Monday, December 17, 2012

A special place in hell...

Today, the funerals begin for the victims of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Our nation's collective hearts mourn the loss of these 20 children (six and seven years old) and 7 adults...all at the hands of a monster named Adam Lanza, a creep who decided one morning to kill his mother in cold blood, then travel to the elementary school where she worked and, armed with three semi-automatic weapons, proceed to shoot (and murder) innocent children and their teachers, before turning the gun on himself. Adam? I hope you burn in hell...

Having worked in law enforcement and at times as a first responder, I still can't even begin to imagine what these people went through...however, I can relate and I believe have a somewhat keen understanding of the second guessers and Monday morning quarterbacks who can't even wait for the youngest of the young to be laid to rest before they begin spouting their bifurcated political drivel. One side begins the volley with the "guns are the problem," diatribe, immediately followed by the tried and (un)true, "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Tell that to the children...I don't want to hear it...

One of my favorite people in the industry (although we've never met) is Marcos Breton, a columnist with our local rag, the Sacramento Bee. He wrote almost immediately after the tragedy, a thoughtful and insightful piece which clearly showed respect for the victims and families, yet also offered a scathing indictment of the problem...NOT the same old back and forth, but clear cogent advice as to how we as a nation can begin healing and at the same time, start to take more responsibility for ourselves and our families. Marcos summed it up nicely within the first few paragraphs with, "can't we simply agree that there are some people in our society who should not have legal access to guns and ammunition?" The entire column, a must read, is attached...

I'm not sure how much better I can say it than this column, but as you know, as always, I'll give it a shot. Since when is requiring someone to understand the responsibilities inherent in owning and operating a firearm...a violation of 2nd Amendment rights? IT IS NOT! Since when is starting a nationwide firearm registry in order to document who has a firearm and whether they are responsible enough to own one...a violation of 2nd Amendment rights? IT IS NOT! While we're at it, since when is limiting the amount of ammunition and capacity of magazines on firearms...a violation of 2nd Amendment rights? You got it...IT IS NOT!

Here, I'm not going to get into the age-old debate about how criminals don't care about laws and they will simply ignore the limits and requirements of any new law...nor am I going to remain static when people start whining about how "we don't enforce the laws we already have on the books." Again, we get nowhere when the debate stoops so low. That's old news. I'm also not going to go the "we need better mental health treatment," route. Though undeniably true that mental health "treatment" is vital, it gets us only so far...first things first...those children's classmates, teachers and families should be the first ones to receive this type of assistance...and of course, the first responders.

Nope, what we've got to see to it that, as much as humanly possible, we take steps to insure that monsters like Adam Lanza have a "more difficult" time gaining access to all types of firearms and ammunition (don't even get me started on body armor)...and while we're at it, let's also do our best to keep bows and arrows, spears, knives, hell, even sharp spoons out of the hands of scum like him.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let's get started, shall we?

As you may or may not know, I "work" at a bingo hall. I mean, I "volunteer" at a bingo hall under a non-profit organization's IRS number, for benefit of my daughter's continuing education and athletic career. I worked my way up to "caller," and one of the quote-unquote "catch phrases" I started using was, "let's get started, shall we?" Well, I don't know if you've heard, but bingo players are impatient by nature and that particular phrase is about 4-5 words too long. Still though, I like the phrase and it's certainly appropriate here.

I DO want to help us all find better ways to make our country's "new" economy work better for each and every one of us. "What the hell are you talkin' about? New? Ain't nothin' new...the rich keep getting richer and nothing will ever change?" Hello Buck...of course you are correct, in your own monosyllabic, borderline psychotic way,  but even you, even you can't deny we have had (and are continuing) a fundamental shift toward a more collective, redistributive type of government. Right or wrong, I have pledged to help others (including myself) find better ways to deal with the change.

Of course, the ultimate goal (now) is to spend more time in the "receiving" line, as you do in the "contributing" line. "Oh my cynical? What is wrong with you? Sore loser!" No, I don't think so...I signed up for a program where if you work hard, and are RESPONSIBLE, you receive (either tacitly or not) a "leg up" in the game, so to speak. In other words, play by the rules and you have a better chance for ultimate success. There was never a guaranteed outcome. Today, I think we are headed that way...under the guise of fairness. However, I believe that when we erode motivation for responsible behavior, it wanes...AND it is very, VERY difficult to ever get it back.

So, what do people (like us) do to maintain any sort of "edge" for responsible behavior. If you're like me, it's not as if you can become irresponsible overnight. But there are many things you can do to NOT contribute to (or at least not further reward) irresponsible behavior. We will talk about these things on a regular basis (at least) for the next four years. Yes, it is certainly "walking a tightrope," to continue to be responsible yourself without rewarding the irresponsibility of others, but it most certainly can be done.

