Total Pageviews

Monday, October 31, 2011

There’s no GOP Horse Race


In the 2008 presidential campaign, the Democratic Party had their own “no one will ever elect you president “like Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel but those individuals never rose above single digits. They were allowed into the debates, but they soon dropped out, allowing the serious candidates to carry on.

This year the Republican Party has had five different presidential candidates leading the pack at one time of another. There was always Romney, and then there was Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain. There's talk that, Newt Gingrich might fill the " anybody but Romney" slot for republicans if the old sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain turn out to be true.

I have to admit that I thought that Rick Perry would be a lot better candidate than he turned out to be. I really didn't know that we had a “empty suit" filling the office of governor for 10 years. I always thought that a reality TV host like Donald Trump would fizzle out, but he hung around just long enough to get NBC to give him another lucrative contract. I think any normal person, who's ever listened to Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann for 5 minutes, would realize that they could never be serious contenders for the highest office in our country. Those that do, are either too dumb or their hate for this president overtakes any sense of reality. I think Herman Cain just wanted to sell books and pat his talk show host credentials, but he is unprepared for his frontrunner status. Michelle Bachmann looked at what President Obama obtained with very little time in the U.S. Senate and thought that she had the credentials to do the same thing. President Obama is naturally intelligent, a quick learner, with a sense of coolness and not prone to gaffes. Michelle Bachmann might have the college credentials, but she's not intellectually curious. Michelle Bachmann tries to overcome that flaw by appealing to the extreme right of her party. You would know what I'm talking about if you saw her interview on ABC's “This Week.” She didn't answer any questions about her low poll numbers saying, "“we're doing exactly what we need to do.” They rest of the interview was just babble. Jon Stewart said, "Everyone is talking about Mitt Romney not able to get above 25%, but that's all it takes to beat those clowns." The Mr. Stewart also said, “Mitt Romney should just go to the debates and take a pass, allowing the rest of the clowns go at it." Mitt Romney may be hanging low because he's not going on the talk shows or making campaign stops lately;I guess he thinks that he's made enough flip-flops.

Every talk show this weekend tried to make sense of this weak field of candidates but is not just the mainstream media or democrats because conservative writers like David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, John Podhoretz, and political analysts from Fox News, like Karl Rowe and Brit Hume have said worse things than I have ever written about the current crop of candidates. They all admit that Mitt Romney will eventually win out and they will hold their nose and vote for him, but they still won't trust him because he's flip-flopped on core conservative principles. When will they stop pretending?The Obama campaign is preparing for Mitt Romney thinking the GOP will eventually come to their senses.

 I think most republicans are just anti- democrats because more and more people from the Reagan administration are coming out and saying the stuff they were saying, was just malarkey.  Reagan's chief economist Bruce Bartlett said that they made up the idea that deregulation leads to more jobs but we still  hear the locals parroting the old notions.  One of the Koch brothers chief "global warming" skeptic,Richard Muller, has now admitted that climate change is real.  People are now learning that income inequality started after the Reagan administration and republican administrations that preceded them, by changing the tax policies to benefit the top 1%, began a crackdown on labor unions, and supported Supreme Court judges that will rule in favor of businesses over individuals.  Republican voters will hang onto their own beliefs no matter what facts are presented to them.

It's pretty bad when the two Texans running on the GOP presidential ticket are trailing Herman Cain...  According to the latest Texas Tribune poll: Cain leads with 27%, followed by Perry with 26%, Ron Paul at 12%, and Mitt Romney at 9%.

Just goes to prove my point that Ron Paul can't even win a statewide election.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Student Loans


President Obama recently unveiled a program to help out students pay back their student loans with lower interest rate and forgiveness after 20 years. During the 2008 campaign, then candidate Obama saw education for all, as the key to future prosperity and competitiveness. The president proposed paying off student's loans if they agreed to teach school in the inner cities. It was part of a one hand washes another, but some saw it as another welfare program. The attitude being "if I had to work three jobs, and it took me six years to graduate, then by god, that’s the way should be for everyone." I understand the financial responsibility and sacrifice part, but all things are not always equal. Today, we have 9.1 unemployment and last year's graduate is competing with the 2008 graduate. Last year the administration saw the riots in Europe over tuition increases, and they also saw all the potential student-loan defaults to be a trillion dollars and rising, so they thought it was prudent to try to get a handle on the situation before it got out a hand.

Some have suggested that those that do not have the funds to go to college should just wait until that time becomes available. I don't think too many of us could have used that same logic when we applied for our first mortgage. Yes, we had a good job, excellent credit, and the funds available to make the mortgage payments, but our job wasn't guaranteed. There's a risk in just about everything we do but we all strive for a manageable risk. I'm not saying that every student should get in debt that they won't be able to afford, but they are exceptions. I believe a brilliant student can make a wise choice by getting $45,000 in student loans for their medical school, especially since it will produce $165,000 a year for the graduating student. The thing I'm hearing is “if you can't afford to pay cash, then forget about earning higher wages and being more productive because it's not the cards." If President Obama and Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor had not sought out student loans,they wouldn’t have the jobs they have today.

