Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UC Berkley Bake Sale Ignores Racial Realities.

Racial issues don't exist in a vacuum. Everyone lives in a different culture, society, family, etc. that alters and shapes the way they see the world. One of the reasons for affirmative action programs is that we don't live in a "post-racial society" simply because we have a president of mixed-race. African-Americans have only had: the right to vote, work jobs whites have been able to do for generations, or go to college since the 1960s. That's only 50 years ago!!

It's going to take longer than that to make up for 400 years of slavery, segregation and discrimination. White people have had generation after generation of opportunities to build success further and further with each successive generation, which can't, unfortunately, be said of many minority families. Affirmative action is apart of the effort to not just improve racial rights but increase productivity in our economy and society in general.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Cops Admit Drug War Failure. Advocate Legalization with Tight Regulations.

No matter what statistic it is that's examined, be it the kidnapping ranking of Phoenix, shootings in El Paso, marijuana arrests in Brownsville or the number of new gang members in San Diego, the reality of today's America is that drug violence has become a pervasive and pressing threat to most citizens. "We have got to fix this problem, or else it's going to get a lot worse for us here at home," explained Terry Nelson. But what does this mean for American citizens? In short: the drug cartels have won, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Nelson, a life-long Republican, said that he believes many conservative lawmakers are beginning to come around to their view of drug policy as counter-productive to the overall goals of the drug war. "They're just waiting for when it becomes politically viable to take action," he said. "I hope that happens. It needs to."


TPJ: As usual, politicians know what that legalization would reduce crime, violence and adolescent drug use but they are too cowardly to lead because they care more about their jobs than Americans. We can look to Portugal for guidance. They decriminalized all drugs 11 years ago in response a failed drug war--not unlike the failed drug war in America. Decriminalization means it's still technically illegal but instead of going to prison, which won't solve the drug addiction, users are sent to treatment facilities.

Upon decriminalization, the crime dried up, violence was reduced and adolescent use has decreased. HIV/AIDS infections related to dirty syringe use dropped by a staggering 75% and the number of drug users held steady. American cities are slowly but surely increasing drug treatment programs instead of prison time where drugs are just as accessible as on the streets. The drug courts are showing promising signs of hope. "Between 4 and 29 percent of drug court participants in the United States will get caught using drugs again, compared with 48 percent of those who go through traditional courts" (link).

The other problem with sending drug addicts to prison is that they mingle with violent offenders and other criminals where they learn to be real criminals. Plus, it increases the prison population, which costs the tax payer more than if they were treated in the drug programs since the recidivism rates from drugs courts are so much lower than with straight imprisonment. I do think, however, that marijuana should be treated as a separate case from the hard drugs like crack, meth and heroin. Marijuana should legalized, taxed and regulated since it isn't physically addictive, doesn't cause overdoses and causes less societal problems than alcohol.

The bottom line is that the war on drugs isn't just failing, it's doing so exponentially and now the violence that we've seen in Mexico is coming here to America. We'll never stop those who want to use drugs but we can take away the criminal element by decriminalization of the hard drugs and legalization of marijuana. We can also ameliorate the health issues surrounding drug use. Plus, we can drastically reduce adolescent rates because they would have to provide identification to buy marijuana. Whereas, right now, they can go to a shady drug dealer who won't ask for identification. A growing number of Americans on the left and right understand the path ahead, but unfortunately America doesn't have "leaders" courageous enough to lead!!!

Stand up and be counted--email your leaders and tell them you want a more progressive drug policy because this current "war on drugs" has been a failure. If the politicians won't lead, then we the people must take charge.

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Friday, September 09, 2011

VIDEO: Obama's Jobs Speech Offers Something for Everyone.

Obama's job speech was one of his best. I appreciated his directness, simplicity and the inclusion of policies that Republicans have supported in the past, so that there is no reason for them to oppose it. If they do, then we can know that it's because they don't want to see him fail on everything, so that they can win the White House in 2012. But, the real cynical aspect to such politics is that if Obama doesn't succeed then neither do Americans being crushed by the Great Recession. I don't care who wins politically (right or left) so long as the real winners are the American people getting jobs. How can Republicans oppose: payroll tax cuts, incentives for companies to hire vets, tax breaks for companies who hire new workers and putting construction workers back to work fixing rundown schools? As Obama said, pass this bill!!

