Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Socialist Democrat Party of America -

Where's Joe McCarthy When You Need Him?

Alright. You want to know the other reasons the Democrat Party has turned me off? It's pretty simple. I might have mentioned before that I had an excellent social studies teacher in high school. It was an advanced study course to prepare you for college and we had to read and write a lot. Being a well rounded program, we had to read about Marx, Lenin, socialism, communism, etc. This was largely part of the World History section related to Europe.

The first time I heard John Kerry use the term "Misery Index", I sat up and said, "What?" I found that very strange coming from a man with millions, married to a woman with billions.

Then, along comes John Edwards and he uses the term "Two Americas". Again, my eye brows just about climbed off the top of my forehead. This was too bizarre. If you do not understand the reasons for my concern, let me explain:

  • Misery Index - This is a Marxist concept. A play on Karl Friedrich Marx's terminology, "the immiseration of the worker". This represents the point at which the "common worker's" misery will cause him to rise up against his "bourgeois masters". The point at which the worker, a slave in the capitalist market, will force a capitalist society to turn to socialism. The point at which the worker becomes the master. Marx was not far off in his prediction that capitalist societies would turn socialist. We have only to look at France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, etc. To know that it can happen in any society. Mr. Kerry invoked this in the beginning of his campaign and only later, after it was pointed out to him, discontinued using this exact phrase and began a general bashing of the economy and the "common people's" condition. However, having already let the cat out of the bag, anything he says thereafter, is just a muddied version of what he really believes.

    (...)On the other hand, American capitalism—the last solvent stronghold of an outlived and doomed world system—is trying to prop up the hated regimes of capitalists and kings and landlords by economic pressure and military force.

    These are the two main elements of the present world crisis.

    The Wall Street money-sharks, and the brass hats of Prussian mentality, are riding high in Washington these days. The masters of America, drunk with power, are threatening and terrifying the people of the world—seeking to dominate and enslave them—striving to transform the other countries of the world into colonies of the American empire. (...)

    One is the America of the imperialists—of the little clique of capitalists, landlords, and militarists who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear.

    There is the other America—the America of the workers and farmers and the “little people”. They constitute the great majority of the people. They do the work of the country. They revere its old democratic traditions—its old record of friendship for the people of other lands, in their struggles against kings and despots—its generous asylum once freely granted to the oppressed.

    This is the America which must and will solve the world crisis—by taking power out of the hands of the little clique of exploiters and parasites, and establishing a government of workers and farmers. The workers’ and farmers’ government will immediately proceed to change things fundamentally -

      Throw out the profit and rent hogs, and increase the living standards of the people who do the useful work.

      Assure freedom and democratic rights to all, not forgetting those who are denied any semblance of them now.

      Call back the truculent admirals from the seven seas—and ground the airplanes with their dangling bombs.

      Hold out the hand of friendship and comradely help to the oppressed and hungry people in the world.(...)

    It is well to recall now that America was born of revolution in 1776, and secured its unity as a nation through another revolution—the Civil War—which smashed the abomination of chattel slavery in the process. Our great, rich, wonderful country was once the light and the hope of the world. But our America has fallen into the hands of a small, selfish group, who are trying to dominate the world—and to set up a police state at home.(...)

    All this is part and parcel of the development of capitalism—the system which puts profits above all other considerations. The capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness. Capitalism offers no future to the people but depressions, imperialist wars, fascism, universal violence and a final plunge into barbarism.

    To avoid such a fate, the workers of the United States must go into politics on their own account, independent of all capitalist politics. They must take power, establish a workers’ and farmers’ government and reorganize the economy of the country on a socialist basis. Socialist economy in the United States, eliminating capitalist wars, profits and waste, will be so productive as to ensure a rich living for all who are willing and able to work, and provide security and ample means for the aged and infirm.

    We should also help the hungry people of the world to improve their standard of life. Socialist America will rapidly make that possible by helping them to secure their own freedom and develop their own economy. Eventually, the economy of the entire world will be united and planned on a socialist basis. This will bring universal peace—and undreamed of abundance for all people everywhere. The real upward march of humanity will begin.

    The American working class can open up the way to this new world. They are the majority. They have the power in America. All that is necessary is for the working class to understand it—and to use it.

    We firmly believe they will do so. We firmly believe the real America—the America of the workers, the people—will help save the world by saving herself.

    We, the American Trotskyists—we, the national convention of the Socialist Workers Party, summon our America to her great destiny—not as conqueror but as liberator of the world.

Is it me? Or, did the Democrat Convention in Boston sound like "socialist lite"? How about the name of the Kerry-Edwards campaign tour? The "Believe" tour. Would you believe that two of the richest men ever to run for the President/Vice President positions in America are spouting Socialist rhetoric? Part of me would like to believe that they are too stupid to know that their campaign and speeches are being run by some stealth socialist and these guys are just not up enough on their history to know better.

On the other hand, can anyone be that stupid?

I had this conversation with a friend of mine only a few months ago. I have pointed out in the past that my friends are staunch Liberals and vote Democrat. This particular friend has an MBA with a minor in liberal arts. She also works for a very large finance corporation. My friend became very offended when I pointed this out to her. She said that I was talking nonsense and points out the fact that both Kerry and Edwards are filthy rich and got that way from capitalist adventures. She feels very strongly that they would not endanger our capitalist culture, if only for their own benefit.

My reply to her was a simple reminder of history. Point in fact that the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was not started by the "poor peasants" and "down trodden workers", but was actually started by wealthy, upper middle class students in the universities. It started out as a grand idea to give the power back to the people and end the continued, practical serfdom of the Russian peasants as well as bring down the "imperialist" ruling class. The year 1917 was three years into WWI. Russia had suffered massive casualties in a war that her people felt was not their responsibility.

WWI was the catalyst for the revolution. But much like the French revolution under Robespiere, it quickly turned into the slaughter of anyone that did not exactly agree with the party line. Once it got underway, like many revolutions, some of the wealthy could see which way the wind was blowing and jumped on the band wagon. In this manner, serving the revolution, many were able to retain their wealth and power.

One of the little known facts of the Bolshevik uprisings is that the Royal Family, after being deposed, was kept prisoners for quite sometime at the behest of Lenin, who did not want his grand revolution to turn to this slaughter. It was party members under him that sent the order for their execution. Just four years later, after having served his purpose in the revolution, Lenin died of a brain infarction. Infarction as in "hole in the brain". Never proven, but I have always wondered if this wasn't a Communist euphemism for "bullet hole." But that's just my conspiracy theory.

My friend, after listening to my comments, told me I was crazy. Am I? I think there is a great fear in this country for naming this movement for what it is for fear of the return of "McCarthyism". As a matter of fact, one day on a chat room, I commented that this seemed like a socialist/Marxist movement and I was called a "McCarthyite" as if this was supposed to make me afraid to say this out loud. The great fear that these people might be "purged". Of course, whenever people are throwing these terms around, along with "Nazi" and a few other choice insults, it makes me believe that we have truly failed our children in education since they obviously don't know anything about McCarthy or the Nazis.

I don't believe these people need to be persecuted. But, I do believe that we should educate ourselves on their agenda and make sure that they get voted down and the true Democrats take the party back. Of course, it may be too late and we will be stuck with the conservative Republic ticket as our only safe haven from the morons that don't have a clue.

I think my Grandfather must be spinning in his grave right now. He fought against the Nazis and hated Communists all his life.

The other tell-tell sign of the party's obvious swing towards socialism and Marxist tenets, is the complete embracing of the propagandist file Farenheit 9/11 which is the closest production to Socialist propaganda I have ever seen in my lifetime. It reeks of the basic by-lines: the country is run by large corporations and a few extremely wealthy, not the common people; wars are started at the behest and for the profit of wealthy corporations; it's the poor and ignorant that suffer and die for the greed of the rich and powerful; the rich and powerful are not liberators, but conquerers bent on imperial colonization; there are no heroes nor righteous reasons for war; and leaves the impression that "you and I" should do something about it. Leave aside all of the judicial editing and lies by omission, Michael Moore brilliantly achieves his goal of creating the most prolific peace of propaganda in 60 years.

If you don't believe me, research pamphlets from the Bolshevik uprising or check out any early era Stalinist films. I think you will be very surprised.

In closing, it seems to me that the National Socialist Party has changed it's name to Democrat. One other reason I have changed my name to "Republican".

The Only Democrat I Would Have Voted For

In an article dated July 31, 2004, the only Democrat who still represents my party and I would have voted for, echoes my sentiments exactly:

See Y'All in New York
Why I skipped the Boston convention.

Saturday, July 31, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Twelve years ago, I delivered one of the keynote addresses on the first night at the Democratic National Convention in New York. It was a stinging rebuke of the administration of George H.W. Bush and a ringing endorsement of Bill Clinton. This summer I'll again be speaking in New York, but it will be to the Republican Convention that renominates George W. Bush.

