Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Election 2014: Why Your Vote Matters


Why should you vote?  You have A RIGHT to decide the issues in the political process. Here are the issues at hand:

(1)  Voter Suppression

(2) Higher Taxes

(3) Woman's Right to Privacy In Medical Treatment

(4) Fair Wages

(5) Gun Control

(6) Jobs

(7) Minimum ("Living Wage") Issue

(8) Fair Pay for Women Issues

(9) Deficit & Budget Spending

(10) War in the Middle East (fighting ISIS "Daesh")

(11) Bond Issues

There are even more issues as this list is not exhaustive.  Your duty, as a citizen of the United States, is to determine how our governments taxes, spends money and operates. You also must decide whether you wish to have more freedoms or less freedoms.  Your vote helps decide the importance of our FUTURE AND OUR DESTINY as a nation.

Thank You,
Michael Hathman

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ebola: Signs of the Times?

Ebola virus disease (EVD; also Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF)) or simply Ebola is a disease of humans and other mammals caused by ebola viruses. Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus, with a feversore throatmuscle pain and headaches. Then, vomitingdiarrhea and rash usually follows, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, some people begin to bleed both internally and externally.[1] Death, if it occurs, is typically six to sixteen days after symptoms appear and is often due to low blood pressure from fluid loss.[2]
The virus is acquired by contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected human or other animal.[1] This may also occur by direct contact with a recently contaminated item.[1] Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.[3] Fruit bats are believed to be the normal carrier in nature, able to spread the virus without being affected. Humans become infected by contact with the bats or a living or dead animal that has been infected by bats. Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people as well. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. To diagnose EVD, other diseases with similar symptoms such as malariacholera and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are first excluded. Blood samples are tested for viral antibodies, viral RNA, or the virus itself to confirm the diagnosis.[1]
Outbreak control requires a coordinated series of medical services, along with a certain level of community engagement. The necessary medical services include rapid detection and contact tracing, quick access to appropriate laboratory services, proper management of those who are infected, and proper disposal of the dead through cremation or burial.[1][4] Prevention includes decreasing the spread of disease from infected animals to humans.[1] This may be done by only handling potentially infected bush meat while wearing protective clothing and by thoroughly cooking it before consumption.[1] It also includes wearing proper protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease.[1] Samples of body fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.[1]
No specific treatment for the disease is yet available. Efforts to help those who are infected are supportive and include giving either oral rehydration therapy (slightly sweetened and salty water to drink) or intravenous fluids. This supportive care improves outcomes. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25% and 90% of those infected with the virus (average is 50%). EVD was first identified in an area of Sudan (now part of South Sudan), as well as in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The disease typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa.[1] From 1976 (when it was first identified) through 2013, the World Health Organization reported a total of 1,716 cases.[1][5] The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, which is currently affecting Guinea,Sierra Leone, and Liberia.[6][7][8] As of 14 October 2014, 9,216 suspected cases resulting in the deaths of 4,555 have been reported.[6] Efforts are under way to develop avaccine; however, none yet exists.[1]
Courtesy:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A 2,000 Year Political Divide?

Painting by Antonio Joli
We often speak of Rome.  When we do, we think of it as the jewel of Western Civilization, the crown of the worldwide Catholic Church.  We imagine Rome and the greatest single secular power of ancient history and a place of order, law and civilized society.

No doubt, even in speaking of real estate sometimes we use the words: village, villa, ville, and roman villa to describe an ancient and beautifully traditional type of housing which has been around for nearly 2,000 years.  Indeed, these historically Latin words have come to engender a an idea of an upscale type of society.  Wherein, the most elite would be "Citizens of Rome" and urban dwellers with a sense of civility and class - even with all its flaws.  Rome and Roman society has long been the trademarks of Western Culture and Western Civilization as a whole.

However, our language, itself, engenders the Latin words.  Including, but not limited to connotations and implied meanings that come with a way of thinking, a perception and a psychology that still mirrors ancient thinking patterns today.

The Beginning of the Divide: Words & Etymology

Village vs City
The term, village is also akin to other related words such as: ville and villa.  We also have derivative words from whereby we get: vile, villain and villager as well as de ville and it's closely akin word, "devil."  The Latin word for village is vicus from where the word vicious is also derived.

The word, urbs means city or town and is where we derive the words, urban.  And suburban means to be a bit less developed than a city.  The word domesticus means civil and connotes a sense of order and planning.

Barbarian comes from the Latin, barbarus.  It is a pejorative ancient term as the ancient Romans believed that when barbarians spoke, it sounded like they were saying, "bar bar bar bar" and hence, the name, "barbarian" came into existence.  It was very much to indicate an uncivilized, anamalistic type of person who lacked any domestication at all much less the ability to talk intelligently.

