Friday, December 9, 2011

The conductor has left the Cain Train

My classmate recently posted in the blog post "Supporting with actions what you verbalize your against" that there was some confusion as to how the religious base could still support someone who was clearly acting immorally.  In response I posted the following:
"I'm sad to see Herman go, not because of his policies or because I supported him but because the guy was freaking comedic gold!  Flubbing questions (ubekebekestanstan!?) and all that unwarranted bravado was pure entertainment.  At no point did you feel like he ever had a chance to beat B-rack.  The Republican base is not only made up of "bible-thumpers" but of gun toting, country blaring folks whom respond to that cowboy swagger.  He apologized for nothing and had a charm that presented him as regular guy.  That good ol' boy charm really appeals to the average Joe.  It worked wonderfully for George W. Bush, TWICE!
An even more morally questionable candidate, Newt Gingrich has taken Cain's place.  He carried on affair with a staffer who was 23 years his junior, while impeaching President Clinton for doing the same thing.   He's a hypocrite.  Romney doesn't connect with, as columnist Mark Shields puts it "white, high school educated Christians", because he's Mormon and a rich kid.  It's unlikely that we'll see either of those guys in the white house.
In all, I think people generally don't expect politicians to be moral compasses.  Politics is a dirty game and you need to be a dirty, gritty bastard to get to the top.  I think people accept that and therefore overlook some of their moral discrepancies."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Troop! You need to tighten that belt!"

       The SUPER COMMITTEE (I imagine them all wearing capes, I digress)  failed to come up with a deal that would rescue the US from certain economic disaster by helping to balance the budget.  They were tasked to negotiate at least 1.2 trillion dollars in spending cuts that would help to balance our ever expanding deficit.  If we were in Vegas and the bet was AGAINST the bipartisan group to miraculously come together and agree... I'd drop a couple of bills on the table.  In this deeply entrenched partisan political environment it's hard to imagine that any members of congress could have pulled off this bipartisan agreement.

"robot dog" prototype that carries gear
       Now that the caped crusaders have failed to compromise, 1.2 trillion dollars will automatically be cut from programs in 2013.   Half of that pocket change will come from Military spending, 600 billion dollars (mwahahah!), unless the President proposes a plan himself which must be approved by Congress.   The Pentagon spent an estimated 687 billion last year according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.  Even though this may seem like a drastic cut it may be warranted. 

      I spent almost a decade in the Army and saw how our military spends cash first hand.   We've got more big boy toys than any other country in the world. We are like kids in a toy store with daddy's credit card and we can't get enough.  I rode on multimillion dollar speed boats in the Philippines (which you can wake-board behind) , tricked out ATVs in the mountains of the Republic of Georgia, and stood awestruck as HUGE warships passed by in Pearl Harbor.  It's hard to imagine how much taxpayer money we waste on what are basically toys and failed programs.  I heard a story on NPR about the 42 million dollars the military is spending on a PTSD effort that most experts believe does not work and I'm not surprised at all.  There are plenty of wasteful programs in the military that should be cut, such as "ghost ship" program scrapped by the Navy.  Programs like these are plentiful and a drain on our economy.  As a nation we have to recognize that cutting military spending does not equate to cutting our security and that pressuring the Pentagon to make our military smaller and more efficient is essential if we are to succeed in our goal of financial security.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Commentary on Tolerating Intolerance

First of Andrea, I'd like to say that I love San Francisco and I catch myself day dreaming of chowder in a sourdough bread bowl all the time.  Now that that is out of the way, we can get to your blog post.

I absolutely agree with your position that homosexuals should have the same right to be in a legally bound relationship.  It is hard to imagine that this is still an issue.  In a "free" society people should have the right to pick a partner and live their life how they choose.  If no one is being harmed, what's the big deal?  It feels like homosexuality is becoming more accepted by the majority of people in this country.  On the flip, people are becoming more polarized against homosexuality (I believe) with the advent of the internet.  The net allows people with similar ideas and morals to organize and influence other people towards their beliefs, for better or worse.

