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Thursday, June 30, 2011

It’s hard to be yourself in a public forum


Anyone could have predicted that our online forum would become a contentious one because if anyone takes a definite stand, they will always be met with opposing views. I became a member of the forum when that was the status quo. People lined up on both sides, and they went at it. I guess that's OK if they are lots of posters participating, but when it dwindles down to a few; you stand out like a sore thumb.

When you're down to a small number of regular posters, a few will use this opportunity to dominate every topic. If some posters questions a decision made by our local officials, they might be labeled as whiners or being against progress.- And then it usually becomes a personal vendetta, rather than a discussion of the issues. It's the same way if a person agrees with a position favored by our local officials; those people are accused of belonging to that cabal. That's the reason I wrote my own blog about, I-69 rather than attacking a poster in a public forum. I did mention the couple posters in my blog but that was to make my position clearer.

There's no way around having a lively, often in a combative tone, when discussing social issues or politics. People come into the discussion with their prejudice, and they will not be talked out of it. Although I have seen some civil religious discussions they are few and far between. I usually stay out of the social issues, unless someone makes it about policy making and even then, I will address the legislative argument and leave. I know when I'm out of my elements.

Jared wrote an interesting blog about the word "bigot" but he didn't really give a reason for bringing up that subject other than observing a discussion. He might've been offended, so if he was, I can relate to that. He might have just wanted to get a discussion going. He’s pretty good at that. Like I stated, interesting. There were a couple other blogs where posters felt they needed to post their viewpoints about folks and their intolerance. Religion is a controversial subject, even though most of us are Christian, a lot of us don’t wear it on our sleeves. Some very intelligent people do not believe in religion, and they make a well- informed case because religion can only be backed up by faith. The nonbeliever doesn't have to prove a negative.

I just had an interesting discussion with Newcowboyintown, but I had to restrain myself from becoming negative because I thought his view on our economic situation was totally wrong. It's hard being myself, as it turns out that his second response was pretty reasonable, so I'm glad I held back. He really is a decent person, and he's someone I hope to have more civil discussion with in the future. I wonder how many times people felt that way about me? I may not want to know...Smile

It's still pretty hilarious on the national stage where Michelle Bachmann said she was not going to indulge the press by getting into a mud wrestling match with Sarah Palin.

This morning, I almost spilled hot coffee on myself when I heard MSNBC's Mark Harperin accuse president Obama of being a d**k at his press conference. He thought the new program engineer knew how to work the 7 second delay button. I happened to like the president finally stepping up and calling out the republicans who do not want to include tax increases in the negotiations. He accused Congress of having too many breaks while our nation needs to come to some kind of consensus to increase our debt ceiling. And it might have worked, because Harry Reid just canceled their recess.

I don't have a solution, but I think we'll get back to normal in a few months, when the new posters get to know everyone, and come to the decision that a disagreement doesn't make a person despicable; it just means they have a different view. After the newness wears off, they will learn who to ignore. I'm not an expert, but I've seen this before. I remember the battles just before the 2008 presidential election and the calmness afterwards.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Complete I-69


After reading this morning's article about the Interstate 69 (I-69) project, it reminded me of 1964, when as a summer help; I saw stacks of I-69 signs lined up against the wall. Here we are about 50 years later, and we still haven't completed the project. We don't have any funding right now, but materials and interest rates are pretty low right now. It would be wonderful jobs project. We have to keep in mind that highway traffic will not decrease, and future business locations will consider the completion of, I- 69. One only has to look at our bordering states like Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, to see what a neglected highway looks like.

I was disappointed reading arlewill's comment about not starting the project until the borders are secure. Will we use that logic to ignore our airports and seaports? I can only imagine what born2Bme's link to a Jerome Corsi web site had to say. I kind of expected a reference to the NAFTA superhighway rumor about Mexico, Canada, and the USA creating a currency named "Amero." I don't think those are serious concerns, and they won't be a factor, one way or the other.

Governor Perry's land grabs and a questionable partnership with a Spanish company gave the Trans Texas Corridor a bad name. I would like to see a system (corridor) that centralizes the controls to our utilities, provides a bypass around our city for trucks carrying hazardous materials, and widens our highways for safer and faster traveling.

Victoria has a roadblock because every time a project is mentioned the same old" who is benefiting” and “not with my tax dollars you don't" prop up. I'm not saying those issues are not legitimate or shouldn't be addressed, but it shouldn't take up all the oxygen in the room. Gabe wrote an excellent article about the facilities at the Port of Victoria, and its room for growth, so we have a strong building block along with a first-class workforce for growth. I'm not worried about Victoria's growth; it's the roadblocks that keep Victoria from growing at a faster pace that concerns me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How much is too much government?


There are a lot of complaints about our country becoming a nanny state. The recent Supreme Court ruling that government can't ban the sell of violent video games to minors was pretty even, 80 agreed with the decision and 70 disagreed according to informal ViCad poll. They were three negative comments to our forum's question of the day" Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on violent video games?"

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against the state of California, but I agree with the dissenting summation written by Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the two dissenters in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, pointed out the court's double standard. "What sense does it make," he asked, "to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting a sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?"

What sense, indeed. Breyer went further: "What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restricting sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman — bound, gagged, tortured, and killed — is also topless?"

Another fine question. Breyer pointed out the inconsistency in order to defend the California law. He would have ruled that the video-game ban is constitutional — just as some laws against selling obscenity have been upheld.,8599,2080289,00.html

I've seen a lot of comments saying that it's up to the parents to restrict, and I guess permit children what they can or can't watch. I’ve heard many times that there's too much government intrusion in our lives. I wonder if that's a blanket statement in restricting any more government laws? Ron Paul uses this reasoning for his objection to the civil rights laws. He said it was an intrusion on property rights. I guess Ron Paul and these posters are saying that parents and the free market will police itself. That's a good theory but is it based, in reality?

I don't have a barometer or a gauge to measure how much government we need, but I've come down on both sides because I take it on a case by case basis. I may not be against red light cameras, but I'm a strong opponent of the Patriot Act.

