Archives For In The News

Things happening in the world today

2015-03-16_09-11-08“We were ready to do it”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he considered putting the country’s vast nuclear arsenal on alert to prevent outside agents from stopping the Kremlin’s forced annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last year.

Putin’s admission was aired during a prerecorded documentary called Homeward Bound, which was broadcast on a state-backed television network Sunday in the run-up to the first anniversary of Crimea’s annexation later this week.

SOURCE: Vladimir Putin Admits to Weighing Nuclear Option During Crimea Conflict | TIME.

During our 30+ years of the Cold War and the nuclear standoff with the USSR a strategy was developed by the west called MAD. It stood for “Mutually Assured Destruction”. It went something like this. If the USSR bombs us with a nuclear weapon we will send off our entire nuclear arsenal on them and that will basically ensure that both countries, and probably the rest of the world, would be totally destroyed. The USSR then said we will do the same to you.  I’m sure that was constantly on the minds of both country’s leaders during those times.

Why do we constantly fear another country, rogue or not getting a nuclear weapon? The sixty year old technology is pretty much known to all the world’s scientists now. It is just a matter of getting the materials together to build one. We need a different deterrent to stop the spread of nuclear weapons than just trade embargoes and such. We need TAD, “Totally Assured Destruction”. That is the statement signed by all, or almost all, countries that says that if you use a nuclear weapon on another country the rest of the world will do whatever it takes to insure that your country is totally destroyed. No “if”, “ands” or “buts”. Your country is toast.

Can you image a hundred war machines immediately charging into Iran for example because they used a nuclear bomb on Israel. Would they really want to use a bomb under those circumstances? Of course part of this new tactic would require that the rest of the world start carrying their share of military might and that the US trim down our totally dominate war machine.  But wouldn’t that be a win-win scenario for everyone.

Let’s enact TAD and stop all these political games of one-upmanship that goes around a country buying aluminum cylinders..  Stop the current stupidity and come out plainly with “You use a nuclear bomb and your country will cease to exist”.

Occam’s Razor is a widely known theory that in its most basic form is “Keep things simple!“. That should apply here. We have prevented possible aggression with NATO in the past. Now it is time for TAD

Enough said….

2015-03-16_08-52-01WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans now in charge of Congress offer their budget blueprint this week with the pledge to balance the nation’s budget within a decade and rein in major programs such as food stamps and Medicare.

More pressing for many Republicans, however, is easing automatic budget cuts set to slam the military.

SOURCE:GOP to offer budget blueprint with Medicare, food stamp cuts – Yahoo Finance.

It is not accident that the GOP wants to take money away from helping  the poor and give it to our already super extravagant military budgets to the tune of exactly $50 billion on each budget. But that is just the first step in the process. The overall goal as the article mentions is to eliminate Medicaid and food stamps entirely from the federal budget and turn it over to the states. Can Medicare be very far behind??

As a stop gap measure the GOP wants to just throw a given lump sum of some undetermined value to the states and then walk away.  The problem with that strategy is that all the States must balance their budget but that is rightly not a requirement for the federal budget. Sending it to the States would mean that in times of downturns helping the poor would have to take a big hit. It is not as if suddenly just working two minimum wage jobs would meet a poor family’s needs during hard times.

Will all those senior citizens who vote exclusively GOP tolerate this happening? If their purse is robbed will they look for other political approaches? I kind of think they finally will. Yes, we have to do something about balancing our federal budgets but doing it on the backs of the poor and with no pain in the military budgets is NOT the way to do it.  We, 5% of the world’s population, spend more than the rest of the world combined on our war-machine.

If we just quit trying to be the policemen of the world and pared our military budgets to be on parity with everyone else our overall budgets would quickly balance. We don’t need to be hip deep in all regional conflicts in the world.  That practice just makes too many enemies who then want to do us harm. We need to step back and tell our world neighbors to take care of their own backyards and we will do the same.

PLEASE DON’T BALANCE OUR BUDGETS ON THE BACKS OF THE POOR.

