How To Exclude…

I guess Mr. Gingrich is still trying to be the VP choice for the egomaniac  candidate. His words below are a total affront to the basic meaning of America.  It is equivalent to the witch hunts or at least the McCarthy years and taunts me as the primary dark side of politics and religion.  But before I get to that lets look at Gingrich’s statement:

2016-07-15_08-01-35“Every person here who is of a Muslim background” should be tested to determine whether he or she believes in Shariah, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scriptures.Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich introduces Donald Trump during a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 6. Getty Images

If they do, he said, they should be deported — even if they’re U.S. citizens. Gingrich added that anyone who simply visits any website “favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups” should be guilty of a felony, “and they should go to jail.

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Gingrich’s call to “test” Muslims in the U.S. as well as the truck attack.

“When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests that American Muslims be subjected to an Inquisition-style religious test and then expelled from their homes and nation, he plays into the hands of terror recruiters and betrays the American values he purports to uphold,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

Source: Newt Gingrich Wants Tests for All U.S. Muslims After Nice Attack – NBC News

There are just too many politicians going as deep into the gutter of politics as possible today!  I wonder if Mr Gingrich would settle for making Muslims wear large cloth patches on their clothing so that everyone would know they are Muslims.  Maybe that is good enough for the “cafeteria Muslims”? What upsets me even more than his words is the lack of words against his thoughts by the rest of us.  This guy has gone completely off the rails so to speak!

Looking at this from a higher level brings out my disgust for the very concept of exclusion. It is happening far too often now in both politics and religion. America is the land of immigrants and Christianity is about inclusion. To turn both on their heads is shameful to say the least.

I know fear is a powerful emotion but it is just grabbing far to many of us in both realms. The current thoughts that drive exclusion are:

  • We need to only allow those who think, look, and behave like us in our midst….
  • Anyone who questions any of our personal principles must be avoided at all costs….
  • Our safety is much more important than our principles…

Too many in our religious circles have tunnel vision when it comes to what they they allow to challenge their fixed beliefs.  They want to exclude anyone who doesn’t tow the line.  They fear that if they allow differences of opinion that they will fall down a slippery slope into oblivian. Take out the word “religious” above and put in the the “political” and the same thing applies.

Jesus, if he was about nothing else, was about inclusion. The founding fathers of our nation were also about inclusion. To twist their words for a personal agenda is both dangerous to us as a society and deadly to our basic principles.

U.S. Reveals Death Toll From Airstrikes

When I voted for President Obama in 2008 I saw him as someone who would take a biblical dove view of the world and treat war and murder as an abomination to be avoided at all costs except for eliminating imminent danger for U.S. citizens.  He has proven to NOT be that person. In fact he seems no better than any of his predecessors. It funny how all those generals in the flashy uniforms and many medals can turn a peace leader into a hawk.

WASHINGTON — Partially lifting the secrecy that has cloaked one of the United States’ most contentious tactics for fighting terrorists, the Obama administration on Friday said that it believed that airstrikes it has conducted outside conventional war zones like Afghanistan have killed 64 to 116 civilian bystanders and about 2,500 members of terrorist groups.

The official civilian death count is far lower than estimates compiled by independent organizations that try to track what the government calls targeted killings, and human rights groups expressed doubts about the reliability of the government’s numbers. Most of the strikes have been carried out by drones in chaotic places like Libya, tribal Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, though a small number have involved traditional aircraft or cruise missiles.

Source: U.S. Reveals Death Toll From Airstrikes Outside War Zones – The New York Times

As mentioned in the source above he took President Bush’s use of drones and elevated them to an extreme level. We are told that the innocent lost of life because of these drone strikes are one of the primary reasons so many hate us in that part of the world.  They strike so quietly and devastatingly to strike terror into innocent citizens of those Middle East countries. Yes, we are known by some as terrorists in that part of the world.

