Is being Republican a symptom? (Part I)

I’ve been debating on writing this post now for some time.  This post is going to be a lot of pondering, especially in potentially anecdotal evidence, some of which I’ve seen first hand.  Please keep that in mind while you are reading this.

If you are reading this, you probably know that I am a high school teacher at an underprivileged school.  I have a coworker, whom I have the highest amount of respect for, who is largely conservative.  (Note: I hold this man in the highest regard as an educator, the way he interacts with his students, the passion he has for being a lifelong learner, and the passion he has for educating children is immense.)  In his classroom, however, he has a t-shirt that states, “I built my business, not the government.”  This is obviously a point of view held by many Republicans.

This is where I start to get into my point of this post.  Is this point of view not extremely short-sighted?  Is being Republican not potentially a symptom of somebody who is perhaps self-absorbed and cannot think about the bigger picture?

When I see that shirt, I have a lot of strong feelings come up.  I ended up typing a word document that I am debating on printing out and hanging next to his t-shirt, which states:

But the Government did build…

  • The roads that helps to transport your product and employees
  • The schools that taught your employees basic education
  • The infrastructure that helps your business have water and electricity
  • The police station that houses the government paid police officers to keep your business and employees safe
  • The fire station that houses the government paid firefighters to potentially keep your business safe from an emergency
  • The post office and postal service that your business utilizes
  • The regulations that keep the banks from enacting predatory practices that protect you when you were first starting up your business.

Just because the government didn’t have a direct hand in the creation of your business doesn’t mean that business owners do not greatly benefit from our government and the tax dollars they spend.

Is my colleague wrong to state that the government didn’t build his business?  By the way, this colleague is also a business owner in the community.  True, business owners are the ones who have the spark of entrepreneurship and ultimately make that dream a reality, but did they not receive some help along the way?  To think that they could have the success they have, without the government, is an extremely short-sighted, self-absorbed point of view.

One of the main arguments I hear when people are defending things that Donald Trump says is, “Well he is just saying what people are thinking!”  That statement is true, as well.  Donald Trump states a lot of things that his base supporters think every single day.  Are those statements, however, not the same short-sighted and self-absorbed thoughts from my colleague?  Let’s break it down.

Let’s talk about The Wall.  Donald Trump, and many of his base supporters, feel it is of utmost importance that we build a border wall with Mexico.  The short-sighted theory of this is that it will stop the giant majority of illegal immigration.  While it is true, and factual, that immigrants do illegally cross the border and/or the Rio Grand where there are not any roads, buildings, cities, etc., it is also not the only way illegal immigrants arrive here.  Hell, the image in the heads of many Trump supporters of brown people sneaking across the border in the middle of the night isn’t even the main way people come here illegally.  The unfortunate fact is that over two-thirds of people who come here illegally don’t sneak across the border.  They actually come here legally, initially, with student visas, tourist visas, temporary work visas, etc.  What ends up happening, is that they ultimately over-stay their visa.  The short-sighted, self-absorbed view cannot explain how a border wall, costing billions of dollars, is going to solve the larger picture.  Ultimately it turns into a question of, is it worth it?   You’ll notice that I’m not even going to get into how a wall/fence won’t even be 100% effective, as there are such things as ladders, ropes, tunnels, etc.

I’ve not given two different examples of how being Republican might be a symptom of somebody who is either short-sighted and/or self-absorbed.  What else is there?

Let’s talk about the economy and these great tax cuts we’ve been hearing about.  We heard a lot of words that ultimately could be wrapped up by stating, “Tax cuts on businesses will create jobs!”

Is it true that businesses need money in order to pay employees, absolutely!  Do giving businesses money via tax cuts, however, create more jobs?  I disagree.  Again, I see this as a very narrow and short-sighted, self-absorbed thought.  What is it that ultimately drives the creation of jobs?  Demand.  Walmart getting 20 million dollars in extra revenue from tax cuts will not create any extra demand that Walmart doesn’t already have a workforce to handle.  If a business gets 100 million dollars every month of profit from their product/service, with no gain or no loss, do they need to hire or fire more employees?  If that business the next month gets 100 million dollars again, but also receives an extra 35 million dollars in tax savings, do they need to hire anymore employees to keep up with any extra demand?  The answer simply is no.