Many have asked how I could have come so far in just over a decade. Frankly, I don't think I've changed much at all. At 72, I don't feel much need to change my opinions. Instead, the reason I didn't attend the Democratic Convention in Boston is that I barely recognize my party anymore. Most of its leaders--including our nominee, John Kerry--don't hold the same beliefs that have motivated my career in public service.(...)(emphasis mine)

No longer the party of hope, today's Democratic Party has become Mr. Kerry's many mansions of cynicism and skepticism. As our economy continues to get better and businesses add jobs, Mr. Kerry's going around America trying to convince people that the roof is about to cave in. He talks about "the misery index" and the Depression. What does he know about either?(...)

Worst of all, Sens. Kerry and Edwards have not kept faith with the men and women who are fighting the war on terror--most of whom come from small towns and middle-class families all over America. While Mr. Bush has stood by our troops every step of the way, Messrs. Kerry and Edwards voted to send our troops to war and then voted against the money to give them supplies and equipment--not to mention better benefits for their families. And recently Mr. Kerry even said he's proud of that vote. Proud to abandon our troops when they're out in the field? I can hear Harry Truman cussing from his grave(...)

All the speeches we heard this week weren't able to hide the truth of what today's Democratic Party has become: an enclave of elites paying lip service to middle-class values. Americans looking for a president who understands their struggles and their dreams should tune in next month, when we celebrate the leadership of George W. Bush.
I am happy to see that I am not the only one that thinks the party has abandoned me and not the other way around. For the other 50 reasons I agree with Mr. Miller, please read the entire article.

Mr. Miller will be retiring this year. This leaves only Joe Lieberman to try to reign in the party. Mr. Lieberman is a decent guy, but he can't do it alone. Frankly, the party is lost for at least the next four years. After that, we will have to see if it get's completely taken over by the morons or if it can bring itself back to the basics.

Star Trek: Lessons From Captain Kirk

Yep...That's right. Captain Kirk could give us some lessons on the dangers of "state control" and "government care".

So, I'm watching TV in the middle of the night, just flipping around, looking for anything that was not the convention or news or analysis or C-SPAN. I have cable, but no movie channels and there isn't a lot on at 3 AM. Yeah, I should be sleeping and had actually laid down to do so, catch a few Z's, get up in the morning and leave the house. Working from home sometimes gives you the tendency to not leave for days at a time.

Not much on, but I came across an old episode of Star Trek. The Captain Kirk and Spock variety from the 70's. I haven't watched it in eons. I loved it as a kid. Looking at it now, the sets seem so fake. William Shatner seems so fake. Lt. O'Hura, if she was in today's "space force", probably would have pressed charges on the Captain for being a sexist pig, demanded fair wages and a uniform that ended a few more inches past her ass. Dr. Bones is probably an alcoholic and Scotty would have told the Captain to shove it the next time he wanted him to "give me all you've got."

As I was watching it though, I was reminded of something that I had once found amazing. The technology that they use in the program. The technology that did not exist in that day and age, but was a dream. A dream that wasn't far off into the future.

Think about it. The cool little communicators that they always flipped open, "Beam me up Scotty." Who would have thought, watching this program, we would all be walking around with handy-dandy little "communicators" that didn't have to be plugged into the wall and fit in the palm of your hand? And many of them flip open, take pictures, store data. The only thing we haven't gotten to yet is beaming people around. Yet.

How about the computerized notepad that Lt. O'Hura always walked around with and made notes on with a stylus? Think Palm Pilot. Or the fact that she could download the data from her portable notebook onto the main computer for analysis? How about that little earbud thing that she would wear in her ear when receiving calls that didn't connect by wires to anything? We have those, too.

The little "Star Federation" insignia that was both a communicator and a personal locator? I just read an article where Mexican businessmen and politicians are volunteering to have GPS locators installed under their skin. I also know some companies that give their employees badges that have a locator on them. The building is rigged with sensors and can identify them where ever they are. (maybe that technology is a little scary to those of us who don't want our bosses to ask why we were in the bathroom for the 5th time that day)

How about the little triangulating device they use when they are "on planet" to locate something? GPS anyone? Or the sickbay hospital beds that can monitor the patients vital signs and diagnose their problems all at once? Or the hand held scanners that do the same? Now we have MRIs and other 3-D imaging programs that do this. The space shuttles that can go between ship and planet, all by themselves. Have you heard of the ANSARI X prize? There are people competing right now to create personal space craft, where you and I could fly from one end of the earth to another in minutes without the giant rocket boosters strapped to our ass and the billion dollar price tag. How cool is that?

I could go on and on. Microwave food processors. Plasma screen TVs. The little medicine injectors. Touch screen computer systems. I even read once that the United States Military used the example of the Enterprises "sick bay" to set up the new sick bays on our Navy ships. I almost forgot that.

Whatever you say about the show and it's cheesy acting, Gene Rodenberry was a man of vision.

I forget the name of this episode, but Captain Kirk and crew answer an old distress signal and land on this planet. When they do, they find an old "friend" there. Seems he crash landed on the planet and found an abandoned android plant with a couple androids all lonely, but still functional, so he decides to spend his time waiting for rescue by getting the androids up and running. Of course, he makes the little androids in the images that he likes. Very beautiful women and handsome men. And he programs them to "serve" him. Their cyber brains are all connected to the one central command android. (Borg precursor?)

Capt. Kirk and crew beam down to the planet and find that their "friend" isn't so much in need of rescue now, but is looking for a way off the planet and ability to transport his creations with him. He busies himself by trying to convince Capt. Kirk and crew of the wonders of his androids "taking care" of their every need. He even tries to convince Lt. O'Hura of the viability of having her brain transplanted into the new, improved body of an android that would last for 500k years. (Gees...can you imagine having to live that long? How emotionally screwed up you would be while everyone kept dying around you? I think you'd be a nutt case within 300 years at least).

In the meantime, the androids have tapped into the computer on the Enterprise and downloaded the files. All they were looking for was information on humans so that they could better understand their duties, take care of the humans better. What they got was a long history of human triumph and tragedy. This made the androids decide that they should be more capable of ruling the universe because men were fallible creatures full of pain and angst and wars. Much better for the androids to take over because they did not let emotion get in the way. They would be logical.

Capt. Kirk and crew decide to head back to the Enterprise when they are stopped by the androids that decide they will take over the ship and proceed to conquer the universe. The captain asks the androids how they are planning to do this great deed since they were programmed to take care of humans and not harm them. The central android, Norman, replies that their plan is very simple. They will simply "take care" of the humans. Make them happy. Protect them from themselves. If the humans' needs are taken care of, they will have no reason to go to war, to travel through space, to struggle. They will feel no pain, no hunger. They will become complacent. In this way, the androids can take over the universe.

Capt. Kirk tells the androids that he does not want to be taken care of. He wants to be free. Man can only achieve great things if he tries and fails and tries again. If man ceases to struggle, he will cease to exist.

Androids, "That does not compute. We will take care of you. You WILL be happy."

Capt. Kirk and crew are freedom loving folks who would rather take care of themselves and suffer the possible consequences, so they devise a plan to overcome the androids. They will use illogical reasoning. Play acting. They go through a number of scenarios, behaving illogically and knock the guard androids out one by one. Finally, they are down to the last three; Norman and two of his gal pals.

Mr. Scott steps forward, "I cannot take it. There is too much happiness. I must have pain and angst and strife. How else can I know true happiness? Captain, Captain, kill me now." Captain Kirk and crew whip out their fingers and use them like they were lasers, "shooting" Mr. Scott until he falls to the ground. Captain Kirk runs over and grabs Scotty to his chest, "Scotty, Scotty...(looks into the camera)...happiness killed him. Now, he's happy to be dead!"

Gal pal androids, "This does not compute....(dwweeerp; shut down)."

Norman is getting a little agitated, "This is not logical. Mr. Spock, please explain."

Mr. Spock, "Logic is a bird chirping in an empty meadow. Logic is a wreath of beautiful flowers that smell very, very bad." (smoke is starting to come out of the androids ears).

Harry Harcourte (android creator) gets in on the act. He acts like he has some explosives. He cups his palm like something is there, then sets it down on the floor. He obtains imaginary explosives parts from Dr. Bones and puts the "bomb" together. Mr. Scott jumps up, "A bomb? I'm leavin'." Then, acting as if he has a bat, Harry throws the "bomb" into the air and "hits" it. Captain and crew now act like an explosion has occurred. Android, "There was no explosion. This is not logical."

Harry Harcourte, "Yes. There was an explosion. You are supposed to take care of me. You will make me sad if you tell me there was no explosion." Captain Kirk is on the other side, "Norman, Harry is lying. Harry always lies." Norman, "Harry is a liar?" Harry, "That's right Norman, I am a liar. I am lying to you right now." Norman, "If you are a liar and you are lying right now, does that mean that your are lying about being a liar? If you are lying about being a liar, does that make you a liar? If you are lying about lying about lying....This does not compute. This does not compute (dweeeerp...smoke comes our of his hears and head lights on fire)."

The android goes into overload and shuts off. Humans are saved from being taken over and cared for.

Tell me, is there a moral to this story that seems to apply today? Please share your ideas on the "moral" of this story in comments. I would be interested to see what everyone else thinks.

Small Immature Fantasy...

I just stole this title from my friend ALa71. You should be checking out her site.

Captain Kerry and Crew of the USS Democrat

Mr. Zel "Scotty" Miller, "Captain! Captain! The Klingon terrrrrorists are attackin' us with their cloaked Bird O' Prey."

