Cap & Trade or Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it should bother you that the news media is spending far more time keeping the American people up to date on the Michael Jackson memorial service than they are in informing us of the progress of the Cap & Trade legislation.

And why are they placing so much emphasis on a dead celebrity? Why are they ignoring more important issues that could affect all tax payers?

Some right wing conservatives would have us believe that the left leaning media is intentionally taking the focus away from Congress so the Obama administration can shove another giant spending (and taxing) bill down our throats.

The left wing radicals would argue otherwise.

Naturally – and unfortunately – the truth has nothing to do with politics. Sadly, the media is giving the American public what the American public wants. I’ll admit I haven’t checked, but I’d bet that any broadcast of the American Idol show garnered a much larger share of the viewing public than any of the Presidential debates.

The truth is a large portion of our population doesn’t care about what goes on in Washington, D.C. In fact, they care even less about what goes on in their own state capitols.

Many years ago I attended a Key Club convention in Philadelphia. Each delegate was given a key ring. On one side was the Key Club logo. On the other was the phrase, “Combat Complacency.”

I believe we’ve lost the battle. In the 1960’s, college students stood up and voiced their opinions. While many of them were wrong in their beliefs, they all had the courage to stand up for what they believed. As a result, many things in our society were changed.

The youth of my youth took the time to learn about things that mattered. Sometimes they heard one side of the story and jumped to incorrect conclusions, but in most instances, they looked at both sides and came to good logical conclusions.

I’m afraid today’s youth are too busy twittering their lives away.

Perhaps that’s the major difference. While we didn’t have CNN, FOX News Channel, C-SPAN, or… come to think of it, we didn’t have any cable channels because we didn’t have cable. We also didn’t have lap top computers and the Internet. But we did have newspapers, news magazines, and the library.

We paid attention to the world around us – sweat bullets during the Cuban Missile Crisis – and felt a responsibility to speak out against what we saw as injustice.

Perhaps that was the influence of John F. Kennedy. I know we all admired the man and took the “New Frontier” very seriously. And we all deeply mourned his passing.

Until President Obama came along, we hadn’t had another President who could reach out and stir the interest of the youth as JFK did. But it appears that the interest of our current youth petered out once their man was elected.

It’s a shame because, the way I see it, it’s the youth and future generations who will be most harmed by what is currently happening in Washington.

The U.S. Government has no business being in business. Every time government has taken over an industry, that industry stops being self-sufficient. For example, independent bus and trolley companies operated in major cities for decades. They competed for riders and most of those companies were profitable.

The companies that couldn’t compete went out of business and their assets were bought up by the other companies. Then, the government decided to take over. The two ‘companies’ I’m most familiar with – the Port Authority Transit (PAT) in Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit  Authority (MARTA) – have both operated at a loss for decades. Taxpayer subsidies are the only way they stay afloat.

Will General Motors be any different? Will taxpayer subsidized pricing put Ford, Chrysler, and others out of business?

The Federal Government has put itself in a very awkward position. Congress is talking about passing a ‘clunker bill’ that will give citizens a tax break for trading in an old car for a new, more fuel efficient, car. Will the tax break be higher for those of us who buy a GM product? It would make sense if the government wants their ‘company’ to flourish.

But wouldn’t that be unfair to the other companies? Does the government care?

There are many people who believe the economic crisis could’ve been solved months ago simply by the government letting workers keep their entire paychecks. Think about that. The typical worker has almost a third of his or her paycheck withheld every pay day. If that money had been available to the individuals, they would’ve spent it. Even if they simply paid off some bills, the economy would’ve improved.

Foreclosures would’ve been reduced dramatically and banks would’ve had more money for other loans. Consumers would’ve bought more cars, televisions, and other big ticket items… which would’ve resulted in more jobs.

If consumers bought Fords and Toyotas rather than Chevys and Buicks, GM would’ve had to fix their problems or go out of business. With increased sales, the other auto makers would’ve been able to buy GM factories and put the former GM employees to work building other makes of cars.

Is it too late for the government to get out of the auto business? I hope not. And while they’re at it, they should also get out of the banking and investment businesses.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for MARTA and PAT to liquidate and let the private sector show the politicians how it should be done.

Considering the business acumen of most politicians, it wouldn’t take a business genius to repair the damage done by congress. Think of it! How many politicians have held a ‘real’ job during their adult life. There may be a few, but most of them were borderline lawyers who recognized they could make a lot more money supporting the causes of special interest groups.

