Category: politics


Stuck in the middle

What does “middle” really mean? We carry this preconceived notion that it means we are perfectly centered between extremes. We order a medium fry, call ourselves centrists, and even feel comfortable being “middle class citizens”. You see where Im going with this?

Im going to be honest here; this post will very medium sized. It will contain moderate material, and has some very centrist views.

We gravitate towards extremes; I used to be about 60 lbs heavier than I am today, and I lost it all through a series of changes I set in my life. I started eating a more reasonable amount, and I started working out. We look at Jared’s before pictures in the Subway commercials and pity the man, but do we exalt the huge guy in the gym as he grunts out his reps on the bench? No, what we see is another extreme. We dont want to be “Fat Jared”, but  most of us dont want to look like Schwarzenegger in his glory days either.

So what happens? Why do we slip into these extremes? Many times it feels like it happens overnight. We wake up 40 lbs heavier, and wonder what caused it all. What happens is that we make a series of subtle changes, and never notice the difference.

No this isnt a blog about weight loss, thats just the metaphor, its about extremes.

Lets look at the term “Middle Class”. Im not going to post some dictionary reference, but I think that we can all agree that a Middle class family is  a family that earns around $60K a year, has a stable job, and owns their own house, but compared to any third world country, those people see us living as kings and queens.

Now lets go back to food for a second. I love food (hence the fact I had to lose 60 lbs). Go to Starbucks and order a medium (grande) latte, and you will get a 16oz drink. Now head to Sonic for a medium lemonade slush, and you will get 20 oz of sweet lemony goodness. Now go to Hardees (Carl’s Jr.) for a medium Dr. Pepper, and you will get a 32oz cup of delicious sugar! The term is completely irrelevant as far as drinks go, because there is no standard. Ive been told that a medium fry from McDonalds in France is about the same size as what you get in an American Happy Meal… So did the fries just shrink crossing the Atlantic? No, we just slowly kept increasing our portions.

Declaring yourself as a political centrist works the same way. In the 1800s, just after the constitution was ratified, a centrist would be seen as someone who wanted to transfer more power to the federal government than just the Post Office and Military. They would have seen the states as the absolute power, and there was no federal income tax! Things shifted but by bit; when the federal income tax was first instated, it only applied to the 1% richest population, and now look at how we all wait by the mailbox waiting on our returns!

Just think of this: how do we keep ourselves from sliding all over the place when we have no idea what size a medium is? Set your principles like a stake in the ground and dont let your views shift because one day your ideal fry is a kids’ size or because your views are one day seen as “radical”. Dont be mad or hate someone because they have differing principles, just remember and be ready to defend your own.

There you have it. I tried to be as morally, politically, and religiously ambiguous.

I get the news I need

I think of the Simon and Garfunkel song that says “I get all the news I need from the weather report” , and think about how that used to be my old philosophy. When I was a poor, deprived child who had no cable TV (this may lead you to ask yourself “did he even had running water?” Yes, as long as I showered before my sisters.) There wasn’t much of a difference to news stations. There were Channel 5, 8, or 10 news, and they all covered most of the important things by themselves.

When I was in Media Writing, we were told that journalists’ mission was to report the news in an unbiased way. The writer or reporter  was to take their personal sentiments out of the story, give the facts, and give two different views on the story.

We were shown Walter Cronkite reporting Kennedy’s assassination. This was a huge shock, because no one was to show emotion on the television. My teacher told us that people always speculated about his personal ideology, but it was after his retirement that he showed that he had political views that were much more liberal than what most speculated.

What I missed from all of this was why this quality was so necessary. I mean, is it truly possible to be completely unbiased? Would you rather listen to someone who is honest with their views, but still entertains the opposite view? Or is it better that someone places subtle, not always conscious nudges around their “unbiased” reporting?

Even the most brutal murderers were supposed to be showed that they had a rough childhood, and reasons as to why they became they way they were, all with an emotionless face. We all were required to read Grendel, and understand that sometimes society and events can take a place in shaping monsters. I think that its fine to show this side, but to call Charles Manson a sociopath and a murderer does not need any more explanation than to call Snoopy a lazy, daydreaming dog.

We are slowly moving away from Cronkite-types, and are moving towards commentators. We as a people in general are becoming more educated, and looking for people to help us reinforce our point. We, as Americans, should keep ourselves educated, and come up with our own ideals. I’m not trying to call all journalists manipulators, I’m just simply trying to state that no one can truly be a dispassionate observer. I think that as long as the facts are clearly separated from opinion, we should be able to decide our own thoughts from whoever we get our news source.

