Category Archives: Today’s Issues

Thoughts on issues in the world today

One Step Away From Disaster

The tragic events unfolding in Texas are another example of how close most Americans are to disaster. According to reports, Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable. Still, they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country’s power grid, left the state alone to deal with the crisis.  As always, the decisions that led to the failure of the Texas grid came down to money.  Money that the wealthy pocketed at the expense of their constituents and consumer’s well-being.  Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly in America, where a tiny percentage of wealthy control the vast majority of income and routinely make decisions to increase that wealth with no regard to the needs of the many or the well-being of the planet itself.

I’ve spent most of my adult life working with NYC’s neediest population, the last nine years exclusively with the homeless population. Every day I see hard-working men and women, many with multiple jobs who, after 16 hour days, have to go home to a shelter because the cost of living far outweighs the wages they are paid. All of this, while a tiny segment of society controls most of the wealth, ensures Congress continues to give them tax breaks, and live in luxury off their employees’ sweat. The COVID 19 pandemic is a perfect example. Big corporations got bailed out, Millionaires and Billionaires got wealthier, and most Americans were told here’s 600 dollars make that work. It is disgraceful, and America must address its income inequality issues and stop with the pull yourself up by the bootstraps; we’re not a socialist country mantra and recognize that no nation can prosper forever when the majority of its citizens are one paycheck away from disaster

Spineless Coward with No Principles

The forgone concussion of Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial only goes to prove what I have said since he first rode down that escalator, He tapped into the hearts and minds of the people who saw America changing becoming more diverse, more inclusive and they felt America was being taken from them. They felt so strongly about it being “our” America not “their” America that they rallied behind the man they felt would be their last line of defense in a way they never have anyone else. The rest of the GOP saw this and knowing that alienating his base would cost them politically and being the spineless cowards with no morals or principles they are they went along with it. Now they are so connected to it they know they can’t get out they know that for for all intensive purposes they are Trump and a vote against Trump is a vote against themselves.

Republican Senators are you prepared to have your hands drenched in blood?

Mitch McConnell should gather his GOP Senate colleagues in a room summon up his inner Star Trek, we all have it you know, and paraphrase Romulan Commander Donatra of the war bird Valdore by telling them:

Does anyone in this room harbor any illusions about what he meant by “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. you have to show strength? He showed no remorse for the death of a Capitol Police Officer, he watched with glee as they threatened to hang his Vice President, he tried to dismantle the very democracy that this country was built on. Are you prepared to have your hands drenched in blood? his sins will mark all of us who turn a blind eye to his evil and vote to aquit him for generations. Is that what you truly want, Republicans? I think we should consider that question now — or else you we may have a lifetime to think about it as The minority party.

The Desert of the Real. Morpheus breaks down American Democracy

Morpheus: This is our country Neo, everyone treated the same regardless of the color of their skin, gender, ethnic make-up, or religious belief. Individuals judged purely on the content of their character. Everyone has health care, and parents send their children to school unafraid they may become infected with the coronavirus or the victim of a mass shooting. Political leaders tell the truth and put the citizens’ well-being ahead of their agendas; corruption at the highest government levels is unheard of. There is no social or racial injustice. People walk down the street unafraid that they may be wrongfully targeted simply because of their skin color. Everyone is afforded the same opportunities regardless of their social, ethnic, or economic background. It seems too perfect, doesn’t it, Neo? You know something is not right, don’t you, Neo? You can feel it.

Neo: We’re living an illusion?

Morpheus: Yes!

Neo: But why?

Morpheus: Is it so hard really to believe? Our democracy was designed to be where the power comes from the people, not a ruler or group of powerful individuals who would do whatever they want. It was founded on the belief that these truths are self-evident; all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Yet all that has always been an illusion, hasn’t it.

Neo: Are you saying our democracy has never been real?

Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about the people being the source of power or that all men are created equal, then real is simply a bunch of words written on a piece of paper. That America only exists in a series of oft-cited but rarely enacted words. A constitution to be held up to the rest of the world symbolizes the moral high ground we supposedly occupy. That America doesn’t exist, you’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.

This is the country as it exists today. Corruption at government’s highest levels. Blatant disregard for the constitution. The well-being and health of Americans were sacrificed for political gain. Racism and bigotry are alive and well and used by leaders to divide and conquer. Economic and social injustice roadblocks impede the pursuit of happiness for many. The few control the narrative and dictate policy to maintain their power and enrich their bank accounts—millions of citizens living in poverty and millions more without health insurance. Children forced to go to bed hungry, funding for education always under siege…. Welcome to the Desert of the Real Neo. Having seen all of this, I have come to realize the obviousness of the truth. Control. Democracy today is control, an illusion propagated by those in power to control the masses.

Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.

Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.