Hey this  is Texas, where they pass a “anti groping law” and then turn around and approve legislation that requires mothers seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination and listen to a description of what it shows in the same legislative session.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Watershed Moments


I've heard some pretty ridiculous comments come from the mouth of Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, but I was still surprised when Chris Wallace asked her if she was a flake because of her previous statements. Michelle Bachmann said that she would be offended if anyone called, her a flake and then immediately went into her monologue listing her accomplishments. Chris Wallace has since apologized for asking her that question, so does this inoculate her being asked that question again? Is Fox being too cute by half because Michelle Bachman was a legitimate guest after all , a recent Iowa poll had her in second place, next to Mitt Romney with 22% of the caucus vote? A liberal journalist said Chris Wallace would not have asked a male candidate that question. I know Michelle Bachmann is a United States congresswoman, and that she has a doctorate in Federal law from William and Mary, but I'm not convinced that she's a serious candidate because of her previous statements. She doesn't vet her talking points ,like the one she tried to spread about the president  spending $200 million a day, on his trip to India. Her campaign Manager, Ed Rollins, can iron out the wrinkles, but he can't do anything when she goes rogue. Will the interview with Chris Wallace be her watershed moment?

As usual, Maureen Dowd wrote a scathing piece for the New York Times but this time her target was President Barack Obama, She said “he is Bi, not bisexual, not even bipartisan, and just binary. Our president likes to be on both sides at once. Ms. Dowd was referring to the president's foreign policy and his decision not to endorse gay marriage. I think Maureen Dowd is describing Obama as someone in the mushy middle. I think he is a pragmatic politician who knows he will take criticism today, but in the long run, his decision will make sense. That's a risky move that may have cost him several seats in the house and senate in the mid terms. I don't know if the president's decisions will make liberals stay home like they did in the midterms, but his watershed moment may be the deal the makes with his republican counterparts, on increasing the debt ceiling.

Our country's watershed moment will be the day they vote (yes or no) on increasing the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling is a promise to pay the debts we have already incurred. It's not a permission slip to keep up the reckless spending. If we don't pass the debt ceiling we will have a double dip recession which will cause a domino effect across the world. Yesterday, Mitch McConnell said that, even if the senate agreed on tax revenues, it would not pass the more raucous House of Representatives. That really angers me, we're going to ask the veterans, the elderly, the poor, and the middle class to make sacrifices, but we won't touch the tax subsidies for corporate jets.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Holidays,good food, and liberty


As I was reading the question of the day “Do you plan to buy fireworks" my mind drifted back and to the days when we celebrated July 4th by popping firecrackers. Yes, we did the crazy things like blowing up ant beds, scaring the girls, doing other irresponsible things, but it only happened once or twice a year. I don't remember any burn bans, but we probably didn't have sufficient law enforcement to enforce it. When I got old enough to have my own family, we spent most of our 4th of July in other states that were vacationing in, so we just enjoyed the firework's spectacles at Disneyland, ballparks, or county fairs. In the last few years before I retired, we still owned a house close to the Community Center. Our house became the meeting place for my extended family to watch fireworks because my parents were becoming too old to host all the holiday events. I remember when the grand kids started giving a firework display to me maw and that gesture became a new family tradition, sometimes invoking jealousy in my children. I remember my daughter saying “how come you didn't give me that beautiful fireworks display?" There were plenty of firework displays to go around, so eventually everyone got to own one. My oldest daughter lives in the country, so they  still enjoy popping firecrackers on New Year’s Day and the 4th of July. I’ll watch some ball games and my wife will catch up on her soaps because the grandchildren are grown and doing their own thing, but I hope they start their own July 4th tradition when they settle down and raise their families.

When my mother and stepfather were still alive, holidays meant good food, plenty of refreshments and lots of family. We had long lost cousins driving through Victoria just drop by my mother's house because they knew if it was a holiday, we were celebrating. Last month when we went to visit my older sister in Texas City; I asked her about some recipes for some food we hadn't tasted since my mother died. I even asked her if she knew of a restaurant that served the Syrian food that my mother used to cook. My mothers was a housekeeper for a Syrian family in Victoria where she became an extended part of their family and learned how to make some delicacies like stuffed bell peppers, squash, cabbage and grape leaves. I've tried some grape leaves at Greek Bros, but it left us disappointed.The store bought frozen stuff dell peppers are good but they are missing a spice or two. I should have known that my sister didn't have the recipe, because, although she was a great cook in her day, she told me she has scaled back quite a bit. That explained the store bought salsa, tortillas, and dessert she served us that day. Those delicacies are gone but not forgotten.

It's funny how an innocent question can turn into a gripe session. The question “do you plan to buy fireworks" turned into a discussion about cigarettes, wasteful purchases and waywardwind's laundry list of liberties he has lost.That thread reminded me of several blogs I've written, where I wrote about one thing only to come back and find a different topic. Bill Maher discussed the issue of our liberties with his guest last night. It turns out, our gripes pale in comparisons to what others have in third world countries. As we approach July 4th, we need to be thankful that we still have clean air and water, plenty of food, and just enough rules regulations and laws to irritate us, but not strip away all our rights as Americans.

Friday, June 24, 2011

All we need is facts


Why can't we just accept the data or general accepted facts, without trying to manipulate them to make one side look bad and hide the mistakes of the other? Do we have to rehash the previous eight years or the Iraq war every time, just to get on a level playing field?

I'm a strong Barack Obama supporter, but I don't accept his definition of " Not an operation of hostility" when he's trying to circumvent the War Powers Act in Libya, and I think he's trying to do an end run around supporting gay marriage by saying “It’s a state issue." The recent decision to use our oil reserves is just a political gimmick. The release of those 30 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) will only make matters worse, in the long run. Those are undisputed facts that cannot be spun, and they shouldn't be. I never expected this president or the ones that will follow, to be 100% correct each and every time.

Today, John Boehner wrote a letter to the president but then called a press conference to  reveal the details of the letter. Speaker Boehner said""It is my hope that you will provide the American people and Congress a clear and robust assessment of the scope, objective, and purpose of our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved." I agree Mr. Boehner, if only you would've said that before the ill advised invasion of Iraq. Today, Speaker Boehner, you allowed the House of Representatives to vote to defund the war in Libya. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but I wonder if that action would've been taken if we had a republican president?