If only we could have admitted our mistakes as soon as they happened we might be in a very different place in our world.  But given the renowned bravado of U.S. citizens that was never going to happen. We would never say we were wrong about WMDs and then quietly leave. Instead we simply dig a deeper and deeper hole for ourselves.  Instead of liberators we have become those hated Americans to far too many in that part of the world.

Vietnam was the war of my generation. We invaded that country to keep the world free of communism. Of course we know that didn’t happen. In fact our number one trading partner, read someone who makes all our “stuff”,  is an avowed communist nation.  We also know that the body counts the generals came up with in that war were grossly over stated. I admit that because of that and other things I am a skeptic when it comes to information coming out of our military establishment, they are all kind of Dr. No’s to me, so I expect the same thing this time around.

Hillary Clinton who is likely, if we maintain our sanity as a nation, our next president is on the surface is much more hawkish than the current office holder. I can’t imagine what kind of trouble she will get us into.  My mantra is “Give Peace A Chance”. Pretty naive isn’t it?

We Don’t Really Need Their Votes…

Its about time the the Democratic Party quit even trying to pander to the racist southern white vote. They are going to hate Democrats until the day they die. It was heartening to see that the latest Democratic Party platform has nothing in it for them

Perhaps this new confidence comes from Democrats’ understanding that they have majority support in the country, and simultaneously realizing that there’s little they can do to win over the voters who despise them, particularly in the South. After years of approaching conservative white voters on their knees — Watch, I’ll go hunting! I’ll go to a NASCAR rally! Will that make you happy? — Democrats have decided that they don’t really need those voters, and they’d do better to serve the people who might actually vote for them….

At this point it’s hard to imagine how the GOP could get any more conservative unless it started advocating burning witches at the stake. Republicans’ growing ideological extremism may have freed Democrats up to be themselves without worrying about whether they might alienate some white guy from Alabama whose vote they were never going to win anyway. And the spreading understanding of the Democrats’ demographic advantage — where they have strong support among most of the groups whose proportion of the population is growing — serves to make them even more bold.

Source: How the Democratic Party quit being wimpy

Maybe Donald Trump will end up being a good thing for this country. It shows us that a significant portion of our population are out of the mainstream of 21st century American life so extremely that they should be ignored and eventually they will go away simply by attrition. The racist southern white vote still makes up a large percentage of the Republican party but most are greying and will soon leave the scene.

Given how easy it was for Trump to capture the Republican nomination for president I too find it hard to imagine the GOP could get any more conservative.  Their numbers are shrinking but not fast enough for me. I wish the moderates of that party, of which I was once one, would take back control but I wouldn’t mourn the collapse of the party to be replaced by something more willing to live in the future instead of an imagined past.

I have been finding more and more articles about young people who are embracing the challenges of today. They are prepared to take on significant debt in order to get an education that will provide them with a pathway to the future. They are shunning the 3,000 square foot homes in favor of movable “tiny homes” of 400 SF or less.  This is a dynamic generation willing to move to wherever the jobs are.  Our government needs to embrace these attitudes and help them along the way.  The first contribution is to somehow make higher education more affordable.

Sadly we need to write off many around today. Mainly those who are stuck in a very hateful past or those who are not willing to put in the effort to join the middle class. That is our future…

New Super Battery? — Fast Track It…

2016-05-26_07-47-17.pngThe primary problem with 21st century power possibilities is how to store the energy during off-cycle periods. Batteries have come a long way since the lead-acid one found in most cars but still need a leap forward to fully accomplish renewable energy needs. This just might be that leap.

So far the new battery component has made it through three months of continuous charging and discharging without losing its ability to hold a charge, says Mya Le Thai, the doctoral candidate behind the innovation — that’s 200,000 cycles. (By comparison, iPhone batteries fade to about 80 percent of their original capacity after just 500 cycles, making hers at least 400 times better.) Thai says she’s getting impatient, but that the head of her lab won’t let her stop the experiment…

So is that it? Batteries we can finally forget about? Someday, but that’s probably not a someday soon. New technologies take years to make it from lab to market, and “the overwhelming majority of innovations don’t survive the process,” as Christopher Mims writes in The Wall Street Journal.

