Tag Archives: America

Why you need to Raise YOUR Bar

It’s time to raise YOUR bar! Starting now! Get on it and stop the continual slide toward human idiocy.

How do you raise your bar? It’s not easy. If it were easy, we’d all be speaking coherently, talking about real issues, standing up straight while dressed professionally. But, like all things that need fixing, it will take more time to fix it than it has to have broken it. This is the Catch-22 inherent to the problem. People want things immediately regardless of the cost, and scoff at the effort and resources it takes to change them. Grown lazy by years of getting things when and how they wanted them, any effort required is met with resistance. So, people tended to give up and compromise in order to avoid a fight. How then, do you raise your bar? Continue reading

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The Stakes Have Never Been Higher! #hopeoftheearth

(Yet another news story has leapt in front of my three part series about “raising your bar.” Don’t worry, the election is almost over…)

Hi, everyone. The pressure on you and me as Americans has never been higher. Sure, full-time employment escapes us at this point, even though I am doing enough freelance writing to live. And, in my life there is no special woman calling me to tell me that she made a wonderful dinner and asking when I’m coming by later. But, bigger things are beginning to weigh me down. I went to bed last night full of dread. As my eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep, I was frantically making plans to help save the planet. You see, America, apparently we are the hope of the Earth!

Note: if you’re reading this and you are NOT a U.S. citizen, relax. According to a certain debater, only the U.S. is “the hope of the Earth.” So, you’re off the hook. Feel free to sit on the bench and chill out with a cigarette and watch some Honey-Boo-Boo. You’re welcome. We’ll get to you as soon as we can and help you out of any jam you find yourself in while you’re watching us kick some ass!

Luckily, I’ve written on being better prepared. That was only for a natural disaster or earthquake and I’m sure that I will have to write one for general upheaval/mayhem soon. But as an American, if I am going to be part of the hope of the Earth, I am going to have to start realizing who my enemies ARE and what I can do to blunt their attack on this planet that I hold dear.  These are the steps that I would take to make sure that Mother Earth rests assured that America is going to take care of her.

If this is what they are doing in binders, I want to be in the binders!

1. Free the women out of those damn binders! First, they can’t breathe in those things. IF something bad happens to the Earth though, we’ll all be grateful to Mitt Romney for keeping these ladies in pristine condition. Second, we’ll need all the Americans we can get to save the Earth. And, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is nothing scarier than a woman who’s pissed off at you for messing up her plans.

2. Unless a possible Romney administration gets to build the Death Star, we are wide open for attack from the Martians who are probably a little pissed off that we’re criss-crossing their pristine planet with our ATV’s and four-wheelers like a bunch of nerdy rednecks. With our supply of horses and bayonets on the wane since 1916, America should begin investing in new technologies such as 10-speeds and sharpened sticks. Going downhill we’d be unstoppable. And with an army of well-trained, bicycle-riding Mormon missionaries leading the charge, we’d mow down any resistance.

3. Everyone loves teachers, of course (how that has ANYTHING to do with foreign policy, I still don’t know). I know I love teachers. If you want to know why, just email me or follow me on Twitter. Once we remove them from the plastic, it will be on these educators to teach the survivors how to ride the bikes and sharpen the sticks that our children will use to defend the defenseless (namely the rest of the world).

You’re welcome, citizens of Planet Earth! Rest assured that we hold the fact that we are the “hope of the Earth” with high regard. We won’t let you down. We shall stand astride our bikes, sharpened sticks in the air, at the top of the hill and ride down upon the world’s enemies. And then up the other side of the half pipe, then back down, maybe a flip in the air.

If the battle for Earth doesn’t take place in a half pipe, non-American Earthlings, you’re on your own.

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America! It’s Time to “Grow a Pair!”

(nothing can get you out of a funk or a rut like bitching about all the ‘bitchers’ out there…)

Oh, yeah, and this one contains the salty language reserved for my favorite rants…

America, Grow. A. Pair. Already.

