6 Bullets

August 19, 2014

6 shotsI have been on hiatus, but this blog has never been far from my mind.  I decided to make the time, even if no one reads – it is good to put thoughts to the page.

The controversy in Ferguson Missouri is disappointing but not surprising.  On one hand you have marginalized youth with little opportunity and even less respect for authority.  On the other hand, you have a para-military police force that is unrepresenting of those it polices, out of touch, and deservedly afraid for its officer’s safety.  At root at it all is the crux of this problem – both sides do not represent what America is supposed to be about and are symptoms of a larger disease.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Think about that famous American line from our the Declaration of Independence for a second and how it applies to Ferguson Missouri before you get my two cents.  We’ll circle back around in a moment but you will see a critique of both sides of the debate.

First, this is America, not Liberia…but why do our inner cities feel and behave more like an impoverished African nation?  We will spend trillions on foreign wars, a billions on incarcerating our citizenry, but will not invest the needed monies/energies for our infrastructure or the education of our youth to help keep them out of those expensive prisons… things that government is supposed to do.  This is no greater felt than in places where young men like Michael Brown live.  They physically live in but are not cultural citizens of the greatest nation on earth.  Largely the system has failed them – their government, their culture, their fathers.  You will not hear me bemoan or give excuses for poor life choices.  You will hear me bemoan a system of dependency, a system that gives no bootstraps for people to pull themselves up by, a system that makes it okay to loot your or other’s neighborhood – not because you really care about Michael Brown, but because its an opportunity to score some free booze while you break shit and have ‘fun’ at another’s expense.

Secondly, you have the increasing police state that We The People are subjugated to.  How many times have you been the victim of petty power or known someone who was…and all because the cop knew he could get away with it?   The bad federal government policies exacerbate the problem.  The war on drugs, the Patriot Act, the offloading surplus military gear…are all easy examples of what contribute to the problem of an abuse of power by the police.  They are all misguided and top-down endeavors that empower the police in ways they shouldn’t and give them more say in our daily lives.  Their role is supposed to be about law enforcement, not veiled martial law and big government.

Back to Thomas Jefferson’s words.  Both sides are violating our core values as Americans.  Life:  Michael Brown is dead – that one is obvious – it is unfair and possibly unjust that he’s dead.  What’s even worse is all the other young black men taken at the hands of police or in the names of gangs and drugs.  Why are all these other young black men dead too?  Why does it take racial sensationalism to mourn their deaths – they die by the score every day across America and their lives are just as worthy of being saved and lamented upon as Michael Brown’s.  Liberty: We now see the beginnings of a push back against the militarism in our police forces, but this is nothing new.  Since the sensationalism of the North Hollywood police being outgunned and out-armored by two robbers, police forces have better armed themselves in an arms race against criminals.  The problem is that government handouts of military gear for civilian police work is incongruous.  Taxpayers do not need to pay for MRAPs – which is a far cry from having an M-4 in every police cruiser’s trunk.  That militarism only enables those with petty power to abuse it.  Pursuit of Happiness.  I cannot believe that officer Wilson enjoys the feeling of being an unwelcome occupying force on the streets that he is assigned.  How does his wife feel about it?  Further, he is not a part of the community.  He has no ties, he’s not from there, he doesn’t look like those he’s supposed to ‘serve and protect’ – and that counts for something, I don’t really care if its not PC – its the truth.  On the other side, how happy is the community with law enforcement when the police are seen as a 21st century SS squad?  This is not hyperbole, the sentiment is a direct parallel.  That is an untenable relationship from both sides and how can the social contract between the people and the government be consoled with such incongruous circumstances?  Even if the police were from the local hood, they would most likely be seen as an Uncle Tom rather than someone who gets it and represents their values…even if that particular officer does…he works for a system run by white men who don’t.  While this is an unfair oversimplification and no excuse for reverse discrimination, there is some merit to the sentiment.  The debacle did not begin with the death of a white police officer at the hands of a black man…yet on the other side, it is not the police who cause problems every night when the sun goes down.

