Saturday, August 23, 2014

days on vacation

One of the things that annoys me is people who find fault with Presidents taking a vacation or playing golf while in office. This came up again when we learned of the beheading of a journalist where the murderers attempted to make the video visible to the world as a threat-- might I add a terrorist threat to the world.

So Obama makes a statement regarding what the government is considering to deal with this rogue element within the Islamic religion. He then goes back to the golf course, which led extreme righties to post threatening comments and ridicule him for playing golf during a crisis. Does that make sense to anybody using logic?

First of all Obama gives orders for attacks or a general agenda for what the military will do. He is not personally running drones or flying jets which will be doing the work. What exactly would his not playing golf accomplish? 

It'd be a symbol, and to right wingers, symbols are everything. Remember the little flag pin that had to be on a lapel? Craziness-- as did that mean the person wearing the pin had any more patriotic view of our country than one without it? If you think it did, you are more right wing than you know. It was all about looks.

For a President in the United States, they NEVER leave the job. Not ever never. They are responsible and getting information constantly and that means on vacation or not. 

My opinion on golf is if it relaxes a President, then he SHOULD play. Bush should have kept playing instead of deciding in 2003, he had to give it up to look good for the shallow voter element. What exactly did that accomplish to make our country safer? Nada, zero, nothing. And the same thing would've been true if Obama had not played the round of golf he had set out to play before this all happened. 

Thankfully Obama is a man who seems to understand not only the need for breaks, but also his ability to talk tough and still move back into a family life of a real person. Anybody who cannot do this should never be a President of a country as complex as ours.

As for too many vacations as some righties (always it's righties) claim, here are the facts on how many days he's been off on vacation since he took office--  


For those who hate him, any excuse to criticize is a good one and their comments get really ugly if you read such at all. I just wish they held the best of our country as highly as they do their hatred for this man and his family. It might enable them to look beyond their personal feelings, that he's unfit, to the actual actions and what is best to do next especially on something as complex as this radical group who have come to power thanks to Hussein being eliminated from Iraq as much as anything else! 

Our staying forever in Iraq as an occupying force wasn't happening, and Bush set the timetable for leaving. Americans didn't agree to forever, and those who got us into the war, like Cheney, lied about how long it would take and what it would cost. They are the same ones now complaining about the deficit. 

Take your pick-- higher taxes or higher deficit? Oh, don't like either? How about picking wars or not picking them? Grrrrrrrr. I need a break from reading the news as it's not making my day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

there's always another side

No surprise in this-- as soon as I posted the following comment at Daily Beast, I got attacked. I figured it'd be that way because this is another situation where I, as a moderate/independent, don't have a side that I favor totally. I see more than one answer to what happened with several ideas on what should be done. Still, I finally felt compelled to say what I thought in a world where people want to blame somebody; so one side sees it as the cop who did wrong. Another side blames the black community.
"I just wish the people in America would wait to see all the facts. The autopsy pretty much confirms the story the police officer told regarding what happened. If he knew a strong-arm robbery had taken place, he didn't know it was these two. But they knew and when they were stopped, it explains their belligerence. The 'witness' had every reason to make it look as though the police officer overstepped. Remember all this talk of 'just' stealing cigars isn't quite the case given the photos we saw. He did strong-arm that small clerk.

 Frankly I feel sorry for the police as they face such dicey situations. Yes, it sounds like Ferguson police had been abusing power but that does not mean this officer was doing less than his job. He has been hung out to hang by those who want to profit from this politically-- on both sides and it looks like it ignores the real problem-- what has happened to Ferguson itself as our country has changed.

When I read that Ferguson high schools are not accredited because the kids scored too low, I wondered why Missouri hadn't cared enough to work on that problem years ago. Young men who can't get an education are on a dead-end road whether it ends violently or hopelessly. Yes, this is a systemic problem and not just Ferguson. Yes, we should have standards for police that they have to meet whether it's a minority or not. But this should be about what happened first; then deal with the reason the people have reacted as they have. If people feel powerless, it can lead to rage. But using it to blame one police officer for what happened seems wrong until we know more about what happened. The autopsy certainly affirms what I had heard he claimed more than the supposed witness who had a stake in it being bad cop."
So are Americans ever willing to wait for the whole story, or do they just want the story that suits their agenda... right or left!

