Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why Paris is More Significant.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, there has been tremendous support for the French from the global community.  However, this sentiment was met with an extremely harsh backlash that we only care about the people killed in the French terrorist attack, but not those killed in other terrorist attacks, such as that in Lebanon, Syria, Kenya, and the region of Palestine.

It is not that the lives lost in France matter more, but that the attack on Paris matters mores.

To begin, let's look at the countries and region individually:

Lebanon is a haven for terrorists, harboring terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to name a few.  The largest of these groups, Hezbollah, operates with the approval of Syria and receives massive shipments of weaponry from the Iranians.  Additionally, Hezbollah currently holds 13 of the 128 seats in the Lebanese parliament, which makes it tied for 2nd of the most represented political party in Lebanon. Furthermore, Hezbollah is in the ruling coalition in Lebanon, and the nation of Lebanon has done nothing in the international community to stop terror beyond turning over a few al-Qaeda members.  For the most part, Lebanon has been a security blanket for terror in the Middle East.

Syria itself has been accused of terrorism or being a terrorist state.  President Assad even went as far as using chemical weapons on his own people in the fall of 2013.  The United States State Department has accused the Syrian government of engaging in state sponsored terrorism since 1979.  Additionally, al-Qaeda branches have been operating in Syria for a while, and after the vacuum left by the Obama administration, ISIS has occupied most of the eastern part of Syria.  This map of ISIS controlled region is from February 2015.  The grey region is ISIS controlled.  Syria is on the left and Iraq is on the right of the border.

Kenya is a country dealing with unfortunate circumstances.  Somalia, its neighbor to the North, is a chaotic and for the most part, in a state of anarchy.  Since it is also located on the coast, it is easy for terrorist to enter the country.  As a result, terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab control much of the southern region of the country, right next to Kenya.  This is also the are where al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda have set up shop for their training camps.  As you can image, a third-world country clearly would have difficulty defending itself against terrorists who could pour in over the border.

Region of Palestine is currently governed by Hamas, a terrorist group recognized by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Israel, Canada, Japan, and Jordan, with a 74 seat coalition of 132.  They defeated the Fatah Party in 2006, which is associated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, another terrorist group.  The goal of these groups in Palestine: the absolute destruction of Israel.  Israel is defending itself from a terrorist organization, and somehow people in the western world feel sorry for the terrorists.

France is a first-world country with the capacity to the intelligence and weaponry to defend itself from a terrorist attack.  It does not harbor terrorist organizations.  The country itself is not a state-sponsor of terrorism.

The pattern here is that Lebanon, Syria, Kenya, and the region of Palestine are either sponsors of terrorism, run by terrorists, or do not have the necessary infrastructure to protect its citizens from terrorism.  It is not that the people who died in terrorist attacks in these regions matter less, but that it is almost expected.

In order to receive significant airtime on television, or make people change their Facebook profile picture, or whatever these people wanted in the aftermath of these other massacres by terrorists, it has to actually be news.  News is noteworthy.  If it is consistently happening, as it is in these countries and regions, then it is predictable and not really "news" to anybody.

What the different with France is that it is a first-world country with the capability of defending itself with the intelligence and weaponry at its disposal.  Excluding this terrorist incident and the Charlie Hebdo incident earlier this year, the last time France had a significant terrorist attack, which I am classifying as either 20 people killed or injured, was December 3, 1996, where 4 people were killed and 170 were injured in a bombing attributed to the Armed Islamic Group.

It is not that common a terrorist attack happens in France and therefore, makes this attack extremely significant.

What also makes the attack on France significant is that fact that to my knowledge, this is the first successful large-scale terrorist attack executed by ISIS outside the Middle East.  It also comes on the heals of ISIS taking responsibility for the reason the Russian plane from Egypt exploded in the sky.  (Authorities are still uncertain of what caused the plane to explode.)

Additionally, as Americans, we tend to care more about what happens to our allies.  As a person, do you care more about your friend for 10 years or the man who just ordered his coffee in front of you?  You care more about what happens to your friend of 10 years.  It's just human nature.

