The SCOTUS “Leak”

By now, if you haven’t heard about the SCOTUS leak of the draft documents of the majority opinion of a recent court case…. You really need to at least read/listen the news on a daily basis. The consensus from various news pundits say that the DRAFT MAJORITY OPINION as it stands now would OVERTURN Roe v Wade. If nothing changes to the current draft, this ruling is extremely consequential and devastating.

Three thoughts come to mind….
1) What happened to the separation of Church and State?
2) The ruling calls into question our freedoms…. so then where are these “freedoms” that the “Land of the Free” claims to have?
3) What is happening to this country?

Separation of Church and State: A draft opinion comes out and suddenly all the high profile religious leaders start saying things like “our prayers have been asnwered” or “praising god“. How is this not religiously motivated? Would you expect this kind of reaction from religious leaders if we were talking about banning guns used in dometic terrorist mass shootings? Clearly the religious leaders “thoughts and prayers” have been shit for mass shootings and I think I now know why… these “thoughts and prayers” were all focused on creating political miracles that allowed the Republicans to shit on the Constitution in order to retain the power and advantages they need. Technically… McConnell for cockblocking Obama’s nominee (Gorsuch) because it was an election year and then fast tracking Trump’s nominee (Barrett) also during an election year. Egads… What is happening to this country?

I also don’t understand religions. They have an inherent double standard that they seem to ignore. Many say they follow the bible… yet it seems like they only cherry pick the passages of the bible that suits them AND ignore other inconvenient passages. Is that really “FOLLOWING THE BIBLE” or is it more like “taking inspration from the bible”? During the pandemic, Sure you don’t want to wear a mask, get a vaccine shot, whatever… because your religion/bible/pastor says its a sin (or whatever stupid reason). The government made exceptions for your religious values. YET, you expect the government to also support your religious values and impede on a person’s choice to get an abortion or not? Egads… What is happening to this country?

Land of the Free? For a country that claims “to have various freedoms”, specifically which freedoms are talked about? Freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? Freedom of fair trials? Freedom to bear arms? The founders/writers of the Constitution clearly couldn’t list all the enumerated rights (Ninth Amendment) but these rights do exist ie… the Right to privacy, the Right to Vote. Do these unenumerated rights follow the basic human rights list? Perhaps? From the 30 basic human rights, one of the rights advocates “to marry and have a family.” It should also be assumed that the converse is also a right (to marry but not have a family) or any variation of marriage and family to also be held as a right. Or perhaps the unenumerated rights follow the “natural right.” Regardless of which unenumerated rights are being defined, what is absolutely clear is that religion is actively violating these rights because religion says it can. Furthermore, why must someone who is NOT religious comply with the religious words/beliefs that are being written into law across various states? For American’s who “scoff at the Middle East and the Sharia Law“, I find that these abortion laws are strangely Sharia-like.

What is happening to this country? Whenever I read/listen to the news, I ask this as well. I think there are two major issues. First it’s the Republicans. They are disregarding any semblance of bi-partisanship. They are seeking to just destroy whatever the Democrats propose instead of offering a counter proposal. Remember the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”? Many of their constituents were given healthcare probably for the first time through ACA and liked it. Yet Republicans denigrated Obamacare causing such a fury repealing the ACA would have negatively impacted their constituents. Another despicable Republican act is their opposition to the infrastructure bill. Yet, these Republicans are going back to their constituents claiming victory for something they voted against. The US Government should be reformed. Opposition to a bill should result in zero distributed funds. It’s all or nothing since that’s what Republicans are doing with the government.

Second, its the current duopoly party system. Both parties are heavily influenced by MONEY. The current system requires candidates to establish a large war chest in order to fund their campaigns. Funding campaigns requires meetings with rich individuals/corporations hoping to influence the candidate. Sure candidates can say they are not influenced by big money… but seriously…. Money buys influence. The government needs to transition away from dark money and lobbyists circling around the candidates and government officials. The government should abolish rules that support the two party system and seek ways where a 3rd/4th/multi party candidates can also succeed. Yes a parliamentary congressional system is possible requiring bipartisanship and coalition building. The current two party system are such broad based coalitions that effectively there are already multiple parties. But the government rules prevent 3rd party candidates from standing out.

Feeling disgruntled and hopeless? To be honest, I feel the same too. But I still believe if we continue to vote on what matters to us in 2022.

2022 IS AN ELECTION YEAR!
VOTE! VOTE!! VOTE!!!

The Democratic Party Social Media Dilemma?