A poster complained about the unemployment rate and the nation's debt on my VA blog. That was a reasonable complaint, but that poster forgot that the previous administration passed a seven trillion dollar prescription drug bill, two tax cuts for the wealthy, and conducted two wars off budget and did not pay for  any of them. Do they think that this did not add to the deficit and the debt? Was president Obama supposed to come in and pay those bills and still have money for growth? I don't expect the Republican Party to give present Obama any credit for averting a depression, but they don't have to manipulate the data to make it look like it all happened after January 20, 2009.

I wonder if those republicans are really that naive, and do they think they are infallible, or do they have a penchant for lying? I understand spin and I can spin with the best of them, but I'm not one of the 535 members of Congress. How can a sensible person think that we don't have to increase revenues in trying to have a balanced remedy?

Don’t let the emotions of hate override common sense and civility.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

They have us over a barrel


Have ever read your end- user license agreement (EULA)? It's a software agreement that comes in all Microsoft products that gives you the right to copy their software on three computers, but they are not responsible for flaws and you never have complete ownership of the software. Periodically, when I download an app from ITunes they make me agree to several pages of gibberish before I'm allowed to purchase the app. I wonder how many lawsuits Microsoft and ITunes have won because people will never take the time to read every line of the contract?

Several weeks ago, I thought I had won an argument with Dish Network but my next door neighbor convinced me that they don't mind losing small arguments. I upgraded my DVR to one that had Internet capability. The DVR was added to my home network allowing me to watch live TV and recorded programs on my iPad. For some reason, the updated model didn't come with an off- air module; although it had a slot for it. When I asked the installer if he could take the module out of my old DVR and put in a new one; he said it not on a work order, so I thanked him and immediately called the service department. When I finally got an English speaking technician, he immediately told me that the module would be an additional $50.00 plus shipping and sales tax. After about 15 minutes of hearing the Dish Network policy, I asked to speak to his supervisor. He said that he would have to put me on a hold(like I care, I'm retired), so I waited for another 10 minutes before he came back said his boss was busy and would I mind holding for a little while longer; I said I would hold. He came back a third time and said his boss was busy, but since I was an old valued customer; he would approve and expedite my order at no charge. That made me happy until my neighbor told me “add up the cost of the package you are paying for; then check to see how much you actually watch daily." I wonder how many customers have paid the additional cost without complaining, or if they did complain, they were then deterred by the wait period. I bet that he didn't even go to a supervisor, or if he did; it was the supervisor who OK'd the order but the technician wanted to save face.. Who knows?

After being held over a barrel for all these years; I'm ready to read the fine print, stay on hold, or do whatever it takes to make sure I get as much bang for the buck as I can. I used to like haggling with car salesmen but one time I may have taken it too far. This one Saturday my whole family left the office, embarrassed because after the car salesman told me he wasn't going to get a commission if he sold me the car at the price I wanted; I said " I'm not gonna pay more, just so you get a bigger commission." The poor young guy was barely getting started and didn't know all the old tricks of financing or making me pay for things I didn't need. My daughters were embarrassed then, but guess who they asked to go with them when they purchased their first cars?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Motivated Reasoning

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

There's not a day that goes by that I don't sit up and take notice when someone makes an unsubstantiated comment. Some will pick up a percentage out of the air and just run with it. It's not that I'm a know- it- all, but generally I won't even discuss a subject of which I know nothing about.

As I've mentioned before; I record the PBS show “Need to Know" every week because I like the subjects they report about. This pass Friday's show was about “motivated reasoning" and how if it affects our political beliefs. The first example that they showed was about people that believed the world would end May 21, 2011. Those people that believed, couldn't be talked out of it, even if the world didn't end at the predicted date. These people pick and choose data that fits their preconceptions. That's why a large number of republicans believed president Obama was not born in this country and that the healthcare reform bill was about death panels. It has broader implications because even though 53% of Americans believe in climate change, that percentage is dwindling because of politics. According to Gallup, 72% of democrats believe in climate change, and man is a large source of the problem, but only 31% of republicans believe in climate change. Republicans used to believe in global warming, until it became a threat on the marketplace. It works across all political spectrums because it's difficult finding democrats who believed that the surge worked in Iraq or that NAFTA and other trade agreements are necessary in a global economy.

Our positive and negative feelings about people, ideas, and things arise rather fast, much faster than our conscience. Motivated reasoning is a much slower process that feeds our biases. The people consumed with motivated reasoning, tend to be lawyerly, in an attempt to win at all cost. They use built in challenges and will dismiss contradictory facts. They usually rationalize but they think they are reasoning.

I liked how Jon Stewart explained the differences between conservatives and liberals. He said that for the most part actors and reporters have a liberal view of the world but "yeah they're liberal, but that's not their primary motivating force." Take note every time our newspaper mentions an argument against fracking, nuclear power, or the oil industry. It won't take long before a right wing conservative will call it a “tree- hugging hit piece." That's the reason I acknowledge my bias in my profile because I think everyone has a bias but not everyone has an agenda. That is my opening line for saying" OK, we know where we stand, so let's discuss our differences" without trying to be above the fray by saying" I'm a moderate independent." It's not my primary motivating force to go after conservatives, but if they're just repeating talking points then that makes them fair game.

I find motivated reasoning to be a fascinating subject of which I am just now becoming familiar with. I think it's important to know as much as I can about the person I'm having a conversation with. That way I can continue having a civil discussion without stepping on their toes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jon Stewart slams Chris Wallace

A shellacking

I have been trying to debunk the media bias falsehood that has been taken to be true by right wing conservatives for several years. Jon Stewart explains my position in less than 15 minutes. Politicians on the right will make the mainstream media the enemy and those on the left will use Fox News as their enemy. That's where the line stops, because you don't see as many democrats hosting TV shows.