France has always been our ally, even before the creation of the nation.  If it were not for France, the United States of America would probably not exist today, or at least not be the country we are today.  Because of France's aid and support during the American Revolution, we were able to establish our own nation free from the rule of Great Britain.  France was the United States of America's first ally, and we have had each other's backs in the world since 1776.  Please excuse us as we mourn with our first ally a little longer.

Finally and I believe most importantly, we knew all those killed and injured in France were not just French citizens.  Odds were that some Americans had been killed or injured, which was the correct assumption.  News organizations and people are going to care more if their nation loses one of its own.  There is a strong bond between Americans in times of tragedy.  When one of our own dies, we rally together in support because that is what Americans do.  We have a bond with each other that is stronger than that of the US with Syrians, or Kenyans, or even French.

Therefore, it is not that certain lives matter more than others and we only care about certain terrorist attacks.  The real issues at hand are: Is the terrorist attack predictable or not?  Is the terrorist attack significant in any way?  Is the terrorist attack on an ally?  Have any people I share a common connection with been effected by the tragedy?

A story becomes newsworthy if the attack is newsworthy, not if the people are newsworthy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

College PC: Agree or Shut Up!

In the wake of the University of Missouri and Yale protests, I thought it was important to address college life.  Both incidences deal with racial and free speech issues.  In this, I wish to concentrate on the issues of free speech on college campuses.

If you are unaware of the current situation at the University of Missouri, the president of the university was forced out after the University's football team used its leverage of a nationally televised game to protest the fact that they feel racially motivated instances on campus were not handled with the respect they should have been.  They have composed a list of demands including:
  • We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff, and faculty of color.
  • We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals -- particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-­wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.
  • We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources, and personnel for the social justices centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus, and increasing campus-­wide awareness and visibility.
Over the weekend, students decided to camp out on the campus in protest.  Additionally, administrators were there, encouraging students to remove reporters from the area, which is in clear violation of First Amendment rights as this is public property.  This could be seen in a video that went viral over the weekend.

The woman at the end of the video calling for "muscle" to remove the reporter is Melissa Click, Assistant Professor of Mass Media, whose "research" (if you can call it that) includes a focus on 50 Shades of Grey readers and the impact of social media in fans' relationship with Lady Gaga.  (Not joking.)

I can honestly say as a college student that I bet if you take her class, you will not only be dumber after it, but also unemployed and in debt.

Even more interesting to me though is the outrage at Yale over a response to an email about Halloween costumes. Erika Christakis, an Associate Masters at the school and child development specialist, responded to the email asking, "Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people? It’s not mine, I know that."  Her husband, Nicholas Christakis, Master of Yale’s Silliman College, defended his wife's support of free speech and was confronted by a group of students seen here: (Disclaimer: Language)

I think the most telling line that can sum all of this up is near the end when she screams, "It is not about creating an intellectual space!...It is about creating a home here!"  I'm sorry.  My understanding of college was expanding your intellectual understanding as preparation for a job and the real world, not paying $60,000 for a crappy room near people your own age.  (If that's the case, this "home" here is the worst purchasing decision I ever have and ever will make in my life.)

You professors, you administrators, you campus employees have created this problem, and now the safe space protected, First Amendment protesting, liberal college students are eating you alive.  This reminds me of spiders I learned of in science classes in which the children eat the mother after entering the world.  Yes, you have created this problem, and as a result, you will be the first to pay the price.

This has been a problem decades in the making that is finally coming to fruition by pouring gasoline on the house that created the problem and the match is just now being lit.  You see, professors at universities have created an environment so warped from the actual reality of life that these petulant children, called students, no longer know how to behave as actual, real adults because the oxygen supply of real life has been cut off and they are now only inhaling noxious fumes.

