Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

I am a technical person.  I use the Internet often.  I write for this blog.  I spent 20 years in the communications field and worked on the cutting edge of all of this technology we have today.  But, there are some downsides to all of this technology and social media.

Often times I believe we are too connected.  I see too many people walking around the streets, sitting around public areas even at sports events, or sitting in their cars with their noses stuck into their cell phone.  It is almost like an addiction for a lot of people.  How many times have you left your house at 6 AM and passed a lot of people already talking on their phones?  Who could you possibly be talking to at 6 AM?  Can it really be that important?

Social media has invaded our space as well.  With the advent of sites like Facebook, it seems like you can see everything from pictures of people having a good time to cats dancing.  Is that the kind of society we have become?  Can we not go even 2 hours without our noses stuck in some technological device?

The worst part of social media is that it is threatening our free speech.  When someone says something that a group of people think is stupid, it goes viral.  That person is placed under attack.  Some even receive death threats.  Yet, everyone wants to protect our free speech.  Problem is that most people today only want to protect “their” free speech.

This problem has permeated our entire society.  We have lost what the true meaning of free speech really is.  Instead of pointing out differences about comments, we try to vilify the speaker simply because we disagree.  Many people are calling this “political correctness.”  Ben Carson is running a presidential campaign based on his distaste for political correctness.

I fully understand why political correctness may be necessary in certain areas.  It mostly started out as showing respect for groups of people different from us.  Unfortunately, it has morphed into something more tragic than it should be.  Whenever someone comments differently from our beliefs, the opposite side is in an uproar.  This has even gone into comedy.

Sorry, but comedy is often times rude and crude.  It will often offend someone.  To me, it is only offensive when that rudeness and crudeness is targeted only at certain groups.  If it is targeted at all groups, then I don’t really see a problem with it.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We are seeing protests on some of our college campuses again.  I don’t have a problem with that.  But, when protesting, I do feel it is wrong to refuse the other side to cover the story.  It is wrong to refuse to let them speak freely as well.  Nothing is settled unless both sides are heard, and a common ground can be found to fix the problem.

In other words, regardless of which side of the story you are on, it is the other person’s right to be an asshole if that is what they choose to be.  For example, I believe the “Open Carry” nuts are assholes.  I firmly believe they believe I am one as well.  That is fine with me.  Just because I strongly disagree with them, doesn’t mean I have a right to try to shut them up.  I do have a responsibility to prove they are assholes and are wrong on their issue.

I have gotten into a lot of “trouble” so to speak because I believe a person’s right to free speech includes either walking on or burning the American Flag.  Yes, I served under that flag.  I respect what it’s supposed to stand for.  But, that doesn’t mean that someone who uses it as a protest item is wrong.  They have that right under free speech protections.

I also detest groups like the American Nazi Party, the KKK, The Aryan Nation, etc.  But, that doesn’t mean I have a right to stop them from speaking.  They have the right to spew their hatred and bigotry.  I cannot stop that.  I can argue against them, but I cannot stop their speech.

We constantly hear people like Bill O’Reilly talk about free speech.  Yet, he constantly shouts down or ridicules those who speak from a different perspective.  Only his right of free speech is protected in his warped view of the Constitution.

The same can be said for some liberal media celebrities as well.  Though, the conservative movement seems to have the most experts in this art form.  And, that is the problem.  We cannot claim to want free speech when we constantly shout down or try to censor the other side.

Conservatives love to cry that Freedom Isn’t Free.  They are right.  We have a few million men and women who serve this country in our armed forces.  We have several more million men and women who serve our government in other ways.  These people can literally put their lives on the line for our freedom.  But, that freedom is a two-way street.

You cannot claim freedom for yourself and deny it to others on personal opinions or beliefs.  You cannot claim marriage for yourself and deny it to others because they are different.  You cannot claim to be religious and deny others their religious beliefs because you don’t like those beliefs.

Freedom comes with a price.  That price often includes tolerance of people who are different from you.  That price includes allowing people to follow their own paths to happiness.  That price includes allowing people to be different.  Being different is what this country is all about.  You cannot achieve the so-called “American Dream” by being part of the pack.  You need to be different to achieve your own dreams.

When you think about it, it is intolerance towards different people that has caused the real political divide in this country.  We have seen too many instances when someone has figuratively stood up in a crowded theater and shouted “fire” just to watch people panic.

Both sides are guilty of this.  Both sides need to get back to basics and realize there are good people (those who agree with us) and assholes (those who disagree with us).  Social media has made us stupid.  It has caused us to stop to listen to others by allowing us to live in our own cocoon.  We have become less tolerable since social media invaded our lives, not less intolerable.

I would suggest that America take their collective noses out of their cell phones and start to “smell the roses” again.  Look around you.  This is a magnificent planet and wonderful world.  All you have to do is look to see it and appreciate it.  Then return to our true American culture.  One of tolerance, love of others, and freedom.

Isn’t that what America is really all about?

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We have heard from Anonymous several times in the past.  The other day they announced that they had a list of over 1,000 members of the KKK that they will release on November 5.  Anonymous decided to go after the KKK shortly after one of the Missouri leaders of the group argued for “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson.

