Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well it's that time of year again, when the old year is on the way out and the new year is ushered in with all kinds of celebrations or hardly being noticed. Some people will go out to clubs or bars to party. Some people will go to parties at friends' houses and some will watch the New Year come in on TV. Others won't pay a bit of attention to the event and go to bed early.

As per custom nearly everyone makes a New Year's resolution, which is usually broken within days. At the gym on January 2nd, the place is packed with dieters who have resolved to lose weight. By February 2nd they're nowhere to be seen. People quit smoking, at least for a couple of days and people give up alcohol, until the hangover of New Year's Eve wears off.

People wish each other a Happy New Year and offer hopes of a better year ahead. People hope for a better economy, more jobs, less violence, less suffering and world peace. People offer well meaning and heartfelt intentions to make life easier for everyone. But unfortunately not everyone hopes and prays for the betterment of the lives of all. There will still be people who will work hard to deny some people of their rights and push to impose their beliefs on others. There will still be people who will try protect the wealthy, at the expense of the poor and middle class. There still will be bigots and racists who will spread their hate. There still will be terrorism in the world and their still will be gun violence in our country. The divide between the Republicans and Democrats will remain, as the GOP will keep trying to discredit Obama. Nothing will change until our politicians have the balls to stand up to the extremists in this country and bring about change.

I guess that as the New year approaches I remain a bit cynical and jaded, by the events of the past year, including the presidential election and the recent school shootings, with the pathetic behavior of the NRA and others. I see the fiscal cliff coming in just a couple of days and I see the House Republicans ready to let the country go over the cliff to protect the top 2% wealthiest Americans from paying a dime more taxes.They are willing to let the poor and middle class suffer and perhaps lose their jobs so the wealthy don't have to pay their fair share.

Well enough of the depression of the past. We all must hope for the best and work hard for the betterment of ourselves and others. We can't let the extremists in our society define what America is. So in that spirit I wish everyone reading this a very Happy, Prosperous, Healthy and Loving New Year.  We CAN make 2013 a better year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. At this festive time of year I hope all of my readers are able to spend time with their friends and loved ones. For our servicemen overseas, may you stay safe during the holidays and every day of the year and be reunited with your families very soon. For those families separated by the miles and by immigration laws, don't give up hope. For all those suffering from loss of a loved one or from ill health may our prayers be with you and may the new year give you solace, comfort and hope. May peace finally come to all people around the world.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
and
HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Not Just the Guns

Every time there is a tragedy, such as the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I can't help but think back to my childhood school years and compare now to then. For two days I thought a lot about my early years in school trying to make a comparison.

When I was in school I never experienced any frightening moments and I cannot remember ever hearing of any violence involving  schools or students. I can vividly remember when a classmate in the third grade died of leukemia. That was the first time I had to deal with the death of someone my own age. I can remember rarely that a teenager would be injured or killed in a hunting accident, but never anyone I knew. My father and brothers and their friends hunted with shotguns or 22 caliber rifles. I even hunted when I became 16, after having to take a hunter safety course offered by the local sportsman's club. I never viewed having a gun or hunting with a gun to be any big deal. I do not remember ever hearing about someone, young or old, being intentionally shot by a gun. But maybe I was sheltered.

When I was in school and there was a disagreement between or among students, for one reason or the other, they simply had a verbal shouting match. On some occasions the disagreement led to a fist fight, where nothing more serious than a bloody nose was the result. But not now. Today if one teenager merely gives a dirty look to another teenager or accidentally bumps into another, he could be shot and killed. I can remember seeing TV news programs about gangs in NYC or Los Angeles, where "turf wars" were fought with fists, chains and knives, but rarely guns. That scenario was so foreign to me.

When we went to the movies we saw movies like Gorgo, Godzilla and other so called monster movies. Frankenstein and Dracula were popular, as it was fun to be scared out of our wits.We didn't see any really violent movies where there was a great deal of blood and guts and other gore. I remember cowboy movies where the bad guys got shot by the sheriff, but without concentrating on the violence. It was different, however, when the cavalry fought the Indians. For some reason it was acceptable for Native Americans to be slaughtered.  There were numerous war movies around, when I was younger and naturally violence was depicted in the often times historical recounts of battles of World War II. I think we understood this to be history.

When we played war or cowboys and Indians , we shot each other with our cap pistols or pop guns, but we all knew it was just a game and the victim would soon be up and ready to play another game. Speaking of games, when I was young we played Monopoly, Life or Scrabble. Video games came into play in my middle or late teens, with games such as Donkey Kong or Super Mario. In arcade games we shot ducks or airplanes. We didn't shoot people. When I was of college age the Vietnam war was in full swing. We knew this wasn't a game. We knew you could get killed for real and you wouldn't come back to play another game.

Today things are different. Popular high tech video games glorify brutalizing women and indiscriminately killing people and police officers. Teenagers are glued to their game consoles for hours at a time losing contact with the real world. They become the figures in their video games. Today's movies aimed at young people do not require any thought or intelligence to "understand" the plot. There is no plot. The more violent and the more blood and body parts and destructive weapons in the movie, the more popular it is.Years ago movies pitted the good guys against the bad guys. A very simple concept of good and evil. Today the movies portray drug runners, street gangs and fast cars in battles with each other. Often times law enforcement is belittled or portrayed as corrupt or evil and the victims of the bloodshed. If there are plots to these movies they are  very shallow. Their aim is to entertain by the actions of fast cars, extreme weapons and extreme violence.

What really irritated me in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings were the number of Hollywood actors and movie makers who came out against gun violence. What hypocrites! They earn their living making movies glorifying gun violence and murder.

American society and culture has changed since I was in school. Today I read that 47% of Americans have guns. This counts as 1 weapon for every man, woman and child in the country. We have more guns than any other country of the world and these guns are readily available. There have been mass shootings,involving young people in other parts of the world, including Britain and Norway, where guns are not as readily available. Recently in China a man entered a rural school and attacked several children, with a knife. No one was killed, but imagine what would have happened if the crazed man had a gun. In Switzerland, where there is no army, just about every male has a rifle at home. Yet in Switzerland gun violence involving intentional homicide was 0.52 per 100,000 population, while the US had a rate of 3.0 per 100,000. According to the 2012 Global Peace Index the safest country in the world was Iceland. What is interesting about this index is that our neighbor, Canada, was ranked number 4 safest country, while The USA ranks 88.

I agree something has to be done about the violence in this country. I don't advocate taking away guns from responsible citizens who enjoy hunting or target shooting. I do not, however, see the necessity for having military style assault weapons capable of killing as many people as possible. Beside revisiting the regulation of assault weapons something has to be done about the mental health system in this country. I think that in our endeavor to protect the civil rights of the mentally ill, we are neglecting the civil rights of the general population. In each and every one of the recent mass shootings it was later learned that the shooters were mentally unbalanced and either were not receiving treatment, refused treatment or worse yet, completely ignored. They simply became their favorite killer character of their favorite violent movie and took revenge on anonymous people as they have seen their heroes do many times. America may have more guns than any other developed country, but we may also have more mentally ill people than any other country of the world.


It is time that we all do a little soul searching in this country and decide what the real American values are. The founders of this country were talking about muskets and not assault weapons, when they enshrined the right to bear arms in the Constitution. Our children have the right to live without fear of violence and our citizens have the right to access to proper mental health care. We  must all act together in concert to protect the health and safety of us all.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another American Tragedy

Today the world awoke to the news of yet another mass shooting in the United States. This time, in the quiet suburban setting of Newtown, Connecticut, where the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School were attacked. Instead of a community of children and families anxiously awaiting the Christmas holidays, a lone deranged shooter, dressed for combat entered an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults. Now instead of preparing for Christmas, families are preparing for funerals and struggling to explain the killings to their children who survived the massacre, but still witnessed the horrifying events.

The  investigations continue, but we do know, however, that the 20 year old gunman also shot and killed his mother before going to the school, and then killed himself. According to some, the shooter may have been autistic and may have had a disturbed past. His mother was a teacher in the school and the arsenal of weapons he used actually belonged to his mother. Why a school teacher needs a cache of assault weapons is beyond me!

My prayers go out to the victims and their families and all of those children who have to live with the horror they have seen. But at the same time I am angry at the same old rhetoric about how something must be done. With each shooting people say the shooting is the worst shooting in American history and then there is another shooting, which becomes the "worst" in American history. Politicians are so disgustingly afraid of the NRA and the gun lobby that they do not dare go against them. They have let these groups define American culture and place more of a value on assault weapons than on the lives of our children

Gun lobbies argue that taking the guns away will destroy the safety and security of the country. But as history reminds us the wild, wild west was only tamed when guns were taken aways from the average citizen and law enforcement was put into the hands of professional law enforcement agencies. There are many avid sportsmen, such as hunters and those who enjoy shooting skeet etc. and they should have the right to enjoy their sport. What I don't understand is why people need to have assault weapons, machine guns and other weapons designed for the military. How many deer hunters use an AK47 or duck hunters a machine gun?