Money to a corporation does not equal demand.  If a business starts getting more money, but demand stays the same, then why do they need to hire anymore employees?  They do not.  If we’re going to fix the tax system, we need to build from the bottom up.  Consumers having more money means that consumers have more spending power.  This ultimately means consumers will purchase more goods and services, therefore create more demand.  The government cannot change what a business pays it’s employees, except through a minimum wage requirement.  A business getting more money does not mean that business will doll out more raises.  We’ve been seeing business put up record profits, yet we hear nothing about employees receiving more.  So again, the concept of tax breaks for the richest corporations (given by wealthy politicians who receive campaign donations from those very same corporations) is very short-sighted, narrow-minded, and self-absorbed.  It doesn’t truly look at the roots of why jobs are created.

I’m slowly realizing just how long this post is becoming.  I will continue this on soon, but for now I am going to wrap this up with calling it Part I.  Please feel free to comment and give your thoughts and opinions.  Feel free to share this, as well.

Take care and have a lovely day.

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Minnesota Twins Offseason

As many readers of this blog may know, I am a school teacher.  One of the classes I teach is the Student Newspaper class, where my students largely run it while I just supervise.  Every once in a while, however, I like to throw an article out there for the student body.  Below is the article I just cranked out, and felt it was enough to add to this blog, to swing things away from the political, ever so slightly.  Regardless below, I hope you enjoy:

Now that the MLB off-season is in full-swing, it is time for teams to start thinking about what went well last season, and what needs to be improved upon.  For the Minnesota Twins, despite making the playoffs, there was a lot to be desired, namely with pitching.

Last year’s starting rotation was often a game of musical chairs that saw many journeymen and AAAA starters making the rounds.  This was a list that included guys such as Dillon Gee, and even the 44 year old “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon.  The only two players of consistency were Ervin Santana and Jose Berios.  Outside of that, the other 3 spots were often times an opportunity for the opposing team to get a good BP session in.

The other half of our pitching situation saw largely ineffective relief pitchers cycling in and out of the team between AAA and the MLB.  The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler when the season appeared to be a complete wash, therefore shipping out our only consistent and competent reliever, as well as our 9th inning man.  After this trade, however, the offense started clicking, despite a Miguel Sano injury, and the Twins started winning.  Relying on journeyman Matt Belisle, who couldn’t seem to keep the ball in the park, to often times close out games for us left fans frustrated, watching leads dwindle in the late innings.

So what can the Twins do about this?  General Manager Thad Levine has recently gone on record that saying top free agent Yu Darvish will be a top priority for the Twins to sign, despite the knowledge that he will receive the richest contract for an SP for this coming season.  Darvish is coming off of a season that saw him struggling in the playoffs, and struggling after a trade to the Dodgers, but he still was able to amass 10Ks per 9 innings, which is something the Twins have been lacking for years.

The Twins have also made it known that they’re interested in Shohei Ohtani once he is posted by the Nippon Fighters over in Japan.  Ohtani is an interesting player, as he has had success both as a power bat but also an effective starter.  This is largely unheard of in the MLB, to have a duel threat batter/pitcher.  It is thought that many teams would rather make him either pitch or bat, but Ohtani has made it well known that he intends on doing both and will make his team choice not based on the size of the contract, but the ability to have some freedom in his position play.  The Twins are in a great position to be able to accommodate for this, as we have no clear player set for the DH position going into next season.  Could that be a plus for landing Ohtani?  One can hope.

