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Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

I have a high school classmate who swears to this day that he threw our principal down a flight of stairs. I’m not saying that it’s impossible; however, I don’t believe he would have graduated with us had he done this deed of which he is so proud. Did our principal deserve to be thrown down a flight of stairs? To the best of my memory, which is, admittedly, not the best source, no, he did not deserve that fate. He was a fair and reasonably just man. On the day a group of us decided to blow off school…and got caught, he didn’t yell or scream; he didn’t give us detentions for the remainder of the year. He told us, as I recall, that such actions could be placed on our permanent records and jeopardize our futures. How, I don’t know, but that is what he said. Overall, he was just another administrator doing whatever it is that administrators do.

There were some teachers who were most deserving of, if not trips down the stairs, perhaps some other form of punishment such as they were wont to mete out whenever the appropriate occasion arose. Their weapons were words…as cruel and damaging as any knife or gun. Often times, they were as harsh and deleterious as the biggest bomb or a fighter’s fist. Fortunately, I was the victim of one of these teachers only once, but once was quite enough. “You should get a full-time job in that grocery store because you’ll never be good for anything else.” It was a counterproductive, pernicious comment and worse because it was said in front of a fellow student and yes, it had been prefaced with “Why can’t you be more like so-and-so (standing beside me).” I don’t believe that I have ever despised anyone more than I did that teacher at that particular moment. The day did come when revenge was taken. It was the day I went back to my old high school as a permanent substitute teacher. As I walked into the teacher’s room, the old harridan confronted me with “What are you doing in here?” What a delight to tell her that I had given up the grocery job for college; had a couple of months before I would head back for my final term, decided to exercise one of my double minors, and that she could now regard me as a colleague. I was having so much fun that I was rather sorry when she stormed out of the lounge. Life can sometimes just be a bitch, can’t it?

I suppose that had I been going to school in this day and age, they merely would have tagged me as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or some other fancy psychological moniker; given me Ritalin, Prozac or some other crazy drug to calm me, and I could live my life in a drug induced la-la land. Thank God, I didn’t have to go through that bullshit. It was bad enough when my youngest was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. However, she also overcame the diagnosis and graduated from college cum laude.

Nor are we alone in having escaped the words of teachers with acid tongues. At one time, a teacher told the parents of Gary Cohn – the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs – that with luck their son might grow up to be a truck driver. Cohn was diagnosed with dyslexia, but before that happened, he had been bounced around to four different schools…and he was still in the sixth grade. He overheard the comment made to his parents. He was not going to allow it to deter him, and obviously it did not.

Cohn’s not alone. Shortly after my youngest was diagnosed, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s. Paul was at Babson to be inducted into the college’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. He was walking around campus with his faculty escort when I bumped into them. We began talking about his problems with high school and college. He graduated last from his 1,200-student high school. He had a tough time at college. However, he had a brilliant mind and found a niche at college where students had very limited access to copying machines. He leased one, set up an office near campus, and charged for duplication. Whamo! Kinko’s was born…named after Paul who bore the nickname because of his kinky red hair. We had a wonderful conversation, and I have never forgotten one thing that he said: “Everyone learns at a different pace.” As a teacher at the high school, college, and continuing education levels, I can certainly attest to the truth of that statement.

The point is that if someone tells you that your child has a learning disability, don’t think he or she is alone. Don’t believe that she or he can’t accomplish great things. Indeed, some of the world’s most famous people have been diagnosed with a learning disability of one kind or another. These include Richard Branson, founder of more than 150 companies bearing the Virgin name, Michael Phelps, world class swimmer, Charles Schwab, founder, chair, and COO of the largest brokerage firm in the United States, Erin Brockovich, Danny Glover, and Whoopi Goldberg. If that’s not an impressive list, I don’t know what the hell is. It’s been a long time since I was told to get a full-time job in a grocery store. Did I make a million bucks? No, when you work in higher education, your rewards are of a different kind, a satisfaction in seeing students with whom you worked go on to do some pretty damned good things. So once more I will say, don’t worry if your child gets a label. Remember, everyone learns at a different pace.