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Republicans: Screw the Poor, Disabled and Elderly. Also, Prevent Them from Voting!!

The Associated Press is reporting that Missouri legislators are about to repeal a $750 state tax credit that has helped over 100,000 disabled and elderly residents who live in rental housing. "The move could save the state $855 million over 15 years, and some lawmakers want to redirect a portion of that money to new tax breaks intended to lure Chinese cargo planes to the St. Louis airport and more businesses to Missouri."

TPJ: Taking away grandma's rent money to give to a Communist Chinese company? What could be more American and patriotic?? Hey, while we're at it, we can save all kinds of money on Medicare by just taking the poor, elderly and disabled out back behind the house and shooting 'em dead. This last three sentences are dripping with sarcasm, of course.

President Dwight Eisenhower wouldn't recognize this Republican Party. Any elderly person or worker of retirement age should turn their back on such a heartless party. The Republican Party mascot isn't the elephant anymore. It's Mr. Burns from the t.v. show, "The Simpsons." I know the Republican Party has an obsession with tax cuts for the rich but at the expense of the elderly disabled and poor?!! That's unacceptable behavior for a party that claims to be the most religious. To any Christian Republicans who would agree with this sickening policy of greed; what would Jesus do? Exactly.

To add insult to injury, you now have Republicans saying the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote. Yes, you heard that correctly!! This sickening statement comes from Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center: "It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country [...] Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money." This comes from a story by Muriel Kane for Raw Story.

What's next; returning to the days when only white, land-owning, men could vote?!! I wouldn't be too shocked given how low the Republican party has sunk into an ethical morass. This is the kind of behavior that you saw during the Gilded Age of the late 18th and early 19th century America. As a historian by education, it appears to me that we are regressing toward that kind of era instead of progressing forward. We can't let this happen or I fear that this country could unravel even faster than we already are seeing.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Stranger in My Own Land, or: Why People Believe Stupid Shit.

The intellectual laziness in this country is breath-taking!! It's amazing the bull crap that people will believe without so much as a cursory exploration of its veracity. They want to be spoon fed what to believe because they're afraid of thinking about the complexities of life. They'd rather give up that responsibility to someone else so that they can stay in their bubble world where they don't have to disturb their minds over the gray areas of life. They settle for such a servile existence because they know to do otherwise would require them to challenge the program they were given as a child. And they're terrified of deviating from that. Notice how people often say they're a Republican or Democrat because their parents and grandparents are. And the same goes with some religious people.

They fear not fitting in with the dominate social group because they aren't confident in their own abilities to think for themselves. They never challenged their parents, their church, or asked questions about life. They don't know why they believe the things they believe--just do because that's what they were told. They fear change because new and different things challenge the world of predictability that they've built out of sand. It might require them having to do something different than what they are use to and that scares them. They haven't let themselves explore new ideas and ask questions and therefore lack the sense of individuality, which gives a person confidence to face change without needing a group to tell them.

Thus the sad rise of the dramatic, yet usually false, forwarded emails infesting the internet today. A lot of the vile that passes for truth in emails bins today is aimed toward the very sheltered and naive people I mentioned before. These are often people who: haven't learned how to critically think for themselves, couldn't or wouldn't go to college, never traveled outside their home country, believe the worst in people or otherwise weren't introduced to the diverse nature of human existence.

Therefore, they often have a limited understanding of peoples, cultures, ideas, beliefs and places outside their small circle of experiences. This then often fuels fears about those aspects of the world that they don't understand. So, in response to that fear they harbor mistrust of anyone not like them or in their social group and sometimes lash out in anger at them if they are challenged. Some will even go as far as isolating themselves from anyone not like them. So, when they see some piece of propaganda that seems to verify their biases, they don't bother to care what source it originated from.

And for the piece de la resistance, stir in a rampant infestation of selfishness and intolerance, and I feel like a stranger in my own land.