Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Current state of politics

The country is so fed up with what the media calls establishment politicians that the left is flocking to Bernie Sanders and the right is jumping off the deep end with Donald Trump. To me, this is the worst that this country has ever been with regards to politics. Politics aside, despite what both sides tell you, we aren’t in too bad of a shape.

Let’s start with the economics of our country. In 2007-2008, we had the worst financial crisis in a generation. Greedy investors, bankers, and regulators created this problem. The real estate collapse was caused by banks that created new and improved ways that regulators couldn’t get a handle on. Then bundle the horrible loans into bundles and had investors hedge against those loans. Guess what we all lost.
At the same time, we elected our first black President. Some would say that his race doesn’t matter, but if you look at why Trump is leading GOP polls, think otherwise. After the stimulus package was passed in 2009 (everyone forgets in 2008 Bush pushed a smaller stimulus package through too), that was the beginning of the fracture between the two parties. With the Affordable Care Act pushed through that solidified partisan divides.

Because of the ACA, the Tea Party came about and forever changed politics. Now conservative politicians were tested by “are you conservative enough?” litmus tests. Just because of that fracture among the GOP, Conservatives even if they wanted to, could not reach across the aisle and compromise. Ever. Despite the rhetoric, our economy has grown ever since Obama came into office.
Politics is messy. No one wins. Everyone compromises. At least that is how it always was until then. 

What is good for the country is no longer good politics. Compromise was always a cornerstone of good governance. The Democrats in 2009 ended it. The Tea Party Republicans, ever since, perfected it. Rhetoric trumps substance (no pun intended).

Whatever your party allegiance falls on, Republican or Democrat, are you truly voting for what’s best for the country or are you voting clearly on style over substance? Case-in-point, Department of Homeland Security funding in the beginning of 2015. DHS funding was taken to the brink again by the GOP because they couldn’t pass the bill. They can’t govern when the majority of party can’t even agree, let alone have Democrats help. Dysfunction at its finest.

Demagoguery by both parties have blown up our political process and has left it in shambles. Sadly, the parties have drawn lines in the sand and no one can cross those lines now. This is why Sanders is appealing to the left. Trump is appealing to a far troubling side where misogyny and bigotry far outweighs substance.  Flash is winning the GOP over. That is not good. You will absolutely win the majority of the White vote, but you will lose all the rest. Mark my words here, if Trump wins the nomination, we will have another Democrat in the Oval Office. It won’t matter who it is.

When it comes to the Republican party, the gerrymandering of House Districts have created GOP safe Districts so their biggest fights are against each other, not Democrats. It is a race to be the most Conservative. That is great for that district, but the majority of the country are now voting for Democrats. It will not play well in a General Election especially when your main candidate is bashing women and minorities, the people you need to get elected President. White males are quickly becoming a minority and like it or not, the GOP must attract them. Your own party leadership said as such in your 2012 "autopsy" report.   

It is true that the majority of people don’t want another Bush or Clinton in the White House. Sure that plays a big role in the current state of politics right now, but the other underlying anti-partisan, the “if you’re for them, you’re against me” attitude is destroying our politics and the political processes that have worked.

Remember you don’t want to see sausage and laws being made. Compromise is not a dirty word in politics. We need party leaders that will not only corral their party, but also bridge the divide. We have no one like that now and I am worried we shall never see that again, at least any time soon. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A little rant on today's social issues.

Our Founding Fathers came to this country to escape religious persecution. They didn't believe living in a country where your country tells you what religion you should follow or how to follow it. By design, religion was separated from government. Why do you get upset when the country reaffirms that? The Constitution says nothing about marriage, gay or otherwise. The First Amendment "provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." By allowing everyone to marry, no church is forced to marry anyone. Stop pretending this is the end of the sanctity of churches.

Do a little research. You shouldn't pick and choose which part of the Bible works for you or not. If we would use it as strict doctrine, we would still have slaves and beat our wives. The Jesus that I was taught about cared for the less fortunate, the marginalized, the oppressed. Are you doing that living your Christian life?