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Okay, Jihadi, John, any plans you may have had for terrorizing the United States can now be put on hold. You’ve won, baby, and you didn’t even have to drive a tank down Pennsylvania Avenue or march around the Lincoln Memorial – that would have really fucked up DC traffic if you did it at rush hour. See, here’s the way this is going to work…you send a couple of guys into Congress; one goes to the office of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the other goes into the office of House Speaker John Boehner. Each delivers a bill that relates to the Department of Homeland Security. The one to McConnell will be falsely authored by Boehner and will include nothing on immigration. The bill to the House Leader will be a fake, supposedly written by McConnell that will include a section that would nullify the Presidential executive order. By the time they determine the fraud, both houses of Congress will be so confused, they’ll be shooting at each other. Just stand back and wait, Johnny-Boy, and our own legislative branch of government will implode.

On a more serious note, I am so sick and tired of the Congress of the United States that I’d almost be willing to move to Canada. The only thing preventing that is that the Canadians are beginning to sound almost as idiotic as the Americans. Excuse me, but if you’re a Canadian citizen and you wish to buy an airline ticket for Turkey, the answer is a resounding “No.” If all of you took classes in Islamic studies from a known Islamist, (a) double “No” and (b) the government will buy the ticket for the known Islamist and fly his ass directly to Syria.

If, as has been publicly said, the United States is conducting terror investigations in each of the 50 states, why hasn’t some action been taken? If we are already aware of whom the catalysts in our prisons are, why hasn’t some action been taken to weed them out, isolate them, or martyr them? If we know, and I’m quite certain that our intelligence agencies know – oh, god, I hope I’m not wrong about this – the mosques and imams who are radicalizing our citizenry, why the hell hasn’t action been taken to close the mosques and ship these people back from whence they came? Have we become so politically correct that we are willing to turn the other cheek until the jihadists decide that slitting our throats is easier?

The time has long since past when America should tolerate extreme Islamists. Whoever they are; wherever they are, they should be shut down now. “Oh, but if we do that, it’s a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution!” Bullshit! When a sect or cult begins to threaten the rights of the people who built this country, their First Amendment rights no long pertain or exist. Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus during the civil war. We are currently engaged in another, undeclared civil war right now against a group of foreign invaders who, if not dealt with as soon as humanly possible, will be flying the black and white over cities, towns, and hamlets all across America.

Do I sound paranoid? I’m too old to be paranoid. I am not yet old enough, however, to stop loving my country or to see that it is being eaten away from the inside out. The “new” Congress, controlled by a single party, was elected by the people because they promised to break gridlock and “govern.” Since that time, they have passed one major piece of legislation and that was vetoed by the President, as they knew it would be. Now, the houses cannot agree on a piece of legislation, which if not passed, will leave the security of our nation, closed for business. If that is what the Congress calls “governing,” then many of them have stuck their heads in the sand or somewhere else where the sun doesn’t shine.

The problems that we face cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the Legislative Branch of the United States government any more than they can be fully blamed on the Executive Branch. More than ever before, I blame the American people for electing the same political hacks who promise everything and deliver nothing, for creating the fix in which we now find ourselves. Google the number of criminals who are serving in the United States Congress; you’ll find that most of the investigations and arrests involve money. Income tax evasion, illegal campaign funding, illegal use of campaign funds…and you think that these people give a good goddamn about the people who voted for them? The answer to that depends entirely on how much which voters contributed to get them elected.

Ross Perot said it years ago; “Wake Up America.” From infiltration by jihadist terrorists to an inept legislative branch of government that can’t agree on anything, we are, to use an old saw, “up to our collective asses in alligators,” and the swamp remains undrained.

I propose that before any candidate for national public office is allowed to run, the same type of background investigation be conducted as is done for members of the military to be granted a Top Secret Code Word clearance. That would include a polygraph examination as well as random drug testing.  Given sufficient time, I’m quite certain that other requirements could be developed that would separate the wheat from the chaff.

