Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JMO - Seventh Avenue L

The poet ee cummings wrote a poem about war and about the US steel companies selling raw metal, especially steel, to Japan in the 1930's, where it's said that our soldiers in World War II were being killed by pieces of the Seventh Avenue L (elevated train). We sold our enemies the materials which comes back to kill and injure us. The businesses, in the name of profit, sold out the soldiers.

And ever since then, the US is the world's largest weapons and arms exporter, not just to out allies, but to any nation we can overthrow and install our own appointed or approved government leaders, or any nation willing to be a friend to the US in our global geopolitics. We'll provide the money and more importantly we'll provids the weapons and arms, the military trainers and the intelligence.

We're the place to get anything for war. We have routinely supported dictators in the oppression and often torture of their people and fighting any group who threatens our favored government. This includes the Shah of Iran, Saddham Hussein, General Pinchot, etal, and even the Taliban. Yes, we funded and supplied arms to the Taliban in their war with the then Soviet occupation.

The Government Accountability Office has long reported that millions of dollars are missing or unaccounted for in paying Iraqis. They've reported well over 100,000 rifles and small arms and millions of rounds of ammuntion are unaccounted for in supplying the Iraqi Army with weapons. We supplied the Sunnis in Operation Awakening, the very people we fought just months before.

And now it's reported thousands of arms and much more rounds are now in the hands of the Taliban, by way of our support of the Afghan Army and the Tribal leaders. And who knows how many US weapons and ammunition are being sold by black market resellers. Our own weapons just moved through nations to marketers to the Iraqis, and now the Afghans and Taliban.

We're being fought with our own products. Our own cars, and other metals recycled and our own companies producing weapons, arms and ammunition. Kinda' makes "Made in the USA" take on a different meaning? And I wonder if we'll ever learn or is the profit and geopolitics more important than American lives, especially our soldiers?

Monday, May 18, 2009

JMO - Judge Bybee

If you don't know Mr. Bybee, now a Federal judge, was the head of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, the "legal ethics" arm of the DOJ, responsible to ensure the actions of the DOJ are appropriate, legal and ethical. Mr. Bybee, as head of OLC, was the one who signed the torture memorandums for President Bush assuring extreme torture is legal, even when the treaties the US is a signatory, like the Geneva Convention, prohibits it.

Mr Bybee has since been proven wrong, and he was wrong is approving those memos. And now there are voices calling for his impeachment. And editorials arguing against it. What all these people who are against it, who are mostly lawyers or legal scholars, forget is their own perspective and the perspective of the American people. Justice is one thing to them and another to us.

So Mr. Brandenburg has written a column about it. And while he makes valid points, he still misses the obvious. Mr. Bybee used his position for advance Bush and Cheney's torture techniques and Mr. Bybee used his position to get a federal judgeship for life. He's protected, and even when he has recanted his view about the memos, he virtually untouchable.

And both of these are wrong. He's wrong and should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and he should be impeached for misuse of his DOJ office to approve the memos and secure a permanent job. It doesn't matter how good a judge he's been, it's doesn't excuse his previous actions as head of the OLC. It doesn't excuse his actions against the values of this country and nation and against the Constitution and treaties.

Mr. Bybee has done exactly what Mr. Brandenburg says he hasn't, "has committed a "crime" or "misdemeanor" serious enough to constitute a breach of the public trust." That's the simple reality, and he should be held accountable before the American people.

JMO - Obama and Abortion

He tried. He went into the heart of the anti-abortion world, Notre Dame University, and gave a good speech. He is learning that while there is common ground, working to reducing the need for abortions,reducing unwanted pregnancies, better sex education and healthcare for younger women, finding adoptions for all available babies and children, and so on, he learned the extreme views don't have any commonality except obstinance for their position.

I won't go into any depth about my view, it's very simple, abortion is one of the whole array of choices a woman should have, including her right not to choose abortion (remember 99+% women do), but more about all the sex and pregnancy prevention education and healthcare services should be available to any girl and woman. It's a basic right of a woman to make a choice without interference from anyone and only in consultation with her medical professionals.

Obama's speech, however, touched on the one point we all can agree, to keep the dialog open and not be so obstinate against the other side. And that is the point because pro-choice folks can agree to let pro-life people have and express their view. It's only when the pro-life people decide their view is universal that the pro-choice people get upset and become obstinate themselves.

