Recent Opinion Pieces

Recent Opinion Pieces

Greetings friends and readers, I decided to wait and post my last two pieces together, so that way you could understand my train of thought on the issue of the recent attempt to repeal Obamacare. Continue reading

The Washington Post Argues for Philosophy

The Washington Post Argues for Philosophy

Today The Washington Post posted an article discussing why students in K-12 need philosophy and the education of the First Science. Steve Neumann is the original author, but Valerie Strauss decided to share it in regards to the idea of pushing education further, specifically talking about Obama’s 4 Billion dollars for Computer Science education. The reality is that Neumann’s piece is quite truthful and philosophy is a necessary part that children need in their education.

I don’t mean that we should teach kids philosophy the way they would encounter it in college. Adolescents don’t need to dive into dissertations on Plato’s theory of forms or Kant’s categorical imperative. (That kind of study is valuable, too, and should be included in secondary education somewhere, but that’s an argument for another day.) The kind of philosophy I have in mind helps kids become better citizens by turning the classroom into what the philosopher John Dewey called “embryonic society.

Continue reading

Donald Trump: Chew Bubblegum and Instill Fear

Donald Trump: Chew Bubblegum and Instill Fear

Why Americans, not just the GOP, have an inclination towards Strong-Men

I have been troubled recently, not by the efforts and words of some men, but by the reaction of many of my fellow Americans to the existence of the candidacies of those men. I am sure that while many Americans may feel that certain candidates are an ‘anomaly’ or ‘oddity’ in the political cycle the reality is, they are not. So I figured I would try to give some brief arguments for why Americans, not just “old, white Republicans who are angry and hatemongers” are finding themselves supporting Trump, or anyone else of similar ‘ill-quality.’

Fear of Foreign Nations

The beginning of our context as a country obviously begins before we were a nation, when we were still colonies of the North American portion of the British Empire. During the not-so-often discussed French and Indian War, the French paid for Native American tribes to make raids on the American colonies. From this beginning, we feared foreign nations would fund those who would seek our destruction.

Eventually the boogey-man became the British who not only fought us in the Revolution, but also attacked us in the War of 1812 and provided antagonism in the nation’s history all the way through the Civil War, when they contemplated recognition of the Confederacy.

The next State enemy came in the form of Spain, who during the lead up to the Spanish-American War of 1898, had been antagonizing Latin American states, particularly in South America. When things got heated in Cuba, and we assumed they attacked our ship, the USS Maine, Americans were immediately ready for the warpath, fearful and ready to fight an enemy they thought sought their destruction.

While Germany and Japan occupy the same threatening portion in history, that of World War II, the German and Japanese fear translated into a persecution of American citizens, something that wasn’t new for the period, but when examined from the present, seems an outlier in behavior. I will discuss the fear of Immigrants later, but the Japanese internment was not an ‘isolated incident.’

The most recent span of Enemy State fears comes from the Cold War, the animosity Americans have for the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese. The Soviet Union/Russian Federation is pretty easy to explain, given the fact that we know the Soviet Union aided Vietnam War protestors, and today the Russian Federation aids Nationalist organizations in Europe, and Conspiracy groups in America. The Iranians play to our fear of death and nuclear destruction. As for the Chinese, they occupy the threat to our economy, and while the threat isn’t quite loud yet, I would argue it is building and will continue to build as the years go on.

Fear of Dis-similar Immigrants

The story of American animosity towards immigrants begins with the post-Revolution fear that Papists would betray the country. Almost immediately after the Founders won the war of Independence, fears of Catholic immigrants from France and Spain, and the Catholic citizens, primarily in Maryland, were going to betray the nation, took heart. This created the animosity towards “different” immigrants that we often see towards Mexicans and Muslims today.

In the 1800s, fear of the Catholic European exacerbated when poorer Catholic migrants began coming over, predominantly from Ireland, Germany, and Italian, these immigrants were not only perceived as eminent threats because of their religion, but because of the fact many were poor. Later, when the Chinese and Koreans began immigrating, hostility to them occurred because they looked different, spoke unknown tongues, and weren’t Christian.

At the turn of the century, as Russian began its decline, the flight of Eastern Europeans saw similar amounts of ethnic and religious hatred because Russian or Greek Orthodoxy, in either form seemed at all similar to at least Catholicism or Protestantism.

Today that fear of Immigrants is placed on two groups, Mexicans and Muslims. Muslim immigrants are feared because they speak differently, appear and dress differently, and believe in Islam. Mexicans are viewed less hostile nationally, but still economically threatening because they “undercut the American citizen’s ability to hold a job.” Whether the arguments are real or not, the fears are real. Which is why our Economy is vital to this problem.

