MEMORIAL DAY 2015

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Politics
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Today is the day that our nation officially pays tribute to the men and women who, while in service to their country, sacrificed their lives to defend America from its enemies.  Today is the day that we memorialize and honor the nobility of a soldier’s death.

Yet, more often than not, we as a country seem too busy to truly stop for a moment and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives so that we can spend extended weekends such as this celebrating a day off from work, drinking beer, eating barbecue and wandering like nomads from one retail store to another enjoying Memorial Day sales.  I mean, what better way to pay tribute to those that died in battle then to roam the aisles of Macy’s seeking price bargains and once-in-a-lifetime, unheard of discounts of the century.

Memorial Day angers me because it serves as a catalyst to examine how we as a nation treat our veterans.

And no, sorry, I can’t wait until Veterans’ Day to vent my anger.

I shudder every time someone talks about “celebrating” Memorial Day.  We are honoring those that died in battle in defense of our ideals.  We do not celebrate death; he honor it.

I shudder when someone in Congress complains that the cost of caring for our veterans is too expensive and fiscally unaffordable.  We as a nation promised those that served that we would provide health care and a host of other benefits.  So how do we just walk away from this commitment?

I shudder when I realize that our commitment to the military ends the day after the shooting stops.

Hug a vet today.  Say thank you.  And make our Congressman live up to the promises that we have made our soldiers.

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I am not catholic. I do not believe in a God that has nothing better to do than to involve itself in the boring and inconsequential details of my daily routine.  Nor do I believe in some omnipotent superpower that every once in a century or two churns out miracles on a whim. And I emphatically and unequivocally do not believe in the illusion of a God, hearing the frantic and desperate prayers of one of its obedient and faithful servants, rushes to starve off the advances of a soul collecting Angel of Death.

I am both a human being and a citizen of the United States of America and being such; I demand all of the unalienable rights guaranteed me as a benefactor of the natural laws of life and the legal doctrine of ‘Declarationism.’  I am guaranteed the right of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And if I have the absolute right to life, I should also have the absolute right, whether it is specifically articulated or not, to choose the time, method and conditions of ending that life.

If I have an irrevocable,  not treatable terminal disease and I am within an estimated six months of death, who gives society the right to tell me how I have to die? That decision is mine and mine alone to make (in consultation with friends, family and physicians of my choosing.)  And if I want to take my own life so that I can die with dignity and in peace and in the environment of my choosing, then society must facilitate the circumstances of protecting and providing for this sacred right.

Why do I have to experience prolonged pain and suffering?  What do I have to die in a state of embarrassment as my body and brain functions fail?  Why do I have to be a burden on my family and on society?

There is no God that will come down and save me at the last moment of life.  So what am I waiting for?  And why?

My family and I watched my father die a slow, agonizing, painful, degrading and humiliating death.  I watched as a cancer ate away at his soul and flesh and left him a mere skeleton of a man desperately gasping for air in his last moments of life.  At his side was the hospice nurse giving what aid she could. I knew that in her bag was the morphine that to some extent, to not-enough extent, eased his pain. I also knew that a few extra pills would gently, painlessly and peacefully take him into the welcoming darkness of death.

But men and women who never met my father, who never saw his pain and heard his cries of anguish, denied me and my family the right to bring a brief moment of dignity to his last moments of life. I am forever burdened by the painful and unnecessary memory of his torment and distress.

If people believe in the concept of religious freedom then I must be granted the freedom to believe in my right to die in peace and with dignity.  If death is all but certain (save the theological heroic speech for someone that believes) then grant me and my beliefs the equal standing that they deserve.

The manner of my death, if available to me, is mine to choose.

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In a recent speech, Presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, declared himself able and most capable to assume the role of our military’s commander-in-chief if he is elected President of the United States.

Being of the variety that does not fully agree with Mr. Rubio’s self assessment, I took a moment to sit back and wonder just what qualities someone needs in order to take on a responsibility unlike any other. I mean, just about every decision a commander-in-chief makes influences the fate of the world. It is a type of job where an “oops” moment can be catastrophic for mankind.

Rubio’s senatorial record provides little in defining the substance of his foreign policy philosophy. He is very good at stringing together a long series of talking points and topical sentence-filled diatribes condemning President Obama’s foreign policy efforts.

Mr. Rubio claims that Obama has flinched. Not exactly sure if the Florida Senator is referring to the President’s unwillingness to put American soldiers in harms way or his effort to try to resolve the Iranian nuclear development issue peacefully. Rubio never stops his vomit of criticism long enough to actually provide specifics or alternatives to the Obama doctrine. So it is hard to judge his commander-in-chief credentials.

What he does say is that the President has not promoted American military strength as a means of preventing war. That in and of itself is absurd.

What is their to promote about the strength and scope of the American military? Should we make informercials and broadcast them on the televisions of our adversaries? I mean, is it a secret that we have the second largest military behind China? Is it a secret that in 2013 we were responsible for 39% of the world’s collective military expenditures? Is it a secret that in 2013 we spent over $650 billion dollars or 3.8% of our gross domestic product on guns, bullets, ships, planes and other tools of war?