I wrote an article on guns a short time ago which was published on another site and I received some very nasty comments. It seems that if you attack the rights of some people to own and use assault weapons it is paramount to attacking their masculinity. You can read my previous article by clicking here. I believe that no other topic of interest to Americans draws so much controversy and rage than the topic of gun control. It wasn't mentioned in the past Presidential elections because of fear of the gun lobbies, but it's time to stand up for the safety and security of our citizens and our children and face the gun lobbies. Mass murders are a reality and are becoming almost common, but the paranoia and conspiracy theories of the pro gun lobby are not reality and exist only in their minds. It is time to do more than talk.

The rest of the world, even third world countries, are increasingly viewing the US as a very dangerous country to live in and even visit. It is sad that along with being known more opportunities for education and upward mobility, more technological advances and health care, that we are now becoming known as the home of mass murders. To our politicians I have one thing to say. Stop the bullcrap, grow some testicles and stand up to the NRA, for the sake of our future, our children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Royal Phone Prank

I am sure everyone has now heard of the Royal telephone prank played on Prince William and his pregnant wife, Kate, by a couple of Australian disc jockeys. To summarize the tragic incident for those who somehow missed the news, a couple of disc jockeys in Sydney, Australia, called King Edward VII hospital in London where Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness, and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Philip. The victim of the hoax, nurse Jacinta Saldanha, believing the callers to be the Queen and her husband revealed private information regarding Kate's condition. Shortly after this prank the nurse committed suicide, turning the supposedly harmless prank into a fatal tragedy.

Radio DJ's play pranks on or for their listeners every day all over the world, with no harmful effects. Since this incident the two Australian DJ's have been attacked and ridiculed and blamed for this poor nurse's death. The blame on this hoax cannot be placed on any one person. As I said, these pranks take place all over the world. Japan probably conducts the most bizarre and vicious of any of these pranks, with little or no repercussions, as far as we know. When these calls are made, the pranksters know nothing of the state of both the mental and physical health of the victims. It is like playing Russian roulette and hoping the victim is not suicidal or has a severe heart condition, but the radio public demands such stunts. It was only a matter of time before a tragedy happened.

There  is one thing different about this sad situation and I have have a burning question to ask. Would this hoax have gone unnoticed if the subjects of the prank were not members of the Royal Family? Would the same thing have happened if the subjects were lesser celebrities or even normal everyday people? First of all because royalty is the privileged class, attention is naturally directed to them and special treatment is not only expected but required, therefore they are not immune to such jokes, satire and pranks. The nurse in this case, if the patient was an ordinary person, would not have divulged any information to a caller. But because members of the monarchy have to be treated differently, the nurse basically had no choice. She had no idea she was not talking to the Queen and Prince Philip. I do not think for a minute that the administrators of King Edward VII hospital went easy on this nurse. If the patient had been a commoner she would have gotten a reprimand, but because the patient was royalty, I am sure they were extremely harsh on her. Being a nurse she was exposed to all sorts of stressful situations and was, before this incident, able to handle her job in a professional manner. We will never know what was going on in this woman's life and will never know why she took her own life.

Instead of trying to place blame of the DJ's or anyone else, we should all reflect on why this happened. Has our society become too cruel and insensitive? Are our lives so dull, boring and meaningless that we have are entertained by the misfortunes of others? And why, at this time in history, do we need to have a class of privileged people, royalty or otherwise, to hold in the highest esteem and treat as our betters.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Alexa Page Rank and My Blog

When I first started this blog I had hoped to have a blog where I could express and share my ideas, thoughts and feelings with anyone who cared to read it. I also wanted to make some spare change at the same time as I increase my readership. Well things are going okay, but not as good as I wanted them to go, so I have made a few changes.

One thing that blog or website owners look for is a high page rank in Alexa. With millions upon millions of websites out there this is very important. Alexa is a ranking system that rates the popularity of websites and can help increase readership. I know you don't want to hear all of the technical stuff, which I really don't know, so you can click on the previous Alexa link to learn more. So in order to improve Steveso Thinks and my other blog, Retired in Malaysia, I have made some changes you may or may not notice. First of all I have added the Alexa widget to both sites. This will allow Alexa to monitor my statistics and it will also allow my readers to review my sites. So please, if you like my site or have something to say about it, please take the time to click on this widget to review my site.

As I have stated previously I would like to earn some spare change while I am writing these blogs, so I have placed some advertising on the blogs. I have AdSense from Google and I also have some affiliate advertising from a few companies. I have made nothing from the affiliate advertising and enough money from AdSense to buy a cup of Starbuck's coffee once a month. I have decided to remove the affiliate advertising from my blogs, but keep AdSense in hopes that I can increase revenue if my readership and page rank increases.  I have also tried to eliminate some of the annoying widgets on the sidebar of both blogs. I hope to make a few more changes in appearance in the near future.

Promoting a blog is important to increase traffic to the blog. With my blog Retired in Malaysia it is quite easy to categorize it as a travel blog or a blog about living in Malaysia and thus promoting it is a little easier. With Steveso Thinks I find it more difficult to promote as it is more difficult to categorize. Some of the articles in the blog pertain to politics, some to social issues and some are just random thoughts or ideas I have. Therefore, the blog doesn't comfortably fit into any one niche. I designed the blog so as I can make and share my comments and thoughts on a variety of subjects and I will just have to keep struggling to find the right way to promote it.

I hope you weren't too bored with this post, but this is what has been on my mind. If you have any comments or suggestions about this blog please don't hesitate to make them. Thanks to all for you support.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

GOP - Genuinely Obnoxious People

The recent presidential election showed just how much Republicans loathe minorities, such as Blacks, women, Hispanics, gays and immigrants. Because of this contempt the GOP lost the votes of these minorities and thus lost the election. Now the GOP has included another group to this list of people they hold in contempt. This group includes the disabled - children and adults. Republicans showed how despicable they are recently, by voting down, in the House of Representatives, the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Leading the attack against the disabled was none other than the holier than though ultra conservative Republican Rick Santorum. Santorum, whose daughter is disabled, espoused that if the US ratified this document the United Nations would kill her. Once again the Republicans are trying to  spread fear throughout the country that the United Nation's actions will have precedence over the US Constitution and the laws of the country. Republican conservative groups, with a long history of fear and hatred of the UN, have insisted that the UN has an anti-American bias and that this treaty would take away the sovereignty of the United States. According to the website Right Wing Watch, a home schooling activist, in an interview with Focus on the Family, " claimed that the treaty will prompt the United Nations to ‘get control’ of children with glasses or ADHD and remove them from their families". The mere fact that this extremist and bigoted group, Focus on the Family, is implicated in this issue shows just how much control right wing extremists have in the Republican party.

All of the arguments of these intolerant right wingers are absolutely baseless. The mechanizations of theUnited Nations can in no way effect the sovereignty of any nation. After all the UN is an organization comprised of nations who wish to improve the world and settle international disputes in a peaceful way. Only if a country wanted to surrender it's independence and sovereignty would the United Nations step in, at the request of other member nations, to govern that country, temporarily. So unless the US wanted to give up is independence and sovereignty and actually changed the Constitution, the UN could never supersede the laws of the country.
But the far right, which draws strength from their ludicrous conspiracy theories, either from extreme paranoia or outright stupidity and ignorance attempts to instill fear into the hearts of anyone in order to attack the UN.

Why do they do this? What are they afraid of?  I believe that one reason is that they are xenophobic and fear and trust people of other nations, religions and races. This could also be the reason why Republicans hate immigration, especially from non-white countries. Many of these right wingers have insisted that the US go it alone in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. They seem to be against any type of global cooperation and would rather have the US act unilaterally in any worldwide conflict. I can remember a number of years ago when some of these same people accused Bill Clinton of acting in concert with the UN to form one large country  governed by the UN. They have totally lost touch with reality.

At a time when the economy is in crisis, global warming is becoming more serious and there is an increase of terrorist activity, it is extremely imperative that all nations act together to protect the world.  Instead the GOP is seeking isolation in foreign affairs, if the US cannot be the dominant country. In foreign affairs and domestic policies, such as civil and human rights the Republicans want to return to 18th century. They are behaving in ways similar to their Taliban counterparts who are fighting to return to the middle ages. They are also reminiscent of Nazi Germany's quest for the dominance of the Arien race, when they oppose rights of minorities, whether they be Black, gay, Hispanics, women, the poor, immigrants and the disabled. They are willing to destroy these minorities in an attempt to force their controlling, bigoted, reactionary ideology upon the US and the rest of the world.

