What do you do when you have neighbors who don’t respond to your efforts to be “neighborly?”
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Something very scary is starting in this country – in the land of the free that you and I all love – so you need to pay attention.
Four months ago, I said I was ending my terrestrial radio show at the end of the year because I wanted to regain my First Amendment rights. A lot of intellectuals snickered and said I didn’t know what I was talking about – only the government can take away First Amendment rights. I was only being threatened by non-government organizations like Media Matters.
Well, where do you think fascism and censorship start?
They start when one person or one group of people demands another person or another group of people be silenced.
On Monday, I did a lot of interviews. In every interview, I talked about how free speech on radio is in jeopardy, in danger of being regulated – censored – by people who are offended – personally and politically offended – by opinions with which they do not agree. Rather than debate the issues, certain people in this country are suggesting the opinions which offend them should simply be silenced.
You’ve heard how CNN fired Rick Sanchez because he voiced his opinion about Jon Stewart being a bigot.
You’ve heard how NPR fired Juan Williams because he voiced his personal opinion about Muslims and 9/11.
And you say, “Well, that’s still not the government censoring opinion.” Well, listen up, because that’s only the beginning.
On November 17, on the floor of the United States Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) proposed that the FCC pull the plug on Fox News and MSNBC. He said:
“There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC, ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye.’ It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress, and to the American people….” That’s what a United States Senator said. Censorship: a big FAVOR to the American people.
Two days after Senator Rockefeller dropped that bomb, Al Sharpton joined the fight for censorship. Al Sharpton, on his radio show (where he has the right to free speech), said “the FCC needs to give guidelines of what is permittable or permitted” to say on radio, and the FCC should “set standards” to make sure “groups of Americans” cannot be offended.
And on Monday, on MSNBC (which, if Senator Rockefeller had his way would NOT exist – I simply exercise my American right not to watch it), Al Sharpton on “The Ed Show” [with Ed Schultz] talked about…ME…and how terrible it was I should still be on the air, and that it was unfortunate I was going to satellite radio where I can’t be REGULATED.
Then, Al Sharpton said this about Rush Limbaugh:
“I’m in Washington tomorrow….we’re going to the FCC. We’re not going to let this go. He [Rush Limbaugh] is not on uncensored satellite. He’s on regulated radio.”
That’s a threat!
Do not kid yourselves. My mother grew up in Fascist Italy and taught me all about it. This is scary. Satellite is uncensored. Radio is regulated and, according to Al Sharpton, regulated means the FCC can censor someone because their opinions are offensive.
Apparently, I just can’t help but offend people!
But these are my opinions. And this is America. And we should all have the right to express our opinions or else this will cease being America as it was envisioned and created.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I recently read about a woman who won approximately $70 million after an 8 year battle with a major pharmaceutical company. She was a “whistle blower” who reported the major drug company to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for atrocious violations which risked lives, and she got fired. Now, that company is paying the major part of a billion dollars to the government and has issued an apology and expressed the intent to remedy the situation at the manufacturing plant.
It’s too obvious for me to suggest that this reads like a “Law and Order” episode. One wonders why the company didn’t reward her with her own LearJet, and fire lotsa folks at the stated plant as well as in the management ranks who were warned and did nothing to fix the problem. If they’d done that, their stock would have gone up. Instead, all we’ve got is lawsuits that were lost, terrible public relations, a tarnished reputation, and people who were hurt.
An interesting part of the whistleblower issue is how many people turn against the whistleblower because doing the right thing is not their priority. They are more concerned with less meaningful things.
I took a call from a woman not long ago about her sister who is in the hospital giving birth to her second child. The caller was “house sitting” and called to tell me the home was ferociously filthy: dogs routinely relieved themselves in the house (they weren’t housebroken) and there was other filth everywhere. She was calling to ask me if she should tell the parents. I asked her whether or not the parents had ever visited. She said “yes,” and I replied that since they already know, they intend to do nothing. They probably don’t want to tick off the daughter, so they wouldn’t be able to visit the grandkids, or else they’re equally filhy in their habits.
