Dishonoring Our Nation’s Vets

Alright, I think that it’s better to start off by saying that the Republicans in Congress are complete chicken-hawks, and I’m being very kind in saying that. Basically, I don’t see why they can’t just bother to live up to the deal they made vets of this nation: don the uniform to defend us and we’ll cover your cost of living. That’s how it should be, but lately Republicans in Congress have been wrapping themselves in the flag, while paying lip service to the after-effects.

If anything, the Republicans have been using war and the troops as political pawns to gain any advantage in their quest to destroy the Democrats. This is beyond disgraceful, and it shows why the Republican Party has become the Party of Corruption. It needs to quit and do so now, if it wants to retain any credibility with the American electorate. If there’s anything that we as Americans dispise more than anything, it’s politicizing the military. The military is apolitical for a reason, it represents everyone and is a unified voice in our country’s defense.

New thoughts for Veterans Day

This Veterans Day has a special meaning for me as it gives me a chance to reflect on my Grandpa; as he was a WWII veteran. I just miss the guy hella bad.

At the same time, I’d like to take the time to thank a few buddies of mine for putting their lives on the line for the rest of us, as well as all the men and women in our country’s uniform. What they do for us is incredible.
That being said, I’d also like to use this as an opportunity to show my disgust with the National Republican Party for doing everything humanly possible to make life impossible for our vets. Taking away the very means of them being able to eat? That’s just callous, but what pisses me off even further is them celebrating this. This is fully breaking a compact which gave several rights and benefits for their service.

Recent news in America and around the World

Where should I start? Well, I guess the best place to begin is with the news in America. Apparently, for once, the Republicans have come up with something as a useful alternative to constant overtime payments by businesses (especially for small business). I’ll wait to cast some judgment until I know the details, but it doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea to give paid time off, instead of overtime, but still it should be known that overtime is still a necessity in the private sector until it becomes more unionized. Anyway, there’s that and Republicans looking for other ways to show that they’re in fact reasonable problem-solvers. This is only a ruse in my eyes, but I’ll go along with it for the time being.

My main concern, is not the Republicans at the moment. It’s actually events abroad and here in the Bay Area. Let’s start locally first. Over the weekend, there was apparently a bad fire that killed 5 people going to a bachellorette party in a limo. Well, as tragic as it is, I think there needs to be more details as to what happened.

As for events abroad, well let’s take what’s going on with the situations in both the Mideast and North Korea. The Mideast is no surprise in my eyes, as Iran’s doing everything to distract world attention away from its ilicit nuclear program (I say this in the sense that Iran’s senior governing officials still refuse to make the mandatory disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the international watchdog for all national atomic programs as per the Non-Proliferation Treaty). Additionally, it feels that its chief ally in Syria (Bashar al-Assad) needs a distraction from the rebellion back home; and what better way than to build up tensions with Assad’s neighbor, Israel? Well, that’s fairly self-explanatory.

As for North Korea, apparently there was a father-son duo charged with conspiring to illegally sell the Kim regime components to further help them construct their illegal nuclear weapons program, even doing so through the nose of America’s sanctions. Well, let’s see how else this plays out, because this is very serious. My major concern with North Korea, is that it won’t be long until Kim Jong Un decides to unleash the 1,000,000 man Korean People’s Army against South Korea, as well launch a nuclear strike against it. This is because Kim feels he has less to lose by picking a fight with the numerically weaker Military forces in the South, than by picking a fight with America, who could easily bring to bear both Russia and China in this sense. I know off-hand that both the Russians and the Chinese will join the Americans in defending the South Koreans and Japanese in this scenario, because of the fact that both the Russian and Chinese leaderships’ patience with the North has worn exceedingly thin, and both, I’m quite sure, have warned the Kim regime that more provocative behavior will result in more dire consequences as well as making it harder for them to justify their continued resistance to additional action in the United Nations.