Additionally, these people lived in the countryside or rus.  From this word, we get the term rustic and may also indicate the future name of Russia.  Rus (the Steppes of Russia) would be the place from whence invading hordes of barbarians would eventually overwhelm and destroy the Western Roman civilization and initiating the "Dark Ages" for Western Europe for centuries.
Additionally, we also have derived the word rust which indicates the degrade of iron.

when exposed to oxygen.  Rust is a degradation.  This also happens when towns and cities are invaded by barbarians and are left to ruin thus returning to the ground of the countryside and ultimately to be reclaimed by nature.

Barbaric Invasions

The Romans had long been fighting other indigenous peoples all around the Mediterranean world for centuries.  It wasn't until the barbarian invasions became worse and worse did some of the more popular Latin terms start becoming more and more popular.  Terms such as pervertere which meant to wreck, ruin, trash or otherwise spoil were becoming quite popular as more and more cities of the Roman world were suffering from invasion, looting and destruction on a more regular and continuous basis - particularly after the year 200 AD.  It is this word that we get the words, pervert, perversion and perverted.

As destruction and death became more and more common place, the words annihilare and annullare also were used regularly and with alarming frequency.  From these words we get the English words, annihilate, annihilation, annul and annulment and even the legal word, quash.  All of these words mean to literally make into nothing or obliterate.

Of course, with destruction always seems to come the word, fire.  In Latin, this is ignis and incendium.  From whence we get the English words, ignite, incendiary and incite.  Which were also used with alarming regularity.  In fact, one barbarian group was infamous for their destruction as were called, Vandals by the Romans.  It is also from where we get the words, vandal and vandalism as well in the English language.

A Religious Divide

Christianity overcame the the pagan religion of the Roman Empire city-by-city with the evangelical efforts of Saints Peter and Paul.  Ultimately, the churches they lead would eventually convert many of the people living within the boarders of the Empire.  The last places to be reached where the small outlaying villages and country folk as most of the efforts were focused on reaching cities first with more dense population.

Typically, the "problem" for Roman civilization was reaching the "outlaying" areas for purposes of more control and religious outreach.  The rustic folk were typically more disconnected and more likely to be pagan - maybe even barbarians.  Travel was getting more and more dangerous to travel between cities as roving bands of uncivilized barbarians were likely to rob and kill travelers along the way to their destinations.  So, as distrust grew, it became a city versus rural mentality.  The outlaying population simply couldn't be trusted as they were probably barbarian and were pagans also.

As the Empire began to dissolve, death ("mort" in Latin) became part of life.  As the barbarians invaded, there was a lot of fighting, looting, rape.  This is where we get the English words, murder (from the earlier English merging of the words, "Mort doer") and martyr - both having to do with homicide.

Paganism Then & Now

As the cities began to develop an extreme distrust of rural dwellers, the negative notions of being a countryside dweller started to develop more and more in secular and religious thought.

In fact, today, the use of pejorative terms to describe countryside dwellers typically involve notions of backwards living, being uneducated, less inclined to civilized society and more narrow-minded in their ways of thinking and extraordinarily traditional and conservative with regard to social values and traditions, in general.  

Today, uses include such terms as, "country bumpkin," and "hick".  Generally, this type of thinking denotes a social standing that is lower than the average.  The Urban Dictionary explains the word, "hick" as follows (as it relates to country dwellers):
A derogatory slang term for lower class whites raised in rural areas, usually within trailer parks or hog farms. Generally used more for Midwesterners than Southerners (see: redneck
General defining characteristics of a hick: Protestant upbringing, usually Baptist; racist and sexist opinions; does not attend collage; dumber than a post.
Related pejorative language also includes the following: hillbilly, white trash, country, stupid, inbred, racist, southern, trailer trash, nascar, boring, idiot, south, cracker and cowboy.  
As time continued, the idea of pagan and rural dweller became synonymous with each other and an interchangeable word set.  In fact, pagans are also mostly associated with witchcraft and nature worship.  In fact, pagans are many times considered "nature dwellers" and are people who live "outside" the city limits or in country.


Kind a stretch?  Not really.  The hit show, The Beverly Hillbillies, did well with American audiences.  It focused on country people who became rich when they discovered oil on their land and who moved to Beverly Hills.  Their relationships with the more "sophisticated city dwellers" brings on some comical exchanges.

