Wednesday, July 20, 2016

It's Unwinding...Our Culture Of Entitlement

In March 2016, Rob Dreher reported the following in his article, “You Can See It All Over. It’s Unwinding”: “Honestly, I’ve had it with people. I’ve had it with Trump supporters who think their anger and their outrage gives them the right to punch people in the face. I’ve had it with Black Lives Matter and other Social Justice Warriors who think the so-called righteousness of their cause gives them the right to silence those who disagree with them. I’m sick and tired of people who think everything wrong in their lives is because somebody, somewhere, has wronged them. Guess what? You can’t screw whoever you like, have as many kids as you like, or as many partners as you like, walk away from your marriage (if you ever marry), and expect everything to be okay. You can’t drink, drug, party, “keep it real,” make excuses for your children, make excuses for yourself, allow our degraded popular culture to raise your kids, and expect good outcomes. You can’t throw money at problems and expect them to go away (e.g., pay to send your kids to a Christian school, and assume that your tuition fee contractually entitles you to opt out of the moral and spiritual formation of your children), or assume that being a Nice Middle-Class Person is sufficient. It’s not. I’m tired of the rich and the middle class who expect everything to be handed to them, and fall to pieces when it isn’t. I’m tired of the working class and the poor who live as if their relative material deprivation gives them a pass from having to live by basic standards of conduct that most everybody understood and affirmed within living memory, but which are all but forgotten today. Above all, I’m tired of a culture in which so many people have no idea how to tell themselves no, to anything, ever. A culture of entitlement.

I know this is a lot to take in all at once. It’s a pretty epic rant about life here in America, but if you take a deep breath, keep an open mind, regardless of your political views, regardless of your views on religion, marriage, sexuality, race, and the many other very human things we are arguing about day in and day out, then go back and read this little rant again, I am sure there are at least a couple points with which you will agree. It definitely struck a chord with me.

We need to put aside our political bias and political agendas for a few minutes and address the items in this rant as facts about life in America today because sadly, no matter how you look at it, these are facts. This is an apt description of the America in which we live – an America that is far different from the America that was envisioned by the hard working idealists that founded her – an America that has lost her way because she has abandoned the core values upon which she was built. And I am not talking about religious values – I am talking about the very human-centric values of common sense, accountability and personal responsibility. If we were on a large ancient ship powered by one hundred rowing people, only sixty-six of us would be rowing. Thirty-three of us would rowing one way and the other thirty-three would be rowing the other way, each of us refusing to stop and agree on a direction, resulting in our large majestic ship no longer moving at all.

The only way to get our ship moving again is for us to pause and address the issues that are keeping it from moving forward. It’s time for us to start working together again. It’s time for each of us to expect more of every single one of us – time for each of us to expect each and every one of us to row, not just some of us, because in the end, there is absolutely no excuse for any able-minded and able-bodied American to not be rowing.

Honestly, I’ve had it with people. I’ve had it with Trump supporters who think their anger and their outrage gives them the right to punch people in the face. I’ve had it with Black Lives Matter and other Social Justice Warriors who think the so-called righteousness of their cause gives them the right to silence those who disagree with them.

While this article was written in March when the establishment media’s coverage was laser-focused on some very shitty deeds by a few people at Trump rallies, the point it makes about resorting to physical confrontations is quite spot on. I do, however, find it interesting that the establishment media’s microscope-like analysis of every sneeze made by Trump supporters seemed to fade into a blurred, high-level, spend a few seconds on it look at violence surrounding the primary elections once the tables turned and thugs and anarchists were pelting Trump supporters with eggs, rocks and bricks in the streets, hunting them down in mass, roving gangs.

No American, regardless of any trait, should be subjected to a physical confrontation due to their beliefs on a subject or no matter how contrary those views may be to a single person, or a mob of thugs who call themselves protestors. March peacefully all you want to, but as soon as the protest march you have organized spirals out of control, take responsibility and root out those factions. Work with authorities to stop your protest marches from having a negative impact on the community. Don’t turn and look the other way when vandals and criminals take over your march or your movement by simply throwing your hands up in the air and saying there was nothing you could do to stop it.

And most importantly, we have to realize that no single one of us has a right to silence the opposing views of another. We are human enough to have civil discourse on the issues, in peace, without being human enough to resort to violence and personal attacks, which accomplish absolutely nothing. Our civic and political leaders, especially our president, should never support groups or people who resort to these tactics of intimidation, fear and violence.

I’m sick and tired of people who think everything wrong in their lives is because somebody, somewhere, has wronged them.

America has become a nation of deflectors. For every ailment in life, all someone has to do is blame someone or something else for that ailment and they are instantly forgiven for not taking the personal responsibility necessary to correct or address it. In other words, nothing is ever anyone’s own fault – it is always someone else’s fault. No money for college? Not your family’s fault for not saving, not your fault for not being willing to work in the university cafeteria to pay your way because you are too far above a job like that. Clearly, the hard-working American taxpayer should have to foot the bill for your education instead. Not getting hired for a job? Must be because school didn’t prepare you enough, or the hiring managers must be racists, or it must be the fault of those fat cat Wall Street pigs, or someone or something else, right? And it’s not your fault you’re a smoker or a drinker. I am sure it is genetic, or perhaps the fault of the companies who produce cigs and booze for using their slick advertising to force you to buy them. It is amazing how people will ardently demand free will, but then once they have it, everything they do to harm themselves, those around them, or their livelihoods, is clearly a result of every other outside influence except their own free will.

Guess what? You can’t screw whoever you like, have as many kids as you like, or as many partners as you like, walk away from your marriage (if you ever marry), and expect everything to be okay.