You see, I am a conservative on a college campus.  I'm not a fish out of water, but a beluga whale.  At times, I know when I should and should not buck the person in charge.  As an example, I took a political science class my first semester freshman year, in which the class was taught by one of them most liberal professors in the liberal leaning department.  In fact, one day he didn't even lecture.  He scrapped the lecture in order to rant about Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin for the full 50 minutes.  I knew that if I did not write my essays how he would like them written, I would not be receiving the grade I rightfully deserved.  Therefore, I complied with the collegiate fascism found in many college classrooms,

Please, don't think I'm doing this to complain.  I chose my university well-knowing that I would be attending a liberal college in upstate New York.  According to Niche in fact, the University of Rochester ranks 705 out of 880 schools as most conservative.  I knew what I was getting into.  However, it really wouldn't have mattered where I would have chosen to go because the overall liberal bias spans the entirety of the United States.

However, what most shocked me was something that happened over the weekend.  During the time these protests were going on at other schools, I was just studying in my room.  The building is old and the walls are thin, so you can basically here everything that's happening in the hallway.  I overheard a girl, with the voice of a megaphone, state how she, "f*cking hates conservatives."  It wasn't the fact that she said it that hit me, but it was the fact that my interpretation of hearing this was that it was just another day on campus.

That was when it hit me that I still don't even comprehend that simply believing the things that I do automatically makes me hated by others, even though they know nothing else about me, and I had accepted that.  I have accepted that when I wear my red College Republicans t-shirt, I am going to get nasty looks simply for the way I dressed.  I have accepted that simply stating my opinion on something as simple as not agreeing with "free college" could make individuals never want to interact with me again.  I have accepted the fact that sometimes it is best for me to bite my tongue when I know something is egregiously false so as to not start a potential feud with the person grading my work.

This is the one topic that baffles me: that the people who claim to be so accepting of others cannot accept conservatives because we simply think differently.  How is it that you are accepted, but only unto the point in which you agree with them?

We do have one conservative professor on campus.  He teaches English and was a presidential speech writer for George H.W. Bush.  It amazes me to hear people say how "biased" the courses he teach are.  I have taken one of his courses and am in his other one currently.  This is a man who praises Franklin D. Roosevelt alongside Ronald Reagan constantly.  I just wrote an essay criticizing Rand Paul's speaking ability and received an A for it.  If people really think this guy has that conservative of a lean, they need to taken to rural America to hear what people actually think.

However, maybe there is a lean that I don't see because I am conservative.  These classes are ones people CHOOSE to take.  To my knowledge, these two classes are not required for any major at the university.  If you think one class in your entire college career being taught by a Republican is really that much of an atrocity, then I am sorry you have been sheltered so much you will never be able to handle the real world and have a meltdown shortly after you leave.  By attending a liberal institution, I have interacted with people of opposing viewpoints (often extreme) for almost 2.5 years now.

Therefore, I blame the professors of college campuses for completely and utterly leaving students ill-prepared for handling the real world.  You have created the atmosphere and the safe space demanding students.  Now pass me the popcorn because I'll enjoy seeing them devour you one by one.

Disclaimer: I realize after writing this I have grouped all professors and administrators together without providing a clarification.  I do not mean that all professors and administrators are pushing this liberal, hyper-sensitive environment described, but that some professors have been pushing it while the others have stood idly by for generations now, allowing it to occur without very much push-back at all.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Your Crazy Uncle Bernie Sanders.

If you haven't seen Bernie Sanders yet, where have you been hiding?  I would like to join you.  The Independent Senator from Vermont appeared in his first national debate this past week, and he will ultimately be the downfall of the Democratic Party this election cycle.  However, I don't think it's the fact that he's just promising free stuff like Hillary Clinton, but that he believes his ideas and numbers add up.

First things first though, we must tackle the fact that Bernie Sanders calls himself a "democratic socialist."  Whether he calls himself a "socialist" or "democratic socialist," the major effects of the system are still the same: a socialist economic system.  As a result, economic growth would be killed because the incentives placed on individuals to work hard and succeed would no longer exist.

Be honest, if you were told that even if you didn't work, you would still receive $40,000 a year, would you work?  Additionally, if you were told that since you were making $380,000 a year (the threshold for the top 1%), would you work when the government tells you that you only get to keep $38,000?  You'd be better off not to work at all!  And so socialism, or Bernie's economic socialism dies.

