Saturday, September 11, 2010

I remember...

That morning, 9 year ago today, I was in Seventh Grade English. I know that many people my age either don't know or care where they were at that time. It belongs in the realm of crushes and way too easy book reports. It is distant to them in a way that saddens me immensely. Or maybe it makes me jealous, for I can't help but remembering so clearly.

We were in the middle of an exercise when my teacher was summoned out of the room. When she came back, well, let it not be said that pre-teens are completely oblivious. From the moment she entered the room, dragging a chair over so she could turn the classroom's mounted TV on, we started to quiet. There's nothing scarier to a kid than when adults focus so entirely on something other than them. Not just ignoring them, but being unable to spare any attention at all. It sets off alarms in our heads that all is not right in the world.

How accurate those alarms can be.

She turned the channel to CNN and a building was smoking, spewing out thick, greasy black clouds. Again, that comprehension without comprehending. I didn't know what had happened, no one did. But we all knew in our hearts that something was wrong. A part of me was more confused about why the teacher was so interested, but somewhere, deep in the pit of my stomach, the wrongness of what I was seeing pulsated with knowledge I had never learned. Skyscrapers are not supposed to burn like that.

My teacher just stood off to the side, in front of the entire class. I can still see her perfectly as she was that day. Black shirt, pencil skirt. She had her left arm wrapped around her stomach, the tv remote dangly out of her hand. Her right hand was poised over her chin, fingernails near her mouth. She may have been biting them. The image of her standing there, so tense, so scared, is intrinsically linked with my memories of her. She understood what was happening but, like so many others, didn't know how to react, didn't know if we needed to be sheltered from this. So the TV stayed on.

Whispers dashed around the room. What building was this? What had happened? Should we pray? The news aired the live footage from minutes before. A plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

Crashed. You don't realize how innocent that word really is until you compare it to the reality of what happened.

It was... surreal. Few of us had ever been to New York. We never payed attention to it's skyline, or at least I didn't. The Towers were something I took for granted. They were just there. Beautiful and strong and indestructible. I did not need to pay attention, because there would be time for that later. I was only a kid. The world was still safe.

Then, it happened. As we were watching, on that crisp, gorgeous September morning, it happened. Even now I feel the chill in my gut, the lump in my throat. Before the newscasters saw it we, the audience, did. A black smear across the screen. A horror so intense that you react to it before you are even aware it has happened. A second plane hit the second tower.

I know I was in shock. There are many ways to react to shock. I am blessed, or cursed, to belong to a family where that state manifests as a detached clarity. An ability to reason out what had happened and what to do. I was also a bright child. Between the two, I was probably among the first in that room to realize exactly what we saw meant.

What had happened was deliberate.

A girl nearby started to cry. Voices grew louder as we tried to make sense of it all? Why would anyone attack us? How had they attacked us? We were all twelve years old. If our teachers could not deal with what they were seeing, how could we?

Even as we were ushered to our next class, that cold lump in my stomach pulsed hotter, sharper. I still was unable to react to the event, only process the unmistakable facts that raced through my young skull. The terror was not over yet. Skyscrapers are not supposed to burn like that.

We were either in Religion or Literature next. They were taught by the same teacher, so who knows? But on the screen the towers still smoked. Several times they went to the cameras on the ground, to show the firemen rush into the building, the random acts of kindness as strangers helped each other out then rushed back to get one more person safe. I remember praying. Just praying. The teacher tried to hold our attention, but even her eyes were constantly drawn back to the scene behind her. I kept praying. Keep the victims safe. Keep the firemen safe. Keep the police safe. Just please God, save them. Not quite twenty people in this classroom, only one older than thirteen. I cannot bear to think of those who had to witness this alone.

We saw the first jumpers. We saw the clouds of smoke block the sun. We saw bleeding heroes and frightened children.

Then we saw the first tower fall.

Another moment of knowledge without comprehension. Of the body reacting to what the mind could not accept. I started crying, and quickly reached the point where I was unable to stop. The shock was broken, only because there was nothing left to figure out. Someone had set out to kill as many people as they could and they were succeeding.

The cold lump in my stomach was cold no longer. It had transformed into a molten lump of anger, hot and heavy. I did not know who had done this to us, but that did not matter. We were and are the United States of America. We were bruised, not broken, and we would fight back. The tears burned down my cheeks, and I knew there would be hell to pay for whoever was stupid enough to stab us in the back.

We were twelve years old. And on September 11, 2001 at 8:59 am (Central), our world was changed.