When the GOP stoops so low as to attack and denigrate people with disabilities just to further their own outrageous and hateful agenda, it is time for moderate and sane Republicans to oust these extremists and put them where they belong. And that is under a rock on the fringe.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are We Going Over the Cliff?

Day by day we are getting closer to that feared economical feature known as the fiscal cliff. In the past few weeks the Congressional Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating to come to an agreement that would avoid going over the cliff, which would cause an economic catastrophe for the American people and the government, with such programs as Medicare and the defense budget being severely cut.

Before the election the Republicans, refused to negotiate in good faith and refused any kind of compromise, as they firmly believed that Obama would be defeated and Romney would be President. During the election Romney and the Republicans vowed to never increase taxes on the wealthy millionaires who support the GOP. Romney's "47%" speech showed just how much contempt he and his fellow Republicans had for the poor and middle class in America. Romney's candidacy was heavily bankrolled by the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other billionaire friends. They wanted to make sure that they would remain rich and become even richer, at the expense of the American middle class.

On election day the Republicans were stunned when Obama won re-election quickly and easily. The poor, minorities, women and the middle class repudiated Romney's policies of coddling the super rich. Republicans blamed those who receive so called gifts from Obama for the defeat. Those people are retirees, military personnel and their families, the unemployed, the handicapped and oh yes those large corporations that receive government subsidies. To this day Romney is still in seclusion refusing to believe he lost and that those 47% of the American population he called freeloaders didn't vote for him.

So now that the Republicans have to deal with another 4 years of an Obama administration they are still refusing to compromise. House leader John Boehner has just introduced a plan to reduce the deficit. It includes cutting $300 billion in defense and reducing Medicare by $600 billion and cutting benefits for the unemployed. His plan also includes $800 billion in tax revenues, which are not as yet outlined, but would include eliminating exemptions for mortgage interest and other such exemptions, which mainly hit the middle class homeowners. Guess what? Boehner's plan does not raise the tax rate on the wealthy by even one penny.  He's playing a reverse Robin Hood - steal from the poor to give to the rich. The GOP continues to show their contempt for the middle class, while protecting their wealthy supporters.

It's about time middle class Americans let Congress know how they feel. It's time for Boehner and his fellow Republican elitists to stop putting the Tea Party and GOP  and their own interests above the interests of the country. If we go over the fiscal cliff, it will be the fault of the Republicans and we will have to wait another 2  years until the voters can make them pay for what they have done to middle class Americans.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Is Israel Really Serious About Peace?

The country of Israel is about as old as I am and so, for as long as I have been alive, Israel has been fighting wars of some sort or other with her neighbors just to survive as a country. Over the past 60 odd years Israel has signed peace treaties with only Egypt and Jordan. Tensions remain always high with Israel's other neighbors, however. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to Middle East peace is the issue of Palestine. The search for Palestine to become a state has been an elusive one. Negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Authority on the granting of Palestine statehood have gone no where.

Hamas, which Israel and the United States have declared to be a terrorist organization, has gained a great deal of respect and authority in Palestine. The recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, where Hamas fired missiles into Israel and Israel responded with bombings, where many civilians were killed, only strengthened the position of Hamas.  Israel has the right to protect itself from indiscriminate missile attacks and Palestine has the right for it's citizens to live free of fear of retaliatory attacks on their homes and schools. Egypt has helped broker a cease fire to end the killings in Gaza and so far it is holding.

Shortly after this, the Palestinian Authority had won it's battle to have Palestine upgraded from an observer  to a "non-member" state by the United Nations. This change in status is only a symbolic gesture and carries no diplomatic weight. The US and Israel of course voted against this measure. Personally I don't see a big difference for Palestine, but it does offer them some hope of attaining statehood. Since Israel has stated publicly that she is in favor of Palestinian statehood I do not understand why Israel vigorously opposed the recent UN actions.

Shortly after the actions of the United Nations Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the construction of 3,000 more homes in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. These are the very areas which the Palestinians hope one day will be a part of the new state of Palestine and have been the home to Palestinians for thousands of years. Israel's actions are illegal under international law and have been condemned by all countries of the world. This act was definitely in retaliation for the UN granting non-member status to Palestine. It also put another nail in the coffin for a peace agreement and show Israel has no interest in a peace agreement or granting statehood to Palestine.

What really irks me about these illegal settlements is that when the residents of these Jewish settlements are interviewed on television news programs they all say "this is our land" "this land belongs to Jews" and "this is our home". They speak with a clear Brooklyn, New York City or Australian accents! They were not born there. It is no more their home than it is mine! Palestinians were born there, farmed the land there, made their living there and die there. Why does Israel think they belong there? 

Ever since Israel's existence the US has fully supported her right to peaceful coexistence with her neighbors. The US has in many instances supported Israel over our own interests in the world, especially the Middle East. We have given billions of dollars in aid and military assistance to Israel over the years and now Netanyahu thumbs his nose at the US and the rest of the world. I know he really hoped Romney would be elected so he could have free reign over the US's Israeli policies. Netanyahu has no intention of compromise and negotiating a peace treaty or granting statehood to Palestine. It's about time the US, Britain and Israel's other allies say "enough is enough" and tell Israel to negotiate in good faith or the money supply will be cut off.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Parent of the Year





This photo is one a several photos that have been circulating in email jokes with the satirical title of "parent of the year". When I first looked at this photo I chuckled for a minute, but then soon realized that I see this every day, living in Malaysia.

Each and every day as I walk along the streets of Penang, I see thousands upon thousands of motorbikes. Often I will see parents and one, two or more children riding on the bikes. Occassionally you might see the driver wearing a cheap helmet, but the kids usually never have one.

When I first saw these motorcycles with the entire family aboard, I was appalled, thinking that this would never happen back home. The difference is that very poor people back home often have cars or at least can afford public transportation, whereas here the motorbike substitutes for the family car. The people driving these motorbikes have a salary of less than $300 a month for the entire family.  There are helmet laws here in Malaysia, but they are enforced selectively. Many people just thumb their noses at the police. The police feel that most of these people can't afford to buy proper helmets and if they were given a summons, they couldn't afford that either. So the helmetless drivers are ignored. I often wonder if someone can afford a motorbike, they should be able to afford a helmet to save the lives of their children.

Even though I see this everyday I can't get used to it and wonder how many children are needlessly killed or injured. But that is one of the many ways a developing country is different.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December 21, 2012 - Are You Ready?

December is almost upon us. The presidential election of 2012 is history and our Thanksgiving dinner is now a memory, as most of us who celebrate Christmas begin our preparations for the Christmas holidays. Everyone is busy shopping for Christmas presents and planning Christmas dinner. Here in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, Christmas decorations adorn the shopping malls and carols are blaring to entice shoppers to spend more money. Restaurants are already advertising Christmas dinner and New Year's Eve celebrations. Everyone is rushing to get everything done by Christmas, December 25th. But wait a minute. What about December 21st, 2012?

Unless you've been living in a cave and have had no connection to the outside world, you must have heard about the date December 21, 2012. That is the day the world will end, supposedly. According to the Mayan calender December 21,2012 is the last day. The end of the calender and the end of the world. The Hopi Indians foretell a "purification of the earth" and even Nostradamus predicted the destruction of the world on this date.

People who believe this prediction point to the increase and severity of natural catastrophes in the past few years. We have had devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts and floods, killing thousands of people. There have been horrific acts of human violence perpetrated in the name of God and differing ideologies. Both mankind and nature are becoming increasingly more violent. Will this increased violence culminate in the end of the world?

According to news sources North Korea is preparing to launch another missile, in their efforts to be able to deliver nuclear weapons to neighboring South Korea and Japan. Iran is steadily progressing in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, most likely to be used to destroy Israel and gain control of the Middle East. And speaking of the Middle East, the recent fighting between Hamas and Israel, could very easily lead to WWIII and the destruction of a very large portion of that area of the world. Things could get really get out of hand over there and blow up on December 21, 2012. The end may not come as a result of human violence, but a catastrophic astronomical event, such as a devastating meteor or a geological event such as a mega earthquake or volcano.

Some people believe that the world will not end on that date, but that the earth will go through major changes, as a result of extreme weather or less destructive astronomical or geological events.  As the Hopi's believe, these events could cleanse the earth of the destructive influences of humans. The earth and the world may not end on December 21st, but it may be a completely different place to live on the 22nd. Maybe the earth will give the human race a one time warning to straighten up and act in a civilized and responsible manner.

Some people firmly believe that the end of the world will come on this date and are preparing for the event by stockpiling food and supplies. Great idea until the food runs out. Then they will die of starvation. Personally I don't believe the end will come in December, but if it does there is nothing anyone can do about it. I realize some people who are preparing for the end will get rid of their personal possessions and wealth, as they will not be needed after the end. To you people I ask that if you want to dispose of your money, please consider sending it to me, as you won't need it. If you're right and the world ends nothing is lost. If you're wrong, well that is a lessen learned for you. In any event enjoy the next few weeks or have a Merry Christmas.


