Trump vs. McCarthy

Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy

If you are a student journalist and living in South Florida currently, then you have come across the whole political narrative that has been going on. Also as students you would have gotten the chance of covering for different political events like rallies or conducting polls. More importantly, the current political scenario has become a source of profound discussion in the class rooms. In this scenario, if you are a person who values diversity then the chances are you would have disliked Trump from the beginning. In fact, such people have completely ignored Donald Trump for months despite him making frequent appearances in the form of debates and rallies. I am also one of those people but I stopped ignoring Trump after listening to Michael Meerpol. If you know a little bit of history then you would have heard this name because he belonged to the family who were accused of sharing secrets of atomic bomb with Russia which was Soviet Union at that time. Decades have been passed since this incident happened but Meerpol is of the view that this quite relevant even these days.

In the past, Americans were unnecessarily fearful of Soviets and thus took radical actions to thwart communists and now the Americans have developed a similar attitude with regards to the Muslims. Trumps call for banning Muslims is idiotic at best. Before the cold war period, Senator McCarthy started spreading hatred and hysteria among the Americans against the Soviets. Historians later called this radical ideology McCarthyism. During this campaign, he public started accusing people and started inciting violence and hatred. With the help of McCarthyism, the Americans started believing Soviets to be an imminent threat completely ignoring the fact that the Soviet Union is on the other end of the globe. He also emphasized that this threat is not relevant to just Americans but to the whole world. Under this scenario, the Rosenbergs were termed guilty before even on going on trial. Such is the impact of a narrative centered on hatred and fear. More importantly, no crime was done by the mother. Only, the mother Meerpol was guilty of loving his father.

This same mentality is spreading like a wildfire through Americans under the current political scenario. And this time, Donald Trump is behind all this. If we allow this mentality to prevail then it would be like destroying the very basic nature of the America. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we don’t let this kind of mentality dictate the future of America. If such mentality prevails, the Muslims and Mexicans will be seen as Soviets. People would stop interacting with such Muslims and Mexicans. No business would like to serve customers belonging to a specific religion. America would further drown under the burden of racism and ethnicity. This is not something far-fetched; in fact, such incidents have already started occurring and Donald Trump’s supporters are trying their best to marginalize Muslims and Mexicans. This situation would get aggravate with the passage of time. American families would be scared of sending their children to the same school where Muslim children are also taught. Some families are already sending children to specific schools where no child of other ethnic background is permitted. It is like history is repeating itself; only the faces have changed but the nature of narrative is quite same. And this is just the result of the presidential campaign and Donald Trump is still far from being the President of the United States. All of this puts immense responsibility on us voters to make the right choice and not vote for Donald Trump.

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Are We The Problem?

The modern American political scenario has sparked a huge debate on a number of issues; people are started questioning their beliefs and moral system because of the current narrative. It is hard to pin down or find kernels of political correctness in our current context. We are often enticed towards criticizing others for their incorrectness but we need to look at ourselves first. For instance, many of us don’t really see sexism as a major issue. The same can be said about other issues like bigotry. This is quite against the foundations of American culture.

More specifically, now we are in an era where we are standing with those people who we know would do harm to others. Maybe we are just too selfish and only care about ourselves. If this was the way of things in the past we wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves but now we currently are. You hear both sides of the story and it is difficult to not see what is right. People who have literally done no harm are dying by the hundreds and thousands.

The powerful are attaining more power day by day and they are getting richer. The differences in terms of discrimination has seeped into the fabric of the society. The old age foe racism is still strong and there is a wide majority out there that still follow these beliefs. Sometimes, I am completely amazed when I see the candidates who are running for the president of our country. These are obnoxious pigs and are cheaters. How could they even hope to have this sacred office in the land of the free? And this is not it they are actually molesters and instigators. They are trying to use other people to get to this office. They will use any weapon or medium to promote their agenda. What exactly are they promoting? The hatred is spreading like a wildfire throughout our nation and we are becoming less tolerant day by day. By using each and other spreading hate, these politicians don’t even consider their family members.

