5 Viewpoints on the Government Shutdown from an American Citizen Living Overseas

1. Comparing Congressmen to “Babies Having a Temper Tantrums” is just plain wrong.  Political rhetoric is pathetic.  The 535 men and women elected to the U.S. Capitol contain some of the brightest people in the country.  Even if some of them have extremist ideas, the truth is they are working hard.  The problem isn’t that they “babies” or that they are “lazy.”  The problem is the political format of America forces Congressmen to work for their party instead of the people who elected them.

2. The media needs to grow a spine.  Nearly every news outlet I turn to right now is trying to be nonpartisan.  Seriously!?  The facts are facts.  The Tea Party is responsible.  Period.  They are holding up legislation to keep the government running because “democrats won’t negotiate.”  There’s one major problem with this idea.  The democrats already negotiated on Obamacare—which is why the law was watered down in the first place.  But it passed.  The Supreme Court upheld it.  The battle is over.  The blame sits squarely on the Tea Party….or


3. The real blame belongs on Our Founding Fathers.  Our constitution is brilliant.  But its few mistakes are rather severe.  One of the worst parts is the Electoral College.  Due to the evolution of voting and democracy since the late 1700s, the Electoral College is dangerous.  It binds us to a two-party system that is destroying us instead of evolving to a multi-party system like you see in Europe.  This two party system led to the absurd rules that guide the House of Representatives, which now allow ten Tea Party members blackmail the Speaker of the House into grinding the government to a halt.


4.  Representative Randy Neugebauer is either a moron or an asshole.  In the year 2013, all elected officials know they need to watch what they say 24/7.  That means it’s really hard to hid stupidity.  Representative Neugebauer presented this stupidity in a very public manner.  It is nearly impossible to finish watching that video without wanting to punch this man in the face.  How dare he.

5.  The Shutdown is affecting US workers overseas.  I work for the Peace Corps, but this extends to every agency that works overseas—the State Department, the CDC, etc.  Since you work overseas, you can’t be furloughed.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us.  Our counterparts in D.C.  are furloughed—leaving many communication lines down until further notice.  If this continues for more than a week, you will hear of serious consequences.

The World of 2015

I will be back in the United States in 2015.  I’m not really sure when, but it will be 2015.  There are some early Close of Services in March.  Then again, I want to travel.  It’s all too far away to think about with any precision.  I will be back in the United States between March and July of 2015.  When I do, the country will be mostly the same.  It’ll be the small things that will have changed.  That’s what I spend a lot of time thinking about.

-My dad will be 58 and getting closer to retirement.
-My mom will be 57 and about to start her last year of teaching.
-My sister will be turning 30 around the time I get back.
-Dasia will be 15 and probably have a Driver’s Permit.
-Jade will be 13 and getting ready for High School.
-Kyra will be 10 and starting Middle School.
-Sidenote: My parents will likely have a new dog!

-IPhone 7 will probably be the big thing.
-The PS3, the XBOX 720, and independent game systems will be on the market (I want one).
-The new technology will likely be “flexible tablets.”
-Google Glasses will be on the Market.
-Supermarkets will have more “do it yourself” checkouts than human checkouts
-Space Tourism will allow civilians to orbit the moon in a “Lunar Hotel”
-Self-driving cars will be on the road, but not ready for general sale.
-Personal Computers will have up to 100 TB hard drives.

-The New World Trade Center in New York will be open
-The first Presidential Candidates for 2016 will already have announced their candidacy.
-The Defense of Marriage Act will be overturned.
-3D Printing will render gun control obsolete.
-For the first time since I was 12, the United States will not be at war.

It’s strange to think about a lot of these things.  Everything moves so quickly in the world nowadays, that a lot really does change in the course of two years.  It’s all very exciting and scary.  By the way, if you find this stuff as fascinating as I do, I get most of it off a single website.  Check it out.




Gun Control & Mental Health

I sent my letter regarding the Connecticut shooting to ten of my elected officials.  In the hope of keeping them accountable, today I am going to let you know where each of them stand.  I will follow up on this as more details become available.

Colorado State Representative Dave Young: The only person who has responded to my letter thus far.  It was a beautiful response.  His focus is threefold: Better mental health help in Colorado; limit gun ownership for those with serious mental illnesses; close the gun show loophole.  Although he does not agree with me on banning semi-automatic weapons and extended clips, that is okay.  That needs to be done at the Federal level anyway.
Colorado State Representative Steve Humphrey [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
Colorado State Senator Glenn Vaad  [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper: He helped put together a much needed mental health expansion in Colorado–which needs to be approved by our state congress.  He also called for closing the Gun Show Loophole.  Hickenlooper called for “a debate” to take place regarding gun control, but has yet to release any specifics.

