Saturday, July 28, 2012

England Olympics: A Time of Reflection and Acceptance

The Olympic torch was lit last night and the cheers from the crowd are the same at every Olympic venue; Hopeful, joyful, and exciting.

It means something to know that that flame burns brightly for us, regardless of country of origin or ethnic background. Regardless of ideology, political views or gender.

For some, their own aspirations to an Olympic medal or simply participating in a future event, fuels their determination to continue training and making the necessary healthy choices that one day, will get them there.

For others, the notion of a united and peaceful world becomes more tangible when they see that all nations are competing in the same games and do so with grace and civility.

There are those who are competitive and can't help but to compare previous venues and criticize the current planning, opening ceremonies, or complain about international judges.

It is worthy to note that these people have never had anything positive to say about present or past venues unless the games were held in US soil.  The commentary on forums from previous Olympic games are horribly charged with ethnocentric, and often, racist vitriol.

One of the worst I had ever seen where the running commentary on a few forums during the Winter Olympics in Canada.

The Americans participants bashed everything about the opening ceremonies while the Canadian participants responded politely or not at all. Several Americans with an obviously more expanded world-view, responded in the same manner as the Canadians, while others felt it was more productive to retaliate against the embarrassment of their own countrymen by going straight for the jugular.

It got ugly.

It quickly became political. The shame of having these people show their ignorance and hatred in public was a National embarrassment. More than most could bear.

There were apologies on forums to the Canadians with disclaimers that all Americans do not fit that profile. Fortunately for us, Canadians are well aware of that.

Unfortunately for us, a great number of Americans are not.

Now the Olympics are in Britain and many wonder if the British, due to their distance from our shores, are aware that all Americans are not as clueless, arrogant and offensive as Mitt Romney. Specially in light of British newspapers and commentary comparing Romney unfavorably to another American production and disaster: Sarah Palin.

The short answer is yes. They are fully aware that we are not all the same or are as uncouth and insecure as Mitt Romney.

Fortunately, they know we have a much better and positive side because their educational system  teaches them about the world, not just their own history.

Ours? not so much. Our kids' lessons are all about American Revolution, American history, American supremacy... How can we expect the adults in the aforementioned forums to be civilized and understanding of other cultures when what little they have learned, has been slanted in such a manner that superiority is no longer a complex to be ashamed of, but to brag about viciously?

This has obviously been going on for a very long time, here is an excerpt from Mitt Romney's book and he is no Spring chicken:
England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth's land and a quarter of the earth's population.
Bob Costas
Our media reinforces these insecurities by providing us with coverage from the same people we have come to associate with Olympic coverage.  Every two years, there is an Olympic event, and every two years, the American public is bombarded with stories about our own well-heeled, pampered athletes.

We rarely hear about the likes of a Jamaican bobsled team unless it is to make a joke or dismiss them outright as not medal worthy.

Not everyone is blood thirsty. Many know a medal is not within their grasp but they want to participate in a peaceful world event because they too, want to represent their country in its best light.

What is it about this notion that is not sexy enough for the media? Why is this not more than enough for us to cheer each participant's struggles and achievements regardless of country or ethnic background?

Time to reflect and think.

Jamaican Bobsled Team - 1988
What did it take to be a group of people from a tropical island to be competitors in a winter event? How hard was this for them without the financial support of mega-corporations willing to brand every piece of equipment,  and dish out lucrative contracts on the athletes afterward?

It took a lot. It took passion and determination for the Jamaican Bobsled team to get to the Olympics. Their goal was simple: They wanted to participate and join the rest of the world.

Nothing to laugh about. Certainly something to admire.

A movie called "Cool Runnings" brought these people into our collective frame of reference, but how many of these teams and individuals have we missed? How many great human stories have we been denied learning because they were not Americans? - Our loss.