The Ku Klux Klan has been around since the end of the Civil War.  They claim to have started as a “social group” formed by a former Confederate Officer.  Yet, from its very beginning, the KKK has terrorized, assaulted, and even murdered people of color.  They hate Jews, Catholics, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and any white who stands up for civil rights.

The KKK is the ultimate “white supremacist” group.  Over the years, the KKK has had its ups and downs.  During the 1920s and 1930s they reached their peak and was known as the “invisible empire” in America.  It was estimated that millions of people joined the KKK during those times.  Regular people, politicians, judges, and religious leaders were all members of the group.

The KKK fell out of favor shortly after that due to a large number of violent episodes.  Especially the lynching of a black man in Indiana.  It appeared that the group might actually go away.  But, as I have said before bigotry and hatred never rest.  The KKK simply went even deeper underground.

It reached another peak in the 1950s and 1960s when civil rights became a hot issue.  Especially in the south.  There was nothing noble or heroic in their struggle.  There is nothing noble or heroic in hiding behind a sheet while you kill people simply because their skin color is different.

It fell to another low after several members were convicted of “violating the civil rights” of three murdered civil rights workers in Mississippi.  The same suspects were found “innocent” in a state murder trial.  It really hit bottom when the Southern Poverty Law Center convinced a black woman to sue the KKK over the death of her son.  She won the suit and actually received title to the very building the KKK used for its headquarters.

Over time, we always hear about secret societies.  There has been a continuous uproar over the Free Masons.  Every conspiracy theory seems to land at the doorsteps of the Free Masons.  Yes, the Free Masons is a society with secrets.  But, unlike the KKK, the Free Masons are not a secret society.  They don’t wear masks or hoods to hide their identity.

The KKK is nothing more than a “domestic terrorist group.”  They are intent on the destruction of people of color, Jews, Catholics, and anyone else they don’t like.  Yet, none of the conspiracy theorist nuts ever talk about them when it comes to their “hidden agenda.”  Nor, like the Illuminati do they question who is behind those masks.

The KKK has been successful in staying somewhat viable in our society because they have been successful in remaining hidden.  They remain “anonymous” themselves.  That allows members to run for public office with impunity.  They get to hide behind their sheets and hoods, and the electorate doesn’t know who they are voting for.  It happened before, and it is happening today.

According to Anonymous, four sitting U.S. Senators have connections with the group.  I am not going to name them, because there is no proof, and I refuse to deal in speculation on who is or is not a member or affiliated with the group.  Suffice to say that if any of these Senators are proven to be affiliated they should be impeached immediately.

With this violent, murderous, terroristic past, you would think that I applaud Anonymous for their actions.  But, I am not sure I want to go that far.  Anonymous to me is a very dangerous group.  They claim that they are interested in transparency in government, and want to shut down the KKK.  That is all well and good.  But I do not agree with their methods.

If we applaud Anonymous for “hacking” into web sites they don’t like, or think are hiding something, how can we complain about other “hackers?”  We live in a very tech world.  Technology is actually driving our lives right now.  We do our banking online.  We use cell phones to pay for products at the grocery store or the mall.  We file our taxes online.  The internet has infiltrated our daily lives.

The “connectivity” of today’s world is getting to the point where I think it is out of control.  Everywhere you go, you will find people walking around or sitting around with their noses pointed at the cell phone.  Texting, Tweeting, Email, Internet Browsing have become an addiction.  “Selfies” have become even worse.

We love our instant connectivity.  We love the idea that we can “text” someone whenever we wish.  We love the idea that we can get directions anytime we need them.  But, what we don’t love is the idea that someone out there is trying to “hack” into our lives.

Which brings us back to the question.  Is Anonymous a group of heroes, liars, or criminals.  I added “liars” to the list because how do we know that everything this group puts out is actually real?  Like every other special interest group, do they “make-up” stuff so it looks real?  Where is the proof?  It is easy to mimic or forge texts or tweets or emails.  So, how do we know that Anonymous is really giving us the facts?  Well, we don’t!

There is a real dilemma in our country.  First, we expect our freedom.  We expect to be able to say what we want.  We expect to believe what we want.  Second, we also expect that our privacy be respected and protected.  Is “hacking” into databases any different than a “Peeping Tom” looking into your bedroom window?  Today, that “Peeping Tom” probably has a cell phone that will record your activities.

On top of that, what makes you believe that Anonymous, or any other group of “hackers” won’t sell their prowess to a government?  Whether it is a foreign government or our own?  What keeps them from “hacking” into your private lives?  What keeps them from”compiling” a list of those they don’t like?  Talk about 1994 all over again.

In my opinion, Anonymous is a criminal organization.  They are violating our right to privacy.  Yes, I know they may help expose racists and haters, but what does that really accomplish?  Plus, when are they going to decide to “hack” into your private life?  Remember the “hack” into that “cheaters” website?

When it is all said and done, you may think it is funny, or even good that sites like the KKK have been hacked.  Or that the “cheaters” site was hacked.  You may cut some jokes about both.  You may laugh about those caught with their fingers in the pot.  But, remember, your privacy is at stake too.

It is always funny and cool when someone else gets caught.  It is always a “tragedy” if someone else’s identity is stolen.  But when it happens to you, it is no longer funny nor a tragedy.  It is real, and it can ruin your life.

