#RadicalIslamistitis

isis-logo“If God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

There are people in this world that want to kill you.

You can be nice and sweet and lovely and liberal… and you will still be put to death.

Profess your love, your compassion, your forgiveness… and you will burn alongside the most hateful reprobates nevertheless.

It does not matter that Americans have thrived in a society based in freedom where all citizens have the ability to pursue multiple religious teachings in order to find spiritual guidance.  This group tolerates no dissent.

The group itself exists as ISIS, ISIL, IS or simply radical Islam.  The followers are known as Islamists and, quite aptly, fanatics who engage in various subversive and terrorist activities to achieve religious global dominance.  These actions can be openly barbaric, such as beheadings and immolation, or disobedient on a civil level such as blocking major streets in prayer and establishing so-called “no-go zones” in non-Muslim countries.  And in Dearborn, Michigan.

Google these words and explore their definitions in the context of Islam, radical or otherwise:

Jihad, infidel, caliphate, halal and sharia.  Learn about the process known as Islamization.  Here, every aspect of society is directed and governed based on an interpretation of the Quran, handed down by those in power.  See what Islam, not radical Islam but the theocracy that exists, looks like in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan for women, Christians and homosexuals.  Learn of the distinctions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and how internal conflicts between Islamic groups affect the tensions felt the world over.  See how Muslims in all different nations feel about implementing Islam as the governing theocracy in our previously democratic societies.

Whether an accurate interpretation or a wild fantastical delusion, radical Islam is a very real religious system and people are going to die because of it.  We live in a nation where I can decide what I believe and what I call myself as far as my religion.  It strikes me as only fair to extend the same courtesy to anyone claiming to be a Muslim.  My religion, and common courtesy, teach me to leave the judgment of others, especially as it pertains to faith, to God alone.  But if it quacks, call it a duck.

Now, there is absolutely no doubt that most practicing Muslims are not involved in any form of threatening activity whatsoever.  As one teen notes, he cannot be held to account for ISIS anymore than I can and this demonstrates the very real distinction between radical and peaceful Muslims.  And Islamists are not currently taking over the world, Europe or our nation.  Not even close. But they are expanding because no one has stopped them.

The problem with the current politically correct American approach is that the considerations that our society has taken to respect the beliefs of others is now being used as a weapon against us.  The radicals can blend with the moderates and claim religious persecution right up until they blow up a Starbucks on the Sunset strip.  But, at least we can rest assured that all those half-caff soy latte lovers didn’t die in the name of the true interpretation of Islam.

That is still alive and well…

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Presidential Candidates 2016

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The best way to find out the truth is to settle for nothing less.

Here are seven of the presidential candidates who, in my assessment, are significant in terms of the impact that they could have on the election of 2016.  The names have been arranged alphabetically, no hierarchy intended.

Click on the names to connect directly to the campaign websites for each individual.  You can find info, statements on particular issues, and all the political propaganda you can handle!

Take the time to learn more about these people, regardless of their party affiliation.  For better or worse, these men and women represent the chosen few, some of whom will lead us into the next phase of U.S. history.

Ben Carson – Renowned neurosurgeon, non-politician and, relevantly, African-American.

Bernie Sanders – Senator from the state of Vermont, self-declared socialist

Carly Fiorina – Businesswoman, CEO and also non-politician

Donald Trump – Need I say more?  Probably… sure to follow.

Hillary Clinton – Ditto Trump

Jeb Bush – Former Governor of the state of Florida, brother and son of former presidents

Marco Rubio – Young Cuban senator from the state of Florida.

Rand Paul – Libertarian senator from Kentucky, son of previous presidential contender Ron Paul

Ted Cruz – Conservative to the hilt, the first Hispanic American to serve as a U.S. senator representing Texas.

Straight Outta GQ

ben-carson-donkey-hotey11-450x321Two sides are engaged in a fierce ideological struggle to win over the hearts and minds of the citizens of the United States in order that the principles composing those ideologies might be put into effective action by a legitimate governing body.

How can this task be accomplished?  How to persuade, compel or simply overpower the opposition in order to win elected office and govern accordingly?

Here are two recent examples highlighting the opposing perspectives and differing approaches between the so called left and right on just one particular issue.  These are the modern methods of these two sides:

Ben Carson speaking publicly on responding to a mass shooter:  “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’

The article: Fuck Ben Carson

And his response: We should pray for them.

