Saturday, February 28, 2015

McFarland USA

If you've been reading at all you know I have a bit of disdain for the whole Hollywood crowd.  I mean, they are so self-congratulatory it is nauseating.  I basically ascribe to the thoughts expressed here.  Here's the pull quote:
"Talk about a self-licking ice cream cone. This is an ice cream cone that builds its own ingredients from scratch, pieces them together, promotes the product, sells it at a premium, and then reviews the results. You don’t even get a vote. No one cares what youthought about the ice cream cone. The ice cream cone will tell you how good the ice cream cone was, thank you. External inputs are neither required nor desired."
But every once in a while a movie comes along that really moves me (and I assume others).  Such a movie is McFarland USA.  We went yesterday and I just can't stop thinking about how powerful two messages are for me.  The first of these is the power of sports.  This is the story of a coach at the end of his options with no experience in Cross-country running build a team of immigrants in Central California into a State Champion.  It embodies all that one thinks of in sports.  Teamwork, the power of determination, the fact that sports can take you to places you never imagined, discipline, the ability of sports to bring a community and a people together, and on and on and on.

The second message is the need to do something about our immigration issues in this country.  I've written about this and you can read it here.  I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but I still believe we've got to tackle this issue, sooner rather than later.  We've heard the politicians bicker over this issue for too long.  I know all the campaign slogans about the issue.  We must secure the border.   We must prevent terrorists from coming to this country.  There is a huge criminal element that we have to deal with.  We have to preserve jobs for Americans.  Etc, etc, etc.  All these issues are real, but if we're being honest, the biggest issue is how to accommodate the influx of people from South of the border who are coming here to build a better life.  While all this bickering and posturing continues, the plight of average people continues.  I don't for a minute think that Obama's solution that he is achieving by going around the Constitution is okay.  But I get his frustration.  McFarland USA, while just a Hollywood movie that minimizes and simplifies some pretty heavy issues, brings to light the plight of average people just trying to make a better life.  They generally do menial and excruciating work that most legal Americans won't do in this age of privilege.  That is just a fact.  And most are good people.  That is also a fact.

We have a lot of problems in this country.  Immigration is just another in a long list.  But more and more I see it as an issue of morality.  Of our basic humanity.  We are a nation of immigrants.  We have to find a way to accommodate a continuing influx of people around the world who still see America as a shining beacon of opportunity and freedom.  And we can't do this by building fortress America.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Patience Runs Out

Here in San Diego "THE STORY" over the last few days has been all about the Chargers.  Their investigations of moving to L.A. (well...Carson, but that's sorta L.A.) have exploded the social media and the local radio stations and fish wraps.  There are a couple of good articles in the UT that describe the situation pretty well.  You can read them here and here.  

I'll leave the technical analysis to others but as a native San Diegan who has lived here most of my life, I do have some history and have formed some opinions.  I know...surprise, right?  Anyway, several things come to mind when thinking about this issue:
  • San Diego government (City Council, Mayor, Port Commission, etc, etc) are notoriously inept and lack vision.  The new Mayor seems to be cut from different cloth, but even he hasn't approached this issue with honesty and urgency.
  • San Diego is a small market.  Not only is it a small market, the city government is filled with small thinkers.  Add to this fact that the new way to conduct business in the NFL is by selling Personal Seat Licenses, and things look bleaker for the team to stay in San Diego.
  • The Chargers have been working for 14 years and have been involved in 9 different proposals to build stadiums all over the county.  So far...bupkis.  Nada.  
  • Qualcomm stadium is an antique.  It needs to go.  The team cannot be competitive playing in this venue.
  • The population of San Diego, while generally liking the Chargers, doesn't seem to be willing to spend money (in the form of taxpayer subsidies to build a stadium) to keep them.  They generally have little vision and less appreciation of the economic impacts of having an NFL team and all the events capable in a new, modern facility.  
  • The good news is that the deal in Carson between the unholy alliance between the Chargers and the HATED Raiders, is still in embryonic stage.  It can fall apart.  A wild card is the guy from St Louis building a stadium down the road in Inglewood.  LA won't have 3 teams.  Another wild card is that the NFL owners have to approve anything that is done.  
So it's not, by a long shot, over.  But the city and/or county have to get off their ass to make something happen.  The problem is that, based on history, I'm pretty pessimistic that anything can be done or there is will to do it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Haunting Words

These words are attributed to Martin Niemoller about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. 
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The latest atrocities by ISIS are being reported sporadically by the main stream media.  It's actually pretty tough to get any accurate reporting on this dangerous and shameful saga in our human experience.  It really is mind boggling for the United States of America to sit by and do nothing about the unspeakable actions of ISIS against both Muslims and Christians.

The White House has hosted a summit on "Violent Extremism".  No mention of Islamic terrorism. I'm sure that as a summit is was pretty typical of these oh so important government summits with oh so important people.  Lots of talk.  Lots of networking.  Lots of pontificating.  Nothing gets done.  Nothing.  Obama seems detached and frankly out of touch with reality.  His speeches make no sense.  Oh he said a lot.  But so much of it was clearly not true and he embarrassingly avoided the elephant in the room.  It is scary!  The mess he is leaving will be very, very difficult to clean up.

For a good survey of where we are read this column by Victor Davis Hanson.  Like I said...scary!

