Sunday, October 27, 2013

More of the McSame

On 550 KFYI's “Nearly Famous Barry Young Show” on Tuesday, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said he's "seriously considering" running for another term when his current one ends three years from now. McCain was responding to a caller who criticized him for breaking from party leadership to support an extension of the nation's debt ceiling and an end to the recent partial government shutdown.

"I would match my voting record against anyone's," McCain told the caller, and I'm seriously thinking about maybe giving another opportunity for you to vote for or against me a few years from now. I'm seriously giving that a lot of thought. I'm certainly getting a lot of encouragement from our business community," which McCain said was angry at the shutdown and the impact it had on businesses.

Barry Young responded, "If some wild-eyed journalist is listening to this program and runs off and says John McCain announced on the air that he might run for another term in the Senate, that would not be wrong?”

McCain, who will be 80 years old when his current term expires in 2016, replied, "That would not be wrong."

There is no disputing that Senator McCain is a hero of the Vietnam War era, but his time has long since past. In the opinion of this blogger (who, by the way, President Obama says should be ignored), John McCain has become more of the problem in Washington than he has ever been part of the solution. In recent weeks, it has been the “go along to get along” attitude of those like McCain that has proven the Republican Party is in a state of failure and needs a complete overhaul. The Republican Party needs to stand for something besides bowing at the feet of President Obama and the entrenched political ruling class, or it is going to cease to exist.

Sadly because he has such deep pockets and is so entrenched in the Washington system, it will be nearly impossible to defeat McCain. But those of us in Arizona who know what's good for us will certainly make our best effort to remove McCain from the office we believe he no longer deserves to hold.

America is on life support due to many factors, but the largest concern that should be on the mind of every voting American is the out-of-control spending that has taken control of Washington, D.C. In my opinion and the opinion of many others, that and a need to eliminate the entrenched political ruling class on both sides of the aisle are the two largest issues currently facing this nation. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz may be young and still learning their way, but Washington needs many more “wacko-birds” like them and a lot less John McCain if this nation is going to survive.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Extortion, Senate Democrat Style

Tonight some news outlets are reporting that five or six “red state” Senate Democrats are considering breaking ranks with President Obama over the “individual mandate” in Democare. The rumor mill has it that they will ask for a delay of the mandate, at the least for six to eight weeks but possibly up to one year. This is shocking news.. some might even call it extortion on the part of these Senators... considering that just one week ago those who wished to delay the individual mandate were “extortionists,” “anarchists,” were “holding a gun to the head of America,” “had a bomb strapped to their chest.” At least according to President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and many others on the left, that was the case... and my apologies to any liberals whose colorful descriptions of “teabaggers” I left out of this list. But I think we get the point.

If this rumor comes to fruition, I hope every news agency (Brian Williams at NBC) that railed against the “extremist right-wing faction” of the Republican Party runs some kind of story explaining how what the Democrats plan to do is EXACTLY what the “extremists” were asking to do just one week ago. After all it was those extremist Republicans all by themselves, with no help from President Obama and Harry Reid (who refused to negotiate on anything), who apparently managed to shut down the entire federal government (even though it was really only about 15%) and attempt to destroy America…

I also hope those networks cover in great detail the voting record of those who are shifting their position for political expediency. I’m not holding my breath, mind you, but I’m hopeful.

If they were in office when Democare was passed (which should include all but Joe Manchin, although I haven't checked each record), I hope the voters in those “red states” vote against each and every one of those shape-shifting Democrats. These Senators are not making this decision because they think it’s the right thing to do; they’re making this decision for political expediency. They’re afraid because the Democare roll-out has been a disaster so far, and at this moment there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. They are fearful for their lavish ruling class lifestyle.

Even if a person disagrees with their policies, those Americans who truly want change in Washington should support Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio more than any of these entrenched hypocrites. The same goes for the likes of John McCain, Lindsay Graham and many on the political right. I feel similarly about Senator Bernie Sanders and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich as I do about Cruz, Lee and Rubio; at least with those two men I know where they stand, and I know they vote their conscience. They’re respectful and they’re not rhetorical bomb-throwers like President Obama and his cronies. While I may have principled disagreement with their ideology, I respect that they know their values and they stand by them.

Clearly there are many on the right and the left about whom the same cannot be said, and it’s time to start naming names and holding those individuals accountable. The days of the “What difference at this point does it make” politician have come to an end; it’s time for We, The People to take back America.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Civil Discourse, Progressive Style

Remember in January 2011, after Gabriel Giffords was shot, and President Barack Obama urged Americans to tone down their rhetoric and debate “in a way that heals, not a way that wounds?” I wonder if this is what he had in mind...

See the full story here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An Opinion From One Anarchist With a Bomb Strapped To My Chest, Or Something...

A friend from a long time ago with whom I’ve recently reconnected through Facebook, tonight posted a link from offering the opportunity to sign a petition. I have sat in front of my computer for the past two hours constructing, deleting and reconstructing a reply to her post, but I will not paste it into the comment box because it will open a can of worms I just don’t need to open. So I am here, to reopen my though process on politics at least on this night, in the forum I have where I know I will not offend even those with whom I might sometimes disagree, so that I may express my opinion on the ridiculousness of the government shutdown and how blame is being assessed.

“I demand that members of Congress NOT get paid during a self-inflicted government shutdown. It is morally reprehensible that hardworking federal employees will stop receiving the paychecks they need to feed their families and pay their mortgages, while Congress still gets paid for refusing to do the job they were elected to do,” said the “Petition Statement” inside a pretty looking box, with a background just a bit brighter and font just a bit larger than the rest of the page. All dressed up to make the good impression, I figure, because below that was the real message behind the madness:

Since October 1st, hundreds of thousands of middle-class federal employees have been furloughed due to irresponsible members of Congress who refuse to govern for the well-being of the American people. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives decided to shut down the government rather than pass a spending bill that funds the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” Not only has the President’s signature healthcare law been upheld by the Supreme Court, but it was a major issue in the last presidential election when Republicans were soundly defeated.

These Republican members of Congress -- including California’s own House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy -- are putting the extreme and ideological demands of a small minority over the health of the American economy. And now, federal employees, veterans, and hard-working families will be the ones that have to pay the price. That is unfair and morally reprehensible.

Congress should take responsibility for their own inaction and lose their paychecks until they come to a resolution. Every day this drags on, the more damage it does to everyday Americans and our nation’s fragile economy.

I don’t disagree with the premise that Congress could do better on both sides, but I disagree with's (and much of the lapdog media's) assertion that it’s entirely the GOP’s fault this is happening. The law (Democare/Obamacare) that is at the center of the controversy is not the same law that was passed in 2010. Although barely reported by the media but for a few rare exceptions (evil talk radio and "Faux Snooze"), Democare was the first major legislation in history passed without ANY opposition support. That is pure fact, not Fox spin. Since Democare was passed, President Obama has unilaterally (and therefore illegally) granted multiple special waivers and exemptions for political gain or as political favors. That is not how The Constitution states that laws are altered or amended, although we’re no longer living in a land governed by our own laws, I suppose.

Democare is also WAY over budget; three times what President Obama originally said it would cost to initiate, and ultimately so bad the CBO said it is going to bankrupt us if we don’t get it fixed. And since it is now the controlling set of instructions that regulate our healthcare, and healthcare controls/consumes approximately 1/6 of our economy, Democare is a large part of our budget and the Republicans are completely within their Constitutional authority by attempting to fix it while passing the continuing resolution, which is part of the budget process. Apparently Senator Reid and President Obama didn’t take a high school civics class or they’d stop denigrating the other side for following the law, but I digress…

Every national poll taken by a respectable organization (not MoveOn, TPM or HuffPo for example) has reported that a larger percentage dislike Democare than like it - Google “real clear politics Obamacare” and click the first link if you don’t believe me. In my opinion it’s actually Obama, Reid and the Democrats who are acting like bullies right now by not showing a willingness to at least sit down and discuss the differences; that’s called coming to conference, and again a high school civics class would help Senator Reid understand how that works. But that’s Obama’s America; point the finger at the Republicans and call them names (war on women, don’t want children to have healthcare, want dirty air and water, gun-toting bible thumping flat-earthers), knowing the majority of the media won’t report the truth, and that most Americans are (sadly) too uneducated about our own governmental system to know the difference and too busy being distracted by the Kardashians and American Idol to care.