My whole point in this article is that the root of this evil is one of un-Americanism and bad policies pushed and entrenched by big government.  It is about things far more insidious than poor urban neighborhoods with little opportunity, race, police militarization, or even the heralded and untimely death of a young black man.  We have lost our way as a nation – in our civic duty to hold our government accountable in our name, how to fight for your rights while preserving others, and what your role is supposed to be as a member of the republic.  This kind of stuff isn’t even on the radar and yet is the cause.  It is why we are here and its only getting worse…

 

 

Advertisements

The Gay ‘Marriage’ Debate

March 26, 2012

I’ve decided to make a new sub-section of this blog – a dedicated “Solutions” tag.  It’s an extension of the awkward solutions tab.  If that tab is no longer there, I  have migrated everything to the solutions tag and deleted it.

So, the first one I’m going to address is gay marriage.  I think it’s an easy fix so that the national discourse can stop the wailing and gnashing of teeth and move on.  We as a freedom-loving people and the government have other fish to fry.

The simple solution:  A compromise.  Allow full rights of the ‘marriage’ of gay couples, just like a heterosexual couple…but it isn’t and can’t be called ‘marriage’.  Call it something else.  ‘Civil Union’ is already in the legal lexicon of an alternative, so why can’t there be another?  My suggestion is a ‘Rainbow Union’.  I don’t care.  Call it “bathysxenophil”  I DON’T care.  Yes, it may be semantics of calling it something and it being the same that it always was pre-solution, but I am attacking the heart of the matter.

The religious right’s main contention is that ‘marriage’ is defined as between a man and woman.  That is what DOMA was for.  So be it.  ‘Bathysxenophil” legally, by title, and by definition is not ‘marrige’ as it is a joining, either spiritual and/or legal between members of the same-sex.

All the gay community has to give up is calling what they want ‘marriage’.

You see the disconnect and why it is so ridiculous to have the ongoing culture war?  It’s merely the use of definitions and language that take away the main arguments of both sides and yet give the other side what it wants at the same time.  It’s not hard.

The implementation doesn’t even have to be top down with a Supreme Court ruling.  Let the states adopt this policy – one by one.  Obviously, the more progressive states would adopt this first, but just like inter-racial marriage that was illegal in the 60’s and is common-place today…times change.  Society is far more accepting of being gay than they were even 10 years ago.

Lastly, I want to call a spade a spade.  The real disconnect and one that is TOTALLY invalid is that some religious organizations contend that gay marriage or being gay is a sin.  Fine, no one is going to change that opinion/conviction.  You are also not going to change people from being gay by calling them a sinner.  They don’t believe they are.  Unless they want to not be gay, which generally comes from this religious conflict – this is not going to change. (and whether a gay person can become straight is a completely separate issue).

To judge people by your own personal faith convictions in a country that was founded in part because of freedom from religious persecution is patently un-American.  I don’t judge you for being baptist…you shouldn’t judge me for being a catholic..and same should apply for being gay.  I personally believe that the act of homo sexuality is a sin, but that is my moral call and I see how other’s would disagree with me.  As long as I’m not forced to be gay, I’m fine.

Faith is always a personal matter and to unwantingly push your beliefs on others is again, un-American.  It’s not your call to make and you do not have the right to do so – your freedom of speech granted in the First Amendment is just that – speech, not action.  Its not your call to make…its God’s; no matter if you think you are acting on his behalf or not.  Nothing gives me the right to impose my personal religious belief structure on others ‘to protect them from themselves’ or because its evil or its a sin.  As long as you aren’t breaking any laws (think Satanists and human sacrifice or other equally horrible atrocities done in the name of religion), your belief in what is sinful or not should not impede others pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

It is for these reasons that we have a proud history of the separation of church and state…and why it is a good practice to continue.  Otherwise you have needless and easily solved problems like this.