If I am being honest, I have made extensive use of the ‘F’ word on many an occasion and do not shirk from its usage as a variable part of speech.  However, call me old fashioned, but I still value honor between professional opponents, at least as it extends to the public realm.  Look no further to find evidence of the deterioration of not only the integrity of the media as a societal institution, but the complacency of detractors to look no further for the truth.  For if GQ says it, it must be true.

The article went on to sing further the praises of the Republican contender, “You know, the only thing more alarming than Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field is the fact that Ben Carson is the guy right behind him. While establishment puds like Jeb! Bush and Marco Rubio can’t decide if they want to beat Trump or emulate him, the Good Doctor made it clear this week that he is not only willing to replicate Trump’s signature brand of hot-garbage-spewing, but he’ll say even DUMBER shit.”

This tripe bears witness to the incessant acrimony that plagues the leftist, progressive mentality. It never finds alleviation, and no peace of mind can assuage the perpetual hatred that these folks possess in their hearts.  There is no wise commentary, no enlightening aphorism meant to elevate the conversation and actually make progress.  There is simply name-calling, ad hominem attacks and an entirely dismissive attitude of a legitimate point-of-view.

Furthermore, the tendency of the lefty mentality is to impose this disposition onto society-at-large, seeking to further restrict onto those who agree with Dr. Carson.  Despite the attempts that have been imposed however, in the form of outright gun bans in urban areas and the adoption of gun-free zones, gun violence still mysteriously occurs where gun violence is not allowed.

Some folks don’t like guns, don’t want guns and would rather die before picking up a gun to hurt another living thing, even in self defense.  That is a perfectly acceptable position and I can support such conscientious objectors.  However, just as they have a right not to fight back, to peaceably submit in a movie theater or college classroom, the rest of us have a right not to be made dead by a tragic, sickened individual.

This really is the primal, prehistoric, primitive defense mechanism that living beings have always possessed as a means of survival:

1. Recognize threat

2. Respond to threat using fight or flight

3. If selecting flight, stretch legs

4. If selecting fight, get weapon

5. Use legs or weapon depending on previous decision, see step 2 – fight or flight

As humanity has progressed, the weaponry has progressed too.  Instead of clubs and board-with-nail, we have Sig Sauer and Glock to protect and defend. (not to mention entertain future fossil hunters)  Admittedly, there is a case to be made against personalized nuclear devices and a reasonable debate can be had as to where that line is but the current 12 v. 17 mag capacity BS is missing the shark because, once again, for the cheap seats, criminals do not obey the law.

I have my personal grudges with the positions taken on some issues by Ben Carson but on this one we agree.  And when the opposition has resorted to vulgarity and playground strategery, I think that’s game.

Mic drop.

Boom!

Life Matters

bw_cookieI was not born a poor black child.  I have always been a white male, who uses gender specific language to describe himself.  My parents, my family and most of my friends have always been white.  By most, I mean not all, and I have met, known and become friends with members of other races.  For the most part, race has simply not been an issue.

On the other hand, I do know what it’s like to be judged by my race, verbally demeaned for being white and to then, in turn, stereotype a group due to skin color.  But, my individualistic sensibilities have always taken over and I know that people are just that, individuals.  That’s the thing about radical capitalism, much to the chagrin of its detractors, in life, as in the wild, a being is only as good as the soul inside.

I also know what it’s like to be confronted by hostile law enforcement officers riding the high of a power trip.  I know what it’s like to have a gun pointed at me, with the knowledge that the man holding it has been trained to use it.  I know what it’s like to be guilty of a crime and to be caught in the act.  I know the fear-based desire to excuse my actions and turn an issue into the fault of those in power, blaming authority for my own destructive behavior.  I have since learned to accept responsibility, to balance my perception of justice and to live my life based upon the merits I deserve, as a white, heterosexual American male.

But my life does not matter.

Because to the progressive ideologues, blinded by willful frustration, I am the problem.

There is a movement rampaging through the country that seeks to divide our nation in the name of justice, peace and race.  Any good that was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement has become shrouded in sadness and vile aggression.  This vulgar display of power can be seen (here) at an event where none other than the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders was invited to speak.  He was pushed out of the way to allow a woman to take the stage and declare, among all else, that the Democratic supporters in the audience are white racists… simply because they are white.