GOOD LUCK

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to All


I would like to wish all of my friends and family a very happy Thanksgiving. I wish I could find a traditional Thanksgiving dinner here in Malaysia, but I will just have to dine on my memories. Hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to enjoy Thanksgiving and all of the rest of the holidays with the rest of the family in the United States. Eat and enjoy everything and drive safely.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Log Cabin Republicans - What's the Sense?

Now that the election has been over for a while Republicans have been looking for reasons for their stunning loss. They seemed to be still shell shocked at how they lost the election, which I really cannot understand. I suppose if the only news you watch is Fox News, then you can't be blamed for being totally out of touch with reality.

Most pundits agree that Romney lost all of the minorities in this country. These included, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, women, gays and anyone who wasn't old, white and male. To me it is no mystery why gay people would not vote for Romney or any Republicans, as they are totally against anything that would benefit the life of a gay person.  But one astounding fact is that the Log Cabin Republicans, which is a group of gay Republicans, endorsed Romney.

I do not see the sense of having a group of gay people within the
Republican party. This makes as much sense as having a Jewish faction of the Nazi Party or a Black faction of the Ku Klux Klan in charge of lynchings. Election after election the masochists of the Log Cabin Republicans fight for the Republican candidates, who in turn fight them at every step of the way.

Some of the Log Cabin members say they are more concerned about financial and economic concerns than they are about their rights. Again I can't understand their lack of logic or common sense. If gay people do not have the rights of protection at the work place, the rights not to be discriminated against in areas of employment, housing, adoptions, insurance and the rights to spend their lives with the person they love and consider their family, money will mean nothing. They will not be able to achieve economic freedom and security without being granted the same rights and opportunities that every other American enjoys.

I was interested to read some analyses regarding the gay vote in this past election. Apparently 5% of voters polled in exit polls identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual and 76% of these people voted for Obama. Some pundits even say that if the GOP had carried the gay vote, the outcome would have been much different. Who knows! Romney successfully alienated every single minority in this country. He tried, as the GOP always does, to divide and conquer, but he divided and failed miserably.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Analysis of Raspberry Ketones

Back in August I wrote a post on raspberry ketones (I've Joined the Raspberry Ketone Craze), which were recommended by Dr. Oz as a weight loss tool. In that post I stated that I began taking the raspberry ketone capsules along with exercising and cutting back on calories and that I had lost weight.

Since I had lost weight I decided to see if the raspberry ketones actually made a difference. So I decided to take the ketones along with my regular diet for a couple of weeks, and then just cutting back on food portions and exercise, without taking the ketones, for a couple of weeks. When I took the raspberry ketones and maintained my normal diet I regained the weight I lost. When I cut my meal portions and exercised, without taking the raspberry ketones, I lost weight, about 2 1/2 lbs. This was the same as I had lost with cutting portions, exercising and taking the ketones.

I know that this is not a scientific study and the results can be different for different people, but I have come to my own conclusion in regards to raspberry ketones. I have surmised that the only weight raspberry ketones will cause is the weight of your wallet. I will stick to the old tried and true method of cutting calories and portion sizes and exercise.. The latest fad I have seen is taking green coffee extract to lose weight. I will pass on this craze thank you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's Over - Obama Wins a Second Term

Finally the election is over and Barack Obama has won a second term as President of the US. I am relieved to say the least, but in a way I am a bit afraid. Four years ago when Obama won his first term Republican leaders vowed to make him a "one term president" and to destroy his presidency. The Republicans in Congress opposed everything Obama did. They put the party over the good of the country. During the campaign there were numerous racial attacks aimed at Obama as well as hateful rhetoric trying to divide the country along religious, racial and even sexual orientation lines. Now that Obama has won a second term these people will be even more vile and angry toward Obama and his supporters. I sincerely hope they do not turn to obstructionist behaviors and actions or even violence to see out their revenge. It's time for the whole country to finally unite for the good of the country and her citizens.  ALL of our politicians must work together and put the US first and party politics last. Good luck President Obama and good luck America.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day is Finally Here

It is already November 5th here in Malaysia, but I have already voted by absentee ballot. With Daylight Savings Time the US is now 13 hours behind Malaysia. I will spend my Wednesday morning and probably afternoon watching the election returns. I hope another Florida fiasco doesn't happen like a few elections ago. I am afraid the Republicans will try to steal the election again as they did for the Bush-Gore election. Already the GOP Governor of Florida is trying to prevent early voting.

As you may have noticed I have not posted here much in the past couple of weeks. To be honest I'm fed up with the entire election and the American people. It is clear that Romney is flip flopping like a fish out of water on just about every issue. He and his surrogates are spreading outright lies and stoking racial and religious hatred. Time and time again his lies have been disproved, but so many ignorant people cannot see it.

The polls are either tied or give Obama a slight edge in the popular vote. Most of the polls give Obama the advantage in the Electoral College votes, the votes that really count. On November 6th the polls don't count and the American people become the final judges as to who is elected President. It probably won't be a clean cut election, as already both sides have lawyered up. There already have been accusations on both sides of voter fraud and other tactics to prevent people from voting. It may be a long messy night.

I really fear for the results. If Romney wins, the middle class will be destroyed and minorities will continue to be demonized. If Obama wins, the racists and bigots of the GOP will be furious and promise to destroy the second Obama administration, as they did the day he was first elected. I am also afraid some of the right wing nut jobs of the Republican Party will revert to violence if Obama is re-elected.

This blog started out as a way I could share my views on everything. In the past few months I have concentrated on politics, because I have very strong feelings towards an economically and socially destructive Romney presidency.  During this time I received a lot of readers, but only if I posted every day. To be honest it has been very frustrating trying to increase the readership of this blog. After the election I hopefully will be in a better mood and will regain some enthusiasm and ambition to try and make this blog a success. To all of my readers please don't give up on me, even if you disagree politically with me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The US Presidential Election from a Different Perspective

A some of you know or may not know I am an American who lives in Malaysia. The reason I live here is that I do not enjoy the same rights as other Americans in regards to sponsoring my family to come to the US to live with me. But that is another story. When Americans living at home in the US watch the presidential debates or other campaign events they get together over coffee or a beer to discuss politics. When I watch the debates I get together with my Malaysian friends and some British or other European friends to discuss politics. The results are a bit different.

Needless to say people over here are neither Democrats nor Republicans. At best they could be called Independents. To a person, people here do not understand why American presidential campaigns are so very long. They also think that the amount of money spent on the campaigns is obscene, especially in light of the number of Americans who are out of work and in need of assistance.

Malaysian and Europeans living here had and still have a strong dislike for George Bush and his policies. They saw him as an arrogant cowboy who completely disregarded the views and opinions of the rest of the world. To them Bush was the true definition of the "Ugly American". When Obama was elected people rejoiced. First of all he was of a different race and to them he personified the American Dream and the equality of all men. They didn't know that the very fact he was of a different race would hinder his presidency. They now know that America is not a country free of bigotry and racism.

During the campaign for the Republican nomination for President  my friends here were amazed at how much of a part the Christian religion played during the campaign. They thought that there was no connection between religion and the government. I tried to explain that there isn't a connection, but certain Christians try to force their beliefs on other people, as the Taliban does. They were also confused as to gay rights and women's rights being brought up during the campaign. They thought that ALL Americans have equal rights. Unfortunately I had to explain to them that even though the United States frequently criticizes other countries in regards to their human rights, this country does NOT grant the same rights to all of her citizens.

Another confusing segment of the campaign, to foreigners, is why there was such a fuss about granting healthcare to all Americans. My friends here wrongly thought that ALL Americans have affordable healthcare. They could not understand why the richest country in the world would not grant affordable healthcare to everyone. They also could not understand why people like the Republicans didn't want everyone to have healthcare. But one of the biggest confusions, not only of the campaign, but of our society in general is why are there so many mass murders and so much gun violence in the US. They are confused as to why none of the candidates argued strongly in favor of gun control and less violence. They do not understand that the gun lobby basically controls who will be elected President and the American people are forced to live with periodic shootings and mass murders.

In watching the debates no one here sees even the slightest interest in Mitt Romney. They view him as another George Bush. An inexperienced cowboy, albeit a very rich one. They view Romney as arrogant and not caring about the average person. They see him as wanting the office to merely increase his wealth. They do not believe Romney has shown an intelligent view of the plights of other countries and peoples of the world, especially Malaysia. They also tend to compare him to the elite royalty of some countries. They still see hope in an Obama second term and see fear in the possibility of a Romney presidency.

