Friday, May 27, 2016

TSA screwed

Fliers should be enraged! After 9/11, a tax was implemented on every airline ticket to pay for the TSA. It is supposed to be a self-funded program. An independent funding stream to pay for what ever needs arise. As air travel gets busier, the funding pot increases, when it slows down, the pot recedes. This give the TSA a way to maintain staff.

However, did you know, in 2014, Congress raised the fees AND diverted funds from this account to pay down debt? We need to be enraged. A seemingly independent system that is self-funded was once again dismantled by Congress to play short-term political gain. Darryl Issa is in fact now spinning this problem and pushing for TSA work to be independent contractors to save money. My God, wasn't this the reason 9/11 occurred? We left it up to contractors to screen and we had very limited resources put into security!

We all need to write our Congress and Senate lawmakers and restore the funding stream towards its original intent. Stop screwing the American people!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

President Trump?!

Being liberal on my views, I have looked at horror, disdain, and even a little amusement at the cannibalism of the current Republican party. In about 6 short years, the party has gone from the Reagan era to the Tea Party to implosion.

I make no qualms that Obama gave rise to the Tea Party. The non-partisan approach he passed and implemented the affordable care act created a political schism that I have never seen before. Along with the rise of the Tea Party, social media, so called liberal media, and Fox News created a 24/7 news cycle. We no longer would read about the days events the next day in our newspapers. No instead it was live streamed, to our pockets on our phones or on our computer screens while we worked. It is the Information Age to the Nth power.      

This created an environment of deep scrutiny. Our politicians were able to raise their hands in disgust about a certain bill or movement taking place, but then were able to quietly work and negotiate with the opposing party. But because of the Tea Party's close scrutiny, if you didn't stand tall, you were against them. It was a race to be more Conservative and if you weren't we will find someone that can be. It became a "No" party. If the President wants this, no. If it raises taxes, no. If it doesn't slash spending, no. If they are for it, we are against it. The Democrats gave up and followed suit.

A truly functioning two party system allows compromises. Our dysfunctional government won't change unless compromises are allowed. Both sides are currently guilty of this. But the GOP has had their foot on the break for 6 years and hasn't even pumped it once.

So that leaves us with Trump. Trump IS the crazy uncle that you cringe to listen to at family events. Deep down inside, some of the things he says you agree with, but you just shake your head. He is the candidate that can truly bring about change. The change that I see that he wants to bring about isn't what we really want though.

I want, this country needs, a President that acts Presidential. I want someone that has the best interests of all the people, not just angry white Americans. I want someone that can work with both parties. Bridge the divide, instead of dynamiting the bridge. All Republicans look back at Reagan as the high water mark for the party. Well he was called the Great Communicator for a reason. He appealed to both parties. He brought people together. He wanted a United State.

After this election, both parties will need to reevaluate their stands. I have been shocked and amazed at our country and its politics. At first the Tea party obstructed everything. Then 2 years later, they couldn't change anything and we brought even more conservative politicians in. They now control both the House and the Senate. We must realize the only way we can unjam the lock is to vote more moderate politicians, not more Liberal or more Conservative, or whatever Trump is.

Trumps rise should not shock us. It is not a Conservative movement he is rising on, it is our insecurities. It is our fear of change. It is our wanting to bring things back to the way we were: a prosperous nation. First we need a government that functions.

We need to fix the roads and bridges we drive on. We need to have a fair school system that everyone, no matter what school they go to, has the same education. We need our government to run and efficiently. That doesn't mean to slash its budget. We need to invest in retraining our people that lose their jobs. We need to enhance the system of entrepreneurial programs.

Listen, our country will never, ever be the manufacturing powerhouse it once was. The world is now a truly global economy. We need to adapt to those realities. Lost manufacturing jobs never come back. But if we train our workforce to meet the other demands like healthcare, technology, and engineering, we will have a stronger nation.

Rhetoric, no matter how much it is something you want to here, is still rhetoric. That is what I see so many people latching on to Trump and is why it is a flawed reason in backing him. As a Liberal, my choices are limiting as well. It is a bitter pill to swallow that good politicians, on both sides were drowned out. I would have preferred it that Martin O'Malley should have been the Democratic nominee. In a General election, I would have voted for someone like Rubio, Kasich, or maybe even Bush instead of Hillary Clinton. I can not vote for Trump.    


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I support

I support cops.

I support victims of cops.

Being a son of a hard working retired cop, I understand the stress and danger that is inherit with the job. They put their lives on the line for every single one of us. They protect and serve and keep our society from becoming lawless. Like soldiers, they are unsung heroes. At the same time, as with any group, there will always be a small percentage of people that tarnish their profession. There are bad cops and that will never change. But this is a small portion of these professionals. Painting them with a broad stroke should never be done.

Statistically, crime is higher in poorer neighborhoods which in most instances the majority population are comprised of people of color.  Which in turn, crime rates are higher for people of color. Being a cop in these neighborhoods, like it or not, will create a bias in their attitudes. Nature and nurture will create this bias no matter who you are. We know this is true about us.

This creates profiles/ stereotypes. In many instances profiles and stereotypes are true. Many times they aren’t. The police officer that can distinguish between the two are the better cops. Those that can’t have a tendency to carry over that bias into their actions and jobs. If you are innocent and are law abiding, you should never have to worry about the police. However, because some police do use a broad stroke when they paint their stereotypes, their actions can be abusive. When that happens, everyone can agree that the police step over that line and should be held accountable for those actions.

