Man in the Mirror, Race, Color and Creed

A friend of mine told me last week that as he read my blogs, he could imagine me yelling at the computer as I typed.  That’s not exactly what I’m going for, but pretty funny from a guy who knows me so well.  The things that I see in the news these days tend to get me a little heated, and it seems to come out when I write about those stories that get me worked up enough to put my feelings about them out there.

There are a few events which happened last week and are making the rounds in the news now, and there is one most of all that resonates enough with me to want to talk about…and hopefully you’re starting to learn my point of view enough to come along on this ride with me.

I’ve had an idea for quite a few years now, as I watch the world and America especially, fracture itself on purpose in the name of fairness and equality.  I’ve watched as people have tried as hard as they can to put themselves into every sub-group possible, in an attempt to find their
“identity,” but only succeeding in bringing them further and further from the rest of society, mankind, or people in general.

My idea is quite simple: As long as you define yourself by race, color, or creed, you will always be  defined by your race, color, or creed.

It sounds innocent enough, but stay with me here; at one time, we were all just people.  It was us against the world, struggling to keep the tribe alive long enough to pass on the bloodline and stay in existence, making our own footprint on this world.

People began to multiply, immigrated to different parts of the world and began their own tribes.  At one point, many of these tribes came together to form this great country that we call The United States of America.

I have Italian, Nordic and other types of blood running through my veins, but I’m not an Italian/Nordic/etc, I am an American.  My wife was born in Taiwan and raised in Texas, but she’s not a Taiwanese/American, she is an American.  As I said on “For Crying Out Loud” last week, my kids are “one part olive oil, one part soy sauce,” but they’re not Italian/Taiwanese-Americans….they are American.

But for some reason, in the last generation our society has strayed as far as they can from that point of pride, of calling yourself an American and instead putting as many hyphenations on the greatest of compliments as it takes to completely negate the “American” part of it.

When we were all just humans, we worked together as a tribe, to hunt and provide, to protect and care, to keep ourselves alive.  When we were all Americans, by the same token we all worked together to build this nation into the greatest civilization in the history of man.  We all pitched in an picked up trash if we walked past it, mowed our lawns, worked hard and brought home a paycheck, raised our kids to be fine, upstanding citizens, and the tribe was well.

What do we have now?  As people began to stray from our national identity, our society followed.  As people dropped the “American” from their only description, flags stopped appearing in so many yards, graffiti went up on every wall and overpass sign, and the trash stopped getting picked up.

As the pride in our society diminished, and it became more about “me and mine” rather than “us and ours,” education began to falter; the home structure is on the ropes, with the traditional family being a minority rather than a majority these days.  As our American brothers and sisters cared more about other details than being American, we let our society slip away.

We used to have an “ask what you can do for your country” mentality, even when dealing with our own races and/or cultures back in the day.  It wasn’t “we feel alienated because there is one fewer of mine than yours in political office,” or “not enough of a certain race represented in small business owners.”  It was the opposite; instead of, “what is America doing for me,” it was “look at what we’re doing for America.”

Proud Irish and Italian immigrants building the skyscrapers in New York.  All black/Irish/Italian units like the Red Tails or the Fighting 69, doing their part for this great country and using it as a point of pride, showing just how damned proud they were to be American; they used those points of pride to show just how much they contributed and belonged to this great society, rather than trying to fracture away from it and turn it into something it wasn’t.

So what got me onto this subject today?  Well, for one, I watched Django Unchained last week…  After announcing on “FCOL” last week that we hadn’t received the viewer from SAG, a friend sent me his copy, and all I can say is wow.  Good job Tarantino, it makes Roots look soft.

There are a few news stories that followed, interestingly enough, about a man slapping a toddler on an airplane and another man in a hospital saying only white nurses could touch his newborn.

I think that both of these events, and many other like them, are a result of people having this “you vs me” mentality, and I’m not saying that IT is a result of our fractioning and trying to create our own identities based on anything that sets us apart, but I feel that the fracturing is making it worse, more apparent, and more widespread.

People are inherently jealous of those who have what they don’t, and that can be money, special attention, fame, or anything that a certain person wants.  We used to have a society where people would say, “wow, that person has everything I want, I’m going to work hard and get it myself.”

We’ve now changed, I believe due to this fractioning and loss of American identity to a “look at what that jerk has, why do they deserve it and not me, I’m going to ruin their life and/or take it from them.”

