Monthly Archives: September 2010

Obama Bashing

Every morning when I’m at the gym doing my cardio workout, I generally watch CNN. But once in a while, when someone beats me to the remote, I’m stuck listening to the one-sided commentaries and interviews on Fox News. How in the name of all that’s reasonable can Fox claim to be “Fair & Balanced”? Not once have I seen an unbiased appraisal of Obama’s performance as President, nor have I heard anyone on Fox praise his accomplishments or efforts.

Do anti-Obama Americans have a short memory? Have they forgotten about the 8 years of madness under President George W. Bush? Have they forgotten about the two wars he started? Have they forgotten how he took a multi-billion dollar surplus and turned it into a staggering, trillion-dollar deficit? Have they forgotten about the financial meltdown, the corruption, sex scandals and unethical conduct of key people within the Bush administration? Have Americans forgiven Bush for defiling our Constitution?

The Tea Party, a group of extremists who act under the guise of patriotism, do everything in their power to discredit and dishonor President Obama. They seem to be leading the charge. Their efforts exemplify the widespread conspiracy against our leader. Clearly, they have a hidden agenda. The Tea Party supporters are not patriots or Americans against socialism. They are, however, radicals. To be fair, I’m certain that many Tea Party supporters have legitimate gripes against Obama’s policies; there will always be a great divide between conservatives and liberals. However, the man has only been in office 20 months, and although I do not completely agree with many of his policies, shouldn’t we support President Obama and give him a chance to dig out of the hole Bush created before we condemn him?

I hope that the true agenda of the Tea Party and other organizations that seem hell-bent on challenging every move President Obama makes is driven by a legitimate concern for America and not by racism. It seems to me that an underlying motive lurks in the shadows. Although we’ve made great progress toward equality in this country, we have a long way to go. I, for one, am going to give the man a chance to prove his worth before passing judgment. How about you?

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Hunting

My son mentioned to me the other day that his boss is an avid hunter and was going to spend the week hunting moose. Thinking about this for the last couple of days, envisioning someone slaughtering an animal in a most barbaric way, inflamed my aversion to the “sport” of hunting. Having worked on construction for many years, an industry that seems to breed hunters, I have engaged in many heated discussions over the whole hunting issue.

Ask a hunter why he hunts and he will tell you for food, that he doesn’t waste an ounce of the usable remains of the slaughtered animal. He’ll also proudly brag that hunting is merciful, because if men didn’t hunt to thin out the over-population of certain animals, they would just starve to death. Is it okay for me to use the word, “bullshit”, in my blog?

First of all, the only reason there is an over-population problem with many animals is because human intervention has disrupted the balance of nature. Mother Nature is a hell of a lot smarter than humans, so if we just let wild animals be, the strong would hunt the weak, and the animal kingdom would be ruled the way nature intended: survival of the fittest.

Second, in this day and age, why would anyone want to hunt for food when there are grocery stores and butcher shops all over the place, many of which sell free-range and hormone free meats? It seems a lot easier to make a trip to the grocery store than to make a trip to a secluded forest.

Third, how often does a hunter have a clean, one-shot kill? Unless he’s a marksman—and most hunters are not—chances are it takes multiple shots to kill the animal. Consequently, the animal must suffer unnecessarily. And how many animals are seriously wounded by a hunter but vanish into the woods and die a slow, agonizing death?

Fourth, why do they call hunting a “sport”? Every single sport on Earth from chess to tennis to football to hockey consists of evenly balanced opponents and a level playing field. Granted, not all quarterbacks have the same skills and not all pitches can throw a fastball 95 miles per hour. But the basic premise of any sport is to have evenly matched participants. If hunters truly want to make hunting a sport, then they need to leave their rifles at home and face the moose, the elephant or the grizzly bear one-on-one. Now that’s a sport.