Then we have the debate about God in our Government. The 20th century is when our country started adding "Under God" to everything or adding Ten Commandments to public buildings. I am a proud Christian, but having the line between church and state is perfectly fine with me. That is how it was and should be. When referring to our country and how it has strayed from our founding principles, I think you are not looking far enough back in our history.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

On the eve of 4th of July weekend be proud of your country. Stop beating it up. It is by far the best in the world when it comes to freedoms. Enjoy it! Go out and try to "form a more perfect union."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Biker thugs- is it a racial thing?

Over the past week, race once again has dictated narratives in the media. People have been scrutinizing the national media because of the coverage over the biker gang shootings. The narrative is that because they are white, they aren't being called thugs.

First of all, I think the word thug is a very generic term that I see can be interchanged with so many other terms like hooligan or any other negative connotation of unacceptable and probably illegal actions by individuals. Whites, blacks, men, and women can all be considered thugs. To me, it is not a specific person, it is about a specific person's action that make them a thug. By definition, a thug is a brutal ruffian or assassin. True in all instances, they all can be considered thugs. But I think modern day connotation just means a person causing a brutal act.

When it comes to the bikers, I see it very differently. I see, and probably wrongfully so, that biker gangs are even more brutal than the generic term of thug. When I see biker gang, Hell's Angels come to mind along with the brutality exuded by these men. They are cold-blooded killers that kill to make a point. Their disregard for someone's life is evident. That to me is worse than a thug.

These biker gangs were there to cause trouble, pick fights, and hurt/kill people. That is my initial thoughts without delving down deeper. If that narrative holds true, I don't know. But for me, I see biker gangs as the definition brutal, lawless, disregard-for-life kind of people, not as a mere thug.

But back to the "thugs" in places like Ferguson and Baltimore. I have no doubt that the population in these communities have lived under or perceived that the police and or the community has marginalized them. Protests change the world. It is a small minority within these groups that ruin the movements though. Some people just want to see the world burn, thrive on anarchy. Looting is an unfortunate side effect of mass protesting. Thugs see the opportunity is there and take it.

Right or wrong, we as a nation need to look at the underlying issues that are creating these problems eg, poverty concentration which then in turn naturally begets segregation, income disparity, and education gaps. Until we are ready to tackle these issues, these racial tensions will get worse.    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

House GOP at it again....this time they are taking food out of children's mouths!

Charlie Dent and the rest of the House GOP Caucus should be ashamed of themselves. They voted over 40 times to stop “Obamacare” instead of letting it become law. If the law is broke, fix it. If you oppose it, propose a workable solution. With a Democratic-run Senate, moves like that are only symbolic. They complained for years that the Senate did not pass a budget. When they did, now the GOP is blocking the bill to go to conference. Partisanship is getting old. What happened to working together for the betterment of the country, not for the betterment of your base?

Now the latest comes down to the Farm Bill. For decades, the Farm bill had both legislation for farm subsidies and food stamps. That is the only way both Republicans and Democrats can agree. It is called compromise and (Gasp) Bipartisanship! Earlier this year, in their first bill, the GOP bloated the subsidies and slashed the food stamps allocation. This bill failed spectacularly because it was too bloated in subsidies, even for the GOP and it cut too much from food stamps for the Democrats to get behind. Now the latest thinly-veiled grand-stand bill was to slash a food stamp only bill. The House GOP, including Charlie Dent, passed the bill with a whopping $40 billion slash in cuts! Part of the bill requires that people on assistance get a job. In case you didn't notice, we are well over 7% unemployment, which in any other downturn, would be considered still be in a recession. 

I am a volunteer at The Pennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry. We provide direct food assistance to low-income people. Do you know what the faces of these people look like? They are grandmothers; they are children (over 40% of people receiving assistance are kids); they are the unemployed or underemployed. They are anyone that goes hungry. Are people defrauding the system? Are we feeding too many hungry people? It is just food, a basic necessity. Are people abusing this system? Maybe some, they may have gotten an extra jar of Peanut Butter. GASP! By slashing this money, you are directly taking food out of mouths. Nothing more or less!