As for the need to acquire quality relievers, we have not alluded to any plan or players, yet.  There isn’t a strong crop of top end relief pitchers on the market, so we might have to make a trade.  Teams such as the Marlins are looking to cut payroll, so they’d be a good place to start.  Other teams, such as the Reds are in sell-mode, as well, so they could be looking to trade established RPs, as well.  Hopefully Levine and company are able to string together a deal or two to help secure the final innings of a ballgame.

Regardless of what should happen this off-season, the Twins should be an interesting team to watch next year,  Nobody expected that a team which lost over 100 games in 2016 could make the playoffs in 2017, especially without having much roster turnover.  Paul Molitor definitely will have his work cut out for him for 2018 as he manages this Twins squad for another season.

My Short and Sweet Response to Vegas.

The same constitution that houses that 2nd amendment people love to defend also states how slaves are only worth a fraction of a person. We’ve since reformed this part of the constitution to become a better society.

We used to have zero traffic control laws. Our travel technology, however, has greatly improved and updated. We reformed this area of our legal system to now include copious amounts of regulations to protect our citizenry.

Please tell me how we cannot do anything about guns…

Was it worth it…

We officially have a sitting POTUS who has said both sides of a conflict are to blame, when one side is the KKK/Neo Nazis.  Yes, this is real.  Those were the remarks straight from the horse’s mouth.  Furthermore, David Duke (former Grandmaster of the KKK) not only verbally used Trump’s Presidency as reasoning for such violence, but is even proud of the fact that Donald Trump hadn’t condemned them in his many chances to do so with the media.

I have a few questions for anybody who voted for Donald Trump, regardless of your current feelings:

  1. Do you condemn the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and even racist bigots in the U.S.A.?
  2. Do you feel our POTUS should be verbally against racism and bigotry in America?
  3. If you could have a “re-do” would you not vote for Trump?

Also, for you people who couldn’t bring yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton, so you either voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, I have only one question for you:

  1. Was it worth it?

Also, Donald Trump is considering pardoning Joe Arpaio, in case you’d like to know where his priorities are.

My Castile post…

After some recent Facebook conversations with a few people I’ve decided to bundle all my thoughts through all my comments and replies into one concise post.  Although most of what I say here will be my thoughts about systematic racism in our justice system in general, there will be a good focus on Castile.

The question/concern came up about a police officer’s right to protect their self and their duty to protect the public.  This was also coupled with the argument of us civilians will never fully understand/appreciate the positions that police officers get put in:

Police officers who kill unarmed people are not protecting the public. What is the point of all that training as a police officer if you’re just going to kill an unarmed person? What is the point of carrying a taser if you’re going to kill an unarmed person? Rare is it the crime is worth the death.  A lot of this boils down to having better police training.  This could be de-escalation training, training in non-lethal methods of restraint, better conditioning of officers, etc.  The main point would be to take the focus off the firearm and to turn the firearm into more of a last resort than a first option.

Police officers do get put in situations you and I will hopefully never face. Thing is, they know that going into the job. Police officers are expected to be able to operate under stress and duress. I am a teacher, I am expected to operate under stress and duress. If a child cusses me out and I cussed him or her out in return, I wouldn’t keep my job. That comes with the territory. An officer needs to be able to keep a level head when the heat is on, period. An officer shouldn’t have a light trigger finger that goes off so quickly, as in the Castile case.  Again, much of this can be fixed via better and more thorough training of officers.

With Castile, there was nothing threatening or intimidating about a man informing an officer that he was legally carrying a firearm. The officer asked him for his ID, which he then reached for. I’ve seen the video. It is disgusting.  It is so disgusting that I won’t even link it to this blog.  If you truly feel the need to view it, please do, however.  Keep in mind that you are watching a man die, however.  Nothing in Castile’s voice or demeanor appears to be threatening in the officer’s dashcam. Even after the shooting, Castile’s girlfriend remains cool, calm, and collect and still refers to the officer as “sir”.

