Thoughts on the Election

Nobody ever said a political revolution was going to be easy. Yesterday, Bernie picked up a bunch of delegates. He basically split in Missouri and Illinois and he pocketed a decent percentage in Ohio and North Carolina. He grabbed some in Florida as well. Clinton increased her lead to 324 pledged delegates. For Bernie to win, he has to average 58%  across the remaining states. There are twenty four states left, and we are pretty much finished with the southern states (which the DNC frontloaded for Clinton). So we have to put some questions to these remaining two dozen states: Do you want another Clinton in office? Do you want Bill roaming around the White House? Do you want another war hawk in office, who advocates for regime change and voted for the Iraq war? Do you want someone who was the architect of a policy that turned Libya into a failed state where ISIS is now growing and taking over territory? Do you want a president who is going to do everything Netanyahu asks at a moment’s notice?  Do you want one that gives speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars to Goldman Sachs and then hides them?  These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked over and over and over.

It’s an uphill battle, but it is doable. The pundits and the Clinton campaign are trying to demoralize Sanders’ supporters. That’s their playbook. But we can do it. We can have a “Yuuuuuggge” comeback!

#Feel the Bern

Political Thoughts

Washington continues to meddle in countries and create chaos, from Ukraine to Syria. How about keeping that money here at home? How about building or fixing bridges? In the U.S., some roads are so bad people should wear helmets in their cars; it’s like riding in a Dune Buggy. And Washington is sending more tax dollars abroad. It would be different if it were multilateral aid and went to helping people, but much of it goes to sow death and destruction.

U.S. tax dollars have gone to support Daesh (ISIS).  The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey have been arming, for some time now, what they call “moderate rebels.” Many of these rebels joined Daesh.

In the 1980’s the CIA armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; yes, they gave Bin Laden a big push start.  The Pakistani ISI played intermediary, so he didn’t know his support was coming from Washington; he thought it was coming from independent Arab money. But a lot of people know that by now, so why does Washington continue to make the same mistakes? Can they not stop their greed? Do they have a lust for blood? What is wrong with these people in power? Most should be aware that it was the CIA that worked to radicalize the madrassas in Afghanistan, to get the Muslims out in the provinces all excited about fighting the very popular socialist government in Kabul and the “Soviet infidels.”

The Israel lobby’s lock on Washington has a lot to do with the insane Middle East policy. Is it any wonder why Washington targeted Assad? As George Galloway pointed out, Syria was one of the few Arab countries that didn’t have Mossad agents crawling everywhere. In recent years, the U.S. has worked to overthrow secular autocratic leaders in Libya and Iraq and replaced them with chaos and radicalism. They tried to do the same in Syria and created chaos, but will be unsuccessful in toppling Assad. That’s not to mention fourteen years in Afghanistan and strikes against Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. What a mess.

Then one takes a look at the Gulf states– US allies, which are little family run oil kingdoms. Talk about undemocratic. At one point, Kuwait had something like 26 members of the same family in their cabinet. The Bahraini government mowed down peaceful protesters and prevented them from accessing the hospital, while the U.S. 5th Fleet stood by and watched.  Saudi Arabia and Qatar are in the U.S  coalition to fight for “democracy” in Syria? This is a farce, but so is American politics– for example, the election with Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Trump sounds like a fascist– wanting to build a wall, deport 11 million people, and implement a database to track people of certain religious faiths– and Carson looks like he is on tranquilizers. And these are the Republican frontrunners.

I don’t even have a desire to teach politics in an American university anymore; I’m great with staying with software development. I think every Political Science Department from every university in the U.S. could be cut and there would be no difference and maybe an improvement. It’s a waste of time for students, in my opinion. It’s more propaganda than anything. Students would be better equipped by studying history, but not of the revisionist variety, and political philosophy in the Philosophy Department. There is absolutely nothing scientific about political science. It’s amazing to look at some of the people in the revolving door between government and academia in this country, for example, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright. These are bonified war criminals. Of course, students interested in becoming administrators could take public administration courses.

