20091028

A Letter to Verizon Wireless

The following was submitted to Verizon Wireless a few moments ago. I can't wait for their response.Hi.

I have only been a client of Verizon Wireless for a tad over a year. For most of that time, I have been unimpressed by the "nation's largest 3G network". Size truly doesn't matter.

What difference does network size make, if the network is spotty and unreliable? My friend has been trying to convince me for a while to switch out and come over to AT&T and the iPhone. I didn't because the thought of that monthly bill for the iPhone package had me worried. He showed me his bill yesterday - he and his wife (both iPhones)[okay, that's not exactly true - exactly], shared minutes plan - same as I pay right now with my corporate discount. For my $85-ish I get terribly slow internet, calls that drop enough to notice, I need to watch my minutes and text messages that often don't come through. My corporate discount for Verizon is 19%, which isn't bad at all. My corp. is now offering a discount through AT&T as well - 22%. Hmmm, that takes me down to about $80 for network and wifi internet that ALWAYS works, rollover minutes, and constant email and IM connectivity - plus all of my music in my hand.

Here's the deal. I know Verizon doesn't need to give a crap about my little account, but I thought I would give this POS network one last chance to prove where I might be wrong. Can you? Is there any reason on Earth I should remain a client of your crap company?

Awaiting your timely response.

My Illness is NOT Your Problem...

Your illness is NOT mine. Showing charity to our fellow man is a wonderful thing. State imposed charity is not the same lofty ideal, it is a political movement.

The "right" to universal, no-cost healthcare does NOT exist. There IS a right to not eat oneself to death. There IS a right to not repeatedly put oneself in a position to contract an STD. There IS a right to practice self-control. There IS a right to the understanding that regardless of their size, they will perform their primary function of feeding infants.
That being said, there is a right to the vanity, narcissism, and jealousy that has kept the elective surgery business alive for so long.
BUT - and this is a big one - I have the right to not pay for YOUR ridiculous insecurities or horrible life decisions.

On the Public Option -
Okay, so RocktheVote.com gives this preamble to their explanation of a public option:

Right now, most young people get insurance through our parents, our jobs, or at school. Too old to be on your parents plan, aren’t at a fancy college, work as a freelancer, or don’t have a job at all? Well, you probably don’t have health insurance. And, if you do, you or your sugar daddy pay a lot for it.
Choice. Choose to get a job with crappy pay and great insurance, or choose to have a great job that you love and worry about insurance later. Or, and this is my favorite, choose to do both and get some sleep later on in life, or after you have croaked. Either way, its all about a choice that EVERYONE has to make, and has had for quite some time. By the way, I am not on my parents insurance, I am not attending school currently, and the insurance offered through my employer is probably the worst option I have ever seen, so I opted out of that as well. I still have insurance. Hmmm...

If you are reading this, you probably know that my thought process leans just a tad to the right. It always has. I chalk it up to common sense based on more-than-adequate experience with many of life's more common issues.
I do not think insurance companies should continue receiving government subsidies for building hospitals and clinics. I do not think it is ethical for insurance companies to be in partnerships or collectives with pharmaceutical companies. I do not believe that anyone other than your doctor should be able to consult on a course of treatment, regardless of illness/injury. These things are wrong, and I will continue to stand against them as often as possible.
However, RocktheVote.com makes this point while advocating the public option:

No discrimination for pre-existing conditions (a “pre-existing condition” is stuff you got before today or can’t get rid of, like asthma, cancer, a broken back from a bike accident). Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing coverage because of your medical history.

I WANT some discrimination against pre-existent conditions! If you smoked your throat and lungs out over the last ten years, despite all good reason and common sense, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS! Just because YOU have a terminal case of STUPIDITY doesn't mean someone else should pay to fix your almost unavoidable EMPHYSEMA.
Obviously this doesn't apply to things like birth defects and childhood illnesses, those illnesses and injuries not brought on by poor choices made by an individual. If you didn't do something to cause the malady, I want you to be treated and cured, or made as comfortable as possible...
Is everyone catching on now? We all make poor choices from time to time, and we must all deal with the consequences of those choices. I (ab)used tobacco myself for a few years. I DO NOT expect any understanding or special care in the event a problem arises stemming from that usage. The most important clause, in my (not quite) humble opinion, that could ever be added to a healthcare reform (or any other) bill is this:

IF YOU DID SOMETHING STUPID, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM, THE TAX PAYERS HAVE NANCY PELOSI'S PLANE TO PAY FOR...