This group invokes the in vogue “I Am…” to be completed with the name of whatever purported victim has been claimed by the racist white culture.  This personal identification seeks to take charge of a tragedy and let it be known that justice will not rest.  As this writer, a gender and Africana studies professor claims, when writing about the recent death of Sandra Bland, “in Sandra I see myself.”  This writer goes on to add that just as she “is” the victim in this truly horrific case, we white people cannot be anything but the cause of Ms. Bland’s tragic death:

“White people resist seeing themselves in the face of the oppressor. That mirror reflection is almost too much to bear. I get it. So then they resent the person that holds up the mirror. But let me just say as directly as I can: White people must begin to see themselves in the faces of the mostly white police officers who keep committing these atrocities against Black and Brown people. This will not stop until you recognize that you are them. These officers are your brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins, and sons and daughters and nieces and nephews, and friends, and church members. You are them. And they are you.”

-Side Bar: notice the use of “mostly white police officers?”

The progressive political machine saw a valuable ally in this movement.  They saw a group that was willing to take aggressive action and claim the status of perpetual victim, as promoted by the “I Am…” monicker.  And they will now reap what they sow.  The Republicans are already damned as far as this group goes, therefore, hostilities must exude towards the most liberal politician, in one of the most liberal cities in America.  And they get away with it there.  But the greater audience, the one who recognizes this charade of victimhood, will not be defined by a woman with a microphone and a penchant for unwarranted public outburst.

I am more than my race, and so are you.

I am not a racist white police officer and no metaphorical mirror will get me to see that I am.  I do not hate because of skin color and I don’t engage in willful discrimination against any group because of its race.  I do find generalities easy to communicate and I do fall back on stereotypes.  But I recognize these mental constructs for what they are and deal with individuals based upon their own merits, their own actions and their own hearts.

Unlike the “leaders” of Black Lives Matter movement, I will not be made a victim of my race.  I will not allow these saints of victimhood to create my own self-identification and then tell me that I had better work on eliminating my inner racist because “black lives matter.”  They do matter.  And as much as it may hurt to hear, so do white lives.  And Asian lives, Latinos, Eskimos, feline and canine, to say nothing about the lives of the unborn (too far?).

It’s a tragic day in the United States when a politician, a Democrat no less, cannot say openly that “all lives matter” without apologizing for it after the fact.  By singling out black lives, the movement seeks to segregate as means to annihilate any peaceful existence we might enjoy.  They will invoke the name of Martin Luther King Jr. as a permission slip to disparage other groups and cause all matter of civil unrest.

The left has seen but a glimpse of the antagonism of this mentality.  Much like the criminals in Gotham, they came to a “point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a [group] they didn’t fully understand.”  The Black Lives Matter movement will not be controlled because it has justice, God and Martin Luther King Jr. on its side.  And when white society does not immediately capitulate, these activists will riot, they will torch and they will blame me for their actions.

Unlike the civil rights movement, where MLK spoke of inclusiveness and the importance of white people and black people working together to secure the goals of equality and peace, this group has no tangible goal.  Society is lost in its eyes.  What remains, is pure rage.  There is no end, there can be no peace, there is no legislation that will suffice to right any perceived wrong.  What they want, is a reckoning.

“They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some… just want to watch the world burn.”

A $70,000 Reality Check

20130504_FBD002_0“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” ― Ayn Rand

Politics is about winning elections while economics is about reality.  Fantastical idealism vs. the real world.

A difference between politicians and economists is in the questions they ask an interested audience.  The politician will ask, “what is it that you want?” and seek to gain favorability by promising those desires.  An economist will ask, “what do you want more?”  Underlying this question is the basic comprehension of the concept of a trade-off that is all but irrelevant, and potentially perilous, in populist, partisan politics.

All elements of business, welfare, investment and taxation are interconnected by the over-arching economy of a nation.  As the world has grown closer, through technological achievement and innovation, the economies of other nations also play a role and affect our own.  Economics is not necessarily good or bad in the moralistic sense but seeks to study and predict the cause and effect of particular actions based upon given rules and understood truths of human nature.  However, the values underlying business practices will determine the destiny of a business.  And such economics are not prone to sympathy, they do not care about the subjective sense of what is right.  Economics deals with what is.  It is the business of reality.

Enter Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, who decided a few months back that his “values-based” company would raise its minimum pay for employees to an annual $70,000.  This action was taken in the midst of other calls for an increase in the minimum wage so, predictably, Price was hailed as a hero of the working class.  This was a decision based on need, not fiscal responsibility or practical, financial, business motivations.