One last thing: why are the majority of hunters men? Why do few women hunt? I believe that hunters hunt for the thrill of killing a living thing. It’s a man-thing. I’d wager a fair amount of money that the vast majority of hunters probably pulled the wings off houseflies when they were kids, just for the hell of it. And some did much worse. Hunting for sport or for food or to benefit Mother Nature is bullshit (sorry, there’s that word again).

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, tomorrow morning at 6:20 a.m., I should be white-knuckled and hyperventilating. I know I’ve said this before and you are painfully tired of hearing me whine, but I really, really hate to fly. However, my entire family lives in New York, so unless I make a decision to disown them all, or move back east, which, by the way, is a strong possibility, several times a year I have to force myself to hop on a plane and bite my fingernails for five agonizing hours.

I’m not sure what the psychology is for other people who fear flying. But for me, it’s the reality that if an engine fails or there is a sudden wind shear, or the pilot falls asleep, 200 tons of metal, wires, glass, and humans will fall out of the sky and hit the Earth at about 500 MPH.

I try my best to relax. I listen to my iPod, watch TV, and read. And I sometimes fall asleep, but when I do, I fear I’m going to snore or drool all over myself, and that would be very embarrassing.

Most of my family and friends love to fly. They try to reassure me that statistically, it’s the safest way to travel. And I do my best to buy into this theory—up until the moment the pilot turns on the intercom and announces that we might experience turbulence for the next 20 minutes. Turbulance. Who invented that word? Some pilots try to dilute the impact of using the word, turbulence, and instead say that “It’s going to get a little bumpy”.  Bumpy is fine if you’re driving a car, motorcycle or bicycle. But when the gap between the vessel you’re riding in and the Earth is 35,000 feet of air, then “bumpy” is just as terrifying as turbulence.

So, tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, I won’t be sipping a hot cup of coffee. Instead, I’ll be guzzling some Kaopectate.

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Stunning Contrast

Yesterday, while doing a cardio workout at 24 Hour Fitness, I watched a news segment on the horrendous conditions in Pakistan. The floods, as everyone knows, killed untold numbers of people and left the survivors homeless, hungry and without drinkable water. Now, the Pakistanis are faced with a second wave of devastation. Hundreds of people are dying of dysentery and starvation, particularly children, because the relief effort is falling short of providing shelter, food and clean water. I watched a woman holding her dying son. He was three years old and weighed 10 pounds. I thought to myself, “How can the world, with all of its resources and money, let this happen?”

Following this special report, CNN went to break, and I watched a commercial about some revolutionary skin care product that can take 10 years off your appearance. The commercial showed several stunning models with perfect hair and perfect skin. Watching this commercial, it occurred to me that most Americans—including myself—haven’t a clue what hardship really is. Granted, Katrina, West Coast wildfires, hurricanes and tornados have affected hundreds of people, but still, the majority of Americans live a cozy, abundant life, insulated from the realities of poverty and disease.

More stunning than this contrast between the western world and countries like Pakistan, Sudan, and Somalia was the fact that our society has become utterly superficial. We are spoiled rotten and addicted to a pampered lifestyle. We are obsessed  with text messaging, reality TV, fancy cars, designer clothing, gourmet foods, and every convenience known to humankind. I’m not suggesting that we should sell all our worldly belongings and live in grass huts; we are all entitled to enjoy the fruits of our labors. But isn’t there something terribly wrong with a world where a basketball player can earn 30 million dollars a year shooting hoops, while people are dying of starvation and preventable diseases?

I’m not a bleeding heart liberal. Honestly. In fact, I believe in capitalism and a free market. However, shouldn’t the world live by a standard of conservative principles, benevolence, and social consciousness? Shouldn’t we all do our part to make this a better world? Shouldn’t the rich help the poor? Shouldn’t the healthy help the sick? Shouldn’t we all make a difference no matter how small the contribution?

Perhaps it’s time for all of us to look at our reflection in the mirror and ask ourselves if we truly like what we see.

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