Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Look at The State of the Union Address - 2011

Now in year two of his presidency, President Obama delivered an interesting State of the Union address. Going in, President Obama had the tough task of addressing the United States current status while attempting to shape the nation’s future philosophy and direction. With a rebounding economy, our troops on schedule to return home, and various international matters being cleared up, the President took aim at directing focus back to domestic matters.

With a chamber in solace over the recent wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, the chamber decided to mix things up by avoiding the split room that has always been the norm during such speeches. In an attempt to show solidarity, and to rebuff the growing theme of separation which triggered the Gifford shooting, Republicans and Democrats sat next to one another during the speech. While it was a nice gesture, yes, the standing up and applauding for certain topics by specific members still reared up and showed separation. Anyhow, with that said, let’s look at some of the noteworthy statements from the 2011 State of the Union Address.

“We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.”

I would love to whole-heartedly agree with this, however, it’s difficult when I see many neighborhood stores closing and people continuing to be let go from their jobs. Here is hoping it this positive rebound makes it self more apparent.

“But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.”

Relating to my point above. The economy may be rebounding based on figures, numbers, results, and balance sheets, however until job opportunity improves, it all seems like more meaningless political chatter.

“That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together”

Yes. More jobs ASAP. And yes, we don’t care what color, party, or team comes up with the solution, just make this happen.

“Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.”

Yes, those times are indeed no longer. A growing concern are the baby boomers who have been laid off, and do not have degrees or technical skills necessary in today’s world. Such a huge generational gap that can leave many hopeless.

“We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.”

Agreed. Why our government continues to fund oil companies who are making millions upon their billions is beyond me. How about we begin holding Wall Street responsible for some of the government dollars needed to regulate the once falling economy? Yes, I know not an issue in the address, but had to get that in there.

“Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”

Our Education is in dire need of reform. Somewhere along the line, education in our country has taken a backseat. How ironic when education and information are easily at anyone’s disposal via the internet.

“That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”

Amen.

“One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.”

“Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.”

The topic of illegal immigration and children of illegal immigrants continues to be a hot issue. While I agree regarding the point of us spending federal dollars on educating immigrants and visa students just for them to return home ad compete against us, there needs to be a healthy balance between creating opportunity for immigrants and providing for the students we have here domestically. There are many students in this nation who have the wits, but are unable to attend due to closed doors and no opportunities.

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.”

Imagine that. Once upon a time, railroads were a new form of traveling. And today, railroads look to be the new form of traveling. Go figure.

“Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

We often take for granted the use of internet and technology, however over 70% of the world and 30% of the United States do not have access to high-speed internet. It sounds simple in context, but technology will change the way the world works in so many facets.

“But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”

An action long overdue. And because of how late it is, we will see many public programs that we enjoy get cut. Medicare will most likely be one of those programs. Nonetheless, our President is correct, we all cut things in our homes to get by, so should our government. 

“Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.”

“We must never forget that the things we've struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.”

Let’s hope this July is indeed the final deadline for our troops to begin to come home. Somehow along the way, especially in this current generation, we have gained a sense of entitlement throughout our culture and society. President Obama’s statement is sobering that yes, these freedoms we currently enjoy were struggled for, and fought for. An endless and unconditional thank you to our men and women in the armed services.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Pondering 10 – Inspirational Speeches

What motivates you? What inspires you? There are a variety of things that pushes us to aspire for greatness, to reach for more, or to just downright get off our couch and get something done. Regardless of whether the goal is tangible or a status of well being, over the years there have been various ways individuals have motivated themselves to want more and to do better. One of those ways have always been through rhetoric. Whether for athletic, political, or social reasons, the art of speech has inspired human beings for generations. In the following Pondering 10, I will rank my favorite inspirational speeches that always – always – get me going.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dome Pondering Celebrates 300

DomePondering300Post

On January 18th, 2011, Dome Pondering has reached another milestone – 300 posts. Blogspot has been a great site, server, and host as Dome Pondering has grown leaps and bounds since it’s first post. As the DP moves toward 400 posts and beyond, I would like to thank you, the reader, and all of those DP devotees, for your constant loyalty and interest in keeping the power of debate, and the pursuit of figuring out this race that we call life.

Top Five Favorite Posts Over Last 100

1. New Beginnings – 5/26/10

2. Dome Pondering – Year In Review 2010 – 12/30/10

3. New Beginnings (1A) – 6/2/10

4. Life Happens – 5/17/10

5. Until Five – 9/24/10

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dome Pondering Movie Review: The Fighter (2010)

DomePonderingMovieReviewTheFighter What is it about?

The true story of boxer, “Irish” Micky Ward and his family, as he ascends to the top of the boxing world.

Who is in it?

