealt with, and they must be dealt with quickly. We have had our credit rating reduced, we have had Americans killed by terrorists on American soil overseas at our Consulate in Libya, and generally speaking our nation is more divided than any time in my lifetime.

Good people with good hearts have been accused of racism simply for opposing the political beliefs of the man America elected President. I have no doubt some racial animosity still exists in America, but I believe that is largely on the fringe of society. Thankfully we have come a long way in my lifetime toward racial harmony, and I believe we will continue to improve. That sort of message being perpetuated by our politicians and some in the media is irresponsible, given that it took a lot of non-white Americans voting for Barack Obama to elevate him to The Presidency in the first place.

On the other side, there has been a misconception that a large percentage of Americans just want free stuff. Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment was made in a context that was unfortunately twisted out of context, because Romney was attempting to use real numbers to present a case against the perpetual growth of entitlement programs when what America needs is more individual responsibility. However, in the process of making that comment Romney exposed what many believe to be the uncompassionate element of the Republican Party. Even though studies show conservatives are more charitable than liberals and Romney personally presents this case as well it can be made with his massive charitable contributions of both his money and his time, that comment made behind closed doors is something that may haunt the Republicans moving forward.

Our problems are not all the fault of either party. For the past four years we have been told by the current administration that it was the fault of the Bush administration that our economy collapsed in 2008. But I’ve found plenty of information by searching “barney frank chris dodd housing crisis" on YouTube that shows the housing bubble issue was being cited by Bush and the Republicans through the early and middle part of Bush’s tenure, and that high-ranking Democrats like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd pigeon-holed their efforts to bring the situation to the floor of their respective chambers in Congress.

Additionally, Barack Obama is not responsible for everything that led us to the troublesome place we find ourselves in today. However, should Barack Obama win reelection he must accept more responsibility for the problems that exist than I believe he has accepted to date.

First and foremost, the words “Bush administration” need to be removed from his and his administration’s vocabulary should he win this election. After all, we have gained nearly thirty percent of our national debt during his term, and projections are that should he win a second term our total debt will be nearly double what it was when he took office. The amount of spending Obama and the Democrats in Congress did on just his ‘stimulus’ plan could have put nearly $2500 into the pocket of each individual American. Instead we are all paying interest on a handful of companies owned by Obama bundlers that mismanaged our tax dollars, some ridiculous research on things like “why monkeys respond negatively to inequity,” and a “turtle crossing” in northern Florida. We were told the stimulus was for “shovel ready jobs,” and then we all got to watch The President laugh as he told us that “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” Coming from the man many people believe has more empathy for their plight, I found that comment and quite a few other actions by President Obama and his administration quite disconcerting.

If Mitt Romney wins this election, America must hold him accountable as well, and I plan to do exactly that. Romney is a proven business man with a solid understanding of America's economic engine. And as displayed by his time as governor in a majority Democratic state, Romney also has the proven ability to bring together people from all sides for the common good. Those two factors are largely why I chose to vote for him. I believe his value system of individual responsibility is much more in line with America’s core values than our current President’s redistributive beliefs, and I believe Mr. Romney’s Faith guides him in a way that gives him a moral compass perhaps not seen since Ronald Reagan. In this time in our history I am very concerned about the decadence and lack of self responsibility I see in society today. Yet Mr. Romney has been very inconsistent throughout his career when it comes to issues like abortion and firearms, which are both issues I believe the government needs to be less involved in, and he has generally been seen as the type who follows whatever direction the political wind serves him best.

In my opinion Planned Parenthood should not receive federal funding if it continues to sponsor abortions, and at the same time I don’t believe it is the place of government to enact laws outlawing abortion, even as I find late term abortions morally reprehensible. I have a personal history of choosing to save a life through adoption rather than taking a life through abortion, so the issue hits very close to home.

