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Saturday, January 29, 2011

She finally retired

My wife and I have been looking forward to the day when we both could turn off the alarm clock forever, and do whatever. I made the first move eight years ago when my company decided to make me an offer I couldn't refuse. The one year severance pay, payment for my vacation accumulated, a pension, and a program called income leveling allowed me to receive the equivalent of future Social Security benefits until I reached the age of 62, was too attractive to turn down. My wife turned in her resignation about a month ago but yesterday, retirement became a reality for her.

My wife thought that she was going to leave her job without much fanfare but as she punched out her timecard for the last time, she was asked to meet her boss in the break room. As she opened the door she was surprised by a lot of her old friends who showed up with gifts, a giant card signed by everyone and a cake, to enjoy a good cry and share well wishes. Of course they all promised to keep in touch and do lunch sometime but sometimes that is just the customary sendoff. I hope not because I always look forward to reconnecting with my old workmates.

When she came home I thought something that happened because her eyes were still all puffed up. We finally completed the full circle with a planned family dinner last night at La Tejanita. As our grown children were making suggestions as to what my wife could do with all of her free time, she looked at me and winked because that's the same thing that they did when I retired. My wife has been working since she was 16 years old, so I'm sure  her decision to finally retire has not fully set in. That's why I will give her the space and approval, as she tries different things to keep herself occupied. That's what she did for me.

Some of my my younger friends( who would ever thought I would be calling someone 55 years old,my younger friend) have their goals set to retire at age 65 , so they can receive the maximum benefit. That's their prerogative and a worthy goal but maximum never entered into my thinking. Being able to attend my grandchildren's events, being out of the rat race, and keeping the stress levels down may not appear on a financial printout but they should.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Memories of Riverside Park

Since spring training is just around the corner,I thought I would recycle(with a few changes)this blog I posted in our local papers’ on line forum.

Last year my wife and I decided to break up the monotony of a lazy Sunday afternoon, to just cruise Riverside Park like we used to, in the olden days. We remembered that after I completed my military obligation in El Paso, we got on a bus to take the 900 mile trip to what would be our permanent home. I brought my brand new wife to my home city. On arriving in Victoria, I remember Riverside Park being one of the first points of interest I showed my new wife, only to hear her say “Is this it?” Believe it or not, it was very hard to get a bench for that Saturday or Sunday outing at Riverside Park back in the 1950s. I don't recall if he had to have a special permit back then, but I remember my stepfather getting up in the wee hours just to reserve a table for the day. Perhaps he knew a man; who knew someone. My wife and I recalled all the birthday parties and other special events; we either attended or arranged at Riverside Park for our friends and families. It all came to an abrupt halt in the early seventies, but we could not remember why.

Shortly after entering the Vine Street entrance into Riverside Park, I noticed that all the fences were removed from the little league fields. My mind drifted back to that day I received my first wrinkled, button up baseball jersey, pant, cap and stockings with a sponsor's name across the front. I still remember some of those sponsors being Dicks Food Stores, Zarsky Lumber, Coca-Cola, York Oil, and Dr. Pepper.. Those old faded out black and white pictures revealed that I played for Zarskys; wearing a cap with the stitched on letter Z. I remember playing at Scott Field but little else.

We drove around the bend and up to the road until we reached Riverside Park stadium. I still remember when the ballpark was named Riverside Park, home of the Victoria Rosebuds. I can still remember flashy Don Miles wearing an immaculate uniform and spit shined cleats. It didn't keep him from hitting the ball over the right field fence into the rodeo arena across the street from the ball park. Mr. Miles married the town’s wealthiest daughter but rumor has it, he was paid to get out of town without Tom O’Conner’s daughter. The main attraction was Frank Howard, who always seems to have trouble keeping his shirttail in, but his time a bat was always worth the price of admission.Mr. Howard, as we called him, was 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds.. He always seemed to hit three or four 400 foot foul balls, and then he would either hit a home run or miss the ball completely for a strikeout. I think every old baseball fan in Victoria saw Frank hit that record breaking long distance home run. The stadium held a little over a thousand but it seems more than that saw the record breaking event. Some say it went over 500 feet. There was that rare occasion when he played 3rd base and after a  few plays, you wouldn’t have to wonder why playing 3rd base was a rare occasion. He wasn’t a defensive stalwart but he might have kept the opposition from stealing third. Can you imagine the hurt if he landed on you?On the other side,it was pretty funny watching him trying to field a bunt. Memories always defy logic. I don't remember if I stood or sat to watch a game, but I know I never sat behind home plate because they were reserved for the movers and shakers. Perhaps that's why I like to sit in those seats today.

As we left in the near empty Riverside Park, we could not help but wonder what a difference 40 to 55 years makes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ideological battles

It doesn't matter if the argument is about the Federal budget or the"Advocate’s editorial board opinion: Our non-profits are deserving of hotel/motel tax money", it always comes down to ideology. Some always come to the table claiming that government is the problem, and the other side will claim that we cannot solve our problems without effective government. It's very hard to make the case for effective government because corporate interest has effectively and literally paid for their opinion being pushed as being the best.

