Monday, September 26, 2016

(In)Human Nature

It is easy to become disillusioned with human beings in light of daily injustices, atrocities, and mass killings.

Disillusionment is behind every "riot" that erupts when another black man is shot by a police officer.

Disillusionment keeps women who have been raped from stepping forward to confront their attacker(s).

Disillusionment prevents victims of human trafficking from escaping their captures.

Disillusionment stops otherwise concerned citizens from voting.

Disillusionment fuels frustration that comes after dealing with companies/corporations that pursue profits over customer satisfaction.

Disillusionment results when whistle blowers end up disgraced, financially-ruined, or vilified after exposing corruption or injustice.

I could go on.

What saves us from absolute disillusionment, however, are (extra)ordinary acts of compassion by:

  • A retiree who feeds the homeless from his pension.
  • A corporate employee whose advice saves you hundreds of dollars.
  • A citizen who risks his/her life to save another.
  • A  journalist who risks his career to highlight corruption or injustice.
  • An organization that strives to free those wrongfully imprisoned.
There is hope for the human race; just look beyond the horror stories heralded in the media to those small acts of mercy, courage, and generosity that often follow in their wake.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trump Stumps: Tough Talk, Few Tactics

I try to avoid news programs (on practically all the  major news outlets) that feature coverage of Donald Trump. Now I get that he is the GOP contender for the presidential prize and cannot be ignored.

Still, when I hear him address adoring crowds, I scratch my head. How is it possible that a clearly politically clueless candidate has managed to leap-frog over more viable Republican candidates to compete against Hillary Clinton?

Donald Trump has not offered the American people any substantive policies or platforms to support his claim that he will "make America great again."

His public performances--and that they are--seem more like stand-up comedy routines that pump up his image of himself as a no-nonsense, tough-talking leader who will show the rest of the world, including our allies, who's Boss. Really.

Politics is complicated. The Constitution calls for the separation of powers and checks and balances, which assures that neither the President nor Congress operates free of constitutional constraints.

So those jobs Trump promises, the defeat of  ISIS, the repeal of "Obamacare," and the restoration of military cuts will require more than his say-so.

Just ask President Obama.

I believe, in fact, that Trump represents the deepest yearnings of a segment of our population that views our nation as a global behemoth envied by of the rest of the world and big enough to take on all enemies.

Even if you believe this, the battlefield has changed. The threats to our nation occur on many fronts--from cyber attacks to domestic terrorism by lone wolves. Big talk accomplishes nothing.

Complex world and national issues require cooperation across party lines and national borders as well as a commitment to fairness and justice for all.

We cannot solve global problems with nationalistic rhetoric.

Be wary of a candidate who has simplistic answers to modern-day problems, namely, Donald Trump

Friday, July 8, 2016

We are angry and fearful

My thoughts about the shooting deaths of two black men--Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castille in Minnesota--during separate police actions this week no doubt echo those of millions of outraged African Americans.

Graphic cell phone images of bullets devastating their bodies brought the horror home in a way that verbal accounts could not.

We are angry and fearful.

We envision our sons, fathers, grandsons, nephews, brothers, uncles or cousins writhing in pain or dying on some dirty, urban street; their lives instantly exposed to the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny.

Despite national protests, outcries for justice, or family pleas for action, most African Americans have little faith or expectation that the officers involved will suffer any significant legal consequences.

While white Americans are horrified by random mass shootings, they seem complacent about the serial deaths of young black men at the hands of police.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton was the lone public official--black or white--who spoke frankly about the incident at a press conference yesterday:

"Would this have happened if ... the driver and passenger were white?...I don't think it would've. So I'm forced to confront and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists."
Will these shootings promote serious examination (or re-thinking) of police response tactics? Will white Americans ever own up to the racism that infects every aspect of life for African Americans?

Frankly speaking, organized social and political action to address long-standing issues (i.e. mass incarceration, high unemployment among black youth, disparate health outcomes) will save more black lives than impromptu street protests.

We know another shooting involving police officers and black men (and women) is likely.

In the meantime, let us prod elected officials into action and raise awareness among white Americans that this is not a black issue; it is an American issue.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Things I Wonder About....

I don't know about you, but there are many things that occur on a daily basis that I wonder about...

  1. Why does an accident stay on a driver's record forever and affect how much interest he or she pays? I drive in Las Vegas where drivers are so reckless that I see an average of one bad accident a day. No matter how carefully you drive, some nut will make a left turn from a no-turn lane or come across three lanes to make a turn and almost hit your car. 
  2. Why do phone calls to utilities for clarification on your bill leave you scratching your head as they explain how your bill got so high?
  3. Why do companies waste our time with automated questions that have nothing to do with what you want an answer to. After suffering through "Please press #1 (2, 3, 4,5) or 9 to return to the main menu," you finally get the option to speak with live person. (Who often sounds robotic.)
  4. Why do good workers rarely get praises or raises; while, less productive workers hang on for years.
  5. How did we come to the place in American politics that a buffoon like Donald Trump actually has a shot at getting into the Oval Office?
  6. Why do banks get rich charging $39.00 when you access your overdraft line? Wealthy patrons (who can afford the fees) never have to pay them, only someone who has the misfortune of having less money than needed to cover expenses and bills.
  7. Why do we pay hundreds of dollars for satellite or cable services that feature decades old movies (Hint: "The Shawshank Redemption"); or pay $4 or $5 for current films; or feature those annoying infomercials that most of us never watch?
  8. Why do we have to register a car every year? Why not every 5 years? This is just one of many fees designed solely to increase government revenue.
  9. How did the credit reporting companies--Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax--get so much power over our lives? If you try to get a home, car, or credit card, your credit score can make or break you. Once again, only those who utilize credit cards because of limited funds and get in over their heads, pay higher interest and/or late fees if they miss a payment.
  10. Why do we give celebrities and public figures gifts or flowers but resent when a homeless person asks a dollar?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Someone Please Give Me Specifics About Your Political Platform!

Political campaigning in America is woefully inadequate.

Neither Republican nor Democratic candidates provide more than grand promises or harsh accusations.

This clash of tongues, not ideas, leaves me wondering what any of them would DO relative to the economy, ISIS, North Korea, gun control, immigration, or national security.

Admittedly, these are complex, even longstanding, issues that defy easy or quick solutions. Still, we elect representatives who we hope will grapple thoughtfully and thoroughly with them, not make glib statements to garner votes.

On the Republican side, criticizing Obama and overturning legislation passed under his watch are major themes. Nonetheless, I have not heard what, if anything, Republican candidates would put forth to replace "Obamacare."

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, millions of Americans could no longer get health insurance if they have a pre-existing condition or could lose access to medical care.

Democrat Bernie Sanders says that his first initiative after becoming President would be to make Big Corporations pay their fair share of taxes. This might not be so easy in a Republican-dominated 114th Congress, Bernie.

Donald Trump's lead in the polls remains a mystery to me. (He is, however, gaining credibility with print and broadcast journalists who seem surprised that his is maintaining a strong lead over other Republican candidates.)

Some political observers suggest that Trump speaks to the fears and grievances of millions of Americans who work hard but seemingly cannot hold onto their middle class dreams.

So, what are his solutions? Beats me. I have not heard him outline any concrete policies or legislation that he would put forth.

As for Hillary Clinton, she is conducting such a low-key campaign that I find it difficult to determine what she will do to address the serious issues facing our nation.

I am no political pundit, but I am a voter.

So far, I am not excited by much of what  I hear from candidates in this election year.

How about you?