Monday, September 14, 2009

JMO - Serena Williams

Ok, everyone has a view on her too. She and her sister, seems to make people love or hate them. I don't hate them, because I don't know them personally, only by their tennis and the news stories about them, but I'm far from liking either of them. As a professional athlete, there's no doubt of their abilities and success. As a people and especially women, from what I've seen over the years, they could use some lesson in humility and humanity.

I was listening to the sports shows on ESPN about events of the day and her explosion against a line judge. Some excuse her for being an intense competitor, not unlike John McEnroe, and because of her talent and intensity she should be excused. Some said she deserves to be denied her winnings at the US Open this year and a suspension from the US Open next year. And some said split the difference.

To me, she not that different than her sister. They're both intense athletes who have dominated women's tennis for years. They're not the best ever, they're just outragously arrogant about themselves. They believe they're the best and the don't mind acting like it. Which is what Serena did to the line judge. She didn't just lose her anger, she verbally abused and physically intimated a line judge.

In that regard, she deserves the worst punishment possible. It was, however, the last point of the match and she lost the championship anyway. But the worse is that she took away a great win for Kim Cljister. That's my outrage at her and her actions. I've met enough arrogant people over the years, and I haven't met one I liked after the first meeting.

Arrogance, as the psychologists will tell you, is a common behavior and expression. It's confidence to the extreme. Confidence is good to help person know and trust their own knowledge, experience, skills, etc. It's when confidence exceeds reality and being a human being, it becomes arrogance, and you've lost your internal checks and balances.

You've lost your own reality check. And that's why most people dislike and even hate arrogant people. It's addictive and they feel and use it beyond their limits and then use it to mask their failures and lash out at everyone else for those failures. I have no doubt Serena blames the line judge for her loss. She thinks she should win every set and every match.

And for her arrogance we can only look at her parents. In the interviews and stories I've seen and read, they were very driven parents with the daughters and tennis. I heard this in their comments early in the careers of Venus and Serena, really WTF moments that they had already announced their girls as the best, above even the best then. Confidence run amuck and over the cliff.

And so I have no sympathy or empathy for either of them. They've had good careers in tennis, and they're good players, but good professional athletes? No even close. And yes, I hope she loses her winings on top of the fine and is suspended from next year's play. She needs that reality check. It won't make her a human being, but sometimes the best you can do is hit them hard enough to get their attention.

JMO - Faith Iniatitives

I read the column in the Wall Street Journal about the differences between former President' Bush and President Obama's Faith Based Initiatives program. I was against Bush's and still am against it in principle, and yes against Obama's. It's simply a political ploy to appease the religious voters.

But in reality it's a waste of taxpayers money, and any organization geting funds from grants from this program can get them from existing programs. They can still be faith organizations, they only have to work under those rules than special rules for faith organizations and other ones who still have religous people, just not as their mission.

And that's why I'm against them in any form or manner. They're simply unnecessary for government to help people and they've demonstrated they do more harm than good. They take government money for their own work which violates the separation of church and state. Government shouldn't be supporting religious organizations period.

I find the arguments by conservative Christians who oppose government intervention in their property, personal, privacy and other rights while they support government support to Christian charter schools and faith-based organizations absurb on its face. You can't argue government's responsibility against your personal values and beliefs on some issues and not on other issues solely because it benefits you and not the rest of us.

And I find the arguments by those folks for government's support of Christian programs while not only denying but protesting support of other religious organizations, from local to national equally absurb . If they want the faith-based initiative program, are they willing to not only to provide equal access but equal funding for Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and other religious organizations who also help people? Or have I heard their protests they indoctrinate people against Christians?

There isn't much more to add to my view and opinion. These organizations don't do anything other ones already do and they have a history of promoting religion and discriminating against minorities and other groups. They don't need my tax money. And no improvements in the program are worth its existence. It's simply religious pork barrel at its worst.

And if President Obama can't make it work as he promised, and as the aritcle noted, the program should be abolished. If he wants one over my objections (like that matters), then make it religion-neutral, which means simply remove religion from it, and makes it a duplication of government service, and then better done by other programs. That's government waste.

