Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Labeling People Is Just Too Easy

With so many people in the country screaming for political correctness in every aspect of our daily lives it seems no one can voice their honest opinion about anything without being labeled.  Some people are so afraid of offending someone else that they won't express themselves openly for fear of being called a bigot or a racist or some other form of hater.  And may who throw those names around do so seemingly without conscience or even facts.  If you voice an opinion that disagrees with theirs you are given a name and dismissed as irrational.

This has been building over the years but it seems to have truly come to light since the election of our first African-American President.  In my lifetime of 55 years I have never seen more racial division except maybe in the early 60s.  In 2008, Americans elected Barack Obama to the Office of the President of the United States.  He didn't win 80 or 90 percent of the total vote but he won the majority of electoral votes that put him in office.  Back when Dr. Martin Luther King was still alive I knew that in my lifetime I would see a black man elected President one day.  Mr. Obama was a surprise only because he was an unknown to most of us.  He was also a surprise because he expressed liberal, left-wing views (such as sharing the wealth) and won anyway.  Sadly, those who opposed him were often labeled as racists even when you could easily voice your disagreement with what he stood for and what he wanted to do to "fundamentally transform America."  Labeling someone a racist is easy - you don't have to think about it.  You can put everyone in the same category and ignore what they're saying simply by putting a label on it. 

Certainly I know a few people who oppose President Obama because he's black.  That's not their only reason but it is definitely one of them.  They are wrong to believe that way.  Racism should have no part in American politics nor in American everyday life.  In the year 2012, hating someone because of skin color is ridiculous.  Life is complicated enough.

Along the same line, the recent gay marriage controversy involving Chick-fil-A caused an uproar that led to people screaming that if you disagree with gay marriage you simply hate  gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.  But since when did one's personal opposition to something transform into hatred?  Many Christians believe in the Biblical and religious definition of marriage between a man and a woman.  They believe marriage is ordained by God and that homosexual marriage goes against the teachings of the Bible.  Believing that does not mean that Christians hate homosexuals, etc.  The Bible says love everyone equally but it doesn't say accept and agree with everything anyone wants to do to prove that love.  Christians are commanded to love sinners but are not commanded to love sin. 

Atheists believe there is no such thing as God.  They completely disagree with the notion of religion and believe Christians are misinformed and just plain wrong.  So does that mean atheists hate all Christians?  I don't think so.  And I don't believe they'd be happy to be labeled a hate group simply because they don't agree with the Bible or Christianity.  So why does it seem one group can oppose something and not be labeled and another group is automatically labeled for their disagreement?  I'm thinking it all depends on who's doing the labeling.

One other point I want to discuss is Islam and Islamaphobia.  Those of us who believe Islam to be a threat to the United States (and even the world) base our beliefs on worldwide actions of Islamic terrorists and on the teachings of the Quran.  Granted, there are many Muslims in the world who do not participate in terrorist acts and have no desire to kill as many infidels as possible.  However, of the millions of Muslims in the world there are precious few who will stand up and say "No more.  We will not tolerate the violence any longer."  There are certainly enough radical, terrorist types to make the world a very dangerous place and they are everywhere - even inside our own nation.  Islam is not a religion of peace.  Religions of peace do not kill people for disagreement.  They do not stone a woman who has been raped because she is no longer clean.  Religions of peace do not kill their children for the "honor" of the family.  And they don't go around threatening to wipe a country off the face of the Earth simply because that country is not Islamic.

Yes, there are many of us who believe Islam is a powerful threat to all of us.  Does that mean we hate Islam?  I've been accused of it.  I don't hate anyone.

If you want to be my neighbor and friend I will judge you by how you act and how you present yourself to me rather than your political, religious, or even sexual preferences.  If I disagree with you I'll tell you up front that's the case.  I won't ridicule you or chastise you for your beliefs (unless we're in a good natured discussion about them) but neither do I expect you to do it to me.  I may disagree with you on several things and you may disagree with me on more.  But there is a huge difference between disagreeing with someone's beliefs and hating them because of it. 

The hatred does exist.  I'm not naive enough to believe it doesn't.  But it's not the majority of people who carry this hatred.  And those who are quick to pass out labels need to understand that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

When Will Liberals Take Their Heads From The Sand?