In addition to monitoring every move our government makes regardless of which party holds what office, America has an incredibly irresponsible and highly partisan media which must be held accountable. The partisan fashion in which the majority of our “mainstream” media has treated the Benghazi terrorist attacks is abhorrent, with only one network and a couple of other rogue reporters willing to address the issue in a truly investigative fashion. The behavior of Candy Crowley during the second Presidential debate was an offense worthy of termination from her workplace, yet her employer CNN has stood by her even after she admitted her own fault in that instance.

While predictable, the headline “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” penned by The New York Times editorial board was incredibly deceptive and misleading; anyone who reads the entire Romney op-ed should understand he would have done at least as much for the auto industry as did President Obama. In fact, many people smarter than I have said that what Obama ultimately did was very much in line with what Governor Romney recommended in his piece.

And I personally believe that "Superstorm Sandy" has been played down for the express purpose of assisting Barack Obama win reelection. There is no question residents of Staten Island and other parts of the New York / New Jersey area have suffered at least as much loss as did the people of New Orleans when Katrina hit, but elected officials at all levels seem to be getting a pass thus far. I sincerely believe if we had a Republican president and the same situations as Benghazi and Sandy came to pass at such a critical time in an election cycle, the media would have acted in a completely different manner.

It is about 10:45 Eastern Time as I close this and the races in all the swing states are too close to call. Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, and Colorado are all tight races. I’m personally disappointed in Wisconsin; I wore my favorite Harley Davidson shirt today with the pride of “Made in America” running through my mind as I put it on. I had faith that Paul Ryan and Scott Walker’s prominence and success in Wisconsin might make a difference, but it looks like the home of the “progressive” movement held for liberals.

I hope not, but it may be a long night. I know myself well enough to know I’ll crash on the couch if it goes that late, even though I have a very busy work day waiting for me tomorrow.

Regardless the outcome tonight, I am proud of those Americans who stood up for their beliefs and participated in our representative democracy. I will stand by my principles moving forward and hold either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney accountable. I will support our President when he is right and call him out when necessary. I will also hold accountable my elected Congressional representatives, and I will keep a close eye on all of Congress.

And each and every day without fail, I will pray for The United States of America.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just My Humble Opinion

I heard about this thing President Obama said about voting for revenge. “Don’t boo, vote,” he said to a crowd when they booed Mitt Romney’s name being said. “Vote. Voting is the best revenge,” he continued. If you turn on Fox News Channel you can’t help but hear about it. Clearly it is the right-wing talking point dujour.

I also have heard Mitt Romney responded to President Obama’s remark by saying not to vote for revenge, but instead to vote for love of country. Since then, Team Romney has made a commercial about the contrast between the two. That’s what politicians do, I guess, but I must admit it makes good sense to me. After all, my political leanings align with the idea that a vote should be for love of country, not to seek vengeance on other Americans. But that’s just me.

I certainly care who others cast their votes for, in the sense that I would like it if others saw issues the same way I see them. But when it comes down to it, I’ve come to understand that it’s not right of me to try to influence the votes of others. It is my right to speak my mind here, and it is my right to present issues here which I believe need to be discussed, but I cannot and should not expect that just because I believe it to be true, that others will feel the same. If I offer information, and because of that information I expect anyone else to think a certain way, I am fooling myself and I am insulting them. All I can do is offer my personal perspective. If people who read my words here find value in my offerings, so be it. If not, then that is that.

So here is my offering for this evening: Vote.

Vote for President Obama, or vote for Mitt Romney. You can vote for revenge, or you can vote for love of country, but ultimately I believe we should all vote.

To make myself perfectly clear, I do not believe that a vote for Barack Obama equates to a vote for revenge. Those are words he said, but that does not mean that vengeance is in the hearts of everyone who cast their vote in his favor. There are certainly people who will vote for Barack Obama with a desire for some sort of revenge, but there are definitely many who will vote for President Obama who love America and have no desire for any type of ‘revenge.’

We should vote because it is our civic duty. As Americans, our right to vote is a blessing we all should cherish. We are all blessed to live in this exceptional nation that protects our God-given right to express our choice freely and without fear of retribution. That is an amazing gift, and for that gift I believe we should be grateful.

