I used to respect the police. Now I fear them…
It’s hard to imagine a world without the irrepressible, irresistible, lovable, lunacy of Robin Williams.
Once again we have serious conflict between Israel and Hamas. Hamas fires rockets, Israel fires back. Repeat daily.
Israel seems to be getting hammered by the U.S. media this time around – at least from what I have seen on NBC. Formerly very pro-Israel, NBC now seems to be covering the story from the Hamas side; giving heavy play to the destruction and loss of so-called innocent life in Gaza while devoting little airtime to the Israeli point-of-view.
Don’t get me wrong, I oppose America’s blind, no-questions-asked support of Israel. It’s a ridiculous policy that has fostered hate against America around the world and has served as a foundation for Israeli bad behavior like building illegal settlements, illegal land appropriation and the flagrant mistreatment of Palestinians.
But what Palestinians and their supporters around the world need to understand is that their problems are completely and concisely rooted in their staunch determination to destroy Israel and their refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. This one thing represents the impediment to peace.
I doubt America’s relationships with Canada or Mexico would be so friendly if they were sworn to our destruction and murder.
So, America’s blind support of Israel is not even the issue at hand. The issue is Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself against those who seek to destroy it. Hamas has insidiously woven its weaponry and military through the neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and markets of its own people. Of course Israel’s attacks to destroy Hamas’s military capability and weaponry will result in civilian casualties. That was Hamas’s plan from the start along with its plan to use those casualties as propaganda to weaken support for Israel.
But Israel is not the aggressor here. Israel has been under siege for weeks and has exercised great patience and discipline in its responses to Hamas. The time for patience, however, is ending and Israel must do what it must do – what we all know it must do.
NBC News and the world media need to stop buying into the Hamas propaganda that Israel is killing innocents. Those so-called innocents are all sworn to annihilate Israel. Those so-called innocents elected Hamas as their leadership and, in doing so, endorsed Hamas’s methods. They are no more innocent than the Germans who elected Hitler and then stood by while he committed the worst genocide in history.
If the Palestinians truly care for the innocent women and children who are in harm’s way, they have the power to remove Hamas from leadership and denounce the destruction of Israel. If they do that, I am quite confident that Israel will be the first ones to the peace table.
“Call out the National Guard.” “Lock down the border.” “Not in our town.” These are just a few of the friendly and heartwarming welcome phrases uttered by the loving Americans in Murrieta, CA this week in protest of illegal immigrants being brought to the border patrol facility located there. The buses carrying the immigrants were turned away by the angry mob; another proud American moment destined to be inducted into the American Hypocrisy Hall of Fame. It will look terrific right next to the Cliven Bundy statue. “Where is the AHHoF,” you ask? It’s located in Washington, D.C. right at the intersection of Constitution Ave. and Independence Ave.
Well, actually Constitution and Independence don’t intersect in Washington; and they don’t seem to intersect in Murrieta either. Except for a handful of Native Americans in Murrieta, everyone there is either an immigrant or descended from immigrants. It’s an interesting human quirk that we feel entitled to the things we need while simultaneously oppressing others with the same needs. It was ok for my ancestors to flee poverty and oppression in search of a better life in America, but it’s not ok for today’s oppressed to do the same.
American’s have been historically schizophrenic about immigration. On one hand, we love to hold ourselves out as the great beacon of hope; erecting statues and enshrining poems that solicit the world to send us its tired, poor and homeless. On the other hand, when said tired, poor and homeless take us up on our offer, we work zealously to repel them and treat them badly while doing so. At best it’s false advertising; at worst it’s just plain inhumane.
The good folk in Murrieta are quick to point out that this is not about immigration, but rather illegal immigration. But, the nuances and legalities of American immigration policy may not weigh strongly on the mind of a Honduran mother whose survival instinct is to flee with her children – just as mothers have done since the dawn of humankind. And if respecting the law was the message of the Murrieta mob, they might consider the laws they violated while refusing to let those buses pass.
It’s true, America’s immigration policy is a shameful patchwork of conflicting, politically-motivated, discriminatory laws and rules that place bigotry, greed and fear above human compassion. Consider that, in South Florida, a Cuban refugee and a Haitian refugee both arrive near the shoreline on the same raft. The police are waiting on the beach to repel them. The two refugee’s jump off the raft and swim in to shore, trying desperately to dodge the police officers. Through sheer determination, both get past the police and then collapse on the beach – exhausted. The Cuban is welcomed and released into the country. The Haitian is deported. How is that fair?
I understand the anger of the ignorant mob in Murrieta, but I don’t understand why they are directing their anger at these poor, tired, homeless people; you know, the ones mentioned in the poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty. America has invited these people to come. It is disingenuous and un-American to treat them like invaders. If the people of Murrieta don’t want them, then perhaps the people of Murrieta should make a journey of their own. They could start by hopping on some buses to the Statue of Liberty to take down the damn poem that is causing all the problems. They could even put up a new plaque of their own. It could read: NO TRESPASSING. WE HATE YOU. STAY THE HELL OUT!
Or, they could travel to Washington DC and direct their anger at the Congress whose politics and petty differences are responsible for an immigration system that mistreats immigrants and places undue hardship on border communities and states. One thing is certain: We’re not going to solve the immigration issue by hating immigrants.
The problem here is that expecting FIFA to investigate racism is like expecting a drug cartel to investigate smuggling.