The only criticism I could muster is that, no where in the Constitution does it specifically state that there must be a "separation of church and state", rather it has been argued that it is implied in Constitution. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Your morals are immoral!

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       Our political atmosphere is over the rim with individual ideologies and systems of beliefs but the king pin is Christianity.  Around 78 percent of Americans are Christians and 89 percent of  the new 112th Congress affiliate themselves with some form of Christianity.  While Christian dominations vary in belief, the core values dominate American politics.  Voters looking to align themselves with Christan values can look to organizations, such as the Christian Coalition and many others.  The Christian Coalition has voting guides which tell subscribers which politician should get their vote and with 2.5 Million followers they hold significant influence.  Politicians recognize this gravitas and seek solicit some of those yummy votes.  Democrat, Republican, moderate or fringe, aligning yourself with Christianity is a sure fire method to boost your chances of getting elected.  Once elected, these politicians tend to shape policy that appeases the people that voted for them.  That leaves little room for other values and ways of thinking.  Morality should be defined in its most basic terms of life, liberty, and security.

        I was once a devout Catholic (turned atheist) who, at the time, found strength and spiritual guidance in religion when personal challenges arose.  I have no problem with religion but I do have a problem with religious institutions pushing political agendas. Its fine if they don't believe in abortion but outlawing abortion forces morals and ideology upon those whom may not share those beliefs.  Prohibition failed because it didn't represent the majority of the country's feelings towards alcohol.  Rather, well organized evangelical groups passed legislation by pressuring politicians.

       Religion is a great tool for those people looking for personal guidance, but it has no place guiding an entire nation.  What people consider moral or immoral can vary wildly from person to person.  Their personal beliefs undoubtedly influence their political ideology.  Ideology is simply an opinion, which when argued should be validated by with facts.  If we detach ourselves from facts and simply adhere to feelings of what is moral and immoral  the consequences could be harmful and unintended; such as the crime wave that spurred death and corruption during prohibition.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A critical analysis of Ann Coulter blog post: WINGLESS, BLOODSUCKING AND PARASITIC: MEET THE FLEA PARTY!

Ann Coulter is a fairly well known conservative that aligns herself with the far right of the Republican party.  Coutlter is a lawyer, author and political commentator.  She graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in History and then later went to University of Michigan Law School and became a lawyer in 1988.  Coulter has written 8 books that have all made the New York Times best sellers list and sold more than 3 millon copies combined.  With titles like " Godless: The Church of Liberalism" and "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America", it is plain to see her target base is conservative Christians whom are a well organized political group.  When she's not writing best sellers she is usually making rounds through the media defending her position and plugging her books.  

In her article  WINGLESS, BLOODSUCKING AND PARASITIC: MEET THE FLEA PARTY! she attempts to discredit the current "Occupy Wall Street" movement that has seen mass protest against Wall Street business practices and its political influence. 

Her argument is that these protesters lack any credibility or values and therefore should be dismissed.  Secondly, she argues that there are mechanisms in the constitution that allow people to vote for change instead of protesting.

Coulter's first line in her blog is an ad hominem fallacy in which she attacks the protesters by saying "So far, the only major accomplishment of the 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters is that they have finally put an end to their previous initiative, 'Occupy Our Mothers' Basements.'"  She is suggesting that these large groups of unhappy people should be viewed as people whom are devoid of any kind of responsibility and therefore creditability.  Coulter then continues by associating them with "adolescents looking for a cause, public sector union members, drug dealers, criminals, teenage runaways" and attacking their appearance in an effort to demonstrate to her audience that these people look nothing like you and therefore ARE nothing like you, nor share your values. 

Coulter's second argument is that our democracy functions so that there is no need for mass protests.  She states, "Even when injustice existed, there were constitutional mechanisms to right wrongs."  While this argument has some validity, she chooses not to address the protesters discontent with the political system which they feel does not work because of the gravitas held by the wealthy.  From what I gather, this is what the protests are truly unhappy about.  Coulter never addresses why these people are protesting but rather she picks and easier target of how they are expressing there political discontent.