By calling ourselves everything under the sun besides American, by flying the flag in our car/yard of the country we LEFT for America and a better life instead of the American flag, by creating our own identity rather than that of our countrymen and brethren, we have taken ourselves out of a society that works together toward a common goal to a narcissistic one who only believes that the group of people with whom they can identify should be happy and successful.

Think I’m getting a little overboard with this?  Look at the ACLU and the cases it has been fighting.  Look at the cases involving Atheists and, instead of giving them a better leg up, the fight is completely about taking the First Amendment rights away from the majority of this country, which is religious, and not allowing them to express themselves.

It is not a fight about trying to make the country, or even Atheists better, but rather destroying the livelihood and ability to express themselves away from people who are devoutly religious and attribute and success or happiness in life to their creator.  It’s not “i’m going to work hard to better myself,” but rather “I’m going to work to take what’s important away from you.”

Long story short, I feel that we are starting to fall way too far from the apple tree.  We’re all on “Team Human”, and as soon as we started going away from that, countries formed, boundaries were made and wars were waged.

Even within our own country, we have begun to move away from “Team America,” and as we’ve done that, our society has begun to shake at its foundations.  It would take much more than I can imagine to get us back to the “Team People” mentality, and as a sheepdog I do believe that there are evil people in the world who need to be forcibly removed, but maybe we can get back to the “Team America” way of living.

But how can we do that?  By just paying attention to what you’re doing, every day, all the time.  We involve so many biases and judgements in our daily life, based on things that are so engrained in society today that we do it without thinking.

Pay attention to everything going on around you; understand that Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Leftist, we are all American.  Our politicians have fallen into this trap and become so polarized that they are completely ineffective, and have further divided our nation into “red” and “blue” states.

Don’t fall into that trap; whenever you listen to the news, meet someone new, take your kids to school, or whatever you’re doing in life, remember, above everything else, you are an American, we live in the greatest society known to man, and we are letting it slip through our fingers.  Only by coming together on the common goal of keeping our society at the top of the pack can we ever succeed.

I was giving my son a bath after getting back from the gym this morning, and as my iPod was on shuffle, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson came on.  I hadn’t heard this song in some years, but it was great timing given what was already going on in my head and in the news.

If you, like me, haven’t heard that song in quite awhile, go put it on.  I’ll be here when you’re finished, but really listen.  And if you feel bashful about it, or that it challenges your masculinity in some way listening to Michael Jackson, remember that this Green Beret with shrapnel still in his body from Afghanistan has been listening to it all morning on repeat….I’m not saying i’m the toughest or most masculine guy in the world, but I’m closer to the top half than the bottom, and I love that damn song.

We’ve been spending too much time looking to inept politicians or others in charge to make the changes that we need to get back on the right track as a society, but they have more than proven themselves incapable (or unwilling) to do it for us.

If we want to make a change and get our country back on track, to be the same great nation for our kids as it was for us and our parents, it all starts with us.  It starts with me, it starts with you, it starts with all of us together.

Take a long hard look in the mirror, if you have kids, take a long hard look at them.  If you, like me, believe that we going in the wrong direction in society, don’t wait for someone else to change it, start making a change with the man in the mirror.

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California exodus, welcome back to Texas

Those of you who know me and/or have read my memoir, “Love Me When I’m Gone,” know my story, how I ended up here in Los Angeles, and how unhappy this place makes me.  For those of you who don’t, here’s a quick refresher:

I was born in Florida, lived there for a few years until Air Florida went under and my dad got a job flying for Southwest Airlines.  I spent the next 20+ years of my life in the state that God blessed, Texas, and only left when it was required for my service in the Army (I left for Infantry Basic Training at Ft. Benning, GA, a month after I graduated from Texas State University).

When it was time to leave the Army I was living in Colorado with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), with nothing really holding me there except the Army and my brothers, but Cindy had an entire acting career flourishing here in Los Angeles.  I moved here with some hesitation, but with most of the opportunities for us being here, it was the smart move….so I thought.

At this point in my life I’ve lived in Texas, France, Germany, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and California, and have spent significant time in Italy, Austria, Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’d say I have a pretty well-rounded view of the world at large, and have recently found that although I consider the United States of America the greatest nation our civilization has every known, I believe that California is determined to make itself the worst, veritably unlivable for any decent, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, and only welcoming criminals, welfare cases and politicians, catering to their every need and alienating the productive.

At first we had to live here because of my wife’s profession; you don’t have to know much about movies to know what Hollywood is.  But, the true fact of the matter is that the only real accomplishment that the inept California politicians can really put to their name is that they successfully ran Hollywood out of Hollywood.

