The Same 78% Who Share This Without Reading It Support/Oppose Obamacare

Workers

Midnight approaches and I feel a bit like one of the guys sitting on the steel girder.

The government has shut down and I want to ask what would happen if I refused to work with a coworker because I couldn’t get along with them. It goes without saying I have taught my kids that you don’t have to like everyone but that sometimes you have to work with them.

I sit here at the computer one of the uninsured because my coverage was canceled. I don’t worry about getting coverage because the reason it was canceled will be overturned on appeal.

I haven’t got any real pre-existing conditions that will prevent me from being covered because I am one of those people who knows how to write a letter and understands how to work the system. But that is shameful, wrong and disappointing. It shouldn’t be like that and I won’t accept it.

The Ignorant Fighting With The Ill-informed

This post may have political elements but I am not interested in providing a forum for the ignorant to fight with the ill-informed. Not interested in listening to people who don’t understand the law argue against it while others whose understanding isn’t any greater argue for it.

What I know is that we are almost at the time I refer to as The Thankless Thanksgiving which means it is almost time for me to rant about why I hate the term Christmas Spirit and how giving should be done all year long.

But it is hard for me to understand why we fight about taking care of our own and then I look at our government and I just shake my head. When you don’t worry about healthcare the way ordinary people do it is easy to fight and dicker. When you don’t worry about dealing with the TSA and fighting through security issues flying isn’t as much of a pain-in-the-ass.

It just reminds me about how easy it is to ignore the pain of the other.

My Good Friend J.R.R. Tolkien

Got a lot of things going on in the world at large and many more in what you call the personal. I am excited about some new things, good opportunities that I can’t pass up and sad about some of the compromises that they require.

In the midst of it all I look to the books/stories I have always loved and reach for words because I have always found comfort there. Reached into the midst and wrestled with what quotes to share with you here.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

There are many more that I want to share, that I should share, lines about courage being found in unlikely places, kissing the girl in front of many and lines that remind us that not all who wander are lost.

But instead we’ll look at the two above and remember most people live in interesting times and the only choice they receive is whether to act or react to what they encounter.

And we are also reminded that even though we might seek adventure and the danger that comes with it there is a chance it might find us. Sometimes you trip and fall onto the tracks or you get hit by the drunk driver even though you were minding your own business. Things happen. Life happens.

Sitting On a Girder

So I feel like I am sitting on a girder hundreds of miles above the ground. I am sure footed and confident about my ability to do my job and to work with the guys who are up there with me.

But sometimes when I look down the earth starts spinning a bit and I wonder if maybe I fooled myself into thinking that I wouldn’t get dizzy, feel scared or nervous.

And then I remember I have nothing to worry about because bad stuff only happens to people in the movies and to those others who aren’t lucky and or are just lazy and I am none of those, right…

The Fastest Way To Lose Readers

The fastest way to lose readers is also the fastest way to gain them. Pick a controversial topic and write about it. Don’t straddle the fence either- take a position and own it.

If the Shmata Queen ever decides to return from her self imposed exile she will tell you that I used to do that very thing. This blog used to be filled with posts on politics and religion and the comment section was often bloody.

Some of that blood is on my head and hands. When I engage in the heat of battle I am not very gentle nor am I good about taking prisoners.  It isn’t always one of my finer qualities but it is who I am. I am a Taurus and if you poke the bull you often get the horns and the hooves and not the way you prefer them.

What Made You Stop Writing Those Posts

I never officially stopped writing them but I did get bored with it all. A million different debates that skipped civility and went straight to mud slinging made me ask whether there weren’t better ways to use my time. Though I am not afraid of disagreement it seemed like the smarter course of action was to build consensus and that rarely happened.

Not to mention the influx of trolls, most of whom show up every time I write about being a staunch Zionist Jew who thinks that the U.N. is a joke, that the International Red Cross failed Gilad Shalit and doesn’t believe that George Bush should be indicted for war crimes.

FWIW, I am neither Democrat nor Republican. A long time ago the parties left me and so I decided that since neither one of them truly represented me any more I would leave them and vote solely based upon the issues meaning I cross party lines as needed.

I don’t believe that either side is trying to destroy the good old U.S. of A. and get irritated when I get a million emails telling me that Republicans/Democrats and the devil and the only good liberal/conservative is a dead one.

What Do You Think About Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street movement makes me crazy. I am a fierce defender of the First Amendment and support the right to assemble and vocalize our opinions. I think that the banks owe the American people a huge debt and that they are failing us. We bailed them out with our tax dollars. We gave them the cash with the provision that it would be used to help people and it is not happening.

I pay a ridiculous amount of money for healthcare. I haven’t seen my dentist in a year because I can’t afford to  pay for my teeth and my children. I have them in a private school because their local elementary school was failing and education is of paramount importance.

So if you ask me if I am angry about things I will say yes. I will tell you that I am furious and I want change. But I don’t believe the Occupy Wall Street Movement has the answer and here is why.

