Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Paul Westerberg!

I have a lot of "favorites" when it comes to music. I don't think I've ever just targeted one band or one person as the tip-top, but Paul Westerberg is about as close to the top as you can get with me without seeing much competition. 

He came out of Minneapolis with his post-punk/pre-grunge, highly influential alternative (when it really was alternative) college rock band The Replacements in the early 80's. Westerberg rapidly grew into an outstanding songwriter and a pretty damned good guitarist. When The Replacements broke down (definitely not "up") he was already well on his way to doing his own thing and continued to write great songs and wear his heart on his sleeve.

He never became a big commercial success by today's standards, but his influence is felt through a thousand bands and he is well respected in rock circles among other musicians and critics. His 53rd birthday is today and I felt like writing a little bit about him in celebration. His influence on my musical tastes can't be measured. Opening my mind up to The Replacements allowed me to drive myself to all sorts of music I may not have otherwise heard. It was like "Freddy, there's a lot of music out there, don't miss it!" The years wear on and Paul isn't releasing as much music to the public as he did in years past, but that's OK. Like The Band, Waylon Jennings, Beastie Boys, The Beatles, and Roger Waters, their music that is already out there is more than enough to satisfy me for the rest of my life. The music is not to be disregarded after a listen. It's timeless for me. I just go back to my LP's or IPod and visit my friends when I'm lonely for one of their songs. 

Happy Birthday Paul! 

"First Glimmer" on MTV!

"I'll Be You" by The Replacements

"Dyslexic Heart" from the Singles soundtrack

"Love Untold" on Letterman! (Tommy Keene on guitar!)

New Year's Musings On Music I Found In 2012

Personally, 2012 was an OK year. I don't keep up with "time" very well and one year seems to slip into the next for me and then I don't remember exactly when something happened. Anyone else let time slip away like that? I suppose it's just natural as you get older, to lose track of when certain events happen. I need a better filing system in my programming. Freddy 6.0? 

I had some great times with family and friends last year and just keep plowing ahead towards the final destination. I have to say though, that there are a few things that were not of 2012 that I'm glad I found for the first time during this year. While others are listing their favorite "this" and "thats" from 2012, I'm going to list a few albums that I experienced for the first time in 2012, but were around way before this year.

Pieces Of A Man: Gil Scott-Heron (1971)

A wonderful find for me. I heard Gil Scott-Herson's name on a superb documentary about Bill Withers called "Still Bill" (which I highly recommend to music lovers and you can find it on Netflix, or watch on You Tube by clicking the link) and decided to find out why Withers and his wife were so keen on him. I listened to several songs on You Tube and was sold. This will be painful and hard for some to take, but I believe this album is better than Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and makes at least as good a statement on the plight of those on the bottom rung of socio-economic status in our country. There are five or six standouts on the record and "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is among those, along with "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and "Lady Day & John Coltrane". If you like soul or R&B, I'd be hard pressed to recommend any album in that line of genres to you ahead of this one. 

Seed Of Memory: Terry Reid (1976)

This is a fantastic album and honestly, my music loving life would be worse off having not heard it. Terry Reid is the guy who turned down Jimmy Page to be the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. One of rocks great blunders, but it gave way to this hidden gem, called "Seed Of Memory". The sound is definitively "70's", but as much as you can hear the well that Reid draws from (Neil Young, Byrds, etc), you can really hear where he was influential to those who came after him. His voice is so good and with the songwriting on this album, it bears repeated listening. 


The Band: The Band (1969)

It depends on when you catch me, but this may be the best album I have ever heard. Over the years, I had heard several songs off the album, but never took it in as a whole until this past year. Lyrically and musically it just delivers with an eclectic batch of tunes that weave into one another seamlessly. The voices of Danko, Manuel, and Helm are earthy, real, and at times, beautiful. It's hard not to love an album with "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down", "Whispering Pines", and "King Harvest" on it. George Harrison once called them the best band in the universe and after hearing this album I can see why he thought so. 


Pacific Ocean Blue: Dennis Wilson (1977)

An unheralded classic that is getting its due now more than it do when it was released. Most of the record is a departure from the Beach Boys sound that he helped create, though you will find some moments here and there that recall the Beach Boys at their best. I think this album has some great songs and it's a shame that it didn't receive more acclaim at the time. Perhaps the momentum from a hit album could have saved Wilson from his downward spiral. There are some beautiful songs on this one, including "Thoughts Of You" and "River Song" (co-written by Carl Wilson with a bit of a Beach Boys feel), but my favorite is probably "Dreamer". 

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2013. I'm sure, like any other year, it will have its ups and downs, but try to take it all in stride. It's just life we are living and I believe we only get one shot at it. With that, I'll say enjoy your family and friends, don't sweat the small stuff (and really, it's ALL small stuff), and find some good music to soothe your heart, mind, and soul whenever possible. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21/2012: I'm Still Here, Now What?

Alright then.....thanks for nothing. Fuckin' Mayans. All this build up for the past four or five years and here I sitting in a warm house with my little ones safely tucked in and me in my pajamas with the feet in 'em typing on my computer. Where is the mayhem? Where are the meteors? Where is Planet X? I was ready to embrace the horror and this is the devastating scene from my back yard as winds whipping at speeds of up to 50 MPH struck!?!?

I know I should be thankful, but I am decidedly NOT thankful. I've invested some time and effort into this day coming. I was ready to have the last laugh and now I have to deal with the aftermath of nothing happening. How do I come back from this? 

For the past two years, I watched about 37 You Tube videos and kept up with 11 blogs that laid out, in perfect detail, the end of times. They couldn't all be wrong, could they? Why would they tell lies and deceive me? I took them to heart and just stopped caring about what I ate and what I did. Does anyone know how awesome that is? To just not care! Oh, how grand it was. I put Elizabeth Taylor and Chris Farley to shame. Chicken wing Wednesday. Steak Saturday. Sundae Sunday. Muncho Monday. Saturated fats at every one of the six daily meals I had! I super sized everything. I haven't had a glass of water or a piece of fruit in 23 months! I did a reverse Jonah Hill!! Do you appreciate how hard it's going to be to lose the 100 lbs I carelessly gained? 

