Rick William Elkin was born in Pasadena, California,
Being born on the Equinox, September 23rd, has always been an interesting conversation piece. The truth is, I am obsessed with 'balance' so maybe the Equinox is relevant.
But I am also very conflicted on the First Day of Fall.
I love the long days of summer, the warm weather and great Sunsets, and the opportunity to barbecue everyday of the week. I wish we would at least extend DST all year round in California. I only makes sense in the Golden State to let the Golden Light of Sunshine fall on the Sunshine State as long as possible.
The only thing that makes the End of Summer bearable is the start of football season. Not that I just want to sit around to watch football, but if I am going to have sit around a lot, which is what happens on the Left Coast when Daylight Savings Time ends, then I might as well watch football.
I enjoy the sense of community around the local high school games, the crowd noise from the stadiums, the smell of parking lot tailgate parties and of course the fun of watching the clumsy and discordant halftime marching bands lead by flag girls that probably never drop their flags in practice.
So I am conflicted on my birthday....always have been. As much as I hate losing the daylight, I do look forward to the changing of the Season. You know, from 92 degrees everyday to 72 degrees. Time to break out the long sleeve t-shirts!
Oh well, time passes on. I heard Christmas music in some store the other day...
I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 like it happened yesterday.
As my wife and I were awakened by our radio alarm and lay there half asleep, Sonny West, the morning talk/music show host said he had just heard in his earphones that an airplane had possibly plowed into one of the twin towers in Manhattan.
He speculated that it seemed kind of crazy because the weather was reportedly clear and cool, with no clouds or fog.
I decided to get out of bed and at that moment he said if you are anywhere near a TV turn it on right now!
As it became clear this was a deliberate act, and moments before the second plane hit, I screamed at my kids, "Get up! You have to witness this!"
Then the second plane hit and we all started screaming "Oh my God!" I told the kids, you are witnessing a moment in history unlike any that has happened in my lifetime.
Moment by moment I couldn't help but let my fury escape; "Don't these maniacs know who they are messing with?"
This wasn't just an act of civil disobedience, this was war!
Since that awful day, I have also been devastated by the continuing politicization of the death, destruction, heroics and sacrifices of our citizens of all persuasions, left or right. The selfish finger pointing, the marginalization of patriotism and the popularization of the idea that America deserved this.
All of which has, in my mind, heavily contributed to the total chaos within our country both economically and socially that exists today. Looking at a year over year line chart analysis of our American quality of life ratings since September 2001, it has been a downward slope ultimately flattening out in near total collapse in 2007. The terrorists had even more impact than they had imagined.
We have lost an enormous amount of public trust and personal freedoms. We have lost the sense of common ground and political decency that were trademarks of western civilization too.
Aren't those the exact western core values the terrorist hate?
A few days after 911, standing on the steps of the Capital, members of both Parties sang God Bless America, it was only hours later when the Democrats began blaming the President for causing the incident, then bitchslapping citizens who flew American flags on their antennas calling them right wing zealots whose super Patriotism inflamed Islamic anger.
Eventually, some even suggested President Bush ordered the attack so he could justify starting a war so Big Military could get more tax dollars.
To be honest, it has become hard to not hate my fellow Americans who won't stand up for our own country, our leaders and our military, who say they are Patriots but on the other hand chastise Republicans for 'wrapping themselves in the American flag' like that is some kind of insult to them.
Especially when I see this kind of 'Blame America First' activity from people who were my elementary school classmates that joined me in saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class. What happened to those kids? How did they get so twisted?
Taking sides for some is in and of itself wrong because it is too judgmental, so they flash a peace symbol and light a joint.
As a result of that voter angst the War on Terror descended into a political public relations stunt, and it became increasingly clear our people have no stomach for fighting to preserve their own freedom, I have let go of my anger. It isn't my future anymore, it belongs to my kids.
I take the blame for not instilling the kind of strength of character my father's generation had. Thank God for that generation, because without them we would all be speaking German right now.
As the digital information highway continues to mature, we keep getting news about government officials who are seemingly immune to responsibility.
The mainstream media is also having its complicity exposed by the new media. The information age is exposing the part below the tip of the iceberg we all knew was there but were afraid to confront.
Obviously, the main reason so many cases of official malfeasance go unreported is due to the size and scope of the government bureaucracies. In government circles, CYA is more than an acronym, it is policy. If you want to advance within the department, you don’t make waves.
What really bothers me though, is the clear lack of moral values and character that the actions of these blue-collar public employee criminals exhibit. They are not just bad guys, but they are really bad at being bad guys!
For example, a DMV manager, who had worked his way up from an entry level position in just a few years, is caught selling drivers licenses for cash, sporting event tickets or other considerations. It appears there has been as much as several hundred thousand dollars of state revenues lost and a similar amount redirected into his pocket. When interviewed by investigators, his reaction was, “Hey, it’s just the DMV, it’s not hurting anybody!”
This is just an example of selfishness and stupidity, but the question it raises is how do these people get into positions of public trust in the first place? Beyond that, when they are caught committing crimes against the state, our justice system reacts timidly, almost indifferent.
The DMV guy got six months in jail because he had no priors! Wasn’t that a given? Is it possible to get a state management job with priors? So stuffing your pockets with hundreds of thousands of stolen public dollars results in a six month stint in the slammer? How much of that will he get off for good behaviour?
Oh, by the way, he can't pay it back because it has all been spent on entertainment and gambling in Vegas.
Sure, private industry has crooks too, but the ability of government employees to gain access to or have control over valuable commodities with little or no oversight is astonishing. In the private sector, there is a gauntlet of checks and balances, resume vetting, training and testing, and close supervision to avoid conflicts of interest, misappropriations and embezzlement.
Big business doesn’t like to be embarrassed or held responsible for huge fines and awards for malfeasance. Most importantly, big business hates to lose money! It goes overboard to make sure they have done everything in their power to prevent such occurrences.
Government, on the other hand, has a relationship with money that is way too casual.
Because the money seems to come from out of nowhere. “Hey, it’s just the DMV, it’s not hurting anybody!”
Time and time again, when caught with their hand in the cookie jar, civil servant crooks act like they are surprised that anyone cares that they are pilfering the public.
Government corruption is as old as dust. What is new is the sense of entitlement shown by the perps. Bonnie and Clyde never claimed to be anything other than brazen criminals. They played up their poor upbringing, and they called out corruption in law enforcement, but they didn’t act naive about the law. They didn’t excuse themselves from responsibility for the hardships they inflicted on others, the callousness of their murders of innocent guards and bystanders. They knew what they were doing was horrible, and they bragged about being the worst of the worst. They made it clear that they would not allow the justice system to put them on trial. There was a price to pay for being a bad guy, and they accepted that at face value. It was do or die, period.
Though the legend plays it down, they did have a conscience, they just ignored it because the rush they got from their crimes was addictive and overwhelmed their remorse, as little as they had. They were from an era where criminals were honest to goodness criminals.
No pretense or excuses, just plain and simple ‘bad guys.’
Today criminals tremble and cry, sobbing about how they made poor decisions, and claim they were drunk or under the influence of drugs when they gave illegal immigrants driver's licenses in return for cash they then spent getting high and gambling.
Today's public employee crooks have no self respect.