But, with the social safety net that is forever increasing in cost and relying on a forever-decreasing percentage of the population who is burdened with paying for it, they really seem to think they can. The more kids you have, the more money they put on your gub’ment debit card. The more kids you have, the less society seems to expect you to pay for raising those kids. It’s not enough that you can keep them on your government-mandated health insurance until they are 26 years old, but apparently, they are soon going to have a civil right to a college education as well, of course, at someone else’s expense. Government is paying people to have more kids, not raise them, and then insists that society coddle them later and later in life. Remember when you were an adult at 18? Now, it’s 26. When will adulthood begin eight years form now? 35?

This misguided incentive to breed carelessly and coddle the resulting “young”, society’s newfound lack of necessity for the family unit, regardless of its makeup, and the acceptance and proliferation of the “baby-daddy” all have us on our way to the same ruin as every other prolific empire in the history of mankind that allowed itself to become too dependent on the productivity of an ever-decreasing amount of producers that eventually end up becoming a minority of the population, then, finally, one day, say, “Enough is enough!”

You can’t drink, drug, party, “keep it real,” make excuses for your children, make excuses for yourself, allow our degraded popular culture to raise your kids, and expect good outcomes.

Did our grandparents who told us that things used to be safer sell us a false narrative about that past? Did television, the movies and the history books all lie to us when they told us that things were simpler, less dangerous and less complicated in the past? Is there no relation between the break down of the family, again, regardless of its makeup, and increases in crime, poverty, drug use, etc.?

And at the same time, how is the rise of reality television and all of the horrible people that it turns into role models for the young not going to have an effect on the moral fiber of our society?

In our rush to be our children’s best friend and make sure they have the same material luxuries our neighbors are providing their kids, we’re forgetting to raise the little bastards! And not raising your little bastards properly is what is leading to the increase in crime, decrease in safety, and a good deal of the social tension we are experiencing as a society and as a nation.

You must get a license for just about everything you do in this country, but bringing a human being into this world that society must then clothe, feed, shelter, and keep from killing us one way or another is not one of them.

Yet, this never-may-care attitude and no-consequences-ever lifestyle that we are continually promoting to our youth and making completely acceptable for their parents and other adults in this country is a self-perpetuating monstrosity that doesn’t seem to have a cure. Until the people of this country who engage in and promote this lifestyle change their way, this train is only going to approach the cliff at a faster and faster rate. Good luck stopping it!

You can’t throw money at problems and expect them to go away (e.g., pay to send your kids to a Christian school, and assume that your tuition fee contractually entitles you to opt out of the moral and spiritual formation of your children), or assume that being a Nice Middle-Class Person is sufficient. It’s not. I’m tired of the rich and the middle class who expect everything to be handed to them, and fall to pieces when it isn’t.

And not only are the ills of this modern, devil-may-care society in which we find ourselves ruining this country, the people perpetrating it seem to feel they are playing no role in its existence. Parents are so concerned with being a slightly older version of their kids’ generation that they are forgetting what got them where they are in life, a strong upbringing by their parents, not a special friendship with “Joe” and “Suzy” as their kids call them because they are cooler than all the other kids’ parents.

Spend, spend, spend, buy, buy, buy, smile and wave at the neighbors, buy your kids every little material thing they whine for, and bam, you are a great parent and a productive member of society. Meanwhile, you’re not teaching these kids the true value of life, the true value of hard work, the true value of America. When did we all achieve the automatic entitlement to things that past generations had to work for?

I’m tired of the working class and the poor who live as if their relative material deprivation gives them a pass from having to live by basic standards of conduct that most everybody understood and affirmed within living memory, but which are all but forgotten today. Above all, I’m tired of a culture in which so many people have no idea how to tell themselves no, to anything, ever. A culture of entitlement.

While there is not rioting and looting in the streets everyday, some of us have definitely witnessed it firsthand at least a couple of times. And this behavior is a prime example of the mentality that is beginning to plague this nation more and more. The rioter and looter believe they have somehow been wronged by a society that has more than they do. They believe they have some inherent right to go out and obtain material items they will not pay for or work for by stealing them from someone who has. The worst part is that they believe they are not actually stealing those items, but, in fact, are owed those items by society. Other people can afford a big, flat screen TV, and even though I can’t, I deserve to have one, too, so when people are looting the Best Buy, I’m gonna go and get what’s mine.

Again, while the physical act of rioting and looting is rare, this same entitled mentality occurs each and every day in this country in a perfectly legal manner, silently, hidden behind the guise of social welfare. For those of us who produce, when we earn income, poof, there goes a portion of it to the government. After legally and quietly looting our income via electronic debit, the government then doles that money out to the people who apparently deserve it more than the people who actually worked for it.

People who, for whatever reason, cannot afford the same material luxuries as others feel they are entitled to the same as those who can. Why do they feel that way? Why should I be entitled to things that are not mine, things that I have not earned or worked for? It is because we, as a society, have made them feel that this entitlement is perfectly acceptable. Too many people are saying, “Yes, I agree, you deserve these things,” instead of, “If you want these things, get off your ass and get out there and earn them.” This message of entitlement is being relayed loud and clear to far too many.

All of these ills can be traced back to one simple thing: In America, we used to applaud and reward hard work and dedication and look down upon freeloading, laziness and entitlement. Today, we are continually scoffing more and more at those who work hard and embracing the so-called “plight” of those who do not. It is time for everyone to contribute – time for everyone to pay their “fair share”, not just some of us.

It is time for everyone to row. It is time for those of us who are rowing to no longer accept the excuses of those who are not rowing. It is time for us to stop rowing for them. It is time for us to work together to pick a direction and get this large majestic ship moving again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's Unwinding...Can Mr. Taco Bowls Re-Wind It?

In March 2016, Rob Dreher reported the following in his article, “You Can See It All Over. It’s Unwinding”: “There is no way a man like Donald Trump has any business being president,” the man told me. “You can’t talk like he does and expect people to give you the authority to run the country. The problem is that there is nobody to vote for. Look at all the rest of them running. This is the first time in my life that I don’t feel confident voting for anybody for president.” And later, with a look of pained resignation on his face: “I tell you, people who don’t think this country is in serious trouble don’t know what they’re talking about. You can see it all over. It’s unwinding.