Sorry, but our “right to privacy” includes what we do on the internet.  It includes our texts and tweets.  Anyone who violates that right by “hacking” into our accounts is a denying us that right, and therefore a criminal.  Even if Anonymous can “prove” their allegations, they are still criminals.  That makes them very dangerous and they need to be stopped.  Just like any other “hacker” trying to get into your bank account.


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We have had three Republican Debates so far.  After each debate, someone on the stage has wailed about the moderators, the media in general, and/or even the RNC.  I have written what some call scathing reports about the debates and their lack of substance, as well as their lack of truth.  I have been told that I am anti-Conservative.  Well, that isn’t entirely true.

I am more liberal than most people I know.  However, conservatism in and of itself is not evil.  I believe that conservatism and liberalism are both necessary to help us keep our feet planted on the ground.  We have had conservatism since the founding of our nation.  We have even had some conservative legislators who understood that conservatism can be just as bad, their words, as liberalism.  My father was a conservative.  But, he would not agree with what is going on in the party today.

No, what I am against is this crop of so-called conservatives.  This batch of Republicans who claim the “conservative” mantra are anything but conservative.  If you look at the history of conservatism, you will find some very distressing differences between todays crop and what conservatism was about.

For one example, conservatives always championed education.  They believed that a good education was the primary necessity for attaining the “American Dream.”  They understood that in order to move the country, and the economy forward, education was the lynch pin.  Without educated workers, there would be no progress.

Conservatives also were in favor of scientific research.  They were all in favor of the “space program” for example.  They knew that science was the key to new breakthroughs in medicine and everyday life.  They understood the necessity of protecting our air and water quality.  It was Richard Nixon that created the EPA.

But today’s so-called conservatives are against education.  They are against science.  The only thing they are concerned with is money.  Specifically, their money and the money of their donors.  Education budgets across the country have been slashed.  So-called “Charter Schools” have popped up in many states.  These are “for-profit” schools that are raping the public education funding and returning less than stellar education in return.  They also have a very nasty tendency to discriminate who can get into their “Charter Schools.”  Minorities are underrepresented and disabled children have very little chance to get in.  Yet, the companies running these schools are making millions off the taxpayer’s dime.

Today’s so-called conservatives absolutely hate science.  They are willing to break the law in order to replace scientific teachings about evolution and instead use “creationism” as the “true” science.  They hate the idea that corporations should be held responsible for polluting our air and water.  They refuse to acknowledge that our climate is changing for the worse and that if something isn’t done, most of our coastal cities will be underwater by the end of this century, if not sooner.

Conservatives in the past lived in reality.  Even President Eisenhower warned about the growing threat of the “Defense Industrial Complex.”  Today’s so-called conservatives love the Defense Industrial Complex.  Conservatives warned about getting into more “wars to end all wars.”  Today’s so-called conservatives love getting into wars and using America’s Power to remake the world into their view.

John Adams’ worst fear was that the rich would use their social power to deny other’s rights.  Today’s so-called conservatives are his worst nightmare.  They demean the First Amendment through their support of bogus religious liberties that suppress actual ones (the Christian florist, for example, does not commit a sin for having had gay clients any more than he has committed adultery for having had adulterous ones; any more than a Jewish waiter breaks kosher laws for having served non-kosher foods).

The historically outrageous claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation finds even John McCain succumbing.  These so-called conservatives embrace the imposition of biblical law as constitutional even while they claim that the First Amendment protects communities against the building of a mosque (Cain); and while simultaneously arguing that Muslims shouldn’t be president (Carson).

Past conservatives warned against remaking society based on some ideological utopian thought.  They realized the messy fallout of such blueprints.  Yet, today’s so-called conservatives “merit-based society” is founded on just that kind of fantasy.  After more than a generation of supply-side economics that did not deliver, they cannot see concrete reality and are instead blinded by devotion to irrational models.

Religious conservatives might call this idolatry.  We’ve witness two capitalist experiments, for example – the more free-market American one and the social democratic one.  The latter has produced better results.  It has been piecemeal, pragmatic, and made concessions to reality (no nationalization of the means of production), as a good conservative would advise.  The economy has actually done better under Democratic Presidents than under Republican Presidents, including Saint Reagan.

Today’s so-called conservatives have added a moral overlay onto their economic models that betrays conservative wisdom.  Free markets, for example, were originally promoted for their productivity, not as a reward for the virtuous and a punishment for the vice-ridden.  Rather than speak of entrepreneurs as “self-made” (whom the resentful want to punish for their success) and as “jobs creators” (the taxation of whom is sometimes considered akin to theft), Adam Smith held them in contempt (well, he held us all in contempt on this score) and spoke of them with disdain.  It wasn’t their virtue that free markets tap, but rather their vice – their selfishness and vanity.  The “baubles and trinkets” that we pursue don’t make us happy, he surmised.  We seek them because we want to be admired.

Today’s so-called conservatives have added a religious tone to their arguments.  They claim to be adherents to Christianity, yet they are more in line with Puritanical theories.  Although they ignore the Puritan parts about usury and the allurements of wealth.  They are more inline with the Ayn Rand glorification of the powerful elites and selfish behavior.  That is why you hear so much about the “job creators” and in Trump’s case the winners and losers.

These so-called conservatives are very interested in putting the “blame” on anyone not like them.  What would Abraham Lincoln have to say about the immigration mess we face.  During his time, the Know Nothing Party wailed against Iris and Polish immigration in the east and against Chinese immigration in the west.  I wonder what Lincoln would have to say about the talk against Mexican immigration today.