We have over 1.4million men and women in uniform, 8 thousand tanks, 45 thousand offensive land systems, 14 thousand planes and close to 500 naval vessels plus a pretty awesome mix of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.   

Is this is not, in and of itself, a projection of power; what is?

The key question faced by all Presidents is to determine how and when this military might should be used. The answer to every diplomatic failure is not to automatically send our troops into a conflict zone. The military option is not always the best option. Sometimes it is the worst possible option. So far I have not heard Mr. Rubio propose any option to resolve international conflict other than the use the military – either as a threat or a vehicle of direct intervention.

Yesterday he showed his true foreign policy colors by admitting that even knowing what we know now about Iraq and the phantom weapons of mass destruction; if he were commander-in-chief, he would have still invaded Iraq and committed this country to en expensive, deadly and wasted war.

America does not need a one-dimensional commander-in-chief. There is more to foreign policy than just the waging of war.

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Once again, corporate America and our too-big-to-fail banks have screwed over the American consumer and have walked away with the standard slap-on-the-wrist punishment.  Once again, corporate executives have padded their company’s financial statements with nefarious dealings in order to secure obscene bonuses and pay packages.  Once again, our all-powerful government, whose job it is to protect the average American, bows down to the all-powerful Wall Street power broker and limps away with its genitals in its hands.

Yesterday, financial regulators fined numerous banks for their attempted manipulation of the global foreign exchange benchmark.  The fines, off course, were insignificant and inconsequential.  JP Morgan Chase was penalized a mere $352 million dollars; which amounts to mere pennies when compared to the mucho billions of dollars reflected on the company’s balance sheet.

What is lost in this whole thing – which will be forgotten by the weekend – is that the fine is paid not by the thieves, manipulators and schemers who concocted this web of deceit and profited from these activities, but is being paid for by the bank’s stockholders.  These insiders who benefited from their illegal activities – performance bonus, higher salaries – get no more than a visit to the principal’s office, probably a lecture filled with winks and smiles and probably an edict prohibiting them from participating in the company’s next summer picnic.

If corporations are indeed people, as claimed by the Romneys of the world, then send one or two of them to jail.  Hell, Martha Stewart was sent to jail so why not Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan?  Why is he and his kind exempt for any punishment for their companies illegal activities?

It only takes one.  Send just one high power Wall Street CEO to jail for his corporation’s misdeeds and I assure you, the big boys and girls seeing their wall of impunity fall, will be a bit more focused on what is driving their income statements and cash flows.

Make the CEOs and CFOs pay the fines out of their salaries, stock options and bonuses.  Then and only then will there be accountability and responsibility in corporate America.  And then and only then will the market place truly be a level playing field for all to prosper.

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The Republican party’s mantra should read, “if it doesn’t work the first time, or even the second or third time, keep trying.  It may work eventually.”

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, recently unveiled his economic recovery plan in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.  At the core of his plan was (surprise!) the cutting of individual and corporate income taxes, the ending of excessive government regulation (what ever that means) and the ending the paying of payroll taxes for workers under the age of twenty-one (Wow!).

In Governor Christie’s mind, all one has to do is reduce the number of income brackets from six to three, reduce the tax burden for the super-rich by thirty percent (from 40% to 28%) and reducing corporate tax rates by twenty-eight percent (35% down to 25%).  And presto, the economy will recover.  The rich will spend more money on their European cars, corporations with new money in their wallets will build new manufacturing plants – in South East Asia – and the middle class and the working poor will not have the means of  seeking proper medical care after another round of being fucked over by a Republican President who thinks all economic ills are solved by making the rich –richer an every one else responsible for our country’s finances.

And, to injury to insult, stupidity to insanity, the Governor is telling us that all of this is revenue neutral.  Christie claims that this year long Christmas gift to the rich would be paid for by eliminating or changing tax deductions (mainly  those that are claimed by the middle class) and instituting unnamed other measures (like in  reducing the social safety net for the poor). He claims that his plan would not materially increase the deficit.

Economic recovery is that easy.  Wave a magic wand, reduce taxes on the rich and all is better in Alice’s Wonderland.

Haven’t we heard that proclamation before?  

The man has had one too many pizzas.  He blames President’s Obama’s economic policies for wage stagnation and allowing the rich to become even richer.  So Christie rights these inequities by lowering the income tax on the rich to make them even richer and to marginally increase the wages of those age twenty one and lower.  . 

Now that makes a lot of sense.

So once again, economic solution for Republicans rests in making life better for the rich and for corporate America and hoping that a few pennies trickle down to middle class America via – I don’t know – an act of divine intervention.

I mean, not once has this economic theory actually worked and yet it is repackaged year after year and sold to us like a new car.  And we’re stupid enough to buy the goods the GOP is selling.

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Maryland’s States Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, stood before the crowd with all the pomp and circumstance of a political campaign rally.  She spoke eloquently, forcefully and deliberately.  Her voice resonated with a certain political enthusiasm.  