It is sad that this country is still divided by race. It is a shame we still need to be having this conversations. We have not come very far when a Presidential candidate broad strokes a whole nationality as being criminals and rapists. Rhetoric aside, as a country we need to look at ourselves and really determine this is who we are. We need to see with are eyes wide open and listen intently with our ears. Take action to remedy this. Not pay lip service. We must love each other, not tear each other down.

Criminals that run and/or try to fight though, I have no sympathy for if they get hurt or god-forbid die. If they weren’t doing the crime, they wouldn’t need to run or fight. We as a country need to support our police while still holding the bad police actors accountable. We can support both efforts, not just one side or the other. Listen, see, maybe pray and act. Maybe then we can be a country that can move forward.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Doomed to repeat

Ever since our country was formed by this constitution, this form that everyone holds so dearly, we have been a nation of hypocrisy. We want every man to be free. From the start that really only meant ones that were of  White Anglo-Saxon descendant. Every generation, we have despised these new people that threaten our country. Except for maybe the Native Americans when Europeans came here, but that is for a different story, different time.

We enslaved Africans. We shunned the Chinese and practically enslaved them too. Up and down the generations. The Irish. The Italians. The Jews. The Japanese. In my time, Puerto Ricans and other Latin American descent.

If we claim to be a nation built upon Christian values, we don't we act like it? Love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus, if you believe in him and his teachings, wanted us to take care of people that are worse off than ourselves. He wanted us to clothe and house the homeless. Feed the hungry. Show compassion and caring.

Millions of Syrians are homeless. I am not here to debate why they are today, but I am here to say they are homeless because their homes are gone, their livelihoods destroyed. In what was deemed and Arab Spring has become a Winter of dread. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is just something we should never have to imagine. But some of these people have had to do that for years.

Bad people are going to pass themselves off as one of these people. The United Nations and the US Government, though it may not be perfect, has an extensive vetting process that takes 18-24 months to go through. The people that wrecked havoc in Paris just walked in, walked through Europe. Their porous borders allowed this to happen. That is not the US. It is a lot easier for one of these terrorists, like the one from Belgium, to get in a plane and come here to create terror than a refugee.

Let us be deliberative in our actions. You might say will what about all of the homeless in our country? Have you ever attempted to help remedy this, instead of forwarding Facebook vitriol? I have. It is not about giving a homeless Veteran a home. Many of them had one. It is beyond that. We have systems that can help our people. Volunteer to help with the homeless before you use that argument. Mental health issues prevent many homeless from being housed. Again, the mental health problem is an issue for another day.

If we are a Christian country, should we not take care of them, the Syrians. Shouldn't it be a moral and a spiritual obligation to help all that are in need? Think about this poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

This is the poem at the Statue of Liberty. The same poem that your ancestors may have seen sailing into New York. Let's not repeat our history once again. Let us take care of the people that need us the most. That is truly what makes our country great. 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mass shootings: No end game in sight to prevent them.

Candlelight vigil after the Oregon Shootings.
Sensible gun control is not about taking guns away from everyone. Sensible gun control is about taking guns away from people that are unstable mentally. If you look at mass shootings, the overwhelming majority is about the gunman having some type of mental issue going on in their life prior to the shooting.

We need expanded background checks that include mental health history. If, say 5 years ago, someone was treated for depression for about a year, that shouldn’t preclude them from getting a gun. But if they have current mental issues, similar to domestic abuse cases, they should be prevented from owning guns. I know that this throws the onus onto the doctors, but this is where real reform needs to start.

I also believe background checks should be in place for gun shows and re-sellers. If I have to register a car, show it is insured, and carry a valid license, why can’t a background check for a gun be done. A car can be used as a weapon, but it is not a weapon. A gun is a weapon. It’s designed to kill. You should have a license per se to kill.

In many of these shootings, the perpetrators had legal guns. If we add this to background checks, it should significantly lower the mass shooting rates. Let’s be realistic, over 310 million guns are in the hands of Americans. We have a constitutional right to bear arms. A significant percentage of these guns have been re-sold and traded. Anyone can get a gun through legal or other means. If you want a gun, you can get a gun. But remember the perpetrators here mostly had legal guns.

 I think that part of the law should be changed. Have mental issues, you can't have a gun. I know this opens up more issues like who determines how ill they are that would preclude them or will people hide their illness so they don't give up their gun. I get it. It isn't a simple work around. But this is a start for reform. 
Ponder this. No one is talking about copy cats at this point. Once all the high school shootings started (Columbine), we saw an increase in high school-related shootings. Now we have colleges being the targeted. Why? Because in these shooters’ warped minds, they see themselves as martyrs. They want their names in the media. Everyone that we do this for, we memorialize them and it inspires the next one.

As we saw after the Oregon shooting, authorities wanted to not give this guy’s name out and wanted to emphasize the victim’s stories. It is a great narrative that all mass shootings should take, but because of the media’s incessant need for that information, his name and history is now known. Should we get media to re-evaluate this policy? Media outlets do not release sexual assault victim’s and minor’s names when it comes to reporting. Can’t they do the same but with regard to these murderer’s names?

My dad was a police officer. My grandfather was an avid hunter. I owned a shotgun and several rifles. Gun ownership is part of our culture. When a tragedy occurs, our initial instincts is to blame the gun. That is farther from the facts. We need to look at the cause and effect instead. What are the root causes for these tragedies? It always comes back to mental health and better, enhanced back ground checks that includes a medical/mental evaluation. Then stop identifying the perpetrators in the media.

Will it end the tragedies? No. But I think it is a commons sense approach to start with. It is better than doing nothing at all.  

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."