Monday, August 29, 2016

Kaepernick Sits, Nation Outrages, We Should Think

This is going to ruffle some feathers, I'm sure, but just a few facts to wade into this ongoing discussion regarding Colin Kaepernick and his personal choice to sit during the National Anthem. Many are outraged and rightly point to the sacrifices of our police, firefighters, and military. (Police Supporter Facebook post at end)

Pro-football is a dangerous sport. In fact, just this week a quarterback fractured a vertebrae in his back. Many football players suffer from lifelong issues from repeated concussions and head injuries. Yes, some athletes are paid well for what they do, but they can only work for a very limited number of years, and only a few are given such high-priced contracts. Mostly, their finances are so extremely mismanaged, many are left with little after they leave the league.

Now, that doesn’t take anything away from the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that police, firefighters, and our military have volunteered to take upon themselves and upon their families when they put on their uniforms. And, yes, these brave men and women do so with nowhere near the salaries of pro-athletes. 
+Amazing World

However, those brave men and women that do don those uniforms do so in order that all Americans have the freedom of speech, have the right to protest the government and anything else, and not in a violent way, but in non-violent ways such as Colin Kaepernick has done by simply sitting during the National Anthem. 

I do find it highly hypocritical of some people, especially those who claim to be supportive of politically incorrect speech, to vilify someone who sits during our National Anthem. 

+Amazing World
Let me also remind you that our Department of Defense, until just this year, was paying the NFL to have you honor them at NFL games to the tune of nearly $7 million in just 4 years. I would think that would garner more outrage then an American sitting in non-violent protest during the National Anthem, which is his right to do. Wait, the DOD actually spent $53 million in direct marketing and advertising during that same time period in ad campaigns, signs, and social media. 

+Amazing World
Everyone is so quick to pounce to an outraged and judgmental position without any consideration for any reason for sacrifices made, nor to recall the principles that founded our country. If we don’t honor freedom of speech, especially the non-violent forms, then what are our police, firefighters, and military really fighting and protecting? 


The Safety and Security Argument for Syrian Refugees

The politicization of everything, especially the refugee resettlement program, is a tragic mistake that actually endangers our troops and our citizens both at home and abroad.

If that doesn't make sense to you, that's understandable given they hyperbolic nature that a few fear-mongering politicians have injected into our politics over the last few years.

In reality, it takes about two years for any Syrian refugee to relocate to America. There are so many agencies involved in the application and sign off process that only 2% are makes of combat age. That means the vast majority are women, children, the elderly, and orphans. 

How does the extreme anti-refugee rhetoric make Americans and our troops less safe? It fosters animosity toward these populations in America, further increasing the chances of radicalization. This is where the 'lone wolf' home-grown terrorists are fueled by the antagonistic environment and then radicalized online.
Abroad, it sends a message that America is hostile to Muslim refugees and is against helping the refugees of a situation that many believe we created. Certainly, the latter is debatable, and we can't really control the recruitment narratives that terrorists use, but why would we willingly feed into those narratives? 

These are difficult and at times emotional issues. 

+Wonderful World
If you examine the actual statistics, there have been only a very few refugees ever arrested for violent crimes and even fewer for terrorism-related charges. People will say even one is too many. The problem with that mentality is that it's a zero sum game mentality which negates responsibility for our own citizens. 

We have a rich history of accepting refugees into this country. We also have a disturbing history of denying refugees during times of fear and anxiety. 

Should we fear women and children looking for refuge from war and violence? Should we promote the American Dream and honor what is truly great about our American history in an intelligent, patient, and thoughtful way? 

I choose the latter. What do you choose?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Trump is the Real Pay to Play Candidate

This is what donors to Trump's presidential campaign are paying for . . . when he could have given the campaign a discount or better yet donated the space to his campaign since it's in his building. 

Really, Donald? Getting paid by donors to pay yourself rent is the epitome of corruption. This is why this made up scandal with the Clinton Foundation has been a distraction all along. 