The rest of the day is near lost to me. When I lost my clarity, I lost my ability to comprehend what I was experiencing. I remember hot tears, and the teachers not knowing what to say. I remember hugging my sister before school ended and thanking God that my dad was a firefighter in the Midwest and not New York. I remember coming home and wanting to scream. Learning of the Pentagon attack and the feeling of hope and righteous, fierce pride when I learned of the flight that fought back. Watching the President address those that attacked us and the world and promising, as I knew he would, that Justice would be had. And I remember going to sleep hoping that maybe, just maybe, the world would make sense again when I woke up. But mostly, I remember the anger and the tears.

What happened that day still haunts me. I almost could not watch the World Series or the Olympics for years because any gathering of people made me nervous. I hated the terrorists for making me feel that way. I still do.

But what upsets me the most is that right here, right now I seem to be the only one upset. Not in the country, but on campus. No flyers for a moment of prayer. No e-mail linking to a patriotic song. No flags marking those who lost their lives or memorial for the soldiers who have died to make sure it would never happen again. The bells did not ring "Amazing Grace" or "The Star Spangled Banner" and damned if I know where to find an American Flag on this campus.

But this campus is too busy preaching "acceptance" and "tolerance" to remember. They try to enforce a false, meaningless peace amongst the peaceful rather than attempt to remember that day when we truly stood together. That day when, regardless of race, gender, religion, or even country of origin, we stood together in genuine solidarity and told the world "We! Are! AMERICANS!"

I wish I had my printer so I could have at least had a few flyers to post around campus. Instead, I will have to content myself with asking for a moment of silence tonight at my extracurricular. Even if it's only a dozen people or so, I hope that I can remind them of those two days, 9-11-01 and 9-12-01 where we decided that America was worth protecting. For too many of my generation act as if America is at fault. That evil does not exist in this world. They forget their confusion, their fear, their anger.

But I never will.

Never Forget. 9-11-01

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Life Horror

Hey my fellow young people! Summer time is a great time for getting your pants scared off. I mean, campfire ghost stories, horror movie marathons, and who can forget that Nightmare on Elm Street is still in theaters with another thriller Splice on the way? In salute of our generation's love of all things horrifying, stupefying, and downright scary I went and found the scariest reality facts I could.

You ready for this?

Check out and look at the red numbers.

If that didn't scare you (or you were too lazy to check it out), just keep reading.

Our national debt (that's money we do not have but spend anyway) just topped $13 trillion. Absolutely terrifying, no?


Let's put that into perspective, then, shall we? Our current GDP (Gross Domestic Product, aka the dollar worth of every man, woman, child, company, and service in America for the past year) is only $14 trillion. To further simplify, this means the government currently owes about 90-93% of what our country makes in a year to outside sources (*cough* China *cough*). The fun doesn't stop there.

The fed currently only takes in about $2 trillion in tax revenue. So if we freeze all spending, and the recession doesn't get any worse, it will take about seven years to pay off all of our debt. Both of those events are highly unlikely, however. Just yesterday congress opened talks on another multi-billion dollar "stimulus" bill (remember how well the last one worked?) and the unemployment rate is currently just under 10% (and going up every day). So who knows how long it will take. Probably more than a decade or two at the rate the current administration is spending. But you know, they could always raise taxes.

Oh taxes. Since most of us in the "millenial" generation either don't pay those yet period, or don't actually own anything the government would want to tax (ie, homes, investments, cars, etc), we tend to not think about these things. I mean, taxes only affect our parents, or "rich people". Au contraire. Let's personalize this.

At the very moment of writing, every citizen (man, woman, or child) owes $42,028 in debt. Every taxpayer, however, owes $117,987 and some change. That's more than most people make in a year. We 18-25 year olds are rapidly entering the taxpayer bracket, especially college students and grads who hope to reach about $50-100 thousand per year in the next five years.

Now that $117,987 and some change does not even account for the fact that not only do 46% of taxpayers not actually pay anything, but at least half of those who do not pay taxes actually get money from the government when they file their tax forms as well. So that means the 54% who do pay taxes owe a lot more than $117,987. I'm not an accountant, but I would put the actual debt as near $200,000. (psst. Guess where most of us college students and grads end up on the divide?)

So what does this mean? Again, pretending the national debt and tax rates hold steady, let's examine this. Supposing you do fairly well in your start-up, entry level job upon leaving college you make $60,000+ a year. (That's single income, no kids. Not bad, eh?) You would have to work almost two full years just to work off your fair portion of the debt and about three to pay off what you actually owe as one of the unlucky few who actually pay taxes. That's with no other expenses. I mean none. No cable (or dish), no food, no electricity, housing, water, car, or even college debts. Add just the basic necessities in (food, water, house, electricity, clothes, and heck, even a car to get to work in) and devote every other penny to paying off the federal debt, you're looking at about five to ten years of your life spent working for the federal government. Again, this assumes a total spending freeze.