Everyone loves the idea of self -reliance, a smaller responsible government, transparency, and whatnot but as Dr. Martin Luther King once said “It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he should lift himself by his own bootstraps. It is even worse to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps when somebody is standing on the boot." We should weigh the balance of smaller government between oversight efficiency and bureaucracy. We all want efficient government, but if we continue to make drastic cuts; how can we realistically expect government to be competent? It’s the same way with transparency. We all want transparency but information in the hands of amateurs can produce undesired results. E.g. Profit and loss statements and balance sheets contain a lot of useful information, but, unless you know the exact details of every transaction; the numbers can be twisted to support a lie. Locally, the conversation is about “plastic or paper.” There will always be a comment like Observer’s when he said “Should we encourage everyone to eschew plastic in favor of paper or cloth? Sure, good idea. Do we need one more instance of nanny government telling us what we can and cannot do? HELL NO! That comment puts him on the side of “government is the problem."

I continue to hear the main stream media ask GOP leaders about the Tea Party movement within their party. It's as if they think that the Tea Party movement is on a level plain with the established parties. The Tea Party has corporate donors to give them the legitimacy they need. It's always been a custom for the opposition party to have someone give the rebuttal to the president's state of the union address. Paul Ryan will do the honors for the establishment republicans. Michelle Bachman via the Internet has decided to give her rebuttal representing the Tea Party. How silly is that? I hope the mainstream media don't give her the attention she craves. It's bad enough Sarah Palin’s tweets, and Facebook’s page will be given a platform. Place close attention to Paul Ryan's rebuttal where he will lay out the GOP's plan to privatize Social Security and issue vouchers for Medicare. He will emphasize the need to give even more tax breaks to the rich. His road map is not fully endorsed by the Republican Party but the democrats have a trick up their sleeve to counter his proposal. Independent/ Socialist Bernie Sanders will introduce an amendment to adopt Paul Ryan's plan; knowing full well it will be soundly defeated. The president will express our need to remain competitive but the GOP will say that's just a call for more spending. The president's call for another Sputnik moment will be mocked by the right as it was when President John Kennedy mentioned it. That's where we stand today, under the president's leadership; he wants to attack the deficit but move things around for investments in education, alternative energy, and research and development. I'm not really sure what the republicans want because they have two separate factions, the slash and burn Tea Party and the tax cutting, social conservative establishment republicans. When President Ronald Reagan warned in his 1987 State of the Union that "it's widely said that America is losing her competitive edge," his solution included expanding free trade. President George W. Bush said a key component of competitiveness was tax cuts. President George H.W. Bush had a "Council on Competitiveness" which came to be seen by some as a tool for businesses to kill regulations. That’s the difference between the two parties. Trey Ware of KTSA Said “the democrats want government solutions but republicans, and conservatives want a solution to come from individuals and small businesses. It sounds good but it just boilerplate language used to make their side look better.


Politics and ideology may differ at times. A good example of that came from a poster day goes by the handle of jbj. When I called him out for accusing the president of the United States of being a racist. He replied “Mike, I will own up to calling the President racist, due to his participation and membership in a church that preaches about hating white rich people. Any church that preaches about hating a people due to race is racist, in my book. And so is anyone who continues to go there and continues to support it with their membership.”…I’m pretty sure jbj got all his information from the media he watches.Oprah Winfrey used to belong to Rev. Wright’s church. President Obama might not be all that religious but was told that the largest black church on the South side of Chicago was a great place to make important contacts. If I had posted that information, he would have replied “so he’s a fake” or something like that. I have seen people change churches because a new supervisor belonged to a different church. Sometimes it’s all about networking and not about a 20 year membership in a church where the pastor said some provocative things. It’s like when Bill Clinton golfed at an exclusive club. He got a pass because; he had a track record of not being a racist. Politics is about getting the edge. Some pundits are saying that Michelle Obama is going on Oprah today, to start a campaign to help the veterans. The administration will also ask for more veteran benefits to counter a GOP claim that “Obama doesn’t care about the troops “when he calls for defense cuts.

Want to know how split we are in Victoria,TX? Read my last blog in our local paper.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann: The end of an era

As usual, I recorded Countdown with Keith Olbermann, so I was surprised  last night when I heard Bill Maher say that Keith Olbermann had completed his last show for MSNBC. A good friend of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, confirmed the abrupt departure of MSNBC's star attraction. Keith Olbermann's relationship with management was shaky at best. The new owners of NBC, Comcast, might have weighed the option of keeping their star attraction with all the negatives that go with it or pursue a different course. It's all speculations for now, but I'm sure Howard Kurtz host of CNN's Reliable Sources will get to the bottom of it before Sunday.

I used to watch Keith Olbermann every night because he was funny, intelligent, emotional, and he never got into a screaming match with his guest because he only invited guest to support his opinion. I don't like screaming matches because you can't really hear the rebuttals.I admit I loved his “ Worse person in the world” segment especially when he featured Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. MSNBC will fill his time slot with someone less controversial and less knowledgeable but life goes on...MSNBC fired Don Imus and Michael Savage because of controversial statements they made on the air. They even fired Phil Donahue, for supposedly low ratings but a memo leaked out that stated "Donahue should be fired because he would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war". Phil Donahue was anti Iraq war and not afraid to say so.

