Cecil the Lion Thoughts

It saddens me that such a magnificent animal was killed in such a terrible fashion.

Now before anyone flies off the handle, let me clear about some things. In general I support hunters and hunting, but I do so based on some principles hunters in my family have had for generations:

  1. Hunt only what you need. Do not overhunt
  2. You eat what you kill and not let go to waste the rest of the remains.
  3. Respect the animal you hunt. Do not let an animal suffer.
  4. Do not hunt endangered or near endangered animal species.
  5. No trophy hunting.

The final two principles came about in more recent years as a result of endangered species populations and a general disgust for those who hunt solely for trophies. That said, we’ll move…

I know some question the outrage over a lion’s death. Even with my opposition to trophy hunting and the hunting of endangered species in general, I too would question the outrage over killing a lion. What makes this one different for many is  what information we have at this point: Cecil was apparently lured from the preserve, by all accounts made to suffer for 40 hours from a man obviously not skilled enough to track and kill a lion properly, and the fact the hunters then attempted to destroy the collar Cecil war as part of ongoing study.

In my opinion, the group of hunters actions before, during, and after the hunt and subsequent uproar are those of poachers, not legitimate hunters and guides. So I can understand the outrage quite plainly.

My hope is those involved are prosecuted by the Zimbabwean government and that this incident inspires more people to look into ways to end trophy hunting, protect and help repopulate endangered and near endangered species, and in general look for ways to preserve our planet’s wildlife and habitats for the enjoyment of all.

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Foot In Mouth: Biden on voter ID laws

Vice President Joe Biden said Republican-controlled states like Wisconsin were leading an “assault” on voting rights designed to “repress minority voting” through their passage of laws that require people to present a photo ID to vote.

Too bad Vice President Biden has no idea what he is talking about when he trots out the leftist myth that voter id laws are used to repress minorities. The leftist case against voter IDs is further undermined by the federal 2002 law, the Help America Vote Act, and numerous court cases upholding rather strict identification laws in states like Indiana. In other words, more leftist scare tactics to try to cow and control the Democratic base and stir up potential supporters/voters.

It’s rather insulting when political parties think they need to instill fear in order to get support, but sadly it is too often effective. But that is another discussion entirely.

I, my brother, and several others in my voting district were victims of voter fraud several years ago during off-year elections (i.e. midterm elections) in which others posed and voted in our stead. This of course was only discovered because when we showed up to vote, we were listed as having already voted with some scribbled signatures next to our name. We were allowed to vote on temporary ballots, but everyone knows that those never get counted unless a race is extremely tight, which is a rare event. Additionally, in later years my name showed up on petitions (that were dismissed) I did not sign.

So in effect, I was potentially, If not outright, denied my vote by someone else because no one bothered to confirm who the people voting were. This blatant voter fraud did not happen in later elections at that particular polling place as they simply demanded everyone show their state voter registration card (which everyone at the time got for free and I believe still do) or picture identification. That’s not to say there weren’t any other questionable voting practices, only that such flagrant violations were addressed.

Obviously as a result of my personal experience I am a firm believer in requiring verifiable identification in order to be allowed in elections of any sort in the United States. I believe most Americans agree with this position as well.

Do I think there is rampant voter fraud in the United States. No. Rather I think there is rampant corruption with numerous groups across the political spectrum trying to sway and steal elections in ways both obvious (intimidation, defamation/slander, judicial activism) and subtle (gerrymandering, ethno-centrist pandering, legislative maneuvering, propagandist or politically slanted “news”) to steal the voice of the legitimate voting public.

Crimean Russians Vote

So Crimean Russians voted to leave Ukraine today. No surprise there given that 60% of Crimea is Russian. My problem rises with a number of issues/questions over this supposed “democratic” vote and the legitimacy of the results. Too many of these issues are reminiscent of what typical dictatorships do when they attempt cover their actions under the guise of democracy.