Of course, as free people we also have the right not to vote, should we so choose. It is my opinion, however, that anyone who chooses not to vote should then not complain about the conditions of our nation. The right to complain goes out the door at the moment a person abstains from voting. Again… this is just my opinion.

I do not and will not vote for revenge, because that makes no sense to me. I do not believe Americans should be seeking revenge upon each other for anything. I believe Americans should be working together for the common good, not feeling animosity toward one another. We certainly have our differences of opinion and should always stand by our beliefs. But when all is said and done we should be working together in an effort to find solutions to our problems. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or social status, the problems America faces today are problems that affect all of us.

In 2008 President Obama presented himself to America as a force for unity, not as a divider. He promised us that we would no longer be “red states and blue states,” but instead that we would be The United States. However, at the same time he presented this case for himself as a force for unity, he told his base that he was working toward the “Fundamental transformation of America.” He told some guy in Toledo, Ohio named “Joe the Plumber” that he believed it is perfectly okay to “spread the wealth around,” and by that he meant government should take wealth from those who have earned it, and give that wealth to those who government deems worthy.

Certainly within the system of American government it should always be mandated that we take care of those truly in need. We have a moral obligation to provide a dignified existence to those who truly cannot provide for themselves. But in my opinion, to “Spread the wealth around” is not the same as providing for those who are truly in need. In my opinion there comes a tipping point at which the government is capable of causing more damage to society, than any benefit found through methods of wealth redistribution. And it is my opinion that Barack Obama’s policies and the current “progressive” leadership in the Democratic Party are capable of bringing America to that tipping point. That is why I did not vote for Barack Obama in 2008, and that is why I will not vote for him in this election.

Since the day President Obama was elected this nation has become more polarized than ever in my lifetime. Of course it may not all be his fault, given that it takes two sides to create polarization, and so there certainly may be some fault to be found on the side of political opposition to President Obama and his political allies.

However, when all is said and done Barack Obama is President of The United States. It is his job as our Chief Executive to be our leader. Our leader should be the person who brings us together; he should find it within himself to rise above the rhetoric and division and work to unite us as one nation. That’s what leaders do. They find a way when it appears there is no way to be found. Leaders work with those people they have available to work with, rather than pointing the finger of blame and accusing those people of being at fault. I do not believe President Obama has brought this type of leadership quality to the table. In fact, I believe President Obama has done quite the opposite. As one example to validate my opinion I would cite his statements made about The Supreme Court during his State of The Union speech in 2010. As a second I would cite his belittling of Congressman Paul Ryan during Obama’s economic speech at George Washington University in April of 2011.

It is my opinion that when President Obama says people should vote with a purpose of vengeance, he is asking people to be divided against one another, not to unite with each other. In my opinion, suggesting people should vote with vengeance offers people the opportunity to point a finger at someone else and blame them for our problems, rather than offering people a reason to come together, accept responsibility, and resolve our problems together, for love of country.

After all, this is our country. One nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice. For all.

Friday, November 2, 2012


“And oh, as I fade away, they’ll all look at me and say; ‘Hey look at him, I’ll never live that way.’ But that’s okay… they’re just afraid of change.”

That thought comes from a song written by one of my favorite bands. From Blind Melon’s eponymous album, songwriter Shannon Hoon also offered this thought:

“And as we all play parts of tomorrow, some ways will work and other ways we’ll play. But I know we can’t all stay here forever, so I want to write my words on the face of today… and then they’ll paint it.”

I was up late last night, and then woke relatively early this morning. I have a lot on my mind. Not just politics, believe it or not… Work, dating (or not, as the case is now) and many other things are searing in my brain. I have learned that I am an information seeker. I have a constant need to consume brain food. That trait is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I stress myself so hard trying to learn so much, or to get so much accomplished, that I exhaust myself. The past couple of weeks have been that way…

We let a coworker go, which is always difficult when it’s a good person to whom you’re saying goodbye, but sometimes it needs to be. Unfortunately the truth is that our company will be better off without this person at this time, as nice a guy as he is. He’s got issues I’m familiar enough with (been there, done that kind of stuff) that I worry greatly for him, and I regret to say I believe he has some falling to do before he picks himself up and fixes himself.