Our national hero seems to be Michael Phelps this time around again. He is a phenomenal athlete and surely he will win some medals. He will be hailed as a god if he gets them all in gold, but degrading commentary from our own media will soon follow if they are silver, bronze... or heaven's forbid, none at all.

Michael Phelps
The media will make comments about enhancement drugs and will vilify the athlete's country of origin of whoever, rightfully, earned the medal.  They will also say Michael Phelps was too old or jaded. Someone will bring up again the photos of him and a marijuana bong.

The beat goes on.

These events are multi-billion dollar events and not everyone is competing on a leveled field. I hope we take the time, and have the opportunity to get to know the athletes from American Samoa, Andorra, Senegal and those other places most of America can't find on a map.

It is truly worth it for our own edification and personal growth.

In the meantime, I predict, we will have to be embarrassed by our own media coverage and feel compelled to apologize to the world for comments on blogs degrading Britain and its people. So without wasting anymore time, here is a preemptive apology:

To all our international readers and citizens: I apologize for those Americans that offend you. We want you to know, we are not all like them. They are the reason we just can't have nice things or travel outside our own country.

Best wishes to all participants in the Olympics. This is your moment, your time, and our pleasure.

Thank you for keeping HOPE alive.

PEACE to all

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mitt Romney Needs a V.P.

Bush Sr. Endorses Mitt Romney
The flurry of commentary regarding the Vice-Presidential options for the Mitt Romney camp are a lovely distraction from the fact that we have only seen hundreds of pages of  tax returns instead of the massive quantities released to the McCain camp. The then hopeful V.P. candidate did not hesitate to release many years of tax returns.

No one can blame the Romney camp from attempting to run away from negative issues. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney, throughout his bid to become the nominee of the republican party touted his business experience and solidified the name Bain Capital into our collective psyche. It is hard to run away from what he claimed to be his crowning glory and meritorious track record.

The only other major advantage to Willard "Mitt" Romney's illustrious career is his record as the governor of Massachusetts, which he campaigned fiercely on until his work there was scrutinized. He was also proud of his achievement as governor of Massachusetts on the health care issue. A model for the nation and the basis for the unfairly maligned "Obama Care."

It stands to reason that the only two things left to distract the public from further scrutiny on Mr. Romney's record as governor, health care, and Bain Capital is the Utah Olympics and the selection of a running mate for the upcoming presidential election.

No one cares about the Utah Olympics. Sorry to say, but past Olympics retain little of their luster as the years, and new Olympic events take place. Also, The Olympic narrative continues to tie Mitt Romney to his tenure at Bain Capital because he was still receiving a salary from Bain Capital.

The salary portion brings up the inevitable tax avoidance, Cayman islands, offspring's trust funds, Switzerland bank accounts, and the Bermuda triangle of financial records involving a blind trust and whatever else has not been discovered yet.

In essence, this is not a good topic of conversation that will advance Mitt Romney's presidential bid.

That leaves us with the vice-presidential nominee.

Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush
Condoleezza Rice is still being floated around as a potential candidate despite Sarah Palin decrying her "moderate conservative" leanings. Despite the evangelicals screaming foul, and in spite of  Ms. Rice stating she was not interested.

Ms. Rice has been touted as one of the most likable and intelligent people in the GOP by democratic-leaning media pundits. We can picture them salivating as they dream of this unlikely nomination.

We will reserve our commentary on Ms. Rice's statements and track record during her tenure in George W. Bush's administration and focus squarely on the fact that the GOP has tried, for the past three and a half years, to disassociate itself from the George W. Bush administration.

Having Ms. Rice up front and center will only bring further scrutiny to an administration most people wish had not happened; the events of 9/11 and how it could have been avoided instead of  botched, Osama Bin Ladin, Rudy Giuliani, disturbing photos of Abu Ghraib and a host of other issues that no one in their right mind in the GOP wants to resurrect.