I have to go completely off this topic because a local poster got under my skin as I was preparing this blog. You see every time I get a comment on the blog I post at the Victoria Advocate on line forum, my Blackberry is programmed to alarm. It's not a low pitch. It is very loud. I checked the phone to see who the message was from. I saw it was from waywardwind, so I read it. I thought since our last two comments to one another were civil, his post would be an interesting read. I was surprised when he posted “With the question of health care being such a controversy and the fact that the congress critters exempted themselves from obamacare, I've been wondering about the out of pocket costs Rep. Giffords Arizona can expect in her treatment and rehabilitation after being shot. Fourteen people were wounded in the shooting spree that injured Gif fords. Anyone want to guess who's going to get the best care? I wonder if her congressional insurance paid for the chartered jet to take her to Houston or if she and her husband just put it on a credit card. “A human being is struggling for her life and he's worried about preferential treatment! With his reputation (his printed words) he would have blown a gasket if Arizona would have paid for an injured illegal immigrant. The advocate boards would still be lit up. Am I missing something? I have been seeing a little more civility in Washington since the Giffords tragedy and I always thought that people were hoping that congresswoman Giffords would make it through her ordeal. I never imagine people were counting pennies. I never thought of it as a classic US vs. THEM scenario. On cue, jbj and rollingstone chimeined in supporting waywardwind in a" birds of a feather, flock together" fashion. I can see why one poster invites others to another venue to continue the topic as adults. I think it' time for the three posters, I mentioned to take up the torch for their cause and start posting some blogs of their own instead of just taking cheap shots.

I might have overreacted a little bit, and I should've gone with my first instinct, by ignoring the post. It just reminded me of some my family members that said some cruel things while another family member was still fighting for their life in ICU. There's a time and a place for the righteous to say what should've and couldn't happened. I remember a long time ago when our daughter asked us to accompanying her to attend her boss's funeral. Her boss was gay and catholic. The priest who presided over the rosary did not offer kind words for the deceased but rather used the platform to talk about the sins of homosexuality. I don't know if the family members were embarrassed, angered, or surprised, but it was uncomfortable for all those that attended. It doesn't matter if it's my family members, religion, or others that I love and respect, I still think there's a time and a place.

It's getting easier and easier to make the transition.

Liberals lost a champion for their cause when Keith Olbermann left because he could go toe-to-toe with the Fox bomb throwers and as a member of the "professional left" he made the administration know when they veered too far to the right.He had the audience to make his voice heard.

According to the Huffington Post, Keith Olbermann will be replaced in his time slot by one of my favorites, Lawrence O'Donnell...  Lawrence is known for his outbursts but he does have guest of both parties , so he can't humiliate them and expect them to return....  It leaves me wondering why Chris Matthews is not given a Primetime slot.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inside the numbers

Only in America would be opinions of 1000 people mean so much.  It might not matter to the average Joe or Jane, but it supports the  talking points our politicians will use to promote their agenda.  It's as if we're the puppets and the posters are pulling the strings.  People like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews take these polls as gospel; it doesn't matter who the source is, and he gets angry if people disagree with the results.  I used to be an avid poll watcher but these days we're over saturated with daily polls, I just glance at them now and then.  I do like the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll because it's more of a detailed quarterly poll.

The results of the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is not favorable to the current GOP, the Tea Party or those that think ObamaCare will bankrupt our nation.  In fact, according to the poll, people want more to be done to drive down the high cost of Health Insurance and availability.

The latest NBC /Wall Street Journal surveyed 1000 people, 77%% of them being white. That statistic alone makes the poll more favorable to the democrats because if more minorities  would have been polled, the likelihood of them voting in the negative would be nil.  Those are facts pundits shy away from because it can be seen condescending, racial, or rude.  Minorities may have pushed the “ headed in the right direction” numbers down because they are disproportionately affected by our weak economy.

I'm sure the White House is going over the poll numbers with a fine tooth comb, because that's the only tool available to measure the pulse of America, at a given point in time.  They're using the results to plan their strategy on dealing with the opposition and making their case to the American people at the State of the Union speech next week.  President Obama can  now make his speech with the same confidence he had when he took office or at least before the healthcare issue.  It doesn't matter what poll you look at; Americans do not think we will win in Afghanistan, and they don't think we should be there.  The president will address the issue, but it is questionable as to how much time he devotes to it and how much persuasion he will use to try and convince us that the issue is worth our effort, money, and troops.
Joe Lieberman's appearance on “ Morning Joe” didn't turn out the way he anticipated.  He was making a farewell tour but when the subject of him replacing Secretary Robert Gates came up; it all went downhill for him.  He was questioned about his vote for the invasion of Iraq.  He stood by his vote a double downed on his reason by saying”“I’m basing it on the so-called Duelfer report … Charles Duelfer conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our country. Nobody thought it was partisan. I wanna be very clear. He didn’t find big caches of weapons of mass destruction, but he found and proved I think that Saddam had every intention, particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological weapons. and had a structure in place, including nuclear scientists, that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the sanctions, which he was inclined to do.” It was then when Arianna Huffington lit into him by saying”“Well, based on these completely unfounded assumptions, I sincerely hope that for the sake of the country you do not become the secretary of defense. " …….  Lieberman responded by saying ““I don’t think you’ve read it, sweetheart.”..  How condescending is that?

Read more:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is there something in the water?

The democrats and the republicans said they will gladly sit together, at the next State of the Union. Is this the first baby step toward civil discourse? I'm taking this symbolic gesture in stride because there are many controversial issues to be hashed out. We will know soon enough because the republicans are trying to repeal the Health Care Law(mathematically impossible) and representative Darrell Issa will begin his investigations on the financial crisis of 2008 and what he thinks are policy improprieties by the Obama administration.

