Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jesus, Christianity and the Spaghetti Monster

Has anyone ever wondered why there is so much hatred in a nation where the majority of the citizens are so-called Christians? You know the kind, those that are constantly quoting the Bible and have the name of Jesus, God or Amen in almost all their sentences. The nuttier they are, the more Christian they turn out to be and usually, the most hateful.

They hate almost everything: health care for all, equal rights, women’s rights, lesbian and gay rights and almost everything that has a right in it except, of course, their political party (Republican) which is typically called the Right and, their religious rights; theirs not everyone else. These people that are always with Jesus on their lips are the first ones to trash and bash a guy named Jesus because he is an immigrant. They are the first ones to cry that the rest of the people that do not share their faith or people of no faith, are imposing their beliefs or opinions on them. However, they see nothing wrong with forcing kids in a public school, a school that is funded by the taxes of all Americans regardless of their religious, sexual orientation, gender or race, to have prayers as part of their education. These are the ones that reject science and would prefer not to have evolution taught in schools and have demanded, on several occasions, to have creationism taught as well if they are to accept evolution to be imparted. The same people that today are trying, and in many States succeeding, to reverse Roe vs. Wade and forcing their opinion regarding what a woman can do with her uterus. This group is attacking all the advances women have acquired through years of fighting against a male chauvinistic society that has obstructed them every step of the way. Now, these people want to go back to the dark ages and take every one of us with them!

Ever since the first Mega-church was erected back in the 1980s we have seen an increasing number of fanatics. I am beginning to think that all the “wild and crazy” stuff that took place in the ‘60s and ‘70s yielded as a result a bunch of fried-brained, morally depleted, spiritually empty group of people that, once the hippie communes were dismantled, had no place to go for guidance. Having always followed the herd, they flocked like turkeys to churches in search of solace, sort of a spiritual dry-cleaning. These people fell prey of some group of men that saw the opportunity and grabbed it. These ministries created shows where they fooled the followers by arranging for people to be healed by the “minister” and if paraplegic, they walked for the first time in front of the congregation; or by having people tell stories of how a terminally ill family member or themselves were miraculously cured by the “minister.” With these tricks-of-the-trade, these congregations amassed millions of dollars and with the power that money generates, they grew bigger by venturing into radio, television, building bigger churches, building schools and Universities, hospitals and almost every other type of institution where they had the upper hand to indoctrinate the people… especially when they were very young and therefore, more moldable. Oral Roberts and Bill Graham were the pioneers of this new religious trend; it is them we should thank for converting this country into the religious craze we are witnessing now. These two men claimed to have a direct connection with God; God would speak directly to them and instructed them on what needed to be done, it seems that God changed the gospels for them so that being filthy rich was a good thing and not a sin. Out the window went the famous teachings: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24.

Conveniently, God told these two men and others that followed that it was OK to be rich and being as pious as they are, they followed God’s instructions. Billy Graham lives in his own private mountain, behind huge gates and has a huge fortune. No one knows for certain because Graham has never made his income tax public, I guess it is a source of embarrassment to have so much wealth and still be asking the congregation for money. Oral Roberts also amassed great wealth; he even had his own private jet. It pays to preach!

It was men such as Oral Roberts and Billy Graham that during a span of over 50 years they indoctrinated the masses through radio, television, Universities and at the Mega Churches to hate everything and anything that it was not in accordance to their Ministries. This country went from austerity to liberalism and now is back to austerity in less than 50 years. These opposed and contradicting views, one after the other, is not a common occurrence and it can only happen with indoctrination.

It is sad that today these people hate everything that not long ago they defended and fought for: civil rights, women rights and freedom. The same people that in the 60s proudly carried signs claiming “Make Love not War” or “Peace and Love” are now the same that proudly display their guns, bomb a clinic or kill a doctor, of course, they claim they are doing God’s work. These people want to see Jesus, the poor Mexican farmer, be deported to Mexico. They are very humane and loving!

Which brings me to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That is a God I can believe in. He is not judgmental and you can have him anyway you like: al dente, soft and even raw, white, green, red or pink. Can have Him cold or hot, spicy or not. Does not cost much to have it in your pantry and it will feed the masses for almost nothing and He will accept you regardless of race, gender, age or financial status. He serves to the rich and the poor and belongs to the world. He doesn’t judge you, you judge him. That is my kind of God… Hail to the FSM!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

The Koch brothers and the extreme religious fanatics, usually Evangelists, own the GOP who are following the desires of their true masters and ignoring the needs of their constituents. The GOP is evolving from a Party that loved this country, even when they have always shown favoritism for Corporations it was never to the point of sacrificing the well being of the regular American, the working class to a Party that is only loyal to the elite and fortunate few, the 1%.