Think about this for a moment: We are a nation of 320 million people, ninety-five percent of whom don’t give a damn as long as they have a roof over their head, a meal on the table three times a day, a new car in the garage or carport every six or seven years, and shoes without holes. On the other hand, you have the one percent who wants more than their fair share. You also have about 46 million children going to bed hungry every night. According to a UNICEF study, the United States has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the world. Is it any wonder that ISIS is able to recruit young people to its cause?

There you have it…from Jihad John to an inept and a somewhat corrupt government to a castigation of the American public and the way it treats its poorest, we have a great deal to overcome. Lordy, Lord, how I don’t envy the generation charged with pulling us out of this shit pile!

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Do you remember any of yours? I’m quite certain you had one, two, three, maybe more along the years when you were growing up. They were the people you went to when whatever you had in mind was not for the ears of your parents…or even your friends. They were teachers, custodians – we called them janitors back then – or maybe even…heaven forbid…a school administrator of some kind. These were the people where there were almost no boundaries, no topic of your concern too touchy to be discussed. They weren’t friends because these people wouldn’t gossip. They weren’t parents because they didn’t judge. They were sounding boards who, if asked might give advice; if not asked would just nod their heads or pop in a question that you hadn’t considered.

I began thinking about this the other day when I received a message from a friend of mine. She was forwarding the memorandum from the President of Babson College, notifying everyone on campus that Bill Cruickshank had died. That name means nothing to you, but to me it was the passing of an era. You see, I knew Bill for more than 20 years; I worked with him, sometimes side by side; other times from a distance. Bill wasn’t “Mr. Chips;” no, he was more like a reincarnation of Roger Babson, the College’s founder. Well, that’s not true either because I don’t believe Mr. Babson would have given you the shirt off his back the way Bill would do. Bill was 90 when he died, which ain’t a bad run as age is concerned. He’d graduated in 1949, coming back from WWII with a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Bronze Star for valor. We were on a retreat once and had some time to go to the beach. It was there that a saw a couple of the machine gun scars that Bill had. You see, he was gunned down and left for dead in a French farmyard. The farm family took him in and nursed him back to health, but I’ll tell ya, I saw where those bullets had hit him and I have no idea how the hell he survived…but he did…and that was Bill. He didn’t teach, but he worked like hell with his alumni class to raise money for scholarships. More than 200 students benefited from Bill’s hard work and the largesse of the Class of 1949. Those 200 will never forget him; that’s for damn sure. There’s a lot more to say about Bill, but I’m just going to leave it with my tears and a friendship that will never be forgotten.

There are different kinds of “Bills” at every level of education. Remember Miss or Mrs. So-and-so in the fourth grade, the one you could go to whenever you had a problem you couldn’t solve by yourself? And Al, or Sam or Mr. Jackson, the janitor who could dispense wisdom any time you sought it. Today, those same people would probably be arrested for some stupid damned crime or other if the even said, “Good morning” to you. In many ways, there’s a sadness as to how things have changed.

I remember that in high school the one man I could always approach was the assistant principal, Joe Cogan. He was the disciplinarian of the school, and for most people who had to see him, it was not a pleasant experience. To use the vernacular of today, Joe was perfectly capable of tearing a new one for the unruly student. He had another side, however, and that was dispensing good advice to those who sought it. Joe was also the baseball coach, but he taught one hell of a lot more than how to hit a curve or field ground balls. He was a “life” teacher, the most important kind of all.

