pushing for fair treatment of some people

18 01 2012

I heard that President Barack Obama is wanting countries to be fair in their treatment of homosexuals before they receive financial aid.  Now, I’m all for people being treated fairly regardless of their preferences, but why is he choosing this issue?  Why doesn’t he stand up for the fair treatment of women?  Some countries are really oppressive toward women.  And what about the countries that persecute Christians to the point of killing them for speaking openly about Jesus?  Don’t they deserve fair treatment, too?  Yet you rarely hear about these things in the mainstream news.

It sounds like politics as usual…  It’s just really sad, because he is in the position to make a difference in this world, but many of the big issues (like basic human rights) are ignored if they’re not currently being discussed in the mainstream news.


Obama’s enemy, plus reckless spending

4 11 2010

President Obama recently told Latinos that they need to vote, to punish their enemies and reward their friends, to get things accomplished in Congress.  It seems fairly obvious he is talking about Republicans and Democrats.  Is that kind of language really necessary?  It sure isn’t helping things.  Wasn’t he supposed to bring unity and stop the bipartisanship?  That kind of talk is polarizing.  Instead of “change” it sure sounds like politics as usual (or worse than usual for the President to be saying that).

You can hear it for yourself in a video at this page: Obama — Conservatives are the “enemy”.

There’s another video on that page that shows Obama saying Republicans don’t know how to run the country, that they can come along for the ride but they have to sit in the back seat.  (He was referencing a car in the ditch analogy.)

Obama has had his chance — the Democrats controlled both houses, and they’ve had two years, yet the country doesn’t seem better off.  I know, it takes a while to turn things around, but it seems like reckless spending will make it take longer to turn around…  The bills have to be paid someday, with interest…

While I’m ranting about the national debt, consider it in this perspective: Obama blames Bush for the bad economy.  It’s politics-as-normal to blame the other party for the current problems, and that way you’re saying it’s not your fault for how things are.  There is some truth to that last part — each president does have an impact on the next president’s term, regardless of which political party they’re part of.  Just like Bush’s overspending made it tougher on Obama’s administration, Obama is overspending and making it tougher on the next president.  Actually, this has been going on for 40 years!   According to FederalBudget.com, Congress has spent more than its income every year since 1969.   (I know, supposedly Bill Clinton balanced the budget some years, but perhaps his budget was more than the income — not a stretch, since Obama’s is, too.)  My point is, every president for 40 years is making it tougher on the next one, and someday, one of them will run out of credit and actually have to spend less than they take in.  (Consider this, too — in 2006, the U.S. government spent $406 billion just on interest for the national debt!  The debt is much higher now, therefore the interest will be higher, too.)   It is irresponsible to keep spending recklessly and letting someone else deal with the problem…

Why do people like Sarah Palin?

3 08 2010

Do you know why so many people like Sarah Palin?  Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post has figured it all out:

It’s not Palin’s positions people respond to — it’s her use of symbols. Mama grizzlies rearing up to protect their young? That’s straight out of Jung’s “collective unconscious” — the term Jung used to describe the part of the unconscious mind that, unlike the personal unconscious, is shared by all human beings, made up of archetypes, or, in Jung’s words, “universal images that have existed since the remotest times.” Unlike personal experiences, these archetypes are inherited, not acquired. They are “inborn forms… of perception and apprehension,” the “deposits of the constantly repeated experiences of humanity.”

This is the realm Palin is working in — I’m sure unintentionally — and it’s why she has connected so deeply with a large segment of the public. In fact, her evocation of mama grizzlies has a particularly resonant history in the collective unconscious. According to the Jungian Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, “The bear has long fascinated mankind, partly because of its habit of hibernation, which may have served as a model of death and rebirth in human societies.”

Supposedly this tendency of the collective unconscious is much more powerful when there’s a national crisis, and that this is how Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, that it had nothing to do with policy issues.  Huffington explains the same technique is being used by Palin now (unintentionally, of course), and that it’s very dangerous:

Jung himself was exquisitely aware of such a possibility, saying that during troubled conditions experienced by large numbers of people “explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall prey to.”

Re-read that last sentence again, and then join me in a collective “whoa”.  That sounds like any crazy thing could happen.  And that if you talk about bears and other such symbols, people will follow any crazy scheme you come up with.  There may be a “herd mentality” to some degree, but everyone is not that gullible and naive.

