The REAL Reason Why You Should Never Vote For Those Advocating Cuts For The Poor

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THIS SHOULD SERVE AS A MESSAGE TO THOSE CONSERVATIVES WHO SCREAM TO THE POOR, “PULL YOURSELVES UP BY YOUR OWN BOOTSTRAPS!”, WHEN SUCH POOR HAVE NEITHER BOOTS NOR STRAPS

 

Ever since the days of Ronald Reagan the conservatives in this country, particularly the far right – which has ruled the Republican Party for roughly eight decades, dating back to Hebert Hoover and the Great Depression – have called for and enacted policies that have served to do nothing but devastate the poor and less fortunate.

These devastations have come in the form of tax breaks for the super rich and cuts in safety net programs, which has increased joblessness and homelessness.

I have personally noticed this in the town I grew up in, Santa Monica, CA, in the 1980s when not too long after Reagan was inaugurated President in 1981, Palisades Park, an iconic stretch of grass which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offers spectacular views of Malibu to the north and the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south on a clear day, became inundated with the displaced as Palisades Park became a tent and sleeping bag city.

I also noticed increasing numbers of panhandlers hanging around various blocks.

Far right conservatives will tell you that those who are in that situation are themselves at fault for making bad decisions are not taking personal responsibility.

Or if they became poor and/or homeless through no fault of their own – such as being laid off from their jobs – those “Far Rights” would usually say that they are not working hard enough to rectify their situation; why should those who have the means subsidize those who don’t through tax raises, which in the Far Rights’ eyes serve as nothing but a free, welfare handout which encourages laziness?

I’ll tell you why…

BECAUSE THE BIBLE, WHICH THESE FAR RIGHTS HOLD SO DEAR AND REFER TO EVERY CHANCE THEY GET, SAYS SO.

Check out what Jesus said to the rich man who asked him what should he do to have eternal life:

“Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor; and you shall have treasure in Heaven; and then come, follow me…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to ever the Kingdom of God.”   – Matthew 19:21, 24

And in Acts, here’s how the Apostles set up the first church after Jesus’ ascension:

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.”  – Acts 2:44-45

Sounds a lot more like Karl Marx’ philosophies than anything that John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh would advocate.

In fact, when you go by these quotes from Matthew and the Acts, you can make a convincing argument that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was the world’s first Socialist.

While studying the Bible, which I have doing quite a bit of lately, I came upon some quotes from the Book of Proverbs that overwhelmingly seals the argument of how to treat the poor and what God thinks of those with the means who don’t – or directly hurt them due to budget cuts or changes in policy, i.e., Far Right Republicans…

“Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.”   – Proverbs 14:31

“Mocking the poor (which I’ve seen a lot of people do online and elsewhere in the form of taunts such as “Get a Job!” and other things)  is mocking God who made them. He will punish those who rejoice at other’s misfortunes”  – Proverbs 17:5

“When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord – and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!”  – Proverbs 19:17

“He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.”  – Proverbs 21:13

“Giving preferred treatment to rich people (i.e., tax cuts, tax loopholes and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or the “1%”) is a clear case of selling one’s soul for a piece of land.”  – Proverbs 28:21

Sure, there are plenty of folks who would state another quote from Jesus that appears in the books of Matthew, Mark and John, “The poor you will always have with you…”   which in their interpretation means that the government is wasting their time helping the less fortunate because poverty will never be completely eradicated, and those less fortunate are better off helping themselves because that’s what America is all about – independence and self-reliance.

To those Far Rights who point that out, I say, “Does the government have to contribute to the plight of the poor, make things harder by taking away their safety nets, as you seem to want to do?”

In my book, those who advocate budget cuts and policy changes that will hurt the less fortunate can be described in two words:

Heartless.

and Mean.

Nowadays I often wonder what will Far Rights – those in and out of government – people say when they die and God tells them that they have to answer for their beliefs and practices concerning all of this, God saying,

“You were in favor of cuts and policies that did nothing but make my children suffer. What do you have to say for yourself?”

One thing is for certain at the end of the day…

Anyone who takes a position of being in favor of policies that help the poor, the homeless, and otherwise less fortunate should never, EVER vote for anyone in the Republican Party.