As an undergraduate, at Northeastern University in Boston, there were a couple of people sought out by many students. I never knew how that grapevine worked, but it seemed as if you had a problem, you could go see Dean Harold Melvin or Professor Raymond Fennell. Funny thing was that Dean Melvin was a full-time professor and Ray didn’t teach a damned thing to the best of my knowledge…but boy, could they dispense wisdom to help bring order out of your chaos.  Ray survived a heart attack, and this was back in the early fifties, when heart attacks were far less survivable than they are today. “When you knew you were going to be alright,” someone asked him one day, “what went through your mind?” I was in my third year so I was still pretty soaking behind the ears, but I have never forgotten Ray’s reply. “Out my window were trees and I remembered thinking how green the leaves were. I hadn’t remembered that they were that green. And I didn’t remember the sky being that blue. Now that I’m recovered, I appreciate the colors around me more than I did before the heart attack.”  When I had my first heart attack in 1990, I was laying in a bed at Mass General. My room was on the eleventh floor, so I didn’t have any trees to see, but I remembered Ray’s comment about the sky. He was right; it did look different. I could also see up the Charles River and look out on Fenway Park…and I thought of Ray, and I thought of how things that I took so much for granted could become so different when you go through a life-altering experience.

The people I knew; the people I went to as an undergraduate; the people, who worked with me years later at Babson, are all gone. And now Bill is gone too. There will be others to take the place of Linda Adams, who dispensed her wisdom through the cloud of cigarette smoke above her head. There will be someone new with a weird electronic object on his or her desk to replace Professor Jack Hornaday who attracted students like a magnet, but I won’t know who they are. I’m out of that business, and good riddance to me. My memories of those people I’ll take with me, but damn, they sure were great “life” teachers in addition to their regular jobs.

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“I’m dying,” she said. Simple, direct, no drama to it all.

“Yes,” I replied, “I’m aware of that.”

“Can you help?” she asked.

“A rather strange question,” I responded. “Help in what manner?”

“Can you ease the pain? There’s a great deal of pain, you know. I don’t really mind the pain, but if there was a manner in which it could be eased, I think I’d feel better about the dying if there weren’t quite so much pain.” Always the pragmatist.

“There are drugs. Is that what you want? It might be for the best if you took them. They’ll ease the pain for a while.” It always seemed strange to me that when the doctors know someone is dying, how so many of them still seem reluctant to turn the dying patient intro a drug addict even though it might just allow their transition to be easier. I wonder why that’s so?

“I’m not big on drugs, you know; never cared for them; always thought they messed up my stomach. Guess I’ll just have to make some choices.”

“Yes, I guess you will.” She’s always been somewhat stubborn about drugs…as well as doctors. Had she not collapsed in the store, we probably would have learned she was dying after the fact…rather, a fait accompli. That’s really not very nice. She’s been dying for several years now. None of us had the courage to confront her with that fact which she would have denied had we mentioned it. I suppose that, as her husband, it was my place to speak up, but why irritate a person who’s dying and who already feels badly enough about the whole thing.

“Do you still love me?” she asks.

“Yes, I still love you,” I reply.

“Not as you once did, however,” she queries.

“No, not as I once did,” I respond. “I love you now without doubt, without fear, without any of those things that could call into question my love for you. I love you now with trust. Trust goes beyond the intimacy of youth, the molding of ourselves to one another; the attempt at altering the other’s opinions. This is, perhaps, the final stage of our love. Somehow, it seems more than appropriate, don’t you think?”

“We did have our times, however,” she says, attempting a small smile.

“Take this,” I say. Although she’s been on morphine for months, she appears to believe that what she takes is medicine. Perhaps this is some form of delirium, denial, or whatever. At least she’s coherent. Unfortunately, there are times when she’s not. Her milky eyes will stare at me and gibberish comes from her tongue. This is the time to stare back and nod. The tears have stopped; both hers and mine. Tears are useless at this stage. One might say, ‘all cried out,’ but that wouldn’t be quite right. I don’t think one can ever reach that point.

Her tongue comes out and the dropper releases its copper measure of relief. It won’t take long, but neither will it do much good. Should I continue to refill the dropper until the bottle is empty? Is that fair to her, to me?

Minutes pass; her eyes close; open briefly, and she is gone.

Too much?

