Monday, October 27, 2014

National security is never this black and white… (Unfortunately!)

F35

I was thinking about this the other day, and then I saw this re-posted.

Why would we need something like this? Russia? Religious fanatics? These are arguably the biggest threats to the U.S. in the visible future, and we don't need the level of tech to act as a deterrent for those folks. We can take Russia with a couple of F-18s and the religious fanatics? Well, I don't think these bad boys would have led to a different result in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So why? Of course, there is always the propping up of the military-industrial complex, but even that does not feel right. We've scrapped some systems in the last few years which tells me that this is not the main reason why we're moving ahead on this...

So that leaves, who? China.

Yes, right now we have each other right where we want each other, but they are a growing economic and technological superpower, and we may eventually end up in a cold war with them. These sorts of investments in military technology are not necessarily about meeting current threats, but about preparing for future threats, and we don't want to end up in a position where we don't have the best hardware in the world.

So, is this the time to be throwing that sort of money at a weapons system like this? Could it be better spent elsewhere? Probably. But we still live in a dangerous world and I, for one, know our relationship with the only real superpower left goes a lot better down the road if they know they can't take us militarily without one hell of a fight.

Hopefully we are moving towards a world where superpowers can co-exist without living in fear of each other, and we may be there all ready. But are we willing to bet our children or grandchildren's freedom on this?

It's a tough call and one that I am glad I do not have to make.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Student Loans and Debt Slavery

This may be a bit overdramatic, but maybe it is time to look at this paradigm.

It used to be that you needed a degree to work in certain fields, now it is for almost everything. The degree has replaced the high school diploma as the minimum education standard required for most living wage work.

But it has very little to do with actual training for one's chosen field... More and more it matters little what your B. A. was in, only that you have one.

In this way, it really is being treated as diplomas use to be.

When hiring, we used to say that this was because we wanted to see that the potential employee could "finish what they started," and I still agree that there is some merit to that concept. Plus, the development of critical thinking skills that, more and more, happens in college versus high school is another benefit.

But considering the cost of college these days, there is a darker, but huge, benefit for companies that only hire college grads... the immense debt most recent grads are entering the workforce with!

There is so much fear around paying off these loans that people will put up with a lot more than they used to... Low wages and salaries, intolerable and invasive corporate policies, and the knowledge that most workers are immediately replaceable due to all the out of work college grads out there just waiting for the opportunity to "do something with their degrees" or, even more insidious, grads who are just desperate to start paying off their loans.

Of course, having workers who have to go into virtually life long debt for the privilege of working for your company, mostly doing work that could be completed by any average high school grad?

Priceless.

Fearful employees willing to do anything and put up with anything just to keep ahead of their government debt…

What’s better than this?  If you don't look too closely, these companies even come off looking like the good guys, since they are the ones giving us a chance to keep one step ahead of the big bad menace of the government.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Barak and Valdimir's Big Crimean Adventure

Earlier, on Facebook, I posted, "Remember a couple weeks ago when Russia was just weird, not scary?" 

Mostly, this was just a joke about a comment I made during the Olympics, saying the reverse and not meant to be a real conversation about the current geopolitical situation.

The truth here, this is all negotiating tactics right now and it is a little scary that Russia is going this big in the opening round. 

Most likely, the end result will be a functionally independent Crimea with a Russian puppet government and increased military presence to secure Russia's only warm water Atlantic naval base.

I could get more into the nitty gritty details here, but I really don't have the time.

It is still a pretty scary situation, though, because these things could go south with some really bad effects that essentially take us back to a Cold War relationship with Russia, but I think (hope) both sides are too smart to let that happen.

If played well, the US and the west will receive some important concessions from Russia in return, concessions they'd never receive unless something this critical to Russian state security was at stake.

Since these sorts of things will never be disclosed by either side, though, expect Obama to get roasted by the right for letting Crimea fall on his watch.