In closing, if I may… we “teabaggers” as the leftists like Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper and others like to call us… we are not a small minority. We are not extortionists (Carney) or arsonists (Pelosi), we’re not anarchists (Reid) and we don’t have a friggin’ bomb strapped to our chests as senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said. Oh, and some Democrat Congressman said something about a jihad… and then there’s President Obama himself saying something about Republicans and someone having a gun to someone’s head…

That’s the rhetoric coming at American citizens from the liberal leadership in America, simply because we don’t appreciate having a bogus tax shoved down our throats through parliamentary tricks… again, passing major legislation through reconciliation in order to get it done with 59 instead of the usually required 60 votes in the Senate is unprecedented and should never have happened. Remember after Gabby Giffords got shot and Obama gave that speech in which he said we all needed to “tone down the rhetoric?” Where is our President’s criticism of the comments coming from his own side? I thought he was the leader of “All Americans?” Yeah, silly me…

For a more professional breakdown of the facts of this case, Charles Krauthammer has written this excellent piece.

Monday, May 27, 2013

On Memorial Day

(photo credit to jeff picoult photography)

I am blessed that my work is in manufacturing, and typically the “major” national holidays are given as time off with pay in my industry. I haven’t always been so fortunate, so I am grateful for the fact that a few times a year I receive a day off with pay for nothing more than the fact that it is a holiday.

I had a wonderful, peaceful weekend, and I hope you all had the same. For me a peaceful weekend is a pretty simple thing to achieve. I’m a “cheap date,” I guess you could say, and even more so since I became a little gun shy with the Jeep after the last adventure I took cost me some serious cash. I’m getting closer to taking a weekend drive to the mountains… there’s a New Moon coming up in a couple weeks, and I think that would be a great time to camp out for a night. Away from the city lights, no moon in the sky, where I can really see the stars more clearly... it just seems like the thing to do. I’m already amazed by the amount of stars I can see from here from my home, which is in the city but somewhat in the outlying area, and I am sure it’s going to be amazing to see what I’ve been missing. I’ve got a pup tent, a sleeping bag, and one of those collapsible chairs with the built in cup holder… I just need to pick up a small cooler so I can keep my beverages and some food cold, and I’m ready to go.

Anyway, that aside… I slept in on Saturday, got in a good bike ride in the late afternoon, and then watched my Diamondbacks lose a tough game against the San Diego Padres. After the game I enjoyed a nice late evening walk through the neighborhood just north of my apartments while I let the cats have some time out on the patio, then came home and watched a few episodes of “Big Bang Theory” on the DVR. It’s a cute show, and I’ve come to enjoy catching up with it in syndication. There is some typical leftist Hollywood stuff in the stories, like the lead female Penny wearing a “Hillary 2008” t-shirt and getting a “cute shirt!” compliment from a new neighbor, and some stereotyping of Sheldon’s mother as a bit of a right-wing zealot and Bible-thumper… but if you can (as I’m learning to) look past that crap and enjoy the humor and character interaction, it’s rather well written and the actors have grown into their characters well.

Sunday I woke to a nice surprise - a phone call from my Mom, who called if for no other reason to say hello, and to check and see if a package she sent had arrived safely. I enjoyed watching the Indianapolis 500; much like the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, Indy is one of those “can’t miss” races on my calendar which I prefer to watch live rather than recorded if at all possible. Shortly after the race ended the Diamondbacks game started. I worked out through the first half of the game; working out involves resistance bands, a pull-up bar used for pushups, and a thing called the “Ab Carver” that is really, really tough to use… it is getting easier to use as my core muscles get stronger, but I’ve come to realize I had really let myself go. Around the 7th inning I was done working out and was ready to get the bike out, and since the game was good and I wanted to see the finish, I set the DVR and I was off and riding. Once I got home and cleaned up I put on the end of the game (Dbacks won), then started watching the NASCAR race… after 600 miles, two red flags and a bunch of cautions for wrecks I had almost lost interest, even with the DVR to help me cut out the seemingly endless stream of commercials. Perhaps it is understandable that NASCAR maintains the tradition of the 600 mile race on Memorial Day weekend, but I for one am glad that they have cut down the length of some of their other races.

This morning I woke up and enjoyed a couple hours of peace and quiet. The cats were outside enjoying a beautiful overcast morning on the patio; I had some oatmeal with strawberry slices… why didn’t I learn to like that at a younger age??... some (turkey) sausage patties and a glass of orange juice… and quiet. Some of my favorite moments happen when I wake up early on the weekends, listen to the chirping of the birds, and enjoy as my cats watch the ‘show’ that is nature, in the tree right outside my apartment. I’m kind of lucky, I believe, in the fact that I’ve come to appreciate what others may not understand. I look forward to the day I can get out of this apartment and own a home, don’t get me wrong… it amuses me, though, when people ask me how I can have four cats in a one bedroom apartment, and why I don’t get out and do more on the weekends. The need to get out and do stuff is not such an overwhelming feeling in me… I have, and I will again. Of that I am certain. And the cats… there’s so much love there… I know for certain that if not for me, they would not have had a chance… and I know for certain that without them, I’d not be the man I am today. After all, it takes a lot of patience and understanding to get four cats to share such a small space without tearing each other to shreds…

Not just on this day, but every day, I am so grateful to those who came before us, who gave their lives so I can wake up on the occasional Sunday morning, or on a Memorial Day Monday, and enjoy the chirping of the birds and the tranquility of a peaceful nation that is not burdened with the devastation of war within its own borders. I am able to earn my fair wage for my honest work and (for the most part) do with that income as I see fit. I have the right to praise my God, and others have the right to refuse God, and we are treated equally under the laws of this great nation. And thankfully, still, without fear of retribution, we can all speak our mind about the state of leadership of this nation, be it good or bad… and every so often we have the opportunity to affect change, with a vote for those we believe will better protect our values and our rights.

I believe there are some people who are lucky enough to live in this land, where we are free from real tyranny, who sometimes forget how lucky we are. There are some who have not been so lucky, and there are some who paid the ultimate price so we might be so blessed. So many people today ‘need’ so much… we’re such an instant gratification, “gotta have it” society… I feel like sometimes even I can succumb to this, with my DVR and my high-speed internet that I wouldn’t want to be without… but the best times in life, the ones I really wouldn’t want to be without, are those with nothing more in front of me than the little friends with whom I share this humble little home, the sounds of the chirping birds, and the beauty of the sun rising on another magnificent day.

A doubleheader today… The Diamondbacks won the first of two against The Texas Rangers, who are currently owners of the best record in baseball. It’s tied at 2 in the bottom of the 4th inning of Game 2 as I close this… I love National League baseball. Growing up in Cleveland and having watched the American League with the DH, and now seeing the strategy and coaching involved in the game where pitchers actually are a complete part of the game… I’ll take a double-switch and the challenge of deciding whether or not to have the pitcher hit in certain times of the game every day of the week, thank you…

Take care, y’all…

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jihad, In the Era of Political Correctness

Tonight on Hannity, while discussing the mistake made by the FBI regarding "Suspect #1" (the older brother of the currently detained "Suspect #2") and the warnings offered by the Russian government, as well as Suspect #1's travel to Russia and our government's failure to diligently investigate him even though we had actionable intelligence from a nation that may not always seem to act in the best interests of America, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the following:

"The bottom line is that we have an emerging problem here that we knew was going to be a problem. And that is people living in The United States... maybe citizens... maybe lived here their whole lives, who are being radicalized by things they're reading and hearing, on the internet and otherwise... who are learning how to make bombs on the internet, et cetera.

