Charles Shaughnessy Blog ~ So this is what I think . . . .21 february, 2012

THE Global struggle is NOT between Christianity and Islam, East .v. West….it is between the extremist and the moderate, the reactionary against the progressive. Look closely at the ideology of Rick Santorum, emergent as the standard bearer of the very vocal reactionary Christian Right, and compare it with the ideology of extremist Islam. Both see Religion as the guiding spirit of society, to the point where legislation itself should be Religion-oriented; not much removed from the vision of a Theocracy. Is there any real material difference between Santorum and the Right’s desire to have government illegalize abortion, contraception and many other more subtle rights for women on the one hand, and the tenets of Sharia law that marginalize women in the Islamic culture on the other? Both sides believe in the “sanctity” of life, but will willingly sacrifice it in the name of their Gods. Again, is there really any material difference between shooting a doctor outside his Planned Parenthood office as a blow against the workings of the Devil and in the triumphant name of a vengeful God on the one hand, and flying a plane into an office building as a blow against the devil’s spawn and in the name of a vengeful Allah? 

In a Theocracy, whether it be Islamic or Christian, reason, research, history, fact or critical thinking, it all becomes secondary and subserviant to dogma. The questioning of government then becomes as anathema as the questioning of it’s underlying religious dogma. The worrying part of this equation for me is this. If these two extremes ever figure out that they hold their power as a correlation of the amount of fear and distrust that they can generate amongst their followers and the compelling security offered by their adopted dogma, then they could manipulate the fear that the “other side” means them harm, to suspend individual rights and aspirations as enshrined in declarations of democracy like the Bill of Rights. They might then figure out that they actually need each other. Could there be a scenario, in the not-too-distant-future, when the wheel comes around once again in America where we elect another reactionary, Right Wing administration like a Bush/ Cheney or a McCain/ Palin and that they then quietly set about a policy of secret mutual dependence with other extremist and repressive regimes around the world? 

“You continue to terrify my people that you might explode a dirty bomb in the middle of New York: I will continue to terrify your people that we might invade at any moment  – then you and I can hold on to power for as long as we like. We can suspend Habeas Corpus, roll back human rights, abolish elections, turn the economy of fear into a cash cow for our cronies..and the joke is….the people will ASK us to do it!!” 
This is PRECISELY the future that George Orwell envisioned in “1984” and PRECISELY the world envisioned by both the last bunch of neo-cons here in the U.S. and the Ayathollahs in Tehran. A world where the nations are in a constant “state of war” that is actually one big publicity sham directed and controlled by a cabal of world leaders in order for them to maintain total control of a frightened, compliant populace who have willingly compromised all their values, beliefs and desires in the name of “Peace.”  I have often toyed with this notion and always dismissed it as something that this country could never allow, but listening to serious debate now in a Presidential election about the “legality” of contraception, even the morality of masturbation – where “life” could be seen to exist as a real potential when a man and woman so much as THINK about having sex – I remember how cavalier the people of Germany were when a different kind of extremism began to rear its head and was dismissed as only the views of an aberrant minority.  “1984” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” should now be made required reading for every man, woman and child in the United States.

additional comment by Charles Shaughnessy 22 February, 2012 10:16
additional comment by Charles Shaughnessy 26 February, 2012 11:53 
additional comment by Charles Shaughnessy 26 February, 2012 17:07


75 thoughts on “Charles Shaughnessy Blog ~ So this is what I think . . . .21 february, 2012

  1. Hi Jo 🙂 I wanted to take a quick minute to address your comments concerning welfare reform. I understand it seems logical for those on welfare to volunteer in the community, possibly at some place that will give the person real life job skills, but in reality all that happens is the tax burden on the American public doubles with this plan. If you take a single parent on welfare and have them do volunteer work, it is the state that picks up the child care tab. Long ago and far away, Clinton did just that. there was this young single mother that had 2 kids and no real job experience-and this can be laid in the lap of her parents- and when the welfare reform came about, she was made to volunteer 20 hrs a week, as well as spend an additional 20 hrs a week looking for work. Well, the children had to be put in child care. That doesn't seem like a bad idea, but the child care provider was actually getting more money for that 40 hr/wk job than the single mother was getting in both cash and foodstamp benifits. There are many policies that sound good on paper, and in discussion, but actually implimenting is cost prohibitive. And generational welfare recipients is a whole other hot topic that I would love to discuss when I don't have mid-terms coming up. Many Blrssings 🙂

