War Crimes and Misdemeanors
HEY PRESIDENT OBAMA: The Nobel Peace Prize committee is calling. They want their medal back.
The coveted award, which many felt was premature, at best, when bestowed during the president’s first year in office, was seriously tarnished in the eyes of many by his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and other military endeavors.
But Obama’s role in waging drone warfare—particularly in Pakistan and Yemen—has made a mockery of the prize that Alfred Nobel said should go to the person “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.”
Obama’s drone attacks—according to a May investigation by The New York Times, Daniel Klaidman’s new book Kill or Capture, and other sources—are arguably in direct violation of U.S. and international law, and immoral to boot.
The drone attacks started out with clear rules: Only target those who represent a direct threat to the United States. Those rules soon went out the door—a senior U.S. official called it a “little liberalization that went on in the kill lists,” according to The Washington Post, while a former counterterrorism official said that “the elasticity of that has grown over time.”
This article has been sitting on my desk for almost a year now waiting for attention. I am glad I finally uncovered it. It deserves attention. Like all previous presidents there are things I like and also dislike about our current one. I thank him for at least getting us started down the path of universal healthcare. Even if what he is finally implementing was for the most part a Republican plan from a couple of decades ago and one that had already been implemented in the State of Massachusetts. I guess getting even that through this totally obstructionist GOP House was still quite a feat.
One of the things I very much dislike about our current president is his use of robot drone warfare. They say, and I believe rightly so, that the drone program is the best recruiter for Al Qaeda. But what scares me even more it the concept of having “no skin in the game”. When a country has robots to kill their enemies they have no risk of lost of life of their own so it is easier to hit the “kill” button. Every thing about this drone program is veiled in secrecy. We simply don’t know what the process is to order a kill of a person and resulting collateral damage (that means innocent lives).
Yes, we appear to presently be the only country to have killer drones at our disposal. But how long do you think that is really going to last? What happens when our enemies, whoever they are at the time, decide to strike us with robot killers. Are we really ready for that scenario? I’m sure one result would be that we would launch our killer robots on them and then things would likely escalate beyond that.
I watch enough sci-fi movies to see the utter consequences of killer robot drones. Why can’t those currently in power, especially Mr. Obama realize that his present actions will likely have dire future consequences?
“No man can be condemned for owning a dog. In fact you admire him, ’cause as long he’s got a dog he’s got a friend, and the poorer he gets the better friend he has.” – Will Rogers, 8 May 1927
Wouldn’t it be nice if, in some ways, we were more like our canine friends. They don’t judge us on how much money we make or how many friends we have on FaceBook. They simply love us for who we are. It doesn’t matter that we might be physically or mentally impaired in one way or another, or even if we were homeless. They love us anyway. I believe that every person can learn something from any other person if only we take the time to do that. Maybe I should add dogs to that list. They seem to be better than us at learning some life lessons than we are.
I love my wife of twenty-eight years but still get annoyed when she tries to change me in one way or another. But that is just her nature; she seems to have it as a primary task in life to make me a “better” person. Now I am not saying that I couldn’t use some improvements but I kind of like myself just as I am, weirdness and all.
All my life I have had dogs around and I can’t remember a single one who didn’t love me just for who I am.
Legislators in Mexico City, the largest city in North America, are preparing to push through certain measures that would decriminalize and regulate the consumption of marijuana in the Mexican capital, a move that may speed pot legalization elsewhere in the continent
I want to warn you up front that this post has no deep knowledge behind it. I have not studied all the statistics and history of legalizing marijuana, nor do I have any personal experiences with it. I am only speaking from my knowledge of history and what I believe is common sense. But of course my common sense may be quite different from your common sense.
Undoubtedly if there were no marijuana in the world there would likely be fewer people that go on to become addicted to other more damaging drugs. But, as is the case with each of the bullets above that is not likely to happen. We tried to eliminate alcohol decades ago only to turn it underground. We have taken steps to make tobacco more expensive and that has helped reduce it use but teenagers still get hooked on it when they use it to rebel against authority. We know through most other countries that restricting guns saves thousands of lives a year and billions of dollars in less crime but we still can’t even pass any restrictions on their sale.
Is it time to give up on our war with marijuana? Is that war costing us many times more than what its elimination would accomplish? I guess we will be finding that out in the not too distant future.