Captain Kerry, "I voted for attacking the Klingons before I voted against it."

Mr. Joe "Spock" Lieberman, "Captain, that is not logical."

Captain Kerry, "Dammit, Joe. We don't need logic. We're running a starship, not a country."

Large explosion...

Captain Kerry, "Ow! I stubbed my toe ....on the captain's chair. Mr. Leiberman.... you were a witness. I was wounded.... during a Klingon attack. I'm going to put in.... for the Star Fleet... Federation Medal of Honor. Here. Take this camera ....and film me re-enacting... my brave defense... against the captain's chair."

Mr. Joe "Spock" Lieberman places his fingers on Captain Kerry's temples and proceeds to perform a Vulcan mind meld, "You are strong on defense. You are not a wimp. You are strong on defense."

Captain Kerry, "Ow! Joe, what the hell.... is wrong with you? If you don't stop.... I'm going to make you watch..... Ter-ai-za take a bath.... while she lectures on the effects... of global warming and how to make friends..... with the fighters."

Mr. Chekov Kennedy rushes over and drags Mr. Lieberman away before he drops Captain Kerry with the Vulcan sleep hold.

Mr. Zel "Scotty" Miller, "Captain! Captain! Werrre losin' powerrr fast."

Captain Kerry, "Mr. Miller, give me all she's got, man. Oh, that's right, I already have Ter-ai-za's billions."

Mr. Miller, "Captain! I'm giving herrr all I can. She can't take much more."

Lt. Hillary O'Hura, "Since I knew you wouldn't mind, I took half the trillium core back for the greater good."

Captain Kerry, "Dr. Edwards. You've got to... help me ,man. I ...falling off."

Dr. Johnny "Bones" Edwards, "Dammit, John. I'm a lawyer, not a doctor. I can sue the Federation for putting the chair in a dangerous place. I can sue the Klingons for shooting at us in the first place. I can channel a dead klingon if you want me to. But you have to fix your own damn toe."

Mr. Miller, " Captain! Captain! I was able to channel the rrremainin' power inta the photons and gave the Klingons a burrrrst in theirrrr side. They dissinigrated before ma verrrrra' eyes."

Captain Kerry, "Mr. Miller, come with me, man. We must go ...before the Federation ...and confess our war crimes...for blowing up innocent... Klingons. Maybe they'll promote me Admiral? I am... a Klingon War veteran...after all. Lt. Hillary...bring your medals. I might need ...something to throw."

Spock Out.

Friday, July 30, 2004

I Was Once A Card Carrying Democrat

Part IV - Epiphany

I had an epiphany. The kind that many have had. I once talked about being changed in personality by the occurrences of 9/11. I also talked about the things that I saw and did on 9/11 in the topic titled "From Here To There". I said that it opened my eyes to the world around me. It did. I have been a rather insular person. Like many people. Concerned largely with my own life, my own achievements. My job. My income. My home. My small family.

World politics were barely on my scope. World economy, just a little bit more. I never truly paid attention to it. Just sound bites on the evening news.

When I thought of our leader, our President, making decisions to vote, they were largely within the context of how it applied to my insular world. Of course, I wanted the President to be capable of working with world leaders. I wanted him to be capable of leading the military. Insuring our economic viability in the world. Our security.

Frankly, I never really understood what was involved with that. How deals made with this country effected our relations with another country. How it effected our economy. Why we gave economic deals to countries that should well be our enemy. It was rather above me. Above my concerns.

My epiphany did not occur on 9/11. It couldn't because I was still in shock and had not come out of it enough to really start thinking about it. About the causes, the meaning. I was like many others, just caught up in the moment, the grief, the anger. Reasoning had not set in yet.

Actually, to call it a single epiphany is misleading. I had several.

After a day and a half of waiting, waiting for our response, the President went to ground zero and spoke with a bullhorn as people chanted "USA! USA! USA!": "I hear you. We all hear you. And the people that knocked down these buildings are going to hear from all of us soon!"

Maybe that's not an exact quote. But that's what I remember. That was the first epiphany. The realization that, had my vote in 2000 elected Al Gore, that we would not have had such a response. Tepid, is the word I would have applied to my expected response from him. I believe we would have hem-hawed around trying to figure out "who dunnit". Made some half assed attempts at finding them and tossing a few bombs at them as we did in the last 8 years. Call it a day and try, unsuccessfully, to get these "sovereign" nations to cooperate and turn in these "terrorists".

This image from September 11, 2001 stays in my mind. Not the planes or the buildings falling down. Not the people jumping or the ones running away. This image that I have written about before and some how continues to haunt me.

After the buildings fell and the gush of smoke and debris, there was an eerie calm. The picture was foggy. There were a few firemen and policemen and some citizens standing around, covered in dust and ashes. Looking dazed. And in the eerie quiet was the sound of hundreds of buzzing alarms. The alarms worn by firemen that indicate a hero is down. That's all that you could hear, in the quiet. Like the strange deafness after an explosion, when everything is muzzy except that strange buzzing sound.

Like an alarm clock going off. Waking you from a nightmare in the morning. In the dawn, when the light first comes through your window. Only to wake and find that your dream, your nightmare was real.

On September 12, 2001: Epiphany. Thank God it was George Bush and not Al Gore.

For days after, I watched the coverage. The thing that sticks in my mind is not the actual planes flying into buildings, the buildings crashing, the people running. I wasn't there. It seemed, and still seems to me sometimes, like a movie in my mind. A scary movie. An end of the world movie. What really got me was the days after.

I remember the day after, Sept 12. Thousands of people walking around in shock and grief. Carrying the pictures of their loved ones. Going from emergency room to emergency room, from one emergency register to another. Have you seen my loved one? Call this number. John, we are looking for you. Call home. The pictures were hung on walls, on fences, on telephone poles. People in groups being filmed by the news, desperately trying to hold their pictures up to the camera. If you've seen my loved one, call this number.

And I knew their grief. I knew that it was in vain.

It is not the pictures of the buildings falling that remind me. It is those images of after, the images of people that would never come home, that are in my mind forever. It is the buzzing sound of alarms that echo forever in my ears.

wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Right now, as I write this, there are cicadas outside in the dark. They are making their cadence, their summer music. That's what I always compared it to. Music that meant summer was here. Now, they sound like those alarms. The strange hi-lo pitches. I want them to stop. Because it is too much like the sound of that day.

For days after, I watched the news. The experts. People trying to explain who these people were. The enemy. Why they did it. For five days I watched everything I could. News. Special reports. History and biography. So many people trying to explain. I heard them say it was our foreign policies that did this. We needed to change. I started getting very angry, because it sounded like they were telling us that it was our fault that 3,000 of our citizens, citizens of the world were dead. I said that before. I still hear these people saying that. WE are making THEM angry.

Right now, I want to scream out an obscenity. FUCK YOU!

September 17, 2001: Epiphany.

We needed to change alright. We needed to wake up. It seemed to me, by trying to place the blame at our door, that people were trying to go back, retreat, curl up in a ball and just pray that THEY will leave us alone. Not hurt us again. Like abused children, afraid of the ugly person that lashes out at the nearest and weakest person because their life sucks. I am not a child and I refuse to be abused. I am an adult. Mature and capable of taking back my own destiny. That is how I see our country. That is what I see is necessary for our future. No more making nice and walking softly, hoping that "it will all be OK." I recognized that my future, the future of my family was in danger and I wanted that future protected.

Then, we were at war in Afghanistan. I heard them saying "quagmire", "Viet Nam", "USSR", "mujihideen" and "fierce fighters" in the same breath. Talking about our soldiers, our troop strength, our strategy as if they were commentators at a Monday night football game instead of representing my country, our cause. The people saying this was my party. The DEMOCRATS. These people that I had voted for for the last 16 years. The people that I was expecting to protect me. Stand up for me. Take my message to those that would hurt me. Never Again!

Instead, the bi-partisan actions of the first 60 days seemed to melt away in a blaze of partisanship. Like they were starting their fucking campaign cycle early. That's what was important to them. Trying to show that the president was incompetent instead of making my voice heard to the evil fucks that had done this to us. YES! EVIL. I'm not afraid to say it, are you? Because it takes an evil mind to come up with the plan to fly planes full of innocent men women and children into buildings full of innocent men, women and children. And I don't want any moral equivalency bullshit about how our policies resulted in the same. Fuck that. I know for a fact that we have never done anything that heinous. I will never accept any such claim as valid. So, if you read this and you want to respond in that way, set yourself on fire and take a flying leap off a 110 story building. Then, come and tell me about your moral equivalency.

October 21, 2001: Epiphany

These bastards that I had voted for, who were supposed to represent me, voted to authorize the President to use force in Afghanistan. One thing they did right. Then, in the middle of battle, they started their arm chair quarter backing; IN PUBLIC. While our boys were over there. Telling the world that we were not prepared. We were going to lose. What in the hell was wrong with these people? Were you trying to insure my vote in 2004? You were betraying our country. YES! BETRAYING. For a moment in the spot light. For the sheer hope of denigrating what you perceived was an overwhelming support for the president which was sure to win him the election in 2004. In your eyes.

