by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 05 September 2012
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." Thomas Jefferson
Yesterday was a peculiar day. So today's comment will seem a bit erratic but it'll come together. Patience.
A couple of days ago, over the phone, my wife nonchalantly mentioned receiving the monthly electric company auto pay email notice for the month of August. It was twice what I expected. Then she said there was a second email alerting customers that August was a high energy use month so the bills ran accordingly. Electricity usage did not change in our home - the thermostat is set for 85 during the day (so the AC does not run) and a little cooler to sleep. If anything our use is less. For what and whom am I paying? I am looking into the billing.
Yesterday morning, while running errands, I noticed the fuel gauge was below half a tank so decided to fill up to preclude the sticker shock of quenching the thirst of an empty tank. It didn't work...
29 Palms, California - 04 September 2012
I returned home after the morning business outing - grumbling about the price of gasoline and groceries, ate a bite for lunch, and checked email. A Marine Corps related one from a friend caught my attention. The content addressed a recent leadership directed (assuming from the commandant) ethics training stand down across the Corps and the reaction of disgust. As outlined in the email, the training, some blocks as long as six hours and including field grade officers, involved meditating over a raisin for 15 minutes then writing observations and feelings and discussing same. I wish I was kidding. Not surprisingly, there was mention of bright, well-educated, superb officers, field and company grade, that have declared they will either retire or leave active duty at first opportunity. The email string was credible so no reason to doubt content.
Add this nonsense to the list as to why I no longer recognize the Marine Corps. A raisin? Not only is this disturbing as to what's going on in the Corps but what's going on in our military? Remember, earlier this year a Russian submarine, most certainly armed with nuclear and electromagnetic pulse weapons, patrolled the Gulf of Mexico for a month undetected. Rest assured they were not contracted to check on the oil spill aftermath.
Shortly after cleaning up email, I turned to the news and heard the Democrats had removed the word "God" from their party platform. The word did not appear once. And when Senator Dick Durbin (D, IL), Senate Majority Whip, was asked about it he had no answer and instead became agitated and accused the questioner of drawing false conclusions. The question was not answered. Of course not.
A few hours later, keynote speaker Julian Castor (Mayor, San Antonio, TX) addressed the Democratic National Convention. I listened. He must have mentioned God a half dozen times - in Spanish and English. That struck me as peculiar. And I could not help but wonder if that was a "gaffe" and if he was summarily schooled by party leadership after leaving the stage. Retractions forthcoming today? Probably.
Though it was getting late and approaching taps in our home, I decided to watch the First Lady's address. Two conclusions - who and what was she talking about and she needs to spend more time in the United States? The veil covering her anger is thin.
I turned off the television and just sat for a few minutes sipping a glass of ice water and thinking. Then I decided to grab my iPad and make a few notes about what I know is going on in America today. That is, an essence from my vantage point based on information I've gathered from firsthand experience, interaction, observation, or reading credible news outlets e.g., Wall Street Journal.
1. Unemployment when Mr. Obama took office was 7.8%. Today it's at 8.3% and has not been under that mark since he's been sitting in the Oval Office. That's not what he promised. The reality is unemployment is closer to 15% (maybe higher) because the "official" figure does not account for folks who want full-time work but can only find part-time positions and those who have just given up looking for work. Estimates are 23 million are out of work. Logic says it's higher when 47 million are now on food stamps.
2. The median household income before Mr. Obama took office was $55K. Today it's $50K. Makes perfect sense considering Mr. Obama's policies.
3. The national average for a gallon of gasoline before Mr. Obama took office was $1.84. Today the national average is $3.82. See above photographs for what I paid yesterday for a gallon of 87 octane. Again, makes perfect sense considering Mr. Obama's policies.
4. The national debt when Mr. Obama took office was $10.6 trillion. Today the national debt is $16 trillion. The nearly $6 trillion in debt Mr. Obama has piled up exceeds all the debt amassed from presidents George Washington to Bill Clinton. And, estimates are that if re-elected Mr. Obama will add another $6 trillion.
5. Never do I recall the sense and feel of our country being so divided. And that quite contrary to what Mr. Obama vowed. But should our lack of unity, our poor emotional health, be a surprise considering Mr. Obama's philosophy and policies? I think not. It, too, makes perfect sense.
And after jotting down those notes another sad reality hit me - the sight and sound of the words "Barack Obama" and the sound of his voice gives me the same nauseating, stomach-turning feeling I had four and a half years ago when sitting with my wife in a treatment room and an oncologist walked in and said she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Think about it - a citizen, a retired Marine, can honestly, after extensive objective thought, say no better of a sitting president. Yes indeed, a cancer is upon us.
Oh, and yesterday when a reporter asked Mr. Obama to grade himself after nearly four years in office he said, "Incomplete." Students and employees tend to think highly of themselves. No, Mr. Obama, your employer, the people, disagree. Your approval rating equates to an F - Fail. Your services no longer desired.
Anyway, I spent a few minutes thinking how best to summarize Mr. Obama's presidency in a picture because everyone can relate to a picture. So if thinking about his tenure in context to a deck of cards - four years ago he was dealt the unbeatable winning hand. He held all the aces, and the race card. And had a joker, or two, up his sleeve.
But today not only is his hand void of aces it's cruddy. And he'd better not play the race card. And one joker, Joe Biden, is still hanging around.
Frankly, thinking about the 1970s (thanks to Jimmy Carter's DNC appearance and remarks earlier in the evening) - the M&M candies TV commercial came to mind. The dialogue between card players went something like, "These cards are marked." "They're a mess." "They're a chocolate mess."
And that clever exchange soon hit pop culture and morphed into use for describing people who were all fouled up being called "a chocolate mess." I still use the phrase when referring to goofballs and incompetents.
And so I retired for the evening only after arranging a setup and using my versatile iPad to take a photograph: 'The Obama Presidency - a chocolate mess!'
Too bad our country cannot and will not be cleaned up as easily as a handful of melted M&Ms.
Restoring America is going to be more akin to treating a cancer patient - we face a long, tough haul. We face hell.
Keep the faith!
I'll continue to watch the DNC for no other reasons than to keep current on what the opposition is doing and a sick sort of comic relief. More to come. Maybe.