I said that the right thing is to protect the health of the children. That’s why she needs to immediately call Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Health Department. I offered that she could call the parents and tell them this is what was happening in order to give them a “head’s up,” but I also had to warn her that she’d be attacked by most of the family who are ashamed that they’ve done nothing. The moment my caller blows the whistle, she will be outcast and berated and maligned and hated.
Too many people do not focus in on the right thing to do, and think of lesser issues instead, such as guilt for not having acted themselves, embarrassment for being part of a family that treats children this way, or denial that a family member might have a mental problem.
No one in this whole situation outside of my caller gave a damn about the children. I applaud and support her. She’ll need it. Doing the right thing usually comes with a price. Maybe that’s why so many people avoid it.
A high school teacher called me because she was so agitated she didn’t know what to do to calm herself down. She called me, because she was convinced in her own mind that I would not only agree with her, but give her a course of action to follow.
She’d been working at her current school for four years. At a meeting of all the teachers, they were informed that the parking lot would no longer have reserved spaces for each instructor – from now on, it would be “first come, first served.”
A teacher with over twenty years seniority on the caller stood and said that this new rule was nonsense and he expected to have the “front and center” parking space he’d always had. My caller was furious and thought the other teacher was arrogant.
This is an ugly trend in our society and in our schools: the trend to rob people of respect for their accomplishments. School systems have tried to do away with grades and eliminate honors for those students who excel, all in the name of “everyone is equal and no one’s feelings should be hurt.”
My caller resented that her co-worker would receive any benefits because of his outstanding, long service to the school. Shame on her!
I told her that I would have immediately stood up to support him and all the other teachers with long tenure. They should be treated with respect, regard, deference and support, including having the right to the parking space to which they had become accustomed. The caller was shocked at my point of view. She asked me if I thought it was arrogant of him to demand that space. On the contrary, I told her, “it is arrogant of YOU to think you rate his parking space when you haven’t earned it!”
We are all equal in the sight of God; we are all equal in the sight of the law. We are NOT all equal in our abilities, accomplishments, efforts, and/or experiences, and those differences should be admired and supported without any attempt to dilute their importance because of envy, laziness, unfortunate circumstances or any excuse to resent what others are or what they have.
We all benefit from holding each other up when it is earned.
I read a good news story about an average guy who rescued an 8 year old girl who had been abducted and sexually assaulted by a creep in Fresno, California. Have you heard about this? Ahhh, probably not.
Did you hear the story about the airline steward who jumped from a plane? Yes! That was big news!
Did you hear the one about the party crashers at the White House? Yes again! That also was big news.
Have you been constantly reminded about Lindsay Lohan’s latest stupid behavior? Yes, yes, and yes again. So why have you not heard about Victor Perez who gave chase in his own pickup truck when he recognized the vehicle matching the description of the one used in the abduction?
I have the simple and sad answer to that question. Take one part human nature (where the unusual, exotic, creepy, and horrific stimulate more of a reaction than sweetness and compassion), add one part media attention to the bizarre and to people behaving badly, and finally one part the reward given to those who act out everyone’s adolescent urges to be free of all restraints of morality and common decency. In other words: bad behavior gets more attention than good because of the universal yearnings to have the power to say “screw everyone – I’ll do my own thing, and if you don’t like it, tough on you!”
Mr. Perez noticed the car passing by while he was chatting with his cousin. He could have simply called 911 and not gotten involved, but he yelled for his cousin to make the call and then hopped in his truck and took chase, cutting the bad guy off a number of times. At first, he wasn’t sure it was the bad guy, until the little girl stuck her head out the window.
That was all it took for Mr. Perez to get into gear. He exchanged words with the abductor who kept trying to hide the girl, and then finally just cut him off so the bad guy had to stop, at which time he pushed the girl out of the truck and took off.