Seriously though, this is Bernie's economic plan.  He says that if you are in the top 1%, he wants to tax you 90%.

The key fact I left out: the median household income in the United States is currently slightly under $52,000.  Therefore, for all you people currently hating the capitalist system today, 61% of you would be better off under our current (crony) capitalist system.  However, given a few years time 100% of us would be.  This is because in order to make out on the deal, you would have to earn over $400,000.  Though, if close to the threshold, why would you work so hard to get a few thousand dollars more.  You'd drop out of the work force just like everyone else.  When the vast amount of people would drop out, the only people possibly working would be multi-millionaires and billionaires.

And as much as you would like to think that these people would be able to, the few multi-millionaires and billionaires would not be able to support 329 million Americans.  If you taxed everyone making over $1,000,000 at 100%, this would bring in $616 billion (forgetting the incentives it would place on them not to work).  Now, if you divide $616 billion among 329 million Americans, you individually would receive $1872.34.  This figure also doesn't include other government spending such as our $18.4 trillion national debt, military, aid, etc.  I don't know about you, but $52,000 is looking a lot better than $1872.34.

Actually, anybody making under $2,000 is the bottom 1%.  It's a race to the bottom, and that is exactly what a socialist economic system does.

But let's say somehow Bernie develops a system to circumvent the incentives placed on people in society.  He keeps taking about all this "free" stuff people will get when elected president: government-run healthcare system, no college tuition, expansion of Social Security, etc.  The Wall Street Journal already estimates that all this "free" stuff will cost the American taxpayers an additional $18 trillion over a decade.  Yes, another $18 trillion to bring to the total nation debt to $36 trillion - not including the remainder of Obama's term and the interest growing on the debt.

There's a reason Canadians with this so-called wonderful government-run healthcare system come to America to get treatment: long wait times for specialists.

Additionally,this may not be a popular position, but the reason healthcare costs so much in the United States is due to scarcity.  There are too many people and too few doctors to handle them.  As a result, richer people get better healthcare because they are able to afford it in the capitalist society in which we live.  The fallacy being pushed by Democrats that there is enough healthcare to go around for everybody is simply false.  Some people will simply just not receive healthcare because there are not enough people to treat everyone.  As a society under capitalism, we have decided that the factor which determines whether people get healthcare or not is how much they are willing to pay for it.  If you want to come up with some other system where we randomly draw people's names out of a hat to determine who gets healthcare, fine, but just understand that some people will not be receiving healthcare, no matter what rationing system you choose.

Furthermore, as a college student, I am not opposed to money.  (Please, I will be happy to receive a donation.)  However, I resent the fact that it should be somebody else's responsibility to pay for my education.  Who are the ones who reap the benefit of your education?  You are because you receive the degree to get you a higher paying job.  As well, your parents reap the benefit in old age where it is a social construct that you take care of your parents in old age.  They will receive better treatment and better care if you are making more money.  Therefore, the ones who should bear the costs are the ones who reap the reward.  It is not Joe Schmo from Oklahoma's job to pay for my education, and if we were to adopt such a system, the unintended consequences would be quite enormous on the welfare of this country.

Lastly, let me remind you that simply maintaining the Social Security system is unsustainable, let alone increasing benefits.  The latest reports have the Trust Fund becoming depleted by 2033, and the date keeps moving up.

 This article perfect sums up the collision course the US is on for the day people will have to live with major increases to taxes just to fund the system or hang the retirees out to dry unless we do something quickly.

In conclusion, Bernie Sander's ideas are not only fiscally irresponsible, but delusional, short-sighted, and laughable at best.  However, that's what you get when a political science major thinks he's an expert on business and economics.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Best Campaign Stuff You Can Buy!

With midnight tonight being another campaign finance deadline before amounts must be reported to the FEC, candidates are trying to boost their numbers by selling you awesome stuff.  (And by that, I mean mostly complete crap.)  But, let's run through some of the craziest things you can buy in the next few hours.

