Dear NFL: Take a Knee

Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling
Photo Credit: Keith Allison: Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

With the recent changes to the NFL policy regarding player conduct during the country’s national anthem, and the decision by President Trump to withdraw his offer to the Eagles to show up to the White House for the annual Super Bowl Celebration, the spotlight has turned back to the player protests during the anthem.

The issue has often been convoluted into something it’s not, with many individuals labeling the protesting players as “unpatriotic” or claiming that they are “disrespecting the military”. But by shifting the focus of the protest to something that it has never been about allows those opposed to it to avoid what needs to be talked about, the racial disparities and inequalities present in our country today.

In 2017, 457 white individuals were shot and killed by police. In that same year 223 blacks were shot and killed. This is despite the fact that 63.7 percent of the population is white, while only 12.2 percent of the population is black.

So statistically speaking if you reversed the population percentages (so 63.7 percent of the population is black while 12.2 percent of the population is white) you would have 1,164 black individuals shot and killed by police, and 88 white individuals. And if all these numbers just seem like gibberish to you just remember this one, in the country today blacks are more than 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police then a white individual.

The sad fact is that this is just one statistic representing the disparity in the way our police force handles black individuals. When you look at statistics on police brutality and other means of excessive or deadly force, the trend remains roughly the same. Blacks are more than 2.5 times more likely to be brutalized by police.

Take a step back here and forget about all the protests and just look at the numbers. It’s clear there is a problem that needs to be addressed. So instead of worrying about the fact that players are kneeling during the anthem, look at WHY they are kneeling.

And in the meantime, lose all that gibberish about the kneeling disrespecting the military, kneeling during the anthem was RECOMMENDED by a veteran to Colin Kaepernick, the athlete that got all this started.

And lose the nonsense stating that kneeling during the anthem makes them “unpatriotic”. This is the country where protesting is your constitutionally guaranteed right and exercising that right surely doesn’t make you hate the country that grants that right to you to begin with, in fact, it might make the individual exercising that right even more grateful to be in a country where they have that right. And wouldn’t that make them even more patriotic?

But most importantly, don’t lose focus on the reasons behind the protests. And if you really want them to stop, start by correcting the issues that caused them in the first place.

Roseanne and Racism: How did we get here?

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Roseanne Barr, star of the show Roseanne, was fired by ABC following a racist tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett to a monkey, and conservatives collectively lost their minds.

Let’s begin by getting one thing straight, comparing an African American to a monkey is racist. Failure to recognize this overlooks years of racial oppression and the use of this comparison to marginalize Africans’ and African Americans’ for years. It is racist (If you still can’t wrap your mind around that read more about it here).

Secondly, conservatives being “outraged” by a private organization choosing to act on an individual for making a “political statement” is laughable. After years of conservatives preaching that the NFL should punish players for kneeling during the national anthem, they claim outrage that a private organization can punish an individual for exercising their free speech.

The same conservatives that voted for Donald Trump, who said this about the NFL protesters “Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

You don’t get to get upset when every private organization doesn’t follow your political and personal ideology. You either continue to support the company or you don’t. Personally, I don’t see a problem with a company condemning racism.

The fact that this has divided the country epitomizes what exactly is wrong with the United States today. Racism in all it’s forms must be stamped out. Since when did that reemerge as a partisan issue? Since when did open racism become acceptable once again? And more importantly, how do we condemn it once and for all?

The Dangerous War on Media

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The war on the media is stronger then ever. If you haven’t heard the term “fake news” you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Yet it’s still gaining traction every day and the results are dangerous.

First let’s clear a few things up, every journalist has a bias. You see journalists are human, just like you and me, and if you think you can write a political story without any bias you are only fooling yourself. Bias is a human condition, and as such will always be present in the work created by humans.

