Daily Archives: June 24, 2012

Weekly Meditation: Thing to tell yourself…

I was working on a significantly longer meditation today when I saw this…

 

I don’t think I can top that right now.  Tell yourself these things at least 3 times every day this week…or better yet, print it out and put where you work or spend a lot of time.

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The Most Patriotic Films #11 To Kill A Mockingbird

Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system – that’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe… Tom Robinson.

 

Okay first off, I’ll admit the central theme of this film is not the greatness of America, there is no denying that, but the theme is there.

 

First off this is a great patriotic film, because as I have said before we Americans are able to admit our mistakes, own up to them, learn from them and then move on.  And this film makes clear some of our worst behavior without giving a blanket indictment to all Americans past, present and future.

 

Think about it, which other countries are so open about their flaws?

 

I looked around and I couldn’t find that there were any monuments in England to their treatment of Catholics or to their actions in India (I could be wrong and if I am please tell me).  And if you go to Japan try and find public acknowledgement of Nanking, Bataan, or Pearl Harbor…that has some very interesting selective amnesia.  And let’s not forget Russia seems on the verge of re-embracing their darkest days.  But as America is a nation that does not believe in pedigree or the idea that the sins (or virtues) of the father automatically fall to the son, we aren’t told to feel personally guilty for the actions of our ancestors (like the German education system seems to be based on a near daily dose of “We are terrible evil people”—I’m sorry but the children nowadays, while they should knows what happened, shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about something they didn’t do).  Only America has, more or less, a history of admitting their flaws and mistakes but not dwelling and wallowing in them—just as an individual should.  Yes there are people in this nation that want to make us likes the dregs of Europe either denying our wrongs or wallowing in them as if no redemption is possible, but these people never seem to gain any long term traction because ignorance and guilt are not the American way.

 

Now, as the opening quote suggests, this is a movie tied heavily to our legal system. Its flaws and its strengths.  Atticus’ speech speaks to the hopes of its strengths.  Its flawed verdict speaks to the weakness of depending on people who are by nature imperfect for justice (but you come up with a better system).  But I think there is a point missed in all the injustice here.  The majority of the people act within the rules of the law.  Atticus of course always follows the law to the letter (even to the point where he thought he would have to bring his son to court for murder charges)—but it is not just Atticus.  The Judge of the story, who could have given any lawyer to Tom Robbinson, ensures he gets the one lawyer in town who will not allow a man he knows to be innocent to be railroaded without even mounting a defense. Further the character of Sheriff Tate when limited by the rules of the law charges a man he doesn’t believe to be innocent, because a complaint has been filed and it is not for the police to determine guilt or innocence…but when it is in his legal power to determine what happened he makes it quite clear “Bob Ewell fell on his knife”…Arthur “Boo” Radley Who?  For all the flaws of the legal system shown in this film, it is shown that it is a system worthy of following in this nation because even when it has gross injustices it is still better than the alternative. (Further let us not forget this film was made in the 1960’s and worked as a powerful piece of propaganda to help pass civil rights reform that ended the kind of injustice seen in this film.

A man who stands up for what he believes in, even in the face of certain violence,is almost always to be admired (so long as his cause is right and just…which is a given in with Atticus.)

And then there is Atticus Finch.  A heroes hero whom we all wish we could be more like.  And he is a distinctly America kind of hero. He doesn’t care about what the community at large thinks, he doesn’t care what his neighbors say, he doesn’t care when he personally is threatened.  He care about his children and what is right.  There is no other consideration for the opinion of community or loyalty to society, only what is right.  Some countries may ask devotion to “king and country” others demand obedience to race or religion…but America is the nation that glorifies loyalty to self, to reason, and to right. Which is the reason why we love Atticus and admire him so deeply.

Also, a very subtle theme that is tied to the core of America is that action and principle must go hand in hand.  Yes Atticus Finch is a man of morals and virtue and character that we should all aspire to.  His guiding light of  “The main one is that if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold my head up in town. I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do somethin’ again” is a belief that far too many are lacking in the modern world (clearly no one in France or Greece has any conception of this kind of thinking).  But the fact of the matter is that there is a certain lack of action in his moral. He stands tall when a piece of filth like Ewell spits in his face and doesn’t give in to the provocation to fight…which if it were just Atticus who was in jeopardy would be fine…but he failed to take into account that Ewell had a history of attacking the defenseless and innocent. Which is why it is Boo Radley who shows the very American propensity for knowing that sometimes you have to put evil people down and make sure they can never get back up again.

 

—-

 

 

Oh, and not on the issue of patriotism…but a fun fact.  There is a portion of the movie (and it’s in the book too) about the arrogance of teachers who think that they know everything because they’ve been to college and that parents know nothing.  One might call it ironic that this is a book almost every English teacher loves, even though it is insulting the arrogant mentality of most teachers…but they would have to be bright enough to get that point, and, at the least most of the union hacks certainly are nowhere near that bright.

