Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"If You're Not First, You're Last..."

“If you’re not first, you’re last…”

These immortal words, handed down from his estranged father to race car driver extraordinaire Ricky Bobby instilled in him a drive to win because they embody a stark truth about competition – if you are first, you have won, and if you are anything but first, no matter where you place in the field, you have lost.

So, in that context of stark contrast, I have a message for every conservative out there, be you a social conservative, fiscal conservative, or whatever brand of conservative you may label yourself – as it stands right now, if you are not voting for Donald Trump this November, then you are voting for Hillary Clinton.

Sorry, folks! I know you might not want to hear it, and I know you are doing everything you possibly can to justify in your heart and in your mind that this is not the case. Believe me, I am not faulting you for that at all, but whatever your reason for not voting for Trump, when you cast that ballot for the presidential election in November, no matter what box you check instead of Donald Trump, like it or not, you might as well just be checking the box next to Hillary Clinton.

No matter your reason for not physically checking Hillary Clinton on your ballot – the fact that she will never be held accountable for the deaths of four of her operators as Secretary of State during the attack in Benghazi – the fact that she flat out lied to the American people about the reason for that attack – the fact that she lied right to the faces of the families of those four men about the circumstances surrounding their deaths – the fact that she lied to the American people and to the FBI about her email server – the fact that she maintained that personal email server so she could delete and remove from public record any emails she desired – the fact that she lied to us that one time about her landing while her official government plane was taking gunfire. Or, if you want to go with some of the historical facts – the fact that she paid off woman after woman that her husband had either accosted or mistreated with his sexual advances while in office – the fact that her ultra-liberal operations long before her husband ever took office helped to advance the ultra-liberal agenda that has helped lead to so many of the issues that you, as a conservative, probably take issue with today – ALL those backroom deals like Whitewater – and let us not forget about the time that she told us that her and Willy Jeff left the White House poor and penniless, though now they are quite admittedly flush with cash after starting that crooked foundation that has taken in billions of dollars from governments that treat anyone that is not a straight male horribly, even flat out killing them for existing, and taken in millions from pay to play deals that exchanged foundation donations for State Department sitdowns, deals, jobs, and favors.

Geez, that is such a long list! I don’t see how any American could see that list, completely dismiss every single one of those things as being some conspiracy theory or orchestrated attack, then still somehow walk into that voting booth and vote for someone with that kind of track record. I do not see how someone could not see that every single move this woman has made in her life has been an orchestrated effort to end up exactly where she is today – all of the lies and all of the cover-ups, and all of the silence while her husband took blowjobs from interns and other women he manipulated through his positions of power – just so she could end up exactly where she is today – standing a real chance of becoming the first female president of the United States – the most powerful person in the world, most likely for eight years.

Make no mistake, my conservative friends, Hillar-ious losing the election in November becomes more impossible with each passing day. While third party candidates are going to abound by the time November rolls around, unless Donald Trump ultimately drops out of the race, every vote that is not cast for Trump is going to be a vote for Hillary Clinton. I’m not saying you should vote for Trump if you are not. Vote your conscience, but don’t kid yourself about what your vote means to Hillary Clinton when it is not cast for Donald Trump. No matter how much you tell yourself and everyone around you that you didn’t actually check that box, endorsing the track record of our soon-to-be queen, that it wasn’t your fault, that you had nothing to do with it, you and I both know deep down that it is just not the case.

So, please, keep doing what you are doing, working hard to promote your third party candidate and trying to convince Donald Trump to drop out of the race, but if Trump’s still in the race on election day, just remember who you will be helping win the election when you don’t vote for Trump.

As those immortal words, “If you’re not first, your last,” capture so well, all that is going to matter in November is who comes in first – who wins. Let’s hope you are not among those who will have helped elect our new queen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Opportunity In Being Let Go

It is a sound that I will always remember - the wheels of my big desk chair as it rolled noisily along the concrete floor of the big, open office space. The sound echoed off of the concrete walls and rows of glass desks. It was funny watching the little heads pop up from their desks and monitors, almost like gophers popping their heads up out of the ground for a look as everyone in the room sought to discover what was making that annoying sound.

It was just me, wheeling my big office chair out of the office for the last time. I’d boxed up the few things I kept at work and all that was left was to wheel my chair, my box and my printer to the car and drive away for the last time.