Some of these politicians have no respect for LGBT community, and many are anti-gay. They don’t even consider for a moment that their son could be gay. Objectifying women has become the way of our life. Basically, it is not entirely their fault that they have reached such a high platform. We are to be blamed equally for this. After all, we have played the role of apologetics in this regard. We try to cover up and explain their faults and end up looking like fools. We don’t want to let one ideology go completely ignoring the fact that there are faults regardless of whether we pick one or the other. We like to be associated with one party but we don’t want to become part of the humanity. One thing that has stood out in the current scenario is that humanity is lost. Politicians talk about carpet bombing countries and we cheer and applause. There is something fundamentally wrong here!

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Was Deputy’s Case Dismissal Premature? Is An Appeal Necessary?

jermaine mcbean and his grandmotherThe proceedings relating to the on-duty shooting of Jermaine McBean by Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza took a wild turn when Judge Michael Usan of the Broward Circuit Court summarily dismissed manslaughter charges against the Deputy.

Predictably, prosecutors intend to launch an appeal.

The enormity of the case

Judge Usan made his ruling on the basis that evidence brought forward convinced him Peraza shot McBean in self-defense and that shootings by police officers are covered by the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida.

Obviously, the prosecution does not agree. They may be right or wrong: An appeal could very likely side with Usan and the defense.

However, a summary dismissal of a case centered on a police-involved shooting in modern-day America is unacceptable. Police-involved shooting is a volatile issue in modern-day America. Tension is rising between communities and their protectors—the police; and movements like Black Lives Matter are increasingly making strides.

A controversy of this magnitude should justifiably get a second legal opinion.

Thorough deliberation is the only option available

The controversy is not only about the police-involved shooting. Stand Your Ground law, the primary basis for dismissing the case, is also controversial. The law stipulates that a judge could dismiss homicide charges if enough evidence exists to prove that the defendant used his or her weapon in self-defense.

The law is relatively new. As such, there are not enough instances of its use in case law to confirm how courts should apply the law in all circumstances. Prosecutors are pushing that law enforcement officers cannot use Stand Your Ground. Judge Usan believes they can.

Moving forward and regardless of what the Appeal court thinks, it would help a great deal if the Legislature would revisit the law for clarity sake. It should be abundantly clear if the lawmakers intend that the law cover police officers.

Beyond the legal component of the shooting, there is also the trust component. The public needs to be reassured that all elements of the case are undergoing necessary pedantic scrutiny and that the courts aren’t in a hurry to resolve a case without giving the case deserved attention.

The last time a police officer was indicted for an on-duty shooting in Broward was more than a quarter of a century ago. This is a rare case, and the handling should reflect that. A dismissal of such an indictment should be on unwavering legal justifications.

Why an appeal is justifiable

Deputy Peraza may have acceptably felt threatened, but according the facts of the case, McBean posed no actual threat.

McBean was walking home through an Oakland Park neighborhood with an unloaded air rifle hung on his shoulder. Understandably, concerned individuals placed 911 calls, with the Police responding swiftly.

In the judge’s verdict, he maintained that findings suggest “McBean pointed the weapon at or in the direction of the deputies.” Peraza fearing for “his life and the lives of others” shot McBean.

However, civilian witness accounts do not tally up, as witnesses did not agree with the Deputy’s account that McBean pointed his weapon at the police officers. Also, amongst all the officers on the scene, only Peraza felt sufficiently threatened to shoot in self-defense.

As at the time of the incident, McBean had earbuds on, and there is sufficient reason to believe he did not even hear the officers order him to drop the rifle.

There is a bit of a concern about the judge ruling that McBean’s mental state was relevant to the case. McBean had a number of psychotic episodes in the past that led to him being hospitalized involuntarily. Nonetheless, Peraza could not have known about these episodes as at the time he shot McBean. As such, these episodes could not have had any effect on Peraza’s state of mind.

Furthermore, the judge opined that the availability of records of McBean’s mental problems in the past convinced him that McBean was more likely to have actually pointed his weapon at officers. If this conclusion was warranted would be examined in more detail during a full trial.