A Giant Rand Paul Birthday Card              

Retail Price: $35

Who wouldn't want a 2'x3' Rand Paul birthday card at this obvious steal of $35?

Puppies for Carly Dog Shirt            

Retail Price: $22

Dogs should not wear clothes.  Period.

Retail Price: $25

I feel this is quite genius.  Although, I thought SNL would have been smart enough to trademark that phrase.

Retail Price: $10

You mean to tell me there is an actual market among cheerleaders for Donald Trump Pom Poms?

Retail: $5  (It's on sale from $10)

Hillary and chill?  Hell no!

Bernie Stickers White          

Retail: $5

I only put this on here because when I saw it in a small window, without reading what it was, I thought it was a roll of toilet paper.  Day after Mexican food, #FeelTheBern.

Ted Cruz Coloring Book             

Retail: $5

Wait!  This isn't the Count from Sesame Street's coloring book?

A Marco Rubio Plane Ticket             

Retail: $500

If this is working, then it's a great idea.  I just don't know how many people would be willing to put up $500 for a plane ticket, especially this early in the race.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

If Presidential Candidates were Pop Songs.

Donald Trump          "Applause" by Lady Gaga

For his constant obsession for attention.

Carly Fiorina             "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys

For her ascension into the top tear after the last debate performance 

Ben Carson              "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry ft. Juicy J

Because people didn't take this man seriously and now he's polling second

Jeb Bush                  "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano

Because we all know Jeb! speaks Spanish and has a Mexican wife after the last debate

Ted Cruz                  "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift

Because he's been getting along with Republicans so well these past few years

Mike Huckabee         "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band

His last book was literally called "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy"

Rand Paul                 "My Way" by Frank Sinatra

By staying true to his libertarian roots, he will most likely encounter the same demise his father faced

John Kasich            "Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding

He's just sitting by.  He could drop out tomorrow or claim the nomination.

Marco Rubio           "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias

You know this is the role he wants to play in the party

Chris Christie           "Cheeseburger in Paradise" by Jimmy Buffett

No comment is necessary

Bernie Sanders         "Lips are Movin'" by Meghan Trainor

Because when his lips are movin', he's lying, lying, lying  (or at least grossly misinformed)

Hillary Clinton        "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" by Aretha Franklin

The emails, Benghazi, the sniper fire in Bosnia, being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, being "dead broke" leaving the White House, etc.      (You get the point)

Joe Biden               "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx

Because he know he's just waiting for the Democrats to beg him enough to get into the race

... and as a bonus.

Scott Walker             "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars

Because he was the conservative front-runner early in the summer

Friday, September 25, 2015

Planned Parenthood and Crony Capitalism.

This year, it seems that the great debate on the federal stage will be over Planned Parenthood's $500 million.  Forget for the time being that the organization provides abortions, has been selling fetal tissue, and all the other terrible things the organization has done.  There is still an argument that both Republicans and Democrats should agree on as to why Planned Parenthood should not receive funding.

Why do we give grants and subsidies to farmers?  to coal and oil companies?  to Fortune 500 companies?  to Planned Parenthood?  Planned Parenthood's 2013-2014 report clearly states they received $528.4 million in government grants and reimbursements.  However, at the same time, they turned a profit of  $1.3034 billion.

Why are we just handing money to a "non-profit" that is turning a profit?  One area both Republicans and Democrats agree upon is that we do not believe in corporate welfare.  According to these numbers, Planned Parenthood would easily be able to provide all its "services" without government grants.

So what does Planned Parenthood do with that money?  Since 2000, Planned Parenthood has given over $25 million to politicians, spending over $1.2 million in the 2012 election cycle alone.  (Here's a list of their biggest recipients.)  Additionally, Planned Parenthood also gives money to unions, who also use that money to finance Democrats for public office.

Therefore, I argue you should be against all corporate welfare.  Because even forget what groups do, whether abortion or coal, why should you tax dollars go to organizations who turn around and give that money back to politicians?  It is not your job to finance politicians' campaigns.