REENSBORO, N.C. Police say one person has been shot at North Carolina A&T State University, prompting a brief campus lockdown.
Greensboro Police Department said in a statement Saturday night that “one or more” suspects were firing guns near McCain Hall on campus when one of the rounds struck 21-year-old Divine Eatman.
Lockdown is a term commonly used in our prison system to mean that all prisoners are to be in their locked cells. It usually occurs when some form of violence occurs within the prison facility. Sadly it is now becoming a quite common term throughout our society. Whenever someone goes over the edge, or even near it, everyone in the general area must stay locked in their homes or wherever they happen to be.
I could say that this is taking a freedom away from the many so that a few who love their guns can easily get and enjoy them. Next thing you know the Supreme Court will be ruling that it is ok for anyone to yell “Fire” in a movie theatre since restricting them is a violation of their freedom! I hope you know that I am being facetious here but if things continue the way they are going I wouldn’t be terrible surprised to see that result.
How sad is that??
But I’m just an ordinary guy so what do I know…..
They say it’s the little things that matter. All the little moments that make up our day to day lives. We never seem to appreciate them, nor do we seem to acknowledge the long and impossible road behind us. We rarely stare in the rear view mirror to see what we’ve accomplished so far.
We rarely enjoy the ride. We want to get to the destination as fast as possible. We don’t want any dead ends, we don’t want hours and hours of endless nothing.
But the thing is, life’s just a matter of perspective. We become who we think we are, and we see what we choose to see.
Spend too much time in the future, admiring a version of you that feels impossible to build, and it’s just as painful and mind-numbing as wallowing yourself in the past.
SOURCE: Day to day lives « Cristian Mihai.
My young Romanian friend seems to be spending much time on his blog lately trying to raise money. I’m not sure if it is to allow him more time to write or to get the latest book published. I must admit that I usually only scan those posts and then move on to the next one. But as usual he sometimes comes across with a thought provoking one and this is one of those.
As is typical I think of his generation he seems to be looking almost exclusively to the future. The present and the past just don’t seem important. When most of your days are ahead of you that is a natural course. I know I spent too many hours dreaming of the future when I was his age. Throughout my life I have been plagued with the question “what do I want to do when I grow up?” I spent too much time worrying about the distant future instead of what I could do at the time.
That perspective changes as we age and sometimes changes dramatically when we see more behind us than what is in front. As my young friend notes we never appreciate all the time we spend doing the day-to-day things. We let them pass without much notice. When we are older we spend more time in the past. We wonder what might have been the consequence if we had made this decision instead of that one. We, well I guess I can only say I, look back to see different possibilities. Part of that is probably because I am never satisfied with what I have accomplished. I could have done better if I had put my mind to it. I could have done better if I had had the guts to do something differently.
Living in the present is just something that is difficult for me. Even in these twilight years I am still looking for that something that gives me complete satisfaction. But like perfection, completely satisfying is an unknowable thing. I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth but somehow I have to get it through my mind to spend more time in the here and now instead of the past or the future.
Thank you my young friend for helping me to realize that fact.
When the votes are tallied in Virginia’s race for governor on Tuesday, over 300,000 citizens will be missing from the voting rolls – including 20% of the state’s black population. The reason is not low turnout or voter ID, but a growing and often invisible barrier to voting that is upending elections around the country.
Over 5 million Americans are barred from voting because they have criminal records, according to a report this year from the Sentencing Project.
The crackdown on ballot access is so intense, a majority of states actually bar former convicts from voting even after they are released from prison.
Except for my fellow blogger Bob Lowry I probably know more felons than most who pen blog pages. And for the most part these guys are no different from anyone else except for the fact that they made a stupid decision in their lives and paid for it by spending time behind bars. Our society used to say you do the crime you do the time and then everything is square.
One of the most fundamental rights in a democracy is the right to vote. One person – one vote is critical to maintaining a democratic system. Most, even in the GOP, recognize that the demographics are constantly being skewed away from the Republican party of mainly WASPS. But instead of trying to broaden their message to include this new demographics many Republican dominated States are trying to maintain power by restricting the vote. They figure they can hold off the tide for a number of years by keeping others outside their base from being able to vote. The main way to do that is by eliminating those who might vote against them.