U.S. Representative Cory Gardner [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
U.S. Representative Jared Polis: Polis has also focused on closing the gun show loophole.  He is also very outspoken about increasing mental health help in Colorado.  No word yet on Gun Control.
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet  [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
U.S. Senator Mark Udall [No Public Comment or Response Yet]
President Barack Obama: Obama has been solidly in the pro-gun column his entire presidency.  Fortunately, the events in Connecticut are forcing him to the left.  He appears to be actively pushing for an assault weapons ban.  He has also has talked at length about mental health.  For a President, however, I expect action–not just talk.

I will update this list again in a week or two.  In the meantime, i suggest you write a letter to your elected officials about what you want to see changed.


Election Day 2012 Wishlist

The day is finally here.  I will be in front of my computer and a TV screen most the day.  Here is my hopeful list.  I know all of them won’t happen, but I sure hope a majority of them do.

  1. Amendment 64 in Colorado passes—Legalizing Marijuana.
  2. 3A passes in Greeley—allowing for a new middle school in my hometown.
  3. Obama wins the Presidency.
  4. Obama carries Colorado–I like seeing my state sway progressive.
  5. Marriage equality comes out strong in state amendments.
    1. Minnesota doesn’t define marriage as one man one woman.
    2. Washington legalizes gay marriage.
    3. Maine legalizes gay marriage.
    4. Maryland legalizes gay marriage.
  6. California bans the Death Penalty.
  7. Massachusetts becomes the next state to allow Assisted Suicide.

I also uploaded a piece on the Electoral College yesterday.  If you missed it, here is the link: Repeal the Electoral College

on Marijuana & Genocide

With about 50 hours left until the Presidential Election, I can’t help but be one of the people to weigh in.  On Twitter and and Facebook, my focus has been on Amendment 64 here in Colorado–The amendment that will legalize and regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.  Although I would like to weigh in on the Romney versus Obama fight, it seems almost irrelevant.  At this point it’s like trying to debate gun rights or abortion–you’re not going to convince anyone.  But, with Amendment 64, I think we can educate the public on the truth about Cannabis:

1. Marijuana accounts for zero death per year.  Period.
2. Cannabis–the plant that bears THC–was originally made illegal because the timber industry saw it as a threat.
3. In countries where Marijuana has been legalized, the use of the drug by children has not increased.
4. Legalizing marijuana will be a massive blow to the drug cartels in Mexico–who currently are leading a disgusting war for control that is crippling the country.
5.  This is my personal opinion: The government’s main job is to protect us from each other…not to protect us from ourselves.

That being said, I am uploading an old paper I wrote for my Master’s Program in History.  This paper deals with the Armenian Genocide and how Turkey has covered it up in the century that has followed.  I’m mainly uploading this for a friend to read, but it is well worth the time.  If you do not know about the Armenian Genocide, give this a look.

The Armenian Genocide and Turkish Denial

A Week for the Record Books

The past week has been jam-packed with so much emotion and change.  It’s difficult to even begin the process of understanding what has happened.  It all started this past weekend with a 60-hour trip to Seattle to surprise a friend for her 21st birthday.  While there, I became a part of a 26-hour relationship that has since upended my understanding on what I want for myself in the months and years ahead.

Upon returning to Colorado, I started the process of moving back to my hometown.  The central idea was to be closer to my family for the final holiday season before I leave for the Peace Corps.  It’s been a strange transition.  Now, as of a few hours ago, my father was just laid off.  My God…it’s been one hell of a week.  Here’s the first piece of writing to come of it.  I pounding it out this morning after hearing the news about my father.