Kicking the Can Down the Road

June 21, 2011

Let it burn. No really, let it burn. You'll save the Germans a lot of money.

Did you hear the wonderful news that sent stock markets around the world higher?  The Greek ruling party in parlaiment narrowly passed a confidence vote – so their prime minister, (Papindreau or something like that) can stay in power and have his party cram more austerity down the throats of their lazy constituents.  Obviously people who aren’t used to paying taxes, working, or doing anything to stimulate their economy aren’t going to be happy about the goodies being taken away.  I make a grandiose generalization but I think you catch my drift.

Here is the crux of the problem…they are basically taking money from German taxpayers, pissing it away down the rat-hole known as Greece, and this controversy and subsequent raise in the stock market is all about getting a traunch of money promised last year.  Its not about new money.  Its about stuff they’ve already agreed to.  Greece’s economy is so bad, that everyone is worried the citizenry is going to pull the place apart as the government bean-counters force more cuts (which drive their economy in the ditch even further – but rightly and fairly so).  Thus, the controversy isn’t even addressing the fact that the bailouts didn’t hold things up as long as they planned or that they haven’t actually voted for the austerity measures that they still need to get the money, OR that the Greeks are going to need a nother $140 billion dollars to forestall things another year.

The Greeks are broke.  Any money thrown their way is only keeping counterparty banks in Germany and France whole.  Its not helping the Greeks…its just keeping the all-powerful European banks in the money so that they don’t have to take a haircut…and to let Spain get its fiscal house in order before Greece finally does have some kind of default.  You see, Greece isn’t too big to fail, but Spain is.

That my friends, is the real truth about the Greece economic situation.  Its all a shell game and its not a matter of if, but when the Greks will deafult.  Default isn’t really even that big a deal – obviously they can’t hold up their end of the E


Glimmer of Hope

February 8, 2011

...ech...what they do in my name sometimes....

Big Government got poked in the eye today…by liberals and the tea party.  Strange bed-fellows but I’ll take it.  The House Republicans thought they could pass a non-controversial extension of some of the worst abuses of the Patriot Act today.  It failed to garner the 2/3rd majority it needed because all of the Democrats voted against it and a pile of Freshmen Representatives voted against it.  Tea Partiers if you will.

I believe the newly elected Congressmen, I don’t buy it as much from the Liberals.  Well, maybe from Dennis Kucinich who has always railed against it.  The WaPo article is here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/08/AR2011020806345.html?hpid=topnews

I have two goals.  One to point out the two-faced nature of politics where the same Congressmen will vote for the same essential bill a couple of years previously (because they were in power) and then vote against it because now they’re not.  That is the Democratic story by and large here.  The Republicans do it too.  Kubuki theatre, its all window dressing and its shows Congress’s general lack of conviction, backbone, and principles.

The bottom line is that the Patriot Act IS a woeful invasion of our civil liberties, specifically the 4th Amendments’ protections against search and seizures.  This thing needs to fail again and again.  I am glad to see that at least in an easy, early test the Freshmen Congressmen voted how they said they would. 

The question is, can they hold up and grow in strength?

-G.S.


Remember The Greeks

December 16, 2010

...and then they stick fire-crackers on their Molotovs. BRILLIANT!!!

     

So I will keep this short.  I’ve pontificated about the Greek debt crisis here before.  However,  I have to point something out to you that probably escapes everyone’s notice.  No, I’m not going to say how this could be us one day, the previous article talks about that.   What I am going to say is simple:  Notice.  Notice that the problem doesn’t go away once some fund comes and bails you out.  It isn’t a magic panacea.  Your credit rating is still crap and investors have little to no faith in you.  Once the genie is out of the bottle and the world has no confidence in you, things stay that way.  Your problems have only begun.  These Greeks have it easy, there is still a financial world left over to escape to after their country’s economic collapse.  You better learn to speak Mandarin or Cantonese and walk with a serious stoop after the US implodes financially.  There will be no where else to go.  By the way, you’ll have to give up your Starbucks mocha latte, your organic Wholefoods hummus, and your 60″ HDTV as well.

