The Attacks in Paris

The attacks in Paris, France on Friday the 13th of November, 2015 were a great tragedy.  Over 120 killed, almost 200 injured, at least the half seriously and all this because they were enjoying their life and having fun in the city of Love and others, in this case terrorists, didn’t like this and decided to put an end to their lifestyle. Even in these moments of sadness and sorrow for the events in Paris, we must still ask the question or maybe questions, why are the terrorists so intent on destroying our way of life, and maybe more important, have we underestimated the resolution of the terrorists and over estimated our ability to counter these acts of terrorism?

Acts of terrorism have been occurring over many decades, however, in the last 30 years the terrorist have become better organized, more determined, and willing to not only kill many innocent people, but also to take their own lives for their cause, something that 90 % of the world can not comprehend, rationalize or accept. Herein lies the problem, what can we do to stop or at least stem these type of terrorist acts, and how much of our hard-fought freedoms will we have to sacrifice?

Have we under estimated terrorists, regardless of religious belief or nationality, in their resolve to attain their goals.  Do we even understand how they think, what they believe, how far they will go to achieve their goals.  There are many examples throughout the past century where terrorists have fought to the death for their beliefs and goals, the IRA in N. Ireland, RAF in Germany, Taliban in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and many more in Africa.  Some no longer exist, many are still active and will continue to terrorize their regions and the world until all are dead and their beliefs have died with them.

Now lets talk about them the terrorists from last night, ISIS, the most radical, brutal and non-human that has ever existed. They are more radical in their religious beliefs than other branches of Islam.  They will and do use all available assets to achieve the goal of a Islamic State.  They have intimidated the population of the regions it controls by taking control through force all facilities such as water, electric, as well as oil fields, and main roads and highways, thereby controlling the lives of all.  If you fall under the control of ISIS you must convert to their beliefs or face death, even a muslim of another branch is considered a non-believer just like all christians, jews, hindu, etc.

Now the answer to the question, have we under estimated ISIS, a very definite Yes. Even the original financiers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have come to realize that ISIS is not a positive member of Islam, and no longer support them actively.  Many world political leaders have under estimated ISIS, publicly announcing that ISIS is controlled, that is very false as evidenced in Paris, as well as Mosul, Ramadi and Palmyra. What is being done against ISIS; there is a coalition of US, UK, France and Arabic nations conducting air strikes in support of the Kurdish and Iraqi forces in an attempt to stop ISIS and win back regions now under the control of ISIS. Russia says it is also make strikes against ISIS, however, in reality they are making strikes against opponents of Assad to help him remain in power in Syria. Turkey has also begun air strikes against ISIS, however, once again the evidence shows that the strikes are against President Erdogans arch enemies the Kurdish Party PKK and not ISIS.  To stop ISIS, you must eliminate the training camps for the recruits, stop the flow of recruits from the western and european nations, increase the intelligence surveillance (NSA, CIA, etc.), arm the Kurdish fighters with the most modern weapons (ISIS got theirs by overrunning Iraqi forces), and eventually putting ‘Boots on the Ground’.

Lets face facts here, the ISIS is a force to be reckoned with both now and the near future.  They have very many followers and believers.  Many of the believers will die for the ideals of ISIS, and not just in Syria or Iraq, but also in cities like Paris, Berlin, London and maybe even New York.  They will not stop until they have achieved their goal of an Islamic State that is accepted worldwide or die.

Having said all the above, let me be perfectly clear that the only part of Islam that I condemn is ISIS.  I am a firm believer in allowing everyone to have and practice their religious beliefs as they see fit, as long as they do not try to convert me or anyone else through or with force to accept their beliefs.

I believe in mankind and accept each and everyone person for who they are regardless of gender, skin color, sex-orientation, nationality, or religion, etc.  I thrive on the diversity of the human race and enjoy conversing with everyone about everything as long as we remain respectful of one another.

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Young Politicians and Today’s Politics

Well the political circus tour culminating in November 2016 has started and which acts will survive to meet in the big top can not be predicted at this time. Like in circuses all those running can be placed in different categories, such as: Animals, Acrobats, Clowns, etc. and each category can also sub-groups, such as Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Horses in Animals; Good, Bad, Big Feet in Clowns and well you get the picture (maybe). I’m not going to associate any names to the categories, I’ll let each of you do that yourself.  On November the 8th 2016 the winners you and I have chosen in each circus category will be in the big top. You may asked why I call the our political process a circus, well think about; it has a run of about 12 to 18 months, it pops in and out of different towns, states and regions for short periods of time, in has many actors and names, however, the show is always the same, when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, and that’s’ why we need changes to this political circus and those changes can only occur with new, fresh and young people and not old, crusty and rusted politicians.

