Anthony Weiner’s face is all over daytime news and crowding out the headlines in the paper. The man whose sexual life is more well-known in popular culture than, seemingly, any other topic in quasi-politics has once again distracted the American public with his not so secret extramarital activities. Republicans, however, are not amused by the behavior of Weiner. Not only for his decision to remain as a candidate for New York City mayor and the seeming entrapment of the public in his “Carlos Danger” saga, but also the light he is taking from actual scandals.

There is no doubt that Democrats, too, do not enjoy the parade of different sexual escapades of former members of
Congress at times when it does not fit their narrative. But, the distraction from the mess that is going on in the White House, on Capitol Hill, and around the halls of our government may be welcomed in this situation. Suddenly, George Zimmerman and Carlos Danger are taking center stage while heroes who lost their lives in Benghazi, the NSA scandals, and other confrontations and conflicts drift to the wayside and are forgotten.

The anger over the lack of focus on Benghazi has seemed to become a fixture on Capitol Hill and among Republicans, who refuse to allow the lives of our diplomats be wasted in a sea of false narratives. With the new FBI director now in place, a group of ten Republican lawmakers are seething with frustration at the slow pace of the investigation. No one seems to be treating this issue with a sense of urgency. No one seems to be as passionate about the lack of decency with which these men were slaughtered. No one, including our President, appears to want to take the time away from vacations and golfing to address the situation. And while the public watches Zimmerman and the depravity of Anthony Weiner, the fallen at Benghazi continue to be insulted. It is time for the President to take ownership and leadership, if he is capable.

The once booming factories and plants of Detroit have stopped humming their daily songs of work. People mill about looking for work or dejected from their efforts. Crime is on the rise in the Motor City and the world has watched as the once mecca for car enthusiasts slips into a near economic coma of frustration and anger over some direction. The ball is in the Obama court once again as the city that he campaigned and used to promise economic recovery now asks for his support in a bailout, a move that is highly unlikely and would be extremely unprecedented. The approach, however, is a unique one that may cause a bit of confusion in how to handle.

Detroit, as a city, has filed for bankruptcy and sought the help of President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill to provide them with the funds needed to regain some traction economically. The move, as aforementioned, is unheard of and it is likely that the Obama Administration will avoid such financial reward for failure. Obamacare may serve as the missing link between financial relief and true bailout.

Along with several other major cities, it is reported that the government in Detroit is seeking to shift retirees into the Obamacare insurance exchange for employees that are too young for Medicare but already retired from the job. This would mean less payment for the local government and a chance to place more of a burden on the federal government. As a result, it would lower the amount owed and free up some financial opportunities for Detroit as they attempt to pay back their creditors via bankruptcy proceedings. In its most basic form, it would not be considered a bailout. It would, however, cause a nearly six billion dollar burden to be placed upon Washington, another unintended consequence of the Obamacare bill.

While awaiting asylum, Snowden has spent the past 6 weeks in an airport cell, and to him that is better than returning to the United States. Snowden has requested asylum in Russia because he fears being tortured in the United States. That’s fair enough.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that Snowden will not face the death penalty for the crimes he’s been charged with, including espionage, and that he will have a civilian trial.

Honestly, I would do everything in my power to stay away also. However, there’s also a gut feeling that there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

President Obama found it necessary to put in his two cents on the topic that is draining the intelligence of our nation this week. Obama made the statement, “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” First of all, I completely disagree with this statement. Coming from a public figure who has consistently charging others with racial profiling, simply profiled himself, and quite publicly. After the President spoke about the Martin verdict, it didn’t seem to pacify the anger in the country at all, rather add fuel to a fire of racism.

On the morning before President Obama made his speech, an African American Hollywood actor, Romany Malco, wrote a brilliant post shared on Huffington Post. It was thoughtful, educated, and insightful. Then you have Obama later profiling himself and saying this “could’ve been me.” That is so far from the truth, it makes my head spin. That’s like saying it could’ve been Tiger Woods because of the color of his skin. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I’m not buying anything the President is trying to sell.

NYC Loves Weiner

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Filed Under Latest News on Jul 23 

Anthony Weiner, a candidate for New York City Mayor, admitted that he had continued his digital transgressions after he resigned from Congress as the result of a sexting scandal. His wife is still by his side.