It is alarming to see that over 300,000 citizens in Virginia have been purged from the voting rolls because of having served time in its prison system. Over 5 million have been purged nationally. Of course studies have shown that when you restrict voting by this group you “tend to take more votes from Democrats than Republicans. If you look at the map of total exclusion it should come as no surprise that the majority of State who take away voting privileges are in the solid red category.
Prior to the Civil Rights period many of these same States had restrictions of African-Americans from voting. So voting restriction is not a new thing; it is just being taken to a new level by a political party desperate for holding power.
I just don’t think that many people actually are aware how fragile a working democracy is. While none of these current attacks on voting rights would probably result in crossing the line, when taken together do jeopardize our country.
An apocryphal story is told of Fosdick meeting a young man for a walk in Central Park. “I’m jealous of your faith,” said the young man. “I’m afraid to ask questions, because I was raised in a faith that provided all the answers and to ask questions was to show unfaithfulness.” Coming upon a reflecting pool, Fosdick mused, “Son, your faith is like this pool: calm, bordered, shallow—you always know what it’s going to look like and what the boundaries are. But it’s not a “living” faith. It’s not going anywhere. Vital faith is like a stream bubbling up from a well deep within the earth. As it makes its way, it twists and turns, sometimes changes course, is deep and slow in some places and fast and turbulent in others, responding to the geographical reality. It’s joined by the waters of other streams and together they make their way back to their source.”
Stagnation, not change, is Christianity’s deadliest enemy. Vital faith has always been dynamic, flowing, and moving. So one of the biggest challenges for thinking Christians today is facing those who conceive of “true” Christianity as something that never changes. While many faith communities have invested untold energy arguing over changing the style of liturgy and music used in worship, what really need to be addressed are many of the basic theological tenets espoused by that liturgy and music.
Take, for example, a contemporary worship song in which God is praised for knowing where every bolt of lightning strikes. This might be comforting for those who want to believe God controls the world like a puppet master. It is, perhaps, less comforting for those who have been struck by lightning.
For many religious people, it takes some serious readjustment to change those theological underpinnings and recast Christianity as something fluid. Some are too controlled by fear—of change, of uncertainty, of being called heretical—to make the shift. They keep trying, desperately, to hold on to old conceptions as if their eternal life depended on it. But there are alternatives.
Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (Felten, David;Procter-Murphy, Jeff)
One of the things they tell you that you must learn when you become a soldier is to follow orders without any questions or doubts. It is not up to you to determine if what they order you to do is moral, right, wrong, or any other type of reasoning. That lesson is drummed into you during basic training and throughout your time in the military. Your superiors are the ones who decide what you do. You have little or no input into that process.
I guess I was a typical five-year old in that I constantly asked the question “Why?” I had to understand as much as I could about what I was seeing or doing. What may not be typical of me is that I never grew out of the “why” mode. To this day I seem to question everything that I am not familiar with. Over the years this constantly asking “why” has caused me to change courses in my life. Asking too many questions gets me in trouble in several different areas but I guess I am kind of like an addict in that I just can’t stop asking….
Android is the Wild West of phone operating systems. Stock devices largely come unprotected from attack. Sure, Google checks apps and viruses for malware on the Google Play store, but threats can come from anywhere – even via unsecured Wi-Fi locations. The phones are so vulnerable, in fact, that 32.8 million Android devices were infected with malware last year alone.
This article contains four reasons why Apple is better than Android. Yes, I know there are strict loyalties among both of these brands but when it comes to viruses and such that should fall by the wayside to some degree. Android is much like Windows in that its source code is pretty much available to any nuanced hacker. That is why Windows produces almost daily updates to fight off yet another hack. Apple on the other hand protects their source code as seriously as Coke does their formula. Without that info hacking into an Apple product is almost like trying to decipher a well designed passcode.
It surprised me that Android had almost 33 million malware infections last year and there seems to be no uproar?
From taking tighter control over the health insurance market themselves to pushing decisions and costs down to individuals, businesses are experimenting with a host of new ways to offer health-care coverage, spurred in part by the launch of the Affordable Care Act, but also by the inexorable rise in the cost of medical care in the United States. The moves promise to change a social compact that has existed between employers and employees over health-care coverage for more than a half century.