Second, most journalists that write for national media outlets in the United States have a liberal leaning. This doesn’t make the stories that they cover “fake news”, but it does mean that most national news stories will have a liberal bias. But it doesn’t change the fact that the facts presented in their stories are just that, facts. You see you can disagree with facts all you want, but a fact will remain a fact.

Facts are something that President Trump has convinced himself, and many of his supporters, changes depending on the bias of the story. Yes, a biased story might mean that there is more to the story that isn’t being presented but it doesn’t make it “fake news”, and the facts presented remain relevant.

News today isn’t any more or less biased then it’s been in the past, the difference is that people used to know how to pull the facts out of the story that they were hearing and form their own opinions. They used to get the story from more then one source to make sure they got the whole picture.

Americans today have lost that ability.

And as such Americans are gullible to attacks labeling legitimate media sources as “fake”. You see once you start labeling a news source as fake you have no way of distinguishing reality from fiction. Certain politicians would have you believe that all news sources are fake. Once they convince you of that the only person you feel like you can trust for your information is them. And if they are your news source they can convince you of anything they want to. And at that point you are following the most biased source of all, the politician.

Chemical Warfare: The “Red Line”

Missile Strike.jpgThe coalition strikes in Syria has been subject to a lot of scrutiny and speculation on what is going to happen next. Realistically though, not much is going to change. The fact that the United States didn’t act alone all but assures that.

There isn’t much worry about what Syria is going to do in response, mainly because there isn’t much they CAN do in response. They are going to rely on other countries that support them, like China or Russia, to respond for them, with the only country that might even think about doing something being Russia.

And while the recent strikes are sure to raise tensions, especially between the United States and Russia, I don’t foresee anything else happening, in part because tensions with Russia were so high in the world to begin with.

Russia doesn’t want to get involved in World War III more than any other country in the world, and they know any direct action against United States troops will lead to just that. And by not acting alone, the world has shown that they stand behind the United States against Syria and Russia when it comes to chemical warfare.  

What this latest strike has shown, and will continue to show, is that the United States and President Donald Trump are serious about cracking down on chemical attacks throughout the world. It shows that if chemical weapons are used that the United States will respond. It’s a welcome change in policy from the Obama administration who had set a “red line” on chemical warfare only to back down when the illicit weapons were used.

Quickly, efficiently, and lethally responding to chemical warfare isn’t a partisan issue. If you don’t think that chemical attacks should be retaliated against with lethal and overwhelming force, then you are a part of the problem. Because as the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Trump’s Transgender Policy: The Rational Solution

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The White House has passed a new policy “banning” transgenders from serving in the United States military, “except under a few limited circumstances”. Without getting into the controversial and often bigoted debate about whether transgenderism is a “disease” or “mental condition” let’s break down the new policy.

If you take an objective look at it, what it does is prevent individuals from transitioning genders while they are in the military. Which falls under policies currently in place for military members already.

Don’t believe me? Military members are kicked out if they are not deployable for 12 consecutive months. How long does it take to transition? Best case scenario is two years. For those two years they are nondeployable. So, under current policies they should be kicked out.

As far as it being a full “ban” on transgendered individuals, it’s not. When you look at the exceptions made all they do is ensure that individuals can’t transition after they join. Let’s break down the “limited circumstances” that the White House has outlined.

The first exception laid out by the White House policy is that individuals who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession” may join. In layman’s terms, if an individual fully transitioned 3 years ago they can join the military.

While an argument can be made on whether this is necessary, it is hardly the only thing that can require a mandatory waiting time. For instance, anyone who has gotten LASIK or PRK must wait 12 months before they are eligible to join.

Now 36 months is overkill to ensure that no unexpected health issues arise from the transition process, but so is 12 months for eye surgery. That’s just how the military does things. Should the mandatory waiting time probably be less? Yes, and it might change after the courts get a hold of it.