You see, even though movie stars are the most liberal and avid supporters of President Obama and his ever-increasing taxes, when it comes time for them to put their money where their mouth is, they run immediately for the state that is giving them the highest tax breaks; because California actually practices the ultra-leftist policies which they publicly support, it cannot afford to give any of the tax breaks that other states and nations can.

Because of my wife’s profession we have a large number of very good friends who are movie and TV producers, stunt men, actors, writers, etc.  The majority of them have second homes or condos in places like Toronto, New Orleans or Puerto Rico now because they are only in Los Angeles for casting…once it’s time to film (and hire crew and pay taxes), they are off before the first check is drafted.

As a true conservative, this has infuriated me to no end; I heard a saying once that “Democrats are lawyers, Republicans are Businessmen.”  I never put much faith in that saying until I moved here, and found that California politicians make the absolute wrong business decision at every single chance, and now I whole heartedly believe it.

This has led to a domino-effect in the State, and it’s getting worse and worse.  As the movies began to leave and take hundreds of millions of dollars a year away from the state (not just the cost of the movie, but the hotels the actors and crew stay in, meals they eat, gas they pump, booze they drink, etc), the state started to feel the squeeze.  As I’ve learned, large, poorly-run organizations like California can’t stand the squeeze for very long, and have to find someone else to pass it along to.

So California decided to put the squeeze on every person who actually earned a paycheck…..which was already less than 50% of the state.  California has more unemployed/welfare recipients than workers, and so instead of changing this dynamic, they chose to just squeeze the workers and corporations which hire them.

As a knock-on effect, many corporations, smart enough to be truly forward-thinking and know what the outcome of this would be, left the state.  Smart states like Texas, rated the best state in the nation for business for several years running, have been actively courting these businesses, successfully landing most of them.

Governor Jerry Brown, an ultra-liberal, proven inept democrat who is helping to sink the California ship, was quoted last week as saying to Governor Rick Perry that “people will always go where things happened in the past” about their state woo-ing California businesses.  Is it no surprise that he doesn’t understand that there’s a difference between where things USED to happen and where they ARE happening today?

But, we stayed.  As the squeeze of taxes forced more businesses and people forming the tax base out of the state, the social services started to decline.  As the place with some of the highest taxes in the nation, we have arguably the worse police and fire departments that are constantly being de-funded and outsourced (a drunk driver ran into Adam Carolla’s house a few weeks ago and the LAPD wouldn’t even send a cruiser out….to a man who pays a huge amount of taxes every year and employs quite a few people, no service whatsoever).

The public school system has become virtually unusable, only acceptable to people who’s children don’t speak English, who are happy because it’s better than the 3rd world nation they immigrated from, and decide daily that rather than strive for excellence, the school system should be dumbed down and forced to accommodate their kids who aren’t used to education and who’s parents offer no assistance.

A bill was proposed in California last year that would have made it easier for immigrants here on student visas who graduated from California Universities to be granted easier access to visa’s and green cards if they received high-science degrees like medicine, engineering, physics, etc.  It was struck down by the ultra-leftists who said it would be too much of an advantage over others who would come here exclusively for welfare and free benefits.  Seriously, the wrong choice at every turn.

In spite of all this, in spite of crime and unemployment spiking, the home prices staying at a median prices around $500,000 even though unemployment is above 20% and median income is below $50,000, we stayed.  But the California Leftist politicians have outdone themselves, and if they pass the most recent bill proposed, this camels back is about to break.

California has proposed some the most draconian, leftist, un-American gun legislation that our nation has ever seen.  It seems as if they completely forgot that The Second Amendment grants American citizens the right to bear arms, even though it is clearly stated that right “shall not be infringed.”

I don’t have time to explain it without getting extremely angry and possibly turning into the Hulk; don’t take my word for how far off the beaten path these lunatics have gone, read it here:

Sorry California, but that’s the final straw.  Governor Rick Perry, if this legislation passes, you’ve got another family of Texans coming back home to the promised land.  I am a man of quotes, and one of my favorites is that “anyone who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.”

If you look into the not-so-distant history, look into the timeline of what has happened every single time a populace has been disarmed.  Shortly after Turkey disarmed its citizens, the Armenians were massacred in an act of genocide.  The same happened in China, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Africa, and every known instance of a populace being disarmed.  The left can call me crazy and say i’m overreacting, but all I’m doing is pointing to history.  As a fan of statistical analysis, I love the idea that on a long enough timeline, you can find the trends in anything…….