Why is it, I wonder, that liberals (and Democrats in general) demand political correctness and fair, equal treatment of all yet demand that we all tolerate and even support Islam? 

Liberals demand that women are treated fairly and that gays, lesbians and transgenders are all treated fairly (as in - don't voice your disagreement with what they believe or you are a hate filled bigot), yet they want us all to embrace Islam, which treats women like second class subservients and kills homosexuals.  Women of Islam (mostly in the Middle East but also here in the States in what are called "honor killings") are killed on a regular basis for daring to disagree with Sharia law and Islamic customs.  Yet some in this country demand that we be tolerant of Islam because, as they themselves profess, they are a religion of peace.

How can someone demand equal treatment for women in this country yet ignore the brutal, barbaric treatment of women in Islamic countries and still demand that we respect Islam?  How can the President of the United states make up things about the "Republican war on women" and yet embrace and even praise Islam, the religion that mutilates the clitorises of women and sentences them to death if they are raped by a man or even get caught talking to a man?  How does one sleep at night knowing the atrocities committed against women in many Middle Eastern countries yet still demanding that we embrace Islam as a religion of peace?

It makes no sense to me.  Maybe it makes sense to those who make the demands and if so, I'd certainly like to have them explain it to me in a way I can grasp.  Embracing Islam and pretending those atrocities don't exist is not merely sad, it's pathetic.  To demand respect and tolerance of a religion that treats women like disposable sex objects and second class citizens is simply not understandable to me.  And there is a huge movement in this country right now about gay rights and gay marriage, something Islam denounces and will even murder over, yet those on the left seem to ignore it and want us all to embrace Islam.  How is that logical?

Islam is the enemy of our country regardless of all the politically correct weenies who want to pretend Islam is a good thing.  Many of their fundamental beliefs go against what America (the proud and strong America that I know, anyway) believes in.  In my opinion, those who would reduce America to a politically correct nation at any cost should look elsewhere to live.  We need values and strong beliefs for our nation to continue to be a world leader.  And those who think we no longer need to be a world leader can join their friends who are leaving.  We won't miss you.  America is the most generous and good hearted country in the world, regardless of what the President and/or his followers believe.  If you don't agree, again, don't let the border gate hit you in the butt on your way out.

I realize people can justify whatever they choose to believe if they try hard enough - even if that justification is in their own minds.  It's time Americans realized that Islam is a threat to our existence and our way of life and stand against their onslaught against the Western world, Jews and Christianity.  Ignoring it, pretending it's not a threat and/or being "politically correct" in the face of that onslaught will be the death of Western civilization as we know it.  If you embrace it, be ready for the subjugation of your children - particularly the females.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Truth About General Motors and the Bailout

Remember how the President keeps saying he saved the auto industry with the bailouts?  Well, a recent Bloomberg report says that 79% of General Motors' sales last month was government purchases.  That's right - taxpayer money buying vehicles made with taxpayer money.

In the month of June, GM sales figures were the highest since 2008 - up a whopping 16%.  Interestingly, those figures are greatly due to a 79% increase in fleet sales to none other than the federal government.  The government is buying more and more GM vehicles so in the next quarterly report they can talk about how great GM is doing and make it appear that the President saved them.  They're buying cars from the government owned car company and that makes it successful?  If you take away government sales, GM isn't doing so hot.

There is also the little detail of the $85 billion in bailout money, about $30 billion of which went to the UAW and the rest will never be repaid.  The bondholders for both Chrysler and GM got royally screwed in the deal while the unions made out like bandits.  The government has already sold its Chrysler shares at a loss of about $1.5 billion.  They still have about 500 million shares of GM stock that they need to sell at $53 apiece to recoup the $25 billion.  Right now GM stock is hovering at about $20.25 a share.  Oops.

There are new rumors about another government bailout of GM.  GM is not doing well and if the President gets re-elected then certainly it's possible he'll give them more money.  The government owns about 26% of the company already.  Maybe they should just be partners.