 

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Is a seat in the United States Senate worth over 100 million dollars? Is it worth $86 million? How about $78 or $72 million? What is worth spending those kinds of dollars? It seems that ever since the Supreme Court struck down the ruling on campaign contributions, PAC’s of all types and sizes are going wild with the money they are throwing around to get their candidate into a Senate seat. Senator John McCain was disgusted when he recently spoke to a Washington reporter. McCain, as we know, was one of the authors of campaign finance reform.

Back to the big bucks…Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, the state House Speaker who is challenging her, could retire for life with the money that is pouring in from their party as well as from “independent” sources. In Colorado, Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall and his challenger, Republican Cory Gardner are wooing voters with over $86 million. And Udall is in trouble, in part because of his support of the Affordable Health Care Act.

If the Republican Party takes control of the Senate as it has the House of Representatives, it’s time for many people to be frightened. Obama might as well take the next two years off because he sure as hell isn’t going to get any bills passed by a Republican Congress. Senior citizens may as well take classes in shoplifting and other crimes to supplement what will surely be a reduction in Social Security…if it’s not cut altogether, along with Medicare benefits. Am I sounding like an alarmist? You-are-goddamned-right, because while Obama care is not perfect, the Republican House tried more than 40 times to get it repealed and failed each time. Can you imagine how fast it will go down the tubes if the entire Congress is controlled by Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? Neither has the courage to stand up to the Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Joe, “You’re a Liar” Wilson and other crazies who put themselves ahead of their constituents and the Republican Party they are supposed to represent.

If the 113th Congress was the least productive group ever to occupy the halls, the 114th will be one of the most productive, and Barack Obama may go down as the President who vetoed the greatest number of bills. The question then becomes, will Congress, with majorities in both houses be able to override those vetoes? If so, what will that mean to Mr. and Mrs. Average American?

How have we come so far away from where we started? Our founding fathers didn’t agree on everything that appears in the Constitution, but they at least had the ability to discuss questionable phrases and clauses within that document. In addition, there has always been a certain degree of rancor in both houses, but in the overall, things were accomplished, and we, the people, were better off because of it. That’s not so today.

Twice I voted for this President. I believed his rhetoric, and I still believe that he has the best intentions for the nation in his heart. Today, I believe he was not ready for the job; today, I believe that if he had waited; had gained more experience; had learned to listen to some of the more seasoned members “on the hill,” that he would have been better prepared. His failure to involve members of Congress from the onset of his presidency has cost him dearly with both parties. His inexperience in foreign policy has alienated many of our allies. His choices for department and division heads have been questionable, at best, and downright stupid in a number of cases. Could I have done a better job? Don’t be ridiculous. Could Hillary Clinton, his opponent for the nomination, have done a better job? I have no idea. Personally, I believe that Mrs. Clinton has a long list of people who did not serve her husband during his time as leader of the free world, and should she ever win the presidency, those folks would be wise to hunker down and hide.

I shudder to think how much money will be spent on the 2016 Presidential campaigns. My singular hope is that between now and then, a campaign finance reform bill will be passed by Congress, one that the Supreme Court will find acceptable, and that will make campaign spending more respectable. It’s time that “We the people” take back our rights; that instead of being led like sheep, we begin to howl like wolves and say that the rich may not be allowed to buy the United States Congress; that the rich may not be allowed to buy a President they can control; that there is a middle class in America, and we are sick and tired of being screwed by those who believe they can control us with their money.

 

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When are Americans going to become sufficiently pissed off that they are going to demand action be taken to bring together the Executive and the Legislative Branches of the Federal Government  to begin to cooperate?

