31 May 2007

Tell Me Something I DON'T Know...

Nice article on page FOUR of our local paper:

Violent-crime rates surge for second straight year, FBI reports
By Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Violent crime kept climbing in 2006, a top FBI official said Wednesday, previewing a report detailing nationwide increases in murders, robberies and other felonies for a second straight year.

The rising crime rate, in an FBI report expected next week, counters Justice Department attempts to tamp down violence by sending more funds to local police and studying U.S. cities for clues on how the increase began.
Asked whether the report would show crime rates are still rising, FBI Assistant Director John Miller said: “I think you can anticipate it will.” He declined to say by how much.

Miller said the FBI’s findings will largely mirror those of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington think tank that in March reported spikes in the number of big-city murders, robberies and gun crimes.
That survey “showed that there would be, in all likelihood, a continued uptick in violent crime, particularly among midsized American cities,” Miller said during an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “The data we’re going to release Monday will contain no big surprises in that regard.”

Preliminary numbers the FBI released in December showed violent crimes rose by 3.7 percent nationwide during the first six months of 2006.

The crime hike marks the latest blow to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has targeted neighborhood violence as a top priority. Gonzales took office in early 2005, when violent crime rose by 2.2 percent in the first annual increase since 2001.

A Justice Department study released this month of 18 cities and suburban regions indicates youth violence, gangs and gun crime largely are to blame for the increasing rates. Gonzales also has promised to help local police combat gangs and guns with $50 million this year and up to $200 million in 2008.

Miller, answering questions from reporters for the New York Daily News and The Associated Press, said the FBI’s focus on counterterror investigations since the 2001 attacks have inevitably resulted in fewer agents devoted to traditional crime fighting.

* * * * *

Now sometimes even *I* get tired of saying the same thing over...and over...and over again. And although my wife and I have lived in "relative safety" (only had ONE jerkoff pull a gun on me...lucky, huh?) in this area of Fort Wayne for TEN years (which seem to get longer every damn year), I could see this tide of DOMESTIC TERRORISM rearing it's ugly head while getting closer and closer to our humble abode over the past FIVE years. I KNEW this was coming.

After seeing things like this creep inexorably closer year after year, you get a "feel" for the overall "ambiance" of an area. Just ask any soldier that has seen his share of combat...he KNOWS...he'll tell you he can "smell it in the air"...he can "feel" it. Any law-enforcement officer who's been on the force for a while will say the same. You just KNOW when something isn't "right"...appears hinky, or just plain looks all wrong.

Welcome to the SOUTH side of the city...where a large part of the populace EXCEL at "hinky".

I'm a "people watcher"....blame it on several past lives, I suppose. I can't help but NOTICE what goes on within my "sphere of influence"...my "space", if you will. And I am always impressing on my wife to BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Make eye contact with anyone that looks a bit "out of step" of the moment. Never set yourself up to be a target. My one dearly departed best friend once said that whenever you're out somewhere like a restaurant or pub that you should (whenever possible): "Always sit with your back to the wall". And that's stuck with me over the years...never had a problem by doing that. I STILL do it.

But with this two year upsurge of violent crime, it gets a bit harder. Add to that the age factor (we're not as young as we used to be), and we might even let our guard down a tad in the process. Sure we've been brought up to give people the benefit of the doubt, and be a trusting soul, but you simply can't DO that today with the types of predatory flotsam passing themselves off as PEOPLE, can you?

In my neighborhood, I've tried to ignore what goes on...do the "live and let live" gig, but you just cannot. Your space is THEIR space (or so they think). Whether it's having some dispute under your bedroom window at 2AM, or being chased by a police officer across your lawn at 3AM, it just does not make sense that I should give any quarter to those that care for nothing or no one. So I try my best not to.
We don't bother anyone, keep to ourselves, but will still say hello if someone does likewise. AND we WILL call the police (or any other agency at ANY level) at the drop of a hat on ANYTHING that is out of the ordinary. Call it a one-house "Neighborhood Watch". Other than that, it's "protect your ass"...plain and simple. Never let these people know you can be approached, accessed, or attacked.

More gun laws will do nothing to halt this surge (that's been proven).
More armed law-abiding citizens WILL.

More police won't slow the surge (that's also been proven).
Stricter enforcement of the law and harsher penalties WILL.
More programs to "assist" those incarcerated won't stop the surge (that's again been proven).
More "bare-bones" jails with few amenities in some nasty environment (like upstate Alaska) WILL.

In the meantime, all "we" can do is everything in OUR power to push the politicians (federal, state AND local) to see things OUR way vis-a-vis a quality of life where we can function without looking over our shoulders every few seconds; A life where we all can live...and not just exist.

Mere survival is for animals...we deserve better.

30 May 2007

Hazy, Hot And Humid....

Does that phrase evoke something on the order of Nat King Cole's song: "Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer"? Well, according to the calendar, we're not quite there YET. But as our Environmangelistic, self-appointed "guru to the globe" (Al Gore) would have us believe, this is only the beginning.

Now it's here I might quote Winston Churchill by saying: "This is NOT the end...nor the beginning...it is, however, the end of the beginning". OK, so we're not fighting the Battle of Britain all over again, but we do have enough "war" to go around. We're waging war on terrorism...war on big oil prices, war on higher taxes, war on drugs, war on gang violence...seems we're at war at something or someone...somewhere.

Now we're at "war" with our weather. Perhaps the earth IS actually warming all by itself, without our intervention. This might be due to some cyclic occurrence in our sun that we're still trying to fathom. Maybe the sun is going through some sort of cosmic PMS? It could be our very own greenhouse gases, but didn't the earth suffer from that a few BILLION years ago before it cooled down, allowing life to flourish? And didn't good old Mother Earth solve her dilemma pretty damn well back then?

Personally, I'm OK with the way our earth is doing. Sure, WE, as stewards OF the earth could be doing a helluva lot better with our particular "management style", but the best way to learn is to make a few mistakes here and there. And the human race EXCELS at doing that. Yet, like I said...we ARE learning (hopefully) from it.

Today is our FIRST "Ozone Action Day" here in Fort Wayne (time for some fireworks and another cookout?) which means that people (young or old) with existing bronchial conditions shouldn't be outside all that long, and that extended strenuous activity is not advised. Wouldn't that be more like an "Ozone INACTION Day"? Everyone just sit around. Don't fill your gas tank (at these prices, WHO the hell CAN?), and don't mow your lawn (I have an electric mower...no greenhouse gases from me...unless I eat some chili and have a brewski...LOL).