It’s a strange and bad day for democrats because Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota will not run in 2012 and Independent /Democrat Joe Lieberman may resign. CNN is reporting that Joe Lieberman will not seek re-election. That might be a good or bad. I think Joe Lieberman is looking at the unfavorable poll numbers but I'm not real sure about Kent Conrad. Wiki leaks? We are already seeing the influence of John Daley has on president Obama. The new chief of staff might have advised Obama to write the piece in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, “decrying how regulations have sometimes "gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business -- burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs." That's all we need, for the president to start, coddling to Wall Street. They're sitting on two trillion dollars of surplus and still paying record bonuses. Whenever the reforms are; they aren’t hurting Wall Street.

The right is still trying to deflect all the blame to the liberal left. Did anyone watch the pathetic interview Sean Hannity had with Sarah Palin? It was advertised as an “exclusive interview with Sarah Palin.”Really, she works at Fox News! It's pretty bad when Newt Gingrich says “ Sarah Palin needs to slow down and be more careful and think through what she’s saying and how’s she’s saying it.” As many gaffes as Newt makes, he should know.

On the local front, our resident know- it- all, SpeakUp1968, blamed the usual, The Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and for all the vitriol. What a sheltered life he lives. He gets all his news filtered.  I didn't follow his definition of normal liberal protocol because he posted “I am shocked, and I say thank you to Mike….Mike, of all the liberals I would expect to act in the way I have accused these others, you shockingly have not…To that I say thanks.”… How vain, my two comments were intended for Rebecca but does anyone really care what he thinks? Am I supposed to take his gratitude as if it's some sort of award? SpeakUp1968 then went onto say “Yes Rush is arrogant and bombastic. I cannot stand him personally. Doesn't make what he says wrong though. What he says is correct, despite that the way he says it is off-putting.”Then out of nowhere ,Rebecca ,(I don’t know if that was her intention..She has been a sneaky one lately) hit him with the line that cracked me up, by posting “Speak, thank you for answering my question, but in doing so, you were harsher on Rush than I was. “..BAM!.. I still don't know what the "all democrats are not liberals,” is all about? SpeakUp1968 said he wasn’t a republican. He was a conservative. All republicans say they are conservatives. It's a monolithic group.

I almost forgot, Megan McCain is personally taking Rachel Maddow to the next NRA convention. I don't know why that matters but it's a good place to stop for the day. I can't wait for the pundits to sort it all out for me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Communication is a two way street


I posted a blog in our local forum hoping to get a discussion going about the events or reasons that led to the Saturday morning massacre in Tucson, Arizona. I did get some answers but for the most part the blog became a battleground for past issues.

I quickly found out that I was not the right person to call for civility because my reputation precedes me. I wish I knew how to police my blogs. Throughout the years, I have received many emails from posters telling me that they stayed off my blog because it was a hangout for the crazies. I wish, I had the leadership skills of the best boss I have ever worked for. He would correct us behind a large dumpster where we would not be in the sight of others. He defused conflicts in the workplace by calling a safety meeting,so we could air out our differences. He would act as a referee and  his reputation was such, that everyone accepted his judgment. He didn’t partake in our political discussion, make or laugh at off-color jokes, and would treat everyone alike. It's too late for me 'cause I've posted too many blogs and have made too many statements. I've always thought that it was the nature of political blogs to be confrontational. Now when I want a civil discussion, some take it like they do when the government says “trust me.”

My last blog got off with a few lighthearted comments by Rebecca but then,woofwoof, posted “Obama went to Fort Hood a few days late, did a 'shout out' to his buddies, and did not offer much in any manner of speaking. That was a heinous crime on a military installation. The jihadist shooter and subsequent disposition of that crime has fallen off the lame stream media radar.” It went pretty much downhill from there; posters were going out of their way to separate the hostile environment of today from the comments of right wing media. They used the old “free speech” to deflect any criticisms. I made three separate admissions that as of today, no one knows what set off Jared Lounghner but a couple of posters thought I was just trying to find creative ways to blame the right wing media.

I was led astray by a few commentators calling for more laws to protect our political leaders. Legions357, set me straight when he stated “I think that the organizers of any event, or owner of any property, should be able to decide for themselves whether firearms are allowed by the general public or not, but like other things the general public is allowed or not to do, it seems a law has to be passed to take the decision away from the individual owner or organizer and let the government decide." On my other question concerning a discussion about banning or restricting the use of ammo clip extenders,Legion357 said “Even though I support gun ownership, of course some types of arms should not be available to the general public .”I can live with that.

I wish I could remember the joke Bill Maher used last night about the fantasy statement waywardwind and other gun enthusiasts use “If there had been a citizen at the Arizona rally with a handgun and the training to use it in an emergency, much like the jogger in Florida, lives could have been saved and injuries prevented. Sadly, that wasn't the case." It doesn't do any good to discuss that logic but I thought countx’s post disproved that, by saying “Some of you need to read the story of Joe Zamudio, one of the heroes who subdued the shooter, but first was ready to shoot the wrong man. He ran out with his gun, safety off, ready to shoot if necessary and saw a man with a gun, only that man was the one who had already disarmed the gunman. Zamudio said he didn't draw his own weapon because he didn't want to be targeted as a second shooter.” You just can't prove a negative and I can’t make the point about wanting him alive to answers questions to see if others are involved. That’s why I don’t like vigilante justice.