Wikipedia states the following,
The term pagan is from Late Latin paganus, revived during the Renaissance. Itself deriving from classical Latin pagus which originally meant "region delimited by markers", paganus had also come to mean "of or relating to the countryside", "country dweller", "villager"; by extension, "rustic", "unlearned", "yokel", "bumpkin"; inRoman military jargon, "non-combantant", "civilian", "unskilled soldier". It is related to pangere ("to fix", "to fasten") and ultimately comes from Proto-Indo-European*pag- ("to fix").[12]
 Interestingly enough, Peter Brown states in his book, Late Antiquity, the following:
The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. The evolution occurred only in the Latin west, and in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, "Hellene" or "gentile" (ethnikos) remained the word for "pagan"; and paganos continued as a purely secular term, with overtones of the inferior and the commonplace.
Interestingly enough, one of the greater Christian saints pits the city dwellers against those who live in the countryside as Wikipedia notes:
"Paganus" acquired its religious connotations by the mid-4th century.[13] As early as the 5th century, paganos was metaphorically used to denote persons outside the bounds of the Christian community. Following the sack of Rome to pagan Visigoths just over fifteen years after the Christian persecution of paganism under Theodosius I,[16] murmurs began to spread that the old gods had taken greater care of the city than the Christian God. In response, Augustine of Hippo wrote De Civitate Dei contra Paganos ("The City of God against the Pagans"). In it, he contrasted the fallen "city of Man" to the "city of God" of which all Christians were ultimately citizens. Hence, the foreign invaders were "not of the city" or "rural".[17][18][19]
The term "pagan" is not attested in the English language until the 17th century.[20] In addition to infidel and heretic, it was used as one of several pejorative Christian counterparts to gentile (גוי / נכרי) as used in Judaism and to kafir (كافرunbeliever) and mushrik (مشركidolater) as in Islam.[21]
Even today, Google cites pagan as such:
noun
  1. 1.
    a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
    synonyms:heatheninfidelidolater, idolatress;
    archaicpaynim
    "pagans worshiped the sun"
adjective
  1. 1.
    relating to pagans.
    "a pagan god"
    synonyms:heathenungodlyirreligiousinfidelidolatrous
    "the pagan festival"
Paganism As Evil

Paganism is not only associated with the idea of being rural, it is often associated with evil and as being evil.  Paganism is thought as being evil because of a few ideas Christians have about paganism in general:

1.  Anyone who isn't a city dweller can't be trusted.

2. Anyone who isn't a Christian can't be trusted because they have no sense of morality.

3.  Paganism does not include Christ who is the harbinger of salvation.  Therefore, paganism is evil because it does not allow for the salvation of souls.

4.  Satanists have adopted some of the symbols of paganism.  Since both share these symbols, these faiths must be interrelated and cannot be trusted.

These are the main reasons why there is an adversarial relationship between city dwellers and rural dwellers - even to this day.  But, this is only a presentation that has only mentioned the adversarial relationship from the viewpoint of the "city dweller" and not from the "country dweller"

The Flip Side: Why Country Dwellers Don't Trust City Dwellers

From the time that cities were built, they have mostly been ruled by kings and tyrants.  Indeed, city dwellers are required to "conform" with certain standards and expectations.  Indeed, the "in crowd" are all those who live together for a common end and purpose.  Out of cities rise the power of kings and kingdoms as well as churches and their bishops and power structures.

Country freedom allows a sense of true freedom away from the expectations of urban dwellers and the city governments that demand compliance from all citizens in various manners.

Indeed, more freedom rests outside the control of more "controlling" governments inside cities themselves.  Indeed, freedom versus control by government seems to be the ongoing perception and, in reality, there is some truth to this mindset.  Country living offers more freedom and less interference from the busy ongoings of an urban area.


The Establishment of America

The old adversarial relationship would still continue.  The city dwellers versus the country dwellers and the political philosophy that would develop here in America along those very lines.

America is more of an idea than it has ever been a nation.  It is an idea of a dual purpose... one based on the urban vs city dweller mentality of the Old World.  Indeed, the first Americans were seeking a place where they could be free of religious and political tyranny.  These first Americans became the "pioneers" or the "pagani" of the America we know today.  Indeed, many of these men and women were Christian and brought with them the ideas of freedom - freedom from tyrannical centralized urban-based government to an unsettled New World.  The idea would be striking a balance between freedom from government and needing a government to work for the people.  Herein starts a new chapter in the ideas of conservatism versus liberalism; faith versus secularism; freedom versus slavery; balance of having too much with too little government; spending versus saving and the conservation and development that would later decide our political future and the ultimate drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America. 

The Civil War: Who Is Supreme?  The Federal Government or the States?
Indeed, the United States, once it won its War of Independence from Britain would now have to eventually decide exactly "how much" and "how centralized" and "how powerful" this newly formed country's government would be.  The Articles of Confederation failed the newly independent states and the leadership saw the need for a more centralized government.  The first attempt had ended in failure.  The second attempt would be the ultimate formulation of the Constitution and what such a governing document would have to be as a guide for the future governance of the nation - both as individual states and as a whole - a federalized form of government.