Bottom line is to pay attention to what's truly happening instead of what Mr. Obama and his campaign advisors tell us.  When something sounds too good to be true it usually is.  It seems the only people who made out at all in this wonderful bailout deal was the United Auto Workers.  They still have jobs.  But if they can't produce a product that is competitive in the world market how long will that last?  If President Obama gets re-elected - I'm guessing about 4 more years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Federal Employees Are Not The Problem

I am a retired Federal employee.  I worked for the Federal government for 30 years - eight in the military and 22 in Civil Service working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  For 20 of those 22 years I worked in Federal prisons, ranging from medium security to maximum security.  For 20 of those 22 years I put my life on the line every day that I went to work.  (I spent two years as a management training instructor and for those two years I wasn't in danger.)  I have been involved in, and have witnessed murder, serious assault, escape attempts, riots and other behavior that put numerous people's lives in danger, including mine.  Fortunately, I survived fairly unscathed.

I am now retired and living on my pension.  I read all the time about how retired Federal employees make too much money and that their retirement is costing  the government billions of dollars.  The articles say there are 21,000 people taking home a six figure retirement salary.  OK.  As of December, 2011, there were over 2 million Federal employees.  One percent of those retired make a six figure salary.  It doesn't say who those people are, what they did or how much they made in their positions.  It doesn't even say whether or not they were politicians.  So 1% of the entire work force is a bad thing? 

In retirement I make about half of what I made while working.  And I paid into my own retirement for 30 years - anywhere from 5% to 10%.  Regardless of what someone uneducated might think - I earned my retirement.  Don't think so?  Do my former job for a week.  Stand face to face with a maximum security inmate inside a Federal prison and tell him what to do, and how to do it.  Get back to me after you do that.

In a discussion yesterday and earlier today I said that if Federal employees expect the debt, deficit, and spending to be reduced then they should expect to have their salary effected just as everyone else.  I still believe that.  I don't want to see Federal employees get pay cuts - particularly those who put their lives on the line every day.  But facts are facts.  Reduced Federal spending will effect Federal employees and retirees whether we want it to or not. 

What I would like to see is a reduction of the demonization of retired Federal employees.  Granted - there are some Federal employees who make a lot of money for very little work.  That's the nature of the beast.  But most of them, whether you believe it or not, earn their money and possibly earn more because of what they do.  In my humble opinion, anyone who puts their life on the line for the people of the United States of America deserve a pension that allows them to live in comfort after they retire.  Disagree with me all you want - I don't care.  I didn't take a job as a Federal Correctional Officer for the retirement package.  I took it as a means to support my family and provide them with food, clothing and health insurance.  When it turned into a retirement package that was an added bonus.

Federal employees, whether active or retired, are not the problem unless we're talking about elected officials.  The problem is Federal spending in general and entitlement programs.  (OMG - I said "entitlement programs"!!  The bane of the Democratic party...!)

The bottom line is this...  before you condemn all Federal employees and retirees as overpaid - find out what it is you're paying them for and whether or not what they do effects you.  Think Federal prison workers don't effect you?  Imagine what could happen if they didn't do their jobs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saying Goodbye

When someone you know passes away it leaves a hole in you.  When it's someone you love it leaves a much larger hole - often one that cannot ever be filled back in.  These holes are painful but serve to help us grow as individuals and human beings.  When you lose someone to death and it hurts it means you cared for that person.

My father was a kind and wonderful man even in his years of illness.  Imagine being on a vacation with your wife and in-laws, nearly 700 miles from home, and suffering a debilitating heart attack and stroke.  Imagine waking up in ICU after having a quadruple bypass and realizing you can't use your right arm or leg the way you could just a few hours before.   Then you realize you can't speak very well - the words just won't come out of your mouth the way they are in your head.

Imagine being in one hospital after another, far away from home, and then being flown on a special flight back to your home town where you're place in yet another hospital.  One day you were on vacation having a great time and the next you're basically an invalid. 

Imagine fighting to regain your speech and movement only to have small strokes (TIA's) over and over.  Each time you make progress it is taken from you in a matter of weeks or months due to the unstable circulation activity in your brain.  Imagine getting weaker and weaker over the years, not all at once but it finally gets to a point where each time you lose something else it doesn't come back.