I also quit my job! Can any of you even know where I was in life just a couple of years back? I was living the dream in middle management. Working hard to make sure the last line of defense between the company and the customer was up to par. Getting groused at by people who weren't my boss. Had my own office with a window that over looked shelving full of awesome internal engine parts. Two weeks of vacation time every year! Managing people who could barely make it in sober if they made it in at all and then having to hear shit if I couldn't get them to work like they were on a southern cotton plantation in 1855. I had it made. I was going places. Hell, after 16 years, I had $7,000 in my 401K and would have been able to retire comfortably at the age of 149. I was living a dream!

For the sake of full disclosure, honesty, and transparency, I did some things that in retrospect probably weren't so smart now. You have to know though, that I would never do these things if I didn't think the world was coming to an end. 

1) Told my kids that every sneeze took a week off their lives and they need to hold it in. 

2) Tipped a stripper $600 last May for grinding on my Pepe' and had to take my wife to Sizzler for our 20th anniversary. (hell, I didn't think it would matter, you would have done the same)

3) Watched "The Walking Dead" straight through on Netflix. Now what?

4) I was asked to co-host a late night Internet radio show a few weeks ago and told the guy ; "Saw off a chair leg and sit on it you asshole, don't you know the world is ending?" (kind of wish I hadn't done that now)

5) I left the lights on, the heat blasting, and all of my water faucets running for the past month. I'm guessing those bills are going to have to go on a payment plan.

6) I've been littering, speeding, driving without a seat belt, jaywalking, and tearing tags off of mattresses for months and never paid any of the tickets I got. 

7) I've been stealing my neighbors Wi-Fi and downloading scat porn using his accounts. I mean, one of my other neighbors has been stealing that neighbors Wi-Fi and downloading scat porn using his accounts.

8) Before turning in last night I called and told my cousin her husband had been sleeping around on her and he had another family living in the Highlands. It's not true, but a great end of times practical joke. 

9) I used my kids college savings to buy a Mickey Mantle rookie card, and then set it on fire. (I always thought it would be cool to be able to spend money like that)

10) I purposely got hooked on heroin. It felt great. Not really sure what to do about that now.

11) I haven't paid taxes for three years and sent a certified letter to the IRS yesterday mocking their inability to collect.

12) I bought $13,000 worth of furniture on a "Pay Nothing Until 2013" deal. 

As you can see, I put a lot of stock in this Mayan calendar thing. I feel jipped this morning. It's not fair. I did what any normal person would do upon finding out the world was ending. If anyone would like to help me out, I really would like to know when the NEXT end of the world deadline is so I can start planning now. Perhaps this hasn't all been a wash and I'll just have to shine all this on for a little while longer. Oh, well, at least I enjoyed myself! What the hell have you done while I was having fun over eating at strip club buffets, having promiscuous and unprotected sex with men and women I met on the street, sharing needles, watching reruns of Different Strokes, choking the life out of stray kittens and giving my kids bad life advice for laughs!?!?

Don't you judge me!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook, Connecticut: Sadness, Anger, Hopelessness

This probably isn't the time to write this, but I'm pissed off and sad and I damn well want to vent. 

We have almost thirty dead people in Sandy Hook, Connecticut today and twenty of them are kindergarten students. The shooter? He's dead too, along with six to eight other adults. We don't know much about the shooter and really even the particulars of how it happened. What we do know is enough for now. Twenty dead children. Twenty dead kindergarten children. Twenty children around the age of five. 

First, I'll deal a little with my anger. There is no justice for this. How can there be? Even if the shooter were still alive and I could be alone in a room with him and a hammer, where would the justice be? Am I angry those children are dead? Of course, but my anger is more immediately aimed at nothing. I'm just angry, because I know that no justice can be done. Those twenty children and the their families have forever.....FOREVER been destroyed. That's beyond our control and it angers me. 

My sadness obviously comes from place in my heart that is touched because I'm a parent and even beyond that, these folks are my fellow human beings. I can't imagine the terror, the distress, the hopeless feeling, and the helpless feeling that has to be hanging around the necks of those parents right now. That's a pain that will never heal. Fade? Yeah, time does have a way of lifting a burden, but their hearts will never be the same. That makes me sad. Nothing anyone can say or do can make it better for them. I'm also sad that those children will never get to experience life. The good, the bad.....all of the shit that goes along with being a human being. They will not get to experience it. The thrill of competing in a sport, learning an instrument, getting a scholarship to college, having fun with their friends, their first kiss, their first true love, their first child..........none of that is in the cards for twenty children today. Yeah, there are thousands of kids dying every single day. Circumstances mean that there is loss of life in our world, but this wasn't a loss, it was a theft. A human being, likely a broken human being, stole their lives. He stole hope. He stole the future. He stole love. It's been replaced with grief, sadness, anger, and confusion. 

For those of you with children, try for just a very brief period to imagine your child's last moments. The terror, the fear and confusion that had to be rolling through their minds. Calling out for you and then being silenced. You having to go to the school and come to the realization that your child has been stolen from you.  It only takes a few seconds for my eyes to tear up. I can stop my pain, those parents can't. 

I'll make no bones about it, because I never have before; I don't care to pray for them. That implies that I would be believing that some greater entity cares enough to comfort us and the families or cares enough to usher those children into heaven. I don't believe that. I do not wish to feel better by believing it's a part of some grand plan. We just live and die. Looking to a god for comfort in times of death only serves to push the truth away, when we should embrace it. The truth is that life is very precious. Every second that ticks away is one less second you have to be here. The truth is not comforting, but that's the way it is. I don't begrudge anyone who believes or prays. If that happens to comfort you, do that. 

I've done my best to make sure my children understand that death is always with us. That may seem a bit odd or cold, but I don't want my kids to take anything for granted. I don't dwell on it, but when things like this happen, it's a good time to help them understand that the world is mostly beyond our control. As free human beings, we do things. We do some marvelous and breath taking things, but we also have the capacity to do great harm. I do my best to tell my children how much I love them at every chance I get. I'm sure they get tired of hearing it, but it's important to me that they know I love them. Love and truth are the most important things about our humanity in my opinion. Those are the only things that can ever unite us and help us understand each other. 

So, I'll turn into a preacher for a minute if you will allow me. I want to preach love. We should love as much as possible. It's not always easy, but it's the only thing that can truly change our world. We can't always agree. We can't always believe the same things. We can't always do the right thing. We can't always love. We can try though. If you want the world to change, then change yourself. Do your level best to put the ego aside and love people. Put aside petty differences with your friends and family and let them know you love them. Show love to others in how you treat them and the world around you. It will come back to you, even if it's not apparent immediately. Love now and it will make life easier on you down the line. 

