POLICE-COMMUNITY VIOLENCE(Posted December 7, 2014)
We are once again trying to figure out why we have so much violent interaction between communities and police organizations. And, as usual, we are looking in all the wrong places to solve the problem—body cameras, independent prosecutors, etc.
The solution requires us to focus on what we have done to our selves over the years. We have created these “war zones”, urban wastelands that are cesspools of crime, violence and poverty which serve only to foster the kind of hopelessness & despair that fuels the upheavals we are now experiencing.
Then, to solve the problem, we take a bunch of young guys, give them each a badge and a uniform, and send them out to solve the problem we have created.
We delude ourselves into thinking this will make everything better. This has never worked in the past and will not work now. We have to drain the swamp first.
THE REAL ISSUE ON CLIMATE CHANGE(Posted November 20,2014)
We continue to debate the esoteric issues about climate change, all the while missing the real issue about what we are doing to ourselves and our progeny.
Continued focus on whether or not the world is warming and whether humans are causing it can never be verified; we are only able to infer the cause and effect of these phenomena through the use of statistics and correlations.
Instead we should be able to agree on one simple fact: we are damaging our precious resources in a way that puts our planet at great risk. We insist on treating the air we breathe and the water we drink like open sewers. You don’t have to speculate about this, look at the obvious: photos of smog scenes in major cities across the globe, illustrated most graphically by those recently in Beijing, China; polluted waterways in every country on earth, with scenes of our own troubled Great Lakes being the most unsettling.
Why can’t we agree on this and fix the obvious?
TAKERS VERSUS MAKERS(Posted September 6, 2014)
In 2012, Mitt Romney treated us to the spectacle of how to completely destroy a campaign for the presidency with his comments about “the 47 per cent”.
Nonetheless this should have (and, in the final analysis, may have) spawned a substantive conversation about who really does the taking in America.
Take Mr. Romney himself. He paid an income tax rate of 13.9 per cent on 20 million dollars of income in 2010, making him, in my view, the “TAKER-IN-CHIEF”. So he should not be the one to talk about “TAKERS”.
But there is more. Let’s talk about the “GRANDADDY OF ALL TAKERS”, the Walton family of Bentonville, Arkansas and what they have done and continue to do through their little storefront WALMART.
I submit that WALMART is not only a TAKER of gigantic proportions but they are DOUBLE-DIPPING as well. How? Just follow the obvious: First they pay their employees bare bones wages with no benefits which qualifies them for FOOD STAMPS; then the employees trade their food stamps at guess where?…WALMART naturally!
This double-dipping charade doesn’t happen by accident; no, indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this is very much by DESIGN—it is an integral part of their business model.
I cannot imagine myself owning a business and paying my employees so poorly that they would qualify for public assistance. It would offend my sense of what it means to be an American. And if I couldn’t sustain the business by paying people a decent, livable wage, I’d find something else to do. But not the Waltons.
Shame on them.
THE AMERICAN ARMS RACE(Posted August 29, 2014)
Recent events in Ferguson Missouri appear to be causing grief among the bureaucracy as to the wisdom of funneling military armor to local police organizations. It might be better for us to reflect on the “militarization” of the public and our utterly deranged national policy about weapons.
Are the two connected? For years we have looked the other way as our public spaces have been flooded with guns, putting police forces often at a great disadvantage with respect to sheer firepower. Thus the escalation of high-powered weaponry should come as no surprise; the average police officer is often called into situations where thugs are armed with AR15s, some of which can be modified into fully automatic assault rifles.
This reflects a monumental failure of public policy—we create these enormous social problems, expect the police to clean up the mess and then complain when they do what is necessary to survive.
LOSING OUR HUMANITY(Posted July 20, 2014)
Our adherence to fundamental values and founding principles has taken another beating recently as word comes in about events in the north(Detroit) and the south(the border).
In Detroit we hear that the city manager appointed by the governor has ordered water to be turned off to those residents who are in arrears on their water bills. On the border we are apparently having a difficult time deciding what to do with the flood of children pouring into the country from the carnage and violence in their home countries.
What does all this have to do with fundamental values? Well, for starters, take Detroit: we might be willing to express some concern and empathy for children, the elderly and others by making some accommodation for them. But nothing has thus far been done to reflect a sense of concern for those most vulnerable. Interestingly, water is being brought in from Canada–the Canadian people seem to have a sense of duty to help people in need.
But not here in the good ol’ USA!
As to the border, most of the discussion seems to conflate the current crisis with the overall immigration issue. This is wrong–what’s going on at the border is a genuine refugee issue and should be addressed as such. Most other countries including, I’m sure, Canada, would do so.
But not the good ol’ USA.
Have we lost our way?
“STAND YOUR GROUND” JUSTICE(Posted February 17, 2014)
The state of Florida has created a monumental problem for itself with the enactment of its Stand-Your Ground law a while back.
Last year we witnessed the murder of a 17-year old black teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white man, George Zimmerman, who was not convicted of the crime. Now, we have a second case involving the murder of yet another 17-year old black teenager, Eric Davis, by yet another white man, Michael Dunn.