SOURCE: This new super battery can last 400 times as long as your iPhone

A battery that lasts more than 200,000 cycles and can last for months on one charge! That is the paradigm shift needed to bootstrap our solar energy foundation. The article goes into some detail about how that is accomplished but they are somewhat beyond me.  As cited in the last paragraph quote above they say “some day” they might be available. Why not fast track them. Let’s put a $ billion into government funding and then turn the results over to a regulated private industry.

I can see the day that our power grid will basically cease to exist. Where every home and business will have its own power source. Lets not wait for “someday”. Let’s move into the 21st century with a similar project as the moon landing of the 20th century.  We can’t wait…

Privatize It….

The GOP solution to almost everything that is wrong with America is to privatize it. They simply don’t think that government has much of a place in today’s American society. Democrats on the other hand believe that in many cases government is the most effective solution.  One of those disputed areas is healthcare. Which one is right? Maybe the answer lies in trying both out and see which gives the best results?

2016-05-25_08-48-26.pngFor more than two years, the Veterans Affairs department has struggled to deal with a long-buried crisis in its service to veterans, a systemic and widespread fraud that concealed long wait times at its hospitals and clinics….

Five years later, however, whistleblowers produced evidence that dozens of veterans had died while being denied access to care at the Phoenix VA. Evidence emerged that the wait-list fraud was not localized to one VA center but was standard operating procedure in much of the country. VA executives earned bonuses while veterans languished in medical limbo — and some of them perished in it, too. Obama sacked Shinseki, the only Cabinet official to resign under pressure from the president, and appointed Robert McDonald to clean up the VA.

SOURCE:  Obama’s VA scandal is much bigger than a callous Disney analogy

The VA just seems to have been plagued with troubles for most of my life. They just can’t seem to figure out what needs to be done to fix it. On the other hand Medicare is for the most part praised for its effectiveness.  As usual the solution to the VA problems is split along party lines. Each is convinced that their solution would work the best.

So, let’s see which is better.  Right now Medicare provides 55 million people with healthcare coverage. The VA provides coverage for 23 million. Why don’t we privatize the VA?  Give them a voucher for going out and getting coverage on their own and then wait and see what the results are.   The Republicans want to privatize Medicare and put us seniors on our own so lets test it with our veteran population first.  If it works out there then there would be evidence that Medicare would also benefit from privatization. If not then maybe we can finally put the privatization mantra to rest.

But, I don’t think that will happen. My GOP friends are for the most part big backers of our military establishment. They seem to not be able to see a military expense that they can turn down. I really think they can see that government provided healthcare that if properly run is the true future foundation for our nation’s healthcare system as it is for the rest of the world but they just don’t want to admit.  Why else would they keep trying to fix the VA  to make is as effective as Medicare instead of just privatizing it.

As a test of who has the best solution let’s let the Republicans privatize the trouble prone VA and see what happens…..

 

The Real Republican Party..

2016-05-05_09-30-12.pngNow that Donald Trump is on the verge of being official face of the Republican party there are many saying that he does not represent the “real” party. I kind of think he does, or at least what is left of the party.  Over the years the GOP has gone about alienating one group after another in order to maintain party “purity”. During that time more and more people have been shedding themselves of the Republican label such that their is not much left.

The Evangelical vote, or maybe more appropriately the anti-abortion vote, has been splintering away for years now.  What is left are mainly those who willing to strip away the core foundations of their faith in order to concentrate on that one sub-agenda.  Even the term Evangelical is an easily attachable tag that doesn’t come with many qualifying conditions. Anyone can call themselves Evangelical and many now do.  The real Christians have quietly migrated into the Independent category of American politics.

