Archives For Spouting Off

Things that I have an opinion on; and I have a lot of those :)

Beam Me Up Scottie….

December 3, 2014

2014-11-26_09-08-20Ferguson has been dominating the news lately. Especially after the grand jury decisions. This post is not going to be about that except to say that needlessly taking another life is as tragic as all those lives lost previous to that young man. I thoroughly support a police officers right to defend himself and that is what the grand jury decided.  The way to defend himself is the matter of this post.

The point is that there should be a logical alternative to using lethal force against someone who you feel threatened by. That is especially true for our police officers who keep us safe. Reaching for a lethal weapon should be the last alternative, not the first one.

It seems that since the first episode of Star Trek was shown more than forty years ago we have come pretty far toward actually implementing many of the technological advances dreamed up in the series.  No, we haven’t got a teleporter yet, that’s the one I am waiting for, but we have accomplished much in other technological advances. One thing that is totally doable today but is being held back by an obsession is the phaser. You know the one that Kirk almost always said to set on stun.

Since we seem to have appointed ourselves as the policemen of the world we should be inventing new technology toward doing that job right. Why do we need to kill someone who may be threatening physical abuse on us? Whey is it necessary to take a life in order to preserve our own? I kind of think the total reason for it comes from our obsession with guns. If we found killing another person was as tragic as surely God does we would leave our weapons on stun and only use the kill setting for imminent death situations.

No police officer, or anyone else for that matter should have to decide within a split second to take another life when there are logical alternatives available. If we were able to disable someone attacking us without extinguishing another living soul I”m sure most of us would take that option. A taser is a good starting point but is just not that accurate and must be used close up. How about a laser guided wireless taser? We can laser guide our bombs so why not a temporary disabling beam?  I know the NRA would fight it as taking away our constitutional right to a “real” gun but isn’t it about time we told them where to stuff all their opinions. We have needlessly killed enough young men, especially it seems those of color….

Beam me up Scottie, or at least put our weapons on stun…..

 

I would like to believe that we are all accountable for our actions. We should all learn that actions have consequences. It is something every father should teach every son and every mother teach every daughter. But there are also things in life that tell us otherwise.

Some of us Christians have the idea that since we are just miserable sinners God does not hold us accountable for their actions. We therefore believe that God doesn’t really mind whether we do what he says because he knows we are so weak and pitiful and therefore expects nothing from us, including accountability.

Some of us say our actions are a result of their genes. Our ancestors were less than honorable so we are too. 

Some of us say we are the way we are because our parents mistreated us or did not teach us how to live a fruitful and accountable life.  They gave us bad examples of how to be.

To ALL those ideas I say poppycock!!

God did not put us on this earth to be “poor miserable people”. She put us here to love Her and to love each other and that certainly includes being accountable for our actions. I have come to believe that the primary purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to teach us how to live our lives in a Godly manner. Yes, I admit that we don’t do a very good job of that and haven’t since our creation but that is not because God wants it that way. Jesus Christ came to earth to clearly tell us that and to show us a better way. It is sad to me to see so many Christians who discount that fact in favor of saying we are not accountable for our actions or maybe more appropriately inaction.

Sure we all have different life experiences that affect our current situations. For me it was an extreme narcissist mother who thought primarily of herself. Little including her own children mattered as much to her as her own personal circumstances. Even though my exposure to her was somewhat  limited due to her abandoning me at the age of nine, it had a definite affect on me and that was to go to the other end of the spectrum with my self image. So our parents might have not given us much to go on things about life but it is nothing that can’t be overcome within ourselves.

We are all accountable for our actions, or at least we should be…..

 

Almost all of these states give their electoral votes based on a winner-take-all system. A candidate receiving 50.1% of the vote in New York, for instance, will garner the state’s 29 votes. Collect 270 total votes, and the presidency is assured.

As the National Review’s Jim Geraghty explains, however, there is no constitutional requirement that states allot their electoral votes this way, however. They could do it based on a simple vote in the statehouse. They could even, legally, decide to apportion them based on a coin flip, or whichever candidate is taller.

Both Maine and Nebraska, for instance, divvy their votes based on the winner of individual congressional districts.

SOURCE: BBC News – A rule change that could lock Republican 2016 victory.

I love the look from a different angle that my British friends give me over at “The Week” website. Given the extremes that the GOP seems will do to maintain control of U.S. politics I can clearly see more red States going the way of Maine and Nebraska in making their own rules in how to cast votes in presidential elections. That seems to be the logical next shoe to drop. But I have a radical view that would thwart that plan.