The bottom line is, we will never be able to make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made. There can be no justice for this, because the incident was so unjust. We can only learn that life is short and we need to do all we can to appreciate and love one another. This happened to all of us. Not directly, of course, but those people are us, they just live in a different town. 

I hope I have not offended anyone. This is for me anyhow. Just wanted to pull some stuff out and express how I feel. Take care and give an extra hug to your loved ones. Let them know you appreciate them. 

**Perhaps I will address the gun issue and all that later. Right now, I just don't care about it as much as I do the bad feeling I have in my heart and stomach for the people in those families and that town.**

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Man Of The Year

Making cake for the hungry. My kids were hungry for cake.

Each and every year, major publications and news organizations announce their "Man of the Year". Sometimes the "Man of the Year" is not even a man. Hell, sometimes, it's not even a human being. That is where this blog comes in. You get it straight here, without influence from the "Jersey Shore" or hipster crowd. Freddy's Open Mind is a blog for the people. I will not bow to pressure from shameless self promoters, celebrity agents, networks, film studios or record companies. I will not cave in to the demands of the political elite! This blog hits upon the toughest issues facing our world today and is a vital part of my news cycle. 

The "Man of the Year" must be an individual force, who is not afraid to be on the cutting edge of thought, even if those thoughts, more often than not, lead to inaction. My readers deserve a true representative that they can look up to and use as a beacon of hope for themselves and their children.

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, circus clowns of all nationalities, I present to you;

Freddy: 2012's Man of the Year
Wondering if stuff in florescent lights really cause cancer. 

That's right. Your humble blogger (sounds like a bad job doesn't it? blogger) wishes to accept on behalf of himself, the Freddy's Open Mind 2012 Man of the Year Award. It's not every day that I receive an award. Hell, it's not every lifetime that I get one. I have been here, writing a bunch of bullshit that few see and even fewer read, and it makes me proud that I continue to tell myself that someday, someone will read one of these articles and it will make a difference. Perhaps 100 years from now, when someone finally gets around to cleaning up the Internet (what a vile and disgusting place), I will get my due. Yes, some over paid nitwit in Washington D.C. will be hired to take a bunch of trash out and he'll discover this site as he is headed for the dumpster. He'll read so many great articles about "douche bags", Sammy Sosa, mix tapes, hell, and Star Wars that he'll be inspired to publish my work and celebrate it as "great lost art"!  Seriously, is there any way that "You Might Be An A-Hole" isn't put into the National Archives at some point? How can any reader walk away from "Soccer Suuucks" and not be touched to his or her being? 
Not realizing I don't have to get married again because I caught a bouquet.

Why did I choose Freddy for Man of the Year?
 This has been a big year for me. I broke away from a job I had for 16 years (really disliking the last year or so of it), went from being a sarcastic, discontented pud to just being a pud (progress, right?), and have reduced my carbon footprint by working at home. Yes, I'm helping to change the world. I watched "Tree of Life" and didn't hate it. I listened to some YES songs and didn't hate them. I foiled a plot by evil ground hornets to infiltrate my yard and terrorize my children. I did try to watch "Super Troopers"again and continue to hate it and still have not made it to the end. I committed myself to lose 15 lbs and even though I gained 10 lbs, I made a commitment to do something and that felt good! Over the past 12 months I have managed to not say "Hot enough for you?". I have also not watched a single second of "Jersey Shore" and I couldn't pick a "honey boo boo" out of a lineup of two. I am also one of only 15 or so people who realize that we are not literally going over a cliff if DC doesn't come to a budget agreement. In 2012, I stopped using prescription drugs and started using drugs for recreation and I feel great! One of my greatest ongoing accomplishments is that I am a lot a hearty and brave soul, much like Lou Gehrig. No, I'm not battling a disabling disease, but I have now gone 31 consecutive years without being in a fist fight. Those are admirable accomplishments for me and I've decided to recognize that by bestowing my highest honor upon myself. Congratulations to me and may I have a stellar 2013!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hypochondria: My latest disease!

    Hypochondriac: an excessive preoccupation with and worry about one's health

I have come to the conclusion, after some six or seven years of worrying about having a crippling disease or being on the cusp of a major instantaneous health crisis taking my life, that I may be just a bit of a hypochondriac. Not full blown, mind you....just a little nuts in that regards. 

There are several people in my life, a few former co-workers, and some friends who can probably attest to my weakness, which I put out there for consumption from time to time. I'm pretty certain that my mother always worrying that one of us was going to get some fatal disease plays into my mentality, along with this new found fear of death. And that's strange, because I've never given much of a piss about when I was going to die. Now that I actually enjoy who I am....I kinda don't wanna die yet.

I'm the kind of person who has been tough on their body. Not necessarily overly abusive, but didn't really take care of it properly, even when I was in the athletic phase of my life. I eat too much of the wrong foods and rarely eat the right ones. I used to get a lot of exercise, but that's been non-existent over the past few years. I used to drink quite a bit and don't anymore,but of course I fear that just that short time has done damage that can't be reversed. Factor in that I'm now 44 (just like ol' Hammerin Hank) and every ache and pain gets in my head. 

When I was at my former job, my buddy Joe used to laugh at me all the time about it. He claims that I've beaten cancer eight or nine times, from my various trysts with headaches, back aches, and "other" pains. I've probably had the most success in beating back brain cancer. At least four times I've been convinced I have a tumor based on a perpetual ringing in my ears and various minor headaches. I also, apparently, have cured myself of bowel cancer by eating oatmeal and wheat bread for a couple of days. I petitioned Lance Armstrong to allow me to be the new spokesman of the "Live Strong" campaign and wanted my own colored wrist band. The reality was, I would have these various pains and after a couple of days I would always figure out what I did to cause those things myself or they just went away because they were just friggin' headaches! 

I've probably had about two dozen heart attacks in the last two years alone with another 50 or so heart episodes. Throw in a couple of strokes and I'm a miracle of the human body. I just keep on going. No medical treatment or anything. I just don't eat bacon and cheese for a couple of days and I'm cured. I know exactly what causes the "heart attacks", but keep doing it anyway. Coincidentally, these heart attacks always happen when I'm alone. Go figure, right? Sort of like that guy who says he talked to god or was picked up by aliens. Always alone.

