Thursday, June 25, 2015

The South Carolina Confederate Flag Needs To Go

Source of Photograph:  Gephardt Daily 

NPR political reporter, Jessica Taylor wrote a great piece, The complicated political history of the Confederate Flag 

The Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina capital was not flying until the 1960s. 

The flag not only a symbol of the valor of the citizens of South Carolina  who died during the Civil War but was actually raised to protest the federal government intervention in securing civil rights for African Americans during the 1960's.

As Taylor noted, the "Stars and Bars." was not flag of the confederacy but was a the battle flag of Robert E. Lee's North Virginian Army.  

The  history of the actual Confederate Flag pictured below is described in the  article, "Why the Confederate Flag Isn't the Confederate Flag.  (The controversial flag commonly associated with the Confederacy was never the national banner.)"    

Americans need to understand our history and many symbols of our history should not be thrown away in an effort to sanitize the past.

The American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s impacted our national history.   And the Stars and Bars flag was an important flag  during the Civil War.  However, after having a better understanding of the history for the reason  for the Confederate Stars and Bars  being raised over the South Carolina Capital, it is clearly understandable why the flag has to go.

 If I was a black South Carolinean I would be offended seeing that flag flying over the state house.  As a white American who believes civil rights should not be abridged for any citizens,  the flag is a symbol of repression and therefore  needs to go and  to be relegated to a museum because of its particular history of the 1960s and its current history. 

The retail stores are going a bit over board in banning the sell of the Stars and Bars flag.   

For many Americans, the flag is not a racist symbol, but just a flag acknowledging the rebel in many of us.  But admittedly, I will never view the flag quite the same as just being  a relic of the American Civil War. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SeaWorld Educates Us About Some Incredible Animals Worth Saving

 After the movie Blackfish premiered, conservation and animal rights activists established a mission to harpoon and kill Sea World.   But in their relentless attacks on Sea World are they actually throwing out the baby with the bathwater in their attempts to close down the park's animal entertainment division?


 After seeing Blackfish, it is very easy to be a critic of Sea World.  Seeing a performing  killer whale or elephant is viewed as abuse in some circles. Political correctness in some circles does not condone the ownership of animal coat or drooling over a piece veal.

Political correctness or not, after visiting Sea World in Aurora Ohio in my teenage years, I knew I never wanted to go back. 

For me, seeing a  "petting" dolphin sitting essentially in a SeaWorld wading poll just was depressing.  (It was equally as bleak  seeing a captive gorilla banging at its  glass window in a zoo).

 I never cared  for animals doing tricks whether at SeaWorld, at a circus or my dog standing on her rear legs around begging for food.  Just give me a well-managed sea aquarium or zoo any day to catch a glimpse into the world of wild animals just acting themselves. 

But let's face it for every performing whale, dolphin, or sea lion at SeaWorld, many of these animals are dying in our increasing polluted and over fished oceans.

If SeaWorld did not exist, many people would not really appreciate the magnificence of the very intelligent orcas and other seal  mammals.   After witnessing a killer whale at Sea World, one cannot help  appreciate the conservation of those mammals. 


 Source of Photograph: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


And by the same token if animal rights organizations did not exist, people would not fully appreciate how utterly reckless and cruel people and corporations can be in keeping wild animals in captivity  or slaughtering domestic animals for food and dress accessories.

SeaWorld does have its well-deserved detractors----but I think eliminating Sea World would have some consequences in ocean and sea life preservation.  

Until Sea World, the general public did not  really appreciate a killer whale's intelligence or role in the oceans' ecosystems. SeaWorld rightfully deserves much credit for the good things they have done in preserving and understanding not only killer whales but other sea animals.  

A former SeaWorld employee, Erin McKinney,  wrote in his blog for Awesome Ocean, that condemning SeaWorld is really a bad idea. 

McKinney persuasively noted that SeaWorld 

  • Has the the largest rescue and rehabilitation program in the world

  • Contributes millions of dollars in conservation funding annually

  • Is regulated by the USDA, National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Has one of the best staff of experts providing  a collective knowledge of marine life care

 Granted shows like National Geographic Wild and Animal Planet  make us aware of the planet's natural plant and animal resources. But going to places to see the actual animals resonates with people who for the first time might be educated to learn that if not protected many of the animals they are seeing may not exist in the wild but only in zoos. 

 SeaWorld will likely be reinventing itself over the next years---unless it is driven into bankruptcy by zealous animal rights activists.  Perhaps SeaWorld will cut down on the tricks and concentrate on making some large animal exhibits which are equally as breathe taking as a killer whale jumping out of the water.

SeaWorld and all parks with wild animals needs to be monitored.  However, if you have the good fortune to go to any of the SeaWorld parks or zoos, go and have a good time and don't over think the experience of viewing captive performing animals. 

Should  SeaWorld disappear, so will a good place that educates us about some very dynamic animals.

Monday, March 9, 2015

To the non-voters of Ferguson Missouri, much thanks for the tragic civic lesson

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ)  issued its  Findings of Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri.

 The report found no reason to prosecute Deputy Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.

The DOJ concluded Brown attacked Wilson and the witnesses after changing their accounts were not credible nor matched forensics. The DOJ concluded the case against Wilson lacked prosecutive merit and should be closed.

Of course two lives were ruined because of Michael Brown's bad behavior.   And we all know the rest, Wilson will be defending himself legally as well as his reputation for many years yet to come.