I feel the 2016 primary season, especially the Republican side, is quite accurately summarized in this single quote from a self-professed Louisiana conservative. The sentiments were provided to Dreher in March, long before Mr. Donald Trump would find himself as the presumptive Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States.

And while I might not disagree entirely that an overly-emotional, reactionary, former reality TV star who doesn’t always think before he speaks has no business being president, I do tend to agree with the notion that perhaps what this country might actually need right now is someone who has no business being president. I guess I’d also argue that if you are a Hillary Clinton supporter, then you and I must be in agreement on something – you too must believe that someone who has no business being president should be our next president.

The problem is that there is nobody to vote for. Look at all the rest of them running. This is the first time in my life that I don’t feel confident voting for anybody for president.”  While I might not have agreed entirely with this statement when it was made back in March, I will readily admit that as the Republican primary field dwindled down, I too, for the first time in my life, felt fairly uncertain of whom to vote for when the June California primary was going to finally arrive. Whether fortunately, or unfortunately, by the time it was our time to vote, the primary winner had already been presumptively crowned. Any vote other than a vote for Mr. Trump in the California primary would have been a symbolic gesture.

In 1992, I voted for William Jefferson Clinton. That often comes as a big surprise to those who know me, but I had just turned 18 years old, was in my first year of college, and worried H.W. was going to send me off to war in Iraq, plus at the time, Clinton represented youth and rejuvenation in America, so I overlooked the scandals, shady rendezvous, alleged forced encounters, and usual political stories that fascinate me now, and still voted for him for purely selfish reasons.

By 1996, I was heavily disappointed in the morally weak man Clinton turned out to be (though I really should have known that already when I voted for him in 1992), and I was disappointed in the fact that a man who claimed to be a lawyer still lied under oath, even if he was doing it to try to cover up an affair with an intern that occurred in the Oval Office. And while I liked Bob Dole and how he referred to himself in third person, which William L. Savastano tends to do quite often, I was so fascinated at the prospect of a businessman serving as our president – someone who actually stood a chance of being a fiscal conservative – that Ross Perot got my vote. As you know, according to the final vote count that year, Clinton’s affair and lying under oath still did not keep the man from getting re-elected.

Then in 2000, how could I not vote for Dubya over boring ass environmentalist and creator of the Internet Al Gore? And then in 2004, how could I not vote for Dubya over boring ass John Heinz Kerry? Granted, there was more to my decision than that, but long story short, in 2000, the conservative in me voted pretty solidly along party lines, and in 2004, because we had not seen another large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil and things were going well for me personally, four more years of Dubya just made sense. Plus, I did love how much he pissed off and befuddled all of the liberals out there who hated him so much! And let me make one thing clear about the 2000 election, though I am not as much of a fan now, had Colin Powell run for president in 2000, he would have had my vote hands down! I was really disappointed when the general decided not to run.

Then, 2008 rolled around. Is everyone still as disappointed in that one as me? Not because we lost, but because even in the face of an inexperienced young Senator who obviously was not seasoned enough to serve as commander in chief, the best we could muster at the time to oppose him was McCain-Palin. Don’t get me wrong, McCain is deserving of our respect and is every ounce the war hero everyone makes him out to be, but while you can make the argument it was his time and he had earned the chance to be our president, that ticket was never going to live up to what would have been needed to win in 2008, especially with a whole mess of people voting for someone simply because of the color of his skin.

In 2012, I was Romney all the way from the very earliest days of his campaign, and was a Romney supporter through to the end. I also was a big fan of Hermain Cain that election cycle.

In 2016, had Romney run again, he would have been a strong contender for my vote. I was also a strong supporter of Dr. Ben Carson, long before he actually decide to run, back when he was still wearing glasses during TV appearances. And Scott Walker was someone I could have seen myself voting for as well. But, with Romney not in at all, and Walker out early, I was all set to vote for Dr. Carson in the primary for 2016, but we all know now how that turned out.

This all leads me to where we are today…mid-2016, just before the conventions that will finalize the results of the groundbreaking primary competition between the outsiders and the establishment…if you can consider a socialist career politician and a billionaire who built his wealth on a gift from his daddy to be outsiders.

Make no bones about it, I understand the difference between establishment and outsider in this election, but we’re not talking about a complete outsider, grassroots candidate who will be leaving his or her job at the tire shop to become president.

I do still see this election as a crossroads for our country, though. I know we say that about every election, but it is definitely the case this time as well. On the left, you can feel the socialists trying very hard to pull the established party even further to the left than our president has done over the past seven years. Social agendas are more important than security and financial responsibility at all costs on the left. On the right, you can feel the anti-establishment movement standing with a candidate that is already a little further to the right, or at least seems to be today, than the GOP’s previous presidential and candidate offerings. Are we actually really talking about banning entire religious or ethnic groups again in this country?

Either way, I doubt we will see a coming together on common ground for either side any time soon. And as much as I believe my fiscally conservative views are correct and don’t like to compromise those views very often, I also recognize that our country’s inability to find common ground these days is not a good thing.

This election is going to determine if the country continues its steep slide to the left, or if there is a steep pullback to the right. I personally believe there is nothing in the world Trump or any of his supporters can do to defeat the Clinton juggernaut that is propped up by the Democrat establishment, the liberal elites, and all that campaign money. The Trump campaign’s only chance would be a complete 180 degree turn to a more reasonable stance on a number of issues, which I don’t see happening. Plus, add in all the folks that are going to vote Clinton because of the chromosomes she possesses, and all the independent and centrist folks who are going to choose her as the lesser of two evils, and there will be enough votes to rocket her to the presidency she has been dreaming about since she first met Bill, or perhaps since she decided to stick by his lying, cheating ass for her own personal gain.