I am sure there will be some people who will discount what I have said here, saying that foreigners should have nothing to do with American politics, as it doesn't concern them. But it does. What America does effects, not only our country, but all of the countries of the world. Just ask the families of the thousands of innocent citizens of Iraq or Afghanistan who have been killed in the two Bush wars. And don't forget the present global economic mess which was precipitated by the greed of just a few of American bankers and mortgage lenders. It's time that Americans wake up and realize that Americans are NOT the only ones in this world who matter. We now live in a global community where everyone matters and every life has a meaning.

Round 3 of the Presidential Debates is Over

The third and final presidential debate is over. The results are that Obama overwhelmingly won the debate. Of course the Republican spin doctors disagree.

Obama showed that he was Commander-in Chief and had a commanding knowledge of foreign affairs. Romney simply agreed with Obama's handling of foreign affairs and kept insisting that he would show a stronger America. Throughout Romney's campaign he constantly attacked Obama on his handling of foreign affairs, but tonight he totally agreed with Obama and did not offer a single point where he would change America's foreign policy. It is interesting to note that at a number of times during the debate Romney could be observed to be sweating profusely. He was scared and definitely not presidential. In a few days the results of  a number of post debate polls will be announced. It will be interesting to see if there is any change either way.

In the past couple of weeks the polls have tightened and show the nationwide race to be a virtual tie. In the key swing states Obama has a narrow lead over Romney. What puzzles me is why? Since Romney began his quest for the Presidency he has flip flopped all over the map, like a fish out of water. In order to kiss up to the hard core right wing of the GOP he has attacked social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and women's rights. He now has seen that is not what the average American wants. So he has backed away from that Mitt Romney and has reinvented himself and a centrist Mitt Romney. When he first began talking about foreign policy he did his John Wayne or George Bush impersonation and was all for attacking Russia, Iran and China. Now he has become Mitt the peacemaker. What amazes me is the number of Americans who don't see that there are several different Mitt Romneys running for office. Are they just plain stupid or are the so blinded by their bigoted hatred for Obama that they can't think rationally. Well if by some disaster Romney wins, we will find out the real Mitt Romney and by that time it will be too late.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Heeee's Baaack!

Round 2 of the Presidential debates is now over and President Barack Obama found his mojo. Once again both sides are claiming victory, but to me and the majority of people (according to the polls) who watched the debate Obama won, while not allowing Romney to get away with all of his fabrications and vague unfounded statistics. A sure sign that Romney was trounced is the number of Romney staff and the people at Fox News attacking Candy Crowley for not being nice to Mitt. Speaking of nice it was quite obvious that Romney was extremely disrespectful to the office of the Presidency.

All through the debate Romney appeared flustered, confused and angry. I think he thought because of his performance in the first debate he was unstoppable. He did not like Obama calling him out on his lies and asking him to explain his so called plans. Romney stuttered and stammered when he was called upon to explain his platform. He made a complete fool of himself when he talked of a having a "binder full of women" waiting to fill jobs in his administration in the Massachusetts Statehouse. He showed absolutely no concern for women in the workplace or women's rights in general. As anyone in Massachusetts knows (except for a few die hard right wingers) Romney did have a few women in government, but none in higher positions.

Romney was governor of Massachusetts when I lived there. I can recall that he did little or nothing. He was absent most of the time as he was constantly running for President. I do remember the unemployment rate went up and the state debt increased. He increased taxes and fees that hit the middle class, while reducing taxes for the wealthy. I believe in the last year of his administration he was actually in the state for less than 1/3 of the year. What really upset the people of Massachusetts was that Romney consistently mocked and derided the residents of the state whenever he addressed conservative groups on his campaign for the GOP nomination. Romney did not, thank God, seek a second term as his popularity in the state tanked to less than 35%. I still remember Romney in the first part of his tenure sucking up to gay groups. Back then he supported gay rights and civil unions, a woman's reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood . Now he has done a 180 degree turn to kiss up to the Christian Right. What a man!

If anyone really wants to know what kind of a man Romney is and what kind of a leader Mitt Romney would be  ask the residents of Massachusetts.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Would a Romney Presidency Look Like?

My biggest fear is that many Americans will stay home on November 6th and not vote. Many people think there is not much of a choice between Obama and Romney. The truth of the matter is that if Romney is elected, myself, as well as tens of thousands of Americans will be extremely negatively effected. Let's just take a very short look what a Romney presidency would mean to a lot of American citizens.

Let's first take a look at women. For a number of years women have enjoyed the freedom of having control of their own body and have enjoyed their reproductive rights. Because of the Supreme Court decision on Roe vs Wade abortion is legal in the United States. No longer do women have to revert to having an illegal abortion in a secret back ally doctor's office or be forced to carry and bare the child of her rapist. Roe vs Wade is the law of the land in our code of secular laws.  The other day we all heard Paul Ryan say that under a Romney administration abortion will be illegal. Well he can't do that immediately. Romney will have to appoint anti-abortion people to the Supreme Court. Ryan called on his Catholic faith beliefs regarding abortion as a basis for new laws. So with a Romney presidency, ladies,  you will lose control of your bodies and reproductive rights, and then have to follow the teachings of the Catholic and other Christian churches. So much for separation of Church and State!

Now if you are gay and are hoping to have the same rights, in regards to marriage or immigration equality, that your straight countrymen enjoy, think again. Romney and Ryan don't really hate gays, they just want to relegate them to third class citizens. Romney has stated that he is firmly against same sex marriage, a complete turn around from when he was governor of Massachusetts. One of his many 180 degree turns. Romney and Ryan fully support DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which denies the legality of same sex marriage on the Federal level, even though it may be legal in a number of individual states. It is interesting how these staunch "state's rights" right wing conservative Republicans don't recognize state's rights when it comes to gay marriage! Romney and Ryan only recognize the Bible's definition of marriage. Also the dynamic duo is firmly against foreign partners of gay American citizens in sponsoring their partners for immigration purposes, so they may live together in the US. Once again they refer to the Bible's definition of a "family" in denying rights to the family of a same sex couple. Immigration laws will have to follow Christian teachings.

For a bunch of fanatics who are so worried about the possibility of  Muslims forcing Sharia Law on this country, they are doing a pretty good job of forcing Christian teachings and laws down the throats of the rest of the country. These are only a couple of examples of how people will suffer if Romney is elected. It should scare the hell of out people and make them vote for Obama.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Biden and Ryan Battle It Out

The long awaited vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican challenger, Paul Ryan, is now over. Before the debate all of the news media said that Biden had to be tough and attack Ryan on every front, in order to regain lost ground from Obama's catastrophe of last week. Joe Biden delivered. He trounced Ryan and called him out on his many fabrications and non specific plans for the future. Democrats were happy that Joe gave an aggressive performance and said that he won. Not surprisingly Republicans said Ryan outdid Biden and won the debate. The undecided voters were about evenly split on who won the debate.

What was interesting was that those very same news media correspondents who called for Biden to be more aggressive, suddenly condemned him for being too aggressive. Fox News was astounded at Biden's behavior and lack of respect for Ryan. This was a sure sign that Biden made a direct hit on Romney/Ryan. Another interesting point was the comments of the so called undecided voters. Those responding in favor of Biden sounded like life long Democrats and those siding with Ryan sounded like life long Republicans. Those who said they were still undecided just sounded like they were clueless and not educated instead of undecided. Sometimes I think these undecided voters say they are undecided just so they can get their 15 minutes of fame and feel important.

In a few days some new polls will come out and we will see what effect this debate had on the voters and we will be waiting for the next presidential debate. I just don't see how anyone who is truly a member of the middle class can look at robotic  Ryan and believe he wants to help them. I also don't see how people who have suffered through 2 Bush wars will want to vote for Romney/Ryan and be lead into another war in the Middle East. I think our military personnel will not want to have to go to war again just when it looks like they will be able to take a breather.  Maybe Mitt's boys will volunteer this time around.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Have We Seen the October Surprises?

As everyone knows,  in every presidential election there is the possibility of the "October Surprise". The October Surprise is when there is some event that occurs which gives a boost to the a candidate who is lagging behind in the election.  Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't, but everyone looks for it.

For most of this election President Obama has been running ahead of the Republican challenger Mitt Romney and he appeared to be a sure bet to win re-election. Then came the first presidential debate. Shockingly Romney won the debate as the President turned in a very poor performance. Everyone thought Obama would attack
Romney on his 47% remarks and other demeaning remarks about the poor and middle class, but he didn't. People thought Romney would fall apart and put his foot in his mouth, as he usually does. But he didn't. He lied, but Obama failed to call him on his mistruths. Because of Romney's performance he received quite a bounce in the polls, which put him back into contention. Was this the Republican October Surprise?

A few days later the latest statistics on the jobs numbers were released. Unexpectedly the unemployment rate dropped below 8% for the first time in 3 years. These statistics hit the jubilant Republicans like a ton of bricks. Before these results the GOP was taking the rather dismal statistics of a higher unemployment rate as gospel truth. With the new numbers, Republicans, predictably, are saying they were manipulated by the White House. They were shocked. Was this Democrats October Surprise?