For the last twelve years, the Republicans have been giving tax breaks to large corporations, the famous trickle-down economics that has never worked but that the Republicans keep insisting stimulates the economy. For twelve years the largest corporations have paid little or no taxes but have received a hefty sum from the government to promote job creation. Basically, the working class is giving the wealthy money to create part-time or under paid jobs for the working class. The working class is the one paying the taxes that provide these incentives, does that make any sense to anyone? You don’t believe me? Let me begin by saying that for 2011, the total Revenue of the United States collected from Individual income taxes was of $1,091 billion vs. $819 billion from corporate taxes. There alone is a huge discrepancy. At a time where unemployment is high and salaries are low, the working class is the one providing the largest amount of revenue for the country. Let’s not forget that those billions are only from income tax, after the government takes those taxes from us, we still have to pay sales taxes, state taxes etc. Corporations pay sales taxes too, but since they have the ability to purchase in bulk the sales taxes they pay are usually lower plus they can claim an infinite amount of things as expenses and losses, the regular working person can't. So no matter how you slice it, the working class is being squeezed to the max for every penny the government can get from them, and the GOP likes it that way just fine. They don’t want to fairly tax Corporations or the wealthy; at least we can say they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them but a country cannot flourish economically when its economy it’s mostly carried on the shoulders of the weakest. It is unsustainable.

The GOP is constantly claiming that the tax cuts they request are for small businesses. When we hear this, we all think of the mom and pop’s store in our neighborhoods, but we are wrong. Most people don’t know what constitute a small business, the ones benefiting from these tax cuts. Everything that I write here can be traced and confirmed and I will supply the links to support my statements.

The list of the top 200 “small” business listed in Forbes magazine even includes oil companies. I must admit that these oil companies are not Exxon, Mobil or BP but still it is not what most Americans consider small business. The list of small businesses show sales ranging from a minimum of $5 million dollars to $750 million, that is definitively not a mom and pop’s store, yet the tax cuts are geared towards them.

Another thing I heard from the Right is that Democrats are against development, growth and capitalism. I have no idea where they get their information (well, yes I do) but this is not true. Democrats are considered progressives and as such we are in favor of progress, whether this progress is manufacturing, science, development or anything else if it is to improve the lives of all of us. We are not against capitalism, we want everyone to have a chance at succeeding in life and have a fair shot at a better future. What we are vehemently against is for the working class to be abused, taken advantage of on the name of capitalism. There is a big difference there. There is no excuse for a CEO to get a salary in the millions of dollars, a great retirement plan, stocks, bonuses, expenses paid etc. while the worker gets more responsibilities, lower benefits, longer hours and their salaries see little or no changes, and if they get a raise is at best an extra dollar an hour. That is simply a modern way of slavery and that is what Democrats are against. I will never understand a middle class worker justifying such injustice.

Republicans don’t understand what Regulations and Unions do either. They like to blame the high unemployment rate on this. Nothing could be further from the truth.

President Ronald Reagan, the GOP’s demigod, inherited an unemployment rate of 8.5, and during the first year of his administration it peaked to 10.8; we can say that this was not his fault since he inherited an unemployment that was increasing from Jimmy Carter. To his credit, he managed to bring down the unemployment to a 5.4, which is commendable. Of course, we all know that Ronald Reagan would be considered too liberal to be part of the GOP as they are today. President Bill Clinton inherited an unemployment rate of 6.3 and after implementing some tougher regulations he managed to leave the White House and pass to President George W. Bush an unemployment rate of 4.0 and a sound economy. During the eight years that the country had to endure all the damage inflicted by G.W. Bush, he left office with an economy in shambles, an unemployment rate of 5.0 and rising as well as the collapse of Wall Street and the banking industry. This collapse didn’t happen by chance, it started by Reagan deregulating the banking industry and culminated with Bush deregulating almost any other industry, it was and still is the GOP opinion that businesses can regulate themselves even when the results has been a complete failure of our economic system. Yet, the GOP it is still pressuring for deregulation.

The GOP has also made sure to paint a devil out of Unions. Unions are the only force that can truly look after the worker. The only reason why companies can’t get away with hypothetical murder is because of Unions. The regular worker can’t afford legal representation against giants such as multinationals, many times they are not educated enough to negotiate for themselves a raise or defend their seniority within a company or an abusive and dangerous work conditions and that is when Unions come in. Without Unions large corporations would take advantage of workers – after all, all that matters for them is their shareholders, can you imagine what these companies would do to us if we didn’t have Unions?

To demonstrate how compassionate these corporations are, one only has to look at the cost of living during the last 30 years. It has increased 300% during that time. Three hundred percent, that is a lot. In the same token, the minimum wage during the same time span has increased by a little more than 100% ($3.35 in 1980 to $7.25 today); there is no way that a person earning minimum wage can survive on one salary, and everything keeps raising, everything except salaries.

I can’t understand a moderate Republican. I can’t understand how can they shoot themselves on the foot and continue supporting a Party that keeps stealing from the poor to give to the rich; the party that believes that only the wealthy deserve a break, good medicine, a good education and a sound future. Can some one explain it to me?

We must vote Democrat in November. President Obama deserves four more years but we must help him by giving him a Congress that will help this country, not obstruct any progress!  