This is the growing face of the terrorist threat facing our country. It's a very serious threat, and we need to stop playing political correctness with it and identify it for what it is.

This is terrorism. Just because it wasn't organized in a cave somewhere in the Middle East doesn't not make it terrorism. This is terrorism, and we need to deal with it that way."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

America's highest priorities last week were prayers for those most closely affected by the terrorism, the identification of suspects, and the diligent pursuit of those suspects until the point of capture or killing in the attempt to capture.

To be certain, my prayers remain with the fallen and their families. But now that we've met the threshold of capture or killing in the attempt to capture, it's time to discuss with boldness and honesty the truth of the situation; Americans were dealt a violent awakening last week as we learned that Jihad is indeed alive and well. Sadly, that came in the form of the loss of no less than four innocent lives as well as physical harm to hundreds.

What happened in Boston last week was terrorism, not a tragedy... a tragedy is an earthquake, or a hurricane, or even an oil rig exploding in The Gulf... and to have politicized it in the immediate aftermath would have been disgraceful. I had my opinions early on in the investigation, as I know many people did... but even though I have this forum through which I have been known to clearly express my opinion with disdain for political correctness and perhaps sometimes regardless of the feelings of others, I kept my personal opinion about the possibilities to myself until more facts came to the surface and we had a better grasp of what really happened.

Having said that, I'm thoroughly disappointed in many politicians and political allies of the current administration as well as the "Mainstream" (liberal) media, including most prominently NBC News (which by default includes MSNBC) and CNN, but also including Salon Magazine (sorry you didn't get your "white guy"), Good Morning America, and many others. As our President stood before us last Friday and instructed us not to jump to conclusions, he clearly disregarded the fact that a member of his own campaign staff, David Axelrod, had insinuated that perhaps the attack in Boston was because it was "Tax Day." Certainly this idea was not lost on much of the media, including Chris Matthews and a number of others on MSNBC and CNN. Former Congressman Barney Frank attempted to make the terrorist attacks fodder for a debate about fiscal responsibility versus higher taxation and more spending. MSNBC's Melissa Harris completely disregarded the religion of the two suspects and attempted to create a false premise that because their skin was white and they were from Chechnya, they actually were more aligned with Tim McVeigh than bin Laden. And Tom Brokaw audaciously attempted to create moral equivalency between acts of Jihad such as the bombing in Boston where innocent children and civilians are the specific target, and the actions taken by our military in the throes of a logistical war campaign where collateral damage does sometimes unfortunately include civilians, but extreme efforts are made to minimize such losses.

The very fact that President Obama will not bring himself to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorist" or anything of the kind is indicative of the greater problem America shall continue to face moving forward as political correctness continues to permeate our society, because as far as American Presidents go, Barack Obama exemplifies all that is political correctness. The consumate politician, he is so afraid to say the wrong thing to anyone who is not a political foe (conservative/Republican) that he will bend over backwards... or bow before... those who wish to do America harm before he will speak the truth about what we have known for decades. There are those in the world who wish us great harm, and they will stop at nothing in their efforts to achieve what they believe will bring them honor and 72 virgins in the name of Allah.

The idea that there are individuals using the name of a religion as their theoretical protection as they perpetrate acts of horrific evil should not be lost on the population of a free and prosperous nation for which those aforementioned individuals have hatred and disdain. And as was proven last week, they will not always appear in the stereotypical form of a bearded Arab in a turban, or in the seats of airplanes as part of a grandiose and well coordinated plot, or in other ways we might suspect. They will be citizens; soldiers with a gun at an Army base in Texas yelling, "Allahu Akbar" as they kill 13 soldiers and bystanders, or they will be twenty-somethings with a car in Times Square who slip under the radar... or they'll be a couple of otherwise relatively normal looking young immigrants from a part of the world you'd normally think had allegiance to the freedoms of America.

And unless or until our elected officials stop with the political correctness crap and call a spade a spade, or in this case call a radical Islamic terrorist exactly what he is... it's only going to get worse.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's Goin' On...

I’ve been away a while, I know… lots to say and no words to say it with, I suppose…

The weather has been just unbelievable lately… it’s exactly what I moved here for, and I’m so glad I’m finally really learning to make the best of it. The fact that I can leave the windows open all day and let the kitties enjoy the sounds of the birds, then come home and open the patio so they have that extra space and the additional entertainment of dogs being walked and whatever else goes on through the evening… it’s funny, I get home from work and they greet me as I walk in, but within about 60 seconds they’re lined up at the screen door waiting for me to open it. I had a couple of adventures to the mountains, although since my last post I’ve not been… I got a little gun-shy (no pun intended) after throwing more and more money into the Jeep… I’ve decided I need a bit of a break from that, so I went full-recluse for about the past month. I’ll be heading out again soon… blooming season for the saguaro is right around the corner, and I’ve got to go see the sights. I picked up a tent and a sleeping bag, and I plan on doing a 1-nighter from time to time just to get away from the air conditioner through the summer. The kitties will enjoy the time away from me…

Of course I didn’t move here planning to be single and living in a 1-bedroom apartment with four cats… but I have really learned to appreciate the life I live and the joy they bring me. I love the heat of the summer here, but I don’t want to have to close them in. It’s actually kind of depressing, knowing the season is coming where I’ll have to run the air once I get home, and then of course come about mid-June it’s like what winter is in Ohio, in reverse… my ears and nose don’t freeze, and I don’t have to scrape my windshield… but there’s no doubt it is hot, and air conditioning and swimming polls are where it’s at. Kitties don’t like swimming pools, so they get air conditioning. I might be found by the pool from time to time…

I’ve been busy, kinda, in my personal life, yet not busy at all. I know, it makes no sense… except inside my own head. I live a very busy, yet not really busy life… I do a lot for such a relative homebody, yet I do very little for someone whose mind is so active and who actually struggles sometimes to find the time just to relax. Being so devoutly single these past couple of years, I’ve learned it is kind of nice that I can do whatever I want whenever I want, or I can do nothing at all and nobody can tell me otherwise. It can be, therefore, extremely difficult to get motivated and maintain focus… yet there are times when I am so focused and on my game it makes me wonder how I got there. I’m entering one of those phases now… I’ve been known to suffer from that winter-depression syndrome thing, and even here where we see the sunshine almost every day in the wintertime it still drags me down when the temperatures dip down low and the sun sets early. Summertime is my focus time, for sure.

Anyway, the good news is that I’m back to exercising again, which is awesomely painful and devastatingly rewarding. As I write tonight my leg muscles are doing that burning, throbbing thing that happens after 15 miles on a mountain-bike… I’ve discovered that if I travel any direction from my humble little fur-infested abode I can find a trail or more that’ll get me some good dirt riding, and the tires on my bike are pretty decent for road riding, so I get a good combination of workouts. I am learning confidence on my bike again… when I moved here in 2001 I flipped my bike coming down a huge hill and spent a couple days in the ICU, had road rash all over my left shoulder, my hands and some of my face, and I ripped my left ear in half and almost lost the better part of it. I’m ever-thankful to the plastic surgeon that made me look halfway decent again, and I’ve learned that a helmet to save the noggin is much more important than the machismo of riding without. But the moral to this story is that I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak, and I’m loving it. I forgot how much I love riding.

I’ve been enjoying hockey season, although I wish my ‘Yotes were playing better. They’re playing with guts and determination even after three of their big name players were traded at the deadline, though, and they’re still in range of the playoffs. And anything can happen in the playoffs, as The L.A. Kings proved last year by being a number eight seed and rolling through everyone on their way to a Stanley Cup. And I am so incredibly happy baseball season is back… my Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton even though he will be a perennial MVP candidate, because his presence in the clubhouse was a distraction and he didn’t buy into “Gibby-Ball.” The changes are evident already, even if we’re only three games into the season. If you’re a baseball fan then you know Kirk Gibson was known for his gritty play and intense determination, and his coaching style is similar. He coaches his players to have the mentality that the team is more important than individual statistics, which didn’t work well with Upton. So Upton went to Atlanta and we got Marin Prado in return, and so far so good. Of course it’s a long season.