I haven’t seen a list of demands and a plan of action. Instead I have seen a list of things that they would like change but as far as I know it is an unofficial list. And might I add that I don’t agree with a lot of the items on there. Look, I am pissed off that I can’t fly and that some people think that Twilight is art but so what.

What I want to see is a realistic and actionable list of change. I want a plan and I want structure. Give me three items that you think are a problem. Tell me why and then tell me how you want to affect change. That makes sense to me. That provides a realistic chance to make a positive change and impact millions of lives.

But The Police Are Mean

STFU for a moment and think. There are good cops and there are bad cops. I am sure that some of these police officers are guilty of bad things and should be prosecuted for them. But they aren’t all bad and frankly I am tired of using my tax dollars to pay for them to watch over you protesters.

Yes, that is right. We are spending money we don’t have to keep an eye on these tent cities. That money could be applied to infrastructure in the cities. It could be used to repair roads, maintain power lines, fund education and do a million other things.

Now if you had a real plan and structure I might feel differently. If I felt like you were doing something to really change the country I would feel differently.

Frankly if I had the power I would check the voting records of every one of you guys. I don’t care who you voted for or what the issues were- all I want to know is if you voted.

If you didn’t vote and were eligible for it I would fine your ass. If you don’t vote you gave up your right to complain.

Bottom line time. I want to see change. I don’t think things are hunky-dory but I want action. I don’t want lip service. I won’t listen to either side point fingers. Shut up, come up with a solution and then execute it. The time to complain is over. Now is the time for action.

Los Angeles Is Breaking My Heart

Dear Los Angeles,

Remember me? I am Jack, a native Angeleno. Yeah, that is right- I am that rare breed the L.A. Native. I showed up on the scene 42 years ago at Kaiser Sunset. I lived through the Sylmar quake in ’71 and the Northridge quake in ’94 not to mention a host of smaller and lesser known quakes as well. I was 23 when the LA Riots broke out and drove through some interesting events on my way home from Vermont and 6th to the Valley.

I have seen, experienced and or read about floods, fires, landslides, high speed chases, car jackings and more. I have lived and died with the Dodgers and the Lakers. I am a graduate of your public school system. I know your streets Los Angeles because I have walked and or driven through the city and I do mean all of the city. Westside, South LA, Koreatown, the Valley and more- I know them all. I am the white Jewish kid who wanders into little holes in the wall to in search of great food and we have a lot of it. I’ll match our restaurants famous and otherwise against any other city in the world.

When I got married- it was in Los Angeles. When I bought a house it was in Los Angeles. When we started our family it was here in Los Angeles. Even though there were other cities that offered cheaper housing we stayed because Los Angeles was home. I have long been a staunch defender of the City of Angels. Ask around Los Angeles and you’ll see that I have gone toe-to-toe with celtic fans in boston and argued with wannabees from detroit. I have slammed cleveland more times than I can count- which really isn’t fair because…it is cleveland.

But lately Los Angeles has been killing me. My oldest child is more than half way through 4th grade. He is enrolled at a private school and has been his entire life. I am losing sleep trying to figure out how to keep him and his sister at their school. My goddamn hair is falling out and my stomach hurts because we have a dysfunctional public school system. I am killing myself to take care of these kids because I don’t trust LA Unified. There is something very, very, very wrong with this. I know a million success stories that all started out at public schools here.

Because I grew up in a time when our schools were admired and it made sense to send your kids there. But now, now it is different. Now my friends that are teachers tell me that there are good schools for my kids. They tell me that they exist and they even name some- but they aren’t in my neighborhood. And the neighborhoods that they are in aren’t places that I can just pick up and buy a house in.

It makes me angry Los Angeles. I want to run through the streets screaming What the Fuck. I want to grab people and shake them. I want to take some of you, punch you in the nose and then hold a mirror in front of your face so that you can see the blood. I want you to see yourself bleed so that when I say that the city is bleeding you have some sense of what that means.

When I read columns like this one I want to scream again. Read the entire column and you’ll scream too. Why are our firemen not being given the proper equipment to use. Why are they using air compressors to fill the tires. Why are they not fully staffed. Tell me that this excerpt doesn’t make you angry and I may beat you over the head with a blunt object.

The air compressor isn’t a critical piece of equipment, but it’s emblematic of the effect of cuts both big and small. In a money-saving move, the Fire Department uses”rolling brownouts”,putting trucks and crews out of service on a rotating basis. Mike Eveloff, an alternate board member of the Westside council, jokes that at any given hour in the same fire district, you don’t want to be the second person to have a heart attack.

The calendar on the wall at Station 92 shows that for the next 12 days, one truck crew will be idle, and staffing will sometimes be at half the full force of 12. Last weekend, members of 92 were covering for a station in Woodland Hills and stopped into a Home Depot to investigate whether they could speed up the paperwork required by the city for the purchase of the air compressor.

