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Fiscal Cliff – The Republicans’ Fault???

Fiscal Cliff – The Republicans’ Fault???

Here we are in the United States hours away from being tossed over something called a fiscal cliff by our own government.  But, what is a fiscal cliff and where did it come from?

The truth is that this “fiscal cliff” is our congresses’ idea of a way to punish itself.   The idea is that going over this fiscal cliff is so unthinkable of an idea that if the congress failed so bad at doing their jobs that it comes to that, they would be forced to find a quick solution.

What will happen, to begin the New Year in the United States is that all of the various tax breaks that have been put into place over the past several years to help various groups for various reasons will all disappear at once effectively raising everybody’s taxes all at once.

So basically, our congress has devised an efficient way to deliver a high powered groin kick to all of our citizens just as we were coming out of the worst economy in recent history.

Here in our great democracy of the United States, the public blame will probably fall on our Republican Party.  While this is really the fault of a dysfunctional congress, I have to say that I am going to have to agree with those that place much of the blame on the Republicans.

Those that know me understand that I feel that anyone who runs in lockstep along with one party or the other, as if rooting for their favorite football team is an idiot.  With your favorite team, you root for them no matter what and when they are doing bad you make excuses and try to convince yourself and others they are doing good.  If your team cheats, there is always a good excuse for why it’s okay, if another team makes some minor mistake; it is some terribly egregious act worthy of the worst punishment imaginable (insert pause to let the Fox News logo pass through your imagination for a moment).

I do believe in our party system, I just believe that, just like a person, sometimes a party can be way out there or just have bad years and that you as a person in a democracy have a responsibility to not support and facilitate the crazy.

In this case, the Republican Party has been hijacked by its extreme wing.  The problem for the Republicans in government is that these extremists seem to have the power to make or break a candidate for office in places where republican votes dominate.  The problem for the Republican Party is that on the national stage this extreme wing is a great distance from what the majority of voters are thinking right now and these extreme views have been eating the party from within for about eight years now (including two presidential elections.

I say all of this, because one of the major sticking points for Republicans in congress has continuously been that they will not sign a bill that raises taxes on the wealthiest people in America.

This was on of the battle cries of their overwhelming loss in the recent presidential election where the vast majority of the voting public of this country publically shared their disagreement on this issue.

The truth is that the logic that the Republican party is using is terribly flawed and not likely to be accepted by the general public.

The tax breaks are basically to help people in need like welfare checks and government cheese.  So at some point in history, some pointy headed economist decided that helping the poor doesn’t really stimulate the economy; helping the wealthy actually creates more spending and the money might be used to enlarge their companies so we would be more productive if we give the welfare checks and government cheese to the wealthiest Americans.  Thus, “Trickle-Down Economics” was born.

Though welfare checks and cheese were not the way it was done, this “assistance” came in the form of tax breaks and other subsidies.

I totally get the logic;  If those that have more, have even more, they are likely to spend more.  Those that have less, if given a little more it is more likely to go into smaller bills, late bills etc. that should have been paid anyway and will not do much to boost the economy.

The fundamental difference is that one side is trying to help people (sometimes haphazardly giving money away to both those who desperately need it as well as those that take advantage of the free money) while the other side believes that if you help the rich, at some point the poor and needy will be helped in the long term.  The money will trickle down to them.

The flaw here is that when thought through, this will never fly with the voting populous as a whole.  Think of it as one party trying to get all of the homeless shelters to close their doors to the poor, and convert to buildings that collect cash to distribute to the Donald Trumps and oil companies of the world because you will get a better return on your investment.  Eventually, with this little bit of extra spending cash, these wealthy Americans will spend more because of it and create more jobs which will be jobs the poor that use these shelters would be able to get and the world will be a better place, birds will chirp again, roses will bloom and all will live happily ever after.

While I do see the logic, the idea of help for the wealthy is preposterous.  I did a piece recently named “Taxing the Rich? Not Taxing the Rich?” in which I discussed this in some detail, but some of the breaks we are giving are ridiculous.

No matter how you feel on this issue, the American voting public has already clearly stated it is absolutely a “no go”.  They general voting public does not believe in Trickle-Down Economics at this time.  But, yet the Republican Party is willing to fight to the death (by the death of every person in the country by tossing us over a fiscal cliff not their own) for this unpopular concept.

One thing that I have noticed about the current Republican Party and particularly the extreme wing of the party (often called “Tea Party Republicans” associated in my mind way more with tea-toting rich people and less with the rebellion of throwing tea in the harbor that was a part of starting our country) is that when the American public does not agree with them they always go back to this stance that we do not know what is good for us so they have to force it down our throats for our own good.

That’s all fine and dandy…

if you are a dictator in some third world nation.

For those of us who live in a democracy, this is the clear indicator that the Republicans in Congress are not interested in doing their jobs.  The job of representing the desires and needs of the American people.

The facts are that we have been doing the experiment of “Trickle-Down Economics” for many years and during the years when the computer industry was booming in the United States all was fine.  But, suddenly in the second term of a Republican president the economy went bad.  The first dominoes to fall were due to abuses and excesses of the same wealthy that these breaks went to.

We are all suddenly faced with a painful reality:  If you give extra money to wealthy Americans and wealthy corporations (who are now declared to be people also) they may use it to be greedy and destroy our economy instead of somehow bolstering it.

This is the main point that the Republicans are stuck on and much of the rest of the debate is simply fluff to attempt to appear to be trying to play nice.