Vote for Obama and Vote 100% Democrat in 2012!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Dog Dilemma

The not so new “news” about President Obama is that he has eaten dog meat; this is an effort by the Republicans to diminish how Mitt Romney treated his dog back in the 80s. The comparing of Romney, an adult father, who strapped his dog on top of the family car for a 12 hour trip at a speed of about 75 miles per hour, inflicting such terror into the poor dog that caused her gastrointestinal distress and horrified his own children by seeing the dog’s diarrhea running down the rear window of the family car.  Comparing that with what happened to a child less than 10 years old in a foreign land, who was being fed what the adults felt was a normal diet. There is an abysmal difference between the two occurrences: President Obama was a child, not responsible for the food choices of the adults that fed him, Romney was the adult who managed to horrify and probably traumatized his own children by his cruel and unnecessary treatment of their family dog.  He continues the fine example as Mitt Romney and his family are friends with a man that voluntarily barbequed and ate a dog as an adult and who today is his biggest political supporter, Fred Malek.

This claim is just another weak attempt from the Republicans to damage President Obama’s image, having nothing else that they could find. The funny thing is, that it was our own president who candidly mentioned it in his book “Dreams from my Father”. It is no secret that this book is an autobiography of President Obama before he became a Senator, let alone the President of the United States. Among the many things that President Obama shared with the world in this autobiography, it imparts to the reader what a young mulatto had to endure growing up in the United States in the 60s, in a country filled with racism and hatred. We can perceive this best when he so eloquently wrote “I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to the whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose – the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds. And if I were to explain that no, the tragedy is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is yours, sons and daughters of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island, it is yours, children of Africa, it is the tragedy of both my wife’s six-year-old cousin and his white first grade classmates, so that you need not guess at what troubles me, it’s on the nightly news for all to see, and that if we could acknowledge at least that much then the tragic cycle begins to break down… well, I suspect that I sound incurably naïve, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns. Or worse, I sound like I’m trying to hide from myself”, I believe one does not have to be bi-racial to understand and feel what the President was trying to relay to the reader. It is a shame that the majority of Republicans can’t understand it; to be capable of this requires a heart and if they have one, is usually filled with hate leaving no room for anything else.

In order to lessen the negative impact of Mitt Romney’s cruel behavior towards what was supposed to be his beloved pet Seamus, the Republicans have dug out a phrase from that wonderful book, where President Obama describes in a few sentences, one of his many experiences while living in Indonesia. We must remember President Obama was around 6 years of age when he moved there. But it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Republicans are comparing a heinous act committed by an adult in front of his own children to what a child accepted from an adult. I guess that will allow the Democrats to blame Mitt Romney’s children of abusing their “beloved” pet too, if it applies to one then it should apply to the other as well.

For those who have not read the book and who might not know much about President’s Obama childhood I will try to set up the premises to the story and will let you judge for yourself. In 1966 after her divorce Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother, married Lolo Soetoro and in 1967 she and her new husband moved to Indonesia taking her six-year-old son with her. In 1971, out of fear for her son’s safety, Mrs. Dunham sent President Obama back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. Mrs. Dunham and her daughter born of that marriage joined President Obama a year later.

We can deduce that when President Obama ate dog meat, he could have been anywhere between 6 to 10 years of age. At that age, you are not responsible for what you eat, food is usually provided by either your parents or another adult.

This is how President Obama mentions the “exotic” culinary experience: “With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunch). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.” That passage of the book is what is being used to compare President Obama’s ill moment with dogs and that of Mitt Romney.

It is necessary in order to pass a sound judgment, that we compare both incidents from a source that is not biased. The following was taken from a supporter's website dedicated in its entirety to Mitt Romney:

This is the story about Seamus, Mitt Romney’s unfortunate dog: “Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family's hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. He'd built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.” Just the thought of putting a dog on top of a car roof for a 12-hour road trip is enough to make by skin crawl, but that is not all. The story proudly continues as if that act was not bad enough.

Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it."

"The ride was largely what you'd expect with five brothers, ages 13 and under, packed into a wagon they called the ''white whale.''

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours."

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.”

Apparently, the Romneys thought of this incident as a joke. What it's so difficult for me to understand is that Mitt Romney had more than enough money to send Seamus by plane to Toronto, leave him in a reputable boarding facility or rent a damn van where the whole family and Seamus could comfortably fit but he chose none of them. Instead, he opted for the cheapest and cruelest one, strapping his dog on the roof of the car and, not content with that, when the poor dog vomited and defecated all over the car out of sheer terror the reward Seamus got was to be hosed down, not even dried and eight more hours of the same torture. That incident clearly reflects where Mitt Romney’s heart is, in his wallet.

For the Republicans that are trying to compare these two incidents, let me tell them that there is no comparison possible. One was an act of an adult inflicted on a child – the child should not be blamed. The other was the act of a cheap, cold hearten, irresponsible adult on an innocent dog.  So don’t you dare to compare!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

War Games

Facebook. That wonderful social network we are so accustomed to and with which we have a marvelous love-hate relationship with. We dislike the fact that it is constantly changing and forcing us to change with it. We are frequently saying that we will go somewhere else but we never do because we are addicted to it. Through Facebook we have reached out beyond what was possible only ten years ago. I have friends from all corners of the world that, if it weren’t for Facebook, I would have never have had the pleasure of knowing since our paths would have never crossed. We share ideas, ideals, our pain and suffering; we mobilize and organize thousands of people with the stroke of a key: “Share.” If the world before Facebook was a handkerchief, now is a cotton swab!

