Friday, November 18, 2011

Is a "thank you" really enough?

     I haven't written for a while, and for that I am sorry. To be completely honest, I haven't had the inspiration to write. By that I mean, I couldn't find a good topic to write about.But I think I have a pretty good one for today.
     So, I was talking with a good friend of mine who is currently in his third year of law school (and shall be referred to as Brutus). Brutus said that veterans should not ask for government benefits and should only expect a pat on the shoulder and a thank you from ordinary citizens. I honestly couldn't believe that any red- blooded American would say something like that. As a result, I decided to think about this question: Is a "thank you" really enough?
     In the spirit of honesty, I will admit that although I am not a veteran, I am a soldier. So, when people try to shake my hand I take the thank you graciously and move on. In short, I can't say I belong to that < 1% of Americans who have gone overseas to the battlefield. So, for me, the thank you is a nice gesture. For others who have gone overseas however, it is not enough for a few simple reasons.
     1) The soldiers that do go overseas into war zones have to deal with so much that most people would not be willing to deal with. In exchange for their lives, pain and suffering; they maintain our freedom and sovereignty. IF these warriors do come home, they come home battered and beaten. Some are lucky enough to come home to loving families.However, many on the other hand are not so fortunate. In response, it is our national duty, as Americans to take care of these soldiers as best we can as a society. 
     2) Soldiers are an expensive asset to the United States government. To send us to Basic Combat Training Alone costs the US government over $70,000 per soldier (this is NOT HOW MUCH WE GET IN OUR PAY CHECKS, its what they spend on pay, training, travel, ect.), and after we leave training, we only get more expensive. As a result, its only within the economic interests of the government to upkeep such an expensive asset.
     So, is a "thank you" really enough? For me, sure; for actual veterans.... absolutely not.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Reasons Why I Love Serving in the U. S. Army

So, it is the end of another day at work at my civilian job. I love my job and it is really rewarding (I work at a political consulting firm). But there is absolutely nothing like serving in the armed forces. And even though it is incredibly frustrating at times, if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heart beat for the following five reasons.
1) Family : The level of commitment to each other simply because we all serving under one flag and for one purpose (that is, to protect the Constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic). No matter what, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt if I needed anything, they have my back, as I will always have theirs no matter what. And although we do not always get along (just as in any other family) we love each other all the same; and there is nothing that can change that. So whether someone is in the Marines, Army, Navy or Air Force; we are all a part of one family.
2) Purpose: The military was formed for one purpose and for one purpose alone; to protect the people of the United States from those who wish nothing more than to see our destruction. So, as I see it, to serve such a purpose is nothing but the highest honor. It is our responsibility as soldiers to protect the public, not even just on the battlefield, but in the civilian world as well, which is no easy task. To know that people are going to look to you if something terrifying were to happen for safety and guidance is a responsibility of the uniform (one that I am very proud to have).
3) The Training: O. K..... I am going to admit, that training was no picnic, and that at some point, I thought I wasn't going to make it. However, I wouldn't be the same person without it. I learned so many valuable skills that it is amazing. I not only learned to work in a team environment, but I also learned how to lead a team in difficult circumstances. In addition, I also learned a skill that not many people are taught; how to be a good follower. Now, this doesn't mean to follow blindly, but to simply take direction. I learned how to work under pressure and to push myself further than I thought I was ever able to push myself.
4) The Stories: I know this isn't a serious reason to enlist, but sometimes when I think about some of the fun times had with my soldiers, I cannot help but smile. I don't want to go into too many details, but for those of you who are in the military; you guys already know....
5) The Uniform: I love the uniform itself. Seriously, I love wearing it. And again it is an honor. I love the military look and I love looking like a tough guy, even though I know I am barely five feet tall. It is awesome. People automatically look up to you and want to be you. In short, it gives you a real sense of pride that this uniform signifies.
With that said, I just want to say happy veteran's day to all of our military personnel; to everyone who signed that dotted line and gave away our first Amendment rights in order to protect those rights for those who we have sworn to protect.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The 89%