The Democrats have a media problem. They need to have a “Fox News/Tucker Carlson or OAN” equivalent in mainstream media. The goal of this new media organization is to counter, satirize, discuss and question the conservative agenda. Questions need to be asked to promote discussion and promote reality check.

Here are some questions to ask:
1) What was the real extent of Marina Butina’s infiltration of the Republican party?
2) Has the impartiality / non-political nature of SCOTUS been contaminated knowing that Justice Thomas’ wife has been privately supporting the lies of electrion irregularities even going so far as to encourage Mark Meadows to do “something”?
3) Why are Republicans openly hostile against COVID19 policies like mask wearing and vaccinations claiming these policies infringe on their freedoms yet brazenly implement laws like Texas’ SB8 that infringe on a woman’s freedom of choice and body?

The Dems f-cking it up!! >[

The fact that Sinema and Manchin were “holding out” from joining the Democratic causes that propelled the Dems into the congressional majorities should have been the FIRST warning sign that neither of these senators are going to give a shit about the Democratic causes in Build Back Better. What’s in Build Back Better? The White House website (wiki, link 1, link 2) has a fairly good synopsis. After also reading the other links, here’s my interpretation of it…

Build Back Better (BBB) will probably help families with kids through tax credits, childcare subsidies, universal pre-school programs and probably most importantly paid family leave (link). In US laws, there currenlty is 12 weeks of UNPAID leave (60 working days or 240 hours). Some states have added exceptions and require paid family leave.

BBB also has a concerted effort in pushing US towards a green infrastructure platform to combat climate change and hopefully establishing a future clean energy technology growth. Climate change needs to be enacted at the governmental/federal level. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists (97%) believe there’s climate change (link 1, link 2, the 3%?, another 3%?).

BBB is also trying to bring affordable healthcare to everyone. Although short of providing single payer healthcare to everyone, it will at least try to shore up some of the deficiencies from the ACA (Obamacare). The US healthcare is horribly inefficient at receiving healthcare based on how much it pays (link 1). Spending nearly 20% of annual GDP and with citizens one medical emergency away from bankruptcy, the US’s laissez faire approach to healthcare needs to change.

BBB will try to help the middle income families through affordable housing and affordable college education. The average student loan debt of a graduating senior has been increasing and for 2021 sits at $30,600! There are a number of different options you can use with that amount. A college graduate could buy a reliable Japanese car like Honda/Toyota and drive 10 years before it breaks. And to be realistic, a college graduate doesn’t neccessarily need to drive a high end luxury car like BMW, Mercedes or Lexus straight out of college unless they’re in a customer facing job like sales. Or alternatively, the 30,600 could fund a 10 year passive investment account with a 5% rate of return and $200 monthly contributions which would yield nearly 80K at the end of 10 years. Or, if there’s affordable housing, the graduate could use the money on a down payment for a condo/house which leads to real estate investment wealth.

BBB says it’s “fully paid for” which I highly doubt (confirmed). However, these kinds of programs are meant to be investments in the future. And even if the future is unknown, the US government needs to act quickly because not doing anything might be worse thing to do. Unfortunately, the US government is anything but fast.

The Debt Limit again!?

Seriously… can we as a nation start to hold both Democrats AND Republicans accountable? Back in 2017, the Republicans believed in raising the debt ceiling. When Republicans had the House, Senate and the White House to pass spending bills, of course the debt ceiling will be raised. But god forbid… when Republicans do not control the White House, they are absolutely against raising the debt ceiling.

This political bickering between Dems and Reps is hurting the country. The cyncism behind such flip-flops by both parties is why there’s such low voter turnout.

CAN WE STOP WITH THIS BULLSHIT? CAN WE VOTE OUT THIS BULLSHIT!?

Last Week Tonight: Asian Americans

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight talked about Asian Americans. This 30 minutes of discourse is not enough.

After watching this video….

  • Can we all agree… White America has a history of pitting various ethnic groups against each other. Even John Oliver calls it out.
  • Asian Americans are come from 20+? countries in Asia ranging from India, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. We probably speak well over 20+ dialects/languages. We have different cultures, eat different foods, practice different religions, and have different customs. AND YET… the only thing that ties us together is this term. We should use this to our advantage.
    • As Asian Americans, we have to pursue positive change.
    • As Asian Americans, we absolutely need to leave America better for our grand kids.
    • As Asian Americans, we must demand for a country that doesn’t discriminate people of different skin color, heritage, sexual orientation, religion and socio economic status.
    • As Asian Americans, we have to help other minorities as much as possible.
  • The only thing White America fears is when we minorities call out the racism that exists. You know you’ve hit a sensitive topic when attempts to deflect the conversation involves “what about-ism”.
  • And finally… As Americans, can we strive to follow the Golden Rule? Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Trump’s Facebook Ban

By now, the news of Trump’s 2 year ban from Facebook has been widely circulated. I actually disagree with Facebook’s decision of a 2 year ban. Trump should be allowed the opportunity to take back his Facebook (FB) profile. However, FB should strip his history of posts and interactions as if it were a new account. Then, Trump would be subjected to these “more stringent rules” in place for politicians and face the penalties of violating it.