Politics is an interest… a hobby… and to some degrees a devotion. If I could, if life turned in such a way for me, I’d probably find a way to get into politics for a living. I don’t know that I would want to be a politician, even though my coworkers always tell me I should be. They say I have an interesting ability to learn from experience, to teach, and to help people see things in a way they might otherwise never see.

I have enough skeletons in my closet I hold my own Halloween party, thank you… but maybe an advisory role, or maybe as a pundit. I enjoy the writing I do here, until it upsets my world.

That which can upset my world is the idea that my family and I have disagreements about the superficial elements of political discourse, because I always worry my writing will come between us. That would break me. I sincerely believe we are not so far apart in our belief systems that we should be jaded by politics to the point it brings us to disagreements, but I know that it happens. It happens to everyone who pays any attention to the world and has an ounce of passion about our future, because not every one of us has the exact same perspective. So we don’t all share the same vision for America’s future, even though we all want America to succeed, grow, and prosper.

This morning, as wrote the continuation of what I began writing last night, in reply to my brother… with whom I’ve had some pretty heated political discussions over the past few years, my sister posted something awesome on Facebook. She said,

“Jumping on the bandwagon with […] and doing the month of thankfulness through the alphabet. Today is B. I am thankful for my brothers, […]. They've both taught me a lot about who I want (and sometimes don't want, Lol!) to be. Love you both!!”

Throughout last night and this morning as I wrote back to him, as heated as the discussion felt, one of my most prominent thoughts (in addition to the need for food) was that I always appreciate my brother’s input. Even when we don’t see eye to eye, I know I walk away from each discussion a better man.

So in the spirit of my sister’s Facebook comment, and in the interest of satisfying my desire to express myself fully as I always seem to do (even when I’m at my most obnoxious)… I would like to take a liberty and fast forward the calendar to Tuesday, November 6th, if only for the rest of this blog post. I have some things I need to express, and I’m not going to wait. Thank you for your understanding.

I take this liberty not because Tuesday, November 6th is Election Day; that’s purely coincidental. Or perhaps it isn’t… hmmm….

I take this liberty because Tuesday is the 6th day of the month, and therefore it is the letter “F” in the month of thankfulness.

Family. I am thankful for my Family, first, foremost and always. I am thankful for the fact that I am brought to tears by the love I receive from my family. It is overwhelming to me; to be given the love my family gives me, knowing the paths I’ve walked and the possibility that they could have disregarded me as lost. It is because of my own strength, first and foremost, that I no longer walk those paths. Yet I absolutely know my family plays a huge part in my never-ending recovery, because each and every day I enjoy living to earn their respect.

My family’s love begins with my parents, without whom I wouldn’t be alive today for many reasons beyond the obvious. Mom and Dad, the wonderful upbringing you gave me accidentally made me the man I am today, sometimes seemingly against my will. Thank you. Your love is always there for me and therefore always trusted, and every day I work my tail off to make sure it is earned by learning to be a better man. I have come to understand that this is all you expect of me, and if I do as you expect of me I will succeed in life. You continue to help me through my journey each and every day through the wisdom of lessons taught to me years ago. I may not have listened very well back then, but I’m fully attentive today.

I am thankful for my brother…you are my best friend. When my world turned upside down almost thirteen years ago, I made the decision to put two thousand miles between us… in part so I could run away from my troubles, and also so I could chase my dreams. I’m still chasing, but I don’t regret the decision… if for no greater reason than my physical health, which is improved greatly by the weather here. I’ve also had to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin, which is something I may have had issues with before.