Lets allow the people to elect a president. Let every vote count! I know that is a radical idea but I think its time has come. :)  The electoral college served a purpose during early U.S. history when information took days or even weeks to pass through the country. It made sense for each State to send people to report their State’s votes.  Flip forward to today and this concept has no validity whatsoever!

Let the people’s voice elect the president as it does for all other Federal and State offices. Quit this electoral college stupidity. I hear there are laws still on the books in various State that deal with the times that a horse driven vehicle approaches a motor driven one. I know the one in Indiana that was finally nullified a few years ago said that the motorized vehicle had to leave the road until the horse passed. Its time to get rid of this archaic election rules and let the people elect the president.

I have lived in Indiana most of my life and have voted in each presidential election since 1968. But my vote has only counted during two of them. My first vote was for Richard Nixon. I was a naive Republican in those days, The second time was  in 2008 when most people in Indiana were, like me almost overwhelmed by the rhetoric of Barak Obama. All the other times my vote was thrown out. It is time to allow people, not State governments, to decide who will be their president.

2014-10-30_08-51-50America needs more Mark Zuckerbergs, not fewer. How to create them? There is no magic formula, but Henrekson and Sanandaji find the rate of billionaire entrepreneurs correlates positively with nations that have lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and less regulation. High capital gains taxes seem particularly harmful.

Worrying about those things would be a good start for Washington. While inequality hasn’t made it harder to get on the success ladder, it does make it more costly to stay stuck at the bottom. A more entrepreneurial U.S. economy generating more high-paying jobs will ensure more people are making that climb to the top rungs.

SOURCE:  Why America needs more billionaires – The Week.

I certainly agree with the title of this article. America needs more billionaires but it is how they accumulate those billions that matter and especially what they do with them later. Those who invent the “better mousetrap” create jobs and wealth beyond themselves are of great value to our country. Let’s look at a century ago when Henry Ford invented the assembly line. He made billions in today’s dollars but he also gave his workers wages much greater than the current standards. Everyone benefited from his new methods. Yeah, I admit that assembly line work is stifling but it was about the only good paying jobs available during those times.

Today there are thousands of Henry Fords around who have made the latest things. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are to be celebrated for their entrepreneurial lives. But for every Jobs there are probably dozens who are getting richer by paying slave wages to their workers. In other words they are getting rich on the backs of those they employ. I believe that this condition is as bad or maybe even worse than it was a century ago before a stubborn progressive Republican president took on the robber barons of his time.

Who will take on today’s robber barons? Walmart is an essential part of many small communities including mine. I make frequent trips there every week as they are about the only place to shop now. They are widely known to pay minimum wage for most of their workers while their corporate profits continue to rise and their owners who for the most part inherited their stocks get vulgarly wealthy.

It used to be that corporations were based on a three-legged stool. The three legs were  customers, owners, employees. As long as these three entities were balanced a corporation was considered healthy. But now days the employee leg has been cut off almost up to the seat level. The stability of the stool is no longer viable.

America needs more billionaires that’s for sure….

2014-10-29_08-29-05Without the South, the country could very well be renamed the Democratic States of America.

Secession would have numerous policy implications. The deficit would likely shrink, since despite the South’s fondness for anti-government rhetoric and ideology, the region benefits substantially more from federal programs than it pays into the federal treasury. Serious gun control legislation might actually make it through Congress. ObamaCare would probably work better (the South has led the way in refusing to expand Medicaid), but it might also be possible to pass the kind of sweeping reform of the health-care system (single payer) that proved impossible for Obama.

In sum, the U.S. without the South would look an awful lot more like Canada and Europe than it currently does — while the newly independent Confederate States of America would likely look like, well, nowhere else in the civilized world. Rates of poverty, already among the highest in the nation, would probably leap higher still. Guns would be ubiquitous. Without a meddlesome Supreme Court to uphold reproductive rights, women in the New Confederacy might find it impossible to obtain abortions. Something similar would probably hold for gay rights (not just with regard to marriage, but even including sexual activity itself) and, of course, for African American voting rights. (Ten out of 11 states in the South have passed voting restrictions in the past four years. Imagine what would happen without what remains of the Voting Rights Act and the oversight of federal courts?)

So what do you say? Is it finally time for us Northerners to encourage the South to go its own way?

SOURCE:Imagine: The Democratic States of America – The Week.

I too have often wondered what the U.S. would look like if the southern States were to actually do what they often threaten to do and that is to secede from the U.S. The above words are an interesting take on that possibility. Yeah Obamacare would most likely work better as indicated by the map above. The vast majority of people without  health coverage are from those infamous States. The description above almost sound like utopia to me. So many of our current problems would disappear if you believe what the author says.

I must admit that I too have an ingrown prejudice against the South. I still blame them for our bloodiest war in history. I still blame them for their adamant opposition to civil rights of all our citizens. They just seem to be on the wrong end of history’s lessons so often.

