Questions From The Middle

Okay folks, it’s been awhile since I have even made a smidgen of an attempt to write. So before going forward I want to quote a friend of mine from twitter who says “apologize for nothing” (Hat tip to you Ken!) so I won’t.

A better question might be what brought me back? Aha! Well, there are times in all of our lives where we just don’t have enough time or energy for anything. Buuuuuuuuttttt when we do…..I’ll just let you decide.

Back in the 60’s my dad was a prolific poet. The first poem I read was And The Lord Created the Middle Class. I was about six when I read it and I am pretty sure the understanding of my six-year-old self was limited to Barbie dolls, making gooey cakes in an Easy Bake Oven, my baseball mitt, football trading cards and a stuff bear named Mouse (didn’t everybody have a stuffed bear named Mouse?).

I have often thought of that poem from time to time. One because I have a memory that doesn’t let me forget things I have read and two, partly because I was curious to see if indeed anything has changed.  So I asked him about it tonight.  Dad was thrilled when I mentioned it and I could hear the years melt away from his voice. However, he wasn’t  exactly sure where he stashed it. Hopefully, he will be able to find it! It’s not like he had a hard drive back then like all of you digital natives do now. It is I will bet, stashed in a notebook somewhere in the Pepoy domain.

In his cherished poem he talks about in iambic pentameter the creation of the Middle Class and the responsibilities bestowed upon it. This has nothing to do with what side of the aisle politically this class is on, but just how much this group strives to move up and how much of America is paid for by them.

What reasons drove me to ask Dad about it? Like most things in my life that inspire me to write, I was having a conversation this week with a few friends and they asked me what I thought about the government shutdown. Snickering, I said “Ya know, my income keeps the government going and since they’re not working I’m thinking why should I pay for nothing?” My friends looked at me strangely.

Feeling like a comedian in room full of crickets I continued.

“See all of us pay taxes, more and more over the years. There are more of us in the middle than any other income group. We seldom use services or ask the government for much of anything. We work, we pay and we have gotten bored and fed up with all the arrogance that continues to plague Washington. If I pay taxes to keep all those agencies for my safety going, and throw in all those so-called departments that think they have better answers to agriculture, emergencies, justice and anything else you can think of,  it is clear I am not getting served. With that in mind, if services are not being rendered, as with any other business that doesn’t do a job you hire them for, then why shouldn’t our payments be withheld until it is?”

Suddenly the 100 watt light bulb made a miraculous returned for only a moment as my friends realized what I was saying.

Folks, they have a responsibility to us not the other way around. While the powers-to-be on the Hill want to act like 2 year olds in a room full of toys whom are fixated on just one toy and having a game of tug of war, then we have to take the role of the teacher and simply take the toy away. Our tax dollars are the toy and its time to take it away.

What is really funny to me to is this presents like taxation without representation. They’re taxing but name one member of congress who is representing right now?

I am not decreeing anarchy or to start a revolution. I just want the arrogance of their ignorance to stop and work for the American people. It’s just common sense.

If you know me then you are well aware there is a football reference in here somewhere. I will not disappoint.

My boyz in Cleveland have won three in a row– all while losing their starting quarterback; a hometown boy of Cleveland to suddenly using the previous quarterback, in which the fans booed as he entered the game and still manage to come up with the WIN?!  Well– I guess there may be a lesson to be learned by all.

The success screams true teamwork and the desire to win. The Browns had to go with the flow, win the crowd back and in the end everybody including the fans did their part. The offensive line held off the defense, the quarterback released the ball faster, the running backs blocked and ran for yardage, the receivers caught the ball, the defense stopped the run, broke up the passing game, made the seal the win interception, not to mention the speedy special team kick returner’s run back of punt for a much-needed touchdown. They made a choice to play as one team and with that win, succeeded in showing the nation what real teamwork should look like.

It was only three weeks ago the Browns were being accused of tanking on the season for the number one pick in the 2014 draft. Instead they dug in and became the surprise of the NFL.

So explain to me why those employees we elected can’t dig deep and do the job they were hired to do?

This is not rocket science.  Shoot it’s not even finger painting.  What it is, is a small group of people sent to a small district to collect and spend our dollars in a big way while telling us it is for our own good.