It was through Facebook that I came across a picture of a sign carried in one of the many anti-war protests that took place throughout our country. The sign read “Why is there always money for war but not for education.” Everyone was commenting on it, as it is typical in this forum and I was no different. But, as I was replying I had an epiphany, sort of. For the first time in my life the answer to that question was crystal clear to me and the answer to that question is so translucent, so obvious that I am amazed no one had mentioned it before, at least not that I know. It is true that if you want to hide something, hide it in plain view…

This is a ballistic nation; I think we all know that. This is a country infatuated with guns and weaponry and obsessed with war. We call everything a war: War on Poverty; War on Drugs; War on Terror; War on Illiteracy and as of late, War on Women. It could have had a more positive effect if we would have said, for example, “Eradicate Poverty Now” but we prefer “war,” we use it tirelessly and it has become an everyday noun that we associate with a worthy cause.

Since the beginning of this country, we have always been ready to lend a helping hand to other nations and engage in their wars or we engage in our own and request their help. It is also known that we have fought these wars not necessarily because of altruistic reasons – but because the country where these wars were taking place had something we wanted. That occurs even to this day whether the wars we are fighting are our own or those of our allies.

Hopefully, we are in agreement so far. You may question what does that lengthy explanation have to do with education? A lot actually, in my opinion, everything. A ballistic nation needs soldiers to fight those wars, a peon willing to risk his or her life.

For a ballistic country, such as ours, wars are far more important than lives and education. A country that is always at war doesn’t need their populace to have access to free higher education; the more educated a person is, the less likely he will engage in wars and that certainly would work against a ballistic government. However, it serves the government well if the youth is sufficiently educated to crave to learn more, to wish for a better future, a future that it’s beyond reach. That is precisely what the government needs and that is why this country doesn’t invest in education as much as they do in wars. How do you think they incite young, ambitious and idealistic individuals to enlist? What is the only thing they offer the youth if they enlist? An education. That is why the government invests more in wars and not education. Education is the only bait they have for others to fight their war games.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

China: The Monster Behind the Red Flag

China. If we close our eyes, we all can envision the ancient culture, the beautiful hills, the monumental Great Wall, cordial people and their delicate features, the exotic music and the lovely tea. Isn't it true?

China has become one of the strongest financial countries in the world, and we keep pouring our money into that regime. The Chinese society differs completely from ours.  The Chinese government determines what its citizens are allowed to do, how many children a couple can have, what you are to study, what you can read, the music you are allowed to hear and even the future of a newborn child, things that are unimaginable in our culture.

And their food, everyone loves their food with those wonderful noodles, delicate flavors, perfect balance of vegetables and for those that enjoy a succulent shrimp, a perfectly cooked piece of beef or pork they have wonderful dishes as well. And the fortune cookies, that all of us want regardless that they are never eaten and that all we care about is the fortune that hides inside, even when it makes no sense and we know it’s fake, they are fun and we want them. Of course, their culinary art is very different outside China; it’s altered to fit our less “refined” taste buds. For starters, it is true that rats are part of their menu, and what is even worse than rats, they eat dogs and cats. It breaks my heart to see the barbaric way in which they kill these poor animals, animals that for most of the civilized world are considered to be our companions and our best friends. Being the good businessmen they are, they save the skin of these poor creatures and sell them to clothing factories where they will use it on the collars and cuffs on the coats that can be found at many stores in the U.S. and all over the world… And we do nothing; after all… it’s their costume.

China took over Taiwan in 1949 and Tibet in 1950. While Taiwan is considered by China as a state of the republic, the Taiwanese people consider themselves a separate and independent country. So far, even when the People’s Republic of China thinks otherwise, they have not invaded militarily, but according to the experts China is growing impatient and it is something that can happen at any time. The Tibet wasn’t as lucky. In 1950, China invaded Tibet and forced that peaceful country to be part of China and, as a result of that subjugation in 1959, the Tibet gave the world their leader, their precious son, the Dalai Lama. While in exile, the Dalai Lama has been the greatest representation for the Tibetan monks, the people of Tibet and their cause. Promoting change without violence in his country, the Dalai Lama has been a relentless and notorious ambassador that almost single-handedly placed Tibet on the map and brought international attention to their cause. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and after so many years, he hasn’t given up and continues to demand peace and the autonomy for his country. And we admire him but… this problem is so far away, and aren’t Asians all the same? What's the problem? Sadly, that is the mentality of most people in the US.

After China stopped being the isolated country it was, it has rapidly risen to become one of the financial powers of the world. What they have done with that power is deplorable.

China began their invasion to our markets in the late 1990s and, I must admit this, thanks to a Democrat: Bill Clinton. The idea was that we were more industrialized than China and China with a population exceeding any other country of the world, represented a great market for companies in the United States to export their goods to. Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, that is not what happened. Since the very beginning, China was importing more than we were exporting to them. China, having opened their market attracted International companies manufacturing all type of goods: electronics, clothing, household appliances, automobiles, avionics, toys, canned goods… you name it, they made it and cheap. China was and still is a formidable competitor and it is very savvy when conducting business deals. We export to China raw materials to China for almost nothing and in return, China sells us back products made with the raw materials we sold them at a much higher price.

