Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

Around this time of year, it’s customary for many bloggers to do a post reflecting on the last year and their hopes for the coming year. I decided to wait a few days to do mine because I posted a lot of stuff during the first couple of days of the New Year, and I didn’t want you guys to get sick of me (especially since a lot of what I posted was advertisement). And I won’t be doing the sort of post with the odd comparisons to famous venues and the listing stats, because I dislike doing those sorts of posts. Instead, I think I’ll just do what writers and bloggers do best, and write.

So, how was 2015? Well, I was surprised by how many people found 2015 to be a really bad year for them. So many people on Facebook and in daily conversation went so far to call 2015 “shitty”. Even my sister, who accomplished so much this past year, including getting her driver’s license and car and becoming a certified professional baker (so proud of her on that). This is especially odd when you think about how these people don’t live in war zones or aren’t homeless or anything, but then again we can’t always be expected to compare ourselves to those who have it worse, can we?

Personally, I feel that 2015 was a bit of a roller coaster with all sorts of ups and downs. I had a pretty mellow final semester with only three classes and a thesis to do, but at the same time I had a job search that sometimes felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. During graduation and the two-three weeks surrounding it, I felt like the prom queen, with all the attention on me, showering praise and good wishes. Not too long afterward I got to go see some of my favorite metal bands in concert, and got the chance to intern in Germany. Of course, the trip to Germany got delayed, and one set of tickets I couldn’t fully refund, so that was money wasted.

Life’s a rollercoaster, is it not?

When I finally did get to Germany, it was a great experience. I learned a lot working with the US Army, explored as much of Germany as I could in the four months I was there, and made some memories and friendships that I hope will stay with me for a long time. On the other hand, I could get very tired, and if things didn’t go as planned, that stressed me out. I didn’t get to stay, and even when you’re making a good living and have a place to stay on base, which is much cheaper than getting your own apartment, living abroad is expensive. I came back to the States with about the same amount of money in my bank account as when I left.

And finally, when I got back home, I found a lot a lot of people wanting to know how I did in Germany and what it was like. I also got a lot of support as I started up the job search again, and I finished editing one novel and made significant progress on another. And I even got a narrator for that audio book for Reborn City I’ve been trying to get off the ground! On the other hand…still jobless for the moment, and until I have some income, I can’t get an editor to look at Video Rage for one final touch-up before publication.

All in all, I felt this year reflected life in general. There are things that don’t always go your way and you could live without, but there are plenty of good things to even it out, and in the end you wouldn’t give up the experiences you’ve had for the world. That’s certainly been my experience. While I would’ve loved to not have those delays with Germany and still have some more money in my bank account, and I had hoped to be employed by this point, I am very happy that I’ve had the experiences and learned the lessons that I did this year.

As for this coming year…well, I have my hopes. I want to get a job, obviously, and without getting into specifics, I’ve had some luck with that, thanks in part to the help I’ve gotten from numerous sources. I want to publish at least one book this year, though I’m aiming for two, plus some short stories here and there. And I would definitely like to move out into my own place (preferably a one-bedroom apartment that allows pets, like cute little kitty cats).

Oh, and I would definitely like to finish editing a few more stories, make some more progress on my new collection of short stories Teenage Wasteland, and get that audio book of Reborn City released.

Will any of this happen? I can’t say, because the future is not certain. However, a lot of stuff is very likely, including the stuff listed above. And I’m hoping that along with those, a lot of other stuff happens this year. While I had a pretty good 2015, I know that on a global scale things were, to say the least, messed up. Gun violence, terrorism, refugees not given the treatment they deserve, continued abuse of the environment. There was plenty of good–gay marriage is now legal all throughout the nation, thank God–but I feel we need to see a lot more of that sort of good to outweigh the bad. Already I’ve seen what I feel is good action from the President, but it’s going to take a lot more than that before I’m satisfied.

Cheers to a fresh start.

Well, I’ve rambled on enough for one evening. I’ll finish off with a reminder that all of my books are on sale through January 14th from Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords, and that I hope we all accomplish the goals we set ourselves this year. And I guess that includes new year’s resolutions, though I know those rarely last long. Oh well, good luck with those too I guess.

Happy 2016, my Followers of Fear!

It’s expected in the coming weeks that the grand jury will hand down a decision on whether or not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. Protesters have threatened to riot if Wilson isn’t indicted, the governor has declared a state of emergency, and police are getting ready for what many see as a second, bigger powder keg after the first one went off back in August. And around the country, in living rooms and coffee shops, in workplaces and on news talk shows, people are asking what caused this and what will happen next.