In addition, both America and Russia have a long standing partnership in counter-proliferation, and both see the North Korean nuclear program as a massive destabilizing factor in East Asia. Additionally, China’s come to see that the Kim regime does not provide a good enough buffer to deter any American military presence. I think America’s Foreign Secretary, John Kerry, made this quite clear to the Chinese leadership, in saying that unless they do more to reign in their ally’s provocative actions and threats of pre-emptive nuclear war, they can expect to see a much larger American military presence in the region, and a much more aggressive stance to defend itself.

New Low for Racial Discrimination

I don’t know where to start. What is the point of US Airways telling two Black passengers that they cannot board unless they change their outfits, but letting a White passenger on wearing the same outfit they were? This seems like racism at its most basic core in my eyes, and I think Alter Net really deserves the credit for putting this story up to its followers and for showing us that racist chauvinism is still lurking within our country to this day, even though it’s faced a successful mask since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Still, it doesn’t help that the Black community still faces too many barriers to achieve their dream of full racial equality, and receive the same opportunities as their White counterparts. I have to say, as someone who is a student of History, we are entering a new phase of race-based violence and terrorism, but at the same time, entering a new opportunity to look our inner-most demons in the eye and learning from our past mistakes. If anything, the Tea Party, like the Coffee Party and Occupy Movements, have shown us that activism, from either the Left or Right, brings change that is neither simple nor clean. However, they serve as a reminder when the political extremes break loose. Only this time, the side going off the rails is not the Left, it’s the Right. How might one ask? The answer is convoluted and messy, just like the process of change.

Think of the 40 years of Conservative governmental control, and you can start drawing a series of confirming moments about how we ended up in our current mess. Much of the social aspect goes back to the reaction in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and the Housing Rights Act in 1968, all of which culminated in Richard Nixon’s election to the Presidency. Unsurprisingly, Nixon campaigned on “Law and Order” to appeal to mostly conservative Whites in the South, as well as on a new expanded version of Barry Goldwater’s campaign theme of States’ Rights. At the close of the 1960’s, this message was especially popular given all the upheavals that came with that decade of radical change. In fact, Nixon’s campaign put forth a platform of running against the newly adopted Supreme Court ruling mandating the states put forth busing programs to desegregate schools. The policy Nixon advocated during the 1968 campaign was to end this order immediately. Well go to the 1980 campaign and its aftermath (of course following Nixon’s forced resignation following the Watergate Scandal in 1974, and Jimmy Carter’s victory over Gerald Ford in the presidential campaign of 1976), we see the Conservative Movement’s resurgence in the victory Ronald Reagan heralded in that year’s presidential race. Reagan instilled not just supply-side economics which America had not seen since the 1920’s, but also a series of roll-backs of Civil Rights policies nearly to the point where they were back in the 1950’s. Well, fast foward to the Republican Congressional take-over in 1994, following the Democratic (Bill Clinton) Presidential triumph just 2 years earlier, and Presidential win in 2000, now we’re getting to where we are currently, especially at the closing of the Clinton years and the start of the Bush era.

It was under George W. Bush that most of this far-right ideology began taking root, especially following the attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. For the next 4 1/2 years, think of the amount of activity the Religious Right and Crony Capitalists engaged in. I find it’s easy enough to see how these actions, together with a real growing disdain for the Black community continued to grow, due to their constant agitation for full equality. However, this cycle of constantly railing about the “Black agenda”, the “Homosexual agenda”, etc., would eventually catch up with the Conservative movement. Think of the debacle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (Case in point), and that should be enough to draw a line towards the Democratic Congressional take-over in 2006, and Barack Obama’s presidential sweep just 2 years later.

