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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Finding Middle Ground

In life, most human beings attempt to find compromise whenever conflict comes about.  It's in our nature to try to get along with one another, with the occasional rift and bug up our collective butts to stir the pot.  But generally, society tries to get along with one another.  In political rhetoric during campaigns, there is very little talk of compromise.  Once they get into office, however, the name of the game is compromise and that's not always a bad thing. In relationships, however, it is critical to be able to find middle ground, to pick our battles wisely. More often than not, however, egos get in the way, perception and image overrule our ability to truly identify that which would grow and strengthen the relationship.  In truth, that's where we absolutely go against human nature and feed off the decaying flesh of our dark existence.

Take, for example, talk radio.  In order for talk radio to maintain listeners, there must be an antagonist for every show.  In some cases, the protagonist (host) will make one up for each segment - the devil in every bush kind of dialog.  The purpose is to give listeners a reason to feel compassion for the host, to align themselves ideologically on a specific topic of importance.  Talk radio is big on the issue of illegal immigration.  Why?  Because it's an 80 percentile issue - 80% of people in this country believe there is a problem with current immigration policy.  Keeping in mind that the vast majority of listeners to talk radio are pretty conservative and dominate the 54 + demographic, you'll see hosts hint at issues of yesteryear that we all remember and get pissed off about in order to keep you listening.  I say this as a former talk show host, so I know the tricks of the trade and the bigger the name, the bigger the tricks are.  Some talk show hosts don't even fully believe the crap they're spewing but they do it just to piss people off and keep them listening.  Forget finding middle ground where talk radio is concerned.  It will never happen because in order for talk radio to survive, it must, by its very nature, be confrontational.

Let's talk about the institution of marriage, shall we?  You have two people who love each other (at least
initially), and they decide to surrender themselves to another.  In most cases, the surrender includes identity, emotion, and in extreme cases, spirituality as well.  This is agreed upon, mind you, at the very beginning.  The whole "two become one flesh" thing is repeated over and over until it's part of our DNA. Sadly, what it doesn't deal with is the fact that even within the marriage, there must be individuality. It's when two people truly are themselves that legitimate compromise can be established.  For example, if you have two people in a marriage who are very different in personality, in tastes and one of those two feels as though in order to keep the peace, he/she must change who they are systemically and mold themselves into the image the spouse desires.  You see, the problem with that is if a human being decides to give up their identity, their persona, the frustration  and battle that rages internally will eventually manifest itself.  Circumstantial compromise is acceptable in a marriage, but not compromise of identity.

As a culture, we're less and less likely to find middle ground.  We love to fight.  We love the adrenaline rush, the surge of blood to our minds as we prepare to launch into action.  We're addicted to the fight.  We want to fight.  If you don't believe that, just consider how many lawyers we graduate and are accepted to the Bar each year...

But I digress.

If we are to regain some sense of our humanity, our compassionate and caring side that I know is still there somewhere, we have to turn off the television, turn off the damned radio and actually interact with one another.  We must have compassion, rather than simply a passion for our own agenda - it doesn't work in personal relationships, it can't work as a cultural norm. We must make a conscious effort to listen with the intention of hearing and understanding, not merely the intention to reply.  Whether it be politics, talk radio or marriage, we must remember those differences among us are more than just a cause for battle.  They are the fabric of humanity. There will never come a time that we all stand together as one - no one is that stupid.  Without individuality constantly presenting an opposing view, there would never be change or growth.  We would become a truly stagnant society.  But yet, it is within our ability to celebrate our differences, to reach a middle ground on issues without sacrificing who we are or what we believe.  The problem is that we would rather fight than be happy and afford those around us the opportunity to be happy as well.  We want to win at all costs and we don't care what kind of damage we cause in the process.  If we don't change, we're doomed.  Hell, it may be too late.

Of course, I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yes to MLK, No to Veterans

Public schools are a wonderful topic of discussion and it always gets folks riled up and ready to fight.  I remember discussing things like district administrative consolidation while on WKY, and you could actually hear heads explode. This blog post will be no different.  As you know, I'm a proud United States Navy veteran and veteran's issues are near and dear to my heart.  I'm not going to pull any punches, so put on a cup.  You've been warned.

Veteran's Day 2014 is upon us and many of our public schools are open for business.  It's wrong - particularly at a time when some of the kids in school right now have parents in forward deployed units.  In other words, our schools show a great deal of love for Martin Luther King Day, but Veteran's Day is, well, not that important because after all - there's Memorial Day, right?


[Note: Note:  If you dare think this is about race, stop now.  Your IQ will only continue it's rapid decline on matters of political importance as the facts continue to present themselves and you'll make everyone else dumber by your presence.]

Martin Luther King was a civil rights pioneer who was killed for his beliefs. Our country is arguably a much better place because he was here - MLK is an American icon, to be sure.  He was taken from us far too early by a racist pile of human excrement, yet, without our veterans, without men and women willing to stand a post and put their lives on the line, Martin Luther King would have not even been a blip on the radar. None of us would be, come to think of it.  Our civil rights would not exist as we understand them today.  As a matter of fact, when you consider the sheer numbers of men and women in this country who were willing to put their asses on the line to defend civil rights, to defend the Constitution against "enemies both foreign and domestic," it's staggering (see illustration).  We have many of our kids out of school for ONE civil rights leader, but no such holiday for the hundreds of thousands who have served to protect your rights.  Does that sound right to you?

