Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Private Charity vs. Government Assistance

In the Christian Bible, Jesus said we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and take care of our fellow humans. He also said it’s not our business why they have no food or clothes.  His instruction is to help alleviate the suffering of others, without passing judgment on the person needing help.

Now, I'm not Christian, nor do I belong to any religious organization.  That being said, I've read the Bible cover to cover several times.  I've cross-references several issues within its text. I've seen the contradictions within the text as well as in people's attitudes and actions.  And I've seen the mistranslations, some accidental, others seeming intentional, as with, for example, the Old Testament passage that "men should not suffer a witch to live".  As a result, I do not and cannot believe the Bible is infallible.

Based on my own study and learning, I've discovered that the Christ teachings within it (seen best in the red-letter editions) come the closest to my natural inclinations.  They are humane almost to a fault, like the passage I paraphrased from the portion of the Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes.  These are the first 12 verses of the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5.

Conservatives, by and large, often tell me that yes, those are good ideals to live by, but they are the choice of the individual, and that they were never meant to be implemented or enforced by government. They tell me that when governments do these things, it's theft from the people who earned the money (taxation) given to lazy people (redistribution).  As has been noted elsewhere in passing during this discussion, they also believe and say that charitable giving should cover the needs of the poor and down-trodden.

Taking the last view first, as many people as there are who need assistance, relying solely on charitable contributions is problematic at best, simply because charities are unable to cover very much of the real need.  I've hear conservatives say that if they didn't have to pay so much in taxes, they would be able to give more to charities. 

But there are two major problems I see with that.  One is that giving to charities is a choice, not only in how much to give, but also in which charities to give to.  And two, such a solution is really not viable, because it still would not be enough to cover the needs of the people who would be forced to rely on those charities.

Then there is the fact that many wealthy people, as well as corporations, give to charities for no other reason than to get a tax deduction.  In reality, they couldn't care less whether people in need got help or not.

Now here's the crux of the matter.

Governments are and should be a reflection of the highest aspirations of the people of a nation.  If assisting those in need is a matter for individuals, as conservatives correctly state, then it should also be a matter for governments as representatives of those highest ideals of the people.  Therefore, the ideals of the Beatitudes, regardless of ones' religion or lack thereof, should be considered within the bounds of government actions, and a necessary and perhaps over-riding part of governmental operations. 

To insist that government not be involved in expressing our highest ideals is tantamount to admitting our own hypocrisy.


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Real Debate or Echo Chamber?

Well, it's getting hot in here.  I've been booted from my second FB group.  This is the second time for this group.  It's called the "No BS Forum".  But it's loaded with BS.  (The other group is called "The Commons", and apparently takes pride in being an echo chamber.)

Allow me to explain.  Everyone who follows me or has friended me here, especially those who know me in real life, knows that I don't follow any particular political party.  This gives me the freedom to call out BS when and where I see it.  It doesn't matter to me if it's Democrats or Republicans, I call it out.  I've even written blogs and other posts critical of the Libertarian Party; they're not a major player, but they're trying to be.  And perhaps they had a hand too, a small one, in getting Trump elected.

Now on to the matter at hand.  I've been posting a variety of things in the so-called "No BS Forum", covering corruption of both major parties and individuals within those parties.  A few weeks ago, the owner of the group, one Gary Gambino, stated in comments that he did not want an echo chamber.  Another member, a hard-core supporter of Hillary Clinton named John Fotia, responded that there was something to be said for echo chambers. 

Fotia, Victoria Cash, and others have refused repeatedly to engage in civil discussion.  They call my posts fake news, even when shown proof from other sources that it's not fake.  Fotia even called Alternet, a mainstay of the left, a questionable source.  Why?  Because the article he was responding to detailed the corruption of the DNC, specifically Clinton and Shultz.  He's done the same with other progressive sources, ones that are rated highest on the media bias checking website, , for the same reason.

Perhaps a week after that, I was booted from the group.  A day later, through the intervention of a good friend, Kris Haynes, I was reinstated. 

Today I was attempting to be civil and engage in discussion, as I usually am, but the people there don't want discussion, especially if it's about Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wassermann-Shultz or Donna Brazile, the ringleaders of the corruption within the Democratic Party.  Instead, they attacked me and my posts with ad hominems and deflections to things that are totally irrelevant to the topic of the post.  And out of nowhere, I'm banned again.   Not only that, Gary, the group owner, blocked me from PM'ing him to ask why.

But I'd lay odds that not one of those actually engaging in these attacks has been treated the same, or even given a warning.

So.  I'm posting this blog in the two other groups Gary owns.  I fully expect it to be deleted and for me to be booted from those groups as well.  And that's okay.  Because now I know that Gambino has no interest in open debate of issues.  He wants echo chambers all around.  He's proven it by kicking me out of the so-called "No BS Forum".  Twice.  And he's not even man enough to take a PM asking for an explanation of his actions.