My step-mom, God bless her, did everything she could do to keep Dad active and working to regain his strength and mobility.  She tried once, out of sheer love if not sound judgment, to let him drive a car.  It was a miserable failure since his right leg was paralyzed but she said she had to try.  Fortunately nothing bad happened.

As I have said in my previous blog about my dad, he never lost his sense of humor or his good nature throughout the ordeal, except toward the end when his brain got to a point where he just wasn't himself anymore.  About 10 days before he died this gentle, peaceful and happy man started becoming violent with the staff at the nursing home and sometimes destroyed things in the room he shared with my step-mom.  I don't say this to denigrate him or embarrass anyone but rather so people understand what can happen to the best of us as we get older and our body and mind wear out.  My sister said it best a few years ago (and I may have said this in the other blog but it's still pertinent),  "I just don't understand why God is taking him a little piece at a time."  None of us understood that but I believe there was a reason Dad stuck around as long as he did - even if it was just to show the rest of us how to deal gracefully with adversity.

A few days before he left us he began sleeping almost all the time.  He rarely woke up and even more rarely ate anything.  We knew the time had come but knowing Dad as we did, we also knew it could be days and/or weeks before he gave in.  He had been so close to death so many times and came back that there was just no way to know.  Interestingly,  this time he surprised us all.  I got a message from my sister on Thursday morning that the doctors were starting Dad on morphine.  Morphine not only keeps patients comfortable but it also helps unconscious patients breathe a little easier.  It was then that I knew it wouldn't be long.  Just a few hours later, not a day or two as we expected, my sister called again to say he was gone.

To  say I was saddened by the news is an understatement.  No matter how prepared you are, no matter how  much you know in your heart the person is better off when they finally depart this world, it still hurts.  This was my father, the man who gave me life and the man who instilled in me the morals and values that I carry today.  He was a good man in every sense of the word. 

The funeral was held 4 days later, on Monday morning.  All of Dad's grandchildren (blood anyway) came in.  My niece came from Hawaii and my nephew from Seattle. (Jonathon was a huge surprise.  His parents were visiting there and he came with them, unbeknownst to most of us.)  When we walked in it was almost as if Dad wasn't there.  Of course, spiritually he wasn't but what I meant was the makeup artist for the funeral home didn't do a great job.  The makeup they used was definitely the wrong color, his mouth was in a slight smirk which didn't look like him at all, and his head seemed to be at an odd angle.  I know they try to do the best they can and I'm not faulting them.  It just didn't look like Dad.  When my mother died in 93 they got everything right except her lipstick.  I got there early and when my dad said "It doesn't look like her" I removed the lipstick myself and re-applied it the way Mom wore it.  It may sound  gross but Dad was happier with her appearance after that.  I couldn't do that for him.

My step-mom's pastor officiated the service and my dad's best friend delivered the eulogy.  Phil and Dad had been pastors together.  He had known Dad for years and had introduced Dad to my step-mom after my mother died.  They had gone from friends to brothers and Phil had soon became family to all of us. went from family friend to all of us to family.  He told a couple of stories that related to all of us and made us laugh.  It was enjoyable to listen to him talk about his good friend and brother.

My nephew, Philip, sang two songs during the service, one he wrote himself.  He loved his grampa and it was very moving - something I couldn't have done.  His voice was strong and his tribute to Dad was pretty awesome.

Several old friends from my childhood came to the funeral home.  One couple, whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years, stayed for the funeral and the luncheon afterward.  I didn't have nearly enough time to talk to them in depth but it was great to see them.  Another woman, again one I hadn't seen in 30 years, came by only to say hello and pay her respects.   She brought four pies with her for the family get together.  They were excellent when enjoyed by everyone later that evening.

After the funeral the church put out a small luncheon that was just right.  About 100 people stayed at the luncheon before we (the family) had to leave to go to the gravesite about 2 hours away.  Deb,  a special friend of the family, was asked at the last minute to perform the graveside service since Phil couldn't make the trip.  She is a hospice minister and has plenty of experience.  Arden and I were riding with her and my sister and we got there early so Deb could prepare.  Soon after we arrived, some other old and dear family friends arrived.  We had all known them since I was a young boy.  The youngest daughter and I have been great friends since childhood.  It was wonderful to see Julie and her new husband, Ron, and Debbie and her husband Joe.  I hadn't seen Joe in years.