One has to wonder what these new rules are and how many other rules are there. FB explicitly has said it will ban hate speech and abuse. What about lies and fake news? Does FB have an example of what FB considers as hate speech and abuse? What does FB consider as “newsworthy”? There’s so many questions that I think FB is just playing into the Republican’s hand of “censorship.” Let’s take the current Trump talking point about the “stolen” election. Where does it rank amongst FB’s new rules? FB… how about some transparency?

What about the other social media platforms like Twitter (another Trump favorite). Trump looks like it’s still banned from Twitter. But will Twitter also apply the same rules to other politicians as it did to Trump?

Hey (Republican) Senators!

So if Republican Senators listening to the impeachment trial do not believe Trump is responsible for causing the 06JAN2021 Capitol Insurrection, who do they think should be held responsible? Have the Senators asked themselves why these Trump insurrectionist supporters decided to storm the building?

Since these Senators are very keen on “interpreting” the Constitution narrowly, they should be very clear to mention the fact that Trump was impeached in his final days as President. Thus claiming it is “unconstitutional to impeach a former president” is obviously a lie. Furthermore, claiming to follow the Constitution, these Republican Senators failed to follow the Constitution when the Articles of Impeachment were delivered. The Republican controlled Senate slowed any discussion of a trial until AFTER they lost their power 20JAN2021. Furthermore, if the Senators are going to interpret the Constitution, they should also remember that 14th Amendment also has language related to a President who took the oath to “PRESERVE, PROTECT and DEFEND the Constitution.” Didn’t Trump encourage Pence to disregard the Constitution and the Electoral College so that the election will be cast in Trump’s favor? How is that “PRESERVING the Constitution”? Reports about how Trump watched with glee the insurrectionist storm the Capitol Building…. How is that DEFENDING the constitution? Trump proclaimed himself to be the “law and order” President… yet allowed his supporters to storm and damage the Capitol Building.

Everything the Republicans are doing infuriates me. In fact, it should infuriate anyone who believes in the Constitution and in America.

Social Media’s Ultimate Dilemma

With social media blocking Trump after the 06JAN2021 insurrection, my initial reaction was “wow… finally!” But after reflecting a bit more, I had two follow up questions… 1) why now? and 2) what will happen in the future? Specifically, the 2nd question is really about the precedence these companies are setting. Throughout the 4+ years of Trump tweets, discussions about how much of the false, provocative, agitative tweets only really came to the forefront during the 2020 elections where misinformation had to be addressed (USA Today in 2020, CNN in 2016). Clearly there’s been discussion and pushback on how best to handle the information. Let’s also be clear here… the 1st amendment “free speech” allows free and public expression without any censorship by the government but there are exceptions to this. Most people will say private companies are excluded from the 1st amendment because they are not government. Although true, I think though many companies will try to follow the spirit of the 1st amendment to allow the speech. I think that’s why Twitter and Facebook allowed Trump tweets and posts for so long.

So why now? I think it’s a matter of convenience. First… Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election. Second… Twitter and Facebook had been slowly escalating the method of how to censure Trump’s false posts. Third… If it were not for the insurrection on 06JAN2021, I don’t think Twitter/Facebook would have blocked Trump. But because the language in Trump’s tweets potentially caused the violence, he “broke” the EULA regulations and thus de-platformed. Let’s be honest here. This de-platforming was a long time in the making. Trump has consistently spread false information during his 4 years in office (over 30,000 claims!!).

What will happen in the future? I’m not sure. I think the social media companies need to establish a clear transparent system of governance and punishment related to the spreading of false information. Trump’s actions has exposed a huge weakness in the idea of balancing social media virality, factual information, and speech. This is what I think social media companies should do:

  • Social media companies should donate to an independent fact checking service. This service can be an internal company service or a 3rd party like factcheck.org
  • When any user makes a claim, that claim should be fact checked.
  • If the claim is proven false, then the user is tagged and also educated about why this claim is false.
    • The claim will not be shared and any subsequent shares also cannot be shared again to minimize the virality of false information.
    • The user is also warned about continuing to post false information.
  • If the user makes another false claim, the user’s post will be marked as false similar to what Twitter did by flagging Trump’s false tweets.
    • This user is again warned and educated.
    • The post will not be able to be shared minimizing any virality.
    • The user will then receive a demerit. Demerits “expire” after a week of good behavior (aka no false posts).
  • If the user again posts a false claim, the post is flagged as false.
    • The user is warned and educated.
    • The post will not be able to be shared minimizing any virality.
    • The user gains another demerit.
    • The user is also banned from posting for 1 hr. Every demerit the user gains adds 30 minutes to the ban.