In Keeping Silent About Evil

The lust for power, greed, and corruption has been an intrinsic characteristic of human behavior since seemingly the beginning of our existence. While most of us make a conscious decision not to embrace these traits, there have always been those among us who do. Therefore it is logical to say that no single group should be considered immune to the possibility that one or more of these individuals lurks within its ranks. As such, no individual or individuals should be regarded as above reproach simply because of the group to which they belong. As citizens, it is our moral responsibility to foster an atmosphere that strengthens society’s capacity at large to point out corruption where it exists and build transparent and accountable systems of governance to ensure that the vulnerable are not taken advantage of. This is especially true when corruption is committed by those who are in power. In society, one would imagine as enlighten as we imagine ourselves to be that this would be an easy task, but alas, it is not. For as dangerous as those who abuse their power are, equally so are the individuals who persuade the masses with the narrative that to point out the corruption of any individual or group of individuals in a particular group is an attack on that group as a whole. While flawed, this narrative is nevertheless a useful tool in seizing on the average citizen’s prejudice and fears. When confronted with evidence of such corruption, they tend to dismiss it because it is an attack on and suggests an implausible degree of corruption within a group they respect as a whole.
It is fair to question the motive of the individuals who promote this narrative. It is apparent when one examines their talking points more closely that they are not concerned with society’s good but rather merely with promoting their agenda. But for what reason? What do these individuals have to gain? Is it fame, power, money, or something none of us could even begin to fathom? Whatever it may be as citizens, we must not allow their noise to cower us into silence. We must remain vigilant and continue to point out with the loudest voice possible corruption at every turn and our demand for justice. For if we do not, we doom society as a whole for as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote:
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age. We are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

The chickens have come home to roost. America at a crossroads

A Capitol under siege
A Nation looks on in horror.
A world stares in disbelief.
The chickens had come home to roost.
America was founded on the principle that All men are created equal was a self-evident truth, while America has never fully realized that noble principle. It has made strides throughout its existence in an attempt to. For centuries racism, bigotry, sexism, religious prosecution have either flourished in the open or simmered beneath the surface. Over the last four years, the Trump administration has tapped into that hate to openly divide our country more so than it has been in the recent past. The mantra of Make America Great and Take our Country back code words to return to the good old days when the 25,000 Ku Klux Klan members marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in full regalia. When women couldn’t vote, had no control over their bodies, and stayed at home barefoot and pregnant. When the LGBT community knew its place was in the closet.
For years communities of color have said that there was racism in the system. This claim is hardly a surprise as any large group will inevitably have a few bad apples in its rank. But instead of addressing the problems, the cries went on deaf ears, shouted down by the blue lives matter crowd, and echoed by right-wing politicians and media as a condemnation of the police as a whole. Now today, a group of domestic terrorists with active and retired law enforcement among them are responsible for the senseless death of a police officer in the name of hate.
The ADL has been monitoring the activities of these groups both on and offline for years. They told Americans that we must take white extremists at their word. That their threats of violence were not just the internet chatter of crazies but a real danger, in 2017 after Charlottesville, a march in which white extremists threw Nazi salutes and waved swastika flags, as they chanted ‘Sieg heil!’ and “The Jews will not replace us.” and carried signs that proclaimed the ‘Jewish media is going down;’ ‘Jews are Satan’s children.’ President Trump’s response? He equated these racist white supremacists with counter-protesters who were there to stand up against hate by saying, “There were good people on both sides.” Subsequently, despite being given many opportunities to so, he repeatedly refused to denounce white Supremacist terrorism. When asked in 2019 when directly asked if there was a growing threat of white nationalism worldwide, Trump responded, “I don’t really.” And then, in his first debate with Joe Biden, he again refused to denounce it; instead, he responded directly to the Proud boys to “stand back and stand by.” Throughout it all, the silence from his defenders on Capitol Hill was deafening, taken as a wink and nod by white supremacists that they were with them. On Wednesday, January 6th, Trump and other right-wing politicians stood on a stage in front of a group of individuals, many of whom proudly displayed their racism and bigotry. They were looking for a fight; they needed someone to light the fuse, and Trump, along with other men and women who had sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, gladly obliged.
But for every action, there is a reaction, and this tacit approval of white Supremacists and their rhetoric has led to radicalizing a whole new generation—individuals who now feel emboldened to display their hate in broad daylight. Individuals who are willing to overlook corruption and believe any conspiracy theory spewed at them as long as those spewing it hate the same people they do, so much so that groups like QAnon, which not that long ago would be dismissed as far-right crazies, now have members who not only run for elected office but are elected. The result? Members of Congress openly state they don’t trust some of their colleagues and, as a measure of protection, have for themselves have instituted the mandatory policy of having to walk through metal detectors to gain access to the Capitol Building.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said:
It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface, but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions — especially selfish ones.
It is hard to believe that Trump’s Enablers and his hate-filled agenda did not see the truth. However, it is easy to believe that they choose to ignore it in their selfish greed for power. Whether they ascribed to that hate or not, their silence has made them no less responsible for the hatred that rages through the lifeblood of this country.
As a country, we once again stand at a crossroads. It will take courage and leadership to guide us through this dark period. It will take those we have entrusted with the governance of this noble experiment known as the United States of America to stand up to those who see only what they wish to see, be it right or wrong, as long as it continues their grip on in power.
As Dr. Martin Luther King said, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take neither safe position, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”
It is time the majority of our leaders do what is right before the chickens come home to roost again.