The American People are not buying all of this and the republican Party is becoming more of a cult than a political party (I suppose that Bill Graham can put the Republican Party on his website as a cult in place of the Mormons who suddenly were removed from the list because the Republican Party had a Mormon candidate for president).

They have a following that cheers them on and backs their play more and more the crazier it is.  The more out of step with the national voting population, the louder the cheers are.  The problem with all of that is that; the more out of step with the national voting population, the less trust this population will have in them.

The Republican Party is imploding and it is as if they are screaming:  “If we are going to implode, we are going to take the whole country with us over a…  wait for it…  FISCAL CLIFF!”

Don’t get me wrong; the Democrats have their crazy too and are playing a bit of a game also.  The difference is that it is a game that the American voting populous supports.  The Republican Party has hijacked the American public, tied us up in the back seat and decided to play a dangerous game of chicken driving headfirst at the Democrats in the hopes that they will scare the Democrats into turning out of the way at the last minute.

The challenge for Republicans is that even some of their own party have jumped out of the car.  There was this “Plan B” (use scary horror movie narrator voice).  It was Speaker Boehner’s (pronounced bay-ner if you didn’t know) attempt at going nuclear.  He was going to ram a plan through the House of Representatives because the Republicans have a majority there and force the President to not sign it publicly.  The idea is that this would shift the blame off of the Republican Party and place the blame firmly on the shoulders of President Obama and the Democrats.

The words “EPIC FAIL” (use scary horror movie narrator voice) come to mind.  The Republican dominated house did not vote for this and The Speaker now looks like Boo-Boo the Fool.

It is the last day of 2012 and I can see the cliff ahead.  This must have been the actual day that the Mayan Calendar was supposed to end.  In truth, I suspect that if we actually go over this cliff, the Mayan calendar may have been pointing to the end of the Republican Party’s political might as they defiantly go down with the ship still ranting “Tea Party” slogans as the ship goes down like the band in the Titanic movie.

By Wednesday morning the Uncle Sam recruiting posters with Uncle Sam pointing which says “I Want You” may have the caption changed to say:  “Republicans, It’s Your Fault”.

Alethinos P.

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Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

I have been curiously watching all of the posturing on gun laws/gun control and I think the first calm and rational discussions have started over the last twenty four hours most notably from the president himself.  I have yet to hear anything that sounds like a realistic solution to the challenge of gun control or a plausible solution to the rising violence in our country (which are not necessarily the same thing).

While I am not really in agreement with much of what is being said on both sides of this argument, I do agree that something needs to be done immediately.  I am writing this as entirely opinion and probably more about venting, but I know that there are very obvious middle grounds that all involved can rise to that is above all of the crazy of politics and the heat of the moment.

Excuse me for just thinking out loud and going off a rabbit trail, but since when has CNN become another news (I use the word “news” almost sarcastically) organization that promotes one side of an argument, either accidentally or intentionally becoming the propaganda machine of one party.  Even to the point of having several people from one side of an argument and one straw man for the other side who the host beats up.  It appears that the last hope of news that is not really propaganda has come under new management and is starting to “sell out” so to speak.

I know I have gone off on a rabbit trail, but let me explain how that is connected to all of this.  I was watching this Piers Morgan fellow do exactly what I just described and go off on some rants while beating up the straw man he had on his show to supposedly defent the right to bear arms.  The main basis of this argument was how Great Brittan has banned all guns and violence has gone down.

Immediately my head pulled back on my neck and my left eyebrow raised itself.  I flashed back to all of the news from my childhood of bombs and kidnappings.  My brain flashed on all of the ruckus around trashcans in London which had to be removed because they were too easy of a place to put bombs.  Suddenly, according to the oversimplification of Mr. Morgan, all of the problems of violence in Great Brittan were magically solved by making guns illegal.  Has it never occurred to him that there may be a whole lot more to any drop in violence that may have taken a lot longer than just passing that law took that all played a part in this and that minimizing it to outlawing guns altogether might force people to miss what really caused any positive changes.

My next thought (question) was:  “Were bombs and acts of terrorism made illegal in that law as well?”  Then I asked myself: “Were bombs legal in Great Britain before that?”

This opened a Pandora’s Box of distrust for both sides of this argument and forced me to step outside of the situation and take a perspective other than either extreme.

Then I listened to a few supposed experts proclaiming that if the teachers had guns this would have not happened.  My head shook itself before I even had a chance to process this.  The solution to violence at schools is to create the environment of an old Clint Eastwood movie where a person who is going to hurt children has the power to create the Okay Corral where there is battle/rain of bullets and magically the only person hurt would somehow only be the evil person.  This idea completely overestimates the ability of an average teacher (or any person for that matter, but in this case “a teacher”) to get to this weapon quickly, switch his/her mind over to “shoot to kill” mode without deep though, aim and shoot while under deep pressure and with very limited time in a way that incapacitates the person before that person hurts anyone.  The chances of all of this happening through the average citizen without some other disaster being created are astronomically unlikely.

Then, back on the political right, I have been aggravated for years and years by people describing the reason for banning “weapons of war” or assault rifles being that hunters do not need machine guns to hunt.  Why?  Because fully automatic weapons have been illegal since before I was born (i.e. machine guns) and are not an issue anyhow.  MACHINE GUNS ARE ALREADY ILLEGAL AND HAVE BEEN FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.  That also means that people in the media need to stop calling semi-automatic weapons, “automatic weapons”.  All of this is lying to sell an untruth.  Anyone who has a fully automatic, machine gun is already in ownership of something that is illegal and laws that have been spoken of as getting machine guns off of the street were being sold to us by people who are either lying to us or deeply uninformed.