In short, the government should stay out of religion and stay away from religious organizations with our money.

JMO - Threat level

I read the Sunday NY Times about the discussion to update the nation's terrorist threat level operated by the Homeland Security Administration (HSA). They've convened a task force to consider new goals, levels, symbols, etc, and the one obvious thing, it's existence.

So I hope they engage in a meaningful discussion to abolish it. Not a surficial one to fill the goals of the task force, but one which will address the real issue, is it meaningful and useful. And I don't see where they won't come to the conclusion it's useless and should be abolished. No one uses it and no one believes it. Because it doesn't effect our everyday lives except for some imaginary, pre-emptive HSA fear.

I'm not saying we should scrape any government effort to find and fight terrorists. I only argue, to focus it on the work of the agencies and just let the public go about their lives and work and only interrupt it when it's really serious and not some trumped up false fear which won't happen.

Yeah, like 9/11 was a surprise and had we had such a system could have inhibited or even stopped it? Not really, because we had everything there. The FBI, CIA, NSA, etal had everything to identify who and that something was immenient, and they warned the President. But no one did anything. And no amount of "threat level" would have helped, only people connecting the dots and acting.

And that doesn't take a threat level. All people who want a threat level want is power and control. Nothing else, just power and control over our lives and political power and control to make it appear they're protecting us when they aren't. They're simply selling us fear when and when and where it's unnecessary. We could easily return to 9/10 with a better FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. focused on the real terrorists than every citizen.

And they can do it without broadcasting fear. That's where the task force should focus on, making our government work for us than against us, suspecting all of us of being terrorist without any evidence or reason. It's why the whole baggage and passenger inspection and surveillence system is a failure. It has never worked to find real threats (tests always fail to find or detect them) or stopped any terrorists (only ordinary citizens).

So I vote to scrap the threat level and let us all get on with out lives, and the government simply do its job than advertise its fear.

JMO - Afghanistan

This is an obvious personal opinion post. I'm no smarter than anyone who reads the news and listens to the experienced analysist (not the political pundits), except I do listen to a broad range of people and experts on the area and the war, including Middle-East experts from the area long respected for their experience and expertise, the BBC, ITN, PRI and other alternative news sources, even Al Jazera English when I can find it, and books by journalists with extensive experience in the area.

This does't make me anymore smarter on the issue, but at least it's not a single focused view, like many get from Fox News. And even then it's only what I gleen and understand, which is far short of being anything more than just another opinion. Just mine. And that said, it's clear to me while there are many differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam and Afghanistan and even Korea and Afghanistan, there are similarities which doesn't bode well for the outcome.

Afghanistan is a hybrid war, both of history and geography. It has it's own circumstances and situations which make it unique, especially when tied with Pakistan and to a lesser extent Iran. But it also has all the earmarks of Vietnam essentailly being a long, protracted war and in the end unwinnable. Yes, we won't and can't win.

We can't win not because of our military superiority, but because to win requires a Vietnam sized committment which we're not prepared to do. But different than Vietnam, it will require a very long stay, not years, but decades like Korea. Are we prepared to keep 80-100,000 troops and (contract and civilian) personnel there for a generation? Are we prepared for the weekly casualty reports for 2-3 generations of soldiers who have served there and will be serving there?

I say this because after 8 years now, we haven't gained very much or advanced beyond just being there. Yes, I know the stupidity of invading and occupying Iraq since 2003 took away much of the resources which should have gone into Afghanistan, but that didn't happen, and now we're stuck getting out of one war and getting stuck in another.

This isn't new to us, but it is new under that light of these wars with the indeterminate enemy. But Afghanistan has the problem of its neighbor Pakistan who we can't fight because we're supporting them for reasons we don't really know except they're not doing what we ask and what we gave them the money for. But that's not their fault.

It's ours for not really understanding they wouldn't do what we wanted and they'll take the money and do what they want. We knew that and know that, and all the diplomacy won't change it. We, in short, screwed ourselves by making a deal with them we know wasn't good. And while they will help when and where they can, we know they won't fully commit to our cause and effort because it would mean a civil war there too, and are we will to be involved in a third war?