Here's how the whole process works.  Congress appropriates money to organizations you don't agree with by drafting a law that raises the debt ceiling, takes on more debt, and effectively works as a tax on you by devaluing the currency.  The organizations you don't agree with receive the money, which they don't need, turn around and give it back to the politicians that you don't support.  So in effect, you fund both organizations and politicians you don't support.  Welcome to crony capitalism known as the US Government.

In conclusion, if you don't support money going to oil and coal companies, then you cannot support money going to Planned Parenthood without being a complete hypocrite.  There is absolutely no evidence that any of these organizations need funding.  I would also call for the revocation of Planned Parenthood's non-profit status.

Just for your knowledge: Planned Parenthoods do not provide mammograms.  Marget Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in eugenics.  (Look it up and be horrified.)  Planned Parenthood has covered up sexual assault multiple times.  (Also, check out this video as well.)  These all preclude the harvesting of baby parts I might add.  It's time to once and for all stop funding this horrifying, devilish organization.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"The Year of the Outsider"

This year has been dubbed the "year of the outsider" by political pundits looking to coin catchy phrases that stay with the audience.  Is it really though?

To run for president and be taken as a serious candidate, you have to have major connections to the political class.  I would argue that every single person running for president is an insider, claiming to be an outsider.  This reached peak irony levels as Hillary Clinton declared yesterday that she was an outsider because she is a woman.

I don't really know whether I should laugh or cry.  How dumb do you think the electorate really is?  Bill Clinton lost his first race in 1974 and then became Arkansas Attorney General in 1976.  In 1976, Hillary was a field operative for Jimmy Carter in Indiana, only to become first lady of Arkansas in 1978.  She became first lady of the United States in 1992, Senator of New York in 2000, and a presidential contender turned Secretary of State in 2008.  Excuse me for laughing as you approach almost 40 years politics Hillary.

As for Donald Trump, he's been endorsing candidates for president and making contributions as far back as the late, great Ronald Reagan.  He's been very vocal on his positions in the past and has been flirting with the idea of a presidential run for almost two decades now.  Once again, excuse the laughter.

Ben Carson has been debating politics in the public spotlight for almost a decade now, even making the mistake in the CNN debate of exposing that he advised then-President George W. Bush against the war in Iraq in 2003.  He just hasn't been receiving the media attention since his speech at the prayer breakfast in 2013.  Again, another insider.

Carly Fiorina has been doing much better to hide her credentials as an insider than all the other candidates.  With it being a time when the entire country hates Washington, I see why.  However, I think her experience would give her a better leg to stand on, especially foreign policy wise.  After being let go as CEO from HP, Fiorina worked on Senator John McCain's election campaign as early as 2006.  In 2008, Carly was named the Republican National Committee's new fundraising chair.  From 2007 to 2009, Fiorina led the CIA's External Advisory Board and became chairwoman of the board.  Then in 2010, she lost a bid for California Senator to incumbent Barbra Boxer while battling breast cancer.  Quite the insider.

As for the other candidates: Rand Paul dropped Senator from his title to add Doctor; Chris Christie claims being from New Jersey makes him an outsider; similarly, Scott Walker claims defeating unions in a blue state makes him an outsider; Ted Cruz is an outsider because his name is Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio isn't part of the political class because he had over $100,000 of student loans (which he was able to easily pay off with his $174,000 + book deals and perks of being a Senator salary); John Kasich is an outsider because his father was a mailman; and of course, Bernie Sanders is an outsider because he's a socialist.

None of these people are outsiders.  None of them.  It is illogical to think that these people just woke up one day, all of the sudden, and decided they were going to run for president.  It took years of calculated moves, networking, developing support, forming their teams, and now running for office.

I am not going to be voting based on this "outsiders" crap because none of them running are like me.  Instead, I'm going to vote for the person I believe is most fit to lead this nation back into prosperity.  So please, media and candidates alike, let's cut the "outsiders" rhetoric and get on with the campaign because in terms of the political establishment, you all ARE the political establishment.