There is more insanity on both sides that I have heard, but let’s get back to the point:

Starting with “the right to bear arms” in our United States Bill of Rights and Second Amendment of our constitution.  The NRA and extreme right wing keep disguising this as having something to do with hunting and collecting and so on.  The fact is that the founding fathers had felt that some of the previous corrupt governments of the worlds had been able to force their subjects into submission by having their militaries push around unarmed citizens as well as the fact that militias were the main first line of defense against outside invaders.

The idea that the constitutional argument has something to do with hunting rifles against weapons of war is incredibly ludicrous.  The law was put in place to allow the general population to have weapons of war period.  Both sides of the argument are arguing over a lie.

What the constitution does not say is that it should be okay for every person, no matter how mentally challenged, irresponsible or just plain stupid a person is can just go out and grab weapons of war at will.  As a matter of fact, it is probably allowable within all parts of the constitution to reasonably keep such people away from sharp objects and so on.

What I am getting at, is that according to the constitution and the intentions of those that penned those laws citizens in general are allowed to possess weapons of war.

That being the case, the only two options for addressing this issue that are not “unconstitutional” are to attempt to change the constitution or to put measures in place that are more discerning about who can get these weapons and how they are stored (while somehow not limiting the constitutional right of every citizen to possess weapons of war).

I am absolutely not a fan of making wholesale changes in the constitution for several reasons that are pretty involved, but to achieve a lot of what I have been hearing including bills to ban assault rifles and magazines that have certain capacities etc. can only legally be done by changing the constitution.  I say that because the basis of the arguments is that weapons of war are not for hunting and as such not covered by the Second Amendment.  The truth is that weapons of war are exactly what are covered by the Second Amendment so in truth, these bills and previous laws banning such firearms were legally unconstitutional by the intention and letter of the law of our constitution.

Much of what is going on is an attempt to under mine what is in the constitution.  While I do agree with some of the ideas, they are either constitutional or not.  So again I say, the only legal way to do much of what is proposed is to change the constitution and basically remove the right to bear arms (the right to bear weapons of war).

I am definitely leaned towards much tougher regulation and monitoring of who gets these weapons and how they are kept.

There are many of these laws in place in many parts of the country, but when you dig deeper you find that they are often not enforced and almost always have some massive loopholes that many who should not be getting these weapons use to arm themselves.  Much like people who have their licenses suspended in a big city yet they still drive, but far more dangerous and troubling.

Here a few points  I came up with that seem like they would have to be a part of this for any gun controls to be able to work:

  • Gun ownership has to be done in the same way that driver’s licenses and other licenses are issued by the states. – Gun ownership has to be licensed and renewed every few years and just like you cannot drive a car if you do not have a license, you can no longer legally own a gun if your license is suspended or revoked (there are some places that do some form of this currently).
  • I believe, EXTENSIVE background checks MUST be done on every person who purchases a weapon in the United States (even if it is purchased in parts at a gun show) which could be a part of the cost of the license renewal fee.
  • I would like to see a psychological evaluation of every person who purchases a weapon but even doing that at every license renewal would have an exorbitant cost and would be limited.  I do think that this may be a more serious consideration for the more dangerous weapons such as assault rifles etc. and that It may have to be a part of the financial responsibility of a person who wants to own this level of weapon.  (If there is a license to own weapons that must be renewed every four years, there can be a higher level of license that requires a psychological evaluation that needs to be done as part of each renewal)
  • There needs to be specific laws on how these weapons are stored and on who other than the owner of the weapons can access these weapons.  This needs to focus on some level of training/certification for children and appropriate age limits etc.  Spouses, significant others, domestic partners etc. must have their own certifications and if not, should not have access to these weapons.
  • There needs to be separate certifications to be able to carry a firearm or to have a firearm in some public setting (such as security guards, business owners etc.)
  • Being convicted of violent crimes, being admitted for psychological evaluation etc. should immediately mean the suspension of your license and require the surrendering of your weapons.  (I am not sure what happens to these weapons or who they are surrendered to due to the fact there may be reasons that some of these folks might be found perfectly fit and be able to get their license and weapons back, but it is a general idea).
  • Having an unstable or otherwise disqualified person in your home should require some kind of specific off site storage or suspension of your license.  Maybe private businesses that do just government approved gun storage that requires showing a gun owners license to get into your box etc.  The government would license and govern these too, but they would only be required for those that cannot safely have weapons in their homes or who would prefer to store them somewhere safer.

I have lots more that I could add, but I think that these ideas as a framework might be a good compromise and a great way to start to turn the tide on this issue.

I do believe also that there is much more to all of this than just guns however.  Explosives can be made of just about anything, guns can be acquired illegally pretty easily in the area in which I live (just as illegal drugs are everywhere in our big cities and the war on drugs struggles to even put a dent in it).  People with major psychological problems are roaming the streets of our cities with no supervision and minimal help if any.  Our society has grown more and more addicted to extreme violence and enjoys being angry at someone or something.

In other words, I do not believe that better gun laws or eliminating guns all together will solve all violence, but I do believe that we should not be easily arming every person in our country no matter how dangerous or disturbed.

The mother of this person (who I am not using his name on purpose) apparently was fairly responsible and otherwise responsible with her weapons, but there were no protections in place that would keep another individual (in this case a person with deep emotional and psychological issues) from coming into her home and stealing them from her to kill her and several children.  I do not feel that this kind of safety has been sufficiently addressed or discussed in all of this.