For example, in 2000, the US exports to China totaled $16,185 million and imported from China a total of $100,108 millions. In 2005, we exported $41,192 million and imported from China $243,470 million. Last year, we exported $103,878 million and imported from China $399,335 million. There is no way we can catch up, and we keep borrowing from them. China has us by the balls and will not let go, unless we do something about it! Trade should be equal in value, if we import from China $100 million, we export to China $100 million otherwise, and we are basically giving them our materials for nothing and killing our country in the process. In return, they import toxic goods, that for reasons unbeknownst to me, fail to be tested by the U.S. Customs or Homeland Security. They have managed to import toys with led, poisonous pet food and drywall with a high concentration of sulfuric acid. These manufacturers haven’t been banned; their products simply have been recalled.

It seems that China does not care about human life, their own, animals and even less the lives of those people such as the people of Tibet, the people of Taiwan, or the people of Sudan. Their thirst for power is far greater than any humanity they may have – and I don’t think the government of the People’s Republic of China has any humanity in it. They have realized that money and natural resources translates into power and while they are in pursuit of becoming the number one power of the world, they are stopping at nothing.

In an effort to get their hands on the oil from Sudan, China together with Russia is exporting weapons to the Sudan’s regime regardless of the genocide that is taking place in that country and in particular Darfur. Regardless of the sanctions and embargo imposed by the U.S. to Sudan, China has been “aiding” al-Bashir in his ethnic cleansing… and we do nothing about it. We are continuing with our trade as nothing is happening. We continue to have diplomatic relations with them. But who are we to criticize our government? For us to criticize our government we should have the morals to do it, we don't.

I bet that on Memorial Day’s sale, the people of this country will be waiting outside Walmart’s doors for the store to open and run inside in a frenzy to buy all the Chinese junk they can get their hands on! We don’t care what the Chinese are doing or the impact they have on our economy. We complain that there are no jobs, I have news for you… every time you buy at Walmart you are helping our economy sink, our factories close and you are in a way, selling our country to China over a plasma TV, an iPod, or any other frivolity with the seal of “Made in China”.


(in case you don't know what that says, it says: Learn Mandarin fast, at the speed we are going this country will soon be the United States of China)

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Kill a Mockinbird... Again

Today the Florida State Attorney, Angela Corey, announced that there will be no grand jury for Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Even though Ms. Corey said since the beginning that there might be no need for a grand jury, for me this news came as a surprise. Came as a surprise because the fate of George Zimmerman rests solely on the shoulders of Ms. Corey and whatever decision she comes to the decision is absolute, there are no appeals.

What if she announces that she reached the conclusion that Mr. Zimmerman is not guilty? What will the parents of Mr. Martin to do?

I cannot conceive, given this announcement, the findings will be that of a guilty verdict. I believe that if a person is found guilty, there should be a jury. Is Ms. Corey going to be the judge, juror and executioner? Doubt it. Then, this must mean that she will find him not guilty and that would be one of the greatest injustices that I’ve heard since I can remember.

I fear that Ms. Corey will find the murderer not guilty, especially after reading an article from the where it read: “According to Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, the city’s emergency management team has met regularly with the DOJ to construct a plan. Extra police officers and fire department officials are on standby and neighboring agencies have also been asked to assist if needed.” - That statement doesn’t sound too promising. For me that translates to Mr. Zimmerman will be found Not Guilty and the city is preparing for the riots that will follow that announcement.

If the findings are not favorable to Mr. Martin’s family, they will feel devastated, disillusioned and rightfully enraged and so will most of the citizens of the United States.

If my suspicions are correct, we can be sure that in this country justice is not blind and will not be for a long time. It hasn’t been in over 500 years, why would we expect it to be any different now? That dame might be blindfolded but her scale is definitively tipped.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Karma is a Bitch...

On April 3rd of this year, the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released a study that corroborates what many of us have been saying for about a decade: That the people of Sudan, in particular Darfur, have been enduring a constant attack that at best kills them and at worse leaves them facing a slow death, an ethnic cleansing. There have been numerous accounts of all type of torture imaginable perpetrated on the non-Arab speaking citizens of Sudan: rapes, beatings, electrocutions, gunshots, bombings, burnings, amputations and killings that, for reasons incomprehensible to me, the world has refused to act, react or admit that these atrocities are taking place under their watch for a decade. The governments of the “civilized” world have sided with China and Russia – the two major forces that are supporting Omar al-Bashir in his ethnic cleansing.
Perhaps I am being too harsh in saying that the world or governments are siding with China and Russia – but isn’t doing nothing the same as accepting? I can understand that there is too much at risk, the last thing anyone wants is a war, especially against these world superpowers; however, there is no excuse for us to continue conducting business with them as if they were not monsters against humanity. By continuing with “business as usual,” we are in a way helping perpetuate the massacre and we are supporting the tormentor.
The PHR's study might help to put pressure on those with the power to do something. So far, there has been no reliable proof that any of these atrocities were taking place, at least that is what the governments of the world have claimed up to now. This study will help shine a light on this matter that, perhaps because it is so atrocious, others have refused to accept it and what’s more important, do something about it.
This study reveals that nearly half of the women treated were victims of rape or gang rape. There were even reports of men that were sexually assaulted and some even raped. The evidence also showed that injuries inflicted on these people were consistent and showed evidence of beatings, fires, amputations and all other forms of torture. We must remember the evidence at hand is only from those that survived or reached a medical center; how many others died on the field or on the way to the center are unknown. Every single piece of the evidence recorded and examined by PHR was consistent with the claims. Every single one. PHR stated in their study “Our findings show that in all of the medical records that contained sufficient detail, the medical evidence was considered to be at least consistent with (if not highly consistent with or virtually diagnostic of) the human rights violations disclosed by the patients.” Further in the study, PHR said, “Rape and other forms of sexual violence have been recognized as war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as instruments of genocide.
The study represents a milestone that will aid the International Criminal Courts in proceeding with more tangible proof and with any luck receive the support of other nations in the capture of Omar al-Bashir and put an end to his reign of terror.
There might be something worthwhile celebrating this Easter week: Hopefully these findings will mark the beginning of the end for al-Bashir and a new beginning for the people of Darfur. 
I encourage the reader to look at the PHR’s study. Please, click here to read it.
To donate to the Save Darfur Organization, click here .
To donate to Amnesty International, click here.
To sign the International Petition for the People of Darfur, click here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Path to Prosperity... But Whose?