  2. PART 2. What folks need more than anythings is the same thing that the football player on the field needs. Fans and cheerleaders and one great Coach. If you don't have that (your father is at the bar drunk and couldn't come to the game) your playing ability has to come entirely from You! You have to BE all of those things for yourself. Build or have willingness to play the game by using your own strength, heart, and drive. Is easy for folks to judge. Is EASY for them to give up fall by the way side when they're brother joined a gang or their sister got beat up last night. (Unforeseen circumstances). They are not just hanging out looking for someone to give them a free lunch. Many of them are wishing for the one thing we all want. Some to BELIEVE in them. Someone to give a shit. What they Need is Mental health services, anti violence & anti drug education, Boys and Girls clubs and church. Self esteem building Mentors. If you want people to stop holding out their hand. WE all NEED to help SHOW them how to change and why they should. Yes, i said it church! There is love in a church and strength found in God. Even i knew that. Love and support is the key. If you want my advice (and not sure that you all do) As i said before it seems the only thing there for me was the government. If You want them to build a bridge then show them why they should build it. Teach them the importance of that bridge. One would think that is how they built towns in the old days by working together. Society is crumbling; not because of lack of God. Think is lack of love for each other. Or to much Selfish love. The poor need strength from someplace. And they need it more than regular folks if they are going to rise above the great catastrophe that is poverty. And by sending a message to the poor they are dragging America down and y'all want to cut loose some dead weight it will only create more of a mess. That is the WORST message possible. You guys NEED the poor on your side more than you think.

  3. Felt an obligation to reply. Sorry guys. You done gone and got me started again. The majority of the folks i know that are on welfare are in fact single moms. And i have some friends who have been and one who is currently on actual cash assistance. Which for the thousandth time, is in fact a very small amount of money. If any of you guys can live for a month with 4 or 5 kids on $400-$500 dollars we'd would love for someone to SHOW us how to do it. Most folks that i know that are on food stamps are struggling families (which explain to me how they are suppose to GET into a better situation with the way the economy is now?) that either work and STILL qualify for help or DO NOT have a job currently! OR they are elderly disabled etc. Know i am not sure how things were back in the day. But can you see a group of single moms out building bridges or construction? Some guy has abandoned you and your kids (and usually due to drug abuse etc) and not only do you have children you need to be minding but you must go out and do construction work. What about the low income families who are already working and still qualify? After work they ought to help construct a building. And i can't picture a group of seniors out doing manual labor (they will probably fall over from heat exhaustion i live in Florida) Anyways: if you stop to look at that generational repeating itself CYCLE of welfare precipitants you shall see a cycle of crime, violence and drugs. Not something i think they had to deal with so much back in the day. THE MAIN PROBLEM with the CYCLE of poverty just that is a CYCLE. It takes a VERY STRONG or LUCKY person to break out of this cycle. If you grow up in a bad neighborhood you have lived a through many a rough and tumble. If you are strong minded and lucky enough to have avoided a prison sentence when you got the opportunity to break away. Then you may have a shot at a normal life and that chance is what makes America great. The fact that we ALL Get that CHANCE. But CIRCUMSTANCES beyond our control can weigh on a soul and cause us to struggle.