We already have 11 separate tax incentives for higher education in our tax code but only those in the upper-middle class and above can take advantage of them. I worked for a company that took pride in its educated work force by paying the tuition cost for all those that wanted to attend college on their own time. The company lost a few employees because one became a CPA and another completed his masters in nursing, but they were productive and happy employees while we're had them. I guess that's the difference between liberal and conservative thinking. The conservative just looks at the bottom line.

I guess people look at the words “20 year forgiveness" part and think it's just another giveaway to the minority and poor by the government, but the numbers don't bear that out. The 1.6 million who might benefit by this might be that former business person who was recently laid off.

Business loans are restructured everyday but conservatives want all failing businesses to go into bankruptcy rather than being propped with taxpayer funds. Bankruptcy it just another form of debt forgiveness where the debt holder settles for a very low percentage of the debt. In this current program, the taxpayer will not be on the hook for the student loans because it will be paid for with the savings from past practices of subsidizing those loans, but some don't like to see the working poor get any kind of break.

Edith Ann accomplished more than I ever could at the VA thread, by emphasizing the cost of college back then and what it costs today. Of course that brought in a right winger blaming the administration for the rising cost of education. I have yet to see an answer for the cost of the deregulation. There will be those that will side with the predator lenders after university turned their loans over to them for a substantial fee.I give credit to born2Bme for being her own person and thinking outside the box. I also give her credit for her analysis of  why college cost are rising. She said "Get rid of all of the "help" that students get to go to college and not as many kids go to college. The colleges will have to do something to attract students, and that will have to be lower costs." That might bring down the costs of college but in the meantime those that can afford it will get the upper hand and the "rich get richer" cycle remains and our country will suffer for it as our competition passes us by.  We will then need to extend more visas to special skills students in order to remain competitive in our global economy. The thread will continue with the normal pats on the backs for those who paid their student loans ages ago and the “holier than thou” preaching will grow because chest thumping beats looking at the new program with an open mind.You won’t see “ perhaps we can change the parameters to make this program more feasible or something of that nature.”

In the words of Herman Cainif you're not rich and are unemployed; doesn’t blame Wall Street blame yourself…. Oh I could use that $12,000, I lost after the Wall Street crash of 2008, and I probably would send it to the protesters on Wall Street because they are the only ones dealing with reality. The 1% saw their income rise 275% from 1980-2010 while the middle class saw theirs rise by~ 18% during that same period.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

State issued confederate license plates


Here, we go again. It seems that every week a divisive issue comes up, such as the confederate flag license plates. I'm not against people displaying emblems on their license plate holder or elsewhere, but I don't want the state of Texas to be part of any cause. When a state makes a special plate, it's putting their stamp of approval on that plate. This could be seen as a revenue generator or people trying to gain acceptance for displaying a rebel flag on their license plate.

I've heard the age-old argument of some wanting to honor their southern heritage, which is honorable, but most of them are dismissive when it comes to recognizing the fact of how much resentment it may cause to others. A poster said that we should read the history of the Civil War, I guess implying that it was fought over state rights. Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy stated, “Our new government’s foundations are laid. Its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.”

I do agree with some Supreme Court decisions that it is a constitutional right to display confederate symbols because you cannot anticipate the anger or resentment it might cause. I remember when I was still working; a coworker was called in and told to remove his confederate flag belt buckle because, as a supervisor told him, it might create a hostile work environment. This same supervisor removed a bible from open display for the same reason. The employee was not a racist, but he was a Civil War buff but at the same time, I couldn't wear a political shirt or button. The company did not want to be taking sides on any issue that wasn't work related. I know some will think that my analogy doesn't have anything to do with a confederate flag license plate, but if you tie it in with condoning, ignoring, or not being aware of all the pros and cons; I think it makes a little sense.

Governor Rick Perry is against the confederate flag being displayed on license plates, but I assume it's because he's in a presidential campaign. It seems to me that he would've taken the other position because those that don't want the confederate flag displayed will not vote for him anyway.

I don't need a symbol to remind me of this country's dark age when man was held in bondage, but I probably don't have any relatives who served in that war. I certainly don't have any problem with people honoring their civil war heroes and descendants, but as I told my friend who wore the belt buckle," the south lost-let's get over it and move on." This is a southern issue that's not shared with the rest of the United States. I hate superficial issues and I think this is one of them.

According to the unofficial VA poll, I’m out in left field on this issue but I've been there before. I've had the same view about flying the confederate flags over state capitals. We're one of many, and with that comes different opinions, that's the reason I chose this venue rather than to stir up the locals. Right now, the commission voting on this issue is deadlocked at 4-4, so it'll be up to whoever Rick Perry appoints. If the issue passes, it won't devastate me because I'm not used to getting everything I want anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That morning cup of coffee


I can't really remember when I drank my first cup of coffee, but I knew I was destined to pick up that habit because it was the thing to do.  I remember  during my summer job with the Texas Highway Department at being amazed of how much coffee that the old timers would consumed.  They would come in an hour before everyone else(I was told), make coffee and drank the first cup, even though they brought a full giant thermos of coffee from their house.  We would always stop  at a store on the way to the job where the old timer would purchase a cup of coffee.  It wasn't until the first break at around 10:00AM when the old timer would drink his first cup of coffee from his thermos.  I don't know how many cups those thermoses  held but the old timer would take his last cup on the way back to the shop.  I must've picked up my coffee drinking habits back then because how can anyone be around so much coffee drinking and not pick up the habit? 