I’ll keep my own personal views on what should happen to Wilson to myself, lest everything else I try to say in this piece gets forgotten because of one opinion. I will state that I think it’s tragic that a young man who had his whole life ahead of him and was planning to go college and maybe own his own business someday was taken too soon, and that his legacy has to be another awful bullet point in the United States’ long, troubled history with race.

And make no mistake, there is a racial element to this. I know some will say that we shouldn’t be talking about race, that we’re living in a post-racial society, that race is a sociological construct of the mind rather than a biological certainty, and that therefore race should not be brought up. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll keep saying it: social construct or not, many people treat race as a biological reality, and racism is still a pervasive problem in the United States. In fact, I’ve often compared racism to cancer, and the way you deal with cancer isn’t to avoid it or pretend it doesn’t exist. The way you deal with cancer is to take a multi-pronged approach to cure it, and one of those approaches is to talk about racism.

And for those who continue to insist that race shouldn’t be part of the discussion because we live in a so-called “post-racial” society, here are some facts:

  • In November 2012, students of the University of Mississippi rioted upon learning that Barack Obama was reelected. Several racial slurs were heard shouted out during the riot.
  • In February 2012, a young man in Florida was profiled by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, who then followed the young man despite being told by police not to pursue, and engaged the young man in a scuffle that ultimately ended with the young man’s life being taken. The young man, Trayvon Martin, was black.
  • There are over 900 documented hate groups in the United States according to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. Most of them are primarily focused on race and racial differences.

Still want to argue that racism doesn’t exist? Racism is still very prevalent in the United States, and the fact that so many want to deny its existence or say that discussing race and racism in America makes you racist really disturb me. (The latter claim actually is the most ridiculous, especially since it goes against the very definition of racism, and real racists wouldn’t benefit from discussions on race as a societal problem unless it involved doing horrible things to other races. In fact, when economist Ben Stein went on Fox News the other day and called Obama the “most racist president” ever, I wanted to throw a dictionary and a history book at the guy. If you’re going to call a President racist, it’d be better to refer to possibly Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, or Franklin Roosevelt for starters.)

I think we owe today’s racism to some of the things that happened during Reconstruction, in part. Slavery itself definitely plays a role, but I want to focus on Reconstruction because during this time, President Andrew Johnson encouraged the return of defeated Confederate states to self-rule and to take part in federal government. The people who ended up seizing control were mostly plantation owners and businessmen, some of whom had been involved in the Confederate government, and had benefited from slavery. They used their power to pass sweeping legislation depriving freed slaves of rights, and used terror in the form of the KKK to prevent push back. There was also some propaganda directed to poorer whites who were told that giving freed slaves power was bad for them. The federal government, including Johnson, didn’t do much to prevent this (Johnson also didn’t support the Civil Rights Bill or the 13th Amendment, which is why I mentioned him above in my examples of racist presidents).

This set a painful pattern in motion that would last for nearly 100 years. The legislatures continued to have people in it who would keep up the status quo, African Americans and whites who sympathized with them were kept in place through lynching, the KKK, and other forms of terror, and efforts on state and federal levels to stop it faced uphill battles. It wasn’t until WWII, when African-Americans were determined to achieve victory at home and abroad after their rough treatment during WWI, that things began to change for the better.

Why do I go into all this, and at the risk of getting a bunch of people shouting at me in the comments about how I know nothing or I’m oversimplifying it or something along those lines? Because there are a lot of painful episodes, going back further than I have covered, that have happened and continue to happen long after MLK and the Civil Rights Acts, and we need to examine the whole picture in order to understand what is happening now. Racism existed then, and although they’re in new forms, racism exists today. So we need to confront the past and examine the present if we’re to better the future.

And now that I’ve led you through this long, somewhat rambling post, I have to ask: how do you think racism can be combated? What approaches should we take to stop racism and make it less prevalent in future generations?

*By the way, I know that some of the arguments here can also be applied to other forms of prejudice and discrimination towards other minorities, women, religions, ethnic groups, socioeconomic levels, and sexual orientations. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve only focused on race here, but I do cover other problems in other posts and in some of my fiction as well.

There’s been a lot of talk on the right end of the political spectrum in the United States about suing or impeaching President Obama. Indeed, thanks to the efforts of House Speaker John Boehner (who I’m sad to say is from my state), the former is looking like it could be a definite possibility. And although I’m nowhere near powerful enough to have influence the workings of Congress, I would like to point out some of the flaws with either approach to dealing with the President.