There are still 20 days left in the month of October, which is plenty of time for a real game changer of an October Surprise. We have one vice presidential debate coming up in a matter of hours and 2 more presidential debates before the election.The race now is extremely tight and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks before November 6.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Next Up: The Biden-Ryan Debate

Now that the lackluster performance of President Obama in the first Presidential debate is history and the Romney camp has been drooling and patting themselves on the back we can now look for the next debate. That debate will be October 11 between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan.

Don't expect the same kind of debate that we saw with Obama and Romney. Biden has had more experience in politics and political debating than all of the candidates combined. Ryan has had no experience debating on this scale, while Biden is a seasoned veteran. Ryan has never had to explain his or Romney's plan, or should I say lack of  a plan on healthcare, jobs, the economy or social security and medicare. I guarantee Biden will make sure Ryan does some explaining.

Because of Obama's poor performance in his first debate the pressure of Biden is at an increased level, but I am sure he is chomping at the bit to get at Ryan. With Romney's good performance there is a lot of pressure on Ryan to keep it up, so to speak. He won't be able to flip flop or offer fake or false claims to the audience and then tell them he will give the details at a later date.

Even though this is a vice presidential debate it is still a very important event. The vice president is just a heartbeat away from the presidency. The country knows Joe Biden fairly well, but is almost completely unfamiliar with Paul Ryan. Since he accepted his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention, he has not been able to warm up to the voters. Some of his views can be described as radical or extreme, so the American people will have the chance to see who he really is. Biden is known for his occasional gaffes and I am sure everyone will be looking for him to offer an example or two. All Biden has to do is refrain from making any gaffes and keep Ryan on the defensive to score a big win.

Romney received a bounce after his first debate, but this could be easily wiped out with a strong performance by Biden against Ryan. The election could either swing back to Obama or at least level the playing field, where Obama will have to finish the job with his two remaining debates.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obama-Romney Debates Round One

Well the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is now over. Predictably both sides are saying their candidate won. Democrats will stick with Obama and Republicans will stick with Romney. The small percentage of undecided voters will be the ones who will decide the winner of this debate.

Personally I thought Romney did a better job than I had expected. He didn't, however, offer anything specific, as usual. He also lost his temper on a few occasions and was a little disrespectful to the President and the moderator. He seemed a bit arrogant, much like a stuffed shirt. Obama I thought was too wordy and not up to par. I had expected him to be a little more aggressive with Romney and bring up Bain capital and Romney's 47% remark.

Definitely the real loser of this debate was the moderator Jim Lehrer. He was rather inept and lost complete control of the debate, with both candidates taking turns moderating. All in all I think this debate was a complete waste of 90 minutes. There were no defining moments, nor memorable lines during the entire debate. I doubt if this debate helped independent voters make up their minds on who to vote for and I am sure no one was swayed from one candidate to the other. Hopefully the next debate will be a little more lively with more specifics. Also, hopefully, Obama will be a bit more aggressive and force Romney to speak substantively.

Lowered Expectations

Right now it is almost 9PM on Wednesday night here in Malaysia and almost 9AM Wednesday morning in the US.  There are 12 hours to go before the first debate between President Obama and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  Obama has maintained a steady, but small lead in most all of the national polls since the Democratic National Convention. He leads by even larger numbers in the polls of the swing states that will ultimately decide the election. Obama is also highly favored to do better in the debates.

Leading up to the debates both parties have downplayed expectations for their respective candidates. In order for Romney to gain some momentum he has to score a big upset over Obama. Right now even his fellow Republicans doubt that will happen. Romney has failed to give any specifics on his plan for America. He has not offered anything of substance to convince the American people they should vote for him. On the contrary, he has insulted vast groups of people he needs to be elected.

The Democrats are also downplaying their expectations for the debate. Basically all Obama needs to do is look presidential and not make any stupid mistakes. He has said he will not throw any "zingers"at Romney, but will use the debates to talk directly to the American people.

By this time tomorrow the first debate will be history and both political parties will take their spin on them, with the perceived loser recalling the fact the expectations were not high. The debates will be fairly well scripted, which would prevent either candidate from scoring a major coup. I only hope that we will see some specifics from Romney, instead of promises to give details at a later date and that Obama doesn't get too long winded. I also hope they will stick to the facts, and Mr. Romney, I mean actual facts , not falsifications. It will be interesting to see what excuses the GOP comes up with for Romney's performance. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Double Punishment from Medicare

As most of my readers may know I am retired and live in Penang, Malaysia. I realized before I moved here that I would receive absolutely no benefits from Medicare, because I lived abroad. Since I paid thousand of dollars over my working career into Medicare and I will not get a penny of that back while living abroad this fact  made me reasonably angry. But since the quality of medical care in Malaysia is excellent and one hell of a lot cheaper than in the US, I didn't mind that much.

Early next year I will turn 65 and will be eligible for Medicare, parts A and B and the other programs offered - only if I am physically living in the US. Today I got a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services with information for Americans living abroad. There was no surprising news or information revealed. The information explained that I would automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and I didn't have to fill out any forms. Of course even though I was enrolled I could not collect any benefits since I live abroad. This is sort of like belonging to a bowling team, but not allowed to bowl.

I was given an application with which I could apply for Medicare Part B if I wanted it. This would cost about $99 a month, which would be automatically deducted from my Social Security benefits. However, once again I will not be allowed to use any of the benefits, as I live abroad. Such  a great deal! Now what really ticks me off is that since I live abroad and cannot use it, if I decide to move back to the US I actually have to pay a monthly penalty for signing up late. Now why should I have to pay for something I am not allowed to use now and then once I decide to move and will be able to use it why should I be charged a penalty?  With that kind of idiotic thinking I guess when and if I return to the US and apply for electricity at my new residence, I will have to pay extra because I wasn't paying for the electricity while I was living in Malaysia. The people who make up these rules and regulations must be brain dead.

I wish I had the same health insurance plan those worthless members of Congress have. Speaking of them, after I publish this post  I am going to sit right down and email my Congressman about this situation. Any bets I won't get a response? I guess this means I am one of Romney's 47% of Americans who feel entitled to healthcare. You bet I am! I paid for it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Violence in the Middle East and Mitt Romney

I haven't posted here in a few days as I have been waiting for some time to pass after the violent attacks on the American Embassy in  Libya, which took the lives of the American Ambassador and three of the embassy staff. At this same time the American Embassy in Egypt was attacked by a violent mob of protesters. The reason for these violent protests was a film, which insulted Islam and was shown on YouTube. These incidents happened on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Soon violence spread to many other Muslim countries. Were these planned attacks or just random acts of violence carried out by a group of protesters gone crazy? In those first few hours there were very few answers. It appeared that the Muslim world had suddenly decided to attack the US and other Western interests. People in the US and other Western countries responded with hate filled anger, in comments on online forums and news sites.

It now appears that a couple of ignorant radicals,  one a supposed Egyptian American, Coptic Christian and the other a right wing American Christian extremist, produced the film, which was in no way professionally done, to denigrate an entire religion. The sleazy film, which had be around for a while, but not garnering any attention, was discovered by a religious leader in
Egypt who brought it to the attention of his followers. It then spread throughout the region, causing demonstrations and riots against the US and also other Western countries

The media then gave 24 hour coverage to the violence. What was not covered were the pro-American rallies in some of these very same countries. The average person did not realize that these demonstrations were comprised of people who only last year were living under brutal dictatorships in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. They now have a voice. Unfortunately there are groups in these countries who are opposed not only to the US, but also the governments of their own countries. They are opposed to democracy and freedoms and rights that go along with democracy. People in the countries of "the Arab spring" are stuggling to find themselves. They do not understand the West's concept of freedom of speech. But this is no excuse for murder and destruction, in revenge for someone not agreeing with your views and beliefs.

Just as Americans should not judge and entire religion or culture on the actions of a few religious extremists fueled by hatred and bigotry, the Muslim world should not judge all Americans and our government on the actions of a few deranged radicals in America. Today demonstrations continue, albeit not as intense. It will be a long time before we fully understand what happened in these violent attacks and we should all refrain from making rash judgements and generalizations. It will also be a long time before these new democracies realize what they are and where they want to go.

In speaking of people not making rash judgements, I am referring to everyone, citizens and politicians alike. Seeing these attacks were terrifying, but there was another event that was also worrisome, if not terrifying, that I cannot stop thinking about. Before we even knew that our Ambassador to Libya was killed and the extent of what was happening in Libya and Egypt, the Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, irresponsibly took it upon himself to score political points by attacking President Obama and the Embassy staff. Even after it was revealed that the Ambassador and 3 other staff were killed, Romney continued to attack Obama, even though Romney knew absolutely nothing of the situation. He did not even have the common decency to offer his condolences to the families of the deceased. Even his fellow Republicans were amazed at his lack of judgment, concern and sympathy.