I do remember the early on that I used to like one teaspoon sugar in my coffee with nothing else but that soon changed.  I remembered my trainer asking me if I wanted him to bring me back a cup of coffee when he went to get his.  I said sure" one teaspoon of sugar please" I didn't pay much attention, but I bet he wasn't listening.  When he came back and handed me my cup of coffee, I took a sip and immediately noticed that it was bitter, so I asked him if I could go to the back and get some sugar.  He told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not getting paid to go to the back to get sugar. He also said he drinks his black, and he won't be wasting  his time putting sugar and cream and all the unnecessary things into a cup of coffee.  Needless to say, I started drinking my coffee black and still do today.  My old trainer is not around anymore, but I wondered what he thought about lattes and cappuccinos?

We bought a Keurig brewing system(coffee pot) several years ago because my wife likes the flavored coffee, and I still like the strongest Starbuck-like coffee available, and Folgers and Maxwell House weren't cutting it.   My wife tells me that the K- cups(single cups) for the Keurig are pretty expensive, so she'll occasionally buy the 1-pound bag of Starbucks to use.  I see where  24 k-cups are selling for $15 on line, but I know  we can get them cheaper than that.

My oldest swears by her first cup of coffee, but my other two children don't drink coffee or alcohol.  The chain has been broken, but it will prop up somewhere because coffee is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet.

Would you miss your morning cup of coffee or alternate caffeine supply?  Do you remember your first cup?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pick One Already


In a desperate move to try to get some right-wing bona fides; Governor Rick Perry is now questioning President Obama's birth certificate. Last week Rick Perry dusted off Steve Forbes's old flat tax plan to use as his own. For whatever it's worth, Steve Forbes endorsed Rick Perry. The flat tax will be 17% but that has to be without deductions because it has to be much higher if the deductions remain . Anyway a flat tax is regressive. Rick Perry came in and quickly zooms to the top at 38% as the GOP savior and the heir apparent to the presidency. Governor Perry is currently at 15% and trailing an unknown trying to peddle his book. Mr. Perry had a chance to right himself, but he chose to go after Romney on a 2007 incident. In the 2008 debate Romney was challenged about hiring a lawn company that employed illegal immigrants. Romney was vindicated of that, but his answer was not one that helped his cause. Romney said he went up to the owner of the company and said," I'm running for office for Pete's sake.".. Did that mean that if he wasn't running for office; it would have been OK? I guess that I will enjoy the rest the debates as well as the other 20 million who have viewed them. They are entertaining, but they are without substance. I imagine the DNC is cutting and splicing material from the GOP debates to use in their ads against Romney. That's the reason Ronald Reagan had the 11th commandment" thou shall not talk ill of a fellow republican."

I don't know why the GOP doesn't declare Mitt Romney the winner and stand behind him instead of all this maneuvering, that's leaving very little doubt about the vulnerabilities of the present GOP presidential candidates. Come on, Herman Cain is trying to win the evangelical base of the Republican Party, but he has the same position on abortion as I do. He believes it's supposed to be between the woman and her doctor without government intervention. Mr. Cain has already changed his 9-9-9 plan to a 9-0-9 plan, but it's still fruity, whether it's apples or oranges. Political parties go through this period. I wasn't all that enthused about John Kerry or Michael Dukakis but they did win out and I supported them.

Condoleezza Rice is coming out with a book contradicting President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. She has even stated that she called President Bush during hurricane Katrina, emphasizing that the administration had a race problem in the way the ordeal was being handled. I guess that she is saying that if the hurricane was headed towards the Hamptons; the administration would have reacted differently. The book will put the final nail in the coffin of one Mr. Cheney. The former vice president was a ruthless, power hungry, warmonger who had contempt for the rules of engagement and the constitution. I don’t think the details in the book will have any influence on the race.

Ron Paul was on Meet the Press, yesterday but in typical fashion, it was all about what the American people would do if  we carried out his ideas. The only historical reference he used was the Great Depression of 1929 but even that was skewed. His ideas are not based on data because they have not been used in our country. He thinks that the free market and consumers will always do the right thing if we relieve them of government oppression. He takes the word “liberty" to extreme Fortunately, he will not be the republican nominee and in a few more months, we will not hear from Dr. Paul again, unless his son (who has not fallen far from the tree) decides to make a presidential run in the year 2016.