Would you want any of these guys balancing your checkbook and paying your bills? Ummm I’m thinking a big fat no.  If you do– I’ m sorry they are on furlough but they’ll get back to you.

When my dad wrote his poem almost 50 years ago he might have had hope that something would change. It’s politics! A man-made device that over looks the spirit and beliefs of all the American people.

There is an old saying I tell my team everyday:

“None of us are as smart as all of us.”

Whatever your beliefs are–We are smarter together and know that real leaders do more listening than talking. They plan, they guide, they teach and they defend their people. What are they doing in Washington? Does your Representative pass the test?

The challenge is a small group shutdown the government because they can’t work as a team. Yet they can assess blame, use fear, and threats to make us be at odds with each other like them. Which this may sound blasphemous but do they want us to be like them in their image? We are so much smarter than this! As a team we have a choice.

Do nothing, or terminate their employment. It is that simple.

God created all is my belief, I also believe you get what you pay for.  I am fed up and tired of throwing my money out the window when nobody is working and congress is still getting paid. Those guys should have forgone their pay and tee times first!

Here in the middle we cut the luxuries to get back on track and have been doing so, long before my dad wrote a poem. What stinks is when this is all over they will come to us in the middle and tell us to pay for the mess they made.

Again we have a choice.

UPDATE:   My Dad’s poems have been located and I have copies!!!  Look for another post soon!

James Carville was Right; it’s the Economy, Stupid!

Over 90 minutes of word volleying and it was clear from the beginning that Governor Mitt Romney quietly maneuvered the whole debate from foreign policy straight back to the economy.  The consensus is that Romney is weak on all subjects abroad.  Still, how is it possible before all who watched that this former governor was able to gather the attention of so many who tuned in for a debate of the Middle East, mostly Libya, Israel and for some hopefully, Mexico; to include Fast and Furious; then to flip the switch and steer it back to the economy?

Simple, he applied a very old adage; the best defense is a good offense, approach.  Romney understood with a presidential demeanor that if he attacked foreign policy of the current president at full throttle, he could subsequently trigger unwanted events should he be elected President of the United States.  He also applied a Theodore Roosevelt theory; but instead of speaking softly it is more of Tread lightly and carry a big stick.

His weapon of choice? Take the conversation back to the economy.  James Carville might not have had Romney in mind when he made his now famous quote. However, it soon became the catalyst of the whole debate.  Romney’s point was how we could possibly make a case abroad when we can’t even fix the problems we have here.  Americans in general will not think of issues on foreign policy when they can’t find work.

The use of treading lightly was on the foreign aspect of the debate and the big stick was his expertise with fiscal responsibilities.  Romney didn’t have to push and he simply channeled everything in a neat package demonstrating how the American economy affects the world and how they view us.

Talking heads will spin this debate anyway they want, but in the end Romney without saying it told everyone tonight what James Carville has been saying since 1992 “It’s the economy stupid!”

For most of us who look at gas and food prices daily understand the higher those prices rise and the burden that it places on the wallet that come November 6, 2012 that may just be the only issue to be voted on.

The Steps We Take

Confucius once said (quoting Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tse) a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step. As innocuous as it seems, it really can hurt far more than given credit for. It’s not the physical steps that hurt but the emotional effects of making the decisions to carry out the ideas.

I tend to believe most people only see the big picture and are completely unaware of the many steps it may take to accomplish the tasks, journeys or events that are in mind. It is within these meager steps that can insure success. Miss a step and then start the count of how fast the house of cards crumble.

No one comes in to this world running, walking, standing or even sitting up. We learn it. It is those first steps that create the memories that endure and times we wish to forget.

What happened in the steps taken by some this week. Let’s see:

Rick Perry said he stepped in it.

Joe Paterno was forced to step down.

Herman Cain had to step through it again.

Newt Gingrich stepped it up.

Each one of the aforementioned had to make adjustments to circumstances and be held responsible for their decisions. I know there is more to it than what  appears above in those short blurted out sentences.