If they were intelligent enough to be successful business people, why would they even consider becoming a member of Congress?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and see if Michael has been buried yet.


Michael Jackson’s Band Wagon

June 26, 2009

If you don’t mind, I’d rather toss Michael under the band wagon.

For many of us, yesterday’s bigger loss was the death of Farrah Fawcett who finally lost her three year battle with cancer. Even with her tremendous suffering, Farrah had the courage to put together a documentary of her struggle to demonstrate the importance of not giving up.

And what was Michael Jackson doing during the last three years? I really don’t know and I obviously don’t care. After the repeated accusations of child molestation, the plastic surgeries to make him look more like Liz Taylor, and his many other idiotic actions, I got tired of hearing his name.

In many ways, I feel sorrier for Michael than I do for Farrah. Farrah was battling a physical enemy. Michael’s enemies were mostly in his own mind.

When the Jackson Five first came on the scene in the late 60’s, I was a big fan of the young Michael Jackson. As time progressed and his musical style changed, I lost interest. Perhaps that was my fault for getting old. I quit listening to rock and roll music as it evolved toward what it is today. Somewhere along the line, I switched to country music which, today, is more reminiscent to the rock and roll of my youth. With country music, a story is told and I can understand the lyrics. (That’s how I know a story is told.)

The young Mr. Jackson was very good looking. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his appearance. But then his skin began to get lighter and his nose turned into something you’d expect to see on a Caucasian. In truth, it makes me wonder what his body looked like. How far down his neck did the doctors go when they turned his skin lighter?

Enjoying cookies and milk and sleeping with little boys. I don’t care how much of a Michael Jackson fan you are – that is beyond weird. It makes me wonder what sort of demons shared that body with the fabulous entertainer.

Yes. I called him a fabulous entertainer. While I didn’t care for his music, millions of other folks disagreed with me. They loved his concerts.

During the last American Idol, I thought sure Adam Lambert would win because, of all the other contestants, he was the best entertainer. He seemed to be a natural on the stage… just as Michael Jackson was.

Kris Allen is a very talented young man, but he doesn’t have the stage presence of Adam Lambert. I think Adam lost because most Americans thought sure he was going to win. So, they either didn’t bother to vote, or they voted for Kris to make it close.

I think a similar thing happened when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. Everyone was sure Bush would win, so many voted for Ross Perot… so that Bush wouldn’t win by a landslide.

Oops! I strayed off the original topic. My apologies.

Getting back to Michael, I always hate to see a person die before his or her time, but I can’t help wondering how much Michael’s demons contributed to his demise. In a way, he’s been fighting his own form of cancer for most of his life. Maybe that explains his weird behavior.

Numerous personalities have stated that most of us will long remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of Michael’s death. Some likened it to the death of Elvis Presley – another performer I didn’t really care for. Some even went so far as to compare it to the death of John F. Kennedy.

Sorry. That takes it too far. Both entertainers were extremely popular with their fan base, but the assassination of a United States President is more than a little different.

I have no idea of what I was doing on the day of Elvis’ death. I couldn’t even tell you the year he died let alone the month and day. Soon I’ll be in the same situation with Michael’s death (as well as Farrah’s), but I’ll never be that way when it comes to JFK.

I was a sophomore at Edinboro State Teachers College on November 22, 1963. I was at my off-campus housing when I heard JFK had been shot. I then walked into town where I got the word that he had died.

Come to think of it, it’s a bit troublesome that our culture puts more emphasis on the lives of entertainers than on politicians. No wonder our government is so screwed up.


Has it been Forty-Five Years?

November 22, 2008

On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was a sophomore at Edinboro State College doing what many college students have a tendency to do. I was sleeping in… way in. I had no classes until late in the afternoon. Therefore, I’d stayed up the night before. I doubt if I was partying on a Thursday night. Most likely I’d stayed up late watching a movie on television; I doubt that I was up late studying. I’m trying to be honest here!

When my clock radio went off shortly before two in the afternoon I was stunned by what I thought I’d heard. The disc jockey had interrupted the music to report that the President had been shot. At least that’s what I thought he’d said.

My roommates were all in class, so I couldn’t get verification from them. Meanwhile, the DJ had returned to spinning records and, being about twenty miles away from any town with a radio station, searching the dial would’ve been fruitless. Most radios of the time did not pick up FM stations.