A new challenge, a new question emerged.  Who had more power?  The States or Federal Government?  In the case of property rights (slave ownership) the question would ultimately be settled by a civil war.  Now, it was the Federalists (who were mostly Northern city dwellers) who faced off with Southern (mostly rural dwellers) and favored democracy over republicanism.  In fact, the political parties became deeply divided - Republicans versus Democrats.   The Civil War was fought and the South (the more rural region) lost to the North (the more urbanized region).

It is interesting to note, the Roman Empire (a former Republic and later a Federalist Empire) - comprised of cities and states was overrun by barbarians (a kind of anti-federalist, anti-government, anarchists) enemy.  This kind of "generational" animosity continued in this matter in a completely liberal manner.

The Current Political Opposition In the USA



The map clearly shows the Rural/City divide along political viewpoints.  The cities, which are closely tied to government involvement are blue.  The map showing "red" indicates the more conservative ideas of individual freedom and less government.

There has always been a psychological and philosophical "split" between city dwellers and rural (and semi-rurual) dwellers.  Not withstanding the Great Republican Shift in the South (which can be referred to here), the distinct idea of cities continuing to rely heavily on a central government for greater direction and monetary involvement differed greatly from the more rural "go it alone" and self-dependency notions has greatly determined political voting tendencies.

For example, Republicans favor the ideals of individualism, less government, more individual freedom, less government interference, less government spending, business-oriented mindset. Indeed, the ideas of "less government" harken back to the days of mistrust that rural people had of government and large town living.  Even the idea of "no government" that the barbarian hoards ultimately "ended" in towns and provinces all across the Roman Empire only later to re-install rulers again and rebuild government institutions and standing military as obviously there was a need.  Make no mistake, the Republicans favor government - just less of it at less cost to the American Taxpayer.  It is ironic though, that the very word "republic" conjures images of ancient Rome, senators, congresses, parliaments and other various images of government of the people and this is due to the Great Southern Political Shift that occurred after the Civil War leading up to the strategies of the Nixon administration.  Additionally, the idea of "fighting" often involves military action which such folks are akin to do such as various invasions and use of military around the globe - even to topple and destroy governments (a vague conjuring of barbarian invasions in the history of Western Civilization).

Democrats, on the other hand, tend to favor ideas that involve more governmental assistance, such as government aid programs, assisting minorities in voting, human rights, the expansion of rights of various groups and individuals and promoting government regulation for various businesses and industries - especially with regard to safety matters and focusing on the rights of the people in general including those of workers and the members of the middle class.  Much greater focus on keeping the peace and using military intervention in smaller and more surgical ways.  Conversely, due to the Great Southern Political Shift, the word "Democrat" harkens back to a more simple form of government, where the people are the government (not a republic where the people are heard through a government official) but individually, as a singular voice that casts a single vote among many voices.  The "democrat" is more applicable to the rural mentality of political thinking, but due to the Shift, this is no longer the case in American politics.

Indeed, the idea of greater individualism versus the idea of greater government is here to stay and will not see a resolution any time soon.  This is not to say that city dwellers cannot "get along" with rural people or vice verse.  But it is to say that these two different views of government are definitely opposite.  There will always be a need for the people to decide if there should be any government existence in some instances.  Certainly, there is a need for the people to counterbalance the one view, the need for government and "how much" with the need for individual freedom.  There can be no doubt, that upbringing in the rural areas indicates a "free, do-it yourself" mindset (where there is less presence of government and governmental interference - which has been the case for centuries) and the urban more "interdependent" mindset where government presence is high and much more part of daily life and living.

So, let the people (and/or their representatives) decide and cast their votes accordingly.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Downfall of Iraq: A Prelude to Caliphate? An Evaluation of Islamic Thought


Map Source: www.DailyMail.co.uk

Iraq is now being overrun by the ISIS power.  This conquest is meant to bring Sharia Law to the region and many Iraqis are now being displaced as refugees in the area.  Furthermore, the growing groundswell support for this power is also threatening the government of Iraq.

No doubt the area has been in constant and brutal turmoil for decades now as powers rise and fall in the region.  A constant state of instability allows for continued infighting.  America has lost its appetite for war and the American public are worn from the idea of constant warfare and seeing our American troops come home in body bags.  To make the matters worse, the reasons for going to war with Iraq were based on lies, lies and more lies with big corporate interests in the mix.

America can ill afford to be at constant war as it damages our reputation around the world and puts our government in the light of being a constant "bully" of sorts.  America must face challenges militarily on the one hand and be the great purveyor of peace on the other.  This balance is critically important and the United States must be mindful about which battles it chooses to fight.

Gerald Ford, at the end of the Vietnam War, basically said that America could not be the one constantly running to the aid of everyone in need.  We must be aware that the choices other people and other nations make around the world are in their own hands and are a making of their own choice.  National sovereignty must be respected.