The Trump campaign, of course, says this is because they're now renting more space 'in anticipation' of more staff. So, for two months two additional floors have been rented and remained empty? Right. 

+Wonderful Wildlife
Meanwhile, as usual, Trump shifts the blame to Clinton, who has many more staff, and, by a lot; 172 versus 700 to be exact which the Clinton campaign only pays $40,000 more. Curious, isn't it? (http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/23/)

Wanna know who actually pays for play? It’s Donald Trump. He's been playing the campaign game for personal gain all along.

Back at the end of June, Trump had spent over $6 million at Trump properties and companies for services and products. Some of that money even pays members of his own family. Overall, he's spent over 10% of campaign dollars to himself. 

+Wonderful World
Add to that the reality that Trump's money that he spends on the campaign are donations to it, he can simply pay back himself at the conclusion of the presidential race any monies he loaned to the campaign.

So, in the end, with 10% of campaign expenditures going to Trump businesses or family, Trump loaning money to the campaign, which he can repay to himself after November, the candidate running the pay for play scheme appears to be Donald Trump.

Let’s focus on what matters. The Clinton Foundation does enormous good for millions of people throughout the world. What has Trump done that hasn’t been for himself? 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Trump's Anti-ISIS Rollout, More a Fruit Roll-Up

Trump’s anti-ISIS rollout today was an example of how to stoke fear in the masses, provide nothing new in the way of strategy or tactics from the current policies in theater, and the rest deserves some careful scrutiny.

One of Trump’s most troubling foreign policy pillars was ‘to the victor goes the spoils,’ which is more a throwback to the Age of Imperialism then it is relevant in the modern era. He specifically discussed taking the oil in Iraq, and that we should have kept troops in Iraq for this sole purpose. This would not only make us occupiers but the worst sort, further feeding the recruitment narratives of the jihadists. 
+Wonderful World

These are lessons we all should have learned from the ‘misadventure’ in Iraq over a decade ago. Trump, obviously, wasn’t paying attention.

He then discussed President Obama not backing Assad in Syria as being the main reason for the turmoil and unrest there. This is in complete denial of what Assad has done to his own people. Assad has used barrel bombs, chemical weapons, and other heinous human rights abominations on non-military targets for years. Russia has only sought to bolster the Assad regime, attack civilian targets loyal to rebels, and have done little to nothing to actually engage ISIS from the air or on the ground. (http://www.ibtimes.com/

Yet, it is Assad and Russia that Trump sides with, the two forces within Syria that aren’t attacking ISIS. Of course, it’s easy to have disagreements with President Obama’s handling and strategy of the Syrian crisis.
+Wonderful World

In an effort to create more fear and Islamophobia, Trump depicted the story of a woman who received a fiancĂ© visa, as if this is how any of the Syrian refugees would enter the country. He didn’t actually outline how to stop such extremists from entering the country in this manner. 

In reality, the refugee programs require such a long process for any individuals or families to journey to America, about two years on average, and are made up nearly entirely of women and children, only 2% being males of combat age, that it has no corollary with extremists entering the country through the visa programs. In all of the refugees that have entered the country from the Middle East and Afghanistan conflicts, a handful have actually ever even been arrested for any crimes, let alone been involved in terrorism. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/)
+Wonderful World

(“2% are single males of combat age” https://www.washingtonpost.com/)

Trump wants to try all foreign combatants in military courts. The problem with this approach is that it has all but completely failed to lock up many military combatants thus far. The American judicial system, on the other hand, has had amazing success at trying and receiving convictions from juries and judges for terrorists. (http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/

In fact, there’s a rich history of trying “civilians charged with crimes of war” in American courts and not in military tribunals.(http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/04/


In retrospect, despite Trump’s amazingly poor ability to read off a teleprompter, if you actually examine his actual policy proposals to combat ISIS, he outlines failed policies that would further entrench the United States in foreign wars, align us with the worst actors in the region, and double down on fear and animosity over the effective and competent. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Violence in Milwaukee; Bridging the Divide Between Police & Community

It’s truly unfortunate and sadly tragic that facts cannot even be gathered and disseminated before the most extreme responses from all sides rip apart, pour forth, and become unleashed in our country. 