The second exception is for those individuals that “do not require a change of gender”. Now this reeks of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but once you get over the guttural response to the wording, you can understand why this is a necessary provision. If an individual wants to join the military and is willing to forego the medical process of transitioning they should be able to do so. In an idealistic world this wouldn’t be necessary, but in an idealistic world we wouldn’t need a military.

The final exception is for those transgender individuals that are already in the military. They can stay in. This is the right thing to do. You don’t tell people they can do something, then kick them out for doing it.

So, while media sources go nuts on this new policy, President Trump is right when he says it’s what senior military leaders want. They are tired of having a force that isn’t fully deployable. And transitioning members only add to that number.

Omnibus 2018: An example of Republican Hypocrisy

 

Trump signs bill
Photo Credit

 

2,232 pages. The largest funding increase in United States history. Less then 24 hours for Congress to read it before voting. Everything the Republican party has stood against for the last 10 years. It’s hard to imagine voters in 2016 imagined this when they gave the GOP control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House. It’s also hard to imagine that this November voters are going to be forgiving.

I am a fiscal conservative. But it seems to me that the Republican party is no longer the fiscally conservative party. After years of President Obama and the Democratic party lowering the national deficit, I had high hopes that the Republican party would come in and finish what Obama started. I was dead wrong.

The deficit is back over a trillion dollars, and the debt is over 21 trillion. President Trump has stated that this will be the last time he signs a bill like this.  I believe him. Why? Because the Republican party is going to lose control of the House, and likely the Senate in November, and Democrats aren’t going to make the same mistakes the GOP just made.

You see if Trump was presented with another massive spending bill he would sign it. But he won’t be presented with one. Democrats won’t give him that chance and come 2020 Trump won’t be sitting in the White House. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying a Republican won’t, but I don’t see any path for another 4 years of Trump.

The number one priority for our country right now isn’t to build up our military, our even to create a path to citizenship for DREAMers, although both are noble goals. The number one priority should be getting our massive debt under control. If not, it will cripple our military, our economy, and our country. Why can’t the Republican party see this?

Is it as simple as Democrats state, and Republicans will say anything to get elected? Or is there something else that I’m missing?

Can Trump just fire DeVos already?

 

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Photo by: Gage Skidmore

It’s beyond time to fire Betsy DeVos. Her latest comments on 60 minutes just highlight what most in tuned individuals have been saying about her since the start, she doesn’t know what the hell she is doing. But don’t take my word for it, lets look at some shining examples of her ineptitude since being nominated.

Shining example number one, she made it harder to prosecute sexual assault on school campuses. In a country where only 31 percent of rapes are reported, and only 0.7 percent result in felony convictions, is it really the time to bring about additional protection for rapists? The guise of protecting those falsely accused falls flat when you consider that of all rape accusations, just under six percent are false.

This just doesn’t make any sense. And what does DeVos have to say when asked if the number of people raped and the number of people falsely accused are the same? “I don’t know”. Well DeVos, all of the United States, myself included does, why don’t you?

Example number two, she thinks grizzly bears are attacking students in Wyoming schools. Well not attacked, but that’s only because all the teachers have guns in Wyoming right? If not, those bears would be chomping at the bit.

Moving on to example number three, she didn’t know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was a federal law. You know the act that requires public schools in all 50 states to provide education to students with disabilities? Not that it’s important for the Secretary of Education to know these things…

One last example of her incompetence, she has never “intentionally” visited an underperforming school… yet she wants to slash their funding. Yes, it’s important to know what the best schools are doing, but unless you know what underperforming schools are doing you have nothing to compare it to. You have no idea what makes the best school the best. So how can you propose legislation and work on changes without knowing what makes the best schools the best?

The good news for the United States, even Donald Trump seems to be distancing himself from DeVos, hopefully a sign that he’s about to tell his Secretary of Education his two most iconic words “you’re fired”.

 

Secure the Border – Without a Wall

WallPresident Donald Trump’s proposed border wall could end up costing taxpayers 70 billion dollars to build and an additional 150 million dollars a year to maintain. While securing the border is a common sense goal, building a wall is an archaic an ineffective way to do it.