Trump wants to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.  Carson wants to electrify it.  Presumably to electrocute anyone trying to get over it.  If you are thinking a wall would work, remember, the DEA has founds hundreds of tunnels under the border used to transport illegal drugs into the country.  What makes you think that “wall” wouldn’t be tunneled under too?

So-called conservatives want you to believe that if you are rich or poor it is “God’s Will” that you fall into those categories.  If you are poor, it must be because you are either lazy, or have done something against God’s will.  In other words, heaven is only for the rich since they have received God’s blessings on earth.

That is my interpretation of today’s so-called conservative movement.  The three debates we have suffered through have proven this theory.  They have proven that these so-called conservatives are really anti-conservative.   The problem is that the real conservatives seem to standing on the sidelines.  They don’t seem to be fighting back.  Are they giving up?

During a pre-debate rally in Ohio, John Kasich asked:  “Do you know how crazy this election is?  What has happened to our party?  What has happened to the conservative movement?”  He tried similar attacks during the debate.  I think the answer to his questions is that in favor of getting more power, the true conservatives have allowed the anti-conservatives to usurp their credentials and take over the party.

The mess that has become the Republican Party lies at the feet of true conservatives.  When any group, whether they be conservatives or liberal, allow a fringe group to usurp their credentials in the name of power, a mess will always happen.  It happened to the Democrats in the 70s and it is happening to the Republicans today.

I recommend that instead of the conservative cry of “taking back the country” from that mythical evil, they should be working to “take back their party from the real evil.”  That “real evil” are these anti-conservatives who call themselves conservatives just to get the vote.

I had this conversation with a friend who is conservative the other day.  He agrees with me on this one.  But, until he and the rest of conservatives fight back for real, we will continue to see this circus called the Republican Presidential Debates.  And, the country will continue to struggle as a whole.

For my liberal friends, conservatism isn’t the problem.  The problem is these anti-conservatives.  Unfortunately, liberals cannot stop this craze, but rather it is up to the true conservatives to stop it.  That must begin with new leadership at the RNC.  The current leadership is just as anti-conservative as these candidates are.

These people are not just anti-conservative.  They are anti-American and they are anti-Christian.  They only use the labels for their own personal enrichment and power.  Well, true conservatives, the American People are waiting for you to “take your party back.”  Do you have the courage to stand up to the crazies, or will we see more of the same?

If you really want to “take our country back for the people” you need to first take back your party from the anti-conservatives.

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Yesterday was a very interesting day.  The President vetoed the Defense Authorization Budget.  The U.S. military assisted the Kurds in rescuing up to 70 prisoners, or rather hostages, from an ISIS prison in Iraq.  The Kurds were worried that these hostages were going to be murdered and requested assistance.  All of the hostages were rescued, and some ISIS fighters were captured.  Unfortunately, one American Serviceman was killed during the raid.  He is the first American killed in Iraq in over four years.

Also yesterday, Paul Ryan officially announced that he will be running for the office of Speaker of the House.  He apparently made enough concessions to the wacko fringe of the party to ensure he would get the title.  It isn’t any wonder that Ryan gave any concessions, after all, he is just as wacko as they are.  I love the idea that he “wants family time” even after becoming Speaker of the House, but is totally against paid “family leave” for the rest of Americans.  But, that is how conservatives think.  They are far more important than you are.

Normally, either of these three stories would be the headline story on any other day.  But, also yesterday, the Select Committee on Benghazi questioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  And, as we all know, that is far more important, at least to Republicans, than the other three stories.  I was somewhat busy yesterday, so I did not watch the entire 11 hours of testimony.  I did watch about 7 hours of it.

I could go on about how this hearing proved that this committee is nothing but a partisan game to try to hurt Clinton and her Presidential aspirations.  How stupid most of the questioning from Republicans actually was.  Or, how the only member of the committee who actually wanted to know what has happened since, and asked pointed questions about that was Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat.  But, that would be about as redundant as most of the questions posed to Ms. Clinton by the Republican side of the aisle.

No, instead I want to discuss the absolute ignorance that these people seem to have about how a department in our government works.  These are all sitting members of congress, and they should have at least a basic understanding about how a department operates.  From their questioning, they proved to me they have no clue.

I was in the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years.  During my time, I served in a few posts that made me work with other agencies including the State Department.  My rating in communications made that a necessity at several places I was stationed.  So, let me fill you in on how things really work and the total lack of knowledge these people have.

The committee members on the Republican side constantly peppered her with questions about email.  In today’s world, many people think that the government only operates email to get things done.  That is a false assumption.  Email service is too unreliable to serve as primary communications for a world-wide operation.  No, other means of communications, more secure and more reliable are primarily used to communicate with the “bosses.”

So, this rampant hounding about emails and who had and who didn’t have Clinton’s personal email address is not only futile, but it is totally misleading.  Government departments use varying methods of communications.  Some are secure for classified messages, and others are open for unclassified material.

Ambassador Stevens would have had access to these more reliable communications whenever he wanted to contact the Secretary.  Suggesting that he would have used email, especially in an urgent situation is ludicrous.  No one in his position would have tried to reach his boss via email.  They would use the more reliable and secure communications methods available.

