Monday, August 9, 2010

Diary of a (Wimpy) Kid

Preparing for an upcoming semester at school, I rummaged through old papers and memorabilia and found a journal from my sophomore year of high school. Usually I cannot stand to see such remembrances, but I laughed a great deal about the only two entries in that attempt. I have decided to reprint that over-six-year-old me in its gory hubris.

Here it is, the memoirs of a teenage stud muffin.

March 18, 2004
Funny how you can completely forget such a thing like Saint Patty's Day when you aren't around school kids or drunk Irish in Chicago.

March 20, 2004
IMed with [female name omitted]* today. Ahh... she is talented. Smart too. But I have to keep my options open. Have to play the field a bit. All part of being a stud muffin. Its tough, but someone's got to do it.

Though I am glad that I stopped this awkward narrative, I smile back at the person I was. Find the journals, notes, or tapes of who you were. Treasure them. No wonder prophets of God counsel us to keep a record of our lives: that record validates our progression and lets us stay conscious of the good we had and have.

*Female name was omitted to avoided any tarnish to her reputation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Debate Dead?

The Constitution is, in my mind, rather simple in its description of the duties on the President of the United States: aside from nominating persons for government service and Commanding Chiefly (armed forces), taking "Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" and addressing Congess on the State of the Union, the only job he swears to fulfill is to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Treaties and pardons are options.

The connections between Congressional service (with partisan idealogies) and later Presidential tenure have warped the distinction of the separate branches of government. I do not claim to understand much of what Washington or Jefferson or Adams advocated. I do not know how much they fell into party lines. I would rather think well of them. Still, the past two administration have taken an active role in the origination, support, drafting, and momentum of laws, and, in the later administration, the injection of politics into Justice nominee Kagan, which are outside of its prerogative.

Most noticeable of late has been ObamaCare regulation, which have highlighted state kickbacks and a very aggressive White House in the process, and of course Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination preparation (more like thick make-up liberally applied). Presidential intrusion into Congressional rights due to situations "too important" to wait for bipartisan debate is not new, but the Supreme Court prep is. Past preparation for nominees have been conducted by the Justice Department, yet Kagan has has weeks of grooming by administration officials. This is most worrisome, for the Supreme Court has been considered a place from which party politics should be far removed.

Benevolent or no, the blending of separate branches destroys American safeguards against what the Country was founded for- freedom from despotism and monarchy. Vying for power, Republicans will do likewise, seeking to choke out an opposing voice (as did Democrats to pass Health Care Reform). Debate is for those who cannot win the House and Senate. I fear the bloom of our Constitution will be the first casualty, and at the hands of party weeds.

(Sources are the NYPost and NPR

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Prinicples- either Right or Left

Discontent amongst American voters has risen in the past year and a half over government spending, continuance of war, ObamaCare, the handling of the oil spill, etc. Gallup polls show that weekly approval ratings of the current administration have slipped in all voter groups, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, since July of 2009. This decline is at the least 8% (Republicans) and at the most 20% (Independents). A vast swing in the Independent voters is most alarming for political forecasts this November- they came out in majority and voted President Obama and other Democrats in, and now seem ready to apply the boot to their backsides in three months.

Input "town hall" into a YouTube search and you will find over 244,000 results. Politicians have used the Town Hall format to receive concern from constituents and to enlighten the masses on what is being done for the people. Now media attention has turned of late to the rising dissatisfaction from the attendees of these meetings. Many of the most viewed videos have been of rather confrontational episodes, and have been viewed over a millions times to date. Over the most controversial issues these politicians have been unable to even answer questions, let alone answer them well. While left-leaning congressmen are among the hardest hit, those on the right have come under heat as well.

In November and further on in two years, voter fallout may swing the balance of legislative and executive branches to the right, but will that improve the situation? Republican candidates and incumbents have begun to take hold on the dissuasion in the populace, yet if their platforms are empty rhetoric (as I am very afraid that it will be), to what party will voters turn to? If both parties remain fixed in a power struggle, Americans may turn to other means to reclaim their government. How I do not know, be it a third party or otherwise, but unless principles return to Washington within eight years, voters may lose the last vestige of confidence in representation and the Republic idea may begin to fail.

(Information for this post was derived from the Gallup poll at and from the Wall Street Journal at )

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Open Houses (Part One)

On a slightly lighter note (politics has begun to interest me far too much), I want to write about the kinds of things that I see all around. I work as a technician for a pest control company in Arizona. There have been a few general categories I can place a family into, of which I will write. I have a more intimate view of a person's house than most will ever have, opening sink cabinents and going inside closets. From a large pool of homes, I begin to group people and look into their motivations.

There are the Keepers. They cannot get rid of anything, and seem to want to display everything. While not inherently messy, they leave sentinels from the past in every nook and cranny. They treasure the past.

There are the Droppers. Slippery fingers with everything they touch, this grouping is characterized by pointless objects, often past food items partially consumed, in perhaps its final resting place on the floors. I believe that for many of these, they have little interest in things above the trivial and the quick to satisfy.

There are the Animalers. In these abodes, the pets rules, often by sheer numbers. Their food is often littered on floors and around back patios. Charity seems to motivate them, yet I wonder that (in the extreme cases at least) charity may take over their lives. Cleanliness and sanity both leave more and more with each half dozen animals sheltered.

To be continued...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Terms Limits in Congress

West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd died while in office at the age of 92. Some great milestones were reached for him: longest on a Senate committee, longest serving Senator and oldest Senator. He is most well-remembered for one thing in particular: his great love for pork. The committee that he spent the most time on was the Senate Appropriations Committee, serving over half a century there. (This committee, which is the largest of such, determines what projects and states are to receive funding and by what amount.)

His legacy is large: from 1991 to the present, the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) have noted almost $4 billion "earmarked" by Senator Byrd, which means that almost $210 million were secured each year for projects for his constituents (note that while this money is often tacked onto committee bills, this is not universal. Many earmarks are from funds already to be distributed and the allocations are "carved out" of this amount).

For those thinking that this must be an extreme example of the species senatus americanus, the conservative watch group above only awarded Byrd its highest monthly "honor" (for most disgraceful earmarking) four times and its yearly "honor" once. His reputation for pork-spending comes as he has been around long enough for all the WV buildings with his name on it to catch some attention. Now, the Committee was established for purposes to separate funds for government agencies annually, and to do so is admirable. I fear that those who serve for a great deal of time in these (or any) government positions misuse the responsibility they have sworn to honor.

As my father and I were discussing during dinner, as we often do, he brought up the idea of short Congressional tenures, lasting two terms if they are approved of by their constituents. I agree with the suggestion. This would limit time for earmarking, behind-doors wrangling and, I would hope, get rid of the idea of the Senate as a retirement home of lawmakers. With little time for positive good, they may strive more fervently to be recognized as a benefit to their people.

Note the 22nd amendment to the Constitution, only ratified in 1951, which fixes a limit of two to the terms which a President may serve. Before that, only Washington's precedent served as a guide for presidents. To set a limit on Congressional terms by the Constitution would not violate precedent- but it would never be passed by the Congress themselves.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Today Supreme Court Justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Bill of Rights applies to all Americans. Yes, as odd as it sounds, the Second Amendment has long been disputed as whether it is intended for the common citizenry. A common anti-gun (and they might say, pro-life) standpoint is that the Founding Fathers meant the amendment to keep a "well regulated militia" in possession of the means of defense. I will admit that the wording of the amendment is ambiguous, but the intent, I believe, is not.

Retaining the right to bear arms keeps a vital check in place- the power of the masses. Almost never would a person decide to revolt against his government if it stayed within its bounds, and this adds deterrent to gross corruption if politician's conscience or duty fail them (well, conscience has been thrown out for a while. How do we stand on duty?).

The dissent position of the Supreme Court stated that the issue is not specified within the Constitution or its Amendments, and should remain a state or local decision. I stand with the majority ruling that the issue is in print and needed explanation (the usual word interpretation frightens me). The issue at hand was not so much whether guns are a fundamental right of Americans, but whether the Federal Government has in its make-up a provision which supercedes any State's right. For being about 145 years after the Civil War, it isn't very comforting to see that the same issue keeps rearing its ugly head.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Amazing in Film

The film critic is in. Sort of. Driving to the airport, I began to think about why movies draw in the crowds they do. I had heard and parroted such explanations as "Movies allow us to escape reality" since high school. Tonight, I suggest that, while the statement is still true, more may be said as to why we want to escape reality.

It seems that most modern films can be placed into one of two categories: the average, and the surreal. The average is epitomized by the indie film revolution. Average people with average lives with average problems. What happens to them is amazing, and usually internal (reconciliation, love, etc). These are appealing to a wide audience for, I think, the audience is widely average. Not much more drama and tension exist in their lives if it be not at home.

The surreal twists the circumstances- supernatural (or at least super-talented) characters perform amazing feats which are external. Be it in a cape or a military uniform, the strength or courage is amazing. The escape from reality is most obvious in this category, as most audience members cannot, say, fly a plane (Top Gun) or fly to save a plane (Superman Returns).

As the audience watches these films, a silent part of them (or at least of me) connects to the idea of amazing. Perhaps some are infatuated with their reflection and equate themselves to the Man of Steel. Most, I think, when viewing the surreal view themselves a little above the common man, in talent, potential, or right. A driver in front of us may drift into another lane before noticing and we think, "How stupid"; yet if we had done that the day before, there certainly were circumstances which accounted for it. Few would consider one's self as distinctly separate from society as a superhero, yet the desire is to keep one above the sea of average (if only in one's mind).

The average also appeals to us at least because we all feel average (if not below average) often enough. And if average characters with no particular skills or advantages can have amazing things happen, why can't we hope likewise? The amazing, be it from inside or outside, causes us to hope, to wait on hope and think that we deserve the amazing. We want to be amazing, or think that if we are not, that something amazing will happen to us. I stop short of calling this an entitlement conspiracy, but I wonder what effects the films we watch have on society as a whole.

(I have left the realm of horror and grisly massacre to a third category for those who prefer to sup on the dredges of humanity- if you can call it that)