 

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Ramblings of Conservative Cathy – Flip flopper/Pandering???

The Democrats and some “so called” Republicans like to say that the Republican nominee – Mitt Romney is a flip flopper and panders to those he speaks with. Well he just had a wonderful opportunity to prove this to his detractors but wait – it did not occur. I was shocked – really shocked that once again my nominee stood on principal and demonstrated true character. And if you actually wanted to do some real research instead of just listening and repeating what the talking heads say you would find out that this is how he has always been and I expect will always be!

Below is the transcript of Romney’s speech to the large Latino group of elected officials, NALEO.

Did he change anything he has said previously? NO! Did he pander to the crowd? NO!

If you have been paying attention then you know he said nothing new and he stayed on track and promoted a better economy. Stated as he always has that illegal immigration affects the economy and following the laws and correcting a broken immigration system will improve the economy and he wants to do that as the economy is his main premise for just about everything.

Now his detractors want to say he did not come down on either side of Obama’s election gift to illegal immigrants but I think this phrase says it all and does not side step the issue: “Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive order. The answer is that I will put in place my own long- term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure. As president, I won’t settle for stopgap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution. And I’ll prioritize measures –”
I think that says that he will actually fix the situation and follow what he promotes – legal immigration and securing our border – which he has been saying forever.

And as always you can not beat phrases like this: “Today, I’m asking you to join me, because while we may not agree on everything, we share the same goal, and the same vision. And the same belief in American greatness that draws so many people to our shores. Liberty’s torch can burn just as brightly for future generations of immigrant as it has burned for immigrants in the past.”

This is one of the reasons why Mitt Romney is my choice for President of the United States!

Except from CNN transcript (if there are any errors blame CNN):