For Yanez to go from 0-60 in literally half a second is absolutely disgusting. Yanez has no right to wear that badge. He used absolutely none of his training and recklessly fired multiple bullets into a car with at minimum two civilians, one of which was a young girl. There were bullet holes in the back seat of that vehicle, where that small girl was. Even if you firmly feel that Castile was a threat, there is no justification for emptying a firearm recklessly into a vehicle with two innocent lives, one a woman and the other a child. That child is never going to know what a “normal” life is thanks to Officer Yanez. That child had to watch a father figure be gunned down by somebody who was suppose to protect her. That is just disgusting and there is zero justification for it.

Another argument brought up was the Milwaukee case, where a black officer shot an unarmed black man:

Yes, sometimes a black officer shoots an unarmed black man. It isn’t okay, but to try and compare that case to the many cases of white officers killing unarmed black men and boys for selling cigarettes, playing with a toy gun, walking towards them, walking away from them, or even being pinned to the god damn ground is just perverse.  The larger picture shows that black males are targeted by ANY law enforcement at a much higher rate.

Even our court system does the same. Statistically, black males serve more time or have harsher punishments than their white male counterparts for the same damn crime. Doesn’t matter if its a black judge, white judge, female judge, etc.

Point is, to try and focus on just one or two cases isn’t doing justice to the larger picture.  Yes, we focus on Castile, Rice, Garner, Crawford III, etc. despite being just one case because ultimately those cases are a part of the larger picture of systematic racism.  There isn’t a system of systematic racism towards whites in this country.  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about being called a cracker?  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about not being able to get a cab?  When was the last time you heard about a white man being followed by a police officer for 5 blocks while out on a jog?  You just don’t hear it, but this is something that black people live with every day of their lives.  You might be sick of hearing about it.  You might be sick of seeing Black Lives Matter stuff around your city or social media.  If you’re so sick of hearing about it, imagine how sick some people are of living it?

The marijuana aspect gets brought up a lot, too:

First off, how would Yanez immediately know that Castile had smoked marijuana within the last 30 days?  If you smoke marijuana, it can still be detected in your system, like it was with Castile, up to 30 days afterwards.  This has been one of the largest defenses of this.  This was even used as a defense to my asking why the NRA doesn’t care about Castile’s 2nd amendment right, as he was legally carrying a firearm in an open carry state.  He was following the law.  Somebody’s rebuttal was, “if under the influence you cannot legally carry.”  Okay, that’s fine.  I’ve still seen the NRA protect the 2nd amendment rights of others, despite being under the influence.  You see pictures and videos of gun toting white guys at pro-gun/NRA rallies, beer in hand, gun in tow.  This has never been an issue.  With John Crawford III he was gunned down in a Walmart for carrying a bb gun he intended on purchasing.  Nothing illegal here but where was the NRA?

Back to marijuana.  Even if Castile had been under the influence at the time, Yanez has no way of assessing that.  To my knowledge there was no visible marijuana nor was there a smell of marijuana in the car.  Where was the perceived threat?  Nothing in Yanez’s demeanor says he felt threatened up until about 3 seconds before he starts shooting into a vehicle with innocent lives present.  Even if Castile had a joint hanging from his mouth, does this still justify the response from officer Yanez?  Castile was still being honest and informing the officer he had a legal permit to carry/had a gun in the car.  He wasn’t making any threats and was complying with Yanez’s order of producing an ID/insurance, but Yanez still shot him.

Please feel free to comment to this post or share it.  I would love to engage in some discussion if anybody has any additional points they’d like to bring up.

 

On the Paris Climate Agreement and why it is important to the USA…

So obviously the big news that we’re barely hearing about *cough* thanks covfefe *cough* is the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  This puts us on a grand list of countries that include Nicaragua and Syria.  Actually, scratch that, that put on on a list of countries that only include Nicaragua and Syria.

The main argument that Donald Trump has given about this agreement is that it is bad for the U.S. economy and bad for U.S. jobs, and also that the rest of the world essentially conspired against the U.S. in creating this deal to make us less competitive.  Obviously both of these are vastly incorrect, but Donald Trump will never admit to being wrong, less alone to making a simple typo.

