What’s Missing in the DAPL Plan?

Fossil fuels have been the driving force of America -and the world alike- for the last couple of hundred years. When it comes to finance, fossil fuels have also been a source of great wealth. So much so, that we -as a society- have opted for the continued impediments on our environment rather than really looking at alternative sources of energy as a nation.

But, this story doesn’t begin with fossil fuels. This story begins a few hundred years earlier. When the Europeans first happened upon the shores of the “New Land” with their sense of entitlement to the land they were now on and their lack of understanding that the land wasn’t theirs to take. To help cover up the theft in the History books, we developed fairytales and holiday stories that made it seem as if was all well in North America a few hundred years ago. Those who go on from the grade school lies to actually study History know a much different “tone” for that story though. True History teaches of the atrocities that were suffered by the indigenous people. Taking them from a free and ancient society and restricting their rights while forcing them to live under government rule in chiseled out portions of their homelands.

I have a degree in History. I’ve always been fascinated with the hidden truths in the timeline of existence. I’ve also been dumbfounded by the lack of Logic throughout the timeline, given society’s inquisitive minds during the major years of Mathematic and Scientific discovery. I was part of a conversation in a History class while in college, that went like this:

Student – “Well, you would expect the colonists to defend themselves when the Natives are attacking them.”

Me – “So, you think the Natives were wrong in attacking the colonists? How would you feel if in the middle of the night someone moved an RV into your backyard and was like, ‘Well. I live here now. At least until I get them out of the house’?”

Logic, people. Logic isn’t like most other things in the timeline, things that stay consistent over time. No. Logic SKIPS through the timeline. Much like you would skip a rock across water. Logic first appeared way back when early ancestors of the human race discovered fire. And then burnt himself. The first logical decision ever made – in my opinion – was, “Do not touch fire.” Since then, there have been small flutters of Logic, but nothing consistent. So, why stop now?

After removing native people from their homelands and resettling them in much, much smaller areas, the government told them another lie. “So, this is your land. I mean, we own it, but it’s yours to do with as you please. We won’t bother you or the land without your permission. Ever.” Sounds great, right?

Fast forward a few hundred years. Bakken, North Dakota.

Oil company Energy Transfer has an idea. Move 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day, from Bakken, North Dakota, through a pipeline, 1,100 miles away to Patoka, Illinois. Originally, the pipeline was routed to cross the Missouri River just North of Bismarck, North Dakota. However, the people of Bismarck, realizing the potential hazards to their water supply, said, “Absolutely not.” So the pipeline was rerouted. Only this time, the route ran straight through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation. One of the lands the government said they wouldn’t disturb without the consent of the native people. And here we are, in 2016.

The people of Standing Rock have taken up a fight to protect their water supply. I say fight because, unlike the good people of Bismarck, the people of Standing Rock had no say and the Dakota Access Pipeline is being forced upon them. But the people of Standing Rock are pushing back, albeit peacefully. So not “pushing” but more like “obstructing.” The authoritarian occupation’s response has so far been to release dogs on peacefull protesters, fire rubber bullets  and throw gas and stun grenades into crowds and spray protesters down with fire hoses in below freezing temperatures.  All because the government has said, “Well, it’s our land. And if we want to grant an easement to the billion dollar corporation that’s paying for most of our re-election campaigns, we can. And will.” If you listen closely, you can hear Logic skipping the timeline again.

Where’s the Logic? The logic of the matter is that a pipeline is absolutely the “safest” way to transport the oil. I say “safest” because that is not an absolute. Let’s face, everything manmade breaks down. A pipeline is not immune from that. Check valves go bad, cleanouts blow out, seals leak and not all welds are 100% unbreakable given the right conditions. According to the NTSB, there have been 120 pipeline accidents since 1969. Not all were environmental disasters. But not all were leaky seals.

The Logic doesn’t stop there. Logic should be utilized when looking at an accident such as the pipeline accident in Minnesota in 2002. Given that accident, Logic should be applied to, I don’t know, say, “We should really keep these pipelines away from water supplies.” But, no. Because, unfortunately, Greed crushes Logic in this country.

And, finally, Logic should be used when looking at the people of Standing Rock. The only reply the government should have is, “We are very sorry for the intrusion and we will now kindly leave because you have suffered enough over our greed.” That’s the logical thing to do. But, this America. Where Donald Trump was recently elected President. I only bring him up, because he is one of the investors in the project. And a little dash of conflict of interest sprinkled right on top. How could he be objective to decide on this? His wallet or the people?

Where will the United States government end up in the History books on this? Known forever as the authoritarian government that violently answered the peoples’ peaceful demands to the right to clean water? Or will they step in and put an end to the atrocities at Standing Rock?