  4. Back to the original point of the blog…which, in some ways, reflects on the suitability of one particular Republican presidential candidate (who, by the way, is no longer the front runner…see, Charlie, I told you to wait a few days). I consider one "qualification" for someone to be president is that he/she has a basic knowledge of U.S. history and geography. It was the main reason I did not vote for John McCain in 2008; Sarah Palin clearly didn't pay attention in geography class, because you can't see Russia from any point in Alaska (unless it's a really clear day and you live on one of distant Aleutian Islands). Michele Bachmann quickly proved herself unqualified because of her revisionist interpretations of U.S. history. Now Rick Santorum has referred to the men and women who wrote the Declaration of Independence…and I'm not sure if he just got confused/flustered or truly believes that (by the way, no women were part of the drafting and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, in case anyone is wondering–and I can provide the citation from the Journals of the Continental Congress in case anyone wants to question my facts). Obviously he should have completed a few more history classes while he was attending Penn State (because I know they teach the correct information there). Gee, if he had graduated a couple of years later, I could have graded his exams…Regarding the welfare system…when it started (back in the days of the almshouses in the 18th/19th centuries–which, by the way, were different here in the states than they are in Britain), public assistance was something temporary, until you could get on your feet again financially. If you lived in an almshouse, the expectation was that you contributed something toward your care, whether it was helping with the cooking, cleaning, etc. It was not intended to be a "permanent" situation, unless you were elderly and in effect had become a ward of the state. Fast forward to the New Deal, when the federal government became involved in public assistance on a large scale (previously it had been the purview of the state and local governments, along with private charities). People accepted temporary assistance, but again it wasn't intended to be permanent. For example, the government put people to work on public works projects, such as constructing roads, bridges, buildings, etc.; it didn’t just hand out money. The situation started to change in the 1960s with the development of Medicaid…and it's really since then that welfare has become a multi-generational experience, and, instead of "we want to get off the public dole as soon as possible," it has shifted to "oh, boy, we get free lunch." Figuring out how to solve the problem is beyond my pay grade. However, it IS a problem that needs to be addressed, and perhaps we should reallocate resources from the federal to the state governments (who are more aware of the needs of the people residing in a particular state) or shift some of the burden from the government to private charitable organizations. For instance, more people died following the Johnstown Flood of 1889 than during Katrina. It’s difficult to equate property values from 1889 to 2005; estimated damage for the Johnstown Flood ($17 million) equates loosely to approximately $3.2 billion in 2005. But relief was handled by one charitable organization, the American Red Cross, with no assistance from the state or federal governments. With Katrina, you had FEMA (which had to wait for the governor to request aid before it could react to the crisis); at Johnstown, the Red Cross assisted within days and didn’t have to deal with the federal bureaucracy. There has to be a better system than the one we have now, and something has to be done soon. The United States is going bankrupt, and one reason is the massive spending for programs that are intended to be temporary but become ingrained.

  5. I hope it's clear that I'm NOT upset that we have social programs to help those who can not help themselves or who need a hand-up. My anger comes from #1 there are people who NEED the money and don't qualify or who get rejected #2 it is hurting those who are making it a lifetime "career". #3 the taxpayers are not able to provide for their own families' futures and give to charities because they are being forced to subsidize the greed and are not getting the breaks from those at the top. And yes, there is fraud on the top too. It's so pathetic that we have come to this. The love of money is the root of all evil.

  6. At-ta way to go Jeannie! That's the way uh huh i like it. Sorry did i sing (or type) that out loud? Didn't really intend to get you guys going (fired up) back there! @Joann: I know that the welfare system does indeed need some policing and i understand your upset. There are things that just aren't fair such as the expensive phones, nails, fashion statements and obviously some fraud. And i know you see it and know what you are talking about due to your line of work. And Yes we heard that loud and clear.

  7. Oh, and one more thing–since the bottom's anger toward abuse occurring at the top has been coined 'Class Warfare' shouldn't we use the same term when it is flowing from the opposite direction?