There were several attempts to pin her down about whether or not security concerns reached her desk.  They tried to imply that she “didn’t care” about her employees because not all of those requests reached her desk.  All government agencies, including the military, have departments.  These departments have department heads.  It is the responsibility of those department heads to make decisions on requests from the field.

That is normal practice.  As we put it in the service, you give people the responsibility and the “authority” to do the job they are required to do.  There is no place for “micromanagement” in agencies this large.  If a department head feels something needs to be “sent up the chain” that is what they do.  If not, they handle it on their own.  If the people in the field disagree with that decision, they are free to move it up the chain by themselves.

If Ambassador Stevens felt that he needed something and was refused at the department head level, he would surely have gone up the chain himself.  He did have direct access to the Secretary for just that purpose.

This type of set-up is necessary and common in government agencies.  There are two basic types of employees at the State Department.  One is appointed officials, like the Secretary of State.  The others are career professional employees.  These professional employees are experts in their fields.  They are relied upon by the appointed employees to do their job and make the correct decision.

We know that some mistakes were made.  Unfortunately, mistakes are part of life and sometimes those mistakes result in tragedy.  But, there is a big difference between mistakes and dereliction of duty or incompetence.  You don’t “fire” employees because they make a mistake, as the Republicans on the committee kept asking about who was “fired” after the incident.

The previous eight committee hearings and the independent review conducted all cleared everyone of incompetence or dereliction of duty.  So, why should they have “fired” anyone?  They shouldn’t have and they didn’t.  There have been corrections made based on the recommendations of that review panel.  As a result, our diplomats are safer than they were before Benghazi.

That does not mean they are totally safe and nothing like this will ever happen again.  It means that we must learn from things that happened in the past, and not make the same mistakes again.  But, that doesn’t seem to matter to the Republican side of the committee.

At one point, one Republican cited an uptick in violence in Libya in the four months prior to the attack.  She used that information to suggest that we should have “pulled out of Libya” so this wouldn’t happen.  Well, we have seen a huge uptick in “domestic violence” in this country in the last several months.  What does she propose doing about that?

They don’t even understand how budgets work.  At one point, it was criticized that $20 million dollars had been used to help Libya upgrade their security to help protect our officials.  The wondered why that money wasn’t used for security at the compound.  They apparently haven’t heard about how the budgets are compartmentalized.

Without approval, in this case from Congress, you cannot move money around the various compartments.  It is the responsibility of the host government to provide security for our embassies and consulates.  There is a bucket of money to be used to help them do that.  The money for the compound comes out of a different “bucket.”  That is the “bucket” that Congress has failed to increase year after year.  In the year leading up to the attack, the State Department asked for $300 million increase in this part of the budget.  Congress disapproved that money.

To drive that point home, one Republican claimed that the changes and upgrades at the compound were “paid for out of petty-cash” and should be considered “temporary.”  If that $300 million had been approved, the State Department would not have had to pay for upgrades out of “petty-cash.”

We live in a very dangerous world.  There are crazies around just about every corner.  This is true internationally as well as within our own borders.  How can someone even suggest that we “run away from danger?”  Especially when that person is a member of a political party that constantly talks about American Power and American Exceptionalism.  What about “leading from the front” that they also are fond of saying.  How is running away because there is violence in an area “leading from the front?”

Sorry, but all the hearing yesterday proved was that the Republicans on this committee have no clue how the real world operates.  It also proves that they have no clue how government agencies operate.  They showed up with their “talking points” and shouted into the cameras for personal gain back home.  They did nothing to shed any new light or any new information about what happened that night.

Even Trey Gowdy couldn’t answer a simple question after the marathon was over.  One reporter asked him, on camera, what new information he learned today.  He stumbled around and finally said, “I’ll have to look at the transcript to see if there was anything new.”  After 11 hours of testimony, he needs to look at the transcripts to see if any new information was presented.  Meaning, nothing new came to light.

If you really want to know just how bad yesterday’s hearing was, I went to foxnews.com this morning to see how that wonderful propaganda machine would spin the hearing.  There was not one single story on the front page that even mentioned the hearings.  That tells me there was nothing to talk about or they would have been all over it like flies on shit.

Yesterday we were subjected to 11 hours of sheer boredom.  That boredom was occasionally interrupted by stupidity.  Like when Clinton was asked “were you home alone all night?”  I have witnessed a number of congressional hearings in my lifetime.  It started for me with the Impeachment Hearings of President Nixon.  I watched the hearings about Iran-Contra scandal.  I saw the hearings when 250 Marines were killed in Lebanon by a terrorist truck bomb.  I saw the impeachment hearing for Bill Clinton.

I must admit, that even the impeachment hearing for Bill Clinton was far less politicized by the committee members than what I saw yesterday.  Yesterday I witnessed a bunch of politicians asking meaningless questions all the while claiming to “get to the truth.”  I still don’t know what “truth” they are trying to get to, and apparently neither do they.

Since they don’t seem to know what “truth” they are trying to get to, it must be assumed that this is nothing but a political stunt just like several members of their own party has said it was.  At the very least, don’t you think that someone on that panel should know how the government agencies actually work?  Shouldn’t someone on that panel have an understanding of “macromanagement” which is used in all agencies of the government?