I had no choice but to get out of bed, get cleaned up and dressed, and walk the mile or so into town. By the time I got to Liz’s Restaurant, further reports had come in. The President had been shot and killed!

As soon as word reached the college administration, all classes were canceled for the remainder of Friday as well as Saturday morning. The nation was in shock and just beginning the mourning process. There was no sense trying to hold classes for a bunch of young adults trying to make sense out of a senseless act.

John F. Kennedy was elected on November 8, 1960 and was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. As I recall, although my parents seemed to lean toward the Republican party, having a Democrat elected President was not the big deal it is today. The only problem perceived with JFK by many Republicans was a fear held by many others – as a Roman Catholic, would Kennedy allow the Pope to take over the running of our government.

It makes me wonder how many of our fellow citizens are currently worried about our government falling into the hands of Black Power advocates or, worse, Muslims!

The fears regarding Kennedy being controlled by Rome were baseless… as are any concerns about Obama today.

The young people of the sixties quickly got behind JFK and his “New Frontier”. We also loved the idea of the Peace Corps. John Kennedy had some great ideas and was an extremely charismatic leader. The only problem I’ve come to recognize in him is a problem that could also face President Obama; simply stated, he hadn’t been in Washington long enough to gather a lot of dirt on his fellow politicians. Therefore, it was difficult for him to get Congress to support his initiatives.

Sadly, it took the experience and treachery of Lyndon Johnson to make Civil Rights a reality after the death of the man who so bravely fought for such legislation.

We college students had fretted for days when JFK led our nation through the Cuban missile crisis and walked miles in an effort to be physically fit. Suddenly, the body of our brave young leader was being carried in a caisson through the streets of Washington, DC, and we all shed tears along with his wife and children.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like when President Franklin Roosevelt announced that December 7, 1941 was a day that would live in infamy. I know the queasiness in the pit of my stomach on November 22, 1963 was repeated on September 11, 2001. I pray that I can live the remainder of my life without experiencing any more similar events.

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This may be my last post for a few days. My bride and I are headed out for a short vacation. If I have access to the Internet, I may add a post or two and let you know what we’re up to. Otherwise, take the opportunity to catch up on some of the other articles here.


Walking for America

September 15, 2008

This morning I was chatting with a man who grew up in Buffalo, New York and we got to talking about John F. Kennedy’s push for physical fitness. The subject brought back a memory buried deep in my brain. Perhaps I intentionally stuck it in the most remote area of my memory banks, but on reflection, it says a lot about JFK and how we young and impressionable college students took his advice to heart.

We were freshmen at Edinboro State Teachers College and paid little attention to politics or current events. However, Kennedy got our attention with talk of the Peace Corps and the importance of our citizens being in good physical condition. At the time, JFK was encouraging everyone to take fifty mile hikes. We weren’t quite up to that challenge, but a group of us – six or seven if memory serves me right – believed we could start small… by walking from Edinboro to Erie, Pennsylvania.

We planned the hike for a weekend when none of us would have to get up for classes. Saturday morning classes stopped us from starting out on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

The only problem with leaving Saturday afternoon or evening was my work schedule at the Student Union. The place closed at 11:00 PM on Saturday and I had to spend another hour cleaning tables and mopping floors. Since everyone agreed to wait for me, we headed north at midnight.

We were less than five miles into our journey when we realized that someone should have checked with the weatherman. We slogged our way through a torrential downpour that lasted at least forty-five minutes. We were soaked through and through!

About then – it might have been two-thirty or three o’clock in the morning – we came to a small settlement that had a laundromat that stayed open all night. In a very short time, there was a group of college men standing around in their undershorts. Everything else – including sneakers – went into the dryers. Fortunately, no police cars or local citizens driving by took notice. Within a half hour or so, we were all dressed in warm clothing fresh from the dryers and back on the road.

We continued walking until the sun came up and one of our leaders recognized where we were. Our goal was to get to his house, which he figured was still six or seven miles away. We had walked about fifteen miles and were totally exhausted. We found a pay phone so he could call his parents. I’m not sure how we all fit in their family car, but we made it. When we arrived at his home, we immediately found a spot on a sofa, bed, or floor, and toddled off to dreamland.

When we finally awoke late in the afternoon, we were treated to a marvelous dinner – it was great to have a MOM-cooked meal – and were driven back to Edinboro. As I recall, that was the end of our hiking. Needless to say, we never came close to that fifty mile goal.