Notice the not-so-subtle implication that the public vote for people like Reagan and Palin only because they’re deceived by archetypes.  It couldn’t be because of policy.  Those leaders don’t connect with people through personality or morals or any other talents or virtues; they just accidentally stumble into some mystic / psychological brainwashing power of archetypes.  If you happen to talk about mama grizzlies, people will respect and follow you more, I guess…

The article also says part of Palin’s appeal is that she promotes herself as a celebrity instead of a politician.  Doesn’t that sound like somebody who just ran a historic campaign, someone who won and became President?  Hmm…

The article closes up with a summary of the current times and how that could work for Palin and her use of archetypes.  Unemployment is predicted to remain high, our economic recovery has stalled, and Americans don’t have much faith in the current political system, so people will probably respond irrationally because they’re afraid, and they will gravitate to whatever fills the vacuum.  Hmm… not to sound like a broken record, but didn’t that just happen with Barack Obama’s election?  He didn’t have much experience — about as much as Palin does (or less), and he didn’t run on policy but “change” and “hope”, and people were upset at the then-current institution.   Now Democrats control Congress and the presidency, yet people are still upset about politicians and government.  Perhaps the message from the collective, the great unwashed masses, is that almost all politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — are greedy, corrupt, self-serving, and inept, and that it’s time for real change.

Obama promised change, and there’s still time left in his term, but so far it sure seems like politics as normal, except at an even greater pace (which is not good).  Maybe it’s time for Americans to elect politicians who actually follow the Constitution and our other laws, who actually represent what the voters want, and who will quit wasting our money and bankrupting our country…  One can hope for such change…

Who should clean up the oil spill?

14 06 2010

Whose job is it to clean up the oil spill from April 20 (that is still continuing)?  The cleanup probably falls mostly on BP, since it is their fault.  But I find it ironic that the Obama administration has been pushing for big government (and some say outright socialism), yet he’s not doing anything about it except talking.  Here’s his chance to prove that big government will take care of the people.   If you think about it, the effect of the economic stimulus plans, the bailouts, and the universal health care plan won’t be validated for years (although we have some idea of how they have worked / failed so far).  This oil spill disaster is affecting millions of jobs, particularly involving seafood and tourism, so it has a big impact on the economy and unemployment.  This sounds like a big opportunity for President Obama to show what he can do.

But what is being done so far?  It’s been over 50 days since the explosion on the oil rig, and very little has been done to actually solve the problem.  Apparently no one really knows what to do.  BP has tried a few things, even calling one “successful” because it slowed down the oil spill (which also means the spill continues to get worse and not better).  Obama’s administration brought in James Cameron, because he directed the movie Titanic and has some expertise with undersea equipment.   But surely there are people more knowledgeable than him about such things, like the people who made the equipment and who use it in real life!  Where are those experts?  I heard that the Coast Guard is accepting ideas from everybody. Has it really come to that?  I would think surely there’s some experts somewhere who have some ideas that could be tried…  And why haven’t oil-drilling companies thought of this situation before and developed plans for it?

This past week the government ordered BP to try harder to fix it — I suppose they thought BP wasn’t trying very hard.  From the Associated Press: “The federal government has given BP until the end of the weekend to find ways to speed up efforts to contain huge amounts of oil gushing from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico…”  But notice how BP was informed of this new order — Coast Guard Rear Admiral James A. Watson sent a letter to BP officials expressing frustration with the overall pace of the effort and ordered the company to identify ways to expedite the process.  A letter?  Really???   That just screams high priority… there are faster options these days, like e-mail, phone calls, etc.  That just reinforces the perception that neither BP nor the government is treating this like an emergency.

President Obama said he would talk to our enemies without precondition, but he refused to meet with the CEO of BP.  That’s probably for legal reasons, in case the government brings criminal charges against BP, but it’s still quite ironic…  We know the government is considering charges against BP, because they are conducting civil and criminal investigations into BP’s preparedness for the spill.  So not only is the government not fixing the oil spill, but they are hindering BP’s executives.  Perhaps that should be done, but the timing is unfortunate, and it’s also ironic (because they may be making the recovery take longer)…

It looks like President Obama thinks he can talk himself out of his problems.  The talking isn’t fixing the oil spill.  He just toured the Gulf coast a second time, saying “things are going to return to normal” and “I am confident that we’re going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.”  An article on MSNBC.com said “President Obama on Monday returned to the Gulf Coast to send a message that the federal government has regained control of the crisis.”  Think about that… “Regained control”?  Did they ever have control of the crisis?  And if they do have control of it, what exactly are they doing besides talking?

Also in Obama’s latest tour of the Gulf coast, he had some seafood for lunch and declared “seafood from the Gulf today is safe to eat”.  That sounds very broad and all-encompassing.  I would venture to say that not ALL seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat.  Never mind that last week a dead oil-covered turtle washed up on shore in Louisiana.  (I know not everyone eats turtle, but some do, and regardless it illustrates the problem.)  I also read where some restaurants along the Gulf coast have put up signs saying they are not serving seafood from the Gulf.