Topics not covered: Illegal immigrant coverage, footing the bill, federal vs state vs local coverage, authorized vs unauthorized procedures and treatments, etc...

Soon to come - Why Medicare and the VA health systems are not only not ideal as examples of federal healthcare management, but why they would bring about what amounts to a "healthcare armeggedon". Thanks for reading, please stay tuned.

20090829

To the Czars: Show me the money!

No really. I want to see the payscale for these federal employees.

We can look at the Military payscale and figure out what National Security Advisor Jim Jones made before he retired from the Marine Corps. We can even deduce the ridiculous retirement he is raking in while double dipping as a "public servant" and member of the President's Cabinet(any way you slice it, he is being over-compensated).

The information is supposed to be publically available in order for We The People to believe there is some transparency in federal government. If we know that a federal employee is a GS-15, Step 10 on the General Schedule (old style) or a YC-3 on NSPS (new style), they are likely pulling $120K+ each year. Of course, that does NOT include "locality bonus" or the other little bennies that are available for the right people.

Publically available information suggests Level I Cabinet members are bringing home $190K+ each year (doesn't actually apply to all of them, Hillary Clinton hangs on to her Senate pension as well), $220K+ for the VP and $400K for the President. This information is laid out in public law, the government is required to publish it. What about the "Czars"? I have read some blogs that have speculated and some newspieces that guess, but there is nothing concrete available, at least not that I can find.

Do any of you know?

Below follows a letter transmitted electronically via the OMB website at www.whitehouse.gov:

All Concerned,

I am looking for additional information regarding Presidential appointments titled "Czar", or their equivalent. Specifically:

1. Please cite the reference in a Founding Document or Public Law, as codified by Office of Federal Register, granting the Executive Branch permission and authority to appoint cabinet level positions without the Advice and Consent of the US Senate.
2. Please provide the current listing of all Presidential appointments that have been performed without the benefit of Advice and Consent of the US Senate.
3. As federal employees, any compensation (direct or indirect) is public information and subject to review. Please provide that information as well.

You may provide the answers to these very simple questions to the email address above, please do so prior to 01 September, 2009

Respectfuly,

Travis R Stroh
Citizen

If you have an opportunity, please join me in insisting our new administration commits to at least one campaign promise without fail:

Transparency!

Thanks for your help...

UPDATE!!! Check this out, from USA.gov!

20090826

Condolences

To the family of Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy, condolences. Despite disagreeing with essentially every aspect of his public and private life, he did have a few admirable traits. Never giving up comes to mind first.

The fact that Sen. Kennedy has battled every day for his political and physical life for the past several years, especially in light of the tragedy surrounding the Kennedy Clan, we could all learn from the example of perseverance he was and is...

For a (not so) full accounting of Senator Kennedy's life, Wikipedia is always my favorite.

For the actual obituary, click here, courtesy of The Times Online.

20090701

You asked for it

To my wonderful sister,

You asked if I would write about the other celebretards that have croaked lately. Stand by, here it comes.

When Farrah Fawcett reached the Pearly Gates, St. Peter told her about how much she had been admired and respected, and how everyone was looking forward to having her home. Farrah told St. Peter she was glad to be there, but felt like there was unfinished business. When he asked what she meant, she told him she hadn't had much of a chance to help save children around the world. St. Peter smiled and said, "Don't you worry child, we can take care of that for you right now."
And then Michael Jackson died.

(shut up, you asked for it)

Okay, so a lot of people have died this year. A lot of people who had their fifteen minutes, and some who had a lot more of the fifteen minutes than they should have. If you want to see a slide show, click here.