Paul Ryan has presented in Congress what he calls “The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.” This Budget Report has been in the news too much lately, which piqued my curiosity to know what exactly was in it. As most of us do, I tend to listen to what others have to say and I confess that at times, I am too lazy to do my own research. Having Medicare and Medicaid jeopardized by this proposal, I overcame my apathy and decided to read it and scrutinize it myself to reach my own conclusions. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, after all this is a public blog and all views are welcome, but ultimately it is mine and I always say things as I see them if you don’t like it, move on.

Anyone who reads this report lightly and without giving it too much thought or analyzing the significance of what is being proposed, would think that he is presenting a great remedy for what ails our economy today. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The tax reforms Mr. Ryan is proposing, will mostly affect the lower income families. He is proposing a maximum cap of 25 percent for those that make an obscene amount of money, including the new “people” on the block: Corporations. The rest of us, which are the ones being over-taxed and practically sustaining this economy, will pay 10 percent across the board. This approach doesn’t sound too bad, except that his proposal still includes and “improves” incentives for the "job creators" and we all know what that really means. Corporations will still be getting large sums of money in the form of tax breaks for them to honor us by giving us a job, usually at minimum wage and at times not even a full-time position (avoiding having to offer us health benefits.) Basically these companies will be getting cheap labor, which at times and thanks to the “incentives” these workers wages will be paid by the working class in the form of taxes paid, which in turn the government will pay the Corporations to hire new workers, and the vicious cycle keeps repeating itself. It is sickening!

In this report, Ryan also proposes an Energy reform, which not surprisingly, offers to lift all precautionary regulations. He is proposing to remove the Environmental Protection Agency and allow the private sector to develop sources of “American-made” energy. We have seen how "responsible" the private sector is when it comes to the environment and safety. It is well known that when it comes to the environment and safety, if unregulated, corporations will be more interested in saving money and how much profit they can make if they overlook the impact their projects will have on the environment and safety. I cannot say that all corporations behave this way, but sadly, most of them do. They must be regulated.

As we have grown accustomed to by now the GOP, and in particular in this report, Ryan is proposing to get rid of the National Labor Relations Act. It is no secret that Republicans despise Labor Unions, and we should not be surprised that they keep attempting to remove any representation that workers have to fight the injustices perpetrated by the freshly introduced “people” in this nation. In Ryan’s own words “Because a majority of union members in the United States now works for the public sector, organized labor has become an increasingly powerful force on behalf of bigger government and higher taxes. Policymakers must make sure America has a public sector that works for the people it serves – not the other way around.” The question I have is, since corporations are now people, when he refers to “a public sector that works for the people” which people is he referring to, the workers or the corporations?

In the same breath, he continues to mention all the benefits that will entail getting rid of the NLRA, which according to him will increase revenues and fees by lifting moratoriums and bans on energy supplies, again claiming that the energy corporations (oil companies) are environmentally responsible. I wonder what planet Mr. Ryan lives on!

Mr. Ryan didn’t overlook protecting the banking giants either. Wall Street and the financial companies will also see a protection from this “reform.” This path to prosperity ensures that the financial institutions will be free to do whatever they want once more and help them get rid of the government ‘micromanagement’ which has impede their rapid growth. He closes this section with these words: “to ensure that the costs to the private sector and to the taxpayer do not outweigh their benefits, and that regulations are both essential and not unduly burdensome.” If this passes, we will be back to building a castle from a deck of cards!

There is one section of this report that I kind of agree with, that is if my understanding of it is correct. Mr. Ryan proposes a freeze in the federal workforce for the next three years, I am not necessarily pleased with that but, if what follows is true, then I am all for it: “The federal government’s responsibilities require a strong federal workforce. Federal workers deserve to be compensated equitably for their important work, but their pay levels, pay increases and fringe benefits should be reformed to better align with those of their private-sector counterparts.“ Ryan goes on saying that "Immune from the effects of the recession, federal workers have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities." As far as I know, Congressmen and women ARE Federal employees and this means that they will lower their own salaries and hopefully their raises will be based on merit, which it's long overdue. Of course, I know he is referring to the ‘lower class’ Federal workers and not the fat cats sitting in Congress but if this portion goes through, we can demand the same be applied to them.