Another poster, Pythagoras, suggested reading a book titled "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by LTC (RET) Dave Grossman. Then Pythagoras, offered this stated which I agree with “

The answer is:

Education and training, values that support your roles, fewer lawyers, fewer politicians and more real leadership, turning off the media. Apply liberally in moderation over infected area. If infection persist immediately pay too much to see a Doctor or bug the Government until they pay.

There is truth in most levity.


The best was saved for one of the last comments.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The madness continues


Way back in yesteryear, a favorite TV character of mine, “William Benedix, in The Life of Riley, used to say “What a revolting development this is” when chaos broke, lose. Instead of coming together to try to iron out our differences; the non -politician media types are going crazy.

Sarah Palin came out her shell with an 8 minute cam, blasting "journalists and pundits" for "manufacturing a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn." She adds, "That is reprehensible." I didn’t know what the term “blood libel” meant, so I looked it up. According to old faithful, Wikipedia, it “refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, in European contexts almost always Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays. Hank Sheinkopf, a Jewish New York-based Democratic political consultant told Politico. “Jews and rational people will find it objectionable. It shouldn't be any surprise that Pat Buchanan said the words that Sarah Palin used were excellent. I wouldn't be surprised, if he wrote them for her.

Elsewhere, Glenn Beck is having a public fight with Joe Scarborough. Bill Maher caused a stir on Jay Leno last night by saying “The NRA should just change their name to the 'Assassin's Lobby,'" He said before receiving stunned silence and later applause from the audience. He also suggested that gun owners change their view of firearms, from a hobby or form of defense to a vice or guilty pleasure.”

Meanwhile, the Washington politicians attended a memorial and are generally staying above the fray. The governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, will not go on talk radio this year nor will he allow state employees under his control to. When asked if it was because of the Tucson Arizona incident, the governor sidetracked that question by saying he just needed to pay more attentions to the things that mattered to Rhode Island. Isn't that just like a politician; they go to the water’s edge but never dive in. They always leave that wiggle room. I guess that's the way of keeping the word “former” from being part of your title.

I resubmitted a blog to our local forum to ask if it was reasonable to ask for a ban of ammo clip extenders. I also asked if anyone knew the reason mentally ill people were still able to purchase firearms and ammunition. To my surprise, Observer said we should “Bring back the State Mental Hospitals and remove the legal roadblocks to involuntary commitment that have been erected over the years by the ACLU and their ilk. Regardless of how looney they are, they can neither buy nor use guns if they are locked up.” I'll have to check on that, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea but I'm sure there are some legal issues.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guns, liberty, and the constitution

Our country has suffered through the tragedy of Columbine, the University of Texas (twice), Virginia Tech, and just recently the Tucson massacre where it might be appropriate to pause and ask ourselves “why is it that the mentally ill can easily acquire a weapon?” I’m not talking about a .22 Pistol; it's the fully automatic assault weapons with ammunition to boot. The politicians of both political parties are afraid of taking on the NRA to change the law to make it more difficult for the  unstable to purchase a gun...It's  a no-brainer but if you disagree ,I would certainly love to know why not.

I'm 65 years old and live in a state where owning a gun is second nature, while I do not own one myself, but I certainly don't mind if law abiding, mentally stable people own as many guns and ammunition as the law allows. I am fully aware of the need to protect our homes and our loved ones but just because I choose an alarm system and calling 9/11 doesn't mean I look down on those who buy guns for that extra protection.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, our federal legislators are quick to want to protect themselves against the crazies but are reluctant to have a passionate debate without fear of alienating the NRA, when it comes to protecting innocent bystanders. One legislator, Congressman Dan Burton, is going to introduce legislation to erect a glass bulletproof petition to separate the spectators from the legislators making a speech on the house floor. Another legislator, Peter King, of New York plans to introduce legislation making it illegal to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of lawmakers and some other government officials. I agree with both pieces of legislation but shouldn’t we extend it,to prevent mentally unstable people from owning guns? I can’t remember the congressman name, who suggested streamlining concealed handgun permits for all congressmen. I can picture the democratic congressman from New York; Anthony Wiener crouched behind a desk taking fire from Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann.

A poster in our local form named “Zero” asked “The problem comes in defining what a “right.” is Do morons have the right to get on my airplane flight with a gun? I say they do not. Do morons have a right to bring guns into my kids' elementary schools? I say they do not. The morons say they have a right to carry guns in order to defend the constitution and their rights to LL&PH. But it infringes with my right to be free of morons. Are you going to tell me that my rights are inferior to the morons? I thought Zero asked reasonable questions and stated their case pretty well....The answer from a right wing partisan, Observer was “Anyone who refuses to drink the liberal/progressive/socialist/communist KoolAid MUST be a moron, since the liberals and their ilk are all our intellectual superiors. If you do not believe that, just ask them and they will tell you. That's where we are on the home front, so how do we expect our politicians to have a civil debate. I don't think the left or the right want the mentally ill owning a gun, but they won't sit down and figure out a way to do that without alienating the NRA, the far left or far right.

The second amendment has been interpreted, misinterpreted, and debated more than any other constitutional amendment, so it's not necessary to reopen old wounds just to prevent the mentally unstable individual from opening fire on innocent civilians How many more legislators, judges, students, and innocent civilians have to be critically wounded or killed before we address this issue? I know the ATF is underfunded and undermanned, and it’s darn near impossible to check all those applying under the Brady bill but don't we need to take the initial steps?