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Appreciate the chance to be with you today and I’m delighted to be here to be invited here at your annual conference. It’s an honor to be among so many elected officials.
I come to you as a candidate of the United States of America. And I will govern from the principle that while this is a land of extraordinary diversity, there are so much more that unites us than there is that divides us.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Each of us walks a different path in life, but we are united by one great overwhelming passion, we love the United States of America. We believe in America. We are one nation under God.
Today, we are united not only by our faith in America, we are also united by our concern for America. The country we love is in peril, and that’s why I’m running for president.
Almost four years ago, the American people did something that was very much the sort of thing that Americans like to do — we gave someone new a chance to lead, someone who we had not known very long who didn’t have much of a record, but promised to lead us to a better place.
At the time, we didn’t know what kind of president he’d be. It was a moment of crisis for our economy. And when Barack Obama became to office, America wished him well and hoped for the best.
Three-and-a-half years later, over 23 million Americans are out of work. Unemployed. Underemployed. Or simply quit looking for a job.
At a time when we should be gaining momentum in the economy, we are actually seeing us lose a little bit of it right now. Job growth slowed and this week we learned that the number of job openings has fallen yet again. And as you know, Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard. While the national unemployment is still above 8 percent and has been for 40 straight months, Hispanic unemployment is at 11 percent.
The middle class under President Obama has been crushed. More Americans are living in poverty today than at any point in American history. Over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day when President Obama took office.
Home values have plunged, our national debt is at record levels and families are buried under higher prices for things like food and gasoline, and yet the president said that the private sector is doing fine.
This is more than a policy failure. It’s a moral failure. I know that the president will say that he inherited the economic crisis, and that’s true.
But we shouldn’t allow the challenges that he faced four years ago to divert our attention from another important fact. The president pursued policies that have made this the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, and he broke promises many people were counting on the build a brighter future. It did not have to be this way.
Just compare this president’s record with the first term of Ronald Reagan. President Reagan also faced an economic crisis. In fact, in 1982, the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 11 percent. But in the two years that followed, just two years, he delivered a true recovery, economic growth and job creation worth three times higher than in the Obama economy.
If President Obama had delivered a real recovery, a Reagan recovery, we would have 5 million more jobs today — 5 million more. And the unemployment rate would be 6 percent, and the economy would be at least 1 trillion larger.
Now, tomorrow President Obama will speak here, and of course, that is the first time he has spoken here since the last campaign. He may admit that he has not kept every promise, and he’ll probably say that even though you aren’t better off than you were four years ago, things could be worse.
He will imply that you don’t really have an alternative. I believe he’s taking your vote for granted.
I’d come here today with a very simple message, you do have an alternative. Your vote should be respected. And your voice is more important now than ever before.
This November, we are going to make a choice. We can continue along the path we are on. Or we can choose a better way. Instead of continuing on with the policies of the last three and a half years, we can revitalize our free enterprise economy, we can lead the world as we have in what we invent and build and create.
Let me make this very clear: this is the only way we can strengthen the middle-class. And this is the only way we can create sustained prosperity. Raising taxes to grow government does not grow the middle-class.
Today, I’m asking you the join me, because while we may not agree on everything, we share the same goal, and the same vision. And the same belief in American greatness that draws so many people to our shores. Liberty’s torch can burn just as brightly for future generations of immigrant as it has burned for immigrants in the past.
We know that the businesses can’t succeed and grow and hire more workers without a more competitive tax system. That’s why I am going to lower the corporate tax rate and reduce individual marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board.
We also know that our businesses and families need affordable and reliable energy. Producing more of our own energy resources will create jobs in America, and generate greater revenues for the country.
It will also help bring manufacturing back to our shores. You are going to see a manufacturing resurgence if we get that policy right. We know that the economy cannot grow if we are mortgaging the future to pay for the big government programs of today.
Think about that. We can’t keep on borrowing massively more than we take in without putting the country in peril, and so as president, I will rein in spending, and I will get the budget balanced. And I will repeal Obamacare, because we cannot afford another $2 trillion entitlement.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Everybody likes free stuff, but there is no free stuff when government has to the pay and it has to tax the American people or when it borrows from future generations. Obamacare is depressing job growth. If priority number one is jobs, you have to get Obamacare out of there.
In one study, 73 percent of a business owners said that Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire people. Think of that. Almost three quarters of small businesses saying Obamacare is making it less likely to hire people. If jobs are your priority, you got to get rid of Obamacare and put in place real reform that works.
Repealing Obamacare and replacing it will give businesses the kind of certainty they need to expand and to hire and to grow. Now, by the way, we can also jump start our economy by expanding trade in our hemisphere.
As you know, however, the president has not completed a single new trade agreement with a Latin American nation and he has failed to crack down on countries like China, who don’t live by the rules.
We know that our kids can’t succeed if they are trapped in failing schools, and that is why as president I will give the parents of every low income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: When it comes to education, a choice for every parent means a chance for every child. An effective immigration system can also strengthen the economy as it has since the nation’s founding.
Unfortunately, despite his promises, President Obama has failed to address immigration reform. For two years this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate, he was free to pursue any policy he pleased, but he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Nothing. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election, and trying to secure your vote.
Last week the president finally offered a temporary measure — he called it a stopgap measure — that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election.
After 3 1/2 years of putting every issue from loan guarantees to his donors to Cash for Clunkers, putting all of those things before immigration, now the president has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on day one, but didn’t. I think you deserve better.
Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive order. The answer is that I will put in place my own long- term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure. As president, I won’t settle for stopgap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution. And I’ll prioritize measures —
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: — and I want you to also know this, I will prioritize efforts that strengthen legal immigration and make it more transparent and easier. And I’m going to address the issue of illegal immigration in a civil and resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it. Let me speak about some of the guidelines that I will use in putting together the policy. And as you have heard me say many times it is critical to redouble the efforts to secure the borders. That means both preventing illegal border crossings and making it harder to illegally overstay a visa.
We should field enough border patrol agents, complete a high-tech fence and implement an improved exit verification system. Our immigration system should help promote strong families as well, not keep them apart. Our nation benefits when moms and dads and their kids are all living together under the same roof.

(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: But today, too many families are caught in a broken system that costs them time and money and entangles them in excessive red tape. For those seeking to come to America the right way, that kind of bureaucratic nightmare has to end. And we can do this with just a few common sense reforms.
As president, I’d reallocate green cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And we will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from coming together. Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, it is also an economic necessity. Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs and they drive innovation at a very high rate.
Immigrants founded or co-founded nearly half of our top 50 venture-backed companies in this country — nearly half. They are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business. And that kind of risk-taking is something we need more than ever, because new business startups in America are at a 30-year low.
I’ll work with states and employers to update our temporary worker visa program so that it meets our economic needs. And if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here. So I’d staple a green card to the diploma of someone who gets an advanced degree in America.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: We want the best and brightest to enrich the nation through the jobs and technologies they are going to create. Now, we also have a strong tradition in this country of honoring immigrants who join our military and put their lives on the line to keep the country safe. Since September 11th of 2001, the United States has naturalized nearly 75,000 members of the Armed Forces. Too many of those patriots died on distant battlefields for our freedom before receiving full citizenship here in the country they called home. As president I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Those who have risked their lives in defense of America have earned the right to make their life in America. But improving access to legal immigration is only one part of the equation. We must also make legal immigration more attractive than illegal immigration, so that people are rewarded for waiting patiently in line.
That is why my administration will establish a strong employment verification system so that every business can know with confidence that the people it hires are legally eligible for employment. We can find common ground here, and we have got to.
We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains the land of opportunity both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws and want to come to our shores.