The GOP attempts to subvert American Democracy

We The People, three little words that the founding fathers deemed summed up what the grand experiment America was about to embark on. A country of self-government. Now we all know that from the time the founding fathers, slaveowners, and men who did not consider women equal or worthy of the full benefits of citizenships until today, that the concept of We The People has never truly lived up to its literal meaning in America. Nevertheless, it is the fundamental principle on which this country’s democracy is built on.
Today we have a blatant attempt by a percentage of the GOP to subvert that democracy, mainly because they have always believed We The People has always meant “we” not “them.” They are people who look, think, worship, and date different than them. They fear the change America is undergoing. After all, it does not benefit them because it is threatening to equal the playing field. The GOP has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight Presidential elections, saved twice by the antiqued election college. As demographics change, they are losing their grip on some of the traditionally red states. The House is indeed more insulated due to gerrymandering; in many cases, their districts represent monolithic groups of voters. However, statewide and nationally, they know they are dying a slow death. As a result, they look to sow division among the people and cast doubt on election results. To tear down the very pillars of the democracy that they drape themselves in. They are not looking to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. They are looking to ensure that the way of life they have become accustomed to continues, regardless of how it impacts “those” people. They could never pledge to an America united under the banner of humanity irrespective of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status. These GOP members attempting to undermine American democracy are no better than Benedict Arnold or the treasonous traitors who fired on Fort Sumpter. Traitors to a country that has provided them with the opportunity to hold such lofty seats of power through democratic elections. We must never forget their names as their actions should stain them forever.
WE THE PEOPLE

With great power comes great responsibility

May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please. But as the opportunity to do what is right.

Peter Marshall

With great power comes great responsibility

-Peter Parker

Let’s be clear I do not write this to say American society has always done the right thing, understands its great responsibility, or that it has seen all of its citizens enjoyed freedom equally. However, for all its warts, this is still America, the land of the free, and the last four years, especially 2020, has shone a spotlight on the selfish and irresponsible behavior of a segment of America’s leaders and a percentage of its citizenry. Leadership’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the anti-maskers who follow them is the most glaring example. From the very beginning, President Trump downplayed the pandemic; it was clear to most that his end game was to downplay the pandemic not to keep the country calm as he claimed but an attempt to keep the stock market from falling. The reason for this? To try and ensure his re-election bid. As the year progressed and tens of thousands of Americans succumbed to the virus, Trump doubled down, taking no responsibility for his office’s response, openly mocking the wearing of masks, and inciting potential violence against state leaders who attempted to slow the spread of the virus as their state’s hospital systems became overwhelmed. Many GOP Congresspeople, Senators, Governors, Mayors, etc., followed suit despite the pandemic spreading like wildfire through their respective states. The loss of life took a back seat to their selfish serving agendas of maintaining their hold on power. A portion of Americans blindly followed them ignored the pleading of the medical world to wear a mask. They wrapped themselves in the American flag, shouted USA, USA, and claimed that being an American gives them the right to do as they please; this, of course, is a false belief, but even worse, it was based on the fact that refusing to wear a mask only impacts themselves, refusing to understand the obvious, it impacts anyone they come in contact with. One could argue that the entire Covid pandemic proved a large portion of America is not ready mentally to handle the freedom it enjoys because they have put their agendas ahead of what is right.

The second most glaring example is America’s current leadership attempt to undermine democracy by casting doubts and attempting to overturn the will of the people in the 2020 Presidental election. It was Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg that said

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long.

And while we are not literally at war, we each other; let us make no mistake that the Trump administration and the GOP have spent the last four years attempting to divide Americans culminating with their actions following the election. While it simple to say America will always endure, history has shown every empire has an expiration day. As Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address, America has survived all these years based on the principle, regardless of how literally it has been applied as a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And because of this, it shall not perish from the earth. It should go without saying that when Americans elect their leaders, they should expect to look to protect Americans and the democracy by which they were voted into the very seats of power they hold. Seemingly that is no longer the case. Politicians now look to protect themselves, even if that means consciously dividing the nation by sowing discontent and neglecting the very principles that this country is allegedly built on. They have no concept that when they took their oath of office, they were bestowed with great power, and with that power come great responsibility. They embrace the power while simultaneously discarding discard the responsibility it comes with. But make no mistake; it is not American leaders alone who have neglected their responsibility. The very people who vote them into their positions of power have turned a blind eye to corruption and politicians attempting to divide them and, in the case of the Presidential election, usurp the very democracy that they claim to respect so much, as long as it fits their particular view on society regardless if that view is good for the country as a whole. These Americans have proven that the concept of the power that comes with democracy, something so many in the world do not enjoy, has escaped them.

So, where do we go from here? Will we ever be able to come together as Americans? Will we ever be able to look at both sides of the coin and understand that our side is not always right, and that is OK. Will we ever, as people, hold our politicians accountable again. Will our politicians ever have the backbone to put the country ahead of their agendas again? If the Civil War lessons show us anything, we can overcome our differences and come together, at least to some extent, as one. But before we start to heal, we need to relearn what freedom truly means, the power that it holds, and the responsibility that comes with it.