The President should be seeking 21st century solutions to 21st century problems. Instead of investing 70 billion dollars on a wall it could be invested in personnel, sensors, drones, and other technological equipment to more effectively secure the border.  

Start by simply spreading the initial funds out over 50 years. That’s 1.4 billion dollars a year. Then you can add in the 150 million dollars that it would cost to maintain the wall. That gives you a little over 1.5 billion dollars a year to devote to border security for the next 50 years.

When you look at the fact that border patrol agents make, on average, 77,000 dollars a year, that means with just the funds for the wall you could hire 20,130 more border patrol agents for the next 50 years. Or you could hire 10,000 more border patrol agents and use the rest of the money to invest in technological solutions to securing the border.

Pair this legislation with a bill for DREAMERS so both sides get a political win while solving two issues that this nation is currently facing. This is a plan where both sides win while giving something up.

So, while the GOP feels like they are losing by giving up on the wall, they get much needed funding to secure the border that they wouldn’t be getting otherwise. And in exchange for this border funding Democrats get to present a permanent fix for DREAMERS allowing them to become full fledged citizens.

Trump gets to secure the border and Democrats’ get to help out DREAMERS, what’s not to like?

Arming Teachers–Have we already forgotten Salcido?

Just a few weeks ago conservatives and liberals alike were infuriated by the comments of Gregory Salcido. His derogatory and appalling comments towards the military community rightfully drew the ire of millions.

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That wasn’t even his first infraction. He had threated to kill a student. He had physically assaulted a student. And now under the proposal of the Trump administration, most Republicans, and the NRA he would be allowed to carry a gun into the classroom.

The Trump administration is trying to sell this proposal as a way for teachers to keep their students safe. But what happens if the teacher is the person that the student needs to be kept safe from? We no longer live in a society where teachers are always the good guys.

One only needs to look at the viral video of cops doing the wrong thing to see what can happen when you give weapons to the “good guys”.

Teachers should be individuals that society can count on to do the right thing. So should cops. But the sad truth is that’s not the world we live in. And this doesn’t even begin to address the fact that arming teachers will do almost nothing to prevent the bad guys with guns from coming into the school.

We don’t need to take guns from legal gun owners. So, while the NRA is trying to scare gun owners into feeling that Democrats are after their guns, for the most part that just isn’t the case.

What we need is common sense gun laws. Universal background checks that close the loopholes gun shows and private sellers use to circumvent the current system is desperately overdue. This means registering guns so we can make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

Why is that so hard to understand?

Trump’s Saccone Comments–Just more Hypocrisy

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If you haven’t heard there is a special election happening in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and while it’s no surprise that President Donald Trump is supporting Republican candidate Rick Saccone over Democratic candidate Conor Lamb, what is surprising is the rhetoric that he is using to do so.

While he lauds Saccone for “loving vets” he simultaneously blasts Lamb as “Lamb the sham”. The irony? Lamb is one of those vets Trump supposedly “loves”. More ironic? The fact that Trump is trying to champion gun rights after proposing the unconstitutional action of raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21. Something his own party and the NRA vehemently disagree with.

Having the president support you should be a boon for your chances win the election. But with how hypocritical and unliked Trump is, it currently does the opposite. Trump is for Republicans what Nancy Pelosi is to Democrats. But Lamb had the common sense to distance himself from Pelosi, while Saccone was foolish enough to cozy up to Trump.

While Trump argues that Lamb will just follow the Democratic party line (although he’s publicly bucked the party line on multiple issues), paradoxically what he wants out of Saccone is for him to follow the Republican party line on every issue. And elected officials that don’t think for themselves and simply follow party lines is exactly what is wrong with Washington.

Now does that mean Lamb beats Saccone? Unlikely considering how conservative the district is. But even having to have the conversation doesn’t bode well for Republicans.