And of course I was thrilled to see Jimmie Johnson win the Daytona 500… the NASCAR season is getting into the grind, and in large part the ‘usual suspects’ are at the top of the points standings. Dale Jr. fans are thrilled because he is doing well… I don’t care too much one way or another if he does well or not, although I do think living in his father’s shadow has to be overwhelming. It would be good for the sport if he were to win a championship, they say… There was a horrific accident at the Fontana (California) race and Denny Hamlin will be out of his ride for quite a few weeks, but the racing leading up to that moment between he and Joey Logano was incredible, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come through the rest of the year. NASCAR has modified its car and in the process predicted better racing, and so far I’d say they got it right.

I’ve got all kinds of things to say about politics, but I’m not sure why I should bother. I mean after all, President Obama is our President for four more years, and that’s that, so we need to just accept it and let him rule… er.. lead… as he wishes. These days, though, he seems more concerned with getting Nancy Pelosi elected to the Speakership than with actually getting people to the table and solving our nation’s problems… seems he’s on a never-ending campaign, even though he just today said something about how we don’t need never-ending campaigns. We’ve got a Congressional Democrat trying to push gun legislation through even though she doesn’t understand that a magazine can be reloaded… I mean, if you’re going to rail on and on against something shouldn’t you at least know what the heck it is you’re so against? But not to worry; “60 Minutes” is getting ready to put on a special with some of the Newtown parents to tug at our heartstrings again, even though the fact is not one law being proposed would have stopped that tragedy from taking place. In fact, the ideas being put forward that might have helped are being scorned by President Obama and the media… God forbid a teacher in a school voluntarily gets trained in the use of a handgun and be allowed to provide for the protection of our children when there’s a Constitution to destroy. And can ANYONE please tell me where the heck all the .22 long rifle ammunition is? I know DHS says they’re not buying all our ammo, or maybe they are… all I know is that last year every Wal-Mart, Cabella’s and Sportsmen’s Warehouse in America had full shelves and right now there’s none to be found anywhere, including the specialty stores. Even 9mm and .40 caliber seems to be nearly impossible to find, so much so that Phoenix police officers are not being supplied by the city with practice ammo for their required range sessions. Oh, but Phoenix did just elect a radical left-winger (who ran as a moderate, just like our President did) who wants to allow transgendered people to use whatever bathroom they want, regardless of what body parts they have or have not had added or removed, so there’s that…

I do have to point out… there’s been this issue about some conservatives pointing out all the jet-setting and hob-knobbing with celebrities being done by the Obama family in the midst of a national fiscal crisis. Separate vacations, multiple spring break destinations for his daughters… I don’t mind the girls enjoying spring break, but Atlantis and then Idaho, with Secret Service protection being paid by We, The People doesn’t really seem like “shared sacrifice” when tens of millions are on welfare and unemployed… Anyway, I did mention some time ago that President Obama should pass an executive order cutting congressional salaries in half, and I thought he could really set a good example by giving up his entire salary, since he is independently wealthy thanks to the revenue generated by his book sales. Well, I have good news… in an effort to show solidarity with those being affected by sequestration President Obama gave up five percent of his annual salary. That’s five percent, as in 5%, as in $20,000 a year. So I guess he can now say he’s got some “skin in the game” and he’s doing his “fair share.” Meh.

And just to be fair and equal… if you didn’t hear about it, we’ve got some real idiots here in the Republican camp here in Arizona. Like many other states across America, Arizona's State Constitution does have an amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman, but we have no laws whatsoever regarding civil unions. So when a little town on the Mexican border called Bisbee decided to legalize civil unions for homosexuals within its city limits, our wonderful Republican legislators at the state level decided to rail on and on about how that city had broken laws and this and that, when actually all they did was create their own little law in their own little city for the sake of whatever reasons they had, and it doesn’t affect the rest of us Arizonans in the least and has no bearing on our state Constitution. But just like guns are the issue that the Democrats must rail against no matter what’s truly right or wrong, it seems anyone that calls themselves a Republican must instantly go into a tizzy if homosexuality is mentioned. And while I respect and tend to agree with those who have deeply held convictions against marriage being legalized for gays, I do believe that people are going to live together and have sex if that’s what they really want to do, and if we are truly a just and fair society they at least ought to be able to visit each other in the hospital and have other basic protections allowed to straight couples. Really, it would be nice if the government got out of the marriage business altogether and left that to churches… that way if a church supports gay couples they can get married in that church, if not then not, but meanwhile government can provide basic protections… kind of like how we really don’t need unions as much as we used to, because government sets standards of protection and all unions do is collect dues so they can funnel that money to the Democrat political machine. But I digress…

So I’ll try not to be away for such a long time, next time… or perhaps by then we will all be gone, because Kim Jong Un really did mean business when he said he was going to nuke Austin, Texas...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It was worth it

I am grateful for the advice my employer gave me. Soon after I bought my Jeep and told him I was starting to go off-road, he told me, “If you’ve never been there, and you’re not sure what is coming beyond what you can see, sometimes it is wise to stop and walk the hill, assessing the situation first before proceeding.” Be Prepared, as my Boy Scout days taught me… at an incredibly intense level where life and valuable property are at stake. So I did… walk the hill… and then I kind of slid back down, because it was so steep there was no walking back down. At the top of this hill was the end of the line… it is a hill that has been carved into a trail simply for the sake of climbing that hill. It is intense.

Just as the trail took a rather sharp bend to the right sat a huge boulder, with a smaller yet no less intimidating smaller boulder and a saguaro on the left. On the way up, rounding that bend took a cautious approach and careful maneuvering so as to not gouge the passenger side of my Grand Cherokee. I also needed to maintain sharp focus on the obstacles on the left; they could take out a lower front fender or worse… the saguaro and small boulder would no longer be there if I went too far, because they would be taken out by my Jeep as I slid or tumbled down the side of the hill. After the bend was the intense degree of incline, like nothing I’ve ever tried. So I carefully proceeded around the bend, engaged 4-Low, and let the power of the 5.2L V8 take control. I honestly was very impressed by the power of the engine… I’ve pushed it a few times on the freeway just to see what kind of power it had, but no road driving could have ever shown me what kind of torque I have at my disposal, should I ever need it.

Coming back down was just as intense… the larger boulder at the bend was now directly in front of me, and I had to maneuver to the right of it to make the bend. If I went too far right I had the smaller boulder and saguaro to contend with, plus the possibility of going over the edge I had to keep in mind. So I shifted into “Granny gear” low, plus kept the 4-Low engaged, and proceeded down… very carefully, with my foot just easing off the brake enough to allow my Jeep to move under its own weight and not much more.

That hill was so awesome… Planting my front wheel up on that rock as a sign of “I did it” felt amazing at the moment, and no picture I took could ever capture the feeling I had as I soaked in the sunshine and reveled in my accomplishment. Unfortunately I didn’t think to stop and set up the camera so I could record the event, but I definitely will go back… after I get my 4x4 linkage fixed.

I was calm enough to recognize my blessings in the heat of the moment. For the maturity and levelheadedness to gather myself in ways I might not have in the past, I am grateful. For the lessons in planning and preparedness to have a lot of water and a handful of Nutri-Grain bars with me, plus a firearm or three to make me feel safer than I might have otherwise, I thank my parents and The Boy Scouts.

I got extremely lucky; I had made it almost back out to the freeway, and within ten minutes I was lucky enough to have an Arizona State Highway Patrol officer notice me waving him down. I was still a bit panicked still when he arrived… yet I had enough composure to remember the first thing I needed to do was advise him I was armed. He thanked me for letting him know, and began to ask me a few questions about my situation. I told him what I really needed was help getting hold of AAA, because although I had cell service and had literally (while I was standing there broken down) just bought a membership (which I should have purchased a few weeks ago or more) I couldn’t find a number to contact them for a tow truck.