Some of the notables are:
Natasha Richardson - Actress

Andy Hallett - Actor (Lorne from "Angel")

Larry H. Miller - Businessman/Rich dude

Ricardo Montalban - Actor

Nick Adenhart - Pitcher (LA Angels)

Bea Arthur - Actress/Comedienne

Jack Kemp - Politican

Dom DeLuise - Actor/Comedian

David Carradine - Actor

Billy Mays - Loud-mouth Pitchman

and

Socks - Former First Kitten (Clinton Administration)

Really, this just a partial list. Scroll back up and click that link, you know you want to...

20090623

Semper Fidelis, General

BGEN Ed McMahon, USAF(Ret) passed away this morning aboard Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Everyone remembers Ed McMahon as the host of Star Search, TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes, and as Johnny Carson's sidekick The Tonight Show. He was also the guy who shows up at your door unexpectedly to give you a big check from Publishers Clearing House.

He had other roles as well:

- Decorated WWII U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, test pilot and flight instructor

- Decorated Korean Conflict USMC aerial observer and artillery spotter

- Retired Colonel, United States Marine Corps

- Brigadier General, California Air National Guard

- Dedicated Husband

-Loving Father to three sons and three daughters

He was, evidently, a man as any other. He was apparently frivolous with his money and became cranky in his elder years. He also became lawsuit happy over the past several years, and physically infirm.

But General McMahon is also proof of the many things a person can accomplish through hard work and perseverence. He is also proof that celebrities do not need to vocalize personal beliefs incessantly and do know how to live paparazzi-free lives, should they so choose.

Today I think of this Marine, this veteran of two of the three largest, bloodiest conflicts in the past century, American Icon and all-around regular Joe.

General McMahon is survived by his current wife, two sons and three daughters.

Update - Star Spangled Belgian

She lied. She asked for a constellation on her face, was awake throughout the session, reviewed the work after completion and absolutely loved what the artist had done.

Then her Father saw what had been done to his daughter, was understandably upset, and her lies began.

Was anyone really going to believe her? I think not.

20090618

SHUT UP (or 'Star-Spangled Belgians and the New Brave Little Tailor')

When it rains it pours.

1. 'But I explicitly said in my native tongue, French, and also in a little bit of English when he looked confused, that I wanted three little stars only near my left eye.' - Kimberley Vlaeminck, 18 of Belgium, told reporters.
So you see him, below, and you agree to pay money to let him use you as a canvas? Good idea.
I am just worried about what all of that Bacitracin will do to her complexion, but at least she apparently gets the sleep she needs. Nice belt buckle, way to be a grown-up:
SHUT UP
2. Kate spanked her kid. She is not a good mother or wife, I am not sure why John put up with it for so long. After season two she had become just another pompous 'prima donna' looking to extend her fifteen minutes. Of all the things that the media and the busy-bodies and the watch dogs could pull from, they pick a spanking? That may be one of the only things she has done in the last few years I might think reasonable.
SHUT UP
3. (Former) President George W. Bush has finally decided to throw his two cents in on torture and stimulus. So glad we waited for that. Seriously, I hated that Clinton/Gore still had a forum after leaving office in 2000, I don't care to hear from the Bush/Cheney team any further, either. Your time is in the past, write your memoirs and go play golf.
SHUT UP
4. Senator Barbara Boxer instructs a General Officer to address her not as "ma'am", a very obvious sign of respect from a senior military officer, but as "senator" - because she has earned it.
Hey Boxer, head's up. You just made enemies. You may have earned some things in your life, but by it's very definition an elected office is NOT earned. It is awarded by the will of the relevant constituency. It is a popularity contest, not a meritorious promotion. The General, on the other hand, has likely earned everything you see him wearing, scraps of fabric and brass-coated tin to St. Christopher's Medallion to the Star on his epaulettes. That scrap of fabric on his right shoulder means he has been to combat, and it probably wasn't the first time. You should be grateful he allowed you to ask questions of him, you should have
SHUT UP
5. With extremely agile, cat-like reflexes, our President killed a fly (Mickey killed seven with one blow).