When Politics Gets Personal

Free Pussy Riot and Stand Up for Freedom of Speech

@suzanne_moore My fave things Pussy Riot are a reminder that revolution always begins in culture | Suzanne Moore http://gu.com/p/39ehk/tw@guardian
The story of Pussy Riot is a strange one.  As a writer, issues of free speech always catch my attention.  My writing always strays into the deep end.  I like exploring the world we live in by questioning every facet of that world.  For me, that is done through writing.  Through others, it is art.  For some, it is music.  So when a story like this one comes along, I cannot help but talk about it.  Freedom of Speech will only become a worldwide freedom if we continue to push it in every corner of this world.
@MotherJones Pussy Riot’s imprisonment has become a symbol of artistic struggle against political repression. Here’s how: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/what-is-pussy-riot-explained
Part of an artist’s job is to challenge their audience.  Put them in a place that they don’t feel comfortable…then make them think about it honestly and critically.  So, when Pussy Riot sang about anarchy in Russia, they knew full well that they were doing something morally right although legally wrong.  What I doubt they expected was to be in jail for months on end and semi-tortured (no official proof…yet).  Artists are the people who challenge culture and propel us forward.  Imprisoning them is nothing more than trying to stop the future from happening.
@freepussyriot Release the young women of Pussy Riot and immediately end their unjust criminal trial! http://www.causes.com/causes/787323-free-pussy-riot-now-pussy-riot/actions/1670648 #freepussyriot
The confusing part of these arrests is that backlash should be expected.  People will always love their artists more than they love their government.  When a government imprisons an artist for nothing more than to protect the government…the people will not stand for it.  That is why we are seeing large protests in Russia.  I recommend everyone follows the link below to sign the petition to free Pussy Riot.
@freepussyriot SIGN Release the young women of Pussy Riot and immediately end their unjust criminal trial! http://www.causes.com/causes/787323-free-pussy-riot-now-pussy-riot/actions/1670648 #FREEPUSSYRIOT
If the world stands behind the people of Russia as the people of Russia stand up to Vladimir Putin, we will be victorious.  Pussy Riot needs to be released.  That will not be the end of it.  The people of Russia understand the need for Free Speech.  We must help them fight for it….since protesting in Russia is still technically illegal.
@JulianSimpson1 Amnesty Intl campaign on Pussy Riot. Please RT.
@suigenerisjen #PussyRiot members ‘deprived of sleep and food’ during trial
@democracynow Members of Russian Feminist Punk Group @pussy_riot Tried for Church Protest

The Power Outage in India is a Huge Deal

Some days our world feels so small.  Today is one of those days.  The way our world works includes breaking the general population of seven billion or so into countries.  Each of these countries relies on their government for specific things.  What the government provides is usually dependent upon its people.  Oftentimes, it is the businesses that comes in and the government does nothing more than regulate.

Over the past two days, this system has failed.  It’s kind of like a perfect storm of events.  Even through there are seven billion people on our planet spread out of about 200 countries, some have more than others.  Namely China and India.  China has 1.3 billion people or 18% of the planet’s population.  India has 1.1 billion people or about 16% of the planet’s population.  Those 1.1 billion people in India have endured a long, hot summer thanks to Global Warming.  Starting yesterday, it became too much.

Which brings us to the failure.  When one country contains so many people, it is more susceptible to cataclysmic events.  Since most countries control their own electric grid, India’s grid needs to stay only simple because of how many people it would effect if it went off.  Well, it did.  It started with a quadrant.  Starting yesterday, 250 million people were without power.  It got worse today when the second quadrant went down.  Now more than 600 million are without power during the heat of the summer.  That’s twice the population of the United States–without power.  And it’s getting worse….

Maybe it’s just me.  Sometimes I genuinely dislike the way our world works.  I’m not actually a pessimist.  I just honestly believe things can always be made better.  When I hear that hundreds of million are made to suffer through the heat of the day–like results in dozens of death–I can’t help but wonder if there is a better way.  There has got to be a better way.  Anyway, here are some of the Tweets I found regarding the situation in India:

@stravasos Incredible stat! India suffered the largest blackout in history on Tuesday, affecting 670million people, or 10% of the world’s population.
@SandhuBhamra As a former Indian resident, I can’t even imagine this: blackout in 19 states, more than 600 million Indians affected http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/blackout-in-19-states-more-than-600-million-indians-affected-249722

Kickstarter Update

I just finished imputing all the grammar/spelling/syntax errors that my beta readers caught.  That means that the fourth draft of The Stagner Chronicle is now complete.  There is plenty of work left to do.  The editing process has entered the polishing stage.  This is where things get annoying.  All the big problems have been caught and changed.  Now it’s all about the small problems.  I want this novel to be as clean as possible before I send it out to my readers.  If you want to join the campaign, click here.

Today’s article is one of the most extreme and interesting things I have ever written.  I spent a good deal of time researching the flow of money in our world…and it left me extremely worried about the way the world works.  It is definitely worth a read for anyone who has ever wondered if there was another way.

Follow the Money to Understand the Power Structure of Our World

The Revolution Starts in The Living Room

Join the Kickstarter Campaign to Publish “The Stagner Chronicle”

This is our last full day in Connecticut for my Grandmother’s 80th Birthday.  It’s been crazy busy.  Today is our relaxation day.  We’re all trying to figure out what else we want to do while we are on the coast.  We’ve already done seafood, the beach, and Duchess.  There doesn’t seem like there is much left to do.  It’s been a great trip.

I hope to get back to writing new things in the days ahead (instead of just posting old writings).  I don’t know how long that will last.  I get back to Colorado on Monday and leave for Iowa on Thursday/Friday.  Until then, let me know what you think about the changes around the blog.  Do you prefer the creative writing or the political writing?  Or a good mixture?  Today’s article focuses on the Occupy Movement.

Why Modern Revolutions Fail