Undoubtedly, Judge Usan had compelling reasons to dismiss the case. However, it is also unarguable that sufficient reasons exist that should have made Usan decide to let the case proceed.

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EU versus Poland: How High Are the Stakes?

The EU angle

Frans Timmermans
Frans Timmermans

E.U. member states hear a lot from Frans Timmermans. Timmermans is the first vice president of the European Commission and it is his responsibility to ensure that all member states in the E. U. abide by the rule of law.

The rule of law in the E.U. context revolves around the Rule of Law Framework introduced in 2014. Timmermans holds the Framework in high regard, constantly reminding every interested party that respect for the rule of law is amongst the core common set of values enshrined in the E.U. Treaty.

In a recent statement, he made it abundantly clear that preserving the rule of law is a “collective responsibility of the E.U. institutions and of all member states.”

Polish defiance

Apparently, Warsaw does not see things the same way.

Only recently, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a controversial amendment into law that Brussels had vehemently kicked against.

In Timmermans viewpoint, the law would undermine the transparency and independence of Poland’s highest court—the Constitutional Tribunal.

Brewing the feud

Timmermans has a point. The law signed by Duda firmly overturns earlier decisions made by the Civic Platform government that held power previously. The Civic Platform government had before losing October’s parliamentary elections, appointed five judges to the Constitutional Tribunal.

The new law stipulates that only four of the 15 Tribunal judges could be able to block the announcement of a new ruling by up to six months. This amendment severely weakens the ability of the court to provide necessary and timely checks if the government violates constitutional norms.

Timmermans anticipated the signing and appropriately issued a second warning to Warsaw days before Duda inked the law.

In his warning, Timmermans maintained that the European Commission had reason to believe that Poland was taking steps to threaten the sanctity of the rule of law.

He went further to state some recommendations. One of the recommendations was that Warsaw should allow previously nominated judges to assume their positions on the tribunal. Another was that Warsaw should allow the court publish and implement their judgments.

The response window for Warsaw is three months.

The feud

It does not appear as though Poland would shift ground easily. The real power behind the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydlo is the leader of the Law and Justice party—Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Kaczynski is bent on curbing the powers of the Constitutional Tribunal. There are two main reasons why. The first is that Law and Justice is on the path of revenge.

The Civic Platform wrestled control from Law and Justice who had their time from 2005 through 2007. In the years Law and Justice held sway, they tried to steer Poland in a conservative, Euroskeptic direction.

When Civic Platform took over in 2007, they reversed the trends set by Law and Justice. According to Law and Justice, it is only fair that they in turn undo what the Civic Platform had enforced.

This dichotomy is not new in the Polish polity. It has its roots in the Solidarity movement.

The primary goal of the Solidarity movement was to ground communism in Poland. In 1989, they succeeded in bringing the communist regime to its knees. Both sides—Solidarity and communists—agreed to engage in talks to usher in democracy.

However, the talks had a fracturing impact on Solidarity as deep ideological divisions came to light.

On one end were the liberal, secular intellectuals who championed the cause for inclusive politics. They proposed “shock therapy” economic policies to modernize Poland in as little time as possible, and wean the country of the old communist nomenklatura.

On the other end were the conservatives and uncompromising anti-communists who wanted to have nothing to do with inclusive politics. They wanted a clean break with the past.

Since the inception of democracy in Politics, both wings have continued to compete for the upper hand in Poland.

The second reason is the yearning of Law and Justice to take back as much sovereignty as they can from Brussels.

Some of the gripes the party has against the E.U. are the increasing push for gender equality, secularism that downplays the Christian traditions of Europe, and increased meddling in Poland’s affairs.

The European refugee situation is another bone of contention. Law and Justice party unequivocally opposes any attempts to relocate refugees to member states by the European Commission.

The stakes of the feud

The commission would have had less to worry about if all of this is isolated Polish defiance. However, in the face of Brexit and growing Euroskepticism in the bloc, Kaczynski’s policies are getting popular outside of Poland.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister and currently the ideological Euroskeptic leader of Central Europe, already backs the policies of Law and Justice.