Admitedly, I grazed over a lot of facts, in writing this opinion piece, but I believe the core message was more essential than a total background of US – Native American relations.If applied to daily life, the core message in this piece will alter your life and the lives of those around you for the betterment of society.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why So Angry, America?

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Donald Trump pulled one of the most stunning upsets Presidential election History. His win sparked outrage amongst the opponents of the Republican Party. Many took to the streets. Some protested via social media posts. A petition was started that garnered almost 4 Million signatures in two days calling for members of the Electoral College to switch their state’s votes to Trump’s opponent as “Faithless Electors.” Most of all, though, people just tried to cope and pray for the best.

In the wake of the election, analysts have analyzed and analyzed and over-analyzed every part of the process in an attempt to figure out how all of their polls could be so wrong. Everyone is pointing fingers, blaming this one and that one for such a crushing blow to the Democrats. Sadly, the realization is that they mostly defeated themselves.

Think of it this way: The DNC force fed their constituents a candidate that was surrounded in more controversy than the Casey Anthony verdict AND THEN put the cherry on top with one of the most puzzling VP choices when someone more likable like Martin O’Malley could have been tapped for the job. Not too mention, they pandered to the youth and never really connected with them in a way like Bernie Sanders did. They assumed that the minority vote would just come their way based on President Obama’s legacy and never really spoke TO them, merely reiterating their problems.

On the flip side, the Republicans did the same, with slight variations. And they won. Trump was force fed to America, but by main stream media, not the party. The party actually tried to stop him. Once he had the nomination, he chose one of the most extreme and hated Republican politicians he could in anti-LGBTQ governor, Mike Pence. They expected minorities to flock to them, despite their racists overtones and threats of deportation, believing that Obama did nothing to better their situation.

At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton had received the majority and won the popular vote. That was a symbolic and meaningless effort as Trump had managed to unlock a “hidden” vote in the states that mattered and walked away with the Electoral College victory, making him our President-Elect.

Throughout the last month of his campaign, Trump threatened to “Drain the Swamp” if he was elected President. The “swamp” he was referring to was Washington D.C. Referred to as such for it’s filth, corruption, lobbyists and career political insiders and politicians. Now, we are one week into Trump’s transition and he has already parted ways with a few of the members of his transition team. But don’t let that be the glimmer of hope that Mr. Trump would stand by his “Drain the Swamp” mantra. Because he is solidly stacking his administration with some of the worst leeches in the political realm.

Reince Priebus, the former head of the RNC and who tried to stop Trump during the primaries, has been named Chief of Staff. Steve Bannon, who ran the alt-right news forum Brietbart, was named Chief Strategist. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s name has been floated as possible Secretary of State. Ted Cruz, labeled “Lying Ted” by Donald Trump during the primaries is rumored to on the short list for Attorney General. Just these names alone carry more controversy than they do hope that Trump will honor his promises.

On top of Trump’s picks for key positions adding to the dissatisfaction of his nomination, it has been said that Trump is exploring the possibilities of creating a Muslim registry for those of the faith that live in America. The creation of such a database would be akin to what the Nazis did to the Jewish people. And, quite frankly, this is alarming.

So people have taken to the streets. Schools are being walked out of in protest. I think what we fail to see during the protests is that the protesters aren’t simply unhappy about the results of the election and being whiny. No. This is happening because people are scared. They are scared of what authoritarianism will look like under Trump. Minorities are scared because the future looks like more of the past for them. Immigrants are scared because most of them traveled a hellish route to reach our country for work so that they might escape impoverished conditions in their country.

So, what’s the truth?

The truth is that there is no one to blame but the voters ourselves. I read a comment on social media that explained our current situation perfectly: This election is what you get when you have spent your life voting for the lesser of two evils. Exactly. As American voters, we have no independent thought because we have felt the need for so long to support one of the two major political parties. All throughout this election I have heard why a third party candidate can’t get elected. The real reason is that instead of turning to a third party that could offer our nation a different path (mainly because third party candidates in the past have been worse than the two majors running) we, as Americans, have continued to support two parties that never seem to find middle ground. No, we support them and it’s the same as it ever was. One makes laws, the other repeals them.

The truth is that we are running in circles, never moving forward. Because we continue to vote for two parties who haven’t had a new idea for governing since the 1950’s. They bicker and fight over the same issues, over and over again. Meanwhile, in America, new problems are taking hold in our communities. People are uncertain what the future looks like in this nation. All because we treat new problems with old strategies.