Ann makes her money by selling her extremist point of view to a conservative base.  She does an excellent job promoting herself and her work (plugging her books when at all possible).  So it comes as no surprise that she makes a bold effort discredit any movement that opposes conservative audience.  Her partisan opinion stirs up controversy.  This controversy garners attention which is good for her message and her book writing business.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A critical review of Lewis M. Simons' Opinon Column in USA Today

(photo by
Lewis M. Simons is an author and Pulitzer prize winning journalist.  He has written for the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and written two books.  The majority of Mr. Simons' work has been on economic and civil issues of Asian countries.  "Simons' op-ed and analytical articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Atlantic and Smithsonian magazines. He has contributed to National Geographic and his work also has appeared in USA Today, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and Daily Kos. He has appeared on ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CNN." (  He is obviously an accomplished and a well established journalist.

Mr. Simons' Column: Why Americans don't just 'let them die' is addressing reactions during a GOP debate hosted by the Tea Party on September 12, 2011.  Texas Rep. Ron Paul was asked whether society should allow for an uninsured person to die rather than receive any form of Government intervention.  People in attendance cheered in favor of letting the hypothetical person die.

Simons is obviously upset by the reaction to the question as reflected in his arguments against the Republican party. He argues that their position of being the 'the party of life' is no longer valid because of this specific reaction and that Republicans are just plain mean spirited.

Though I could agree with his opinion, his argument is lacking any valid supporting points.  Instead he seeks to solicit an emotional response from his liberal audience by attacking Sarah Palin's comments on "death panels" and Michele Bachmann's uninformed statements about the HPV vaccine. Simons presents statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prove Bachmann's statements about HPV were wrong, but fails to provide any evidence on why the GOP has lost it's position or is mean spirited.  Both, Palin and Bauchmann are two subjects that could be described as disliked, if not hated by most liberals. These two think tanks are easy targets that should stir up emotions in an effort to get the audience on his side.  Simons then veers from his argument once again by speaking generally of how Europeans and the Japanese are baffled by American's "emphasis on the individual at the cost of society".  A statement based on assumption and generalization of an entire country's societal view, not fact.  He then closes his argument with a slippery slope fallacy saying that any opposing argument will cause "a return to the not-so-grand old days when hundreds of thousands of Americans were disabled, disfigured or died of measles, polio, tuberculosis and a host of other diseases."

In all, Simons appealed to emotions and lacked any tangible evidence to support his argument that conservatives are meanies who hate life.  This column reads more like a person venting frustrations by pointing fingers and name calling.  Activities that are all too common in our political climate.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rich getting richer, you... not so much

 Capital Gains Tax Rates Benefiting Wealthy Feed Growing Gap Between Rich and Poor by Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang, Published: September 11

       This article published by the Washington Post is an example of how money and lobbyist have influenced public policy, specifically the tax code.  The current tax code allows for people like billionaire Warren Buffet to be taxed significantly less than the people that work for him.  These lower taxes are not lower income taxes (35%) but rather a lower capital gains tax (15%).  Capital gains is money made through investment.  The majority of money generated by the wealthy is considered capital gains.  Most Americans rely on salaries for their income, salaries that are taxed at more than double than that of capital gains.
       Buffet is advocating for a more fair tax system, but his position is not a popular one.  The vast majority of the mega-rich would like to lower or eliminate capital gains taxes all together.  They have enlisted economist, politicians, and the media to convince the average voter that these lower taxes are necessary in order to create jobs. All this effort has worked.  Their success is directly reflected by the lower percentage of taxes they pay on overall income.

        Republicans have a well an established platform of low/no taxes for the wealthy (or job creators as they put it). A platform not generally shared by Democrats, but with aggressive lobbying and generous campaign contributions the wealthy have drawn bi-partisan support.  This has created a void, leaving a select few in Government pushing for equality in the tax system.  So who represents the middle class/poor?  Not many, its simply more profitable to support the rich.

       This lack of representation for the average citizen is widening the gap them and the rich.  This is a classic example how money can buy influence and over representation of a minority group.

(Picture via