This should allow social media companies to limit the spread of false information while attempting to balance the “free speech” doctrine. I also think that social media companies should also define what they deem to be hate speech or speech that leads to violence or speech that have threats of violence. Then the same demerit based system should also be used for those types of posts. Can social media companies implement this?

A Modern Day Insurrection

Wednesday 06JAN2021 is a day to remember. Trump supporters took over the US Capitol Building disrupting the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. This is but just one outcome of Trump’s rhetoric for the past 6 years. The constant lies, the abuse of power, the grandstanding, the putdowns of opponents and general desire to constantly show power helped to incite the Trump followers to march down to the US Capitol building. If the march was supposed to be a peaceful protest, once at the steps of Congress, these protestors started to force their way and eventually overpower the Capitol police in charge of keeping the peace.

There are so many observations to note

  • The clear double standard between policing white protestors vs black/brown protestors. White protestors were touching and pushing the police with the “Blue Lives Matter” banner in the back. And… what is even more amazing is that the police did not use force to push back the protestors but actually retreated as they advanced. That is white privilege at work.
  • Trump’s Facebook and Twitter social media were finally suspended for violating policy of prohibiting incitement of violence. This makes me wonder… why can’t social media companies implement a common set of rules that determine what kind of speech is appropriate? Speech that incites violence or speech with specific negative law-breaking consequences should be regulated. Consistently false claims that being made (ie rigged election) should also be regulated. Perhaps a set of simple questions like:
    1. Did this speech promote people to do something violent?
    2. Did a large amount of people (10+) actually commit acts of violence?
    3. Did this speech that claimed “X” turn out to be false?
    4. Has this speech that claimed “X” been continued to be spread by the account?
    5. The workflow to flag should be a simple yes/no matrix. A “yes” for 1 and 2 should lead to a ban. A “yes” for 3 and 4 should also lead to a ban. The punishment for continually violating the rules should be temporary suspensions of 1 day > 1 week > 1 month > and finally permanently. Free speech does not mean a person should be able to spread false information or incite violence.
  • The Democratically controlled House of Representatives is starting to talk about a second impeachment of Trump for his actions if invoking the 25th amendment does not happen. I have mixed feelings about this. I think the only message an impeachment will send is that the transfer of power must be civil and peaceful and that future attempts will never be tolerated. Republicans (like Minority Leader McCarthy) are only now offering peace to Biden stating impeachment would further divide the country. I think that’s a bit too late. Biden should let Congress do what Congress does. The Republicans dug themselves into this hole by sticking with Trump all the way to insurrection and should not expect that a white flag will instantly calm things over.
  • What Congress should be doing is looking for ways to censure/reprimand all the Republicans who humored Trump and his false “rigged election/stolen election” rhetoric EVEN AFTER the insurrection attempt by objecting to the certification results. Those like McConnell or Graham who conceded should be spared as they eventually conceded that Biden won. Congress should also be looking to clamp down on speech that has been already proven to be fake/false. Part of the reason why Trump was able to get to where he is was because he was able to continually peddle falsehoods about people and processes that if repeated over many times becomes “Fake Truths.”
  • In the initial breach of the Capitol Building, credit needs to be given to the understaffed/undermanned Capitol police for not escalating through the use of force. Although video shows them being engulfed by the crowd, the fact that only 5 people died after a 4 hour scuffle is pretty amazing.

These insurrectionists are being identified and arrested. How ironic that the “Law and Order” Republican party disrupted the law and order in Washington DC.

For you, the Un-American…

America prides itself on its democratic traditions and peaceful transfer of power. But it takes just one person in power to upend any semblance of respect and tradition of the Presidency and America’s democratic ideals. Are Americans not ashamed of these actions? Are Americans not worried about this abuse? If you aren’t ashamed or worried about the un-democratic abuse of presidential powers, then you are absolutely an un-American citizen.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn about US history but from an immigrant’s or a minority’s perspective.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn about the US government and what the founding father’s tried to imagine.

For you… the un-American, go back an learn about Constitution, the rights of citizens and civic duty.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn the true value of freedom.

Go. Reflect. And. Transform.