I was infected with the politics bug in my ninth grade Washington State History class taught by Mr. Jerry Hughes (a WA State Rep. & Sen.) at North Central High in Spokane, WA.  I am still infected and that is why I believe changes to the current political picture can only be attained through more involvement from the younger generations and not the current or older ones.

So in support of my beliefs I recent contributed to the Young Democrats of Clark County (YDCC) so they could attend the State Convention in Yakima.  I am not a member of any political party and never will be and will always vote for that person who best represents my views.  I contributed because I believe that the young politicians are the future and without our support necessary changes will not happen.  Changes occur for the good from local to state to national (bottom-up) and for the not so good from national to state to local (top-down).  I believe first time politicians should be running for positions in the ages 20 to 40 at the local level, at state level the politicians need local level experience and ages 30 to 50, and at national level they need local and state level experience and ages 40 to 60. There is no substitute for experience and many first-termers became one-termers for that very reason. So YDCC do your homework, get in touch with all your voters, learn the rules of the game, never underestimate your opponent or the finkeled finger of fate, and last but not least youthful enthusiasm don’t buy a cup of coffee or Starbucks.

A final note, if you want to know what my beliefs are, i.e. Termlimits, same-sex marriage, immigration, church and state, private lives of politicians, Defense, Trade Agreements, Bailouts of Private Industry, and many many more, just ask and I will tell you, some may like the answers, and some will not, than politics is not a beauty pageant.

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I Need A Readjustment

I have returned to the blogger world. Why? Because maybe I need a readjustment to how I react to questions from family, friends and occasionally strangers.  This morning a had two-hour Skype session with my twin brother Kevin as well as other members of my family in the US.  This call was set-up as a 60th Birthday surprise for Kevin to get a chance to talk to me after almost 20 years of no contact.  The video call was a great success, connection was relatively good, however, the two IT experts (Frank & Loren) could have better, just kidding guys, and Kevin and I along with others talked for the two hours about many things, yet after hanging-up I determined, with the help of my wife, that a few things, other than the connection, didn’t feel right or go right.  The fact of the matter is that may tend to dominate a conversation, especially when asked a question or for an opinion, which everyone knows I tend to have, thereby, quiet possibly taking up more time to answer and then continuing on to a new and often unrelated topic without allowing for return questions or comments.  And I am so involved in trying to get my point across, I may lose touch with time, thereby not posing any questions of mine to those I have not seen or talked to in such a long period of time.  So saying that, I have to apologize to Kevin for my actions or for that matter, lack of actions, during our conversation this morning.  This apology also goes out to the remaining brothers and sisters, John, Sharon, Charlotte, Caprice and Loren for similar actions during other Skype sessions.  In addition, to all others present to whom I’m sure I did not afford them the appropriate time and courtesy to ask questions of them or about them and thereby relinquishing the control of the conversation, I apologize. This is a trait that I most likely inherited from my mother, I’m sure my siblings will set me straight should this not be true.  I have to admit that I take pleasure in passing on all and I really mean all my knowledge, opinions and sometimes trivial information to everyone willing to listen whether they care to or not.  I will most likely continue to pass on this information, however, with greater regard for the thoughts and feelings of others.  Should I in the future tend to revert back to controlling conversations and or Skype sessions, by all means stop me and get me back on track.  I really care about everyone and would like to know about your lives, thoughts and opinions and not just mine. Again, the Skype session with Kevin and others was really fun, I enjoyed it tremendously and look forward to more sessions in the future, thanks for bearing with me.  I hope everyone will accept this in the manner in which it is intended, my improvement in social environments.

P.S.  You IT-guys need to continue working on your connections, ha ha.

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My Opinions and Thoughts about …..What has Changed!