Is it just me, or does he look like he wants to cry?

First, considering the option to sue the President, I’ve been skeptical of this whole lawsuit thing since Boehner announced his intentions to sue the President over his alleged abuse of executive orders and working around Congress. First off, Congress isn’t working at all Most of the time you guys are either flinging accusations at one another or sitting on your asses. And that’s when you’re actually working (which isn’t often enough, in my opinion): the rest of the time you’re courting super PACs or making sure the next election keeps you in office. Are you surprised the President is taking executive actions? Someone in Washington has to be doing their job. Second, President Obama has been actually rather conservative with his executive orders, with less of them than most Presidents who have been in office as long as he has. Only 183, compared to George W. Bush’s 291 and Ronald Reagan’s 381 executive orders. If you’re going to accuse a President of being abusive with executive orders, try Franklin Roosevelt, with a whopping 3,522.

And now that Boehner has specified which order he’s upset about, which delays certain provisions of Obamacare. Okay, this is a law he hates. Why does he want to sue to force the President to enforce those mandates? And even if the House agrees to sue the President, I doubt the Supreme Court will hear it. First off, Boehner would have to prove he’s been hurt by the delay in the mandates. Last I checked, he hasn’t. And the whole strange logic of this lawsuit would be enough to make Justice Scalia go “Say what??” It’s probably going to be thrown out of court.

And even if it does go through, I can’t see this case going in favor of Boehner. In any case, he’s likely to be humiliated even more over this case. And even if he does win the case, what’s the worst that could happen? The President’s reputation could be bruised, but he’d still be in office. And would it really make a difference? Obamacare’s delayed provisions would be put into action, and isn’t that the exact opposite of what you’d want?

My reaction as well.

And now for the whole impeachment issue. For years people have been calling for President Obama’s impeachment, most of them political pundits and citizens from red states or conservative neighborhoods. But the number of folks on the federal level calling for it, including Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Representative Randy Weber, whom Jon Stewart made some very good jokes about the other day. However, some of these same people calling for the President’s impeachment are also saying that they shouldn’t do it now. Why? As senior Republicans have actually admitted, pursuing impeachment might actually turn off independents leaning towards the GOP and excite the Democratic base. All before November’s midterm elections.

Look, we can quibble all we want about the definiton of a tyrant, but I don’t see the President as a tyrant, and clearly he’s not as big a tyrant as some in the GOP claim he is if you don’t want to depose him because you’re worried it might do more harm than good with GOP electoral prospects. And assuming that the House does actually get around to impeaching the President, the Senate has to try it, and in a Democrat-controlled Senate, that is far from likely to go the House’s way. And that’s assuming the House can actually find something that can be construed as “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”, as the Constitution is written. And I’m pretty sure that would mean actual evidence, not just accusations or feelings of being persecuted. After all, an impeachment is basically the politician’s indictment, and indictments get thrown out when the judge determines there’s no evidence to support a case. Can the GOP support a case?

I’m not sure, but the last two impeachment hearings for a President (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) went absolutely nowhere. I don’t see this one being any different.

You guys sure you want to unleash him on your party?

Besides, assuming the President could be impeached, that would make Joe Biden the President. You think Biden’s going to be more cooperative to a GOP that ousted his predecessor, with whom he’s worked with for almost six years in the White House? No, he and the Democrats are going to be just as obstinate about working with the Republicans as the Republicans are about working with the Democrats! So there will be more gridlock, which may actually do both parties a disservice. In fact, I can imagine that sort of situation leading to many third party groups rising in power and upsetting the current two-party system leading to a multi-party system at all levels of government. I’m pretty sure at this point there are plenty of people who would prefer that, especially if it got something done.

So is suing or impeaching the President a good idea? I don’t think so. In fact, it’ll be just another headache for the American people. We would much rather the Democrats and GOP go and pass bills together for the President to sign. In fact, we’d foot the bill for the various parties to see a therapist if we thought that might help end this gridlock. So please, do the smart thing, Mr. Boehner. End this crusade and go back to work. The American people would be so happy if you did.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of politics, I’d like to throw out an endorsement for Ed Fitzgerald in the Ohio gubernatorial race this year. I feel he’s the best person to represent me and the rest of Ohio in the governor’s office, and I hope the rest of Ohio agrees with me in the coming months leading up to November. With 100 days to go, I’m hopeful.