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Not So United States of America

The United States of America
The United States of America

Here, in the later part of the year in 2012, the United States of America is again fielding the topic of mass states’ secession. People all across the country have signed petitions to have nearly 40 states secede from the Union. The petitions have been officially filed with the United States government and some have gotten large enough to garner a response from the White House. The petitions recently popped up days after President Obama was reelected, but petitioners are saying it wasn’t the reelection or the president that sparked it, but the policies and the federal government itself. The idea of seceding from the nation or for any state or governing body is not a new concept to the United States, as everyone knows we’ve seen it before, 150 years ago when southern states felt it was in their best interest. Secession didn’t work out well then, and any effort since has hardly been considered credible, but now are we supposed to take the concerns of well over 100,000 people serious?

Last year, the White House created a section on their website, whitehouse.gov, where people could petition the current administration’s policy experts. All one has to do is go to the website and register a free account in the “We the People” petitioning section. If the petition gets a certain amount of attention and receives 25,000 signatures within 30 days the administration will issue an official response. An official response is a far cry from action being taken, but hearing something from your government on something you’re passionate about is a step in the right direction. Whether this whole secession movement as a whole is a step in the right direction is another story.

The most serious secession movement that the United States faced was defeated in the American Civil War. Eleven states angry over slavery rights attempted to secede and caused a war with the rest of the country. Over the past century several different states and counties have talked about secession from other localities. We often hear about it with Texas or even with Alaska. Some counties try to secede from their states to other states or to their own sovereignty. In either case, some of the disputes are met with genuine political discussion, while others are just for pride and fun. This situation where states like Texas with close to 77,000 signatures, Louisiana with nearly 30,000, and other states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee who all have over 20,000 signatures, are concerned with the government spending and policies that are made for every state to follow. It’s not just limited to southern states as you may think. New York and California are also on the petition website with a growing list of petitioners. All with the common GOP gripe of big national government complaints.

Not for nothin’ but who needs to leave the country, when you can leave the country. We often hear the threat of people saying they want to leave the country if their certain political preference does not get elected, but this is a new twist on it. I mentioned before that we’re seeing states other than the traditional “red” states mentioned, but just as people vote differently in those states seeing such petitions should come as no surprise from anyone who does not support the current administration. In all of the case of each state we have seen little to no support from the state government or legislature. Even Republican governor of Texas Rick Perry backed away from it. But crazier things have happened. It caused a war before. Also another super-power, the Soviet Union, has also split into several different nations. But in this case, secession is just as likely as a Romney presidency in 2012.

Politics and a Terrorist Victim

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

As I return from Arlington National Cemetery visiting the gravesite of my brother Cherone Gunn and his shipmates who were killed on board the USS Cole 12 years ago on this date, I reflect on a lot of what has transpired over the course of the past day, week and month. Yes, today a lot of the focus was on the anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole, but there are others who see a sad opportunity to push their political agenda at the same time. I can’t help but to think how has the memory of my brother and his shipmates been honored among those who wish to use the day as a platform for their gain? Aside from today being the anniversary of the attack, there are other attacks and victims of terror whose memory may be taken advantaged of for political gain. It’s all an ironic tragedy.

The trial of one of the suspects held responsible for the attack on the USS Cole is set to get underway in just over a week. It has been 12 years and this is the first such instance where our country is holding someone responsible to answer to the crime. It would seem that this would be a time where everyone could come together to see justice carried out, but while it may or may not come out with a positive outcome some people already are laying ground work on the how’s and why’s things could go wrong.

There is finger-pointing going, specifically with conservatives who say that our president is soft on terrorism. A direct reference is usually made to what happened last month in Benghazi, Libya where Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy there. Some are calling out the president saying he took too long to address the incident as a terrorist attack and that he neglected to do anything to prevent it from happening. This was even brought out in the vice-presidential debate from Thursday evening. True or not, it’s not doing anything to remedy the problem.

We essentially have two problems. The first problem is bad people do bad things. Sometimes they get stopped and sometimes not, but if they are determined enough they will unfortunately find a way. Are you going to want to blame a rape victim for being raped? A shooting victim for getting shot? The other problem is using someone’s death to prove your point and make your statement. On October 13, 2000 the only political statement I wanted to hear was, “we got the sucka” and I really would not have cared who or which side of the aisle it came from. And I doubt the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other American who were killed are drawing any comfort in knowing if it was a riot response to a movie or a planned terrorist attack or bad foreign policy. Get the guy who did it and figure out who left the gate open later.

Not for nothin’ but let’s not forget the reason why we’re arguing this point. Do not grandstand on my brother’s grave, or anyone else’s. This is not about your politics. I don’t care if you could have done it better than the other guy, or if the other guy has no experience, or if either of you have your facts straight. This is not your time to bicker about that. Today is my time. Today is our time as victims. Not to get hypocritical, but if anyone should make a political point out of it, let it be us. I think we deserved that.