It has been awhile since my last blog and I have a couple of reasons for the lapse of time between blogs.  First, a lot was happening following the last blog on October 23rd,  the national election, the so-called fiscal cliff, and many other problems occurring throughout the world.  I wanted to address each of these events in an individual blog, however, as I sat down at my computer and composed my thoughts and opinions, I began to realize that most of what I had to say would fall on deaf ears and that the problems in everyone’s daily lives were definitely far greater than anything I could say.  The second reason in not blogging was to put time, distance and thought between the events as they happened and my blog. Third and probably most important reason that I have not blogged, is that I have not had that good “in the gut” feeling about writing about anything.

I will however, touch on a few of the events that have occurred in the past 5 months.  First the November 6th election; this for me was a total disappointment and letdown.  Not because Obama won (I voted for Romney), but because the American people lost.  Nothing was changed, the players are still the same, the rules are the same, and the game is still being played the same as it was prior to the election. Okay, maybe something good did come out of this election; Obama is gone after the November 8th, 2016 election and the spending cuts and higher taxes that went into effect 1 March, 2013 hopefully will force the politicians to work out a debt/taxes compromise for the benefit of all Americans.

So now that I have touched on the second event, I will discuss, very lightly, the American debt.  It is no secret that the US is in debt, and will take a very long time to return to a balanced budget.  A balanced budget, for a non-profit entity (the government), is one that spends no more or no less than that which they take in (taxes, sales, etc.). I truly believe we have to reduce the expenditures and at the same reform the tax code to ensure that the loopholes for big business are closed and they are taxed appropriately like small and medium-sized companies.  It is also my belief that it is possible to make a profit and still pay their fair share in taxes. Here’s a cute fact:  The last time the federal budget was balanced, Bill Clinton was president, however, the Republicans controlled Congress, a compromise that worked.

Okay, I have something else to say about the November 6th election for those of you who were disappointed in the outcome, get over it, it’s a done deal, face the facts you lost and now get on with your life.  If you didn’t like the results, then get involved in the process and begin making changes so that future elections turnout more favorably.

The point in this blog is that not much has changed in the past five months, whether in the US or somewhere else in the world, including here in Germany and Europe.  The Euro is still in a crisis, the same since 2008.  Now Cyprus banks need a bailout, this is new, however, the story is the same, over speculation on the market.  This is the same for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy.  Most are already receiving billions from a TARP-like fund, which is basically tax-payer funded, so nothing new.  The fighting is still going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, no change there either.  North Korea is threatening with Atomic attack, again.  China “elected” its’ new leadership (every ten years), don’t expect any changes here.

So what am I saying, if you are dissatisfied with the current situation then you have to make the change happen, and that begins in small-scale and at the local level.  Change for the good takes time (grassroot politics, local tax law, etc.) and generally is from bottom to top and not the other way around.  Change for the bad is very quick and sudden (wars, political tumult, major disasters, etc) and generally comes from the top.

So my bottom line in this blog is that great opportunities were missed in making changes to the current fiscal and domestic situations in the US and around the world.  The US is still the leader in the World and decisions made or not made impact not just the US but also the majority of the rest of the world.

Change must come and those are my opinions and thoughts about …… What has changed.

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My Opinions and Thoughts about……facebook!

facebook, a social network that brings people and the world closer together without any movement other than your fingers and mind.  facebook, was and is an innovative breakthrough in the internet equal to IBM, Microsoft, and Apple yet still unique enough to stay ahead of all other social networks today.  I like facebook, I enjoy using it almost everyday for the reasons it was founded, to establish, maintain and exchange information, tidbits and other facts and photos amongst family and friends.  facebook is not my only social network, there is also Classmates, google+, and LinkedIn, however, I spend most of my time with facebook since most of my family (American & German) and friends use it, either PC, Mobile or both.