Then there is Rick Santorum holding onto his 1% for dear life, saying that President Obama's decision to carry out an agreement made by President Bush and the prime minister of Iraq to leave by the end of year " Just lost the Iraq War" for us. Huh? I have never heard a definition of winning. How can we win when we spend almost a trillion dollars, lost about 4400 of our forces just to remove a dictator who did not have weapons of mass destruction or  had anything to do with 9/11?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time waits for no one


I like the way funeral homes have used technology to bring a little joy to the somber event. Most funeral homes now encourage the family to bring old pictures so they can display them on the wall above the casket to show happier times. As the family was viewing the pictures of my nephew, you could hear some laughter but there were also a few tears. Overall everyone enjoyed the pictures. My nephew had a rough 20 years but we were reminded that his happy childhood was not an indicator for what was to eventually take his life. His addiction not only wasted his life but he disappointed his family. His world of doing drugs, rehab, going to community college, back on drugs, going to jail, another stab at rehab and back to drugs is now over. May he rest in peace.

When I first got out of the army it was our intention to live in Houston but after hearing my nieces and nephews stories of their daily commute; made me think that I made the right decision by staying in my hometown. I was listening as my working family we're exchanging alternate routes, wait times, parking garage fees, beltways, feeder roads, toll roads, and HOV lanes and public transportation as a means to get the work every morning. My niece and her husband lives in Sugar Land but they work in downtown Houston. They told stories of waking up 2 hours before they had to be at work, just to make sure that the children got off to school and be on the road before the traffic jams occur. My wife reminded them that on a bad day it would only take me 30 minutes to get to my job and park on their free parking lot. That sounded good to them at the moment but I'm sure they are accustomed to their lifestyle and it's not that big of a deal anymore. It's funny because they come to Victoria to relax from the rat race in we go to Houston to be part of the traffic jams etc.

I just couldn't get over the fact that my sister and I are the only ones that are not on Facebook. A younger relative pulled out his smart phone and offered to enroll us but we told him that it was by choice. He could believe it; I guess to him it was like not having a mailbox or television set. At the many gatherings we attended the young folks were updating their Facebook page or texting their friends. In fact, it was the first rosary that I have ever attended where the priest asked everyone to turn off their cell phones. I don’t think anyone had their cell phones turned on but I bet it’s happened in the past. You would think it would be automatic to turn off your phone, like removing your hat to say grace or for the singing of the National Anthem. I always turn off my phone while I'm attending church; I’ll just take that risk that nothing would happen during that hour. The other thing that startled our younger relatives was the route we chose to come home from Texas City. The younger relatives(less than 50 years old) always take 45 to 59 or Beltway 8 to get to Victoria, so they laughed when I told them that I was using highway 6. They called it the old folk’s route. Well yeah.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Come on GOP..You can do better than this


I have a sneaky suspicion that if respected republicans like Jeb Bush, Governor Daniels, former Governor Jon Huntsman, Governor Christie and Mitt Romney were competing for president right now; the childish behavior that we saw in last night's debate would not have happened. For Governor Perry to get in Mitt Romney's face over a 2007 incident where Mitt was suspected of hiring illegal immigrants to do his landscaping was uncalled for. Governor Perry’s feathers were obviously ruffled last night, and he showed a side of himself that he did not want to reveal this early in the campaign. All presidents have a bad temper, but they only show it when the stakes are much higher. Mitt Romney fought off his attacks, but he was too condescending. I thought Rick Santorum used forceful language, yet maintained control by telling Romney that he did not have the credentials to lead the fight in repealing the Health Care law. He was relentless, but he did not stand there bickering with his opponent.

I saw some polls this morning where Herman Cain is either tied or leading in important states like South Carolina and Florida. Herman Cain has a great human interest story of battling cancer and winning, but he has no business running for president. I can't say for certain, but  I believe that initially, he just wanted to sell his books and improve his chances of winning a television contract. The man doesn't have a policy staff and it shows. When David Gregory of Meet the Press, asked him if he supported the neo conservative view on war; he didn't know the definition of the word neo conservative. It's obvious that he doesn't know the intricate details of his 9-9-9 plan, so he defends it by saying, “read the plan" and then shouts out the link to his website. He doesn't understand why some Hispanics find his plan for an electrified fence, offensive. He said his plan for 20 foot high fence, with barbed wire on top; electrified, and a sign written in Spanish and in English saying, “this fence will kill you" is the very basis of his immigration plan. He might say  it was a joke, but the same plan is outlined in his book. What he and most of the GOP doesn't understand is that, yes, most Hispanics are against illegal immigration, but they don't want fellow human beings to be killed in their efforts to come into this country. It's not a joke and most want a comprehensive immigration plan put in place, instead of piecemeal demagoguery. When all the candidates were asked why a Latino should vote for a republican, most of the republican answers were vague, except for Rick Santorum's inclusion of the family aspect. They did not discuss the economic inequality, disparity in unemployment, or any  other distinctive issues that had that did not relate to money. A question of the Latino might've been in order.