For the sake of  you climate deniers, I am not going to even broach the subject of climate change.  If you’re still arrogant [or do I mean ignorant?] enough to believe that, then nothing I, nor any expert on the subject, can change your mind, therefore I’ll leave it firmly in the sand.

Let’s look at U.S. jobs, first, shall we?  Donald Trump & Co. try to tell us that we’re destroying the coal industry and that we’re putting coal workers out of work.  While I am not necessarily an expert in this area, I do know that coal industry isn’t in dire straights.  Coal is obviously on the decline, however, because newer, more efficient, and cleaner options are available.  Also, coal mines are becoming harder to operate, as we do believe in workers safety, therefore we’re not going to pack coal carts to the max with children and men and literally work them to death.  Some quick coal statistics can be found here and here.  So yes, the coal industry is on a slight decline.

When you look at just the coal industry, one can make an argument that jobs are being destroyed.  When you look at the U.S. job market on a macro scale, however, there is a different picture being painted for us.  What boggles me about Republicans, is how clean energy isn’t supported by their agenda.  Clean energy is one of the largest growing job creators in this nation, and truly, around the world.  Clean energy boosts the manufacturing industry.  When you are creating more solar panels, more windmills, and more hydro-electric dams (of which I am more against due to their ecological impact on the area, but again, staying out of the nature side of things here) then you obviously need manufactures for those.  If the U.S. continues to lag behind in the clean energy push, then so, too, will our manufacturers.  This will ultimately put other countries ahead of us in this game.  Later on, when we finally decide to get into the clean energy game, it’ll be harder and more expensive to manufacture these right here in the U.S., as the top clean energy manufacturers will already be established abroad.  This is obviously something that goes against a huge Trump/Republican agenda item.  Winning clean energy keeps manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A.

Sticking with jobs, there are more than just manufacturing jobs to be had here!  Engineering jobs, those upper-middle class jobs, will also soar.  With a “new” energy market there is more room for innovation.  We’ve innovated coal/gas for hundreds of years.  Much of the top technology in these fields are already here.  With solar and wind power, however, we are still creating newer and more efficient ways to generate power.  If we as a nation lag behind here, other nations will fill those gaps.  We will no longer be competitive in the world of engineering, as we fall behind in innovation.

Donald Trump loves to talk about buying American steel.  He thinks that Chinese steel is crap and that the U.S. should ultimately shut down on any steel imports from China and other countries.  Clean energy would be a great way to boost the American steel market.  Obviously as you create more windmills and solar panels, you need steel in this process.  Energy independence can also go hand-in-hand with being independent in our resource production for this.  We can keep all steel, copper, aluminum, silica, etc. production right here in the U.S.A.  This again creates jobs, boosts our markets, and keeps that money here, as opposed to overseas.  (I’ll keep away from a rant about steel magnates putting away their profits in overseas banks, again, for the sake of keeping to the point.)

Continuing with jobs; who is going to construct and set-up all of these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will monitor the new power grids created by these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will go out and repair and maintain these structures?  More American jobs!  Republicans who are all about creating and building American should be signed up on this, one would think.

So, I think jobs have been fairly well covered here.  How else can clean energy benefit the U.S.?  Well, if we create our power right here in the U.S.A., that means we are less dependent on foreign markets.  This is another thing Donald Trump keeps preaching to us.  He wants Chinese influence gone!  He wants Middle Eastern influence gone!  Here’s the thing though, we can’t do that without clean energy.  Even if we’re producing tons of oil, coal, and natural gas, prices are still highly dependent on the global market.  If there is a huge coal and oil demand surge in China, our prices increase.  If there is unrest in oil rich areas of the Middle East, our prices increase.  With clean energy, that helps us cut the cord of being governed by foreign powers with our prices.  As long as the sun keeps shining and the wind keeps blowing we will have steadier energy costs here in the U.S.