So, unless something new and groundbreaking happens at either of the two major party conventions, Hillar-ious and I Love Taco Bowls are going to be the choice I am faced with in the general election. Yes, there are all of those third party candidates out there, and my Perot precedence aside, unless there is a huge surge from someone like Gary Johnson to actually give him a real chance at electability, I’d hate to waste my vote as a symbolic gesture of defiance for Clinton and Trump being the best America has to offer as presidential candidates this time around.

So, with the primaries pretty much finalized, it appears all that remains for me now is to decide if I like Trump enough to vote for him, or if I dislike Hillar-ious enough to vote for Trump. And since I have said that I would rather vote for a rock I found on the ground than for Hillar-ious, and still feel that way, short of not voting, which I will never do, it looks like my ballot in November will be cast for a former reality TV star, even though no one hates reality TV more than me.
Putting aside his former stint firing people on TV, as much as I need to fear being accosted by bands of dreamers, anarchists and socialists for saying so, I do actually agree with a future President Trump on a number of issues.

My view on the wall is that the arguments about it are somewhat symbolic. While both sides scream about whether or not it should be built, if you travel to the border, you will see that the wall is already there. Any wall construction will actually be to extend it, and if we decide to do so, either in width or in height, make no mistake about it – we, the taxpayers are the ones that are going to be paying for it. And while I understand the arguments about providing everyone in the world their chance at the American dream, I also understand the necessity for a secure border, not just here in America, but for nations around the world. We have to at least try to deter mass undocumented illegal immigration in which our enemies can hide among illegal immigrants, and despite the ground the legalization movement has made, we still have to try to keep the drug cartels from operating on our soil. Anyone who thinks we can just tear down that wall without devastating our way of life lives in a dream world. Borders have existed for thousands of years and have helped protect the sovereignty and way of life for great nations far longer than any of us have been alive.

And while a future President Trump says he is going to round up and deport everyone in the country illegally, I think we all recognize that as campaign speak which is completely impractical in the real world. Yet, at the same time, people should not simply get complete amnesty for having broken our immigration laws. There is a middle ground that we can and must find. The real problem with immigration is getting our government to make a decision and then actually implementing what has been decided. I believe neither candidate will have the ability to resolve this issue, even given their potential to spend eight years in office.

On the foreign trade front, we should be concerned about China and our other trading partners and ensuring we have the best trade deals for American companies and American workers, but damaging international trade in any form goes against my core fiscal beliefs. I do believe, however, that a lot of Trump’s tough talk on China and international trade is campaign rhetoric that will subside to a more realistic stance once he is in office. That being said, I do believe that he will fight for American businesses large and small on both the world stage and here at home. Since so much of our job growth and economic prosperity rely on the success of our business community, a President Trump would be a much more business-friendly leader than would yet another Democrat two-term president who doesn’t understand how business and the economy work. I also definitely would trust a President Trump with my tax money far more than I would a socialist President Clinton.

In regards to the War on Terror (yes, I still call it that), we need to stop pussy-footing around with Russia, Syria, Turkey and ISIS, and I see a President Trump doing that with much stronger results than a second President Clinton, especially when you take a look at her foreign policy track record, which brought us the Benghazi fiasco as well as a larger fiasco in the rest of Libya. I very much believe that we need to work closely with the local freedom fighters in the Middle East and support them in routing out these ultra extremist factions that are sponsoring and committing acts of terror around the world. We need to use our military forces in a much smarter way and listen to the military commanders in the region, two things the current president has failed to do, and two things I whole-heartedly believe the next Democrat president will fail miserably at as well.

And while I will admit I don’t disagree completely with them on every issue, I also can really use a break from having the left’s ultra-liberal change-at-any-cost because your supposedly-rich-ass-makes-too-much-money social agenda continually rammed down my throat. I am definitely going to be pissed if they start taking more money from me to pay for other people to go to college when I had to struggle to pay for that shit myself, working three jobs at once at times to cover tuition, books, and my other bills.

And while some of you libs would argue this point until your last breath, I still have some reasonability in my noggin, so I don’t think we need to ban every Muslim from coming to this country. Though I would like to see a much stronger screening process for every single person we allow in, regardless of his or her nationality, race, or religion. And, I have absolutely zero confidence that the Obama administration is capable of properly vetting refugees of any origin before allowing them to walk the streets among us.

As for his rhetoric and the left’s continual accusations of Mr. Trump’s ability to create divisiveness, I do agree somewhat that the rhetoric and divisiveness could be toned down a bit, but what I hear from White House briefings when HisHighness gets on his high horse about something is pretty damned divisive as well.

And lastly, rather than re-hashing all of typical conservative stances that go against the socialist beliefs of soon-to-be-President Clinton, let me just address the following: Of course I am all for lower taxes, more efficient and practical use of the money that both the state and the federal government steal from me, providing the unemployed with education and employment opportunities as opposed to just handing them my money, harsh sentences coupled with rehabilitation programs that actually work for criminals, a strong national defense that includes actually eliminating ISIS, as well as still allowing personal liberty for law-abiding citizens, while encouraging every immigrant to assimilate into America’s culture, and shipping you back to your ancestral homeland when you put your ancestral homeland over the country in which you live. If you fly your homeland’s flag above the stars and stripes, it’s time for you to go back to your homeland.

So, if there were a different option, would I be supporting that option? Probably…but the fact remains, there is no other option. So while I never watched his stupid TV show and have honestly never been too big of a fan, I do find myself more aligned politically and in belief with Mr. Taco Bowls than I do with the other option.