Timmermans cannot go full throttle on dealing an iron fist, such as suspending Poland’s voting rights. Such move would have a ripple effect beyond Warsaw and inadvertently add fuel to the flames of Euroskepticism across the E.U.

It isn’t all about the policies and posturing either. The size of Poland, how Poland has managed its transition to democracy, and its outward-looking foreign policy; are good enough reasons to sound alarm bells in Brussels.

Law and Justice may be managing a domestic turf war from vibrant civil society and opposition, but Poland is already sending strong messages beyond its borders to its eastern neighbors, particularly Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova.

Poland is a model to these countries, filling a role Russia desperately wants. If anything, the current direction of Poland would be satisfying for Russia’s leader—Vladimir Putin.

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Why Generals Have No Business Backing Candidates At Conventions

This isn’t the average celebrity drama

michael flynnJohn R. Allen and Michael T. Flynn are decorated war heroes with much respect inside and outside the military. Apparently, the heated race to the presidential polls took a wild turn, with both parties trying to key into the prestige of the retired generals.

On the surface, this really wasn’t anything political parties had not done a gazillion times over with leading artistes, A-list actors and actresses, distinguished members of the academic and scientific communities; you name it.

john allenBut generals, retired or serving, are on a different level in partisan politics. Allen and Flynn didn’t think so, and it led to a predictable backlash from several quarters culminating in a row between the duo and Martin E. Dempsey.

We may not be able to put a brake on the damage; but we should learn from it by understanding what was lost.

The U.S. military and partisan politics

The official stand of the U.S. military about the relationship between the military and partisan politics is similar to the official stand of the U.S. Federal Government about the relationship between church and state. There should be no mix-up.

The neutrality of the military in partisan politics is important so that regardless of which political party is in power and dishing the orders, our military can discharge its duties without a moment hesitation.

This professional ethic has legal and moral elements. The legal component of the ethic takes bearing in federal statute. Not following the statute carries specific penalties as described in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or what is known in public as a “courts martial.”

The moral component is just as important, if not more. It produces trust, which is the currency of military professions. Superiors rely on trust to keep the hegemony of the military establishment intact. Similarly, the military relies on trust for the respect and support the institution receives from the public.

A big part of this trust factor owes to the fact that enforcing the ethic rests squarely on internal self-policing. It is exactly what Dempsey was doing with his rebukes. It is why the American public holds the military in high esteem more than other U.S. organizations and institutions.

The ‘but’ doesn’t cut it this time around

Clearly, the actions of Allen and Flynn are legal. They have the right to speak.

That raises a big “but,” which unfortunately does not cut it. Take a moment and dwell hard on the precedence this sets. What happens when every senior military leader starts endorsing political candidates?

At what point would the public, which until date have shown unfailing support for the military, tout the military to be as untrustworthy as politicians if this continues?

Allen and Flynn are retired officers and respected citizens, and while they haven’t broken any law, the pressing question is “Should they have endorsed presidential candidates?”

The right to speak in this case is often better used when it is not exercised. Thinking about the greater good of the profession should have elicited self-restraint on the part of the generals.

Some may argue that in 2003, retired General Wesley Clark ran for the office of the president, and so the line between the military and politics had already begun to blur. The undisputable fact is that in the eyes of the public, Clark was not in the military profession. Therefore, the issue of whether the military can be trusted was not even in play with the general’s candidacy.

Allen and Flynn were not portrayed as candidates, they were depicted as generals. There is a fine line between both appearances.

It affects the military too

Who else is thinking about the impact of this saga on the trust within the ranks of our military? How do junior officers react to the exchange between Allen and Flynn on one hand and Dempsey on the other hand?

The military is going through a rough period. They have been active for the last fifteen years and there has been no clear victory during this one and half decade of combat.

Then just when everyone is speculating on the next direction for the military following the elections, junior professionals have the displeasure of seeing one of their revered leaders—Allen—being used by clever campaign teams as nothing but a pawn.

It is a sorry sight. Trump in his usual fashion latched out, describing Allen, a retired four-star general, as a “failed general.” Clinton retorted that Trump was being “unpresidential.”