     According to a recent New York Times article a new study reveals that 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike. A remarkable sense of pessimism and skepticism was apparent in question after question in the survey, which found that Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent. The disapproval toward Congress has risen 22 percentage points since the beginning of the year when Republicans took control of the House.
      Part of the source of discontent is most likely the way in which Congressmen handled the debt crisis this summer. Americans painfully watched as politicians refused to discuss with each other what would be the best course of action for the nation. Instead, it turned into a screaming match between children. On top of that, rather than the President actually taking charge and driving policy, like a helpless parent, he pleaded for the Congress to grow up, and to make up their minds. It soon became all to clear to Americans that the politicians were not thinking about the bigger picture. Rather, they seemed to only think about party interests. No wonder why citizens are slow to trust a government, which served to fail them.
      Another problem that government makes for itself is voter disenfranchisement. By creating more rules and regulations for voters, it is effectively creating more barriers to participation. As a result, voters are thinking that perhaps government does not want their say, perhaps they do not care about our concerns.Which is too often the case.
      In addition, Republican voters remain UN-enthused about the options to challenge President Obama next year. The uncertainty has provided an opening for Herman Cain, who was viewed more enthusiastically by Republican primary voters than were other Republican candidates. Other than his 9-9-9 plan, the other Republican candidates have not attacked him for any thing else.
      The phenomenon that is Herman Cain continues to persist is because of two reasons; the Republicans are running out of time and they are quickly running out of options. So, despite several sexual harassment allegations and Islamaphopic sentiments, the Republican Party is giving him a longer grace period than normally expected in order for him to get his ducks in a row. And regardless of how much Mr. Romney attempts to help the rest of the party, they don't want him in because he doesn't reflect the ideals of the rest of the party.
      The question then becomes; what can be done about this? Well, people simply just need to participate. But more importantly, people need to stay informed of the facts. Participation can mean many things like; going out to vote, joining a political organization, or writing a blog. Other forms of civic participation can include participating in community organizations and volunteer service. Without actually taking the time for civic engagement, one would only expect for a government to run a- muck.




Friday, November 4, 2011

Herman Cain & Racism

     Not long ago, presidential candidate Herman Cain said that Muslims should be required to take a "loyalty test". With Herman Cain being currently the only viable Republican presidential candidate to go up against President Obama; this can be problematic for more reasons than one.
     Mr. Cain stated his views about the Muslim population in America at the height of  Islamaphobia; which is understandable for a Republican politician. That is, is a typical of a Republican politician to actively speak out against a deviant minority. By deviant, I am saying that not only is this group (generally speaking) politically weak, but they are also considered to be a dangerous group. Examples of deviant groups include (but are certainly not limited to): terrorists, criminals. In this case, Cain (as well as many other politicians) stupidly combined Muslims into this group.
     I use the term "stupidly" to describe his commentary on the Muslim population for a few reasons. First, because like all other fads, scape goat fads (like Islamaphobia) also fades. That is, every few years there is a new minority that enters the category of deviant; the Chinese, Jews and the Irish to name a few. Especially in the case of the Jewish population, as a group, they are quick to be weary of this type of behavior because it can be said that this type of rhetoric is similar to that of Nazi rhetoric right before the Nazi Party came into power in Germany. As a result, it alienates a lot of people (most of which will be imperative to win over in order to win the election.
     Cain himself was eventually forced to acknowledge the lack of longevity when it comes to this fad. As a result, he made a public apology  earlier during his presidential campaign. However, I would not assume that he was sincere about his apology. Rather, he was simply trying to cover his own arse, so that he wouldn't look like another racist Republican candidate.
     So when bloggers and political pundits claim that Herman Cain is a racist for what he has said about black people deserving to be poor because they do not work hard; I would argue that he is not racist against black people. Instead I propose two ideas. First, he is only expressing disgust at the idea that black people have been historically disenfranchised both politically and economically. This thought could also be interpreted so that what he meant is that in these times, it is more than possible for blacks in America to move past the disenfranchisement of the past by utilizing the remedies the system has provided for all blacks in America. In addition, I propose that Mr. Cain suffers from a case of Islamaphobia.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Message to My Fellow Soldiers on Halloween

I love Halloween just  as much as anyone else. However, I must say that I hate it when people wear a military uniform as a Halloween costume. I say this for one reason alone; that it's disrespectful to the dead, as well as those still fighting for us overseas.