Of course there is always the resurfacing of conspiracy theories that run the gamut; from our own government orchestrating the attacks so Halliburton could profit from the oil fields in Iraq to the weapons manufacturers milking tax payers for actual weapons of mass destruction.

There is also the theory of knowing, and letting, 9/11 happen so a war could be justified. There are tons of links to these accusations but won't find them here. Readers are smart enough to find them throughout the web, or even watch video on You Tube.

Mitt Romney with Jeb Bush - 2012
Jeb Bush is also being floated around as the other half of the ticket that would save Mitt Romney's bid for the White House.

It is claimed that the former Florida governor brings respectability, a proven track record, and strength of character.

There are quite a few holes that need to be plugged in the above paragraph, but before we do that, we need to understand the following:

A) The GOP tapped Jeb Bush to run in 2000, not his brother. He declined. He was happy in Florida.

It is rumored that Jeb Bush's presidential aspirations are for 2016, not 2012. B) The fact that Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney in March, as did his brother, George W., and their father should be more than enough of the "Bush connection" for the public.

Our ability to tolerate the Bush dynasty has diminished greatly over the past few years.

The anti-Bush sentiment grew exponentially after Mitt Romney went to Wyoming to benefit from a fund raiser courtesy of former vice-president, Dick Cheney. Reporters stated that before they were kicked out of the rooms, Mitt Romney was overheard invoking the Bush name.

This may be the main reason why Jeb Bush's name keeps popping up in the media as a likely candidate for the position. However, we must go back to the sentence that needs to be scrutinized:

If Jeb Bush brings, according to the punditry, "respectability, a proven track record as governor of the State of Florida, and strength of character" -  good questions to ponder must be: "Shouldn't the presidential candidate bring those qualities to the table himself?" secondly, "Can the State of Florida and the Supreme Court stand more scrutiny regarding George W. Bush's election fiasco?" and finally, "has anyone looked closely to Jeb Bush and his associations with shady Florida developers and their connections to organized crime?" - We have, and if Jeb Bush ends on the ticket, our readers should too.

So who? who would be the best Vice-Presidential candidate for Mitt Romney?

Palin and Paul
Mitt Romney should align himself with those who dislike him the most. He must force them to vote for him because they will follow the VP and its derangement to the ends of the Earth.

No, not Sarah Palin, like burnt toast, she's done.

We are talking about Ron Paul.

Whoever Romney chooses must bring enthusiasm and votes because Mitt Romney can't manage either one on his own.

What are your thoughts?

ABC News: Jeb Bush Endorses Romney
CBS News: Cheney has high praise for Romney at fundraiser
Los Angeles Times: Former President George H.W. Bush Endorses Mitt Romney Photo credit as well Jeb Bush Endorses Mitt Romney (via email) Photo credit

Monday, July 9, 2012

A 99% Response

The Working Poor
To the 1% Lady from a 99% Lady,

Think Progress and other media outlets reported your insightful perceptions about us "low income" people who just "don't get it." You offer as examples the "nail ladies," college students, and babysitters.

It is with a heavy heart as I shake my head that I am forced to reply to the charges you made against us based on our income and lack of education.

Your comments clearly underline that it is you, and those you represent, that are clueless about anything outside of the 1 percent gated bubble. Your commentary clearly displays your lack of education and knowledge about your own country of residence and its people.

The fact that you state that the nail ladies, college students and babysitters don't agree with your perceptions is proof positive that they are well versed in the ins-and-outs of politics and how decisions made at the top affect the vast majority of the population.

They can't agree with your views because they pay the consequences. Capish?

You and your kind seem to be under the impression that you have earned a permanent position as the ruling class by virtue of your inherited trust funds. Thus, you must know what is best.

You don't.

The fact that you have babysitters is not unusual but I beg to make a distinction between what "we," the common folks, call babysitting and what your kind labels so carelessly.