At the risk of seeming like a complete ass, one must consider the truth about MLK that no one wants to really discuss - and these are directly from Snopes.com.  
King was under FBI surveillance for several years (until he died) due to his ties with communist organizations throughout the country. King accepted money from the organizations to fund his movements. In return, King had to appoint communist leaders to run certain districts of his SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), who then could project their communist ideas to larger audiences. A federal judge in the 60's ruled that the FBI files on King links to communism to remain top-secret until 2027. Senator Jesse Helms appealed to the Supreme Court in 1983 to release the files, so the correct bill in the Senate to create the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday could be abolished. He was denied.
Okay, maybe that doesn't do it for you much.  Maybe you consider Snopes to be a propaganda wing of the GOP.  The ties to communist money may not be that big of a deal in light of some of the nightmare money being passed around in politics right now.  But it is important to note that we have a bloody national holiday for this cat. But wait!  There's more - again, from Snopes.com.
Martin Luther King Day. A day when this country will come to a screeching halt so we can have parades and memorials to honor this man, a man that most of the world views as a saint for his role in the civil rights movement. No other public holiday in the United States honors a single individual. Of all the great leaders in our Nation's history-none of them have their own holiday. All of our great war heroes share Memorial Day. All of our great presidents share President's Day.  
These points are indisputable.  King was who he was and he did great work for the civil rights movement in this country, but does he warrant a holiday over our veterans?  I argue in the negative.  If we're going to have a holiday for this man, we need all our kids out of school for our veterans because our veterans deserve it. As a policy, members of the Armed Services are not communists or socialists.  Period.  This isn't a liberal vs conservative issue.  This isn't a race issue.  This is an example of how we are teaching the next generation of Americans what is important to the elitists in this country, and not what it truly represents.

Veteran's Day is a federal holiday.  Banks are closed, the courtrooms are closed, the post office is quiet, and federal workers are getting a deserved break.  But for many of our public school systems, it's just "another day," and that sends a horrific message.  It tells our children that while we remember the war dead on Memorial Day, other holidays such as President's Day, Martin Luther King Day and of course, Labor Day are sufficient - our veterans are to be considered an after thought or a campaign slogan punch line.  Spring Break is allowed, as is Fall and Winter Break, but it is because of the veteran that these holidays can even be discussed, let alone celebrated. Our schools teach our children that it's okay to take time off from school to have an abortion, but it's not okay to take Veteran's Day off.
I'm sorry, but I think it's bullshit.

From now on, let's keep our kids out of school on Veteran's Day and send a message to the pansies that run our school systems that veterans matter and if they don't like it, they can kiss our red, white and blue asses - our Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army and Air Force asses.

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

On A Personal Note...

Politics, music, pop culture, movies, kids and the latest in computer technology have been what I've blathered on and on about.  With the election behind us and a new set of leaders heading to Washington, it's understandable.  Yet, I've been getting messages and emails from folks who would like me to write about what's happening in my life, my health issues and my battles against depression.  So, here goes...

After months and months of doctor's appointments, my diagnosis has been confirmed. The liver clinic at the VA hospital put together some pretty challenging treatment edicts and I've done a pretty good job of sticking with it.  My diet has changed dramatically whereas I am only allowed 2,000mg of sodium a day and I have to watch my sugar intake (diabetes) and if you don't think that's tough, limit your sodium for a couple days and you'll see what I mean.  Sodium is everywhere and in everything.

The aggregate result has been that my liver condition has sort of stabilized, it's still doing what it's supposed to do and the doc told me that I could go a year or maybe even ten years without needing a transplant.  So, that's good news.  I've lost a bunch of weight, still have to work on strength and endurance and combating the side effects of the billion pills a day I now have to take, but it's worth every nasty pill to get more time with my family, my loved ones, and to write this blog to piss off douchebag politicians.

Mentally, I'm going through some serious life changes right now, but hey - some amount of depression is understandable.  I think what's helped me more than anything is selecting a few people in my sphere of influence who have really expressed an interest, expressed concern, and held myself emotionally accountable to them.  Depression is a son of a bitch and it's relentless regardless of the medication one may be taking.  It latches itself onto the negativity in your life, the negative people in your surroundings and taunts you - and it will not give up.  What I have found is that elimination of those negative influences is the beginning of long term healing.  Or at least having the ability to cope.

All in all, I'm doing pretty well.  I'm more lucid and decisive than ever, and frankly, the 400lb Gorilla is back in the saddle and refusing to take anymore shit from anyone.  "Tempt not a desperate man."

Since I am baring all here, I thought I'd share part of my "Bucket List" and hopefully, I won't need them any time soon!!

Grand Canyon.  I've never been but I've heard so much about it and the photographs are stunning.

Pilot a Ferry.  I know that it would never happen but I would love to pilot the Seattle ferry from Seattle to Bremerton.

Tour the Naval Academy.  Worked with a lot a officers who were Naval Academy graduates, never had the chance to see it myself.

See the Governor's Mansion.  You'd think that all my time in politics in Oklahoma, I'd have seen the Governor's Mansion.  I haven't and would like to.

Space Needle.  Nope, I've never been up to the observation deck.

Have Coffee with Al McAffrey and Sally Kern.  At the same time.

Take a road trip to Amarillo for a bowl of chili.  Then come right back.

See Alaska.  I've always been fascinated by Alaska and I'm a fan of cold weather, so...

Those are just a few things I'd like to see someday and because my health has stabilized, I'm going to make plans to do just that.  So there.

Thanks for reading, indulging me.