America, you can’t move forward if you are stuck in the past. Stop relying on old ideals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Sets Trump’s Comments Apart From Actual Locker Room Talk

Athletes across the nation have come out to condemn Donald Trump for legitimizing his comments heard on audio that was leaked last week. In the recording, Trump brags to Billy Bush about how he can’t control himself around beautiful women. In a midnight video apology, Trump called the comments “locker room talk.” And athletes everywhere disagree.

I was once an athlete. Then I went into the military. And then I coached athletes. I’ve been in locker rooms and CP’s. Both of which you hear “locker room talk.” And lots of it. You might hear one guy talking about the previous night’s sexual conquest or failure. Someone might be talking about a woman he saw at a gas station or mall. Another might be talking about the woman he’s had an eye on for a while. And they all talk about that they would like to do to those women…if GIVEN the opportunity. “Given” is the operative word in that sentence.

See, what really sets Trump’s comments apart from what is actually discussed in locker rooms is that Trump’s comments had a certain tone. It sounded a lot like “Rich Entitlement” but mostly, it sounded like sexual assault.

See, while athletes might discuss things of sexual nature, they most absolutely do not talk about forcing themselves onto women. See, there’s a reason why this happens, in my opinion. Having been around sports. And the reason is simple but subtle. The reason is that all throughout their careers, from youth leagues to college, parents are a major part of that experience. In particular, the moms are the ones that always get stuck with “team” duties. The moms are real important. And not just a single players mom. All moms.

Through that experience, I believe that athletes are more prone to develop a deeper respect for women. But, let’s face it, men will be men and will talk about off color things when a bunch of them get together. But, let one person say something about assaulting a woman and the conversation will shift swiftly.

What Donald Trump said on that bus went far beyond “locker room talk.” His words solidified a long standing belief held amongst the majority of Americans: If you’re rich, you can do whatever you want. That’s what he was really saying that day. And there are numerous reports, lawsuits and articles to back up his belief.

Donald’s message was loud and clear that day.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just when Truth is what we need.

So, we went away for a while. We occasionally popped in to share something here and there. But we couldn’t afford the time needed to really delve into the shitstorm that has become our great nation.

There’s STILL a systemic problem with our police forces in this country, we have, arguably, the two WORST presidential candidates ever produced by the two major parties AND we are dealing with violence, both domestically and internationally.

Of course, it’s not like our return is going to prevent some cataclysmic event, but our hope is that we can arm the people with the truth. No political alignments and rhetoric. But a good analysis of the facts. And in the coming months, leading up to the election, we will follow the issues and police the integrity of them.

We understand that our opinion of the truth may not always be popular. But understand that we will NEVER manipulate facts. We will present facts and then our opinion, never confusing the two.

-Allen Keith

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ferguson: Why We Can’t Turn Away From the Truth

On August 9th, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed, black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting sent the city into turmoil as protesters took to the streets to vent their anger over another, seemingly, senseless killing. Over the next few days, the police would do their best to paint Brown as a thief by releasing surveillance footage that showed what seemed to be Brown stealing cigarillos from a convenience store. The would also make the bold statement that, when confronted by Wilson, Brown attacked the officer and tried take his gun from him. A person with common sense might look at the latter statement and think to themselves, “Why wouldn’t he just run if he had just allegedly committed a crime? Why chance attacking a cop?” Multiple witnesses would come forward and state that they saw Brown standing in the street, with his hands raised in surrender, as Wilson took the final shot that would take Brown’s life. These statements would also be disputed by law enforcement, further angering a community that already felt as though their concerns of police aggression were not being heard. The Prosecuting Attorney decided to play it safe and take all of the evidence and present it to a Grand Jury and let them decide if Darren Wilson was in the wrong and should be charged with a crime or if he was in the right and should be left free to go. Both decisions – that of the prosecutor and that of the Grand Jury – would be separate sources of further tensions and serve to fuel further protests in the future.

MY STORY

I grew up in the South, in an environment where racism wasn’t hidden or whispered, but where it was the norm. I can recount being enrolled in a school at one point in my childhood and watching the entire cafeteria fall into complete silence. The event was one that left a lasting impression on me. A new student showed up in the middle of the day. A young teacher led the student into the cafeteria where no more than 150 backwoods caucasians sat eating their lunches. The new student was black. As I sat eating my lunch, the cafeteria began to fall silent. At first, I didn’t understand what was going on until the kid next me gave me a nudge and nodded towards the door. I looked up and saw the kid standing there with the teacher. At which time, the kid that had nudged me leaned over and said, “Looks like we got us a N***#r.” (Understand this: I despise that word. And I absolutely refuse to even type it. So, you get the point.) That was in the 5th grade.