America, it’s time you grew a fucking pair. I mean a big pair, you sorry bunch of out-of-shape, whiny ass pussies. You’ve had it too easy for too long. And now it gets hard. Turn off the fucking “Kardashians!” Stop watching other people being talented (no, the Kardashians are NOT talented). Do your own thing. It’s time that you return to what made you great and the envy of the world! It’s time to return to a no-fear, take charge, can-do with feats of daring do, damn the consequences attitude! It’s time to throw off that pervasive fear that has settled on your shoulders like your crazy aunt’s shawl that she wears even in the August heat of Phoenix! Quit your fucking crying already and take some personal responsibility and do something that makes your life better! Stop bitching about how much it’s going to cost, or who’s looking at you and laughing or freaking out whether or not Greece is going back to the Drachma. You’ve got a few problems right here at home in case you haven’t noticed. Time to fix the issues here first. And no one else is going to help you out, not anymore. It’s time for a little personal responsibility, America. Fend for yourself.

You think that I’m wrong? Imagine that a horde of zombies shows up right now on your block. Who’s going to check in on you? Your neighbors? They are NOT going to cross that street full of undead neighborhood watch commanders, my friend. Sure, they might watch from the big bay window of their 4,200 sq. ft. McMansion with pained concern as the undead mob eventually beats down the door to your poorly constructed house made of Chinese housing materials. Hell, your neighbors will probably watch while drinking a nice Cabernet… And, do you think your local police department will help? I guarantee with their recent budget cuts, the few that are left are talking you on the speaker phone from across the squad room as they brace the door, telling you to just stay inside “until they can get to you.” Hell, even your relatives in Peoria are going to tell you, “Well that’s what you get for living in (insert city name here).” And Europe? Those cultured, latte swilling, wine and cheese eating socialists? They have a few of their own self inflicted issues to deal with. Face it, America, you’re pretty much fucked. Your minds and bodies have gotten soft, your life has gotten “hard,” and you’re just sitting around complaining that no one is doing anything about it to help you.

America: “Fat, dumb and stupid is no way to go through life…”

Who knew "Animal House" would be so prophetic?

So, America, you over-caloried, self indulgent, reality show watching, entitled, social media addicted fat ass, how DID you get here? Let me tell you. You’re spoiled. You expect “it” NOW. You want immediate gratification. But, it’s not all YOUR fault, is it? A lot of it is your “parents” and their rotten parenting skills that are at fault here. After they got a taste of freedom, sowing their oats in the 60’s, they kept on wanting more and more. Then, you were plopped in smack dab front of the TV for a front row seat to the go-go consumption decade that was the 80’s. Sure, it had a hell of a hangover at the end, but hey, we invented Prozac and other new medications to dispel the pain. In their halcyon haze of new found prescriptions and accumulation, parents lost track how to be responsible parents.

As you grew up, your parents apparently never bothered to tell you that you WERE NOT the best at everything; that merely showing up and competing WAS NOT cause for a trophy; that you COULD NOT get everything that you felt “entitled to” or wanted.

I NEVER got a trophy for trying out at the Punt, Pass and Kick tryouts every year. I thought I was good, but the fact that my father would call out to me to go home during the competition eventually led me to believe that I wasn’t going to win any kind of trophy. It crushed me, but it taught me that I am NOT a football player. And, as for the teacher in 5th grade music class who told me to “never try out for the marching band…?” THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You’re right, I DON’T have any musical talent.

The icon of one of Tim Barley's greatest childhood traumas...

And then there was the 4th of July Big Wheel Race in Portland, MI circa 1976… MOST. TRAUMATIC. COMPETITION. OF. MY. LIFE.

Of course I didn’t win the new Big Wheel for first prize. I cried (yes, I am a modern man, and in touch with my feelings), and grudgingly took the ice cream cone coupon (worst second prize ever) after controlling my sobbing enough with my mom having to forcibly guide my hand to take the coupon.