But first things first...the fiscal cliff. Much of what we will do, or at least what I'll recommend we should do will depend on what occurs over the next month or so. Of course, I believe the answer is staring us in the face. GIVE THE PRESIDENT WHAT HE WANTS...COMPLETELY!!! "What?!? You can NOT be serious!" Yes, Buck (and nice John McEnroe impersonation, by the way), I am deadly serious. He won the election. The people have spoken. As I've always said, Americans as a whole love freebies...well, at least until they see they're not really "free."

So yes, give the president all the economic, tax, and spending fixes he wants...and whatever happens will be his to own. I know, I know...many say it will be the 90's all over again. Fake prosperity, fake surpluses, a compliant (complicit) media...initially? Maybe, but I believe most of us will be able to see through the charade. Just like the "stimulus," (I mean, how do you throw a TRILLION dollars at a problem and have zero quote-unquote "stimulus")...just like the stimulus, it will be very clear whether it works (or not). Many of the (same) folks also say, it will throw us into a, no it won't. So, let's get started, shall we? What? Too many words?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The most difficult post I've ever written...

Well, I told you I would make my mediacopp endorsement for the office of President of the United States. Yes, I'm a little late; however, I wanted to wait until after the debates...NOT because my recommendation has changed, nor did I believe it would change...I simply felt it more appropriate to wait. So, let's begin...

Just for first presidential election was 1976, the year after I turned 18. Back then, of course, I was a registered Democrat...I say of course because only rich people were Republicans. Well, rich people and parents...and I was a National Lampoon (well, okay, Mad magazine) reading, wanna-be stand up comic, who fashioned himself the epitome of non-conformism. But something happened on the way to the ballot box. Jimmy Carter.

Yep, Jimmy from Plains, Georgia...I couldn't believe we as a country were actually "going there." So, against what I thought were my best liberal intentions, I pulled the lever for Gerald Ford. Sure, I was a little skittish at first. I mean, he pardoned Nixon...the most evil politician of all I thought. But, I soon got a "real taste" of liberalism and yeah, it tasted kind of like chicken, albeit doused in peanut butter.

Then, after dropping out of college, I entered the working world for a few years. OMG! Are you kidding me? Between the shock of paying bills AND taxes...and watching government give things to people who not only weren't asking for anything...but didn't appreciate it once they got it, well, I soon decided to "get in the other line." You know, the "receiving" line...student loans, grants, etc, etc..

Returning to college, I soon returned to my "non-conformist roots." Only this time, I registered as a Republican more or less as a protest against my fellow students (and most professors). Also, I fell in with a like minded crowd...students who had returned to college after stints in the working world or the military...and we mocked the "kids" who knew not what they professed.

Yeah, I voted for Reagan twice...and I voted for George H.W. Bush...until he broke his pledge (i.e. "read my lips")...yep, I was one of those responsible for sticking us with the "wienie wagger" for eight years. I voted for the bug-eyed, big eared Ross Perot, but not so much as a protest vote, more because Dana Carvey did a mean impersonation...and I thought it would be fun...

Some fun...the "wienie wagger," beget an even dumber Texan...and the Texan ("W") brought us what we have today...and my recommendation give him four more years. WHAT!?!? Come on, think about it...what is our choice? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama...the GOP candidate (remember how bad the last one was) or a Democrat who has made most of us, me included, long for Bill Clinton.

Why? Even though the country is definitely on the wrong trajectory...and responsibility (in both people and behavior) is becoming increasingly irrelevant, to the detriment of all, I believe changing administrations at this point would be disastrous. The Democrats, as I've always stated, would rather be "right" than prosperous...they will do ANYTHING to be evidenced by what they did to "W" during the early part of this century. I don't see Romney as being any better at dissuading the Demo(lition) machine.

"But, but, but...Obama? He'll ruin the country!"  No, this country is stronger than any one person or ideology...although any more Obama Supreme Court appointees might push us past that point. So, what the for Barack Obama...but pray for the health of (Supreme Court Justice) Anthony Kennedy...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Or lack thereof...

Ah, now that we are in between national conventions, it's time for a little diversion. No, there will be no commentary on Clint Eastwood stuttering, or Mitt Romney vacillating, or Paul Ryan calculating. Nor would it be appropriate to comment on Joe Biden doddering, or Barack Obama pandering, or even Chris Matthews tingling. No, let's talk about more important issues.

"What's more important than our country's future...or lack thereof?" Thereof? What the hell does that mean? Ever since I let you back into the fold, Buck, you've been coming off more and more, let's say, Biden-esque? Or, to please those on the left, how about, well, Bush-like. "Man,  it sure didn't take long for you to toss in the "B" word!" Okay, you got me there. Hey, maybe we should start a pool about when the first DNC speech will use a "B" word reference. Oh, I about we predict which euphemism will come first, "the last administration," or "the last decade," or maybe go right for the jugular, "Bush/Cheney." Oh well...