Most recently, I defeated diabetes. Headache? Check. Sluggish? Check. Thirsty a lot? Check. Urine smells like maple syrup? (a bonus by the way!) Check. I went with this for two days (even breaking the terrible news to Nancy) before I figured out that I had not drank a cola or any tea for two days and was having caffeine withdrawal. As you can see....I'm a full blown moron. I told my cousin Chris about this and before I even got to the part where I was gonna tell him I figured it out he blurted; "Caffeine withdrawal?" Wise ass. I should have called him and saved myself two days of angst and planning for my ultimate demise at the hands of sugar....that cruel, vile substance. 

Oh, and I don't want to forget my shoulder and neck pain I have been experiencing for three weeks. I've been asking everyone what could be causing it. Heart episode? Rotator cuff tear? Some other life ending plague? No, none of the above? I forgot that a few weeks back, I worked my ass off (which I'm proud to report is all gone now) in the yard and used my left arm and a hand saw in an odd motion TRYING to cut some limbs off a tree. A few days later, I had kind of forgotten about that and the pain started getting severe. Whamo! Shoulder cancer! This arm is coming off! Then, just a couple of days ago, it all occurred to me that I had done this while working in the yard. Whamo! Dummy!

What doesn't really help me at all, is looking up my symptoms on the Internet. Not a week goes by that I am not self-diagnosing myself with Ebola, hook worms, sickle cell anemia, polio, or a ruptured gall bladder on Web MD or on some other idiots blog. 

Don't think I'm making light of any of the above. I have friends and relatives that have suffered (or are suffering) from these various illness' and diseases. I worry for them and sympathize for what they have gone through or are going through. I just thought I'd give you a little taste of what the mind can do, if you are not familiar with its power already! I always go to the worst possible place when I am sick or hurting now. The thing is, it's not going to get better. I'm not going to suddenly pull a "Benjamin Button" and start feeling better as I work my way back to my quality athletic time period (which lasted about 10 years) or my sexual peak (which lasted about ten minutes). No, it's all over but the shouting physically and I'm trying to grasp that mentally. I truly feel like I am smarter and wiser than ever. I am more patient, forgiving, loving, and caring. Hooray for me....but the sad thing is, now that I am evolved into the human being I have always needed to be, I don't quite have the physical prowess to use those attributes to their fullest potential, and that is some bullshit. 

The incredible irony, which is not lost on me, is that I am once again self-diagnosing myself with a disorder that's probably (see, I can't even admit that it's not) not real! My mind is like Charlie Sheen; it's WINNING! 

Feel free to add any comments that you wish. I'm kind of interested in seeing if other people go through this stuff or am I truly an idiot in the wilderness!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Whoa.....What the f*ck?

Jeebus! You ever woke up in the middle of the night and thought "Oh shit.....I'm gonna die!"?

None of us are gonna make it out alive and that's a sobering thought when you get right down to it. Most of us put off thinking about our demise, but there are a few of us (like myself) who can't get through a day without examining it a little bit. 

My cousin says he likes to "take death out of his pocket" and give it a look over every day, so he can remind himself to not stress out and take most of life with a grain of salt. Not a bad idea for those of us who are prone to slipping into Neverland, a place where death is always happening to other people. Hell, let's be honest; a lot of people NEVER take the time to really contemplate their mortality. It's just not in us to think about our death, when we are so geared to survive. 

As I have outlined here before, and earlier in this post, I consider death quite a bit. Not so much "where I go" after the deed is done, but what is it going to be like. Once you are gone, that's it. Poof! See ya. No getting a long last look. No thinking "Hey, I'm dead!" or whatever. One second you are tossing chicken nuggets down your throat, walking the dog, sitting at your desk, or watching Cheryl shake her thang on Dancing With The Stars, the next you are into the abyss. 

Sorry if I'm depressing you, I don't mean to. It's just that I have a little wish list that I would like to get done before the clock strikes midnight and the movie ends. I guess you could call it a "bucket list" if you were so inclined, and I'm not. This is just a small sampling of stuff I'd like to see, do, or experience before I "check out".

*See Star Wars episodes 7 through 9. I said the same thing about the prequels when I was young and after seeing those, I kind of wished the Grim Reaper would have grabbed me up outta my seat about 30 minutes into Phantom Menace. If there is a hell, Jar Jar Binks will be my companion for eternity. Can I have the weeping and gnashing of teeth instead? Please?

*See the final episode of The Walking Dead. This is a new addition to my addictions, but now that I'm involved in it on the same level I was with "Lost", I have to know how it ends. I don't want to be like Abe Lincoln. He never did get to see the end of "Our American Cousin". What a jip!

*See the Louisville Cardinals win another basketball championship. Come on, dammit. It's over due.

*I really don't want to jump out of a plane before I die. With that said, I avoid flying as to not wind up in that situation.

*I don't want to ever be able to do my "celebrity freebie"! You know, every couple seems to have a "Get Out Of Jail Free" celebrity that their mate says they can have sex with free and clear. At this point in my life and with the body I have "accumulated" over the years, it would probably be just as disgusting to actually have sex with that "super babe" as it is for me to even imagine it. Once you can't even imagine yourself looking good enough for someone else to want you, it's time to sack up the potatoes and keep things to yourself. 

*I'd love to live long enough to see marijuana be legal in Kentucky. I can stroke out after walking down to the store and picking up a pack of "Really Lucky's".

*Play a round of golf with......ehh....screw that. I don't want to play a round of anything with anyone.

*I would like to see the Grand Canyon.....and every gawdam rock in it. That should buy me some time. 

*It'd be great to see how my kids are doing in their 30's. Will they be dirty bums? Will they make an impact on society? It's more likely they will just be living a life like everyone else, trying to get by, having kids, working, and that sort of thing.

All of the above could be a moot point. Remember, December 21st is fast approaching and the Mayan calendar is running out. Stock up on bread, eggs, and milk, it's French Toast time baby!

A related post:
Have Some Fun At My Farewell Party!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reading The Tea Leaves? I Suck At It!

Well, as you can see by my election prediction, I suck at making prognostications. The bottom line is, the old standby arguments and evidence of the past no longer holds true. The demographics are changing. The Republican party has long relied on white males to win elections, but that demographic is going to be a minority group in the next 10 years or so. 

