Monday, May 27, 2013

Scandalous Times

The term "scandalous" has lost much of its panache; in a time when big-name politicians can, without a blush, blatantly lie about matters related to their office, does the word have any meaning for the public?

Apparently so.  At least, when the scandals pile up upon each other, and the president is so gauche as to threaten one of the Holy Media.

The interesting thing about looking at the record is that it's hard to cage the examination.  Once started, the press has begun to fall over themselves to be the first to point out THE SAME OUTRAGES THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT FOR OVER 4 YEARS!

Sorry for the caps; I just lose it, sometimes.

In no specific order:

  • The AP government snooping scandal.

  • The drone war - when Rand Paul (that's the son, who appears both rational and electable) filibustered, asking for answers about apparently unconstitutional killing of American citizens without due process, for the media, it was all a big yawn.  He's still asking questions, and people are starting to listen.  On ABC with Martha Raddatz, Paul says that there is:

...still a question in my mind of what he (Obama) thinks due process is. Due process to most of us is a court of law, it is a trial by jury. And, right now, their process is him looking at some flash cards and a PowerPoint on ‘Terror Tuesdays’ at the White House.

  •  In all fairness, some in Congress (Rep. Peter King is a prime example) don't want the drone program eliminated. There is some discussion about whether killing of American citizens as a by-product of targeting terrorists is regrettable, but not illegal, or is totally wrong.

  •  BTW, I'm one who believes that the "protest" of the Code Pink activist was a put-up job.  Obama could have kept her out, or chosen to let security do its thing.  He didn't; he wanted her to speak her piece, so he could have an opportunity to address a topic that is of interest to many in his camp.

  • The IRS targeting Tea Party and other conservative activist groups, which included - slowing down to a crawl approval of 501(c) status.  (See rules below)  Interestingly, Code Pink - the very essence of a completely political organization - DOES have that 501(c)(3) status.  If the rule was applied the same for both conservative and liberal organizations, I'd have no problem with it.  However, fair means FAIR - no giving advantage to groups you like, while denying that status to those you don't.

[A 501(c)(3) qualified nonprofit organization is not allowed to be involved in politics, so steer clear. Political nonprofit groups operate separately from this classification. Organizations that either support or oppose political candidates may face an excise tax or may even risk losing their tax-exempt status. The Internal Revenue Service offers guidelines at]

Amazingly, Newt Gingrich is a voice of reason.  He points out that "getting even" or even impeachment is NOT the goal. On CNN, Newt said:
I think this is a really important moment for Republicans in particular to make a decision: Is this a gotcha moment or is this a major educational opportunity?  


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day, 2013

This year, I have 2 vets to remember.

The first, my dad, was in WWII.  He served in the artillery, which likely contributed to the major hearing loss he suffered from in his senior years.  Even when younger, he consistently turned the TV to a fairly loud setting.

I've spent some time looking into his service - apparently, his unit was moved around a bit, and the command changed several times.  He did serve in the Battle of the Bulge.  He told my mother (she later told me) that he had seen some of the survivors of the concentration camps; it so haunted him that he buried the memory for years.

He mostly told funny stories of his time in the war:

  • Cutting across a minefield to avoid being late for dinner

  • Coming across a barn with SS uniforms left behind.  He and his buddy tried them on, and admired their panache.  He almost got shot by another soldier who saw the uniform - fortunately, the other soldier fooling around was his buddy, Red, and the hair made the soldier hesitate in pulling the trigger.

  • He had little to say that was good about the French - he thought them crude and vulgar.  He did admire the German people - even after bombing, the housewives would rise in the morning and sweep the steps, walk, and street.

So, the sanitized version of war that I received was not unlike that of many other children.  Later, in school and in photomagazines, we saw some of the more grim facets (although in black and white).

My dad died after a long, and largely successful battle with cancer.  At 60, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - that type usually kills within a short time.  He elected to try an experimental surgery, and survived another 16 years.

Dad was affected by his service, but was able to re-build his life after the war.  He married, raised a family, and enjoyed a wide circle of long-time friends.

My brother's war was one that was televised - the Vietnam War.  He was not a combat soldier, but repaired the mobile communications equipment.  However, he did serve in a combat zone, and saw and experienced much of the stress that comes with war zones.

Like my dad, he didn't talk much about the war, other than a few funny stories.  Like my dad, he didn't join the VFW.  Instead, he found a job, and tried to blend into society.

He was partly successful, for a time.  He functioned, although he never married or had children.  He had one long-time girlfriend; after they broke up, she married someone else.  To my knowledge, he never had another serious relationship.

Fairly early on, he started drinking.  For a long time, he kept his consumption manageable - going to bed with a buzz on, saving the major drinking for the weekends.  Over time, it accelerated.

After a major life crisis (his best friend died), he started deteriorating.  He eventually lost his job, his house, and what life he had.  He started living on the streets.

He was on the streets for about 10 years.  Some of that time, he'd find a temporary place to live - a shelter, a few days with an acquaintance, or he would talk his way into staying with a family member.

My brother and sister took the brunt of the work of dealing with his alcoholism.  They fed him, sometimes housed him, and, when they could no longer live with the chaos his presence caused, made the decision to ban him from living with them.

It had to be hard to watch my brother destroy any hope of a life.  He would show up at their door, dirty, hungry, and confused.  Sometimes, they would let him in for a shower and a meal.

He bounced around for many years.  As soon as he got access to money, he spent it on booze - one major reason that I WON'T give money to bums.  The VA was helpful, and he went to rehab multiple times - always returning to his ways after checking out.