The officer not only got his dispatcher to call a tow truck for me, he hooked up a tow strap to my Jeep and pulled me the few hundred feet needed to get me up on the freeway so the tow truck driver could find me. He made sure I had plenty of water, and he was on his way. He validated every bit of “To Protect and Serve,” because in that moment, he provided both protection and service. To him I am grateful, as I am also grateful to the ADOT officer who stopped shortly thereafter to make sure I was okay. I told her I had plenty of water, a few snack bars, and an un-chambered weapon on the dash… from which I had removed the magazine as I saw approach, out of respect for her safety, but I promised her that magazine was going back in place once she pulled away. She nodded in approval and told me she was glad to hear I was so well prepared, and went on her way.

The tow truck driver was a nice enough guy… I suspect he knew how to fix my problem but that’s not his job, and he made a lot more money putting my Jeep on the back of his truck than he would have had he repaired my Jeep and got me back on the road himself. He smoked five cigarettes during the roughly hour-long drive from around Sunflower to my workplace, where I dropped off my Jeep so I could borrow the work truck for the evening. One of the nice things about working for a small private company is the unwritten benefits; in the case of my workplace, the boss owns a Ford Ranger he originally bought for his granddaughter, but she wanted something “more fuel efficient” so the Ranger became the shop truck and she got a brand new Hyundai Elantra. Bonus for us.

So I paid the man the $250 for the tow… yeah, I know, I should have purchased the AAA membership before I broke down, but at least now I have it for next time. But at least they covered the cost of getting my Jeep loaded onto the truck, plus the first five miles... and I was on my way home. Before I hit the road I sent a text to my coworker who knows a lot more than I about fixing cars, and he agreed to meet me Saturday morning.

Within fifteen minutes Saturday morning, I had learned that had I only known what to look for, my issue was something I could have repaired myself. When I pull the handle that takes me from 4-Hi to 4-Low, it moves an upper arm that is connected to a lower arm by a linkage… sometime along the way Friday while I was out having a great time, the bolt that connects the top arm had popped out, because the connection for the bottom arm had become loose and the entire assembly had become weak. The bolt popped when the linkage was in ‘Neutral’ and I had no gear engaged at all. My immediate fix would have been to crawl under my Jeep, determine which way the lower arm needed to be set so I was in 4-Hi, and set it in gear. Once in gear the linkage won’t disengage; I actually can leave it exactly as it is and drive it forever, but if I ever want to use 4-Low I will have to stop, crawl under my Jeep and move the lover arm, and then once I’m done I’d have to re-set it. of course this is not optimal, because there may come a time when I’m halfway up a hill, or stuck in some situation like mud or something, where I won’t want (or be able) to go through that process… so I need to fix the linkage, but it’ll be a relatively inexpensive fix and I’ll be good for another 100K miles or more. It’s one of the risks a person takes when he purchases a used vehicle with 100K miles on it… I’ve had a few repairs to make since I bought my Jeep a year ago, but now that I’ve dealt with the major stuff I should be pretty much in the clear. Over the next year I need to do brakes, and about a year from now I’ll do new tires… hopefully at the same time I’m adding a couple inches of lift, so I can get even more adventurous…

Once I had learned what the problem was and I had learned my options for permanent repair, I spent the morning getting myself more “trail ready” than I already was. I assembled my new jack, which I had purchased Friday before hitting the trails… I had stopped at Pep Boys and Harbor Freight and picked up a few important things. Road flares, a first-aid kit, a magnesium & flint fire-starting kit, a flashlight with a glass-breaking tip, a variety pack of hose clamps and some duct tape, and a hanging flashlight for under the hood or more… plus the jack and a jump-start box… I also sorted out my tools into a “home” toolbox and “road” toolbox… I am now much more ready for whatever may come my way.

So I have parts on order at the Chrysler dealership, and I hope to fix the linkage over the next few days. If I can’t fix it I’ll take my parts and Jeep to a shop… but if that turns out to be the case I won’t let it slow me down. Unless it rains, I know a few places I can go and I won’t need 4-Low, so I’ll be out there again this weekend or next... I might even carry a cooler and a few blankets, and spend a night under the stars…

Friday, March 1, 2013

Remembering Andrew Breitbart, and Preparing for Armageddon

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken during the 2012 Presidential election found that 59% of likely voters believed incumbent President Obama received more favorable coverage, while only 18% believed the media reporting favored his challenger Mitt Romney. A more recent poll by that same organization found that only 56% of the news reported by today’s media is trustworthy. If that were a grade, it would be failing. That same poll found that 42% of likely voters do not trust the news media generally, and 12% believe the news reported by the mainstream news media is not trustworthy, at all.

There was a time in America’s recent past when Bob Woodward was considered a hero in the business of journalism and by those who believe in speaking “Truth to Power.” By resisting the temptation to believe that our elected officials were pure of intent, exploring and exposing that which others considered unimportant, and standing tall in the face of the powerful and the elite, the investigative reporting of Woodward and his coworker Carl Bernstein exposed illegal activity within the Republican Party and Nixon Administration, and ultimately his work led to the downfall of one of America’s most storied and prominent politicians of his time. Richard Nixon had been a political powerhouse for decades, but the arrogance of him and those around him became a weakness that led to one of the most embarrassing moments in American political history.

Again today, Woodward is not allowing the powerful and elite to dictate to him the story he brings to the public, and for that he is being labeled a pariah by many of the same people who learned much of their trade by studying his story. For exposing a bit of arrogance within the Obama administration, Woodward has been called a “liar” and “irrelevant,” and it has even been said about him that, “There are people waiting for Woodward to die so they can dish stuff on him that they’re too afraid to say now.”

One year ago today another media “pariah” left this earth prematurely. Andrew Breitbart was not willing to allow the powerful and elite keep him from exposing the hypocrisy in politics and bias in the media. The “Happy Warrior” of conservatism, Breitbart was one of the few voices willing to speak up and discuss with honesty and clarity all he saw wrong with the Obama campaign of 2008 and subsequent Presidency, and the landslide “Tea Party” victory of the 2010 midterm elections was most certainly influenced by his hard work and dedication to principle.

While sometimes biased toward the Republican side of things to a fault, Breitbart definitely always erred on the side of what I would call “Original Intent.” Breitbart was always one of the staunchest allies of life from inception, and I have no doubt he would have scoffed at this ginned up “reproductive rights” campaign being perpetrated by the leftists and perpetuated by the media. I believe were he here today, Andrew Breitbart would be on the front lines and working hard to expose the fact that “reproductive rights” as defined by the Democrat Party is ultimately nothing more than an advocacy for abortion, and ultimately increases immorality in society by endorsing permissive sexual behavior with little to no consequence.

And as a father of four who believed in The Bill of Rights with great passion, Breitbart would have been one of the clearest voices speaking up for Americans’ right to bear arms while protecting the safety and security of our families.

I told myself I was going to keep it short today… I took the day off so I could enjoy some of the amazing weather we’re experiencing here in The Valley of The Sun. Forecast calls for clear skies and a high of 79° today, and there’s a lot of desert out there for me to go four-wheeling in. I think I’m gonna do some shooting while I’m out… last month I went to the gun show and bought myself a Remington 702 ‘Plinkster’ and a Taurus Millennium PT745, which is a short-barreled .45 caliber handgun with 6-round magazine. I picked them up as Birthday gifts to myself… I passed a background check and everything! While I was there, I picked up a couple of 25-round magazines for my rifle, and I plan to get a couple more the next time the gun show comes to town. Gotta get ‘em while we still can…

I wanted to add to my collection, which until then consisted only of an Arminius revolver with a 6” barrel. now I can say I truly support diversity… heh, heh…

And while I’m quite sure I can handle both these new weapons properly, practice makes perfect… plus I need to teach my new firearms not to go off killing people while I’m not around, since we all know guns kill people. That and I need to prepare for Armageddon, since President Obama is running around telling everyone that the world is going to end and it’s all the Republican Party’s fault.