I’ve made some stupid decisions along the way… I know. But I’m stronger for it, which is much of where my political viewpoint comes from. I’m not sure I’ve really ever portrayed that properly to you… Sometimes we don’t see things exactly the same way, I know… there’s an old phrase, “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality.” Maybe we should talk more about that sometime. Maybe we shouldn't.

Yet through it all, no matter what, I know you always have my back, and I hope you know the same is forever true from me to you. It is an awful lot to ask of you to be that person for me, but when I call you find the time. When I need to ask your advice you offer it.

Your wife is such a good woman… your family is amazing, and you inspire me with your ability to be the father I never expected you would become… I always expected you would be the perpetually single one. Imagine that.

I am grateful for your insight and therefore your input is always welcome… even when you crack at me for all my cat pictures on Facebook. Although I have to tell you I am still working on you derailing from being a Denver Broncos fan…

I am thankful for my sister… for so much more than your Facebook posts, and I’m sure you know this is true. Yet from you sometimes it is the simple things… you send me a text message when I least expect it and put a smile on my face, or a card shows up in the mail… or perhaps it’s a Facebook post that has driven me to a new place on this beautiful day God has given us.

Through your family, you remind me of all the best of our family. We have a few years age difference between us, which in younger days perhaps made it more difficult for us to feel close and really understand each other. But through all our twists and turns we’ve managed to grow closer each and every year. Your husband is a good and decent man with whom I know you are safe and happy, and there’s not much more a big brother can hope for than for his little sister to be safe and happy. I’m so thankful that you are in the place in life that gives you the ability to be the best that you can be.

And I also am so blessed to have five wonderful young people to watch as they grow up; even from the distance the miles put between us I watch over them closely through the shared stories and pictures you bring me, all of you. Their smiles bring me joy and their growth amazes me, and I am so thankful to have their presence in my life. I feel like they are a part of me, and I hope as they grow older I am able to offer something… anything to them, to give them a happier life and a greater understanding.

It’s mid-afternoon now. I’m not sure what time I started writing here… I’ve eaten, that happened about three hours ago. My desire to write finally succumbed to the need to feed the machine. Scrambled eggs cooked in a thin layer of bacon grease…. Mmmm, bacon… I shared some with my kitties, they love my cooking, and they definitely love bacon. We don’t do bacon here very much… it’s tough, living for one person.

Anyway… I vacuumed, flipped some laundry, gave the ‘kids’ a brushing, and came back to finish here. I’ve scanned up and down this work of writing and added a handful of thoughts.

That’s what I do some days. As mundane as it sounds, I have a simple, yet rather happy existence. I don’t live a grand lifestyle. I stay in more than I go out… in fact, since I’m not dating at the moment, I don’t go out at all unless it’s to grab some take-out and get back to my comfortable little place with my four little bundles of love. The love I have in my home from my little rescue-babies does me wonders, and gives me a wonderful extra purpose beyond work and sleep. I don’t have children, but I have my ‘kids,’ and it’s working out pretty well for all of us these days.

I have countless items I’ve written that I never post to this blog, because sometimes I just need to get it out of myself without broadcasting it for the entire world to see. Other days… days like today… I need to express it.

Today I planned a day off in advance. I took a vacation day from work; I deemed it a “mental health day.”

It worked. I am feeling much, much better right now than I did when I woke up today. I’ll get back to my political response to my brother some other time. Right now I’m in a place in my mind I enjoy being. I’ve cried about ten times this morning, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, because I’ve been crying tears of joy. When you’ve been where I’ve been and seen what I’ve seen, expressing emotion becomes a little less embarrassing and a little more cathartic than it was before.

Some moments I get the feeling that if I died, right at that very moment, I would be perfectly okay with it. Not because I want to die, mind you… but because I am at peace with my very existence. Because, as my late friend Shannon said, we can’t all stay here forever.

The song closes… “And oh, as I fade away, they’ll all look at me and say… ‘Hey, look at him, and where he is these days.’ When life is hard, you have to change.”

So I will write my words on the face of today...