When I read the explanation of what led to the shooting, which had been called into a radio station by a 'supposed' friend of the police officer, it rang true to me and having seen what happened in the store earlier, I could see why the young black man acted as he did also: [transcript from radio caller].  When I finally decided to write something about it here, I had to really dig to find a link. It's not being widely spread what his story was. Our government didn't even want released the surveillance tape of the teen manhandling a much smaller clerk to steal those cigars. 

For those who say this was all about stealing cigars, which should not be a big deal and you add onto it the things you recall stealing-- did you threaten someone else to do it? Manhandle them? If you did, then you weren't just a thief, were you?

Right now, and not surprisingly, one side sees it as all about the misuse of power by the cops and the other purely about what was done wrong to this black community in general. In the last week, we got examples of both overreaches. It is being exploited by those who seek to profit from it and Americans eagerly go along with that because we love exciting stories even tragic ones.

All right, I do think the black community in Ferguson had been done wrong, but do they have some responsibility for that or are they total victims? If the school board is all white but the community is 70% black, what's that about? Why has the state of Missouri ignored a whole community where the high school is not accredited? A place where there really is no way out and up-- except maybe to deal drugs to the nearby white community or to steal. Does that seem bad for everybody to you? It sure does to me.

I know one thing -- after rioting and looting, what business will want to go back into that community? It has cost such communities local jobs in the past and likely will again. Business wants stability and rioting doesn't offer it. 

Recently we saw a lawless bunch supporting that rancher in Nevada and they were all or mostly at least white. They also claimed an abuse of power and wanted to use violence to get their idea of justice. Frankly, this is not so much about color as it is about education. What will we do about that? Nothing is what we have been doing... and for those blacks who said it's their hood and we should stay out. Nope. It's our country, and we can't afford to let an abscess grow. We have to work to fix it and I think it starts with a meaningful education system that leads to hope not hopelessness. It takes convincing young people that they need an education. Right now we aren't winning that battle with too many.

And on the shooting-- separate out whether it was legally and morally done from the bigger picture of what has happened to this community. It is possible the officer overreacted and did commit murder. I don't know. But who does right now? We should not lose track of the bigger picture of what got us here. We also should not confuse it with the shooting itself. The officer could be guilty of murder or not. Why can't we wait to find out? The six shots are meaningless. Once you start to attack an officer, if that is what happened, he will shoot until you are down. I am not trying to defend the shooter. I just think right now we don't know and a lot of the hysterical rhetoric on both sides does not want to know. I've seen these kinds of stories before and it often takes a long time to sort out logical facts. Nobody in the media gave it the time this go round-- they never do and they don't help.

Monday, July 28, 2014

sites for info

I am trying to find a viable link for First Look Media, a new site where Matt Taibbi will be after leaving Rolling Stone. If anyone has a link that works, please let me know. I am trying to keep my blog list alongside relevant to issues, linking to sites that address real problems and give facts as part of their message. I could even have conservative sites if they weren't full of bluster and distortion. I believe we all benefit from reading and hearing multiple analysis-- but not when it's loaded with insults and lies. I am not out to propagandize here but rather to present one interpretation of what I am reading, sometimes with commenters who present another viewpoint from the same data. That is the world in which we live-- where we can look at the exact same facts and see it totally differently. Talk about weird.

We can do this analysis with humor, solid analysis or sometimes cartoons :)


Saturday, July 26, 2014

wealth management-- or not



Last night Bill Maher had an interesting show with Hogan Gidley (religious right winger on Santoriums team when he ran for president), Matt Kibbe (ardent libertarian and tea partier),  Amy Goodman (journalist, writer and liberal feminist), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos series, scientist and spokesman for logic and science), and Richard D. Wolff (economist, writer, and ardent and unashamed Marxist). An hour wasn't nearly enough for these along with Maher to discuss the issues in the depth that I'd have loved to hear.