Now I understand WHAT ozone is...what I'll probably NEVER figure out is why we have "bad" ozone and "good" ozone. To me ozone IS ozone. It's O3...that's THREE oxygen atoms, so it should be better breathing, right?
But don't take MY word for it:

Ozone is in our atmosphere to block harmful rays from the sun.
Alrighty then.
Yet ozone (apparently) at lower levels exacerbates lung ailments.
OK..got that.
Ozone is produced during thunderstorms (that sweet smell from all those ions) when electricity charges the air. Hell, you can make ozone when you produce a static charge touching a doorknob after shuffling your feet across the rug. It's both good AND bad for us? Now my brain is starting to hurt.

Maybe it's better to concern ourselves with something we have absolutely NO control over...'ya think?

What I worry about is a CME (coronal mass expulsion) from our sun or perhaps a GAMMA RAY BURST from some neutron star with a honking huge magnetic field. A severe enough CME will (after about 16 hours of travel from the sun..not much heads up there) have sufficient energy to disrupt ALL of our marvelous electronic contrivances...no cell phones, no radio, no cable TV, and in the worst case scenario...no power. Now THAT is something with meat on it's bones (to worry about).

Can you imagine the utter CHAOS that would erupt from something of that magnitude? Many researchers don't "really" know what all can be affected, as we've never been privy to such an event...yet.
On the other hand, a GAMMA RAY BURST (when it strikes the earth) will irradiate all living things, rendering the earth lifeless in a short period of time (because we all know gamma rays cannot be blocked by anything at any time). So if the earth can't "get outta the way", we're toast...plain and simple.
And then, there's always the possibility of some rogue chunk o' rock smacking us in the kisser, sending us all back to another age of extinction.

So maybe a little global warming isn't such as bad a thing after all.

We could be doing a LOT worse.

29 May 2007

It's Our Gang...Not 'Da Gang...

Yeah, I really miss watching the Little Rascals...those shorts of the 1930s showing small kids with "problems" which by the end of the film had resolved itself to every one's pleasure. Whether you liked Spanky, Alfalfa, Froggy, Darla, Buckwheat, Butch, or my personal favorite "rascal"...Stymie (love the derby hat with the chinstrap), you remember laughing your butt off at their antics... And I SO much wanted a dog like "Petey"...what youngster didn't?

Thank the maker for DVDs, eh?

Today, we've nothing such as this to make us chuckle. In fact, whenever we hear about ANY gang or "clique"...we can feel our heartbeat quicken, and maybe our palms begin to sweat, especially if we have children. As parents, we can only HOPE our kids would turn out like Spanky, instead of R. Kelly. And just like parents of generations past, we cannot be with our kids 24/7.

We "trust" in the school system to PROTECT our kids (oh,and educate them somewhere in that mix as well). We "trust" in family members and neighbors to watch out for them, and NOT submit them to any form of abuse. We "trust" in the police to keep them from harm, but again, the police can't be everywhere all at once. And we "trust" in whatever church we attend to minister to them the values we espouse, the morals we try to emulate, and the ethics we strive for, without fear of further abuse.

Like the old Saying goes: "Trust in Allah...but tie up your camel!"

Now don't go tying up the kids....that's not what it means!

It's only saying that a little skepticism now and then IS a GOOD thing. And we should be skeptical. With skepticism comes knowledge, discernment, and wisdom...and hopefully the ability to tell the difference.

We've got too much of too much that our kids are exposed to, be it sex, violence, drugs...you name it. We can guide our kids, hoping WE'VE made all the right calls.

Yes indeed, the problems that the Little Rascals encountered pale in comparison to problems kids face each day. If it's not being SHOT, it's being killed by a drunk driver, or being assaulted by older kids for a few bucks, or being stabbed because they're smarter than the bullys.
It's this new breed of "gang" that should have any parent (or adult) worried. Gangs "ain't just for socializin' any more", people. It's not at all what OUR GANG used to be...not by a long shot!

And the cliques are becoming JUST AS BAD...I've always said they're the breeding grounds for future gang "recruits"...think of it as the ROTC of "gangdom". Where Our Gang used to "play hooky" from school to go to the fishing hole, today's "gangs" would much rather get expelled from school, so they can spend some "quality time with 'da boyz" and break into some cars at the mall, or rob some unsuspecting senior of their SSI check, or even trash some one's house for no damn reason at all.

We need to explore more of this gang mentality, as this proving ground for the "Future Criminals of America" needs to talked about. After all, it's our children's' future that is at stake.

And THEIR future is but one part of the MUCH larger picture.

28 May 2007


This is one of THOSE days where I dust off the old soapbox and get a bit "preachy", so bear with me...
Today is about ONE thing primarily...everything else is fol-de-rol. It's about REMEMBRANCE of those in our armed services who have seen fit to give something back to their country for all that they (read WE) enjoy. Many have given that "last full measure of devotion". They have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy with an oft times cavalier sense of nonchalance. They are doing the RIGHT THING...for the RIGHT REASON.

THEY are the reason we have "a day off"....a day to "barbecue"..a day to "do nothing".
And during all of our "extracurricular activities", how often do we stop for even a moment to acknowledge their patriotism, their sacrifices, their willingness to do what NEEDS to be done in the protection of our freedoms? Those who at least display our nation's flag are doing more than most.

I recall a time when a Memorial Day parade in downtown Philly was THE only place to be. Families would gather together, waving small flags as representatives from every armed service marched by. Tanks rumbled along the Ben Franklin Parkway past the Art Museum...trucks, jeeps and color guards passed while the throngs cheered, saluted, placed their hands over their hearts, or even wept for what these brave men and women represented to each of US. They were as much the symbol of liberty and freedom as our flag. I never forgot that.

Air stations and local bases had "open houses" where you could get up close and personal with the machines and personnel attached to our armed services. We even saw the Navy's Blue Angels and Air Force's Thunderbirds on those dates. Many of those bases I attended are now closed...part of the budget cuts that swept through the military during the 80s and 90s.

Today, I don't see much in the way of those parades of years gone by. We might have a few small units that are locally stationed march by in some microcosmic version of what we USED to look forward to. I don't even see air shows at local airports all that much. The last show in Fort Wayne that I recall was about FIVE (or more) years ago. Nothing since. Maybe a "warbird" or two dropping by for a few days, giving rides as a way to maintain these historic planes...that's it.