If anyone on the panel had any knowledge of this, maybe we would have heard some intelligent questions.  But then, that would mean doing some homework.  That would mean putting aside your political agenda in favor of intelligently looking at what happened.

I have no doubt that yesterday’s 11 hour marathon was solely intended to “wear down” Ms. Clinton hoping for that “gotcha” moment.  It didn’t happen.  The conservatives have been licking their chops for months over this particular hearing.  But, it was so bad, even Fox News didn’t put it in a headline this morning.

Sorry Mr. Gowdy, your committee is a sham.  It is serving absolutely no purpose of any consequence that will actually help the government.  It is a political witch-hunt for the sole purpose of making someone look bad.  Your panel’s questioning yesterday drove that home quite nicely.

Oh, I know the conservatives will not let go of this bone.  They already believe that they proved Clinton was corrupt.  They believe that the majority of Americans don’t see through their sham.  Some people have called this committee a charade.  I won’t.  In order for a charade to work, it needs planning.  You must convince people that what you are saying is the truth even though you know it is a lie.

This committee has no plan.  It has no goal other than politics.  It has no leadership.  As a result, it is not a charade, because it has no intelligence.  It is merely a sham and it is time for it to go away.  If the Speaker of the House had any courage, he would pull the plug on this fiasco.  But no one ever accused John Boehner of having any courage.

As a result, we will continue to see this mess go on, and on, and on.  Probably right up to the election in 2016.  We will see continued “selective” leaks from the Republican side to attempt to “hurt” Ms. Clinton.  We will see more of the same and nothing will be done of any use.

The Congresswoman from Indiana seems to think that since Ms. Clinton didn’t fly to Libya immediately and hug the survivors, she didn’t care about them.  In my opinion, it is very clear that the Republicans on this committee are the ones who don’t care about the survivors or the families of those we lost.  If they did care, they wouldn’t be playing political football with the memory of their sacrifice.

The career professionals who serve our country are brave, dedicated individuals.  They serve our country, not in the name of money, but in the name of love of one’s country.  They risk their lives in many areas of the world, and they understand the risks they are taking.  What transpired yesterday was an insult to their bravery and their dedication.

The Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for their performance yesterday.  But, since they aren’t, we should shame them for it instead.  Our dedicated government workers deserve at least that much.


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That headline may seem like a pipe-dream.  But, for the first time, a national political party could actually make that happen.  The Republicans are actually trying to piss off the media.  They are going out of their way to make it more difficult for the media to do its job and cover their National Convention.

It was announced that the National Republican Party Convention Committee wants to charge journalists for use of a “workstation” at their upcoming convention.  A workstation usually includes a small writing surface and a plug for electricity.  This gives journalists the ability to cover the proceedings and file a report on them.  But, the Republicans, proving again their greed, has decided to charge each journalist $150 for using a “workstation.”

This has never been done before.  The reason according to a spokesperson for the RNCC is that is “costs $750 to create one of these workspaces.”  Their logic further goes on with “the RNCC will be paying for 80 percent of the costs.”  In other words, the RNCC is going to hold a Convention that will formally nominate their candidate for President and they want to charge the media to cover their event!

In a joint statement released Monday, the chairman of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the chairwoman of the Executive Committee of Periodical of the Standing Committee of Correspondents expressed disappointment for the RNCC’s decision to charge what they call “an access fee.”

The press, as representatives of the public, should not be charged to cover elected officials at an event of enormous interest to the public. The convention committee said reporters who don’t pay still will be allowed into the arena. But the vantage points they will be given will not allow them to follow convention proceedings, gain access to the convention floor to interview public officials, nor file stories on the event.

We are concerned that the proposed fee smacks of forcing the press to pay for news gathering. We urge the RNCC to follow the precedent of previous conventions of both parties and drop plans for an access fee so the press can continue to inform the public about a major news event.

This may not seem like a big deal to many people.  You may even think that it is “fair” to charge journalists the use of electricity to write their stories.  And, yes, the major media outlets can afford these “access fees.”  But, that is not the point.  The media has never been charged to attend and report on a major political event, and should never be charged for attending and reporting on a major political event.

Imagine, holding an event that will help you raise money and promote an idea, then charging anyone who is willing to write about it for free.  That wouldn’t be smart.  Yet, that is exactly what the RNCC is proposing to do with their convention.  Charge the people they expect to write about it for free.

Only a party wrapped up in greed would even consider charging these fees to the media.  Only a party that considers itself “worth” charging people to hear would be willing to consider these fees.  Only a party wrapped up in money would consider charging these fees.

If you wish to hold a convention, there are costs associated with it.  Electricity to the media is one of those things that is part of those costs.  Allowing them a workspace to file their stories is part of those costs.  It is true that I am constantly amazed at the wonderfully stupid things that today’s Republican Party does.  But, this one is almost unbelievable.

With the exception of the far right-wing media like FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, the Republican Party hates the news media.  Wouldn’t you consider these fees as proof of their hatred towards the media?  With that in mind, why would any “reputable” news organization even want to cover this convention?

It would be absolutely beautiful if the media groups stopped complaining and simply said “if you want to charge me to cover your convention, I won’t be there.”  I wonder what the RNCC would do then?  Would they run to FOX and complain about the media ignoring a major political party?  Would Bill O’Reilly complain that the rest of the media just wanted “free stuff?”