The Democratic State of America sounds good to me but when you look at the maps my State of Indiana is more like the southern States then those above the Mason-Dixon line.  The Republican have a veto proof majority in our State government so they have pushed through some pretty radical legislation of late. And of course Indiana was a hotbed for the KKK about a century ago.  Would Indiana become the “new South” if the South jumps out of the union?

Silliness I guess but this kind of thinking keeps the brain cells active…. :)

2014-10-11_08-51-14Americans have a thing for starting over. We love the idea of breaking from the past, beginning from scratch, getting a new life, setting out on a fresh path.

No wonder, then, that some of us seem to be taken with the idea of solving our political problems by calling a constitutional convention to craft a new founding document — one that is less… well, it sort of depends on what you find intolerable about the present system.

Conservatives spend their days dreaming of a balanced budget amendment, term limits for Supreme Court justices, and special protections for the free enterprise system.

Libertarians worry about ever-expanding executive power.

Liberals agonize over the influence of wealthy special interests on all branches of government.

Centrists fret about generalized governmental dysfunction and the danger that it will lead to the kind of breakdown that we’ve seen in presidential democracies throughout the developing world.

I have sympathy for a number of these complaints, especially the ones highlighted by the liberals and centrists. But that doesn’t mean calling a constitutional convention is a good idea. On the contrary, it’s an atrocious idea — and one that would be likely to make our very real problems far worse.

SOURCE:  The myopic folly of demanding a new constitutional convention – The Week.

I thoroughly agree with the folks over at “The Week” that a constitutional convention in the U.S. is a bad idea right now. With all the partisan groups running around the country with their heated rhetoric and not listening to anything anyone else says this is especially a bad time to be fiddling with our foundation documents.  I’m not sure that there is really ever a good time to do it but for now it is best to stay away from the foundations.

But it would be nice to get some people in charge who don’t have a battleship full of baggage! All those guys in Washington seem to have a personal agenda of one sort or another that often trumps the people’s will. All this “right to bear arms” stuff is totally illogical if we take all the words of that amendment seriously. The amendment was to protect militias not guns.  All the gay marriage antagonizers must come to realize that the government is not in the religion business. They simply create legal documents that bind us together. If you want to tag homosexual unions as immoral that is fine but that is not the government’s business.

Until we can manage to at least get along with each other at some of the most basic levels we need to step back from anything that has any long-term consequences. I’m not personally sure that we will ever come to any level of agreement about anything now but at least we can hold out some hope that our children or grandchildren will be able to manage that feat. As long as we don’t pollute their thinking too much maybe they will see a common cause when they take the reigns of power. I don’t know but at least I am hoping that to be the case.

But what do I know….

Don’t Wonder Why….

October 3, 2014

Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t.

Ok, that is my observation for today. Yeah, some people go over the edge when life overloads them but don’t we all get overloaded one time or another. I know I do. I see things that just don’t make any sense no matter how you look at them:

Violence - The amount of violence in our society simply astounds me! I know Americans are on the whole more aggressive than most other countries but we seem to be unique in expressing that aggression in violent ways. American football is an obsession for many and it is by far the most violent sanctioned sport on this plant. The most popular video games feature someone with a weapon killing the “bad” guys”

Guns - We have a love of guns and weapons of destruction far above almost everyone else in the world. I think we have more guns that people. The primary purpose for guns is to kill something or someone.

War - I don’t think I can even recall all the wars we have been involved with in my lifetime. It seems if we don’t have someone to go to war with we go out and generate some.  We spend more on our military than all the rest of the world combined. How insane is that!!

Narcissism – Narcissism is spending your life concentrating almost totally on yourself. Selfies are an indication of that condition. I try to be an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and when he tells me the two most important things in life are to love God and the love each other. Narcissism is the exact opposite of that.

Greed - The dark side of capitalism is greed. It is endemic to our way of doing business. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and for many that is the way it is supposed to be.

Corruption – Corruption invades too much in our society. It seems that daily there is yet another politician, religious figurehead, or business man who is exposed for corruption.

Incompetence – There are just too many people who think they can make the big bucks with this or that scheme and sadly many do. They would rather cheat and scheme than put in an honest days work. Someone recently, I think it was Steve Jobs, say it that it takes 10,000 trys to become an expert at something. Too many are just not willing to put in the effort. And then there are the current crop of politicians. Too much incompetence among those folks.

Why do we have to face all these stupid things day after day? It’s enough to make anyone crazy. Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t….

Maybe We Got It Wrong…

September 1, 2014

2014-08-09_19-13-53This is probably not a good post for a U.S. national holiday but here goes anyway. Fools rush in where….