If you think this is outrageous and want to reverse this, try doing the following:
Call or write Charlie Dent or whoever your representative is!
September is Hunger Awareness Month! Click here to find out other ways to help the hungry! 
Or just maybe take the #SNAPChallenge by eating on $4.50 a day. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Voter Fraud vs. voter suppression

A friend posted on Facebook about the new voter laws being on the books and questioned why it was such an uproar. I am not trying to hijack her discussion, nor do I want to offend her, but it has made me think about this subject a little more.

It is true that we ask for ID for anything we do now so it should be a foregone conclusion that everyone has one, right? You all know I lean left when it comes to politics, but I had to think a little about both sides stances. I think that both sides are truly hiding the reasoning behind why there is a big push.

Make no mistake that this is a push by the GOP party. The Republicans own this legislation. Why all of a sudden do we need to implement these laws? Why now in a Presidential election year? Would this be advantageous for the GOP to do this now? In 2010, the GOP made huge gains in many states not just in the National stage, but also in the State-wide races as well. Is this an attempt to keep the people elected, elected?

There is no evidence that wide-spread fraud is occurring. In fact, the biggest problems with voting has been the people that oversee the elections and election sites eg. adding more votes that weren't there, losing certain votes, etc. That is where the actual vote cheating is occurring. So a solution was created where there was not a problem.

Pennsylvania passed the law in March. That gave the state a little over 7 months to create a system and implement it.Why does it have to be so quick? When was the last time any state or Federal program was ever rolled out that quick? I know seniors especially the elderly that don't have, lost, or have the wrong name on their birth certificate. Many of these people don't drive or are limited in driving. It takes time to remedy these issues.

You may say that the Democrats are saying that this is hurting the poor. But if your poor, you have these documents already especially if you are receiving assistance (housing, food, etc.). So that particular argument doesn't wash with me. They are just ticked off because this shouldn't be a law to begin with. I still don't know if that is true or not. I still flip flop on this issue.

Here is the bottom line, as I see it. The GOP establishment is pushing this now so they can add another obstacle for low-income and seniors to overcome. If it is an obstacle or not, that is why they are doing it. They are doing it under this ruse they are calling voter fraud. Democrats are mad because the GOP is going to take votes away this elections. That may or may not be true.

In the end, I am probably for this law. It can legitimatize the election process. In fact, I always wondered why we didn't have to show ID to vote. But in the short term, the GOP is trying to hijack this election cycle.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is it just a matter of race?

No parent should ever have to bury their child. Let alone having to deal with your son getting shot to death. As a parent I grieve for Trayvon Martin's parents. However, this case is screwed up!

First off, no neighborhood watch  person should be carrying a gun. That is asking for trouble. They volunteer to  watch the community and then report to police what is going on. Observation here is the key. Even the most staunch watch programs don't carry weapons. The Guardian Angels don't! Why did George Zimmerman?

Whatever happened, only a few know the truth. Zimmerman, Martin, and law enforcement are probably the only ones that know. Anyone else is just speculating. It bothers me that someone is killed and his shooter is not locked up. But it also bothers me that everyone is lynching this guy. Where you there that night? Did Zimmerman shoot him just because he was suspicious?  Did Martin come after Zimmerman? You were not there! You don't know.

Everything is conjecture. Sure Zimmerman fits the profile of a cop-wanna-be. A guy that feels he is above everyone else despite not getting that police job. Everyone knows these types. Thinks they are better than everyone else or thinks their judgement is better than yours. But is that George Zimmerman? I don't know, do you? Was he walking away then attacked?

Trayvon Martin. Was he an outstanding teen? Was he the model in well behavior? Or was he a brash teen? Could he have gotten mad and gone after Zimmerman? I've seen more than one or two teens let emotions get the better of them. Was this the case? We don't know. We do know that time is only fueling the fire.