This is the final straw California, and I know my family won’t be alone.  I know that you won’t be going through South Central Los Angeles, Oakland or Fresno taking guns away from the gang bangers and criminals.  You’ll come to take them from the law-abiding citizens who you don’t think will put up a fight, while at the same time you leave the criminals armed and reduce your Police force to the point where we can’t expect any assistance, even at a lengthy response time (it took 5 days after our house was robbed to get a detective out here).

You will soon reap what you sow, and the hole you are digging is getting extremely deep.  If you pass this law, it will be the sign that there is no saving you, and with an ROI (return on investment) so low for what we pay in the highest tax rates in the nation, you’ve been pushing it for a long time.

Even Joe Biden has been caught on camera admitting that these gun laws WILL NOT prevent another Sandy Hook, WILL NOT reduce violent crimes, and WILL NOT reduce gun-associated homicides or violent crimes.  If you are trying to get the citizens who pay your tax base and keep this state running to leave, there are much easier ways to do it.

Don’t believe me, listen to good old Joe here:

The ball’s in your court; since the entire political class and most of the lunatics in this state are Dems and Leftists, I’m pretty sure I know what will happen if it comes up for a vote.  Thankfully I have a great friend in Austin who has a house ready for my family and I to move in.  Your move California.


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Education, Taxation without Representation, Job Creators, MSM Spin

“I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.”

– Dudley Field Malone

To start this one off, I have to give a little bit of recommended reading; there will be a few terms used here that may seem interchangeable, but are actually quite different (democrat, liberal, leftism).  To get a better understanding of these terms, please read “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” by Dennis Prager.  In this work he goes on in great detail about the difference between these ideas and ideologies, and why some are necessary for honest and open dialogue in the world, and why some are outright dangerous (and arguably the cause to the fall of every past empire and the current European catastrophe).

Homework? Seriously?  The key to every problem is education; only when informed people can have an honest discourse on a problem can it be solved….not just jimmied together with duct tape and 550 chord, but actually solved.  It is no accident that the most horrible groups have started their power grabs by killing off the intellectuals in a society (Khamer Rouge, Taliban, Nazi’s, etc), and the dumbing down of America via a constantly eroding education system is the thing that has me the most terrified today.

So, let’s start off with inefficiency: I wish I could find a slick way to chop this down to a four-letter word, but I’m not that good.  Inefficiency should be a four-letter word, but it has instead become the hallmark of government, and especially now the United States government.  I have owned businesses in the private sector, worked in the public sector, and worked in the private sector, and there is no organization out there which is more inefficient than anything related to our government.  If you want a real idea of how government-run healthcare would work, ask anyone who has had to deal with the Veterans Affairs hospitals or administration….you should get a medal for surviving that one.

So why am I bringing this up?  Taxes.  I could maybe take that down to a four letter word, but it would just be confusing.  Let’s look at a few reasons why some people, myself included, are so up in arms about the current fiscal cliff and proposed tax increases:

Firstly, who would you say is better at innovation and efficiency, the government or private sector?  Do you think it’s a coincidence that every major conservative candidate who loses to a Leftist is immediately hired on to run a large successful corporation (Mitt Romney, Meg Whitman)?  Not at all.  These private-sector companies are very smart, and are only going to take on someone who they believe can run their organization efficiently and effectively.

Meg Whitman ran against the current Governor of California, Jerry Brown in the last election.  She was a former CEO who shattered the glass ceiling at a Fortune 500 company and took them from inefficiency and hemorrhaging  money to a successful organization.  Since the election she has been hired on as a C-level officer at another major corporation, and once again under her leadership that company is a hallmark of innovation (I just saw an interview with her and the new direction she is taking that company).

Jerry Brown was a mayor of Oakland in the past, and his claim to fame was turning Oakland from a thriving metropolis to the cesspool that it is today.  Based on his ultra-liberal policies and ideologies he is now running the state of California, and doing a pretty good job of fleecing the people and sending corporations and job creators fleeing.  His idea that raising taxes without first gaining any level of efficiency  in his government has resulted in investors, corporations, high-income earners and job producers fleeing the state.

I’m not going to get into the last presidential election, but I think everyone knows that the outcome was quite similar; Romney was almost immediately brought onto the board at another major corporation, Obama is raising taxes and adamantly defiant to grow an inefficient government rather than fix it.  Enough said.

Secondly, I would like to talk a little bit about prosperity and philanthropy.  The United States of America is the largest exporter of donations to charities in the history of the world.  The Leftist media would have you think otherwise; if you did nothing but listen to or read news from certain outlets, you would think that the US is the land of Scrooge, that the top 1% is nothing but curmudgeons who hide every penny and never give.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why do you think so many immigrants come to this country every day, many under life-threatening conditions?  Is it because this is a horrible country of misers and racists who will bleed them dry and take everything they have?  No, they come because this is the land of opportunity. 

