Time Goes By

It’s been a year since I visited this space so I thought I’d add some thoughts.
Nationally, the last three months have seen improvement in the economic environment in the U.S., but today specfically blew chunks.  I’m still waiting for things to get back to the point where I’m  comfortable being retired (again).
Obama certainlyh has taken control of a lot of things, including the banking system, GM, and moving quickly on Health Care.  Lots of bitching out there about the U.S. moving towards socialism.  I can’t really argue but that that seems to be the direction; however, I prefer to think that the political moves going on are both a temporary necessity as well as temporary expedients.  For example, i believe we have GOT to get off of our reliance on foreign oil.  We’ve paid much too high a price in blood, treasure and respect for the U.S. as a result of the need to coddle those in the Middle East who hate us (and from all appearances will continue to hate us no matter what).  If it takes majority ownership on the part of the government to force development and sale of vastly more efficient vehicles, then so be it.   I really don’t care  a fig about ‘freedom of choice’ when it comes to this issue.  Just because Americans are used to getting what they want at virtually any price doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to have happen.  We’ll see.
As time goes by, as expected, work relationships are fading with interactions with my former colleagues becoming fewer and further in between.  This was, of course, totally to be expected and I have maintained some good relationships which do appear lasting so no real issues there.  As a retiree with more time alone on my hands I’ve learned to live with and by myself quite well.  The wife continues to work (thanks, Economy) so I am pretty much free to set my own schedule an do things  as and when I like.  All in all quite a liberating experience.
This has been the second consecutive year where Spring weather has been unusually cold and wet.  Today is June 15 and we’ve had perhaps two or three days of summer weather (i.e., higher than 80 degrees).  At the same time, last winter was one of the worst in terms of snowfall in years.
Speaking of which, I think the old bod has told me that I’ve done enough snowmobiling.  Too much back pain resulting from the constant beating on the trails.  In fact, a friend recently made the comment that “Getting old means a day never goes by when something doesn’t hurt”.  I find that to be a bit of an extreme at this particular point in time but can feel this is where things inevitably end up.  Sort of answers the question I always wondered about, to wit:  “Why do professional golfers lose their skills as they age?”  Of course, this is also indicative of my overall total lack of any talent in the playing of the game, but I used to look at the pros and think they made it look so easy and were so good, I wondered what it was that led to their loss of the ability to play at the pro level.  I now understand the pain involved in just performing routine movements for no reason (other than naturally occurring arthritis).  And I can’t imagine actually walking 18 holes anymore (the dual hip replacement thing there).
I finally finished my Vietnam memoirs and have sent them to my brother Larry for a look.  He plays a large role insofar as he and I were stationed together over there.  Not sure what I’ll do with them after he comments.  Possibly may publish them just for yucks and to have a few copies of a book I wrote.  We’ll see.
Still not sure what I’ll do with this space, if anything, but plan on stopping by once in a while just to rap.
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Still on the Fence

It’s now August and we’re less than 100 days from the election.  Surprise!  Since my last comments Obama has changed his positions on several issues and is sounding more like McCain than McCain does.  I guess on a positive note he hasn’t had to apologize for any more whacko preacher friends.  A little disturbing news came out this morning with Obama claiming that "he doesn’t look like the other Presidents on the dollar bill" which is being touted as his having played the race card.
Obama recently toured Iraq and announced that he would establish a timeframe for U.S. withdrawal in agreement with the Maliki government there.  Iraq has largely been stabilized now (for which Bush will get no credit, either for the regime change, the elimination of a potential nuclear terror state, or for persistence in pursuing the Surge strategy which paid the current dividend) and while McCain would see a continuing U.S. Military presence there ala Korea, Germany et al it is possible the Iraqi government will not choose this to be in their best interests.  McCain has shown no indication he would move ahead against the wishes of the Iraqis so in my mind that makes his position and Obama’s very similar.
The economy is still tanking, although July has been a better month; however, I am concerned about the go forward strategies of both candidates.  Obama appeals to me because he’s talking eliminating personal income taxes at certain levels which would benefit me greatly.  Beyond that, however, neither candidate seems to have a strong go forward strategy.  My instincts are that whatever gas price reduction we receive through normal market forces, we ought to maintain price stability at a high level through federal taxation and invest all such funds in alternative energy research.  I think this is the way we finally get the oil monkey off our backs.  I’ve heard nothing from either candidate indicating such a move.
Net net is I am still on the fence.  I am tired of Obama’ Change theme by now which really has been overplayed and lacks substance.  McCain is about as charasmatic as a mastadon but at this point at least he has the track record over Obama who would definitely be a ‘learn as you earn’ kind of guy with, I am convinced, a lot of baggage he’ll be carrying in with him.
Still no VP picks yet on either side.  Probably a good thing as selection now would diffuse even further the lack of substantive discussion of real issues.   Keep tuned.
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Now it Starts…

