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Even though I am older than dirt and should have learned a lot in my life, I learned a lot more in 2013. Here are some examples.
Republicans and Democrats
The Republican Party has become irrelevant at the State and national levels, though the party controls most of the politics in Orange County. The Democrats, in control in Washington D.C, don’t want to deal with the reality of financing the federal budget in a way that balances expenditures with revenue. Then again, neither do most Republicans, when it comes down to it. The Congressional charade of “holding hearings” has come into focus as a transparent mechanism for those in Congress to rant and rave and get a sound bite on the evening news while displaying anger and indignation, but a useful product seldom results. I have thus learned in 2013 that the people we elect to public office often disappoint. Then again, I knew that.
Trust and Untruths
President Obama’s standing in public opinion polls has plummeted. For good reason. Statements about Obamacare that if you like your insurance you can keep it, that if you like your Doctor you can keep him or her, that the web site will be up and running by November 1 have all proven to be untrue. Then there is the promise that our troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but we now hear that negotiations have been underway with the Afghan President to keep American troops in the country for another 10 years. Then there is the justified lack of trust and respect for Congress. I have learned, and not for the first time, to not believe promises made by politicians and that it is likely some know their promises cannot be kept when they make them.
The Politics of Murder and Intrigue
I just finished reading the book “The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ” by Roger Stone. Packed full of names, dates, places and events the book reports on decades of political games, corruption and murder by leading politicians of both parties. I recommend you read it. What I learned is that some political games are played for keeps.
Every few years SCE or its parent company Edison International fails to live up to its marketing pitch that they can be trusted and are watching out for us. This year the exposure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) plant debacle laid bare the true nature of this organization. Though they are certainly skilled at marketing, and providing financial support to politicians and chambers of commerce, the failure of their project management expertise and the jeopardy it has brought the Orange County region is startling. No trust will be forthcoming from me.
Most anything written on the subject is misleading and should not be taken seriously. Besides, I am sick of the topic and those columnists, reporters and politicians that keep writing and publishing on the subject. Enough! Deal with it! Concurrently, I have learned that future generations are unlikely to have a comfortable retirement, in part because retirement plans and systems dependent upon current workers to help fund those who are retired are being overwhelmed throughout the developed world by rising numbers of retirement age people while the number in the workforce is not keeping pace. China is the latest country trying to deal with this impending crisis by increasing the age at which people can retire. What all this tells me is that current and future workers should develop their own strategy to finance their retirement and not rely upon some government program to be there for them. It won’t be there.
The city seems to have an array of cultural and political problems that are never ending. I don’t live there and I don’t care about how that city is run. Anaheim is not the center of my universe!
Tony Bushala and the Friends for Fullerton web site seem to have simply disappeared. This has taught me that no matter how important a political movement or political leader can seem at the time, they can become obscure and irrelevant overnight. At least that’s the way it looks to this non-Fullerton resident.
Accusations and reported investigations regarding possible corruption by various City Council members as well as the Mayor surfaced in 2013. This has taught me that even people from the so-called grass roots can become empowered by elective office to the point where they may engage in shady things, or at the least accusatory politics (though we have to wait for developments in 2014 to see what the facts really are).
Four of the five current Supervisors are reported to be strategizing or actually running for a different public office. This means these folks are unlikely to have the long term interests of county government at heart which warrants everyone closely watching what the Board of Supervisors does or does not do with regard to determining public policy at the county level. Also there are the published reports that the FBI is investigating the Supervisors for possible pay to play and other misdeeds. The dash lights are blinking yellow “Caution! Caution!” Will they turn red in 2014?
From paid initiative signature gatherers to out of state non-profits backed by wealthy special interests pouring money into California political issues to paid writers and bloggers advancing the agendas of their clients as though they are really just a Joe Citizen expressing a view, I have learned that many things that read political are most likely not what they seem to be and the voting public can be hoodwinked by hidden agendas. Reader and voter beware!
Militarization of Law Enforcement
Has anyone but me noticed the increasing pace at which our police agencies have taken on the image of a military organization? From the pomp and circumstance of “solemn ceremonies” to all the equipment – crime scene trailers, Hummers, aircraft, etc. It is looking like some law enforcement agencies have gone too far. Symptoms are illustrated by the Kelly Thomas trial, the LA County Sheriff’s Department indictments and most recently the Todd Spitzer proposal that County government adopt a social host ordinance to enable law enforcement to go after parents that allow under-age people to consume alcoholic beverages in their own homes. Public focus on the extent of law enforcement militarization would be healthy. Maybe when the first police drone crashes in someone’s yard that will spark the needed public interest. I have learned in 2013 to become increasingly concerned about the militarization of law enforcement.
The mention of drones leads to the issue of personal privacy. We have learned that it has been under attack for some time and that a formerly obscure federal agency, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our telephone calls and e-mails. No telling what else is being monitored. 2013 has shown me that there is no such thing as privacy. Don’t say or write anything you would not want attributed to you on the front page of your local newspaper – as it may be!
The Mentally Ill
Several mass shootings in the U.S. this year have driven home the point that there are significant numbers of mentally ill among us who for whatever reason choose to kill, usually but not always as a step in their own suicide. I have learned that such incidents cannot be totally prevented, but they can sometimes be thwarted if friends, relatives and parents can be taught to be more astute to seek help and intervention when someone exhibits increasingly hostile or bizarre behavior. But I have also learned that it can be difficult to actually get help because our laws seem to assure adults have the right to be mentally ill in our streets and elsewhere.
The Homeless Problem
I have learned this problem is unsolvable and anyone who says it is most likely is a political opportunist or naïve, or both. If in doubt, read the paragraph above.
These are just a few of the things I have learned in 2013. How about you?