As Price told Time magazine back in April, “To me, once you know the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing for everybody involved and it’s going to be beneficial to everyone, it becomes a moral imperative to actually do it.”  This is undoubtedly a noble thought, on its face, but economic reality is not so forgiving.

To risk being the bearer of bad news: there is no such thing as “the right thing for everybody.”  There are only trade-offs and opportunity costs.  To spend anything, be it time or money, in one place, means that that same item cannot be used for anything else.  And with that, the economic reality of Price’s decision has now started to take effect.

Entry-level employees have seen their compensation double in some cases while those employees who worked their way up to beyond the baseline $70,000 have seen no benefit of this “moral imperative.”  Consequently, consternation and corporate conflict have now ensued.

Here is a story from the New York Times of one employee:

“Maisey McMaster was also one of the believers [of the compensation plan]. Now 26, she joined the company five years ago and worked her way up to financial manager, putting in long hours that left little time for her husband and extended family. “There’s a special culture,” where people “work hard and play hard,” she said. “I love everyone there.”

“She helped calculate whether the firm could afford to gradually raise everyone’s salary to $70,000 over a three-year period, and was initially swept up in the excitement. But the more she thought about it, the more the details gnawed at her.

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,” she said. To her, a fairer proposal would have been to give smaller increases with the opportunity to earn a future raise with more experience.

“A couple of days after the announcement, she decided to talk to Mr. Price.

“He treated me as if I was being selfish and only thinking about myself,” she said. “That really hurt me. I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position.”

Predictably, Ms. McMaster is no longer an employee of Gravity Payments.

Need, charity, the greater good all sound great to the general populace because everyone assumes that they will personally benefit from such action.  The problem with this type of business plan is that plenary payments to employees in the form or equal compensation seek to equate the inequitable characteristics of humankind.  Namely, the inherent abilities of every individual.

People are not simply clones with identical skill sets driven by ambition and dedication.  Some work very hard but not very well, others seem to skate by while exuding very little effort.  A few work hard, and well, all their lives.  The fundamental purpose of compensation is to monetarily represent all of those intangible facets of human beings.  And the only way to successfully run a business is to compensate based upon a return on the investment made in an employee.

A business owner cannot pay an employee more than that employee generates for the business in financial returns without losing money and, subsequently, going out of business.  To compensate in order to correct perceived social inequalities will only result in further inequality and financial ruin.

That, for better or worse, is economic reality.

The Insecurity of Social Security Part II

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In Part I of the Insecurity of Social Security, found here, the recent revelation of the upcoming, and entirely foreseeable, insolvency of the Social Security disability fund was discussed to some extent.  With a sense of compassion for the reader, this subject was divided into two parts to prevent snoring and glazing of the eyes.  So now, with eyes and minds refreshed, we delve into Part II.

The fiscal dilemma in which the trustees of the disability fund find themselves is essentially, very basic economics.  Not enough money, no supply, to meet the needs of the people, high demand.  You can find direct info on this fund at the website here.  As noted, “the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.”

So that’s the stated, basic purpose.  To financially assist those citizens with disabilities.  As previously stated, I believe this to be a worthwhile goal for any advanced society and from what I have found, so do others.  It is an issue that in its most basic form, truly crosses party lines.  There will be those who need financial help and there are those who can, and more importantly, will be willing, to help those in need.

To be perfectly honest, I find the notion of citizens helping citizens, of their own free will, to be an entirely plausible notion.  And it is not a position that rests solely on faith.  There have been and will continue to be organizations devoted to helping and providing assistance in all forms.  Financially generous millionaires and generous middle and lower-class members who give what money and time they can.  We do not need government compulsion to direct our benevolence or generosity.

Case and point: Grover Cleveland is not widely known as one of our foremost presidents.  But in his day, he was able to hold a firm line regarding the appropriate extent of government involvement in the lives, and charitable activity, of the American people.  In a piece from the Independent Institute, “Cleveland believed in keeping government expenditure at the minimum required to carry out essential constitutional functions.”

As president, he famously vetoed a bill that would have provided government assistance to Texas farmers suffering from drought.  Upon his veto he wrote: “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.”  Cleveland also stated that, “the friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied on to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune.”

Nevertheless, there are detractors who raise some issues with the more privatized notion of charity.  Here is an article from the Atlantic with just such a position.  Check this piece out and see how it stands in comparison to current events.  As stated, “the government’s footprint has always grown alongside the rest of society.”  Yes, it has.  And what good does it do when that foot, causing the print, has the welfare of our society under it?