So as we prepare for sequester, do not fret; although Congresswoman Maxine Waters claims sequester will cause us to lose 170 million jobs (someone needs to tell Maxine there are only about 150 million jobs held in America today), Nancy Pelosi has a plan:

But remember, it’s all the Republican Party’s fault.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another one of my "Open Letters" to President Obama... And a Little Rant

Dear President Obama,

I have an idea to help you with the “sequester cuts” you’re hanging over the Republicans’ heads like a political piƱata just waiting to explode all over the place. Mr. President, why don’t you pass an Executive Order that reduces the salaries of all Congressional representatives by fifty percent? That one act alone would provide the government with approximately $47 million (assuming all 535 of them make $175K annually), which should cover a fair portion of the money needed to secure the jobs of the first responders and other political pawns you’ve been trotting out as sacrificial lambs in your efforts to deride the opposition for your own expediency.

In fact, Mr. President, I believe you should publically ask each Congress-critter if they would be willing to sacrifice their entire salary for the duration of the current congress as a show of good faith. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Nancy Pelosi squirm when you put her under the spotlight and asked her to do the right thing for the good of the nation? Or would such a display take away her “dignity?”

I mean, I would understand it if a few of the Freshman members of The House didn’t want to give up their salary; you politicians live large there in Washington D.C., and it would be tough for a newbie to “keep up” with the rest of you and your gaudy lifestyle. And if there’s one thing we do know, it’s that it is very important to come to town and fit in… keep a low profile and act like everyone else. Just ask Texas Senator Ted Cruz what happens if you’re new in town and you don’t keep a low profile…

And while we’re at it, Mr. President, why don’t you, sir, give up your salary for the next four years? I mean I know you are the man of the people and you can relate to us all so well, with that multi-million dollar income you have from all those book sales and all, and how you lived in a $200K condo while you and Mrs. Obama went to Ivy League schools and all... but Mr. President, leadership means setting an example, true? And wasn’t it you who once (or more than once, I can’t remember) told us we are all going to have to sacrifice a little… have some “skin in the game…” or something….

By the way, sir… how was that weekend golfing? Did you hear, Mr. President, that your lovely wife’s separate but equally expensive vacation tied up airspace over the Aspen, Colorado area? and I hear your vacation only cost us just short of one million dollars this time, sir.

You know the last time I went on a million dollar vacation and golfed with a professional golfer on a private course, Mr. President? Yeah, try never.

I’m so sick of the crap coming out of Washington, D.C. these days. It’s not just President Obama, although we did elect him to lead, not to go around the country bashing the political opposition (in between golf outings and trips to Hawaii) in an effort to secure his party’s continued success for decades to come. House Majority Leader John Boehner made a statement today that hits the nail on the head, and it’s what most of us have known and have been saying for a long time; America doesn’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. If we’re going to cut out the loopholes in the tax code – as we should, that extra revenue should go to debt reduction, not to growing more government. We’ve already given liberals their “revenues” at the turn of the year, which didn’t affect most of us as much as it did the most wealthy, but I know my paycheck got about $50 lighter every two weeks, but the national debt continues to rise…

The era of big government never really ended… it just hid for a while, sort of. But let’s be honest – from the days of Woodrow Wilson creating the Federal Reserve and “progressive” tax code, to FDR expanding government exponentially because America was in the midst of the crisis of the Great Depression (and we know how progressives feel about a good crisis), to LBJ blowing up the budget by promising retirees health care funded by a Ponzi scheme called Medicare, and a more massive “safety net” called Medicaid that has now become a primary source of income for many, to George W. Bush expanding that Medicare promise to retirees with a drug program larger than even the original Medicare itself… and let’s not forget what we have to go through just to get on an airplane these days and all the scandalous stories surrounding DHS… oh, and now we have “free” healthcare on the way for everyone, or so it seems… free healthcare! Woohoo!

In large part today, we don’t have leadership in Washington; we have politicians. Specifically, we have one politician, and we have a lap-dog media that does his bidding at every turn. After griping this past weekend about the lack of access to the Commander-in-Chief as he golfed with Tiger Woods at a private club in Florida, when The President finally appeared, the first question asked was “Who won?”

It used to be that in America, holding political office at the national level was an act of service. Clearly, the fundamental transformation of America is working out exactly as planned.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On a Mountain...

I’ve not been here for a while, I know. I’m sure you’ve probably been wondering where I have been, and why I haven’t had anything to say lately. After all, it’s not for lack of good material…

We learned a couple of weeks ago that in the eyes of Hillary Clinton, it didn’t make any difference that the Obama administration sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice out on five Sunday shows with a campaign of misinformation and that an amateur filmmaker was arrested and perpwalked as if he were the reason for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 21012. In having this reported to us, we learned from the mainstream media that Hillary is apparently some sort of superhero, because rather than report on the failings of her leadership as Secretary of State, they chose to document her illnesses, her visits to 112 nations, and discuss all the trials and tribulations she has been through since her entrance into the American political scene in the early 1990’s. oh, and we learned that she is considered the most powerful and popular woman in the world. How special for her, really.

This week I learned I have a “boss,” but he’s certainly not the one who offered me my gainful employment a number of years back. I also learned... and this came as quite a shock… that I have a new set of parents. Little did I know that the President and First Lady are “the Mom and Dad of the country,” and that when they speak, we should listen. And I must say… I am very proud of Chris Rock for this new understanding of American politics… after all, it couldn’t be about skin color that he said the things he said about George W. Bush, yet now has this greater respect for The Presidency… could it?

We learned that it is perfectly okay for some woman to go on CNN and discuss the idea that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is overweight, so much so that he might have a heart attack or a stroke, or even die in office. Yet at the same time, we learned from a writer at The Washington Post that anyone who dare mention the size of Michelle Obama’s certainly must be, well…. Raaaaacist.

But I digress…

And we’ve learned that while only three individuals were ever water boarded during the Bush administration, and we know that such activity definitely led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, Bush and waterboarding were evil. Yet is seems there’s no limit to the number of individuals being killed by the Obama administration’s drone program, and he actually is now pushing to be able to kill Americans who are “believed by top level administration officials” to be part of terrorist organizations. And in case we’ve all forgotten… as head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano would be considered a “top level administration official.” This is same Janet Napolitano and DHS who once had to apologize for labeling veterans returning from combat as vulnerable to recruitment by “right-wing extremists.”

So I guess the reason I haven’t had much to say about politics lately isn’t because not much is happening. I’d be more inclined to say that my personal life at a number of levels has taken precedence to my interest in politics. I mean, when there are reports out that as many as 7 million currently employed and insured individuals may lose their health insurance, that insurance and medical costs are skyrocketing, knowing that many of my friends and I predicted such things would happen… well, I for one am led to wonder why I even care what is going on in politics and what difference my voice makes anyway? Oh, and has anyone noticed the price of gasoline miraculously decreased in the weeks leading up to the election, yet now we’re right back up to all-time high prices, yet there’s no specific reason for the fall or the rise of these costs?

I’d be inclined to take the American media seriously, if only they’d send their trucks equipped with broadcast equipment to the South Side of Chicago and report on the tragedy of the deadly violence happening there on a daily basis… but that would open up a Pandora's Box of truths the media and liberals don’t want to deal with. We’d suddenly have to be honest about the breakdown of the family in America, specifically in the inner city and in Black neighborhoods. If we had to address that issue, then we might have to start looking at the institutionalization of government dependency that has been and continues to be rampant in these neighborhoods. Then we might have to address how it is now a viable option for women to have children out of wedlock, because they can receive more benefits by having more children, yet those children are brought into a life of dependence that teaches them no work ethic and no family values. And we might, if we delved deeply enough, learn how in some cases it is actually advantageous for individuals to avoid employment and use government programs as a means for sustenance.