This could be spun so many different ways. He is a common man, unafraid to DO on his own. He doesn't need someone waiting on him, he isn't afraid of insects, he is the man of the house. So many positive ways the Left can make this little incident work for them, but they complain instead. PETA thinks he should 'catch and release'. Are you effing kidding me? Of all of the stupid crap we have been subjected to - trillions in deficit spending for the next DECADE, government owned and run pillars of industry, disregard of Middle Eastern allies, apologies and appeasement for long-time antagonists - PETA picks fly-swatting? I would invite PETA to the Whitehouse, put them in the Green Room, and release swarms of horse-flies, mosquitos and African Honey-Bees and see who gets swatted. These morons need to
SHUT UP
Finally, and not necessarily in keeping with the subject matter of this blog, North Korea is flexing it's "stupid muscle" again.
A Word of Caution: You may feel emboldened by our President's direction to use diplomacy until the bitter end, you may feel now is your time. You will be proven incorrect. If you launch an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), or something that even vaguely resembles an ICBM (Taep'o-dong II), at targets in the US, at targets in one of territories or allies, or that comes anywhere close to violating our air-space, WE WILL ANNIHILATE YOUR ASS. Please believe, we no longer have any use for you or your government. Your people long to have the freedom of their kinsmen to the south, they desire a full reconciliation, they desire to be part of the Free World. We desire this also, and YOU are in the way. With two (2) SSBN submarines, we can essentially eliminate any opportunity you might have to resist. We'll put two on each coast, just to be sure and if you think those vessels are not in place right now, you are again mistaken. Caution.
Carry On.

20090612

Bob Hope He Ain't

The past few night on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report has broadcast from Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. In a series of four shows, taped live at a studio created by United Service Organization at Al Faw Palace, Stephen provided his wonderful brand of brash, blustering entertain to several hundred Soldiers. There may have been Sailors, Airmen or Marines in the audience as well, but I really couldn't discern any by uniform. Maybe they were still working. Okay, probably not the Airmen, and the Marines were probably throwing rocks at eachother again, and I am sure there was some rust the Sailors needed to bust. But I'll bet these shows were a great thing for the Soldiers 'in the rear with the gear'.

The reason for this post, however, is to provide a 'Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger' after the same fashion as my favorite author of I Am America (And So Can You!),

First, the Tips of my Hat:

President Barack Obama - For sitting down with a mook like Stephen Colbert for an actual interview, after he had been inaugurated, and seeing the comedy for what it is, and then coming back to do a shout out to Multi-National Corp - Iraq. Big points also for the little things like writing an absence excuse for a little girl.

President George W. Bush - For doing a shout out to these brave men and women despite having been skewered repeatedly by Stephen Colbert over the last 8.5 years, and playing along very well - long after returning to semi-private life.

President George H. W. Bush - Who turns 85 years old today, who plans to celebrate by jumping from a perfectly good airplane AGAIN, who did so the first time in the Pacific Theatre during the WWII 'Island-Hopping Campaign' after being shot out of the sky by a Japanese Zero fighter, and who continues to remain involved with causes and organizations who ask for his help.

Senator John McCain and Senator James Webb - Both took time from their schedule to help lighten the mood and provide levity to the troops assembled for Mr. Colbert's show.

Dr. Barham Salih, Dep Prime Minister of Iraq - Even Colbert pointed out some pandering was happening, but Dr. Salih did a wonderful job of reinforcing the main objectives of MNF-Iraq and the newly elected, infant democracy in Iraq, and provided a great example of what is possible when several groupd who have many differences all work toward a common goal.

General Raymond T. Odierno, CG MNF-Iraq - He played the part a little dryer than he could have, but he kept a live a long tradition of 'Gong Shows' wherein senior military leaders and officials provide a foil to the jester, Colbert in this case. He also did a great job displaying that "instant obedience to orders" in giving Colbert a long-needed freaking haircut...

Lt.Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, CG MNC-Iraq - General Jacoby did an even better job of playing the political side of his job than Odierno did, and he didn't come across as dry either! I was very impressed by how Jacoby conducted himself throughout the interview, providing actual and factual answers to Colbert's ridiculous questions, and not making me want to resign my own non-commission.