In American corporate culture, we’re supposed to walk out quietly, move on, and then never speak of these final walks out of a place of employment again, even pretend they never happened. We have all experienced them at some point, though, and if I accomplish one thing by continually writing about them, I hope it will be to assure each and every one of you that experiences something like this that the ending of a job truly offers amazing potential when it comes to taking your career and life to the next level.

One such opportunity that is presented to us when a job ends is the chance to expand our personal network. We meet a lot of amazing people at each job, so each time we leave one and start another, we stand the chance of meeting an entirely new set of amazing folks while still being able to stay in contact with the people from the job we have just left. Add in the fact that you will also secure  some valuable contacts while conducting your job search, and there’s some extra icing on that cake.

So, the next time you are walking out of a place of employment for the last time, just remember to hold your head high and smile, knowing that great things are about to happen for you. The potential to improve so many things you have wanted to improve is the greatest at that point in time. To be cliché, the world is yours to shape and mold as you wish on that day. Don’t forget to enjoy the feeling of freedom, then get right to work finding that next opportunity and ensuring it is your best opportunity yet.

As for me, one of the most amazing things about the day I wheeled that big office chair out of that echoing, big concrete and glass office and down to my car was the fact that I did not wheel that chair out alone. I was flanked by people who were now not only former co-workers, but life-long acquaintances that will always share the memories of our time there together, and the memory of that funny time William noisily wheeled his big office chair out of the place on his last day.

On that last day, when that window closes, just remember that the biggest door in the world has been opened for you – a door that leads to limitless potential.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

3 Things We Need To Eliminate From Political Discourse Immediately

As we look back on history, there have always been conflicts and at least two sides to every story. If we all agreed on everything every time, there would be no conflict. Therefore, the fact that there has been so much conflict in human history serves to demonstrate our lack of agreement on just about everything over the centuries.

And while conflict can sometimes be deadly, it is our diversity in opinion that is what proves we are alive and have our own free will. And what makes humans human is the ability to disagree and maintain civility and society through those disagreements, though on many occasions, being human has also resulted in the exact opposite.

But there is a constant throughout the history of human conflict and it is that conflict has remained civil as long as one side has respected the other side’s right to disagree with them, and once that respect to disagree disappears, conflicts spiral out of hand, civility goes out the window, and things get very, very messy until that respect to disagree returns.

Far too often political content published in America today immediately marginalizes the emotions and beliefs of detractors to the author’s point of view. While the author may not agree with the opposing view, and obviously has a right to disagree, to simply come back and say that those emotions and beliefs should not exist, regardless of how misguided the author may feel they are, is, at best, impractical, because those emotions and beliefs do exist, otherwise, there would be no need for the article to have been written in the first place. Right or wrong in one person’s view, someone’s emotions and beliefs exist – despite how much the opposing side may wish to marginalize them.

American political content also far too often is written with the notion that somehow a person who believes things the author opposes is somehow responsible for actions other than their own. A case in point is when someone asks why there is no white history month and is immediately classified as racist and held accountable for the sins of an entire race of people, even though he himself may never have actually done anything other than have a simple curiosity about the fairness of a race not having a history month.

Thirdly, there is a very disturbing trend in political content in which content creators are assuming certain individuals have enjoyed a much easier life because of their present circumstances, or worse, because of the color of their skin or their heritage. Case in point is this line I pulled directly from an article: “Certain people have the social and economic world constantly working in their favor.” This would mean that this group of people have to work less hard in school, have to work less hard to get ahead in the world, and have some sort of minimum safety net guaranteed by their race. This notion of privilege that is becoming more prominent in America with each passing day promotes the belief that a person of a particular race who continually messes up at work, doesn’t have the skills to hold down a job, or simply stands on a street corner and puts their hand out, will automatically have more than a person of another race who is dedicated to their career and works hard everyday.

While I understand that America’s struggle with racism and fair treatment regardless of skin color may be far from over, and while I also believe that continual race baiting by politicians and activists is actually prolonging racism is this country, I also believe that this notion that the lighter your skin, the more people hand you things – the less that you have to work for what you have – is completely and totally ridiculous. This notion of privilege and forcing people to feel guilty for the color of their skin is as completely ridiculous as the view that someone is less of a person or somehow inadequate because of the color of their skin. These two concepts go hand in hand and are equally as incorrect and wrong.

Rather then finger pointing and declaring that some people simply have things handed to them while others have an entire system of government and society stacked against them, we should take to heart the notion that we were all created equal and that we are all equally abled regardless of the color of our skin. Instead of this notion of privilege, we should return to promoting self-reliance, self-worth, opportunity, personal responsibility and personal accountability.

I, for one, believe whole-heartedly that the color of one’s skin truly has no bearing on their ability to accomplish goals, no bearing on the limit of their imagination, or on the success that they can have in this country. I believe our own self-doubts and the acceptance of victimization by society is a far bigger culprit. Once society starts expecting less of some than others, we see this horrible pattern where those who are expected to do less start to fulfill that prophecy.

I believe we should teach every child in America that their opportunities are limitless and that they can achieve any goal they set out accomplish, not that these kids over here are going to breeze through life, and these kids over here are never going to amount to anything because of the color of their skin. We can do better than this, America.

I grew up in one of the poorer neighborhoods in our town and I went to a public school in that neighborhood. I struggled with authority in high school and I struggled with paying for college. I have been pulled over by the police for fitting a profile and I can show you the tickets I received from those police officers that during the same month cited my race as Hispanic when I was driving my Volkswagen Jetta and cited my race as White when I was driving my Mercedes-Benz 190E. But one thing remained constant throughout all of this time during my upbringing, and that was the fact that the people around me continually told me that I could accomplish anything, and that the limits of my American dream were only up to one person – that only one person controlled my destiny – me. No one told me because of the neighborhood I grew up in, or because of my appearance, or regardless of how poorly I was doing in school at the time that the cards were stacked against me, that I was unprivileged, and that I had to accept anything other than a destiny I created for myself.

I was taught to be respectful. I was taught right from wrong. I was taught the importance of education. I was taught that if I wanted something, I needed to work for it. I was taught that there were no handouts and that life is what you make of it. When we teach kids that these things are all predetermined and out of their control, we are teaching them a horrible lesson.

We need to do better as a society and a people in the lessons we are teaching and the realities we accept. We need to no longer marginalize the beliefs of others that may not align with our beliefs. We need to stop blaming an entire race or group of people for the actions of a few. And most importantly, we need to stop channeling these two horrible habits into teaching our kids that some of them are inherently better than others – that some are more privileged than others – and go back to teaching them that each and every one of them can accomplish anything they set their minds to – that they are equally worthy to every other single person out there – and that they can accomplish anything that any other person can accomplish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Taxes, Elections, And 55% Of Us Paying For 100% Of Government

For 45% of you, federal income tax is not an issue. While the fact that you do not pay federal income tax most likely means there are some other pressing issues you are dealing with instead, I wonder if this means that you only concern yourself with taxes every four years during the presidential election cycle. While I think about taxes every single day, I wonder if the prospect of a new president taking office has you just as worried about taxes as me. Naturally, I worry if I am going to have to pay more, while you probably worry about actually having to start.

Oh, and I get that those of you who do not pay federal income tax pay sales tax, local taxes, maybe even property taxes, gas taxes and utility taxes, but the fact remains…those of us who are among the 55% of Americans that pay federal income tax pay all of those taxes, too. The difference is that we pay a federal tax on our income on top of all of those other taxes, and you do not.

For 45% of you, spring must be the most wonderful time of the year. I am sure you can’t wait to file those tax returns and for your “refund” checks to show up in the mail or in your checking account so you can rush out and spend, spend, spend on the stuff you have been waiting all year to buy with that big fat “refund” check.

But for the 55% of us who actually have to pay for the federal government and all of the infrastructure and services it provides to 100% of us, spring actually sucks quite a bit. In addition to the thousands upon thousands of dollars in federal income taxes I have paid over the course of the previous year, each spring I have to come to grips with the fact that I still have to come up with thousands of dollars more to send in to the High Exalted Throne in Taxington DC.

And naturally, this all occurs while I continually hear that I am not paying enough in taxes, most commonly known as “my fair share,” even though my single biggest expense every year is…you guessed it…taxes. And now, even though I was not able to afford college myself, apparently, I still somehow have a duty to pay for college for a much more entitled and deserving generation after me. Why don't I vacation more? Take a look at my tax bill. Why don't I have kids? Take a look at my tax bill. Why don't I give more generously to charity? I already am...take a look at my tax bill. Why do I want to keep more of the money I work hard for? Take a look at my f-ing tax bill!

Liberal and socialist alike - and yes, to me, they are the same group - stand there, scratching their heads and simply cannot figure out why people like me - the 67.2% of idiots in this country who actually participate in the labor force - have grown sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle who lie during election season, spend too much of other people's money and wouldn't know a balanced budget, reasonable and sustainable economic policy, or the reality of the average working American, if it bit them on the ass. I am amazed that they still cannot figure out why we’re sick and tired of all of them. They think we are all racists, or classicists, or warmongers, or gun-nuts, or just genuinely angry, unhappy people. These are the broad brush strokes we are painted with simply because we no longer want to bear the personal financial burden of their entitlement mentality that puts more and more Americans in a position of reliance upon our bloated government for their very existence.

But, the vast majority of us are none of these things. We are just hard working Americans who are sick and tired of being taken advantage of, and sick and tired of being the few who must not only support ourselves, but also those out there who refuse to support themselves.

We know our tax money is used to pay for the military, the police, the fire department, schools, the roads, and all of those similar, great things, but we're tired of it being just some of us, not EVERYONE, who is paying for those things. We're tired of paying for million dollar gas stations in Afghanistan and subsidizing multi-billion-dollar corporations. We're tired of a Taxington DC that cannot reassure us they are not wasting our money. We are tired of hearing about billions in fraud and lost taxpayer money at the same time we are forced to send more money to be wasted for every dollar more we earn. We are tired of being told there won't be as much social security money for us, but still see it stolen from us throughout the year with every paycheck and again at tax time. You want a great example of taxation without representation? How about these social programs all of the liberals and socialists strapped us with, long before we were even born, without ever asking if we wanted to participate in their bullshit Ponzi schemes?

So you bet we're angry. We're not angry about race, equality or who can use what bathroom...we're angry and sick and tired of being forced to accept preferential treatment for those who pay less than we do, and we're angry that this is the country we've inherited from politicians and their ridiculous economic policies that only work in fairy tales.

So, liberals and socialists, keep loading the country up with people who think it is perfectly all right to take more out of the system than they put in all the while bitching at us that we don't put in enough, even though we have never taken a dime back out of that system. Keep telling us that our belief in hard work, actual dollar for dollar fairness, capitalism, and personal responsibility and accountability are just as dated and antiquated as the original principles upon which this country was founded and one day you will find yourself wishing for the days when a rude-mouthed bombastic billionaire was the scariest challenger we could muster to your efforts to seat a completely undeserving, self-serving, crooked liar in the Oval Office.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Concentrate On Your Personal Economy

I was deep in thought when I came to the realization that given all of the information available to us today, we easily can become overwhelmed. While there was a time in history when people starved for knowledge and there was great excitement at obtaining a new book or other item to read, today there really is just too much information out there.

Think about the likelihood that you could actually watch every episode of every television show that you wanted to watch in today’s world of satellite, cable, and made-for-streaming “television”. It would be impossible. There is just not enough time in a lifetime to watch it all. The same is the case for all of the great content there is to read out there.

I can readily admit that I am addicted to reading as much about business, the economy, healthcare and politics as I can. My inbox is filled with newsletters and articles that I read every time I am out walking or have a few spare minutes to glue my eyes to that little screen I carry around in my pocket.

But, in the end, I always struggle with the return on investment of my time. Granted, I am learning a great deal every day, and remain fairly well updated on the goings on of the world, but would my time be better used in some other manner? I often tend to feel that could be the case.

The area where I question the time I spend consuming content the most is politics. Sure, I can tell you much more about what is going on in politics than the average American, which sadly, isn’t saying much, but what is the ROI of all that time I spend keeping current on the subject?

Does being up-to-date on the political landscape make a difference in my life? Can I make a difference at all by knowing what is going on? Does being aware make it any easier to swallow the circumstances that are provided to us by the politicians and the immense political machine that the American government has become? Realistically, while I struggle with the answer, it seems to be a resounding ‘no’.

And this is what really got me thinking that day. For as much time as we all can spend reading about politics and politicians, how does this knowledge actually reflect upon our own personal economies? Not the U.S. economy, or the economy in the state we live, but our actual personal economies – our own little financial empires, however big or small, that can be effected by changes in Washington as well as something as personal as changing a job or whether or not we buy a new car.

All of the politicians in Washington and the state capitals try to influence our votes by telling us to ask ourselves if we are better off now than we were “x amount of time” ago. These politicians then try to either take credit for, or blame others for, the state in which we find our own personal economies at the given time. And while things like the Affordable Care Act and tax increases or whether or not mortgage loan interest remains tax deductible can all have an influence on our personal economies, there is no one bigger influence on them than ourselves.

Stop doing your job and see what happens to your own personal economy. Do an amazing job and get more business or a promotion and see what happens. Buy a brand new house or car that you can’t afford and see what happens. Each of these things will have a far bigger impact on your life than whether a Democrat or Republican is president or who is controlling the congress.

As someone who has spent a good deal of his time reading about politics and politicians, I don’t necessarily recommend putting your head in the sand, but I do recommend not getting too caught up in the political rhetoric that ultimately in the end will not have nearly the effect on your own personal economy as the financial decisions you make.

Paying more attention to your financial decisions and taking the time to better understand how they will affect your own personal economy will yield far more ROI on time invested than any other effort you can undertake. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The DNC Makes Sure The Queen Gets Her Crown...

Here I was, all set to publish a post about the unfairness of taxing the income of only 55% of the population in this country to pay for the infrastructure and services that a full 100% of us enjoy, even while those who use the most services actually pay the least, if not nothing at all, but then all of the sudden, here comes these secret DNC emails from yet another hacked Democrat-controlled server, apparently a gift from evil Russians propped up by Uncle Vladi who, according to the left-side pundits, would prefer an “evil” Trump presidency to a “gonna perfect in everyway” Hillary presidency.

Whew! That was a mouthful! So, I have just one question to ask in light of the revelation provided by those 20,000 plus emails, which is the complete accuracy of our belief the DNC was never ever going to allow any serious competition to Queen Hillari-ous’s coronation: How do you feel about those emails, Berners?

We are seeing what was obviously a concentrated effort by the Democratic National Committee leadership, and I am sure a few key operatives within the Hillari-ous campaign, to do all they could to ensure that the Bernie Sanders campaign ended up exactly where it was supposed to – in second place, culminating in an endorsement of Hillar-ious by the Bern – and that all of the Berners ended up right where they were supposed to – in the ballot box in November, voting for Hillary Clinton for president.

See, once Bernie said he would support Hillar-ious if he lost, then all the DNC felt it needed to do to get all the Berners to vote “Clin-ton” (Simpsons reference!) in November was to make sure Bernie came in second place. And whether we believe a second place finish by Bernie was inevitable or not, it is very apparent that the top brass in the DNC was going to do all they could to make sure it happened. So while everyone at those Sanders rallies was all “hope and change”, sadly, you never stood a chance, no matter what, Berners. Thanks for playing, but the game was rigged against you from the start.

So, how does that make you feel? Personally, I’d be pretty damned pissed off. Not surprised at all, because hey, we’re talking about Hillar-ious here – that’s a person who is all about the backroom deal, the quiet settlement, the stacked deck, half-truths and bold-faced lies – but definitely pretty damned pissed off.

I know some of you were already pissed off that Bern kept his word and fell in line behind the Democratic establishment machine, so I am assuming the pissed off are even more pissed off and the not so pissed off and more understanding of Bern’s supporters are possibly now a little pissed off…maybe?

So, what are you going to do about it, Berners? Are you going to keep blindly following the Democratic party as they conspire against you and your beloved candidate and then take you for granted like they do the rest of their constituents, or are you going to do something?

Nothing’s happened at the convention that is going to make a difference – it’s not like there was ever a chance Queen Hillar-ious wasn’t going to get her crown, but are you going to now support the throne? I have a feeling that for all of your well-meaning principles and all your steadfast ideals, you are going to simply fall in line and vote Hillar-ious come November anyway. God save the queen! Enjoy being one of her loyal subjects, Berners…

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.