And speaking of the other option, I’ll also spare you the details of what is wrong with lying to the American people, conniving to conspire to cover your ass when you have violated the handling of top secret information, as well as the abuse of non-profit status, using your elected office for personal financial gain, and leaving American operatives hung out to dry and die instead of protecting them. I’ll also spare you the explanation of what is wrong with marching in a gay pride parade while at the same time accepting tens of millions of dollars in donations from countries who would either jail or murder the people you are marching with. I’ll just ask that if you are voting for Hillar-ious, you at least take the time to read up about things like Benghazi, our policy towards Libya, Syria, ISIS and what the email scandal is actually really about. I truly believe that only 1% of her supporters have actually read up on all of the things that people say are wrong with the idea of her being president. Don’t let your view on one or two issues completely cloud your judgment on the bigger picture. Read and watch as much you can between now and the election with an open mind. And for God’s sake, if you are only going to vote for Hillar-ious so we can finally have a female president, you truly do not understand what democracy is about at all and should do us all a favor and not vote any longer. I also find it funny that the very people who are saying that we should no longer pay attention to gender are the ones who are screaming the loudest for a person of a particular gender to be president.

Oh, and I didn’t forget to address the last part of the Louisiana conservative’s quote from way back in the beginning, I was just saving it for last. And later, with a look of pained resignation on his face: “I tell you, people who don’t think this country is in serious trouble don’t know what they’re talking about. You can see it all over. It’s unwinding.

I read multiple articles each and every day about the current state of the economy, politics, business and many other aspects of our life here in America and I have yet to read a better summary of the plight of this country than this man’s words. The average American has either no idea how much debt our government holds, or worse, has no concept whatsoever what all of that debt actually means for the economy and each one of us. With only 66% of us working and true unemployment well into the teens when you factor in people who are working less hours than they desire or for far less pay than they should be, we are in serious trouble. With a weakening foreign policy and even weaker leadership in dealing with those who want to harm us, we are in serious trouble. You can definitely see it all over. It is most definitely unwinding.

And that, ultimately, is why we need to do something different – why we need to make a drastic change instead of eight more years of the same shit – of the steep slide to the left that has helped to dig us into this hole where everyone just puts their heads in the sand, steals more from the producers and borrows money from other countries to give away things for free. It is time to stop spending our time concentrating on everyone’s feelings and coddling the whiners and get them all back to work. It is time to put America and Americans first again. It’s time for ALL OF US to be better off four years from now than just SOME OF US. It is time for us to move on from the anchors and weights tied around our neck by this divisive administration and it’s ridiculous view of America and Americans. To misquote the Joker, “This country needs an enema!”

Doctor Hillar-ious is just going to give us the same medication that hasn’t been working and hope somehow doing the same thing yields different results – and we all know what that action defines. Doctor Taco Bowls is at least going to try something new, something different. I argue that we should give him a chance. Worst-case scenario, we vote him out in four years if he hasn’t performed. Best-case scenario, a fiscal conservative and businessman actually fixes some of our overwhelming problems.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th Of July: A Time To Celebrate Hard Work

Every 4th of July for the past 12 years, at about 8:30 PM, you would have found me standing up on the sidewalk above our neighborhood, waiting for the City of Aliso Viejo fireworks display to start. There is this perfect spot right there on the sidewalk where not only can I see the fireworks display from my city, but also no less than six other fireworks displays across the valley. While the trees have grown over the years, blocking more and more of the fireworks each year, and the length and size of the displays have grown and shrunk with the ups and downs of the economy, each and every single year has still been a sight to behold.

Some years, I’ve been up there in shorts and a polo shirt, sweating because it has been so hot, and other years, I’ve been up there in pants, a polo shirt and a jacket, and still been cold. But, one thing has remained constant year after year - each and every time I stand there waiting for those fireworks to start, I am grateful to the people who made this nation in which I live possible, and each and every person who has touched my life in some way, leading me to that very moment, standing there on that sidewalk.

The people I think of the most as I wait for the fireworks that honor the struggles of our nation are the people who taught me that with hard work and dedication, technically, anything is possible. Each time I stand there, I look back on each and every previous year, and I find myself better off each year than I was the year before. And to what do I owe this continual betterment, year after year? You guessed it...hard work.

Two of the hardest working people I have ever met in the course of my life are my grandparents, who despite coming from big families that did not have much, managed to work hard all their lives, raise two children, three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and to this day continue to help, guide and inspire a whole mess of other kids and young adults whose lives they touch. They are two of the most giving and generous people I have ever encountered, and while still from humble means, give more than could ever be expected of anyone. And their ability to give has come from, you guessed it...their hard work.

And the benefit of hard work is the lesson they continue to teach each and every one of us, every day. In fact, my grandparents have a wonderful poem about hard work hanging on their kitchen wall right next to their pictures of all of us. It was given to my grandmother by a friend, and she has always taken great pride in not only displaying the proverb, but sharing its message with us.

I recently set out to find the origins of the poem which has appeared in numerous publications over the past hundred years and has been attributed to more than a few sources, including an Indian self-help guru, a Norwegian magazine editor and an author that to the best of my knowledge never actually existed. Even though I could not pin down the poem’s actual and true origin or it’s original title, I wanted to share it with you exactly as it has appeared on my grandparents’ wall for as long as I can remember:

Work. Work. Work.

If you are poor, work. If you are rich, work. If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities, work.

If you are happy, continue to work; idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If sorrow overwhelms you, and loved ones seem not true, work. If disappointments come, work.

If faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hopes seem dead – work. Work as if your life were in peril, it really is.

No matter what ails you, work. Work faithfully, and work with faith. Work is the greatest material remedy available. Work will cure both mental and physical afflictions.

So, this 4th of July, at about 8:30 PM, I am going to be up there on that sidewalk, waiting for the fireworks to start, remembering all of the hard work that got us to that very moment and anticipating all of the hard work that is going to guide our lives over the coming 365 days until I find myself in that exact spot again next year. I hope you will join me today in not only reflecting on the hard work and dedication that went into the birth of this nation, but also in not forgetting that it is hard work and dedication that makes so much in our lives possible.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Do I Have A Civil Right To Shirts In My Size?