The republican candidates all share the same conservative view of very little government and almost no taxes, but their foreign policy views are what set them apart. Ron Paul keeps them honest because he knows that " we don't negotiate with terrorist" is just a slogan because we have negotiated with terrorist, and we will continue to do so, but it's still something we do with reluctance. The pundits have wondered when these far right republican candidates would make Mitt Romney drift in that direction. I think that happened last night when the discussion on foreign aid came up. Mitt Romney said, “we should let China dole out the foreign aid" and he got applause for it. China would love that because it would give them, the upper hand in countries that are vital to us. Mitt Romney knows that, because he's more of a compromiser than his cohorts; that's the reason he can't get above 25%. The conservative base does not trust him because in 1994, Mitt was to the left of Ted Kennedy in his Massachusetts senate bid.

I still think it's going to be between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney because despite all the fumbles, Rick Perry $17 million is enough to keep him in this race, but, unless he starts focusing on issues that matter, he might be as well flush that $17 million down the toilet. He will finally put out a jobs plan, but it won't be out until Friday, but in all reality it's just going to be another energy plan with the emphasis on “drill baby drill," no regulations, and cutting taxes. President Obama will have a field day with Rick Perry, if he doesn't work on his weaknesses; like debating and foreign policy. You have to know more than not funding the U.N. and standing by Israel.It may sound harsh but I still think if someone is going to run for president;you should come prepared. You don't get credit for submitting a plan,no more than you did when you turned in your homework.

That's it for now, because tomorrow afternoon I will be heading back for the rosary (Catholic wake)Thursday night and the Mass ( church service) Friday morning, but I'm glad my brother-in- law and sister are in better outward spirits for now, because I know the coming days will not be easy for them. Healing takes a long time, so I won't pretend to know what losing a son or daughter means to a parent. I know it would devastate me because I don't think any parent wants to outlive their children.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It’s not so bad


Today is a better day even thou my wife is smiling from ear to ear thinking, she has bailed me out once again. When I got home and told a story about my free iPhone that didn't happen; all she heard was $100. She stated the obvious," I would've ask to speak to the manager" but little did she know, I would've had to wait in line another hour to see him. She finally found a buyer for my Blackberry for $100,as one of her friend's nephew wants to buy it. In a little bit I will go to Sam’s and exchange the 8 GB iPhone I paid for yesterday, for a 16 GB iPhone, A pretty good deal, or as my wife says," What would you do without me?" I can see where this “chicken or the egg" incident could go back and forth.I left wondering  as to how Sam’s Club can be that much cheaper than the ATT store.I can understand a little bit more but $100 more!

My day of relaxation will start with the Texas vs. Oklahoma State at 2:30 this afternoon, and when it ends, the Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers will start shortly after. We are supposed to squeeze in the movie “Money Ball" with Brad Pitt sometime this weekend. It's one of those all sports weekends because tomorrow it's the Cowboys vs. the Patriots at 3:00. My wife loves baseball, but I wonder why she picked “Money Ball." Was it Brad Pitt or was it because the movie is about baseball? We got dinner tickets and a movie pass as one of our August wedding anniversary gifts this year and my wife decided that this was the movie to use them on. In between that, I'm going to have to find time to synch my iPad to my new iPhone the and learn the in and outs of this new gadget. The life of the retiree can have its pleasant staying busy moments.

It has been relatively quiet at the forum this past week, except for the thread about the Advocate staff blogs. As usual, the topic turned around to be about all blogs in general. I enjoy the staff blogs because they are factual and informative, but I didn't know that they were required to write one. Perhaps it's their way to keeping the young staff writers aware of current events, sharpening their writing skills, and getting a general feel for the readers they are trying to reach. In his response to Geni's blog, I saw where BOstinks said that the best journalists are the ones that people vilify and the worst journalists are the ones everyone love. Really, it's not about the writing style, substantiated material, and persuasive style? I live on a different planet from the one BOstinks currently resides on. Then again, he likes the combative radio talk-show format.Another poster thought that others were the cause of people leaving(not him) but if you followed his advice the forum would be lively again.The forum does what the forum does.

It's funny how that works because one of the last things I did before retiring for the night was, respond to Legion's post, but I think that led to me having a dream about my old job. Things would be different today because I would win every argument about politics because my opposition wouldn't have time to keep up. Then again, I wouldn't have time to blog so it all evens out. I do miss that verbal exchange, the laughter, and the tongue tied answers that you don't get with the textual exchanges. You don't know if the person you're having a discussion with left of his own accord, or, because you angered him.

I would like to think that the recent rain cooled everyone off for a while, so they can enjoy this Texas version of the fall season.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The routine of one retiree


The Sam Houston construction project has finally hit my neck of  the woods,so now I'm going to have to use alternate routes. Using the routes is not so bad; it's remembering that's usually more difficult, after so many years of taking the same route.  The Palmwood to Sam Houston inlet will be a one car at a time lane, most of the day.  I'll get used to it because I haven't used the Red River to Citizens Hospital in a long time.  Progress, sometimes you love it, sometimes it's not so good.

Now that my wife is retired, she's gotten into this kick of using everything in the freezer and the cupboards before we buy more groceries ,except for the perishables.  I guess that's a pretty good plan but when she was working, her mind was elsewhere, now there's a to- do list, a grocery list, and a cleaning list on the refrigerator.  I Hope this is just a retirement phase she is going through and things will eventually get back to normal. I wonder if she'll notice if I throw out three boxes of hamburger helper,that I have hidden in the back of the cupboards?