Weak Economies Drive Social Policy

Despite Political Elite and their best efforts to deny reality outside of Washington DC and New York City, most of the nation suffers from a rather weak and frustrating economic situation. In many locations, jobs are at lows still compared to years before the Great Recession. Whether the President has fault in the trigger and immediate aftermath of the Recession, he is seen as having blame, along with the GOP and Democrat establishment in the lack of recovery in the seven years since.

When people are frustrated, as they were in months after the Revolutionary War, during the Great Depression in Germany and America, people seek to alleviate their struggle economically by blaming someone. It’s a bread and circuses effect, when the people can eat and enjoy their lives, no one has to suffer to appease the population.

Law and Order as Social Policies

As it was with Reagan’s Drug War, when there are perceived threats to safety, in hard economic times, the people usually turn to government for it to punish behavior they feel wrong. The rise in the desire to vet our refugees, like those demanding we vet gun owners, comes from the same territory that saw us want to punish drug dealers for putting kids in hospital beds. The rise in reducing and eliminating illegal immigration comes from the same place that saw us demand the Patriot Act to eliminate terrorists before they commit another 9/11.

We, as a population, demand leaders and policies from those leaders that will reinforce our strength when we are in times of hardship because we believe the hardship has come from our lenience for social grievances and abuses. I would accuse those who seek to punish bakeries for denying services are the same as those who want to punish businesses who employ illegal immigrants.

Why Trump Appeals to Americans is Simple

Americans aren’t willing to trade all of their civil liberties, and they want to protect themselves because they know government won’t be able to, but Americans have a history of showing themselves acceptable with domestic violations of the Constitution if the man in power is doing the right thing. And this is why Trump is popular to Americans, he says the right thing, he suggests doing the right thing, and he has people around him and supporting him saying he will do the right thing. Whether you think he will do the right thing doesn’t matter, what matters is that Americans believe he will do the right thing.

When you look at history, it’s clear to see why the GOP and Democrat leadership has lost control of the nation. Who would put faith in men and women who cannot make the population feel safe? Trump is rising because he talks about restoring America. He does not pretend it is doing well as some have. He says what the population is thinking.

Who Am I to Say These Things?

I live and work in DC, and I have had jobs where most would say the elite reside. However, I am from a small town in Illinois, a place of under 5000 people, where I know most people’s names and their families. And I know a handful of Trump supporters. Those folks are not the personified “Racist Redneck” that many would label as Trump supporters, they are financially reasonable, good folks who are genuinely scared of the current economic and political situation of America, and feel that their only choice to protect what they love is to give power to a man, who while appealing to the base instinct, appeals to their interest in restoring America’s position and power, and also their prosperity and safe homes.

Obviously, there are bad eggs in the Trump supporter basket, but just as we demand as Christians that people not let the Westboro Baptist Church define us, we should not let those who assault protesters, and commit violent crimes define the base supporter for Trump. We should pressure them when they wave off bad behavior of a candidate as acceptable, but my intention is not to castigate anyone, but to showcase that it is more culture than the cult of Trump that drives his support.

*I Submitted this to the Op-Ed Section of the New York Times, the 3-day ban on this content being posted has ended*

Notes on the President’s Address from 9/10 on Operations in Syria/Iraq against ISIS/ISIL

DIALOGUE DURING THE SPEECH I THINK IS IMPORTANT

Operations in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq
Combat mission will end later this year in Afghanistan, because America is safer
Evil exists, and groups have the capacity to do harm, before and after 9/11.
Radical groups in Africa/Middle East are threats.
Yemen operations have gone poorly, We didn’t do many operations in Iraq until recently, Afghanistan is turning south on us, and Somalia was just a pirate expedition and a propping up of one Warlord as “President of Somalia.”

ISIL/ISIS is NOT Islamic. It has been targeting Muslims.
ISIL/ISIS is NOT a State. It is a former terrorist government.
It isn’t recognized by other states or by its own citizens.
Merciless killers and executors of children. Slavers and Rapers of Women.
Commit Genocide on populations and executed two American journalists.
Obama is stating that ISIS/ISIL is an illegitimate government, a terror to everyone, as instability in the Middle East will affect Europe, Africa, and Asia. This will in turn affect Economic, Financial, Corporate, and American interests abroad, but also at home.

