What I've been thinking lately about the world around us

Hey folks,

Usually, I avoid blogging about subjects beyond the scope of what I intended this blog to be, which is generally all positive dance music, general pop culture and web technology stuff. But, this week, I asked my friend Dave Jurman what he thought if I started opening up the subject matter to more important issues. He thought it was a great idea, seeing that a blog can be pretty much whatever it wants to be, And, that if I thought something was that important to address, I should go for it.

I also thought about taking a page from the Raymond Roker school of social responsibility. Ray is the fiercely outspoken publisher of URB Magazine. He is never shy about voicing his personal viewpoints for a generation of music fans who want to feel connected to culture while learning about issues important to them. Ray has taken a position on issues from race and class to media responsibility, politics and society at large. I can only hope to be as influential he has been with his publication.

Media companies online and off have used the editorial page as a soapbox for their viewpoints, while separating those views from news sections of their publications. With blogs running stories in descending order, based on the time the article was posted, it’s a little harder to keep things separate. Yes, one can choose to post only to a category listed as a section on the right sidebar, but the post might not be seen by readers who opt out of navigating this site in that way.

This brings to mind the recent conservative attack on the New York Times for endorsing presidential candidate John McCain while at the same time writing critically about his close personal association with a female lobbyist. The conservatives say the New York Times cannot do both. That it’s just another Democratic institution flip-flopping on a message. However, if you look at the recent 360 degree turnabout of conservative talk show hosts like Laura Schlesinger and Rush Limbaugh, who were railing against the candidacy of McCain for weeks, then abruptly shifting to support for him, you can see that it’s easy to point fingers at others yet harder to live by your own words.

This has been what we’ve been living with since the Bush/Clinton/Bush years. 20 years of pointing fingers at each other and saying the other party and their leader is the reason we are not getting anywhere. The Republican attack on Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal was probably one of the worst attacks on any sitting President I’ve lived through or read about. Every week the Republicans were trying to come up with some way of kicking Clinton out of office. Instead of putting it behind them and working together to figure out solutions for the country, they spent $50 Million of taxpayer money to try and impeach him. I’m not saying what he did was right or that the Republicans were wrong for making it an issue. It was just a vulture mentality of lets destroy this person. That’s what I’m starting to learn about the Republican base. They seem to be hell bent on destroying anyone who stands in their way, which is why we must fight against that philosophy and why I have chosen to begin to make my voice heard.

Whether it’s terrorism or any other issue, Republican conservatives scream, lets “get them” before they “get us.” It’s starting to sound like McCarthyism or even a bit Hitler-esque around here. I’m even starting to hear the words ,”war against Islam,” on conservative talk radio. 4-years ago, Republicans were quick to say this wasn’t a war against Islam. Today, you can hear it everyday on WABC Radio in New York. This is what Hitler did to the Jews. Lets destroy them before they get us. And look at how the world ended up after that debacle. When do we stop “killing the terrorists”? Where does it end? How do you define that we’ve won? By destroying their homelands, invading and stamping our brand of culture on other societies? That hasn’t worked for centuries…why start now? Even if that were the solution, let’s get it right in one place before we get it wrong in another. Maybe Republicans are too busy reading business books and don’t have time to study history. In my mind, staying in Iraq for 100 years, as McCain said is ridiculous.

This is why Barack Obama’s candidacy has been so refreshing for many. People are dying for change. They’re tired of the selfish baby boomer’s running the country. They’re rallying around Barack because they don’t want another four years of partisanship or talk of killing, killing and more killing of the terrorists who are out to get us and the scare tactics of the Republican party.

Sure, if you kill my mother, I’m going to kill yours. If you destroy my homeland, I’m going to destroy yours. Where does it end? There has got to be a way to bridge the gap. Can he build that bridge to the 21st Century that Bill Clinton once talked about so eloquently? We were on a track of working with the world, now we’re hell bent on becoming isolationist and protectionist by fencing up our borders while battling for the world’s oil to drive our economy.

Oil is done. Shell, BP, Exxon/Mobil, Texaco, Sunoco and the rest of them must help the world develop new sources of energy that can be developed at home, instead of having to be drilled for in far away lands that cause those societies to resist foreign influence in their homelands. Or, that cause battles between those who have and those who don’t for since the industrial revolution began. There will always be war, I know that. But can war be muted by taking oil out of the equation? That’s a huge questions that lil’ol me has no answer for.

Who did I vote for in the primary? Well, I registered as a Democrat after being lied to by the Bush Administration of over the Iraq war. Even though I’ve always voted Democrat, I’ve tried to keep an open mind until conservatism swept this country like a plague. So, I voted for Hillary. I have reservations about Barack’s inability to pass important legislation in the Illinois senate and taking a “present” position on critical issues. I am also very concerned about his willingness to water down a bill that would have put the responsibility on the nuclear industry to create a better warning system. Then money from a nuclear organization was donated to his campaign in Illinois. I’m not saying he sold his vote, but he did take a less strong position when maybe he shouldn’t have. I don’t completely understand the Illinois senate and its process, but taking one major position on the war in Iraq does not make a presidential candidacy.

I also don’t believe that you can learn world politics on the fly. Hillary has been traveling the world for many years, confronting China on human rights and has personal relationships with world leaders. I feel she’s more prepared to discuss the issues, understand the nuances and face the challenges head on. While Obama is getting his advisers to compile information, Hillary has already show a command of the issues in the debates with Obama. And, why not have Bill close to the White House? Of course, she’s going to make the decisions, but as Tina Fey said on Saturday night live, having “two smart, intelligent” people in the White House might be a good thing.

