If you take the time to examine the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin recently, you might mistakenly believe that he is suffering from some type of madness. However, it is very possible that instead of having mental problems - he is instead working his political magic on world leaders who are no match for his negotiating techniques. When it comes to getting your way as a world leader there are always two roads to travel. The first is the short game, where most world leaders find themselves today. The second and most important is the long game and it appears that President Putin is far more skilled than President Obama and other leaders around the world in getting what he wants for the long term. When Putin recently ordered troops into a small section of Ukraine called Crimea most world leaders, including President Obama, tried put him on a guilt trip with diplomatic talk explaining to President Putin that he was on the wrong side of history. It must have been difficult for Putin not to laugh out loud when he was told by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama that basically he (Putin) was a bad boy and needed to take his troops and go home. I think it is extremely possible that all President Putin wanted from the beginning was Crimea. That section of Ukraine is where critical military sea facilities are located and also the location where much of the Russian fleet sets out to sea from. It appears right now that when all the dust settles, President Obama and European leaders will back off their demand that Putin pull out of Crimea and instead let him keep what he really wanted in the first place, if he doesn't invade any more of Ukraine. It's very difficult to see how President Putin is going to pay any significant price for invading Crimea. My opinion is that in the end President Obama and the other NATO leaders will simply declare victory and let Putin keep Crimea for his own.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
When it comes to spending more money than is taken in, most nations around the world are all in the same boat. I get amused watching commercials on television talking about all the gloom and doom that will befall the planet when world currencies go into free fall and become worthless. While there is some truth to what these modern day Gold merchants are selling, the key part they are leaving out is that all world nations will likely go broke at the same time. So what will happen if that does occur? My guess is that a single new world currency will be created and at that time the entire monetary system of the world will just start over again. Anyone holding vast sums of old money, will probably be simply out of luck as their vast fortunes are turned into Monopoly money almost overnight. The biggest losers would be the extremely rich few who have been loaning nations like the United States trillions of dollars for decades. Mind you, this would not happen unless or until old money became so worthless that no one wanted to use it anymore. To short term thinkers, the creation of a new world currency probably seems like total madness. However, it might be the only way to save a bankrupt world from itself. I certainly hope this does not happen, but at some point in time something will have to be done. The idea that any free government will do the right thing and start living within it's means is nothing more than a dream. While politicians continue to spend more money than they take in through taxation - eventually, our old money will become worthless and the powerful few people who run this world will have no choice, but to start the whole process over again.
The horrible news of a ferry sinking that resulted in the deaths of dozens of teenagers in South Korea has been front page news in recent days. In other nations, unlike the United States, professionals are often held criminally responsible when someone dies - because of a mistake on their part. It has been reported that the captain and two crew members were arrested within hours of that ship sinking. Here in the United States - professionals like doctors, lawyers and ship captains are usually not prosecuted criminally when their mistakes lead to the death of someone. Instead, the US court system is set up to punished people through a civil rather than a criminal process. I have often wondered if the US model for punishing mistakes was the better one until recently. Sadly, when people are killed via the mistakes of others – there is a gut instinct inside of the victims family members to want to see someone go to jail for what they did. Almost always there is a rush to judgment when emotions are raw to their core and most of the time those feelings are not based in sound logic. After watching what has transpired in South Korea the past couple of days, I now firmly believe that the United States got it right by handling these matters in a civil court. An eye for an eye and the need for vengeance against someone who has hurt you, often times leads good and decent people to descend into a dark place where no one should go. It's so hard to watch those family members suffering in South Korea as rescue workers do their best to recover the victims. While I have many problems with how the criminal justice system works in the USA, separating mistakes from deliberate actions is the right thing to do.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
In what should have been a simple problem to solve, the US federal government has once again made the wrong choice when it comes to dealing with people who do not trust them. Like Ruby Ridge and Waco, heavy handed armed aggression against fellow citizens has lead to another disaster waiting to happen in Nevada. There is far too much arrogance in the minds of the powerful in Washington D.C. and for the life of me I do not understand why they refuse to learn from their past mistakes. A macho attitude of coming into a persons home or property with the intention of making them obey at gunpoint has never worked and never will in a free society. However, since leaders in Washington refuse to learn from history these kinds of problems will continue to occur. The thinking of folks out west is completely different from east coast liberal intellects. For a group of people who believe so strongly in gun control to support the use of guns against American citizens seems sort of hypocritical to me. The rancher at the center of this latest federal government screw up could have been made to pay his 20-years worth of fines in a more decent way. Most Americans would have shown him little sympathy, if the US federal government had not stormed in with guns drawn to impose their will at gunpoint. He owes the money and he is refusing to pay it. Under normal circumstances, when someone owes money to someone else, they are not approached by law enforcement with guns drawn to collect what is owed. US citizens in the west do not trust the federal government in the first place and actions like these are only going to make the problem worse.