The reason? Because based on what too many of them have said and advocated, it is crystal clear that they do not care about those who are “down on their luck”; at least to the point where they are willing to leave programs that help such – Medicare, Social Security, Welfare – alone.

Those “Hoovervilles” that were all over the landscape in the 1930s are certainly evidence of that, as well as the many domestic cuts that Reagan enacted in the 80s; the increase in homeless during that time was a direct effect of that.

I’ve spoken enough about this subject, as I don’t want to get myself riled up over the thoughts of these policy makers in the now-Republican-majority Congress that want to screw the less fortunate over by the changes they want to make.

God Bless…

 

 

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If those right wingers in Congress get their way, we’ll see a lot more of this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meeting Muhammad Ali (I kid you not!)

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THE (TRUE) STORY OF MY ENCOUNTER WITH ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREATEST FIGURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY

 

I suppose that most of you won’t believe this story, or that I’m trying to pump myself up as someone really important because of what happened.

But that’s OK; I’m going to tell it anyway, because if I had to name the most thrilling single moment in my life, it will be this one…

The Day After Thanksgiving, 1996 – November 29th to be precise.

I was working as a PE teacher at a small Lutheran school, and after I stopped by to pick up my paycheck I headed over to Borders & Books on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade because I had heard that Muhammad Ali, who was not only one of the greatest boxers of all time but whose philanthropic efforts transcended his many legendary exploits in the ring and led him to become one of the most beloved figures in the universe, was promoting a book that he and his longtime photographer had set up, featuring pictures from his long career.

Needless to say, I was not going to pass up laying my eyes on a legend.

I get to Borders, where “The Greatest” was greeting people. Although his extremities were shaking from the Parkinson’s Disease that everyone knew he had, he didn’t look that much different from the man I saw clowning on camera, calling Sonny Liston an “ugly bear” and Joe Frazier a “gorilla”, along with constantly screaming about how he was the greatest and how pretty he was.

The fact that I know too well about all of his epic fights – the three he had with Frazier, including the “Thrilla In Manila”, the “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman, and his two late career fights with Leon Spinks that I saw on TV, among his many famous battles in the ring – well, that should go without saying.

As was how he stood up to the U.S. Government, sacrificed three of his prime boxing years and risked a prison sentence by refusing to get drafted into the army and shipped off to Vietnam.

And the fact that he had just come off lighting the torch at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Atlanta a few months earlier.

During that period I was keeping a journal, in which of course I mentioned this thrilling encounter.

Here’s what I wrote:

 

Anyhow, he was there greeting people, and I was trying to get up the courage to go up there & perhaps get his autograph – which (unfortunately, or it would still be framed and having a place of honor on my wall today) he wasn’t giving – when he started to point at me and wave me over.

I was like “Who, me?”, but I had it right: 

MUHAMMAD ALI WAS WAVING ME OVER!!

So I went over to him and shook his hand saying (in what I remember was a shaking voice) how it was an honor to meet him, which it obviously was; 

I ACTUALLY SHOOK HANDS WITH MUHAMMAD ALI!!

Needless to say, I was extremely thrilled. I mean, here’s the man who’s arguably the greatest athlete of the 20th century, a man who I consider one of my heroes, along with Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, and my grandfather; a man who’s truly a legend, and I actually shook his hand and spoke to him!

He was even joking with me, asking me if I rumbled; (he) probably noticed how big I was. Although he has Parkinson’s Syndrome, a brain condition caused by too many blows to the head during his days as a boxer (which) causes much difficulty in speech, among other things…I understood what he said when he spoke to me.

It pretty much goes without saying that today was a most exciting and thrilling day. My family and friends will flip when they hear of this…I know full well that this is gonna be a big cliche, but this is definitely something that I’m going to remember for a real long time, if not forever…Let’s just say that I’ll remember it forever, and leave it at that.

 

I specifically recall replying to Ali, who was on his way out when he asked if I “rumbled” as my encounter with him occurred right before his time at Borders was up, “No, I’m a baseball player,” holding my hands up in a sort of “no way” fashion.

