Rant of the month – February

This rant is being published early due to a short month and I will be in transit at the end of the month.  This does not mean there are less things to cover, quite to the contrary there is too much to cover this month!  Keeping with my established form and not digressing into a free form rant I will have to cull down a busy month into 2 rants per topic each.
Despite the issue everyone, including myself, have been talking about non-stop I thought it would be refreshing to go off on something other then the ailing economy or the ultimate failures our esteemed leaders are trying to pull off.  A seemingly perfect human interest story gone insanely wrong unfolded in the media and its conclusion is far from over.
The case of Nadya Suleman is a parallel to more and more of what is wrong with my country and the direction it continues to plummet, despite an agent of “change” accelerating the free fall.  Looking at the facts of the story and you wonder what the heck is going on.  A single mother of 6, under 33, who was unemployed and drawing workman’s compensation while attending college for a graduate’s degree was able to get a fraternity clinic to accept her application to implant an additional 6 fertilized eggs in her.  After the initial dust-up it turns out the sperm donor who is the biological father of her first 6 children, two of which have disabilities to the point of getting Social Security checks, is also the biological father of her new 8 children.  Apparently she had 12 eggs successfully fertilized, 6 being her current children and 6 in storage.  The viability of the additional 6 appears to have been in question with a use it or lose it thing going on.  The reason I state this is a parallel to my country’s ills is this.
Instant gratification, selfish impulses being acted on, lack of sensible oversight, and finally a disillusion between ideals and reality.  Suleman appears, to my unprofessional yet educated opinion, to be in need of some serious counseling and possibly ongoing professional help.  Suleman’s actions remind me of the current administration, making actions on a seemingly desperate situation now without considering the ongoing consequences of these actions and the impacts on existing and future people.  Suleman’s decision was also very selfish.  She wanted to be a mother despite already being one 6 times prior.  The clinic holding the eggs and the doctors implanting them did not exercise proper oversight in that they must have known her current situation yet they followed the patient’s wishes to the letter anyway, much like the banks and government agencies did with home owners, they facilitated allowing bad judgment to bare fruit.  Lastly we all have a vision of the world we wished we could live in, and yes it would be nice to achieve that.  The cold hard reality is that ideal does not exist, while we can strive to create it as much as possible we must realize it is an impossible and that the real world is going to make it as impossible to achieve as it can.  Suleman’s situation is riddled with excess and false impressions of happiness supplied and enabled by people who were only out to make a buck or a name for themselves.  There were hopes to cash in, sell rights to stories and such, but when the story is a parallel of all the excess, insanity, and false illusion of reality when we see it all falling down around us, she and her story have become the lightning rod for ire our society is striking out of frustration at their own versions of this story, when many look at Suleman they see faint reflections of themselves and that is why it her story has turned into the nightmare it has.
For anyone living in California, all I can do is shake my head and shrug.  I was born there, in liberal San Francisco and left soon thereafter and I will never return, and these reasons just reinforce that feeling.  The government makes dysfunction feel ashamed by their ineptitude and inability to function in the people’s best interest.  The budget fight was a very long and drawn out one with neither side willing to budge or make a compromise despite the governor’s hard line approach.  Now the government’s bailout is being tagged to correct the state’s, and many others, budget shortfall.  This is a huge mistake to use federal tax dollars to correct a state budget shortfall, how about next year’s budget shortfall?  A federal judge has ordered the release of 55,000 inmates over 3 years to ease the state’s prison system overcrowding problem.  While liberals love to say we don’t need to plug the system with people who are “harmless” and that it is against human rights to house so many people in such a crowded place.  My question is this, what is prison for?  If you say a place to house people who break the law you are thirty percent right, the other parts are to correct behavior through restrictions of freedoms and exposure to things that will cement the lessons and the final third is to serve as a deterrent for people who may be thinking of committing a crime.  This is the reason for the system.  By releasing so many you take away all 3 parts.  This will not deter crime but encourage it.  If overcrowding is that much of a problem it should have been addressed before the population was so grossly overgrown.  If the system needs adjustments they need to be done on the front end, not the back end.  I wonder if the judge lives in a neighborhood some of these 55,000 will be released into?  Finally, a state senator is reviving the old proposal of legalizing marijuana for state residents.  His idea is that it can be taxed and he has figures outlining the added revenue it could generate.  When will liberals leave this alone.  Sure, taxing pot would be great, but what about the associated costs?  Liberals never fully think things through to see what ripples in the pond may hit the shore.  You can tax pot only if you can control the growing and distribution of it.  Mexican drug lords moves pot across the border every day, people grow it in private and consume it in private, other states move it across the border today.  That means you need more cops, jails, lawyers, judges, tax collectors, unemployment workers, clerks and this is just for government.  Society will need more healthcare workers, clinic workers, councilors and there will be more broken families, unproductive citizens, crime for smugglers and tax cheats, and the list goes on and on.  California keeps going more and more over the edge, they may want to rethink that being on the San Andreas Fault and all.