This is really about me venting and trying to step out of all of the rhetoric of both sides and try to take a look at this within the framework of the constitution.  I do leave you with these thoughts:

If you want to eliminate guns or “weapons of war” you are asking for a change in the constitution (which is possible, but not likely and in many cases unwise).

If you do not want much tougher controls on who has access to guns then you are a shrinking minority and do not reflect the will of the American people.  You also may have slept through the last couple of weeks of news.

Let’s all come together and do something sensible and constitutional that best guarantees our safety and the safety of our children because lives are more important than laws, lives are the reason for the laws, and lives are way more important than party politics.

Taxing the Rich? Not Taxing the Rich?

Taxing the Rich?  Not Taxing the Rich?

I’ve been pondering all of this taxation, fiscal cliff stuff and trying my best to have an open mind to both sides of the debate.  My views have been deeply changed and the reality of some of this is kind of astonishing.

I know I am seriously oversimplifying the debate, but a key question is if raiding taxes on those with astronomical amounts of money helps the economy and job creation or if giving them greater tax breaks empowers them to do a better job of creating jobs and thus creating a better economy.

I did this and have to force myself to think of the ridiculously rich people and ridiculously rich corporations as the same since the Supreme Court has declared corporations to be people.

The trickle down theory of economics implies that if they extremely rich have a bit more money to play with they will grow their empires which will involve creating more jobs to serve in the building and sustaining of these empires as well as growing their wealth more to lead to more empire building and more jobs.  With more jobs and more money there will be more spending and the more employees with more money will be spending and the economy will have more money moving around.

I encountered a few stories about tax breaks for big oil companies and I remembered being angry a few times over the past few years at stories of these companies making record profits at the same time that the American people were paying record prices for gasoline.  Then I was miffed by public statements from these companies that the record prices and record profits were not related.

Then when all of this conversation about tax breaks started, I found out that these companies were still getting tremendously large tax breaks (AKA assistance) while making record profits.

So in trying to open my mind, I thought, “Well, maybe in all of this more jobs were created and so on as I have been being force fed as an idea.”

I found nothing but evidence to the contrary (one of the clearest and well done articles http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/02/07/11145/big-oils-banner-year/)

Looking at the evidence I have found in my admittedly casual research, it seems that nothing seems to happen with more money but more greed and a lust for more power to keep the fountain of wealth flowing.

Some who are old enough might remember back in the seventies when the OPEC folks slowed production of oil to raise prices and absolutely jacked up the economy to levels where gas had to be rationed and panic was a way of life.

Well, our big oil companies were doing the same thing when we were all dying at the pumps as we still are.  Now with us numb to the inflated prices that we pay for gas the profits over the past few years have been at levels never seen before and the tax breaks still remain in place.

It’s like a person who is on welfare (or some other government program) because he/she lost his/her job, getting a job that makes him/her absolutely rich (more so with each paycheck) and being able to still collect welfare.  As a matter of fact, there are people on Capitol Hill trying to say that because the welfare worked so well in helping this person get the job, we should make that persons welfare check even larger to make that job even better.

If confronted on this logic, then the argument turns to the idea that even though this person is getting rich right now, what if this person isn’t making as much next year or the year after?  In this example, what if this person loses the job?  We need to keep this person who is getting rich on welfare because he/she might struggle again later.  WTH!!!!

It seems that once the government steps in to help you out and you become rich, it might be time for you to start carrying your weight.  You know:  Like how others pulled the weight when you were struggling which allowed you to pay less.

Let’s look at the logic and the arguments specifically the ridiculous nature of these arguments.

Over the election season I heard a few arguments and debates on the idea of how the rich pay more money in taxes than the rest of the population and that means that they should be taxed less.

So let’s imagine that all taxes were ten percent of your income for everybody (because the math is easy).  A person making ten million dollars a year would pay a whopping million dollars a year.  A person making thirty thousand dollars a year would only pay three thousand dollars a year. 

The logic is that if we give the ten million dollar a year person a massive tax break, the economy will end up better.  In my research I found a few different numbers about percentages of taxes paid but it seems to be a pretty general consensus that the rich pay taxes on about 2.7 percent of their income.

Lets round that off to three percent (the math is easier and it gives them the benefit of the doubt point three percent) and run the numbers.  That means that my ten million dollar a year person only pays taxes on three hundred thousand dollars which reduces the taxes from being a million dollars a year to thirty thousand dollars.

So, the idea that the rich already pay considerably more than the rest of the population is absolutely true.  In fact, in this example the rich person pays exactly what the other person makes in the year (Numbers I picked by accident, but it is pretty cool numerically).

The problem is that the amount of responsibility each person carries is not proportionate.  In other words I think the logic of all of this is a terribly flawed system.

Picture our economy as a tug-of-war with the rest of the world.  On our side there are small, incredibly weak people, weak people, normal people, slightly strong people and a few massively strong giants that could probably do the tug-of-war match all by themselves.

What would happen if the massively strong giants decide that they do too much of the pulling and decided they should not have to pull so hard.  This few decide to pull using slightly more pulling power than the incredibly weak people are puling with when pulling with all of their might. 

Can you honestly say that the massively strong giants are doing their part?  If the team starts to lose the tug-of-war terribly and the massively strong giants refuse to pull any harder and as a matter of fact complain that they should be pulling less, are they really pulling their weight on the team?