It's healthy for conservatives to have a network that's in line with their views, but they continuously misinform their viewers by omitting pertinent facts and it's no secret that Fox News will tout the republican line. I always hear mainstream republicans say" and that's not coming from Fox news." It is true that MSNBC has tried to be the alternate of Fox, with little success but it's competing with CNN, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NBC as far as actual news goes. MSNBC does tout the liberal/ progressive view but it doesn't have the viewers necessary to make democrats cater to them. The hosts of MSNBC tried their very best to get the public option, Dream Act, and other liberal agendas passed but the White House pushed back by calling them the “professional left."

Chris Wallace should've prepared more because you don't go after Jon Stewart with sound bites or try to catch him off guard with "gotcha" clips. Jon took Rachel Maddow to school when she tried those tactics, and yesterday he did the same thing with Chris Wallace. You can’t stump people with heartfelt opinions. I think conservatives need to get a sense of humor. Chris Wallace looked stupid trying to say a commercial that had several people picking up the lines on others, was comparing Sarah Palin to herpes. I still can't figure out why Wallace put out that Diane Sawyer clip where she made a mistake in covering the immigration law in Arizona. Liberals are not saying that everything on the network news comes out correct each and every time, but I don't think Diane Sawyer was trying to manipulate her audience. Therein lies a difference; watch the clip and tell me what you think.

Jon Stewart didn’t explain credibility  in this clip, but he has on the past. I've been criticized for quoting Jon Stewart and Bill Maher in the past, but they are knowledgeable individuals that know a lot about politics, national and world events. The fact that they are professional comedians doesn't make any difference. It doesn't matter if you are a history teacher, politician, blogger, telephone man or the person in the street; intelligence always comes to the forefront.

Case in point,VISDMOM and Edith Ann are correct it's all about control and a single point of view..Why fight it?You cannot win against a locked- in  fundamentalist with an agenda.What difference does it make,the GOP pushed this bill through? It should make the Dems and others mad enough to elect those who will repeal this intrusive bill or at least take it to court. How can a MAN (with certainty)know what is intrusive to a woman? The thread on PRO & CON of the Sonogram is  just another attention getter that ends as a platform for the Pro-Life agenda. The traffic has been slow;time to perk it up.I won't be a party to the nonsense of republicans ,not only pushing their agenda, but  not be satisfied until they make you like it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

If the glove doesn't fit;you can’t convict


I probably still have some old VCR tapes that are titled"OJ Simpson Trial" packed away somewhere. I shamefully admit that I was a “Trial of the Century" junkie from day one. I would often tape the trial on the days I couldn't watch. It was on this date 17 years ago, June 17, 1994 that O.J. Simpson was charged with the murders of his ex wife Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Has it really been that long?

I still remember all those lively discussions I had with my work mates, relatives, strangers, and friends over the evidence, the characters, the "Dream Team “of the O.J. Simpson trial. I couldn't really get away from it because who can forget Judge Lance Ito and his love of the limelight, so he allowed TV cameras to televise the everyday proceedings.The media took full advantage, CNN and Fox had nightly panels discussing the events of the day.

It all started for me when I was watching a Houston Rocket playoff game that was split screened to show what looked like the entire Los Angeles police department chasing O.J Simpson's Bronco as he cruised up the freeway. At the time I was annoyed because it had to be the slowest chase in history, and I wanted to watch my game in full screen. Little did I know that I would become addicted to the everyday twists, turns and new revelations .It seems like every Friday, the trial ended in suspense. It was as if I was watching an episode of "Dallas "or as my wife describes it "It's like my daytime soap operas."

I have met people who thought that O.J. Simpson was innocent, but they weren't that passive about it. I did have a coworker that to this day, believes O.J. Simpson was innocent. He was such a believer that every day he would come up with some contradicting evidence. He stuck to the story that the evidence was planted, even though we pointed to the bloody sock evidence which couldn't be manufactured, because in order for blood to get to the other side of the sock it would have had to go through his leg. It was in the early days of DNA evidence, so none of us could argue with a science we really didn't fully understand. When we started to get the upper hand on the argument, the coworker would always end it by saying “what was the verdict?" The conversation went south after that. He never had an answer when we said “his DNA was at the scene in of the murder."

I didn't really follow the civil trial that much nor the events that eventually led to O.J. going to prison because the latter could never match the sensationalism of: People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson.

Come on admit it,I was not the only O.J. Simpson trial junkie. What was the compelling evidence that convinced you O.J was guilty?

It's beginning to sound like an old record "He's Back!"yes, Roy Mark has slipped by the highly secured VA forum under the name of " truthaboveall..He even wrote a blog and what a choice of names as he continues to decieve the

Oh well.
Happy Fathers’ Day -to those to whom it applies.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A year later and I'm still loving it


The ads for the new Apple iPad never caught my attention before last Father's Day. I convinced myself that I already had a Blackberry, desktop, and laptop for all the things the iPad could do, so why should I shell out the $600 or more for a gadget that duplicates what I already have. It seemed like every TV talk show host had an iPad but I wasn't convinced that I needed one. What was I thinking?

I know it sounds corny but the details of how I acquired my iPad are much more valuable to me than the unit itself. This story started as another Sunday afternoon that's called Father's Day of 2010. I can expect to get calls from my children and grandchildren and despite the fact I'm not my wife's father; she wishes me happy father's day and vice versa when it's her day. Everything was ready for the barbecue when my wife said that my children would be arriving a little late, so would I mind putting off diner until later in the evening. I started asking questions, receiving different excuses, so I immediately thought everyone was going to be busy that day. Little did I know the real reason dinner was being put off. They started the conspiracy about a week before Father's Day, after; I assume asking the usual questions "What do you think dad wants for Father's Day?" I remember us asking my mother that same question every year. I thought it was rhetorical. This time, after the children heard my wife say that I always told her about the interesting things that Joe Scarborough and his guest said about their iPad; I assume it became a done deal. A couple of my children drove to Sugar Land's Best Buy early Sunday morning because they were sure that big store would have one (that's the way they did their term paper that was due the next day). They asked the manager to inquire about the iPad availability in the surrounding area; only to find out, Corpus Christi had the only one, and they would only hold it for 3 hours. Being the great children they are, they headed to Corpus Christi and told their mom to tell me a whopper about moving dinner to 5:00. When they finally arrived, they all gathered in a circle, with that "cat that ate the canary-look,"(it brought back memories of when they were in trouble) and they were getting impatient as I read their lovely cards. Finally, my youngest daughter retrieved the package she was hiding behind her back and handed it to me. There it was, in big bold letters written on the box "Apple iPad." Clearly, everyone was starving but as I ate, I could hardly keep my eyes off that box.