Of course changes are coming to employer based healthcare. In the same way that defined pension plans have totally evaporated in a twenty year period, healthcare paid by your employer will soon follow. And isn’t it convenient that the companies shedding a previously foundational obligation have something to blame it on. Obamacare.
The root cause of all the pushing expenses back on the employee comes when companies in the 1980s quit thinking of their employees as assets and instead saw them as liabilities. At first there was a trickle of companies who latched onto something called a 401k plan. The spin they used to drop their previous pension commitments to their employees what that they were giving them more “choices”. (I hated that term when it was going around )They proudly announced that each of us could now manage our own retirement finances. But in reality what it meant was that instead of putting $x into a pension plan for you they could give you $x/2 to the 401K and make it sound like they were doing you a favor. Unfortunately the trickle became a flood in the 1990s and as a result there are almost no fixed benefit plans in existence today.
Since ever-increasing profits and dividends are the fodder for huge CEO pay the employees, as usual, get the short end of the stick. I realize that almost all of us think we can do it better than those other guys when it comes to investing money. We rationalize that we can somehow time our investment decisions to maximize gain. Even for the “experts” stock picking and timing have always been more gambling than anything else. The fact that a broadly structured index fund beats more than 90% of the stock pickers is a testimony to that fact.
I admit that most defined pension plans were probably pretty conservative in the portfolios so the profit rates were somewhat low. Everyone thinks they can do better but what happens to their “private pensions” when they don’t? I personally witnessed a co-worker’s 401K get decimated because he had almost 100% company stock in his portfolio. He convinced himself that was his road to riches. He was convince he could make big bucks by sticking to his “plan” but in reality he saw about 80% of his retirement savings evaporate over a six month period!
I know there are those out there that say “Its my money so I should be able to do whatever I want with it, and many do just that. But what happens when they lose or spend it all before retirement? That is similar to those who have no health insurance today. All the rest of us end up paying for their failures in one mode or another.
I admit up front that for my generation It seems I am just weird. I am the first of the baby boomers and I am now officially a senior citizen. Being a senior citizen I am told by the media that:
I guess I am just a weird person who doesn’t fit the mold society is trying to put me in. I continue to have at least some level of optimism about our ability to accept changes and to quit being so fearful about so much.
I’m not sure where I first heard the phrase in the title but it rings true to me in both our international and our political processes. When someone makes a very crude attempt to make a shoe bomb we immediately make it front page news and then spend billions of dollars to guard against it. It seems that by talking about terrorism so much we are actually causing much of it to happen.
When we give all the nuts out there their “15 minutes of fame” we are actually encouraging more to come forward. When we give so much attention to some of our very seriously unbalanced congressional representative we are actually increasing the chances that one of them will cause our country to reach critical mass of meltdown or even destruction.
Terrorism is 95% publicity and 5% actual action. We need to lighten up some and not be fixated by it. There is no such thing as a typical terrorist other than someone trying to strike fear into us for one of a myriad of reasons. The motive for that fear can come from almost anything. What did Bin Ladin and Timothy McVeigh have in common besides having a warped sense of reality?
Given our 24/7 news channels now it would be hard to not make every one who decides to buy a gun and go out and shoot people the center of national attention. Being able to so easily obtain the weapon and then get so much attention when you use it just makes acts of terrorism way too easy in today’s world. How do we go about making it harder?
There is a lot of uproar lately about digital privacy. I am kind of on the fence about it. One the one hand I want our government to be able to track down those who would do harm to innocent people but on the other hand I don’t want the government to come after me because of some of the words on this blog or any other part of my life. I value my privacy and for the most part just want to be left alone.
The automation of human labor is as old as the Industrial Revolution. From the steam engine and the cotton gin to the desktop computer and the robotic welder, machines have enabled leaps of efficiency that create far more jobs than they destroy. And yet many economists and technologists believe that things are different this time, that society is entering a new and troubling phase as computing power and other advances make possible the creation of ever-more-powerful robots. What if the economic growth of the future produces more jobs for more robots, leaving humans behind? What if we’re heading toward a future in which a handful of creative humans marshal an army of ever-more-intelligent machines while everyone else languishes? How does the world work without … work?….