Like most Americans as soon as I see the word Marxism, I am suspicious, but the point he was making is capitalism takes a vital middle class. We now though have a very determined wealthy class where having a billion dollars is not enough. They are taking it from both the middle and those in the bottom who would work their way up if they had a way. Because they can get salaries lower overseas, the manufacturing jobs have gone and for start up businesses, such as my husband consults for, to keep it here takes real character as right away the big money tries to buy anything and you know where it goes next!

On poverty, it is logical that generations will continue in a poverty cycle given the inferior schools in those neighborhoods. This has been true since I was in the education program in Portland, OR in the 60s. We spent time student teaching in four different schools chosen because of the wealth of the neighborhoods and this was with one district, one property tax rate. The poorer neighborhoods had inferior programs, and of course, because of poverty more children in single parent homes, parents working two jobs and kids on their own. Poverty is a breeder for sure, but the statistics of three generations on welfare has not been proven true. For one thing now there is a work requirement in the US; so that those that can work must work. It still leaves the working poor because of the low minimum wage, which leaves a full-time worker below the poverty level.

The way up is education and crazily the right has done all they can to keep education from succeeding by limiting funds. So, skip the PC which both sides love, and make schools concentrate on the basics. That's also the hope for future voters using sense in their selections of candidates.

I think we also need to make public universities affordable again. Right now the tuition rates are unreal. I found that out when considering how to help our grandkids when they get there. Good Lord, it is pricing the middle out of a college degree.

What has happened with wealth being concentrated, and ways up fewer, the middle is squeezed out. It’s more iffy now to get into it from the lower economic levels as I once could do, and the middle itself is disappearing. The economist said a vital capitalism works because of a vital middle and we are losing it—blame who you will. We could still fix that, all of it, if enough of us agree.

What has amazed me has been the wealthiest, and why they want that much. But as soon as you ask that, they paint you as hating the rich. They are clever at manipulating those who have the most lose.

Friday, July 18, 2014

another tragedy

Generally I don't write pieces here so close together, but when events are happening one on top of another, it's hard to resist a few words  about the second, which in many ways is a greater tragedy than the one before it. Both are situations and in places, which have the potential to draw the world into a conflagration the likes of which nobody should want to see and yet constantly we seem to step right to the edge of it.

Who wants these kinds of wars? I can't imagine anybody and yet some do profit from such events and ever since Hearst used jingoism to push the United States into its first foreign intervention, The Spanish-American War, it has been used again and again. 

So what happened in the Ukraine when a Malyasian commerical airliner was shot down with the loss of nearly 300 citizens, many of them those who make a positive difference in the world, scientists, students, family people and killed for probably a stupid gloating mistake?

Rachel Maddow had a good show last night on how many times this has happened. It's not common, but this isn't the first time either. Always the government who shot down a commercial airliner denied it; then like with the US in the Strait of Hormuz, eventually reparation was paid. It was a mistake. Likely this was a mistake, but when groups have these very big boy guns and they don't really have the technology or expertise to safely man them, this can be the result-- sometimes even when they do have it.


What I read is that the US probably already has proof via photographs of the missile being shot and who manned it. Experts say this is a region what we watch very heavily. Definitive proof has not been put out at least not when I wrote this. What might be their motivation to hold off? They are though saying they believe it was pro-Russian separtists who did it.

Now if Russian soldiers, not rebels, were manning that missile launcher, then does the blame belong to Russia? What can the world do about it if it should even be proven to be the case? Go into WWIII? Anybody seriously think that will happen? 

Once again whatever happened to that airliner, it will be a government entity behind it-- whether the Russian backed rebels, the Ukrainian government in some nitwitted and senseless attack (which makes the least sense of all), or Russia itself (again doesn't seem they would do that but Putin might not condemn those who did since he is backing them). 

