September 26th is a pretty lousy day for me; something which occurs each and every year, and will continue to do so for as long as I live.
For as long as I live.
Words that can't be used by everybody. Not Freddie Gray, nor Michael Brown, nor Trayvon Martin, nor Mark Richard.
What? You've never heard of Mark Richard? Small wonder. Mark Richard wasn't black, didn't attack anyone and didn't have an arrest record 18 incidents long. He didn't have a President schilling for him on national media to garner votes and public opinion. He didn't have a family looking to the government for a $6 million payday for their actions or inactions which caused his death.
Mark Richard was my younger brother. A son to my Mom and Dad, a husband, a father to three boys, and a man who served his country honorably in the U.S. Army. And like too many other vets sent off to fight for and defend this nation's interests, Mark Richard was abandoned by the government that sent him in harm's way.
There's been no shortage of sympathetic press coverage about how blacks are being "targeted" by police and are dying at the hands of cops in tragic numbers. And while there is some truth to this narrative, the statistics cited are both misleading and (from a press standpoint) incomplete. Some sources cite as many as 2,900 citizen deaths by police between 2003 and 2009. There is no breakdown of race for these deaths, nor is there a breakdown of deaths which were deemed "justifiable" due to the actions of the people in question. However, despite all the attention being given to this present-day issue, the act remains that the vast majority of people cited above, whether black or white, were at least suspected of breaking some law or threatening the officers in question or the public at large.
But while news story after news story decries the tragic deaths of approximately 420 people PER YEAR by the actions of an arm of local government, there is barely a peep about the same number of suicides committed by U.S. military veterans IN JUST 19 DAYS. In fact, if you took ALL the people killed each year by police, whether justified or not, whether black, white, Hispanic or other national origin, it would take you 19 YEARS to equal just ONE YEAR of suicides by our military men and women.
No parent, sibling, child or friend should ever have to receive a call as I did four years ago today. While over 300 black lives each year killed by law enforcement is a tragedy, over 8,000 veteran suicides each year is a national disgrace. The government which sends these fine young men and women off to war should at least provide the mental health treatment needed to help them when they return from these foreign adventures. This government fails miserably in that regard.
How about it, Mr. President and your minions in the media? Do MILITARY lives matter?
R.I.P. little brother. You're missed more than you will ever know.
But let's face it, all the other four-letter words have been taken.
I love to play golf. That being said, golf, as is typical for all-too-many amateurs, doesn't love me back. It could be worse; after all, I'm in that rarefied air of the 5% of people who have actually broken 100 in their lifetime. On a good year, I'd be able to play 10-15 times per year, a rate not conducive to a low handicap ('What's your handicap, Dave?" - "My swing"), but even at that rate I was able to consistently break the dreaded century mark in scoring.
So I can feel good about myself for that meager accomplishment.
However, over the past few years, my playing time has been severely limited due to income and some (now resolved) health issues, to the point where I haven't played a round of golf in over a year. I haven't even picked up a club in that timeframe, let alone hit the driving range to keep my somewhat limited skills sharp. But Monday beckons, and a round at the Green Meadow CC's "Jungle" course is on tap with some friends from my former life at Xerox.
Hence, the trip to the dreaded driving range to see if I still possess a swing that will keep me from being mercilessly ragged on by about 9:45 or so (it doesn't take long for devastating comments to work their way out of the mouths of retired Xerox salespeople, let me tell you). And the results were - not so bad.
For those of you too bored with other things in life, my golf history is a bit different than most. I started playing as an enlisted airman in the USAF at Andrews AFB in Maryland, back in 1979. My boss, a Master Sergeant by the name of Lou Denitto, loved to play, and was pretty good at it. He also wanted to play more often than a typical person might want to play, and since he was the boss, he pretty much got his way. So I enlisted yet again, this time into the world of golf. With a severely used set of clubs bought at a yard sale for $20 bucks (which included a wooden-handled putter, no less), Lou and I would prowl one of two courses on that base every other week.
I sucked at it. Big time.