I also recall going home in a fairly ecstatic state, having met a major celebrity who I was a big fan of; the adage of “Don’t ever meet your heroes, because they’ll always disappoint you” did not apply here.

I know that my right hand was but one of roughly two billion hands that Muhammad Ali has shaken in his life, and I don’t have to be a genius, or even smart, to know that if I ever encountered him again and he remembered who I was, I’d go into absolute shock.

But that doesn’t change the thrill I got from meeting the man, who has now been to the hospital more than once in recent times for various issues and who I’m most obviously praying for – as is every living being in this world and every other world that may exist.

If nothing else, when my life is over this will be one of the significant memories that I will have.

Which likewise should go without saying.

 

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A shot of Ali as a young boxer that I thought would be nice to include

 

 

 

 

 

Signs That The Education Profession Was The Wrong Field (for me)

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An elementary school physical education class; I spent the bulk of my life in the workforce as a P.E. teacher at this level

 

HOW I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT WORKING WITH CHILDREN WAS THE WRONG CAREER CHOICE

 

I once read that for every five teachers beginning their career in the classroom, three leave within the first five years ranging from stress stemming from being unable to control a classroom to a tried-and-true standby – the salary being too low.

As someone who unceremoniously left this profession in 2008 after approximately twenty years, I can certainly relate.

Particularly when considering the two main reasons why I no longer work with young people and decided to pursue writing:

1.  I was ultimately ineffective with working with students with learning and/or behavior problems.

and…

2.  Having Asperger’s Syndrome, a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, rendered me as  not always being able to interact with co-workers and supervisors in an appropriate manner on a consistent basis.

Due to my aspieness being the root of my communication problems on the job, the longest I was able to work anywhere in the Education field was three years as I was ether fired or forced to resign from 11 of the 12 positions I had at various school sites.

Looking back from my days as a student, I realized there were signs that should have told me that working with children was going to be “Square Peg in a Round Hole” type of thing…

For instance, a basic commandment of working in education is firmly believing that all children can learn and succeed, regardless of background, skill level, or any disabilities a kid may possess.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that mentality as a youngster as I specifically remember during my elementary school days thinking that those fellow classmates of mine who struggled with the reading, writing, spelling and math lesson that we all received were – to put it simply and bluntly – lazy and dumb.

I know nothing about the learning disabilities, or background, or cultural differences that apparently played a factor to whatever lack of success my struggling classmates may have had, as school came easy for me and my grades were usually near the top of the class.

Since that was the case, in my closed and unenlightened mind the kids who didn’t get it were – pardon the expression – “retards”, which was the term that was used at that time (the 1970s).

A perfect example of this was during fourth grade, whenever my class received ditto worksheets as part of our lessons, this girl who sat across from me would constantly plead, “How do you do this?” to a point where I grew annoyed. When I told her to just read the directions, she would say, “I can’t read”.

As an adult I realize she was from a poor, immigrant family from a part of Mexico where education was not necessarily a priority. She may have had a learning disability on top of that, but as a nine-year old I thought she was just plain stupid.

Which I’m not proud of in the least, but it was what it was.

Unfortunately, that mindset didn’t change upon adulthood.

Fast forward thirty years:

I’m working in an after school program in an inner city area, helping fourth and fifth graders with their homework and doing various other things with them.

One day a 4th grader, who had behavior issues in the form of constantly back talking and slacking off with her homework throughout the year, asked me what time it was. In response to me pointing to the clock on the wall, she exclaimed in a rather whiny voice, “I can’t tell time!”

I was flabbergasted at what this little girl had said, being ten years old and unable to do something that she should have mastered at age six!

Though I eventually realized that she had a learning disability with a reading level far below what it should have been, I couldn’t help but think that she was either severely lacking in intelligence or was extremely lazy during the first grade, when telling time is commonly taught and which I know is the worst attitude one can have when working with youngsters.

It was a definite sign that this profession was not for me.

As a child, I can clearly recall feeling similarly about those schoolmates of mine who constantly got into and caused trouble. I know now that many of them had ADD or ADHD or some other disorder that made them behave badly, but for the bulk of my youth and for many years afterward, I saw those kids as nothing but troublemakers, punks and flat-out losers.