She was Caesar, surrounded by a blood-thirsty, hungry crowd who screamed for retribution and restitution.  They demanded a outcome that would satisfy their demand for recognition of their long standing ills.

Ms. Mosby stood there with the grace of a wise, well seasoned politician. She knew what to say and how to say it.  The cameras were there, the focus was centered on this obscure prosecutor and the States Attorney played the crowd and the cameras like a well tuned Stradivarius violin.  

The States Attorney fed the crowd the red meat they demanded.  “I’ve hear your calls for no justice, no peace,” she bellowed and at that point this blogger knew that America had lost its way.  

Please, let me explain before you attack.

The medical examiner’s report deemed the death of Freddie Gray as a homicide and armed with the autopsy findings and the preliminary findings from the city’s police department internal investigation, Ms. Mosby decided to indict six Baltimore police officers on various charges related to the death of Mr. Gray.

I have no problem with her decision.  That is not my issue.

But then she went ahead and almost argued her case in front of the crowd; detailing facts and evidence normally reserved for presentation in a court environment.  By doing what she did, just to engage the crowd – and the television cameras – in front of her, many legal observers believe that she crossed several lines and acted most unprofessionally and inappropriately.

Her conduct is part of my problem?

JUSTICE IS A PROCESS, NOT A VERDICT.

Justice is not a finding of guilt or innocence.  Justice is the fair and impartial process of applying laws of conduct and commerce, adopted by society as a framework of human behavior and interaction, to judge and, if appropriate, punish those who violate those laws.

We must always remember and accept that in a fair and impartial system of jurisprudence, there will always be cases where the innocent are convicted and the guilty go free.  It happens.  It is regrettable and unavoidable.  Justice is not perfect nor is it always equally applied.

And what we must always be cognizant of and be on guard against is that justice should not be a reflection of an at-the-moment populist movement. People have a right to march in the streets demanding a specific outcome of a legal proceeding or trial but for justice to be just, it must operate based upon the rule of law and the evidence being presented.

Too often in our nation’s history ….justice has succumbed to the interest of the political expedient and allowed itself to be the tool of the mob in street.  The Sacco and Vanzette trial was more about politics and anti-Italian sentiment then murder.  The Lindberg baby kidnapping trial was more theater than substance and even in my day, the trial of the Chicago Seven (following the 1968 Democratic Party convention) was pure farce and far from even the fringes of the process of justice.

So this blogger hopes that Ms. Mosby hears the demands for “justice” screamed from the streets of her city and promptly and completely ignores them.  She needs to just do her job.  She needs the gather all the evidence and prosecute the accused in a court of law – not on the streets of Baltimore.  She must always be cognizant of the fact that the police officers that have been indicted are innocent UNTIL THEY ARE PROVEN GUILTY IN A COURT OF LAW.  She needs to treat them as such.

But if the State’s Attorney continues to play to the crowd, we may note that not only did Mr. Grey die, but the process of justice did as well. 

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God’s self-proclaimed defender, vomiter of paranoia and pitchman of all things Christian, Mike Huckabee, is back at it again.  Surprisingly – or maybe not – he has found a new reason to go forth into the valley of insanity to rally his troops and warn them of a very nasty fate.  

It is a fate far more damning than a trip to purgatory and far more cruel than eternal residency in hell.  According to the religious version of Chicken Little, awaiting all Christians if they do nothing to stop the latest, greatest and gayest threat to Christianity is jail.  The Huckster has a new battle cry  “The homosexuals are at the gates!  Stop them now or all good Christians will be sent to prison for being good Christians.”

The King  of religious paranoia believes that if the United States Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, then the obvious and almost automatic next step would be for the courts and state legislators to immediately begin to criminalize Christianity.  He tells his flock that if same-sex marriage becomes legal than pastors,  ministers and the likes would be forced to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.  

Big Mke continues his onslaught of lies and egregious misrepresentations by saying that if the ministers and pastors refuse to officiate at same sex marriages, then the State would then soon have the right to file criminal charges against them.

(Is it me or does it seem as if the  Huckster’s comments are becoming more obscene, more outrageous and more inflammatory and poisonous then ever before?)

The scary part of all this is that the Homophobic States of America believe this shit being sold by the Huckster.

The man has gone off the edge. He equates commercial gay conversion therapy, the type offered by  mind therapists and witch doctors, with counseling offered by men and women of the cloth.  He tells his mindless flock of worshipers that Big Brother will tell chaplains to put their bibles away and stop praying in Jesus’ name.  

(Ah, what a blessing that would be if only true.   How wonderful a world it would be if the Bibles, Torahs, Korans and all other reported renditions of God’s word were indeed put away and not promoted as the authentic, exclusive and the only way to something called salvation. Ah, the lives that would be saved, the war that need not be fought.)

Huckabee is being deceitful, dishonest and his obsession with stirring up the Christian stew goes far beyond the limits of proper conduct from a man of God.  The man plain out lies.  He believes himself to be the modern day reincarnation of King Richard the Lionhearted Crusader and is running around the country trying to build an army and engage in the next crusade to eliminate all other religions and bring Christianity and nothing but Christianity to Washington, D.C..

God help us.

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