If the austerity measures and rioting can happen over and over in Greece, they’ll happen here the same way too.  It’ll make the riots of the 60’s look like a walk in the park.

-G.S.


Jon Stewart Has It Right

October 30, 2010

I Don't Agree With The Guy - But I Respect Him...And THAT Is the Point!

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

   Yes, you read that correctly.  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a mock-rally earlier today in DC.  I read the piece that The Post had on it and I wasn’t impressed.  However, I was impressed by the opinion piece done by Stephen Stromberg.  Read it here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/10/liberals_need_sanity_too.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

The gem in it however, is the last paragraph:

” Taking it down a notch is a great idea. But I found that, for some at the rally, being reasonable meant being liberal. They probably aren’t cynically trying to hijack the terminology — they probably just believe that. And if the goal is really a collective simmering down, that’s just the sort of dismissive thinking we need to avoid. I can only hope Stewart’s message changed a few minds — in the crowd at his own rally.”

  And that my friends, is the point that I constantly challenge my liberal friends to have.  I don’t agree with Jon Stewart’s politics.  He is liberal, and I am conservative.  However, HE, like myself is willing to hear the other side and have both sides give civil discourse and air out differences.  He values compromise and he respects my difference of opinion, even if he doesn’t agree with it.  THAT is how you solve this nation’s problems and what his rally is really about and Stromberg hits the nail on the head about it.  Stromberg and Stewart see that many liberals are all about being open minded as long as you agree with them.   Among liberals there is indeed an elitist sense that you are wrong and do not have a reasonable argument if you are not liberal.  That is just as close-minded as someone condemning you to Hell if you do not believe in their religious-right beliefs.

Again, being truly open to discourse is the point that Stewart is trying to make and what Stromberg identifies.  To restore sanity and free us from fear.  Irrational fear of socialists or tea partiers – it doesn’t matter as we are all still Americans.  We have so much more in common than we do that is different.  If we can agree to disagree at the philosophical roots of what makes one conservative or liberal, then we can move on to actual and meaningful discourse that ultimately involves substance and compromise instead of attacks and obfuscation.  Stewart is right that the combat inherent in 24/7 news cycle and the broken-ness of Washington are the problem and that we shouldn’t buy into them by letting these two institutions divide us.  All that does is continue to let these 2 things have an inordinate amount of sway over us and do far more harm than good for our country.  Is that the status quo that you want to keep in place?

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to vote!

-G.S.


September 30, 2010

Big Brother is Calling to Say Hello

 .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I found this blog piece at Technorati.com:

  Yes, no surprise to me, the government wants to be able to wire-tap the internet to protect you.  Specifically that means being able to intercept the social media information you send out, unscramble it, and then read what you are saying – all in the name of your protection.  Do you really want some CIA guy knowing everything about your life?
  It is this kind of action by the government that gets me putting on a tin-foil hat but also points to how social media ‘puts you out there’ – as in people who I don’t want to know my business know my business.  Yes, I am not that important, but I believe in privacy and the 4th Amendment. 
  This all goes back to the Patriot Act where ‘for our own good’ we let government violate The Constitution so that they could protect us from terrorists.  You reap what you sow and this is an example of yet if you give someone an inch, they take a mile.  Yes, this is not Nazi Germany and you aren’t going to be rounded up and shot by exercising your right to free speech, but at the same time, do you really believe government has the right to intrude into your own personal life?  It goes beyond the argument of ‘I have nothing to hide’.  That is not the point.  The point is that government explicitly does not have that right, but they (and implicitly we as voters) are allowing themselves this.
Franklin said it best: “A society that will give up a little liberty for a little more safety is neither free nor safe and deserves neither.”
Think about that if this law passes and you are sending some juicy info to your friends via a FB message and you think you may want a security clearance one day…
– G.S.