However, if there was to be anything good to have resulted because of the shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder commenced an investigation into Ferguson's police department.  The DOJ did find that:

The department found that the FPD has a pattern or practice of:
  • Conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
  • Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment; and
  • Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The department found that Ferguson Municipal Court has a pattern or practice of:
  • Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements.
  • Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty.Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.
The department found a pattern or practice of racial bias in both the FPD and municipal court:
  • The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans and that this disproportionate impact is avoidable.
  • Ferguson’s harmful court and police practices are due, at least in part, to intentional discrimination, as demonstrated by direct evidence of racial bias and stereotyping about African Americans by certain Ferguson police and municipal court officials.

 As the report was released more stories have come out detailing the the pattern of political corruption and racism in Ferguson.  Almost unbelievable was the story that the  Ferguson judge who aggressively fined and jailed poor residents owes $170,000 in unpaid taxes. 

Ferguson Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer

The outrage and somewhat irony about Ferguson, was that politicians and police targeted their own black majority  constituency with impunity.  

One reason--- among many---the Ferguson, Missouri political climate occurred was the lack of black community participation in the election of their city's officials. 

There is an almost universal truth about politicians and their bureaucratic minions.   If politicians are not held accountable at the voting booth, they will service their own interests.

So to the non-voting residents of Ferguson, you got what you did not want because you chose not to vote. Again much thanks from this voter to the non-voters of Ferguson for the tragic civic lesson.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Americans Can't Be Critical of Nations with Death Penalty when Death Penalty Exists in USA.

Perhaps by the time this blog is printed, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will have been executed in Indonesia for attempting to smuggle heroin out of the nation well over a decade ago.  As an American admittedly I shake my head wondering the justification of such an execution when the act was non-violent and occurred such a long time ago.  


Westerners  read about Islamic nations executing not only killers but citizens who abandon Islam or engage in same sex relations or extramarital affairs.  China executed political opponents during and after the  Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 .  Now China is purging their country of corruption which will likely end up with some executions.


This upcoming Monday, Kelly Renee Gissendaner,is scheduled for execution in Jackson, Georgia.  On the other hand, due to a hung jury 2xs during the penalty phase of her trial, convicted murderer Jodia Arias was spared the death penalty. 

Admittedly there are some very sick men and women on death row in the United States and society would be best served if they were gone.   But killing them is nothing more than sweet revenge by an angry citizenry for their actions.  

Americans know the death penalty is generally reserved for killers and on very rare occasions people convicted of high treason.  Other death penalty nations don't appreciate the distinction.

With the United States continued implementation of  the death penalty, death penalty nations will  ignore pleas by the United States for clemency for their death row citizens and view any protests  as American interference in their internal affairs. 


The Death Penalty Information Center has a map showing which nations have dropped the death penalty.


Source of Map: Death Penalty Information Center

Monday, March 2, 2015

Study Suggests Too Much Facebook Can Cause Anxiety

The mass media (television, movies, newscasts, social networking sites etc.,) can be a contributing factor to how many of us perceive ourselves in comparison to others. 

Many years ago, for some reason I decided that I had greater feelings of anxiety when I was watching talk shows of successful people interviewing other successful people.   

Now showing my age, I realized the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was a venue for the rich and famous to show case just how rich and famous they actually were.  I found myself looking at my deficits and my mundane life in comparison to the guests being interviewed and very unhealthy feelings of depression and jealousy would emerge.

NBC Late Night Host Johnny Carson

So, I just went cold turkey and quit watching shows like Johnny Carson.   Today I rarely turn on television talk shows, only read magazine as People in the doctor's office or grocery store line, and avoid  shows like Entertainment Tonight.  For me, those shows and magazines just highlight the lifestyles of the affluent which long time ago passed me by.

Do I wish I was more affluent?

I would be less than truthful to say that I don't care.   I suppose writing a blog is one way that as a writer I get out there and maybe some one would at least consider my opinions on a topic of some value.  Perhaps someday, something I write will become a part of Brainy Quotes

So it did not come to me as such a big surprise when I read that a study suggests that too much Facebook can lead to envy and depression.

Guess because most of my "friends" on Facebook live in Akron, Ohio, are very middle class, and friends of Bill W.,  I really don't find myself getting too envious of their activities as I am certain they are not of mine.  (Matter of fact, probably most of my Facebook friends all probably view envy and jealousy as one of many character defects which at one time ruined our lives!)

But I can readily understand the danger of checking into a Facebook page daily  to see what your thousand plus intimate friends are doing! 

So my advice to those who are depressed because of the successes of their Facebook friends, much like I did with Johnny Carson, walk away from Facebook for awhile and see if you will feel better!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

ISIS Attracts Sadistic Predisposed Western Youth

Well, at least the world now has a face to one of the most despicable men in the world.  Mohammed Emwazi (aka) Jihadi John has finally been unmasked and hopefully he and his partners in crime are captured and killed.

Over the past several weeks the news media has highlighted the so-called plight of 3 British girls going to Syria via Turkey to join ISIS.  Our sympathies should go out to their families, but these young women are knowingly  joining a sadistic groups as ISIS and should garner no sympathy.

It is easy to say that young people are impressionable, but to knowingly engage in murder suggests that these folks probably had already had a screw loose!

The late twenty six year old American,  Kayla Mueller,  went to Syria to provide humanitarian aid.  Mueller was probably atypical of American youth and Americans in general, who willingly entered a  dangerous situations to provide humanitarian aid to the people of civil worn torn Syria.     

She was a fine example that a young person does not have to engage in evil acts to feel accepted.  


And of course there are probably numerous young Muslim men and women who will remain nameless who have sacrificed their own lives as they fought and continue to fight against ISIS.

Let's quit making excuses for young westerners who go fight with ISIS.   

By now, everyone should know what ISIS is about. Those who seek out or promote organizations like ISIS have a perverted sense of what it means to be human and lack moral scruples and likely and are already predisposed to sadistic behaviors.