Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Eye Opening Day

Some days are just meant to happen. Not in a Calvinistic pre-determination BS sort of way, but one where you make decisions that at first seem a little out of place or out of your comfort zone, but then you grown because of it. This morning I woke up cold because it was 32 degrees outside, went to my computer and figured, "Lets see what movies are playing" Wanting to see Capitalism: A Love Story I found it playing, at a theater 45 minutes away, at 10:15. All of which seemed like, why would I want to do that? But I decided to get ready and go for the early showing.

I won't write my review for Capitalism here, but let me just say these few words about it. This is by far one of the most important films of the decade. Regardless of your political beliefs, religious beliefs, economic beliefs, and any other dogma which has been fed to you; you will come out of this movie mad and ready to see things changed. I looked at the world from a little better of a perspective that moment actually being able to synthesize the message which was portrayed in the film.

After the movie I stopped to pick up some supplies for my classroom since some punk kid stole all of my grading pens. After that I went to Barnes and Noble since it is Teacher Appreciation Week and they were having a huge sale for educators. Couldn't find anything I really cared for, but mostly stuff I already own. However I did run into someone I knew from back home who wanted me to come speak to a couple of her students about the Peace Corps. She knew I was going in and really wanted someone to speak to these students about the program and what to expect. She teaches at an alternative school where many of these students have little or no opportunity to leave where the come from and any chance I could have at helping these students along would be well worth it.

I decided then to go to the mall for some lunch and outside of the mall was a homeless man asking for some change. I asked him if he wanted to get some food and out of the cold. He said yes and as we were entering a mall security guard stopped him and said he cannot loiter inside the mall. I told the cop we were going to get some food and he is not loitering if he is a patron if the mall. He stepped aside and we went to Panera to eat. We got out food and I had one of the greatest conversations in my life. Found out this man's name was Dave, lost his job 2 years ago and had been searching ever since. He lost his home in the housing crisis, and his wife left him and took the kids. I talked to him about what I was doing with my life and what I would be doing in the future. That was about it for me, but I let him talk and after a couple cups of coffee and him telling me stories about his life since he lost his job I could see it was taking its toll.

I could see in Dave's eyes something I had never really seen before, total hopelessness. To this man America had failed him. He went to work everyday for 25 years at a plant only to be laid off because the board of directors weren't making enough money in his eyes. He tried and tried to find a job to sustain his family and mortgage but eventually that was a futile effort because in October of last year, the last plank in the floor supporting he and his family was taken out beneath him and his world crashed. I can never know that feeling but today I came the closest I have ever been to feeling that same mindset of total loss. I will never forget today's lunch by the window where I learned more about the area that I live in than from anything I have experienced in my life to this date. Most importantly, I will never forget Dave and what he taught me today.

I woke up today feeling cold and wanting to stay shut in all day and just watch a couple movies and finish up some school work. Instead I decided to go to that early showing and because of that I had probably one of the most educational days of my life. If I wasn't at the right place at the right time, I may have never ran into that person from my hometown, I would have never had the possibility of going to that school and hopefully getting those two girls on the right path to serve in the Peace Corps. And if I did not decided to go to lunch up in Joliet and just go home and eat, I would have never met Dave and heard the story of someone who lost it all. Hopefully to him today meant a tenth of what it meant to me because maybe that could give him just a little bit more hope to keep fighting and trying to find work.

When I left Panera today and Dave stood outside the door with his cup of coffee, I shook his hand and told him "Just go for whatever it is you want, because you're the only one who can do it". I don't know whether or not he took to heart what I had said, but I hope he is willing to take things into his own hands and get back the life he, and every person in the world, deserves.

The views and opinions expressed in this post constitute the opinion of the author alone and do not necessarily express the view of the ISU College Democrats, its executive board, and/or any other organization members.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Politics Turns Violent

So as the debate on health care reform wages I have to look at one aspect of this which really makes me fear for my country and the direction in which it is going. This may seem similar to a former posting in regards to election bantering and fear mongering trying to make people think President Obama was a Muslim, and even more outrageous, that being so was bad. I spoke out against Sen. McCain and at the time, and his lack of ability to quell these outrageous claims which could turn violent placing the now President’s life in danger.