No, I think we need to talk about professional sports, specifically Major League Baseball. Since I was one of the first to openly question "balls flying out of the park," back in the mid 90's, simply to get folks back in the ball parks after cancellation of the 1994 World Series. I mentioned juiced balls, juiced ball players, AND "juicy" strike zones. Yep, even back then, I was giving umpires much more credit (for their contribution) than MLB executives or team owners or the players union, and of course, the sports media. Why bring it up again?

Well, you HEARD IT HERE FIRST. The recent year(s) of the pitcher...all the shut outs, no hitters, hell, even perfect games, I believe, were simply intended to take fans' minds off the steroid scandal. Oh sure, many of us knew and still know, that PITCHERS JUICE JUST LIKE HITTERS to this day...and while some media folk have mentioned this, i.e. pitchers juicing, most have said nothing. Still today, the scribes have opted to focus their "faux" outrage on the know, like hitters are the only ones looking for an illegal edge. Ergo, we get year of the pitcher...I say more like "year of the shrinking, moving strike zone.  Today, however, something new is afoot.

Yep, the umpires...Major League Umpires...they have a union...and the union is in the midst of contract negotiations with Major League know, Bud Selig and the owners. A part of the negotiations, besides pay and benefits, is instant replay. Instant replay has been used in, for instance, the NFL, for several years now...and they keep expanding it every year. I believe the umpires see this and know that they could soon become irrelevant if MLB takes this same incremental path toward "automated officiating."

Speaking of expanding, which the strike zones did back in the mid 90's, I believe MLB umpires have, in addition to constricting modern day strike zones, allowed them become "more flexible," depending on the the game's flow, opponents, importance, etc. In other words, if MLB didn't previously think enough of the umpires to actually see that they are a huge part of the game and deserving of a new contract, well, this oughta show 'em. Yep, the umps are gonna show Selig just how the game can be effected due to their input (of lack thereof)...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where's Mungo Jerry when you need him?

"In the summertime when the weather is can chase right up and touch the sky...when the weather's right you've got women, you've got women on your mind...have a drink have a drive, go out and see what you can find..."

Of course don't drink and drive...but stay away from the spigot, especially if your home gets water service from California American Water, like here in Sacramento. Yeah, it's our fault for living in California, right? Especially Sacramento...but have no fear, this water conglomerate also serves multiple jurisdictions throughout the state, including San Diego, Ventura and Los Angeles.

It started about the time the bottom fell out of the housing market. Yes, I guess you could say it is our own stupid fault...especially those of us who haven't walked away from our homes...even though we could have and PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE.

I'd say around 2006, we were paying about $30 bucks a month or so...billed bi-monthly. Flat rate service...and even though rates tended to inch upward every few months (like ALL utility bills), we did our best to conserve. Sure, we griped...but what can you do, right?

Then, around 2010 came the good news (good, according to the Cal Am water). Per state law, water meters would be installed in order to "better track water usage in the community," and "hold water wasters accountable, etc.," and blah, blah, blah...oh, by the way, the federal government was kind enough to "front the money," in order for our "local water company" to provide this service. Nice!

Naturally, rates had continued to "inch up" over the years and the company was quick to point out that "other communities with meters have actually had their bills drop after the installation." Ahhhh, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha." Easy there, Sam  (Kinisen),  it gets better...the bills started arriving. Oh, just as an aside, NOT in poorer neighborhoods (who are subsidized) and not in the richer neighborhoods (who knows why), but we started "getting our new bills."

The first couple...higher, but not too much more than what you expected...that is, since the water folks had been regularly "probing us," for the past few years...i.e. driving around in their brand new Toyota Prius vehicles (really surprised they weren't GM) to cite water  scofflaws. But then, come summertime, whoa, hold on to your hat their Shamus, it we conserved.

And guess what? That's right...the water company went to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), requesting new rates because they lost revenue due to customers conserving "too much." What? Yeah...and double-guess what? In order to "further help the customer," Cal Am has now seen fit to send billing every month instead of know, to "help us."

Needless to say, a bill which was around $30 a month in 2006, well, my most recent (one month) bill totaled $121. Wow...that's quadruple nice! And now, I can't wait for summertime to be over. Wait, is that a moving van I see backing up to my house? Very Nice!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Born on the 4th of July

Well, well, the Supreme Court upheld Obama Care...and all the pundits are scrambling to make sense of it all. Some, mostly right wingers, have said it was a "complete sell out" by Chief Justice John Roberts. Many others, including most mainstream outlets, have called it vindication of Barrack Obama's entire presidency. No one, I repeat, no one has asked MediaCopp's opinion...