Threat to all Middle East; can grow to greater threat internationally. (Actual intention of ISIS/ISIL)
Thousands of foreigners and Americans have joined ISIS/ISIL. They could return home to do harm domestically. Many Americans are considered by them.
What are we going to do about these citizens who will do harm to us, Mr. President? No mention of action against them…also, there is a horrifying map on the Internet of ISIS/ISIL desired Caliphate. Ten Regions under it, from Morocco to India, from Ethiopia all the way to Crimea, and also containing possibly Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Promises to meet these with strength.
Air Strikes have been done as the only military operation to this point. Have saved lives, seems to be the predominant reason to use air strikes.
Cannot use our own military force, because the President doesn’t want to use Hard Military Power. Claiming to meet with Congress and Allies. Wants to use Arab allies to fight. “Broad Coalition”
No mention of coalition partners or allied states with us. Iran isn’t Arab, its Persian, completely different ethnic groups. Air Strikes without combined arms of infantry or cavalry isn’t strength, it’s a stall tactic. Its true however, that stalling ISIS/ISIL advances will save lives, and allow for greater amounts of refugees to live, but also creates larger costs on Iraqi population because ISIS/ISIL will harm someone while being stalled in expansion.

Systematic Campaign of Air Strikes with Cooperation with Iraqi Government.
Hunt down any and all terrorists, meaning operations in Syria and Iraq. “No Safe Haven”
Increase support for allied combating forces. 200 + 475, so 675 military advisors to Iraqis and Kurds.
Deliberate difference between Kurdish and Iraqi forces. Emphasis on helping Sunni Populations.
I point out the difference between Kurd and Iraqi, because a two-state solution seems to be in the President’s sights. So apparently this is where the red line is, when Americans get executed. Good to know, for future terrorists during the remainder of the Obama administration. Still coming off as a diplomatic recovery from the last blundering on Syria. Aren’t all or most of the good guy Syrians dead in Aleppo, cause you know, they were bombed into high-heaven by the Syrian Air Force? Also, where will the military forces come from, if not from America? If we are truly focused on rescuing Sunni Muslims, we wouldn’t be using Iran, would we?

Calls on Congress to give permission to aid forces. Will not use Assad, because he has lost his legitimacy/credibility in his state and the region.
Continue to use counter-terrorism to prevent ISIL/ISIS attacks. Cut funding, fight the ideology, and curb the rise of foreigner fighters in the region.
Humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced populations. For Sunnis, Shias, and Christians.
“Joined by a broad coalition of partners”
“Sharing intelligence and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid”
“Helping Syrian rebels and the Iraqi government”
“American leadership: We stand for those who fight for their own freedom by rousing for a common humanity and common cause.”
“Strongest as a nation when Congress and President work together.” This means he is invoking the War Powers Act as a possible dodge.
Every President until Obama called the War Powers Act (enacted after Vietnam) unconstitutional. This is a first step as it is a willful dereliction of responsibility in terms of the military by the Commander-in-Chief. Its one thing to stipulate you need Congress’ approval for war, but for even the 90 day sanctioned missions? Seems more like hesitancy to actually operate rather than a “FIRM COMMITMENT.” Also, who is this coalition, I mean Bush ruined the surprise for us back in dealing with Iraq, but the suspense is killing me. Also American Leadership is no longer Alexander the Great/Caesar style where we ride with our soldiers and allies, but is now the German General Staff version, where we sit in musty rooms and plot strategy, without regard to the brutality of the front. (That was a terrible jab) I guess I always liked my military commanders being brazen and not fearing the enemy.

How it will be different from Gulf War II: No American troops; use air power to eliminate ISIL/ISIS and support coalition forces (like in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia).
So we recognize that OCCUPATION isn’t a choice; but we aren’t sure as to what we want yet, so will just bomb everything…in a place where everything is getting bombed. Seems like a reliable strategy.

“Time of Great Change; 13 years since 9/11; 6 years since Great Recession; America is better positioned to seize the future. (Claims of Academic Excellence, Business Growth, and Strong Capitalism)
“Broad American leadership is the one constant in a chaotic world. Mobilize the will against terrorism, against Russian aggression, and for Ukrainian self-determination. Can use our know-how to fight Ebola; our knowledge to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapon supply; fighting for opportunity, tolerance, and hope.”
“Welcome responsibility to lead. We stand for freedom, dignity, and justice. Guiding values since founding.” (Commander-in-Chief evocation, despite insisting on Congressional action to operate this mission.)
“Our Security is dependent on doing what it takes to protect the nation, and standing for our values, and opposing those who foment hate.”
Trying to use the Nationalist urge of 9/11 and the Great Recession. However, seems hilarious coming from a very non-Nationalist President. Once again, broad leadership from behind the frontlines will carry the day. Especially against Russia in Ukraine (WHAT?), against Ebola (WHAT?), against Syria and its Chemical Weapons (WHAT?). I say what, because Stone Cold Steve Austin would do it when he smelled a BS-line from another wrestler. Yes it’s a mocking of the President, but he hasn’t operated in much in Ukraine or Syria, and Ebola has been being mostly fought by doctors, not necessarily the American government. Also, those dirty Russians proposed the chemical weapons deal in Syria, and the ceasefire in Ukraine, meaning Obama didn’t seize the initiative on them. The Founder’s Line is true, we have those as national values, but also when taking the responsibility to lead, we plan strategies, develop tactics on the battlefield, and also fight the wars. Otherwise, it looks conceited of us to simply claim the ability and position to ONLY plan strategy and not have to contribute to the war or battlefield tactics. The last line about Security is interesting, because it seems more like a domestic jab than an international one. Maybe intentional.