Making a Case for 45 With the “47 Percent”

Mitt Romney
Republican candidate Mitt Romney

Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney has had a lot to talk about during his campaign to become president of the United States. A new video has surface and is making its rounds on the internet, news and late night talk shows. In a $50,000 per plate campaign fundraiser dinner back in May, Governor Romney was secretly taped speaking to a crowd of just over a couple dozen, essentially saying how he is not counting on votes from a certain 47 percent of our population. Governor Romney called out almost half of the voting population saying that they are dependent on government help and they will continue to side with President Obama “no matter what”. This comment, that Romney has stood behind in post-fallout explanations, is one of the several remarks that were made in the gathering in Florida of some of his biggest donors there. Many of those comments, along with the “47 percent” comment are becoming a new focal point in the race, in what some are calling a turning point. But as more of the video tape is released, we have Governor Romney and surrogates defending his comments by saying they weren’t articulated as well as he wanted.

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Those are his exact words that were recorded, released and uncovered by the grandson of President Jimmy Carter. Now we’re all left to try to figure out who is in this 47 percent that Governor Romney called out. Well according to him, it’s a 47 percent of the population that does not pay income taxes. So by Governor Romney’s definition and explanation, those who are receiving aid from the government, like retirees, veterans and of course low-income families, are not going to vote for him no matter what he does. Are we to believe that our potential 45th president has written half of us off? Well it’s not hard to believe that some of those 47 percenters, many of those in fact, are likely Romney supporters as they possibly had conservative views. If he’s not counting them then he has a lot to make up for.

This leaked tape and the comments made by Governor Romney are becoming the hot topic in the election. Not just for president, but it’s having a trickle down effect as well. Several other republican candidates are distancing themselves from Mitt Romney and what he had said. But there are others out there who continue to support the candidate. Wrong or right, whether the actual number of people who don’t pay income taxes is close to 47 percent, or if Romney is not concerned about getting their vote, it’s becoming the talking point. But if this is the truth, who will it hurt? Mitt Romney contends he was trying to reach a population of voters in the middle. But this is where the translation is getting lost. The voting relationship between those who are getting help from the government and the group of people who it’ll take to win the election is essentially two different subjects.

Not for nothin’ but this could be one of those turning points that cause a campaign to go downhill. The 47 percent comment was one of many subjects Governor Romney touched on. Some were addressed later, but some weren’t. I can’t be sure he’s helping his case in regards to everything else that was release in the video like statements on Middle East relations, off-cuff jokes, and even how our countries racial makeup plays a part in political elections. Much of the tape made the Republican candidate seem brash, even more so than what many had already perceived. Some voters, probably more than the “47 percent” thought that Mitt Romney was out of touch with the American people. Then for them, and many others, this secret tape tells us a lot of what we already knew.

Romney’s Choice

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has made his choice for his running mate as Vice-President of the United States. United States House Representative Paul Ryan was announced to a crowd in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia. The selection was a clear message for Governor Romney’s focus on our country’s economic future and his goal to unify his support from his own party which is quite insecure at best in some respects. But while his choice further shows his vision and party support, it sends a different message to those across the aisle, who believe that the selection of Ryan is just more of the same.

Paul Ryan is the seven term representative from Wisconsin. At 42 years old, he’s already one of the Republican Party’s leaders and most respected in congress. So what do we know about Paul Ryan? When it comes to fiscal and budget issues, Ryan is the GOP’s go-to guy. Last year, Ryan drafted the republican answer for the economy in the “Path to Prosperity.” As the Republican Party’s budget proposal for our federal government, Ryan’s plan was passed in the Republican controlled House, but naturally struck down by the Democratic controlled Senate. The bill was voted against largely because it included much of the same tax rate reductions for the wealthy and cuts to affect the poor and middle classes that Democrats see typically favor by their Republican counterparts. His plan also included stark changes to the Medicaid system. We also know about Ryan that in the past, the Tea Party favorite has voted for the war in Iraq, Medicaid Part D, and bailouts of both Wall Street and auto industries.

The Obama Campaign has commentated on Ryan’s selection as Romney’s running-mate saying, “Like Mitt Romney, Ryan’s severely conservative positions are out of touch with most American’s values.” To Democrats, this selection is not providing much of a difference from the party’s candidate for president. Usually, vice presidential candidates are chosen to help bring balance to the ticket. Many times we’ll see after the party is split in two during the competitive primary stages, a candidate chooses the one person that opposed his ideologies so much that such move would definitely unify the party. In 2008 Barack Obama was criticized because of his inexperience, in contrast he picked senior Senator Joe Biden. Every Republican man’s dream date, Sarah Palin was chosen by John McCain. She was young, attractive and had some very strong conservative values. Palin had qualities that could have balanced any ticket for any party. In both cases though, we learned that presidential candidates intended to fulfill shortcomings and to reach out to critics, not just in their party, but those votes in the middle that would win them the election.

Not for nothin’ but I can’t say this pick of Paul Ryan by Romney is a winning move. Yeah, it wraps up wavering support in his party, but the move doesn’t seem to reach out to those undecided voters who could go either way. It seems like Paul Ryan is much of the same as Mitt Romney, just a few years younger. These days, there’s an “it” factor or a popularity dynamic to win an election. Paul Ryan is not screaming some feature that the other team doesn’t have. He’s the same white male “Washington insider”, as some would say, that that has dominated politics for years. Mitt Romney did a good job with winning his party over, but made a poor decision in trying to win this election.