“Computers (hardware, software, and networks) are only going to get more powerful and capable in the future, and have an ever-bigger impact on jobs, skills, and the economy. The root of our problems is not that we’re in a Great Recession, or a Great Stagnation, but rather that we are in the early throes of a Great Restructuring.
SOURCE: Will Robots Take Our Jobs? – TIME.
The Industrial Revolution, which started well over a hundred years ago has always been about jobs disappearing and jobs being created. When the automobile came on the scene people who made buggy whips and carriages saw their jobs evaporate. When food supermarkets came on the scene in the 1950s many small speciality food places vanished. Let’s just face it progress means some jobs disappear while others are created.
There are those who will adamantly fight such change. They will make it their life’s objective to fight against the inevitable turmoil that change causes. They will fight for the status quo. They just don’t like change. They will fight change in all its forms. As a result their lives are generally spent in anguish.
And then there are others who see change and embrace it. They see new opportunities instead of lost stability. Fortunately younger generations are more adaptable to change than older ones. I certainly recognize that many in my generation are the primary fighters against change.
The above quote is pretty negative in nature and that only re-enforces those who resist change. Even though most of the years of my life are behind me I still look at what is happening today as just a transition into a more fulfilling life for future generations. Yes, the totally mind boring hour-after-hour labor that was so easily obtained in my early work years is almost exclusively being taken over by robots. In order to find meaningful and adequate monetary employment will mean a paradigm shift for how we approach preparation for our working years in the future.
Yes, we are likely in the throes of a Great Restructuring. The end of the twenty-first century will likely be dramatically different as was the beginning of the twentieth century compared to now.
I will end this post with a verse from a song of one of my heroes in my college years. He seemed to be able to say things that no one else could. I will let you guess who that is.
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
Many if not most of my conservative friends seem to base their political posture on fear. They are anti- anything that changes their version of the country. Their fear is so pervasive in their actions. But what do they fear the most??? That is probably a question that has a myriad of answers but let me give you my beliefs about it.
The Tea Party is anti almost everything. But the thing that they most loathe is our current president. They see him as one of “those people” who are not like them. They see the future of the country in his heritage. Here are some words from a recent email from Jim Wallis about that.
In only about 30 years, most Americans will come from Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Most Americans will no longer be white, and many white Americans are clearly not ready for that profound demographic change in their country. That white fear of who “we” Americans will be is at the heart of resistance to immigration reform. Many older conservative Republican and Tea Party voters are acutely aware of being “white” in a country that is becoming increasingly a “minority.” Congressional voting districts have been oddly gerrymandered along racial lines to protect dominant racial majorities. Shutting down a government that they believe to be too generous to minorities becomes an urgent matter. “Obamacare” becomes the great threat of government providing medical insurance disproportionately to poor people of color. Giving food stamps to poor families becomes another racial flashpoint for conservative white voters.
Finally, a black president becomes the most hated symbol of the demographic changes they most fear for their country.
Questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace and parentage, calling him a non-Christian Muslim, naming him as a “foreigner” and not a “real American” are all ways to define this president as “the other” and not one of “us.” The hatred goes far beyond Obama’s policies and extends to his personage as the wrong kind of American. Obama shows them they are losing elections, and they fear that means losing “their” country.
I know this is a very sensitive topic and I am trying to speak with that sensitivity in mind. When Lyndon Johnson dared to push through the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s the South was for the most part in the Democratic Party. The Republican party which was the party of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation up until that time had little appeal to many in the previous Confederate States. But the Civil Rights laws pushed all the “Dixiecrats” over into the GOP and that is where they are still firmly entrenched. They became the new base for the party. If you don’t understand that then just look at the red/blue maps of our country.
I believe that much of the Tea Party “principles” are based on things we just don’t want to be visible. It is kept firmly under the surface in today’s politics. No, am not painting with too broad a brush here. I understand that there are other factions who have also chosen to hitch their wagons to this Tea Party movement. Some have a nobler agenda and some probably not. But to ignore that racism plays a strong part of the Tea Party agenda and their vitriol hatred of an African-American president is in my mind just not facing reality.
So many Republican politicians go to the extremes to placate their base. Maybe it is time to jettison those angry folks and look for a new and certainly more noble foundation. I would certainly support them in that effort.
I come from a very Red State so I shouldn’t be surprised that so many of my high school classmates are radical rights. But that doesn’t ease the pain….