It’s the fact that Obama’s been office since 2009, and that under him racism has exploded to the most severe extent since the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. However, Obama is not the one to blame, as his victory in 2008 marked a shattering of a major glass-ceiling for the Black community and began a new era of racial definition. At the same time, Obama has provided the American people with a whole different kind of opportunity, not just because of his race, but because of his real ability to connect with people of many walks of life, and embodying what our most difficult daily struggles are. Going back to my earlier commentary, the fact is that when Obama took office in January 2009, some of the worst lunatic fringes of the far-right went completely haywire. The reason: a Black man should not occupy the White House. The previous statement is a testament to the fact that the fringe in question is the White Supremacist faction that tends to be one the most vocal backers of the Republican Party (No, this is not to say that all Republicans are racist, not all are, just many from this particular fringe tend to be). Well you see where that got them, as of last year’s election, just in control of the recently gerrymandered House of Representatives, as Obama’s still in the Presidency, and the Democrats still have control of the Senate, albeit by a slightly bigger margin.

Election and World Series

Well folks, 2 pieces of interesting news. Last night, the San Francisco Giants made it to the World Series (2nd time in 3 years, not bad), and are about to face the Detroit Tigers (who hopefully will be more of a challenge than against the Texas Rangers in 2010 – who choked badly, for the record). Now I’m not going to tell you that the Giants are a bad team, because well, they’re not! They have the best pitching rotation in the entirety of Major League Baseball. Try having 5 of the league’s best starting pitchers, and since I think he’s returned, the league’s best closer. If I remmber correctly, good pitching always generally outperforms great hitting. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow night.

As for the other piece of news, Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney just concluded the last of the general election debates, and we’ll see what kind of impact they had. I seriously think that Obama just seriously knocked Romney’s scarns back to kingdom come, as there’s little to no chance that he’ll be able come back and pull some other Houdini to grab the presidency (unless of course there’s by some odd reason that the Barack Obama/Joe Biden ticket gets racked by a serious scandal, or the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket and their Republican hacks find some interesting means of stealing the election | i.e., tampering with the voting machines, etc.) I just know that the Republicans will do anything to win, even to the extent of committing massive voter fraud. Still I give them credit in one sense, they have identified a problem in our electoral system, just only it’s them and their corporate cronies who are the involved parties.

Election is fast approaching

My family and friends, I must advise you that we are about to commence with the same ritual we completed 4 years ago, and will in every 4-year interval for the presidency. President Obama, as unshockingly obvious as this sounds, is running for re-election. I know that many of you wish to sit out this election by not casting your vote at all, thinking that you have no voice in the process. In all seriousness, don’t! This is exactly what people like the Koch brothers want you to do. They want to silence your voices and make theirs heard, so that they can continue their scam of taking away our rights and our money.

I want everyone to know that we have a stark choice this year between the visions of Pres. Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney in their fight for the presidency. I won’t make the specious claim that a presidency under Romney would mean the end of the Earth, or that the sky will crash upon us, as those likelihoods are very minimal (try the odds of 1 in 100,000,000). Anyhow, what may happen is that life will become much harder for the middle class as the Republican mantra for the time being is for the middle class to sacrifice various needed programs and deductions (for taxes) so that they can give the top 5% of income-earners another $1,000,000,000.00 in new tax cuts which they believe will stimulate the economy, and that we should not tax this class as they are the job creators. I don’t know about you, but to me, this is complete nonsense. First off, it’s a hollow argument in the sense that spending $1.00 on a tax cut (or tax break) for the wealthy only brings in like $.60 of revenue. Compare that to at least $1.60 in revenue for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance to the middle class. Secondly, we’ve tried this method when George W. Bush was president from 2001-9. Believe me, it failed miserably as incomes declined severely and prices shot up much higher than the rate of inflation. Another factor to look into is taking out various regulations desparately needed to protect consumers from fraud, or to give them a legal recourse to settle a dispute with a large corporation. Think about the recent financial crisis as a clear example of what I’m talking about. This came upon us by maintaining very weak regulatory oversight of various portions of the financial markets, including in the commodities and speculations markets.