Here's a kick in the pants for anyone who is able to think for themselves.  My posts, as I've said, have been called fake news, bogus sources, and other things along those lines, in spite of the verifiable facts and truth they contain.  However, I live and write by a single axiom.  It's been stated clearly in three distinct ways.

First, by Mohandas Gandhi: "The friend you must cultivate is that part of your enemy that knows the truth."

Second, by Malcolm X: "I am for Truth, no matter who speaks it."

And third, by my Teacher, Dr. David M. Berry:  "Truth is Truth, even out of a liar's mouth."

No, I'm not mad.  I'm actually happy.  I learned a valuable lesson that I should have learned long ago.  Something about casting pearls.  It's in the Christian Bible, if you want to look it up.  But I'm through with this nonsense. 

I hope Gary Gambino and the other residents of his total BS echo chamber have a nice life as the Democratic Party self-destructs by staying with corporate sycophants as their chosen candidates instead of real progressives. 

I am, and I shall remain, a proud independent, thinking for myself rather than letting the Establishment do it for me. 


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Analyzing the "intelligence" summary

So here's the declassified summary of the "report" released by DHS in January:

Following the Links From Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election

Let's break it down, shall we?

Items 1 - 6 are so much "he said, she said" statements with no evidence to back them up:

1. Officials *believed* hackers were associated with Russian intel agencies.

2. A hacking group *possibly* linked to the agency...

3. Investigators *believe* that the G.R.U., or a hacking group known as Fancy Bear or A.P.T. 28...

4. A self-proclaimed hacker that investigators *say* was a “persona” created by the G.R.U.

5. Investigators *say* it is a front for the Russian hackers...

6. The report released on Jan. 6 *said* that intelligence officials “assess with high confidence..."

Now, from item 7 onward, we have a lot of actions being taken and discussed based on the above "he said, she said" statements:

7. Dozens of newspapers, television stations, bloggers and radio stations around the United States... pursued reporting based on the hacked material, significantly increasing the effects of the cyberattack.

8. Note the disclaimer on the DHS website "report":
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) *does not provide any warranties of any kind* regarding any information sontained within."

9 - 11: Minimal detail about the effects on the election, with no reference to the veracity or lack thereof of the emails leaked.  Those ieffects included the forced resignation of DWS. 

Conclusion based on available facts, without the innuendoes and suppositions inherent in this kind of bogus reporting:

If the emails are not so bad, like the Establishment actors and supporters claim, then release the original emails to point out where the analysts are wrong.  But they haven't done that, and I predict they won't do that.  Why?  Because the emails have electronic validation markers added by email software that verify authenticity.  Those markers, I would wager, would also verify that those who are critical of the DNC are right to be so.

Further, there would have been no reason for Shultz to resign.

Critical reading and thinking, combined with knowledge of words and language, are wonderful tools only if one bothers to use them.


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Are you satisfied with President Obama?

Before I begin, let me say that I voted for Barack Obama for both of his terms.  I believed his message of hope and change.  And he started off really well, with the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the initial pullout of our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the bailout of the automobile industry with the requirement of fiull payback before the executives could get their bonuses. 

The Affordable Care Act was at first a good start, but came to represent a sellout to the insurance industry rather than a real reform of American health care. Yes, it has it's good points, like the end of pre-existing condition clauses in insurance policies for example, and the millions more people who can get insurance.  But it's not enough, and will never be enough as long as corporate interests are served before the needs of We the People.  He missed the boat on this, which should have been single payer like the rest of the civilized world.  But that can be written off as the need to compromise with the Republicans in Congress in order to get anything passed on that issue.

In all honesty, I bagan wondering about his commitment to that hope and change when, after his first year in office he kept seeking compromise in spite of the fact that Congress kept refusing.  And of course there was his turnaround of the commitment to get our troops out of the Middle East as well as the expansion of actions that have proven counterproductive to peace and stability in the region, like Syria and Libya, pushed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  That expansion has had the effect of increasing the role and influence of ISIS/ISIL by creating power vacuums that the terrorist organisation has been only too willing to fill:

Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall

How ISIS Spread in the Middle East

  Yet I still supported him through most of his two terms.

What started the change in my thinking was when, against all legal precedent, he ordered the assassination of an American citizen by drone a couple years ago.  No arrest, no filing of charges, no conviction or sentence in any court of law.  Then I began looking back at his record, but in spite of his courting corporate support over the people in general, I still supported him. 