The tug-of-war only works if every person involved gives their all.  If the weaker people are giving their all and the stronger people are just giving some because they are comparing themselves to the strength of the weaker people shouldn’t you look at the stronger people when you are losing?

The few, massively strong people in our economy are not pulling their weight and are refusing to.  We are losing the tug-of-war match and are about to fall over fiscal cliffs and back into recessions and this few is talking about how they already pull more than the rest of us why should they pull as hard as they can.

Now on to the idea that at least this extra money is creating jobs and building the economy, which assumes the giving nature of these people (and corporations) who are already not pulling as hard as they could.

In the case of the big oil companies, record profits (plus 2 billion is subsidies) led to, producing less oil.  The money didn’t go into producing more oil or new jobs etc. (they did do exploration and had some jobs come and go but not substantially more then when they didn’t have record profits) the money went into buying their own stock and into buying political power.

According to the article I referenced earlier, in 2011 the big five oil companies spent $1.6 million on campaign contributions and $65.7 million on lobbying efforts.  Apparently, the only jobs created were in politics.

I am becoming more and more a fan of the idea of a flat tax.  Then everyone in the tug-of-war would pull as hard as they are able and the whole group does its best.  I do believe that there could be tax breaks for groups that are somehow in need, but that has to be a break that is only in place during the time of need.  If you are breaking world records for income, I am not sure a tax break that was to help you when you were down is still a valid use of tax breaks.  I think your need is over and it is your turn to repay those that carried the weight when you were down by taking your turn to carry the weight.

I know the wording has been tweaked a bit to describe “raising the taxes on the rich” and having the rich carry the burden of the economy etc., but I have realized that all we are talking about is bringing things back to where everybody is giving the same amount of effort.  The stronger pull as hard as they can and the weaker pull as hard as they can even though that means the stronger pull with more strength than the weaker.

So, I am starting to realize that this idea of raising the taxes on the ultra rich that the Republican Party is probably the right idea especially when the economy is bad.  I am not saying that I am buying everything the Democrats are peddling right now, but I am starting to see how this one concept is just sensible.

The Republicans’ insistence on getting as close to this “Fiscal Cliff” as possible while sticking to the idea that they will never allow anything that raises taxes on the ultra rich is an astonishing stand on foolish grounds especially since the American people have overwhelmingly voted to show that this is what they want.  If the democratic process has clearly stated that this is what a large majority of the American public wants then why are they letting the extremist arm of their party direct them in this illogical direction that threatens to ruin their party and throw us over this “Fiscal Cliff” (which will raise taxes on everybody including the rich anyhow on New Years Day).

A Real Sham

A Real Sham

https://i2.wp.com/img57.imageshack.us/img57/8515/coyoteacmeov0.png

This is classic, I had to pass it on.  The story I saw is on The Atlantic Wire via Yahoo News – you can see the story here – http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-now-tank-powered-playstation-controller-020228394.html .

The reason I had to pass this on is because I was absolutely amazed by something called……  Wait for it….

The Sham.  Actually, that is incorrect it is named…  The Sham II.

No, not a Sham-Wow but a real live Sham.  The naming of this thing was not done in English so I suppose that those naming it may not have known how the name would translate into the general English speaking population.

Definition of sham:

something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax.

I have always used the word to describe some lie or hustle which is how I mostly hear the word used.

But there is more, this does get even stranger.  The Sham II is apparently a tank created by Syrian rebels level the playing field against the tanks of Assad regime.

This thing is apparently a homemade tank made out of spare parts, wrapped in a steel case and driving by cameras that are mounted on it.

The cockpit has two large flat screen televisions and the gun is controlled……   Wait for it….     By a Playstation controller.

The whole thing is built on top of an old diesel car and is driven using the steering wheel.

I searched out another article in France 24 and learned more (http://www.france24.com/en/20121209-sham-ii-new-fighting-machine-syria-rebels) and learned more.

Apparently this is The Sham II because the Sham I only shielded the driver but left the rest of the crew exposed to enemy fire 9I know which Job I want in the Sham).

I also found out that the whole thing costs about $10,000 dollars to make.  That’s less that a cheap economy car with no radio on dog dish hubcaps (and a whole lot more fun and useful I might add).  The folks over at Volvo might want to take some safety tips from these guys.

There were also pictures (http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image_lightbox/images/afp/photo_1355084364140-1-0.jpg?1355122433  –  http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image/images/afp/photo_1355084430686-1-0.jpg  –  http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image/images/afp/photo_1355084507593-1-0.jpg ) and I have to admit, it looks more like a legitimate tank that i would have figured.  The biggest enemy however may not be the effects of combat:  The worst enemy might be the rust you see in the picture.  I hope the conflict ends faster than rust can eat the steel.

This is some serious Road Warrior, DR. Dre and Tupac, “California Dreamin” stuff.

My first thoughts were:  “This sounds like the worst place to be in the entire conflict.”  You are fighting against your government and that government’s tanks.   That government is a government that the entire world is trying to keep from using chemical weapons on you and you are going to go up against them in a homemade Road Warrior car shooting through your Playstation in something called the Sham II.

Of course, this was followed by some silliness from me:  “What do you call the crew, the Sham Riders or Sham Warriors”  “If you get killed does it say game over on the screen” “Can you search the internet for cheat codes” “Can you play online against Assad using the card you bought at the local Wal-Mart” “If they win the battles do they unlock special tank features” and on and on.