Mark Wahlberg – Micky Ward

Christian Bale – Dickie Eklund

Amy Adams – Charlene Fleming

Melissa Leo – Alice Ward

First Time Ever (In a lifetime), Jets Are Soarin’

DPNYJets Win

Such is the headline for tomorrow’s NY Daily News after tonight's 28-21 win over the New England Patriots. As tweeted, tonight’s win is the biggest win for the New York Jets I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. And while that may sound a bit far fetched, let’s remember there hasn’t been many “big wins” at all in the history of this franchise. Not only is it exciting to once again get back to the AFC Championship where we are now one win away from the super Bowl, but defeating the New England Patriots as well as silencing Boston and all of New England is especially sweet for this New Yorker. Here is hoping that this post won’t just become a mere memorial for yours truly to look back on, but just one of a few headlines that will make the DP marking a great, and possible, historic season.

Also, below is a video of Jets linebacker, Bart Scott, who expressed a specific type of emotion that describes the feelings of all Jets’ fans who have not only dealt with their own demons with SOJ (Same Old Jets), but the media and haters who have done everything but hand over the Lombardi trophy this week to the Patriots.

In the words of Bart Scott regarding next week’s game in Pittsburgh, “Can’t Wait”.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Synopsis of Where Our Nation Is Headed

DPSynopsisAmerica Recently, a federal appeals court ruled that a cross erected on public (federal) property atop 822-foot Mount Soledad in San Diego, California was unconstitutional. The statue which has stood at the site since 1954 in honor and memorial of the Korean War veterans has been under debate and controversy since 1989 when two Vietnam War veterans filed suit against the city of San Diego stating it violated California’s “No Preference” clause.

The following statements were made by the court in its decision:

"The use of such a distinctively Christian symbol to honor all veterans sends a strong message of endorsement and exclusion. It suggests that the government is so connected to a particular religion that it treats that religion's symbolism as its own, as universal. To many non-Christian veterans, this claim of universality is alienating.”

Now, I’m not sure of how this ruling has played out in the court of public opinion, whether most Americans agree or disagree. From the article written on CNN.com, it seems that most Americans are indeed in favor of the decision. And without going into a full blown rant, I must say, this is highly indicative of the direction our nation is headed.

Now, I will admit, I will attempt to curtail myself from going on a full-out rant on such a decision in prevention of sounding irrational and like a thick headed bully. As the truth of the matter is, I understand the opinion of those who are in favor of tearing down the monument, or even the thought of changing it to a more “universal” symbol for all (that idea itself makes me roll my eyes).

However, the mere fact that our nation in the last two decades has gone out of its way to thicken the lines between life and faith is beyond absurd. Recently we have seen motions to remove crosses, public nativity scenes, the use of God in our nation’s long-time traditional songs, and even the root word of “Christ” from Christmas.

What about the separation of Church and State?

And that is a good point. Yet, when our society goes out of our way to extend the meaning of a public cross or nativity scene, or anything else that may seem as a blend between Church and State, we are simply stating that religion, whichever one it may be, is a simple part of everyone’s life that should be kept silent, packed away, and not expressed in any type of way.

Bottom line, we are devaluing faith and religion in our country. A country whether we choose to accept it or not, is was built on biblical standards and laws.

And as I witness this change occurring each and everyday through our now suddenly crass society, it is ironic how focused, politically correct, and sensitive we are when it comes to faith, God, and religion.

Yet, what is of more irony, is the our nation’s ability to tear down crosses, remove God from our pledge of allegiance, phase out Jesus from Christmas and Easter, and eliminate all nativity scenes, however, we continue to print “In God We Trust” on our monetary currency, and we sing to the high heavens, “God Bless America”, in times of need.

Is this a right-winged, red message influenced post? Not at all. Couldn’t be further from the idea. It’s just a mere synopsis of the direction our nation is headed.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

“Love Me Back” is Exactly How Music Fans Feel

DPLoveMeBackMusicFansFeel It is safe to say that over the last couple of years, there hasn’t been a lot of music that truly speaks to me the way music used to. If you’re a DP devotee, you are well aware that I feel that music isn’t the way it once was. Not that it is entirely bad, because there is still plenty of great talent and music out there, however, it seems there is too much “bad stuff” out there. So much that it almost drowns out the good stuff. Bad stuff that is out in the mainstream that influences other bad stuff. Just my honest opinion. Feel free to disagree.

And while I have been especially critical lately of hip hop in general, there is one person, more so an album, that has really forced not just me, but many to take notice – Jazmine Sullivan’s Love Me Back Album.

I’ve always enjoyed Sullivan’s work, dating back to her debut album, Fearless. Although, it went under the radar by most, the potential of Sullivan was noticed. Her ability to sing and write, a rarity in today’s industry, was one that many knew would be followed up on in her next album. In fact, she was named Billboard’s Rising Star for 2010.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Broadening the Spotlight on the “Man With The Golden Voice”

In the post, A Golden Heart Trumps A Golden Voice, yours truly discussed the great story of Ted Williams, and the remarkable second chance at life he is receiving. While things have cooled regarding the buzz of Ted Williams, we have recently seen some negative stories pop up including the new born star. First, there was the “disturbance” issue regarding Williams and his daughter, and now recently, while not entirely negative (more so necessity) that Williams will be checking himself into rehab to continue the reformation of his life. It is great to see Williams take his second chance seriously by truly attempting to rid himself of his personal demons.