OVERALL APPRAISAL/CRITIQUE OF SPEECH

Overall, he seemed energetic in this speech, or at least interested in the dilemma. It’s a nice counter to the man who didn’t want to interrupt his game of golf. However, I think two things could have sold the speech better. Giving the Speech from Baghdad, or in Cairo; second, using the phrase “Radical Islam” not just Radicals. Because the ISIS/ISIL are not subscribing to Hadiths like many others are, it puts them more in the camp of “Quran centered theology.” The use of Jizya, which was an accepted practice in the Golden Horde (Tatar Russia), Cordoba (Moorish Spain), and the Abbasid Caliphate (Middle East minus Turkey and Iran), allowed for a taxation on all non-Muslims for their continuous to be heathens, heretics, or infidels. Executions for converting or spreading those faiths were also practiced in all these former historically MUSLIM/ISLAMIC states.

My father speculated that an Iran option could be in the works, which would be equivalent in the American spectrum to a Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement. While it could be a possibility, the lack of mention for the struggle of the Shia Majority in Iraq was interesting. Also, some mention of religious Minorities, a talking point to reference the Yazidi. I am really piqued by the delineation between Kurds and Iraqis. If all else fails, I guess he or the administration broadly could propose a two-state or three-state solution. The problem is, in any situation, will an independent Kurdistan (Kurdish secular state) be tolerated by its neighbors, or it will be the Armenia/Israel of the Muslim World. The last 1000 years haven’t been particularly great for Kurds under Turkish, Persian, or Arabic rule. Not much happened during the European rule by Brits in the 1900s either. Will the Kurds continue to get beat around?

Zero mention of Israel, which is a positive thing. Zero mention of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran; meaning the Coalition with Arab “allies” isn’t concrete. That’ll slow down any operation at this point. Also, do any of these countries immediately benefit from fighting for America in the Iraq problem? And who will help the dwindling and outnumbered Syrian opposition forces?

For an interesting contrast, here is the Speech for the War on Terror, on 9/20/2001. I am not saying that Obama should sound like Bush; but I think Bush’s more critical refutation of Al-Qaeda could have been dropped on ISIS/ISIL, since that group was once associated with Al-Qaeda, but got too radical for Al-Qaeda.

Thinking about the Political Spectrum

After the recent HOBBY LOBBY Supreme Court Case, I find myself looking at politics, hearing people discussing them, and finding them, as politely as possible, ignorant on the matters that make one “Republican” or one “Democrat.” Much more frustrating to my hard-wiring as a scientist and political scientist, is that people assume that membership in some group means that the entirety of the groups act the same.

If one were to apply this outside of politics, one would be offended or find another offended at the prospect that if a black man was a criminal, then all black men are criminals. Or that if a Hispanic woman has multiple children, clearly all Hispanic women must have multiple children. It is indeed frightening; no it is intimidating to think that in the years since we “solved all the racial issues” in the Civil Rights Act, people still use prejudices and labels as ways to UNILATERALLY insult a group of people.

While I, as a pundit and person, have no problem with people being in groups, perhaps in some problem, is the association or definition of a group. For instance, what do people think of when think of a Tea Partier? What do they think of when they hear Marxist? Supremacist? Wealthy? Poor? What is causing our society to continually regress culturally, so that we must be at war with ourselves because of these labels? Why do we feel that being labelled something or seeing a label creates an immediately acceptable stereotype of that group?

In my own political thinking, I have been guilty in the past of grouping all Social Conservatives together in a terrible group. The same is with people I label Fiscal Liberals. The problem is that when people hear these terms, they think Social Conservative = Republican, and Fiscal Liberal = Democrat. Even worse, many people simply put Conservative with Republican only and Liberal with Democrat only. This creates a false reality in which clearly Fiscally Liberal men like Michael Bloomberg must be a Democrat, even if he was the REPUBLICAN Mayor of New York. Or this puts someone like Bob Beckel of Fox News, or Ed Schultz of MSNBC, who clearly espouse Socially Conservative values of preventing immigration, loving unions, and hating/being intolerant of Muslims as Republicans, despite the fact that both men see themselves as Democrats and Liberals, and vehemently oppose Republicans.