ISIS and the Middle East

Perhaps, much like the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, ISIS will follow this same path.  But, if ISIS were to grow in power and strength, what would that mean for the rest of the world?  What would it mean for the nations who depend on the exportation of oil from the Middle East?  These questions can only be answered in time and through observation.  As ISIS grows in strength with the near fever of how Nazism grew, the international stakes will continue to grow.  If the region ultimately reunites under one great Islamic caliphate, the world will see it happen.

Islamic Sentiments for Empire

Currently, the Islamic world is pushing for some type of wide ranging and powerful empire.  Such a caliphate, with the fanatical love of Nazism and the love of imperial ambitions (which are diametrical dreams opposed to freedom and democracy) the rise of an empire based on a Messiah seems to be inevitable.  In fact, the extremists seem to view the idea that an Islamic Caliphate will be global in scope.

A Mahdi for Empire

There is a common thought that a Mahdi will eventually come out of nowhere to establish peace.  In fact, this sentiment is one wherein the Islamic people are seeking a "peaceful" man to establish an empire and bring justice and peace to the world.

An Islamic World Seeking Slavery

The very word, "Islam" means "submission" and very much means domination.  The whole idea that Islam is a religion that is bound to the idea of "slavery" is a very real concept.  There is no room for individualism, individual rights or freedoms.  But giving one's self to the a god and to a lording master as a slave is a mindset that is diametrically opposed to the ideas of liberty in virtually every way imaginable.  This idea of personal slavery is not just a religious one either - it carries with it a strong idea that all individuals, whole nations and societies, nay - the ENTIRE world should be enslaved by a god and master human ruler.  Islamic governments are expected adhere to this mindset.



Global Domination

The goal is to "conquer" the entire planet with this one religion - to subdue every human being to the "Will of Allah" and to have everyone be a slave to this God.  It is a perfect type of rhetoric which makes for the expansion of dictatorial global leadership a very real aim by a people's whose mentality is one that is "slavery to god" and that the state's power is absolute in the name of religion.  The power of the individual is literally meaningless.  In fact, the whole mindset is that there is no need for a "democracy" because the "submission" to the state religion is paramount and trumps the need for secular government.  The greatest power in the world is to have a people believe with their whole hearts (and with religious fervor) that everything - people and government - must be enslaved to a greater power - whether it be a faith and / or a Mahdi.

This idea of "global submission" and has even found a place on Facebook with nearly 200,000 likes.  The page HERE.  Indeed, the community has gone "global" in terms of outreach and the graphics (such as the one inserted above this section) show this mindset as being very real in scope.

Global Implementation of Sharia Law

This type of law is understood as infallible and means, "God's Law" and is applicable to everyday living.  This law covers politics, economics and criminal law.  In fact, since the state, the people of the state are "slaves" to God, Sharia Law, by its implementation seems to be consistent with this religious idea and moral duty to bring the entire globe under slavery to God.  Sharia governs everyday living of people - including government and has certain guidelines for punishment up to and including capital punishment.  See HERE.  Again, this type of law leaves no room for secular freedom or freedom of religion in the broadest sense and is opposed to American tradition of freedom as enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Islamic Beheadings

The idea of beheadings is a terribly gruesome way to die.  In fact, those who believe they are acting in the "Service to God" believe that by eliminating any opponent to Islam, Allah or the Qu'ran, also believe they are correct and justified in doing so.  When the time comes, and a new Islamic Empire or Caliphate is finally reassembled, this political body will most likely pose the greatest danger ever faced by the free world.  Any effort to oppose it will lead to most likely to death sentences worldwide - and by beheading as this method of killing is most gruesome.

The verse of the sword found in the Qu'ran actually "justify" beheading.  In fact, in place of a sword, a guillotine could be employed but the traditional tool for this barbaric activity has been the use of the sword. See Qu'ran and Violence: HERE.

States Modeled After Fanatical Nazism

The ties between the Middle East and Nazi Germany are indeed fascinating as they are fanatical in scope and nature.  In fact, the main focus of that still remains is 2-fold: (1) The destruction of Jews [and most likely Christians as well since they share in Judeo-Christian traditions - particularly with regard to Mosaic Law and Old Testament]; (2) Worldwide conquest.  See Nazism and Islam HERE.




Even in recent years, the fanatical concepts of the worldwide domination have not diminished.  And, as Middle East military forces continue to march in the direction of a ultimate political end, world domination of Islam, the peace cannot and will not be sustained.  In fact, the radical idea of genocide of the Jewish people remains a point of paramount importance and seems to be in accordance with Qu'ranic thinking.