However, while Ted Williams continues to be the star, this “man with the golden voice” story is much deeper than a man with a golden voice. Yes, previously, I touched base that this story is about a golden heart. And while Ted Williams is looked at as the focus, this story is much more than Ted Williams.

The other part of this great story is that of Patricia Kirtley, the ex-wife of Ted Williams. In a story written in the NY Daily News, Kirtley explains the story of raising her and Williams’ four daughters, as well as one of the children he had with another woman while addicted to drugs. A woman of faith, Kirtley acknowledges that she holds no resentment towards Williams, and still continues to pray not only for his reformation, but for the reconciliation between Williams and their children, who hold some resentment. If that’s not enough to attest to the kind of woman Kirtley is, how about this, Patricia Kirtley is legally blind. Yes, legally blind.

Another side of this story is the one that I immediately thought of when initially hearing about this entire story – who is Doral Chenowet III? And why is he not receiving any interest from the media and our society for his ability to find not only a story out of nothing, but discovering a special gift in a homeless man?

In a story on CNN.com, Chenoweth’s past of generous giving and leading a very faith driven life is described in a very revealing and fascinating story. Chenoweth actually is known for interacting and giving what he could to homeless people around the Columbus area. Robin Chenoweth, Doral’'s wife, told a story of him stopping and giving a homeless man a blanket during their first date.

Chenowith is also a regular volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, serving communities all over the world. The most telling (and relatable) response of why he does what he does, Chenoweth stated, “It's part of my faith. You may not be able to help someone with money, but you can at least say hello, how you doing, and look at them.”

And while the story of Ted Williams is one that I am still very interested in, and somewhat in awe with, the stories of Patricia Kirtley and Doral Chenoweth III are just as (if not more)interesting and miraculous. As said before, this story is about golden hearts, not golden voices.

In a world where self-indulgence is the norm, moral boundaries and values are blurred, and faith-based lifestyles are considered “out-of-touch”, it is a pleasure to see two individuals who through their love and faith in God has helped not just save a life, but spur such a great story. It is one that is inspirational, miraculous, and downright divine. It is a story, regardless of coverage, that is much broader than the spotlight shun on Ted Williams.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Pondering 10 – All-Time Play-By-Play Announcers

By the amount of stories written and touched on here at the DP regarding sports, I’m sure there is no doubt by you DP devotees that I love sports. And of course, after reading the 2010 Year in Review, you’re all aware of my appreciation and fascination with announcers. Whether they are PA announcers, play-by-play announcers, color commentators, or even sometimes, the sideline reporters (though most of them are annoying or useless), I respect their ability to entertain, and most of all, add to the story that we all see at home. Often times, us fans take their abilities for granted, yet, the form of communication they portray game in and game out is highly difficult. For this Pondering 10 list, I will list my favorite play-by-play announcers of all-time. For you sport fans, I’m sure the agreement, and disagreement, will be high. But hey, that’s the beauty of sports.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Golden Heart Trumps A Golden Voice

It is a story that has gripped the nation like non other I have seen in my lifetime.  The story of Ted Williams and his rise to fame and prosperity overnight is one that is a true rags to riches journey. The sheer thought of standing on a street corner, homeless, and continuing to dream a dream, hoping, praying, clinging not only to survive another day, but to keep that very dream alive is one that is inspiring, miraculous, and heartwarming.
[Blog Side Note: And before we forget, how about some credit to Columbus Dispatch photographer, Doral Chenowith, for discovering and bringing this story to life? Just as remarkable as this story has been, is the person who saw a homeless guy, entertained him, and discovered what might be in front of our faces every time we roll our eyes, or thumb our noses at a homeless person.]

Upon viewing this video for the first time and hearing the voice of Ted Williams, I had the same reaction that I’m sure many of you had – wow! The title of the video was not one of embellishment or false advertising. Ted Williams truly has a special voice. And for those of you who are DP devotees, you know that when it comes to announcing, whether it be Bruce Buffer, Harold Fink, Kevin Harlan, Gus Johnson or whom ever, I am a fan

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Dome Pondering Import - “How To Let ‘Er Rip in 2011” By: Lian Dolan

Here is an article that I came across today on CNN.com (Originally posted on Oprah.com). The article, written by Lian Dolan, is a very, very good piece on how Dolan’s new philosophy for the year of 2010 changed her life, and how she plans on carrying it over into the new year. The piece reminded me much of the 2009 and 2010 Year in Reviews, and how her philosophy of “Let ‘Er Rip” and my personal call for “finding desire, passion, and drive” are very similar. An interesting read that I felt was a good way to begin the 2011 year. 

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Dome Pondering Movie Review: Invictus (2009)

DomePonderingMovieReviewInvictusWhat is it about?

The story of Nelson Mandella’s first term as President of South Africa, and how he used a unique avenue of encouraging the national rugby towards the 1995 Rugby World Cup to unite the apartheid-torn land.

Who is in it?

Morgan Freeman – Nelson Mandella

Matt Damon – Francois Pienaar