For the next 20 years, no matter how many lessons, or how many hours and buckets of practice balls at the practice range, I never came close to breaking the vaunted century mark in scoring. But as is typical of the game of golf, there was always this one really good shot I made, usually near the end of the round (better to remember it), that convinced me that I could play this game at a less-than-embarrassing level someday. Finally, a wrist injury caused me to have X-rays done, and my doctor informed me that I had "very unusual wrists". After telling him that was the worst pick-up line had ever heard, he showed me that the bones in my wrists are formed such that my wrists cannot "cock", i.e. break past horizontal, thus robbing me of a critical move that would allow me to put more power and control into my swing.
Thus, a problem was identified, but no solution was yet found.
After trying for years to find a way to make this game work, I found a new way to swing called "Natural Golf". It simplified to complexity of the golf swing, and removed the things I couldn't do and replaced them with things I could do. I'd never be a power hitter (200 yards was my maximum for a drive on a good day), but I had the repeatable swing I had always craved. After 6 months, I was breaking 100 every time I played! I'm a 5%-er!
Which brings us back to today and my first time reacquainting myself with my clubs and my swing in over a year. The repeatable swing is still there, but some much-needed power has been lost. Probably due to age, lost weight (good for my health, bad for distance with a swing such as mine), and just not hitting the club face as cleanly as I used to do. Still and all, 150-175 yards and straight is the best I can hope for, given the circumstances. If it plays out that way on Monday, it shouldn't be the embarrassing disaster that it might have been years ago.
But this is golf, a sport which should have been named some other four-letter word. We'll let you know how it goes later on next week.
Nope. Didn't watch the first or second debate.
Because it doesn't matter to me.
At best, these debates are 7 months before the Georgia primary in which I'll be voting. I don't own a landline, and I'm on the Do Not Call List on my cell phone. Add to that, very few campaigns or organizations call cell phones for opinion polls, so what happens in the next few months doesn't matter to me. Or most every other American.
There's about 3,000 people who are going to decide, in the next few months, who to cull from the herd of GOP contenders based on campaign or news organization polls because they fit the profile for polling, and I am not in that group of people, so to watch even one second of these early debates is a waste of my time.
Let's face it, of the 15 people on stage during the main event or at the Kiddie Table early debate, more than half of them will be long gone by the time some real debates come around in early 2016. THAT'S when I'll be paying a bit more attention to debates. THAT'S when I can spend some quality time researching the remaining candidate's websites and records and past public stances on issues that matter to me. Right now, these debates aren't even good television.
But for now, I'm laughing at all the coverage being given to this process of eliminating a bunch of egotistical SOB's who wouldn't be allowed in my house for dinner for any reason on any given day.
Because that's a picture of fried clams and scallops at Essex Seafood Co. in Essex, Massachusetts. This was taken last year, but I'll be returning to the scene of the crime tomorrow (Friday) to make sure the suspects haven't changed one bit.
One down, 57 to go.
OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's certainly nice to see the first of what will be many begin dropping out of the GOP race for President in 2016.
It's not as if half of them had a snowball's chance in Hell of getting the nomination, anyway. This positioning oneself for a potential VP pick later in the process by putting yourself in the race has simply morphed into a circus sideshow, or worse yet, a bad carnival act.
But back to Rick Perry. On the plus side, the guy has no trouble making decisions when they need to be made, as witnessed by his using National Guard troops to monitor / guard the Texas border a year or so ago. Like the decision or not, it was made and he stuck to it. But let's face it:
The former Governor of Texas just doesn't come across as a very bright guy.
That is not so say he's not a bright guy (I don't have enough history with his career to be able to make that judgement), but he doesn't SEEM as if he's very bright. Not the most articulate person on the planet. Speaks in folksy, simple terms, even when discussing complex policy issues. Never says anything in a tone which makes you believe he's passionate about the subject under discussion. In short, he's pizzazz bereft.
You've got to give voters a reason to vote for you. You've got to show a passion for your quest. If the voters don't see it, what reason do they have to follow you in that quest? Rick Perry had none of that.
In a country filled with dogs waiting for that next squirrel to run into view to get their attention, Rick Perry (and a few others) are just another cow in the pasture, doing nothing but chewing on grass and dropping cowpatties.
After Wednesday's CNN debate, I expect a few others to drop out as well. George Pataki (who never should have gotten into it in the first place) and Lindsey Graham are likely to head back home. Bobby Jindal will probably stay, given his recent attack on Donald Trump, and Rick Santorum will hang on for a while, simply because he (wrongly) hopes for the religious right to keep him in the race. The problem for Santorum is that Mike Huckabee and he are going for the same voters, and Santorum never had the personality to get his own show on a major cable news network.
But I'm afraid we'll have to put up with at least 10 candidates through the first couple of primaries. (sigh)
. . . that jealousy / suspicion of the New England Patriots is worth a field goal or touchdown in every game
"The amount of real estate the Patriots occupy in so many people's heads has enough acreage to open up a maximum security prison to house the number of Ravens players who deserve to be locked up forever." - Alec Shane, writer for Pat's Pulpit
One game. One Patriots win. Out come the accusations.
The headsets go out for a while in Foxboro last night. The Steelers coaches are forced to listen to the local radio broadcast of the game in which they are playing over theirs, AND the Patriots communication is so bad, they considered replacing Tom Brady's helmet at one point.
Obviously, the Patriots must be cheating (sarcasm).
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin inferred that things like this happen all the time in Foxboro, but refused to elaborate when asked to be more specific. Note to Mike Tomlin: First, the NFL, NOT the Patriots, provides the communication gear for all games played, and second, when a similar communication snafu occurred in Pittsburgh, the Jets didn't go around and infer YOUR team had anything to do with it.
With the Steelers threatening to score a touchdown on third down at the one-yard line, the Patriots suddenly shift their entire defensive front during the Steelers pre-snap cadence, drawing two members of Pittsburgh's O-line offsides, and all of a sudden it's a six-yard trip to the endzone, which the Steelers would once again fail to find.
“I thought that there was a rule against that,” (Steelers QB Ben) Roethlisberger said. “Maybe there’s not. Maybe it’s just an unwritten rule. . . . We saw it on film, that the Patriots do that. They shift and slide and do stuff on the goal line, knowing that it’s an itchy trigger finger-type down there.”
Hint, Ben: There's no rule against it, unwritten or otherwise.
Earlier this week, ESPN (and one hour later, Sports Illustrated) came out with virtually similar articles accusing the Patriots of a litany of wrongdoing, dredging up the 2007 Spygate incident (where a memo from the NFL disguised as an actual rule was used to crucify the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick) for doing what everybody else had been doing, just from a different area. Then came the accusations of bugged visiting locker rooms, dumpster diving for discarded play sheets, room temperature Gatorade, the aforementioned headset communication issues, and virtually every other transgression known to mankind.
I think they were even accused of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.
And just how many people were willing to go on the record in front of a camera or put their name to paper in making these accusations against the New England Patriots?
None. Zip. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
Talk about your Profiles in Courage . . .
I'm sorry, but if you're unwilling to speak publicly about something, whether it's football or a political opponent or just a co-worker, you're lying. In the case of the accusers of the New England Patriots, it's just sour grapes. Heck, the NFL has now changed rules so that the Patriots can't use them against teams who just aren't as smart or as well-coached as the New England Patriots are.
If you didn't watch "Do Your Job" on the NFL Network this week, you missed why the New England Patriots are the winningest football team since 2001, an incredible run of success never achieved in professional sports. A rare glimpse of Director of Football Research Ernie Allen is given, and he talks about how NO ONE does opposition research like the New England Patriots do. In short, the Patriots look like they know what your doing, not because they stole your playbook sheets or bugged your locker room, but because they watch your game film and game plan every look you give to other teams.
It's called - coaching. Which is why, until the beginning of this year, each and every coach and assistant coach on the New England Patriots have never been a profession football player - only a coach. Because Bill Belichick wants coaches to do what they do best - not former players wanting to relive their glory years.
All this is to back up what Alec Shane wrote last year - the Patriots are in the heads of 31 other NFL teams from the time the first coin is tossed until the end of the season, and every day in between. And that's got to be worth a field goal or touchdown in each and every game they play.
Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean we're NOT all out to get you . . . .
From the Boston Herald: "If I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union,” Obama said at the annual Labor Day breakfast of the Greater Boston Labor Council. "If I wanted somebody who had my back, I'd join a union."
Note to President Obama: If I want somebody to have MY back, it would be me.
As it always has been.
I've never been a member of a union, and wouldn't join one if my life depended on it. That's because I was raised to give the people who pay my salary the best effort I know how, not the average effort. Unions reward average effort with security, but also reward those who don't work much at all, while destroying the initiative and drive of overachievers everywhere.
And yes, unions were a necessity decades ago. So were buggy whips. But like buggy whips, their time has gone by. Laws are in place to keep kids from being used as slave labor. The 40-hour work week is well established. Vacation and sick pay is the norm, rather than the exception. All of these are good to great things brought about by the labor movement from years ago.
But it came with a cost. Unions have priced American labor out of the marketplace. We no longer make most of the things we buy. Sure, much is because people in countries without our labor laws can make things much cheaper than we do, but that's because the ever-increasing demands of American unions artificially raised the wages of American unskilled workers to the point where we no longer can compete globally in manufacturing the goods we need or want.
And it's even more telling when the largest unions in America are comprised of government workers. Once, unions were the organizations which protected workers from physical harm or abuse. Now, the majority of union members are protected from the consequences of their inefficiency and their incompetence. This is not to say that all government employees are bad, but it's curious to figure out just what labor injustices are being corrected or addressed by protecting employees who don't manufacture things, but largely push paper. Are paper cuts suddenly life threatening?
Labor Day exists now solely because the payroll patriots in government need another day off with pay, which means for the rest of us, it won't be going away any time soon.
Those poor, overworked schlubs need their valuable time off.
So this week we've been treated to an elected county clerk in Kentucky refusing to obey a Supreme Court ruling based (wrongly) on her religious convictions.
A few months ago, a young woman was gunned down in San Francisco by an illegal alien who took up residence there because it declared itself a "sanctuary city" by elected officials who voted to stop enforcing Federal immigration laws on deportation they didn't agree with politically.
Rancher Cliven Bundy refused to acknowledge (questionable) Federal authority over what may once have been his land, and in doing so attracted hundreds of followers to establish an armed resistance to civil authorities.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder refused to pursue any legal action against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who clearly and deliberately targeted groups she deemed conservative with special scrutiny not afforded other liberal groups applying for the same tax-exempt status as the conservatives wanted.
Finally, President Obama has illegally and arbitrarily delayed the implementation of two specific programs in his signature legislative achievement known as Obamacare; that being the Cadillac Tax on high coverage medical plans and the Employer Mandate. Both are considered to be programs which will negatively impact both unions (in the case of the Cadillac tax) and medium sized businesses of 50 people or more. The implication here is that he doesn't want the political hit or the negative publicity of another Obamacare failure similar to the God-awful website roll-out of two years ago.
And don't get me started on what will or won't happen to Hillary.
The simple term for this is "anarchy".
But it's the long-term implications of this alarming trend that I'm worried about. Look, you'd be hard pressed to find someone as anti-big government as I am, but I will at least acknowledge that by refusing to accept lawful authority, it will only lead to a serious breakdown in our society. A civilized society simply cannot exist when people get to pick and choose without consequence the laws they deem worthy of obeying.
It's going to take a better class of voters willing to elect a better class of politicians who are willing to address head-on the need for regulatory reform, because when you have as many laws as we have on the books, you're bound to find a significant number of stinkers out there that certain people are unwilling to follow. Yes, the problem remains that there are too many ridiculous laws on the books, but that is just the symptom of the problem.
The real problem is electing people who want to point to some legislative "accomplishment" by CREATING a new law, not REMOVING some bad ones. The former sure hasn't worked. Why don't we try for the latter instead?
From ABC News: "Kentucky's Rowan County Court Clerk, Kimberly Davis, is still refusing to issue marriage licenses to any couple today, including same-sex couples, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against her last night, and now a motion for contempt of court has been filed against her."
Well guess what, sister? Your religious beliefs end at the entrance to your place of employment.
And if you don't like that, you need to find another place to work.
The First Amendment gives you the right to PRACTICE your religion without government interference, NOT enforce your religious beliefs on others, especially through a government agency. And if you can't handle that, Ms. Davis, you need to resign your position or get your behind fired for failure to perform the duties of your office. Sadly, as an elected official (and just who are the voters of Rowan County putting in positions of authority these days anyway?), you can't be fired without an act of the Governor, and hopefully that will come soon enough. But until then, maybe a few days or weeks in the hoosegow will allow you to educate yourself on how the government you allegedly represent actually works.
My suggestion: Leave the Bible at home, and bring a copy of the U.S. Constitution to pass your time in stir.
Sadly, being the 1st Amendment, it shouldn't take you too long to figure out that your incredibly stupid and ultimately hopeless stance is all wrong. You see, Congress has passed no law establishing a national religion, nor has it passed any laws preventing YOU from practicing your religious beliefs. You DO know the difference between "practicing" and "enforcing", don't you, Ms. Davis? No matter, you'll be getting a first hand lesson in what "enforcement" means when you're staring at three cement walls and a set of bars.
And by the way, you'll find that your cell mates aren't quite the upstanding members of the community you're used to associating with, either. Their idea of "Praising Jesus" is when a new fish enters the Big House, and they have a chance to indoctrinate you into their own religion sect - The Church of the Painful Rat Pack (see: slang jailhouse terms).
I predict your prayers will go unanswered.
Next time, be sure that principled stance of yours is backed up by the law, because they don't allow sanitizing wipes to be brought in by Fresh Meat.
I don't really believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd want to come back as an HR manager in my next life.
Here's the new norm for screening applicants in the 21st century: Have a website created for you where multiple questions are asked about the aspiring candidate, include a section where the candidate's carefully crafted cover letter and resume are requested to be uploaded, then create a routine where the candidate's answers are compared against a tight list of specific checks for degrees or certifications, then completely ignore the candidate's lifetime of experience if one check mark hasn't been satisfied.
I mean, why bother actually reading about someone's talents, history and success when checking 20 questions for a single deficiency will do? Mission accomplished! I didn't hire anybody competent, but I eliminated over 100 people in one day!
And then, you get to issue a canned reply back to the candidate telling them they didn't meet your qualifications, without ever having to explain why they didn't meet some unknown requirement. In short, you never have to justify your decisions - ever.
And then if the applicant IS lucky enough to get past the first gate, they're given a "test" created by someone who has never had hiring authority in their lifetime, asking questions about the candidate's suitability for the position. Get one question wrong (the old check mark game all over again), and you get that canned reply in your mail box, again with no explanation as to how or why you failed their "test".
Look, I understand there are hundreds of submissions online for open positions in this type of economy, but the laziness exhibited by these HR "professionals" is simply astounding. So you might have to read through dozens of resumes - THAT'S YOUR JOB! It's especially important when hiring someone to manage a process or team. Degrees or certifications in a particular field don't mean a thing when hiring someone to lead others - leadership and management ability does. A good leader can lead a store, restaurant, team or project without being the expert at the product; they just have to be a good leader or manager of the people creating that product.
And you can't get that kind of information from a checklist.
But it sure makes for an easy job in the 21st century.
Hi! I'm Dave Richard, your host. I hope you enjoy your visit. We'll be talking about current events, politics, the occasional sports (I'm a HUGE New England Patriots fan, so get over it), and some "Get off my lawn!" issues.