Israel drew international criticism for it’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip this year.  I have said it before and I will say it again, peace in this region can only be worked out by the parties involved.  Neither side is willing to budge and their hard line stance will not soften anytime soon.  Hamas wants Israel to give them all their lands back, Israel wants the Palestinians to reject terrorism and conform to a Western ideal and way of conducting its business.  Frankly neither one is going to happen anytime soon.  Not the US, EU, or anyone outside of the actual border disputes can force them to compromise.  After nearly 50 years of this it is something so broken it will take more work then either side is willing to do at this point to fix.  The world believes that the situation will improve if Palestine can be given a chance to prosper and taste the success of Western ideals.  Jobs, education, stability, and commerce are seen as the tools to get them to go along.  This may be too short sighted to realistically work.  The issues are not economic or even border issues, but religious and ideological ones.  That is what so many in the west can not wrap their heads around.  Some groups of people just hate each other so much they will do anything to wipe the other of the face of the planet for good.  Unfortunately these two parties hostilities are being used as pawns in a larger game by larger players.  Moderates in the region want to marginalize the hardliners, Western powers want to stabilize the region to better control the flow of oil.  Radical idealists want to push any remnants of a religious turf war off the map for once and for all so they can focus more on their vision of dominance in the region.  Israel has every right to defend itself.  Gaza has every right to pursue a government in a peaceful manner and have its citizens have access to jobs and lives with opportunities.  The problem is the people in power, and forces of influence, are not working for solutions but to wearing down the other side.  Only when the sides are willing to leave behind a hard line will things change, that does not appear to be on the horizon anytime soon.  The world needs to better understand the what, why, and how before trying to speak from a perceived high ground.
China has passed up Germany as the world’s 3rd largest economy.  Despite a 17.5% drop in exports and 20 million unemployed, and growing, workers just from the manufacturing sector, the economy continues to grow, one of only a few in the world doing so.  China is about to face some major tests and challenges.  They may have staved off the drought conditions in the northwest but that is just one of the challenges.  The government has required the military here to reaffirm their allegiance to the government.  With massive unemployment, sensitive anniversaries, and possible drought in a country where 60% of the population lives in rural areas and most farm, well you can see the motivations for maintaining stability.  Their success is pivotal because they are the only hope for the US.  Only China can and will continue to buy US bonds at levels to make an impact on our economic problems.  They have to, they are heavily invested in the country already and seeing our value go down will only lessen the return of their investments, so they are encouraged to keep investing to protect their existing monies.  America’s protectionism measures will strain this need however and require some delicate tightrope walking for both sides, Obama’s administration is beginning to look like some circus act with all the tightrope walking they are doing already, and China is our safety net.
Sports has had 2 large stories needing attention, Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez.  Both are examples of how lapses in judgment and taking short cuts will always bite you in the behind.  Just as in our economic messes, you always will have to pay for how you play.  Phelps lost his head trying to play teenager.  He went to a college campus party and got caught on camera with a bong pipe.  To people that age there is no big deal.  To the people in the IOC and boards on corporations who sponsor high profile people for the publicity.  Michael know fully knows their disappointment, however this lesson seems to only have been learned post action.  He either did not know what was going on or that it would be a big deal.  This is unfortunate because the sports world is really paranoid about drug usage, but for performance enhancement.  With this culture he was fully aware of, he did what he did because he believed he could get away with it.  That is what Rodriguez though as well.  Major League Baseball is really in a credibility crisis now.  Bonds may have won a small battle in his fight, but the black eye on the league is only getting worse.  Commissioner Bud Selieg needs to step up and reign in the league before it gets any worse.  There is a culture of drug use in the MLB and the players all believe they can get away with it.  The A-Rod case is bad because it continues to reinforce the message that cheating is the only way to get ahead.  Phelps’ message seems to be, you are only human, and humans make really bad decisions.  It would be nice if the sports stories we see are more about the sports then the athletes who play them getting into trouble with drugs and bad actions.
Finally Obama has been working and working on this stimulus plan while continuing to preach doom and gloom in hopes it would pass with flying colors and no careful review of what was inside.  Public opinion polls have been showing wide range support, too bad Wall Street never got that memo.  The stock market has continued to fall, continuing the bleed out of American retirement accounts and stock funds.  Jobs continue to drop as the stimulus has been discovered to only get a small percentage of people back to work in a rapid way.  Now the banking sector is looking like it may partially get nationalized.  Obama is stating he will half the deficit by the end of his term but the economists are all saying it requires too many things to align perfectly to work.  His latest speech has dropped the doom and gloom bit, but it seems the fuzzy math problem the Democrats had before has evaporated.  The reality is that the people who matter in our economy, the people who fund and supply growth, are not feeling confident and they are showing this by holding tight while markets plunge, unemployment rises, and time continues to pass.  It will be harder and harder to keep up the mass media facade built around Obama.  From here all the things we were asked to swallow on good faith for this are not going down easily.  I hope I am wrong, but thus far it has been worse then thought.
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