On the other hand, if Obama won, it would be refreshing and maybe great things will happen. That’s what Obama stands for: change and hope. I hope he can really change things as he believes he can. If he gets the nod, then I’m right there backing him up too. Therefore, I’m not saying Obama isn’t an attractive candidate, I just think Hillary has a better track record of moving through legislation and getting things done. She’s had more time to do it then Obama, but is it time on the job we’re looking for or the ability to move mountains. I don’t know if Obama has the political capital to do that. Either way, its about time we had a black man or a woman running this country

I also believe that universal health care should be mandated, because young people who aren’t sick, but show up at the emergency room with various ailments from time to time, shouldn’t be given a free pass up until the time they need it. They must contribute like everyone else, I believe, at the age of 21. If you can vote, smoke, drink and go to war, than you surely should be able to contribute to your own health care. Although Obama says they can stay on their parents plan until they are 25, I had to have my own health insurance the day I left my house at 19. There are many parents who won’t be able to afford health insurance for themselves and, let’s say, their 23-year-old children.

All that being said, I feel like it’s important for me to make my voice heard on these issues. For the past 4-years, I’ve been taking classes towards a degree in Digital Communications and Media at New York University’s Paul McGhee School of Continuing Professional Studies. Many of my media classes have focused on thinking critically about the media, its influence on and responsibility to society to deliver the critical information of our times. Today, as I watch Fox News, I realize there is no way it’s “fair and balanced.” Nor is ABC Radio, which in my mind is 24-hours a day of conservative talk. On the other side, you’ve got CNN, which leans left. And, of course, the movie industry, which also isn’t shy about taking a liberal view.

Where do I sit? Somewhere in the middle. I believe in lower taxes and less government, but then I see the mortgage crisis and people losing their homes, wondering where was the government when its people needed them to regulate an industry who just ran over the working and middle class of this country with promises and bait and switch tactics? This is the defining financial issue of our times and has now led to another crisis the tax payers will have to bail out somehow, while these CEO’s with multi-million dollar salaries get tens of millions in golden parachutes as they walk away from the mess caused on their watch. Credit cards at going to 29% interest if you’re credit score changes overnight and there’s nothing you can do. Conservatives call this the trickle down economics of their hero, Ronald Reagan. I call this greed and profiteering at the expense of the less educated and the less powerful.

No one should ever be charged 30 percent to borrow money when the overnight Fed rate is just over 5% today. That means, it costs the credit card companies 5% plus a quarter point here and there, but they can charge you 25% on borrowing that money from them. It’s robbery. And how is that trickling down in the economy? Sure, the people who work at the card companies have jobs, but when they are spending it on luxury goods from other countries, vacation travel to other countries, fine art and Italian sports cars, you show me how that affects a mother of three living in a housing project in Harlem?

Republicans say its every man and woman for themselves. That if you educate yourself, you can achieve anything and you should have the right to make so much money, you’ll never want or need for anything for the rest of your life. And that is a good thing?

It’s all about consuming. The more you have, the better you’ll feel. You win and everyone else will win because of your efforts. I don’t think that’s true at all. As people accumulate, it’s human nature to keep for yourself instead of sharing in your windfall. It takes regulation of wealth and power to keep things on an even playing field for everyone else to be able to participate in the American dream. There will always be a group of people who are less fortunate that yourself.

Lastly, this morning I came across a picture gallery on Wired.com’s site of photos from Abu Ghraib. It was quite distributing to see our service men and women in uniform taking these photos for the world to see. This isn’t behavior I think our tax dollars should be spent on. We know that out of the 150,000 troops in Iraq, these pictures are not representative of majority behavior. Obviously, they are not, but they shouldn’t exist in the first place for a culture and society who say one thing but do another.

On conservative radio, they argue that we need these type of tactics to battle the terrorists. They say, if we had information by using these tactics on Sept 10, then Sept 11 would have never happened. Yes, I heard that last week on ABC Radio.

Well, guess what? We did have that information on Sept 10, but the FBI and CIA weren’t sharing it with each other. Who’s watch was that under? Oh…right, the Bush watch.

I’m sorry, is it me or wasn’t Bush just getting back from a MONTH LONG VACATION in Texas, and just a few weeks later that all went down. Conservatives would rather drill holes in peoples heads than actually think strategically about how to solve the ours and the worlds problems. It’s a Huckley’s Brave New World when everyone must think, talk and act like you.

I’m even starting to hear on conservative radio that this is a “War against Islam.” Yes, they’re starting to go there, when they said at the outset of the Iraq war that we were there to find Saddam’s nuclear weapons. Fool me once, okay. Fool me twice, no way. Conservatives have lost their base. They lied to the American people, and here is what they have to show for it. This is the proof that they can’t control themselves, which is why we need Hillary or Barack in office to return America to the high ground. Trickle down economics. Trickle down military policy. Trickle down anything has no future.

The world should not be about grabbing everything you can and letting it trickle down to those less fortunate or not in power. That to me, sounds dictatorial. Why we grab everything we can to consumer it, money will flow downward. Well…I don’t see that happening…it’s the economy stupid.

To my last point, I’m wondering how we can get the candidates to address the issue of health care for club workers in America. Clubs are all about profit. Are there any club owners out there that are actually socially responsible and treat their workers fairly? I know it’s a hard industry to police, but I’d love to hear about what’s going on in the scene.

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