The Romney machine did the best it could to get its voters out, but let's face it, when you have a party that doesn't truly distance itself from politicians like Rick Santorum, Todd Akin, Sarah Palin, Richard Mourdock, and Michelle Bachmann (you might be shocked at some of the things these people, and other people in the party said about women, rape, slavery, and sexual preference, but I decided not to post the insanity) . Social conservatism as it is defined by the right wing of the Republican party is hurting their chances of getting a presidential election to go their way for a long time. 

Latinos and young working women voted about 70-30 for Obama. The young people and black Americans came out to vote again. Conventional wisdom says that it would be very unlikely that the youth vote would turn out. The old ways of thinking about politics have changed. 2008 was not a fluke, it's the standard. This is the Democrat vote. The GOP can't beat it unless it makes some changes. 

I believe they really need to TRULY be the party of fiscal responsibility. It's hard to be critical of Obama and his free spending ways when Bush and the GOP majority buried us in debt and pissed away a surplus that Clinton and Gingrich had built. Cutting taxes constantly is simply stupid when we have a disastrous budget deficit. Ronald Reagan raised taxes to help with a spend deficit and when things got to moving a bit, he gave the economy a jolt by cutting taxes. We are in for a train wreck with our economy and neither party is taking it seriously enough. The GOP can really set itself a part by offering a plan that makes cuts where they can be done without hurting people, eliminate fraud and waste, raise taxes on the wealthiest 20% for a specific period of time, freeze spending or roll spending back to a previous level, and place ridiculously high taxes on American corporations that take jobs overseas and then bring products back to sell to us. Give business an incentive to come back to bolster the middle class work force. Stop making shareholders the leading indicator if our economy is doing alright.

To deal with the changing demographics, the Republicans are also going to have re-evaluate their process of opposing abortion, immigration, and gay marriage. Now, I don't mean to say that anyone should abandon their principles, but the approach has to change. Stop trying to reverse Roe vs Wade. Third trimester abortions are illegal and that's a good thing, but a woman's body is her own and regardless of how any of us feel about abortion, a person's rights are their own. Not everyone believes life begins at conception. Not everyone holds a religious belief on it. Let it go and work hard to make abortions less likely by being understanding, educating, and offering alternatives. Gay marriage is a civil rights issue that the GOP is wildly on the wrong side of. Trying to amend the Constitution of the United States to deny two consenting adults the same rights as everyone else? Absurd. Again, you don't have to support it, but I would think the sanctity of marriage would better be served by working towards helping more people stay married or not get married in the first place. 50% of all marriages fail and someone thinks that gays will hurt marriage? Nonsense. How can you say you want less government and more freedom and then work hard to legislate people's behavior? That creates less freedom and imposes more government into our lives. Be the party that wants government to do what it needs to do to protect us, build infrastructure, give block grants to states to help the poor and then get out of our way and let us do what we do. Build, sell, and buy. 

Anyhow, as a registered Republican, I want the party to be relevant. I think it's important to have more than one party, but we are quickly moving away from that. Personally, I've pretty much become a libertarian. I believe that the party must move in that direction. Move towards promoting personal freedom. Move towards making tough choices in regards to our economic situation. Be a party that can really appeal to people in all walks of life. Change and adapt or die. It's simple evolution. Which many Republicans don't buy into anyhow. 

Well, there's that. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Presidential Election: President Obama vs Mitt Romney

I suppose I will go out on a limb and make a prediction on the election. Just to make sure that I'm clear from the onset, I will be casting my vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. I made that case awhile back on this blog and nothing has changed for me on that. I don't believe that Romney or Obama are candidates who represent the sort of real change it's going to take to get our nation back on track from a fiscal standpoint or an international one. Gary Johnson is the type of leader we need. He is a candidate that is willing to talk about the issues facing our country in an adult manner. If Gary Johnson had been given just half the media attention the two mainstream candidates have been given and he had been in the debates, I am of the opinion that we would be looking at a real three way race. Instead, the Democrats and Republicans keep the power on lock down and the nation is worse off for it. 

That said and out of the way, I believe Mitt Romney will win the White House on Tuesday. I admit that I am not some political prognosticator and I've never been good at figuring out what polls and such mean. We've seen polling off time and time again over the past couple of decades and I feel like they could be off again this time as the dynamics of the country continue to change. People are more cynical about politics these days and the ability to reach people to do polling is getting more difficult, especially when trying to identify who will actually go out and vote. 

An example of this is the recall election for governor from a couple years back in Wisconsin. The polling had it a virtual tie, but the final vote was a 7 point win for Scott Walker. That's some major league fucking fudging up right there. 

I posted this (below) on an online forum today and this is all my "reading the tea leaves", and comes from no real experience in doing so. Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I'm simply interested in politics and the dynamics of the race.

The polls, however, ARE showing it close in Florida, yet nobody is campaigning significantly there at this time, but they are going nuts in Ohio. The RCP ( average in Florida is closer than Ohio and Wisconsin, so it seems like THAT would be the battleground state that Romney would be hammering on, but again, it's not.

The time they are spending in Ohio and Wisconsin really says that those two states are in play more than Florida. Follow me.....Florida is a 1.4 on the RCP to Romney. Wisconsin is a 5.4 for Obama and Ohio is a 2.9 for Obama. From looking at the polls, it doesn't seem to make sense that Obama would be making 3 stops in Wisconsin today. If he really had it locked down, why is he there just as many times today as he was in Ohio?

Given that, it's likely that those two states hold the keys (Wisconsin/Ohio) and are really in play, despite the polling suggesting that Obama has a lead. A bigger lead in those two states than in Florida, yet Obama is doing most of his campaigning there. If Romney can't win the White House without Florida, and it's really just a 1.4 lead for him, it seems like he'd be spending a lot time there, but he's not.

There has to be something that is running that dynamic and I'm interested in trying to figure out what that is. Do they have internal numbers that are showing the reality of the race and the public polling is off? Hell, RCP has Virginia a dead heat, yet there is little action there.

You can also look at where they are spending their money and see how it could play into what the campaigns are seeing. Romney is spending roughly 5.5 million on ads in Ohio and about 5 million in Florida. Obama is spending almost 6.5 in Florida and 9.5 in Ohio. The highest spending PAC for Obama is outspending the highest PAC for Romney in Ohio. PACs for either campaign are not spending much in Florida at all. In Wisconsin, Obama is spending over 3 million and Romney is spending 1.5. By virtue of the spending, it looks like it's all about Ohio for Obama, as he is spending nearly double what Romney is in the state.