We still see troops (or vets) placing flags on service men and women at grave sites in our cemeteries...at least THAT hasn't fallen out of "vogue". If you ever get a chance to go to Arlington National Cemetery, you'll get a chance to see HOW it's done. It's something that will bring a lump to your throat. There is that somber type of dignity shown wherever you go there. We still see the occasional honor guards at cemeteries firing off volleys to recognize those that have passed on, or as we always liked to say, "Still on Patrol".

New York has "FLEET WEEK", where military personnel spend some much needed liberty, and during the Army-Navy game (when it used to be played in Philly), we had something much similar. It's nice to buddy up with a grunt ,or a squid at a local bar, and share a brew and some tales. And of course Washington D.C. is replete with ceremonies to commemorate those who serve and have served. And it's times like that you get a sense of honor, dignity, and duty to one's country.

Used to be a time (during WWII) when ANY military personnel never had want for ANYTHING while staying in some city, awaiting deployment or attending a specialist school...the people bought them drinks, or dinner...and some even invited them HOME for a meal or a place to stay for the night. Of course, that was a time when we held our military personnel in a lot higher esteem than we (apparently) do today. And they didn't have to be a family member to qualify....they were there (in whatever foreign nation) to fight for OUR freedoms against tyranny. That was good enough for us. What these brave souls do (and have done) is not about politics...it's about defending freedom and liberty for ALL people, everywhere.

Today, it's all about getting the troops home, and while that IS a primary concern, we should at least have the fortitude to support a stance of VICTORY, instead of "cutting one's losses" and bugging the hell out. I never met any winner in a fight that had his "tail tucked neatly between his legs". You'd have thought we'd have learned that lesson all too well.

In Vietnam, the military WON EVERY MAJOR ENGAGEMENT...that's 100% victory, but does history label us the victors over there? Well, we DID get out (after over 52 thousand troops were killed), but it was nowhere close to the victory we had in WW2, which my father referred to as "The Last Popular War". Our returning troops from 'Nam were labelled "baby killers" and were spat upon for no other reason than the fact that they wore a uniform and served (with honor) this great nation of ours. War has become too close a bedfellow to politics these days.

Our pathetic attention spans demand we "win" within the first several days (or even weeks), or else we're just "not interested" any longer, and move along to other things. That is not the mindset of anyone wanting to win against something as insidious as global terrorism. It didn't work with nazism...or fascism, or even communism...so why should this be any different?

The media latches onto this, runs with it, and spins it any which way in order to keep viewership up...screw how the troops really feel about winning this conflict...screw those that support the troops, and screw those that think we need to win every war against terrorism both here and abroad. We decry the fact that over 3800 troops have been killed in raq and Afghanistan (to date) while about 2500 of our troops were killed in ONE day (June 6, 1944), when we thought it noble and necessary to beat back and defeat the forces of fascism.

It's no wonder that any war, conflict, police action, whatever you call it becomes fodder for the 11 o'clock report. It's much better to watch Paris Hilton getting busted or Lohan leaving the scene of an accident, or Britney shearing her locks off.

We can always worry about the radical islamists TOMORROW.
Tomorrow is closer than everyone thinks.

So, before tomorrow comes, take some time TODAY to remember those that have served (and died) in our military. THEY made it all possible for YOU to enjoy YOUR brews, YOUR barbeques, and YOUR "day off".

If you have a Vet in your family (or even know of one)...make it THEIR day more than yours.

They've EARNED it in so many ways...AND...they DESERVE it.

25 May 2007

Another Weekend? Already?

Yessiree...It's FRIDAY. Time DOES fly (by) in the state of Indiana...must be all that quaint, rustic MIDWEST CHARM (he said with a hint of SARCASM). Hey, I can DREAM.
BTW, here's a gander at the "new" plate we're getting here next year (with my personal touches added for your enjoyment)...looks like the old style MUNICIPAL plates back in Philly...LOL!
You might also notice a "new" look to the blog...blame that on my inability to (want to) deal with HTML...I took the "safe" way out. I let the customize feature do the work FOR me. It didn't turn out all that bad. Hell, I'm 54 years old...cut me some slack.
I like it. What say you?

And now for a segue into a totally different direction...

* * * * *
I'm seeing one very disturbing "trend" (if you want to call it that) in and around our city, and that is this recent number of HOME INVASIONS, especially with people who are elderly. Now forgive me for siding with the elderly (as I'm closing in on that realm myself), but I was always under the impression that you "respected" your elders. And after 54 years, I still hold that close to my heart. Hell, in Japan, they hold the elderly in a near-divine reverence. We could take a page from THEIR book in that regard.

How many of us recall our grandparents, or that older aunt and uncle our folks took us to visit regularly? There was this certain "aura" they had, and to some degree we were a bit awestruck with that. Maybe it was the immaculate way they kept their house and car...maybe it was the dog they owned that seems as old as they were. Maybe it was their infectious smiles. Or perhaps it was the manner in which they conducted themselves. There was an air of dignity with them, and we never forgot that.

But apparently today, many (criminals) see them as so much fodder for their particular form of entertainment. And it's not JUST breaking into their homes that's disturbing. It's the fact that these perps are beating the crap out of these older people as well. It's sad when a 91 year old woman is hospitalized with a fractured skull when some thug decides her purse is his ONLY means of "supplemental income". Then there was the couple who were beaten and robbed (of a rifle collection, their 2 cars, and some antique pistols...) just this week. This is just not acceptable. And it ought to make the rest of us incensed.

Used to be a time when a burglar was "content" to rob a place when NO ONE WAS HOME...such cannot be said now. In our modern day era of "No Fear", we're seeing this criminal with a mindset that says: "Well, since I'm committing a burglary, why stop here....I''ll just beat the piss out of everyone in the house." And in some cases, we're seeing teams or groups of "burglars", looking for that adrenalin rush of pummeling an older person into unconsciousness.

We worry about the threat from overseas terrorists (and deservedly so), while I also maintain we have a whole new crop of "home-grown" terrorists right HERE in our midst. We just haven't gotten around to CALLING them that yet, that's all. We still refer to them as "criminals".
Domestic terrorism (in ANY form) should be at the forefront of any and all protective aspects of our lives. Whether it's walking to our cars, sleeping in our homes, or shopping in our malls, we have to become more aware of what lurks nearby. We can become a victim at the snap of the fingers. The criminals must think that since we're all so concerned about what goes on across the oceans, we have no time to devote to what happens on our block.
If they are not mistaken now, they soon will be.
We should not just sit by saying it's terrible, but at least it didn't happen at OUR house...because it can...and might. We have to aid those elderly...be watchmen for them when they cannot adequately watch for themselves. We must be steadfast in protecting our past (through them), if we are to secure a future. And if that means doing whatever needs to be done to quell this domestic terrorism in our cities and on our streets...so be it. If we need to enact new laws to target crime, I'm all for it. And if it means I have to put some money (by some tax) to support it, OK then...at least it's not a frivolous expenditure. But I will take the necessary steps to protect MYSELF (and my family) in the meantime.

It was our vigilance, our preparedness, and our pursuit of freedom that help found this nation. It was people willing to stand and deliver that wrested a colony from tyrants and forged it into our nation. We can either hand this country over part and parcel to those who want nothing more than to have what we have worked long and hard for...or we can (and should) take back what is rightfully ours.
The choice is up to every one of us...young AND old alike.

24 May 2007

Where's The Beef?

Or maybe that should be: WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

Whenever there is a crime against a black person (or persons), the mainstream media is ALL over it...for days, if not weeks (think the Duke rape case). Sharpton and Jackson do the obligatory "video-ops", rally their troops, and get to protesting or demonstrating somewhere. And that's fine. Crime against anyone should receive scorn and attention for the bane against society that is truly is. Notice I DID say crime against ANYONE.

Then there is the story about Channon Christian and Chris Newsome. Who are they you might ask? They're just some WHITE couple from Knoxville TN that ran afoul of a group of people who brutally raped, tortured and then killed them, that's all.

If you google up the story, be advised, it IS graphic in the depiction of the acts perpetrated against these two people. Oh, did I mention that those who committed these acts of horror were BLACK? They have a FORTY-SIX page indictment staring at them right now...and that is honking HUGE!

Here's a link showing these poor, disenfranchised, oppressed people of color:

The reason you "may" have NOT heard about this is the fact that the PC-SP media has chosen to give it AS LITTLE coverage as possible. We must have enough whites to go around in this regard so that a few murders are "acceptable losses". Sharpton and Jackson (who are supposed to be concerned with ALL people...or so they "say") have been strangely AWOL from all this. IF they are so concerned about all PEOPLE, then why become all but invisible simply because these victims were WHITE?

Well, at least CHARLIE DANIELS is saying something about this:
Here's the link for that (again it does go into detail - be advised): http://cofcc.org/?p=135


The manner in which Channon and Chris were brutally murdered rivals something you'd see on Criminal Minds (the FBI's BAU)....it's that heinous. We're talking about perps with absolutely NO conscience, NO remorse, but plenty of abhorrent behavior to go around.

Curious how the phrase "Hate Crime" has taken on more of it's REAL meaning after these murders. Whites are up in arms over this, and rightly so. And let's face it, if the racial "shoe" was on the other "foot", you KNOW the outcry would be heard around the globe. Cities with large black contingents would be looting and burning down anything in sight.
Yes friends, any hate crime IS a two-way street. When you read the story, you will be able to tell that there MUST have been some sort of "racial motivation" behind these gruesome killing.The difference HERE is that whites are not pillaging for "justice"...

Now I'm basically an easy-going guy.....do the "Golden Rule" thing as often as possible...say what only needs to be said and to those that either ASK or NEED hear it...But when I come into contact every day with "people" that have so little respect for another human being, and will, without ANY provocation, feel the need to display that disrespect at every turn for no reason, I can't keep my yap shut any longer.

I live among those of black AND white persuasion that have taken it upon themselves to be a nuisance to ANYONE that is just trying to keep to themselves. Whether the "trash" is black OR white, it's all the same.

Some people just hate those who want to live their lives, be left alone, and don't bother anyone. There are those ethnics that find an instant dislike for "us" simply because we:

1) OWN our homes.

2) WORK a REAL job.

3) Don't participate in illegal activities.

4) Are WHITE...and breathing.

Now I could direct you to the DOJ's website and have you look up years of data pertaining to black-on-white crime (and whose numbers would FLOOR you), but I won't. You can decide that on your own. I will say that it's a lot more prevalent that you would ever think.
And I've decided that enough is way more than enough. As much as they want to push me, I'll just push back a few times harder...and faster...and longer. It's not a case of "becoming like them"...that would never happen. What it DOES become is a study in perspicacity and perseverance (on my part). Being able to use whatever "resources" are available to get THEIR goat. There are enough city agencies to assist in making that happen. And I can speak from experience...that DOES work rather well.

So you could glean from this that I (and others that feel exactly as I do) live in a "racially-hostile" environment...and you would be right. I'm probably one of a handful of people that mows his lawn while "packing". Until things get better, that's the way it will be.

A teacher in another city recently sued (and won a settlement) over her dealing with a racially-hostile environment (her bloody classroom for God's sake). Maybe it's time WE do likewise. If the police can't protect us 24/7 (whatever color we are) from whatever color of criminal comes our way, we have but several choices:

1) Move away (I call it bugging out)...the "easy" way.

2) Rely on OURSELVES as the FIRST line of protection (that means a gun).

3) Use that suit-happy legal system to OUR advantage.

Can you imagine the wailing from City Hall if every citizen that was (rightfully) treated unfairly by another race with a hostile intent (and we're NOT talking playing any race card...that's for LOSERS)? I'd wager the city would get their collective crap in gear REAL fast to keep that from happening every day. That's one way to deal with this form of "Domestic Terrorism"...and that's precisely what it is, people.

But what do we do about Chris and Channon?
Well, the story IS getting out, and attention to the racial aspect IS being given the attention it rightfully deserves...after the fact.
Perhaps of we had a judicial system that didn't allow such criminals consistently BACK onto our streets, we wouldn't even be writing (or reading) THIS post.

I hope and pray that the two families find the justice they are seeking.
It's all we can do at this point.

23 May 2007

We're Far From Alone....

Property taxes...go ahead...say it out loud. Now what's the FIRST thing that enters your mind when you say it? If you're like MOST homeowners, you're thinking one word...TOO HIGH!
OK...two words then.

Seems there's NOWHERE to go any longer where you can catch a break. And how many of us can do the "Jeremiah Johnson" gig anyway?

But here in Indiana, we're far from what other cities are experiencing, although these cities are using the SAME tactics to "pad their coffers".