That is five years (at least) of your life devoted to paying for things like medicaid/medicare, social security, and federal pensions (the top three spenders) that do not help you out one bit. You get no video games, no movies, no vacations, no social security, no medicaid/medicare and definitely no pension, let alone a federal one. Just the basics and the federal debt.

Except, there is no spending freeze. The tax rate will go up (unless you don't want to make money, in which case none of this affects you anyway, you lazy bum). Basically, the fed will keep spending more than we earn so the amount we have to pay each year will go up. More and more of our lives will be spent paying off the cost of the decisions made today. And probably not just our lives, but our children's and grandchildren's as well. We will spend our entire life paying for this. Not the government (whose pensions we provide as well) or the "rich" (which I was really looking forward to joining some day), but us.

Like I said, the scariest thing I could find. And unlike A Nightmare on Elm Street, this is all true.

I dare you to prove me wrong on this.

(ps. Dear readers, could you help out my challenge by telling your liberal acquaintances about me? Unlike our current leaders, I do not like to argue in an echo chamber.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Red Flag Waving

There's something wrong with this country when the PC police get you for wearing an American flag t-shirt to school.

From (San Francisco, go figure):
On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.

"They said we could wear it on any other day," Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."

I came really close to making a scene in the dining hall when I read this. I'm sorry, did AMERICAN kids in an AMERICAN classrooom get in trouble for wearing an AMERICAN flag during a MEXICAN holiday? Yes, yes they did. In fact, the students ended up having to go home in order to avoid being suspended for non-compliance.

Other students defended the school's decision.

"I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn't do that on Fourth of July."

So, so many things wrong with that quote, I don't even know where to start. In fact, I think I may even need to pull out the bullet points for this one, little sentence.

  • Cinco de Mayo is not a nationally recognized holiday, unlike Independence Day. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was imported, not to celebrate "Mexican Heritage" but as a reason to get wasted on Tequila midway through the week. I have many non-hispanic friends and relatives who celebrate this day with more gusto than any hispanic I've ever met.
  • It is not "disrespectful" to wear a flag on a non-national heritage holiday. Is anyone disrespecting the Irish when they wear an American Flag on St. Patrick's day? Last I heard, that was considered an important celebration of Irish heritage. What if you wear an American flag shirt during Oktoberfest (a German cultural holiday giving everyone an excuse to drink a ton of beer in the middle of the week)? Hmm? I'm German. I demand everyone wear lederhosen during Oktoberfest. If not, you're disrespecting me and I don't deserve that. You don't see me wearing lederhosen during the Fourth of July, do you?
  • Are you in Mexico, or America?
I have more, but I think I can sum up my last point with a little comparison. The principal's excuse for threatening the kids was that their shirts could be incendiary and start a fight. So, let's say a guy wears a Yankees shirt into a Red Sox bar. It's likely that some overzealous Red Sox fan gets offended and punches the Yankees fan in the face. For argument's sake, let's say it turns into a full on bar brawl. When the police come to break up the fight, who will they blame for it? The Yankees fan for his shirt? Or the Red Sox fan for throwing the first punch?
Anyone? Anyone at all?

They blame the guy who threw the punch.

You see, it was stupid to wear the Yankees shirt into that bar. Not illegal, just stupid. But nobody begrudges the guy the right to wear his shirt (except the guy who punched him, but he's going to jail now. See how that works out?).

That's the same thing here. Except in this case, the principal thought he could stem potential violence by punishing the would-be victims beforehand. He was going to suspend them for wearing a t-shirt with an American Flag. It wasn't like they were insulting Mexicans, or hispanics, or calling them names, or refusing to let them wear their heritage(?) flag. They were celebrating what they saw as their heritage on a day that, if you're not Mexican or a drinker, really doesn't mean anything. And obviously these kids weren't Mexican (or drinking) or there probably wouldn't have been a problem. As it stands, they were punished for not celebrating a day that doesn't mean anything to them.

That's what Political Correctness does. It punishes victims for non-crimes. Oh how far we've come when "freedom of speech" really means "freedom from speech". You don't deserve to be disrespected so some greater authority should have the power to dictate even what you wear so something non-offensive might not offend you later.

On a positive note, the school district has both apologized and distanced itself from the school's decision. The boys are back at school today, complete with American flags. Of course, today is one of the 364 days when it's not offensive. Except for St. Patrick's Day. And Oktoberfest. And ...

Usual challenge stands. Show me how the Liberal point of view on this one is somehow correct. Try and change my mind.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Declaration of Independence (Throw the Bums Out Edition)

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these People; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the Present Congress of United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have imposed their will upon the people in regards to the care of our own health, ignoring the wishes of the people and the laws upon which we rely for the preservation of our freedom.