What do I like about facebook, well many things;  the simplicity, the instant responses, personal comments, photos, mobility, video calling, messaging, the like button (remember I’m lazy when it comes to writing), games (even though I don’t play any of the games anymore, to time-consuming) and just the feeling that through facebook I am a lot closer to my family and friends whom I have neglected over the past 40 years, thereby making me a somewhat more social person (a fault pointed out by a family member).  I also like to just read what everyone says, especially comments about their everyday life and the many experiences they have on a daily basis.  Most often I will just press the like button, since most of the time I agree with them and a comment is not necessary.  Photos have always intrigued me, and so I also enjoy them a lot since we all know that a photo says a thousand words as well as showing that special moment when the photo is taken.  Video calling puts me in the room with the other person, gives me an even closer feeling, since I talk with my hands a lot and then there are those wonderful facial expressions that add to every conversation, so if you don’t already have one, get a webcam and install video calling and then you can also try Skype, its free when you call with or without video Skype to Skype.  If you have a cell phone with internet, a so-called Smartphone, then you have mobility with facebook, which I like and use often, especially when taking photos with instant upload.  You are not restricted to a PC and your comments, photos and info are actual, as well as the responses.  Then there is messaging, where one can send text to a specific friend without the rest of your friends being able to read it, thereby maintaining a certain level on privacy, this is still necessary even amongst family and friends.  Now to mention a little something about games on facebook, they are great fun, however, can assume a lot of internet time which could cost you more than just money.  When I first got on facebook I also played many of the games, Farmville, Mafia Wars, Cityville, and many more, and really enjoyed playing.  This however led me to the point where I was spending 90% of my internet time playing games and was once again forgetting about the social aspect and neglecting my family and friends, so I have stopped playing the games, I no longer accept invites to play games, thereby devoting my internet time to socializing with family and friends as intended. Oh, I almost forgot, I like the Birthday Calendars which enable me to remember everyone’s special day and at the same time send appropriate birthday wishes.  I still forget some of the birthdays however I promise to get better.

Now you ask, what don’t I like about facebook, well there are also a few things; People registering under false names, the sharing of inappropriate sites and info, asking friends to copy, cut and paste just to see if they get a response, posting something you copied without giving credit to the originator, and using inappropriate language and photos.  As you can see, my dislikes are less than my likes, except for registering under a false name, which only facebook can fix, the rest of my dislikes pertain to how members of the social network including some of my friends, interact within the network.  I don’t like copy, cut and paste just to get a response, if you want to hear from me send a message, email or ask point-blank, than maybe I’ll respond.  If post something that isn’t originally from you, give credit to that person or at the very least let everyone know that it came from an unknown source.  And last but differently not least, the very inappropriate use of language and photos.  I don’t curse, the strongest words I use are damn, hell, and shit and I don’t see the need for the use of this inappropriate language, it is derogatory, demeaning and insulting not only to hear it, but also to have to read it, so clean up the language, we all learned in school how to speak properly.  This also goes for photos, many may be funny to some, however, they are still inappropriate especially when discussing ethnic heritage, religion, politics, etc., we must always have respect for the other without hatred while at the same time demanding respect of us from others.

facebook is a very powerful and wide used media platform and should be utilized with oversight.  The inappropriate use of such a platform as seen by various You Tube videos can and will lead to more problems around the world and once the ball starts rolling downhill it is very hard to stop, so think first before you post or share something in the internet, on facebook and/or You Tube, etc.

Once again my opinions and thoughts about……facebook!

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My Opinions and Thoughts about…….the 2nd Debate!

This debate was not worth the time spent and robbed me of 3 hours of sleep.  Since this was live in NY at 9pm EDT and I live in Germany six hours ahead of the east coast, I got up at 2:45 a.m. to watch the great debate.  A town-hall style forum, where the questions come from the audience of 80 undecided voters, with a well-known news person as the umpire to maintain control and flow over the 90 minutes.  Just the idea that a politician would be able to express his point and answer the question in two minutes as well as a rebuttal in only two minutes was ridiculous from the beginning.  Many of the questions were to generalized which allowed the candidates so much leeway in their answers that the questions were never really answered; i.e. Libya.  The question was, “who in the State Department denied the additional security request from the consulate.”  The question was never directly answered by Obama, his answer was to take full responsiblity for the failure of Secretary Clinton and the State Department to ensure that all embassies and consulates are sufficiently protected, especially in regions of known discontent and violence against the US. We still don’t know after more than 5 weeks the who, what, where, when and why concerning the request for an increase in security from the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  I think some of the questions that were asked were staged in order to get a debate between the two candidates started, such as the questions to Romney to compare him with Bush.  The reverse of this question to Obama would have been to compare him with Clinton or Carter, yet that question was not asked, why not?  A voter for Obama in 2008, now undecided, asked Obama what Obama would do that would the voter to vote for him in 2012.  The answer after two and a half minutes was, give me four more years and then you will see.  That sounds like, give me your money now and after four years I will tell you how much interest you could have earned.  Now don’t get me wrong, Romney was just as bad when it came to not answering the questions asked.  He would touch lightly on the questions and then attack Obama’s record or his promises from 2008 that have not been fulfilled and then mention his five point plan to get America back on its feet with jobs, reduced taxes for the middle class and small businesses and the increase in renewable energy and national oil and gas projects which would make less dependent on foreign oil and money.  His plan is a bit vague as how he will accomplish this and at the same time reduce the deficit by six trillion in the next four years.  I am a believer of facts and figures I can wrap my hands around, are black on white, and the average person can understand them without having them explained to them, i.e. 2 + 2 = 4, 16 / 4 = 4 and not X + (Y – Z  x B / C) – ((S +H) -G x W)) = ? where Y, C & H are unknown.  Both Obama and Romney had little regard for the questions, they were just a means to repeat their point of view and attack their opponent and impress as many of the undecided voters as possible in the shortest amount of time.  Neither Obama nor Romney impress very many of the voters in that this debate was a draw with neither side winning and only the voters losing.  The moderator Crowley did very little to control or for that matter guide this debate in a positive direction, which contributed to the miserable outcome.  She rarely got the candidates to answer the questions direct nor did she attempt to have the rebuttals pertain to the answers or the questions.  The candidates used this debate to simply attack their opponent with information that is already public knowledge, thereby not making any mistakes or being shown up over some new and therefore not prepared.