The problem with Afghanistan is that like Vietnam, to achieve any reasonable goal there, it take troops, lots of troops. But unlike Vietnam, these troops will have to be stationed throughout the country simply to defend and stablize it. The logistics of that opens up all sorts of problems. How much money and how many troops is the American public willing to accept for years on end to accomplish this?

Because that's the real issue. The country is more disjunct and disorganized than Iraq. There is no central government which works. No national military beyond what we train and support. All local governments are corrupt for themselves, for the Taliban, for war lords, and so on, but not for their own people. And that's the key here, while there is a national identity, there is no national unity to base anything on.

And that's much of its history, either occupation (British, Soviet and now NATO/US), control by select factions (War lords, Taliban, etc.) or corrupt local and regional governments. You can't build a country and nation which hasn't known one let alone operated under one that represented the whole nation and all the people. And that's the problem.

And that's why I don't have any answers. Only a lot of questions, but also a lot of concern. It's not about why we're there, but the issue that we can't leave, not without leaving the place which will be a 2000 all over again. That's the crux of the issue, we can't stay and we can't leave. We aren't committing the resources to win and we're barely committing the resources to keep from losing.

And that's my view. We can more or less win there, but it won't be short, easy or assured. It will be long, expensive and uncertain. That's not because of us but them. We can provide everything they need to achieve a nation but it's not what they want as a nation and not what want from us. And that's sometimes the bigger war.

So we have to decide what we really want there, not just for ourselves, because that will make is the next occupanying force, but for ourselves for them with something they'll accept. And we have to understand it won't happen in a few years, but decades. Because if we don't, we'll and they'll be back to where it started.

In short, we are and will be the relative who overstayed their welcome, except this time we're holding the wallet and the gun. They need us to keep the Taliban, and most likely Al Qaeda, from taking over. Are we willing to provide military, financial and political support to a puppet government? And for how long?

Because we know one thing from the country's history. We can chase them away, but we can't leave or find them back. It's their homeland. They can simply wait us out and play irritating insurgent for years on end, even using Pakistan for their land, resources and support. Pakistan wants a government there friendly to them, and they don't really care if it's controlled by the Taliban, a warlord or whomever, just friendly.

After all that, that's all I understand so far. Winning in any form or manner there will have a very high price. I hope I'm wrong, but I also fear the opposite if only a little. We had to do something after 9/11 and we didn't do enough when we had the chance, and now we're facing our own failures and seeing the prospects aren't what we like.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

JMO - Public Schools

I am not an advocate for charter schools and especially vouchers or public funds for charter schools. I don't care how well they do, and the research is still out but so far they've been shown to be a wash compared to public schools - meaning some are better, many equal and some more worse, and I don't care how cost effective they appear to be. They drain funds, students, teachers, and adminisration from where they're most needed, public schools.

The reason many charter school work, or appear to by the propopents, is that they aren't burdened with the history and residuals of public schools and education, and not bound by those same laws and regulations which the public has long established and really demand of our schools, such as cost management, accountability, school boards, meetings, political oversight, and so on.

Charter schools get a free pass and they give the middle and upper class opportunties to focus the education they want for their children than what the rest of us get. This means that while a few are good, even better, most aren't as some are religiously-focused, some simply choose not to teach some subjects, and some simply ignore the realities of the world. That's what public eduction provides, reality and the wealth of experience.

I don't hide the fact that many public schools aren't good, some down right horrible for their education and treatment of students. But you don't fix those with charter schools, but by improving those schools. Our nation needs teachers, well paid and rewarded. Not the "No Child Left Behind" type of help, but real help than simply setting threshold which don't make sense.

Ah, don't agree with this idea? I'm responding from my own and the school then. It's like everyone's, short (3-4 years when) and narrow (1 to a few schools). It's all I have to use. I'm not in the education field in any way, such as a teacher, administrator, counselor, etal. Just a student who got through 3 years in one high school and attending a dozen schools in the previous 9 years of school.

All of it in publiic schools, some on military bases, even one in a 4-story condemend building. That's my experience. It's all I got and added the knowledge from the news, friends, family, etc., and also like everyone's, it's just my opinion based on that, nothing really different, just mine.