Eventually all the family members arrived at the cemetery and the service was ready to commence.  Dad was being buried next to my mother.  I hadn't seen my mom's grave in many years but the tent and chairs were over it so I still didn't get to see it.  Someone suggested that I wait until after the service and ask the funeral director to move everything for me but I wasn't trying to do all that.  I'll visit another day.

Another nephew, Anthony, announced that he had written a song for his grampa and his girlfriend was going to sing they lyrics they had written together.  Who knew we had such talent in the family?  Anthony is an accomplished guitarist and Miranda's voice was incredible.  Once again it was very moving.

Deb did an excellent job.  It was the first time I'd heard her speak and I was very impressed and thankful.  And since she had known Dad well it was more personal.  Dad developed a hobby working with rocks - cutting and polishing them and turning them into  beautiful jewelry and display items.  I don't remember when he started it,  although I think it may have been after he retired.  (I was already gone from home when he started.)   Deb mentioned Dad's rock hobby and the fact that his faith in the Lord, his Rock, bled over into his personal achievements.  (There had been a large bowl of rocks that he had polished on a table at the funeral for anyone who wished to take one.)  I was very touched by her words.

After the graveside service we all went on our way.  My step-mom headed back up North with her family, my friends headed to their homes and my siblings and I  headed to my sister's house near Columbus.  We were all spending the night there so we could talk and visit.  It's pretty  rare that we all get together in the same place at the same time.

There was plenty of food and we all sat around for hours just talking and enjoying each other's company.  We were all tired and emotionally exhausted.  Even though Dad's death in many ways had been a blessing it was still an emotional drain.  I started falling asleep in the chair on the patio.

The next morning most of us were leaving.  (Arden and I were staying until Wednesday morning.)  My sister and brother-in-law were headed back to Virginia in the early afternoon and my other sister was leaving for NE Ohio later in the evening.  Michael (my b-i-l) and I met my nephew, Aaron, at a local disc golf course to play a round of my favorite pastime.  I had never played against Michael but my nephew had taught me the game. We spent a couple of hours just enjoying being outside and having fun. 

When we returned to the house I sat out on the patio.  My sister came out carrying the folded flag that had been on my dad's casket at the funeral.  The funeral home had put it there since he was a veteran.  We had talked about being sure to get it and keep it but I thought my step-mom would have it.  My sister walked over to me and handed it to me.  "You are the only one of us who ever served in the military.  We thought you should have this."  I was deeply touched.  She went on.  "You know Dad has a display box on the wall in the nursing home with his military medals and insignia.  Next time I go over there I'm going to get it for you.  You should have that too."

Talk about your sudden jolts to the heart.  I was not expecting this at all.  My siblings had given me things now and then in the past that had to do with Dad's military service since I had served too.  But handing me this flag that had been on his casket touched my heart deeply.

Wednesday morning Arden and I said our goodbyes and headed home.  We were tired emotionally but we always enjoy traveling together.  We like driving.  Driving is "us" time.  We look at the sights, talk about anything and everything and stop when we want for food, coffee, or just to stop.  Besides the fact that we saved well over $1000 in last minute air fare.  And we got to unwind on the way. 

We got back home Friday evening, got our dogs from their vacation homes and settled in.  The dogs were happy to be home and barely left our sides for the rest of the evening.  They weren't thrilled with the baths they received, however.

The funeral experience was sad but good.  Thank you to all who sent prayers, good wishes, thoughts and comments.  A special thank you to Bob and Paulette, Marsha and Steve, Barb, Julie and Ron, and Debbie and Joe, for coming out to see us and honor Dad.  It was wonderful to see all of you.  I wish it could have been under different circumstances.  If I've forgotten anyone I apologize.  It's sometimes dangerous to name names.

To those of you who planned to come but couldn't make it, know that I appreciate your thoughts and we'll see each other another time.

To my siblings - it's always good to  spend time with  you.  This summer we've seen each other more than usual but that's not a bad thing.  I love you all.  Now it's time we make plans together that don't revolve around Dad and Akron, although visits to Esther will be important.  We are always open to suggestion but Gail says no camping....