I'm not sure why that is, exactly. No one, I repeat, no one has come close to my opinion...and what if my opinion is the correct one, hmm? Looking more closely at the debate...the Court could have, a) struck down the law, or b) upheld the law. There are four liberal justices on the Supreme Court:  (Stephen) Breyer, (Ruth) Bader Ginsburg, (Elena) Kagan, and (Sonia) Sotomayor. The four liberal justices were rock solid votes for upholding the law. Conversely, there are four solid conservative votes on the Court: (Samuel) Alito, (John) Roberts, (Antonin) Scalia, and (Clarence) Thomas...and then, there's (Anthony) Kennedy, the one lone moderate.

Many pundits immediately assumed that "Chief Justice Roberts must have discovered that Kennedy was sticking with the conservatives," and he "simply changed his vote to preserve the integrity of the Court." Close...but cigar...and yes, the pundits were also in the ball park when they opined, "the Chief Justice knew that by 'siding with' the liberal justices, he would in fact be the justice who would write the majority opinion on this groundbreaking legislation." Again, oooooh, so close...

There was even one political talking head who came so curmudgeonly close as to earn a spot in the MediaCopp Hall of Fame. Yes, this politico even mentioned Gore v. Bush in 2000 and how "Roberts obviously sought to sidestep another partisan boondoggle" by taking the issue right out of the jaws of extremists on both sides of this issue. Did the Chief Justice of the United States of America change his opinion on such an important case, just to avoid a little bad press? Oh, all right, Armageddon- like bad press, I'll give you that.

Why not? I might not go as far as some pundits who said it (Roberts' change) was "obviously the  result of  President Obama's previous statements likening the Court's potential failure to uphold the law as unprecedented and (even) politically motivated," or because of "the tongue lashing delivered  (toward the Court) by Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) on the floor of the US Senate." No, I don't think those two factored into his decision in the slightest.

Still with me? Here we go...I have always said, it is far, FAR easier to sabotage something (someone) than to support and/or facilitate. I think Chief Justice Roberts looked down the road, at least ahead of most others, and saw what was in store for the country should there be another (as I predicted) 5-4 party line decision. Yes, MediaCopp predicted a 5-4 decision, followed by the national media immediately proclaiming the decision illegitimate...and the President and his followers then tweaking the law, of course to the detriment of all. "What?!? What the hell are you talking about? Sabotage? Illegitimate? Followers?

Yes, Buck, I too tend to look beyond tomorrow...or even the day after tomorrow. No, I'm not in the same league as a Supreme Court Justice, but don't you think I could be? On the 4th of July, all is least for now...

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm...what's the word, yeah, ambivalent...

So, yeah, I guess I've mentioned my youngest daughter, Courtney, will be graduating from high school too-morrow...and yes, I'm very proud...and very happy for her...and she is proud as well, AND, deserves to be. But, since this blog is all about me (yeah, right), I must comment.

I've been  involved in my daughter's scholastic pursuits, only in as much as she's allowed (lately) and I believe that's the way it should be. She'll turn 18 next month and deserves to steer her own ship, so to speak, as much as possible. She's a great kid, gets good grades, plays competitive softball, but more importantly, she is a FANTASTIC human being.

This blog originated in November '08, when I (nationally) saw the writing on the wall and retired from Sacramento County, specifically with the Probation Department, where I spent the majority of my law enforcement career. There were a few brief moments with other agencies, including police/sheriff's departments; however, if I wanted to "change careers," I needed to retire from the agency where all my retirement years/dollars had eventually landed.

"Huh, what the hell does that mean." Ah, Buck, you're back...missed ya buddy! Well, another thing I did was spend the last few years, prior to my career change, buying time...not biding time, I actually WAS working...but buying time, buy-back time, reciprocal time, you name it. I ended up with about 26 or so years.

Why? Well, back to the action...I wanted to be there for my daughter and make sure she could do all the things she wanted to do in high school. Lord knows in California, every bit of advocacy helps. I was there to make sure she got to and from school...and to or from appointments, softball practices, even tutoring (for SAT's, etc)...she deserved it. Plus, my knees were shot and I couldn't continue in law enforcement any longer...AND I didn't have a worker's comp doctor to file a claim for what I DO consider a work-related disability.

So where's the ambivalence? Like I said, I retired, er, I mean changed careers. I saw the writing on the wall. No raises or promotions in the future...and truth be told, it looked (and still does) as though achievement is going to be further stigmatized AND this country anyway. Now, the I "return" to work (actually, I have been busy "working" bingo and other non-profit venues for the benefit of my daughter's softball, but my wife doesn't call that working)...or do I opt to continue the quote-unquote "career change?" Remember, my daughter's off to college (now)...

My plan had always been to earn the right to "change careers" on my timetable...and yes, it was hastened a bit by the (hope and) changing political times in the country...and because of my desire to help my daughter...but do I continue to pursue what makes ME happy...writing, performing (in a sense), and opining my way through this phase of my life...or do I back down...again? Stay tuned...

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