But now this idea has been taken a step further during the debate on insurance reform. Right now, at least 4 congressman and senators have had death threats placed on their lives. Let me repeat that in case you didn’t catch that, they have HAD DEATH THREATS PLACED ON THEIR LIVES. With a past that has greatly harmed the political and social integrity of the United States before with assassinations of such leaders as Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Harvey Milk, and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan this needs to be removed from the discussion immediately. Every single one of these killings or attempted killings has sent shockwaves through their respective communities while alienating and dividing the nation.

But this is not just a movement that has come from a grassroots, radical, right wing fringe. It has even been perpetuated by pundits gracing the screens of Fox News but even worse, from across the aisle from Republicans. First, lets look at the fine journalists at Fakes News. First, Glenn Beck. Recently he has stated that the reasoning behind the push for change including healthcare is part of a guise of reparations. I don’t even think I can form a response for that lunacy, other than to only point the sponsors who keep pulling ads from his show. In honesty though, the idea of bringing up reparations in this debate (which President Obama is openly against as he has stated before) has only one purpose, to play into the hands of those who see race as a division and play into the fear of those who have extreme racial tendencies (Neo-Nazi groups, KKK, etc.) But he even made the inference to poisoning Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by poisoning the wine which they were sharing (which was really an intern/staffer wearing a Pelosi mask). So we see Glenn Beck openly joking about the murdering of an elected official. I thought he was pro-life? Well maybe he is for abortions in the 140th trimester, just not the first 3. Now if the idea of a democratically elected official being poisoned (although a joke) does throw the idea of political assassination into the realm of humor, should we be allowing this on the public stage?

Now we have Dick Morris who stated that “blue dog” Democrats needing to be, in his own words, “terrorized” into voting against this bill and against reform. It is interesting to see the party who used the fear of terrorism to act against our civil liberties now use the same people to terrorize elected officials. Let me state this to be clear. Regardless of your political views, this nation was formed on the basis of democratic transgression where through civil discourse we make our voices heard in regards to current issues. Terrorism is not civil discourse and works against everything this nation stands for. So to those who use terror tactics today, and claim they want their country back; from you, I want my country back.

Now we see politicians playing into the same tactics which are working against political reason and just spurning the hate-speak even more. Senator Chuck Grassley who has worked across the aisle to see healthcare reform passed and sensibly, has now switched to pandering to the crazies who think Obama will personally line up the old people of this nation and shoot them down himself. Stating that people “should be afraid” of the healthcare plan only adds to the hysteria which we are currently seeing in town halls across the nation. Taking a total 180 on his original stance, Grassley is treading a fine line of losing his base and with a fairly strong contender in 2010 Grassley could see this become his break issue because of his playing into the fear politics which for some reason has become standard operating procedure in the Republican Party.

Now the bigger issues which have been raised all work together to create a cocktail for destruction, not just disruption. Fear, racism, and terror tactics are all turning into devices which can only lead to one thing at the rate they are going, violence. I’m not using this as a way to spread fear, but that we as citizens need to recognize this not as democracy in action, but democratic inaction. But what we have seen is the threat of violence thus far. Yesterday in Portsmouth, NH where President Obama was holding a town hall of his own, there was a man who was standing outside with a gun strapped to his leg holding a sign reading “It is time to water the tree of liberty” in reference to Thomas Jefferson’s famous line stating that it is sometimes necessary for the tree of liberty to be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Today, outside of a town hall held by a Democratic congressman, there was a man holding a sign stating “Death to Obama.”

What have we become? Are these people truly happy with the America they are willing to create? These are the same tactics which have been used the extremist pro-life movement to kill doctors who perform abortions, who face threats like this every day. And sometimes, as we just recently saw, they act much as how George Tiller was murdered as he attended church on May 31. We see references to Obama as Adolf Hitler or a Nazi, even Representative David Scott of Georgia receiving death threats calling himself and President Obama as niggers and vandalizing the sign to his office with a swastika.