The exchange brought the spotlight on Allen who now has to protect his reputation. In his words, “He [Trump] has no credibility to criticize me or my record or anything I have done.”

As the campaign season continues, junior professionals would begin to see that the partisan advocacy of Allen and Flynn was not the real prize for the presidential candidates, their campaign teams, or their parties. The real prize was coming on top for the weekend news cycle.

The advocacy of the generals was a means to an end. Unfortunately, the advocacy did nothing to engender trust in the military professions or senior leaders of the professions, quite the opposite really.

For our military, the vital trust relationship they maintain took a serious hit that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

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Voting Frustration

vote for clinton or vote for trump?

If we look at the current political scenario of America, it would be extremely difficult to comprehend that Abraham Lincoln belonged to the same Republican Party as Donald Trump does. However, there is still some silver lining even in this scenario. With Donald Trump winning the nomination of the Republican Party, the problems of gender, race and economic disparity has been fully exposed.

One of the fundamental problems that have surfaced during the Hillary vs. Drump debate is that we have stopped hearing the other side of the argument altogether. Both parties believe that they are absolutely right and there is no room for difference of opinion. This polarization has divided the society and the average American is becoming a kind of fundamentalist. As a result, the debate gets extremely nasty on television and other forums. The gravity of the situation could be grasped by the fact that even the old KKK is getting involved in the election. On the other side, we also see the involvement of pope. On one hand we see a Woman representing a Democrat while on the other hand we see a fanatic representing the Republicans. In short, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole nation is currently divided.

The choice between Clinton and Trump is a truly hard one. More importantly, the Americans have resorted back to hateful ways from which it came out not so long ago. Both sides are of the view that it is time to stand up to our morals and not let idiocrasy prevail.

Despite the dilemma between Clinton and Trump, for an outsider it would be hard to imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office as a President of the United States. There is a long list of reasons but let’s just focus on the major ones for a while. Donald Trump has been making a lot of sweeping statements. His generalization about Muslims is just one case in point. He proposes a complete and categorical ban on Muslims is not only idiotic but also practically impossible. He has expressed similar remarks about Mexicans which has resulted in further marginalization of that class of people. This negative and demeaning behavior is not just limited to outsiders; in fact, he also behaves in a similar manner with reporters and press. Imagine a man aspiring to be the president of the most powerful country on the Earth losing its temper with the protestors. The hallmark of his whole campaign is hatred and fear.

Apart from hatred narrative, he counts his business acumen as his strength. However, even this statement is questionable because he has had a lot business failures and bankruptcies. If you analyze some of his business failures, you will be amazed by seeing the idiotic business ideas of his.

As far as the democratic race is concerned, it is far from over. Although Bernie Sanders has been defeated but he has been able to ignite a spark that would soon become fire and spread through all America. The movements are already underway in some parts of the country thanks to Bernie Sanders. The Americans are realizing that they would again have to fight for their rights and get rid of the hegemonic system that is perpetuating poverty and marginalization of the middle class.

In this regard, the most important thing in my opinion is the financial stability and prosperity. The American Dream of having a house is still relevant today. The middle class still has to take a lot of debt and loans in order to get a house. This is just middle class. If we look at the homeless people they are everywhere. They are still living in temporary houses and sleeping in parking lots. In short, they are in a dismal position.

To wrap up this discussion, I for one is still confused as to who deserves my vote. What I am sure about is no matter whom I vote there will still be same number of homeless people on the street. The middle class will still be struggling. Let me know who you are voting for? More importantly, why you are voting for that candidate? I would love to hear your reasons.

 

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Dealing with Differences of Opinion

We have discussions and discourses daily with our friends or colleagues at work place or if we are studying in college, then such issues become a matter of class discussions. Some of these discussions revolve around gun control and how gun laws have affected and impacted the shaping of our society. Sometimes, we also like to talk about global warming and how gigantic corporations are sort of responsible for the current situation.

