As I sit and watch my dog sleep on my bed, I cannot help but think back upon my life. I have had this dog, Siren, for fifteen years. Many life altering things have taken place during this time. I found out I was a father, moved across country twice, traveled to different parts of the world, gotten divorced, fallen in love again, and conquered cancer. Throughout it all, there was my faithful companion, my canine child, always by my side.
Dogs love unconditionally. Even after being punished for some small disobedience, they forgive an love. This is something the human race surely cannot claim. Dogs are able to tell when something is bothering you. Have you ever noticed how they stare at you or crawl next to you and cuddle with you? It is as if they are trying to survey your emotional state. They are trying to comfort you. More often than not, they can always make you feel better. A wag of the tail, a pawing at your hand, simply laying on your lap while having you pet them. All of this does wonders in making you forget your worries if only for a brief moment.
My dog has taught me several things in the many years I have had her. I have learned to be more patient. I have learned that although someone may have faults, they can be the best friend you could ever wish for. I have learned that you do not have to be perfect to be loved unconditionally. Instead, you must only be willing to love unconditionally. I have realized that it is okay to get excited, okay to slow down and relax, and okay to just say screw it. It is okay to nap. It is still fun to play. However, the greatest thing I have learned is that no matter what is going on in my life, there is always something to smile about. Life goes on. The world keeps moving. I have never been alone in the last fifteen years. My dog would not allow that.
Looks like she just got done with her pup-nap. Looks like I need to go and spend some quality time with a very dear friend, my best friend. My girl Siren.
September 11, 2001- It was a beautiful sunny morning. The skyline of New York City glistened in the fresh morning air. It was a normal day. Husbands and wives went to work, children went to school and all was normal.
The twin towers stood proud, a symbol of the New York City, literally towering above all other buildings, welcoming visitors to the “big apple”. They shined in the morning sun, a compass of sorts for the residents of the city. It would be the last time they would shine. But more than that, it would be the last time that we as a country would feel entirely safe and secure.
A loud crash blasted through the air like an air raid siren. Onlookers gazed on in amazed horror at the sight of a jetliner plowing into the first tower. I remember people thinking that it was a horrible accident. People screamed and ran frantically trying to comprehend what just happened. Shortly after, the world would know that this was no accident. The second jetliner approached with the same fury. As it roared towards the second tower, all those around me were filled with horror knowing exactly what was going to happen. We were filled with sadness and rage knowing what was going to inevitably happen while being able to do nothing to stop it. The second impact was more violent than the first. It exploded into a giant ball of flame in the glow of the morning light. The bright light of the morning was filled with a haze as the smoke flooding from the towers began to block out the sun.
You could hear the sirens of the brave and dedicated members of the New York Fire Department, New York Police Department and Port Authority vehicles scream toward the wounded towers. Everyone prayed for the safety of those in the towers knowing full well many lives would be lost from the devastation of the impacts.
As the sisters stood crippled, smoke pouring from the tops of the building, the city was in bewilderment. Soon after, the towers would collapse in a scene of misery that this country had never seen before. Simultaneously, the hearts of the American collective dropped. The worst moment in the history of our great nation had just taken place. Then the news from other areas of the country comes in. The Pentagon is crashed into just the same as the towers. Another jetliner crashes in a Pennsylvania field. It was hijacked by terrorists and was on its way to another target before it was crashed by passengers fighting to gain control of the plane.
This was truly a day that will live in infamy. The complacency of our way of life would no longer continue. From that day forward, we would forever be more vigilant, more suspicious of those around us, more watchful of our surroundings. Yet, as a nation we pulled together. We grieved together. We healed together. Now ten years later, we remember together. On this the tenth anniversary of the worst day in American history, let us remember. Remember those who were stolen from us. Remember the heroes who perished trying to rescue others. Remember those who gave their lives to prevent another target being hit. Just as important, let us remember how we came together as a nation. Remember how we would not let the insanity of a small few tear us apart as a whole. On this day of remembrance, let us mourn together again and renew our vow that we will never let anything of this sort happen again. We remember and shall never forget. Let this day renew our strength as a nation so that we can move forward and regain the brotherhood and trust we once knew. To the families of those who perished on 9/11, our thoughts and prayers are with you on this day.
For the side of us all that likes to make fun of the most socially inept, I have decided to award weekly or bi-weekly awards for two socially inept individuals in this wonderful place we call Earth. I have decided that too often there is more than one deserving individual who shows a complete lack of class that is so socially unacceptable that they have to simply be recognized for what they are. The winner each week will be the Asshole of the Week award. The dubious runner-up will earn the Douchebag of the Week award.
For the inaugural installment of the awards I have chosen two wonderfully inept individuals. Drum roll please…
…and the winners are:
ASSHOLE OF THE WEEK AWARD
Mr. Beck had the audacity to compare dead Norwegian youths to a Hitler youth camp. This comparison was made by Beck after the shooting of over 85 children on an island just outside of Oslo, Norway last week. Beck said the Labour Party youth camp was similar to a Hitler youth camp as no political party should run a youth camp. However, Mr. Beck helped organize a youth camp sponsored by the Tea Party. For this unbelievable comparison, Mr. Glenn Beck receives the award hands down.
DOUCHEBAG OF THE WEEK AWARD
The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was a dead ringer for this award. After trying to give the debt ceiling negotiations a shot, he turned his back and walked out of all negotiations. For turning his back on his responsibilities as a civil servant to this country, and for putting the United States at risk of defaulting on our debt for the first time in the history of the nation, we salute him for being the best douchebag anyone can be. But hey, he is a Republican. Just an even bigger reason to give him the award. Blame less and work harder Mr. Boehner. I have a feeling we will see you on this list again in the very near future.
So girls and boys, I hope you enjoyed the first installment of the awards. Check back every week or two to see who the recipients will be.
Peace…Hair Grease…and Love.
Another week has gone by. Another week with no resolution to the debt ceiling. It appears that there is no resolution in sight. Neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to be able to work together to solve the issue at hand. The bipartisan loyalty of members of Congress needs to end. It is high time the elected officials on Capitol Hill remember they were elected to work for the people and not for themselves.
However, it appears that the Republican party is less willing than their counterparts to work to achieve the goal of lowering the national debt. The “Gang of Six” made a somewhat valiant effort trying to reduce the deficit. However, talks with the Obama administration stalled. House Speaker John Boehner walked away from talks causing more distance between the two parties. This showed once more that the conservatives are less than willing to conduct a meaningful effort to help solve the deficit problem.
Recently Congressman Steve Scalise, while on the floor of the House of Representatives, stated, “President Obama’s irresponsible threat to veto ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ shows that he’s not willing to admit that Washington has a spending problem, and he’s not willing to make the necessary cuts to force the federal government to start living within its means.” However, President Obama made many efforts to reduce federal spending. It was only upon the request for new taxes upon the richest people in the country that the Republican party balked and walked out of talks.
This is an absurd statement if ever there were one from a Congressman. This statement of supreme stupidity comes from a man who votes to raise his own salary on a yearly basis. Perhaps we as a nation should do something to stop Congress from voting if they get a pay raise. As of now the Majority Party leader and Minority party leader of the Senate earn $193,400 dollars a year. In the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House earns $223,500 and the Majority and Minority leaders earn the same as their Senate counterparts. Rank and file members of Congress earn $174,000. With the outrageous salaries that these members earn, it is absurd that they can vote to give themselves a pay raise. Does the administrative assistant at a corporation get to give himself a pay raise? I think not. A pay raise should be earned. Neither the Senate or House have earned a pay raise for quite some time. Therefore, I would like to see the members of Congress put their paycheck where there mouth is. Make progress or you will be voted out. Plain and simple.
Therefore, I put forth the following challenge to the Congress of the United States of America. Abandon your bipartisan loyalties. Do what is right for the country and not your pocketbook. Live up to the campaign promises that you made. How many times we heard that you got into politics to help the people of this country? I am not seeing any results. Perhaps we should lower your pay. Perhaps we should do away with the pension you are eligible for after 5 years of service. Really? Most Americans would love to be able to make the money you make for doing not much at all and still be able to receive a pension after 5 years. It is high time that the leaders of this country take accountability for their own lack of action. It is time to quit blaming the President for not working to help resolve the problems of the country. He is one man. The last time I checked, the Congress was made up of 535 men and women. So who is really to blame? Maybe those of you in that big glass house on top of the hill should not throw stones.
Tomorrow marks a milestone in my life. I am not graduating college. I am not retiring. This is an entirely different milestone. My child support payments officially stop tomorrow. After a quick stop at the court house to appear in front of a judge and get the papers signed, 19 years of paying child support comes to an end. Not only does this mark a change in my life, it is going to directly weigh on the life of my daughter.
Some will think that I am selfish for semi-celebrating this milestone. However, I feel quite the opposite. I feel that I have been very giving. I have made the sacrifice in my life to fulfill my responsibilities as a parent. I have had to pass on doing things I wanted to do. I resisted the urge to shirk my responsibilities. Never would anyone be able to say that I was a dead beat dad. Now, for the first time in 19 years I can live for myself again. I can do the things I have been putting off. I can be free.
For my daughter, this marks the point in her life when she becomes a true adult. She will have to support herself. Now is the time that she will truly have to display the principles of responsibility and self control. She will realize that the things we taught her growing up were true. I told her once that although being an adult meant having more freedom, it did not mean it was entirely fun. She will now realize that work is a requirement not an option. She will find out the all to unpleasant feelings of seeing a whole paycheck go to cover food and bills. She will have to discover on her own what it is like to be grown up. I am actually a bit scared for her.
I love my daughter more than life itself. I have not talked to her in just over 2 years (not by my choice). Our relationship has not always been a close one do to the circumstances of my divorce from her mother. I have always been proud of her. I would do anything in my power to help her if she were in need. These things alone make me feel that I have done all I can to be a good father. I have never turned her away. Nor will I ever. A father’s love does not end because she passes into adulthood.
I hope to one day have a close relationship with her again. I yearn to have her act like daddy’s little girl once more. However, there does come a time when the ties that bind must be cut. I want to see exactly what she can achieve on her own. I think she can do great things. I want to watch her grow as a young woman and take the world by storm. My father once told me you appreciate things more when you work hard for them. I found that out when I grew up. I hope my daughter finds that to be true as well.
For those of you who have not heard of Westboro Baptist Church, they are a church located in Topeka, Kansas. The church is run by Fred Phelps, Sr. They are best known for protesting the funerals of military members killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they are far from what most God-fearing people would consider a church. In all reality, the church is nothing more than a front for a business to make money without having to pay taxes.
What most people do not know about “the church” is that the pastor, Mr. Phelps, is in fact a disbarred attorney in the state of Kansas. On July 20, 1979, Phelps was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas. In 1989, Phelps agreed to stop practicing law in Federal court permanently. He was disbarred from practicing law for committing perjury. As we all know, perjury is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. This shows the moral fortitude of the leader of “the church” and reflects directly to the legitimacy of the his organization. Seriously, he is the pot calling the kettle black. He protests against anyone who does not live word for word against the bible and at the same time lost his license to practice law for lying in a court of law. (I believe one of the ten commandments is “Thou shalt not lie.”)
So, knowing the moral fiber of the pastor and the congregation of misguided souls that follows him, it is easy to lead into the next stage of recognizing this organization for what it really is. It is nothing more than a giant con. “The church” protests the funerals of deceased service members under the pretense that they were killed as a punishment for the United States accepting homosexuality. However, these members are seldom homosexual. However, this is of little importance. They protest in hopes that someone will try to illegally stop them from protesting or that they will be assaulted. Once this happens, the lawsuits begin. Once they win a lawsuit and are awarded money, they do not have to pay any taxes on the money. You read that correctly. Absolutely no taxes. As a church, they are considered a nonprofit organization and are not subject to taxes. That is where the con comes in. They thrive on the anger they create and are rewarded with untaxed income. It is a pretty good racket if you ask me.
Yes it is absolutely disgusting and makes one’s skin crawl that they can get away with what they do. They have taken the old KKK principles of intimidation and hatred and learned how to make a profitable living. It would be nice to see laws enacted that prevent the dishonest practices they undertake. However, in the meantime, I suggest another means to debilitate them. Under the rights afforded us under the Constitution of the United States, we have the right to gather in public to demonstrate. Counter demonstrations should be organized for all protests “the church” intends to undertake. (A listing of all the planned protests “the church” has scheduled can be found on their website.) During the counter demonstrations, the “anti-protesters” should just come between the vile mass of hate and those who are being protested. If the Westboro members decide to force their way past, they could be sued and would lose some of their ill begotten gains.
It is a shame in this day and age that there are those who would look to capitalize on the deaths of those who serve and vow to protect this great nation of ours. As a veteran of our military forces, I am repulsed by their actions. I can only hope that one day, Mr. Phelps and his congregation burn in hell for their sins of hate and bigotry. After all, God hates a sinner.