For decades, both Republicans and Democrats have been trying to find a way for people who have come to the United States illegally to obtain a pathway to citizenship. While most Americans believe this is the right thing to do, there are a large number of Americans who are dead-set against the idea. What are the pros and cons of congress passing comprehensive immigration reform? On the pros side, finding a way to allow 10-15 million people living in the United States to become citizens would greatly increase the amount of taxes collected by the government, since many immigrants from Mexico now live in the shadows earning small amounts of money that is paid in cash to avoid detection. Another thing on the pros side of immigration reform is that it would keep families together as a unit. According to US law, when children are born inside the country they instantly become US citizens. Immigration reform would allow families to stay together. On the cons side of immigration reform, providing amnesty to people who have broken the law without punishing them first – might encourage others to break the law and believe they too might not have to pay a price for illegal behavior. There is another big thing on the cons side that has nothing to do with right or wrong, but is completely political. Simply put, most immigrants are likely to vote democratic when they become citizens of the United States. That reality is the main reason why some leaders in the GOP are against any type of pathway to citizenship where 10-15 million more Americans are allowed to vote, mainly for democrats, in elections. The GOP could turn this con into a pro, but to date they have not.
Sometimes I wonder how some people are able to complete college, get an education degree and start teaching our children – while at the same time be completely stupid in their core beliefs. Recently, a teacher in Ohio told a black student who expressed an interest in growing up to be President that the USA did not need another black President. Wow, just when you think the country is getting better when it comes to racism, there is a story like this one explaining just how far we still need to go before hearts and minds are changed. I wish it were just white folks who had dark hearts when it comes to judging others based on their skin color, but sadly that's not the case. Even within the same race of people, there are some who judge others simply based on the tone of their skin or where their family roots originated. While I have no evidence to support my opinion that some of this racism is being perpetuated by politicians trying to further their careers, I do believe it is playing at least a small part. I remember when I was growing up, there were always kids saying they wanted to grow up and become the President of the United States. Even 40-years ago, I never heard any teacher discourage a student from that dream.
About five years ago, I regularly wrote about an up and coming country music star named Kevin Skinner. Back in 2009, Skinner won the top prize in the NBC reality TV show Americas Got Talent. Few of us thought at the time Kevin had much of a chance at winning that year's competition, but when all the votes were cast he was the last man standing. From the time Kevin Skinner won AGT and until the time he started to fade from public memory was one of the shortest in recent memory. Much of the reason why Kevin did not realize an American dream of becoming a big time country music star was one of his own choosing. After winning the money, Kevin decided to blaze his own path in the music business and if he really wanted to have it all – he certainly made a bad choice in that decision. While I don't know Kevin Skinner personally, I would be surprised if he is not living life on his own terms today just as he did back in 2009. Sadly, many folks look at entertainers and judge them by the amount of number one records they have released or how many times they have appeared on television shows. I think it is possible that Kevin Skinner did not want all the fame and pitfalls that come with that notoriety and decided to simply focus on his kind of music and singing it to the few who really appreciate his brand of entertainment.
Friday, April 18, 2014
A young student was found dead on a couch at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently. His name was Bradley David Amerman and his age was 22. His lifeless body was found in St. Joseph’s Hall and police are investigating to determine his cause of death. Amerman's hometown was Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. An autopsy has been ordered. Many young people die, because they make bad choices in life and take unnecessary risks. However, there are many others who simply pass away from undiagnosed illnesses or just because their heart decides to stop. I have always been amazed how some people live to a ripe old age, while others are cut down by death before they even have a chance to reach adulthood. I hope Bradley's family will learn from his autopsy what caused his untimely death. We all should live each day as if it were our last, because it might just be.
As the debate over climate change continues to rage around the world, many believe that a 'carbon tax' is the best option for turning the tide toward a cooler planet. So, what are the pros and cons of counties like the United States imposing a carbon tax on businesses and individuals to reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere? On the pros side, a carbon tax would reduce the amount of that material released into the environment simply because burning fossil fuels like gasoline and coal would get much more expensive. It is a proven fact that when any product or service increases in price, consumption of that product or service is reduced. So, a tax would reduce the amount of man made carbon released into the atmosphere. So, what are the cons of imposing a carbon tax to improve climate change? Many people do not believe that temperatures on Earth are increasing due to the carbon released by burning fossil fuels. Imposing a new tax of any kind on energy would hurt poor people the most. The price of heating and cooling their homes, in addition to higher gasoline prices, would make it extremely difficult for low income people to make ends meet. There are some people who do not believe the concept of man made climate change is a reality. Instead, they believe the whole thing is being made up by liberal scientist for the simple purpose of expanding government control over business.
Late Wednesday night, there was a horrific car accident that claimed the lives of four people. This wreck, a head-on collision between two vehicles, occurred on Route 156 near Gobblers Run Road in South Bend, Pennsylvania. 19-year-old Brandon James Sulava, 18-year-old Brieyonah Marie Painter and 15-year-old Brandon Barr were traveling in a Ford Mustang. 41-year-old Crystal Kay Kelley who was driving a Chevrolet Lumina was also killed. Three passengers in Kelley's car 33-year-old Robert Edward Kelley, 34-year-old Kent Smith and 35-year-old Kristy Ann Schall were seriously injured. South Bend police are conducting an investigation to determine exactly what caused this fatal accident. At this time, law enforcement believes speed played a factor in this motor vehicle accident.