The tragedy won't be caused by the ordinary people on the airliner or most of the people in any of those countries. It is the ordinary people though who pay time and again. Will we, as humans, ever get smart?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Middle East and wait, are we going there again???

 I have a friend who is informed regarding the Jewish perspective in her region regarding what is going on in Israel and Gaza. She and I tend to argue and not always taking dependable sides on each issue. Basically she says most of the American Jews she knows are not happy with what Israel is doing.

Then I came across the following on this 'war' and thought it made good sense-- if you read the actual words and don't jump to conclusions the words don't imply.
 "When did we get so "civilized" that we can't tolerate civilian casualties in war? The current coverage of the Israeli / Hamas conflict is just the latest example, just read an article crying out for "the sanctity of civilians". The last time I looked, civilian casualties were part of the price you pay when you get into this sort of thing.
"I don't want to debate the current conflict, but I'm sure the civilians in Dresden or London might have a few things to say about "the sanctity of civilians", or in Hiroshima, or in Paris, or many cities in mother Russia, or Vietnam, or ...... the list goes on and on.
"It seems now that one of the primary strategies in a wartime situation (as we've seen in Syria, Sadam's IRAQ during the war there, or in GAZA) is you embed your military assets in civilian areas (preferably next to a children's hospital if you can find one) so that any retaliation causes "human suffering" and the international press and UN officials can scream bloody murder about "the sanctity of civilians".
"Seems so strange to me, like these people really think that military action should take place in an isolated field somewhere, with each side lined up like the British infantry during the revolutionary war. I would suggest it would be more helpful if the press and the UN focused on identifying the truth about the conflicts and bring pressure on the "bad guys" (and yes, I know that's an oversimplification) and quit whining about the omelet makers breaking a few eggs. (and yes, I know that's a crass way of dealing with dying civilians)."         Smoke
I agree that we have somehow gotten the idea a war can be fought strategically with very narrow targets that protect civilians. It's unrealistic. Even in early European Wars, our own Revolutionary and Civil Wars in this country, war was fought amongst the people with collateral damage that no newspaper rushed to record. Later warfare began to be fought in newspapers and Jingoism led us into many a foreign war as feelings were manipulated. Today Americans have had a very unrealistic view of what war is. 

I doubt anybody in the US likes what they see happening in Israel between the Jews and Palestinians for humanitarian reasons if not the very real possibility it could drag other countries also into it. The issue though is what can we do about it from this distance and when it's their decision/their consequences and not ours?

This has been an ongoing undeclared war, but the most recent set of excesses began when the Israelis reacted to the murder of three of their young men, which sounds like a criminal enterprise gone wrong. It began with horror and escalated into the brutal and horrifying murder of a Palestinian youth. The horrors of seeing young people murdered, especially when they are innocent of any wrong, escalated when the whole thing turned back into a war or rockets and destruction. 

The latest example of 'collateral damage' four young boys running on a beach, trying to get somewhere safe right before they were killed by shrapnel from a nearby Israeli ship's shelling. It would be hard to imagine anyone, in Israel or anywhere, feeling good about seeing those photos and then having to wonder why!



It's obvious the Palestinians are paying the price for what Hamas is doing. Whether they fairly voted for Hamas to represent them can be debated but right now the war is between two political bodies-- Hamas and the Israeli government who are each using what weapons they have. The ones to pay the greatest price are the civilians; and in some cases, when one power is weaker, the plan can be to let the civilians pay that price to win what they consider to be the higher goals. It's how terrorism works

If I had a wonderful answer to it and a lot of other things that seem so terrible in today's world, I'd be offering it. I just know sometimes we have to wait to assess a situation. And for most people to read about what is happening there, like this piece-- [What it is like to live and die in Gaza] -- it is very sad and hard to even imagine how it has to be to be for those living in Gaza or Israel right now. :( It doesn't help when we over here offer our easy answers because we can't really imagine what it's like for them. Is there just something about a certain type of human that always takes us to these places?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

on the border

This is one of those topics, where I as a moderate, can find right and left mad at me. I consider myself to be a practical person, not an idealist. What I want to know from each is-- what's your solution for immigration beyond tomorrow. Long term not short term?