  8. I knew that my comment as written would not be popular (but then I guess none of my comments are), but I was trying to keep it short and to the point. I did not want to comment any further, but I guess I will. First, just because I said that ‘I would rather err on the side of compassion’ does not mean that I do not support welfare reform. I definitely know there are flaws in the program and when those flaws are apparent we should absolutely correct them. I also have in the past and currently support a graduated assistance program—it only makes sense that one would not be entirely cut off by taking an entry-level job. It would be a win-win situation for both the recipient and the taxpayer. Regardless of these opinions, however, I know as mere mortals we will never set up a program that will adequately provide a safety net while also fully eliminating the possibility of abuse. We might be able to minimize it and if we can we should, but we will NEVER be able to eliminate it. With that in mind, I still would rather err on the side of compassion.I do know that there are many people who understand that ‘there but for the grace of God go I.” But, I think you would be surprised at the number of people who do not embrace that sentiment—they deserve what they have received, it has all been done according to their superiority, and if one finds himself destitute it is his own fault. I know, Jo, that you and many others do not feel that way (I REALLY do believe you Jo), but I think you would be surprised at the large number of conservatives who do. You have to admit that they exist; I rub shoulders with them everyday and I know of their disdain for the poor. It is them, if any, who are ‘having their morals and/or faith attacked for being angry’. I personally feel that abuse of the system is more rampant at the top then at the bottom. Be angry about welfare abuse, there is a need, but the poor are not taking anymore from this country than the wealthy—perhaps not even as much. Trust me, liberals are just as angry with that as conservatives are with welfare abuse and I do believe that our morals and faith are attacked on a DAILY basis–any who doubt that just needs to turn on FOX News.

  9. Jeannie, you said that you would rather "err on the side of compassion", and I know what you mean. BUT…we can still do that AND reform the entire welfare system. I actually discussed this with a liberal friend before I replied,and we agreed on the principles. People like Roxy need a little help, and that's what the safety net is for, and most reasonable people understand that. There but for the grace of God go all of us, esp. in today's world. But those same reasonable people can't reconcile having MORE money forcibly taken from them, given the amount of waste, fraud and abuse in the current system, and are tired of witnessing the fraud and being powerless to stop it(and having their morals and/or faith attacked for being angry). It doesn't make me angry that people need help, it makes me angry that the money is being given to those who refuse to work, feel entitled, deal drugs under the table, etc etc…while the innocent go without. There are families who have been on welfare now going on the FOURTH generation! That tells me the system is failing, and the help isn't "helping" them get on their feet. Sometimes, esp. in the case of single moms, the system makes it impossible for them to get off welfare, as it "pays better" than an entry level job. Ask any health care worker who deals with Medicaid(that's me),grocery store cashiers, bank tellers who cash the checks, people who live near public housing,social workers and even personal stories from those who have family on welfare…the fraud is RAMPANT. It's not a right-wing urban legend, nor is it the "exception to the rule". It's reality, and the people are tired of it. To me, so much of it is "common sense".1)Why can't the help be 'graduated' instead of all-or-nothing? Then the recipient could work, get experience(and perhaps move up the ladder),be productive…and not lose money that is needed. 2)WIC is a very successful and common sense program. Why should food stamps be different? The children aren't nourished, they don't do well in school, and the cycle continues. 3)Why is it "slavery" to have welfare recipients do volunteer work in the community? It's "slavery" to make the taxpayer's work to support someone else! The community would benefit, the person would gain skills they could use in a future job, etc. Just some crazy, radical ideas to think about. The citizens are angry, and rightfully so, when they are telling their children that something they want is "too expensive", yet the kid from the projects has it. They're tired of seeing the cigarettes, the $80 airbrushed manicures, and the high-tech electronics. They're tired of the generational dysfunction that proves the "help them help themselves" theory is an abysmal failure. Not that ALL people who are using public services are like that, but the ones that are need to be weeded out. The bad choices are being rewarded, and even encouraged in the community. Surely there is a better way, that will help those who need it, get those who have fallen through the cracks, and be fiscally responsible. It seems we have come to a point in this country where everyone cries "freedom! Stay out of my bedroom! Don't tell me what to do!"…but when the consequences to those choices come, that we are entitled to be free from the consequences,at the expense of the person who did the right thing. Perhaps that's part of Santorum's "popularity"? He's talking about bringing back the values that would prevent some of these problems. Once you are taking someone else's money, you open the door for them to have an opinion about how you got in the mess in the first place. NOT THAT EVERYONE ON WELFARE IS THERE BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN BAD CHOICES…there, I yelled. Did I make myself clear? PS!~Sorry this got so long!!