First of all, like in most our communities, my neighbor's teenage daughter was the babysitter for a few other neighbors.  She had taken babysitting classes and was current on her CPR license.  Her babysitting took place on a weekend she did not have homework and only for a few hours, so the parents could go out to dinner to a place that did not involve speaking into a clown's mouth. (I know this reference is lost on you, Google is your friend)

Your babysitting is done by an Au Pair, a young student from another country who works 24/7 at raising the kids you spawned and had no intention on raising yourself. Your kids are trophies to be groomed into their rightful scheming positions of corporate nepotism. See picture at right. ---------->>>>

Your kids grow up to be Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.  It is too bad you don't hang out with other people in your income bracket who do have a clue about the working poor.

- Have someone introduce you to the Kennedy's. Your world of knowledge will expand beyond your wildest dreams. -

Our kids are groomed to be good citizens that have a clue what it takes to earn a dollar and to be generous of their time and income to those less fortunate.

Which brings me to the point of being "less fortunate." What the hell do you think that means? - Do you think anyone below your economic status is "less fortunate" because your frame of reference is in dollars and cents?

To us, the less fortunate live on the streets and suffer mental and health problems. Their houses burn  down and the insurance company your husband manages refuses to make good on the policy.  They suffer a major illness and they are unable to pay for the horrific cost of medical care.  These are the people we think of when we say "less fortunate" and none of it is through fault of their own.

Author: Martin Kihn
Yes, it is yours. Your being clueless about how society works and malfunctions is a huge part of the problem. You actually have the power to effectuate changes that benefit society at large and do not take away anything from your personal life.

The "nail ladies" and all others who make your life easy to live, have names and lives outside of their working hours. They live where the rest of us live and are fully aware of the disparity between your lifestyle and ours. They are more aware and educated that you have given them credit for.

We need to point out the falsehood of your statements. You don't want people to be educated beyond what they are now. It is hard to get "good help" when people know and demand their rights.

We will no longer enable you in your bad behavior. We will make sure we put enough regulations into place to prevent you stealing our natural resources and polluting our country. We even intend to achieve living wages and we know that pisses you off.

Your kind is notoriously cheap when it comes to labor and tips. We, the middle class pay and tip better than you do because we understand what it takes for that waiter to earn his paycheck.

You don't.

Unlike you, we are true Americans. We love our country and see all its faults. We try to fix those and make it better for generations to come.

What have you done for your country lately? (or ever?)

I can't continue to write this letter because I have children to raise, a home to clean, errands to run, and meals to prepare. I know you are puzzled by this but I have no time to explain.

I will leave you with a final thought, we don't envy your wealth - we resent your greed and sense of entitlement.

It is time for you to grow up and live in the real world.

Think Progress

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ten Reasons A Democratic Government Should Never Be Run as a Business

US Government Spending FY 2012

We have been told countless of times that if the government was run like a business, there would be no wasteful spending. We have also been told that every aspect of our lives would run smoothly because companies and corporations know how to do their job better than any government.  This is one of the premises in which Mitt Romney is basing his candidacy and it is worth exploring the touted benefits of running a government with the same dedication one would a business enterprise.

There are a number of reasons why democratic governance should never, ever, be given the same latitude as a business. Here are ten.

1.  A business is a profit-hungry machine. It requires that cuts to expenses be made without regard for how it affects anyone who depends on the work provided by the business to survive.  For instance, cost-cutting involves taking necessary positions away from one group of people and handing them over to another group of people who will do the same job for less pay and benefits.

We have called this outsourcing and off-shoring. Either way, it means that the corporation continues to increase profits while necessary positions are still maintained.  A bottom line could care less who the employees are, or what country they are in. All that matters is the maximization of profits.

Credit to 
2.  Governments build. Companies destroy. A company like Bain Capital shreds jobs, equipment, and manufacturing plants.  A government invests the people's capital into infrastructure, national security, education, and more. A government ensures that food, water, and air are safe for human consumption.

Corporations need to maximize profits and operating under safety and regulatory standards is a burden that costs money and time. 

We have had every major polluting industry introduce bills to Congress that will dismantle the safety net of regulations in order to maximize said profits. What corporations view as a waste of funds, government and people tend to view as a necessary element to prevent illness and early deaths.

3.  Companies and corporations can be dissolved overnight and most people won't even notice. A government gone over night would create chaos affecting millions of people in an instant. The repercussion would last decades.

We can live without a corporation. We can't live without governance.

4.  A democratic government ensures that its citizen's voices are heard through all levels of government. Decisions made must include the majority and include the minorities. Companies don't want to hear from their employees. An all-important ruler makes the final decisions based on profits, not human needs.

5.  Corporations get rid of extra baggage. This includes employees that are too ill or old to perform at previous levels. They also get rid of knowledgeable and skilled people in order to hire "green", or younger workers, who will work for half the salary and less benefits. This is a cost-effective method to use up their youth and energies. 

Unemployed Professionals NJ - Star-Ledger
A democratic government does not get rid of its people. It provides safety nets to account for the unfairness of life. Illnesses, accidents, mental impairments, birth defects, and natural ageing are some of the least profitable conditions that affect most human beings. Companies have no use for "broken" or "damaged" goods.

To a government, we are human beings. To a corporation, we are tools that are valuable for as long as they are useful. Once broken, we go to the landfill.

6.  Speaking of landfills, it is the role of government to ensure that waste is properly disposed of with minimum impact to the environment. Corporations could care less, the faster, the better. Things got messy? too bad. (Think Exxon Valdiz and recent spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf Coast)

Recycling started out as a profit-free endeavor in order to minimize the waste and create less toxic by-products that will continue to affect subsequent generations.  It was never the intention of corporations to adopt vegetable-based containers until they realized that A) there was demand from consumers that would translate into B) Profits.

7.  Companies operate on a year-to-year basis broken into quarterly profits. Democratic governments operate on the basis of future generations and their general welfare.

8.  A democratic government pays its bills. A corporation will avoid paying theirs at all costs. Bankruptcy, dissolution, reconfiguration of the company, and off-shoring the profits are tools used by Bain Capital and Willard Mitt Romney.

9.  Corporations are in the business of gambling. They take risks because there are seldom any repercussions. They lend funds to average people at exponentially higher rates than they get their funds from the Federal Reserve.  If the government operated at a profit and was in control of the Federal Reserve, these corporations would get borrowed funds at 22 percent. 

image credit to student loans central
Instead, that is what they are able to charge for the privileged of using their preferred credit cards. By comparison, Student college grants are made available for free to ensure an educated population that would otherwise be unable to afford tuition and textbooks. Corporations are in the business of student loans and massive debt accrual to the individual.

This point cannot be overstated, a democratic government invests in the health of its population through education, upward mobility, and quality of life. Corporations do not. There is no immediate quarterly profit in this endeavor.

10.   A business is a dictatorship that operates in a vacuum. A democratic government operates at all levels of society, making it possible for businesses to operate using and abusing public spaces.

There is ample room for free-enterprise and production. What we can’t afford is a free-for-all in which capital gains trump benefits to the population. 

JP Morgan Lost over 2 Billion Dollars - Huffington Post: JPMorgan Trading Loss: 3 Share Holders File Law Suits

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Industrialized Countries are Innovative

We could write about how we need to be creative and innovative, unfortunately, most people think it is nothing more than dreaming aloud.  We once went to the moon as a useless pursuit to beat another country to the race and from that silly endeavor we got technology that has become common place in our every day lives.

We sleep in foam mattresses developed by NASA. We have communication technology developed from space exploration. We have medical equipment and medicine that can trace their origins to someone dreaming aloud and creating something useful. From the intermittent windshield wipers to LED lights.

Perhaps the video below will inspire Americans to dream out-loud again and create something wonderful that will spur others to innovate technology and create jobs.