As I gradually pass 190 pounds, downward from my more than ample 310+, I am coming to the realization that my options for purchasing clothing are now much more plentiful than before. But in my usual brand loyalist fashion, I have decided to continue to do business with the stores that were willing to clothe me when I ranged from a 2X to a 4X and continue to not shop at the stores that obviously didn’t want anything to do with me when I was that size because they simply did not sell clothes in those “big” sizes.
But then, that got me I not have the same rights as a person who wears a small, medium or large? Should I not be able to shop at the same stores as that group of people? I mean, sure, they don’t stock big sizes, but shouldn’t they have to order the stuff they offer in-store to skinnier people for me in my size? Shouldn’t clothing manufacturers be forced to make their designs in sizes that go well beyond what they believe to be normal sizes, or beyond the sizes worn by the majority of the population? Shouldn’t I be able to wear that same exact shirt as someone who wears a small, but in my once-needed 4X size?

Yet, what I discovered when I asked time and time again was that stores either could not or simply would not try to get me the shirt I wanted in that size, and manufactures frequently either made sizes Small to XL, or XXL to 4X, but seldom, if ever, seemed to make a single shirt in the gamut of sizes from Small on up to and past 4X.

Now indulge me for a second and replace me in this story with a gay man and the clothing retailer with a bakery who doesn’t want to order me a cake-topper with two grooms, or perhaps doesn’t deal with a supplier who makes one. See how your view on my story about getting the same exact shirt in a bigger size may have just changed?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why Do Governments Refuse To Protect Their Citizens?

If you walk into my bedroom, your eyes will most likely gravitate immediately to the vertically hung 6-foot-by-4-foot 48-star American flag that serves as the headboard to my bed. There are only 48 stars to honor the sacrifices Americans made during World War II. The flag also nicely complements the two litho prints that frame it, one of a World War II Corsair about to land on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, and one of a Corsair flying over some 1940s kids on their bikes in Newport Beach.

If you are a flag buff or served in any official capacity with the flag, especially in the military, you will immediately notice that it is hung incorrectly with the field of stars on your right and not on your left. The reason this flag hangs in this manner is because if you were looking down on a flag-draped coffin from the foot of the coffin, this is how the flag would appear to you. This is to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to provide me with the freedoms that I enjoy each and every day in this country, including the freedom to live free of oppression and the freedom to speak my mind as I tend to do in these blog posts.

I am writing about this incorrectly hung flag because on the very same morning last week during which I published a blog post calling for the people and governments of the world to unite against those who want to deny us the right to these freedoms and our right to even exist, I also read an article about a French man named Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and French woman named Jessica Schneider.

I never met Jean-Baptiste Salvaing or Jessica Schneider, but I have a feeling we most likely shared at least a few common traits, interests, or beliefs. And while we might not have agreed on everything, we probably would have, at the very least, recognized each other’s right to exist. But sadly, out of the three of us, I am now the only one that does – exist that is.

One evening just last week Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jessica Schneider were doing what billions of us across the world do many nights – they were sitting in their home, living their lives, and I am sure like most of us, enjoying life. Then, out of nowhere, their house was broken into and they were savagely murdered. They were not murdered in a robbery, in a crime of passion, or due to some personal vendetta harbored by their murderer.

Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jessica Schneider were murdered solely because they were not practicing the beliefs that have been decreed for the entire world to follow by the Islamic State. A man who I will not name because I believe the names of murders should be kept out of the press chose the couple at random. He felt he had been ordered by ISIS to kill and that is what he went out and did.

And while ISIS is most definitely to blame, and the person who committed this horrible act is to blame, I would like to say unequivocally that the French government is also to blame. The murderer was convicted and jailed in 2013 for recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria, and while he was being monitored, the authorities overseeing his case had not seen anything to feel he was a threat. Wow, that sure sounds familiar doesn’t it? Seems like that is the reoccurring theme with the people that commit these acts, isn’t it? They were questioned or served their time and didn’t seem like a threat according to the people in charge.

It was nice that France’s president, who, unlike ours would have done in this situation, immediately recognized this as an act of terror. France’s president then also ordered that the flags across the nation be flown at half-staff to mourn the couple that had been murdered.

And this is why I started out by telling you about my flag that is hung incorrectly according to official standards. See, when I was reading this article about Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jennifer Schneider, I made a decision. I decided that if I were to be killed in a terror attack here in America and either our current inept president or a future inept president called for flags across the nation to be flown at half-staff, I would officially like to request, here and now, that his or her order not be carried out. I do not want to see the American flag flown at half-staff to mourn my death from a terror attack on American soil. I want each and every one of you in America to run Old Glory straight up to the top of that flagpole, but first, I want you to hang her upside down. Honor me, friends, by flying America’s flag improperly, just like the one I sleep under. And just like the one I sleep under, I want your improperly hung flags to symbolize something.

I want those upside down flags to symbolize the fact that I am dead because America is in distress and was unable to protect my life from a radical extremist that was hell-bent on my and America’s destruction. I want those upside down flags to symbolize how preventable my death was, but that it was not prevented due to our nation’s inability to properly wage war, her inability to not let political correctness stand in the way of the loss of life of its citizens and her inability to do the right thing when I was counting on her.

It is time for the nations of the world to stop treating jihadists like criminals and treat them like combatants – like soldiers on the field of battle who are murdering unarmed civilians. It is time to treat them like war criminals, not like stupid kids that robbed a liquor store. The man who killed Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jennifer Schneider should never have been on the streets of France after having been duly convicted of recruiting jihadists, and every single person in France should be mad as hell that he was, just like every person here in America should be mad as hell when someone who was obviously on the radar of the FBI or CIA commits an act of terror because they were not treated accordingly and kept from committing that act of terror.

The time has come for us to hold the governments of the world, especially our own, accountable for the inaction that is leading to the deaths of their citizens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Long Are We Going To Allow These Terror Shootings To Occur?