Monday, January 10, 2011

What the tragedy in Tucson meant to me

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't take my mind off the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona. I think we all saw this coming because the signs were in plain sight. This senseless massacre by a mentally unstable person has nothing to do with the partisan rhetoric of either side. We may find out later that it does but as of now Jared Loughner has not cooperated with police interrogators.

As I watched the Saturday playoff games, I would click over to CNN for the latest updates on the shooting and even while I was in church, my mind drifted every few minutes. I remember that this is the same political climate we were in before the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal building. A few days after the Oklahoma City bombing, I remember a coworker, who was a member of the Republic of Texas militia, came in bragging because he got a call from the Houston Chronicle asking him if his group had any involvement. He was proud because the Houston Chronicle knew who he was but it did not impress the rest of us. It hit close to home much like the terrorist threat made to the Bay City ISD.

I think most of us saw the signs coming as recent as the August of 2009, when we saw the vitriol being displayed at the town hall meetings all over the United States. The offices of some legislators were vandalized and their lives threatened. We saw it brewing. There was a time we could go to the main post office to mail a package or serve on a jury at the county courthouse without going through a security check. Back then we could go watch an Astros game without our bags being checked or board an airplane without being viewed a flight risk.

I saw many instances of hope yesterday; when legislators of both parties said it was time for the harsh rhetoric to stop. We never want to subdue the passionate debate on the issues, but it doesn't need to lead to hate of the opposition or the government. I think our government is broken and needs a lot of repair, but it needs to be done with compromise; not an airplane flying into a Federal building, bodily threats, or vandalism. I love politics; especially hardball politics but I despise acts of violence. I think it was wise and statesmanlike for Speaker Boehner to halt any action on legislation this week, have a memorial, and schedule a bipartisan caucus soon. A timeout to reflect is not a bad idea.

It wasn't long after the senseless massacre in Tucson, Arizona that the partisans on the left and right either accused their opponents for fueling the fire, or they took a defensive position. The media were more than happy to give them the venue to state their case. There's nothing in the world that would have stopped this deranged young man. It doesn't take much to send those people over the line. At that same time, a woman came out calling for more gun control, and some gun advocates were calling for more guns. Why can't we wait for all the facts come out before lighting the fuel for another argument ?Jared Loughner was stopped, wrestled to the ground, and detained by three unarmed individuals, one being a 61 year old woman. Let's use this time to honor them, the nine year old girl, the Federal judge and others that were critically wounded or died. There will always be time for what we could've done, should've done, or can do to prevent an incident like this in the future.

I hope the solutions don't interfere with the one- on- one interaction we are able to have with our politicians. I don't think it's too much for politicians to check in with the local police department to make them aware of what they're doing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

No one is supposed to know

Paul Krugman, columnist for the New York Times is reminding everyone that conservatism is not a truth certain. Texas likes to brag about its conservative fiscal policies, but we now have a $25 billion deficit. How can that be in a state that's the most conservative of all the red states? Our budget deficit is not something right wing pundits are talking about these days. They are too busy salivating because most states are blaming the lucrative public employee unions’ contracts, as the biggest contributor to their fiscal woes, even though some states haven't fully funded them for years.

Governor Rick Perry campaigned as a fiscal conservative whose leadership led the way to make Texas a model for all states to follow. True, Texas has low taxes, business friendly policies such as grand fathered pollution laws, and no corporate tax, but we still have a $25 billion budget gap that is worse than New York’s, about the same as California but not nearly as bad as New Jersey. The Texas legislators cannot blame the GOP's natural enemy (public unions) because only 20% of public sector workers are covered by union contracts. It is true that our job losses are not as severe as those in the nation, but we have a rapidly growing population to satisfy.

Governor Perry did not have to address this issue because he didn't have the gumption to debate his opponent, Bill White, who was prepared to talk about this issue. Our legislature meets every two years, so it's easy to hide a budget deficit.The guv keeps bragging about the 2007 budget surplus.

Raising taxes is like exposing Superman to kryptonite, for republicans, so our deficit will be met with spending cuts. We already rank near the bottom in education, and at the top in percentage of residents without Health Insurance, but I wouldn't be surprised if the budget's cuts start with those two budgeted items. We have the lottery but our social conservatives will always vote to keep out the casinos. This morning I heard that 38 states have casinos; that amazed me. Most are located in poverty ridden areas, making it easy for them to addict their prey.

I hope our one party rule. Super-majority, republican lawmakers will make the right decisions without hurting the most vulnerable, or making drastic cuts in education. Our children are our future; a subpar education will make us like Mississippi, only larger. Do we want that?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I didn't know that


One of the first things I do when I wake in the morning is to glance through the obituaries to see if I've lost another acquaintance,former  coworker, or friend.  It's funny how much you don't know about people you have met , worked with, or befriended throughout the years. About a couple years ago I was reading through a former co-workers obituary and had to stop and re-read the article. I was totally  surprised he had once worked for the CIA.  He used to tell us about his military activities but he left out that important detail. I'm sure he had his reasons but it shocked me and several others that attended his funeral.  While I was giving my condolences to his wife, I learned of the love for his garden and some things that he wanted to accomplish before his departure.  That might be the reason, I read the whole obituary, to find out what my departed friends didn’t  tell us.

I love to read biographies and autobiographies because it gives me a sense of who the person really is and not what the media has made them. I love to say “ I didn’t know that.”