The left would have you believe that racism is still a major factor in this country, even though we have a black president, slavery and Jim Crow have been abolished for decades (even though it is still rampant in Africa, Asia and the Middle East), women can become CEO’s (see above) and every religion, nationality and group you can think of have their own TV shows, radio shows, reality shows and identity.  For more on this, please listen to the Adam Carolla podcast….it’s a topic he speaks to much better than I ever could.

Even though the media would have you believe that America is evil, Americans give more than anyone else in history.  The great thing about charities is that there are many organizations that rate them, based on their efficiency, how much of their money goes to the people you are supposedly donating too (I support USA Cares and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation because of their high marks for low administration costs).  It is the beauty of the free-market system: you can choose whichever organization you feel gives you the most ROI (return on investment), or bang-for-your-buck.

But what about taxes?  We know that the government is wildly inefficient, that greedy and corrupt politicians earmark billions every year in hapless programs that do nothing but benefit a portion of their constituency rather than the country, yet we have no choice but to have our money taken.  Worse than that, we know that as the government grows larger, the inefficiency and waste of our money grows with it.  If for every $100 that the government takes from you in extra taxes, you translate that into $1 less that you can give to charities that need it and spend it well, does your view on raising taxes change?

Thirdly, I’d like to bring up Job Creators; this was a major hot-button topic and phrase in the last presidential election, but I think they got it wrong (both sides).  One of my favorite ideas in economics is the idea that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  This is the idea that even if you’re not paying for something it isn’t free, because of all the work that went into providing that meal to you, missed opportunities with time, money, etc.

Based on that principle, I feel that every US Citizen who pays taxes is essentially a job creator.  If you look at it on a very macro level, every dollar that you spend on taxes is a dollar that could have gone into the free-market: buying lunch, buying your kid a new toy, taking a vacation.  For every dollar that you spend at Toys R Us, Carnival Cruise Lines or PF Changs, that money goes to paying a waiter, cook, restaurant owner, etc.  When taxes are raised, people lose disposable income, spend less money in the market, and we have a horrible sales season, like this Holiday sales season has been.  Weird that I could see that one but our current administration couldn’t.

Lastly, to bring it all home, I’d like to talk a little bit about the Liberal Leftist media spin.  They would have you believe that all of the things I said above are lies, but most importantly they would have you believe that the people I spoke about here don’t exist.

You see, the Leftist Liberal media are masters of spin; they would have you believe that every person in the 1% making over $1,000,000 a year was born with a silver spoon and doesn’t deserve their money.  The “fair share” argument is a picture they’ve successfully painted recently (and Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager have a few rants about as well), but they don’t give you the reality.  Sure, there is a small group of people who are born into the lap of luxury and essentially pay their way into the top schools and corporations, but that’s not the majority.

I know quite a few people who would be considered in this part of the population, but none of them were born into it.  The people I know mostly started their own businesses from scratch, either in a dorm, garage, or basement.  They spent years living on Top Ramen and sacrificed everything to see their vision through to success, and because of their perseverance and sacrifice they triumphed.

They don’t spend their days on the golf course and eating lunch from golden plates like the Left has led you to believe; they mostly work 15-18 hour days, eat lunch at meetings, stay glued to their computer, BlackBerry or iPhone all day, sleep 5-6 hours a night and work their butt off to make their business work.  CEO’s are not in the position they are in because they look good and have a great smile; they are there because they worked their butts off their entire lives, got into the right school, studied hard and got good grades, landed a great internship, and then worked their way up the corporate ladder. 

Their “fair share” should be a lot less than what the Left deems it to be, as not only have they earned their paycheck and then some, but they’ve created paychecks for many others, and if they are doing a good job are giving many people security and peace of mind that they have a good job.

Another argument is that they just hoard all of the money to themselves and pay their employees as little as possible with little to no benefits.  That premise is laughable; this is America, you are not mandated by anyone to stay at any job……if you feel that way about the company you work for and its CEO, leave.  Get on Monster or Resume builder right now and find a better company.

So, in closing, I’d just like to say that you should take everything you hear or read with a grain of salt.  Educate and inform yourself.  Listen to or read from more than one news source, so you get a much better picture of what is going on in the world.  You can be stupid, some people are just dealt those cards, but to be ignorant is a sin, and there is no excuse for it.





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