In Conclusion

It appears that the "Crisis in the Middle East" will not be resolved anytime soon.  The fanatical thinking of the governments, powers and peoples involved is a part of the religion, the culture and the politics of the region. It will not end until the entire region comes under the control of a dictatorial Mahdi who will impose an authoritarian regime (with sights on world domination) on the region and launches a campaign on genocide against Israel.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Could the Tea Party Be A Blessing for Democrats? The Cantor Omen


Photo: Steve Helber AP

The media has been in a frenzy over House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor's loss to a Tea Party rival, David Brat.  And, the media has been pushing the notion that the Tea Party is dead.

Now, with the stunning defeat of Cantor in the House, by a Tea Party candidate, now has everyone rethinking the Tea Party's strength in upcoming elections.

New victories may re-energize the far-right conservative base enough to debunk more moderate conservative incumbents from office.  A strong Tea Party with ultra conservative views is crushing the more moderate Republicans who are "caught in the middle" who need to capture more independent and moderate voters but who are also trying to appeal to the far right's political tastes.

What this amounts to is a bit of "civil war" inside the Republican ranks.  While the Tea Party is determined in pulling the party as far right as possible, more mainstream voters are demanding more moderate-to-liberal policy stances from elected officials who are seeking re-election.  The divide is so big that both sides have the politicians virtually talking two different stances out of both sides of their mouths - pandering to both ultra conservatives on the one hand, and more moderate voters on the other.

For Democrats, a divided and crowded field of political contestants may make wins on the Democratic side much easier - that is, if the Democratic Party can stay unified.  If the Republicans can't find a way to "moderate" more of their political policies and attract more voters of different walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds, the party may find itself unable to win the Presidency and to be forever confined to a political party with regional dominance.

Contributor: Michael Hathman

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl: The Case of the Prisoner Exchange Dialogue


Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released back to the United States just recently.

However, there is a big firestorm as to whether a "prisoner exchange" was the "right thing to do" with regard to Bergdahl especially in light of certain indications that Bergdahl may have deserted his post.

There are certain considerations the United States military and civilians should understand.  There is no doubt that we have been at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan for a decade now.  It is a common occurrence that prisoner exchanges happen between formerly belligerent enemies.  And while these exchanges may not be "even" swaps, they do happen and it's usually so many people in exchange for 1 or more people on the other side.

Prisoner Exchanges Are Important for the World to See

Why?  No person, unless they are a traitor working for the other side, should be left behind in the grips of a former enemy.  It's just bad business.

When prisoners are exchanged, and the world sees such exchanges, we can rest comfortably knowing that there is an interest in making prisoner exchanges happen and we won't give up on our people.

When we give up on our prisoners, it send a statement to our armed forces that "We don't care about our vets.  They are expendable - even to rot in enemy hands."  This is intolerable to most people.  Even if there may be questions of desertion.

Winning at Prisoner Exchanges

There is no "winning" in prisoner exchanges.  There is only "winning" at war.  Prisoner exchanges may be looked at in several ways:

The person(s) the enemy hands back are every bit as dangerous to the enemy as the enemy prisoners we release back to the enemy.

If we choose not to get our POW people, the enemy wins and gets to keep them.

If we get our POW people, by stealing them away, these are fewer captives they must care for, feed, clothe and guard.  The enemy wins.

If we exchange our POW people for the enemy's POW people, the enemy wins by getting their people back in their custody.

If we choose to do nothing, the enemy captors still win.

It works the same way with us.  No matter who the "enemy" is - the POW exchange will never be ideally perfect because there are plus and minus signs on both sides of the POW exchange ledger.  There is no real way to engineer a plan were we win and the enemy loses completely.  It's just not the real world and it is even more unrealistic to look at POW Exchanges as a way to profit from war.

The Good News About POW Trades

There is one upside to POW Trades - when we trade enemies for the our own POW people - it's the POW who really wins.  And, his family wins also.  We send a clear message to the world that we care about our vets and that, regardless of the circumstances, we won't leave anyone behind.  We value our people whom we miss and wish we had back in our lives - regardless of the circumstances and regardless of past mistakes.

Contributor:  Michael Hathman

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Climate Change: Is Global Warming A Political Issue?


Odd to think that long term weather trends plays into politics.  But, the truth is, it's a hot topic (no hot pun intended).

The idea that our world has been changing for centuries is not a new one.  In fact, no one really knows just how much man's impact is and how much is due to nature.  But, there is no doubt that humanity is having a massive impact.  Just think about these facts:

1.  Our industrial world is largely responsible for the pollution we put in our air - and there is a lot of it.  Everything from burning fossil fuels to whatever factories put up through their smokestacks.

2.  Wildfires and man made forest fires are adding CO2 levels to the atmosphere in alarming rates.

3.  Volcanic activity has been known to have a large effect on atmospheric conditions.

4.  An increase in solar strength also adds to rising temperatures.

The Effects Are Evident In the Pics

1.  Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate (and disappearing altogether).