The farmers did not escaped unharmed on this “path to prosperity.” The report proposes to reduce the help that farmers receive from the government. While we know that there are giants in the farming industry that really do not deserve a hand from the government and yet they take it, we also know that many family owned farms do need help or they will be overtaken by the giants. We need to help our farmers, the ones that are struggling to continue to supply us with fresh and organic vegetables and grains. These farmers are just beginning to make a positive impact in our health and they deserve any help they can get, otherwise we will continue ingesting GM foods, and there would be only one winner, Monsanto.

We all know that most crops are solely dependent on Mother Nature. We have seen what drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, cold weather, floods and natural disasters can do to crops. Well, Ryan is proposing that the government stops the crop insurance offered to farmers, making a farmer responsible for “management risks” as other businesses do. The difference between a farmer and, for example, a banker is that the farmer cannot control nature; the banker can control the market.

What brought me to read the report in the first place was the healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid reforms. According to Ryan, the current system that we have is displacing “the family, civic and religious institutions that serve communities across the nation.” Really, how? The only thing that comes to mind is the now infamous contraceptives and the 'right" for a religious institution to tell a woman that no contraceptives will be included in her insurance because what goes against the views of the employer supersedes the right of any woman.  This report gives an institution more rights than a human being.

After reading the section in its entirety, and you can do the same by following the link I’ve provided, I concluded that what its being proposed – regarding Medicare and Medicaid – is simply what has been proposed so many times before: privatization of these services. The report is proposing that the government with a voucher or check will cover your private insurance premiums. If the person selects a coverage that is higher than the value of the voucher, he or she will have to assume the difference. If you choose a lower coverage, then you will get a check from the government for the difference. The people that have money will be able to afford better plans and those that don’t will have to accept the less desirable insurance. It’s like having a PPO or a HMO, simple.

Mr. Ryan ensures that under this reform, insurance companies will not be able to deny services or increase their premiums for pre-existing conditions. I believe that has been taken care of by President Obama’s Healthcare Reform.

Mr. Ryan ends his report by giving praise to the Republican Party’s god: Ronald Reagan and his Reaganomics: "In 1981, President Ronald Reagan inherited a stagnant economy and a tax code that featured 16 brackets, with a top rate of 70 percent.  When he left office in 1989, the tax code had been simplified down to just three brackets, with a top rate of 28 percent.  Reagan's major tax reforms, enacted with bipartisan support without raising taxes, proved to be a cornerstone of the unprecedented economic boom that occurred in the decade during his presidency and continued in the decade that followed.

While it is true that Reagan inherited a “stagnant economy” this was primarily due to the global oil crisis that resulted from the turmoil in Iran. In 1979, as a consequence of massive protests and the imminent threat of a civil war, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini took over of the country. This event inflicted a significant impact on the production of oil and the global economy.

Reaganomics, according to Wikipedia, consisted of four simple pillars: Reduction of government spending; reduction of income tax and capital gain tax; reduction of economic regulations and control of the money supply to reduce inflation. That’s it. While it sounds perfect and we are all for “reductions” it is far from perfect, no matter how much the Republicans try to sanctify it, it is still bad economics.

During the eight years that Reagan was president, he single-handedly managed to raise our national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion. Thanks to Reaganomics, the United States shifted from being the largest international creditor to being the largest debtor, but you will never hear a Republican say that.

The same can be said about spending. Reagan’s GDP from 1981-1988 averaged 22.4%, 1.8% above the highest GDP from 1971 to 2009; public debt also saw a staggering increase during the Reagan's years, from 26% GDP when he took office to a whopping 41% (from $712 billion to $2,052 billion) by the end of his second term. Reagan holds the honor of being the only president who didn’t increase the minimum wage.

Reagan was not a man for the working class or the poor. If anyone thinks differently they hold the man in a very different light than he deserves.  In an interview Reagan gave to the New York Times by the end of his second term, he was asked about the homeless problem facing the nation, his response should be enough to know that while Reagan had charisma, his heart was as dark as his artificially colored hair. His reply to that question was: “[the homeless] make it their own choice for staying out there."

That statement personifies the core values of the Republican Party and we are foolish if we think that they could ever have a heart.

To see the names of the Congressmen and women supporting this proposal, click here.
Edited by J. Schapiro

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Right to Bear Arms

Today, on a beautiful day after April Fools Day and during the holiest of weeks for the Christian community, a gunman entered a private Korean Christian College and opened fire, killing seven people and wounding three others.

I don’t intend to describe what happened, I wouldn’t even attempt it. The coverage of the crime is all over the media and quite honestly, I wasn’t there and I am sure they can cover the event much better than I ever could.

I only have one question: Why does this happen so often?

Researching about what for me represents the main issue, the repetitive act of murdering students at any given school, I came across some information that I find disturbing.