What we are seeing is un-American. Regardless of party lines, using hate and terror to persuade people to vote against legislation is a mob action, the same way if unions went to go terrorize a Republican in voting against a bill. Now we what we as American’s need to do is stand up against this nonsense. I spoke last time about Bill Pierce who wrote The Turner Diaries which spoke of a racial civil war which inspired Tim McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City. By spurning this type of mindset, those who propose such things are just as guilty as those who commit the act in my eyes. Before this gets taken to far we as citizens must be willing to address this matter for what it truly is. In denying what is happening, we only allow it to fester like an infection, until it spreads to far from us to be able control and it takes over the once healthy body.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Change I Want To Believe In (Part 1)

For nearly 2 years, I waited in anticipation for the inauguration of President Obama. When he announced his campaign in Springfield, I was excited beyond belief to hear about the change he would bring to Washington, D.C. For eight years, we had a president in office who for a lack of a better phrase, couldn’t care less about the average American, giving kick backs to his Dad’s old buddies, while making our nation less safe through his foreign policy.

A change in the way we did business with other countries was the thing I looked forward to most with President Obama. With a name which strikes chord’s in Africa and the Middle East, I knew he would be looked at differently than the “Good ol’ Boy” from Texas we had before. Now while his use of vernacular has helped our nations view abroad, his actions in my opinion, have not yet stood up to the change we have hoped for as a nation.

Let me begin by stating where we have gone right. The announcement of the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was a great moment for America. The largest propaganda piece which was created for extremists would be closed in a year. Next was the draw down of American troops from Iraq, which would eventually lead to a complete end to combat activities in that Middle Eastern nation. And finally and most recently, a changing of tone in the way we approach the current war. The War on Terror as well as many other Bush administration coined terms would no longer be used. This had moved from a cosmic war of good versus evil, to a war of the United States against Al’Qaeda.

Now, while these things seem great, have they really been the change we voted for and many volunteered for? Lets look deeper into these matters. First, I shall look at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama stated that while many would either be set free or tried by the legal system, President Obama kept the door open on two issues. First is the use of military tribunal even though some who have been in Gitmo for years are US citizens, or were arrested in the US and have had no direct ties to military action against the United States. Second and by far the most damning of this problem is the indefinite detention of inmates who are deemed to valuable to be sent to trial or be set free. Indefinite detention without legal cause is a crime against humanity and we as Americans should not stand for it. Now we have heard it will take longer than expected to close the prison. Now we don’t have a date of closure to look forward to. When now will this place be a part of our past as we look forward to the future? So now I ask the question, was this the change we were looking for in regards to Guantanamo Bay? Personally, I think not.

Next is the war in Iraq. The troop draw down as President Obama’s way of ending the war in Iraq is a joke. He’s basically changing the focus of the two wars back to Afghanistan while making Iraq the secondary war. There will be around 60,000 troops still in Iraq at the end of the drawback. As the only candidate who was opposed to the war from the start, while in the Illinois State Senate, Obama at the time made it clear that this was a “dumb war” which was against the nation security interests of the United States. So now I ask again, was this the end of the Iraq War we were looking for? Once again, I think not.

Lastly I want to discuss something which has not really been discussed in the news. The School of the Americas, or now so nicely renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. For those of you who do not know what this is, it is a training school located at Fort Benning in Georgia where we train political dissidents from Latin America how to wage guerilla warfare. That is a blunt assessment of what they do but it is what they do. This is basically the Bay of Pigs invasion replayed time and time again, and once again sponsored at the behalf of American tax dollars. Last month, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a coup recognized by every other “developed” western nation but not the United States.

So what does this have to do with President Obama and the School of the Americas? Two of the main leaders of this coup were trained at the School of the Americas and for some reason we in the United States refuse to recognize this as a coup. When you teach someone to kill, and they do kill, you cannot pretend you have had nothing to do with that act. The US is doing the same exact thing right now and even though President Obama was not around when they were trained at the SOA/WHISC, he now needs to recognize that this facility serves no purpose here in the United States or anywhere in the world. This is by far one of the most un-democratic aspects of America, yet it still exists. The School of the Americas needs to be closed down, much of the same way Gitmo is going to be (hopefully) closed down quite soon.