If you’re interested in reading about how BP cut corners in shutting down this rig and how that increased the likelihood of an explosion, here’s an article about it.   There’s going to be long-term problems for BP now that such information is public.

There’s a lot more that could be said, but I’ll sum it up with one sentence: The whole thing is a big debacle.

majority of Americans distrust the government

20 04 2010

According to a survey of about 5,000 people, the majority of Americans distrust the government.  That’s not too surprising these days.

Digging deeper into the statistics, 56 percent of Americans are frustrated with the current administration, and 21 percent are angry.  Only 22 percent of Americans say they trust the government most of the time.

This must be part of that right-wing extremist conspiracy theory I’ve heard about, promoted by FOX News and hyped by the supposedly far-right “tea parties”.  Oh, wait, this was published at The Washington Post?  Hmm…

obesity rates and the economy

21 01 2010

There was an article in the news this month stating that obesity rates have leveled off.  The article goes on to say “there’s little reason to cheer”, because we might have reached a maximum level of tubbiness.  That is, most Americans are already overweight, so it stands to reason that less people are becoming overweight.  The news headline sounds good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Americans are getting healthier.

This all depends on perspective (and/or “spin”).  I learned this from watching the news.  See, this whole thing parallels the job market.  President Barack Obama said this month that the labor market is headed in the right direction.  That’s despite another 85,000 net jobs being lost in December 2009.  (By “net jobs” I mean how many were lost after subtracting the new jobs created.)  That means unemployment is still going up.  Yet Obama says it’s getting better because less jobs were lost last month than in most previous months.  See, it’s slowing down.

Of course, the alternate perception (which Obama conveniently ignores in his public statements) is that there will be less jobs lost now because businesses can stand to layoff only so many people and stay in business.   So it has to slowdown.  Just like obesity rates have to slowdown.

(BTW, I realize both issues are more complicated than that.  I’m just making a point.  Both headlines sound good, and the data as presented sounds like things are getting better, and maybe they somewhat are, but they’re also still getting worse.  Perspective plays a large role in how news is presented, and we aren’t always getting a balanced perspective.)

Who will pay for government-run health care?

11 09 2009

On TV tonight there was a town hall meeting featuring Timothy Geithner, our current Secretary of the Treasury.  I caught just a minute of it while changing channels.  Someone asked him if the government will have to raise taxes to pay for health care.   He wouldn’t give a direct answer — he rambled on about tax cuts for 95 percent of people.  One of the moderators afterwards said something like, “That sounds like a yes”, and Geithner said something like, “Do you want me to repeat my answer word-for-word?”  Don’t you like it how people can spin an answer so it sounds like they’re answering your question but they really aren’t?   (That’s why we must pay attention and look beyond what is said.)

Figuring out our government’s part in our economy is a complicated thing, and I figure no one person understands it all.  Most of us do realize that it’s in bad shape, though.   And it should be obvious that adding government-run health care will make the economy worse, because that’s a LOT of money that the government doesn’t have.  Let’s look at that idea for a minute from a simplified point-of-view.

If you spend more than you take in, you have to find the additional money somewhere, right?  Of course.  (Although the government can print more money, but that devalues the American dollar, which doesn’t help so much in the long-run.)  So besides printing more money, they have to either bring in more revenue (which is mainly from taxes) or borrow more.  As you no doubt know, the United States has borrowed a LOT of money.  The national debt is over $9 trillion now ($9,000,000,000,000 — look at all those zeroes!  Also, there’s other debt beyond the national debt, which is kept on different books.)  As you probably also know, there’s only a finite amount of money one person / group can borrow, which is called your credit limit.  If you reach your credit limit, people quit loaning you money, and America is getting close to that, because some countries are becoming hesitant to loan us money.  (On a related note, if you spend beyond your means too long, you eventually reach a point that you can’t recover, and then you declare bankruptcy.  It can happen to countries, and it has in recent history.)

Even before President Obama’s plan of government-run health care, he has spent record amounts of money, sending us further into debt.   Adding to the debt is nothing new — Congress has spent more than they took in for 40 consecutive years — but this year is a record pace.  You can’t keep spending more money without having that money to spend.  The money has to come from somewhere.

All that is a long way of saying I won’t be surprised at all if Obama raises taxes on most of us, in some form or another.  Actually, I’d be surprised if he didn’t.  I know what he’s said, but the fact remains: the money has to come from somewhere.