I am using this topic today because my Facebook friend thought it was cool perhaps to wear the Army ACUs to wear this to a Halloween party and then to post the picture up with the following caption, "Killn it ready for war" In response I wrote,"why are you wearing that uniform? if you didn't earn it, don't wear it. btw, you don't look cute and you are wearing it all types of wrong."Some other Facebook friend of his wrote," Its called halloween lighten up lol hater". I'm really not a hater. So, I didn't feel the need to address this person's specific comment. So instead of writing that I'm really not a hater, I wrote, " Its disrespectful. That uniform means something more than a costume. People die for our country while wearing that uniform. It should absolutely not be worn as a costume. This is coming from an American soldier".

Some people would argue that I am a hater, but I would argue that its perhaps my Facebook friend that is the hater here. As I said in the response, people die in this uniform that represents American freedom and autonomy; what is a better way to disrespect the dead without going up to the grave and spitting on it or the American flag itself?

On that note, I am going to ask my readers (and especially the one's who are soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, ect) to 1) to have fun :) 2) to be safe 3) to let people know (in a calm way) who wear the uniform in such a manner that it isn't cool. I understand especially that military personnel may have friends that do this, and as a result, might not want to speak up. But as I see it: those of us to wear the uniform, or have gotten injured while wearing the uniform... you guys are my family. And I would defend my family any day to anyone who tried to disrespect it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What is politics?: A Brief Introduction Into the World of Politics

     A quick search on retrieved two definitions of politics:

1) The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity, the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals.

2) The management of a political party; the conduct and contests of parties with reference to political measures or the administration of public affairs; the advancement of candidates to office; in a bad sense, artful or dishonest management to secure the success of political candidates or parties; political trickery.

     These are the definitions of politics which are commonly offered in traditional political science courses (and rightfully so since the study of political science is usually the study of government actors). Although these are two fairly good definitions of what politics is, I offer a much simpler and even more encompassing definition of politics. That is, the science of politics is the analysis of who is the friend and who is the foe and the interaction between the two (or more forces) that interact with one another. The primary difference between the definition of politics which I offer and the two others is that this definition extends politics from simply the government sector into the everyday lives of people (here, the phrase "the personal is political" comes to mind).
      For instance, let us take into consideration an everyday setting for many Americans, the traditional family home. The ideal American house- hold has a wife and husband whom together have 2.5 children (yeah, I don't know how someone has half of a child either... but at any rate....) According to feminist theory this relation to the world as both wife and care giver can be defined as inferior since in a traditional household it is not a democracy. Rather, it is a dictatorship ruled by the husband- figure of the household. As a result, this interaction is transferred into the political. The end result being the subjugation of women in a hierarchical society.
     Taking in politics and recognizing it in everyday life is an important part of participating in a democracy like the United States. Such participation becomes a personal investment into each individual's interests. Political participation can include (but is certainly not limited to voting, protests, joining a local political party as well as donating to a political campaign. Hell, the even blogging, or tweeting (or what ever the cool kids do these days) has an impact of the political realm at some micro- cosmic level. The great thing about blogging is the phenomena of the amount that "the public square" (which is the metaphoric and physical symbol of where people go to have an open discussion on politics) grew at an infinite rate. So people can now say essentially what they want, when they want, and (in the United States anyways) there isn't much that can be said about it.
     The ultimate point of this blog is to get people interested in the Real Politik. That is, what politics really is from the eyes of someone studying political science as both an art and a science. It is my hope that this blog can help inspire readers to become participatory members of a democracy that so many have perished in order to sustain.