Here's a link to the 2005 year taxes (by state):

In Philly, PA (my hometown), property taxes are rising at an alarming rate with residents in the NE part of town paying TWICE that of folks living in South Philly!. Much the same is true in Florida, NYC, Michigan, and Washington D.C. In fact, if you live in either New Jersey OR New York , you're probably paying some of the HIGHEST property taxes in the whole nation! Jersey's property taxes have risen FIFTY-TWO PERCENT just in the past DECADE.
So we here in Indiana shouldn't be bitching about it, right?
We're headed down the SAME path in Indiana...we're just walking a tad slower!

Too many cities are the culprits in this ever-growing financial burden on the populace. In some cases, it trickles down from the state, but in most cases, it's the city or county that is to blame. And it's this marvelous "crutch" that these local governments have been depending upon for way too long. I say stop your damn limping around, and get that "broken leg" mended once and for all...and stop reaching into MY pockets to do it. As philanthropic as I like to be, I just can't do it all by myself (or so it seems).

We have to decide how much fuel we can afford to put in our vehicles, and whether we can afford to even cut the lawn (unless you have an electric mower like I do). Then there's growing costs for food at the markets (it takes OIL to GET that stuff TO market), other consumables we usually take for granted such as toothpaste, deodorants, shaving supplies, talcum, shampoo...all of these are included in the mix. If we have kids, we have THEIR costs to consider (because we know kids ain't free...not by a longshot...LOL). Then...we get "that" tax bill...for OUR property. (the other shoe just dropped, right?)

Add to that the fact that the money we EARN is taxed not once, not twice, but thrice! You get taxes taken out before you get your paycheck (that's why they call it GROSS earnings...LOL).
Tax number one.

Your "net" earnings go for whatever you might need this week (as mentioned above), and again, there is something called SALES TAX to deal with.
Tax number two.

"But I can just SAVE my money in the bank, right, Bob?" Guess again, my friend. "IF" you decide to bankroll your savings into more folding money by transferring your cash from the "hip national bank" to a more secure facility with a honking huge vault and a big name, you get TAXED on the interest at year's end.
Tax number three.

Another "win-win"? I hardly think so.

Now I don't know WHAT idiot told all these politicians that I:

a) Have my OWN printing press for making money.
(highly illegal I might add)

b) Have a tree I can pluck $100 bills off of every day
(now THAT is genetic engineering!)

c) Crap out $50 "Grants" like there's no tomorrow
(get me some of what HE'S eating!)

But I can assure you, that NONE of the above three statements are true about me (and I'd wager that applies to the rest of you as well). So what is it with these "leaders" that makes them think we're a never-ending source of revenue for THEIR financial wish-lists? Well, we gave them all this money SO FAR...what's another rate hike?

We've got way too many people living (at or near) hand-to-mouth status already with more on the way (does the phrase "baby-boomers" ring any bells?). Many of us "thought" we'd be able to sit back and retire on our pensions. PENSION? (he said)...what the hell IS a pension? Companies folded, left this country and took OUR money with them. Too many of us are left hanging, financially speaking, and hanging on by the skin of our teeth. And then some local government has the unmitigated gall to ask for more blood from MY stones? I think not.

I've got CAR care to worry about (parts DO wear out). I've got HEALTH care to worry about (sorry, can't afford to get the flu THIS year...can I get a raincheck?). If I've got kids, I've got THEIR education to worry about (because we're relying on THEM to supplement our retirements...I'm kidding...or AM I?). Oh, and that house the government "thinks" is worth ALL that money....well, I've got to CARE FOR THAT as well, people (I can fix a lot of stuff, but sometimes even the best need a professional). And that's only if I don't become a statistic to CRIME (and it's minions who take the lazy way out by relieving others of what THEY work for) in the meantime.
We baby-boomers are going to wind up relying on fixed incomes soon enough...that means any check from the government will NOT be keeping up with their (own) tax increases....will it? And those already on fixed incomes are feeling quite the pinch every day as it is.

We could always increase the sales tax (or sin taxes)...or we could increase the income tax (how about a city WAGE tax just like Philly has?), or we could even start getting a little more isolationist in our demeanor and make more items HERE, rather than abroad (ever see the cost of the TRADE DEFICIT lately????), so we do have some options, however few they might be.

But taxing "our" property (that we never even get to REALLY own) so we can't afford anything else is NOT the road we should be travelling...not in the condition the road is currently in.

And especially NOT with the current price of gas.

22 May 2007

Are We Really all THAT Bad?

Here in Fort Wayne, there was NO greater evidence of a lack of concern than at the primary elections last week. I know, I usually don't like to pontificate over politics unless it has some bearing on some greater issue.
Here it DOES.

Primary elections traditionally have lower voter turnout than the "regular" elections...that's been proven time and again, but one has to question our democratic republic when one of the most densely populated areas in all of Fort Wayne has a voter turnout barely into positive integers!
Many of the polling places on the SOUTHEAST section of the city had 25 or FEWER voters show up! That is simply incredible. Actually, to put it more bluntly, that is pathetic, which would mirror a large part of the local populace in the area. My wife saw more people WORKING at the place where she went to vote than came in the damn door (4 to be exact).


Now I suppose I can expect this from my area...after all, we ARE the crotch of this fair city, and as such have to "keep up appearances" (or in THIS case...disappearances). We are ALSO the second highest area when it comes to spending ability (notice I didn't say "income"). Our part of town has more people per square mile than any other part of Fort Wayne (or the rest of the county for that matter). So it would make sense that this seemingly untapped resource of millions of spendable dollars (read tax and revenue) would be a veritable gold mine to retail in particular (and living in general).
Well, it USED to be.

We also have more CRIME per capita than any other location in all of Allen County. And we have more welfare recipients, SSI disability claimants (real AND "contrived"), and the highest number of re-entry court "citizens" as well. We can "boast" (if you can call it that) the greatest number of vacant and abandoned houses, sheriff sales, foreclosures, and homeless. We have more DUI'ers, rapists, burglars, sex offenders, thieves, carjackers, bank robbers, drug dealers, drug users, and gang members (per square mile) than the rest of the city and county put together.

So it's little wonder that this area would NOT see it's share of "folding money" to spread around in some capacity, right? Trouble is, that's about as far as most citizen involvement goes....spending on oneself (usually to feed some habit, legal or otherwise). In some ways, it's downright hedonistic.

* * *
It should be extremely troubling to anyone concerned that when so many people with so MUCH time (as many never seem to do what we like to call "work for a living") devote so LITTLE time to matters that affect them as much as those that actually give a rat's ass...such as elections. I admit to voting only when there's people (and issues) worth voting for. And (imho), a third political party might make it a lot more interesting.
I'm one of those folks that believes that we should vote on damn near everything...now THAT says democracy to me. Maybe some sort of "interactive" TV with voting ability built into the remote might work (in the very near future). We are getting our homes "wired in" as it is...what's one more (logical) step in that case, eh? If we can "vote" by phone on American Idol, or Dancing With The Stars, we certainly can find some way to vote for politicians and issues that matter a helluva lot more that that, can't we?
We can call for a pizza, or a plumber, but we can't pull one small lever in that voting booth. Then we piss and moan when those "elected" (by the ever decreasing pool of voters) aren't doing what "we" feel is right...
(ed. note** I just piss and moan because it's the right thing to do, AND I do it damn well..lol)

One could say that a large reason many in my area do NOT vote, is that there are those that want to remain "invisible", and believe me, if you want to avoid the law, immigration, bill collectors...whoever or whatever, THIS is THE place to come to. I say it time and again that this is the main reason we have so many rentals with so many transients ( I like to think of a "revolving door" policy down here)...it's easy to bug out, and get "lost" in the shuffle down here. When you've seen enough POS pickups with furniture being loaded after 2AM in the middle of any given month, you'll know what I'm talking about.

But it all boils down to APATHY...something this city (and especially the Southeast) has in great abundance. Whether it's the way properties are maintained, the way others treat you and your property, the childrens' behavior, the adults' behavior, or the sheer lack of respect, it is still APATHY. And the elections just make the point clearer in that regard.

To paraphrase Moliere: " We are defined not so much by our ACTIONS, but rather by our INACTIONS".

Never were truer words uttered in all of human existence.

21 May 2007

We Don' Need No Steenkin' *N* Word...

All the controversy over who CAN say this word, who CANNOT, and why we even bother to say it anyway has continued to fan the flames of human discontent in recent years. And why shouldn't it? After all, it was a word created by white people to demean black people, without regard to their status, education, or moral integrity.

There are now (and probably always will be) those who use the word as a slur against ALL blacks, and that's wrong for too many reasons. There are those that use it as a sign of "affectation"...again wrong for all the wrong reasons. There are those who even use it to refer to ANYONE of a specific lifestyle, and although that would most certainly represent the closest approximation to any current meaning, it's still wrong. And in today's overly PC-SP world, we can't really say what we think any longer (in public anyway), without being taken to task for saying what we might honestly feel (or think). It's more Orwellian every year...where's the thought police?

Many have tried to "mainstream" the word as a way of diluting the meaning...and that has not worked worth a damn. This word has power, and any attempt to wrest such power from any lexicon is a task of near-Biblical proportions. Others have tried to BAN the word altogether, and we know from experience that ANYTHING that is banned becomes all the more enticing, because we force whatever it is to go "underground" to a realm not unlike prohibition (which never worked either). Or it could lead to banning more than words....like books (and that never really went over in post-depression Germany too well, did it?).

Can you imagine a private club where you can freely speak the *N* word? Oh wait, we already have such a venue...it's call the KKK. And those people are the worst kind of racially-charged citizens we could possibly have. Their only motivational skill is hate...not a good thing.

I think a more "novel" idea would be to use a word or phrase that could more correctly describe the people we find morally and ethically lacking by their actions, words, and/or deeds.

So, how about the term...GHETTO-CRACKER?

This would refer to any person of a "cracker" mentality (which by itself smacks of the old southern whites) that basically remind us (today) of those people that do nothing and get paid by the government to do it. And since any ghetto is primarily made up of lower-class blacks, hispanics along with whites as well as whatever other ethnic flotsam we can dredge up, what better word to fully embrace the nuances of what they REALLY are?

Thomas Sowell, in his book, "Black Rednecks and White Liberals", states that what is often construed as "urban black culture" has striking similarities to the cracker culture of the old South.This cracker culture emerged in the American South through the immigration of culturally lowbrow English immigrants (yep, them's rednecks). In the antebellum era, about 90 percent of U.S. blacks were immersed in this expression of southern living. When blacks migrated into major northern cities, beginning in the early twentieth century, they brought redneck culture with them, incorporating it into their own culture.

The dominant social, moral, and cultural values among Southern rednecks that have been explained in works such as Grady McWhiney’s "Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South", include aversion to work, proclivity for violence, contentment with little to no education, sexual promiscuity, short-term thinking, drunkenness, an anti-entrepreneurial spirit, reckless pursuit of excitement, and wild music and dance. Rednecks always had a type of touchy pride, what you might call today a “bling-bling” vanity, a boastfully dramatized sense of self, and little (if any) self-control.

Only a Ghetto Cracker would ridicule the pursuit of education, the speaking of correct English, and working hard. They boast of violent activities, sexual promiscuity, and “gettin’ high and drunk,” “acting a fool up in da’ club,” or bumping and grinding on the dance floor. The Ghetto Cracker celebrates being out of control and spending money instead of saving and investing.
Now if that doesn't sound like the people that reside in ANY neighborhood in trouble in ANY major city in America today, I fon't know ehat does.
Ghetto IS...as Ghetto DOES.
But don't take my word word for it...just ask Anthony Bradley, research fellow at the Acton Institute (A former high school teacher and administrator, he holds a BS in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and is completing his PhD at Westminster Theological Seminary).

Being a Ghetto-Cracker, regardless of race, is the pursuit of a lifestyle of self-sabotage that undermines human dignity and despises the morality that undergirds civil society. Selling out one’s dignity and future to regressive moral standards is the way of the Ghetto-Cracker. (Now you know what a lot of my "neighbors" are like).

Many urban blacks today maintain this Ghetto-Cracker lifestyle while calling anyone else of their race that is not of "this" persuasion a "sell out" to the white man. I should think that selling out is the wrong term to use. I'd much rather think of it as "buying in" to the white man. I have often stated that if, for example, the black community wants to see themselves as EQUAL with "whitey", then they have to "out-white whitey". And if that means being a better CITIZEN, BUSINESS OWNER, TEACHER, DOCTOR (or whatever) than most of their white counterparts... than so be it. It IS well within the realm of opportunity in this country for any of them to make it happen. Any many of them already have, albeit way too few.
Much the same can be said for the womens' movement. Women had to be a "better man than most men" to make it in a "man's world", and with the number of successful women in business today, it's looks like THEY got the message loud and clear.

