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.