Later it dawned on me how creative and brave the whole thing is.  To be able to make your own tank and use televisions and video game consoles is amazing.  That’s some real MacGyver stuff.  Then to be the guys who are willing to take this thing into combat for something you believe in is incredibly brave and any victories this tank gets are heroic.

Then the adrenalin junkie in me kicked in and had to think:  “This thing sounds like a dangerous place to be, but that crazy thing sounds like it would be pretty fun to drive around fighting in.

I might have made the whole thing a two man operation with two Playstation controllers and just make the whole thing a big video game experience.

There has to be a documentary, a movie and a few video games in this story.  I am very interested in hearing more about this thing and how it does in combat with actual tanks and I am also eager to play the video game.

Just thought I would share because I thought it was an incredibly interesting story and the Sham II is not a Sham because it is nowhere near being April yet.

What a strange world we are in,

Alethinos Paradoxos

What Are We Talking About In This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

What Are We Talking About In This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

I was watching the news today and was absolutely astonished what I saw relative to this George Zimmerman person.  Apparently he is suing one of the major television networks for making it sound like he was being racist in the audio of his phone call to the police.  WTH!!!!

All I could think was:  “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull droppings.”  That seems to be the defense that his attorney is rolling with: The “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull droppings” defense.

I know I have been on this rant before since I redid the page, but here it is.  The race issue is a peripheral issue in this case.

I don’t care if Trayvon Martin was as white as a fresh snowman, the exact same actions would still be just as evil and just as illegal.  George Zimmerman’s actions are to some degree premeditated, but he stalked, chased down, attacked and shot a teenage boy who’s only possible crime was being scary in Mr. Zimmerman’s mind.  I suppose I sure have underestimated how scary Skittles and Arizona Tea are.

The race issue is a divisive attempt to manipulate the general public into a racial conflict as if trying to drum up support for a candidate for mayor in some racially divided town.  He is not on some campaign to gain a percentage of public opinion for or against him.  This man stalked, attacked and ended up killing someone’s child:  Much of which he did while on the phone with the police who were instructing him to stop.

He could have been wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit or a t-shirt that says I love Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and it would be just as illegal and ridiculous.  If you stalk, attack and kill a Caucasian person it would be just as illegal and outrageous as it is to have killed this teenager.

What I don’t understand is why this lawyer and this Zimmerman person can get this much airtime and nobody calls them on the fact that the race thing is a peripheral issue and a distraction from the real case.

I will keep saying the same thing:  You cannot stalk, attack and shoot any person of any race, creed or color in the United States.  The only pertinent issue is weather or not our legal system is going to let a person get away with stalking, attacking and killing another person.  The media circus of distraction is meaningless.

High Times or Low Times

 

High Times or Low Times

Every one is now talking about the votes in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana for recreational use.  I am actually surprised at this conflict, but I am glad that someone else besides us Californians are finally the crazy hippies making up wild and unreasonable laws and being the nation’s crazy cousins.

Here is the deal (especially if you are not in the United States):  Federally speaking our government has declared Marijuana illegal, but some states have decided to declare I legal in their state and fly the proverbial “bird” at the federal regulators.

To start I will make it clear that I oppose this idea.

One reason is the idiotic idea that if the federal organizations that we put in place to regulate drugs, medicines etc. can be overrun by states at any given moment then we actually have no governing body or guidance for the chemicals that are introduced to people’s systems.  Either these governing bodies are the law or they are not.

Here in California (particularly during the daytime and ridiculously odd hours of the morning) we are inundated with commercials for drugs and chemical products that were once normal and available over the counter or by prescription that have now been deemed so unsafe that lawyers come on television to gather all the people who used these substances together to be a part of the massive lawsuit that is taking place.

Once it is determined that these substances can cause catastrophically negative results, the federal government steps in and deems that substance illegal due to the lack of safety.  These organizations have deemed marijuana illegal and unsafe.

Some states have decided that the sovereignty of the state allows each state to override these laws and do whatever they want as part of a democracy.

The big misunderstanding here begins with the idea that we are a democracy.  In a true democracy, at least in concept, every person has a say in everything.  The founding fathers of the United States felt that allowing every person to have a say in every little thing the government does would make every decision incredibly slow and would be prone to the confusion of the crazy ends of various views.

They decided to have a representative democracy where everyone has a vote on who represents you in the various levels of government and then those people make the decisions (by vote) on these things.  This (in theory) makes the decisions faster and should limit the power of the crazy wings of society from gaining too much influence (they so underestimated the power of crazy people gathering together).

In this case the states are attempting to override the representatives they have at the federal level by basically saying that they refuse to listen to what they have to say.  In other words a few states (including my state, California) have decided to undermine the representative democracy that we have in place and the people those folks have put in place to protect our safety.

In a representative democracy, the fact a group of us disagree is not an acceptable reason to ignore what they say as a matter of fact, it is an expected norm.  The fact all things are done by vote implies that there will be groups of people in most (if not all) decisions who do not agree with the government.  Do those people get to do whatever they heck they want in every decision?  If so then there is no democracy pr representative democracy:  What we have then is a chaos of every man, woman and child for themselves.

This is not a war on drugs or against the war on drugs, this is not a fight against oversized government or for the rights of states, the passing of these laws is a war against our form of democracy and as such a war on our own government as an institution.

Moving on, another reason I oppose this law is the foolishness of the arguments that so many have been programmed to believe.  It is amazing to me how many people have been programmed with little quotes such as:

  • Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and kills less people so it should be legal
  • Marijuana is not really a drug, it comes from the ground (as if many of the different drugs on earth do not come from natural substances – should poison mushrooms be legalized because some group of people decide they are not dangerous)
  • Legalizing drugs will put drug dealers out of business and eliminate a large segment of the crime we experience in our cities.  Like legalizing alcohol eliminated all of the crime from prohibition.

Comparing marijuana to alcohol is not even as close as comparing apples to oranges, it is more like comparing apple juice to being beat up in your sleep.

Why do I believe that alcohol should be legal:  because it is simply a drink that can be abused.  Alcohol has become a major part of many cultures because of lack of access to good water etc. and has been used for centuries in some cultures at every meal often without any intoxication etc.  You can get drunk and can get addicted to it, yet you can sip a fine wine with a plate of pasta or Mediterranean food and never run any risk of intoxication (unless you are already an alcoholic I suppose).

In terms of the use of marijuana, the main reason people use it is always to be intoxicated.  I have had conversation after conversation about this with people and I always set them up the same way (for a large part of my life I was an avid pot smoker myself so I am not alien to the culture):  After the person has gone into a discourse about all of the other reasons he/she uses marijuana and how high is not the goal, I ask the question that requires a heart and mind check.  What if I had a virgin Marijuana that would have the exact same smell and taste as well as producing all of the same results, yet would not produce any “high” at all.  Would you still want to use it?

This is usually met with stumbles and confusion and in a few rare cases a person may try to convince themselves (which is usually painfully obvious) that this would make no difference.  The honest truth is however, that the real desired result is to be intoxicated and the other possible positive effects could be better produced by other substances in existence minus the high.

So, the truth is that the conflict is not one of if some awesome medicine is ripped out of the hands of those desperately in need by the evil federal morons based on one-hundred year old propaganda.  The conflict is about weather or not the government has the right to stop people from getting high or not.

On California, a few years ago, a law was put before us to allow the terminally ill and incredibly sick to use marijuana by prescription.  There were images of the desperately ill in commercials and discussions of depriving the dying from some level of peace.  I suppose I drank the Kool-Aid along with many others and I voted for this law.  I use the term law loosely because it turned out to be a Trojan horse.

As I stated previously, I have only been out of the culture of constant pot use for so long and at the time this was passed in California I got to see the insanity of the fallout.  Suddenly, a huge segment of my friend-base sought out information about what things you need to say to get a card that allows you to legally smoke marijuana and which doctors either were handing these “Cannabis Cards” out like candy at the receptionist’s desk or who you could pay a small fee to and they would write you a prescription.

Suddenly, I had droves of friends with incessant headaches and back pain.  Some were thanking God for their cataracts and on and on.

Then there were trips to “Cannabis Clubs” which are sort of like warehouse stores for cannabis (sort cannabis Costco or Sam’s Club).  With various kinds, potencies and ways of delivery and lots of potheads sitting around in all day as if in the Starbucks of pot in their tie-dyed Bob Marley shirts and multicolored knit hats.

Face it; the people of California got hustled.  I remember seeing on the news the story of a politician in southern California describing how there needed to be a limit on the number of “pot clubs” in their city because their city had allowed there to be more pot clubs then there were Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.  If you are not familiar with the culture of the cities in California then you might not understand how ridiculous of a development that is.  I didn’t research the facts of that statement etc. but I have noticed the ridiculous number of these things that have surfaced.  If there were really that many terminally ill people in every city in California for the amount of years that many of these things have been open then the entire populations of these cities would have been wiped out years ago, pot and all.

The terminally ill argument is a Trojan horse to Universal Pot Care and is the road to getting our tax dollars or your medical insurance to pay for you to smoke as much and as strong as you want.

Then we get back to this only true motivation being to get high.  What does it mean to be high?  This idea that intoxication is somehow a healthy thing is foolishness.  That somehow the dizziness, painful coughing, distorted thinking and processing is somehow a benefit to the body is a reach at the level of the ridiculous.  These things are all the results of your body trying to reject something.

In the case of smoking it, you start with the idea of ingesting smoke.  That, in and of itself is an incredibly unhealthy thing to do and is poisonous to your system.  The human body is simply not designed for ingesting smoke.  Before the pot smokers reading this get into the whole “safer than cigarettes” thing, I also used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and quit due to the fact that it was unhealthy (as well as expensive).  This logic is like saying shooting yourself in the head is worse than stabbing yourself in the head so I should be allowed to stab myself.

As a general rule, one of the signs of smoking “good weed” is the coughing that accompanies inhaling it unless you smoke so much that you train your system, not to choke on it.  What I am getting at is not the idea that this choking somehow kills you or anything like that, but what that choking symbolizes.  If you were to use something else, let’s say eating a turkey.  If you were sitting at a turkey dinner with your family and the turkey made you choke to the point of not breathing for a few seconds and almost throwing up, would you say:  “Man!  That’s some good turkey?”

Absolutely not!  That’s because the choking is a sign of your body rejecting something for whatever reason.

If a good marijuana causes intoxication: altered awareness, mild to heavy changes in equilibrium and several different kinds of artificial emotions etc. then is it not doing something ultimately unhealthy.  Is it not altering (weather in a small or large way) your brain chemistry and killing brain cells.

In what universe do we legalize something that is self destructive (which is already illegal) for casual fun.  How do we not see how changing the way you think, changing your ability to balance, and artificially altering the way you interact with world is not a normal part of your body’s functioning but the effects of your body resisting a mild level of poisoning?  This is a poisoning that is self-induced and that feels (what we believe) to be good when our body tries to fight and reject this poison.