They have made Backroom deals, Practicing the most Heinous of Political practices; Bribing, Arm-Twisting, and Vote Selling. By way of the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Throwback” they have Proven this to be so.

They have practiced Hypocrisy of the utmost degree. They Promised among other things, Especially in the case of “Pro-Life” Democrats, to ensure that the HealthCare Bill would not be passed. The Majority have Reneged on this Promise to their constituents, proving Themselves Unworthy of the Sacred Trust vested in them.

They have enslaved those Most Esteemed members of the Community, the Doctors, Nurses, and Other Workers who take care of the sick, the injured, and the Dying. These may no longer work for Themselves and their Patients, but must now instead Spend their Lives laboring to obey mandates imposed upon them by the no-longer Federal Government.

They have deemed it Necessary to Take Private Property, that cornerstone of Freedom, whenever it suites them. A Doctor is no longer Owner of Their Talents, Banks must Answer to the Government, not their Clients, And Industry is Being Driven from this Nation by means of Government Interference.

They have displayed an Egregious Ignorance in Regards to Matters of Economics. One Cannot receive Something for Nothing. And Increasing Spending Cannot Decrease Debt. They have Spent the Money of the People recklessly, pouring Billions into Failed Programs with Alarming Frequency.

They have Enslaved the Young and Unborn Generations of this Nation. For the Federal Debt has been raised to the extent that only by sacrificing Half or More of our Lives, represented by our Earnings, can we hope to Decrease this Monstrosity of Government Spending.
They have Ignored the Tenth Amendment, addressing States, not as Powerful Entities in their Own Right, but as Subservient to the Central Government, having no true Power of their Own.

They have degraded their Own People. Labeling Peaceful Protestors as Violent, Racist, Extremist, and Dangerous despite Myriad Evidence to the Contrary. They have ignored the multi-racial, multi-party, cross-class, and cross Ages nature of those who oppose Their actions. This Contempt of the American People is more fitting of the Kings we once Overthrew than of Elected Officials.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Congress and President, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Main Stream Media brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by Congress’ legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the People of the United States of America, in Protest, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of Ourselves, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from Obligation to uphold Unconstitutional Laws, and that all political connection between them and their current Representatives, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to Throw the Bums Out, elect Fair and Just replacements, to Preserve the Constitution by Voting in November, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Project

The Project is all about the conversation. It is aimed towards college students, but high school students and under thirties are welcomed as well.

The Project is a challenge, to both myself and to you, to confront the flaws in our ideals, to defend them, and to be exposed to those of the other side. As a conservative on a liberal campus, I have to do this, both to myself and publicly, nearly everyday. Now its your turn to do the same.

The Project is summed up nicely in this line: be willing to accept everything you dish out. Your challenge: move me to the Left. Try to make me see why Liberalism is the way to run this country. In return, however, I get to try to do the opposite. I'm gonna fight my hardest to persuade you to the Right and accept that conservatism is in our best intersests.

The Project works like this: Every week I'll issue my challenge, often on Saturday. Sometimes before, sometimes after, but at least once a week. It'll be a book I want you to read, a movie to see, or just an idea that I would like to debate. If you do this, you get to do the same to me. And I will read the books/watch the movie/ debate the topic.

The Project also includes my personal opinions and thoughts. During the week I will be updating what I call "Lessons" and "Thoughts from Right Field".
Lessons will confront assumptions and stereotypes often held by those on the left about those on the right. It will be a crash course in conservative values on pretty much everything.
Thoughts from Right Field is more of a rambling sort of thing. It'll be my take on current events, questions posed to me, and various goings ons in my life.

The Project's Rules:
1. No throwing out a source just because you don't like the person. You listen to Rachel Maddow, I read Ann Coulter. I will attack Maddow's ideas and the numbers she draws on. You do the same for Coulter. But the moment you say "Oh, Coulter, well, obviously you can't be taken seriously" you're out. I do not suffer fools well, and to ignore statistics, data, and philosophies from a book you've probably never read is insulting to the academic life to say the least.

2. Be polite. Nothing kills honest debate faster than insults and crude language. No name calling and nothing worse than Ass and Damn will be permitted. That means no S-word, F-word, B-word, etc. Again, I don't suffer fools well and failure to comply results in immediate expulsion from the project. Examples of what I won't accept. "Palin is such a dumb B***" "You F***tard." Again, any such use of language results in immediate expulsion. If you are quoting, self-censor please.

3. Stay on topic. Trolls abound in the world of political blogs, and anyone caught off topic, or bringing in irrelevant subjects will be treated as such. If you think a subject is relevant, then please, establish how so before diving in.

If you can follow these simple rules, we'll get along just fine.

So, you up to the challenge?
Alex out.