The longer Zimmerman is out, the more troubling we feel. Notice, I said out, not free. He is by no means a free man. He is hiding for his own safety. What is Spike Lee and now Roseanne Barr thinking by tweeting his address? By doing so, you are encouraging vigilantism. That is just reckless and should be a crime as well.

So much is being made out of this being a race issue. The hoodie movement. Is it really? How do we know? It was dark out, it was raining. Someone you don't know is walking through your neighborhood, then running. You had a rash of burglaries in the community. Sounds to me like a suspicious person that happened to be black and wearing a hoodie.

Two facts that we know is Trayvon is dead and George Zimmerman killed him. Any other information we know are assumptions. Again, I believe that Zimmerman should not have carried a gun if he was a neighborhood  watch person. He pulled the trigger and I believe justice will be served. Whatever the outcome, Zimmerman will have to deal with this outcome for the rest of his life. But we, as a society, are  not the judge, jury, or executioner. Let it play out before we get the noose out to hang him!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GOP race

If you have read any of my previous political posts, you are aware of my liberal points of view. But I feel that I need to chime in on the current GOP primary season. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent in this primary. By the time the GOP actually picks a candidate, we will be talking in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent. Up to two billion dollars may be spent this year by both sides!These special interest Super PACs are a joke. Money is certainly going to buy votes in this election cycle.

It is a travesty that we, the American people, must endure almost 2 years of political posturing by candidates. The primary season just started and I am already sick of the news. Pretty soon, when it is our state's time to elect primary candidates, all we will see on television is political advertisements. Now, because of the Super PACs, they will all be attack ads.

The heir-apparent (maybe), Romney is the only candidate I see that could take down Obama in a General Election. If that doesn't happen, the GOP is in trouble. Because of the splintering of this party (I'm looking in your direction Tea Party), the GOP is struggling to find its identity. Bouncing around between Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney, the party has no clear direction. I think Ron Paul, even though he has great ideology and a strong following, will not make it past Super Tuesday.

Santorum's social conservative views may allow him to win Primaries, but will not be received well with Democrats and Independents. To win General Elections, Presidents must slide towards the middle to get the votes needed. Santorum will never do that. He believes in his principles. He will live by the sword and die by the sword. Thank goodness for that!

Gingrich is to disorganized and panders to all audiences, which will not play well, especially in our "always on" culture. Up to the past decade, candidates could promise the world to the different groups that they were courting because these messages were never disseminated as easily to everyone. Now, as soon  as a sentence is muttered, it is sent to everyone and that message is analyzed and scrutinized before it is even printed in a newspaper. 90's politics doesn't work in today's politics. We'll see if Newt can change his ways. I am doubtful.

That leaves Romney. Even though he isn't getting the ultra-Conservative and Evangelical  votes, I still think he has the best shot to beat Obama. However, he does have a long way to go yet. He needs to prove to his base that he is different from Obama. At the same time, he needs to prove to Independents and Democrats that he is a better alternative.

What it will come down to though is money. Who spent the most money to get the most ads out? Who's Super PAC discredited the other opponent better? It is sad. When all is said and done, it sounds like both parties, including Super PACs, are on the path on spending over a billion dollars each for this year's Presidential election.

Think about this. What can two billion dollars buy? This is what UNICEF can do with that money! Do they need to spend that much money? Really!?

Here's a good PBS analysis of the Super PACs.  Pay attention to these non-profit Super PACs as well. Donors do not have to provide disclosure. This means they can put millions of dollars into these groups and they don't have to worry about telling anyone. Pretty sneaky politics is about to play out this year.

Unfortunately, the best candidate, especially now, rarely wins. It is about skating the issues, making promises, and seeing if you can discredit your opponent better than they can. The train wreck that is the Presidential election cycle has begun is fun to watch, but when it comes to a grinding halt, let's see what pieces are left to salvage!