A few hundred years ago, which is a very short amount of time in world history, we were part of the Great British empire. We bowed to the king and paid our share of taxes. Then some hot heads came along and convinced us that we would be better off on our own.  They, like many Californians today, just didn’t like the idea of paying taxes and found every excuse to avoid doing that.

Long story short here we are today with one of the worst, and the absolutely most expensive, healthcare system in the world.  A murder rate and gun ownership one of the highest in the world. Of course those two items are not unrelated.  Spending more on our military than all the other countries in the world combined let alone being so stressed out we seem to have no time for family.

While over in England they were recently judged to have the best healthcare of a first world country. Their gun ownership is a small fraction of our and they have less murders per capita l in a year than we do in a month. They, like most other countries spend miniscule amounts on their military.  They take the time for afternoon tea and meals with family. Britain also seems to learn from their mistakes much sooner than we do. They outlawed slavery many years before we did. They never tried to get rid of their alcohol as they realize that it is an integral part of their culture. They didn’t practice segregation to nearly the extent we did.

Maybe we got it wrong all those years ago. We let a few hot heads convince us that what we had was not a good thing.  Canada which is our neighbors to the north also rate pretty much as well  as England in all the mentioned categories. It is always fascinating to me to consider the results of various decisions both corporate and personal and to think about the consequences if we went the other way.

I know you can’t unscramble an egg or re-join a country so the above thinking is a total fantasy but it is interesting to ponder about how different my world would be today if we had not listened to those hot head rebels so many year ago. Now before you begin to flame me please realize that I love this country but we could learn a few lessons about doing it better from some of our neighbors, especially our British ones.

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “stimulus” just made things worse….

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2014-08-10_09-58-54

 

2014-08-10_09-59-20

SOURCE: Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law Updated | Dave Johnson.

In the old days, that is the time before I gave up on all the cable news channels I used to get a weekly dose of Fox News.  As they say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It was anything but news……

That’s all I want, or need, to say about this topic. It is too toxic to go any further into the idiocy of it….

I laughed out loud. Couldn’t help it; I had just overheard Mr. Newport Beach say something about how Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster despite how, of course, it’s not, and if America were to somehow actually develop a health care system similar to, say, Canada’s, that would be the end of America for certain; we’d never recover from such a devastating blow. Or something. And then came the [president is the] “worst thing to ever happen” quip, and I couldn’t hold back

They didn’t hear me, of course; the orgasmic thrum of their perfect lives drowned out my chuckle, and as I turned and looked at this beautifully entitled, happy crew from my vantage point only a few feet away but a million light years in perspective, we all shared one of the most spectacular, envied locales in the world and all of us sipped superb regional grape and not a single one of us suffered the slightest personal, social or economic indignity, every first-world need instantly met, every crab cake perfectly formed, the sunshine as flawless as Jesus on toast and no lines at the restroom and lots of free parking for his Lexus SUV…..

Even so, I desperately wanted to ask Mr. Newport Beach what his stock portfolio looked like a mere six or seven years ago, when Bush & Co. ravaged the country and led us into one of the deepest, most brutal social and economic pits in modern history. Did he lose half his net worth? More? Was he worried he couldn’t feed his family or pay his mortgage? Did he lose his house? His job? Did he blame Bush? Clinton? Islam? The gays?

And by the way, how does he like the recovery so far? Which of his three perfect, multimillion-dollar homes was he on his way to, right now?

I also wanted to know, when Bush/Cheney lied to the world, openly violated the tragedy of 9/11 and invaded Iraq, killing tens of thousands, was he furious? What about now, when even Fox News is calling out Cheney and declaring Iraq invasion a colossal mistake, a lie from which we’re still unable to extricate ourselves?

SOURCE:  The Best Worst President Ever | Mark Morford.

Mark Morford has become an instant hero of mine. This post says almost exactly how I feel about those rich guys who are so much against making healthcare a right instead of a privilege for all America’s citizens. I agree exactly with his amazement of calling our current president the worst ever while he is benefiting from all the massive recovery, at least for those who own a lot of stocks, that has occurred under this president.

I agree completely that it totally confuses me how this rich guy can completely ignore the disastrous condition that the previous president left the country in after eight years in office and how he put us in a $trillion+ off the books wars that the current president had to dig his way out of.  Compared to his predecessor the current president deserves  top three status in the presidential list.  How can this rich jerk even swallow the vitriol words that spews from his mouth.

But then I have to step back and recognize that this rich guy probably doesn’t represent most in his financial category. Or at least I hope he doesn’t? The hypocrisy of this rich guys words strike me as being one of the root causes for the trouble this country still has.  Thanks Mark for getting the words just right…..