I tried talking to my parents about it when I got home. However, my parents, at that time, were of that same mindset. They had been raised in that same environment. But, for me, it was a matter of just not seeing any justification for it.

Things changed right around high school. My family had moved and the school that I was going to was 1/3 minority students. I was playing football and basketball and hanging around with mostly athletes. I had five guys I was with daily. Two of them were white, one was Puerto Rican and two of them were black. My parents became more accepting and actually began to change their outlook on things. But, outside of the home, it was a different story.

I’ve been in the car that was pulled over and searched because the cop “smelled weed.” Keep in mind, my friends and I were athletes and we really did abstain from drinking and drugs in those days. I remember walking from my house to a friends with him and three others and being detained because our two black friends matched the description of two guys that allegedly tried to rape a girl. We were all allowed to go free after about an hour, not because the witness was brought over to try and ID my friends or anything, just because the cops searched us and couldn’t find anything. I might add that during that “completely legal” search, the two white cops took the opportunity to give me some advice by telling me that I shouldn’t be running around with “these types of people” because they were all “animals” and should be caged. They did nothing more than push me closer and give something to fight for.

So that’s my story. I’ve seen the type of injustice that happens in Ferguson. I get what the community is saying. But, what is is that that community is really saying?

A NATIONAL PROBLEM

What we are seeing happen in Ferguson is nothing more than the pressure valve finally popping off. Unfortunately, a life had to be lost for this problem to really get the attention it needs. That problem? Our non-white citizens fear interaction with the police. (I’m going to stop and clarify again. I use the term “non-white” because this is really a problem that carries beyond that black community but stops at the white community) We have seen, all too often, reports of police brutality when minimal force or no force could have provided resolution and probably saved a life. Looking at the landscape of law enforcement across the nation, I fear that the problem is about to expand beyond non-white communities though.

There is now a culture of militarization of police forces across the nation. The government is using the argument that terrorism has become such an inevitable threat that now the smallest officials must be prepared. However, it isn’t terrorists that this equipment is being used against. This equipment is being used against average, everyday citizens. The people see this as a threat and that, alone, adds to the agitation of an already frustrated community.

The police, like the military, take an oath when they receive employment. They are hired to uphold the laws of the local, state and federal government, first and foremost. Second, they are hired to SERVE and PROTECT the people of the community. However, when you begin to look at the dynamics of the interactions between the non-white citizens and police, it would seen that the police feel as though the laws they are sworn to uphold do not pertain to them and that they only don their uniform to serve and protect those they work for, not the citizens of the community that they should be working for.

Ferguson is showing us this. And this is why we can’t turn away from Michael Brown, his family, Ferguson or the truth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The “Necessary” Evils of Politics

Daily, I sit and watch the talking heads on television slam the people with opposing views on the political spectrum. I get on social media and see more of the same. It’s all over the internet, television and radio. You can’t hide from it. 

However, in American politics, there is a balance that exists, although it may not seem that way when one’s opposing party is in power. As much as I despise the two party system that we currently have (and yes, it really is a two party system. You can argue that the Tea Party is a third party but they are nothing more than radical Republicans and “Independents” side with the highest bidder), the two party system IS a necessary evil. 

I say this because no one party expresses the complete concerns of every citizen in the United States. So, as much as we hate the fact that everyone should receive representation in the US government, it has to be this way. The reason being, if one single party, no matter which one it was, ruled this nation, completely, the US would be no different than those third world nations that are ruled by dictators, oppressing the people that have differing views. And, no one should be oppressed for their views. This nation was founded on the principal that differing views were a necessity. 

I say that to say this, however: I believe that what we need in the political arena isn’t a one party system, but a “Kill Switch” for political careers. Here’s what I mean. Any elected official is subject to scrutiny by the general public. When it comes to action against a political official, the general public is powerless, short of waiting around for election time and voting them out of office, which is also a founding principal of our government. The general public can also write or call their elected official and demand action, but those calls are mostly ignored. What I am proposing is a “Kill Switch”, a way for the general public to say, “Okay. We’ve had enough. Get out of office. Now!” 

Understandably, there would be ways to abuse such a power, so there would have to be guidelines in place to prevent outright idiocracy from controlling the career of an elected official. So, let’s say, for instance, the guidelines were:

1. The elected official’s approval rating fell below acceptable guidelines:

       -President – 40%

       – Senator -35%

       -Representative -45%

(I arrived at these numbers through NO scientific calculations. This is merely an example. I did, however, take into consideration that there are less Senators than Representatives and thus they represent a wider population, so there numbers should be lower. Again, this is just an example.)