  10. Where to start…huge sigh. Hi Charlie 🙂 Let me see if I can get this done before I have to get to class. I am going to start with faith since that has been the topic of many recent conversations lately. We all have faith in things we don't understand, whether science, law or gods. When we look at our newborn child we have faith in our parenting skills when we first find out we are pregnant and we have to have faith that child will grow up and grow into a wonderful human being. Long before we had science to prove machines could fly, somebody had to have faith they could make it work. Somebody had to have faith a new form of government could work. Logic and critical thinking…origins. We have 2 different schools of thought there; we were created or we were self created. Either way, there was a time when life didn't exist, then one day it did, from nothing. From the self-created-evolution- it took us hundreds of millions of years to walk up-right, then took tens of millions of years to have the first written language, and from there only a few thousand years to go from there to cyber-space. Where will we be in another thousand years if this pace of evolution continues? Will we become gods ourselves? So, logically and critically, which one makes more sense, created or self-created? I know what I believe. As for politics– Was it Thoma More in Utopia that siad "If philosophers could be leaders or leader could be philosophers the world would be a better place" or words to that effect. Too bad we don't have any trust in modern philosophers to lead society in the 'right' way. And I don't mean the Utopian way either. Just a way that makes sense. It is my personal opinion that Santorum is a fool. If he is the only other option on the ballot, then I will be voting for president Obama. As for abortion, what is the difference between killing the child growing in your belly and the child you are holding in your arms? Why is it wrong for a woman to kill her born child, but not her unborn child? We live in a day where it is wrong to kill monsters like Charles Manson but it is okay to kill a defenseless child. How is that not messed up? I saw a sign saying Pray to Stop Abortion and thought to myself, why not pray to stop the need for abortion instead. I will have to continue this later. Much Love 🙂

  11. Roxana, that is a great example of why I am willing to pay higher taxes if necessary. I realize, though, that I can afford it, while some cannot; I certainly do not want there to be an undue burden on those who cannot. I guess I too can understand why some might feel they are being forced to provide such care. I feel, however, the same way about this country as you do. I feel that my success is at least in part due to the country in which I just happened to be born—what a great blessing. I also know that some are simply of the opinion that there is a more efficient way to provide such care other than through the government. Although that may or may not be true, I never want to see one like you fall through the cracks. If we err, I would rather err on the side of compassion. It makes me feel good to see the gratitude that you feel for your country.