So, the kids are out of school and getting restless and the hot weather has got you looking for something to do that’s cool. It may be time to grab a cool drink, a tub of popcorn and settle in for a great movie! Here’s a list of the best Movies of 2014…so far.
In HBO’s new series, Silicon Valley, quirky billionaire Peter Gregory (played by the late Christopher Evan Welch) tries to convince college students to drop out of school with a promise of $100,000 to pursue their own ideas. The show is a comedy, but Gregory’s message is painfully close to reality. College students are graduating in greater numbers than ever, with higher debt than ever and with fewer job options than ever. They are going to college seeking the American Dream and are instead graduating into an economic mess.
College is a given for the wealthy in America but, for the poor and working class, obtaining a college education is a struggle. There was a time when college was worth the sacrifice because it was a ticket out of poverty; it meant being able to get a better job and live a better life. Going to college became one of the great pillars of the American Dream and, for working class families, it was a symbol of success and achievement. Generations of parents worked hard and sacrificed in order to see their children have that better life.
Yes, college is still worth the sacrifice; it’s just that nowadays, it takes a lot more sacrificing. Decades ago, politicians began to see college education as a means to get votes among the working class. In campaign after campaign they promised tuition assistance, grants and low-cost loans – popular items that helped seduce votes from parents who wanted better futures for their children. Before then, banks had never viewed college education as a cash cow because the rich didn’t need to borrow to send their kids to school. But, as the ranks of poor and working class students swelled over the years, the banking industry began to see opportunities. Using well-funded lobbyists, the banking industry pushed Congress for reductions in government funding and increases in private, government-backed student loans. For the banks, it was a win-win scenario; they made money on interest and were exposed to little risk. The lobbying didn’t stop there however. During the 1980’s and 1990’s the banking industry pressured Congress to pass legislation preventing student loans from being discharged in personal bankruptcies.
The banking industry however, is not alone in this student loan shakedown. Colleges themselves are complicit too. During the last 40 years, the message that college is required for success has been steadily hammered into the American consciousness while, during that same time, the average cost of college tuition has risen by 1,120% according to Bloomberg News. CNN Money says that the average college graduate today is about $30,000 in debt. The impact of this enormous debt will have far-reaching consequences as graduates begin their adult lives and careers. Even with the better job that a college degree may deliver, most graduates will find it financially daunting to get married, buy a home, buy cars, have children, and save for retirement which, ironically, are many of the key attributes associated with achieving the American Dream.
Additionally, the U.S. birthrate has been declining for decades and, with so much student loan debt, millions of graduates are expected to put off starting families for years while they struggle to pay bills; a trend that will have a devastating impact on the Social Security system since fewer and fewer people will be paying into it.
Winning the lottery aside, the only financial relief for many graduates may come from inheriting their parents’ estates when they depart. But, not so fast; banks have set their sights on these too. In recent years, the banking industry has ramped up one of its newer money-making schemes: “reverse mortgages.” A reverse mortgage allows retirees to borrow the equity out of their homes and use it to pay bills. In exchange, the bank owns the home when they die. Yes, the banks are now offering to lend your parents their own equity so, when they are gone, their home won’t go to the kids, it will have already been signed over to the bank.
So what is a student to do in this depressing and bleak landscape? If you’re determined to go to college and pursue the American Dream, here’s a few real-world tips that may help you avoid the student loan swindle:
- Choose a school that gives the most education bang for the buck. Yes, big name schools can be more fun, but if your goal is to have fun, go to Disney World. If you want an education, pick a school that will provide you with an education that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. In many areas of study, your local community college can deliver the same education as a big box school at half the price! And, if you’re worried about prestige, don’t be. Most employers want legit degrees but seldom care what school they are from.
- Consider a regionally accredited online school. They’re not for everyone and require extra discipline however, if you have the discipline to do it, attending online is far more flexible and will allow you the time to work and earn money to help keep student loans at a minimum.
- Live at home if possible. Avoiding the cost of housing will help keep your borrowing down.
- Work. Get some kind of job and put as much money toward your tuition as you can. Every dollar you pay up front will probably save you two dollars or more in student loan payments later. Plus, the experience you get from working a job will be invaluable no matter what your career field is.
- Pick a major that is employable. You can be idealistic and major in “aboriginal interpretations of celestial bodies,” but that may not get you hired at most companies. Choose a major that will get you in the door at the biggest number of companies and chase your ideals as a minor – or better still – as a post graduate once you’re already employed.
- Avoid other debt. Banks are not your friends! Throw those credit card offers in the trash and don’t make any major purchases – like a car. You are already making a major purchase – college!
- Look for scholarships and grants – but don’t be afraid to beg also! Ask friends and relatives, but be creative too. Go to Wal-Mart and buy 12 cheap 8” x 10” picture frames. Insert your picture with a strip across the bottom that reads “This establishment is proudly helping –your name here- with college tuition.” Now, go around to all the mom and pop businesses in your area and ask if they will gift $100 to help you pay for school. You’ll be surprised at how many may agree. Give them your portrait and let them display it where customers can see it. If they are suspicious, have them make the check payable directly to the school. Businesses love supporting good causes – especially when they get promotional value out of it. It’s a win-win! Stay in touch with them as your education continues. Show them your grades. They are likely to make an additional gift each year if you keep them up-to-date on your success.