One might object, “But I want to study political science so I can enter politics.” For the most part, all one needs is money to enter the political arena (and be successful) in the United States. If Donald Trump doesn’t prove that true,  I don’t know what would. It will also help greatly if an aspiring politician has no core values and does what the big donors want while simultaneously giving lip service to issues important to the working masses. Therefore,  we can take someone sitting at a bus stop who is literate and has a decent image and as long as we have two million dollars to spare, we can probably get the person elected to Congress. High School students, if they pay attention, learn about the three branches of government– but their textbook won’t mention the reality of the U.S. Congress and the White House being owned by Wall Street. Anyway, the best education is a passport and a library card.

International Relations, as an academic discipline, began in Wales, primarily to study the causes of World War I and to prevent war in the future. That was a good idea. As a stand alone department, I think International Relations has its merits and is quite beneficial to study, but I would recommend studying IR in Europe and not in the U.S. Over the years, theories evolved and in the U.S. it  just became ridiculous with the “realism” and the “liberalism.” These are not theories rather ideologies used to promote American imperialism and they really don’t explain anything in their simplistic reasoning.

I could write a substantial amount on American Political Science and why it, in its current form, does more harm than good in our educational system. But there are a lot of things wrong with the educational system. I’ll save that for another time. I think I took one Political Science course during my undergraduate years. I majored in Theology followed by Religious Studies and was a passionate student activist, and moved on to Diplomacy and International Relations in grad school.

I’d like to think that a lot of my American brothers and sisters know what’s going on, but many may just feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. What are people going to do in the face of illegal invasions, arming terrorists, corruption, massive spying programs, and war crimes? I (along with many others) have done a lot of protesting, speaking, writing, and organizing. We do what we can and then have faith that God takes care of the rest.

Nevertheless, there is reason to hope. The Russians just installed the S-400 (Growler) defensive missile system in Syria, subsequent to the downing of their fighter jet. That effectively seals the skies over Syria and into neighboring countries. Somebody has to stand up to Washington’s madness for the good of the world and, frankly, for the good of the United States too. With Washington’s imperialistic behavior, a multipolar world is a safer world for everyone. After the mess that Washington created in the region (and beyond), I don’t see how any sane and moral person, who is paying attention, could have an ounce of trust in U.S. policy.

You Don’t Fit in the Box!

It’s always interesting to see people try to place others in political boxes. If you read comments beneath a few online news articles, you will run into all kinds of assumptions. Sometimes assumptions turn out to be true, but many times not. I make it a rule never to make them about anyone or anything. One of the most common political assumptions is when someone criticizes Obama’s policy, and he or she is instantly labeled a Republican or a conservative. As if the political world starts where Obama defines it and ends with the GOP. That is a mighty narrow political world.

“Then, Paul,” one may ask, “What in the world are you: a socialist, a communist, a libertarian?” People often want to stick a label to you, so they can place you in a tidy, little box. It makes them comfortable. Unfortunately, I can’t be placed in a political box. I don’t fit any.

“But Paul,” one might say, “Common, give me a break, what’s the closest box that you fit into, so we can have some idea?” Some people like to classify others into groups so they can dismiss them, or at least better understand them– oh those Democrats, those Republicans, those hippies, those commies, those foreigners, those Muslims, those rednecks and so on. And yes, it is true, because of lack of courage or critical thinking people often place themselves in their own partitioned box. They want to belong to the group. They want to be around people that think like they do and don’t want to hear other ideas.

Well, I believe in Catholic social teaching. And how does that look politically in the United States? I’m against war and U.S. imperialism (sounds real lefty), I’m against abortion (wait, are you conservative?), I’m against the death penalty (huh, are you liberal?), I’m for single payer health care and universal child care (you’re a socialist?); I’m against euthanasia( huh conservative?), I’m for protecting the environment (you’re a hippy?), I think if two people of the same gender want to have a civil partnership that should be a legal right and they should have tax benefits etc, but I don’t believe in calling it gay marriage (it should be a civil union)– for me marriage is between a man and a woman (that’s kinda liberal but kinda conservative too), I believe that Palestinians deserve freedom from occupation, in immigrant rights, and that the US corporate mass media tells half truths, airs a lot of propaganda, and sometimes just blatantly lies (sounds real progressive)… and I could go on. So my rhetorical question is the following: Into what American political party do I fit? Absolutely none of them. Which candidate matches my convictions? None of them. Which one will I vote for? It is too early to say. The only candidates that I could see supporting at all are Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul. Neither one of them excites me.