What we really need is a news station that is honest with its self. Fair and balanced is necessary to give two sides to the argument, but to think that any news source is really unbiased is as absurd as thinking your grandmas cookies are fat-free. People need to quit concerning themselves with all of the other news sources, and look at whether or not the facts are given, and if there is a reasonable conclusion to take with them.

Its not political part 2

So Remember how last post I wrote that Glenn Beck and the 8/28 rally inspired my post, and then I didn’t mention it again? Well now I’m here to wrap it up for you in a little bow.

So on his show, Glenn repeated plenty of times that this rally wasn’t about politics or parties. I figured that he meant he didn’t want it to be a protest, but a celebration of history, followed by his advice on where to lead the country. He would talk about politicians that held similar beliefs, and he would talk about how he wanted to refound our country on its old principles.

Well, I was pretty wrong.

I really wish that Joanna and I could have gone to the rally, but we had to accept that we couldn’t make it happen. Thanks to DVR we were still able to watch it in our house that Saturday evening.

It was amazing to see who all he had speak and pray at this rally. There were Native American Chiefs, Rabbis, Imams, Priests, and Pastors all present to support Glenn and his message.

His message was simply this; solidarity. The whole rally was centered on uniting all Americans regardless of where they were born, how they look, who they worshiped, or what their political ideals were, and to honor our troops that give their lives every day.

The troops were certainly honored as the heroes they were. They honored the men who died, and others who gave their chance at a normal life. There were men there who were proud even though they were missing parts of their bodies. It was amazing to see so much money donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

It really gave me a new perspective. This whole time I have seen my ideals as what divides me from others, but this showed how we can still be a united country. I mean just because some people are against healthcare, others want to solve the national debt, doesn’t mean that we cant still unite under what we agree upon.

I honestly think that the path we were headed down was more than just two parties standing on different sides of a fence. We were becoming a divided country. Maybe it wasn’t north and south, but there was a divide that was growing that may have eventually torn our country apart. Our mindsets were on how we disagree, and we avoided those who disagreed with us.

I think that after this rally we can really look forward to uniting our country, having civil debates on our disagreements, and finding that which we can hold up to unite us.

http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/15295.html is a great article about the true message of this rally.

I think that Dr. King was honored by this, even though it was not purposefully placed to land on the day of his “I have a dream” speech. Some might say that I have no place in making that statement, since I am not black, but could not disagree more. His speech is a part of my history as well. Dr. King’s speech was just as much for the white as the black, and I am someone who surrounds himself with people of character, not of any specific color.

All this put out in the internet, I want everyone out there to try and stop patronizing those who don’t agree with you. We overreact and name call because we feel so passionate about our views, but we have to step back and decide why we disagree. Here are some facts that I think we can all agree on;

-The world is getting warmer, and this is alarming.

-There is a large number of people who have to work so much harder to get out of poverty because of their living situation

-Our healthcare system is so expensive and insurance is hard to find if it is not offered by your work.

-One day we will run out of oil.

-We buy some of our oil from questionable countries.

– Injustice is committed all around the world, and there are people who are threatening us.

-There are a lot of people who illegally break into our country and work unfair wages because they are not citizens.

-Terrorism (both in a McVeigh and a Taliban sense of the word) is a threat to us, and it is the Government’s job to do something about it.

If we can agree on these types of terms, we should be able to respectfully work out where our country can go from here.

Its not political.

As soon as I saw the 8/28 rally on the Lincoln Memorial, I was blown away. I knew I had to write about it, and I’m glad that I already have a medium.

Ok, so when I first started blogging, it was going to be a purely political blog. I have been taught principles from a young age, and I consider myself to be well informed and very opinionated. I started to realize as I wrote that I didn’t want to be a political commentator/blogger firsthand. I don’t know that I’m supposed to be involved in politics so deeply as to write about it constantly, but I do keep myself informed. I think that being actively involved in politics on all levels and having a strong opinion is such a necessary quality that its should be commended as much as you are commended on breathing.

