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…