The fact that those were the kids that bullied and tortured me during those formative years didn’t help my views on this any.

I freely admit that those views I had on those young folks who caused trouble and disrespected authority on a constant basis carried over into my career in education, which wasn’t good at all.

One particular memory coming to mind was at the school where I worked for three years, where during my third year there were roughly fifteen kids in the fourth grade who did nothing but tear the school apart with their antics, a proverbial case of 15 rotten apples spoiling the bunch.

Nothing I or anyone else did to curtail the chaos that those nine and ten years-olds caused had any positive results, and we tried everything short of suspension, which the principal wouldn’t pull the trigger on and which was desperately needed.

So by the time I got those 15 youngsters all together and told them that they would be watched like hawks and nailed for any and every rule they broke, I had already written those delinquents off as losers and lost causes, which people working with kids can’t ever really do.

Feeling the way I felt as a young kid should have told me that I wasn’t cut out to be successful with children, at least in a consistent manner as one must have an infinite amount of patience with those who struggle with classwork and behavior; my patience would usually run out by around mid-February.

Four words neatly sum these sentiments up:

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN

For those who are wondering right about now why I entered the “Kid Business”, as I like to call it, in the first place, here are the reasons…

It was the family business, as my mother and several other members of my extended family spent up to 30 years molding young minds and were quite successful at it, plus I enjoyed the weekends, holidays and summers off that folks in other lines of work didn’t get.

Which I know now was an inappropriate reason to commit myself to a profession like education and coaching, as I coached various sports at the youth level for over 20 years.

The two biggest lessons I garnered from all of this?

1.  If you don’t wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work every day, then you really shouldn’t be at that job.

and…

2.  When it comes to a career, find a square hole that your square peg can fit into. 

 

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UCLA FOOTBALL: A Review of the 2014 Season

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The Bruins celebrating their 40-35 win over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, their second straight season with ten victories

 

 

HOW ONE LONGTIME MEMBER OF BRUIN NATION SAW THE JUST-CONCLUDED CAMPAIGN

 

After seeing that UCLA’s football team ended their 2014 season with a win over Kansas State’s Wildcats in San Antonio, TX, a few things went through my mind:

First, that 10-3, which was the won-loss record that the Bruins ended up with for the second year in a row, looks a heck of a lot better than 9-4 would have looked.

Second, that before this Alamo Bowl I was wondering on a pronounced scale which UCLA team would show up on that second day of 2015: the one that whipped their crosstown private school rivals for the third year in a row in convincing fashion or the one that played worse than a bad Pop Warner team of eight year-olds against Stanford.

It turned out that both Bruin teams showed up against Kansas State as thanks largely to a Wildcat team that didn’t fold its tents, combined with 15 penalties – six of them of the personal foul kind – for a incredible 128 yards and a secondary that was a complete sieve in the second half, Jim Mora’s team had to sweat it out after building a 31-6 halftime lead, leading the fans clad in blue and gold to collectively give a big, fat “Whew!” when the clock hit three zeroes.

Third, and most importantly,

To put it in a concise manner, my conclusion of the UCLA Bruins football program in 2014 is this:

 

These Bruins, by all standards, had a very good season.

They could – and very much should  – have had a GREAT season.

 

In other words, I must be honest and state that considering what the expectations were, I found myself a tiny bit disappointed in UCLA’s ultimate fate in 2014.

Not as disappointed as I would have been if the Bruins had completely blown that lead and lost to Kansas State, but a tiny bit disappointed nonetheless.

Sure, they won ten games in consecutive seasons for the first time in 17 years.

Sure, they won every game they played while wearing their white jerseys and away from the Rose Bowl.

Sure, they’ll have a great chance to finish the season ranked in the nation’s top ten.

Sure, they won consecutive games in the postseason for the first time since their seven-game bowl winning streak in the 1980s.

Sure, they beat that cardinal and gold-colored private school (as per personal policy, I absolutely refuse to mention that institution located just south of Downtown Los Angeles by its name) for the third consecutive year, solidifying its position as the rulers of L.A., complete with the retaining of the Victory Bell and all the bragging rights.