I have been okay with use by the seriously or terminally ill in the same way the I believe that chemotherapy should be legal.  If someone is at that is sick is advised to get chemotherapy, there is the assumption of some negative results that are outweighed by the positive results.  On the other hand, if a patient who is not seriously ill wants chemotherapy for some other effect, in this case we’ll say for the feeling of having other people feel sorry for him/her, then that person will not be allowed.  There is a perceived benefit in getting more attention which could make a person feel better about himself/herself, but the perceived benefits do not make the dangers worth it.

The truth is, this is all an elaborate scheme to make the government cosign the idea that it is okay to get high as much as you want (to poison your body as much as you want).

As I was writing this, at least for some people, I just discovered that all of this is a Trojan horse for the idea that all drugs should be legal.  I have the television on in the background and they started to have a discussion on this topic with that Sir Richard Branson fellow.  This Sir Richard Branson fellow, somehow an expert on American marijuana and drug policy moved from the passing of these laws to ending the war on drugs totally.

His idea was to allow the citizens of the United States to use whatever drugs etc. they wish and then when each individual realizes the need for recovery having government sponsored programs (specifically with methadone as he mentioned) they will be admitted to these programs for care and somehow magically live happily ever after.  His logic is that these methadone clinics will cost less than prison and it would lessen the crime.

The problem with all of this is that, clearly he has not been around many people at the various levels of using and recovery and if he has, he clearly only understood an incredibly small part of the culture.

The question I have is are we so culturally drawn to the desire for people to be high that we lose all ability to use common sense.  Whole states have decided to try to override federal law.  People have lied and misled us to believe this had other, more noble motives when secretly the motive is just to get high.  The solution to the war on drugs has in effect become:  Just cancel the war and let everyone get high and magically they will get less high.  The war here is not on drugs; it is a war on our government systems and on good sense.  The strange part is that most of the country is on the side of the complete anarchy of every man, woman and child doing as they feel, and making it almost mandatory that everyone get high.

If there is some incredibly evil person (we’ll call this person “the man”) this divide and conquer focus of anarchy and undermining of our government system would be an awesome way to take apart everything that holds us together, particularly if we are all too high to do anything about it.

Perhaps the threat of this level of crazy is why our founding fathers decided on a representative democracy instead of a direct democracy as a defense.

 

Alethinos Paradoxos

 

Are We Still Talking About This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

Are We Still Talking About This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

trayvon-Armed with

I have mentioned in previous articles that I believe there is a huge push to distract the planet from the real issue in this case.  The real issue is that a min hid in the bushes, armed with a gun, followed a young man (who was armed with candy and a soda) stalked this man for several blocks, spoke to the police who told this man to stop following this man and leave him alone, then this man jumped out at this man in a threatening manner, got into a fight with this man (and apparently got the snot kicked out of him), then shot this man that he had been stalking and hunting down to threaten and possibly beat up.

Today, I saw that the lawyers for this George Zimmerman person released a picture of Mr. Zimmerman with a bloody face and swollen nose saying that it supports his story.

The problem I have with all of this is that Mr. Zimmerman’s story is one of breaking the law, ignoring the police, attacking a man he had been stalking for no reason except for the fact that this YOUNG BOY looked scary to a man hiding in the bushes looking for people who look scary.  In Mr. Zimmerman’s story he ends up shooting this man and it is okay because, in defending himself in perfectly legal manner when being stalked by an armed idiot in the middle of the night, young Treyvon Martin kicked the snot out of him.

I am absolutely befuddled by the fact that this is even a serious conversation and that George Zimmerman has the support of anyone that he is not related to or that is not locked up in some compound off in the woods living off of canned food in camouflage with their rifle awaiting some weird new world order.

Have we really come to a point that any idiot who can get access to the media can drive public opinion to absolutely ridiculous ideas as truth?  The lawyers for Mr. Zimmerman have been able to manipulate public opinion to the place where there is even a discussion about if it was warranted for this ridiculous stalker to shoot this man he watched, stalked, attacked and killed while the police were telling him not to do it.

If this man is found not guilty, it would make an absolute mockery of our entire legal system and ability to manage our right to bear arms.  How do we stand before the entire planet and say it is okay in our country to chase down and fight with any person we are not comfortable with.  That is the primary problem her and the primary offense is that Zimmerman was already engaged in an egregious act of breaking the law before the conflict with Martin took place.  Then his confrontation of Martin was a whole other egregious act.  In the act of committing these crimes (against the law and crimes against humanity) he wound up killing a young man who according to the evidence, was only guilty of eating candy and drinking canned iced tea (drinking soda being illegal only in New York as far as I know).

I don’t know how this is a case and a story.  WTH!?  The only story is why is this man not strapped to somebody’s electric chair yet for such a horrible act.  How does a parent swallow the idea that their child was stalked, fought and killed by some wannabe vigilante running the streets of the United States killing innocent children and that he might be within his rights to do this according to the courts?

Could somebody explain to me what Trayvon Martin was guilty of that deserved the death penalty at the hands of the idiot.  George Zimmerman is an embarrassment to our entire nation and its legal system.  We need to deal with this and his legal team’s use of the international media to expand the coverage of this has forced our hand.  This must be handled in an extreme and public way or we have said to the world that on the streets of the United States you can stalk and kill people who you are scared of.

😦

Alethinos Paradoxos