The Speaker of the House of “Representatives” [who do they represent other than themselves] won’t bring a Senate-passed immigration bill to the floor. Then he blames the President for not doing anything about immigration reform. In California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, illegal immigrants are pouring across the border; yet, one recent poll shows that only 38 percent of Americans are concerned. If I tried to haul my butt over the border to Mexico, I’d be tossed back in the Rio Grande like an unwanted fish. Mexico’s immigration laws are far stricter than those of the United States…and they enforce them. Yes, we have border control, but it’s a bitch to patrol almost 1,896 miles of river when you’re also attempting to cover desert crossings, along with the various entry points along the four-state border. In addition, the number one priority for the customs and immigration folks now is blocking drugs from coming into the United States and blocking money from going back into Mexico to support the cartels. Many have said that we have already lost the war on drugs. Are we also giving up on the war against illegal immigrants? If the United States House of Representatives has anything to say about it, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” However, 62 percent of Americans don’t really give a damn!

According to a story in the Washington Post, the House is active in another area. It seems that Congressmen no longer will be “…required to list any of their domestic or foreign travel that was paid for by an outside group.” While they still must file such information with the House Ethics Committee, it no longer appears on the financial disclosure form which Congress members must submit annually. If anyone – other than a member of Congress because they find it so simple to lie with a straight face – can look me in the eye and tell me that this isn’t an ideal way to buy votes, I’ll eat whichever hat that person chooses from my collection. How many Americans are mad over this? Are you, or you, or you?

Earlier this week, a main commuter road and the bridge which spans it were shut down because of accidents. The road narrows at the bridge to barely two lanes. The bridge clearance is only ten feet, six inches. The first accident involved a tractor trailer and ripped off nearly his entire top. First, the trailer and truck had to be removed; not a simple task when your roof is damn near completely destroyed. This also meant that the bridge had to be inspected for potential structural damage. The following day – not 24 hours later – a truck carrying 700 pounds of live lobsters smashed into the same bridge with a similar result. Sorry, I couldn’t get there fast enough to grab any lobsters. Here’s the point of this story: That bridge has been on the government funding list for as far back as I can remember. Now, I understand that Congress is refusing to act on President Obama’s highway funding bill that will replenish the trust fund that would help to make repairs on not only the bridge noted above but on roads and bridges all over the country. Anyone in his or her right mind who votes to allow his or her Congress person, particularly in the House of “Representatives” to stay in office is a fool. It’s time for a house cleaning. In addition, it’s time we put term limits on both Senators and Congressmen for the sake of our country.

In all probability, most Americans were probably more disappointed with the outcome of the USA/Belgium soccer match than they are with the manner in which our country is now being governed. If you ask the man on the street about our government, he might say, “Yeah, nothing’s getting done but I’ve got a job; a family to support; a mortgage to pay, and besides I’m only one person and one person can’t make a difference.” He’s right; the President of the United States receives hundreds of thousands of letters each day. They are gone through by staffers who decide which ten – that’s right, ten – the President will get to read. In other words, the President isn’t listening to what we say or what we want him to hear. Our relative importance to the nation is being judged by a bunch of staffers. I know that the President can’t read all those letters, but who are the people who are looking at them? Are these staffers any more qualified to say which letters are sufficiently important for the President to read? I’m certain that the same thing is true of members of Congress. They are so important that they must have their letter-reading staffers also, and those staffers determine whether or not our Congressman or Senator gets to see what we’ve written. Government service is supposed to be honorable and representative of how you and I vote. It certainly has lost a great deal of its luster to this voter.

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Is there any politician or CEO left in this country who will accept responsibility when things go wrong? When President Obama introduced the Bergdahl  family in the Rose Garden, it was all about how he was responsible for bringing Bowe home safely. Now that Congress is getting its hackles up, the President appears to be shying away from responsibility and keeping his mouth shut. When General Motors announced the recall of the various Chevy cars, one of which had already caused 13 deaths because of a faulty ignition switch, who was blamed? Seems to me that not one of the sons of bitches who were in power when those cars were produced had the balls to step forward and say that it was their responsibility. It took new CEO, Mary Bara to accept the bitch slaps that GM was receiving on all fronts…and she did. Now that GM has released its report that has already lead to the firing of fifteen individuals – with more to follow, I’ll bet – Congress is blaming Bara for not reporting all of GM’s failures. Congress is still the old boys’ network and any chance they have to take a shot at someone other than one of their own, they go at it both barrels.