Similarly, one of the widely debated topics in America is about banning of the Muslim immigrants. This issue has occupied central importance because of its significance in the Donald Trump’s Presidential election campaign. In the same vein, we also talk about ISIS and whether it is a real threat or not. During such discussions with others, one thing that comes out is that opinions vary a lot from one person to another. The humane way of treating difference of opinion is to hear the other person out and stay civil because no amount of force is going to sway the other person’s opinion in your favor.

During these discussions, there is one thing which you fundamentally agree upon with the other person despite any amount of difference of upon. America is currently polarized and the history seems to be repeating itself. Like previously, this is one of the crucial times in America’s time line and what we choose today is going to impact our future generations. While talking to your colleagues, you would have often wondered why some people think that their opinions only matter. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that some people believe that they are smarter or superior in some sense because they hold a certain opinion. This kind of mentality is very dangerous.

For instance, it would be a good exercise for the readers to listen to Bob Templeton. If you talk about Gun Shows in Arizona he is the man. Now as most of you know that executive actions have been taken by President Obama regarding gun control. During his interview, he candidly expressed his stance and also mentioned how his business is going to be affected by this action. This is a very civil way of argument and that is how a difference of opinion should be articulated.

Because once you hear the other side of the story in a well-articulated manner you get a completely new perspective and you start looking at things in a detailed manner.

On the other hand, we have examples of people who believe that the current President Obama is doing all in his power to amend the constitution for his third time stay in the office. Now this, as most of you know, is completely false and there is no evidence that could reconcile such a statement. Yet, if you try to argue with such people you just cannot because they are completely convinced that this is how it is going to work out.

We’ve heard similar arguments at the historical tragedy of 9/11 when we believed that the American government was behind the attacks. That sounds totally ludicrous but some people believe it to this day despite the insurmountable evidence. Some of these rumors are spread through organizations to achieve a specific purpose and there is hardly any truth behind it. The lesson for us is to hear the other side of the story always. Once you investigate and get down to the matter you find it nuanced. Therefore, it is important to keep the judgments to ourselves but at the same time uphold the very values on which this country was built. More importantly, it is important to respect humanity.

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Voices In Your Head

You might have read or heard about the wonky champion’s voice which is called obnoxious roommate by one of the most successful entrepreneurs Ariana Huffington. This roommate is not something that is real, rather it is in our head. Sometimes this person takes the shape of people who bullied or belittled us in our childhood. Everybody hears criticism once in a while but as adults we are able to take it. But, as kids if you are criticized and told that you cannot be successful, then it really hurts. The surprising element in all this is it is often the closest people to you who give you such feedback like parents, siblings or teachers. Obviously, one cannot rule out the bullies but the crux of it is that even after years you don’t forget that feedback and discouragement. Even when you are a fully grown adult they don’t stop interfering in your day to day matters. In fact, your decisions are influenced by these voices in your head. You could loosely call them Internal Advisory Committee since they are kind of trying to let a certain idea prevail. This internal advisory committee is not only composed of that one person but rather it’s a combination of different words and thoughts simultaneously affecting the way you think and act. These especially come into play when you are taking on a new challenge or setting yourself in a new direction in life.

It is extremely important to think and reflect deeply about these committee members. More importantly, we need to first find who they are actually. Similarly, we also need to assess whether these committee members still hold actual power in our life or whether all of this is in our head. Also think back to the time when you heard these comments; find out how old exactly you were. By finding the true age when you had that negative feedback, think about whether you want your current self to take decisions or whether you want your decisions dictated by your younger self. Often, some of the children are scolded for even speaking or asking questions. This is something that does not only happen in our childhood but the ideas are put down at every stage of life. We are often barred from questioning traditional and entrenched beliefs. We are told to accept the facts without scrutinizing the evidence. All these emotions and believes also get entrenched in our lives and start dictating our decisions.

Not all members of the Advisory Committee are bad because there are those people also who inspired you at one point in your life or another. It is in this context why knowing your internal advisory committee members is important. If the people who inspired you are still living maybe renewing interaction and relations with them could bring about a significant change and improvement in your life. At least, they deserve some gratitude for the positive contribution towards your life.

In the end, it is completely up to you as to what and whose voice you pay attention to.

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