Rick Perry had a moment that most people would rather forget. I am not going to make excuses for his drawing a blank; however, this is a man who since having back surgery hasn’t missed an event. How many people can take any steps, let alone walk up to a podium after having back surgery?  Then have a mishap and be able to poke fun at himself? I must ask how much physical pain has he been in? What complaints can be heard from him about it? None, instead he turned that moment into a quiet powerful message.

Appearing on The Late Show with David Lettermen he handled the Top Ten List with confidence. He achieved something I think people may have missed. By understanding that his misstep would become a joke, he took the first jab. He was able to redirect and get back on point showing leaders make mistakes. Humbling as it seems, how many would have given excuses or try to come up with a good reason? Will he ever be a great debater? Probably not. Can he lead? Ask my good friends in Texas and they would give him a hell yea!

Herman Cain has been stepping through allegation of sexual harassment and the list is growing.

Bear with me here; along time ago my best friend from high school and I were discussing something that happened at school. My mother within ear shot of the discussion told us this:

“If one person says it, might have merit but would need proof. If two people say it then yes it has some truth to it. However, I caution you girls if there are more than three it has become everybody’s business and there isn’t any truth to it any more. It is just a popular topic to make people look more important. It has become nothing more than idle gossip which will bite those who spread it in the behind. Mark my words.”

This is what I see is happening to Herman Cain. It has become a supercilious rant by some tossing around allegations and waiting 15 years to step forward seems outrageous and a flat out embarrassment to those women who have truly suffered from sexual harassment. The painfulness of the subject is hard enough to come forward with and prove, but to have those take away from the severity with an attempt to discredit one person in an attempt to gain by it, is inexcusable.

In stark contrast to this is Joe Paterno’s firing from Penn State. Simply put he had all the opportunities in the world to remove Jerry Sandusky from his coaching staff.

This wasn’t questions of false allegations this is going to trial. Placing football before everything else may have put him in the record books. The truth is he will never coach again, and Penn State will for a very long time feel the effects of trying to cover up the horrific acts of one.

It can be said that JoePa reported it but how far did he follow through with it? Are there truly that many rules in HR manuals that caused this to be buried under a rock for so long, or was it a case of winning brings in too much money for those innocent boys to be protected? Hmmmmm.

No one likes when an icon falls but it is his own steps that he is responsible for. No one wins, game over Coach.

Then there is Newt. Every debate he picks up more and more support. He possesses the brilliance to handle moderators and peers easily in debates. Without sounding rehearsed he is confident almost in a cocky sense. He will not back down from his point and has yet to raise his voice. The victor of more debates than the other candidates, he is still deemed unworthy of being viable as the GOP presidential choice.

Newt’s steps are perfect right now. Why? He didn’t make a big splash in the polls when he first announced his bid for the top office, more of a steady climb. Using patience and perservrance, Newt is avoiding the rolling coaster climb that leads to the crashing and burning in the polls.

Once the joke of the GOP Presidential Candidates, he now has people taking a closer look and he is receiving better placement on the debate floor. Newt is making the small and right steps to accomplish the desired outcome. There is still room for missteps. Once the onset starts of garnering attention from the MSM (Main Stream Media), they will swarm like locust and thus begins the taring down of Newt. How will this be handled? Or is it more of his old-time beltway experience working in his favor that will allow him to maneuver past the MSM and directly hold the attentions of the voters? I am not so sure. I prefer to wait and see.

These four men have been facing steps, in, down, through and up, which are direct results of the decisions they have made whether on purpose or by happenstance. I envy none of them.

Why? I had to choose to take a step to write about it. Need I say more?

Taking steps can be deliberate decisions that should not be taken lightly. Confucius wasn’t kidding when he said the journey of a thousand miles…It is first steps that can allow the individual to pursue with either reckless abandon or be diverted from the path that needs to be taken.

From first steps of infancy to reaching the end of the journey the final destination is the same for all, plugged in the middle of it are choices. Choose wisely and reap the benefits, choose foolishly and the outcome could be dire.

Hey, I can’t sugarcoat it. Wouldn’t even try to.

Next time I think I will use the word rankle…sounds irritating, but that’s what may make it fun to use.

Be well and once again I remind you of something I posted a while back. Nothing that starts out peaceful stays that way. I was right. Think about it.


Is Anybody Listening?

The other evening I was at a friend’s house when I noticed she had the same Keurig Coffee Maker that I do.  I started to make a comment about it , when suddenly she revved up into a whole dissertation on the handy contraption.  I mentioned to her ( at least I tried to) that I already owned one just like it, but nevertheless she continued with her monologue, almost as if she was enjoying the sound of her own voice.

Looking at her in disbelief, I wanted to say; didn’t you hear what I just said?  Honestly, I was floored by how little she was paying attention, and astonished how effortlessly she moved from the contraption to what coffee I needed to buy.  She even went so far as to hand me a coupon for 20% off to buy a coffee maker I already own.  Frustrated, I managed a crooked smile and accepted the coupon. Next thing I knew she was handing me a cup of coffee.  Quickly (more like one hot fast gulp, I would pay for later) I  finished the steaming hot brew  that she insisted I try.  It was then I realized I needed to make my escape.  Don’t get me wrong I love her, she’s a great friend, but there are times that she gravitates towards something and I just can’t bring her back from it.

Hyped up on caffeine my drive home would be the kind of stuff  Speedracer would be proud of. 

And that’s when it hit me….

However,under extreme advisement (mostly my own, which I ignored).  I placed a call to my Dad at 11:30 CST to his 12:30 EST that was a non-emergency.  You will have to take my word for it, and I promise to spare you the ugly sounds (swearing– I think) I heard, before the phone was promptly disconnected.

The events of the evening  just reminded me of all the rhetoric going on within the GOP.  It seems everybody is banging on drums and not one person can hear the music. 

The next day I grabbed the phone ( hoping for a better response then from the night before) and hesitantly said “Dad?” immediately I began a rapid tear about what happened the previous evening and then tried to tie it all back to my political concerns.  How he understood everything I spewed at him is a wonder. I suspect it comes from living in a household of all females (I mean no disrespect but you had to know our household).  

 Everybody is in full motion– talking, ranting and raving, with arms swinging to make a point. We would stop only long enough to look at Dad, to have him conclude which one of us was right.  His answer was designed with truth and an easy escape clause;  “All of you—too bad you weren’t listening.”

Now I ask you does this sound familiar? 

Everybody is talking and nobody is listening, well to each other in some metaphoric way.  In all, isn’t it really about the same wants, needs and objectives.  The mitigating factor might just lie in what Dad told me:

“Emotions can and/or will win an election, but does that mean those emotions choose the right candidate?” 

How true does this hit home?  Of course we have emotional attachments this election season.  However, arguing amongst each other doesn’t serve any real interest, nor purpose.  My stockings run just sifting through the words being tossed around like weapons that are meant to impale. 

There are a lot of strong feelings going into this coming primary season and so much viable information that it tends to be overwhelming.  The trick, I think is to separate the emotion from the facts and not repeat electing on feelings like I believe what may have happened in 2008.

That said I fear that I am right back at my friend’s listening to what I already know, already understand and  my concerns are still not being heard.  What I need and want is one person to explain something I don’t already know with the ability to listen. Perhaps some type of plan.

Is there anybody listening?  Am I going to get a coupon for 20% off a platform I already know?

Many camps are working diligently and the candidates have become gadabouts trying to hit all the different events or so it appears. I question what coffee maker they represent?    

If my friend were to sell coffee makers I might be coerced into buying one.  If she decided to run for office I might have to recommend she sell coffee makers.  While I love her to death my vote would not be her’s.  Leaders listen, plan and talk.  They have the ability to choose the right people for the job and no fear in changing it when the desired outcome is not achieved.

I am waiting for the one candidate to stand up and grab my attention.  I already know what I don’t want.  Like my friend did by talking over and through me, I don’t want to have the same points given to me for what I already own the knowledge of.  It’s just an empty cup waiting to be filled.

To all the candidates—convince me, I am listening……for my vote is the coffee in your cup.  Where will my vote be poured?

Happy Hunting!  Next time I might just lean toward using bandersnatch. This might be a real challenge but I bet my anime friends out in twitter can help me (HINT, HINT)

Be Well


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