2.  Ice melt is raising the level of the oceans.

3.  More greenhouse gases mean more powerful storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.

4.  Higher temperatures mean longer more prolonged droughts.

Partisan Politics?  Really?

The weather isn't isn't a political issue until it's out of control.  For some people who aren't feeling the affects of global warming and climate change, it's a non-issue.  For those who are seeing the effects - FIRST HAND - the evidence is enough and there is a call to action.

I personally believe that we are far past the point of being able to "STOP" climate change.  Now, all we can do is brace for the impact.  Don't believe?  Check out these pics and sources:

Climate Change Before & After:
http://www.businessinsider.com/climate-change-before-and-after-pictures-of-earth-2014-2?op=1

BBC News:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/sci_nat_how_the_world_is_changing/html/1.stm

NASA:
http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators

National Geographic:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/photogalleries/global_warming/

The Next Questions

How are we to prepare?

How bad could it get?

What, if anything, are we willing to do about it (including spending tax dollars to address the issue)


Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day: June 6, 1944 - What Was the Point of All the Fighting?


The story of WWII is truly amazing.  And, it is a long one.

Starting (in medias res) with D-Day, this particular operation stands like a colossus over all military operations in human history.  Indeed, this operation was an exceedingly risky one and the Allied Supreme Commander, Eisenhower, knew it would be.

Eisenhower, Patton and MacArthur were seasoned students of history.  There is little doubt that the Allies had a lot to lose if this invasion went bad.  There were enough defeats and history, being a very loud and clear teacher reminded the leaders of the risk they were going to be taking with a 1,000,000 man operation. It had not gone well for the Spanish Armada in 1588 nor the other great amphibious assault launched by the Mongolian Empire by Kublai Khan in 1274.  Both ended in complete disaster due to weather conditions. And, the weather wasn't the best on June 6, 1944.  The two greatest amphibious assaults ever launched ended in catastrophe. And, based on that track record, the Allies were about to launch the third greatest in all of human history.  But, as luck would have it, it went well, the forces landed and with a bit of American ingenuity, the Allies were able to cut through the hedgerows to make their ultimate advance on Germany.

But, was all of this REALLY necessary?  Perhaps not.  Amazingly, the Versailles Treaty of 1918 was a very unfair and unforgiving agreement and Germany was utterly put to financial ruin because of the harsh dictatorial terms forced upon the Germans by the Allies.  Had the Christian concept of forgiveness and mutual respect been a part of the accords, WWII and tens of millions of lives would not have been lost. Tragically though, FORGIVENESS, justice and mutual respect was not in the cards but GREED was.

Perhaps World War II wasn't really a lesson about freedom versus tyranny as much as it was about forgiveness, justice and showing others mutual respect.  Perhaps those are the real lessons of World War II and about the men and women who believed in those values.

RESPECT for life in the constant consideration of mutual respect, forgiveness and social justice should have been at the forefront of any discussion for lasting peace.  If these ideas had been the hallmark guides of righteous conduct of the Allied government leaders in 1918, there would have been a very good chance that the history following the tyrannical peace accords of the Versailles Treaty would never have taken place.  In place of facilitating forgiveness rather than hatred and revenge, Mussolini and Hitler may never have been able to seize power.  The power of radical and fanatical hatred would not have had the seeds to grow and escalate to a Second World War.  There would have been no massive consequence to the growing threat of hatred, bigotry and, inevitably, Holocaust. When our world forgets these simple values, nothing good can ever come from the disregard.  Instead, we plant the seeds of our own destruction.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Veterans Administration: The VA Has Failed - What Now?


The problems with the Veteran's Administration seem to be just beginning.  Apparently, in a cover up with regard to wait times, the VA has published false reports about veteran wait times in place of the real numbers for wait times American Veterans have actually had to endure with regard to getting healthcare access.

Making matters worse, VA officials received bonuses based on the false reports on wait times.  In fact, there have been reports alleging that many veterans were dying because there was such a lack of access to healthcare providers.

Compounding the problems, as vets return from the foreign wars with all kinds of health issues ranging from war wounds to psychological challenges, the VA has found itself overwhelmed with requests for assistance.

Eric Shinseki, former head of the VA, had resigned his position on Friday amid the breaking scandal.  Now President Obama faces the need to fill the post with a "FIX IT" man who can address the scandal and make sure the VA is fully funded and staffed to meet the needs of vets who are returning home and in need of medical attention.

Matters on this issue seem to be deteriorating rapidly.  Republicans have blocked the Veterans Bill from passing that would have given the VA more funding but Democrats couldn't find the votes to override Republican criticism of "pay-for" spending that was proposed by Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) Senate bill 1982. Apparently, Republicans find it absolutely necessary to deny funds to veterans who desperately deserve access to healthcare.