But I know charter schools will not make public schools and education better. It will only rob them of necessary funds, divert resources, and will not help future citizens. The focus should be on public schools and education. The funds, the resources, the teachers, the capital investment, etc. should go there and nowhere else.

I'm not against private schools, so long as no federal, state or local government or public funds are used. If they want to compete with public schools or rich people want to spend the money for their children, fine, but not with public money. And not with public vouchers whether it's with public funds or tax relief. Neither.

The discussion shouldn't be on charter schools but ways to improve public schools and education, and look at better rules and regulations to let the professional teachers do their job with a decent salaries and resources. Teachers shouldn't have to use their own money for school resources. Schools shouldn't be faced with poor buildings. Students faced with overflowing classes and less resources.

The discussion should be about our children, what's best to provide the necessary education in the world to, to make them better adults and citizens, especially global citizens, not just Americans, something most charter schools ignore or neglect. It's about the whole experience students get with a public education, and yes, like it or not - mine wasn't all that happy - it's what everyone does, or should do.

And if there are problems as we know there are with children and teenagers. That's where rules need to be updated and enforced to ensure all studends are safe and secure, and none are victims of discrimination and violence. That's where the discussion should be, not "Let's get my kids out of there, and let the government pay for it.", but "How can we do better and let's focus on solutions."

Charter schools are simply escaping the problem and letting the less fortunate deal with the mess and problems. That's not America or American. We don't shirk from problems like this. We don't run away. We don't demand the government pay for our exit. We don't hide in the cloak of isolation. We simply don't.

There are too many professionals who can solve the problems, all they need are the resources. Yes, we need accountability with the funds, as we have, but we've also bound them by public control, often for personal agendas and views not related to education, but religion. We need to free them to do right for everyone. And we need to start writing the real checks for it. Not writing checks to escapists who don't have the interest or the willingness.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

JMO - President's speech

Well, I listened to the whole speech. The President's speech was well written - ok, excellent speech writers - and he spoke eloquently. Like I'd expect anything less? But it was good, to the point, addressed the issues, countered the criticism, shone light on the lies and rhetoric, and lastly, it was complete for a plan for healthcare and health insurance reform. And ok, I liked it, and almost all of it, I still have two issues with the President. Small, but crucial when it happens.

The first is lawsuit (tort) reform. I don't want to see restrictions or limits on healthcare lawsuits. They're not the problem with the increasing healthcare costs and premiums. As analysists have shown, it's at most a few percentage points in cost and premium increases over the years. And in the number it's very small compared to company lawsuits, on the order of about 10% of all total lawsuits.

It only seems big when insurance companies require and raise malpractice insurance rates to doctors who have never been sued for no reason. They cite lawsuits, but it's not that, it's seeing an opportunity to profit from a false issues. So don't take the right of people to get justice when doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, etal. behave badly or worse, permanently injure, disable or kill a patient. If anything limit insurance rates for lawsuits so more doctors can cut their costs to patients.

The second is defensive proceedures and treatment. There are times when you need these to eliminate possible causes of illness, diseases, injuries or disabilities. They're almost always what doctors do, eliminate the obvious. Diagnosing patients isn't perfect and in many cases it's hit and miss with some luck. So you need to allow proceedures and treatments when it serves a purpose, but maybe not directly, but to help find the real answer.

And I can atest to this with an on-going problem with my digestive system where tests, such as colonoscopy, ct scan, etc. were run to see it's not something, so it's something else. Often diagnosing a problem is a sequence from the obvious to the less obvious to the remote. Maybe it's the "House" syndrome idea from the TV show, but it is used and is productive. Let's not take that option away from doctors.

I also don't have a problem with preventative tests and procedures and those which the physician may want for background information and for potential later diagnoses. I had a three heart tests when I turned 55 because no tests had every been done and the physician wanted to see the effects from having Rheumatic Fever when I was three. It showed a almost near-normal heart for my age and now provides the baseline for any future reasons.