Yes, that story came from Fox, but read its facts before you toss it out. And then get practical for what do we do? As soon as I get practical, I make someone mad. 

Here is how I see it practically speaking. Three countries in Central America are facing drastic poverty and violence issues-- some of their violence is from the drug trade, for which the US bears some responsibility as a major user of illegal drugs. These countries seem to be going under in terms of government strength, and their people are frightened. They think the US has better answers (Some of them should visit Chicago to see how that works for them) and so they want to come here as you can imagine our immigrant ancestors did-- as everybody came here from somewhere else, including those who call themselves Native Americans. Evolution began in Africa, and outward from there spread mankind. That's a fact whether someone wishes to literally believe in a creation Bible story or not.

Today we are being asked to deal with an immigration crisis, while having a law in place that mandates cutting government programs through what they call Sequestration (with currently the exception of those mandated by law like SS, Medicare, Medicaid but which they get around by how they pay the doctors in the latter two) by a certain percentage each year to pay down the debt brought on by tax cuts and wars that were put on the tab.

An additional problem today is based on our own mythology, a lot of it based on how something is versus how we want it always to be. So the left, using the Statue of Liberty for evidence of our duty, says:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Now exactly how to pay for this is left vague (ideology always is), as the Iraq war was, as the tax cuts for the richest. Those thinking the latter way also claim government should only fund a big military, fight wars and make things better for commerce, which right wing leaders spend their time trying to find ways to do-- which incidentally makes it richer for the politicians also through lobbyists and all the sweet programs out there to help them benefit on the side for doing their 'job.' 

In the meantime, we have to find practical solutions to a lot of problems which frankly I think, as a moderate, neither the right nor left are practical enough to do! Idealism might seem good, but it can be very destructive when it ignores realities for what is wished. Or as with the tax cut, what will happen that goes against commonsense but they do it anyway and then try to find some reason it didn't work-- besides the obvious.

I guess we thought we had a kind of moderate president in Obama except he seems to also be on the side of the rich because most politicians know which side their bread is buttered on. He is stymied with real solutions to the border by limitations on money, by ideology, and by his own inclination to be grandiose.

So here's what I want to know. If these Central American immigrants keep coming, if they don't have jobs and many are children, what's the plan? I'd like to hear that from the right and left. I live where I see immigrants regularly who I can pretty easily tell from where they came-- and how recently. If you live in migrant regions, you also know by physical characteristics. Previously though, many came to work. 

This is different. Many of these are children. They cannot work. The law in 2008 was evidently put in place to protect Central American children  from human traffickers. What's to protect them up here from those who lurk within church groups and charities and take advantage of the weak? The Pope recently said he thinks 2% of the priests are pedophiles. That might be accurate for charities and other religions.

So if they put unattended children into individual homes, already we were evidently short of foster homes, will they overlook standards to find more such homes in a hurry? If they build orphanages or set up retired buildings for such, anyone who knows history knows how that used to be, what's to make it better now?

My problem with idealism, such is on the State of Liberty from a poem, is it always sounds good, but it stops right there. Practical people have to make it work. Idealists never worry about that.

"Send them all back!"
"Keep them all here!"

Neither one goes into what comes next. It's up to the practical to sound hard-hearted, and make them both mad when they say--
"Then what? How do we make it better?" 

It doesn't sound as pretty does it? It doesn't have instant or easy answers, but it's where solutions will be found. 

I'm to the point that I get mad at the extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. A pox on both their houses. Wait, don't want to say that as that's the other fear with this rapid, uncontrolled influx of humans. Yeah, a genuine plague would do a lot to cut population except it might be those I love being cut; so no poxes on anybody's house!

Let's look for real answers and not just to the poverty in Central America and these people coming up, but to our own country's. It will take voting in practical people, willing sometimes to use tough medicine, not platitudes. They won't be idealists, who should stick to writing poems :).