  12. Liane: Thank you for your insightful comments from across the pond. I joke that it seems like my university (and many others) admits students if they have a pulse and the means to pay for college (often through loans), and it does become a challenge educating underprepared students. We need more student support services than ever before, and increasingly more students have accommodations because of physical, mental, and/or emotional problems–and these services are cut when funding for higher education decreases, and our class sizes get larger in order to balance budgets (which further affects our ability to help those students who need it). It's the main reason why I switched to take-home exams, to relieve test anxiety and help the students succeed (because they wouldn't have to recall information, but they could synthesize and analyze it). Yet, as you've seen when reading my blog, even permitting the students to use their books, class notes, etc., doesn't always lead to evidence that the students truly understand the material (example: one of my students wrote on her exam that the guest voice when I spoke about immigration in the late 19th/20th century is a “neutralized” citizen).About Marcellus shale…yes, there are quite a few concerns about the environment. One of the reasons why I liked this area when I moved here in 1998 was the fact that I didn't have to deal with the effects of gas and petrochemical fumes like I had in Houston (both my mother and I are allergic)…and, well, the allergies are coming back because of the natural gas drilling. Plus, I only drink bottled water, because the drinking water here isn't safe (and, in some places, actually is flammable if you put a flame at the spigot), and there are concerns about the quality of dairy products in the area (most of the drilling is occurring in rural areas with dairy farms). One of the local communities has periodic boil water advisories because even the municipal water has been affected by fracking. Yet, at the same time, our state governor refuses to support any legislation that will regulate or tax the natural gas industry (not even to raise the amount of fines for non-compliance with weight limits on the local roads) while at the same time cutting funding for higher education 20-30% because of a lack of revenue. The rationale: job creation. But these jobs are being held by workers who come from out-of-state and who reside in hotel rooms because of a housing shortage (and thus do not contribute to the tax base). These workers will be gone in a few years after the pipelines are finished, leaving behind a destroyed environment and ruined local economy (and, because they arrived after the 2010 census was taken and will be gone before the 2020 census, they won’t even be counted as residents of the county/state for representation in Congress). Guess which companies made sizable campaign contributions when he ran for governor?Back to the original purpose of the blog…again, I honestly don't care what a presidential candidate's religious beliefs are, as long as he doesn't foist them upon me. We know Mitt Romney is LDS, but it's not like he's going to make everyone have multiple wives (sorry, that's 19th century) or force everyone to read the Book of Mormon in public schools. In the case of Rick Santorum, I have the suspicion that IS the case, that he is going to try to force his morals upon me, so I can't see myself supporting him. Not that I couldn't support a Roman Catholic, but I just don't think religion and politics should mix, and it’s clear they do for him (unlike Newt Gingrich, who is also Catholic). I would even vote for a Druid if I thought he or she was the best candidate for the job (the environmentalists would love that candidate). I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and state (and in freedom of religion, which, contrary to popular belief, is not the same thing).

  13. Well, Charlie, I was listening to some of Santorum’s statements regarding college and I also found them to be disturbing. He also said that colleges were “indoctrination mills that cause students to loose their faith.” In addition, he called Obama a ‘snob’. That’s right a snob. Why? Because “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob. I understand why he wants you to go to college, he wants to remake you in his image.” Yes, he wants to remake you into someone who is successful, who can support his/her family, who makes more money than one who just has a high school diploma, someone who is less likely to be unemployed, someone who can help our nation by filling the gap in math/science needs, someone who could possibly even be President of the United States someday. And, for the record, President Obama never had a dream that every child could go to college, but he did have one that every child who ever wants to attend college will be able. In addition, he hoped to encourage more children to have that very dream. Obama also understood that some would choose to go to a trade school or have some other type of training. He just wants every child to have the ability to be prepared. Wow! He sure sounds like a snob to me!

  14. Hello Charlie!I´ve restrained from commenting until now, but I have to,as some of the comments here ,(obviously from new bloggers) were quite rude regarding yourself, and I can understand your first comment and saw some anger on your part.In the past we have had many a controversy in your blogs but most time comments have been on the civil side& I hope we get back to that again.Also ( for me) there is too much religious mentioning which in my opinion is a personal thing also.THis is why for instance many non Americans have problems understanding this mentallity.Now a couple of my opinions as a non AmericanThe original topic of this blog seems to have lost it´s thread by now, but I shall try and answer. First re contraception , I think that is a very personal matter so one should pay for it and not an employer or whatever and I have never heard of Health Insurance paying either unless because of illness or under age girls.As for the young girls getting pregnant I think that is part of the responsibillity of the education system to give sexual education at an early age. Here it´s done in year three or four as part of anatomy and physiology subjects and then it´s the parent´s job to guide these youngsters.@karen I must agree with you re the US educational system ,is not the best and lots of schools in fact are being closed because of missing funds. This is where the equal right of education fails , as those that can afford it send their kids to private schools.Now to Santorum from my view he seems to be out of touch with reallity . No person in their right mind would suggest that education was a waste, and the fact that he made those comments in Detroit (which I recently visited)shows what ignorance is in him. Especially Detroit which is so run down and sad to drive/walk through comments like these are unfounded. It is here where most needed, where schools are being closed down.The Universities are looking for students because enrollments are down and so on.Now to the gasoline prices , of course it´s few businesses and the stockmarket which puts the prices up, but no Government or politicians will go against these companies as the politicians get funds from them.The US is very slow in getting alternative energy as the investments are big at first , and if no profits then no alternative energy. I was shocked to hear that Obama has approved building new Nuclear Power Plants!As for this Shale gas , few people actually realise how THAt will disturb the enviroment eventually I personally think the final "round" will be between Obama and Romney which will be a difficult choice for some not because one is a Democrat and the other a Republican but because one is Black and the other is a Mormon !So in the end the one that can convince most will win.The sad thing once elected none seldom keep their promises no matter for what party they are. Amen!