I found out that during the last 16 years, worldwide, there has been 73 such cases. That might not sound like a very high number and perhaps it’s not, but 75% of those cases were perpetrated in the United States. Seventy-Five percent is a very high percentage!

Looking further into this data, I found out that in all of the countries where these crimes were committed, people have the right to bear arms. Some of the countries have stricter laws than others, but they all embrace the same excuse to own a gun for hunting.

During the last sixteen years, 261 people died and another 245 were injured at the hands of whom for most of us must be a mentally unstable person. The common denominator in all these cases is the right to bear arms, a gun.

When are we, a supposedly “civilized” country, going to admit that the “right to bear arms,” as written by our Forefathers, should be removed from the Constitution? The time when George Washington, Thomas Jefferson etc. lived are not the present times. Back in those days, you defended your honor in a duel; that’s unthinkable today. Laws are meant to change with the times so they are applicable to current circumstances; they are always changing, except that particular one, because it is supported by the strongest, most powerful lobbyist in the Nation: the NRA.

The National Rifle Association is what has permeated the laws where automatic and semi-automatic and assault weapons are sold in this country to anyone over the age of 21 and after a waiting period between 3 to 14 days depending on the State. That waiting period is known as the “cool-off period.” At 21, it’s very feasible that you don’t have a criminal record and you will have no problem purchasing a gun, legally. If you have a criminal record, don’t dismay! There are plenty of illegal guns on the black market, usually acquired by thieves who find them in the nightstand tables or under the mattresses of many overzealous gun owners.

I have always found it interesting that besides a criminal record, only age matters. There are no psychological studies or questionnaires to determine if the individual is mentally stable. You are not required to undergo a professional psychological evaluation or a drug test and I think that should be mandatory.

When you visit the NRA website, one of the pictures they have is of a man carrying a weapon with a caption saying "protecting your right to protect yourself." The only interest the NRA has is not to protect our right to bear arms, but the money they make with it and they couldn’t care less how many people die on a yearly basis because of guns, after all “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I’ve been hearing that nonsense forever. It is true that people kill people, but it makes it so much easier when all they have to do is to press on a trigger and shoot from a distance!

When I looked at their merchandise, I was appalled to see a section for children, granted, it contains videos and books on gun safety, but why would a child be near a gun to begin with?

While visiting the NRA website, on their home page you can find the following post written by Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director:
“March 20, 2012
'Fast and Furious' Part of Eric Holder's Anti-Gun Brainwashing Campaign
Editorial in The Daily Caller
NRA has been saying for years that Attorney General Eric Holder, our nation's chief law enforcement officer, is an anti-gun extremist. He's been toeing the Obama anti-gun ideological line for his entire life, and now we have more evidence. has unearthed a 1995 video of Eric Holder speaking to the Women's National Democratic Club. In that video, then-U.S. Attorney Holder urges support for a public campaign to "really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way."
Not to actually look at the data on gun ownership and crime. Not to consider the value of firearms as a means of self-defense. Not to lock up violent criminals. Not to pay any attention to the facts or the truth.
Holder's vision for brainwashing the American people against our firearm freedoms even included enlisting the advocacy skills of former Washington, D.C. mayor, and convicted felon, Marion Barry, and of course, that paragon of honesty, Jesse Jackson.
In retrospect, Holder's speech was an ominous foreshadowing of the lengths he was willing to go to push a gun-ban agenda.
Today, our country is reeling in disgust over Operation Fast and Furious, a criminal gun-running scheme engineered by Holder's Justice Department to blame our Second Amendment freedoms for Mexican drug cartel crime.
We now know that this illegal pipeline of guns to Mexico — established by our government, with our tax dollars — was responsible for the deaths of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, hundreds of Mexican citizens and, very likely, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
And now, this video only offers further evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a premeditated, criminal act, conceived — and then covered up — under an anti-gun ideologue who is intent on brainwashing Americans into giving up our Second Amendment rights.
When Operation Fast and Furious was first uncovered, NRA said that Holder is either lying or incompetent, and that he can't be trusted with the powers of his office or the sanctity of our freedoms.
Now, with the emergence of this damning new video, Americans need to ask how much more it will take — in the name of Eric Holder's brainwashing campaign — before he is removed from office.”

The above is an obvious attempt to use the same rhetoric they have been using against Democrats for years. In this post, Mr. Cox claims that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama - who have been in their respective positions for over three years – are fighting to abolish the “so sacred” Second Amendment. I wish they were but they are not. I do not dispute that perhaps both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are against guns; quite honestly I believe any human being with a conscience should be; but claiming that they are trying to change the Second Amendment is simply a lie, the same lie used on every election where a Democrat is most likely to win.

Needless to say, all the rednecks who love their guns much more than they love their spouse will be, literally, up in arms. I think a prerequisite for owning a gun is to not have too many brain cells, hence the insatiable desire to own a “big” gun. Perhaps owning a big gun compensates for the miniscule size of their virile organ... who knows! But the most fervent and loud supporters of the NRA are usually not that educated, not too smart and for some odd reason, they love beer as much as they do their guns.

The NRA must be very happy today. After all, another gun aficionado went hunting for… people.

Timeline of Worldwide School Shootings:
Gun Laws by Country: