Saints alive!

28 01 2010

No, this isn’t about the upcoming Super Bowl, although that’s probably a more interesting topic. Instead, it’s my main impression of President Barack Obama’s first-ever State of Union address. If you missed it, you can read the full text of the speech by clicking HERE.
There wasn’t really anything surprising from Obama’s speech, mainly a repeat of the same talking points we’ve heard several times.
What struck me as mildly disturbing, however, is how the president points to government, particularly the federal government, as being the solution to everyone’s problems. What struck me as majorly disturbing was Nancy Pelosi clapping like a seal everytime the president cleared his throat.
Basically, what I heard was this:
Need a job? The government can get one for you.
Can’t afford college? The government can pay for it.
Can’t afford health care? The government can provide it for you.
Trouble paying the mortgage? The government will pay it for you.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility? If Obama’s plans come to fruition, what will happen to personal ambition to succeed?
I don’t think THIS is what the founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the U.S. Constitution.
In fact, government, at any level, tends to screw things up when it gets involved anyway. But the president is looking for government to be the savior of the United States. Not a good thing.
* I’ve also heard a lot of people talking about how good of an orator President Obama is, and how he delievers a good speech. Can’t argue there. During the 2008 presidential campaign, I was at an event at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and stood 15 feet away from Obama when he was a senator in a tough primary contest. He’s an excellent public speaker.
But being able to deliver a good speech doesn’t make one an effective leader.
Know who else were considered to be fantastic public speakers? Adolf Hitler. Benito Moussolini. Josef Stalin. Mao Tse-Tung. How’d they work out for the countries they led?
It’s important to listen to the words. It’s more important to watch what they do. I’m not saying Obama is looking to be a dictator or anything like that, but there are times when the words don’t match the actions.
* Getting away from bashing Obama completely, I will say I liked his emphasis on improving local community colleges. I know a lot of people look at their community colleges as glorified high schools, and if you’re one of those people, I’d encourage you to look again.
Many of these institutions have top-notch programs and are offering courses comparable to what you’d find in a four-year school.
Community college has also become an option for many students who can’t afford to head straight to a four-year school after high school. I think the president was on the money when he highlighted the need to strengthen these institutions.
* I noticed at least seven instances where Obama used the word “Washington” not in a geographic sense, but in the pejorative. He’s right when he says the American people are fed up with what’s happening in our nation’s capital. However, the president should realize he’s also a part of the establishment there.


The Taint Offensive

30 12 2009

Obviously, there’s been a lot of concern over the fact that a Nigerian flying from the Netherlands to the United States was able to board an airplane wearing and explosive device hidden in his underwear.
In the wake of this incident, there is a growing concern about a possible plan to implement full-body scanning at airports in response to this terrorist attempt.
Even though the Obama administration won’t admit this was a terrorist attack, let’s face it, it was. Whether we call it a “man-made disaster” or any other PC label, it’s still a terrorist attack, whether it’s attempted or pulled off.
So why the furor over the idea of implementing full-body scans at airports?
I’ll admit, the image of my naked body over a computer scan will probably cause children to cower behind their parents in absolute fear, will cause most men to feel better about themselves and cause most women to vomit on the floor and question their very reason for living.
But still, as someone who as flown on airplanes and probably will fly again in the future, I’d like to know that every precaution is being taken to make sure we get from Point A to Point B (or C or D or E, depending on how many connecting flights you have) as safely as possible. After all, you’re already asking a lot by expecting me to cram into a tube and trust that you’ll get me to my destination in one piece.
If that means checking everything out to make sure that happens, feel free to have a gander at the twig and berries. I can assure you, the only bomb you’ll find in that region is the one that’s brewing after I’ve mowed down on a fried onion and drank three cups of coffee.
Hey, it’s almost 2010. There are idiots out there who are attempting and will attempt any and all means to kill a large amount of people at one time.
If that means making sure every person that boards a plane can’t pull something like that off, then by all means, search me.

Doing something meaningful

17 12 2009

Healthcare reform. A faltering economy. Two wars. That’s a lot of heavy issues being debated in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol.
It’s probably difficult to figure out which one is the most important, but I’m glad to see that Congress is tackling even more important issues such as the volume of your televisions.
The U.S. House of Representatives took a bold stand yesterday by voting in favor of legislation aimed at topping TV advertisers from running commercials at louder volumes than the actual programming.
Wow. Now THAT’S really important. Apparently, TV viewers are too stupid to push “down” on the volume button of their remote controls.
Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised that our representatives are spending time on bills like this.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really annoying when I’m watching “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and reruns of “Beverly Hills, 90210” when all of a sudden the Shamwow Guy or the Free Credit rock stars come blaring from the speakers at a higher volume level than the show.
But do I really need the federal government to fix the problem for me? Not so much, especially with everything else that needs fixing in this country.