This is the man who is talking tough on Iran and the man who does not believe in a Palestinian state. Instead of first trying to get the facts about these recent attacks and trying to understand the reasons behind them, he talks boldly of retribution. We're finally getting out of the 2 wars Bush saddled us with and which destroyed our economy. Do we really want Romney to lead us to war in Iran, North Korea or Russia? It is enough to have to worry about ignorant bigoted extremists of the religious radical groups in the Middle East and here, without having to worry about ignorant, insensitive war mongers leading our country.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Naked Royal Photos Scandal

Now that some magazines and  newspapers in a few countries have decided to publish the nude photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, the royal couple has decided to sue those responsible. Much better idea than the British people rioting in the streets!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 Remembered


 
  MAY WE NEVER FORGET


   A Tribute in Light on September 11, 2009 courtesy Francisco Diez 3

           Americans came together then.                   We can come together again.







Who are Romney and Ryan Running Against?

Now that the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National conventions have ended I had expected the Romney/Ryan ticket to run hard against the Obama/Biden ticket. But I was wrong.

From all I have been hearing Romney is running against Ryan and even himself! First of all Romney has been campaigning strongly against Obamacare, but recently he backtracked and said he is in favor of some parts of the program. Then Ryan said he thought the individual states should determine their own laws on marijuana, basically saying he doesn't oppose at least the medical use of marijuana. Then shortly after this was said, Romney comes out flatly against marijuana use in any shape or form.

Ryan is criticizing Obama for making defense cuts suggested by the "super committee",which he called a "stupid idea". But the truth of the matter is Ryan voted for those same cuts, but now is denying it. Romney and Ryan are opposed to abortions and using public funding for abortions, but Romney supports the exceptions of incest, rape and where the life of the mother is in danger. Romney also opposed the auto bailout, which saved GM, while Ryan voted for it. Romney said "he's fine" with gay adoption, while Ryan has voted against it. Ryan supported legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays in the workplace, while Romney said he opposed federal legislation banning it, he thought that matter should be left up to the states. Ryan supports the elimination of capital gains taxes, while Romney supports only a reduction in the taxes. They also are in disagreement on the budget, with Ryan advocating cuts in Social Security and Medicare and Romney, well, disagreeing but not offering an alternative budget.

In all of the past elections I can remember clearly the Democratic ticket acted as one and the Republican ticket acted as one. But in this election the Republican ticket seems divided. I just wonder if Romney and Ryan are elected, whose policies will prevail. Will it be Romney in charge or will it be the extremist wing of the Republican party, through Ryan, in charge?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Morgan Freeman Death Hoax

Yesterday I saw on Facebook that Morgan Freeman had passed away. I even posted a "RIP" statement as I very much respect this great actor. Then, hours after reading of his demise, I noticed that I saw nothing on the TV news or internet news sites about Freeman's death.

Then I decided to Google Morgan Freeman and I found that the report of his death was a sickly hoax. Yes Morgan Freeman is alive and well and living in Mississippi. I was very happy to read that he had not died, but I am ticked off that again some morons don't have enough to do in their lives and think it's funny to report that someone who contributes much more to society than they do, has died. I like Facebook most of the time, but at these times I am embarrassed by the behavior of some of my fellow human beings. Like alcohol and firearms, Facebook should be only be used responsibly. But like alcohol and firearms there are going to be immature losers who will abuse Facebook.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama Speaks at the DNC

Well I just finished watching President Obama's speech at the DNC. I thought it was a great speech, but not as good as the one in 2008. I felt as though he talked from experience and was very presidential. When he spoke I felt as though he was talking to me and other middle class Americans. I felt as though he was talking to all Americans, men, women, gays, people of all religions, people of all races and nationalities, the poor and the middles class and the military and veterans.

It is odd that the Republicans started two wars that were and are responsible for killing thousands and thousands of people, but at their convention Romney didn't even mention them, nor the wars they served in. They didn't talk about giving our returning soldiers jobs or helping them with housing. They only know about sending America's youth off to far away places to be killed and maimed, not about taking care of them when they get home. Are they now ashamed of George Bush's expensive dirty little wars?

From what I could observe of the Republican National Convention I could see no hope offered for the military or veterans. I could see no hope for Blacks or Hispanics. I could see no hope for immigrants. I could see no hope for women. I could see no hope for gays. I could see no hope for the middle class and blue collar workers. I could see no hope for the less fortunate. I could see no hope for people of other religions. I could see no hope for those who can't afford healthcare. I could see no hope for those who want to be with the one they love. I could see no hope for poor children who want to go to college. All I could see was a squeaky clean billionaire white guy who wanted a job where he could destroy the lives and dreams of the average middle class American to make just a few Americans richer and more powerful. With Obama I have hope that I may have a better future and I believe  that I will. With Romney I lose hope and I lose a better future and I and millions of others firmly believe that.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton to the Rescue

Last night former President Bill Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention and nominated Barack Obama for another term. Clinton's speech was probably one of the best convention speeches I have ever heard. As far as that goes all of the speeches were great, especially those of  Michele Obama and Julian Castro. They were so much more dynamic and truthful than the fictionalized speeches of  the Republican National Convention. Also the RNC audience  seemed to be all white, whereas the DNC audience was awash with all colors.

No one can beat Bill Clinton as a political orator. He is the one weapon that Barack Obama has, which scares the living daylights out of Romney and the Republicans. It was amusing to see some of the uneasiness, surrounding Clinton speaking at the DNC, in a few comments made by a few "holier than thou" right wingers on political websites. They referred to Clinton has the "immoral President". Yeah, sure Clinton got caught fooling around with Monica and he lied about it. He hurt and embarrassed  his wife and daughter and he embarrassed himself in front of the world. The Republicans hated him so much they tried to impeach him. But he survived and is one of the most highly regarded political figures, not only in the US, but around the world. If his indiscretion, where he hurt his wife, child and himself and Monica, is regarded as immoral, what would the action of George Bush's needless invasion of Iraq, which was responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people, be called? Or is that acceptable under the Republican definition of morality?

Now that the Democratic National Convention is almost over the real fight begins. Romney received little of no bounce in the polls after the RNC and soon we will see what kind of bounce Obama gets after the convention. The decision makers will be the debates between Obama and Romney. The American people will see what kind of men Romney and Ryan are up against Obama and Biden. From looking at the comparisons between the RNC and the DNC, the Republicans will not do much at all.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Republicans Wanted Obama to Succeed? What a laugh!

I almost fell out of my seat when I heard Romney , at the Republican convention, say that when Obama was elected President he really wanted him to succeed for America. What a crock of bull! I can remember hearing those trolls at Fox News, only a few days after Obama took office, complaining of how he is doing nothing. I also heard some right wingers warn of Shariah Law being implemented in the US and accusing Obama of wanting to turn the US into a Muslim state. He has been accused of being a Muslim and supporting Islamic terrorist groups. In 2008 some Republicans warned of a dictatorship and another 911 when Obama becomes president.

Since Obama, the first Black President, took office he has been accused of all kinds of conspiracies, including that he was not born in this country. He has had to endure hatred from the Tea Party in such incidents where a Tea Party member of Congress yelled out "lies" during his State of the Union Address. A state governor actually threatened him, if he dared visit her state. He has been accused of being the anti-Christ and taking the US away from White people. Some of my white friends who are staunch Democrats cringed when Obama was elected and I am sure for the first time in their lives they voted Republican, instead of voting for a Black.

From the very first day of his administration the Tea Party and other right wing Republicans have done everything in their power to make an Obama presidency a complete failure. Rush Limbaugh, the Conservative talk show moron even stated that he wished Obama would fail. The Republicans and even some Southern Whites blocked every effort of Obama to create jobs and help the Middle Class. They wanted Obama to fail more than they wanted to see the American people recover from their sufferings of living with George Bush for 8 years.

Recently I saw this video from the John Stewart show. It shows what kind of liars and hypocrites Mitt Romney and his fellow bigots and hate mongers are. For a good laugh and a strong dose of reality please watch this clip .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Go Home and Call 211

After Mitt Romney was installed as the GOP nominee for President at the Republican convention he immediately went to Louisiana for a photo op with victims of hurricane Isaac. He met a woman who explained to him that she had lost her home , as it was submerged under the raging flood waters from the hurricane. She had lost everything. Mr. empathy, Mitt Romney, consoled her from his heart and told her "assistance in out there. Go home and call 211." Such compassion is enough to draw tears to your eyes.