Yes, it would be very interesting what would happen and what would be said.  But, the national media won’t simply say “we won’t be there.”  They are too interested in money as well.  The advertising dollars these conventions bring in is just too much to pass up.

So, there will be a lot of hand wringing.  There will be a lot of complaining.  And, the RNCC may finally relent and forgo the “access fees.”  But, if you want to know what the Republican Party stands for, just look at this small detail to learn the truth.  Their platform is really about one five letter word.  M O N E Y!!! Just not for you.

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During the Republican debates the other night, one theme kept coming up.  Leadership.  That is right, all of the Republican candidates claim that America needs to “lead the world” and that the world is agonizing because of a lack of “American leadership.”

We have heard that theme over-and-over-and-over-and-over, well you get my meaning.  We also heard numerous times about American Exceptionalism.  See we Americans are the absolutely greatest people the world has ever known.  Hell, if Caesar had to go up against America, he would never have carved out his empire.

According to the Republican Party, we are so great, so wonderful, so knowledgeable, so innovative, and so powerful, the entire world wants to know what we are going to do next.  They can’t wait for America to teach them everything.  According to them, if the world won’t listen, we should go it alone and prove to them we are right!  As long as we hold true, the world will come along with us.

Well, sort of, kind of, maybe.  Apparently this philosophy about America being “right” all of the time doesn’t apply to things that hurt some of their contributors.  Yes, I am referring to Climate Change.  According to the Republicans, we should “lead from behind” on that issue.

At first, all of the present candidates have said that Climate Change is a hoax.  Now, they are saying that the U.S. cannot make a difference by itself.  Marco Rubio went off on a 3 minute tantrum about that very fact.  He said “America is not a planet.  We will make very little difference in affecting climate change by ourselves.”  That statement may be true.  But, Mr. Rubio, what about American Leadership in the world?  If the world is going to follow us on everything else, wouldn’t our great leadership get them to “go along” with our plans to save the planet?

This exchange went on for quite a while.  Others stepped in and expressed similar fantasies.  Ted Cruz wanted to butt in, but for once, the moderator cut him off.  I did hear him say that he was a “Climate Change Denier.”  If I was on the moderator stage, I would have said “of course you are.  President Obama believes in it.  If the President was a denier, you would be screaming about how real it was.”

Rubio showed what he was really interested in when he went on.  He said that reducing carbon emissions would “cost too much.”  Whenever Republicans get caught in an hypocritical moment, they always bring up the “cost too much” meme.  He claims that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would “kill jobs.”  Another favorite talking point of Republicans when they don’t have anything else to say.

Right on cue, yesterday, scientists said that 2015 was the warmest summer on record!  Today, they announced that August was the warmest month on record.  According to this data, so far, 2015 is 1.51 degrees F warmer than the average 20th century average temperature world-wide.

Now 1.51 degrees may not seem like a lot, but it is huge.  Because these temperatures include air temperature over our oceans, that means the ocean water is heating up as well.  When ocean temperatures rise, sea ice melts.  Despite what the Climate Change deniers want you to think, the sea ice is melting at alarming rates.

For centuries, European countries wanted to find a “clear” path through the Northwest Passage so they could cut down the time it took to sail from Europe to Asia.  That passage now exists during some parts of the year.  It is still not stable enough to be used regularly, but the time is coming when it will be.

We have melting sea ice and glaciers.  Sea levels are rising, just ask a small island in Alaska that is on the verge of being permanently flooded.  The community already has had to move its cemetery to keep it from being flooded out.  Every year we are seeing the “warmest year on record” and Republicans are either denying these facts, or are saying “well we can’t do anything alone.”

Then, it was also reported that an estimated 3.1 million people, in this country die from air pollution!  People with respiratory illnesses are severely affected by air pollution.  It doesn’t matter what the numbers really are, the fact is  our citizens are dying because of air pollution.

So, I ask these Republicans, what about that American Exceptionalism and great American Leadership that you all say we must exhibit?  Why is it okay for us to go to war alone if necessary but not go it alone on acting on Climate Change?  What is wrong with America saying to the world, we understand the problem, and we are going to do our part regardless of if you want to or not?

Wouldn’t that be showing real American Leadership?  Well, yeah, kind of, sort of, maybe.  But they can’t do that for two reasons.  First and foremost, President Obama is already trying to do just that.  Lead the rest of the world and get them to follow our lead.  That alone is enough to keep our Republican friends from going along.

Second is that they get a whole lot of money from fossil fuel companies for their campaigns.  Where do you think the Koch Brothers got their fortune?  They got it from fossil fuels and chemicals.  The Interior Secretary the other day said we “cannot just turn off the spigot.”  She is right.

But, we can start planning and investing in “clean energy” alternatives now.  We can start building the infrastructure that will be required to make clean energy a reality.  And, in the end, we will see energy costs decrease not increase not only for the average person, but for our corporations.  That will make creating jobs in this country easier.

Plus, jobs created to support clean energy cannot be “outsourced.”  You will actually have to live here to work on the infrastructure simply because it is here!  So, we would end up with lower energy costs, good paying jobs for our people, and a cleaner environment.

I believe that this issue, more than a lot of others, clearly show the fact that when republicans talk about “American Leadership” they are just spouting out words.  None of them actually believe what they are saying.  American Exceptionalism and American Leadership are about a lot more than starting wars.  It is about doing things we know are right, regardless of whether or not everyone is going to follow us right away.