So we really don't need to use that despicable *N* word any longer to call these people what they really wish to be. Let's just call them all (much less despicable and highly apropos) GHETTO-CRACKERS ("GeeCees" or "Ghcs" for short)....and hell, let's even start a freaking monthly periodical JUST for them. I can see it now...GC magazine...so much better than GQ.

Go steal a copy at your local bookseller today!

18 May 2007

Friday Follies...

Another dose of "those stories" to start of your weekend. So toss some more sugar in the coffee, and let's get rolling, shall we?

Immigration "Reform"?
Looks like about 12 MILLION immigrants will get the "lucky-dog" pass with the new immigration laws put forth by the government. It's hailed as the "most significant change in the nation's immigration system in 41 years" (rolls eyes). It calls for work programs, fences to be built, yada, yada, yada....

OK...let's do some math here. We're giving a "pass" to 12 million illegals, and we're told that 30 million have entered this nation in the past decade. So that would mean that from...say 1947 (60 years) when we had about 4-5 MILLION illegals ALREADY here....that "should" work out to about roughly a million a year (then). And if we take that average...we've got more like around SIXTY MILLION illegals here (conservatively speaking)....instead of a "mere" 30 million (and their offspring). The GAO in Washington could use some remedial help!

This reform is misplaced...they need a MATH coach instead.

Local Fireworks Law Strictest Around...
Another BS session (imho). When the hell did this city acquire THIRTEEN "holidays" that require setting off fireworks anyway? Are we THAT desperate for diversions that we NEED to play with potentially dangerous materials THAT badly? Don't we have enough illegal GUNS on the streets for people to play with already? And what about all the domestic violence? I guess some people aren't satisfied with knockin' the "ball and chain" around a few times a week while swilling down a 40oz....better to chase her around the block tossing firecrackers at her instead (this really happened last year with a "neighbor"...I kid you not..but that's OK, it's just their "culture" I guess).

I'll make this law REAL simple: ONLY on July 4th and New Years Eve (2 frigging days) can you use SPARKLERS and small firecrackers...period. Everything else is BANNED. You want large ordinance to detonate...move elsewhere (or join the military - field artillery branch or EOD). NO exceptions. Leave the REAL fireworks TO THE PROFESSIONALS!

How (not) To Rob A Person...
A Fort Wayne man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for having handwritten notes on how to rob a pizza deliveryman. Talk about a "crib-sheet", eh? And this guy wasn't a youngster...he is 43 years old! Someone's got WAY too much time on THEIR hands (and now he has even more in a much smaller room...heh, heh, heh). Thanks to an officer posing as a Marco's deliveryman who arrested the perp, they found sheets of paper on which was written TURN OFF CAR, GIVE ME KEYS, GIVE ME CELL, GIVE ME MONEY and PIZZA in large letters (probably written in CRAYON as well). Have fun being the new "bitch" in cellblock "D", son...you earned it! I hope you like "pepperoni" to go with your "pizzas".

And lastly, in lieu of the license plate above, we have this:

BMV Worker Busted Making Illegal IDs...
An Indy worker at the BMV (where a safe was stolen this week) was held on charges of issuing false IDs. Seems one Tathea Dixon-Smith (26) is looking at fellony forgery, identity deception, and official misconduct (it's OK though...it's just part of her "culture"). There appears to be no connection between the safe theft (with over $26K in it) and Ms Dixon-Smith's conduct. She was suspended (well, that's good to know) from her job as a customer service associate (when did we go from representative to associate?). I'll bet Tathea is not going to be worried about HER license for a while now, eh?

So there you go....all the news that's fit to print (or is that print to fit?)
In any event, have a safe weekend, take your heart medication when going to the gas pumps, and stop by an auto parts shop and buy a damn locking gas cap....you sure don't want to wind up GIVING some jerk (with a siphon hose) a reason to drive at YOUR expense...do you?

Stay Safe out there and buckle up...it's the (dumb-ass) law!

17 May 2007

Turnabout IS Fair Play...Finally...

If you want a good read to go with your morning cup o' Joe (and some "Yin" to go with your "Yang"), take a gander at an article written by Kathleen Parker (Washington Post Group). The title of the article is: "Culture Is No Excuse For Horrible Behavior".

In Charleston, S.C. a white teacher won a court ruling that said she had been subjected to a RACIALLY HOSTILE WORKPLACE.
Imagine that.
The teacher in question (Elizabeth Kandrac) was routinely verbally abused by black students at Brentwood Middle School in North Charleston. The slurs made shock jock Don Imus look like a church deacon. Even after frequent complaints, school officials did nothing, arguing that the racially charged profanity was "simply part of the students' culture". I know EXACTLY how she feels, and I'm not even a teacher! I just happen to live among "people" such as the ones described.

Kandrac filed a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), and brought a lawsuit against the school district, the principal, and an associate superintendent. And last fall, the jurors found that the school WAS a "racially hostile" environment to teach in, and that the district retaliated against Kandrac for complaining.
(Score one for the GOOD GUYS.)
The defendants sought a new trial, and the U.S. district judge reaffirmed the verdict.
(Score ANOTHER ONE for the GOOD GUYS.)
But the judge did NOT support the jury's findings of $307,500 in damages for lost income and emotional distress.
(Damn...and we were doing so well)
Suffice it to say the teacher had been fired from her job after the EEOC complaint hit the media, and her contract was NOT renewed. A new trial would be needed to determine damages, but the district settled on $200,000.
End of story, right? Not quite...

Was the students' behavior anything less than reprehensible?
Most definitely.
Were the students held accountable for their language by the school?
Not really. (it was stated that since they heard language like that "at home", it was considered "normal" for their culture.)

Back in the day, if ANY student had filth such as these kids diplayed towards their teacher issue forth from their mouths, justice would have been swift...and final. Whether it was a solid THWACK across the face (Parochial students know this all too well), a suspension and THEN sent home to face your parents (uh...oh)...or whatever...it worked. Even a male war veteran stated he rather be in Vietnam than in Brentwood Middle School...well that speaks volumes, doesn't it? The corroboration in Kandrac's behalf was damning to the school...why? Because it was ALL TOO TRUE. It makes me wonder how "tolerant" the FWCS is on issues like this?

But let's look at the other side of the coin...."IF" majority WHITE students had used similar language toward a BLACK student or teacher, the case would have been plastered on the front page of the New York Times (along with every other tabloid, and mainstream media channel) until some heads rolled. Had Kandrac been BLACK, she would have nailed down a million dollar book deal, a movie contract, and hundreds of interviews on every show imaginable. Her oppressors would have been all but drawn and quartered in the public arenas, their faces flashed nightly on the news for WEEKS. Jackson and Sharpton would be in Kismet over the attention THEY would receive with their organized protests (read potential rioting).