This incident shows clearly that Romney doesn't have a clue of what Americans are going through, nor does he care. First of all he didn't understand that she had lost her home. I guess it is a difficult concept to realize some people only have one home, if any, and not 3 or 4 like Romney does.  He also doesn't realize that when a person loses their home and all of their belongings they are in a state of shock. They need assistance, not just being told what to do. Perhaps Romney thought she might have been able to stay in her 3 car garage with all of her Cadillacs. Or maybe she could whip out one of her numerous credit cards and pay for a stay at the Holiday Inn. He could have at least let her use his cell phone to call for help. He did not even utter the words "I am so sorry".

This sad excuse for a caring human being only reminds me of how good it was with Bill Clinton. Do you remember that whenever there was a national disaster he was always there consoling the victims with genuine compassion?  He reached out to them and offered them hope. These actions are something which Romney is incapable of doing. I am sure he would show more emotion towards his offshore bank accounts, than he would for his fellow Americans.

Only a day after his acceptance of the nomination Romney is showing what kind of heartless, cold, calculating person he really is and what kind of President he would make. Wake up people. If he is elected, some day he could tell you to go home and call for assistance, and then walk away.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

Well the 2012 Republican Party Platform was announced. I was not expecting much in a rousing call for freedom, rights and future for the American people, but I must admit that I was shocked at the total ignorance and hypocrisy of this document. It must have been written  by a committee of Nazis, White Supremacists, Skinheads and the Klu Klux Klan. In other words the Tea Party. Instead of a plan promising a better life with more educational, economic and better quality of life opportunities, it does the opposite. It calls for tampering with the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence to deny equality and retract the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

As expected it calls for a constitutional ban on same sex marriages, as well as a strong defense of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). The document refers to gay marriage as "an assault on the foundations of our society." It is interesting to read later that the Republicans say "The Republican Party, was born in opposition to the denial of liberty, and stands for the rights of individuals and families..." What hypocrisy! Cherry picking what rights are given to which people!

The document goes on to defend the tax free status of religious institutions and their right to force their beliefs regarding traditional marriage and abortion. The document strongly supports freedom of religion, as long as that religion is the Christian religion of the majority.

I think the most disgusting part of this platform is that part which calls for fewer gun control laws and restrictions. It is amazing that in this month of August, where we saw 3 incidents where a number of people were killed by madmen brandishing assault weapons, these ignorant morons are calling for a reduction of the restrictions in the size and capacity of gun clips and magazines and a repeal of laws that limit the sales and possession of assault weapons. They also support people carrying had guns at all times. More guns, more bullets and more deaths. It is interesting to note that security personnel checked all convention staff and participants for handguns. Why did they not support their own members to carry concealed weapons? What were they afraid of?

Another controversial plank of their platform is the support of the rights of the newborn. It is definitely opposes abortion and the use of public funds for abortion and a woman's reproductive rights. It is very hypocritical for the GOP to protect the lives of the newborn in any way possible, but at the same time to allow an unlimited supply of guns and ammunition which kill and injure thousands of people every year.

Another aspect of the GOP platform is to protect the continuance of the Electoral College. This is no surprise as once or twice before the GOP lost the popular vote and won the presidency in the Electoral College or a conservative controlled Supreme Court. They are afraid of letting the majority of the American people choose our president.

For anyone who has not already made up his/her mind about who to vote for it is worth it to check out the GOP Platform here. Remember that this is 2012, not 1812 and if you vote for Romney, you, your family, your friends and someone you may know will have fewer rights and liberties than are enjoyed now. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Unconventional GOP Convention

First of all I am not a Republican, as anyone who knows me is aware. I, do however, tune in once and a while during the convention just to see what is going on. I find this year's convention to be unlike any I have seen in the past. The Republican party is split into  a number of extreme factions, all pitted against what is left of the old GOP,  a sane, rational opposition. Even though the religious nuts like Michele Bachman, ranted on about God bringing a hurricane of change to this country with the election of a new president, it seemed as though God had other ideas. Hurricane Isaac delayed the start of the convention and almost cancelled it. Bachman is fond of telling us that God speaks to her, but this time I think God was telling her and all of us something about the Republicans and their candidates.

Then I saw Ann Romney discuss how great her husband was. Having a candidate's wife address a convention makes as much sense as a screen door in a submarine. What wife would say anything negative about her husband at the national nominating convention? Her appearance reminded of a Barbie doll, with about as much heart and emotion. Then Chris Christie, the calorie challenged governor of New Jersey gave his keynote address. The cameras panned his family members and at first I thought it was the Pillsbury dough boy's family.  It was amazing. He babbled on forever and didn't mention Romney by name until after he was two thirds through his speech. What was really impressive was watching Romney's expression during the speech. He didn't appear to be interested at all in what Christie was saying. As a matter of fact he looked as though he would rather be at a Baine Capital board meeting, than running for president.

This convention, supposedly represents the heart of America, but in the past couple of days they have shown contempt for the supporters of Ron Paul and minorities. The GOP completely screwed over Ron Paul and his delegates. Then a delegate was thrown out of the convention for racial comments made against a black female  CNN reporter. And people wonder why Republicans are having trouble connecting with minorities.

There is still time left during the convention to insult and berate all other minorities, which I am sure they will. In the past candidates of the major parties attacked the President in power and offered alternative plans for the country. The 2012 Republican National convention has done nothing but spread fear, hate and lies, while at the same time offering no new policies or solutions to the nations problems. The Republicans of the Eisenhower, Regan and Ford eras have been replaced by a bunch of ignorant hate mongering racists and bigots. If by some horrible mistake Romney and Ryan are elected this country will lose all of the social and economic gains of the past 50 years, the middle class will disappear and we will have Mitt's millionaire friends and corporations running our lives, for their advantage.


Monday, August 27, 2012

RIP Neil Armstrong


I will always remember that July summer day in 1969 when I was sitting on the floor of our family's living room with my eyes glued to the television set. The Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon. A short time later I heard Neil Armstrong utter the words "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". I couldn't believe that people were actually walking on the moon. At that moment Neil Armstrong became not only an American hero, but a hero worldwide. He dedicated his achievements to all people of all nations, not just Americans. On that evening in 1969 I looked up at the moon and thought to myself that there were actually people walking around up there.I will always look up at the moon and remember Neil Armstrong, a hero for the ages. Rest in peace Mr. Armstrong.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

They Don't Make TV Shows Like That Anymore

Lately I have been seeing posts on Facebook with photos of old TV shows from the 50's, 60's and 70's, with the caption telling you to like if you remember it. I must admit that I remember all of these shows and become quite nostalgic when I look at the photos. I always "like" them and "share" the photos. So far I have seen "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Brady Bunch", "The Lucille Ball Show" and "Cheers".

Seeing these led me to reminisce about other old shows. Some of my favorites were "The Life of Riley", "Leave It to Beaver", "Father Knows Best" and "Our Miss Brooks" to name a few. There are many more TV shows that I and others around my age should remember. Not all are as old as the ones I just mentioned, but they are the ones I remember fondly.

When I think about watching these shows I think of a simpler time when I was younger than 12. I had nothing to worry about and nothing to fear, except for maybe not getting my homework done on time. I can remember sitting in front of the old black and white General Electric television in my living room and watching these shows with my parents and older brothers. The plots were simple, usually nothing more serious than getting a failing grade in school or not getting the chores around the house done. There was no sex. The parents slept in separate single beds and  heck I don't remember even seeing the parents' bedrooms until "The Dick Vandyke Show". There were no drugs, no swearing or profanity and no violence. The only gun play was in the westerns, but there was no gore or mass shootings. In all of these shows the neighbors were all friendly, well dressed and  well to do middle class people. They were nothing like my family, or the family of anyone else I knew.

None of these shows portrayed poor families, homeless people, handicapped people, Blacks, Asians or Hispanics. Everybody was white. No one was Catholic or Jewish and certainly not Muslim.  There were no gays or even people who could have been gay. Everybody seemed to be married or widowed. None of the mothers worked, even though the very young and  older women worked as either librarians or teachers. Even though these shows took place during the Cold War, there was no mention of it.  There was absolutely no mention of any social issues whatsoever. It was a perfect world of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans, undoubtedly all Republican too.

We may look back and think about the old days, when everything was peaceful and simple, with no problems and no worries. In reality though these TV shows portrayed an America where everyone was hiding their heads in the sand. The plights of minorities, such as Blacks and Women were ignored and not talked about in public. Children were going hungry and being physically and sexually abused and there was a great deal of domestic violence that was ignored by everyone, including the authorities. There was gang violence, there were drugs , race riots and all manners of discrimination that was legitimized by looking the other way. Everything was perfect only if you were White. The only reason life was so simple was the fact we did not know about all of the suffering taking place, not only in our country, but in our own neighborhoods of our home towns.

I look back at my childhood and have warm memories and feelings when I think about these old TV shows. I wonder if , no I hope, that all people my age can look back at their childhood, when also thinking of old TV shows and feel the same warmth as I do.



Ablog about liberal politics andsocial issues