It takes true courage to be a good leader.  So far, none of the Republican Candidates are willing to show that courage and help America really become energy independent which only clean, renewable energy can do.  So, even if you don’t like the Climate Change argument, economics should tell you that turning off the spigot in the near future is what is best for our country, our people, and our economy.

So,  come on Republicans, show us what American Leadership really looks like.  Stop incentivizing your fossil fuel donors and stop killing the planet.  Then you can talk to me about “American Leadership.”  Help us make a clean break from fossil fuels by creating new technologies and infrastructure to support it and then you can talk to me about “American Exceptionalism.”

Until the, you are part of the problem.  So, get out of the way and let the real “leaders” show you how to move forward for the betterment of all Americans.

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Ok, stop it!!!!  I don’t spend very much time on Facebook.  But, one thing strikes me very much when I do go on it.  That is just how far we have sunk as a society.  I know that people love to share things.  I know that people are proud of their families, friends, jobs, etc.  But, I also think enough is enough.

That especially goes for those who are constantly posting those “remember” items.  You know what I am talking about.  Things like “Remember when we rode our bikes all day and only had to go in when it got dark?”  Then it always seems to end with something like “we turned out okay.”

Or, those “Do you remember this?”  with some picture of an item from before 1980.  Okay, I get it, the baby boomer generation is getting old.  Our children’s generation is beginning to get old.  But, really, do we have to reminisce that much?  I will freely admit, I am an old fart.  In a couple of months, I will reach the new age for officially becoming an old fart, I will turn 65.

I remember everything that these people are putting on Facebook.  But, I also remember something else that no wants you to remember about those times.  When I was 9 years old I rode my bike to a Forrest Preserve about 3 miles from my house.  Yet, no one called the police because I was “unattended” by an adult.

I used to walk a half mile to an outside basketball court and play basketball all afternoon until it was too dark to see the ball anymore.  Family Services never showed up at my house to grill my parents as to why I was allowed out on my own.

During the summers, we used to walk to the beach in our neighborhood.  The beach was about two-mile walk.  No one called the police because we were walking alone.  Nor did anyone at the beach call the police because we were there without parents.

When I went to school, and broke the rules on what to wear, I got detention, not a 3 day suspension.  When we went to the prom, none of our dates were turned away at the door because their dresses “showed too much skin.”  When one of my parents pulled up in front of a store, told us to behave, and ran inside for 5 minutes to pick up something, no one confronted them when they came out by shouting just how bad a parent they were.

Unfortunately, all of that happens way too often today.  When a classmate built something and brought to school to show it off, that classmate wasn’t arrested because that something was suspicious, like happened in Irving TX the other day.  A student built a clock that was different.  He brought it to show his engineering teacher, who applauded his work, and later was arrested because another teacher said it looked like a bomb.  The kid was released and no charges resulted, but the school district patted themselves on the back for the incident that never should have happened.

We have seen children suspended for wearing what some consider inappropriate T Shirts.  We have seen children suspended for bringing a pop-tart that was shaped like a gun.  We have seen girls turned away from their proms because their dress showed “too much skin.”  We have seen parents visited by the police and Family Services because they let their 10-year-old walk a mile to a park by themselves.  Somehow, suspensions, dismissals, shame, and police accusations have become the norm for disciplining children.  That is disgusting!!!!

Then, in our nostalgia for the days of our youth, we put up stupid things like “remember” items that if you tried to let your kids do today, you will get one of those visits.  How did we become a society like that?  When did we become so suspicious of our neighbors?  When did we become so distrustful as a nation?

And, don’t tell me it started with 9/11 because this stupidity has been going on since long before then.  Neighbors used to watch out for other people’s children.  They understood that neighbors help neighbors.  Today, they are more than likely to call the police because they are obviously better parents than the ones they are calling the police about.

Back in the 1990s Hillary Clinton received a bunch of flack when she said it “takes a village to raise children.”  Problem is, if you look at all of these “remember” items on Facebook, she is being proved right.  Instead of pointing fingers and accusations against people, neighbors only complained when we did something wrong.  And then, they complained to our parents not the police.

Let’s face facts.  Older generations have always complained about the younger generations.  That will probably never stop.  But, I do not remember any of my grandparents generation in my neighborhood decide that the police should be called because I was outside playing with my friends without “adult” supervision.  Hell, when I was in first grade, I walked a half mile to and from school everyday.  No, it wasn’t uphill both ways.  Try letting your first grader do that today!  I bet Family Services will be at your door before your kid makes it home.

The only suggestion I have for my generation, is stop waxing nostalgic about our past, and help ensure that today’s children have the opportunity to the same freedoms we had.  There is nothing wrong with children playing outside by themselves.  Especially when the parents of those children trust them enough to follow the rules.

I find all of these “remember” things on Facebook rather depressing.  That is because I know my grandchildren are not allowed to do what we did.  They aren’t allowed to enjoy the freedoms we had.  Our high school students are still being treated like 5-year-olds rather than young adults.

Our grandchildren don’t have that experience of growing up.  Not because their parents aren’t willing to allow it.  But because their neighbors are not willing to allow it.  I guess that is the new definition for “Family Values.”


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