One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who Needs Who?

Recently, an old friend of mine posted a link to an ABC page containing text from Obama's recent "small business" lecture, and asked me to read and reply. Here's the link he posted, for those who want to see the source.

Okay, so let's cut through this together. (As always, this is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.)

"We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently…We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more."
Translation: "We need more of your money, and I will now spend the rest of my time here making sure you cretins understand WHY."

I have heard it said by folks far better at this than I, but I can't remember the quote itself, so I'm paraphrasing here: There are those in government who will never acknowledge when what they are doing is not working. They just believe they haven't been allowed to do enough of it yet, by a bunch of other people who just don't UNDERSTAND.

One of the main reasons that government isn't bigger than it already is, it seems to me, is that for the most part, they need to get our permission for something before they can do it. They continually have to convince us that they know what they're doing. Eventually, you get to the point where some of them start seeing us as a liability to be controlled, rather than as a resource to be nurtured and treasured and allowed to nourish itself.

That’s what I think we’re looking at here. This kind of arrogance comes from many different sources, and takes many forms, but it nearly always sounds the same in the end: “We know better.”

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."
Not having ever owned or tried to run a small business myself, it seems to me that most people who do are already perfectly aware of this, and if they're not, they're not gonna be in business for long. You HAVE to be able to work with others in order to pull off a business venture of any scope.

In my mind, the fact that he started this topic off with "I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart" betrays a certain level of conceit on his own part. Does he really think that's what we're thinking when we try to start being our own boss? What does that say about him?

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."
Again, he's not saying anything we don't already know...except maybe the part about why the Internet was created. (Man, what is it with politicians and the Internet?) I sure the hell don’t know why it was created, and I seriously doubt he does. Hey, at least he didn’t claim HE created it.

But it seems to me there's something else happening here. Look at his examples: Teachers. Roads. Bridges. The Internet. The American system. Unless I miss my guess, these things all have one thing in common: They are all, either largely or completely, funded and/or administrated by government agencies.

Now, there's no denying that adequate access to good roads, a decent education, Internet, and other things that might be called "infrastructure" is certainly capable of being a shot in the arm to any business, but that's not the point he's making here. Listen close: "You wouldn't have what you have WITHOUT us."

To Obama, and far too many of those around him, government is the great benefactor in the equation. This may be a bit of a dramatization on my part, but Obama really does seem to think that, without Washington's magnanimous support and wisdom, all us great unwashed out here would be flailing around in the dirt, without a clue as to how to take care of ourselves and our own affairs. We NEED someone to watch over us, and who better than the ones who already are? (I know, I know -- "1984/BIG BROTHER ALERT" -- but seriously, give it a good deep read if you haven't already, and compare what you see there to some of the things going on around us. I ain't sayin' it's time to hit the bunkers, but I'm sure you don't need me to tell you there are some unsettling things coming out of Washington these days.)

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires."
People have been putting out fires together since long before the government ever got involved. Again, nothing new here except to say "You NEED us."

"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president – because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
Okay, I can't knock the GI Bill reference, because I myself have made use of it, and it was indeed a big help in me earning my AA degree, back when I was starting fresh here in WV with my then-just-out-of-the-gates family. I would, however, point out that the GI Bill was only for those who took it upon themselves to perform service to the country in the military. If you didn’t serve, you don’t benefit. Thus, anyone who wanted in on it had to first do the grunt work (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to earn it. In other words, this was no one-sided largesse. We worked for it.

Now, the Golden Gate Bridge started out with government approval, but as it happens, it was eventually mostly funded by a private citizen - specifically, the founder of Bank of America – who bought up all the bonds (about 30 million dollars’ worth) when the administrative district set up by the California legislature couldn’t sell them after the Wall Street crash of 1929 happened. So, if he was looking to use that as another example of the government making something good possible...well, okay, give him a “half-right” on that one.

I’m not even going to touch the “created the middle class” crap. Government had NO hand in creating the middle class. The free market, and Americans’ unfettered participation in it, did that quite nicely all by itself. Politicians just give it a name when they need its votes.

(Good grief, there’s that Internet thing again. Yeesh.)

But I can't let the moon thing go. Obama has near-outright castrated the very government agency responsible for that great leap of mankind, and is now trying to use it to get his way.

Remember what he said two years ago about what he wanted NASA's new prime directive to be? No? Well, here it is on ABC's website, dated Jul 6, 2010:

"A few days ago, in Cairo, [National Aeronautic Space Administration administrator Charles] Bolden told Al Jazeera that when he became the NASA administrator, President Obama charged him with three things: "One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering."
Nothing in there about space exploration. Nothing in there about updating the Space Shuttle program (which, as you may know, has since been simply scuttled). Nothing in there about possibly one day putting a man on Mars, or anywhere else for that matter.

He wants NASA to help Muslim nations "feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering". Your tax dollars at work, folks.

"This was part of President Obama’s desire, as stated in his Cairo address last year, to begin a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world, Bolden said."
Well, I have to agree, there's a lot of people in the Muslim world who want that, too…I just hope Obama’s still keeping in mind that some of them may not want that the same way he does.

"Bolden told Al Jazeera that this mission had nothing to do with diplomacy, but rather was rooted in expanding US outreach for tangible reasons. The international space station, he said, is a conglomerate of 15-plus nations, including the Russians and Japanese. Bolden said his mission to the Muslim world is a “matter of trying to reach out and try to get the best of all worlds.” No nation will make it to Mars on its own, he said."
Ah-HA! THERE'S Mars! Now we're talkin'... waitaminnit.

"No nation will make it to Mars on its own"?

Is it just me, or is there a pattern forming here?

Remember..."You didn’t get there on your own."

I wonder how different things might be now, if that had been the American attitude back in the 40's and 50's.

For what it's worth, there's more than a few private firms who are now attempting to fill the aerospace gap on their own, with varying degrees of success thus far. To their credit, NASA is still trying to work with some of these companies as they can, but they are still being privately funded in large part.

Who needs who, Barry?

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/2009: Arlene T. Babakitis

Arlene is remembered as a bright, energetic mother of two, born and raised on the Lower East Side of New York City in a family that understood and taught their children the values of hard work and independence. She got her first job at the age of 16, and a couple of years later began her main career as an employee of the Port Authority of NY/NJ.

Her elder sister, Evelyn Pettignano, remembered Arlene in a NY Times article from Sept. 2002:
Mrs. Babakitis and her older sister, Evelyn L. Pettignano, were pregnant with their first children at the same time, and would take the PATH train together to their jobs in Manhattan. "When you see two pregnant women walking together, you would really see the looks," Mrs. Pettignano said. "I have to admire her as a mother. She wanted the best. She was always there, giving."
Her tenure with the Port Authority would last for 30 years and lead her to a post at the World Trade Center, before her untimely death on September 11, 2001.

Her niece, author Melissa Pettignano, recalled her love of staying active in a recent article for the Hudson Reporter, and also related just how close Arlene may have been to surviving the disaster:
Before she died on September 11, 2001, Secaucus resident Arlene Babakitis loved to exercise. But according to her niece, writer Melissa Pettignano, her weight loss regimen “had a bit of a twist. My mother, my aunt, and I would exercise together. Like, we’d walk around the track at the high school – and then we’d go out for ice cream.”


According to those who were in the stairwell with her who survived, she stopped walking down after emergency workers told her it was safer to stay in the burning building and wait for help to arrive. After no help came, she eventually began walking again. Babakitis made it to street level just as the building collapsed.

“The time she spent waiting made all the difference,” noted Pettignano. “Another five or 10 minutes, who knows, maybe that’s all the time she needed to get to safety.”
Ms. Pettignano has taken the memories of her aunt and used to help write a book entitled "Suzanne Lantana", a collection of stories about the experiences and views of a young girl. Details can be found here.


This post was made as part of Project 2996, an online blogging effort spearheaded by Dale Challener Roe, aimed at keeping the memory of the events of 9/11/2001 alive by memorializing, one blogger at a time, all 2,996 victims of that day's horrendous attack on the World Trade Center. Anyone wishing to view any of today's other memorial posts can start at the link above, which displays a linked list of all the participating blogs. Please take some time and visit as many of them as you wish.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Original Guitar Hero

R.I.P. - Les Paul, 1915 - 2009

"I cannot imagine life without Les Paul."
-- Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Project 2,996 for 2009 - Bloggers Needed

My apologies for not being around much, friends...As usual, life has been getting in the way.

But for this, I will try again.

I have signed up to hopefully participate in this year's Project 2996, wherein bloggers of all stripes create a mass-posting by each dedicating a post to the memory of one of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

More information and links for the project will be forthcoming as I learn more. Keep yer ears up.

UPDATE - August 15, 2009: I will be researching and memorializing Arlene T. Babakitis. Anyone who has information which they think will be helpful in this effort is gratefully invited to leave note in the comments to this post. I may not be able to respond right away, but all comments WILL be read. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I am pleased as punch to share the following moment with you all... My son graduated from the Boot platoon in the Tri-State chapter of Young Marines a couple of weeks ago. (If you're scratching yer heads: Think of it as Scouting ala the USMC, and he just moved up from the Cub Scouts.)

Bear with me, if you please, whilst I bask in the moment.

For those keeping score, he's the handsome gent second from right in the front rank.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Change of Scenery

Folks, I am here to announce a change.

From here on, the focus of "Stander's Point" is going to shift to more personal (and, frankly, more enjoyable) topics and will be shying away from politics and other such claptrap. It will also be updated on a less frequent basis.

For those who prefer news and views on current events, please feel free to visit my new second home, Adult Supervision Required, wherein my political (and most likely crankier) side will be more fully unfettered.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Monday, February 02, 2009