To be denied those tests because there was nothing wrong is wrong by itself. It's not only bad medicine, it's bad for the patients. How can physicians and specialists diagnose problems with just current information because procedures and tests weren't run when the patient was normal to know what's different? This doesn't advocate proceedures and tests for everyone for everything as preventative measures, but appropriate ones for the patient shouldn't be denied simply because it doesn't fit the patient's immediate needs.

And the third is a personal view. I don't have a problem with federal funds going for abortions. It's about women's rights with their bodies and health. Don't short-change women when there are circumstances or situations where an abortion is the best choice, besides the obvious rape, incest, severe problematic fetus and for the health of the mother. For those reasons women shouldn't be denied coverage for the procedure.

It should be a part of healthcare coverage and if necessary, covered by federal funds to hositals, family planning clinics, etc. providing abortions. It's not an abused procedure and it's not an expensive one. And it offers hope and a future to women. And you can bet if men got pregnant, it would be available and covered, so let's be fair and humane, and keep it in the plan, coverage and funds.

Otherwise, I liked the speech and agreed with the plan. Now it's up to Congress to get their act together. And it's time the public calm down and all the bogus rhetoric stop. The President has said what's in his plan, so don't lie about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Some teach and so do

It's the old adage, those who can, do, and those who can't, teach. It's never been true. Some photographers are oustanding but couldn't teach you beyond being assholes, and some photographers are good but can teach you more about yourself and your photography than you ever thought. And a few can do both. Rare, but a few.

My point? Well, first it's wrong to say on those who can and do are worth anything and those that only teach aren't. We know that's false. Look at all the teachers, educators and instructors in our life. Were they less than great? No, and look what they taught us and did for us, to show us to strive, excel, learn, and do our best.

And what have all the doers in our life taught us? They barely opened the door for us. They will show you what they did, how they did it, and then criticise what you did wrong. But did they and do they teach? No, they don't even inform. They lecture. And how many lectures have we listened through to forget not long afterward?

Teaching photography isn't any different than the old adage, "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime."

Teach someone photography and then let them develop and learn. Guide them when they want or need help, but don't lecture. Ask them so they question themselves or they seek to learn. Teach them to learn and you'll open the door to the world with a camera in their hand. The rest, their work and images, is up to them, with their experience, their talent, their skill, their work, and their heart.

I once watched a photo workshop in Mt. Rainier NP, namely at Longmire. They instructor took them to one of the oldest surviving buildings from the establishment of settlements around Mt. Rainier. He showed them what he wanted and let them loose, like a quiz. They all setup within 20 feet of each other focused on the building. And they all took almost identical photos.

I wondered why the instructor didn't ask the participants to the building, "So, what do you see to photograph?" And then, "How would you compose it?", "How would you frame the light?", and so on, geting them to see photographically than rote to simply copy what the instructor asked. It's why I don't take workshops, and probably why I'm also not really that good either.

But then I've never been a follower. In October 2008 I was photographing along the Paradise Valley road. I was spending several hours setting up the 4x5 for a shot of a small waterfall. I like to play with the digital camera to get a variety of shots to see where the 4x5 would best setup. I kept going back to the van to get another lens or whatever.

When I was finishing I noticed three photographers hiking down the trail to the road. One was Art Wolfe. The other two, probably friends of his. I finished and packed up my stuff and took it back to the van. I was sitting there looking and thinking about other nearby places and shots when I noticed a one to a few people wander down the trail to the van where Art and the others were eating and talking.

Slowly all the participants walked by the my van and you could see their faces. I asked one woman, "So, how's the workshop?" She responded, "It's busy and hectic, but he is Art Wolfe." Another woman said, "It's ok, but overwhleming. And expensive." I've met people who has worked for him and they all have said he goes 90 mph, all energy, focus and talent. And exhausting.

After about 20 minutes the whole group finally assembled at the van. Without any rest, they packed up and headed on, where I saw them stop a few miles down the road (I had travelled down the road past them). It occurred to me to wonder what they folks thought they were getting for the money (roughly about $1,250 not including lodging).

I thought, you know you could buy a lot of film or use a lot of flash cards for that money. And all you needed was a good map and guide, and the interest to explore. Go here, see this, shot that photography seems kinda' overpriced to me. And what did Art actually teach they couldn't have learned with someone who actually teaches than lectures?