2. For Senators and Representatives only: Has the elected official been present in chamber, for the majority of calculated hours, while their respected chamber was in session? 

(This has always been a big one for me. Most of these people get elected and then are rarely ever present. Don’t believe it? Flip on CSPAN sometime and count the number of people actually in either chamber debating the bills they want to make laws for the people to abide by.)

3. There must be a petition, signed and verified, by a majority of the population in the elected officials representative territory who are registered voters, calling for a special vote.

4. The elected official must be voted out of office by a majority vote.

5. There must be an immediate vote to replace Senators and Representatives. In the case of the President, the Vice President would take control for one year, during which time an election would be held for the office of President. 

So, something like this would be a good thing, right? Who can tell? Chances are, it will never happen. Until then, we have to live with the necessary evils that our founding fathers gave us. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The End or the Beginning?

Image

 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it appears the shutdown is drawing to an end. And it happened with a bipartisan move in the Senate. Taking the lead on negotiations that would affectively reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling – temporarily – were Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Reid, a Democrat, and McConnell, a Republican, worked with other Senators from their respective sides to come to a compromise. Of sorts. 

The deal gave the Democrats pretty much what they wanted: Raise the debt ceiling and pass a continuing resolution to reopen the government. On the other side, it gave the Republicans just one thing that they wanted: Budget negotiations and conference on the matter. That’s right. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, will go on untouched. So, in reality, the last 16 days have been spent bickering and arguing about the one subject that meant the most to Republicans and members of the Tea Party. In that sense, the two and a half week holdup was a fail. 

The question that must be posed now is, where do we go from here? With everyone involved suffering drastic hits in nationwide approval ratings, 2014 -an election year for the Senate- is beginning to look more like a house cleaning. Granted, there will only be 33 seats up for grabs during the regular election, though. Still, the hope for the Republicans would have been to grab as many of them as they could. The Democrats felt the same way, I’m sure. Then there’s the Tea Party, who would love to get a few of those seats so that their voice carried more weight in the Senate. But, again, with approval ratings in the gutter for all parties, there’s certain to be a shakeup. Which way it goes is anyone’s guess at this point. 

So, again, where do we go from here? In my honest opinion, it’s hard to say. I have spent some time thinking about this very question. I have always said that a two party system COULD NOT work, any longer, in American politics. I have long said that we needed a strong third party. Some would point at the Tea Party and say that they WERE the strong third party with names like Lee, Cruz and Palin. I have to beg to differ though. From an educated standpoint, the Tea Party is a failed experiment as a third party. In fact, the name alone suggests third party but their political ideology suggests they are nothing more than extreme right wing conservatives. And that’s fine. But since their establishment, they have given Americans the appearance of being a party separate of the Republican caucus. There’s really no secret that for a third party to be strong and successful it needs to have its very own identity. Independents aren’t really a third party, they are more like a third wheel on a date, fun to have around but kind of annoying when things get heated. 

So what would make a strong third party? I think it’s going to take dissecting the other parties and really finding out what parts of their ideology the people cling to. Find out what has kept them around for so long. Then, you take the best parts and create a new, fresh, political agenda based on the best of the big two. What you should come up with is a middle of the road, political agenda that believes in taking care of Americans first, likes saving money, believes in fair taxes across the board, wants American education to sit atop the world rankings instead of somewhere near the middle and believes that the peoples’ voice needs to be heard in order to accomplish sanctity. I have no problem saying that, personally, this is how I think about politics. To me, it’s all about my PERSONAL freedom. I have never believed that the government should tell me what I can and can’t do as long as what I am doing isn’t causing physical harm to anyone else or malicious property damage. I mean, really, isn’t that what “pursuit of happiness” means? 

The fear that I have at this particular point in time is reminiscent of what happened when Ross Perot ran for president. See, old Ross took the nation by storm. He was ready and willing and the people were quickly getting behind him. And then something happened so he backed out, only to jump back in to the race a few months before the election. By then, those who were ready to support him were weary of returning him to their good graces. When election day came, he managed to get just enough votes to screw up the election. The reason that today’s current situation invokes that memory is that the Tea Party public opinion polls have sank…dramatically. If you were to believe the poll numbers, one could only ascertain that America has deemed the third party experiment a complete failure. What that means for any other third party hopefuls is that Americans will be less apt to vote for anyone that isn’t from the big two for fear that it will just cause chaos and invoke more rhetoric while failing to represent the will of the people. In essence, it’s quite the conundrum for the voters. Do they trust another third party or just go with the lesser of two evils? My hope is that the American people don’t lose trust in the political process. 

Although, I fear, that it is too late for that. 

God bless. 

Leave a comment

Filed under politics