The cases are eerily similar — and equally cause for concern. Although neither case invoked the Stand Your Ground statute, it is hard to imagine that the juries in each case were not influenced by the law. What is unsettling is the fact that under the statute, the shooter needed only to fear that the vicitm had a gun, irrespective of whether or not a gun was present.
Imagine someone who is paranoid–convinced that everyone is out to get them, afraid of the whole world–think Richard Nixon(I just thought I’d get in one more lick against “tricky Dick”). What’s to prevent that individual from shooting people randomly at any time as a consequence of that fear–and getting away with it? What about gang shootings–or gang initiation rites(you have to kill someone to join)?
Have we made it easy to do this?
Florida has to revisit that law — the consequences are potentially devastating.
THE NEW JERSEY SCAM–JUST PART OF THE PROBLEM(Posted February 7,2014)
So we get all puffed up about NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s payback shenanigans with regard to traffic on the GW bridge in NJ/NY. Unfortunately this obscures what may be the real scandal as to what has transpired in New Jersey since Mr. Christie first took office.
The far bigger issue has to do with what appears to be the Governor’s mishandling of Sandy relief funds. Ther are rumors that these precious monies have been spent on non-Sandy activities, such as a development project favored by one of Gov. Christie’s supporters.
Of great concern is that the Christie administration’s unwillingness to account in any way for how the money is being spent. To make matters worse, the Obama administration apparently hasn’t made any stipulation with regard to how the money is to be spent and reported on.
This is a recipe for disaster; the Federal government’s unwillingness to safeguard our tax dollars is really symptomatic of a much larger problem: the Fed’s seeming intransigence when it comes to getting things done that solve real problems for ordinary Americans — and it extends to all walks of life, whether we are talking about health care, crime control, etc.
Consider the issue of guns. We turn our backs when 26 innocents are gunned down in a school; we look the other way when someone shoots a person in a movie theater over a cell phone or when a nut case shoots a teenager to death over loud music, somehow assuring our selves that “self-defense” is a legitimate basis for doing so.
The tragic consequence of this is that by doing nothing, the Federal government if helping to make the case promoted by some that government can do no good and must be rendered inconsequential in our lives. Or, as Mr. Norquist would have it, we should shrink it down enough so that we can drown it in a bathtub.
A formula for disaster.
AMERICAN OLIGARCHY (Posted March 31, 2014)
If there were a sinister group of individuals who wanted to gain absolute control of the Federal Government and, hence, the United States of America, the way to do it would be to pretty much follow the path that the Republican party has put the nation on.
There would be two critical issues things to focus on: 1) How can the most financial support be brought to bear on the plan and 2) What must be done to constrain the voting public.
On point 1, the game plan is already pretty much in place as indicated above. The Supreme Court gave the plan a big boost in its recent McCutcheon decision that just about eliminates any restrictions on how much money can be spent in politics. As a consequence, we now not only have money pouring into the process but we have the Adelsons of the world conducting their own primaries in order to evaluate potential candidates. Involvement by average citizens is no longer needed.
Point 2 now comes into play because it is still necessary to win the general election. It’s pretty clear that Republicans have some major problems with certain segments of the voting public, particularly women, blue-collar workers and minorities. Thus any strategy for winning the general must necessarily include finding a way to negate or otherwise prevent these groups from voting. Again, the Republicans have done an incredible job here: in state after state that is controlled by the party, we’ve seen all kinds of attempts to do this: imposing onerous photo ID requirements; elimination of early voting times and weekend voting; finally, shortening the hours for voting during the work week.
So we’ve pretty much done it all—money will be the deciding factor and, just to make sure, we’ve taken the necessary steps to make sure that only the “important people” vote.
As Mr. Franklin once said, “I’ve brought you a democracy, sir; good luck if you can keep it!”
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN GEORGIA (Posted April 7, 2014)
As a registered Republican, I am having an increasing amount of difficulty recognizing the party I chose to be affiliated with more than 50 years ago. It could be that I have changed, and while I believe that to be possible to some extent, I do think that the party of today no longer represents people like me.
So who exactly am I? Born in a small town in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, I was raised in a wholesome, Christian environment and taught to believe that we were put on earth for a purpose–to strive to excel at whatever we choose in life to do and, most critically, to look out for our fellow citizens.
No more. I’ve listened over the last few years here in Georgia to politicians who no longer seem to espouse the kind of values that caused me to become a Republican and that to this day I hold dear.
Take health care. It seems reasonable to expect that we would want everyone to have access to affordable health care. Aside from the moral issue, it would seem that this would be an essential thing to do from a productivity perspective. But the party of today seems to believe otherwise. It has, for example, done everything possible to inhibit the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the first and only attempt to do something about our failing health care system. I’ve listened to legislators applaud the decision not to implement Medicaid expansion–actually joyous at being able to deny health care to poor people! Most ominously, our governor, Nathan Deal proposed a solution to cut costs here in Georgia. He suggested that we should rescind the law that requires hospital emergency rooms to accept anyone who needs treatment. It’s hard to believe that we would do this to needy Americans in the 21st century
This makes the point dramatically. It was none other than Ronald Reagan who signed that bill into law. So not only have we strayed dramatically from the party of Reagan, but as a nation we may be on the way to losing our humanity as well.