But, SHE didn’t harangue the organizers for another Big Wheel for the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. She didn’t go out and buy me a new Big Wheel because she felt bad for me. She also didn’t tell me that I was a winner for trying. She merely said, “You tried your best.” I did. The reason I didn’t win was that asshole who “traded paint” with me on the last turn and forced me into the hay bale. (I forget his name as it is just too traumatic for me still to this day…)

Hear, and accept that “no” is part of life. Then move on.

Accept it. Then get around it.

But, somewhere along the way, America forgot to learn how to say “NO” to itself and its kids. How’s that working out for you now? Your parents, by not demanding too much from you and coddling your sorry asses, have made you soft and probably borderline retarded. You started getting everything you wanted and only cried and whined when you didn’t get it. Your parents were soft and gave in. You got an X-Box, even though you had a PlayStation. You got your own TV in your room at age 8. With cable! You cried in the middle of Wal-mart and your parents, rather than spank your sorry ass right there, bought you whatever you wanted just to shut you up. Your expectation and entitlement made you a bunch of whiners and criers about “fair play,” and “even playing fields.”

Look: life isn’t fair and playing fields are NOT even. But, let me tell you something, there IS a level playing field, you whiners. You make it yourself by creating a whole new game. THAT’S how America was built. It just created a whole new field for a whole new game. The U.S. of A wasn’t the U.S. of A until some colonists said, “Hey, bitches, we don’t like tea and crumpets! We want coffee and tobacco in the morning!” And then it did it again and again and again with hard work, ingenuity, brains and more than a bit of chance taking. Baseball? Basketball? Pure American sports, invented so that we wouldn’t succumb to soccer and rugby. We mass produced the car, made the airplane a reality, brought the lightbulb to the people, developed the telephone, helped win wars, harnessed the atom, walked on the moon and brought the world closer together with the Internet and social media (the jury’s still out on the effects of this one). All this in what could be considered America’s pre college years. We ARE only 236 years old. We did all these things even though people said “you can’t do that.”

Look, no one likes to hear the word “no.” It’s a word that I heard a lot in high school, as in, “Would you like to go out on Friday,” “No.” “Please.” “No.” etc., etc., etc. It hurts. But, you get over it. What it took for me was just moving someplace else in order to go to school and inventing a whole new game. And yes, I do mean that figuratively…

But, like finding a blocked path in front of you on a trail, or seeing a detour on your favorite route to work, obstacles present us with opportunity. It’s time to see that the word “no” is not a bad thing. It’s not just there to discourage you. It’s actually there to guide you off a path that isn’t working, and discover one that holds infinite possibilities because it hasn’t yet been discovered. You parents told you NOT to run around the pool for a reason! “No” is merely a tool that you can use to create new paths to be stronger, leaner, smarter, faster, and better people and a nation.

Educate yourself.

The best way to getting around the word “no,” and forging a new path is learning.

“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Books!

Apparently, the path to “prosperity” in this nation is by balancing budgets at the cost of funding on education. While this may help (and I say “help” loosely here) balance budgets, it also adds to a national education gap that constantly fails against other industrialized nations and a few third-world nations as well. Math and science skills, if you hadn’t realized as you read this ON YOUR COMPUTER OR SMART PHONE, are becoming pretty goddamned important! If you are a young American, you already have one strike against you. Not only that, but there is an effort to make English the official language for the U.S.. Well, that’s all well and good, but 30 million Americans (14%!!!!) of this country can’t read or write at a 9th grade level! Have you ever heard a non-native English speaker speak! They speak in proper English and test much higher than a good majority of those 30 million do.

Not only do you get good grades (teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet!!!), and praise, which you strive for every day, but education is invaluable when you want to go into the workforce, which most of you have to do unless you are A. a trust fund baby, B. a brilliant whiz kid who has the next great Dot.com idea, or C. happy with being a sponge on society. Let me tell you right now, you know already if you are an “A,” and being a “C” is a lifestyle choice usually earned AFTER GOING to college. But, if you think that you are a “B,” you’re not. Just realize right now, that you are NOT a B. Just like the “A” types, you’d know by now if you are going to be the next Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg.