So perhaps the problem isn’t necessarily that we overuse the labels, but that the labels have come to equal “right-oriented” or “left-oriented” in politics, without regard to the fact that politics is simply not the left hand versus the right hand. Perhaps, what we need to do is explain why the Scale function of 1-10 in politics, where 1 is Liberal/Democrat/Left and 10 is Conservative/Republican/Right, is a completely false and terrible assumption.

Let’s begin with the simplest Reason why a line where 1 to 10 is the political gambit is wrong: MONEY. That’s right, money is actually the easiest way to determine if the system of gauging political values is wrong. Let’s take Warren Buffett, a classically labelled and accurate in that labelling “LIBERAL” He’s as 1 as you can get on money. Now let’s put Ron Paul at a 10, because he hates taxes vehemently, and has stated he would love to have a 0% income tax.

Now wait a minute, Ron Paul is a “libertarian!” Nope, not on this scale, he’s a Conservative, and therefore he must oppose legalization of drugs, gay marriage, abortion rights, military spending cuts, a strong foreign policy, big government, and believes that Christianity must be tied to the state or become the State Religion. Well clearly Mr. Ron Paul doesn’t hold all of these to be true, as he has favored legalization of cannabis, has stated he wouldn’t enforce his personal opinions on abortion rights, he wants to cut the military, and he favors a small, decentralized, non-international government, and he definitely wants to create more separation between church and state. Well clearly, he’s no longer a 10 on the Conservative-Liberal, even though he was just a 10 on the money issue. Well, then either my example was bad, or the scale of measurement is terrible.

I’ll just mention a few names, and you can try to place on a 1-10 scale of Money (Conservative-Liberal) and Overall (Conservative-Liberal). If you identify any of the following names as being the same in value or position on both scales, then please inform me, because I would love to know who is this logically constricted and consistent in their values.

Here are the names:

  • President Barack Obama
  • President Bill Clinton
  • President George Bush
  • Governor Sarah Palin
  • Governor Mitt Romney
  • Mayor Rudy Giuliani
  • Speaker John Boehner
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Secretary Hillary Clinton
  • Secretary John Kerry
  • Vice President Joseph Biden
  • Vice President Al Gore
  • Warren Buffett
  • Donald Trump
  • Senator Ron Paul
  • Senator Rick Santorum
  • Senator Ted Cruz
  • Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Senator Rand Paul
  • Senator John McCain

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking “SELECTION BIAS” and that I am some terrible scientist because of these examples. The good news, none of the 535 Congressman, 9 Justices, or the President’s Staff would fit well on this scale. Back in 2009, President Obama opposed Gay Marriage. John McCain doesn’t want small government that is decentralized, and for that matter very few Republicans ACTUALLY want that conservative value.

The reality is at the end of this week’s lesson perhaps, it is better to have a mathematical x/y graph. You know, those graphs they made you draw lines and other equations on in high school. Those terrible times in Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus? Well Basically for this week’s lesson, try to take the previous list of names and put them on a graph that has Liberal and Conservative going across horizontally (or the x-axis, and if you are still lost draw a Christian Cross and look at the bar on its side, not the one standing up). Then make the y-axis (standing line on your cross, the vertical line) Big Government vs. Small Government. Liberal will still be the left side and Conservative the Right Side, but Small Government will be on the bottom and Big Government on the top. See the below example for how to do this. Then spend some time putting these names, and even yourself on this.

A couple of question you can ask yourself based on values can help assist you if don’t exactly know where you belong. You should start at 0 on both lines and move correspondingly based on the changes. If you see two values for an answer, choose one. However, if you really feel strongly about the answer, then choose both:

-Do you believe in the Sanctity of Marriage and believe the government should prevent homosexuals from attaining the right to marriage? Yes (Big Government 2, Conservative 1); No (Small Government 1, Liberal 2)

-Do you believe that Abortion should not be legalized because life begins at conception? Yes (Big Government 3, Conservative 1); No (Small Government 2, Liberal 2)

-Do you believe that there should be a national registry for guns, and enforced in any location where guns are exchanged? Yes (Big Government 4, Liberal 2); No (Small Government 2, Conservative 3)

-Do you believe the Wealthy should pay more in taxes? Yes (Big Government 2, Liberal 2); No (Small Government 1, Conservative 3)

-Do you believe that the Government should enforce carbon emission regulations on companies to reduce man-made carbon pollution? Yes (Big Government 1, Liberal 3); No (Small Government 3, Conservative 1)

-Did you vote for President Barack Obama in 2008? Yes (Liberal 2); No (Conservative 2)