Because that's the simple point. It's the right of a woman to make the best choice for herself, without anyone demanding or interferring. She should have the right to the whole array of choices available with best medical care, and free if necessary. Everyone knows abortion isn't abused. It's very hard physically, mentally and spiritually for the woman, so let's not discount her effort to make their choice.

And that's what Obama seems, to me anyway, implying. Let's agree on the foundation for providing help for every woman, and not limit the choices because of anyone values or beliefs about the meaning of life. The meaning of life is relative, relative to each of our own values and beliefs. Let's honor that by allowing everyone to have their values and beliefs about life. And if you don't agree, it's nothing against you or your values and beliefs, it's just theirs.

That's what we need, as Obama implies, to let everyone respect the right to choose for themselves, not restricted, prohibited or restrainted by someone else's choices or eliminating choices based on their values and beliefs. It's about the basic freedom of choice we value with this country and nation and the rights of the people to have and make their choices.

I think we can all argree on that, the right of the individual to choose.

JMO - Reading Newspapers

I've written that I read 3-5 newspapers 4-5 days a week and the on-line newspapers almost every day. The two are vastly different and require vastly different reading styles, but after reading almost as many on-line newspapers as print ones, I still like print ones, and I wish there was a way to make the on-line ones read like the print ones.

I say this for a variety of reasons.

First, print newspapers focus your attention, on each page from the front page to the editorials and all the other sections. You get a selected set of stories, ads, letters, columns, etc. presented to you so you can scan just that one page. On-line newspapers are totally cluttered with all the one line story titles and links, all the ads, video and audio files, etc. Your eyes and mind are flooded with the whole thing at once.

Second, print newspapers provide ease and simplicity. A lot like the first reason, except this one is just the one page at a time reading. You can also just skip pages to particular sections or stories continued from previous pages. With the on-line ones you have to first see the organization and structure of the Web pages, find the sections you want and click to them to find the same design again, flooding your eyes and mind.

On-line newspapers are about presenting the whole choices of news and you pick what you want. But each one is different and each one often uses different names for the sections. You have to familarize yourself with each newspaper's Website for the sections you want. I always look for "Today's Paper" link. Unfortunately USA Today doesn't have one.

Third, print editions have the headline and story on the same page. You can read the first few paragraphs for a taste of the article if you want. On-line requires clicking to the story, in parts (separate Web pages) or whole (short). And then you have to click back or somewhere else to continue. With print you simply turn the page.

Ok, enough ranting about the differences. I still like print editions and am angry the Washington Post isn't available locally, only by the next day subscription. But I'm learning to read on-line newspapers, albeit slowly and begrudingly, which I usually end up printing the story to read. But it's not the same.

I'm a crudmudgeon about newspapers, but not a stuck one, just a slow one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

NPR - Saying No

I have a hard time saying no to folks when they want to invite me somewhere, do something or just hang out. I like being, meaning working and living, alone. I'm comfortable being alone. It's genetic to me. It's been there since childhood when I loved just playing alone. While my parents tried to get me into groups, like cub and boy scouts, music lessons, and so on, they eventually gave up by age 12 or so and left me to myself and my own devices.

So over the years I had to find ways to say no without being rude or mean or without being perceived as anti-social. To do this I finally came up with a normal response, which when asked I say, "I'll think about it."

That's it. And I've learned when people hear it after asking me twice they begin to get the point, and after the third time have learned not to ask again. In short it worked without being obvious. I came up with this idea from a friend who has a Japanese wife. I learned that in Japan clerks at stores can't say no, it's the custom and practice.

I learned when you go to the store and ask if they have something, and even though both of you know the product isn't there, they will continue to try to find it. You have to say, "That's ok, I'll come back some another day.", meaning you have to give them the opportunity to save face. It's simply respect for them and the situation.

It's simply being human and being respectful. What's wrong with that? It's not about who's right and who's wrong. There is no right or wrong, simply the choices we make, and we can choose to be human. And that's what I choose.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Note About the Rules

I updated the rules, see the side bar for the rules for this blog. I added a few more and a comment about commenters. If I don't know you or have a way to check who you are, don't be surprised if or when your comments are deleted, and forever (you have a choice with delete option). It's what I get to do as owner and administrator. And while your comments may seem innocuous or not, I don't care. If you can't be visible when posting, then don't expect respect for your post.