Did you stand united with the people of France a little while back? Great! Do you stand united against whatever the cause of the Orlando shooting turns out to be? Great! Do you stand united against extremists who carry out terror attacks? Great! That’s all well and good, but what are we going to do to stop these attacks? It’s heartwarming to see the outpouring of sentiment and unity that always occurs immediately following them. If you can say one thing about humans, it’s that they really know how to come together during and immediately after a crisis. But, sadly, there is also another thing you can say about humans, and it’s that they tend to forget all about a crisis just as quickly as it came on.

Everyone is always all in an uproar when these travesties occur, and I think that is definitely the right reaction, but as with every pervious crisis, the uproar fades to the back of everyone’s minds within a few months, if not sooner. We see it with school shootings - the first few days after it happens, it’s non-stop news coverage, politicians calling for change and everyone pining for this one to be the last one. Then, something so very human happens – a week later, there’s no more news coverage, the politicians move on to other topics and ultimately, in the end, nothing changes. Then, it happens again, the whole cycle starts over, and once again, in the end, nothing changes.

With every terror attack there is an outcry across the world, but with every terror attack we also see the eventual fading of its impact. Those personally impacted by the attack are the only ones that feel it’s lingering effects, but the rest of humanity just goes about their business as usual. The military and political stalemates that have plagued America and her allies since long before September 11, 2001, just seem to continue without end, regardless of where and how often these terror attacks occur.

Our government launches air attacks in Syria, and then people die in the streets of France. Our government bombs targets in Iraq and people die in the streets of London. Our government refuses to use the term “radical Islam” while radical Islamists kill people in streets all over the world. Our government overthrows governments in the Middle East and militants slaughter the citizens of those former countries as soon as we leave. Then, we launch more air strikes and the whole thing starts all over again. Our government’s half-assed, hair-brained tactics and strategy don’t change, so naturally, the outcome of this War on Terror doesn’t change.

The endless cycle of the idiotic and ineffective use of the U.S. military by our government’s leadership that does nothing more than yield more attacks on civilians and civilization is going to just continue on forever unless they do something different, and they will only do something different if we, united as Americans, demand something different – something better – of our government and the people that are currently running it.

If after the first Gulf War, we had supported the Kurds in their uprising against Saddam Hussein, how different would the world be today? Instead, we blasted through Kuwait, patted ourselves on the back and then came home. We hung the Kurds out to dry and then were all up in arms, if only for a few weeks or so, when Saddam gassed them, but then, did nothing at all to help. When Syrian rebels rose up against Asad, we did nothing. When the fledgling Iraqi government was trying to establish a new country, our Commander-in-Chief ensured he kept a campaign promise instead of ensuring the Iraqi nation was strong enough to stand on its own, even while his generals told him he was making a huge mistake. When ISIS was coming to power, that same genius dismissed them and did nothing while they swept across land, slaughtered people and easily commandeered a good portion of the military supplies we left in Iraq, making ISIS the best-equipped militant group in the history of mankind. Throw in the oil fields we let them capture and they’re the best funded as well. And now, this group is coordinating, inspiring and helping deliver terror across the globe, just as Al-Qaeda did when we chose to ignore them back in the 1990s.

Today, Islamic extremists will slaughter Christians, Catholics, Jews, atheists or anyone else who doesn’t share their views, yet our government and it’s inept leadership refuses to even acknowledge religious zeal and philosophy, no matter how misguided, are the actual root causes of the slaughter. These people are not out to gain territory, to commandeer wealth and power - they are out to acquire the resources they need to accomplish their goal of wiping any and all non-believers in their faith off the planet, whether those non-believers be in Kurdistan, France or here in America. Are you Muslim? No? Well, they want you dead. Even if you are Muslim, do you support their ultra-idealistic slaughter of non-Muslims? No? Well, then, they want you dead. This is their belief, my friends, and as long as our government refuses to acknowledge religious zeal and fanaticism as the true reason these people want to kill us, it will never take the steps necessary to properly fight this threat.

And, just to be clear, this is a threat we need to fight – a threat we need to eradicate. This is not a threat we can simply contain to a geographic area and hope it never reaches our shores or homes. Philosophies and beliefs cannot be contained like pinning down a fighting force in a ravine until they eventually surrender. Communism does not have a geographic boundary. Fascism does not have a geographic boundary. They are philosophies and people all over the world believe in them. The same is the case with Islamic extremism. Bomb the shit out of Syria, bomb the shit out of wherever, but that alone is not going to stop the Islamic extremist that is laying low while working at Walmart or McDonald’s until the time is right or until he gets the call that it’s time to roll.

What will stop this? A lot of folks out there want you to believe that nothing can be done and that we just have to sit back and take this, or worse yet, ignore it and hope it goes away. Some say bring back every American soldier back to American soil and abandon all our bases around the world – simply pull out of the Middle East and the extremists will be placated and leave us alone. But, how do we sit back and watch as groups like ISIS commit atrocities around the world, then do nothing? Simply coming back home won’t work, either, though I can see why some people think it might. The problem with this theory, though, is that when your enemy needs your very existence to recruit and rally troops, needs you to provide them with a common evil to bring their misguided followers together and to get them to do their bidding, completely leaving that enemy alone will do nothing because they will ensure no matter what you do, you still remain the focus of their efforts and their ire.

The bottom line is doing nothing or simply retreating back home will not stop these attacks. I do believe, however, that a number of our former service members have the answer, but before I get to that, let’s explore a concept.