Ultimately, I’m a true independent. Some conservatives are one issue voters: They only vote on the abortion issue. I don’t think being a one issue voter is a good way to vote. It’s rare that a candidate matches anyone’s views completely– (I’ve never had one match all mine). I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, 2004, 2008 (I was on Nader’s staff in Chicago), and voted for Rocky Anderson in 2012. I loved working for Nader. He’s a man with great integrity– an American hero. I agree with his foreign policy and most of his domestic agenda. I never really heard Ralph talk a whole lot about abortion rights and don’t think he wants to; he rather talk about economic justice and peace. I don’t know this as a fact, but it was my gut feeling that he was against abortion in his heart. He comes from a Lebanese Christian family.

One should take a candidate’s whole platform into consideration. Why do I bring this up? Because this accusation of being a one issue voter is often leveled at conservatives, but they are not the only one issue voters in town. I’ve had personal experience with what I call “reverse one issue voters.” I think I coined that term (but I’m not sure). When I was going to run again for federal office a few years back, we had a campaign to get me on the ballot as an independent. There were some so-called progressive people that rejected even the notion of supporting my campaign or my getting a third party nomination because of my stance against abortion. These are people that probably agreed with 90 or 95 percent of the rest of my platform, but wouldn’t support me because of that one issue. And I wouldn’t change my position then for political expediency and I never will. It’s about living with integrity and being true to your values.

It’s important to understand that human beings are not required to fit in these tidy boxes– like the establishment encourages. Of course, they do this to divide working class people who have so much in common. Working class Democrats and Republicans have much more in common with each other than they do with the super wealthy in their own parties. You should be able to be “conservative” on this issue and not be called a “fake liberal” or be “liberal or leftist” on this other issue without being called “a phony conservative.” We need to think deeper about issues that affect human life and society, and we certainly don’t do that by making assumptions and placing others in convenient, little pigeon holes.

Turkey’s Stab in the Back – Original by —

War is the great clarifier, and in the case of the battle against Islamist insurgents, including ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, the downing of the Russian war plane by the Turkish military has demonstrated this principle quite dramatically. The US and its NATO allies, including Turkey, claim to be fighting ISIS, otherwise known as the […]

Source: Turkey’s Stab in the Back – Original by —

The Internet and Your Career

Question for Paul:

I am looking for work. I notice that you speak your mind on your blog. What do you think about internet branding and web presence when it comes to a job search?

If you are looking for a job or career, then you have certainly come across all kinds of advice about your online presence. “Make your brand stand out! Watch what you say on Facebook!”

So, let me get this straight. We have, in theory, freedom of speech, but in order to be employable people have to craft a contrived image to make a decent living? As someone who wants to see the good in others, I find it hard to imagine that all employers are scrolling the internet to find blog posts or Facebook statuses to disqualify job candidates. Now, it’s understandable for human resources to look into a potential hire for criminal activity or crude / racist or disturbing behavior, but that’s where the investigation should stop. In a free society, we should be able to express our political, religious, and /or philosophical beliefs (outside the workplace, unless it is part of the job) — without it impacting one’s employment prospects. The only thing that should matter is the fundamental question: can this person do an excellent job? Does this person have skills?

Of course, a part of that question includes qualities that affect the workplace environment– for example, is he or she a good team player, does the candidate get along with people, can this individual communicate well? My philosophy is simple: be yourself, be authentic. I personally would not want to work for someone who didn’t want me to express my convictions on my own time. Of course, a software developer on the job is not going to be talking about politics, religion, or philosophy; however, that person should be free to express themselves in the community or online. In other careers, for example a political science / international relations professor, one should have the academic freedom to discuss political issues and give opinions on the job as well (it’s part of the job description), while always respecting the contributions from colleagues and students.

The bottom line is one should be concerned with being a top-notch engineer, professor, lawyer, sales clerk or whatever– and not worry about image-making or branding. You should be hired based on your skill set, and not on an online brand. Show the employer concrete examples of what you can do and the rest shouldn’t matter.

That’s my opinion. That’s what I think. In the words of the Hodgetwins, “It’s just advice, it’s only advice, you can do whatever you want to do!”

Good luck!

La vie est belle, profitez de chaque moment.