What happened to our Democracy?

         What happened to the great country of America? Why do we not prosper like we did in the 1950s-1970s? What caused the greatest nation in earth to come back to the pack? If you listen to Republicans it is all liberals fault, their policies and entitlements. If you listen to Democrats it is all conservatives fault, horrible policies, war mongering and the trickle down economy. But what caused our current predicament. This is an average high school educated Americans opinion on our decline.

America was very successful in the decades following WWII. There are several reasons for this. I believe first and foremost was the conditions other countries were in. Germany, England, Italy, France, Japan and most of Europe was decimated by the war. This essentially left the world at Americas mercy. We were the only developed country that wasnt decimated and we took full advantage of that. Second was the rise of labor unions. They leveled the playing field with corporations causing better pay and benefits. Workers were happy and American made meant something. Third was the gap in income. It put us in a position where employees believed in their employers. Corporations werent cutting corners for a profit.

When CEO pay began to grow quicker then employee pay we saw the beginning of the decline. Companies off shoring work to make a higher profit despite products that were not made very well. Union membership particularly in the early 2000s declined sharply. NAFTA wad created to help Americans but it worked against us. This was the beginning of the end. Then banks began to work against us. I to this day do not completely understand what they did, but they destroyed pensions, credit, peoples lives and the American economy. Too big too fail and too rich too prosecute.

You may ask “Why all this about the economy and jobs?” It all contributed to the political climate we live in today. The decimation of unions took away one of the major checks on corporations power. Easieast example is Walmart. They make billions in profits, get all of their product from overseas and essentially pay minimum wage. They typically cap employees hours so they dont have to offer benefits. All the while their employees are in every government program that is offered because of the low pay. Walmart is one of the largest employers in the country. Any attempt at unionizing is dealt with harshly. People getting fired, hours cut amongst other things. Workers no longer recieve living wages, all the while corporations and the super wealthy gain more and more of the pie.

Why does any of that matter? Well that is quite easy. 94%. 94% of the time the politician with the most money wins. 94%, a ridiculous number. That means that the people with money get their politician of choice. That means that said politician then works for the cause of the wealthy. That causes an ever growing gap in income inequality. When corporate backed politicians are in charge, corporations essentially are in charge. Take the Stand Your Ground Law, a mess of a law. ALEC writes papers called model legislation, which is a bill that is given to their bought congressmen, who then work to get it passed. Congress no longer works for the people, it works for its puppet master.

Money has bought our government, big money, corporations and super wealthy. These people have destroyed our democracy. We are now at the mercy of our corporate overlords. It is funny to think that not only do you buy their product in a store, but we all bow at the altar of the wealthy. This is what these wannabe oligarchs, feudalists or monarchs want from us. For a while the people were silent, but many are waking up. But it is too late? Can we retake our democracy? Is America the new Rome? I certainly hope not. But in my opinion we are balanced on a precipice.

I realize that this is not the most concise description of our fall. But just open your eyes and look around. People stand up for a tax evader like Cliven Bundy but demonize Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. When was racism so prevelant, the 1950s. How about the constant attack on women? It seems like a calculated attack to keep rich men in charge of things. The election of President Obama, a black man, seems to upset the apple cart. Why else would certain people say their first and most important priority was to make him a one term president. Democracy is not conservatism or liberalism, it is a combination of all of them. We need to overturn Citizens United, put term limits on Senators, Representatives and Supreme Court Justices. We need to be able to assess their jobs and have the right to immeadiatly fire them. Our democracy is on the line. Lets save it.

Is Ferguson, Missouri a case of the poor and mistreated fighting back or the beginning of a military state?

         Mike Brown was recently shot by Ferguson police. Unarmed, yet shot. Witnesses say his hands were in the air, yet he was shot. Is this the police attacking victims of our economic plight? The greed of the ruling class creating areas of poverty that police believe they need to crack down on in order to prevent crime. The Broken Window policy i have heard it called. Stop and frisk in New York. I think it is racism being disguised as police work.

I read one article after another about this young black man being shot while unarmed. The black guy who was shot in Walmart while holding a BB gun. Cops told him to put hands in air, he complied saying it wasnt real and gets shot. Yet an 18 year old white guy was walking down the road in his neighborhood with a shotgun. When police stopped him, asking for his ID, ge refused. He walked away with a fine. Open carry nutbags who walk around with loaded assault rifles, yet nothing happens. Cliven Bundy, the tax evading trespasser and his nutbag hooligan want to be militia point guns at authorities, yet nothing happens. Armed lunatics waiting for a busload of immigrant children force bus to go different location, again nothing happens. This seem a bit fishy to you?

What started off as peaceful protests about the Mike Brown shooting became a fiasco. Who was at fault? People being arrested, shot and beat by police. What looked like a military strike force in an American city. The citizens rioting in response. None of this is right. These people have the right to protest. We do not live in a police state where protest is not allowed. When a public servant does something wrong, we the people have the right to call them out. Any violence in answer of violence is wrong. But that is easy for me to say sitting hundreds of miles away in my Pennsylvania home. Anyone who says race has nothing to do with this is utterly ignorant or blatantly racist.

President Obama has spoke about this. Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken extensively on this. The Ferguson police chief and Governer of Missouri have spoken about this. The governer has pulled the St. Louis Police out replacing them with the Highway Patrol. Events like this have always happened but it seems like it is more common place. To say that the economic and political climate has nothing to do with this is short sighted.

Republicans and Democrats are not to blame per say. The fact that they allow nut bag extremists to hijack the party and message is their fault. These people have inflamed hate and justify racism. They justify hating one another based on our differences. The NRA has created a mess with their idiotic way of thinking and model legislation they give to their bought Congressmen and women to push through. Hate and indifference has become common place, as well as radical out looks on civil rights. The social climate has changed with the political climate.

I live in Pennsylvania and have not personally seen much of this. But i do know quite a few police officers and the way they think is alarming. You would like to think they would look at each situation differently but I dont think they do. It is a generalization of all cops based on a few so it is not a scientific breakdown. When you send a human being out with orders to target a certain group of people, it will have unintended effects on both groups. It is 2014, you would think we would be beyond this. Sadly this is everyday life for certain groups of Americans. When will this change? Only then can we avoid travesties like Ferguson, Missouri.

President Obama authorizes airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq.

     Much to my dismay President Obama authorized airstrikes in Iraq. I realize that President Obama had only bad choices in this matter, but in Iraq again. Really? We supposedly stopped military operations in 2011. We were supposed to be teaching Iraqi forces to handle these situations without losing control. It seems the only military presence in Iraq is militias. As of now President Obama has limited military action to airstrikes. How long will that last.

As always the Republican war machine has its wheels turning. John Boehner said the bombings were appropriate but will not be enough. John McCain, the biggest war monger of them all, referred to the strikes as pin pricks. Then followed by saying the Obama administration will not move forward to finish the deal. Peter King said the strikes will not be enough alone. Are these leaders calling for boots on the ground? Of course Democrats are calling for no more then air strikes. Nancy Pelosi commended the President saying that air strikes will help and that she admired his commitment to not putting soldiers in danger.

Why did it take us so long to get involved? Iraqi official have asked the President for help earlier in the year. He said no, because he wanted Iraq to stand on their own as a soveirgn nation. He said that Iraq needed to learn how to handle these situations themselves. Essentially to grow as a government and country. Was this the right strategy? Of course the opinions are split. I do not want soldiers on the ground and it seems as if the American people do not either. But honestly what choice was left.

ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. It is essentially Al Queda in Iraq. It was also very involved in Syria. It is a self proclaimed caliphate and claims authority of Muslims all over the world. It aspires to bring much of the Muslim inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control, according to Wikipedia. ISIS us currently targeting the Yazidis. The Yazidis are a Kurdish minority that is isolated from the majority of the population due to their ancient beliefs. Members of the group are believe in an ancient religion linked to Zoroastrianism and are considered herectics by radical Ialamists. ISIS growth in power has made it easier for them to target the Yazidis.

President Obama said these strikes may save women and children stuck on a mountaintop. His decision seems to have been made by ISIS. Iraqi militias stopped the ISIS march into the capital. But ISIS has been very successful in other regions. I am disapointed that it has come to air strikes. I believe we did the right thing allowing Iraq to handle the situation themselves, we essentially did that in Syria. This is a rock and a hard place situation. Any decision will involve loss of human life. I am happy to say President Obama waited until he could wait no longer. I just home the war machines reach ends at air strikes.

Manufactured scandals, the new GOP.

         In the six years President Obama has been in office have been very eventful. Most of the high profile “events” turned out to be absolutely nothing. Darell Issa swore he had a smoking gun, the one that would impeach him. John Boehner has actually filed a lawsuit against the President because of his ” liberal” use of executive orders. Then a few days later said the President should act alone on immigration reform. These are a few examples of the insanity that D.C. had become.

       Lets cover Benghazi. Republicans shamelessly exploited the death of four Americans in an attempt to hurt Hillary Clinton and unseat President Obama. The Republican led House of Representatives led 8 investigations into the incident, forged emails and even made CNN look horrible with a first hand witness account that was a lie. Darrell Issa has been like a dog with a bone on this, relentlessly pursuing any possible misdeed. Even lying in an effort to trash the President. The eighth investigation proved what the first 7 said, the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton were not guilty of any wrong doing. So the fiscal watch dog Tea Party wasted millions of tax payer dollars on utter nonsense. All they really needed to do was look at who cut funding for embassy and overseas security. Thats right!! The Republicans.

         The IRS scandal. The IRS was accused of targeting Tea Party 401c tax exempt organizations. In the opinion of Republicans President Obama ordered the IRS to do the targeting. Turns out that after the Citizens United decision the IRS was targeting all groups. In fact the only ones that were denied tax exempt status were liberal ones. Another scandal DEBUNKED!!!!!! The VA scandal. The Obama administration spent about $60 billion more on the VA in order to accomadate Vets coming home. They were unable to do so and numbers were intentionally falsified to make it look as if they were meeting obligations. Again this had zero connection to the Obama administration other then his appointee. The outraged Republicans it turned out just shot down aid for Vets. Hypocrites i do say.

I personally do not agree with everything Democrats do, nor with President Obama. I always tell people to look at the Monsanto Protection Act r the super secret Trans Pacific Partnership. These are true scandals that are not recieving any coverage. But these arent scandals that would destroy President Obama, so they arent good enough. Although I do not agree with Democrats on everything, I disagree with Republucans on most things and the hateful Tea Party on everything. The Republican disdain for the average American is perplexing to me. I cant understand why normal people vote for them, it is not in their best interest.

Our country, i repeat, our country will never be the same or better again if we cannot get past this hyper-polarization. The hate and despicable actions of so many are directly ripping apart our political spectrum, as well as our morals. I am hopeful that we can move past this. Find our way to what we truly can be. To me, a Democratic society relies on many different forms of government to truly work. Our country is slipping from Democracy into an oligarchy. Lies and venom towards a sitting President is not the answer. But for some it seems to be all they have.

Coaching 5th and 6th grade girls basketball.

         My youngest daughters basketball team joined a summer league. Her coach asked me for help and i gladly helped. My main objective was to get them as fundamentally sound as 1 practice every 2 weeks could get them. We worked on dribbling, boxing out, simple off ball movements, passing and how to move their feet on defense. We only had 4 or 5 kids at every practice. We taught them how to screen and specifically the high screen and roll. I really enjoyed every practice i did with them. What was being taught truly improved in those areas. I had the oppurtunity to coach one game this season. We played the best team in the league, who beat us 48-6 the first time. All of our kids are going into 5th grade and there is one going into 4th grade. The whole other team is going into 6th grade. Size difference was big.

There are 9 kids on the team and only 4 or 5 show for practice. Before the game i went over the Diamond full court press and the high pick and roll with the back door cuts. I didnt expect perfection. In fact I would have been happy with the pick and roll happening 10 times. The other team won the tip and drove right down and scored. On the inbounds we were pressed and any cut or inbound play that was taught went goodbye. We had 4 turnovers and went down 10-0. I was going to call a timeout but I figured with it being a summer league and learning experience let them play through it. We had several more turnovers, went down 18-0 when they finally calmed down. We inbounded, pushed up the court, ran a nice pick and roll but the ball was thrown out of bounds. We went into the diamond press and stole the ball, missed a layup, got the rebound then scored. The rest of the half was back and forth, very fast and sloppy. We were down 24-6 at the half.

At the half I just calmed them down, explained what went right and what went wrong. The list of wrong was a bit longer. I just tried to build their confidence up and play our game. I told them to play a high speed game and to keep running. Press, press, press and create turnovers. They started the second half with the score 0-0, it is an instructional league. I was impressed with how they did in the second half.

The other team came out and scored the first 5 points. I called a timeout and stressed helping each other on offense, setting a screen and off ball movement. From that point on we outscored them 10-8, still lost the half 13-10 and game 37-16 but I saw a lot of good things. The press worked great when they were all on the same page, about 3/4s of the time. Didnt create a turnover every time but we created a lot of traps and even a few designed 2 traps before half court. Ball handling and passing was still sloppy. But there were 6 high screens and 3 low screens, I was very impressed. Usually the guards do all the moving and the bigs stand and wait. Not my team. We created a lot of turnovers but had a lot in return. Free throw shooting, boxing out and rebounding were all strong. They just couldnt get the shot off low and didnt pass out. All in all we gave them a run in the second half, it was their closest half all season. The girls seem to get intimidated but we will fix that.

I know it was a loss and moral victories are a coach searching for good things but i honestly did see good things. They are improving. I have a long way to go as a basketball coach but I will do the work gladly. I was a little slow on some in game decisions and maybe stayed to long in the press but i thought it was our best shot. Make it a sloppy fast game and take them out of their offense. Second half was good, first not so much. I am trying for local high school coaching jobs so thing like this can only help. It was a trying, yet enjoyable experience.

Hobby Lobby, religous freedom or force fed religion.

      The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision was a big in a few ways. First it proved that Supreme Court Justices should not be a lifetime appointment. Second it showed how far our country has strayed from what we are. Third it showed a complete disdain for the protections the United States Constitution afforded us. It all showed the Conservative wing celebrating a “victory” over the common folks.

The First Amendment of the Constitution states; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free excersize thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. What does this mean? Do we the people still have said protections?

Making no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free excersize thereof. That would mean that no religion shall be protected over the other by states or federal government. Basic, simplistic view. Everyone is free to practice any religion they would like. Republicans like to say that we are a Christian nation, which as stated violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. They say prayer should be allowed in school and creationism taught, not all but many. But the only prayer they want in school are Christian prayers, all others be damned. Christian right wingers believe abortion is a sin and contraceptives are abortion. That statement has been lambasted by anyone who is a doctor but a degree means nothing in that discussion.

Republicans claim they are the protectors of our Constitution and that liberal Democrats want to rip it to shreds. Anyone with half a brain can see the obvious, Republicans do not care about the Constitution. I realize i have gone off topic but this will come together, I hope. In Republican lead states across the nation our right to peacably assemble is being stomped upon. People arrested and disgraced by the GOP while a criminal like Cliven Bundy and his group of hooligans walj away scot free. Armed people stopping a government agency from enforcing the law, supported by Republicans. Freedom of Speech is stomped upon dailly and being able to redress Government is a joke. Republicans are trying to take away our government voice, the right to vote.

Now not only is a corporation regarded as a person, they also can force their religious beliefs on their employees. Before the ACA was put into effect, Hobby Lobby offered health insurance plans that had access to birth control. Not only that, but much of their inventory is bought from China. China is notorious for its abortion rate. I think with those two sentences I established Hobby Lobby’s hypocracy. Why did Hobby Lobby’s stance change? I dont have the answer but anyone who isnt blind realizes how much the Republican base hates President Obama. Is that the reason? Who knows? But why now? Why did the Supreme Court rule directly on party lines?

How does my employers religion effect my health care decisions? Is that religious freedom? For the employer, yes but where is ours. How does my employers religion outweigh mine? If this ruling is correct; then if i worked for a Muslim company I have to adhere to Shariha Law. Or a Satanist for instance. Or would my choices be mine then? I am paying for a portion of my health care, as well as visits, meds or anything else Dr. related. How can my employer come between myself and my doctor? These questions arent answered yet but I have a feeling this ruling will have unintended consequences. I do not think these justices had the foresight to see what would be around the corner.

Whatever your opinion of religion is, you are entitled to it except when it comes to your employer. This is a idiotic interpretation of our Constitution. Ee have seen some awful rulings coming from this Supreme Court. Please remember you are free to practice your religion but your employers is more important.