Monday, November 25, 2013

When does it become too much? Some tea partiers are now calling for Obama’s “legal” assassination

Horrifying. This is what we get when the far right gets a free pass from the mainstream media. How about nightly fact checks on the evening news programs? These people are dangerous (the so-called journalists on the far right) when they inflame potential domestic terrorists so they can drive up ratings with their "info-taiment" shock talk, and then run from the responsibility when one of these nut jobs actually takes everything they've been saying as fact and starts building bombs or firing off shots.

Do they have the right to say the things they do? Well, I suppose they do. But the mainstream media, more so, has the responsibility of challenging what they say, from Fox News to Glenn Beck and beyond. Instead, they ignore it, or even worse, take it seriously and start reporting on the same "stories" these dangerous anti-journalists are fabricating without any real reporting to clarify fact and to separate truth from fiction.

When, not if, but when we have the next OKC, I'll be blaming the major mainstream news outlets as much as I'll be blaming the right wing "info-tainment" outlets. Perhaps even more so, because they truly are dropping the journalism ball where Beck and folks make it very clear that they are pandering to their viewers and listeners for the sake of the holy dollar and have little real interest in actually being journalists.

A lot of these folks cite the Bible for their political philosophies, well here's one for them:

Romans 13 (NSV): 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Christian Tea Party Terrorist Claims 2nd Amendment Authority To Shoot President Obama! | Americans Against the Tea Party:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Shutdown Blues & The Promise of Reform in 2014

Photo of the Day, November 20, 2011.  Taken November 17, 2011. Occupy Portland - N17: Occupy the Banks.  Wells Fargo 900 5th Ave.  Portland, Oregon.  12:29 PM

Yes, it’s been quiet here, as I warned it would be after the election.  There may be another post on that later.

Shutdown.  Blah, blah…  All the stuff from the webs.  Been posting a ton of stuff on the Facebook page about this…

But this is where we may see some change in the future.  Maybe things needed to get this bad in D.C. before real change in Congress was possible.

First, a little about how this happened, in my eyes, at least. 

The Tea Partiers who are pushing this are concerned about jobs, this is a job retention strategy.  Their jobs, yes, self-preservation, yes, but that’s what it is.

The districts that elected them want to see some action against Obama and Obama care is about the only real policy / legislation they can find true fault with.  If they don’t do what they are doing, a lot of these radicals will be voted out and replaced with another round of amateurs who will flounder in futility as badly as the current crop of self proclaimed patriots.

Now, yes.  Anger against the GOP over this fiasco may cost some Republicans from more balanced, moderate districts their jobs in 2014, but it won’t be the far, far right minority.

This may be enough to toss the House back to the Dems, which may actually lead to a functioning Congress for a while.

But it doesn’t fix the problem.  The real problem is the procedural rules in both houses.  These arcane and, often, insane rules emerged over decades as one party or the other struggled against the domination of the other.

A silver lining to come out of all of this may be that rules reform could be a real winning campaign issue in 2014.  Usually, when the minority party comes into power, they, for many reasons, leave this stuff. 

However, I think candidate that campaign on reform could really do well in 2014, which may or may not lead to reform actually happening, but let’s cross one bridge at a time here.  For the GOP, this may be a critical strategy.  Yeah, my party broke the country, but I want to fix it.  Depending on how bad things get, this may be the only strategy they have.

If this comes to pass, then this current fiasco may lead to some really positive change down the  road.  And it really will take a disaster to make such change possible.  But maybe it will be worth it, in the long run.

For there to be any hope of reform, though, things are going to have to get a lot worse first.  If this stalemate is resolved soon, and if we end up not defaulting on our debts, then the electorate will have forgotten these events 13 months from now.  Sad but true.

And make no mistake, this is exactly why this is happening right now.

I am not rooting for disaster.  But, if it comes, then this will be my happy thought as I rummage through the dumpsters trying to keep the boys fed.