And sure, key players like quarterback Brett Hundley, who became the Bruins’ all-time leader in touchdown passes and rose to second all-time in passing yardage, and linebacker Eric Kendricks, who once again led the Pac-12 in tackles and became UCLA’s all-time leading tackler on his way to winning the Butkus Award as the country’s best linebacker, did what was expected and had great seasons.

All of those things are greatly appreciated and celebrated by me, don’t get me wrong.

 

Stanford v UCLA

Preparing to take the field at the Rose Bowl

 

HOWEVER…

The fact that these Bruins could have done even better, as in:

* Win the Pac-12 South (which I predicted them to, and which they didn’t)

* Possibly beating Oregon to win the Pac-12 championship (which I didn’t think they would do, being that those Ducks walloped Florida State in the recent Rose Bowl and are on an overwhelming roll), and…

* Possibly ending up in a New Year’s Six bowl game (most likely the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State)

leaves a conviction inside of…

Not bitterness, but more of coming up short and a feeling of what might have been if not for losing to Oregon – which in retrospect wasn’t that surprising as I officially pick those Ducks to beat Ohio State and win their first national championship on January 12th – and Stanford, which was particularly frustrating as it was the seventh straight loss to a Cardinal team that frankly wasn’t as strong as in previous years.

The loss to Utah is tied with Stanford for the 2014’s lowest point in my book; giving up ten sacks and missing a winning field goal kick twice clinches that personal view.

Having said all of that, I AM quite proud of the way that the team showed outstanding character in bouncing back after their bumps in the road, going on a five-game winning streak after getting butt hurt by the Ducks and securing the win over Kansas State after not only the Stanford failure, but also doing everything they could to give the Alamo Bowl to Kansas State after an overwhelming first half.

And although Kendricks and especially Hundley will be sorely missed, things don’t look bad in Westwood – at all – as 18 of 22 starters will return, most notably my choice for team MVP, running back Paul Perkins.

Simply put, Perkins was the man as not only did the sophomore win the Pac-12 rushing title with his 1,575 yards and 6.3 yards per carry, he more or less singlehandedly saved the Bruins in San Antonio with his 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and his grab of Kansas State’s onside kick.

He will be desperately counted on in 2015.

As for who will take over behind center starting with the contest against Virginia at the Rose Bowl on September 5th…

I’ll bet anything that I am the only member of the UCLA community who has this opinion due to the imminent arrival of Josh Rosen, the number one ranked high school quarterback in the nation, who many in Bruin Nation expect to start next fall, but the player who I want to see take over for Hundley in 2015 is a redshirt freshman named Asiantii Woulard.

A four-star recruit out of high school, Woulard is thought to have more size than Hundley, with the same running ability and a stronger arm. The fact that he has not completely grasped UCLA’s offensive playbook has held him back and kept him from seeing any playing time as Woulard was the third string QB this season.

I know a lot of people have talked about Jerry Neuheisel, son of the previous UCLA coach, as a possible replacement; he is an outstanding backup who did wonderfully against Texas and will make a great coach one day but as far as being the starter and leading the Bruins to victory week after week…

I’m sorry – I just don’t feel it.

Of course I am happy to see Rosen, from St. John Bosco High, become a Bruin as like Hundley in 2011, he is seen as the future and will undoubtedly be a great quarterback in Westwood, but…

I don’t care one iota how dominating he was in high school or that he will enroll at UCLA this month and participate in spring practice, Rosen will still be a true freshman.

That will mean a transition period and subsequent bumps in the road, which will likely lead to a few losses, which I’m really not sure that the Bruins can afford at this point.

That also mean that Woulard will need to have the best eight months of his life, namely with regard to spring practice and fall camp, if he is to reach his potential and be the man under center.

Will this soon-to-be redshirt sophomore step up, win the starting job, and enable Coach Mora to redshirt Rosen to further prepare him for the rigors of major college football?

Can UCLA continue its general progress and upwards trend in the now-post Hundley Era?

I’m certainly looking forward to finding out…

 

As a final goodbye to one of the Bruins’ all-time greatest players, here’s a highlight video of Brett Hundley in 2013: