Archive for October, 2011

Misconceptions About Occupy Wall Street And Comparisons to Civil Rights Movments

I saw this quote from a conservative blog  and I felt a silent disgust in my heart when I saw it.

“President Obama has been no stranger to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and in fact has gone out of his way to encourage the violent, vile, unsanitary, vitriolic and greedy movement. But, this week Obama took it to a whole new level, dedicating half of his weekly address to vilifying the “top 1 percent,” while claiming the middle class has been losing ground as “the rich become richer.” His message this week is purely “spread the wealth around.” Like I’ve said before, if Obama is going to continue to support the OWS crowd, he better be willing to accept the consequences of their actions too, which up to this point include rape, encouragement of cop killing and rioting”

The concept that Occupy Wall Street encouragement of cop killing, rioting, and rape leaves me aghast. Most of these people are protesting the people drove in the financial crises and not engage in rioting and pillage. Many conservative would probably lust at the sight of the Occupy Wall Street throwing a molotov cocktail at police, starting to break into houses, and engage in looting.

The reality is that Occupy people are learning from Dr. Martin Luther King. You never saw the civil rights engage in violent resistance with the police. It was nonviolent resistance which always works in the long term. Nonviolent resistance led to the Civil Rights Acts, led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, and independence in India.

And for it to work, it takes a long, epic struggle. Throwing a molotov cocktail might be revolutionary romance, but it strike the dagger in the heart for Occupy Wall Street crowd. The 1% wants the molotov cocktail so they can shut down the movement and prevent real reform to Wall Street. Stuff like the return of Glass-Stegall, transaction tax for derivatives, student loan debt forgiveness, and a more fair and equitable tax rates.

And enacting the real tough reforms take an epic struggle because the 1% will not give until they have to.

(Townhall)

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October 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm 3 comments

Clear, Excessive Force on Occupy Oakland

This issue is a clearly an situation that has gotten out of control.  It clearly has gotten out of control.  Police forces has reach excessive force for trying to get rid of the

However, the Occupy Oakland crowd cannot maintain indefinite encampment in Oakland.  There is a time when the encampment is going to have to end.  Homeless people do not have the right to put down a tent indefinitely in a public place.   A reasonable public policy does not allow for encampment to have a permanent encampment in a public place like a park.

Perhaps, their should be a limit of four months and then the protestors could get the right to have weekly assemblies in the downtown area after the camping permit is no longer valid.   Occupy Oakland should have the right to engage in marches and assemblies on a weekly or daily basis, but does not have the right to maintain a permanent encampment unless the city starts to receive partial payment for the space used and written contract is developed for

If they want to have a  permanent space, then the city should lease them a space in the park at a specified rent per month to reimburse the city for the some of the expenses that the city incurs for the Occupy movement.  If the city is partially reimbursed, then they should have the right to maintain permanent encampment without police interface as long they follows the rules of a written contract negotiated between the city and the Occupy movement and pay a specified fee to the city.   If the written contract is violated after specified amount of violations in the written contract, the city has the right to evict the Occupy movement and use police force to evict the Occupy movement.

In an ideal world, the city would follow the such principles.  However, I doubt that this will happen and the city will crack down on the peaceful Occupy movement.

For the Occupy movement, I admire the people are willing to take stand to protest the economic injustices.  I do not have that courage, but there is should be consequences.   Cities has rules and regulations that need to be enforce and if you willing to break them, then you should pay the price because the law needs to be enforce.

However, protesting economic injustice demands that one engage in nonviolent resistance even if it means a trip to the county jail and a small fine.  There has been great crimes of injustices that have been committed and a voice must be heard even it means breaking the law.  The cities has the right to enforce the laws and we need to determine whether the injustice merits breaking the law for the higher good.

In conclusion, Henry David Throreau wrote “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” The Occupy Wall Street is aiming above morality; they are being good for the majority of us. That 99%. They are sending a message to Congress, the White House, and big business which has been heard. They are giving a voice to the voiceless and telling a story about the deep poverty and despair in our country. Through nonviolent resistance, they are being above morality and do the right conscious decision even if it means breaking a few laws. I also want to make it clear that I believe that the government has the right to enforce the laws and prevent disorder. However, there is times when the higher morality is to break the law. Without breaking the law, we need have seen the civil rights movement succeed and I believe this new era where we need to deal with poverty, if we are going to solve the economic inequalities and restore this nation to the proper economic balance that we deserve as a people.

October 26, 2011 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

High Gas Prices

Gas price are high at this time. From the LA Times

“Over the past week, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. stabilized, down just 1.1 cents to $3.451 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. But that’s 22% higher than the old record for this week of the year, which was an average of $2.823 a gallon set in 2007.
The financial burden in California is higher. Although the state’s average for a gallon of regular gasoline was unchanged over the past week, at $3.853, that was 22.6% higher than the old record for this time of year — $3.143 a gallon, first set in 2007 and repeated in 2010.
With the nation still poised to shatter the old record for gasoline spending of $449 billion in 2008 by shelling out as much as $491 billion this year, Phil Flynn, an analyst for PFGBest Research in Chicago, said, “It’s like we just can’t ever get a break. This has really been a bad year for fuel prices.”
There has been some hope that the end of hostilities in Libya might quickly bring down world oil prices, said GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan, “but I just don’t see it happening.”
Oil was rising early Monday based on hope that a solution to the European debt crisis was near. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil futures for oil for December delivery were up 46 cents to $87.86 a barrel. On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil rose 76 cents to $110.32 a barrel.
Analysts say that world demand for refined fuels is driving U.S. gasoline prices, with the U.S. exporting record amounts of fuel. In addition, U.S. refineries are processing more diesel than usual instead of gasoline to meet that global demand”

It is cheaper than it was last spring when we had the Arab Spring and gas price started to rise. Still, they are higher than it was last year or any other time in the past. And next year, it will no be cheaper indeed

(source:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/10/gasoline-prices.html)

October 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

The Cost Of Capital Punishment In California

A Contra Costa Times editorial states

However, it is unlikely that executing a prisoner a month, as Ohio is doing now, would significantly affect the feasibility of the death penalty.

It still would be a policy that fails to accomplish its purpose of lowering murder rates and would continue to cost far more than an effective alternative.

Since the state’s death penalty was reinstated in 1978, taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment. California has more than 700 inmates on death row, more than any other state. However, only 13 executions have been carried out, the last one in 2006. That amounts to $308 million per execution.

Executing a dozen or so more over the next year or so hardly would make the system cost effective. There still would be
hundreds of prisoners on death row for many years. California taxpayers still would be spending nearly $200 million more every year than they would if those same prisoners were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to a major new analysis of the cost of capital punishment.

It is not just the high cost of housing one inmate per cell on death row that makes capital punishment so expensive. Death penalty prosecutions cost up to 20 times more than a life-sentence case. That’s because jury selection takes far longer, the state pays up to $300,000 for a defendant’s attorney and security costs are high.

Also, there are two trials, one to determine guilt and a second for sentencing, and that doesn’t count the numerous constitutionally mandated appeals, which can take many years.

None of the above costs would significantly change with a resumption of executions. Even with one execution per month indefinitely, the death row population would continue to increase “

Having a huge death row in this for this is a burden. Trying to executing 700 people would just too take long. Does California want to pay the money or see the bloodshed of 700 people executed.
That is what a 30-year backlog with the death penalty gives out. Now, California death isn’t the largest death row in proportions to state population, but it is still a very large death row.

For example, Alabama’s death row count is 201 prisoners and yet it has a population of nearly 5 million. In proportion, California’s death row would be 1400 prisoners if the California gave as much death penalties cases as Alabama did.
So California does not has a huge death row in proportion to population size, but California has much larger backlog of death penalty cases than Alabama does. At 40 executions a year, it would take California nearly 18 years to execute all of the inmates even if the state banned capital punishment for new inmates.
40 executions a year for 18 years? That is just too huge of a backlog to warrant state-sanction murder at that pace. It shows that California has been too slow in dealing with its execution backlog and has too many prisoners serving death penalty.

In addition, death penalty cases put a huge strain on the county prosecutor’s office.  It requires a lot of resources to prosecute a death penalty case and with the large backlog of major felony and misdemeanor cases, it is strain that counties could ill afford.

The other resource is that put a strain on the California prison system. If the death row shut down, the statecould effectively close San Quentin and get rid of the aging infrastructure in the prison.. San Quentin is an old prison that needs to close.

As stated in the editorial, getting rid of the death penalty would yield $200 million in savings. In addition, it would yield additional one-time savings by closing San Quentin and, also would free up resources on the county level where prosecutorial resources have a huge backlog.

Since we had the case of Troy Davis and Cameron Todd Willingham, we have known that capital punishment comes at a cost When it comes to California, California should eliminate the death penalty for (i) budgetary purposes and (ii) prevent cases similar to Cameron Todd Willingham from happening in California.

Personally, I am not opposed to the death penalty, but I do question its merits in my home state. I feel it time that we seriously look at the cost of having death penalty and consider its elimination as a state. I feel that the state has too large of death penalty backlog and I do not want to see my home state executing 12 or more people a year. I rather see capital punishment as a rare event where it is given in rare circumstances and I just do not see the conditions are right for it to continue in California.

The other resource is that put a strain on the California prison system. If the death row shut down, the state could effectively close San Quentin and get rid of the aging infrastructure. San Quentin is a old prison that needs to close.

As stated in the editorial, getting rid of the death penalty would yield $200 million in savings.  In addition, it would yield additional one-time savings by closing San Quentin and,  also would free up resources on the county level where prosecutorial resources have a huge backlog.

Since we had the case of Troy Davis and Cameron Todd Willingham, we have known that capital punishment comes at a cost   When it comes to California, California should eliminate the death penalty for (i) budgetary purposes and (ii) prevent cases similar to Cameron Todd Willingham from happening in California.

Personally, I am not opposed to the death penalty, but I do question its merits in my home state.  I feel it time that we seriously look at the cost of having death penalty and consider its elimination as a state.  I feel that the state has too large of death penalty backlog and I do not want to see my home state executing 12 or more people a year.  I rather see capital punishment as a rare event where it is given in rare circumstances and I just do not see the conditions are right for it to continue in California.

October 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

The Will To Cut The Military Industrial Complex

Congress, can never get its act together to cut military programs and does not seem like there is much room for axing programs. AS TPMDC puts it

The Republican and Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate defense committees are pleading with the deficit-reduction super committee to spare the Pentagon when it’s looking for places to slash spending.

Both Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who heads the Senate counterpart, sent letters to the super committee Friday urging, if not downright begging, the 12 deficit deciders not to touch the Pentagon’s discretionary budget, although Levin suggested the panel propose a commission to look into finding savings in the military retirement and health care systems.

“While the Joint Select Committee must concern itself with the enormity of the federal debt, the Armed Services Committee is charged with assuring America’s military can defend the nation against a multitude of growing threats,” McKeon wrote. “We believe that additional reductions in the base budget of the Department of Defense will compound deep reductions Congress has already imposed and critically compromise nationally security. We urge you to refrain from any further cuts in National Defense.”

Members of Congress’ primary concern is keeping jobs in their districts so it’s hardly surprising that neither one offered up a single Pentagon program or defense contract for the chopping block.

McKeon also cautioned the deficit-reduction committee to handle any cutting of service member benefits, as the country “asks more of current and future military retirees than the general population

Instead of targeting lucrative programs, they are going after military compensation. It is easier than touch military pork than try to wholesale eliminate unnecessary problems.

And there is not part of the budget they are not talking about. They are not talking about classified budget, especially money that flows into classified procurement. Where is the money to get rid of the waste in those programs? What about the cost overruns on large classified programs?

But see, they are classified, so the American people do not see the large cost overruns. When large cost overruns occur, a program rarely, but sometimes does get terminated. This was the case of JTRS program. The JTRS program was described as a program where Boeing ” received an approximately $2 billion contract in 2002 to develop software-programmable vehicle-mounted radios capable of handling seven legacy and advanced broadband waveforms. (“Waveform” is the term for the method of transmitting sound as a radio signal; it involves modulation and demodulation, message formatting, transmission protocol–and especially for the military, cryptography.)” The article states that the cost of the radios got too high and they canceled the program

If they really had balls, they go after the F-35. The F-35 program could cost over $238,000,000,000 according to the AP. However, no one in Congress has the collective will to terminate the F-35 program and use the money to pay the interest on the United States debt.

In reality, military-industrial complex will still exist, despite attempts to cut it. And for me that is job safety. We have the willpower to scale the growth of the military-industrial complex, but the strength to make massive cuts is just not there.

Simce I work in the aerospace industry, the odds are reduction in force is not coming any time soon.

October 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm Leave a comment

Obama is Going After The Alt-Weeklies

Obama is not making good decisions when it is coming to the drug war.  As reported by the AP

“SAN DIEGO — The chief federal prosecutor in San Diego is contemplating expanding a federal crackdown on the medical marijuana industry by going after newspapers, radio stations and other outlets that run advertisements for California’s pot dispensaries, her office told The Associated Press on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy made the comments initially to California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism. They come a week after she and three other U.S. attorneys in California vowed to close medical marijuana businesses they deem questionable and single out people who rent buildings or land to the industry.

“I’m not just seeing print advertising,” Duffy told California Watch. “I’m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It’s gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate — one has to wonder what kind of message we’re sending to our children — it’s against the law.”

Who is the people really getting harmed by this?  Do you innocent children read alt-weekies?  Do you think that a stoner teen is going to cut down his drug usage just because he does not see an ad for the local marijuana collective.

The reality is that this method is going to cut revenue for alt-weeklies that provide some of the most necessary reporting on local political affairs.   A lot of people like myself hear about various  local music through the alt-weeklies

The reality is that Obama wants to trying to make an image that he is tough on terror and drugs.   In reality, this is all about image and not about a creditable threat to the criminal justice system.   Tough on terror and drugs means that you get the “vote” for the “Silent Majority”.   It was this “Silent Majority” that Nixon relied to beat McGovern in 1972.

However, this tactic might be a losing tactic in the long run and will not produce creditable points on the economy.   A looser and libertarian approach to drugs will yield more votes from Obama’s base than trying to impress a tough on crime “moderate” voter.

I think the establishment is country needs to understand alcohol and marijuana need to be treated as the same. They are both drugs that people recreationally use to get high or just to blow toke when a day get too hard to deal with.

For me, acts like this demonstrates political incompetence because we are trying to fight the drug war that we cannot win.  Trying to ban marijuana collectives from advertising is not going to help reduce the demand for marijuana and it deprives desperately needed revenue for alt-weekies which are very important for their political reporting and coverage of the local arts scene that a major daily will not cover.

October 14, 2011 at 3:42 am Leave a comment


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