Right now I'm getting tired of Rim, the makers of  my Blackberry cell phone, having so many problems.  Their stock prices are dropping quickly and the company might not be able to stay alive.  They've already taken a backseat to the iPhone.  This concerns me because I may have to go exchange my Blackberry for an iPhone( probably at a discounted price) before my  will be rendered useless.  My wife is no help, she says why do you need all those fancy applications; then she takes out her basic phone and emphasizes that she gets over 90% of the calls in our plan, with no need for the other features.  That might be a good thing because I believe there's a app for organizing and another one for making casseroles from leftovers...:-)

Retirement is great but one should always keep their mind occupied, unless sitting on the porch and watching cars go by is good therapy for you.  I will never succumb to staying home and watching television all day but my wife asked a question, I didn't have an immediate answer for.  She asked " what's the difference between writing a blog or surfing the web and watching television?" I'll have to work on that and get back to her. -And she'll hold me to it.  I've always thought traveling would be ideal but as you get older,being behind the wheel for 12 hours is much harder.  I think we can adjust to it by driving 8 hours, resting, and continuing on but we'll see next year.I wonder who will take my grown married children’s car to get inspected,do an errand they forgot, or tend to the two spoiled furry cats we have?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I’m confused but We Still Have Thirteen More Months of This!


This is a confusing political season because I have to fire off emails asking certain people if they understood what a poster was trying to say. I understand the ideologues because it's the unchanged old message. I'm also confused with today's national politics  because I wonder why we're talking about a candidate's pastor, but not how their plans and visions will create jobs in this country.Perhaps we have a lot more non-political types getting involved.

I just wrote a blog where I stated the obvious, that the views were my own and not that of the Democratic Party or the liberal agenda. It wasn't long before a nemesis of mine chimed in, accusing me of promoting a liberal agenda because I said the protesters are practicing democracy. The poster said that they were socialists.This poster continues to believe I have to go through his filter. How vain. I got a call this weekend from my grandson telling me that he was going to march in Austin's version of “Occupy Wall Street" and I assure you he's not a little commie. He's just a college student with time on his hands between classes. I remember being a carefree, anti- establishment  young man but that quickly wore off after my first child was born. How can people take one snippet of a newscast and dive right into their name- calling talking points. These people actually think their views are mainstream and the majority of people agree with their views. You can't show them polls because they will say it's just liberal propaganda. They live in their own world surrounded by like-minded individuals
I made a few phone calls to my John Boehner- like conservative Republican friends, to get their thoughts. No, they don't cry a lot, but it took an analogy I heard Saturday to get them to admit that a few of Presidents Obama's economic policies had some merit. I told them imagine being diagnosed with a head cold but later a specialist told you that you had a new strain of influenza. The antibiotics that were given to you, relieved the symptoms, stabilized you, and kept you from getting sicker. The doc tried the same old' remedies, and the patient started feeling better but later relapsed. Now he recommended that the patient should have a stronger dose of antibiotics, but the patient is not sure whether he trusts the doctor anymore, so he's going to ask for a second opinion. We then went onto foreign policy where we pretty much agreed but their backs were against the wall because they thought the invasion of Iraq was a good thing. They have changed their mind, but they are undecided on the issue of Afghanistan. We agreed that we shouldn't be engaging in nation-building and on  a quick and safe withdrawal, one with the timeline that has been set, but they didn't rule out staying in a little longer, if necessary. We also agreed that taking out a United States citizen, known to be a propagandist and being influential in killing fellow citizens was fair game. They hadn't thought much about it, but I pointed out that the authority to do that was flimsy and Congress should step up and either vote up for vote down that authority because it's wrong to leave any president or the military in jeopardy against future litigation. We also agreed that it was unrealistic to bring home all our troops because some are in strategic countries. We wouldn't mind a commission determining what bases  need to be closed. There's a lot a military secrets out there that we don't understand. They certainly don't agree with Ron Paul's use of the word assassin, when talking about the president, and they trust the president and the military's  judgment on enemy combatants for now but only a fool doesn't see the potential slippery slope. It all comes down to trust.

I had to call out an online friend because he brought his rhetoric to my VA blog.I hate doing that. I've tried to settle this issue a couple of weeks ago, but evidently it didn't take. BigJ has been a big part of the VA forum since 2007 and to this day he is always treated me with respect. BigJ and I don't agree on a lot because a lot of things he wants to do are either unconstitutional or unrealistic. For example, what he calls the solution is really a proposal. If BigJ adequately researched his position, I wouldn't have a problem with it. In his immigration proposal he calls for the Texas Rangers or DEA to go into Mexico after the drug cartels. I think that we have enough problems on this side of the border with our drug issues and liberal gun laws that escalate the problem. Having said that, it does not excuse the barbaric drug cartels for their hideous crimes but Mexico does not want armed U.S. officials on their land because it is against their constitution. I do agree on having a joint solution between the two countries, but that doesn't mean we have to violate treaties or each country's constitution and laws. My main objective is his continued use of making those who he perceives not getting involved as part of a problem. He doesn’t have the slightest idea of what they do. Not everyone is a “show and tell.” It's hard to believe that 200 posters can be part of the problem. I agree that apathy is alive and well in Victoria, but I don't believe that the VA forum posters have to take the full brunt of one's anger. I’m sure I will get a reply from BigJ but I hope he reads my VA post and  and this blog to see why I am offended everytime he paints with a broad brush.Come on BigJ,I know you are better than that.

