Saturday, May 23, 2015

How We As The People Affect Politics

Some people have reservations about posting their thoughts about politics in social media, in social settings or just about any other form of communication.  Other folks are very passionate and have no problem discussing what they feel is right, wrong and how things should be fixed.

The 2016 Presidential election campaigns are in full swing.  Yet, some politicians have placed themselves in the "exploratory - potential" category, i.e., Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, George Pataki, Donald Trump and others.  Of course, they are testing the waters, discussing issues and seeking financial support.

The word has long been on the street about the $1 billion Hillary Clinton is amassing for her 2016 Presidential run.

The is also reporting. “A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.

That is a lot of money, to say the least.  It is much more than twice the amount both parties have spent on the 2008 Presidential election.

What is the point?  It is that those running for office or "exploring" their options will be spending money that will be channelled through all forms of communication and the media to deliver the message as to why they are the most qualified to lead the country.  Most, but not all, people will be making their decisions based on what they hear and see through the media.  The media will deploy "experts" to explain the issues the candidate is discussing as well as the opposing view.

In the Dallas, Texas mayoral elections, 6% of eligible voters turned out and casted a vote.  Of course, we know that local elections have low turnouts, state elections climb higher (33.7% in Texas), congressional elections climb even higher (but are at an alarming low turnout - 2012 at 53.6%, 2014 at 36.3% the lowest since World War II) and the highest turnout is the Presidential election - 2008 at 57.1% and 2012 at 54.9%. 

Obviously, political campaign strategists focus highly on the demographic makeup of the constituency of people contained within those percentages.  Groups have been organized, along with strategies to encourage people to go out and vote.  Ah yes, the old adage, "not casting a vote is casting a vote for the candidate you not want to win."  But do people care?  It appears that maybe 54.9% of the people do.  The others must have no feeling either way.  One can suppose that they do not feel they can affect the direction or decisions of their country.

I am afraid obsolescence has set in to the people that affect politics.  People affect the outcome of the race when they do vote and when they don't vote.  I am afraid that we have allowed a very simple minority to affect an election.  Along with obsolescence comes the strategy of how campaign managers and those that want to influence decisions such as the Koch brothers communicate what they want to to the voters (the ones they know will actually come out).  If a person agrees with the Koch brothers and what they stand for then that is their prerogative.  If a person agrees with Hillary Clinton and what she stands for that is their prerogative as well.  However, the issues are Foreign Relations Policy - ISIS/ISIL, Nuclear Armament, Military Intervention, Coalition Forces Overseas,Trade Agreements, Oil, Currency Exchange, Security, Immigration, Marriage Rights, Food Supply, Imports, Exports, Isolationism, States Rights and the Federal Government, Taxes, Terrorism, Rioting, Profiling, Bomb Attacks, Prison Reform, Abortion, Right To Bear Arms, Minority Rights, Government Spending, Gross National Product, Minimum Wages, Health Care, Medicare, Social Security, Public Safety, Crime, Government Regulation and much, much more.  Much more.

The issues continue, but so does obsolescence.  There is a point to be made that a person must work to support their family and does not have the time to research all the issues and the ensuing facts. Even with that knowledge, one then needs to take the thoughful time to make their own assessment.

The media arrives and due to visual and audible entertaining elements attempts to capture the audience and relay the news, the facts, the reality or present it in comedic fashion.  So, there must be a percentage of people that engulf themselves with this presentation of issues and events and make an analysis based on their own clear conscience. I do not know what that percentage might be.  I do not believe anyone does.  But, I do believe that the political campaign managers make an "educated" guess as to what that percentage may be and align their strategies accordingly.

I also know that 5% of high net worth individuals earn more than half of the entire population of the United States.  That is a Federal Reserve reference.  

I also know that Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern have a very strong commonality.  They are each and unto themselves merely an act.  Entertainment.  They surely have opposing views.  But they are still just an act.  Believe them if you will.  That is what is great about the United States.  It is called freedom.  Freedom to choose who you will listen and/or not listen to.  But only 54.9% create the action and take it upon themselves to vote.  Listening to whomever you want is freedom.  Not voting is a vote against freedom.