  15. I have been thinking about joining that'Crazy Party from Mars'. Can anyone direct me on where to find the party's platform? And, are its members legal or illegal aliens? Either way, I bet they don't have a chapter in Arizona!

  16. "Fifth: you are right. I Post these blogs specifically to get you all thinking and discussing your thoughts on a variety of challenging subjects; NOT to engage in one-on-one conversations with anyone. Please feel free to respond, not respond, start your own blog, vote Republican/ Democrat/ Independent/ Green/ Crazy Party from Mars, or just get out of the house and go for a nice long walk!!"I like that. That is what I figured. 🙂 I love it when people put things out there to make me think about where I stand/don't stand. I have a friend who will believe *anything* that anyone with a degree tells her. And it absolutely blows my mind. My beliefs are constant. However, opposing view points change me in that it makes me become open minded and understanding. I also have the ability to step back and say, "Oh, okay. I do see where you are coming from." And that is important. I went to a private Baptist university for my undergrad, and the most important thing I can say about that school is that we took classes specifically geared toward exploring and learning about other religions, cultures, etc. This is probably the most valuable thing I learned there because we had guest speakers and assignments that took us out of our "comfort zone" and into someone else's world. And as a result I have never once again taken the stance of "you are wrong and I am right." I like to think I never did that, but I am sure I have. Being open minded is probably one of the things about my personality of which I am most proud. A little understanding and compassion can go a long way. It doesn't mean that a healthy debate isn't a wonderful thing, and we shouldn't stand for what we believe in. But it is a very freeing thing to be able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. Gosh, I'm from the south. Not a whole lot of cultural/religious diversity here. You just have to branch out and explore the lives of other folks in other places.For what it's worth, I enjoy reading your blogs. I didn't comment for a long time, but I really enjoy what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to share. 🙂

  17. I agree Charlie, and along with what Cindy G said, confirms my belief that we are all being played by a bunch of very greedy puppeteers. They control our money,determine policy(thru the use of their money), manipulate currency, etc. And I don't believe it's one side…they are controlling BOTH sides, and pretending there are 2 sides. We fight amongst ourselves over ideology, which distracts us from what's really going on. I was in college during Jimmy Carter's administration when we had our last oil issues/Middle East crisis. The only explanation for why we are still using those resources is that big money has a vested interest in the game. I understand that we need oil to run machinery in factories, etc….but we could have switched ALL homes to solar since then. And I'm guilty..we haven't put solar panels on our home either. When these crises happen, we all talk about alternative energy,etc…then go right back to our normal lives.

  18. Charlie–Thank you! From what I've heard, part of the problem with higher gas prices also could relate to the U.S. exporting oil instead of using/refining it here in the states, but I'm not 100% certain of that (let's just say I wouldn't stake my life on the validity of the source for that information). I know that the U.S. will soon have an abundance of natural gas once the Marcellus Shale pipelines are completed, then the oil and gas companies can start drilling for the oil reserves beneath there that reportedly are even larger than those in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, I can look out my office window and see the changing landscape as the pipelines are laid (although it would be nice if the industry was regulated by the state government and paid its fair share in taxes, but that's another story).