The iPad has become an invaluable tool because it's where I keep my personal pertinent information such as contacts, helpful applications, blog material, needless information and the Internet is always at the ready by my recliner. Recently, I downloaded a free application that allows me to watch DISH TV on my iPad from anywhere I can get a 3G or a WIFI signal. Now that I'm more acquainted with my iPad; I'm wondering why do I need a Blackberry or the small portable HD television that only picks up local stations? I don't even need the portable satellite radio I own ,because I have a Sirrus app and Pandora for music. I'll have to think about that one but for now they will serve as a backup.I hope you don't ask about service because luckily I have needed them.

When you get to be my age it really is about the "thought "so, if your father is still living give him a great big bear hug because even if you not completely dependant on him anymore; he still likes to be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It’s not always black & white..Sometimes it’s grey


I've been accused having a liberal mindset which equates to me being irresponsible because I don't think reducing the National Debt should be our first priority. I was never asked why. It's something that I have experienced all my life when I'm discussing politics. When I ask if having a liberal mindset is wrong; I never get a direct answer.

I remember the times, when our company reduced our cost of living raises, made us pay a larger percentage of our benefits, and drastically cut back the amount of our bonuses. The reaction from my conservative friends to those moves (especially when they cut back overtime) was to get on the computer and look up to see what our CEO was currently making and the national trend of CEO pay to workers. We all felt that we were slighted until I made that same argument about supply side economics. My conservative friends argued that “trickle down" was important because they have never worked for a poor man. They accused me of being for a "welfare state" because I defended the safety net. I could never make the case that the middle class was being squeezed while the emphasis was on the rich and the poor.  I couldn't even make the point that the "rich" will find a way, and we will always take care the poor because the "liberal mindset"became the core of the argument. I think the middle class takes up for the rich because of their aspirations, and they see the working poor becoming more and more dependant on the government.

It's not all bad, because just last week two people on the opposite sides of gay marriage ,had a civil discussion with a promise to come back later and discuss it further. The only agreement that we are used to seeing is when the opponent leaves the discussion. It seems like the posters make everything left, right, conservative, liberal, and Christian non Christian. If you're a middle of the road poster, your comment will probably be ignored. Perhaps the civil discussion over a very controversial subject was a fluke.

I think the dumbing down of America has taken over because even the so called liberal media in saying that Michelle Bachmann is a serious contender to be president of the United States because she did not embarrass yourself the other night. Is that the standard of intelligence that we're striving for? They said that Mitt Romney looked presidential but what the hell does that mean? I didn't hear one credible solution for solving our problems from the republican candidates. I did hear that "Sharia Law" was a threat and a need to have a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I didn't hear the word “middle class” or a plan to create jobs other than doubling down on supply side economics. These are perilous times, so we cannot give anybody a pass because they don't trip on the way up to the stage, or that they had their hair in place. The media needs to ask pertinent questions and refuse to take talking points as an answer. I heard a pundit say that Michelle Bachmann's "Barack Obama is a one term president" will get her through the primaries. These were the same pundits that thought “Yes, We Can" was the deciding factor for Barack Obama.

Is there a “schools out" summertime lull at the VA forum or is it because the topics are not exciting? I've noticed that traffic is down and sometimes it's a long time between posts. Is it just me or have you noticed that during the lulls,is  when we  start getting new posters? Could be the same posters changing their identity to argue the same point because they didn't have much success with their last screen name? Perhaps some have gotten, bored and moved on, or maybe the 95°is making me delusional to where I'm seeing things that are not happening?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Public Education Is An Entitlement?


State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) thinks that public education is an "entitlement." I shouldn't be too surprised because he doesn't think a pre-abortion sonogram is a government intrusion. I always thought that Article 7, Section of the Texas Constitution requires legislation to make a suitable provision for an" efficient system of public free schools." The $4 billion slash includes  $1.4 billion for full day pre-kindergarten. Maybe that he's talking about.

It doesn't matter what you call it because it's the worst public education budget in 27 years. This is just another plan to shrink government, even if it takes down public education with it. It doesn't matter that most Texans value public schools and don't support the budget cuts being inflicted upon them. Governor Rick Perry will take advantage of the fact that Texans despite tax increases; even if it's to support public education. I wonder how many legislators sit on the boards of private, charter and religious schools. It's a simple "follow the money."

A few Texans are quick to raise a white flag of surrender blaming illegal aliens or school lunches as the problem. Without facts to support their claim, they go onto say that we are building brand new schools and hiring more Spanish teachers because of illegal aliens, as the main reasons our school budgets need cutting. I wonder if they ever look that the salaries of the administrators vs. the teachers? Nah, that would take some research. Those people are just a little above those that think if we would just go back to disciplining our children and feeding them peanut butter sandwiches;it would go a long way in solving our problem. The superintendents and the school board are no better, because they just asked for “flexibility" to see them through this latest crisis. They didn't even convene a hearing. We continue to be our own worst enemy.

The majority republican legislators were eager to accommodate, even if it meant repealing the 22-1 class size for kindergarten through fourth grade. The legislation still has billions of dollars in the "Rainy Day Fund" but those who want those funds will have to fight tooth and nail for every nickel. The property owners and businesses will keep their low taxes, and those that cut the education budget will be reelected. We will see the outcome of being near the bottom in education and Health Care, but by then it will take too much money and generations ; just for us to keep up. We are enjoying prosperity now, but how long will it last?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The republican strategy


I have to admit the republican plan has me scratching my head. Why would a party go after Medicare, see the negative results of doing that, double down with a plan to privatize Social Security? Representative Pete Sessions (R -TX) is introducing the "Savings Account for every American Act" which will allow people to immediately opt out of Social Security in favor of a private account. It would take another blog to explain why taking away revenues from Social Security would lead to its eventual demise.