Like I said at the beginning, this debate was a waste of my time and sleep and I will not be watching the third debate on the 22nd of October.  Both candidates were disrespectful to each other and to the public, because they keep interrupting the other and neither was listening either.  I learned as a child that it was impolite to interrupt someone when they were talking and to wait until they were finished, this did not happen in the debate.  It is also a fact that when you open your mouth to speak, your ears close, thereby not allowing you to hear what the other is saying and vice-a-verse.  So close your mouth and listen to your opponent and then when he/she is finished you will have a chance to talk and because you listened you will be able to better respond to that which was said.

I am still undecided for who I will vote for on November 6th 2012.

Those were my opinions and thoughts about……the 2nd Debate!

 

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My Opinions and Thoughts about…….The Health Care Act!

This is going to be a lot shorter than the last blogs and hopefully I can get my point across in less that 500 words.

Over that past two days I have spent about 4 hours reading or trying to read the official versions of the H.R. 3590 (111th): Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The act is approx. 2400 pages long and the reconciliation is 55 pages long.  I have come to the conclusion that nobody has had enough time to read and understand this entire document.  However, here are some opinions and thoughts about this so-called Affordable Care Act.

I agree with the attempt to provide everyone with affordable health care, however, I disagree with many of the methods that will be used to force individuals and employers into healthcare plans that in the very near future will exceed the high costs of healthcare in Germany.  To the best of my knowledge I have never been without health insurance my entire life.  My father was employment insured through the Teamsters Union, which I sure included his family, later I was insured through the Army and now I am in a government sponsored insurance program, with mandatory monthly premiums of 15.6% (8.2% employee, 7.4% employeer).  The only choice I have is which Government sponsored program I enroll in, they all cost the same, the only differences being the services they provide above the mandatory services.  Since the health insurance is based on employment, should someone be unemployed that the insurance is covered but the unemployment insurance, therein the taxpayer.

The problem with the program is that too much is being dictated from the top  and the freedom of choice of the majority has been sacrificed for a small minority without health insurance.  Many have willingly chose not to be insured, thereby allowing them to use those funds as they need and possibly investing that money for the future.  If Obama wanted to something for the people in regards to health care he should have developed a plan to reduce the profit-generating HMOs, Hospital Corporations and pharmaceuticals through overpriced operations and medications.  The governmental oversight agencies have not been in control over many administrations and therein lies the major problem in controlling the rising costs of health care in the US.

Imposing a financial penalty (1/12th of a years premium, not less that $750) on a person not enrolled in an insurance program by choice is a disgrace to the founders of our country and to the constitution which places freedom of the individual above all.  There has to be a better way to achieve his goals, than forcing them down our throats.  Therefore changes need to be made in the Affordable Care Act prior to the final implementation in 2014, and these changes needed to happen with or without Obama.

The further loss of our freedoms of choice, such as the Affordable Care Act, will cause us to become more and more like socialized Europe. were choice is not always a possibility.

These are my opinions and thoughts about the Health Care Act!

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