-Did you vote for President Barack Obama in 2012? Yes (Big Government 3); No (Small Government 3)

-Did you vote for an Incumbent in the last Senate or Representative election? Yes (Conservative 1); No (Liberal 1)

-Do you believe that the Troops should stay in Iraq? Yes (Conservative 3); No (Liberal 1, Small Government 1)

-Do you believe that Cannabis/Marijuana/Hemp should be legalized? Yes (Small Government 3); No (Conservative 3)

-Do you believe that Seatbelt laws should exist and be enforced? Yes (Big Government 1); No (Small Government 1)

-Do you believe that Speed Limit laws should exist and be enforced? Yes (Big Government 1); No (Small Government 1)

-Have you ever consumed any illegal substance, participated in alcohol consumption underage, or broke the speed limit, or any other “petty crime”? Yes (Liberal 2); No (Conservative 2)

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Should you hit the Maximum Limit you stay there. Unless you want to get ahead for next week, then you should place yourself at the opposite end. For example I am at Big Government 10, I get 2 points of Big Government, I now am -8 Small Government. Play the Game and see where you wind up.

We’ll see if that graph holds up next week, but for now in this political science course, you are no longer “liberal or conservative” but now “big government liberal, small government liberal, big government conservative, or small government conservative.” Secret: You can put me on your graph to see where you lay compared to me. I’ll be so humble as to provide my point on the above example. I am a self-professed and duly labelled “Small-Government Conservative”. This isn’t officially anything, but many self-professed Business Conservatives should wind up near me. Next week, you’ll learn the fun labels society has created for these four groups, and one you now know: Business Conservative. If you can figure out the other 3, Extra Credit for you, worth 0 points!

Remember, you don’t need to share your results with me, however, if you would like to, you can submit them in the comments on this blog. When we go deeper, you may be asked to dive again into the questions, so we can better understand how diverse our political culture is and how wrong “being conservative or being liberal” really is in defining someone’s politics.

 

On a sidenote, I have been out for awhile due to various things, mostly that I am working at the State Department. The 8-5 gambit prevents a lot of political action and writing, but as I come closer to the finishing of that experience, this will begin to pick up again.

The “DRUG” Industry, Part I

The “DRUG” Industry, Part I

Protectionism: When the government enacts a policy that “protects” an industry of the nation, either because it is unstable due to market trends, or suffering profit losses due to foreign competition. Typically, the government passes trade barriers to help the industry survive. These barriers can be tariffs, or taxes on foreign imports, so that way the foreign imports are more expensive than local goods. Sometimes, they can entirely ban the importing of a good, and other times, the government will force a supply limit on the foreign good so that way the supply is small and the local import will be bought due to being the only good in excess.

E-Cigarettes

According to Wikipedia, the electronic cigarette is a battery powered device which simulates cigarette smoking. It was first patented in 1963, though it has become extremely popular and the target of a new wave of anti-smoking regulations. It uses a heating element that heats up a vapor and the smoker inhales the vapor, which contains nicotine, flavoring, and water. Some cigarettes do not contain the nicotine, which typically foments the addiction in consumers of cigarettes, electronic or otherwise.
The World Health Organization has stated that because the reviews of electronic cigarettes have not been finished, and because the product is too new, stating a health benefit in the reduction of cigarette fatalities or nicotine addiction cannot be given. They encourage all possible consumers halt the usage of such products until further review. However, the American Association of Public Health Physicians has stated that those who suffer from chronic, or long-term smoking habits, may yield a reduction in their habit by using electronic cigarettes.

Polosa, Rodu, Caponnetto, Magila, and Raciti have authored the only controlled and randomized study of tobacco harm reduction that compares Nicotine patches, e-cigarettes with nicotine, and those without nicotine. They see E-cigarettes as a great way to reduce the harm of tobacco addictions, for several reasons. First, the traditional materials that make up chewing tobacco or cigarettes, and the materials necessary to use traditional cigarettes do not exist in the electronic cigarette. There is no exposure to ash, tar, and other hazardous chemicals that make up the traditional cigarette. They believe that the risks associated with smokeless tobacco will be similar to electronic cigarettes, and predict that that the mortality of these new products will be 1% of the mortality associated with traditional smoking. They also go on to say that a lot of the fear-mongering of the “smokeless E-cigarettes” comes from websites that lump the electronic cigarette unfairly with its smokeless cigarette counterpart and chewing tobacco. They credit the media for creating a fear campaign when there isn’t any strong medical or health based studies to say the tobacco-less electronic cigarette is just as harmful as the tobacco-based products.