Last night, Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow discussed the republican strategy on their respective shows. The republican are still drunk from their victory in the 2010 elections. The GOP thinks it has a mandate for right wing policies and they are now going to stretch those limits. Republican governors immediately went after the labor unions and collective bargaining. They also took advantage of their majorities to overturn old abortion laws and replace them with new more intrusive ones. On a national front, the republican house tried to defund their longtime nemesis, NPR, along with Planned Parenthood after they finally realized that they didn't have the numbers to repeal the Health Care law. They did all this,and still  had the audacity to say that the Obama administration was not paying attention to the economy.

The Republican Party are the masters at the art of deception and going for the jugular. Lee Altwater was a master at making opponents defend made up allegations, rather than the issues. Mr. Altwater groomed his eventual replacement, Karl Rowe, to perfection. The game plan is simple enough. Voters can be pumped up into thinking that government is the enemy, while the party gives government contracts to its biggest donors. They will entice their constituents with tax cuts and convince them that it's only fair that the GOP's wealthy donors get theirs. I've got to admit the GOP does a great job of convincing their constituency that the way and out of our economic doldrums is to keep giving the corporations' money. The GOP will have their first debate Tuesday night, where you will hear every candidate invoked the name of Ronald Reagan many times, but they will seldom mention the middle class and never the poor. It will be a mantra of "drill baby drill" but no talk of alternative energy initiatives. Last week, Mitt Romney said he believed that the earth was getting warmer and man made greenhouse emissions played a part, but he didn't know how much. The next day Rush Limbaugh wrote him off because he was repeating "the liberal hoax." Last night, Bill Maher said that it's hard to believe that the Mormon would be the sane one in the Republican Party. I'm beginning to see Herman Cain rising up the polls by using words of deception. Mr. Cain told a Tea Party crowd that he would make a Muslim sign a loyalty pledge, but he wouldn't do the same for any other religion. The rhetoric won him over with that crowd, but he told Jon King of CNN, that he would analyze the Muslim's loyalty in a job interview, as he does for any one he hires. The master of deception, "give the people what they want to hear." This is straight out of the Atwater playbook, if you don't have a good economic message; you still have the Muslim, illegal alien, and gay- marriage issue to keep them out on your side.

So what's behind their losing strategy? They think that the weaker democrats will play right into their hands, even though it might cost them some seats. They'll throw out vouchers for Medicare and privatizing Social Security knowing that it doesn't have a chance of passing, but it will make the democrats come a little closer to their side, to make a deal. That was the strategy that was used to get Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts. The GOP has already convinced about 47% of America  that the "debt ceiling" does not need to be increased, and they're working on convincing the voters that all we need to do is cut spending without increasing taxes. That’s a dangerous gamble but that doesn't matter. If that strategy derails a slow recovery,so what, it's easy to convince low information voters that it's the other guys fault. The voters are not going read a book on economics' to see which side is right, but if you can give them a slogan and a small sound bite, that's enough to get their vote.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can a wingnut become president?


I see a panicking nation that just might elect a wing nut to be the next president of the United States. Our nation has always voted with their wallets. If our growth remains under 2% and unemployment remains around 9%; I can see the taxpayer bailing out on this administration, anxious to try something else. Anything, as long as it is opposite of what we're doing. In all fairness that's what happened in 2008.

I don't think the republicans will choose Mitt Romney because right now they want in-your-face, candidate instead of a rational, flip flopping, businessman they don't trust....Tim Pawlenty can do an adequate job of attacking the president and his policies, but he won't go for the jugular. The other former governor, Jon Huntsman, is a believer in global warming, civil unions, and a mandate for Health Care, so we know where that leaves him. He knows that, that's why he's bypassing Iowa. Those three former governors would ordinarily give president Obama a run for his money but they probably won’t get the chance. The GOP keeps telling us that other candidates will enter the race sometime this fall but isn't that a message of no confidence in the current bunch?

Ed Rollins is old republican strategists who will be serving as the campaign manager for Michelle Bachmann. ...Mr. Rollins knows how to win primaries by destroying the competition. Barely, on the payroll, Ed Rollins immediately went after Sarah Palin's reputation as being a lightweight, just to let her know what it's going to be like if she decides to throw her hat in the ring. There's no room for two Tea Party Christian conservatives in the Iowa primary. Sure, Rick Santorum and Pawlenty fare well with the Christian conservatives in Iowa but Michelle Bachmann is a native who will get more air time and if she listens to Ed Rollins, she will gain some credibility.

The wing nuts will get their air time because we like to be entertained. If you don’t believe me,flip on CNN this coming Monday night and sit there and watch the 2012 GOP debates….Herman Cain has already  said as president, he would not sign a bill that's longer than three pages.Today,he said that was an exaggeration. Huh? He also said that a Muslim on his staff would have to pass a loyalty test. At least that's better than his first position of saying that a Muslim could not work for him. Herman Cain also said that homosexuality is a sin and a choice. I believe that he will agree with Rick Santorum, who will lobby for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Newt Gingrich yesterday signed a pledge from the grassroots organization Strong America Now, which encourages businesses to apply a business model that is supposed to increase efficiency. He signed it “in anticipation of the group’s deficit protest and information event ‘Deficit Free America Summit’ on June 18th in Des Moines, Iowa, the Nashua Telegraph reports. I wonder what would have been said if candidate Obama would have signed a pledge with might be a moot point because just about all of Newt Gingrich's top aides have abandoned the ship.I don't know why they ever got on board.