I guess that's why I'm totally shocked that the  younger generation is not afraid to divulge personal information on Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. I'm surprised I'm opening up in this personal blog I write. Perhaps, there's something good about not keeping it all inside. I still think that bragging is unnecessary because if you're that good people will come to to your position without self promotion.  I'm changing but I still admire those people that do great things but don't feel the need to tell the world about it.

I guess there is a reason they called the era of those born in the years 1925-1945 the” Silent Generation.” I've heard that's one of the reasons we don’t do well in today's generation of self -promotion.  I remembered the interviewer for my  last job asking me for more information because I just filled in the blanks but I didn't provide much detail.  I just didn't feel comfortable talking about myself.  When we are among some good friends and family, we allow ourselves to have that moment of self promotion but we know that among those people, someone will slap us back down into place.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We can’t get to step one

The other day I was really tempted to answer the statement submitted by holein1, in our local online forum.  He said and I quote “I find it odd that support for a bill that is trying to curtail an illegal activity is publicly being called bigoted and racist.  How can one equate dislike of  an illegal activity  to a hatred of a race is beyond me."

It is my opinion(based on multiple posts) that holdin1, has a low tolerance for protests, complaining, or in some cases a difference of opinion.  I'm guessing he thinks that everyone should applaud the Arizona Law SB 1070  without reservations. I'm against the law because it violates the basic principles of the 14th amendment “equal protection clause.” A Mexican- American should not be singled out for scrutiny under the Arizona's “reasonable suspicion clause.” I would like to know if the republicans were swayed with contributions from the new private prisons that would house the people that are arrested under  the “ reasonable suspicion clause.” I'm talking about the American citizens that will be sent to this new private facility for processing until they can prove their citizenship.

Hateful rhetoric is usually heard on right -wing talk radio but the “Open Borders” crowd has its share of  bomb throwers.  Reasonable people that want to have this debate should ignore the rhetoric from talk radio,La Raza,LULAC or any other special interest groups because they're going to do what ever takes generate support for their cause .  There are some that want to tag these human being as if they were animals; just so they will be accepted as cheap labor.  The undocumented are exploited here and in their country  but it is what it it is.  There are others that wish they would come and do the cheap labor then by some sort of magic,would all go home to sleep in their country of origin.

If it’s illegal immigration that we want to talk about, then let’s keep it at that.  Let's talk about  about how we got into this predicament, and how to take the steps needed to solve this issue. It's not unreasonable to ask that we update our Social Security database, issue new tamper proof cards, and work with the employer's to implement some sort of an E-verify System. There's no need(like some local poster suggests) to go overboard and make suggestions that are unconstitutional or would hamper our trade relations with other countries. They should be an understanding that this is a human being issue; we're not talking about commodities. Those that want attrition only(no amnesty); should come up with a affordable way to deport 12 million human beings and their families. We can secure our border but we never get an answer as to what to do with the undocumented that are here.  That's the bottleneck.

People like holein1 should take the time and read the draft of the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill that was authored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy. That bill had the support of President George W. Bush. It's detailed and answers many of the concerns he expressed like” entitlements, social services, and education.” While I understand that Americans should get first preference when it comes to education benefits; I believe that it is in our best interest to educate every child living in the United States.  The  “Dream Act” is about allowing a exceptional student to graduate from an accredited college having a path toward citizenship.  They can also acquire a path toward citizenship if they serve in our overextended military.  That act won't make or break our immigration policy but it is a small step forward.

This is the United States of America and our laws are based on our constitution, it's not our duty to compare our immigration laws with those of other countries. The new immigration law will involve immigrants from many countries not just Mexico, Guatemala and other countries south of the border.  The language of the law should be consistent for all countries involved. The law should be the same for the Russian and Ukrainian immigrants in Chicago, the South Koreans, Cambodians, and Chinese in San Francisco and the Mexicans in South Texas.

I don't see why holein1, has any fear of being called a racist because he certainly isn’t ;I've seen too many comments that would contradict that notion. Now, when a poster says that on a recent visit to our local Social Security Office, she could not hear anyone in the waiting area speaking English or the other poster that would like our military to shoot anything that moves northward shouldn't be too surprised if someone called them a racist.  I don't want to mention names this time but there are a couple posters from the other side that drop that race card when they can't make a logical point.

We desperately need immigration reform because I'm uncomfortable with millions of undocumented people running around and I support  comprehensive immigration reform that will last us for many years to come. I'm more than willing to secure the borders first but doesn’t mean we can't dust off the old draft and start making committee modifications.

I've  always wanted to submit a blog on illegal immigration but it wouldn’t last 5 minutes before the usual characters would destroy a civil discussion.  I'm left with this venue but maybe in in not so distant future, the posters will get tired of the same negativity and will be ready to discuss this important issue in a civil matter. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I saw that train wreck coming

I really can't remember when I started posting in our local paper’s online forum, but I want to say it's close to five years. Is there a point where you get tired of the same old left/right nonsense, although I know I am part of the problem? Is it like a Seven Year Itch? I really enjoy blogging, the feedback, and the enjoyment of stating my thoughts, so I would hate to think that I was wrong for getting involved in the first place. I'm  starting to have buyer’s remorse..........Perhaps, it’s time for another timeout.