Between Weiner and Spitzer, this is the best they could come up with in New York? That’s sad.

There is no doubt that Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, has seen its fair share of problems since its inception and passage. The law, which has been criticized by Republicans for being too far reaching, problematic, and filled with unnecessary pork and regulations, is facing another setback in full implementation. The House voted to delay a portion of the bill that would require employers of 50 full time workers or more on staff to offer healthcare or face a penalty. With employers wary and weary of the constant regulations, the success of this portion of the bill was in limbo. This week, it received a stay of implementation that was to the satisfaction of many Republicans.

The problem with this portion of Obamacare, or at least one of the problems, was that it was becoming more and more apparent to employers that offering insurance to their employees would cost them more than the penalty. In essence, employers were highly considering the choice of simply not providing insurance rather than curb their behavior to meet the regulations. This would negate the President’s promise that everyone with insurance would be able to keep it if they wanted.

The Obama Administration noted this problem and recognized the potential for problems in recent months, backing away from the 2015 implementation. The delay in the actual enforcement is just the first step for many Republicans who have doubted the bill from the beginning. The next plan of attack and delay is in the area of the individual mandate, with many Republican leaders (and those in the public) urging the Administration and Congress for reconsideration. This is a promising sign for those who want to defeat the bill all together and see its repeal, if only a glimmer of hope. Republicans will likely continue the fight and hopefully be able to put pressure until more action can be taken by a Republican leader. The GOP has its work cut out for itself but the public is becoming more aware of the problems hidden within this gem of healthcare legislation, and it is only likely to grow in scrutiny over time.

Edward Snowden is playing a waiting game, a game of cat and mouse with the United States. The young man who placed himself in the center of an international manhunt because of his release of confidential information is considered to be highly dangerous. No, not dangerous in terms of arms or ammunition. Rather, intelligence experts and security officials fear that the young criminal may have much more damning information that could hurt the United States if released.

Snowden, who is currently in Russia seeking asylum until he can find a safe and secure means of traveling to Latin America, has been seeking the help of human rights attorneys and asking the country–and its citizens–for help. The man who is living at a Russian airport has used the mass means of communication through the terminal to state his case and plead for help from those in power. The next move of the Russian government is not known, and until then Snowden appears to be a sitting duck… literally.

The Guardian, a UK newspaper who published the information of Snowden’s leaks and its findings, has taken a very active role in helping the young man. A representative from the paper, along with Wikileaks spokespeople, has asserted that Snowden has more information that could greatly harm the United States and their worldwide perception if leaked. They make the point that several news agencies internationally have this information and, if something were to happen to Snowden, the information would then be released. They assert that Snowden had no desire to harm the American government and no want to continue to release information. Simply, as Snowden himself states, he was simply trying to do the morally right action.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are not amused by Snowden’s activities. It is clearly demonstrating, arguably, the weakness of the power of the United States in working with other countries or instilling enough fear in them to return the young man home. Snowden, who deems himself a moral vigilante of sorts and one speaking and acting for the greater good, is now afraid to face the consequences of his actions. Time will tell how the scenario plays out but, this young man’s actions have compromised national security and may have just shown how weak our American stance in the world truly is, a tangible representation of what Conservatives and Republicans have been touting since Obama’s Apology tours began.

Economics and Our Future

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Filed Under Economy on Jul 17 

There is no doubt that the economy has been improving at a slow pace. Ebbing and flowing of economic success has left the United States, and the world, in a state of constant fear, confusion, or denial of just how bad the financial picture is. Gas prices continue to rise and unemployment rates vary from bad to really bad and back to bad again. In a nation with so much to offer and so much potential, it is amazing that the mismanagement of funds, lack of personal responsibility, or overall policy failures has taken a bad situation and helped to make it worse.

Military cutbacks are one area where this failure can be seen. While the sequester has said to be the reason for many funding cuts in the military, arguably in some areas where some leaning needed to be undertaken, monies are being restricted in order to cover debts and place financial resources elsewhere. Restricting the budget is necessary in trying to balance the economic future and if these were thought through and rational, it would make sense. But, while the military sees cuts that have led to meal restrictions and the loss of fireworks on military bases to celebrate the 4th, gophers are being saved in lands near bases in California. That’s right, millions of dollars are being used to save the gopher while our military goes without some of the basic necessities and without adequate pay, though this last problem has persisted for some time.