Romney is also making trips to New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. He's making trips to Democrat leaning states when Florida and Virginia tied? Either Romney is sunk and trying to throw "hail mary's" all over the place, or he is sitting comfortably in those two states.

Can you see how that is sort of strange? Are the polls off like they were for the Wisconsin recall? The polling there had it a dead heat, but Walker won by 7 points.

In watching a couple of speeches today, Obama has been wildly negative on Romney, while Romney is talking about getting to work on November 7th. Obama's crowds are very small compared to '08 and Romney is getting a lot of people out. Definitely anecdotal, but just part of "reading the tea leaves" that I find interesting.

UPDATE: Romney is going to Virginia twice on Monday and Bill Clinton will be in Pennsylvania for 4 rallies. Obama will be in Virginia and Ohio. It's probable that the candidates are going to hit as many stops as possible and we will likely see each of them stop in as many as 3 states on Monday. 

With all that in writing, I will go a bit further and predict the battleground states and the electoral margin. I think Romney will win Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, and pick up a big upset in Wisconsin. I believe Obama will take Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota. 

Electoral Count? Romney 295 Obama 243

As a reminder, please do not take this as any sort of endorsement of Mitt Romney from my end. I just thought it would be fun to make a prediction. No matter how it turns out, it will give me a topic next week! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Crushing This Morning: Concrete Blonde

I'm having a big of a crush on a band this morning and plan to spend an hour or two digging their music. Singer Johnette Napolitano has been a favorite of mine for almost 20 years. We had an assistant baseball coach at Lindsey Wilson College (John H.) who was into music and knew that I listened to quite a bit of stuff off the beaten path. He had a CD of Concrete Blonde's called "Bloodletting", which had their only hit "Joey" on it. He loved that song, but considered the rest of the record a bit dark for his tastes, so he gave it to me. 

I started listening to it.....A LOT! I listened so much that the guys I shared an apartment with started liking it. Then they started pulling it off the shelf and it was getting played even when I wasn't around. It truly is an amazing record and one that I recommend to any music lover. A pop sound, but there is an undertone of darkness to the music and definitely in the lyrics. Relationships, alcohol abuse, suicide, all of it is right there. 

Some years back, a college buddy of mine (Joey W.) ventured up from his hometown, which is in the Land of Lincoln, and attended a Concrete Blonde show with me at a night spot here in Louisville. I can't remember the name of the place, but that's not important. They were pretty damned good and the crowd was into it. There was some tension in the band though and at one point, the guitarist (James Mankey) got pissed off at singer Johnette Napolitano and told her to play the guitar if she didn't like what he was doing and he walked off. She sang a few songs by herself, one a heart piercing cover of "Mercedes Benz" made famous by Janis Joplin. 

Joey and I got to watch the band disintegrate before our eyes, but since then they have played together quite a bit. They even did a mini-tour commemorating the re-mastering and re-release of the Bloodletting record. Anyhow, I really dig their music and thought I'd write about them this morning and share a few songs that I think some of you may dig. They have released eight albums, the best of which are the aforementioned "Bloodletting" and "Mexican Moon". 

"Someday?" from Walking In London

"Caroline" from Bloodletting

"Joey" Live on Dennis Miller from Bloodletting

"Mexican Moon" from Mexican Moon

"Heal It Up" from Mexican Moon

I hope you listen to a few tracks and enjoy it! Even if you don't, I'll make up for your displeasure!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Has Happened To My Republican Party?

Though I've never voted for a Democrat for president and am a registered Republican, I've been called a "liberal" and an "Obama supporter" from time by a few people who know damn well I'm not and I'd really like to address something as a matter of curiosity. This isn't in anyway supportive of the Democrats and/or liberals, it's about the GOP....the party I had voted with for a long time.

I've never been a Democrat, and if a Republican (or former one now) can't stand up and call out the party, who can?

Why are regular Joe Republicans still so clingy to the party? This really isn't meant for the radical right. Those people have a worldview that believes an authoritarian or theocratic government would be best. Even though I don't subscribe to that in any way, I can understand that they hold this view and may do so for a variety of reasons including how they were brought up, social philosophy, and religious beliefs. I'm talking to you guys who don't have that world view, but still can't seem to get out of the grasp of the Republican party.

I am a registered Republican who feels like the party just doesn't want my kind any longer, and that being the way it is, I don't care to give them my vote in certain cases anymore. Voting is an important right and candidates should earn a vote, not be given it by default. I will vote for the best candidate from now on, and if there is not a suitable candidate, I wont' vote at all. No more giving my vote up based on a false idea or an outdated notion of what it means to be a Republican or a conservative. No more voting on the "lesser of two evils" as if that is an acceptable way of electing the people who should be serving our interests and not the other way around.

Just look at the past year alone. All of this stuff coming out about Republicans (and really does it matter if its at the state level or not? it is still a reflection of the party) who advocate/support/believe in trying to rewrite history in regards to slavery being a blessing for black Americans, marginalizing a portion of rape victims, advocating a return to Biblical "morality" by killing gays or unruly children, and basically a strong desire to create a theocratic government based on fear, hate, and a "us vs. them" mentality that has no use for anyone that isn't a "true believer". Basically, the hard right wants what the Muslim theocracies have. They can distance themselves from that, but what do you think a government that was based strictly on Biblical teachings would look like? It would see people thrown in jail for all sorts of reasons that had nothing to do with harming others, but simply harming others sensibility (or lack thereof).

We have seen George W. Bush go from "compassionate conservative" to a non-vetoing, big spending,torture enabling, war mongering, corporate slave,lying puppet. Then we had the audacity to hammer away on Obama for being un-American and a socialist. Obama has been a continuation, in many ways, but that shouldn't let Republicans off the hook for slamming him when they didn't mind it under Bush and don't seem to mind the same types of beliefs and behavior from Mitt Romney. 