Well, this week Barack Obame finally clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for President.  As phony and transparent as I find Hillary Clinton,  I was actually pleased at the outcome of the Primary, although it seemed to go on forever.
Hillary is now in the obviously uncomfortable position of having to decicde whether or not she’s willing to play second fiddle to Obama.  He, on the other hand, is faced with the unpleasant decision of whether or not to offer her the VP slot.  I don’t believe that choosing her for VP will do Obamas’s campaign much good or that she would complement him as a Vice President.  The pundits are already highlighting the fact that as VP, Hillary would likely choose to toot her own horn, likely at Obama’s expense.
What troubles me is the lack of substance thus far of Obama’s platform.  Ending the war in Iraq is easy to say but will be more difficult to accomplish – at least in any short timeframe post election which would satisfy his promise to end the war quickly.  To think the United States could turn on a dime and withdraw troops in a matter of weeks or even a few months without it looking like another Saigon evacuation is naive.  His stated position that he wants to talk to radical national leaders like Iran’s Ahmadinejad is also a risky proposition.  As McCain’s camp has already noted, what would be a positive outcome of such discussions?  Would the expectation be that Obama could talk sense into such a madman?  Unlikely.  More likely would be the enhancement of Ahmadinejad as a ‘player’ whom the U.S. fears and with whom we need to reach an accomodation. 
Regardless of how many times Obama finds it necessary to distance himself from the likes of Wright and Pfleger, it seems to me that at least to a degree the old saying that “You are known by the company you keep” (or words to that effect) comes into play here.  For starters, whatever distance he tries to put between himself and these kinds of people, the fact is he needs their constituencies to vote for him in order to be elected.  If they do, it would not be unreasonable for them to expect some quid pro quo if Obama is elected.  And of course we haven’t yet really heard from such established nut jobs as Sharpton or ideologues like Jackson.  When these and others like them weigh in with their support , what will be the pound of flesh they will demand and how will such demands be addressed without appearing like Obama has betrayed them?  And will he be able to resist the pressure which will be brought to bear on him by such supporters?
I plan on giving Obama fair consideration as the Presidential campaign proceeds but he’s got a lot of work to do to convince me of his electability.  As a general statement I find it difficult to turn over leadership of the world’s most important and powerful natiol to an individual with no more than four years experience in the political arena.  I can’t think of any sizeable corporation that would appoint a CEO with such a lack of credentials.  We’ll have to see as time goes on.
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For Starters…..

If you’re reading this, welcome to my blog.  If you’re not, please skip the following
This is my first time blogging so the content wil evolve over time.  What this means is that I frankly don’t know dick about blogging but will learn as I go.  I have a lot of friends and acquaintances from many age groups, backgrounds and even cultures.  I retired at the not quite ripe old age of 60 and have as of this writing been goofing off for about a year and a half.  One of the things I would like to do in this blog is share my experiences and insights as an early retiree.  Of course, as time goes by I will no longer be an early retiree and eventually will be a dead retiree; however, I did retire in advance of most of my contemporaries who have encouraged me to write about my insights into the retirement process.  
Being retired, of course I now have the time to follow Current Events more closely.  This would include things like National, State and Local politics as well as international events.  I’ll exercise my right as an aeging crankster to bitch about just about anything and to offer my clearly self interest solutions for how to solve the many dilemmas which face our society.
I will try to maintain civility in my writing but will warn you in advance I do use some earthy language (see above ‘don’t know dick about blogging remark).  If you’re offended, feel free to click the Back button or whatever the hell button it is that gets you out of here!
Thanks for visiting.
Stevie G
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