Just before he died, he was assisted in getting into an apartment.  For years, every winter, I worried about him freezing to death in the streets.  He was just 63 when he died.

There are too many vets like my brother, who just never manage to get back to a normal life after service.  I can't fault the VA, who did all that they could to help him recover.

In his case, isolation was a major factor.   He was a man with few friends, even before the war.  He lacked many of the social ties that anchor men, and help them adjust.  He was an introvert, a loner, and a man who used alcohol to ease him into social situations.  With booze, he could talk freely with women (not QUITE as bad as Raj on The Big Bang Theory, but close).

He liked children well enough, at a distance.  He didn't want children, his own or otherwise, and that had to limit his potential female partners.  He didn't date women with children.

In some ways, he was a throwback.  Loners were common enough in the early days of the United States.  Being disinclined to socialize was not that unusual, particularly in the more isolated frontier or the mountains.

His burial, at the Western Reserve National Cemetery, was beautifully done.  By his choice, he was cremated, and the urn was to be placed in a setting with his fellow soldiers.  The people at the cemetery spoke about him and his service, and he received an honor guard volley.

After the service, we went back to my sister's house, and dealt with the paperwork and talked.  One VERY funny moment occurred when we had to decide what inscription/symbol to put on his marker.  The inscription was easy, but the symbol was tough.

Mary and I wanted this - as a SERIOUS Star Trek nut, Mike would have LOVED it.








Ron talked us out of it - after a LOT of discussion. We decided on an eagle.

Still, I know that Mike would have preferred the "Live Long and Prosper" symbol.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Before You Judge Someone...

...walk a mile in his shoes.

Have you ever talked about someone you KNOW is EVIL - a RACIST, a GAY-HATER, a HATE-THE-POOR person?

Someone, like, perhaps, Rush Limbaugh?

In other words, you've judged them.

Fair enough. You actually listened to what they had to say, and made your decision.

Oh, you didn't? You never listened to them (for more than a few seconds), read their writings, or interacted with them in any way?

Then, how do you know all that about them? From other people? Who, maybe, made their decision on the basis of NO information?

Gee, sounds like pre-judgement to me. Which, you may realize, is the same as prejudice.

Folks, I don't like Obama's policies, character, or actions. But, before I made a decision about him, I learned about him. I read Dreams From My Father AND The Audacity of Hope. I listened to what he had to say. Only after that, did I make a judgement.

In other words, I EARNED the right to decide about his character, his actions, his philosophy.

When he makes a speech, or provides his side of an issue, I always go to the transcript.  I don't believe in filtering my information.  In other words, I get my information from the horse's mouth.

I know MANY people who trash-talk Rush and Palin, who know NOTHING about them, other than what has been said/written in the partisan press.  They couldn't tell you what their position is on any given topic, what the state of investigations against them ultimately showed, what they said (as opposed to what a Saturday Night Live character said), or even listened to them for 15 lousy minutes straight, without dismissively changing the channel, snarking about their "stupidity".

Let's see - refusing to learn about a topic, but insisting that your opinions about that topic are valued and important.

Who's stupid?

If I sound angry, I am, a little.  I'm sick of people who feel that they can trash-talk people (and laugh about sexual rape of them) who have done them no wrong.  People who, whether or not you agree with them, have earned the right to respect for them as one of God's children.  Who should NOT have their garbage picked through, their emails hacked, their neighborhood invaded by snoops, or their family publicly held up to shame.

Ask yourself:  would you be OK with shaming Malia, should she become pregnant before marriage?

Do you think Mary, mother of Jesus, should have her name written on churches "Mary is a slut - LOL!"

If you don't speak up, you're as guilty as those that engage in this low-class, partisan behavior.

I would probably NOT vote for Palin for President, although I do enjoy her straight talk - I think she's better doing what she is - raising funds for Republicans, appearing on TV occasionally.

But, she does NOT deserve the abuse she gets.

As for another conservative that has been savaged by the Liberal Left, I've never listened to Rush Limbaugh.  Don't generally listen to the radio, and am not generally free in his time slot.

Yes, when he had back pain, he eventually moved to abusive levels of Oxycontin.  He should have been dealt with like other first-time offenders - slap on the wrists, and treatment.

Instead, the SAME PEOPLE who argue for leniency for drug users who aren't White and Rich, howled for his imprisonment.

Instead, the Dogs of the Liberal Left started their frenzied barking to get him HARD TIME.

Why?  Because he's an unashamed conservative.

The Leftists base their morality on class and race.  If you're not in one of their favored categories, you deserve to have the load of bricks fall on you.

Still HATE Rush?  Why don't you try what another Liberal did, when confronted with an opposing opinion?   He examined the record, and used his brain constructively.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Work - Full-time, Part-time

It's been a long year. I've been watching the employment figures, which make no sense compared to the people I know. According to the stats on unemployment, we are improving steadily.

But, when I compare that "improvement" with people I know to be looking for work - the numbers just don't match.

Certainly, SOME people are improving their situation. I've gotten a job in the last year, my husband has likewise moved from unsteady part-time jobs to full-time. Even my son, a young man in the middle of the Guess-what-just-fell-in-on-me group of White, skilled semi-unemployed males, has FINALLY moved to a full-time job.

They liked him at work - they just couldn't afford to pay him more, or give him more hours, until their business improved. Which, finally, it has.

But, we're the exceptions. Most long-term unemployed or underemployed are NOT finding full-time work.

For Conservatives, the answer is self-evidently Obamacare. Liberals dispute this.

Perhaps this graphic below will make the connection clear.