All you have to do is look at the year 2000, when we got George W. Bush... It's all about the Electoral College. The right has everyone convinced that the mainstream media (lame stream media to the conservatives) is on the side of the democrats but that's a myth. Pick up a TV Guide and count of how many democrats in contrast to republicans that are on the talk shows. Another example is the Anthony Wiener scandal. I just saw a poll put up by none other than MSNBC, asking if Congressman Anthony Wiener should resign. I think that he should resign because, if nothing else, what he did is unbecoming of a United States congressman. He's a distraction. The republican leadership is proving once again to be hypocrites because, when senators Vitter and Ensign had their scandals, the democrats were not asking the GOP to give back their political contributions they received from senator’s Vitter and Ensign. I didn't hear democratic leadership asking for their resignation. House majority leader Eric Cantor is asking for Weiner's resignation but when he and was asked the same question about Ensign and Vitter, he said it was up to their constituents. You don't get any brownie points, if you are a democrat, and you condemn the actions of congressman Weiner. Nancy Pelosi asked for an immediate investigation by the ethics committee and Harry Reid said he could not defend Anthony Wiener but the media wants to put more emphasis on republicans calling for his resignation. That’s politics and media sensationalism, but the democrats’ better wake up and smell the coffee because no one ever asks “how did you win?" The question is always “did you win?" It's an inpatient electorate that's not interested in the details; just the sound bites...It's a long time away but democrats need to come out of the gate controlling the message. Pick one congressman off at a time; we have a vulnerable candidate in our new district.

If intelligence, competence, and likeability were the only traits needed to win the presidency; then president Obama would win hands down. This president has a lot of stumbling blocks in the way right now, like a struggling economy, high unemployment, an opposition party without a conscience, high gasoline prices, and a media that would rather cover the outrageous than matters of substance.

BTW... I don't know when maryann's letter took a turn for the worse, but the thread is in free fall because it's obvious that the asylum has been taken over by the outrageous.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Same old God,gun, and gays


In 2004 Howard Dean said in order for the democrats to pick up some votes in the south, they would have to stop talking about God, guns, and gays. Candidate Barack Obama was chastised by the press when he said the truth by saying "But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s no evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

It's no different in Victoria because our local paper's forum top subjects of the week are "God, guns, and gays."The state of Victoria's economy doesn't have a thing to do with these subjects being at the has more to do with losing control in a culture war. I'm pretty sure the social conservatives have seen the trends in favor of gay-marriage, and they have kept up with Prop 8 in California. I'm sorry but gay-marriage should never be a ballot issue,all human issues should be handed in the courts. Following the discussions on gay-marriage is like driving on Lombard Street in San Francisco. Lombard Street in San Francisco is one of America's crookedest streets. The subject starts out with the typical conservative whine by saying that the Victoria Advocate story was left leaning. To the social conservative, anything left of Attila the Hun is left leaning. The subject drifts to polyandry, incest, bestiality, HIV Aids, and many other diversions. I'm surprised that waywardwind brought out the issue of the constitution. He is right but no one discussed it because the smokescreen was getting all the attention. The Federal government has no business in defining marriage. I believe the Supreme Court will look at the constitutionality of the “Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA)that was signed into law  by President Bill Clinton. The social conservatives are doing a good job with their smoke screens because I have not seen where visitation rights or the right to file a joint return being discussed. There are too many inconsistent conservatives. True to their conservative beliefs ,waywardwind and staunch conservative Ted Olson takes a quote from the 14th amendment (my favorite) "no State É shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person É the equal protection of the laws" to make their case. The other social conservatives' repeat "smaller government" over and over, except when it comes to the social issues.

I believe some conservatives would see nothing wrong with a man wanting to marry his gun. Mark my word, the" guns on college campuses" law is just the first step in making Texas an "Open carry" state. Why not have an up and down vote right now while the republicans have a very large majority. Get it off the agenda but it won't make one iota, because preventing mass murder by allowing everyone to pack guns is not a proven science. While it's true that the criminals already have all the guns they want; arming paranoid citizens will not scare off the criminal. If we could get a map showing us where the gun permits are being issued; I would bet most of are being issued on the north side; far away from the gang bangers they fear. I have looked at FBI statistics that show guns are rarely used in home defense. I can't remember a story in the Advocate where a gun was used to kill a burglar. I've heard fellow coworkers talk endlessly of the day that they would kill a burglar trying to get into their home. I know a lot of it is just talk, but I can't see myself shooting someone because they are stealing my lawn mower. I remember telling my fellow coworkers that I didn't even own a gun... They said that they would know what house to steal from. I left them speechless; I said" you're no better than the burglars." The bottom line is; people can have all the guns and ammunition the law allows but paranoid citizens with guns do not give me a sense of security. They can spend all day trying to convince people that an" armed society is a safe society" but they sound like a debt strapped husband trying to convince his wife that they need a $5,000 boat to lower the grocery bill.

I learned a long time ago that it is useless to argue with social conservatives that are locked in. Sure, you could spend endless hours debunking their arguments, but they'll have some fresh ones when you get through.........For example, after Sarah Palin's weird ficticious account of the Paul Revere's midnight ride ,supporters of Sarah Palin tried to rewrite the Wikipedia acoount of that ride, to fit Sarah Palin's account..Even after Chris Wallace gave her a chance to take back her account of the facts, Sarah Palin doubled down.....  Stephen Colbert had to show how it would be physically impossible to reload a front loaded musket and ring a bell,  while riding a horse at full gallop...He used a mechanical hobby horse....After all that,Chris wallance said she gave a a credible interview....  Compared to what?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering Theodore


It's been two years since Theodore died but for some strange reason we always find little things here and there that remind us of a cat we called "Theo" for short, but I'm pretty sure he would've preferred Theodore; he was that kind of cat.

Several years ago when my children were still teenagers; my wife and I went on a vacation to New York City. When we got home our children introduced us to baby 'Theo," who just showed up at the front door soaking wet from the turbulent weather. My children still won't fess up as to how they really acquired Theodore. Today, when we ask them, they just laugh and give us two or three similar stories of the day they found him. All's well that ends well.

Theodore grew to be a 14 pound independent, antisocial, mongrel black cat; who just wanted to be fed, have his litter box cleaned, and left alone so he could get in his full 20 hours of sleep. He let our other cat know who the boss was by throwing her around like a rag doll when he is in a rare playful mood. When the children left home, they said “now Theodore and dad can retire together." They weren't kidding and we have a picture of Theodore sleeping in one recliner and me in the other recliner watching a ballgame, to prove it.

