Obama to Unveil Plan to Extend Overtime Pay to 5 Million

Obama to Unveil Plan to Bring Overtime Pay to 5 Million

Another interesting article, this time a headline over at Huffpo.  If you look at the widening wage gap between owners and workers, especially if you look at it over the course of history in the last hundred years, you will see that things have gotten completely out of whack.  Don’t take my word for it, do the research.  This looks to be a way that Obama is looking to help lessen the outrageous disparity that has arisen in this country between rich and poor.

The Obama Doctrine

The new New York Times interview with President Obama is an interesting read.  I am glad that he is our leader at this point.  He explains what his approach to Iran and other countries is.  He lays out his way of thinking about countries that have been deemed enemies of the U.S.  It’s being called the Obama doctrine.  It seems more than sane to me.  Here is a small snippet:

“You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.”

And later:

The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

The notion that Iran is undeterrable — “it’s simply not the case,” he added. “And so for us to say, ‘Let’s try’ — understanding that we’re preserving all our options, that we’re not naïve — but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place. … We’re not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn’t we test it?”

This does not mean that his foreign policy is perfect.  I still am highly wary of his use of drones over the term of his presidency.  I also don’t like the way that whistle blowers have been treated.  However, the main policies that he lays forth seem to me that they are highly reasonable.  He seems to understand our place in the world.  We are militarily the most powerful country in the world.  Why couldn’t we try new approaches, especially when the downside, given our technological and military position, is small.  His approach to Cuba and Iran, at least at this point, seem like victories for peace.

I highlight two of the quotes that Huffington Post also highlighted.  

Mass Death, Critical Thinking, and Media Distortion

There is a digital sign, very close to where I live, that lets the passerby know that 457 people have been killed on Texas roads this year.  That is 457 people killed on the roads in the state of Texas only, in just over three months of one year.  There were 2,877 victims during 911.  So roughly one sixth of all of the people that were killed as the result of 911 have been killed through traffic accidents in the state of Texas this year from January 1st to March 24th.

Yet, no one is particularly troubled by this, unless of course they have been some how touched by one of these accidents in a personal way.  Meanwhile when 911 happened we lost our collective shit, resulting in the invasion of a country that in no way was related to 911.  That invasion led to far more death and destruction than 911 did.  I am not saying 911 was not a horrible event.  I am not saying that no response was necessary.  I am only saying that if you compare the results of 911 to the results of what happen all the time, it didn’t warrant the kind of response that it created.  We did not need to change every law in the land, drop bombs on other people, etc.  We should have gone after the people directly responsible, mourned the dead in the way that we should mourn all people that have fallen before their time, and gotten back to business as usual.

I would imagine that most people would agree with this now, especially in concern with our ill advised adventure into Iraq.  So why am I bringing this up?  (And I’m even bringing it up again as I have touched upon this idea before.  I am constantly reminded of this idea from the sign that I see every time I leave my house to go out into greater Austin.)  Today over at Huffington Post the headline is about a plane crash in the Alps where right now 150 are feared dead.  This number is less than a third of all the people that have been killed in Texas highways this year, and it is far away, so the chance of us knowing someone that died is even less.  Yet, this is the HEADLINE at Huffington Post.  I can only imagine what cable news is going to do with a story like this.  I assume, and hopefully I’m wrong, but I doubt that I am, that cable news is going to have a fucking field day with it!

We live in a democracy.  To have a democracy that functions efficiently, it is important that the citizens of the democracy can assess what’s going on and make educated choices concerning problems.  Yet here in America, a sort of tabloid lizard brain runs the show in determining what is important to focus on.  That is if you take the view that things aren’t being actively manipulated to keep us afraid and in the dark.

When horrible events occur, which with news cameras in almost every part of the globe, they are going on consistently in some form or fashion on a daily basis, we must try to maintain some kind of perspective on things.  As citizens of the United States and as citizens of the greater world, what actually concerns us?  What is a tragedy and what is a threat?  Given that we as humans only have so much time in a day to devote to understanding the world around us, what is really important for us to know and what is not?  When is something blown out of proportion to where it actually prevents us from making wise decisions?  This does not meant that we should be callous to suffering.  It only means that we should not let suffering blind us into creating other suffering in the world.