As Kathleen Parker states in the article: "Though Kandrac lost her job, the real losers are the children deprived of an education by the actions of a tyrannical few. And the WORST racists are the teachers and administrators who denied these empowered brats (she's MUCH too kind calling them brats, imho) the expectation of civilized behavior."

Now to me, this should be a wake up call to the rest of us. Giving anyone a "free pass" to subhuman behavior all for the sake of "cultural diversity" is not what I like to think of when I think EVOLUTION. I see it (and hear it) every damn day in my neighborhood. And the rest of you probably see it (and hear it) when you're at a public venue such as a mall, or restaurant, or even at the zoo.

At the zoo, the difference between the ones INSIDE the cage and the ones OUTSIDE the cage is usually the fact that the ones INSIDE the cage can't help the way they act; Those on the OUTSIDE of the cage CAN...but DON'T (or won't).

That's why I enjoy the zoo....They're BETTER-BEHAVED animals, no matter how many feet they might have, or what color their stripes might be.

16 May 2007

Gauging The Gouging...

I'll wager you're keeping a much closer eye on your fuel consumption these days. And with gas prices reaching record highs (with apparent increases forthcoming), it's not hard to figure out we're all looking for a bargain on leather hole punches so we can tighten our belts further. Personally, I think the automakers should start placing a "gouge cauge" alongside the fuel gauge in all new cars (with retrofitting available at no cost to older models). As your FUEL gauge edges downward to that letter "E", the GOUGE gauge edges upward to the letter "F".

WANE posed a question today regarding changing driving habits due to higher fuel costs. How ludicrous is that? Hell, I changed MY driving habits in the 70s during the oil embargo...and never looked back! I even got out of the "more power" mentality and dumped my beloved V8 in lieu of a more fuel efficient V6. After 24 years, I'm still not disappointed. I'm not worried about jack-rabbiting out of the intersection with enough velocity to break earth orbit...and neither should you. I like to think we're now operating under the "GNDN" rule for travel...(Go Nowhere - Do Nothing). How fun is that, folks? Taking fewer trips and combining errands will NOT get anyone a "gold star" for frugality and certainly NOT lower prices at the pumps FOR that frugality...we're all in the same boat here...we all get boned equally!

Let's face it....this whole scenario is but another "hostage situation" with the American driver being held for whatever ransom the big oil companies decide is fitting. There are those out there saying we have to be more "frugal" with our use of oil (and gasoline), and yet on the other hand, we STILL keep pumping out (no pun intended) more cars whose mileage is dubious at best, rivaling MPG ratings from a quarter century ago. And that is called PROGRESS? How the hell can that be FRUGAL?

And I won't even get into how the state saw fit to RAISE the speed limit (so we could all burn off more fuel at a faster rate watching our MPGs go in the crapper).That makes just SO much sense.

Sure, sure, we do have foreign cars that get a lot (?) better mileage...for a price. But even they are only marginally better under near laboratory conditions. I don't know about YOU, but I rarely get to drive in a laboratory these days. Add to that most Americans just "hop in and go", thinking little about keeping a car running at it's optimum performance. We're much too busy reading or eating while driving to worry about mileage...right? And stop making cars that has over 175 BHP. I'm not towing a boat or a trailer up Pike's friggin Peak for God's sake! You don't need THAT much power to get where you need to go. All that horsepower leads to one thing, and one thing only...FUEL CONSUMPTION. This is the perfect case of getting what you pay for, namely leave your wallet at the pump. If you really need that much power and like to go faster than anyone else..SIGN UP FOR NASCAR or the IRL (because you already seem to be going in circles)...LOL!

My frugality regarding my driving habits (as well as my wife) cannot simply get ANY better (or is that lesser?)...unless we become pedestrian in nature or take public transportation. And let's not forget that fuel loses some of it's potency after a few months of sitting in your tank, so leaving the car in the garage is not really the "best" option either.

Those of you that bought HYBRIDS...I feel for you, honestly. Here you are trying to wean yourselves off of OIL by using ETHANOL. Well, you'll be paying AS MUCH as regular gas because ethanol produces only about 75% of the power that gasoline does, ergo...more trips to the pump, 'cause your mileage WILL vary. And you're going to be dumping more different pollutants into the air, exacerbating existing health conditions in some people and producing more smog. So much for all that CLEANER air, eh?

But let's point at the culprits behind this...

1) Automakers: Although I'm not a conspiracy freak, I DO believe that they have technology on their shelves, collecting dust only because they haven't figured out how to reap the whirlwinds of PROFIT by putting it into place in our vehicles for OUR benefit.

2) Oil Companies: These guys have NOT built a NEW REFINERY in over THIRTY years, so naturally, the refinieries that are running now WILL need repair and upgrading...and we pay the freight, of course. Consumer demand has risen about 1% for every year the oil moguls have not built a new facility...you do the math on that.

3) Environmentalists: The tree-huggers (backed by the uber-liberal democrats) have seen fit to keep the oil companies "at bay" by saying they CANNOT build ANY new facilities. Now I like our environemnt as much as the nexy guy, but until the automakers release new technology that is not 100% oil-dependent, I've still got to drive what I own to wherever I have to go. As do we all. I think we can both preserve the environment AND drill for more oil for the USA...we just have to decide whether or not we like paying so much more at the pumps now. Ethanol will not be the godsend many hope for. The future lies in hydrogen technology. If they can do it in Finland and Sweden, they sure as hell can do it here.
4) The consumer: We're guilty...fess up. We think that oil is a resourse that has NO limit...WRONG. It's the old "those without sin can cast the first stone" gig all over again. Ain't no stones being tossed yet. We still drive like there's no tomorrow. We've become so complacent with gas always being "there", that we forget that frivolous trips for a bottled water are smacking us right in the "hip national bank" every damn day. That's got to change.

So...Is America being "taken for a ride"?
Hell yes.
Are we enjoying the scenery?
Hell no.
Can we do something about it?
You bet your ball-bearings we can.

All we need to do is get these oil companies under the watchful eyes of the government that WE pay every day to act on OUR behalf (and in OUR best interests)...and NOT settle for anything less. WE control our fate...and WE have the power to enact change. The time of BS is over.

That's the AMERICAN way to get things done.