But that's me. Some folks like the workshops. They sell and quite a few photographers make a good income from them. But I think years later all those people will say, "I took an workshop from so and so, He was great." But then I'll would like to ask them, "So, how about your images from the workshop?" I wonder if those images are long forgotten and the lessons long faded away.

So why did they take the workshop? Some will get a lot from theirs, but I suspect it's because the photographer was a teacher as well as good photographer. Not because the photographer was famous, but because they shared and taught than showed and lectured. Doing is also teaching if it's done right.

JMO - And so he spoke

And so the President spoke to the school children and young adults across America today. There was no socialist agenda, no hidden message about whatever people feared, no political words about war, taxes, healthcare, and so on. Just words to school children and young adults. To strive, learn and do their best.

And to all the naysayers, especially educators, school district managers, and especially parents, shame on you if you were against his right to speak and what you thought he would say. Shame on you for misjudging our President Shame on you for showing your children how prejudice and maybe bigoted you are. Just shame on you.

It was a good speech. A heart-felt and open-minded speech. What else did you think he would say? He's inspirational. He's motivating. He's offering hope and change for America and what better place to start than with school children. And you were worried? Nonsense.

And thank you Mr. President. Thank you for caring and thank you for giving.

Monday, September 7, 2009

JMO - Let the President Speak

To all you parents and school district not broadcasting the President's speech to the schools and school children,

It's the President! He has the right to be there and speak to the children and young people of this nation. You should listen, and you should let your children and teenagers listen. That's what America is about. Listening to the President, and like him or not, it's what he does, speak to America.

You know if he were a Republican, you wouldn't think twice to allow it and accept his word as gospel. And despite what some of you might think, if he were white, you would allow and listen to him. But because he's a Democrat, and one of african descent, you're against it.

What did you call it, socialist indoctrination? Really? Like he can do that? He won't. He wants to talk about learning, eductation, dedication, knowledge, motivation, and whatever else can be said to inspire children and young adults to be better people and better Americans. That's not hard to understand.

So, maybe it's time you got out from underneath the rock you're living and join the group of us who call ourselves Americans and listen to our President. We don't have agree, lord knows I did't with George Bush every time, but I listened to him when he addressed the nation.

It's his right and our responsibility as citizens. His right to speak and our responsibility to listen. And then we can discuss and decide, informed from our own experience, knowledge and understanding and knowing what he said was his xperience, knowledge and understanding and knowing. He speaks from his heart and mind and as President. And we listen as citizens.

That's what America is about. Don't deny your children that lesson and opportunity because you're prejudice, and maybe even a bigot. That's your right but it's not your parental right to indoctrinate your children with such hate. America isn't about hate, it's about our democratic republic and citizens being citizens.

And it's about our future, the children to see, know and hear their President. That's our responsibility and obligation.

JMO - Blue Dogs and all

Dear Blue Dog Democrats and almost all the Republicans in Congress,

Get off your stupid collective high horse and become human beings. I'm not sorry to call you a bunch of whining idiots. We need healthcare reform including both health insurance competition reform with oversight, accountability and patient choices and the public option. We can't just reform healthcare for the insurance companies. It's what got us here with your help.

There are several hundred thousand personal bankruptcies every year due to the individual and families medical bills. Premiums have gone up over 300% in the last seven years while insurance company profits have risen 1000% over the same period. Notice profit, not gross or net income, but profit. Sheer profit. And done with your help.

The health insurance companies, the drug companies and the for-profit hospitals and healthcare companies have provided all of you with a lot of money and have lobbied hard to keep you helping them, and not the people, the real people, who elected you. Us, yes us the voter and taxpayer. We elected you to serve and help us.

And you haven't. You have lined your pocket their money to ensure healthcare and health insurance reform doesn't pass and is never enacted. It's known and obvious. You can't lie about it. You can't try to change the argument or the evidence. You can't hide anymore. You're out, lying about healthcare reform to us. We know it's lies and still you persist.