The way that our news media operates actually causes us to be less informed, as we are overloaded with the horrific and the sensational.  Anytime a news story comes on one should ask, “Does this affect me and my life in anyway?  Does this increase the likelihood that I am going to make better decisions about the world?  If it does not, can I acknowledge that I am watching this for mere entertainment or escapism?”

I would prefer that all Americans quit watching TV news.  If they can’t, I would at least prefer that they limited the amount of time they spent viewing it.  TV news, even though I mentioned Huffington Post up above, is the worst at pumping up false threats, while ignoring real events that we should be learning about.  However, if one is not going to stop watching TV news, I think people should at least take the right set of tools with them, as they try to sort through the insanity of the day.

Critical thinking is more important than ever.  In a world full of information, it is those that understand how to interpret information that are going to stand the best of thriving in this world.  Unfortunately our schools are moving more towards standardized testing, more towards rewarding the unthinking worker bee.  These are the exact opposite of the skills that are truly needed in the modern world.

Netanyahu Rival Widens Lead in Israeli Election

Netanyahu Rival Widens Lead in Israeli Election

The above headline says it all.  I am just reading about this for the first time.  This is great news indeed.  Hopefully the power-hungry Netanyahu has finally overstepped his bounds with his recent foray into U.S. politics.  Anyone that hopes for peace in the Middle East should greet this news with joy.  I’ll be stroking my lucky rabbit foot hoping that Netanyahu’s ill fortune continues!

Florida Bans Climate Change

Florida Bans Climate Change

I meant to post this the other day, but I forgot, or I couldn’t make myself because of the astounding stupidity involved.  Florida officials, once Rick Scott came into power, were told to not include the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in any official reports.  If this wasn’t so insane and depressing, this would actually be hilarious.  Florida is a state that is going to be in an especially dire situation due to climate change related problems.  Here is just one article about one part of Florida that is going to face catastrophe due to climate change:

Why the City of Miami is Doomed to Drown

Do we really need leaders who not only don’t act in their constituents best interests, but don’t even allow debate about things that may affect those same constituents?

Pimp My Ride Was Fake

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Pimp My Ride Was Fake

Huffington Post just put out an article that makes the claim that many of the revisions made to cars on the MTV reality show Pimp My Ride were made just for the TV cameras.  It’s long been known that reality TV is not very real.  I have no personal interest in that show or almost any reality show.  I do think that they are a drain on our culture as they blur the line between fact and fiction, they create meaningless public figures, champion consumerist values, and they entertain with the lowest common denominator.

Black Site Discovered in Chicago

Chicago Black Site Discovered

The Guardian has just put out an article, one which Huffington Post is also headlining with, that claims that there is a secret black site used by the Chicago Police to interrogate U.S. citizens.  This site is being compared to CIA black sites that are used overseas in the War on Terror.  I find this scary, but not surprising.  This seems to me to be the endgame of years of fighting a war in which the boundaries haven’t been clear.  All throughout our War on Terror our police here at home have become more militarized.  A lot of the gear that has been used overseas in the War on Terror has made its way stateside.  There are also tactics that have made it home from these wars.  But while soldiers main job is to subdue a hostile population, unless they are on a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, the police should be working alongside the community.

I think that there are two additional things one should keep in mind.  The first is that there is a history of law enforcement abuse in this country.  A great place to read about this is in Tim Weiner’s book Enemies: A History of the FBI.  Obviously there is a difference between the Chicago Police and the FBI.  However, both are domestic law enforcement, and the book will give you an idea of how those in power abuse the law for political purposes.  The other book that I keep recommending is Matt Taibbi’s The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, a book that examines the way that justice is applied differently to people depending on their economic background.  I think the fact that there is a history of abuse is important.  J. Edgar Hoover often punished people he viewed as “communists and subversives”.  (left wing)  If you know that history and combine it with what Taibbi says about modern times, while looking at this new information in light of the overall War on Terror, it’s not that hard to see how we ended up here.