Instead of supporting our cause, you went for the jugular.

Now, the Democrats will tell you that they were rightly raising their concerns to insure that we had the proper action that would result in the capture of bin Laden, insure our security, protect our soldiers. What a bunch of bullshit. I know there are some naive people in this world that believe that, but you must know that IN TIMES OF WAR you DO NOT do that IN PUBLIC. That is what committees and congressional sessions and pentagon planners do. IN PRIVATE. Not in front of the cameras. Not in public sessions that are broadcast around the world. Giving our enemies AID AND COMFORT. ENDANGERING our soldiers by convincing these bastards that we are weak and they might overcome us if they keep attacking us. None of these assholes really have the slightest clue about war strategies.

Even I, a simple citizen, know that you do not give away our troop strengths and capabilities. Part of the strategy is to convince your opponent that you are too strong. To make them afraid. To make them believe that they are going to lose no matter what they do.

The whole democrat party needs to sit down and read military strategies of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Sun Tzu. Genghis Khan made whole armies lay down their weapons and run by using the simple method of dragging tree branches behind his soldiers horses. Placing women and children on their extra horses. Forcing the conquered enemy to walk in front of them so it would appear that he had a force three times the size of his actual army.

And they keep doing it. The keep saying our troops are undersized. Under prepared. Under supplied. Untrained for the actions they must take. Who cares if it is true. YOU DO NOT TELL THE ENEMY! Fucking morons.

February 2002: Epiphany

I finally read bin Laden's declaration of war from 1998. 1998. Clinton was still president. I know that the Republicans were in charge of congress at that time. Had the majority. But this man was supposed to be our leader. Supposed to have people advising him on making sure we were safe. That's when I put together all the episodes. The ones that took place on his watch. The ones we did nothing about. We let this happen. We let this guy declare war on us and did nothing, but continue to treat them like a nuisance to be swatted now and then. That's what it was. Swatting at the flies like we were on some summer picnic.

I read the declaration and understood the nature of our enemy. His hatred. His total commitment to our destruction. That was when I realized that we must be just as committed to their destruction. We cannot take half measures. We cannot treat for peace. Negotiate a cease fire. The enemy does not ask that of us. They ask for our total submission or our total destruction.

I posted that one other time on my blog. A commenter left a message. Something like: Your sick! That is just sick! My first thoughts weren't anger. They were surprise and then pity. Because in their paragraph of spewing, I recognized a small part of me. Fear. Fear that, just by saying it, I am committing myself to something terrible. Something that cannot be simply rectified with a few bullets. A few well placed words. Fear that I must recognize this to be as the President said; long and brutal war where we should expect to see people die. No quick wins like Gulf War I; Panama; Grenada.

September 12, 2002: Epiphany.

The enemy was more than a few guys running around in the Afghanistan mountains. Dispersing among us. Laying low in foreign countries. They are being born even now. I don't mean birth as in child birthing, children or babies. I mean spawned in the sense of being created in the madrassas and the mosques in the middle east. And we act as if it was nothing. No concern. They are over there of course. Inside their own countries. If they stay over there, we can fend them off. We can pick them off in small police actions. Intelligence efforts. Forgetting of course that we have open borders and that they can come and go almost at will. Attack us behind the lines as it were. Flanking maneuvers.

And we refuse to recognize it for such. It is nothing. We can hold them off by simply improving our foreign policies. Improving our relations with these dictators. What foolishness. It is the dictators that spawn them in the first place. It is these "relations" that make us complicit in the actions of the oppressors. And they keep being made. No amount of hand wringing, feel good diplomacy is going to stop this action.

The President has put forth a premise. That dictators in the region are aiding and abetting these people. Our enemy. And it's true. He put forth Iraq, an enemy that we had been in a holding pattern with for many years, as the first that must go. I can go into the reasons. We can discuss the hair splitting by the Democrats as to whether this was a "legal" war or if there was "just cause" to do so. And the more this hair splitting continues, the more I realize that my party, the Democrats, could not take my security seriously. If they cannot seriously wrap their minds around the possibility that Saddam Hussein and bin Laden could and would create an alliance in the name of their shared vision of a great pan-Arab state even while that vision might be approached through differing ideology, they are morons. If they cannot understand and articulate the purpose of this shared vision is the creation of a new power in the middle east, the likes we have not seen since Hitler and Stalin, then I want no part of them.

The more they tell me that these new actions are supposedly spawning more terrorists instead of decreasing them, makes me laugh. An angry laugh to be sure. Because I know that it is just by luck that I did not get my wish when I voted in 2000. It was just by luck that somebody became President that could actually understand this threat. And they call him stupid.

And in between, during the year of 2003, they continued their attack on the President. They continued to tell our enemy that we were divided. That we could be conquered. That we might submit. And they can say that it is not true. They can say that they will protect me and continue to fight the terrorists. While they are saying it out of one side of their mouth, the other is telegraphing to the enemy that they might have victory if only they wait a little longer because we realize the error of our ways. We will not prosecute this war on them fully. We want our safety and we are willing to negotiate our total victory away, if only for a few years of calm. We'll pull back our soldiers and work with our allies.

How ridiculous. They will not give us this peace because it is not part of their plan.

February 22, 2004: Epiphany

We captured a letter from Al-Zaqarwi to bin Laden on the prosecution of their efforts in Iraq. In the letter, al-Zarqawi confirms the statements found in all of the al-Qaida documents captured to date. The confirmation that the purpose of Al-Qaida is to create this Pan Arab state founded on the principles of Wahhabi Islam and invested with the Marxist ideology of utopia. The Islamic Utopia. A dream based on the grand Ottoman Empire of the 15th century.

Did you know that the Al-Qaida, the Islamists dreams are based on the teachings of Sayyid Qutb? Did you know that Sayyid Qutb espoused this strange ideology? Marxist Islam. And it would be a most terrible kind of evil. We have only to look at the strict enforcement of Wahhabi Islam by the Religious Police of Saudi Arabia to know what a Pan Arab state based on this ideology would look like. What it would perpetuate on it's hapless citizens. To know how they would behave towards the rest of the world. Because part of that ideology, the great plan of the second Ottoman Empire, is to spread it's borders throughout Europe and Asia and Africa and Beyond.

A grand scheme, maybe too grand some would say. Nothing to be afraid of because it is too big and unwieldy to ever come to fruition. There are too many obstacles in the path of this creation. Therefore, they can be only considered nuisances. Little bands of terrorists that we must "get before they get us". How stupid is that reasoning? How deliciously naive. I'm sure China thought that about Genghis Khan as he marched on their borders. Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan thought the same thing as he raided across thousands of miles and conquered them.

The Prussians and the Russians believed this, too, as Napoleon marched on Vienna and Moscow. We believed it, too, of Hitler and Tojo, while we negotiated and Germany prepared to march on France, who believed that they were protected by the Maginot line. Russia who thought they were protected by the historical failure of Napoleon to cross their great wasteland and was sure that Hitler would not attempt to do the same. China who thought the Japanese would not attack them and attempt to take them as a colony. The US that was sure we were protected by Oceans against an attack by Japan as we woke to the destruction of Pearl Harbor.

What about the USSR as it rolled across eastern Europe and eastern Asia to spawn new totalitarian communist regimes. Did we think our great army, the cost of these maneuvers would keep the USSR at bay? China in Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Tibet.

On September 11, 2001, this premise was already proven false. They can and will attack us. They operate from countries in the middle east with impunity.

Why is it that my party cannot see that denial of this possibility, that a whole region might be united under this banner, could cause us harm?

July 28, 2004: Epiphany

Senator Kerry, representing the Democrat party, asking for my vote, said he will never "mislead" us into war. Kerry said the "only justification" for going to war is when there is no other choice to help protect the American people from a "real and imminent" threat. (Fox News)

Senator Kerry, you will never have my vote. You sir, are a fucking moron. There is a "real and imminent" threat and it comes from these countries who are harboring our enemies. Spawning them as we speak. They are not our allies. Frankly, any other country that believes as you do, such as France, that this can be somehow contained and controlled through diplomatic and economic means, are fucking morons, too.

We are at war now. We should prepare to take that war to our enemy and not wait for them to fight us on our shores. You fucking morons.

There you have it. A three year odyssey in which slowly, but ever surely, I recognized the ridiculousness of my party. The Democrats. You can throw in a few things about "rolling back tax cuts for the greater good". Nonsense about "effective" healthcare provided for ALL citizens by a government that can't even manage our Medicare program effectively. Stir that in with embracing the far left idiots like Michael Moore; stupid celebrities who divorce and re-marry at the drop of a hat, but some how know how to manage foreign relations; salt it with the general denial of the party to recognize our danger and it must be overcome and you will see the things that drove me away from my party.

I said it before and I will say it again: I WILL NOT BE LUMPED IN WITH THE REST OF THE MORONS.

There are things I could do without in the Republican Party. But my first priority is security. My security means that we take the fight to the enemy and not wait for it to show up on our doorstep tomorrow.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Passion For Equality

Raising Men or Leveling the Mountain

I am a subscriber to an excellent newsletter: TIA Daily. If you don't read this newsletter, you are missing out.