That support was enhanced a bit by his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline for the reasons he stated:
Citing Climate Change, Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

Then came his relative silence on DAPL.  He said next to nothing about the peaceful protesters of that pipeline being abused by law enforcement and private (corporate) security forces, and did absolutely nothing.  True, the Army Corps of Engineers rescinded (temporarily!) consent for the construction, but it's unclear whether this was at President Obama's direction or if the Corps did this on their own in response to the validity of the reasons for the protest.
And nothing is being done about Energy Transfer Partners' refusal to accept changes in the pipeline's route in order to protect the environment from catastrophic damage.  In fact they have a record of causing such damage:

Iowa's pipeline safety record spotty

And let's not forget the lackluster economic "improvements" which, although generally better than the depression we were headed for, is still in a rececssion, with many people who used to earn a decent, even upper middle class level, paycheck, who are now stuck in lower-wage, and even minimum wage, jobs, and more low=paying jobs being created to replace the higher-paying ones that have been lost:

Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones

All of that being said, if we were to do it all over again, I would still have supported Obama's candidacies, but I would also have urged people to hold his feet to the fire on his campaign promises.  He was, in fact, the best person for the job in comparison to his campaign opponents in both 2008 and 2012.

© 2016 by Don Rice Jr.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Think Critically

"The Washington Post published a report that cites officials who say they have identified individuals connected to the Russian government..."

Let's break this down, shall we?

Un-named "officials".  Suspicious right form the outset.

"... who say they have identified..."  But only on their say-so?

"... connected to the Russian government..." Connected in what way?  Career bureaucrats? Aides? Spies?  Again, no indication of how they're connected.

Let's look further, shalL we?

"By acknowledging and digging into the increasing evidence..." What evidence?  None has been released, at least not to the general public, that I'm aware of.

And the statement that those unknown Russian government people "...gave WikiLeaks emails..." is nothing more than allegation and innuendo until, if and when, it's proven to be true.  At present there is no reason to take the word of government officials or mainstream media that gave every appearance of being in the bag for Hillary Clinton even prior to her securing the Democratic nomination.

It must also be noted that nobody has released the original emails to verify that the tampering or changing alleged to have been done by the Russians actually happened.  If they were tampered with or changed in any way, the originals would prove it.  But they haven't been released.  Why might that be?

I really don't care who leaked the emails. If the only thing up for dispute is who leaked them, and nobody is addressing whether their accurate copies of the originals, then that's really all that matters. And if they are, in fact, accurate representations, then something is very wrong within the DNC.

Critical thinking isn't really all that difficult.

 ©2016 by Don Rice Jr.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Just stop it!

Reportedly the Dakota Access Pipe Line is being rerouted around, not through, Souix lands.  This is a good start, but doesn't really address the issue of polution form broken pipelines, which are all too common, especially with the company running the show.  But important an issue as that is, it's not what I'm writing about today.

You may or may not know that this would be the second change in the pipeline route.  It was originally routed through a wealthier area before it was moved over to the tribal lands.

Bismark, North Dakota residents protested the pipeline coming through their town out of fear of damage to their water supply.  It didn't take months and months of protests during which they were arrested by the scores and by the hundreds and locked in kennel-like cages.  There were no dogs sicked on them.  They didn't have water cannons turned on them.  They weren't turned away from buying supplies in local stores.  They weren't shot in the heads with hard rubber bullets or gassed or assaulted by militarized police and private security forces.  And they didn't need lawyers or retired military veterans to come to their defense.

None of that happened to the residents of Bismark, N.D.  All they had to do was register their concerns, and the pipeline was re-routed away from them.  And the residents of Bismark have the nerve to complain about the Native American people who have been protesting for months the very same issue for their lands and water supplies?   GTFOOHWTBS.

To the people of Bismark who are doing that complaining: Take your white racist crocodile tears somewhere else.  We the People of these supposedly United States, who come in all races, ethnic backgrounds, religions and whatever else, don't need your fake patriotism or your bigoted attitudes.  Those things won't help our country.

 ©2016 by Don Rice Jr.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stop The Blame Game

What caused Hillary to lose was a combination of a variety of things. Lack of enthusiasm, yes. Voter suppression, yes, in both the general and the primaries. But I think the biggest factor is the mood of the electorate, i.e., We the People, to turn against business as usual, to reject the status quo.

The Democratic party, by whatever means, shady or legitimate, rejected the only primary candidate who is not part of the establishment forces supporting the status quo. Hillary talked a good fight, but only after being pressured by Bernie Sanders’ rapidly rising polling and vote numbers. 

This left the field wide open for Trump to come in as an anti-establishment candidate, even though many of his statements during the campaign were and are repugnant, and win the general election.

Who is to blame for all this? I would say all of us who call ourselves either Democrat or progressive. Those who supported Sanders but switched to Hillary, those who didn’t switch, those who supported Hillary no matter what and denigrated anyone and everyone who disagreed with them are at fault.
But now the time for blame is over. We must reach out to our opponents on both the left and the right, and form working coalitions to get more progressive candidates into office on all levels of government, to pass progressive initiatives in every state, and to groom a true progressive to challenge Trump in 2020.

To accomplish that, we must find common ground on which to to build this progressive movement, Our Revolution, into a force to be reckoned with. If we don’t do the work, we will have nobody else to blame.


 ©2016 by Don Rice Jr.