Those of us who used to call ourselves Republicans because of our fiscally conservative views have watched the old GOP actually do worse than the Democrats when it comes to deficit spending and reducing the size of government.  We have watched one Republican president after another get us into wars and the resulting vast increase in military spending and want to make up the difference on the backs of the poor in our society. While we may be fiscally conservative we still maintain our firm belief in the necessity of a societal safety net.  So we have quietly migrated into the Independent category of American politics.

Those of us who believe in limited government who used to call ourselves Republicans have seen the GOP make every effort to strip the power of government beyond what is safe in order to maintain some form of civility and governance. We have watched the current GOP majority in congress strip away safeguards that keep the totally greedy among us from gobbling up the wealth of our country.  We have seen them viciously trying to take away affordable healthcare from millions of our citizens in the name of limited government.  We who believe in limited government know that there are many places that can be reigned in to reduce our deficits but the current crop of GOP have an agenda that is not compatible with finding these real savings.  So we have quietly migrated to the Independent category of American politics.

What is left after all these migrations are two fundamentally different groups. One are the people who have been left behind in the 21st century economy due to one reason or another.  They look back and see where opportunity was much easier to grab on to than it is today. They lament that it now takes more effort to join the middle class than they have been able, or maybe willing to give.  They have a mentality that if they are not doing good then they want to push everyone else down to their level. They want to basically destroy America of opportunity because they did not get their expected share.

The second group are those at the other end of the spectrum who seek power primarily at the expense of the rest of us. They don’t like rules that get in the way of accomplishing their personal agendas. For the most part they are self serving narcissists who don’t have any concern for others. They are concentrated total on themselves and their accumulation of wealth.

So here we are today with an extreme narcissist in control of a bitterly divided GOP. Given the past few decades it is hard to imagine it otherwise.

How America has waged an eternal war in the Middle East

I think I heard somewhere that the U.S. has more than a thousand military bases throughout the world and I suspect many of them are located in the Middle East. We as a country seem to be so fixated on telling others how to live that we spend huge amounts of money and our citizens’ lives trying to do just that.  Here are some words about that:

2016-04-12_08-11-28.png

Every year the United States seems to be torn between further retreat from the Middle East and deeper military involvement in it.

Over the past four decades, America has bombed pharmaceutical plants in Sudan and cars from Yemen to Afghanistan. It has promoted democracy in the Palestinian territories, then subterfuge and civil war in Syria. In Iraq alone, it has tried war, sanctions, no-fly zones, shock-and-awe, regime change, withdrawal, and, now, bombing again.

Instead he points out that while the Middle East will still be an irritant to America for some time to come, the energy that the world depends on is now found in abundance in the Western hemisphere and the balance of economic power is shifting dramatically to Asia. The unstated and perhaps morally unsatisfying conclusion is that while America’s expansive military policy in the Middle East may reveal itself to be a bad deal in the near future, geopolitical forces may conspire to push America to move on without ever truly reckoning the cost of its folly.

SOURCE: How America has waged an eternal war in the Middle East

The one thing I disagree with the above quote is the use of the word “irritant” to describe our Middle East quagmire. Trillions of dollars have been wasted that along with thousands of our young men and women. It is much more than an irritant.

I’m sure a lot of the Middle East think has been because of our quest for energy resources, which up until recently have been mainly oil. The Middle East has always been unstable, at least during my lifetime which began with forceably inserting Holocaust victims  directly in their midst.  Thank heavens renewable energy sources use is quickly expanding and  therefore reducing in cost. I can see a day when most of our energy is obtained that way. That along with newly discovered natural gas will soon make the Middle East irrelevant when it comes to energy.

I kind of suspect that if we left the Middle East citizens alone to their own fates that they would not have such a hatred for us.  If as my Republican friends now seem to want, let’s put up a fence around that part of the world and leave it to them. The Shias and the Sunnis can battle each other for the voice of Allah without our interference.

One of my strongest upsets about America is that we just can’t seem to take any lessons from the rest of the world. We think we “know it all” and therefore want to form the rest of the world in our molds.  We just can’t fathom that maybe we might be wrong about some things.

Its time we learned this lesson….

 

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