After yesterday's post about "hands up and not hand outs", I received my daily news letter in my email and there, the quote of the day, seemed to mirror what I was trying to say.

Quote of the Day:

"If there were such a thing as a passion for equality (not equality de jure, but de facto), it would be obvious to its exponents that there are only two ways to achieve it: either by raising all men to the mountaintop--or by razing the mountains. The first method is impossible because it is the faculty of volition that determines a man's stature and actions.... The second method is impossible because, if mankind were leveled down to the common denominator of its least competent members, it would not be able to survive (and its best would not choose to survive on such terms). Yet it is the second method that the altruist-egalitarians are pursuing. The greater the evidence of their policy's consequences, i.e., the greater the spread of misery, of injustice, of vicious inequality throughout the world, the more frantic their pursuit--which is one demonstration of the fact that there is no such thing as a benevolent passion for equality and that the claim to it is only a rationa!
lization to cover a passionate hatred of the good for being the good."

Ayn Rand, "The Age of Envy"
Now, for a little armchair psychology.

In this world there are three types of people in my mind:

  1. The eternal victim
  2. Those that constantly struggle to achieve
  3. Those that achieve

It is always our choice of which we will be. It should be obvious of which we should always choose to be, either number 2 or number 3. It should be just as obvious that the eternal victim should not be allowed to hinder the rest of mankind. But it isn't.

Why do we always look at the eternal victim? Why do we always struggle to bring those along? Because, we are human. Because, we have hope. Because, in our eternal optimism, we believe that eternal victims might just be someone who is constantly struggling to achieve and only needs that next hand up to make it.

We think that we can change them. As much as we have been schooled in Darwinian theories of the survival of the fittest, we still want to believe that there is something worth rescuing in every human being. And, there is.

But, how do you rescue your fellows? Do you throw them a rope, tie it firm to the highest place and pull them up to where you are? Or do you climb to the top of the mountain with a load of dynamite and blow that mountain top off so that the climb isn't too high? And once you have leveled that mountain and you and your fellows have reached the plateau, you might look around to find that next mountain to climb. But, sometimes, your companions are content to rest on the plateau, never aspiring to climb higher.

As you make ready to climb the next mountain, you exhort them to come with you. Climb it. If only for the sheer joy of trying to conquer the next mountain. Some follow, all be it reluctantly, behind you. Complaining at each hindrance, but still climbing. Some stay below. Complaining that the next mountain is too high. Too far away. Too risky to climb.

Even if you were to level that next mountain, make it's plateau even with the previous mountain, those resting on the first plateau will be divided even further. Those that would take the time to walk across to the next plateau, barely breaking a sweat and those that would stay content, resting on the first plateau.

That is the nature of men. From the first chromagnum who dared to walk upright. Who dared to leave the hunting grounds that had been hunted to extinction, there have always been those that would stay behind.

And we have always grieved for them.

This is my problem with our school system. We have paid so much. Offered so much to those willing to climb a little. Leveled the mountain so that they did not have to climb. In a sense, denigrating the efforts of those that were willing to climb up.

Sometimes we have have paid too much and offered too little. When we level the mountain instead of offering a rope, we have offered too little.

Even the most liberal minded among us would agree that we should offer a hand up. Offer a rope to climb. But the argument often is proceeded by the premise that first, we should level the mountaint. Just a little. Or a lot. Make that first step easier to climb. By then, you have already taken away that first necessary incentive. I will never be for leveling the mountain.

Other arguments are about the content of the rope. What materials should it be made of? How long should the rope be? Should we just give these fellows the materials to make the rope and leave them to figure that out first before they start the climb?

Today, those three issues remain:

  1. Level the mountain
  2. Content of the rope
  3. How much rope

Whenever the government is involved, whenever bureacracy takes over the decision making, whenever it is the "legislative premis" in discussing these issues, we always get the first: level the mountain. Make it "fair".

Such as the discussion over funding of schools. Whenever it is the federal government involved, in order to be perceived as not being prejudiced against one group or another, it must first achieve a "level" playing field. Often at the expense of those that are achievers. Have struggled to make it. Yet we have inside of ourselves, always the sense that we must "play fair" so we are torn about whether this is appropriate.

So, is there something in between? I say yes. The first and foremost must be that it is not the federal governments place to regulate school systems and budgets. It is the responsibility of the citizens that live in the area to insure that their school meets the requirements necessary to educate their young. Offer the rope for the climb. The hand up. Arguments can be made regarding the financial status of the community. It's ability to fund such achievements. It is in our national interest to insure that our population is educated, motivated and achievers, lest we fall as a nation beneath all those we seek to lead.

In this regard, we have created federal funds to be distributed to these schools, to help that attract teachers, buy supplies, refurbish as necessary. Do we then need the government to manage these funds? Create the bureacracy that drains away from the total funds to be distributed? I say no. These funds must be managed by the individual school districts. Not even by the state. By incorporating the state into this fund management, you have created another level of management, of middle men to drain away from the funds. Leaving less for the school districts. Another group trying to decide how to apply the funds fairly.

This is the government in it's worst version of trickle down economics. Yet, we cannot endlessly funnel money into these systems. Like funneling money into a losing business. The business, and that is what it must be treated as, a business with an expected end product, with an expected gain, must work, must succeed or it must be considered bankrupt, closed.

What? Close a school in a community? That is perposterous. Not so. But first, let's consider how we will determine if the business, the school, is bankrupt. In business, you must be able to measure your success against the value of the funds you invest. You must offer an incentive to those that would succeed. You must offer consequences for those that fail.

The current administration has offered this program in it's most acceptable format. Testing the students. Testing the school to see if it meets it's expected outcome. And when these tests show a failing system, the system is given time and funds to improve and then tested again. Any system that continues to fail must be abandoned. Those that will show improvement can continue to receive funds. Those that are a success should receive funds.

Whose fault is it if a school is failing, if it cannot produce an educated child, ready to meet the demands of our world? There are those that will point to the federal government. To it's funding techniques. To it's programs. Not sufficient they say. Not enough.

They are the first type of people on the climb, the eternal victims. Who is at fault for the failing school system? Is it the teachers? Maybe. Maybe they have no incentive to achieve. The unionization of teachers may be the worst palsy ever inflicted on our society. In an attempt to level the mountain, to be able to attract the teachers of the best quality to any school district, we have attempted to level their pay and benefits, so that it would be plausible to tempt the best teachers to an inner school district. What did we get? Not the desired effect. Instead, we still see mediocre or even worse teachers teaching in the schools that are undeniably in need of the best. And we keep those teachers because, through their unionization, they can barely be reprimanded much less fired. No incentive.

Further, the best teachers, without additional incentive, still remain in the suburbs, in the more affluent areas. Why? That is a foolish question. It is safety. It is the undeniable fact that those students will achieve. It is a comfort zone.

I think back to the days when schools were nothing more than one room, with children of all ages, with one teacher. How did we get so far? Why were those teachers able to achieve the education necessary to allow their students to learn? Because the community who hired them insisted on it. Because they wanted that for their children. They wanted the best.

Who else should we blame? Is it the principle? It is undeniable, in every quest for a successful business, it is the leadership that helps provide the culture, the direction for success. Yet, in most schools, they are barely an administrator, a friend, a "favorite" to some on the board of education. Often without the real qualifications of a leader. Sometimes, they are what is called in business "super users". Super users are people that know how to do their main job and do it well. However, they are often not promotable because they cannot achieve the next step, leadership.

Who else? The board of education for the school district? Surely they are culpable. They manage the budget, the school, the decisions on who will be the principle. They are elected from the community. Yet these schoolboards are often less than focused on the issues of the school then they are stepping stones to other political accumens. Less focused on achievement than internal politics. Look at any school district, any inner city school and you will find this to be true. And while they argue, the students are left on the sidelines. Waiting for that first glimpse of the hope that education brings. The first rope on the climb up the mountain to success.

These people are surely to blame for a part of the condition of these school districts. But there are ones who share the greatest blame, the greatest culpability: we in our communities. Those that would stand back and do nothing. Those that will not demand excellence from their schools. Those that will not get involved. Those that would sit back and take the excuses of the teachers, the principle, the school board as they point to the federal government, the "lack of funds" as the reason that they cannot achieve.

In today's society, there is an ever decreasing interaction between the schools, the teachers, the administrators and the community. The community has become apathetic, eager to lay blame, but never willing to look in the mirror, make that extra effort. In these school districts that are failing, you will see a similar decline in attendance of parent teacher conferences. It is the communities that are involved in their schools, where parents demand excellence of their schools, of their children, where the greatest achievements are made. The best students. And these are the communities that continue to grow.

And when these communities do not demand excellence in their schools, do not require the appropriate outcomes, the government has been forced to take their place and demand this excellence from them. Demand that they show they are capable of being schools. Place a monitoring system, the test of viability. And when it does, is there thanks? Does the community rally behind such a cause? No. Instead there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Cries of unfair treatment that success is required to be proven. Cries that the government is trying to crush the NEA. The union.

Which just shows where the fault lies. In communities that are achieving or are struggling to achieve, barely a whisper of outrage. Because they are already secure in the knowledge that they have demanded such excellence from themselves.

And there are excellent teachers. I did not attend a AAA school district, yet I remember some of the best teachers I ever had:

Mrs. Klein - Kindergarten: I do remember who. Vague though it is. Sitting with us at our table as we learned to color in the lines, the alphabet, to write our names for the first time with big clunky pencils and wide line "big chief" notebooks.

Mrs. Anderson - Second Grade: I remember learning the names of the planets for the first time. Seeing pictures of the universe, with it's vast number of stars. She always had pictures of the universe up in the classroom. The first inkling that the universe was a marvelous place to explore.

Mrs. Winters - 5th Grade: I was behind in reading when I came from another school district. She showed me the power of books. The power of dreams. She gave me my first taste of freedom inside the cover of a book.

Mr. Johnson - 6th Grade: Math. I was always mediocre in math. He would bring ice cream bars, bought with his own money, to give to us when we passed the test with 95% or better. In his class, I excelled and took advanced algebra. I learned to figure complex equations. Why X plus 3 = Y. If you don't think that algebra ever served you, look in your check book. Every time you enter a debit or credit and measure it against the original balance to know your current balance, you are performing algebra.

Mr. Andrews - 9th -1oth grade: Social Studies and advanced Western Civilization History. He taught us about Locke and Paine. Jefferson, Adams, Monroe Doctrine. The first taste of Plato's Republic. He took us on field trips to see the local architecture of our city. Put it into context of history. Federal style buildngs. Neo classic. Art Deco. Compare to baroque and renaissance style buildings. He gave me my taste for civil war history.

Mrs. Engels - 11th grade: Literature and composition. She taught us about content and purpose of sentence structures (which I occasionally forget in my passion for blogging). I became passionate about Greek Mythology. I read the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare on my own after she introduced us to Ceasar and the Gentelman of Verona. I loved the sarcastic witty insults of the Taming of the Shrew and the bizarreness of jealousy in a Mid Summer's Night's Dream.

Mr. Fugate Science, he took us on field trips in the woods behind the school and showed us first hand the workings of plants and insects. I remember having to disect a fetal pig in his class. That was probably the first time I realized that I would never be a doctor. Mr. Garcia taught us Spanish by playing Spanish rock songs and ballads. We sang and went to contests. Our group won first prize at the Spanish language festival. Mrs. Jones in drama that gave me my confidence to stand in front of large crowds and speak. Mrs. Collins (we called her the alligator wrestler, big arms) who taught me geometry. I can now figure the volume of a space, the number of square yards and a few other factors that come in handy when figuring household projects.

I could go on and on and on. There were people behind me, too. My parents who had finished 9th and 11th grade respectively wanted more for me and my brothers. They pushed us. They were on the PTA. They went to parent teacher conferences. They took us to after school activities like band, Spanish club, etc. They demanded excellence.

Hillary Clinton once spoke a cliche: "It takes a village to raise a child."

She spoke the truth. The problem is that she and others have cast their net too wide in proclaiming "the village". The village is the community in which the child lives. It is first and foremost their responsibility to insure the child's welfare. Once they take that responsibility, the first step up the mountain is achieved.

We cannot raise the child by leveling the mountain. We can give them the rope and tie it firm in a high place. We can show them the path. Show them where the loose gravel and falling rocks are a danger. We can occasionally haul them up with brute strength (see school testing and special funds). But we cannot allow our children to be stagnant, stopped at a plateau for the sake of others.

Close schools? Bus children to better schools? This prompted a cry of outrage in the '70s of discrimination when in fact it was a plausible solution to the decripit and continuing decripit schools we see now. If the communities require local schools then they should require them to perform and provide the education for which it is funded.

In the 5th grade, I lived in a farming community. We rode the bus an hour to school and an hour back again. We rode with students of all ages. I remember it fondly because it gave me the time to read all the books that Mrs. Winters showed me. Probably the reason that I read when traveling now. It surely did not kill me nor stunt my emotional growth or education. Maybe, I am the exception to the rule, but I look around and say that this rule is the rule to be broken.

Vouchers may be the answer. Tax credits. Some believe that this will only benefit the more affluent as they will be able to afford to send their children to better schools and not fund the local community schools. I have my concerns of the same.

In my mind, there are things that will improve our school systems better than simply throwing money at them as has been done for the last 30 years.

  1. Demand excellence through testing
  2. Attach incentives to outcomes
  3. Provide additional funding to those schools that are below the grade but show improvement
  4. Improve community involvement. Communities must stop whining about the government and start acting on behalf of their children
  5. Parents must get involved at every level of the school programs, starting with improved parent teacher relations
  6. Parents must take responsibility for their children. Discipline and the desire to achieve are first taught in the home.
  7. Non-profit or charitable organizations should be developed and involved in helping communities create school improvement organizations.
  8. Communities need to be re-energized to achieve these goals. When a community becomes active in it's school programs, the community becomes involved in security, contruction and commerce. All things that will bring people back to or retain them within the community and thereby increase the funds to the schools and continue to demand excellence.
  9. Schools, teachers, principles and school boards that do not perform must be closed or fired and viable entities put in place or existing schools with better records used.
  10. Bus the children there if necessary. It is their interest that must be served, not the community's desire for cohesion. It is improved schools that will attract and retain a communities cohesion. Not the other way around.

It is time to stop dilly-dallying around with our children's future. The industrial revolution has come and gone. We can see that in the decrease of manufacturing jobs in the US. The new revolution is upon us and we are ill prepared. It is the revolution of technology and science, well underway for the last 50 years. Yet many refuse to acknowledge it's importance.

Oabama Barack (D) Illinois asks us if we are our brother's keeper. I am. But I refuse to leave my one brother stranded on the mountainside while my other brother fret's and moans about the climb at the bottom. I refuse to level the mountain and bring my brother down so that my other brother can walk across without struggle. I demand that the people behind my dawdling brother at the bottom, who are desirous of climbing the mountain, grab my brother by the arms and legs and force him to start climbing or throw him out of the way so that they may climb with me.

I am my brother's keeper. I will look back often to insure that my brother is climbing with me, but I will not stop. If my brother falters, I will reach my hand out to him and pull him up with me. But, I will not climb back down the mountain so that my brother that refuses to climb can have my miserable company.

It is time to raise men up, not level the mountain. There is no rescue team on this mountain. We cannot and should not look to the government for a safety net. It is you and I, we the community, that must raise up our schools and start our children on the climb to success. To do less is criminal. It is the indictment of our community. The tale of our failure.

We can and we must do this. Open your eyes. Find the rope and start climbing.

I Was Once A Card Carrying Democrat

Part III - A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out

Am I my brother's keeper?

Yes, I am.

But, my brother is some times hard headed and will not listen.  Will not be saved.  Notice I don't say "cannot be saved".  Sometimes it is not a matter of "can" so much as "will".  I know this may sound hard hearted, but the reality is that man was given "free will".  Whether you believe that in a religious context or simply that man (huMAN kind) has a brain and uses it or abuses it at will, is up to you. 

Every day we make decisions.  Every day somebody's decision can turn out good.  Every day somebody's decision will turn out bad.  Sometimes, no matter how much you exhort somebody to do something different, make a different decision, they will continue on their set course, never minding that you warn them of the consequences or offered to help them do something different.  Sometimes this leads them to a path of self destruction.

It is like that saying:  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

There was never more truer words written.

I remember when Clinton started instituting welfare reform.  I can still hear the wailing and nashing of teeth.  He actually expected people to get out and go to work.  Welfare rolls would only pay for up to three children in the home.  After that, you had to figure out how to make it yourself.  That was a new spin.  I was all for it.  A hand up and not a hand out.

You would have thought that we had rolled back the clock to the era of the Irish potato famine where the landlords came around with the police and threw the family out of their little shanty onto the street.  People were insisting that this would cause a grand new scale of poverty in the United States.  And this was the Democrats fronting the bill.  Not the horrible Republicans, insuring the great divide between the haves and the have nots.  Widening the "wealth gap."

Didn't happen.  There was a little shuffling around and some scrambling by some folks.  There was no great crisis.  Unemployment and poverty virtually froze.

However, this was also during the time that budget reform was being pushed with a vengeance.  "A balanced budget" was the cry.  Anybody know what happened when the government announced that they had resolved the deficit?  Announced a surplus?  The economy started sliding down.  Down!  A balanced budget didn't instill confidence.  Companies were riding high on the crest of an economic boom.  And then...BOOM!  Down it went.  Creditors started calling in loans.  Refused additional credit or to renegotiate terms on out standing debts.  People started scrambling for cash.  The layoffs really began in 1999.  Don't let anyone fool you about "Bush ruining the economy".  It was well on it's way when he took office.  September 11 just brought it to it's head and left the government scrambling to pull us back from the brink.

I think that is what is referred to as "penny wise and pound foolish". 

Once again, I digress.

More about me.  I hope you don't mind.

When I left high school, I went to work at Mrs. Winners Chicken as a cashier.  After working there for a year, the company wanted to send me to managers training.  I didn't know what I wanted to do about college.  I had dreamed of being a lawyer.  A big corporate lawyer.  That's where the money was.  But I didn't have any idea about finances, student loans, etc.  I had missed out on some scholarships because I didn't know how important it was to start at the beginning of your senior year to sign up.  Something else I didn't know.  Even though I graduated in the top 10% of my class, I only had one half scholarship to go to school in Texas.  My parents didn't want me to go that far away.  They wanted me to go to community college first.  They couldn't afford to help me if I went.  I guess, in retrospect, I was a little afraid of leaving my comfort zone.

Obviously, I got over that.  But, I digress...

My Dad worked with somebody whose wife worked at a home healthcare company.  He talked his friend into getting his wife to give me a reference even though they only met me once at a policeman's barbecue. 

That was my first hand up.  She did and I got the job.  I remember I was making $5.50/hour and thought I was making it BIG!  LOL

After that, I worked like a dog.  I wanted to prove something.  While I worked at that company, I made a phone acquaintance of a girl my age in New Jersey, working for the same company.  She told me they had an opening there.  She gave me a reference and pretty soon I had the job.  I had to tell my folks I was leaving.  That was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  My middle brother had just graduated from high school and had signed up to go to the Air Force.  He was leaving the same time I was.  Empty nest syndrome, big time, even though my youngest brother was still at home.

Looking back now, I want to tell my family "thank you".  If they hadn't encouraged me to do my best, be independent, I would never have done it.  Leaving made me the person that I am today.  It was hard.  Sometimes I wanted to just go home, but I knew I couldn't.  Not because of my parents.  Actually, they offered to send me a bus ticket or some money to come home more times than I can count.  But I knew I had to make it or who would I be?

I'll make the intervening years short for you.  I moved out there and had an instant roommate.  Not the girl that I had talked to over the phone.  She knew somebody that knew somebody whose roommate had left them high and dry.  So I packed my few belongings into my little red Fiero and drove across country.  You know the Fieros?  No trunk to speak of.  The engine was in the rear.  I had some clothes, an alarm clock, my sketching materials and a guitar. 

Now while I write this, I can't decide if I was excessively brave or incredibly insane. 

That was my next hand up.  For a little while at least.

I lived with that room mate for 2 years.  Let's just say that she was crazy and leave it at that.  LOL  Actually, it started out ok.  It was just the last 6 months of our living together that took a turn for the worse.  Suffice it to say that she met somebody who was into drugs.  She started using.  Lost three jobs in three months.  Couldn't pay the rent.  I came home one day and the electricity was off.  It was in her name and she insisted on collecting the money and "paying the bills".  Unfortunately, the only bill that was getting paid regularly was the guy around the corner with a little something extra in his pocket.

I had to pay the rent for three months in a row by myself.  I was no where near in the financial condition I am today.  There went the car payments.  Guess what next?  Knock, knock...repo man calling.  There went the car.  So, the day I came home and the electricity was off, I knew it was time to leave.  Another friend was sharing a row home with a single mom.  Not far away.  Three bedrooms.  She offered for me to come and live with them while I figured out what to do.  My parents...Come home.  We'll pay your way.  Nope.  Not happening.  I was not coming home a failure.

I lived with those ladies for two years.  Next hand up.

My friend worked at a company that was hiring.  More money.  Gave me a reference.  Next hand up.

Eventually, the lady with the house was getting married, so me and the other woman decided to get an apartment.  On our own.  It was the first time either of us went out and did it on our own.  Our credit sucked so we had to give an extra down payment.  But it was glorious.  We moved in the rain.  I mean torrential down pour.  We borrowed a truck from the company we worked for.  I had a beat Buick stationwagon circa 1978.  White and loud.  We called it the dragon wagon.  Bought it for a hundred bucks.  None of our "friends" showed up to help.  I was dating a guy then.  He was supposed to help, too.  Didn't show up.  It was raining.  Guess what happened?

So long.  Farewell.  Awiedersein, Adieu.  Another story.

We had no furniture to speak of.  Just some beds and dressers and some dishes, pots and pans that we had bought.  Cheap from KMart.  After we got it all moved in, we had our TV circa 1982 (ie, no remote) sitting on our cooler.  We spread a sheet out on the floor and ate Chinese food.   Popped a bottle of Dom Perignon.  Yep.  Dom Perignon.  A friend of ours worked wholesale  liquor and we splurged the $60 to get it.  As the saying goes, those were the best of times...

Apartment was furnished a la futons with beer boxes covered with table clothes.  Bring back college memories for anyone?  It was just like that.  Eventually, we got it furnished, but it was home.

My next hands up were the people I worked with.  I had some really excellent managers that were willing to mentor me.  Let me do whatever I could or would.  I had some crappy ones, too.  But that's another story. 

I remember one boss very well.  He once said to me, "You know, you don't want to be an asshole, but sometimes, people make you be an asshole."

I never forgot those words.  Words to live by.  They actually helped me out a time or two when I didn't want to do something that I knew would make someone else mad.  Particularly in work.  I have found that there is another truism:  give somebody an inch and they will take a mile.  That's when the "you don't want to be an asshole, but sometimes people make you be an asshole" kicks in.

After living in Philly for 9 years, most of my friends had gotten married.  I had moved up the food chain a bit.  I lived a good life.  Not rich in money, but rich in friends and experiences.  My friends and I would do "joint vacations" where we all put money in and rented a house at the beach.  Ten women in a beach house.  Scary and fun all at the same time. 

But, I was missing something.  Everyone was going off and doing their thing.  One day, I got a call.  My dad was very sick.  My last roommate had gotten married and I was alone in the apartment.  The lease was up.  I had hit a plateau at my job.  I didn't know what to do.  Some friends of mine helped me pack everything into storage.  Another friend let me stay on her couch for awhile.  Next hand up.

Let me add that, after 9 years in Philly, I still felt a bit like the country girl in the big city.  It didn't fit.

I moved home.  Packed all my stuff in a u haul and drove across country.  Again.  My Dad and stepmom let me stay at their place.  For several years.  It was good for me financially.  I got my credit straightened out.  Paid my bills off.  My Dad was urging me to buy a house.  Don't end up like he was, renting forever and a day.  So, I started saving.  I put money in a 401k for the first time in my life.

Let me say that it is not easy being a 30 something woman living with your parents.  Dating was a disaster.  My Dad acted like I was 16 again.  It was hard to swallow occasionally.  I know he was just worried for me in this day and age, but it is very hard to start a relationship with somebody when the first thing that happens when they come to pick you up is that your Dad is sitting in the living room, waiting, too.  No matter what I tried, he was always waiting.  And he would grill the guy like he was a mass murderer and we just didn't know it!

Laugh.  Go on.  It's funny now, but there were plenty of times when I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.  Plenty.

During this time, I should add, I was still a Democrat.  I still believed that people needed help and the government should do it.  I still believe that there are things that the government does today that are very helpful.  But I also believe today that there things that the government perpetuates.  Keeps going.  Doesn't solve.  That's for a little later.

Suffice it to say, in 2000, I voted for Al Gore.  I was still living at home.  I had money to spend.  The taxes didn't bother me.  Well, a little, but only in the "I am a single woman paying 30% of my money out, where does it go?" mode.  I hadn't really gotten around to investigating yet.

I got another hand up when I met somebody that knew somebody that was hiring.  Within 6 weeks of returning, I had a job.  And another mentor.  A great boss.  She taught me a lot about managing people.  She didn't let me drown.  She was one that helped me get where I am today.  I can't thank her enough.  Still in contact today.  Networking, the good ol' girl way.

It was 2001.  I was starting my house search.  That's when I found out about the reality of home ownership.  Mortgages.  Interest rates.  Points.  PMI.  Home owners insurance.  I mean, things you never thought of as a single person living the high life.  Taxes.  Property taxes.  Man did I learn about property taxes.  When I started learning about property taxes and property values, that was the first inkling.  Hold on.  Wait a minute.  What was I paying taxes for?  You want how much for this house?  The property taxes are what?  Look at this area.  What exactly do my property taxes go for?

Yikes!  It was almost enough to make you run back home to Mom and Dad and never venture out again.  But, I perservered.  Kept looking.  I got pre-approved.  It wasn't much.  That was the other inkling.  I had good credit.  Decent money.  But I was a single white woman.  The pre-approval was for a conventional loan.  The interest rate was going to be appx. 9.5%.  This was pre-9/11.  I was wondering if I would ever find a house in my price range that was in a decent area, had decent property taxes, decent property value and wasn't in desperate need of repair.

In the midst of all of this searching, the big thing happened.  September 11, 2001.  I won't go into how that changed me, too much.  I have other posts about the really deep thinking about the world.  Suffice it to say, it was the second eye opener.  There was something more in the world than my nice little life.  Something bigger was happening in the world and I had missed it.  Suddenly, my nice life was in danger.  Suddenly, I realized that there were people that didn't have my life.  Not those people.  I knew about those people in our country.  I didn't know about the other ones.  The ones that hated me.  Wanted me gone.  My family, gone.  That's how I took it, too.

On September 12, 2001, the President spoke from ground zero as people chanted: USA!  USA!  USA!  "I hear you!  Your country hears you!  And the people that knocked down these buildings are going to hear from you, too!" 


I got a hand up in a way that no one should ever ask for.  Because of this tragedy, the government lowered the federal interest rate.  At the same time, I got a new realestate agent.  He told me about a program, which I will now give space to:

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Something the liberals got right.  Something, if the government was really serious about giving people a hand up, they would make sure happened for many people.

If you are a first time home buyer and you have limited resources, particularly if you have credit problems, this group is for you.  You can go to the site and read what they are about.

From this group, I took classes on all the things that I talked about.  Taxes, property values, inspections, home owners insurance, etc, etc, etc.  For those with bad credit, this is not a credit re-organization group.  What they do is teach you, TEACH YOU, about finances and budgeting.  They help you figure out how to save, pay your debts.  At the end, when you are ready to buy, a counselor sets up meetings with a bank and sits with you while you fill out the paperwork.  But you have to have the will.  This is no free ride.  Fully 3/4 of the people that attended these courses with me, did not complete the task.  They missed their hand up.

One other thing...They have agreements with banks that they cannot lend to you above the prime lending rate just because you do not fit the mold of married, middle class, white and excellent credit.  The banks cannot charge you PMI. 

This was my next hand up.  Non-profit.  I mean NON-PROFIT, group.  I paid $40 for classes.  Two classes, eight hours each.  At the end of which, I was the recipient of their largesse.

Thank you ACORN.

I was re-approved at a lower rate and more money.  Lower payments, too.  About three months later, I bought my first home.  My dream home. 

Sometimes, I feel a little guilty.  I got my dream in some part because of someone else's tragedy.  Our nations tragedy.  In some ways, it makes it all that much more special to me. 

But, there it is.  I got here, not on hand outs, but on hands up. 

This is my message to people everywhere.  You don't have to stay where you are.  You can be something, do something, anything if you want it bad enough.  There's a song that was popular once:

I get knocked down, but I get up again, I won't ever let it keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again, I won't ever let it keep me down

I know, somebody wants to tell me that I got lucky.  There are people out there that don't have the support network that I had.  But that's the point.  Hand outs don't make people change.  It's the chance and the will to do something, that make it different.  It's the people along the way that are willing to give us that chance, the circumstances.  If we will only take it.

I know there are other people out there, they have three kids, were laid off, lost their home, don't have family to fall back on.  People with mental illnesses, physical illnesses.  Elderly with no family.  I could go on.

For those people, the hope of tomorrow must be the first thing that is instilled.  That hope is not bought with a government subsidy check.  It comes from you and me.  You don't always have to reach for your wallet to help someone.  Reach out your hand.

Am I preaching?  You bet.  There is nothing like the converted to tell it like it is.  Pound the pulpit.  Sing with the choir.

Doesn't seem hard enough for you?  I was 1200 miles away from home.  Didn't know a soul.  I lost my electricity.  I had no money.  I cried.  I lost my apartment.  I had no money.  I cried.  They took my car.  I had no money.  I cried.  There were plenty of times I wanted to throw in the towel.  Just go home.  Curl up in the fetal position and let the world have it's way.  But I didn't. 

You don't have to either.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I Was A Card Carrying Democrat

Part II - Bleeding Hearts And Hand Wringers

Well, as the last post would show you, I was a bleeding heart.  I bled everywhere.  A hand wringer.  And mostly, that's what I was.  A bleeding heart hand wringer.  Like my friends.  We didn't do much.  We didn't volunteer.  Not really.  We were too busy being young and crazy.  When we did something, it was usually like the "Aids Walk" or the "MS Walk".  Not a lot of time and money put into it.  Just sign up some donors, grab a T-Shirt so we could say we did it and walk a grueling 10 miles in the Philadelphia heat and humidity.

You would start at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  You know the one where Rocky runs up the 168 flights of stairs in the first Rocky?  Walked around and got little tokens.  Key rings.  Drink cozies.  They start you out with stretching exercises so you don't cramp up.  Then you walk around the beautiful Skuykill River.  Through the park and down by Boat House Row.  'Til you end up back at the where they would have fruit and juice and ice cream and peanut butter sandwiches.  Then pick up a few other cool trinkets to show that we had "done our part".

I remember one walk very well.  We had pulled an all nighter.  Made the rounds of the clubs that we always went to.  It was a Saturday night ritual.  That night, I had found out that my newest boyfriend (whom I'd been seeing for about six weeks) was either seeing someone else or was living with them.  Not sure which.  One of our acquaintances saw him at a club (that I had introduced him to; how stupid is that?) with another woman.  Kissing mind you.  Called up another friend of mine who got out of her Saturday slump clothes and ran down to the club.  Where she saw him kissing the other woman.  She walked up to him (per her account), took his beer, and poured it over his head.  After spluttering a few minutes, he apparently went into "panicky, guy who got caught" mode and proceeded to whip out the infamous "I wasn't kissing her, she was kissing me" line.  Compounded by the "she is just an old friend" line followed by the "I'll call Kat and explain everything" line.

Side note:  Are men genetically programmed with these lines?  I don't want to turn this into  a "man bashing" entry.  I could say all sorts of interesting things that my female friends pulled on men.  I just want to know where this stuff comes from?  Like:  I did not have sex with that woman!  Er...phallus...orifice?  What is that anyway?

I digress...short version.  Friend who caught boyfriend, calls friend who is with me.  Friend returns to table and asks me if I will be heartbroken if Andy turns out to be an asshole.  What?  Just a hypothetical question she said.  Drive home.  3 AM in the morning, there is other friend parked outside of my apartment.  Andy is an asshole.  Go upstairs.  Pour more margaritas.  Complain about men.  Friend informs me that she informed asshole not to bother to call (ever again) and try to explain as she was heading over to my apartment and explaining for him.  Drink and gab until 5 AM.  Sleep for 2 hours.  Hang over.  Drive to Aids walk.  Walk 10 miles with hang over in 90* F and 80% humidity.  Almost puke.  Get blister on right heel.  Curse men roundly for 3 hours under my breath.  Return to  Dump donations and go home feeling good (theoretically) that I have done my part to cure AIDS.

Another side note:  if you are a guy and you are reading this, first, apologies if you were offended.  Second, take heed of what I am telling you.  Women have friends who have friends who have friends.  Don't piss in your own backyard because you will be found out.  Third, we know when you are lying.  Only dumbasses who are afraid to be alone will let you get away with the lie.  Better to just toe the line and avoid the pain and embarrassment.

So, Andy the asshole never did call me back.  My friends urged me to call him and curse him three ways from Sunday, but I refused.  I was not giving him the satisfaction.  Never saw him again.

That was about the extent of my "bleeding heart and hand wringing".  Couple that with my voting.  If a new tax was proposed to help schools.  I voted yes.  Never mind property tax.  I was an apartment dweller and had no idea what that was about.  If a new tax was proposed to provide daycare centers for single, low income mothers who were working, I voted yes.  Never mind the increase in tax on "luxury" items.  I only bought them once in a while and it had no effect on me.  Fix the roads and raise the bridge tolls?  Hell NO!  We should be able to figure out how to repair the roads with the money we had.  Clean up the environment and raise gas tax by 5 cents per gallon?  I voted yes.  The environment is important don't you know.  Never mind that it was going to cost Pennsylvania residents a couple more bucks to drive to work everyday.  That's not important.  Never mind that it cost more to deliver goods and services in the state and made the price of these services go up.  Never mind that meant people bought less goods.  Never mind that meant businesses didn't have the same profit margin.  Never mind that meant people were probably laid off.  The delivery company couldn't field as many trucks or take as many routes.  People were laid off.

That's what I did with my bleeding heart.  I didn't have a clue about taxes or bureaucracy or impact on economy or whether any program, act or law actually worked.   No statistics. 

I voted "feel good" politics.  If they had a "cause" I was voting.  If they spoke well, I voted.  I didn't understand about how higher state taxes drove the businesses away and kept people unemployed.  Not until much later.  I remember the company I worked for moved their offices down the road to Delaware.  Delaware has very low taxes.  I believe the lowest state sales tax in the US.  I had to drive an extra 15 miles each way on my inflated gas prices.  I was screwing myself.  Eventually, I had to find a job closer to home. 

In otherwords, I didn't know and I voted like I didn't know.

Did I volunteer?  Nope.  Did I try to help somebody?  Nope.  I gave money.  I didn't give me.  I didn't know how my tax money was really spent.  I didn't know how much actually did or did not make it down the line to the people in need. 

But I still saw those people.  Every day.  Signs that said "Viet Nam Vet; Will Work For Food".  People that slept on the steam grates over the sewers.  Wrapped up in blankets.  During the winter, the really bad one in '93, my friends and I took some blankets down to the mission drop off point.  Why didn't the government do something?  How come we couldn't help these people?  What was wrong with our government?  Couldn't they see people were suffering?  We have a social obligation to take care of our citizens.  We need more money.  More programs.

Why didn't the government do something?

My heart bled.  I wrung my hands.  I did a few half assed things, like most people that expect "the government" to do something.  It's not their job.  As long as we give the government money to manage these programs, it's the government's job.  That's how I voted.

Tonight, I was listening to the Democrat Convention.  I heard Obama Barack, (D) Illinois:

It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper — that makes this country work

Who is my brother's keeper?  Me?  Or some administrator up in DC who doesn't know my brother from Adam?