We decided just to have a couple of cats in our golden years because they are supposed to be low maintenance. Theodore was anything but that because his only priority was to find a way to get outside. It was funny watching him hide, situate his back feet, and use his whiskers to gauge precisely how much room he needed between the person who opened that door and his freedom. Theodore was a neutered declawed cat, but once he got out, he would run off strange dogs and cats by just hissing. We knew that he wouldn't last long as an outside cat. It was always an adventure when he got out and at times expensive. Since he was a black cat, it was easy for him to hide, so we had to buy a spotlight to find him when he got out at night. There was a time when we didn't realize he was outside. This one rainy day, I heard a thumping on the backyard patio door; it was Theodore wanting in. The most memorable moment was when Theodore got out, climbed the tree and jumped from there to the roof of our house. He must've been content and it probably was amusing for him, watching from above, as we called out for him. About 45 minutes, into the search, my younger daughter spotted him, and then the adventure really began. It was as if he was deaf because he never reacted to us pleading for him to get down. He had some shade, so he wasn't in a hurry to get down. My neighbor didn't have an extension ladder, so I had to go buy one but that wasn't going to be my biggest problem. Here I was; an out- of -shape retiree who had to depend on two people who had never held a ladder, as my supporting team. I finally got him and brought him down by holding him in my left arm and navigating my way down with the other arm, and the only worries my family  had,was that I would drop him.

Theo lived 17 years but his last year on earth was not pretty. He became friendlier in his last year but his arthritis had become so severe that he couldn't climb the steps to be with us at night. He would just get on the coffee table and roar until I finally gave in, picked him up and carried him upstairs. It was painful watching him walk down the stairs. It was the last month that we will never forget. Theo started hiding under the bed and in the spare room downstairs. He was not eating or using his litter box. We took him to one vet, who said he was dehydrated needed to be forced fed. After two weeks, he was still the same, so I decided to take into another vet where I insisted on an X-ray or anything else that would pinpoint his problem. It was then that we got the bad news that he had been suffering from liver cancer, and here we were ,forcing him to live like that. I still remember the day when our grown children and grandchildren came by to say goodbye to Theodore. He lay there, lifeless in his carrier allowing everyone to pet him and to say their goodbyes. Theodore was just an old black cat who mysteriously showed up at our door one day, but little did we know he would leave a lot of memories.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Texas GOP targets Ron Paul?


After treating the Texas democrats like redheaded stepchildren; the Texas legislators may have thrown the democrats a bone.
According to the Texas Tribune, the new congressional map proposed Thursday night by senator Ken Siliger, a republican from Amarillo, is tailored made for a democrat. The Redistricting Committee cut the percentage of Anglo voters in District 14 from 61% to 57% and increased black and Hispanic voters from 35% to 39%. This was no coincidence according to Jeff Crosby, a democratic consultant. It goes to prove that the republicans, local, state, and Federal are vindictive. It's either play ball or suffer the consequences. For example, many republicans will fall on their sword because they had to vote for the Ryan budget plan, which would privatize Medicare.
Ron Paul has been a congressman since the 1970s; it'll be interesting how he does in a district that's more favorable for a democrat. Ron Paul has never been liked by the establishment Republican Party, and the sentiments are vice versa. I wouldn't get too excited because this is just a proposal because" state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, assured lawmakers earlier in the day that an originally proposed map — which included a controversial horseshoe-shaped district that stretches from Houston to the Louisiana border — would undergo changes. "It’s a proposal, people," Solomons said."
It is going to be interesting because a lot of Victoria voters are not really republicans, but they will pull that straight- line party if Ron Paul is on the ticket. I wonder if they will vote for a republican that might not win the 14th district. I guess we'll have to wait.

Added Friday bonus...Would you want this woman to teach your kids?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why do people blog?


I know blogging means a lot of things to different people; I would guess the most common reason is sharing. We share our thoughts, likes and dislikes, with the hope that someone who shares our thoughts will respond. There are others that like to vent, and they too hope, some like minded people will agree with them, because we all like to think we're normal.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think I have found my comfort zone. I no longer think that I am the lonely liberal who shouting from roof top because no one is listening. I used to feel the need to correct every myth stated as fact, but I quickly found out that's a full time job. I then decided to write a blog that supported my views, thinking that I would get a civil discussion going. I soon found out that there's no such thing as civility in politics. I quickly found out that instead of debating the topic I wrote about; my opponents continuously changed the subject to something they wanted to discuss. I then made what I presume to be the worst mistake a blogger can make. I let the trolls get the best of me. I started arguing with people who didn't have the working knowledge of the subject I was writing about. I started writing in a defensive mode; instead of a person who has a view but is willing to have a civil discussion. The second mistake I made was not paying attention to those who emailed me encouraging me not to engage in ad hominem attacks. They wanted me the clean up my blog, so they could post again. I found my inner peace with my blog, and I hope to transform it to my VA blogs.

As Chris Cobler said on Jared's blog "A blog out in the wilderness is not quite the same as one that's part of a larger conversation. Each has its place, of course -- it's a matter of the audience that you seek" and that rings true. My blog helped me find my comfort zone because at the Advocate forum, there is a built audience, but I have to work harder to retain my readers in my blog. I don't expect to catch up with Edith Ann, and that's not my goal; I would like to have half of the number of comments she gets with each blog. Edith Ann is a platinum standard and my blog its copper right now, but I'm striving for silver and then gold. It's going to take a little while, but I've only been working at it since November of 2010.

I just submitted a blog about "Elizabeth Warren" to the VA forum, knowing full well it won't get many hits because not that many people know who Elizabeth Warren is or the controversy that surrounds her appointment. It's just something that I wanted to write about. I finally acquired the comfort zone to write about what I feel; not worrying about others might think or approve of. I've been a member of Vic Ad forum for about six years, so my reputation (good or bad) has been established. I used to get a false sense of accomplishment because I had a streak of hundreds of blogs with 100 hits or more but writing about controversial subjects was the catalyst for those hits; it had been very little to do with my writings. It took me six years to get here, but I got here.

Why do you blog? Is it to get a conversation going, share a story, or just for the fun of engaging?