It's do or die for Rick Perry. I think he will be well prepped and  will go after Romney,after all, he's got nothing to lose.He's going for the juggler and will probably take a few swipes at Cain. All the rest are insignificant pieces of the puzzle. Will you be watching?Chris Christie's endorsement just made Romney acceptable to the establishment GOP....IMO

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Saturday Reflection


It’s an understatement to say that we have a big communication gap because a lot of us have not walked in someone else's shoes. We take it for granted that our view is shared by the majority. I grew up in a low middle-class family because my stepfather was fortunate enough to work at Foster Air Force base and later at another federal job. Oh my gosh a federal job but he also served in WWII, another federal job. I was also blessed with good luck to live in an era where layoffs were uncommon and jobs were plentiful. My laboring days are over, so I can't relate to the working middle class any more. I have an idea of what they're going through, but that's it.

I was surprised by to hear my fellow retirees were getting out of the stock market because they could not stand the volatility. This was one breakfast where I mostly listened with sadness because some of my old buddies are struggling with their health and medication. A couple of them were with Bank of America, but the $5.00 fees for debit cards angered them, so they're moving their money to another bank. Tuesday's breakfast was a wakeup call; I may be in their shoes one day. A friend of mine lost his wife four years ago, but he always speaks fondly of her, as if she was still alive until he realizes, she's not, then he invariably ends his story teary eyed. I know that I always say I won't go to another one of these gatherings, but when an old friend calls, I change my mind.

After six years on the forum, I'm still convinced that we are not mature enough to talk about the confederate flag flying over government buildings, affirmative action, unemployment, or anything having to do with race or religion. The analogies don't even make sense because they are not carefully thought out. Most of the comments are meant to be taken to the water's edge, with a warning to the monitors, not to delete. Even if the poster's comments get deleted; that poster gets satisfaction because he/she got to see his vile comments at the VA, even if it was for a short time.. If someone laughs or offers support of the stupid comment, it makes it that much better. I've been around a few years, but I've never seen people act like that in person. That's too bad because I've always wanted to get into discussions that don't have to be controversial, but normally are. Their responses read like something that a 12-year old would post. For instance, what's a cup cake sale to demonstrate against the unfairness of affirmative action, have to do with NBA stars? What's the difference between getting preferential treatment because your parents attended the university, and affirmative action? In the first place, it's not white people against minorities because minorities did not protest in favor of affirmative action. It was white lawmakers who came up with the idea. I don't like anyone standing up for white people or minorities because there are white people who agree with affirmative action but may think it's time to take another look at it, and they are minorities that believe we don't need it at all. Then there are the unofficial spokesmen for the white race, who apparently don't know that over 125, ethnicities make up that group, so which group is he representing? I don't know why a social experiment such as affirmative action can't be discussed on its merits without people feeling that they are somehow discriminated against. Instead of a cupcake demonstration, the drama team should've taken this up as an issue, and then they could have published the results. I've seen a couple of debates where I was overwhelmed with the civility, information, and protocol in discussing the important issues of our day. I may be getting too old because I think we have a lot of 12-year old mentalities in our forum where " oh yeah, and you are another one" will get more attention than a civil debate.

I've never been for a culture of dependency, but I know it exists. I don't make excuses for it, but I ignore those that want to use it for a wedge issue. I've always asked myself if I would ever take public assistance. It's something we all discussed at work, yes it's easy to say we wouldn't, but I would like to think that I wouldn't let my pride be the reason my children went to bed hungry. It's easy to preach, when the likelihood of ever needing public assistance is almost nil. I certainly wouldn't brag about it or judge those unfortunate enough to need assistance. We always get that well scripted answer, of “I don't mind caring for the needy but most of the unemployed doesn't want to work." Most us don't mind caring for the needy, but some of us don't think a majority of the unemployed is shiftless and lazy. Therein lies the difference.

It's getting to be a habit for me to let out all my frustration that I accumulated during the week by writing a Saturday blog. It's pretty good therapy, and I don't have to post my frustration at the VA where it probably be much misunderstood, but it doesn't really matter because all they'll do is look at a couple of words that I posted and fire back the usual schoolyard garbage. The forum does give me a lot of good ideas on how I can explain my side without confronting people that just want to fight. Can I go toe -to- toe with the trolls, absolutely, doesn't take much brain power to fire back an insult. I've done that, but it's not satisfying besides after a while a person like that will be stereotyped as a troll....This way I can ignore the troll bait and someday I might not have a need for a Saturday vent blog.