The McKinney Opinion: I am no smoker, and my exposure to tobacco products is this; I smoked a tobacco pipe once, and have taken a hit on an electronic cigarette. I coughed less from the electronic cigarette, but I also suffered a migraine following the participation. Clearly nicotine is a highly addictive drug, but so is caffeine, and the consequences of cutting both off entirely can lead to harsh and violent reactions by one’s body. If Electronic cigarettes offer a way to slowly reduce the tobacco consumption for people, I don’t see the reason to particularly ban the product. I would argue that it still deserves all the taxation we give traditional tobacco products, and that should be in place for the foreseeable future, until conclusive evidence proves that electronic cigarettes reduces health risks in former smokers. I think banning the product, and banning the advertisement and publicity of the products is a rather “moral” thing to do, in the sense the government is deeming an action immoral. Sure TV ads convince kids to do things. So if we ban cigarette ads, the Dos Equis ads then have to go because they make booze “cool”. Victoria Secret ads shouldn’t be permitted either because they are educating young girls and young women to believe that “lingerie” will make you beautiful or win men over.
The entire pretense that banning a product from visual advertisement simply because someone might do it can only lead to the following reality. EVERYONE, you must stop consuming chocolate because you might tempt a diabetic to hurt themselves. EVERYONE, you must always obey the speed laws because failing to do so teaches children it is okay to break any law. EVERYONE, you must never discipline your child publicly, because you might scare other children and their parents with your harsh actions…its hypochondria in terms of society. The way we should approach this is to allow parents to dialogue with their children, schools to teach the various ill-effects and government programs associated with the products, and that like many things, when you remove the curiosity of the product, consumption goes down in the younger populations.

Fatalities associated with:

As Rush Limbaugh quoted yesterday on his program, the New York Times has an article up about Electronic cigarettes, in which they smear campaign the product by making it out to be a “Dangerous Poison on the LOOSE”. While they claim there is a 300% increase in the number of child poisonings due to consumption of the liquids for e-cigarettes, the cases are at 1,351. The American population is 310 Million, meaning that the amount of accidental poisoning of children is equal to less than 1/1000th of 1%. Even better, only one person has died from the “TOXIC” formula. The death was due to injection, and was the result of a suicide. MEANING, the person took a syringe, pump the liquid into the syringe, and put it straight into their blood. It wasn’t by consumption or spilling it on themselves, it was by intentionally hurting themselves. You could do the same with air or water. * Le GASP* EVEN WORSE, there hasn’t been a single reported child fatality due to E-cigarettes! *Le GASP GASP*

For those who really want to know what the greatest implements of child deaths are, here’s the collection of data from 2007.

Food For thought: So the New York Times wants me to pre-emptively protect the Smoking industry by eliminating a product that has not killed anyone, and could possibly reduce all health associated risks with tobacco for its users?
Even better, the New York Times wants us to believe that children consuming the liquid and getting medically treated for being poisoned is a solely e-cigarette issue. Did we forget about rat poison, ant traps, cat and dog food, and the list continues of things children eat or drink that can hurt them. Yet no one has died except for someone who shot the stuff straight into their blood. Which, death by injection seems to be a really excruciating way to die.

The Surveillance State

Police State: A type of domestic governance in which a country puts regulations upon citizens and their formal rights to prevent them from committing violence, endangering the lives of others, and the lives of themselves. Seatbelt laws, and CCTV cameras at traffic stops are typically considered to be part of the “police state” mentality. However, this can also be the use non-lethal weapons, like tasers and batons, and removing all firearms from public society. Police States usually see citizens become dependent on the police force for all safety concerns, regulations, and crime. They also typically see the militarization of the police, and is sometimes attributed with escalations of violence, like terrorism and open revolt, in police state regimes. The state of Guatamala can be considered a Police State, and is also a dictatorship.