But instead, the media sent all their trucks to beautiful suburban New Town, Connecticut, and worked up all the tear-jerking sob stories they could find in an effort to break our hearts… and in large part, it worked. There is no story more tragic than the death of so many innocent children, and to have it happen all at one time in such a horrific way is heart-wrenching. But being honest, what we had in New Town was a case of one mentally instable individual who gained illegal access to an otherwise perfectly legal firearm. He then went on an emotionally charged tirade with that and other weapons in hand, and to be sure the result was tragic. Yet the number of individuals killed by gang violence and other types of crime fueled by the desperation of those whose lives are being devastated by dependence on government far outweighs the numbers of those killed in mass murders by shooters with high capacity rifles, and… crickets.

So we’ve got a Republican coming into the position of Secretary of Defense who, by his own admission, doesn’t even understand American domestic policy, so that’s good… and the wealthiest member of our government is now Secretary of State… oh, those one-percenters…

In the meantime, and much more important… I got myself out of my apartment and took a hike yesterday, and it did me a world of good.

I spent about five hours climbing up and down the three peaks that make up the Lookout Mountain Preserve in north-central Phoenix, which is actually just a few minutes’ drive from my home. (The picture to the left is actually Estrella Mountain, to the southwest about 20 miles from where I was hiking).

I’ve lived here about four years now and I’ve never taken advantage of the fact that I have this wonderful sanctuary so close to home. I’ve hiked other local mountains, mind you… but I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to myself “I need to go climb those mountains,” and yesterday I finally did. It was invigorating, and took my mind and heart directly back to the last time I wrote.

I needed to take a baby step, and I did. Next I’ll take a little larger step… I’m thinking about maybe heading west to the White Tank Mountains, or down to South Mountain next weekend. I’ve done some hiking in The Superstitions, but there’s always more… plus there’s the Estrella Mountains, the San Tan Mountains, Thompson Peak and the McDowell Mountain range… and that’s all just here in The Valley of The Sun.

Anyway, as I was hiking yesterday I did as I always do when I get out into nature a little bit… I stopped a few times and just enjoyed the quiet. Even in the middle of the massive city, I found a few spots that were sheltered from the sight of houses and industry, and where I couldn’t hear anything but the wind blowing and the birds chirping. It was awesome.

And as I walked across the south face of the mountains I crossed paths with a woman… we were in the same vicinity only for a moment, but my encounter with her defined my day. We said hello, agreed that it was a beautiful day… and she said to me, “This is where God is.” I thought that was interesting, because while I know we can find Him in many different aspects of our lives, I have found the one specific place I can always go and have a good conversation with our Heavenly Father is on the top of a mountain.

And so I climbed. I got to the top… well, almost to the top… I didn’t quite feel comfortable with the last short stretch, but that’s just because I didn’t want to become one of those people we hear about on the local news that broke a leg and needed to be rescued from the side of the mountain. But I climbed to the top of the highest peak in the Lookout Mountain range... Then I made my way down, around the side and then up again, and across the preserve and back towards where I had parked my Jeep.

It’s interesting… I found out while I was hiking that there is an actual parking lot for the area, but I chose to park in a residential area at a point where there is access to the same area. The spot I parked is to the west of the mountains, so as I made my way back to the Jeep I saw the sun setting in the western sky. I don’t see too many sunsets, at least not from places that have such a wide open view as I had last night. I spent a good hour watching the sun descend behind the southern end of the White Tank Mountains…

About the same time I was getting ready to leave a young couple came walking up the path I was near, and the guy asked me, “aren’t you cold?” Indeed I was… it’s been rather chilly here – relatively, of course… but as the sun set and I had on just my shorts and a t-shirt, my hands were trembling a bit as I took my last few pictures. But it was well worth it…

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reflection and Introspection

I drove home with the radio off; an hour by myself with only my thoughts (yeah, that can be dangerous), outside the distraction of the rain and the drivers around me…. I wanted to absorb the emotions of the day. As I sit and try to express my thoughts and emotions now I’m finding it rather difficult, even though I am certain that the day that was this day shall bring plenty of reason and understanding to my life moving forward.

I was honored to receive an invitation to attend the service today as my friend Tammy and her family lay to rest the body of her husband LuvPilot. As I left home this morning it was pouring rain, the kind of rain only seen a few times a year here in The Valley of The Sun… I must say it seemed only appropriate. The service was beautiful, touching, and at times inspirational. The stories told assured me of what I already knew even without having ever met him… the man whose life we celebrated today was a good man. Tammy has two boys of whom I know she is very proud… fine young men, by all accounts... and as she read to us words she had written to her sons earlier this week it brought tears to my eyes, just as it did the day I read it on her blog. She made the decision to speak last minute, she explained, and as she told us this and excused herself for the fact that she would be reading from her phone… and then the way she teased at her boys about the fact that she can’t understand why they don’t read her blog… it was a heartwarming moment.

We proceeded to the gravesite… it’s a natural point of introspection; the times we’re reminded that someday we and those we love shall all be in that place… it can be difficult to accept, but important to understand. It’s what we do with our time here that makes the difference…

As I pulled out of the church parking lot, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” came on the radio. It’s a little thing… yet perhaps there are no coincidences.

In the process of attending this service, I was blessed with the opportunity to make human, face-to-face connections with a few people I’ve known for some time now, yet with whom my entire friendship and connection until today had been based only on our writings and comments on our blogs. I can’t say how grateful I am for the time I spent with these ladies today. The feeling of acceptance you all have given me over the past few years, and the opportunity to share time with you and to be there for a friend… our friend… y’all are awesome, and I can’t thank you enough.

So as I drove home, and I thought about my ‘new’ friendships for which I feel so blessed… and I thought of my friend Tammy who has a whole new world to face beginning tomorrow as much as or more than any day perhaps this past week… first I got a little choked up and tears came to my eyes… and then I came to the firm decision that it is time. It is time for me to be the change I want to see, and to truly start living life like I haven’t lived in quite some time.

In my past… a number of years past more than recently… I had allowed myself to be brought down by circumstances… some could have been within my control, and some not so much… but when given the opportunity to make a choice, I didn’t assume control and create my own destiny for the better. Over the past few years, but more specifically within the past few months, I’ve been coming out of my self-created shell, and I’ve been making better decisions… creating my destiny rather than accepting fate. But now it’s time… to break my rusty cage. A change is going to come in my life, and it’s going to be for the better. I’m not quite sure what is to come, but I’m ready… I’ll be watching for signs… little tells that indicate a path, or a reason.

I shall stand by a statement made today in the company of friends… the television needs to be turned off, and the brain needs to be turned on. I am smart enough to know the opinions of the TV personalities on the cable news channels as the news breaks, and I don’t need to have my opinion either validated or discounted by some talking head in New York City or Washington, DC. I stay informed well enough by having the radio on as background noise during the day, and if there’s truly breaking news I can make an exception.

I’ve been playing my guitar again; that’s a great thing, it feels good to strum even a few bars a night… and I need to continue working on it. Before I stopped playing consistently I was getting pretty good, and I’d like to play better. Only I can make that happen… it’s not going to happen by osmosis.

I really enjoy writing. I don’t need to be so political about things… and I don’t need to worry about being the next “big thing” in the blogosphere. A few years ago I thought maybe that was where I was… I tried to be aggressive and boisterous, and I wished and hoped for more and more readers… but if I am to live up to the name I have given this place… The Wisdom of Soloman is really more about sharing the things I learn about life that might help others, rather than shouting my political opinion and expecting everyone to agree with me.

I need to read. Based on my understanding of today’s political climate, I’ve been working on the most important book I can think of… yet for a reason I can’t explain other than the magnet that is the boob-tube, it’s taken me over a year to read Atlas Shrugged. I know exactly what my pattern is… over the Christmas season I pick up a book and read, because I am on an airplane and in airports, and because it helps me wind down when I’m visiting my family. Yet I come home, the book gets put up on a shelf, and doesn’t get picked up until the next year. It’s time for that to change.