Further, it is our children that are being hurt by the joblessness and unemployment of this generation. The poverty rate among children, as assessed by a recent study, suggests that the number of children living in poverty has increased an astonishing 23% since 2011. Underemployment and joblessness continues to rise while the wide reach of entitlement continues, leaving a generation of children seeing their parents struggle and their parents becoming ever reliant on the government’s help. The impact this will have on this younger generation as they themselves age and enter the workforce is not yet known. One could guess, however, that the lasting effects of living in poverty could have detrimental effects on future policies and values in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced this week that she will be resigning her post. Often a lightning rod for scrutiny from Republicans, Napolitano has said her resignation comes from her desire to seek another form of work. Specifically, she will be stepping down in hopes of becoming a successful president of the University of California. The move leaves more than just a void in the position. Rather, this longtime supporter of the President, even amid scrutiny, will force the Administration to seek out someone as die hard and loyal as she.

Though the loss will be one that could be potentially detrimental to the President, it is also an opportunity for outreach. In his highly contentious Presidency and one that has been filled with partisan divide, Republicans are hopeful that this nomination will be one that is rooted in reaching toward Republican sentiments. It could be a chance for the President to rise above his perceived disconnect with conservatives and at least appear more of a bridge-builder than a divider.

Others, however, believe that the President will choose someone not out of reaching out but a desire to stay entrenched in his own beliefs. Another soldier, essentially, for the policies that he supports and the positions that he wishes to take. There is no reason to believe that the President is in the habit of creating bridges between the political parties. In fact, he has been seen as more of a divider than a joiner, arguably, by many in both the public and in politics. Therefore, it is not outside the realm of reason to believe that he will continue this trend toward division rather than compromise. Napolitano has not been without her criticisms and concerns, as aforementioned. It is safe to say, then, that there will be many on both sides that will not be sorry to see her go.

There is no doubt that there has been a thickness in the air over the past weeks for anyone that has been following popular culture and legal matters. The world has been waiting for the decision on whether or not George Zimmerman was guilty of murder or had acted within reason or threat to personal safety in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The case, which has been unnecessarily tinged with the disgusting brush of racism has become much bigger than Zimmerman himself. Suddenly, the man on trial who shot a young African American teenager was the poster child for all things racially discriminating in this world, a title (arguably) that was highly unwarranted. While some waited in hopes of a guilty verdict in a case that was slim on actual evidence, others waited simply to see what the reaction would be from those who had vested their time and heart in watching the case.

Zimmerman was found not guilty on all counts and, with the verdict in, became a free man once again. With an emotionless demeanor, he accepted the verdict without cheer, sneer, or smile. The man who had been on trial for more than just murder but, rather, to prove himself not a racist can now enter back into society, albeit that his life will never be the same.

The verdict of not guilty was flashed on television screens and newspaper headlines around the world. Social media sparked with the excitement of a verdict, many in the African American and younger demographic highly dismayed by what they saw. Eyes turned to the television for a glimpse of the Florida courthouse grounds, waiting and watching to see if violence erupted; the violence never came. Instead, it was in California where the world saw a small group of protestors go a bit too far in their expression of the first amendment, destroying property and even burning the flag of the United States. Overall, though, the protests have been passionate and peaceful.

The Zimmerman case has brought to the forefront of our nation the deep divide that remains between races. There is this gotcha mentality among both whites and minorities to say, “Gotcha…you’re a racist” before any evidence is presented to prove that true. I am not sure why Zimmerman got the wrap of racist when the focus should have been on whether or not he had the tag of murderer first and foremost. Again, there was no clear evidence to suggest this man–an ethnic minority himself–was racist. Possibly a murderer? Maybe. Was the evidence sound? No. But, he was labeled racist and the stigma will not soon wear off, no matter what the truth is.

In essence, we are so quick to judge and label in this country not only minorities or those that do not fit the perceived status quo, but we are also quick to assume that someone’s actions are discriminatory without ever looking at the person themselves and the motive behind the actions. Both cases are wrong, both instances shameful, but we are still a nation that can be divided quickly and become so entrenched that true dialogue is hindered.