But, there is another career choice that apparently does not need much education and that is U.S. Legislator. According to this article at Huffingtonpost.com:(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/members-of-congress-speak_n_1532666.html), the level of discourse at the highest level of government has dipped to a 10th grade level. Clearly, there is no need for a proper education to be a U.S. Senator or Representative. This is probably the reason why education cuts are the first to take effect when balancing a budget. We’re just grooming the next generation of legislators.

You should always be challenging yourself to learn something new every day,whether it be from a book or from a documentary on TV  (FYI – you’re NOT going to find this on “Duets,” or “America’s Got Talent.”). In this time of high unemployment, it’s always best to learn new skills. “But, Tim,” you say, “I don’t have the money to go to school.” In my best R. Lee Ermey I would respond, “You sorry, fat-headed, waste of a good American! Bulllll-sh*t! There’s an internet out there, son! You can learn anything you want. Now, get to it. Sit and give me 20 (minutes of internet searching on a skill you want to learn).” Seriously, it’s easier than ever to learn new skills. So far this year, I have taught myself marketing and blogging skills so that I can pontificate like this every day…

Where America is today…

It’s bad. Finally, the hangover of partying like rock stars with money we didn’t have, combined with living in a society where stupid, loud, obnoxious, classless people are celebrated with TV shows and a need for people to praise us for every little thing we do has caught up to us. But, we didn’t get here overnight and we aren’t going to get out of it quickly. Cars that has been driven over a cliff at high rates of speed go really, really far off cliffs. (If you had gotten a good education, basic physics would have taught you this). Cars, and economies, don’t just magically appear back to where they were. It takes time and effort to get back to “normal.” It take a lot of heartache and a lot of trimming of the fat you have accrued over the years sitting on your asses, eating your fast food and watching “American Idol.”

There are ways out of the mess that was created. It all comes down to creating ideas and making things HERE. As locally as possible. If you truly want to make a difference, buy things that are conceived OF, made IN, and sold TO, Americans. If you need a new chair for your McMansion, buy one that is made in your town, or your state, or you goddamned country. That car you need to replace? What about an American made car that will support American manufacturing and American jobs? The more that you can find that is manufactured here in the good old U.S. of A., the better off we are all going to be. And if you can’t find what you are looking for, why not create it yourself? Nothing can stop you; you’re an American. You’ve been born into a country that gives you freedom to do anything you want! Get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

The REALITY of it all.

Rise to your challenge!

Buying the products made in your own country and educating yourself aside, what you need to do, America, is get off your collective lazy, ever-growing asses and exercise both your body and your rapidly shrinking brain and return America to a country that can stand on its own. There is no “us” versus “them.” You’re being lied to because it makes for good TV news. You can do what you want to do. And if you can’t do it by yourself, find someone who shares your vision. Banks and companies shouldn’t be worried about Europe and how it’s going to affect them (with YOUR money by the way) before they spend money. Politicians shouldn’t be deadlocked into a state of not accomplishing anything by a standoff of ideals. They should be finding ways to help those Americans who DO get off their asses and let their brains find a way around the “no” obstacles. It’s time to be bold again.

America should be asking how can we lead. America should be asking HOW it can get back to the moon or Mars, not how “economically feasible” it will be. America should ask itself how soon it CAN harness the sun and wind and tides to overcome addictions to fossil fuels, not whether WE should. As a country, we should challenge ourselves to DO something, no matter how remote it seems. There will be “no’s.” But, we must always wan to do MORE. There will always be naysayers who say you can’t. That’s good. Just find a way around them.

Now, what are you going to do to challenge yourself?

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Help Me [Insert Legitimate Third Party Here]!!! You’re My Only Hope!!!

(WHY not…?)

The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s…

The Axis and the Allies…

Fox News and CNN…

The Skeksis and The Mystics

 

Republicans and Democrats.

Brilliant! Nice job, gentleman. That'll teach them!