  19. Seriously speaking, we do also talk about important topics here too. Enjoy learning from this blog and from the comments. Didn't mean to sound like that i only like only connect blog for the funny and arguments. @Diane: Have to admit you raise a valid point with that what are we to do comment to me. Where do we get the money from? Something has to give. Sorry for your cuts there. @Lily: Thanks for the kind words of admiration.

  20. To answer a question abou the rising price of gas that was asked earlier. As I understand it, it is the fault of neither the President nor the oil companies, though the pundits will try to spin it to their cause. The real culprits are the traders who, just like any trader buying "futures" in any commodity against future rising prices actually pushes the price higher. Traders in oil futures, concerned about the Gulf of Hormuz, Syria, Iranian bombs and Israeli response, are driving the price of oil up and up.

  21. There are a lot of people in this country that have no desire or no aspiration to go to college, because they have a different set of skills and desires and dreams that don’t include college,” said Santorum. “And to sort of lay out there that somehow this is — this is — should be everybody’s goal, I think, devalues the tremendous work that people who, frankly, don’t go to college and don’t want to go to college because they have a lot of other talents and skills that, frankly, college, you know, four-year colleges may not be able to assist them. ”That was Rick Santorum's real words. As usual the liberals twist and turn to make him look bad. I don't know if everyone knew this but Steve Job's never even finished college. Soooo does that make him a bad person or an uneducated person due to his lack of finishing college. Hmmmm. There are many people who are not scholars and not rocket scientists but still can have a good living in this country. Also who says that if a person doesn't go to college that he or she is not a happy or prosperous person.I have met many people in many walks of life working in healthcare and have found that the least educated have been some of the kindest people I have met. As far as info we place on this blog not being fact that is just not true. I stated about what is going on in the state of Illinois as a fact. You can look for yourself or you can believe what we say. If you would prefer for us to start putting our facts from web sites etc. we can. Also what I said about charity in our country was researched and John Stossel actually did show specifically about this subject.I am slightly offended at the fact that you state that you are never wrong when it has been quite clearly stated to you that no President can put anything into law without the houses approval. You are wrong about this. You specifically stated that Rick Santorum would take away individuals rights to birth control. You know that is not true and just another liberal scare tactic to make him look bad to the people. I just don't understand every time this comes up YOU reply with the same old rhetoric.Sorry also but I don't want the government involved in my life and my rights to my freedom. There is too much government now and that is why we are in the mess we are in now. Government should not tell me what birth control I can choose, if I have health insurance or not, or any Constitutional right that was given to us from our founding fathers. Its when government steps on those rights that we as the people of the USA need to remind the government to back off.

  22. I haven't read all of the comments on here, so please forgive me if I stray…I do have major concerns with the religious Republican candidates (and I am a registered Republican). I don't like anyone who is running.To get where they are, they all have something wrong with them at this point (demo or repub). But at the moment I have bigger concerns, like what the banks are doing to us. They are making the reliable people who pay their bills every month pay more to make up for the ones who default…until they end up defaulting too…that is how they show their loyalty to their good customers. I am more concerned about the banks ruining the country than a president, because it seems like they have more control of our fate. The rich people who might have a voice in this aren't really affected…they can afford to pay crazy interest rates, or afford to pay for the people who can't pay off their loans…but then they have good credit so they aren't the ones stuck. I had excellent credit until no one could pay their loans because the banks loaned them too much money. But people just seem to think that it is okay what the banks are doing because they get away with it,…and they are used to it. Another problem is the price of gas…why is it really so high?? Is there a good reason? No, really, I mean a GOOD reason? It seems like the banks and the oil companies have us by the balls more than a president…I mean, come on, who really runs the country?

  23. Charlie your the man! "Santa Claus says so" & "Crazy party from Mars"! Isn't any wonder i hang around here for the mere entertainment value. Almost as good as "the Nanny"! Not quite. Thought i sensed a tremor coming in the force. @Joann Well said: so agree about them being puppets and God help us all. Well then: reckon am voting for Ross Perot!

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