I have been given plenty of motivation to travel… the jigsaw puzzle of the state of Arizona given to me by my parents this year offers all kinds of ideas for travel right here in my home state. My employer has been bringing me the travel section of the Arizona Republic and discussing with me some of his favorite places. I have coworkers who want to spend time in the Bradshaw Mountains, panning for gold or doing whatever… I have a 4x4 and plenty of time, a few guns to practice shooting, and an acoustic guitar that would love to travel. And today I received an incredible offer I just might accept sooner than later… I hear there’s a lot of beautiful scenery in Utah, and it’s just a day’s drive away…

Perhaps most important of all, it is time for me to delve into my faith, and to gain a greater understanding of what it is I truly believe and how it shall affect my life. During a conversation today I admitted out loud something I recognized not too long ago; there could be perceived an extreme arrogance on my part, to name my blog as I did. As I have said many times, I am not a churchgoing man, yet I consider myself a person with faith in God. I am by no means a student of The Bible; in fact I would say I am far from it. I understand The Ten Commandments, which are the basic tenants of God’s law, and I make an effort each day to live more within those guidelines than ever before. But to say I have wisdom… hmm.

Psalms 111:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” I’d say I’m on my way, but there is work to be done.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prayers For My Friend

This afternoon I learned some very sad news. A friend… someone I have never met personally, but with whom because of blogging and our similar perspectives on life and politics I have developed good rapport and a feeling of confidence… has lost her husband. A heart condition, by her account… similar to something he had experienced a couple years ago.

I know of him only by the nickname she uses for him when she writes on her blog or when she comments here… LuvPilot. He was a pilot for Southwest Airlines, which is the airline I always fly when I go back to Cleveland for Christmas. Of course, I have no idea if he ever piloted one of the planes I was carried on, but it always crossed my mind… each and every time I stepped on a plane, I thought of my friend Tammy and the man she so clearly loves with all her heart, and wondered if he was the pilot keeping my passage safe.

I can’t even begin to understand what Tammy is going through right now. I don’t know what I would do… I have no idea how I might react to the loss of someone close to me. It is nearly inevitable; at some time in our lives, we all will likely lose someone, at some very close level. I always believed it would be me being mourned by others, given the wreck I was for so many years… Maybe I was trying to make it be me, because I was so afraid to feel. I don’t know for sure, and that’s not the point, really… although I can’t help but selfishly think about what I would feel, if I were in her shoes. I guess that’s human nature… all we really have is our understanding of what we experience through our interactions with others. A book can never tell you what only your heart can feel, and no amount of planning can prepare a person for the journey upon which Tammy is about to embark.

As she wrote about this overwhelming event, Tammy said she doesn't feel amazing, and that she doesn't feel strong… yet she had the strength to write about this, just one day after learning the news. I’d probably be curled up in a ball in the corner of my bedroom and losing my mind. And while she likely doesn't believe this today… I think Tammy is going to be just fine. In fact, I’m sure of it. I wish I could take the pain and sorrow from my friend and let her move on as if she never missed a beat, but that’s not the way God meant it to be, as she knows. Her faith, along with the strength and love of her family and friends, will see her through this turbulent time.

Tammy was blessed with the opportunity to have a good conversation with her LuvPilot on Friday, and she had the chance to say “I love you.” I know, somehow, that makes all the difference.

I don’t ask this often… ever, really… but please… say a prayer for my friend Tammy, and for their two sons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Pox on Both Houses

On both the left and the right of the Second Amendment discussion there are radicals who come across as nut-jobs, and there are reasonable brokers who deserve and need to be heard. To say nothing needs to be done is ignorant, because there are definitely reasons we continue to experience such tragedies as we have witnessed in recent times. But to create new and broad-sweeping laws in an extremely emotional reaction to recent events is not necessarily the best course of action either. We are a nation of over 300 million free citizens who have a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms that, as the Second Amendment states, “Shall not be infringed.” We reside in fifty individual States with different political climates, geographical makeup and historical perspectives that make suitable nationwide laws difficult to enact, yet there must surely be some reasonable national agreement about the basics of firearm ownership.

To be completely honest, we need to look not just at firearm ownership and The Second Amendment. In my opinion we need to take a serious look at our mental health system. We should assess the effects of Hollywood and other factors such as video games on the minds and morality of young people. And as difficult as it will be, America should also take an honest look at the number of single parent homes in America today, and the potential lack of support and nurturing that children may receive within such environments. With more than half of children born to American mothers younger than 30 happening outside marriage, our society is changing in ways never before seen and certainly not very well understood.

I have opinions about the “gun control” debate” which I plan to begin expressing over the next few days and perhaps weeks, but tonight I would like to speak out and express my disgust with both the NRA and President Obama for using children as props in a political debate. I have discussed this here before and I’m sure will be pressed to do so again, and it saddens me greatly. In the midst of very important conversations in American politics, politicians, pundits and persons of influence continue to use children to tug at heartstrings or to make points that can very easily be made in rational ways, and it saddens me greatly.

The NRA made a commercial that accuses President Obama of being an elitist hypocrite, because his children are protected at their private school by individuals who carry weapons while everyday Americans watch their children go to school every day to places where they are not protected in the same fashion. While I can say I understand the point being made by the organization at the very surface, it is unfair and out of line to put the children of The President of The United States into the same category as the children of everyday Americans. President Obama’s children are potential targets by no fault of their own in ways that ‘regular’ kids will never be, as any rational thinker should clearly understand with no further explanation needed. We as a nation have provided such security for the families of our Presidents over the course of our history, and to consider President Obama and his children any different than any past leader is simply ridiculous.

On the other side, President Obama today had four youngsters standing alongside his podium today. In an effort to make his actions appear to be all about “the children,” he discussed how these and other children had written letters expressing their dire concern that he please, please, please do all he can to change laws to make it “safer” for all the children. Of course these children have no real understanding of the facts surrounding the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Aurora movie theater or any other recent incident. The stories of how these children would hurt so badly were they to lose siblings is certainly heart-wrenching, but we need to be honest; if we take all our actions and make all our decisions related to such extremely difficult issues based on the thoughts and emotions of children, we are destined to fail as a society.

I must admit I am somewhat surprised by the NRA; I had hoped they would take the higher road in this debate and keep the discussion based in facts rather than hyperbole, because I sincerely believe the facts are on the side of those of us who believe in The Second Amendment as the fundamental protection of our right to protect ourselves. Clearly I was wrong, as they sank to the level of their political opposition and disgraced themselves in the process. So while they say they represent the protection of our rights, their actions lead me to believe they are really not much better than many of the other power-brokers and lobbyists on Capitol Hill, saying and doing whatever it takes to advance a cause.

One of the things I disliked most about the 2012 Presidential election was the massive amount of lies and misinformation put forward by the Obama campaign. I have in the past been outspoken about my beliefs regarding team Obama and their nature as propagandists; quite simply, they do it better than any political team in history. I believe today’s press conference is a good example of this, and while it doesn’t surprise me, it does of course disappoint. President Obama had a chance to really catalyze a much needed conversation, and instead he made snarky remarks about Congressional representatives being more concerned about their “A” grade with the “gun lobby” than with the safety of the nation. Sadly many will look right past his immature behavior and treat it as acceptable, because it is, as they say, "the new norm" in the era of Obama. I expect such sarcasm and half-witted comments from Hollywood types and talk radio hosts; I expect much more from The President of The United States of America.

E Pluribus Unum; Out of many, one. It is our nation’s motto, and it represents the best of the political visions held by both sides of the aisle. The individual is strengthened by the community, but there is no community without strong individuals.

It will require parties from both sides to be willing to deal with each other and make concessions, to be sure. But if we are to move in a direction that serves our future best as individuals within the collective population, and as states within this great nation, we desperately need this President to stop campaigning and stop throwing around snide remarks about his political opposition, and start leading as if he is the President of The United States of America.