There’s a stalemate in America government between the two major political parties. There’s an uneasy, often vitriolic detente displayed – much to the thinly disguised glee and enjoyment of the news networks – as loudly as possible for the benefit of their wealthy donors and their own oversized egos. It’s turned our government into political theater, a macabre, grotesque shoutfest mockery of what the wigged framers of the constitution had in mind. It has become “government” in name only. It’s an equal opportunity for getting nothing done at the highest levels of government.

With an equal amount (+/- 30%) of registered voters in America calling themselves either “Republican” or “Democrat” and committed to voting that way (even if their candidate holds up that blind autistic child, the one that the campaign staff carted up onstage with the candidate, in order to shield himself from the lightning bolt arcing down from the heavens), we are left an impotent and ineffectual government that will continue to be elected into power. In this era of partisan politics, with each side calling the other the problem, we have entered a new age of Mutually Assured Destruction – a behavior you get when your elected leaders refuse to work with the “other side” based on either a purely sophomoric view that the other side’s ideology is wrong, or a juvenile need to make sure that the other side doesn’t get any credit for solving the issues. Wahhhhh!

Traditionally, stereotypically, “historically” (whatever you want to call it) the two major political parties are known for certain ideologies and have certain voters who vote for them. These voters once based their vote on what their candidate stood for but have since primarily voted as a result of their hatred for the “other side’s” candidate, not so much what the candidate stands for:

Prototypical Republican as seen by the Left

  • Republican: (as seen by the Democratic voter): White, rich, wears a monocle and uses a cane as HE (no women here) climbs to the top on the back of his workers, entering his limo, lights his cigar with a $100 bill, loves guns, lots of guns, hates a woman’s right to choose, is Christian, and “shoots first, asks questions later.”
  • Famous Republicans – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, Sarah Palin, FOX News, Montgomery Burns. (amazing, the evolution, isn’t it)

Democrats are sponges as seen by the Right

  • Democrat: (as seen by the Republican voter): Non-whites, godless, lazy/freeloaders, elitists, baby killers, socialists, Muslim* – new addition, whiners and criers, gays.
  • Famous Democrats – I honestly looked for non-celebrities here, but other than John F. Kennedy, all I saw were screen shots of celebrity photos. And Sponge Bob. (sigh)
Again, these are only traditional stereotypes I listed here, but with most Democratic or Republican candidates for every office cow-towing to the party line (“small government,” “big government,” “lower taxes on the rich,” “everyone pays their share,” “pro life,” “women should choose,” insert your favorite political diatribe here), drifting to the “party base” and throwing out their personal ties to the voters THEY REPRESENT, where are those who don’t follow the strict party doctrine to turn?

The “Rest of Us”

Caught up in this ideological war, are the roughly 30% to 38% of Americans who call themselves “independent.” This is a higher percentage than call themselves “Republican” or “Democrat,” but as there is NO one main Independent Party that counts them all part of the same group, this number is highly diffused across too many parties to have any effect. (This is also probably a misnomer, as in this day and age, no one wants to offend anyone by stating their political beliefs out loud, they might believe that their “independent vote” won’t amount to much, or they “can’t bear to see that ____ candidate win.”)

True independents believe that the purpose of government is TO GOVERN FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE, not just to battle the other party; that a SMALL CENTRAL government IS good and STATES’ RIGHTS are more important; that because a small central government is best, that people get to CHOOSE how they conduct their lives in private; that everyone pays the same to live here; that those who do live here get all THE SAME RIGHTS as everyone else; that we live within our means and that taxes ARE those means; that economic development AND environmental/personal protections are not mutually exclusive, etc… The running theme here is logical, fair compromise.

(I profess that I was a Young Republican before attending the University of Wisconsin. It was a crazy liberal named Mark E., but more the lovely Diana, whom I took home from Democratic rally in 1988, who indoctrinated me into the Democratic Party. As I’ve grown, matured(?), and been educated, I’ve come to realize that I cannot be pigeon-holed and don’t have to pick just between Evil 1 or Evil 2.