Let’s pause here for just a second to drive home a point. It is a difficult point to understand, especially with the lives we lead here in America, but it is a point that we all should really be coming to a realization about. There are people who wake up everyday and make it their mission to kill as many Americans or other westerners or non-believers as they can. They might not get the chance to do that very often, but they work towards that goal nonetheless, and on occasion, some actually do get the opportunity to fulfill their mission. On November 13, 2015, there were some people in France who woke up that morning and said, “Today, I am going to go out and kill as many people as I can.” And unfortunately, there were 129 people who became their victims. If you had been in that concert hall, at that stadium, sitting outside those restaurants, it could have been you. They wish it had been you. There are whole masses of people out there in the world who wish it had been you. I know that is such a hard concept to comprehend because they don’t name us by name and aren’t people we know, but make no mistake about it, they want to kill you – they want to end your life, end your children’s’ lives, end the lives of people you know and care about – all because your beliefs are different from their beliefs. I’d be remiss not to point out that those who will actually carry out these attacks and fulfill this mission are a very small segment of the world’s human population, but they do exist, so their threat should not be ignored. Read this paragraph again and let that sink in and I guarantee you still won’t fully comprehend this concept.

What we have to realize together as those who simply want to live our lives in peace the way that we see fit, and see everyone else in the world experience that same type of life, is that we are not fighting a nation state, we are not fighting an oppressive government, we are not fighting a militia or terrorists - we are fighting a belief system that doesn’t simply run counter to our own, but is a belief system that calls for the immediate death of any living human on the planet that disagrees with that belief system. It is time for us to band together as a civilization to bring this bullshit to an end, just as the world did against fascism, National Socialism and the communist regimes that murdered millions of people. We need to put politics aside, we need to put our differences aside, and we need to demand that the free governments of the world finally pull their heads out of their asses and actually do something to stop this threat before it kills more of us.

So, what’s the solution? Well, it’s not to put 300,000 American troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq and it’s definitely not to continue doing what we are doing, which is only flying over the area and dropping bombs. The solution is actually somewhere in between - work with the governments and Muslim fighters in the region who support the principles of civilization and justice and help them destroy this plague that exists within their lands, culture, and religion. The solution is to stop this bullshit political correctness in Western nations and see things for what they are – see the enemy of civilization for what it is and its fighters, combatants, soldiers, jihadists, freedom fighters, or whatever the hell you want to call them for what they are – humans hell-bent on killing those that are different from them – humans that have usurped a legitimate religion as justification for their actions and will stop and nothing to carry out those actions. This is not the first time humanity has seen this, but it is definitely real, and definitely something that all of humanity should be working together to eradicate.

We don’t need to spend $5 billion bombing carloads of high-value targets and ammunition dumps on a unilateral basis while continuing to ignore the intelligence on the ground, ignoring the advice of our own military experts and not working closely with the local militias who are willing to fight the extremists that have taken over their homelands. We need to spend our money working with the local boots on the ground that stand for the same things we do – freedom of religion, freedom to exist and freedom to live free from tyranny. We need to prop these forces up and do all we can to help them fight the battles they need to fight – to help them win the battles they need to win. We need to use our superior air power and military might to organize and support the true freedom fighters that are willing to fight against Islamic extremist militants and other oppressive regimes. If we are going to continue to thrust ourselves on to the world stage and claim jurisdiction as the police of the entire planet, then it is time for us to do the job the right way – work with allies and local fighters, providing military support while spreading good will through aid and education.

Watch the military correspondents on television and they seem to know how to combat this plague. Look to the White House and it seems like no one knows what the hell to do. Where is the disconnect? Why isn’t government listening to the experts? You want the support of the Muslim world and want them to like us? Then help them fight their fight for justice and for freedom. Don’t spend your day making sure you don’t say the words “radical Islam”, spend your day making sure you are leading the civilized world in eradicating radical Islam for the benefit of everyone alive in the world today. Spend your day helping the people around the world who are fighting oppressive regimes in order to provide a better life for their families.

And what do we do about the extremists here in our own neighborhoods and those that are on their way? We demand that our leaders shore up our immigration policy and control our borders, whether it be a physical border or simply who we let fly into this country on an aircraft or sail over on a boat. We need to enforce our immigration laws, demand real reform to the broken system we have today and make sure we know unequivocally who is here and why they are here. This is not an unreasonable demand for citizens to make of their government. Make no mistake about it, there are ISIS agents and sympathizers here in America today and they are just as capable of causing mass death as their brothers in arms in Paris. The shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando, whether tied directly to ISIS or not, are prime examples of the influence the group has on people regardless of where they were born, or where they live. And if they were my soldiers to command, I’d be sending extremists into America via it’s broken border and immigration system, especially at a time when Americans are too worried about being politically correct to protect themselves from my agents of death. A powerful enemy exploits your weaknesses and our lax immigration policy is a great one to exploit.

It is truly time for us as the actual targets of the world’s Islamist extremist militants to demand that our governments take the necessary steps to ensure our safety and eradicate this threat from the world. It is time for people to wake up and realize that they are the intended targets. They are the non-Muslims and Muslims alike that these murderers and aspiring murderers want to kill – are training to kill – are praying each day that they will have the opportunity to die while killing, therefore guaranteeing them a passage to paradise – blissful life-everlasting if only they can kill at least one of us before they themselves go on to meet their prophet, their creator and their glorious end.

And lastly, it is time for us to not just put a color transparency over our Facebook profile picture for a couple weeks then forget about this real and violent threat until the next time there is a terror attack. It is time for us to demand real change, to demand effective leadership, effective foreign policy and effective security from the people who demanded that we send them to Washington, D.C. to lead, regardless of their party and regardless of their views on domestic and foreign issues. If there is one thing our government should do, it is protect us from attacks like the one that occurred in France last November, the one that occurred in San Bernardino in December, and the one that occurred in Orlando this past weekend. Sadly, I worry they are not prepared to do so and the fact they are simply paying lip service to the fight against ISIS and other Islamic extremists instead of actually working with fighters around the world to destroy them is the biggest indicator of the real trouble we’re actually facing. ISIS fighters and other extremists are here in our neighborhoods. It’s time for us to wake up and demand our leaders do something about it.