Gov. Romney has made it clear that this is the only solution for getting us out of the mess we’re in. That Pres. Obama’s method of propping up working families has done nothing, but take a pretty penny out of your portfolios and been a large waste of your tax dollars. He thinks that your tax dollars would be spent better subsidizing big business, and paying it to handle your money and benefits, from Social Security to Medicare to Education. Speaking of education, I’ve been in the private education system, and can tell you from experience, it’s even less efficient than the public system. In highschool, I had a math teacher who was trained to be a test proctor, and as such was insufficient in teaching us both trigonometry and advanced mathematics. In fact I remember in senior year, where every American student got D’s and F’s on their midterm exams, while the International students got A’s and B’s. If you’re going to argue that the school I went to was unionized, you’d be dead wrong. There was no union, the principal was adamant about not firing the teacher in question, retaining full confidence in them (this was after both students and parents complained). Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked, but that should highlight my point that private does not generally equal efficient. In the case of these areas, public is generally better, as it helps to give a more expanded range of options for teaching our children. Do there need to be some structural reforms done? Of course, and how to do it is a debate I would gladly welcome. I’d love to hear either educational or psychological experts duke it out over policy changes, or structural changes/consolidations. However, what we don’t need is money going out to parochial (faith-based) schools from the federal government as it clearly violates the 1st Amendment (Congress [or for that matter the states per 14th Amendment] does not have the right or authority to promote religion nor to trample on someone’s right to religious freedom). Separation of church and state has long been a traditional American principle, going back to the Founding Fathers.

Pres. Obama, however, has tried, and largely unsuccessfully in some cases, to make the case that we can still make structural changes to the economy and grow it up. We need jobs, which he’s been on target about for the past 3-4 years to help the economy recover much faster. However, he’s been dealing with the recalcitrant and obstructionist Republican-dominated 112th Congress (Republicans control the House of Representatives and have larger blocking ability in the Senate), which has for the most part refused to budge on any kind of job-producing bill, save for a transportation bill that passed. Pres. Obama has pressed for more action to alliviate the high unemployment rate (currently about 8%), but the Congress has refused to budge, with the Republicans’ goal being that they should make him a 1-term president like Pres. Jimmy Carter (1977-81). In some cases, I think Pres. Obama deserves a lot of credit, especially in saving the auto industry and passing healthcare reform. I’ll admit that it’s a start, and that more people using it will realize that their costs will come down. However, I think that it needs some more tweaking. I mean this in the sense that we need to take out the insurance industry’s special exemption from Federal Anti-Trust Laws. It’s a mistake to keep it, and that was 1 component to how costs grew faster than the rate of inflation. Let’s for argument’s sake say that medical care costs $1.00, but your insurer charges you $3.00. I know from working in the industry (I’m an admin assistant in a small insurance sales office), that $.60 of every dollar goes to claims (torts). However, that formula was never the case, especially considering the fact that 1 in every 3 dollars for insurance costs went aside to claims, meaning that the other $2.00 went to non-medical purposes. That’s right, $1.00 went to political contributions (to bribe various politicians to look the other way) or to denying care to people, while another would go to the CEO’s bonus. Think about it, that made up about 90% of the cost. Anyway, watch this race carefully, is what I can tell everyone.

Israel’s New Low in Misbehavior

Where do I even begin with this? How is it that whenever the international community tells Israel to quit building settlements for the sake of peace (this includes Israel’s only real ally, America), that it just builds more? Well, that is nothing new, by any stretch of the imagination. The real issue is that it now won’t let any UN Human Rights Inspectors come to investigate claims about the settlements underming the Palestinians’ right to national self-determination, as well as the right to stay in their homes and live in peace. They see the settlements correctly for what they are. It’s a land grab, and soon will lead to the development of a new Apartheid system. I know Israel will continually deny this analogy to the American South’s Jim Crow and South African Apartheid, but it is going in the same direction. Saying that they won’t let anyone verify their claims, or those of the Palestinians, is only allowing injustice to flourish. If Israel wants to be an equal member of the international community, it must heed the community’s will for peace.