The Numbers

First of all, there are only two (2 of 100) U.S. Senators and NO (0 of 435) U.S. Representatives that are “independent.” The U.S. has never had a politically independent President. How is that possible if 38% of the American electorate considers themselves “independent?”

Okay, sure, part of the problem with the independent party system is obvious.

Well, outside of the two major parties, look at the parties they have to choose from. There are approximately 38 highly unorganized “independent” political parties, most of whom apparently have poor PR departments. Most of them have also sprung up only after 1970, including: many parties with “Socialist” in the title, the obvious “American” parties and even fringe parties like the United States Marijuana Party and the United States Pirate Party. Clearly, they haven’t had the time to get their message across or land huge political donors…

As candidates flee to the edges of the political spectrum in order to shore up their “bases,” it’s clearly now time for a legitimate Third Party to step up into the middle of American politics, to fill the void by those who apparently despise using logic and compromise and who are afraid to stand up and lead the way. With both “right” and “left” wing connotations eliciting grimaces from the electorate, what’s wrong with a party that exists in the middle? Isn’t that where the strongest part of ANYTHING is?

I don’t advocate for one political party or the other. If you agree with everything that one of the two major political parties believe in, then by all means I cannot dissuade you from voting for their candidate. I DO advocate for the smart, logical and willing voter out there to at least take a look at the major third parties out there, including the Libertarian Party, and their candidate for president, Gary Johnson – a former governor of New Mexico and a pretty smart guy if his appearance on The Daily Show was any indication.  You can see it here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-june-5-2012/gary-johnson. I’m not sure if I believe in everything they say, but I am at least willing to take a look.

“Benefits” of a Legitimate Third Party at the National Level

With both sides of “the aisle” poised to block any bill or effort to effect change with the status quo in place, inserting a third party can actually accomplish a lot.

  • They can mediate between the major parties as they (often) come to an impasse.
  • They can bring to the political table new ideas and logical, fair voices.
  • They can break voting ties by siding with one side or the other, hopefully with the understanding that they will in turn get support for their agenda later.
  • They can restore faith in our government that the candidates actually listen to the voters and not their party whip or leader.

Obstacles

Where do I start? Third party marginalization is historically a central plank in any party’s value system and probably one of the only things that each side agrees on. Why would either side want to lose what power they have?

The Two Party System:

Consider “Simpsons Treehouse of Horror: VII” (1996!):

Enough said.

Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It’s a two-party system. You have to vote for one of us.
Man 1: He’s right, this is a two-party system.
Man 2: Well I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.

 

 

The 15% Rule Regarding Presidential Debates

In 2000, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CREATED BY THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES), ruled that a candidate for President of the United States must be polling at least 15% across five national polls in order to be part of the Nationally Televised Debates. It has nothing to do with whether or not he/she’s on THE BALLOT in all 50 states, as Gary Johnson – Libertarian, is. You just have to be liked by 15% of the polled voters. Um, stoners don’t answer polls by phone…

Historical Candidates

Probably the biggest obstacle is the damage that historical candidates themselves have done.  Since John Anderson garnered 6.6% of the vote in the 1980 election and Ross Perot received 18.9%!!! in 1992 (only 8% in 1996), no candidate has gotten more than 1% of the vote since. Yet, Ralph Nader and other still tilt at the windmills, hoping to effect a change.

Where Now?

The independent movement is lost in the wilderness. It doesn’t have its Moses to lead them  to a legitimate standing. People like Ron Paul, a Republican in name only, but more of a Libertarian, CAN and SHOULD sway their legions of voters to vote with their hearts and to elect people, not parties, to office. It’s a long road; the specter of having someone elected that you don’t like because you took a stand is a hard pill to swallow for 2, 4 or 6 years…

But, hopefully more people like me will pick up the cause and begin to change the system, to show that you don’t just have two choices, and that tilting at windmills is sometimes okay.

Now, I’m off to saddle up my horse…

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