2015-03-10_10-32-14Sen. Rand Paul slammed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for hypocrisy on marijuana in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. Responding to recent revelations that Gov. Bush smoked pot during his teen years at Phillips Academy, Paul pointed out the flaws in Bush’s opposition to medical marijuana in his home state.

Sen. Paul, who has hinted about his own wild college days, was quick to clarify that he did not fault Bush for having “made mistakes growing up.” Instead, he took issue with Bush’s inconsistent views on the drug. “If you’ve got MS in Florida, Jeb Bush voted to put you in jail if you go down to a local store or a local drugstore and get medical marijuana … and yet he was doing it for recreational purposes.”

To Paul, it was Bush’s privileged upbringing that spared him the harsh penalties many Floridians still face when they entangle with marijuana. “It was a different standard for him,” the presidential hopeful explained, “because he was from a wealthy family, going to a very wealthy school, and he got off scot-free.”

SOURCE: Rand Paul calls out Jeb Bush on marijuana – Yahoo News.

I must admit that this is one of those times where Rand Paul’s words ring true to me.  But I must always remember that his underlying priority is to basically shut down government and to remove the nation’s safety net and move us to  laissez-faire capitalism or “Everyone for Themselves”.

Now that I have my libertarian rant over lets look at the particulars above. Almost all of our opinions are at least a partial result of our experiences in life.  I guess I, unlike Mr. Ryan and Mr. Bush, wasn’t “hip” in my youth as I never tried marijuana during those years or since.

What I want to concentrate on in this post is the words I bolded in the quote above. It is becoming more and more obvious that it is a very different standard of justice for wealthy families than it is for the rest of us and particularly those of us of color. All these recent reports of police shooting of unarmed black young men and the hugely disproportionate number of minorities in our prison system have brought that fact to light. Now if we can just manage to accept that fact and to do what we are famous for as a country and that is to address these inequalities head on.  Given that money is power in our society there will never be true equality of justice but we should at least try to level the playing field as much as possible.

I will finish this post with a change of heart I have had over the last couple of years. We need to do a lot less jailing of people who primarily only harm themselves with their actions and a big part of that group is marijuana users. If they are not threat to society then we need to seek other means of enforcing our version of morality on them.  Enough said….

In order to assure his victory Netanyahu flatly said there would be no Palestinian State while he was prime minister. Those words just might result in some tough love for US/Israeli relations. Bibi might finally realize that his actions have consequences.

The current day Israel was at least partially created by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 back in 1947 which mandated a two state solution for the Palestinian territory. There have been several attempts in recent years for the UN to once again declare a two state solution to the problem but the U.S. has threatened a veto each time to prevent it from happening.  The good news is that the we might finally back away from that resistance and allow the UN to try to enforce a two State solution.  So, Maybe some good news will result from the recent Israeli re-election. We can only pray that Bibi’s gun is finally taken away from him….

2015-03-20_09-07-51The White House, unmoved by Netanyahu’s effort to backtrack, delivered a fresh rebuke against him on Thursday and signaled that Washington may reconsider its decades-old policy of shielding close ally Israel from international pressure at the United Nations….

Among the most serious risks for Israel would be a shift in Washington’s posture at the United Nations. The United States has long stood in the way of Palestinian efforts to get a U.N. resolution recognizing its statehood, including threatening to use its veto, and has protected Israel from efforts to isolate it internationally.

SOURCE: Obama tells Netanyahu U.S. to ‘reassess’ policy on Israel, Mideast diplomacy – Yahoo News.

Spin, Spin, Spin…

March 17, 2015

2015-03-03_08-42-13Remember when George W. Bush sold himself as a “compassionate conservative”? Of course you do. Now, his brother Jeb is using a similar formulation, describing himself as an “inclusive conservative.” The difference may seem trivial at first, but the Bushes are no fools when it comes to winning elections. And this difference tells us something about the changing perception of the parties, as well as the changing priorities of left and right….

A recent Pew survey found that 60 percent of respondents said the Democratic Party “cares about the middle class.” Forty-three percent of respondents said the same of Republicans, a 17-point gap.

But the same Pew survey found that 59 percent of respondents said that Democrats are “tolerant and open to all groups of people,” and only 35 percent said the same of Republicans, a 29-point gap….