I still remember when the professionals controlled the comment section; I suspect some were lawyers, teachers and businesspeople because of how they carried themselves. I remember my first post, which was in defense of a poster that goes by the name of born2Bme (back then it was Suzy), well it really wasn't that I was coming to her defense but more to her position. She had an argument with a well known troll whose real name was Roy Mark.The troll, Roy Mark, was eventually banned for having seven aliases and using them to agree with his point of view. Roy Mark and I locked heads several times until he was permanently banned. It was then that I decided to just write blogs and refrain from posting in the comment's section. When I did make that occasional post in the comments' section; I made sure to limited myself to one or two comments. One day a poster told me to stay off the forum, before I could respond, Kenneth Schustereit came to my defense telling the poster that I earned the right to give my opinion. It was then that I felt a sense of belonging. Kenneth and I are 180° apart; he was always cordial to me and when he made a rare comment on my blog; he did it in a respectful way. I made an occasional comment on his blog, and he responded in a respectful manner. I'm one of the lucky ones because he usually blasted anyone who disagreed with him.

Well, that's the background that leads me to the reason for writing this blog. I saw this train wreck coming. I just can't stand any sort of superficiality or outright lies. I  am still grateful that a poster that goes by the handle of waywardwind came to my defense when another poster wrote “Mike, STFU." Waywardwind is a Ron Paul libertarian,so it’s surprising that we have gotten along rather well. One day I did say “waywardwind, you and I are 180° apart, and I'm proud of that.” he said that he was sorry I felt that way, which made me feel like a total ass. I've seen his recent comments because his avatar is not hard to miss,so he has already stated his real feelings. Last night he made a comment on my blog directed to me, so it would be rude of me not to respond; especially since it was on the topic. I could have answered his question and let it go at that, but as I said “I hate superficiality.” After all these years “let’s call a spade a spade.” He can hate the president and his policies all he wants, and we could still have a reasonable discussion but don't come in with the pretense of  having a discussion on a constitutional matter. That's why people hate politicians; they're so pretentious. Politicians are that way to persuade voters; posters don't have that excuse; they should be themselves.

That's the benefit of writing a blog; I was going to delete my comments to waywardwind, but I'm now convinced that I did the right thing. If nothing else; it will lead to an honest debate on the issues; without holding back.

Now that's off my mind, I can go about my daily routine without feeling the need of doing something.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Sunday talk shows

I'm going start off by giving Fox News Sunday their kudos for having Michael Duffy of Time magazine as their guest panelist. He gave true balance to the panel that usually uses Juan Williams like they used Alan Colmes, a whipping boy. After the first round of questions and answers, Michael Duffy, stood out as being the most knowledgeable on the panel and unafraid to state his views. After he corrected, Bill Kristol and disagreed with the direction Chris Wallace wanted to go, Brit Hume and Bill Kristol became less partisan. I don't know how much prep goes into the Sunday talk shows but Michael Duffy came prepared. Prior to the panel discussion, Chris Wallace,interviewed a couple of Tea Party congressmen and new committee chairmen Darrell Issa and Fred Upton. I was surprised that Chris showed Mr. Upton’s stance on greenhouse emission standards on his website but then pointed out that he teamed up with a lobbyist to write an article for the Wall Street Journa,l that would make a climate change denier, smile from ear- to- ear, in agreement. Mr. Upton thinks that he can convince some democrats to vote with the republicans to repeal health care. He is delusional.

Meet the Press with David Gregory had conservative columnist David Brooks, republican senator Pat Toomey, liberal columnist E .J. Dionne of the Washington Post, British columnist Katty Kay, and a professor from Yale Law, Steven Carter as his guests. Except for senator Toomey, who just wanted to deliver a consistent message of his republican talking points, the round table discussion was civil and quite informative. They said that the president would try to stay above the fray to portray a picture of being the adult in the room. It was agreed that the president will only have about 10 months to compromise; then he has to hit the trail for a partisan run for the presidency.

Jack Trapper, of ABC news, subbed for Christiane Amanpour ,and did a fabulous job, as always. I don't know if the president's chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee is always nervous but Mr. Trapper had him on the ropes yesterday, when he asked him to predict the unemployment numbers for 2011. Most political advisers can spin their way out of a tough question but Mr. Goolsbee was over matched. I was surprised to hear ABC News director, Amy Walter, warning the republicans not to go through with their efforts on repealing health care. It might be good advice because even Joe Scarborough said it was a waste time because the legislation would not pass the senate, nor would it garner enough votes to override a presidential veto. Joe Scarborough did not  leave it at that; he went onto compare the repeal of Health Care to the house passage of the Cap in-and Trade bill.

I had a lot of catching up to do because I haven't been keeping up with our local on line forum. I did find one popular blog that was that was used by our local right –wingers as a “where have you been since Kenneth left “venue, to let out all their frustration. Alton Easton (who was 0-12 on his 2010 predictions) wrote about the misuse of president Obama’s presidential power. I used Alton's blog as material for my first Victoria Advocate blog of 2011.

I did notice that abortion became the main topic of discussion for the past two or three days. A couple of local gals (I say that with the utmost respect) stood toe- to- toe with their opponents. Victoriabybirth and Rebecca were relentless in making their argument and in this blogger’s opinion, they won the debate.

To my pleasant surprise, I doubled my followers this weekend; yeah, I know it's only four, but they are credible posters, which counts for much more. I want to welcome Legion357, a poster that does his homework and  is a formidable opponent at timesSmile