This leads me to my last point, the consumer.  The Republican Party champions their own selves as the savior of the common man.  Donald Trump says he cares about the lower and the middle class and helping them.  Clean energy does this!  If energy costs are lowered and less dependent on foreign powers, that cost can also be passed along to the consumer.  Also, having a steadier market and steadier prices helps the consumer.  Energy savings for Joe and Jane to keep their A/C running, as well as energy savings for the big store down the street ultimately create a whole lot of winning for all parties  involved.  So much win with such a simple idea.

Trump surrogates are telling us that we needed to get out of the Paris agreement because this was other countries imposing restrictions on the U.S.  This is a flat-out lie.  The Paris deal was largely created by the U.S. and was a mass collaboration from various global powers.  Why would the U.S. author and create our own handcuffs and give them to our competitors?

Regardless of whether you believe in or agree with climate change isn’t a factor.  The truth is that clean energy and ultimately true energy independence can be one of the biggest booms to the U.S. since the Industrial Revolution.  The only question here ultimate is do we want to be a global leader in this sector, or do we want to be left in the dust…

 

I am embarrassed to be an American…

…but I want America to be better and truly great again.

Many of those who know me, know that I don’t hide the fact that I am an atheist.  Despite this, I still consider myself to be a man of high moral standing.  I don’t steal, murder, rape, etc. not because I fear some punishment of burning in hell, but rather because I just plain know that this is wrong to do.  Morality, as we see it today, is secular in origin.  Hundreds of years ago, with societies living by biblical law, it was perfectly legal to sell you daughter, buy a human being, and stone somebody to death for premarital sex.  Secularism and godlessness told us that was wrong, despite it still being in the Bible.

Moving on to the point of why I am so ashamed of being an American, and trying to leave Donald Trump out of this as best as I can, however.  In a special election in Montana there were two candidates.  One candidate was a Democrat with a clean criminal record, the other candidate has a very recent assault charge filed against him.  Guess which candidate won?  That’s right, the guy with the assault charge.  This is the Republican candidate, you know, the party of Christian ideals.

Greg Gianforte successfully kept a red seat shining crimson by defeating Democrat runner Rob Quist in what was a closer than expected race.  There isn’t much debate as to why this seat in Montana has been historically Republican, but to have it only be “close” because this man assaulted a reporter really should make people question their values.  Put the shoe on the other foot and this is a Democrat assaulting a reporter, I wouldn’t vote for the Democrat.  I still don’t know if I could vote for the Republican opposition, but I’d have to make that call upon looking at that candidate’s plan they hope to set forth if elected.  Put the shoe on the other foot, if this were the Democrat who had assaulted a reporter, how many of those same citizens who voted for Gianforte would start crying foul and demand that Quist step down from the election?  It isn’t much of an assumption to assume the pitchforks would be out, potentially even in a literal sense.

This all goes into a bigger point.  That point being, how morally corrupt are our values?  We clamored over emails but didn’t give a f**k about a pussy grabbing, disability mocking, jerk who told a new lie every week.  What is wrong with America?  Where have our values gone?  The GOP tells the public that they are the party of family values and that they are the party of Christian values but when you look at the facts, I see a different story.

This is the party trying to take healthcare away from millions.  This is the party that would rather give tax breaks to corporations and millionaires, and tell us that money will eventually trickle down to the working class, if it ever leaves the Caymans.  This is the party that still continues to defend a POTUS that is obviously not even close to being qualified to holding such an office.  A POTUS that doesn’t have the slightest clue about how to handle a nation’s foreign affairs, or even public relations.  What is wrong with you?

Honestly, if Christian values means that you cannot call out a disgusting man, who mistreats women, homosexuals, Muslims, non-whites, disabled people, etc. then please, keep those values to yourself and don’t force them upon the rest of us.  I am embarrassed to be an American right now.  I hope one day that I can be a part of making American better, and once again a great nation.