I do have to give credit to Rebecca because I stole her idea of having a blog to vent. You take that, and words of inspirations from on- line friends just to get through a week of posting at the VA. One day it will get better because the 12 year old mentality will grow up and realize, a difference of opinion ,is just that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What We Don’t See


As always, when I get up in the morning, I make myself a cup of coffee and then turn on the TV to see what the topics of the day will be and read my newspaper to see what happened yesterday. There's not a whole lot of difference because, when you're stuck on stagnant; people will talk about how we used to do things. This morning the roundtable on MSNBCs “Good Morning Joe” agreed that a Marshall Plan that was created shortly after World War II, wouldn't get past the laughing stage today. Can you imagine asking the American taxpayer for $12 billion to pay for reducing hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and political unrest of 270 million people of 16 nations of Western Europe? Yes, Europe is in a financial mess today, but look at the successful it's been since 1947.

Some are criticizing the young students protesting mainly in the New York financial districts but also in many other cities across the United States. One pundit said that they should take their march to Washington. Were they saying that we should leave the financial districts alone, and that they should be given a pass? The students have just graduated from college, but they cannot get a job to pay off their student loans and their future looks mighty dim. As a poster said the other day, when the Tea Party was protesting, they were touted as patriots, because they marched on Washington. The Tea Party started with small numbers, then the media, and corporate sponsors stepped in and made them a major force in today's politics.

The students and the unemployed middle class have now made the bogeyman list, because they dare say something about the corruption of the financial markets. Some people are making the unemployed, the culprit, as if there was a job on every street corner. I see the lines of the unemployed; they stretch for about three blocks or as far as the eye can see. Are there deadbeats that do not want to work? I'm sure they are, but are they, the norm or the exception. Do we accept what we see in our city as representative for the whole country?

I'm as guilty as anyone else for not allowing a discussion to flow on its merits rather than on a preconceived opinion. Take, for instance, the subject of teaching Spanish in school. I asked my daughter, who has been a teacher for about eight years, if there was a problem with students not knowing English. She tells me that there have been a couple of instances, but she learned that those students were in the process of learning English. When those students overcame their barrier, they were at the top of the class. We do have some hard line "English Only" people, but I've always told my children that the shortcut to success was being proficient in English. Having said that, I based my opinion what my daughter told me because I don't have any idea, there may be 20 students at VISD where English is the second language. I don't know why those students can't go to a class at Profit (is that still open?) to be taught by a bilingual teacher before placing those students in regular classes. Then again, one of the few things I have in common with President George W. Bush is when he said” as long as children are in the United States, we will make sure that they get an education because it will benefit them and our country.” Illiteracy and ignorance are the perfect formula for a life of failure, poverty and crime.

Newcowboyintown is a reasonable poster and a self-proclaimed conservative, but I'm yearning to find a proper way to ask him a question. He has given one example of a welfare recipient leaving the store and driving away in a luxury vehicle. Yesterday, he informed me of a lady buying a chicken and two loaves of bread, hoping that she wasn't beating the system because she was using a Lone Star card. I would like to ask him, what set off the red flag, was it the Lone Star card? What if a well dressed white lady happened to be in front of him, would he have had checked to see what she was paying with? I normally don't do any grocery shopping, but when I do, I never pay any attention to the person in front of me, and until the other day(, I went online to get an image of the Lone Star card) I didn't even know what that card looked like. I'm pretty sure Newcowboy, has been a hardworking individual, all his life, and it irks him when people cheat the system. I think that we all do. I used to cringe when I heard stories of people cheating on their taxes. Those same people would get angry, when they saw the working poor cashing those $5,000 EITC checks, just for having a couple kids and making $22,000. Every since the Great Depression people have taken out their frustration out on those who they perceived to be below them ,while allowing the wealthy to go unscathed, for the most part.

There is a concerted effort to make government the root of all evil, while letting Wall Street free of any blame. Alton Easton writes a blog reflecting that sentiment, but he does not tell you that Bank of America got $45 billion in TARP funds helped bail them out from the consequences of their own incompetence. It’s just an effort to recover the money they are losing by a required cut in transaction fees levied on merchants every time a debit card is used. But those $5 fees for debit card users are more onerous than the fees being cut. The other day he wrote a blog about Obama wanting to extend tax audits from the current three years to six years. He did not tell you that the congressional House Ways and Means (in Republican hands) is the place where tax legislation and regulations are passed. He went onto make it as an extra cost to taxpayers, as if we're going to hire more IRS agents. The Republican Party controls the House of Representatives which in turn control the purse strings. We want tax compliance, but it's an extra burden on the taxpayers pay for it? The financial sector caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression but any effort to rein them is an excuse to blame the government every time banks and financial institutions raise their fees.

I guess the lines are drawn in the sand; either you're with government or with Wall Street. Our newspaper asked Jennifer Janak, a stay-at-home mom, to write an article about her Occupy Victoria Facebook page. It was pretty interesting and inspiring because she was actually trying to do something about our dire situation. The usual suspects came calling it sad, socialist, anarchist and akin to the national movement which probably has ties to the radical left group Underground Weathermen. What was common to the random name calling? It was the omission of any facts to support their position.