It is infuriating and it is just one story. I don’t have to work hard to come up with more. I should provide links to stories about potholes and sewer lines that explode, but I just don’t have it in me to sift through some of that now. In part because I am foaming at the mouth mad with Frank McCourt the so called owner of the Dodgers. He and his ex-wife Jamie took a proud franchise and have turned it into a joke. It is not just because these self absorbed, greedy assholes took more than a $100 million from the team for their own selfish needs.

They own the team and they can use that money how they want…I suppose. And I am sure that there are lots of other people whose own stories are worse than what you read about dear old Frank. But they don’t own my Dodgers. Yes, I said my Dodgers because I grew up during a time when ballplayers spent most of their careers with one team. Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey- that was my infield as it was for millions of other Angelenos. I love the Lakers but I remember a time not so long ago when the Dodgers owned Los Angeles.

I remember a time when people didn’t want to walk up to Frank McCourt and say Fuck You! It wasn’t that there weren’t problems or hiccups with the team. The O’Malleys and Fox have things that they had to answer for too, but this assault upon a Giants fan is incomprehensible to me.

Look at this:

Dodgers owner Frank McCourtcalled it “tragic” that a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day, but McCourt said he was satisfied that the Dodgers have done everything they can to make the stadium as safe as possible.

“You could have 2,000 policemen there, and it’s just not going to change that random act of violence,” McCourt said Saturday.

Read that whole post and you’ll see that McCourt never reached out to the injured fan or his family. Why not Frank. Why didn’t you send a card, flowers or offer to pay for his medical bills. Is it because you are afraid of a lawsuit. I can’t imagine why, especially when your former attorney is suing you.

Los Angeles- this isn’t how it is supposed to go. We are supposed to make movies about drama- not star in them. It is not right. It is not too much to ask for our city leaders to do more than fiddle while Rome is burning.

Los Angeles, you are breaking my heart.

The Helen Thomas Affair

Unless you have been hiding beneath a rock you are probably well aware that long time White House correspondent Helen Thomas has retired. You can argue/debate whether she retired of her own accord or was forced out. You can discuss whether a person should be allowed to say the things she said without consequence.

But what you cannot do is suggest that her removal is as the result of the actions of an all powerful lobby that has control over the government and media. Or maybe you can, because the articles about her are filled with hateful comments. Antisemitic bile spewed repeatedly and intermixed with some awful ignorance.

There is an easy way to test whether people over reacted to her words. Simply insert the names of other groups into her comments. What would happen if she said that Mexicans should go back to Mexico, Blacks should go to Africa or Chinese people should go back to China.

The answer is that there would still be an uproar. People would be offended and go nuts and she would step down. Unfortunately this incident has provided a bully pulpit for those who wish to smear a country and a people.

It is a sad statement about people to see such comments. Shameful behavior that isn’t challenged enough. Because frankly it is reckless to ignore such talk. Give the bigots a platform that isn’t challenged and you provide a place for hate to grow and that shouldn’t be.

Thomas brought this down on herself. There is no blame outside of her own actions.

Political Gibberish

A relatively short time ago I was confronted by a man who told me that it was imperative that I listen to him because our country was on the verge of disaster. I tried not to be distracted by his appearance and to listen to his words. Looks don’t matter, I teach my children that.

It doesn’t matter that you look like Elmer Fudd or that your voice resembles Yosemite Sam. What matters is what you say and what you do. I know that and I tried hard, so very hard not to be distracted. I didn’t say “what’s up doc,” or call him “colonel” or use any of the many other goofy expressions that floated through my mind.

It took a moment to gain my composure, but I did it. And I am fairly certain that he never noticed that for a moment I wasn’t all there because he never took a breath. Once he started speaking he plowed ahead like a freight train. And he did so with all of the grace of a bull in a china shop.

So now in paragraph four you have to be asking yourself what it was that he said and why I haven’t repeated it. That is because it was gibberish. It was unadulterated nonsensical ranting about how the leadership of the country is bankrupt and the people are stupid and how our doom is at hand.

In spite of my proclivity for self deprecation I do have common sense, the ability to focus and an education. Those three things provide the foundation for determining if what I am being fed is factual, relevant and important.

So when you start crying about the problems and challenges the country faces I will ask questions. I’ll ask you to tell me why you don’t like socialism. I’ll ask you because I am curious to hear your opinion and because I am curious to find out if you actually understand what it is and if so, can explain why it is problematic.

I’ll listen to what you are saying and try to figure out if it is based upon fact or emotion and whether it is important to really pay attention.

And I should add that my opinion is not going to be swayed solely because I am a member of the same group, whatever group that may be as you. I need a little more substance than that.

With any luck the next time I get involved in one of these conversations I won’t find myself wondering where you stashed your rifle and waiting to be asked to help kill that “wascally wabbit.”