Markie Z

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blind Boy Fuller: Piedmont Blues' | American Songwriter

"Truckin' My Blues Away"
By Blind Boy Fuller - Performed by Blind Boy Fuller

Many songs have been inspired by Blind Boy Fuller - the Grateful Dead attribute inspiration for "Truckin" to this song.  It's been covered by Hot Tuna.  Check it out! 

Markie Z

Blind Boy Fuller: Piedmont Blues' Notorious B.Iby.G. | American Songwriter

Monday, May 4, 2015

 "The Weight of the Wall" Teachers.  Do we take these people for granted?  Do we over-criticize them with our so-called "learned" opinion when it comes to our children?  The answers to those questions are for each of us as individuals to make to ourselves in a private setting.

A person usually knows what they are signing up for when they accept the position of a teacher - at any level.  There are many items to ponder before agreeing to do that job.  There may also be some instances that are not specifically outlined in the job description the teacher is accepting as well.

They have to ponder low wages, many hours of work, oversize classrooms, non-attentive students, in some cases, guns, drugs, low morality among those students, delinquency, disrespect, administrative demands, demands of parents.

They also ponder the  opportunities to "help" children/students/parents/people.  They ponder the chance to work with a child/student and improve them in a particular subject or academic area.  They think about the possibility to help a child/student in their life. 

And then, they may be called upon to do something else during the course of a split second.

Last week the strongest category tornado (EF 5) touched down in Moore, Oklahoma wreaking devastation a mile wide and seventeen miles long.  It was just approximately 14 years since a similar tornado touched down and wreaked devastation in the very same town.

Fourteen years ago when I was working for the Dallas Mavericks NBA Franchise, I was traveling and away from home which is so commonplace for a person in the sports and entertainment business.  I do not remember where I was, but I surely remember sitting in my hotel room in front of the television watching The Weather Channel, at the same time being on the phone with my wife Maritta who was hunkered down under a mattress with our two daughters, Andrea and Sarah, in the "safety room" constructed specifically in the center of the house under the staircase.  They were in Edmond, Oklahoma.  I was watching The Weather Channel showing spikes of golden flashes on the screen depicting lightning strikes and possible tornado touchdowns around the area of Edmond and North Oklahoma City.  It looked like I was watching a science fiction space movie.

Then came the report:  A category   EF 4 Tornado had touched down and was heading directly for Edmond.  I was helpless and I was of no help.  For some reason explainable only by meteorologists and weather scientists the tornado turned left and struck in the area of Guthrie, Oklahoma bypassing Edmond.  I was saddened for the people of Guthrie and happy at the same time for the safety of my family.  At that moment the quiet came after the storm.

The very next day mu children got on the schoolbus and went to their schools.  The teachers and administrators decided to practice their emergency measures once again to be sure they would be prepared for the worst.  the same way the administrators and teachers in Moore, Oklahoma have done time and time again.  Although this time in 2013, they lost 27 people and had hundreds injured.

The teachers in Moore stayed calm and pulled debris over their bodies as they laid over the children protecting them underneath them.

Did the teacher's job description state that if the worst category EF 5 Tornado came through the school that they were required to quickly cover themselves with debris so that they could protect the children lying their beneath them.  No, it did not.  it did not have to.  These teachers automatically sacrificed themselves to protect the children.

Aside from the fact that they stay after school and tutor students.  Aside from the fact that coach's work hard to mesh athletics with academics to create the an all-around learning environment from the student.  Aside from all of what is in their job descriptions perhaps they ought to be compensated a little better.  if anything, for the reason to keep them as teachers and not enticed to take corporate positions for higher pay.  We can't blame these people for leaving the teaching ranks for higher pay.  If teachers are sent into the ranks of developing the lives of our children - the future of our country - should we think of paying them more than what they are making now which is ridiculous.

How much is that teacher in Moore, Oklahoma worth after he or she inspired two students in different subjects and then saved the lives of multiple students all in a days work?  They took on "the weight of the wall."