Violence in response to any action done by the police or government is simply unacceptable. Yet again, protests after a police shooting of an allegedly armed man in Milwaukee turned into riots, arson, and property damage.
+Wonderful World

Nearly everyone seems to either immediately go on offense or defense. The ones that do so to the extreme probably should shut up and listen to a different perspective already. 

If you think you have all the answers . . . you don’t. I know I don’t.

More then our increasingly erratic and hostile responses becoming more ridiculous and not conducive to actually moving any conversation or discussion forward, it’s becoming more difficult and dangerous for both police and for the public.

Policing in rural areas is completely different from policing in urban settings. Both are very dangerous jobs, and yes, police sign up for these jobs. It’s not the most dangerous job in America or the world, but none of that takes away the actual realities of that difficult and necessary job.

Life for both communities and minorities is wholly different in rural and urban settings. Most people don’t get many choices in where they’re born and where they live. If you have choices, consider yourself blessed.

If you think choices for people you don’t know are simple, you likely haven’t spoken to many people from different walks of life. 

+Wonderful World
At this early stage, who knows what the actual facts are in Milwaukee. At least there was a body cam during this police action. Why can’t people allow the facts to come forward before jumping to extreme positions and conclusions?

When people see the extreme reaction on city streets, one group points at the violence as proof that all protestors hate cops. When one cop shoots and kills any citizen, others see that as proof that cops are out to kill members of their community. 

Believing those who commit violence are the same as those who peacefully protest against broken trust between police and community is mistaken. If we applied that same mindset to when a cop shoots an unarmed man, we could believe all police do that. Neither of these mindsets make any sense at all. 
+Wonderful World

As a society and as individuals we can judge one action by one person and apply that judgment to all similar people, but all we really are doing is supporting behaviors that tear each other down and apart instead of finding solutions to our problems and relating to each other as fellow human beings. 


If we stop seeing each other as the enemy, we at least have an opportunity to find some common ground. And yes, some people are the enemy, but we’re all Americans. And, yes, life can be difficult, but our problems aren’t impossible to solve. We just have to work together in order to tackle them together. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Debate over the Presidential Debates

It shouldn’t be of shock nor awe to anyone who has been paying any attention this election cycle that there is once again furor and fury surrounding the scheduling of debates. 

Now that Hillary Clinton has accepted the Fall Debate Schedule, let the shenanigans begin, as John Podesta put it, on ABC. Donald Trump has voiced some concerns regarding the timing of two of these debates, as they are to be ran concurrent to Sunday and Monday night NFL games. For once, I agree with Trump on this one. 

For a bit of background, the Commission on Presidential Debates was started in 1988, and ever since has organized and scheduled these events, usually months or even a year in advance. The CPD is managed by a bipartisan group of former politicians, governors, senators, business entrepreneurs, and retired members of the press. 

+Wonderful World
This year, as in most years, the CPD has scheduled the debates a year in advance back in September of 2015. It boggles the mind why any group of sane people would choose Sunday or Monday evenings for events as important as the presidential debates.

Those who do not know, NFL always has Sunday and Monday night games, and anyone wanting the most viewers of these presidential debates would have figured that into the scheduling. In fact, these are two of not only the most watched NFL football games of the week but two of the most watched TV programs of the week.

And, the CPD has now stubbornly doubled down on their schedule, inserting yet another non-issue distraction into the presidential race. 

+Wonderful World
We should all want three debates between Hillary and Donald. He should not be able to weasel out of debates for any reason. The American people deserve better than a ridiculously stubborn schedule that was foolishly stitched together without any foresight whatsoever, apparently. 

Give us what we deserve. Three presidential debates that we don’t have to fight to see and that the candidates don’t have to squabble over something as asinine as dates in order to make a reality.

Paying People Looks Dangerous