Friday Funnies

A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor's office.
After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, "Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don't follow my instructions carefully, your husband will surely die.
"Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him.
"Don't burden him with chores. Don't discuss your problems with him; it will only make his stress worse. Do not nag him. Most importantly, make love to him regularly.
"If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely."
On the way home, the husband asked his wife, "What did the doctor say?"
"He said you're going to die," she replied.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dogs Are Cool

Saw this by a friend over on FB.  He came home from early morning church service on Ash Wednesday to find his dog making herself at home...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Worth a Read...

Got this from a friend.  Many, many pearls of wisdom in here!

"What have I learned"
They're written by the late Andy Rooney (ex-60 Minutes USA ), a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words. Enjoy.......
I've learned....
That  the best classroom in the world is at the feet  of an elderly person.
I've learned....
That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.
I've learned....
That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned....
That  being kind is more important than being right.
I've learned....
That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned....
That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold  and a heart to understand.
I've learned....
That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned....
That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned....
That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned....
That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I've learned....
That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned....
That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I've learned....
That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I've learned....
That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I've learned...
That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned....
That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned....
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned....
That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned....
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I've learned....
That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.
I've learned....
That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain,  but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned....
That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friday Funnies

Dangerous Incompetence

I was going to write a long post about how incompetent and dangerous our President has become.  But then Charles rides in to the rescue.  Read his column today here.  Says it all...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Big Trouble in NBC Land

A friend posted this over on FB.  Funny and sad...

Motivation Monday

This is a bit different.  Motivating by the relationship.  Motivating by the love.  Motivating by the certainty of life everlasting.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dogs Are Cool!

Friday Funnies

A young Ensign decides to try horseback riding, even though he has had no lessons or prior experience. He mounts the horse, unassisted, and the horse immediately springs into action.
As it gallops along at a steady and rhythmic pace, the Ensign begins to slip from the saddle. In terror, he grabs for the horse's mane, but cannot get a firm grip. He tries to throw his arms around the horse's neck, but he slides down the side of the horse anyway!
The horse gallops along, seemingly impervious to its slipping rider. Finally, losing his frail grip, the Ensign attempts to leap away from the horse and throw himself to safety.
Unfortunately, his foot becomes entangled in the stirrup, and he is now at the mercy of the horse's pounding hooves. His head is struck against the ground over and over and over. His head is battered against the ground and mere moments away from unconsciousness.
However, to his great fortune, a Chief shopping at Wal-Mart sees him and unplugs the horse.


That's the most common word that has been applied to the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot captured by the ISIS thugs.   That seems to be a pretty good word.  Barbaric.  When I look it up in the dictionary the words that pop up are savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal; primitive; unsophisticated.  All those things apply.  Maybe unsophisticated is a tad gentle, but the rest are right.  
Even though they are all those things, it's difficult to comprehend the cruelty in this act.  Beheading is bad enough, but this is about as bad as anything I've seen.  Burning alive.  Think about that.  
So now what?  The whole world seems to be paralyzed in the face of these atrocities.  Oh, we're conducting a few airstrikes and launching a few missiles from drones.   But really ISIS is being left to do what they want.  The stories emerging of their brutality to their own people, including women and children, are almost beyond comprehension.  Burying alive, crucifying, cold blooded shootings, and on and on.  There is no check on these assholes so they continue their reign of terror.  

Jordan seems pissed off enough to take some action.  The King is clearly a stud.  But they are a small country with limited resources that are being stretched by 1.5 million refugees.  They are practically begging for American leadership and regional support.  And we're thinking about it.  Thinking about it.  As people get burned alive, we're thinking about it.
Now the story emerges that the UAE has stopped flying missions because the US refuses to move Combat Search and Rescue forces forward.  This is a story that is getting little play but is hugely important in the region.  Simply said, the UAE is the most progressive country there and could be/wants to be a good ally.  They are scared to death of Iran and have assisted us in countless ways since 9/11.  And we now turn our back on their one request.  
And what does our President and our government do?  Nothing.  Nada.  Today he went to the National Prayer Breakfast and chided us that many have been killed in the name of Christianity and that Slavery was terrible so we shouldn't be too hard on ISIS.  He also has gone way out of his way to not link these assholes with Islam.  Of course, they are all radical Islamists.  But no matter.  Whatever the anointed one thinks I guess. 
The thing is, this is an existential threat.  Most Americans aren't paying attention, but sooner or later this scourge will be here.  It's very akin to the Nazi movement.  The difference is that there is no government that they are related to so we seem paralyzed to confront them.  So we can either play an away game or a home game.  Away is much, much better.
There are things we can do.  The President and his sycophants clearly have no strategy, but there are things we can do.  We can use Special Forces.  We can use large scale bombing.  We can use the CIA.  We can use specialized capability like tactical FACS, civil affairs, public affairs, etc, etc, etc.  The State Department could contribute a lot in the diplomatic area.  And these are just a few off the cuff thoughts.  There are many, many more.  We could have a strategy that would make a difference.  And that strategy wouldn't involve a huge force on the ground.  One of the things that the new age of warfare means in many cases is that mass is not the most important thing.  That hasn't always been the case.  The conventional wisdom is that mass is required in any confrontation.  But the way of waging war has changed that.  But we're not even doing that.  The other thing we could be doing is provided both monetary and weapons support to our friends in the region.  But we're not even doing that.  Our President as Commander in Chief has terribly shirked his responsibility.  I cannot fathom that we are in this mess.  And if you think it's not our fight, you're wrong.  This isn't going away.

Here's another thing I can't fathom that our military leaders are not protesting and resigning.  Every day that they support this disaster of our own making, is a day that I lose a little more respect for them.