Now I write this entry as a supporter of President Obama. But I strongly feel that, as I have stated before, just because I worked to get someone elected does not mean I should trust everything they do. In fact I feel one should be more critical due to the time, effort, and money personally vested into political campaigns. I am critical because I know when someone I have respect for does not do right by me, I have to make it known or I am not doing that person or myself any favors. Things are getting better, but they could be so much greater if we focused on the real issues present instead of looking to appease both sides of the aisle. Not all people, Democrats or Republicans, have the right answers, but sometimes you need to just do what is in the best interests of the country regardless of party lines in order to ensure this nation lives up to its ideals.

Coming soon part 2 on domestic issues.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Republicans have officially gone over the deep end.

So now that we have gone through the first 6 months of President Obama's presidency, we all know that Republicans have been searching for a way to rebrand themselves. So lets look at a couple of things which have come up in the news recently.

First on the Rachel Maddow Show...

So let me get this straight, Pat Buchanan feels that its ok that we only have white men serve because they were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc? Oh yeah, and only white men died for this country. Apparently a Jim Crowe America is now the Republican America? Somehow, Republicans (Patty B in this instance) have managed to turn reverse discrimination against whites, back into blatant racism against minorities. I don't know how they managed to do that, but its like Marx proving capitalism is a great thing in the Communist Manifesto.

Now for something even more unbelievable...

Ok, so let me get this straight... he's not an American? Oh wait, but there's this...

So now Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced a bill which states that a candidate must present a birth certificate in order to run. But hey, this has nothing to do with the "birthers" who are not total crazies. So here is my question, why are Republicans not just doing the right thing, and saying he is a citizen, here is his birth certificate. (If by some odd chance a Republican is reading this, please refer to the photo above).

So now this begs the question, what's next for those pesky pachyderms? I feel like I'm looking at 9-11 conspiracy nuts or people who are Scientologists. I hear what your saying, but how can people actually believe that crap? They seem like a 5 year old who didn't get a toy when they went shopping with mommy and daddy and now they saying that the parents don't really love them. I have lost any and all possible faith in the Republican party. And yes, that means I had some faith in that they might actually become responsible adults who act mature. I went from having the mindset that bipartisanship should be striven for, to wanting to see all Republicans destroyed. That's right I said it, its time for the Republican party to go the way of Whigs, Federalists, and Democratic-Republicans. They hold no relevance in the nation today and right now serve no purpose other than to insight insanity.

Ok so where is this rant going. We need to be looking forward and dealing with things that matter in the country, not pandering to the fringe nutbags who question Obama's citizenship or who still think white people are the best and brightest in the nation. I feel like I'm watching a faux-reality of America where I am going to wake up from and realize that we still actually care about important issues. So now I say this to the Republican Party. Grow up, realize who is President and that the American people wanted him there. You are not helping anyone by what you are doing. It is time for us to be rid of you, be GONE!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Damn it, Democrats!

Pay your taxes!

Tim Geithner, now Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer (not to mention Bill Richardson a few months ago) - you guys are making this way more difficult than it should be.

All the talk about responsibility, accountability, and you want to take my tax money (that is actually paid in full and on time every year) and hand it out to corporations and agencies whose merits are unproven?

Now, just for fun, I'm going to go through the list that was recently released by the GOP as projects included in Obama's bailout that they deemed to be wasteful spending. I will italicize the projects that I would like to see kept in. You can read the original list, where I found it, at

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.

• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.

• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

• $5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

• $850 million for Amtrak.

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

• $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

Overall, I agree that most of these projects are not necessary. Renovations, furniture?? If Washington wants CEOs and "ordinary Americans" to take a few hits for the team, they ought to be able to wait a few more years to get those ergonomically designed mesh-fancy-pretty-comfy desk chairs they're dying for.

Furthermore, I have been to the NIH facilities in Bethesda and they are GORGEOUS. If my tax dollars end up going to buy more snacks for the NIH vending machines, I might move to Canada after all.