The bad guy, Gregorio Gonzales, is a gang banger on probation no less (someone’s head should roll!) for a felony domestic violence conviction with numerous arrests, including suspicion of possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
It did cross Mr. Perez’s mind that this creep could have a gun and shoot him, but that didn’t deter him from trying to help the little girl. That’s the thing about good guys – they tend to forge ahead in spite of possible injury or even death. When asked why he did that, Mr. Perez answered simply: “It was the right thing to do.”
According to the news report from www.msnbc.com, two other adults saw what was happening when a stranger approached a group of children, and they shouted for the girls to run away. That’s all. They shouted. They didn’t run towards him. They didn’t run into the street to force him to stop or swerve. They shouted.
Mr. Perez put his life on the line.
That is one of the reasons bad guys feel emboldened to snatch kids off the street in broad daylight: they know there are very few “Mr. Perezes.”
I can’t get one recent caller out of my head. A young married woman had her and her husband’s friends (another married couple) come live with them and pay rent for a room in their home. The married friend and her husband were living with the bride’s mommy because they could not afford to take care of themselves. The caller and her husband “took pity” on them and provided them a room. The caller was upset because the friend wouldn’t sign a contract concerning neatness and other items.
I was upset because our whole country’s economy has collapsed under the weight of people “drinking wine before its time” (if you remember an old Orson Welles commercial). What I mean by this is: if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it until such time as you’ve earned it.
Another young caller got married secretly to her “shack-up” because she wanted to be married “now!” Parents, relatives and friends were excluded. And now, she’s got to ‘fess up that she didn’t want to “earn” their approval for her marital choice. She just jumped right into it.
It’s all the same phenomenon: investing in things and people before you know what you’re doing, and before you’re able to handle the issues with sufficient resources.
It may give a moment’s thrill to have powered through and gotten what you wanted, but then the realities hit, and you’re left with a mortgage you can’t afford, a spouse you barely know, and situations you really can’t handle. Short-term thrill, long-term pain.
I remember when I was on local radio in Los Angeles at night, and my ratings went through the roof. One out of every four people listening to radio at that time were listening to my program. I got a wonderful bonus, and I asked my husband if I could use a small part of it to get one of those tennis bracelets – you know, a string of tiny diamonds. He got one for me, and I was thrilled to no end; not so much because I owned some little diamonds, but because it represented earning something by working very hard. I would take care of my son Deryk all day, and then drive to the radio station to be on the air, then come home at 2 AM to get up at 6AM to start my day again.
Things don’t matter much if they don’t represent something.
So slow down, build, earn, and then you can really enjoy.
Last Saturday, September 11, I was one of about 1000 motorcycle riders participating in “Ride to the Flags,” from Ventura Country to Malibu, California, where a display of almost 3000 flags will honor the lives lost to Islamic suicide bombers on September 11, 2001. The ride was hosted by the Gary Sinise Charitable Foundation, and the proceeds go to the children of those who lose their lives in the service of our country’s defense against terrorism. Pre-ride entertainment was offered by Glen Campbell, and Ann-Margret (a veteran of Vietnam-era USO entertainment) was there to send us all off with her kind words of love and support.
It was a fascinating experience. This was the first major ride I’d done, and I’d never before witnessed over 1000 bikers and their spouses get together and mingle. I pointed out to my friend Patrick (a Harley newbie) and my husband (a Harley veteran) how affectionate the couples were. There were scores of husbands and wives, quite seasoned by time and riding, all in leather, chains, boots, head scarves and chaps, holding hands and wrapping arms around each other. The amount of affection between couples was mirrored by the affection between “regular folks” – mostly strangers to one another. It was the friendliest assemblage I’d ever had the pleasure to be with.