SURVEILLANCE STATE: MY OWN OPINION

I should preface this by saying this article is going to be completely biased. You’ll find out several things from this article, most dealing with my fierce opposition to my 1st and 4th amendments being violated. In the first amendment, the government is banned from limiting our rights to speech, press, petitioning, assembling, and expressing ourselves. A typical argument of libertarians like me is that the right to assemble allows for the formation of Private Organizations with the ability to discriminate on membership and be a closed group. Thus following, it is the right of a group or an individual to their closed status and privacy from public scrutiny. AND because the government is banned from infringing on it, privacy advocates see the right to assemble a key component of preventing government surveillance and unwarranted searches into our private files.
The 4th amendment is that the government is banned from completing unwarranted searches and seizures. It requires all organizations of law enforcement to provide proper documentation, probable cause, and a judiciary sanctioning of the act. The main problem with some of the surveillance options the federal government chooses lies in the fact that in order to search lawfully someone’s possessions, one must lawfully present a warrant at the time of searching. The secret collection and content viewing by the government infringes the 4th amendment by allowing law enforcement to no longer be required to show the warrant upon seizure of evidence. I say this because at any time in the last 10 years, none of the millions of Americans being spied on have received a notice of being searched or having the NSA present them with documentation to seize their data.
So now you know, I am a privacy advocate. At the same time, I don’t actively oppose the intelligence agencies operations, but I do highlight the immorality of their actions. Government is a tool for the people by the people and of the people. As such, it is on us to determine the morality of an action by the government and to support it when it maintains the moral high ground and scold it when it falls from grace. The NSA and CIA spying on US citizens could be legal and moral in many situations, but currently in its scope recently, it has been unlawful and illegal. It has violated the integrity of the Constitution by sanctioning spying on US citizens. It has committed immorality in terms of society’s views by judging all Americans the same and creating a system of mistrust and fear of the government. Most libertarians oppose and fear government, in large scale and in central authority. I admit that I am rather fond of the Federal system our Founders chose, and I don’t oppose scale of action, but I still do oppose centralizing authority.

These are all important facts in reading my article. On this issue, you’ll see my two sides: on one side, there’s a part of me that loves my civil liberties, including writing and pressing these articles, and contributing to the liberty and freedom expressed by our Constitution. ON THE OTHER HAND, there is a part of me that loves my country so fervently, that I can tap into the mindset and understand the Police State mentality. I said mistrust and fear because none of the recent information put out about the NSA or CIA has encouraged anyone that they are doing a good job. If nothing else, they are being used to once again strip the power of the US government from being capable, to being vulnerable. I cannot highlight how much the unity in mind gets sickened with this current regime’s policies (I call it a regime because I do not support this government).

Alright, now that you know my bias and opinion, here are the summary of recent events in the surveillance issues.

NSA

Most recently, Edward Snowden, espionage man, double agent, traitor, patriot, un-American-American, and all around anti-government informant, gave us some interesting news about a program at the NSA. In the details, thanks to the efforts of the NSA, they can fully track conversations of foreign leaders around the globe, and due to the power of technology, they can rewind and play back conversations that happened prior to a month before their tapping of the phones. It is now viable for the NSA to use what you said in the past against you and against the Obama administration’s enemies and friends. Luckily, the President released a statement telling the American people some of the things the NSA is looking for in its bulk data search.

Most recently, IBM became another corporation to claim to have not complied with a national order allowing the NSA to tap their data, but due to Edward Snowden, IBM is on the list of corporations that were hacked to take bulk data. IBM now joins Google, Yahoo, and other internet and computer companies that Edward Snowden has tied to PRISM either by voluntary submission or by unlawful seizing of information. In reference to these PRISM accusations, at SXSW, Snowden discussed with attendees how to maintain privacy and security of your own data online.

CIA

So Senator Feinstein, who deserves much the mockery she has recently received, has recently come out after months of supporting the surveillance round up as being against it. From having the CIA grant computers to her staff and her fellow Democrats and then stealing the data and deleting it off those computers. To a toy helicopter driving her mad about drones, Feinstein has been on a roll recently walking back everything she ever lauded about this regime’s spying programs.

In regards to the CIA computers, the Senate Intelligence Committee had recently been investigating the detention and interrogation techniques used by the CIA and under Director Brennan’s supervision. They requested computers from the agency which would allow them to view the usually secret information, and the CIA complied. After granting the computers, the CIA is accused of using the computers to hack the Committee’s networks and then begin systematic deletion of data the Committee had been collecting during its investigation. Due to this struggle of power between the Committee and the CIA, it has seen the CIA’s general counsel be forced to resign and has him being referenced 1600 times in the investigation of torture in the CIA.

DRONES

Russian Times has an article out today in which Feinstein explains her recent shift from supporting drone programs to now being against them. She was in her home Sunday night when she looked out the window and saw a machine hovering near her window and watching her. When she got up to examine the machine more closely it crashed into the ground while flying away. This was during a demonstration happening outside her home, and the demonstrators were members of Code Pink, who say the machine was a toy helicopter. But thanks to their efforts, now Senator Feinstein questions the scope and powers of drone usage and the organization that will control their domestic powers, the Federal Aviation Association.

Her questions, according to Politico are the following:

  • When is a drone picture a benefit to society?
  • When does it become stalking?
  • When does it invade privacy?
  • How close to a home can a drone go?

Following this moment of realization, Feinstein now seeks to regulate the size of the drones being used, and how they will be used by civilians. She personally would like to have a certification process put in place for those who would operate the drones, and see regulations that properly define the law enforcement role they would serve.

In summary, the basic considerations of privacy versus surveillance breaks down to this simple question.

Do we, the American people, feel safer and more protected now?