Tom Hanks - One of the MOST outspoken supporters of military people and best defenders of the story of the soldier, Mr. Hanks has proven over and over that he is a great friend to anyone in uniform. And he doesn't talk politics very often!

Wag of the Finger:

Governor Sarah Palin - What a dolt. "If you see Track..." Shut up, you are a moron. Your answers are canned and your responses are delayed and ineffectual. Stay in Alaska, I think the heat down here is melting your brain. How sad is it that John "Mr. Personality" McCain delivered his lines with a better sense of timing than you?

CSM Francis "Frank" Grippe, MNC-Iraq Command Sergeant Major - He walked onto stage carrying an M4, without a sling, like he had never held one before, then took an unidentified compact or sub-compact pistol from a belt holster. The military doesn't have compact and sub-compact pistols for issue. Which means CSM Grippe might need customs to check his bags...
When Colbert ask Grippe if he was in charge of all the enlisted soldiers, his reply was, "And the officers, where my officers at, hooah?" I knew he was in trouble. When Colbert asked, "Can you make them put their right arm in?" I knew where it was going. I have never heard someone utter "hooah" so many times in one day, but this was five minutes on camera. Then he had the whole audience stand up, at Colbert's insistance, and almost started to freaking hokey-pokey! Apparently, CSM Grippe couldn't figure it out. What a tool. Were I LtGen Jacoby, I would have fired Grippe as soon as he exited stage left.

Okay, all that said, this kind of thing is not possible without USO, please go to their website and donate if you can. Hell, do it anyway. True, those guys are likely not hurting for money the same way many are in the states, and their grocery facilities are pretty awesome right now. But internet over there is $180 a month (nope, not kidding) and they still can't get Hulu'd because of the overseas IP addresses.

Today, Iran will begin a round of elections. My hopes and prayers are with the people of Iran, that they may follow their true beliefs and common sense and that they may now have leadership that will help that reagion, and the world, find some peace. We may know for certain in a few short hours. Yes, I know this paragraph is green.

Finally, I wrote yesterday about Carrie Prejean being a spoiled brat. Today she was making rounds again, telling any who might listen that she never skipped a scheduled event. That may be true, but she wouldn't let her boss schedule anything, so... Also, the fact that the attorney for National Organization for Marriage is acting as her attorney now seems to confirm a closer affiliation with NOM than previously reported. Now she wants to sue The Donald? Are you insane? Or do you just really not care about working in a business world EVER again? Time to grow up, Carrie.

Carry On.

20090611

Carrie Prejean is a Spoiled Brat

Carrie Prejean has told us all repeatedly that her answer to "the gay marriage question" was what she truly believed, citing her upbringing and religious values.

Many applauded, even those who didn't necessarily agree and some in staunch oppostion. It was understood, and respected on some level, because Carrie didn't trade her values for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. That kind of commitment takes quite a bit of discipline and focus.

There is an aroma beginning to waft past my Olfactory... Something about her is too put-together. Something about her responses, initially and since, has been too quick or too thought out. There can be no doubt that a professional pageanteer knows how to deal with media, but even the surprised faces look painted on.

I think we will shortly find Ms. Prejean was hired by National Organization for Marriage some time ago, and has been on their payroll in order to put a single, beautiful face on Proposition 8. When next the Anti crowd can make a ballot measure available in California, it will be Carrie Prejean you see in commercials denouncing that measure. In twenty years, we'll probably learn that Carrie actually liked girls all along, but knew that she could make a ton of money by ranting against.

Carrie Prejean is a spoiled brat, one who just got canned because she has apparently been listening to They Might Be Giants "Boss of Me" a tad too often. No doubt she is a beautiful, intelligent girl. I will refrain from referring to her as a lady or woman, for she has very little class and almost zero maturity. She is not an innocent and should not be treated with any sympathy or compassion. Ms. Prejean knows better and should have learned by this point to conduct herself with some common sense and understanding of life. In short, grow up Carrie!

Carry On.