That's not hard to understand. I don't tolerate or accept anonymous commenters. It's my choice. Unless it's an obvious spam or advertisement, both of which are immediately deleted, I keep them for a few days. I'm not quick to trash some comments even if I disagree with them. Sometimes I like them because they challenge me. But there are some issues I don't and won't tolerate. We all have these issues, the passion drives our view and expression.

Why the reminder about the rules. Well, I wrote the essay about guns from my personal perspective. It's what I'm entitled to believe and say. I've had enough experience with guns to know they're useful for some activities and they're a part of our world and life. But I don't like the right to own them crammed down our collective throat. It's not our Constitutional right because it's our right to be free, safe and secure, and guns threaten those rights that I'm against guns.

Guns aren't necessary in the everyday life of almost every American. I'm not denying the truth or reality, but I will argue if we didn't have so many guns, our lives would be freer, safer and more secure. And a lot less violent. To say guns are ok because those who don't misuse guns denies the reality of the many who do misuse it. That's the view the NRA takes, forgetting the sheer number of crimes committed with guns over the rights of legal gun owners.

Somewhere we need to look at what guns are doing to our country, our nation and the people, and make a decision about our future. Do we really want to live in fear and suggest we all have guns because the other person has one and just might decide to use it? Wouldn't it be safer if we knew others didn't have guns? Maybe it's time to draw the line when and where guns are legal and acceptable in everyday life and who really needs to own them.

Anyway, that's the new rule. And guns? Well, I have my view. If you want to express yours, use your own soapbox.

JMO - Guns

With all the recent news of violence, it's time this country addressed the issue and problem of guns, and find a solution that reduces the violence, provides the safety and security of people, and reduces the risks to our law enforcement officer who protect and serve the American people. We need to come to grips with the sheer number and ease of getting firearms, from handguns to assault rifles. Too many news stories describe gangs or criminals with more firepower than the police and describe the ease where young or wrong people can get firearms.

We need not just a discussion, but new laws. And while those that advocate the Constitution and the right to bear arms, I don't read it that way and I don't think the framers of the Constitution intended it to be this way. They, in my view, would be appalled at the level of violence with guns and the lack of progress for this nation to address the issue and problem. I don't see they saw owning a gun as a basic right, but a privilege along with the responsibility ownership entails.

And before all you fanatics say I'm advocating gun control, I'm not. Don't put words in my mouth or own my pages, and don't assume the extreme in my views. That's why we can't get some agreement to stem the problem. We don't need extremism and obstinance to a fixed view. We need open dialog and understanding. And we need to face and adress the facts.

First, the US is the world's largest producer of firearms. We're also the world number one arms marketer to foreign countries. There are over 100,000 US made guns given to the Iraqi military which are unaccounted for in the audits. And millions of rounds of ammuntion along with millions of dollars to buy more guns and ammuntion.

Second, we're the world's number one country in gun ownership. There are more guns than people, estimates range from one and half to two guns per person. That's frightening, since most people don't own guns, meaning those that do likely own at least three guns.

Those are enough reasons to consider some laws focused on this problem and clearly indicating it's time to consider guns the same way we consider other public safety issues, like cars. Guns need to be better regulated and monitored. Notice I'm not saying controlled, but I do think gun shows should be strictly regulated and monitor by law enforcement since they've more the proven they're the source of many of the easy access to guns by criminals and people who want to use them for hate or anger.

We need to look at better gun dealer regulation and oversight by the federal agencies currently in charge of this effort. It's not adding any laws, merely enforcing what's there. The agencies need more people and system to monitor dealers, such as the one who in Texas who is selling caches of firearms to Mexican gangs. We're supplying the arms in the Mexican drug wars.

We need to look at gun registration for owners of more than a few guns. It would help the police when and where the situation occurs of people with large collections or caches of guns. This need arose when a fugative broke into the home of a gun collector in Seattle and held police at bay for hours. They couldn't rush the house to save the hostage because they didn't know the extent of the man's collection, which turned out to be more than the on-scene police.

We need to look at gun purchases. The law exists for background checks, and we know good and law-adiding citizens don't have an issue or problem with that. It's the reality the checks aren't being done and dealers violators prosecuted and losing their gun dealer license. The snipers who terrorized the Washington D.C. area bought their gun without a check by the dealer who couldn't document many other gun sales.

Congress needs to step up to the plate and pass meaningful laws about guns, and not cave to the extremist lobbyist and especially the NRA. It's time Congress spoke for the American people. It's the simply truth and reality, guns are the problem as are the people continuing to protect the problem than help Americans.