According the New York Times, veteran visits to healthcare facilities has grown by 26% over the past 5 years while healthcare staff has grown by 18%.  The $156 million budget has more than doubled since 2006. Additionally, Democrats are clamoring for more more hospitals and staff as demand is outpacing supply and will continue to do so unless it is matched with the adequate numbers of healthcare staff and facilities up to 2015 when the remaining troops stationed in Afghanistan return home.

In conclusion, the Republicans and Democrats have a mandate from the American People to meet this need. The VA system will need to be improved, if not overhauled.  There will need to be more hospitals and staff in place to meet the rising healthcare needs of veterans as they age and face new health challenges such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other healthcare matters.

As a final thought, it would be wonderful if Congress could put veteran needs first before the Almighty Dollar budgetary considerations.  Veterans have already more than earned their right to have their healthcare needs met by our great country.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Was Edward Snowden A Patriot: UPHOLDING the Law & NOT Breaking It?


The real questions that face the United States of America are important.  What Snowden did was to uphold the law (the Fourth Amendment).  Leaking top secret government information is considered treason.  But the party Snowden leaked the information was his fellow patriots - not an foreign regime.

WHO IS MORE GUILTY?

Was it the Patriot, Edward Snowden?  Snowden (and rightfully so) did not trust his government or superiors to do the right thing by disclosing to the American People just how bad the breach of privacy really was or how extensive the spying apparatus was with regard to the monitoring of the American People.

Perhaps the bigger culprit isn't Snowden at all.  It's the NSA who is guilty of failing to follow the law as it was written in the Constitution.  No one would argue that he broke his oath to keep security secrets - secret.  In this manner, Snowden broke his oath.  But the question is what is the lesser evil?  Telling the American People about this incredible breach of privacy or breaking an oath so that the NSA can continue UNCHECKED in its surveillance operations?  Snowden clearly felt that these operations clearly violated the rights of the American People to privacy and that such operations were so enormous in scope and magnitude, that to keep the silence would have been akin to to the more treasonous act of not upholding the Fourth Amendment rights of the citizenry and the Constitution - in whole - not in part.

A GREATER CONCERN

Snowden must have felt that a continuous erosion of the Constitution is a very grave concern and very much threatens the entire existence of the Republic.  Where must we draw the line?  Do we slowly ignore the Constitutional rights of citizens to the benefit of the government and security and of less privacy?  To do so, inches the Republic ever closer to a POLICE STATE.  And, when the movements of and freedoms of the citizens of country are slowly and surely eroded into oblivion, so goes the liberty of the nation.

I am sure, that Snowden must have had many thoughts concerning the issues of privacy, upholding the Fourth Amendment and also about preserving privacy and freedom.  NO DOUBT, Snowden knows far more than he is letting on and he won't disclose it completely.  But, at the same time, he was a party to something that very apparently scared him so much that to continue withholding his secret would have been a greater disservice to the American People.

THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

Interestingly, the "GENERAL SEARCH" for information of the NSA isn't all that distant in history from the disputes American Colonialists had with the British Government concerning the abuse of the Writ of Assistance which apparently the subject of much abuse and tension.  Wikipedia states:
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It was adopted in response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, a type of general search warrant issued by the British government and a major source of tension in pre-Revolutionary America
THOUGHTS OF THE FOREFATHERS
He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.- Samuel Adams
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.- Benjamin Franklin
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
- Benjamin Franklin
We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts–not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
- Abraham Lincoln
A FINAL THOUGHT

Yes, Edward Snowden is guilty of breaking his oath.  And, yes, he is guilty as charged.  But, considering the circumstances and the graveness of the issue at hand, and with regard to his desire to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, I applaud his actions.  I do not think that the government may always be trusted to follow the law nor to disclose to the American People those things which are noxious to the liberty of this great nation.  The bigger culprit here are the men who have perverted the Constitution in the name of "national security" and who have made Edward Snowden a party to these illegal activities and which Snowden, in an act of uncommon bravery and valor, has brought to full light out of love for his country. There is no doubt in my mind, that what Snowden acted on his deepest desire to preserve the privacy and liberty of the American People, which was the right thing to do as it pertains to the Fourth Amendment.

You must now ask yourself these two questions:

(1) Did the American People have a right to know about this massive operation which was a violation of a reasonable right to privacy (in absence of probably cause)?

(2) Would you have trusted the United States Government and the National Security Agency to disclose to the American People the scope and magnitude of their surveillance operations and that such operations were conducted CLEARLY in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution?

(3) Did Snowden really break the law given the fact that he was party to (and was expected to dispense with his illegal duties) with regard to operations - which can adequately be described as massive in both scope and magnitude - that were, again, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution?

(4) Who is the REAL culprit here?  The NSA or Snowden?

You decide.

Contributor: Michael Hathman