Think about the people who ran for the GOP nomination; Santorum, Bachman, Perry, Cain, Gingrich. All of them with the exception of Gingrich (perhaps Cain) are supporters of theocracy and Gingrich is right with them, despite being the only one that god didn't call to run. Look at what these people have said and what they ran on and try to explain why they were popular at different times. Their words and beliefs are firmly anti-woman, anti-gay, and basically anti-anyone who isn't making over $75,000 a year. Why were social moderates and libertarians (who are the true conservatives in many ways) like Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and John Huntsman dismissed very early on in the process? They were marginalized by the radical right. 

Regardless if you are a social moderate or a fiscal conservative, this party doesn't fit you anymore. It's not YOUR party. It belongs to those with a radical right wing worldview. Again, that's OK for them, but how on earth can anyone who cares about human beings, fiscal responsibillity, and liberty over corporations, status, and religious dogma continue to support a party that doesn't hold their values any longer.

What has happened to the party of Lincoln? A man who thought all human beings had merit and were important. What happened to Roosevelts GOP military policy of a strong defense; "walk softly, but carry a big stick"? What has happened to the smaller, less intrusive government that Goldwater touted? What happened to the optimism and big tent philosophy of Ronald Reagan? What happened to "helping a person to help themselves" by giving them the tools they need to succeed?

All that has seemingly been replaced by loyalty to party over country, preemptive and aggressive military policy, big spending, the want to legislate morality, litmus tests for Republican candidates, and throwing people to the wolves without a safety net and calling it empowerment and freedom.The Republican Party through all of the above is beginning to limit itself on who is acceptable to them. The demographics of the country is changing towards a more diverse population, where the white male is no longer the majority. The country is becoming more secular. People are beginning to value liberty and freedom again, after having had it taken away piece by piece over the past 12 years. The base of the GOP is becoming marginalized as we move into the future. What will we have then? Just the Democrats? What's that going to look like? Having just one real alternative to vote for and even that isn't very appealing. Will we move towards a rise in libertarianism? If the Republican Party is dying and being overrun with radicals, I certainly hope an alternative that is acceptable arises in the name of freedom and a government for, of, and by the people!

And for those who are not Republicans; when the hell did we stop being creative in our problem solving? Why only two ways? Why keep going back and forth between failed ideologies and ideas? Why the demonizing of anyone who dares talk about a different way of doing things? Why the fear? Go back and read the words of Jefferson, Franklin and many others who dared to think differently when drawing up our style of government and governing documents. Neither party is very close to living up to the ideal of America. Why are we as Americans, not Republicans and Democrats, allowing career politicians, charlatans, and opportunists to rule us when they are supposed be doing the work of the people? Instead of us telling them what we want, they tell us how it's going to be and sell it all on safety, security, and the demonizing of free thought and expression.

Why are we not outraged? Why are we not passionate? Why are we not giving a damn about the country and the people (US!) who live here?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Struggling With Faith? Do Something About It!

For most of my life, I have been a believer in the Christian god. I was brought up on it and like others, I really got scared of the whole notion of hell and someone listening to my every thought. How bad I must be to have "sinful" thoughts as often as I did. I never even considered that everyone else has stupid stuff go through their minds too.....I thought it was just me. I wrestled with hell a lot, but I never allowed myself to even consider that I might be wasting my time with all that worry. 

A few years back, I started exploring my faith. I looked at Christianity with a critical eye and I began to research other religions. Then, I read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins and it occurred to me; What if there isn't a god? What if I can just live my life without the guilt and torment? What if I could be a happy human being? 

From there, I felt like I should look into my questions. I had never really gave not believing a fair chance. How could I? I was raised up on Jesus watching me all the time (not just in December when Santa has his critical eye on me) and fear of damnation. I was in church at the time and came to a point where I felt like I was being hypocritical by attending Sunday school in the morning and then reading Dawkins and Sam Harris in the evening. I stopped going and decided I would put the Bible to the test, so I started actually reading it. I wanted to test it against modern morality and ethics and see what god really said about how to treat people and it didn't hold up. I still continued to pray a couple of times a day for Jesus to help me along and show me the truth. Obviously, he didn't have much to say. My relationship was a one way street with my imagination. 

I continued to study religion and atheism and finally a little voice in my head said; "There is no god." Along with my losing religion, I was also dumping my penchant for certitude. Rather than proclaim myself an atheist or whatever, I decided that I just didn't know. With a gun to my head, I'd bet on there NOT being a god, but otherwise, hell, I just don't know. Nobody does. 

OK, it's taken me four paragraphs to get here, but what I wanted to say is that it's alright to have doubts. It's natural and you should welcome those doubts. If you don't, you are shutting off your mind, your intellect, and reason. If you believe a god gave you those things, then certainly you can see why it should be imperative that you use your intelligence and exercise critical thought. If I had to suggest some reading for a Christian who was wrestling with his faith, I would first suggest the Dan Barker book "godless". Barker is a former evangelist, Christian song writer and record producer. His book outlines his journey from being on fire for god to firing god. It speaks in a easy going manner to the recently converted and/or those who are starting to become unsure of their faith. 

I'd also suggest "Letter To A Christian Nation" by Sam Harris. He makes a great case, in a very short book, against religion as a whole. He mainly focuses on Christianity, because it is the prevailing religion in the USA, but he does so in a way that tries to allow the reader to take their belief into account in context with Islam or any other religion. His first, full scale book is called "The End of Faith" and it's also worth a persons time. It would be easy and probably cliche' for me to tell someone to run out and buy "God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens or "The God Delusion" by the aforementioned Dawkins. Those are great books and for someone who has recently lost their faith, I'd recommend them as great guides to strengthen your decision and resolve. You Tube is a great resource to hear anyone speak that I've mentioned to this point. Learning about the universe, quantum physics, consciousness, and critical thought have been so satisfying after spending much of my life tuned out to those things. 

Don't let anyone talk you into or out of your faith if you are wavering. Explore it for yourself. Use your mind and reason. Read the Bible. Really read what god says. If your faith is meant to be, it should stand up to the scrutiny of your mind and what you learn. You wouldn't be afraid to read Lee Strobel's "The Case For Christ" or "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brendan Manning, so don't be afraid to read some of the stuff I've mentioned. Be fair to god and yourself.  It's been a very satisfying journey for me personally and I wouldn't change it for anything. If you are struggling with your faith, go ahead and do something about it. Either way, you should come away feeling proud that you came to your decision on your own terms, without indoctrination.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gary Johnson for President in 2012!

I haven't written anything for this blog in about two months. That's an incredibly long stretch for me, and since I have my work week done, I've decided to get in some writing. 

I've pretty much been a Republican my entire adult life. I voted for Bush 1 over Clinton. I voted for Bob Dole. Hell, I voted for W.....twice! But enough was enough. I started checking myself and thought about my beliefs back in 2007. When I dissected how I thought and felt about the issues in a real and personal way, I started to find out that I didn't really buy into what the GOP was selling, especially on a social level. I still couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama, so I didn't vote at all. John McCain had gone from a middle of the road Republican to a right winger, just to get the nomination over Mitt Romney. This time, Romney has done the same thing and swung even more to the right. I still don't identify with the Democrats, and after seeing how Obama pretty much continued the Bush Administrations policies in many areas, I knew I was losing my political identity. 

But, in the last four or five weeks I have started seeing some articles about Gary Johnson. I took a couple of those "What are you?" political tests and saw that I fall in line, largely, with a libertarian point of view. I have decided to embrace that, while maintaining my preference to not strictly align myself with any party. It's a bit liberating to not have to defend the indefensible, which is the monopolized system we are currently in. 

You see, Gary Johnson gives me someone to vote FOR and not against. I don't see voting for the "lesser of two evils" as some sort of triumph in American politics. I see it as a disaster in the making, where politicians can pay lip service to the mainstream American as they gain power and wealth by setting our system up to cater to the wealthy and multi-national corporations. Why would a politician really address your concerns? You don't make large contributions. You don't throw fund raisers. You just vote. And if you only have one other choice, you just have to cling to the party you ALWAYS support as if this is one big sports rivalry like the Yankees and Red Sox. A two party system is agreeable to the Dems and GOP, because even if they lose an election, they are only one cycle from regaining power. They only have to fight the "other side" and they don't have to contend with other ideas. We have become a country of liberals and conservatives instead of a country of Americans. We have sold out the idea of America to belong to a club that we refuse to disagree with because we have invested in it on a prideful and psychological level. It's sad. 

With that, I am proud to say that I am going to vote for Gary Johnson. Johnson has more governing experience than either of the two major candidates and he has actually started a business from the ground up. When Johnson was in college at the University of New Mexico, he earned money by being a handyman. He went door to door searching out work opportunities. Over the years, he was able to grow from a one man show into a business that was worth $10 million! He didn't get that money from his daddy,and yeah, he built that! 

Johnson got into politics in 1994 for the first time and ran for governor in New Mexico. That's a really high place to begin for a guy just starting out in politics. Against conventional advice, he started his campaign using some of his own money and ran as a Republican. Mind you, New Mexico is a largely Democratic state, so not very many people gave him a chance to even get the party nomination, let alone to actually win the governorship. As these sorts of stories can go, he defied the odds and won the nomination and then the general election! Why did he win? Because he spoke to the ordinary citizen. He was (and is) a proponent of small, less intrusive government. He is a leader in the fight for personal freedom and he is a man of his word. True to showing that he wasn't bought and sold by any party, Johnson used his veto power to shoot down any piece of legislation that wasn't necessary to the state or the government. Wasteful spending was eliminated. 

When he ran for re-election, he simply campaigned on the success and fulfillment of his word from his first term. It was expected that he would have a tough time winning a second term, as he was running against a Hispanic opponent. The pundits proved how out of touch they can be by simplifying people down to being robots who are only capable of voting for "their own kind". Johnson won easily and continued to govern as he had before. He made the availability of school vouchers and the elimination of war on drugs central pieces of his agenda and he also opposed the building of private prisons. An industry that should give EVERY American pause about how we create and enforce laws. 

Gary Johnson is the real deal. He has a record that is one of success, met expectations, and kept promises. He tried to run for the Republican nomination, but was largely ignored by the GOP and the press. The party abandoned him, so he went about his business and embraced the Libertarian Party, much the way Ron Paul has in the past. Johnson and the Libertarian Party have worked hard and he is now on the ballot in 47 states. The Republicans have tried to block him from getting on the ballot in three other states, but Johnson is fighting those efforts. It's not likely that you will see him in the presidential debates, even though he meets all the criteria but one. He isn't at 15% in the polling. He may have never reached that point anyhow, but it's impossible to know because he isn't listed on polls and the pollsters only focus on Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, or "other". It's a bit of a scam. It is specifically designed to keep anyone except Republicans and Democrats out of the conversation about our nation.  

I've been told I'm wasting my vote and I beg to differ in a big way! How is my vote wasted if I am voting for the person I believe in and who most reflects my values? Wouldn't I truly be wasting the right to vote if I simply cast my ballot for the "lesser of two evils"? Wouldn't I have to consider myself intellectually dishonest if I only voted for a person because of some sort of misguided allegiance to a party that doesn't have the countries best interest at heart? 

Gary Johnson is the only candidate willing to be an adult. To be open and honest about the state of the country and what needs to be done to start us going in the right direction again. Here is a rundown of a few of Johnson's beliefs and proposals for restoring America;

1) simplify the tax system, abolish the IRS
2) a strong defense that isn't into nation building and forcing our political will on others
3) he opposes censorship
4) he opposes the War On Drugs as it is currently
5) he wants to cut the federal budget by 43%, and allow states to get involved with Medicare to suit their citizens better
6)  he advocates state's rights
7) he is for balancing the budget immediately
8) he believes the Federal Reserve is devaluing our currency and wants to eliminate it
9) he supports the rights of individuals over the state
10) he believes corporate welfare should be shut down
11) he is against lobbying

These things are not out of step with most Americans. Gary Johnson is for all the things that most Americans say they are for and what the two major parties SAY they are striving for. But the results have not shown it. The Democrats and Republicans work their agenda the way they want to, not how the American people want it done. Those parties work for the wealthy and corporations. Sure, they will throw out some sound bites that make people believe they are in tune with people who have lost their jobs, their homes, and are struggling to pay their bills. These parties are directly responsible for the destruction of our manufacturing base which has crippled the middle class, but they will NOT do anything to solve those problems. 

The choice is simple for our country. Continue down the path we are on or start making changes. Gary Johnson may not win this election, but the tide has to turn somewhere. Why not now? Why not here at this point in history? Why can't we look back at 2012 as a point in time where we decided that things had to change? If Johnson got just 10 or 15% of the vote, it would be a huge wake up call for our mainstream politicians and this country. A voice will have been heard. I think our nation is worth it.