This is the latest sign that culture war issues continue to move to the front of our politics, while economic issues take a back seat. Fifteen years ago, the Republican problem was that it seemed to have nothing tangible to offer the poor, blacks, or others on the margin of society. For Jeb, the problem with conservative conservatism is that it is exclusive. Conservatism is for the married, white, Christian, suburban, and exurban.

SOURCE: How Jeb Bush is tweaking his brother’s brand of ‘compassionate conservatism’.

I would love to see a poll on how many people today believe that brother George lived out is self-proclaimed label “compassionate conservative” while he was in office.  I suspect that only hard-core Republicans would answer yes.  Maybe I am skeptical here, it wouldn’t be the first time, but I kind of think that this self-labeling stuff is nothing but spin. These guys, and I am talking about all politicians here, think that they can describe themselves as anything they want and maybe it will get them a few more votes for those very naive voters out there.

Having said all that I do kind of wish that it had been Jeb who ran the country for eight years instead of his brother.  George was just not my kind of guy. Too much swagger, too much bravado, too unread, too fixated on sports…  Jeb just seems to be a mellower type guy who would make decisions based on his intellect instead of alway his guts.  This article goes on to say the Hillary just doesn’t wear the “compassionate” label too well either. Her demands for six-figure payments for her speeches maybe show her core values too prominently for me.

But the name of the game in today’s politics is spin, spin, spin.  You don’t have to know what you are saying as long as you say it with authority. That seems to be the mantra for all those yahoos inside the beltway.  They put on masks for each group they want support from. I don’t know if Mitt Romney really believed his 47% rhetoric but it was good spin for the group he was then talking to.  The problem is that video cameras are now everywhere. There are thousands in every major city street corners and in almost everyone’s pocket now. You just can’t get away with spinning to one group without everyone knowing it.

My dream for 2016 is that there is neither a Bush nor a Clinton on either ticket…

2015-02-21_08-56-34I have seen two vastly different examples of American justice in the last few months.

Example 1 – Five months ago it was discovered that an elected official in our county has been stealing funds from us for the last ten years. Since that time she has been free to do whatever she want while the evidence has been gathered. It seems that over the last ten years she has stolen about $400,000 in our very small county mainly by charging totally personal things like food, vacations, TVs to a county credit card. She was finally indicted this week and the trial is to take place in about four months. During that time she is again free to do whatever she wants as she was released on her “own recognizance” meaning no bail

Example 2 – is a person in a large metropolitan area that was roaming the city inebriated. He was quickly gathered up and brought before a judge and was set for a trial in the same four months as the first example. The difference is this person is spending the time before trial in a local jail. He has lost his job and what remains of his contact with his family. His life is basically ruined. Why?? The reason is the judge set a ball on him that required him to come up with $200 out of his pocket. Being unable to do that he languishes in prison with his life ruined because he drank too much one lonely night.

I hope I don’t have to explain to you just how unjust the treatment is between these two cases!! But, I have learned that they are by no means unusual. The well-known, even at the local level often get “OR’ed” while the poor get jail time before they even go to trial.  It is a well know fact that the first exposure to our prison system often taints the person for a lifetime of incarceration.

I am certainly celebrating that recent similar events that have gone national are now showing just how unjust our justice system has become in the last thirty years or so. When Reagan decided that the “bad guys” had to be put in jail to protect us, all the wheels were set in motion for today’s version of justice. When our prison system became “privatized” as he insisted and found to be very profitable it grew almost exponentially such that these private jailers scream for more and more occupants and the judges are certainly giving them what they want.

Our fear, which seems to become endemic during this period now insists that we lock up even those who even “might” do us harm and that includes people who we fear for some very unjustifiable reasons. They are dirty so lets remove them from society by making it against the law to be homeless. They do damage to themselves so lets lock them up in case they might want to do damage to us. Our fear has driven us to be the number one country in the world to lock up our citizens.

The inequality in our current justice system simply reeks of injustice and it is about time that we recognized that fact and quit being so fearful of those who will never do harm to anyone besides themselves. It is time to have some compassion for those who might not be like us. It is time we live up to the last words of our Pledge of Allegiance.