Years ago, I was throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall that was part of Holy Family School in my hometown. At one point I missed; the ball struck and broke a window. To use an often overlooked phrase, “I was scared shitless.”  Heck, I was still in elementary school…and it wasn’t Holy Family. I ran home and told my mother – Dad was at work – what had happened. Her solution was simple. “You march right back there; find the nun who’s in charge; tell her what happened and that it was an accident; then you tell her that you, not your Dad and I, but you will pay for the damage somehow. Now go.” Me, alone, off to see the top penguin. Since I didn’t know much about nuns, only horror stories told by those who went to Holy Family, I was terrified. The school was about a hundred yards up the street. It was like the Green Mile; I felt I was marching to certain death by crucifixion. See, I still remember some of this stuff. Anyway, the school door was locked so I had to go to ‘the nun’s house’ next door. I was greeted pleasantly enough and asked for the “head nun.” Things get kind of blurry after that except for one thing; the mother superior spoke to me gently and thanked me for coming forward. There was no ruler across the knuckles; they didn’t pull out a couple of boards and some nails; no one told me that I had committed a sin that would prevent me from going to Heaven. They were nice. I remember that I had to erase blackboards after school, but I don’t remember for how long. I also remember the relief I felt as I walked home. I was kind of proud that I told someone I had done something bad and had been forgiven. I’m not even certain I knew what the word, “responsibility,” meant. Today, I can look back and say, “Yeah, I accepted responsibility.” The lesson must have stuck because I believe firmly that I should accept responsibility for my actions, good or bad. It’s a code I’ve tried to live by all of my life, but I think that it was my mother who instilled that into me when she sent me back to Holy Family on my own. Can you imagine the majority of today’s parents doing that? I’ll let you picture in your own mind how today’s mothers would handle that situation.

It seems to me that everyone rushes forward to accept praise and will even exaggerate a bit to overemphasize the word, “I.” However, if the shit hits the fan, those same people revert to their old “duck and cover” drill and hide until the air is clear. Did President Obama personally bring home Sergeant Bergdahl? Of course he didn’t. Who knows how long negotiations were taking place to free the sergeant? Who knows if any Americans were involved in the negotiations? Chuck Hegel might have initiated the negotiations by speaking with people in Qatar, but I don’t know. I’m certain, however, that it was a team effort to free Bergdahl. Was he on the verge of being killed? Who knows? Who cares? “No man left behind” is not some rah, rah bullshit; it’s a code and a damned good one. We had to give up five bad guys to get him? So what? I have no idea why the hell we’re still in Afghanistan in the first place. Look at Iraq. It’s already falling back into the hands of those we oppose. Are we supposed to send our troops back so more Americans can die? We damned well better not or I’ll lead the march on Washington. These people are primitives. Let them have their 2,500 years of stupidity. They’re wrong, but I’m not willing to give up one more American life to show them just how wrong they are. If they wish to remain in the Stone Age, fine; let’s cut off all aid and tell them to get along on their own. Perhaps that, in and of itself, will be enough to force us to give up our dependence on foreign oil or whatever the hell the Iraqis and Afghanis are giving us. If our own Muslim population starts to complain, ship them back where they came from. If you’re in America, act like an American. If you want to help your country, get your ass back there and help them that way. I am just plain tired of this nonsense.

Repeat after me: “If something good happens and I did it alone, I’ll keep my mouth shut. If something good happens and my team was responsible, I’ll praise my team…all of my team. If something bad happens and I’m responsible, I will step forward, admit my error, and take whatever punishment is due. I will do all of these things because I am a responsible person. I don’t need to give myself accolades, only those who did the grunt work.” You can leave out the last sentence if you wish. In fact, you may wish to rewrite the entire credo; just remember it’s never ‘I’ when something succeeds; there is always a ‘we’ somewhere in the mix. As for the failure, sure, it could also be a team effort, but if you were top dog, accept the blame and move on. End of sermon.

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