  1. Russian military occupation of Crimea. That alone invalidates the vote in my opinion, especially without neutral observers to watch over the process during such a highly propagandized time.
  2. Lack of international observers from neutral countries (say from Africa or Asia). I laugh at the notion that the observer from Serbia are even remotely thought of as neutral. Serbia in general still resents the breakup of Yugoslavia and their loss of influence over the surrounding regions, blaming the EU and NATO.
  3. The swiftness of the vote, without any effort at real debate and discussion, just fear mongering and Russian nationalist rhetoric.
  4. Silencing of non-Russian controlled or dominated news sources and outlets.
  5. The “95%” pro-Russian vote, considering Russians only make up 60% of the population. The remaining 40% non-Russians made it clear they distrusted Russians given past oppression and current harassment by Russian troops in Crimea and Ukraine’s borders. Even then, noting the opposition in Russia to what Putin is doing in Crimea makes it clear even Russians do not whole heartedly agree with what is happening. So 95% support….no. Reads like the old Soviet era propaganda crap.
  6. 83% turnout. Maybe amongst Crimean Russians but I doubt that was the case for Ukrainians and Tartars given overt Russian nationalists and Russian troops intimidating presence. Again, sounds like good ol’ Soviet era propaganda.

So the vote went the way everyone expected, and only Russia will acknowledge as legitimate. I suspect this will just lead to Russia becoming more isolated and former Soviet states eagerly looking to align with one another, the EU, the US, and NATO to bolster political, economic, and most importantly in the face of Russian militarism and pan-Slavic nationalism, military cooperation. Even China while not openly going against Russia they didn’t support Russia at the U.N. this past week in move that subtly shows their disapproval of both sides actions in Ukraine.

I suspect we’ll get the usual huff and puff from Russia over the sanctions that will be put on them in the short term but long term who knows. Depends on if Putin is stupid enough to follow is pan-Slavic nationalists of the cliff into oblivion by trying to start a war to annex Ukraine or other former Soviet states. Right now I don’t see that immediately happening, but you never know. Most Russian leaders aren’t known for diplomacy or restraint.

As an aside, I hope Putin realizes the potential disaster he may have just unleashed on Russia by following in the footsteps of Hitler in using ethnocentric policies to justify his (as the Russians used to like call it) adventurism. By claiming the invasion of Ukraine was justified to protect Russians, he has now made legitimate any ethnic groups (i.e. Chechens, Ossetians, Tartars, et al) claim in Russia that they can secede from the so called Russian Federation for the exact same reason. And possibly have other neighboring countries invade to “protect” these ethnicities as well using the same or similar justifications.

Russia siezes Crimea

Sadly Putin continues his imperialist intentions towards Ukraine by sending troops into the Crimea region, in essence setting up a de facto puppet state for Russia there ahead of elections that were moved up by Russian nationalists. So the question is: now what?

For the world, it’s about holding Russia accountable for its violation of international law and territorial sovereignty of a foreign state. Those repercussions will likely come in some form of political and economic isolation and estrangement and possibly an increase in negative worldwide popular opinion. Certainly it will prompt some former Soviet states to consider distancing themselves from Russia and furthering ties with other nations and organizations outside of Putin’s sphere like the U.S., China, the EU and NATO. It may even revive efforts by some East European nations to revive plans for their own mutual defense organization to provide their own defensive buffer zones in case of NATO or EU abandonment.

Though Putin himself may care less about such things these repercussions could play significantly into the global political dynamic. For example, China (despite their occupation of Tibet) is a nation that has staunchly staid by its position that all national boundaries and territorial integrity should be inviolate. For Russia to so blatantly have a hand in Crimea via military force may prompt the Chinese to impose economic and political sanctions that would stifle efforts to improve Sino-Russian relations on a host of territorial, economic, and political issues.

For Ukraine, they must decide whether Crimea is worth the effort of trying to oust the Russians via political maneuvering as they would likely not be able to withstand a military conflict with Russia without EU, US, and/or NATO support. Given that Crimea was transferred to Ukrainian control in 1954 from Russia some Ukrainians might be happy to shed off the pro-Russian region. For others, even Russians living in Ukraine it will be a matter of pride to not allow Putin’s military aggression to go unanswered.

For Putin, he has effectively crushed his own efforts to improve Russia’s standing in the world by interfering in such a knee jerk reaction. As one of my Russian associates put it Putin was “interfering too soon”, by which he meant events in Crimea and Ukraine did warrant the disproportionate Russian response and Putin should have waited for a “legitimate reason to invade” (per the same Russian associate). Putin’s action may play well to the blind nationalists and imperialists in Russia but it doesn’t address the nation’s ongoing socio-economic and political problems while likely harming economic and investments meant to address Russia’s woes.

For now, the region is tense but generally calm. It’s now a matter of how each side approaches the events in Ukraine, hopefully with a mind towards not repeating the mistakes of history (i.e. Sudetenland 1938), Russia returning to pre-crisis military deployments and Ukrainian territorial integrity reinstituted.

Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Legislation

I’m pleased Governor Brewer chose to veto SB 1062 and recognize the pitfall it entailed for the people of Arizona. This legislation was not about “religious freedom” as supporters claimed, it was about legalizing discrimination against a portion of the Arizona populace. I think America has learned well no good comes from legislating and sanctioning discrimination against segments of its society based on ignorant beliefs.

A good day for Arizona.

Arizona Anti-Gay Business Law

Well, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted here and it’s with a somewhat hot button issue: an anti-gay bill passed by the Arizona Legislature. The bill essentially says business owners may refuse service to gay customers based on their religious beliefs.

While I do believe business owners have the right to refuse service to a customer I also think anyone who would refuse a customer based on bigoted views (even when religiously based) is a fool for a business owner. Even more, how can you tell by looking at someone if they’re gay or not. Simple answer: you can’t.

The stupidity of bigotry aside, what is dangerous about this bill is that it codifies and legalizes discrimination based on a religious or moral belief. If it is allowed to discriminate against homosexuals for religious reasons, then how long will it be before others decide to claim their religion or morality as an acceptable excuse to reinstate a wide range of despicable hatred (racism, misogyny, and discrimination) as the norm.

My hope is that Governor Brewer will veto the law but it is difficult to say if she will do so. Some of her comments make it clear that she agrees that business should be allowed to deny service to customers as they see fit but also appears to believe that such practice should not be sanctioned by the state through law. I think she sees the inherent danger of the law as being see as state sanctioned discrimination.

We shall see soon what she will decide.

Woe to the Republic: SCOTUS Betrays America

When I was a child, I had no doubts what so ever that the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States would always make the correct decision, a decision that balanced the rights of the individual American citizen with the principles and Rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Until recently, I still believed in the wisdom and guidance of the SCOTUS. But that belief and support was heavily eroded by decision that curtailed individual property rights in favor of corporate controlled politicians, of declaring corporations not only equal to an individual person but by their decision gave de facto greater rights to corporations over that of the common man, and the destructive and corruptive Citizen’s United decision. 

The Supreme Court has betrayed America. Today the SCOTUS made a decision that has ended my belief that the Justices make decisions based on preserving U.S. citizens rights and preserving the Constitution. Today, the SCOTUS said the individual mandate in ObamaCare will stand. In other words, Americans are property– slaves to the whims of the corrupt, vindictive, and greedy politicians and bureaucrats of the U.S. government.

That’s right my fellow citizens, we’ve returned to bad old days of slavery except this time it’s not limited to one race or area of the country, it’s all of us. Worse, this new incarnation of slavery is codified in law and approved by the very Court that is supposed to help prevent the rise of dictatorship in our government. With this ruling, the SCOTUS has said the government can force any American to buy a product by including a “tax”, as the SCOTUS so quaintly justified their traitorous decision, as punishment for refusal to partake in what ever commerce they demand of you.

Is this the America you want? The next time a corporation or bank has financial trouble, do you really want the government to be able to order you to buy that corporation’s or bank’s product? Well, that’s exactly the dangerous precedent the SCOTUS  made today. In the yes of the government, you are not a citizen, or an individual, you are property. And believe me, there are plenty of wanna-be dictators in our government who will look to use this decision to strip away Americans of their rights and freedoms. All one need do to see evidence of this is to look at the previously mentioned curtailments of property rights and granting supremacy of corporate personhood over the individual to see the path to a dictatorship in this country is fast approaching.

The question is this: will Americans stand for this or fight back against the forces within our nation that want to destroy it for their personal wealth and power? A part of me wants to give up and leave the country as it looks less and less like the nation of opportunity, change, and freedom of my youth. But a bigger part of me wants to fight back and reclaim my country and turn it back to a beacon of freedom and liberty and individuality. I for one, will fight, be it at the ballot box, in the courts, or, if it comes to this terrible last resort, in the streets against the rise of dictatorship in this nation. Despite the corruption of our government, I think America is still worth fighting for.

What will you do, my fellow Americans?

The only good thing about the decision by the SCOTUS: it revealed Obama’s blatant lie that the individual mandate was not a tax. The SCOTUS clearly stated it mandate was (even though they ignore basic economic principle that you are a not a participant in an economic activity if you chose not to partake in said activity). That makes Obama, Pelosi and Reid LIARS! Seems that Representative who called Obama a liar was absolutely correct.

Woe to the Republic!