I was chatting with one woman who’d come over to introduce herself as a fan of my radio program. Later, one of the organizers came to me and asked me if I’d be willing to ride a Gold Star mom on my bike. For those of you who don’t know, a Gold Star mom is one who has lost her military child in the war on international terror. I, of course, agreed on the spot, saying I’d be honored. Well, who walked over to my bike but the mom I’d been chatting with. I had no idea she had lost her child, and I just about collapsed in a heap of sobs.
As we rode through the windy mountain roads, I was very aware I had treasured cargo behind me on my bike. It never left my mind she had produced a warrior who gave his life for me and you and every American. As I have a son who was also in combat in Afghanistan, I kept thinking I could have been one of those moms, instead of one who is anxiously awaiting her son’s visit in a month or so. I felt so bad for her, and worked so hard to drive the bike perfectly around those curves so as not to worry her. When we reached Malibu, I hugged her and said, “What can I say? I am your friend.” We exchanged email addresses, and she will forward me a photo of us taken on my bike before the ride. I’ll post it on my website.
I considered her “hallowed ground,” and that is why I can’t understand why the Imam who wants to place a mosque near Ground Zero doesn’t get that is hallowed ground as well.
I was honored to take care of a Gold Star mom – a mom who made the ultimate sacrifice, not willingly, but nobly nonetheless.
Recently, I received some very bad news about a friend. A year ago, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked and was very physically active, religious, positive personality and never even used a curse word.
I called her every day as she went through surgery and chemo.
It looked like all was good. But it wasn’t, and it isn’t.
This cancer is aggressive, and spread even in the soup of strong chemotherapy. Now they’ve told her they cannot operate. She will have radiation every day for seven weeks and then be on chemo daily for the rest of her life.
Then they told her what her life would be like: the esophagus is probably going to be severely impacted, she’ll experience nausea, acne, and on and on.
She told me she was going to fight and win this and just tolerate whatever comes.
I’m going to be calling her every day again.
I left the conversation feeling deeply sick to my stomach. I had to go do a buoy race in my sailboat. I got to the boat later than usual, and felt bad doing something so frivolous when my friend may be dying.
We started the race, and not one of the seven of us onboard noticed the course we were supposed to take. That meant we had no idea (in the midst of a dozen possible combinations) where we were going. But it was a beautiful, cool night with a gentle breeze with some puffs to keep the boat going.
I didn’t care we didn’t know where we were going. Usually, I would be pretty annoyed we were competing with that kind of stupid handicap.
It was something my friend had said: “I think everybody should have a ‘bucket list,’” meaning we should live each day fully, assuming that is the only day we have left.
I was out on the ocean among friends, in the cool of the early evening, sailing along in the rolling ocean. What a blessing. I asked the crew to vote each time we rounded a buoy as to what the next one probably was. We guessed wrong, and went from first place to last place as we went further out to sea toward a buoy we weren’t supposed to go around. I said to the crew “It doesn’t matter….we know we were first, and now we’re having a beautiful sail out here almost alone, while getting in more practice. All is good.”
My tactician, who was nervous that he would get in trouble for forgetting to note the course, had to be calmed down. I told him “What does it really matter? What matters is that we’re all having a great time and actually doing a great job.” And even though I’m a “Type A” personality, I meant it.
I don’t think I’ve had a more satisfying finish to a buoy race….ever.
Life is for the living and should be lived with relish. When people are fighting for their lives, it points out how precious life is, so no one should waste any of it.
And so many people do waste it by holding grudges, not letting go of past hurts, holding themselves back from happiness because of anger or fears, letting disappointments and frustrations consume them, using drugs, being drunk, sitting in front of a TV or computer screen playing games alone, and more.
I still feel sick to my gut that someone so kind and sweet is facing this cancer horror. I am in awe of her attitude, and grateful for the reminder.
Here she is, facing sickness and pain every day, yet she says she wakes up every day grateful for another day.
We should not all wait for cancer in order to do the same thing.