Pop - I miss you.  Thank you for all your years of wisdom and love.  I learned a lot from you - more so after you fell ill, I believe.  You were an inspiration to so many people.  And you still are. 

I know you already have given hugs to Mom and Christopher but do me a favor, please?  Do it again for me.  I love you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Racism And The Presidential Campaigns

There have been several people in the news lately talking about people who are going to vote for Mitt Romney  being racists. 
Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas, during a radio interview when asked about Obama’s changing fortunes in the state claims racism is behind the president’s changing fortunes in Virginia stating:
“Mitt Romney - he’s speaking to a segment of the population who does not like to see people other than a white man in the White House or any other elected position.   Let’s be real clear about it.  We know what’s going on here, and some people may be afraid to say it, but I’m not.  I’m not afraid to say it.”
“I absolutely believe it is all about race and for the first time in my life I’ve been able to convince my children finally that racism is alive and well all across this nation, and especially in Virginia.”
NPR's Cokie Roberts on Monday said "You remember well the Reagan Democrats, those ethnic white voters who had been Democrats for many years, turned out for Ronald Reagan and have been fairly predictable Republicans since then. Now, it's a smaller percentage of the population, of the voting population than it used to be, but white voters are still much more Republican than any other group in the electorate."

"They went for McCain in 2008 by 55 percent, and I think that, you know, getting those ethnic voters excited is really what Romney has in mind here. It's more for the folks at home, the descendants of the people that he will be speaking to in Poland."
These are two examples of what has made the news recently but they're not the only ones.  Supporters of President Obama have been playing the race card continuously since his election in 2008.  Anyone who disagrees with him is automatically deemed a racist by many on the left.  It matters not what reasons are given for the disagreement - only that you disagree.  Black people who disagree with the President are labeled Uncle Toms and vilified as traitors to their race.
All this leads up to my point which is - why does it seem only people on the right can be racists?  I won't even attempt to deny there are racists in this country and that race will be a factor for some people in the upcoming election.  There will certainly be many people who vote for Romney or President Obama based solely on skin color.  But isn't it just as racist to vote for a black man because he's black as it is to vote for a white man because he's white?  Or is it different somehow?
I haven't heard Senator Lucas or Cokie Roberts cry racism over President Obama's "African Americans For Obama" campaign.  Yet how is this not racist?  If the Romney campaign launched "White Americans For Romney" it would be headline news for weeks and Romney would be crucified by the media.  So why is it different?
In a recent Rassmussen poll, 56% of white voters said they will vote for Romney vs. 35% for Obama.  Racist?  Maybe.  In that same poll 91% of black voters said they will vote for President Obama.  So which is more indicative of racism?
There are some who will say "Well, black people were hated and mistreated for years so they have a right..."   Sorry, I don't buy that.  Certainly ethnic minorities were mistreated and abused in the past but look how far we've come.  There is an African-American man in the White House as President of the United States instead of only serving the President.  That's progress. 
There is a huge demand nationwide to end racism and treat everyone equally.  It's a noble and necessary cause.  But racism can't end if it's only on one side.  I read something yesterday that's absolutely true.  "There is no such thing as 'reverse racism'.  There's only racism."  If you hate or dislike someone for the color of their skin it's racist, whether you're white, black, red, yellow or purple.  And those who would decry racism need to decry it on all sides, not just one.
Hating someone for their skin color is one of the most stupid things human beings do.  Martin Luther King, Jr., said it best.  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  If we must judge people (as is simply human nature), why use skin color?  Does your favorite vehicle become unfavorable if it's the wrong color?  I suppose some will answer that question affirmatively but that simply demonstrates their shallowness.  People are people and a product of their raising and somewhat of their environment.  There are enough reasons to dislike or distrust someone based on their actions and attitudes.
I say let's all stop playing the race card in the upcoming election.  There are plenty of things for us to disagree about without race or skin color being one of them.  The majority of Americans want to elect the person who is best for the country and race has nothing to do with it.  So to those who continue to stir the racism pot - please stop.  The country is in bad enough shape as it is.