You can't use the deficit as an excuse. You voted for a one trillion dollar war in two countries. You voted for two of Bush's tax cuts for the rich. You voted for enough pork barrel projects in your state or district. You voted for increased Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals, etal. You voted for the prescription drug bill to enrich the drug companies. You voted to raise the debt ceiling so many times you can't remember.

You have prevented the government from negotiating lower drug prices to patients. You have prevented Americans from importing drugs from Canada where it's almost half the price. And then you allowed drug companies to open overseas drug research and production plants to import drugs for higher profits.

While you have prevented us, Americans and taxpayers, from benefitting from lower prices overseas you've allowed the drug companies that same benefit. Talk about where your loyalites lie. Their profit for your campaign. That's your loyalty. And all the while arguing your interests are really for the people. Bullshit.

All of you have good, cheap healthcare, which is a government program by the way. But you know that. So why do you protest against government programs for the rest of us? They work, like Medicare, Social Security, and all the rest of them you already know and know works because you oversee and fund them. You're not stupid, just an idiot about the obvious.

So, it's time you become human like the rest of us. It's time you gave everyone in this country the right to the same healthcare and health insurance you get, like the military gets, like federal employees and retirees get, like Medicare recepients get. What's the problem? You'll lose those campaign contributions? You'll lose the their help? Like that's more important than people?

Oh, is that what's this is really about, yourself, your political ass? We'll, if so, then you are a political ass. And it's showing. You're like the emperor with no clothes, buck naked standing in the crowd.

The President gave you the power to do something good. He asked for a healthcare reform bill with some general ideas. That's what Presidents do, ask and Congress works to do that. For the people. And in this case everyone. Every citizen, immigrant and even illegal immigrants. Everyone. It's within your power and grasp to do that.

And you're hedging your bets against it by lying about it so it fails. For what? Your political ass. So stop, get down, listen to us, and get to work getting a real healthcare reform bill passed with the public option. It's all in your hands, even the public option. You can design it to work and make it debt-free. Not hard, it's all there to see, know and do.

So, what's the problem? Or have you forgotten the American people?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

JMO - Let them smoke

I'm quite late on the debate to ban tobacco and smoking among the military. Timeliness is not one of my good traits. Anyway, to weigh in on the issue, I don't have a problem with servicemen and women smoking. Yes, it's a bad habit and yes it leads to problems later in life, but being the service, the hurry up and wait and the action then boredom hasn't changed.

It's the norm and has been the norm, probably going back to the Revolutionary War, but recently easily since World War II. Cigarettes are a way of life in the service. Even during my basic training, we had breaks and heard the often cited words, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em." I never smoked, so to me it wasn't anything important.

But my brother smoked from his teen years to the day he died at 48. I've written about my brother, Greg, and of his death, parts one and two. I will always miss him, but I will never regret he smoked. It's was a part of him, something to do while working, doing, and living.

I, on the other hand, never smoked. Ok, once for two puffs at 12 and felt I died. I never smoked again. I just don't have the genes to become addicted to cigarettes. And while I smoked cigars for a few years and pipes for another few, by age 30, tobacco was something forgotten. But I'm not one of them about smoking.

I'm not a zealot against tobacco, in any form, or against smoking. I don't mind the smoking ban in confined spaces, but I think it's over done and overblown by the public outcry. Smokers do deserve rights and places, besides outdoors, often in the heat or cold and rain or snow. They're people too. Ok, a bad vice, but who doesn't have vices?

But the military. Let's just leave this issue alone. Let it die quietly and let them keep smoking if they want to. After all, like all veterans like myself, there's worse things in the military and especially war than smoking. Hell, we spend more on bullets than they'll spend on cigarettes. Should we restrict bullets too?

Ok, exageration. But think about. They're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else they're stationed where war exists, and the last thing they need is someone saying, "Excuse me soldier, you can't smoke in here. Take it outside." Like where outside, in the war? Think about it, if it were you, or worse, your son or daughter.

So, folks, let's get real. Let them smoke if they got them. No one hurt enough to worry about considering the rest of their world and life. As for their future, let them get home first, alive, well and hopefully whole. That's far more important than banning cigarettes.