Then again, Congress dealing with these kinds of issues keeps them from screwing up the major ones, so maybe this is a good thing.

Smells like Gen X spirit

13 12 2009

I normally don’t get too giddy about the local news I put in the paper on a daily basis. But I’m feeling pretty good about my generation at the moment.
In today’s Recorder, superstar reporter Jessica Maher wrote this fantastic story about four people in Amsterdam, N.Y., who are about to take elected office come Jan. 1. The neat thing about the story is that all four are under the age of 40, a pretty remarkable feat considering it used to be a common thought around here that in order to hold public office, you had to be a retired, balding white male Republican who remembers where they were the day Lincoln was shot. At least that was the joke some of us used to tell.
It’s really cool to see members of my generation get interested in local politics and government. More than that, it’s even cooler to see members of my generation get involved because they actually care about their communities, they like living here, and they want to make this area a better place to live.
This is our time, and, agree with their politics or not, I hope these four individuals will inspire other people in my age group who have decided to stick around to get more involved in their communities and show some civic pride.

Newbies need not apply

30 11 2009

I’ve always gotten a kick out of sentiments that people who haven’t lived their entire lives within a 2-foot radius of their birthplace for 68 years have no right to say anything about the community they live in now.
I am not a native of this area. In fact, the first time I had ever even heard of Amsterdam was during a track meet my junior year of high school.
I didn’t even know the Great Sacandaga Lake, Northville or Fulton County even existed until I met the beautiful temptress who eventually became my wife (Northville High School, class of 1991).
But I found this piece of earth. I liked it. In fact, I moved here, and lived in the general area (mosty in Broadalbin) for more than a decade when for some reason, we decided to leave.
But after two years in the Southern Tier (Corning to be exact) and two years in the South (Kinston, North Carolina), we wanted back in.
Why? Because I, and my wife and children, like it here.
But what kills me is that so-called “lifers” will complain that people who haven’t live their lives here are speaking out about what they want their community to look like.
Why is their opinion invalid?
The “lifers” seems to be stuck on how things used to be, and they want their communities to go back to way back when.
However, there’s a reason why “newbies” are moving and settling in around here. And these “newbies” are trying to get involved with their communties, running and getting elected to local offices.
Maybe it’s time to stop dimissing the voices of the “newbies” and start realizing that we’ve moved into the area, and are seeking to get involved, for all the right reasons.
Granted, having a knowledge of local history is important. Knowing the so-called rules of the game, who the players are, what or what not will be embraced by the community are all important, and should not be ignored.
And the “newbies” shouldn’t discount those who know local history and “how things work.” In fact, they should embrace that knowledge.
But I also think it’s time for these so-called “lifers” to understand that there is a group of civic-minded “youngsters” who have arrived and are simply looking to make their communities the best they can be.

Has a new contender emerged?

28 11 2009

Obviously, the major goal of running a blog is doing what you’ve got to do to get page views. That’s what it’s all about.
This week, another local blog has popped up, called Amsterdam Revealed.
Allegedly, it’s run by a female who’s lived in the city for 10 years. But since the blog is run anonymously, who knows?
Anyhoo, I found THIS POSTING particularly entertaining because it starts with a pros-and-cons critique of the city’s elected (or appointed) officals before tossing in a couple of people who don’t serve the city in any official capacity but are very vocal in local affairs.
I’ve linked to the blog on the right column, and it’ll be interesting, if not entertaining, to see what kind of voice this blog will have and what direction it will take.

Calling a truce

19 11 2009

I had fully intended to leave this one alone, but poster w murphy took yours truly and another local blogger to the proverbial woodshed for some sniping taking place as of late.
Mr. Murphy is right on the money. I’ve posted a few things since the resurrection of Krab-cakes and Football that’s been critical of anonymous blogging and posting anonymous comments. He’s right when the blogs about blogging take away from raising the level of “local discourse,” which is the point of this blog and I believe is the primary point of the other blog.
Point blank, I do not like anonymous blogging, nor am I a fan of posting anonymously to blogs. Likewise, I also agree with the author of the other blog that callers to local radio talk shows should be identified, at the very least, by their first names … something that happens on most radio stations.
I do not question the host’s right to blog anonymously, nor do I question the right of people to post anonymously.
I do believe who is making a point is as important as what is being said, but I don’t believe the who is more important than the what. Both are equally as important.
What burns my toast, however, are posters who use anonymous “handles” but will deign to call me and others who choose to identify ourselves by our names, in some cases by our full names. That’s when I tend to pop off.
However, discussing the pros and cons of anonymity and the like takes away from what’s truly beneficial … meaningful discourse.
I think I’ve made my point clear on where I stand on anonymous blogging and posting, so there’s no need to keep hammering the issue. And frankly, in the past, I’ve actually allowed people on previous blogs I’ve hosted to use Net handles, and will continue to allow it here.
Mr. Murphy’s point is well-taken.