Now, throughout my campaign, I have often had the chance to speak about my dad and how proud I am of him. He was born, as Scotty said, to parents, American parents living in Mexico. When he was 5, they left everything behind and started over in the United States.
His dad, my grandfather, was a builder, and he went bust more than once. My grandfather didn’t make much money. There were times in my dad’s life when he lived in poverty. But my grandfather had big hopes for my dad and tried to help him as best he could.
My dad didn’t finish college. But he believed in the country where the circumstances of one’s birth were not a barrier to achievement. And he was not afraid of hard work. He held odd jobs, putting up plasterboard, selling paint. He was lucky enough to live in America where hard work can turn aspirations into realities.
After he became a man of the business world, he got the opportunity to lead a great car company, and ultimately, he became the governor of a great state, the state of Michigan.
This is my father’s story. But it could be the story of any American. Most of you here today are leaders in your community. Your are here because you have benefited from the land of opportunity, and you want to give back to this country, to fight for its people so they have the same chance to succeed.
We are truly one America. Everyone here has made this exceptional nation what it is today. This is an election about two people. This is not an election about being a Republican or a Democrat or and independent. This is an election about the future of America. I’d ask each of you to honestly look at the last 3 1/2 years and ask whether we can do better. Is the America of 11 percent Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better. We can prosper again with the powerful recovery we have all been waiting for, the good jobs that so many people need and, above all, the opportunities we owe to our children and our grandchildren.
I will do that. I will make that happen with your help and your support. Thank you so much. And God bless this great land. Thank you.

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The Best Patriotic Films #12 Cinderella Man

“I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them.”

If you’re a consistent reader of this blog, you’ll probably know that I am not the biggest fan of sports the universe has ever known.  But while most sports bore me, movies about sports can still be great. And Cinderella Man is one of those films.  (Also despite the very patriotic undertones of Far And Away and Apollo 13 I felt those were more centered on the characters than the nation that gave rise to those characters, but I really thought a great director like Ron Howard did deserve to be on this list somewhere).
For those who don’t remember this film, it is the story of Jim Broddock, a boxer who lost everything in the early days of the Great Depression, including his promising boxing career…only to make a miraculous comeback after being called on to fill in last minute for a fighter who had to bow out.

It is an American story for many reasons.  The least of which is that it is the story of an underdog.  Americans for all their strength in economics, military, this or that field, love an underdog, because that’s what we are.  We are band of misfits who created a great economic power.  We are a band of untrained militia who beat the most powerful military in the world.  We are the place where someone can through willpower and skill change their life for the better.  We are the place that gets knocked down time and time and time again, and always comes back stronger than before.  And we love to root for underdogs like ourselves.

But like any great underdog story, this is the story of a man who survives and excels because of willpower and drive.  The America Dream is not the American Dream because lots of people here can win the lottery or just find success by dumb luck—it is the American Dream because we have control of our own lives, power over our destiny—we don’t live as the victims of our circumstances but as the master of them (or at least that’s what we preach…but at least we preach this bit of truth, rather than some froggish countries that preach dependency.)

And it is again the simplicity of the American Dream that makes this movie stand out.  The final title cards show that Braddock did not just blow his money (it should be noted that according to the movie he didn’t squander the money he earned early in his career…he just invested it right before the crash), but rather lived the modest American Dream most of us have in mind for ourselves and one day for our children:

“Two years later Jim Braddock put his title on the line against Joe Louis. Jim knocked him down in the first round though Louis went on to win the bout. Joe Louis would always call Jim Braddock the most courageous man he ever fought.  Jim served honorably in World War II. He later owned and operated heavy equipment on the same docks where he labored during the Great Depression. In the early 1960’s he helped build the Verrazano Bridge. Jim and Mae bought a house in New Jersey with the winnings from the Baer fight. They raised their children in that house and lived there for the rest of their lives.”

Of course what really makes this movie stand out is Braddock’s behavior to the relief money (today we would call it welfare).  Yes he needed to take relief money to keep the power on so that his kids could stay with him and his wife.  There is nothing wrong with welfare when people are desperate and no one in this country would begrudge legitimate need (as opposed to making no effort to get on your own feet, to control your own life, to educate yourself, or to get a job…those lazy couch potatoes we have a real problem with).  But what makes Braddock’s story interesting is what he did when he was back on his feet:

Reporter: Bob Johnson, Boston Globe. Two days ago, we ran a story about you giving your relief money back. Can you tell our readers why?

Jim Braddock: I believe we live in a great country, a country that’s great enough to help a man financially when he’s in trouble. But lately, I’ve had some good fortune, and I’m back in the black. And I just thought I should return it.

While there may be cases like this elsewhere, it is only the most charitable nation in the world that you will see this as not being an act of insanity, but rather an example of the best that this nation has to offer.  We don’t glorify need, but we do glorify those who are able to pick themselves up to a point where they can help themselves and those around them.

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