The world is enthralled in a debate over the Zimmerman Trial. The verdict will assuredly satisfy some and create anger on the other side. The case, which seems to this humble writer, to be a case of self-defense with no factual basis to believe it was racially motivated, has become a focal point of this country. While there is no doubt that a loss of any life at the hands of another person should be given its due diligence in finding out if wrong doing was done, the national controversy that has followed this case is nothing more than a way to occupy the masses in order that other issues get pushed to the back of the mind.

It may sound callous even anger you, but the fact that some of the United States top officials–including the President himself–has waded into what should have been a local case of justice is not for the goodness of the American people. It is not even for justice for Trayvon Martin, if someone is so inclined to believe that he did not play a role in the conflict. Rather, it is a direct attempt to divert attention away from important matters this Administration, and this government as a whole, simply do not want to deal with. From Benghazi (remember that?) to the IRS and even to immigration policy, laying the seed for focus on the Zimmerman trial was at best an intentional step toward refocusing a nation.

I would even take this one step further. The President is not above partisanship (shock… I know). He is not above dividing and conquering, whether it be between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, or even persons of color and whites. The President only benefits among his key base when he inflames racial tensions under the guise of justice and this is a clear cut representation of that. He knows that if tensions are high he benefits. Cynical? Yes. Truth-based? Absolutely. Time will tell how the court room plays out but there is no doubt that conflict benefits the president.

The George Zimmerman Trial is coming to a close in Florida. The case has sparked national attention and captivated audiences from coast to coast. Rooted in the question of whether or not George Zimmerman, a media described “white man,” was acting in self-defense in the shooting death of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin or was hunting down the African American teen, the trial has been one of confusion, excitement, and perceived racial implications.

The case was originally a cut and dry issue of self-defense, with the police investigators deciding not to charge Zimmerman with a crime when the shooting first occurred. When national media and political pundits, even the White House and the Justice Department, brought light to the situation, suddenly a crime of defense became one of aggravated and premeditated thought. Though there is no clear evidence to suggest that this crime had anything to do with race, the media has created a firestorm of racial tension by insinuating that it was the young black man victimized and the older white guy the perpetrator, with no real evidence to back this up.

Though many believe that there should be an acquittal or not guilty verdict based solely on the case presented before the jury and judge, not even speaking to the actual guilt or innocence of Zimmerman, the verdict is likely to be a tension filling and contentious one. Suddenly, Zimmerman represents the evil white man and has been given the symbolic label for all that is wrong with race relations. Martin, no matter his own actions and his own mistakes as a young man, has been viewed by many as a weakened kid who was attacked because of his race and his race alone.

Republicans and Democrats alike are divided on this case because its symbolism is much greater than the actual facts of the proceedings. Suddenly, a case of was-it-murder-or-self-defense has turned into a microcosm of racial divides in this country. Time will tell how the verdict plays out and whether justice will be served or not. If anyone should be found guilty, however, it ought to be the media for adding unnecessary fuel to an otherwise right v. wrong court case. Sensationalism carries the day and one need look no further than the Zimmerman trial to see that.

The IRS has been under scrutiny in recent months for a myriad of allegedly problematic and controversial behaviors. Most notably, the tax agency has been under fire for the targeting of political, social, and educational groups-mainly conservative and Tea Party organizations-and making the process to achieve tax exempt status much more difficult. The group, now charged with the task of enforcing Obamacare legislation, has raised eyebrows further for its lavish activities, social gatherings, and employee seminars which range into the millions of dollars. The main funding source for the IRS being the American people, the waste of taxpayer money is not going over well by both fiscal aware conservatives and liberals alike.

The controversy does not end there, however, for the overly active tax agency. Now, the agency is in trouble for distributing and sharing information via a IRS website that was highly sensitive to personal security and private. According to the IRS itself, the agency has been brought to task for sharing thousands of Social Security numbers of Americans on a government website. The agency itself confirmed that this breach of security did exist, thanks to a privacy hawk group that noted the mistake. Since then, all information has been removed from the website and no longer appears on the social media site. The question of how much damage has been done, however, is not likely to be known.

The actions are likely to bring a simultaneous cringe and smirk to those investigating the agency for wrongdoing. Republicans and Democrats alike, albeit a dwindling number of the original liberal critics, have another example of the sheer incompetency of the organization at best and the downright idiocy of its policies. The IRS is literally imploding around itself and heightened levels of scrutiny are likely to follow it in the future. The question, however, becomes whether or not any real changes are likely to occur or whether this, like so many breeches of trust by the government, will simply fade away into obscurity.