I am not so idealistic as to assume that the Federal government will pack up shop, say “Well, we gave it a go” and leave the entitlement system in the hands of private citizens.  But the fact remains, they have tried and are currently, by their own admission, failing miserably.  Meanwhile, an unintended consequence of compulsive “giving” to the state in order for that state to “give” to others is that the people will not have that money to give away, as they would choose, to those who need it most.  The middle-man gets it first and it seems that many monies are lost along the way. Unless people find a way, independently of the ineffectual bureaucratic hands, through churches and private institutions, money will always be lost, wasted and therefore, incapable of helping those for whom that money is meant.

The Insecurity of Social Security

Mr.-Monopoly-brokeThere is an important role of society in providing some level of support or “social safety net” for those citizens who are hurt, sick or fall on hard times, and I have found that most citizens, on either side of the spectrum agree with this basic tenet.  The reasons in favor of this support do vary: some may simply believe in the noble effort to help those in need, others see an alternate reality, with sick and dying bodies littering the streets.  Regardless of the motivations, there is a consensus that some people will need help, financial help, in their lives and that other people have the ability to provide that assistance.

With that as a backdrop, we can move forward into a discussion surrounding the vessel for determining who will receive financial support and how those funds will be distributed.  Over the past hundred-ish years we in the United States have seen an explosive expansion of the so-called “entitlement” system, the likes of which, such expansion, would be the envy of any private corporation.  From unwed mothers to to school-age kids, groups of all kinds have seen increased advantage meant to provide financial assistance in their lives. (Evidently this does this sense of grace does not extend to alleviate the abhorrent conditions plaguing the VA)

But now, as it turns out, the money does not stem from an infinite source but, of course, from the compulsory payments of citizens to one another through the omniscient powers that are the state and federal governments.  And as with all human endeavors, it too possesses fallibility.

Many outlets are now reporting on the insolvency of the Social Security disability fund, as reported by the benefactors of the burgeoning bureaucracy in Washington.  Cuts to this fund are being predicted and an overall restructuring of the disability payment system is a likely consequence.

But this is not news.  And contrary to this article’s suggestion that “there is an easy fix available for the disability program: Congress could shift tax revenue from Social Security’s much larger retirement fund, as it has done in the past,” the money does not exist.  The funds for Social Security do not sit idle in an exclusive account waiting for me to turn 65 or 67 and cash in.  They have been borrowed against, and borrowed against and loans rolled over into new loans with interest and subsequent payments due forthwith.  But when there’s no money, there’s no money.

Start with a debt load of over $17,000,000,000,000 and you can work through the details.  It combats reason to claim that this money is owed by a government but that that same government possesses the billions upon billions required by all of the entitlement programs, of which Social Security is a huge component.  It also combats reason, admittedly to my way of thinking, that this form of public welfare is the best manner in which to provide for the social safety of the citizenry.

People are people whether they work for government or a private business.  They possess bias, and belief, and incorporate knowledge into making decisions.  Where such decisions have led those in charge of the Social Security disability fund is to a state of fiscal delinquency.  Whether or not the Feds should be in charge of these programs seems to be a rather moot point.  Blame fraud, abuse, ignorance or stupidity.  Blame Republicans, Democrats, the rich, drug addicts or my cat Raisin.  In those immortal words, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

The waste, abuse, fraud et al. are well known.  Find articles on the subject here, here, here and here.  For all of its devoted benevolence, those in power are terrible trustees of public finance.  The source of their ineptitude lies in the fundamental concept that what belongs to everyone really belongs to no one.  There is limited accountability and even more limited knowledge by the common folk, as much a result of a self-imposed naiveté as anything else, as to what is happening to all that money.

And now admittedly, and not by an accusation of a right-wing nut but by their own accounts, the system meant to support citizens in need is going broke.  Yes, they can restructure and move some money around but as with the debate concerning the minimum wage, without a shift in the foundational approaches taken to create an economic and financial system, we will have these same fear-based discussions in another five or ten years.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.

But there is an alternative and you can probably guess what I am going to prescribe.  Remember, people are people, but people in charge of their own money are infinitely better guardians than people in charge of other people’s money.

**I had meant to go further into alternatives but I think I will save that and make this Part One of Two on the ways that people can help people, financially speaking.