I attended the first Tea Party rally last year on tax day. I was blown away by the patriotism and unity to say it simply. People were upset, but not angered. We were in disapproval of how our taxes were being spent, not mad about having to pay our taxes. I think its safe to say that I didn’t fit into the mold that the media painted the rally as; rich, white, and racist. I may be white, but I think I made about $20k that year before taxes, and I don’t have any need to prove that I’m not racist. I am a patriot, and nothing more. I love this country, and I want to see it prosper like never before, and that was what the rally was really about; a group of patriots who didn’t want to see our country go the wrong way.

What I didn’t like was that it was hosted by the local GOP. They had opened up a new office, and had taken this protest and stamped their name on it. I’ve said before that I don’t like to label my political ideals with a party, because I don’t really believe in either party.

The next rally was not long after, but I was unable to attend. My wife attended and expressed how disappointed she was in how it had changed from a movement of people to a promotion for the GOP. She said that they hit subjects that have always been Republican ideals, and she left not long after it started. It really made me feel somewhat cynical  towards what direction the country is headed in. I was worried that these people would be broken up by parties and political agendas, not to mention  the negative light that has been shed on this movement.

I joined freedomworks.com , read The 5,000 Year Leap and A Patriots History of the United States,  and tried to soak up whatever knowledge I could. I can’t say that I really spoke up much. I wouldn’t let a friend blast my beliefs, but at the same time, I got tired of arguements that all went the same;

Person: ” The current administration’s actions on (Healthcare, abortion, global warming, border control, national debt, take your pick) is finally a step in the right direction.”

Me: “Thats debatable, I think that there are other ways we can deal with this.”

Person: “Well what about what George Bush? He didn’t help out one way or the other.”

Me: ” I didn’t say I was for Bush, I didn’t support him, and I don’t think that this is a step in the right direction either. Here are some ideas I think are a better idea (add ideas here)”

Person: “(Ignoring my suggestions) well we are doing what other countries have tried, so we know the end result.”

Me: “These other countries are in trouble too. Most have only been doing this for up to 20 years, and look at their problems and debt now.”

Person: “Debt is not a big deal, this way works, your ways are just theories.”

Me: “Agree to disagree I guess.”

Then person usually leaves with a red herring like “I wish people would stop being racist” or “why do some people want to hurt progress?”

So I learned to pick my battles, and to definitely to do my best to bite my tongue on the internet. Its just so impersonal that you could lose a friend just by what you think is a civil disagreement.

All I knew to do from here was to simply wait for elections and vote for who I saw fit for office.

To be continued on Wednesday.

13 Virtues

I’ve been reading about the founders of the United States of America for a while now, trying to learn about who they really were and what they meant when they wrote our constitution.

Its hard to imagine what its like to rebel against your own country. I mean, think about it; you go to war against the French and Natives in the name of your country, you build your own land and pay your taxes to a King who has given it to you. Then, at some point, you decide to betray your own King and country for an idea. What courage does it take to know that you are becoming a traitor to your own homeland just by signing your name?

So I have started learning about Ben Franklin. Before I only knew that he invented Bifocals, flew a kite in a storm to study electricity, wrote for the New England Courant,  and that he had a taste for french women. Did you know that when he invented the pot belly stove, he gave the plans out for free? House fires were rampant in these days, mostly due to the current type of stoves used. Franklin saw it as a chance to save lives, not to make money, and he did it out of his own accord. He also started the fire department in order to save lives and create awareness about fire safety.

Anyways, so I heard a few weeks back that Ben Franklin used to keep a list of 13 virtues he reviewed every night and morning to keep in mind. I thought that this was a cool idea, and so I have decided to share them here.

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

So after reading these, I have decided to rewrite them and make them more applicable to modern times, and more specifically, to me.

1. Self Control: Too much food leads to obesity, too much TV can lead to laziness, even too much air makes you light headed.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation. (I couldn’t put it any better)

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time. (same here)

4. Resolution: Don’t let quitting be an option. Finish everything you start, no matter how small the matter is.

5. Frugality: Ask yourself “Do I need this?” before you buy something: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Don’t be manipulative or misleading. Be direct and honest in conversation.

8. Justice:  Wrong none, not even a vengeful punch or white lie can be acceptable .

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Every extreme results in injury of body and mind.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, workspace, or house.

11. Chastity: Ummm… be chaste.

12. Tranquility: Some things just can’t be helped. Shaping your life around every accident and unfortunate circumstance is exhausting, and overall worthless.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates. I don’t know much about Socrates, but as someone who has studied Christ, he can teach you a few things about humility.