The United States is in a unique position of authority and targeting for terrorist organizations. The beacon of hope, that shining city upon a hill, is the hope, desire, and want of so many less than free individuals around the world. Though controversy remains and our own Constitution continues to be beaten down and stepped on (arguably) by those in power, the essence and the ideal of the American spirit remains a beacon of hope to many. This hope threatens those with ill intentions, demands actions by those that wish ill, and provides a visible goal for terrorists.

The aforementioned is all known, understandably, to anyone willing to pay just a bit of attention to the coverage of world events. No, the United State is not unique in its efforts to combat terrorism and its need to be vigilant (within the confines of the rule of law). In combating the efforts and thwarting terrorists from Iran, Chechnya, Pakistan, and other countries around the world with radical ties, there needs to be a sharing of information between allies and a united (though not necessarily reliant) position on what will occur. Argentina, a country which has seen its share of terrorist attacks, could have helped in providing this information and helping to piece together the complicated web of connections that are terrorism. But, recently and much to the anger of Republicans, the Argentinian cooperation ceased to exist leaving the United States with one less tool in aiding in the fight against external evil.

In 1994, anti-Semitic actions of Iranian influenced groups resulted in the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina. The result was 85 deaths and multiple injuries. Argentina has one of the most open and welcoming climates for Jews in Latin America, making it a target to the anti-Israeli Iran. The United States was hoping to learn more about the attack from the Government Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who appeared ready and willing, even excited, to share his findings regarding Iran’s involvement in the attack. Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, however, chose instead to put an end to this interaction and asserted that Nisman would not be testifying in front of US Congressional committees or sharing information with leaders on Capitol Hill. This is just another setback in the greater war on terror and raises the question of who are allies are in this global fight.

Indeed. Right when they were about to move on from the previous scandal, they’ve dug the IRS grave a little deeper. This time it is a leak of thousands of social security numbers. This information comes from a recent audit by Public.Resource.org. It was disclosed that thousands of social security numbers had been leaked by the IRS for almost a whole day, until the mistake was noticed.

The database involved in the exposure of these social security numbers were those who filed 527s, filed by nonprofit political groups. The chances of IRS trying to cover up this “oopsie” are about as good as the exposed social security numbers being from nonprofit Republican groups. The IRS has created quite the track record lately.

The controversy of the DOMA repeal has many people arguing that now singles are being “singled out.” After the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned, do you think marriage should have been completely overturned, which would ultimately be less government? Should we get rid of marriage through government all together, and let everyone have their social marriages in whatever institution they prefer?

Secondly, Irish mobster “Whitey” Bulger is on trial and unfortunately it’s not nationally broadcasted, rather we have the Zimmerman trial, which isn’t even a fraction as interesting. Is anyone else as disappointed about this as I am?

Gay rights advocates and supporters of marriage equality rejoiced in a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. The court, in a split decision vote, asserted that a federal ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and, essentially, it was up to the states to determine the rules of marriage in their state. Gay rights groups are celebrating this as a victory in their fight to gain the same rights as heterosexual couples, while supporters of traditional marriage between man and woman are continuing their crusade at the state level.

Both Justices Roberts and Scalia gave dissenting opinions, Scalia’s coming from the bench. He asserted that there had been cheating of both sides in this debate, arguing that the constitutionality of DOMA should not be a question. He asserts that the constitution neither forbids nor demands the definition of a marriage, thus negating any question as to the constitutionality of the argument. For that reason, he argued, this was a politically motivated decision rather than one that the bench should have made the decision on.

Where the states will go from here is unknown. If each state sets their own bar and definition of marriage, then, it would follow that there will be political motivations for campaigns in states where traditional marriage is the preferred definition. Proponents of gay marriage have already asserted that they will be taking the issue to the polls in controversial and highly politicized states such as Ohio and more moderate conglomerations. As such, pressure could be placed upon legislatures that choose one side or the other in this debate and take it out of the hands of the citizenry as it was with the Proposition 8 ruling. No, it needs not be the will of the people but instead the will of a majority of the state legislatures. Where this leads and the pressure that is put on said legislatures (and governors) will come in the next months to years.