Friday, August 30, 2013

Obama's War On Syria: Not just Illegal, But Reckless

It is interesting how Obama, as a Senator and later as President, criticized Bush for his illegal war in Iraq, but now Mr. Nobel Peace Price himself is about to take the same action. The term 'hypocrite' would be an understatement. Just a week ago in his first comments on the alleged use of chemical weapons, Obama stated that he would only choose military action if, 1). He had broad international support for such action. Suggesting no unilateral action or "coalitions of the willing" for him. 2). There was UN backing for military action, making it legal under international law. 3). If it was in the best interests of the U.S. and wouldn't lead to a deeper commitment. And 4). It would come only after a thorough UN investigation established what happened.

Now I will briefly break down how Obama is 0 for 4.

1). First, let me be clear on what the Obama Administration (and all U.S. administrations) mean when they say "broad international support". When the U.S. makes this statement... it literally means (for them) NATO, and other (mostly Western) allies of the U.S. They don't actually mean "broad international support" in real terms. It is referring to two dozen of its closest allies. The U.S. does not recognize the rest of the world when making that calculus... it doesn't even acknowledge that the rest of the world exists. There are 196 officially recognized countries in the world, with 193 being UN members. But the U.S. only considers 24 or so when it is talking about "broad international support". This in itself is unbelievable... but it shows you how the U.S. foreign policy establishment thinks.

But even within this warped context... the U.S. doesn't have what it calls "broad support" for military action against Syria. The British Parliament (thanks to brave MP's... I'm not Gay, but I could kiss all who voted no) just voted against military action. The Germans don't want a war either. The Italians have said they want no parts of military action without a UN Security Council resolution authorizing force. Other countries have made comments along the same lines. In fact, the NATO Secretary General, Anders Rasmussen, who represents the entire body of more than two dozen countries... says NATO will not take part in any attack.

Other nations, even closest U.S. allies, are against military action because they understand that it doesn't make sense. Their military leaders have told their political leadership the same thing that top U.S. Generals have told the White House and the Congress... that military intervention was not a good idea. That such action should be avoided (in so many words), and that there was no military solution to the problems in Syria. Most importantly, leaders in other countries understand that the civil war in Syria is not their fight...and they are looking out for the best interests of their respective nations. In fact, a military strike (according to Gen. Dempsey) would only make matters worse. Military intervention would not be in America's best interests.. (this is the top General of the United States of America). Dempsey's advice is to continue supporting the opposition covertly...perhaps increasing that support, sending humanitarian aid, putting pressure on Assad for a political solution...showing him he can't win outright, while at the same time... pushing for a political/diplomatic settlement. Most sane analysts agree that this is the only viable option. Yet in an unprecedented show of ignorance, Obama is going to go against the advice of the Generals. Why? Because he is concerned about saving face after he made that stupid "red line" comment. He is willing to risk international stability, the lives of Americans, and the economy (all of that is on the line) because he is concerned about losing face.

2). Will it be legal? No, absolutely not. There will be no UN mandate for military action on Syria. There is no other precedent acceptable under international law that would make such an attack legal. NPR provided great analysis on this. There will be no legal basis for an attack. But it doesn't look like Mr. Nobel Peace Prize will be held up by matters of international law. Since when does the U.S. recognize international law anyway?

3). Will an attack be in the best interests of the U.S.? Absolutely not. With Iraq still fresh in the nations conscience, and the war in Afghanistan still raging, the U.S. (and Europe for that matter) is not in the mood for another stupid, unnecessary war (something that Mr. Nobel Peace prize himself railed against when he was a Senator). Gen. Dempsey has made it clear that military action (even a limited attack) would not be in the national interests of the United States and would commit the U.S. to deeper involvement down the road (that could require U.S. soldiers on the ground).

We are coming out of the worst recession (not counting the Depressions) in American history...a near Depression. The economy is on the verge of a substantial rebound. This is not the time to put all of that at risk, especially for a situation that could be handled another way. Covert action..and supplying the opposition with real weaponry that could turn the tide...would be a far more sensible response. Such a response would actually be worse for Assad. Tank buster weapons, heavy guns, long range sniper rifles, guided/smart artillery.... would be devastating to Assad. In fact, he would not be able to survive that kind of weaponry. Such weapons could take out (over time) his tanks, artillery pieces, fuel storage, supply lines and would demoralize his troops and sap their will to fight. Assad's government would collapse.

An attack would also risk a wider conflict or at the very least, destabilize the Middle East even further. Definitely not what we need.

4). Obama promised that he would wait for the UN to finish its work in Syria, as they investigate what happened. However, just a couple of days later, the Obama Administration changed course and stated that it wouldn't wait for the UN. It has been interfering with UN efforts ever since, trying to discredit the work of the inspectors before they even have a chance to present findings on the matter. Instead, Obama wants to rely on U.S. intelligence. If you have been paying attention over the past 20 years, you know that the U.S. intelligence community doesn't exactly have a good reputation for making the right call. In fact, they have been wrong more often than right on major issues (Missing 9/11, allowed itself to be politicized on Iraq...and making the wrong assessment...and not just a bit wrong... but gigantically wrong; wrong about Pakistan and its nuclear ambitions; wrong about Pakistan and its relationship with the U.S.; wrong for so long about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden/missing opportunities to kill or capture him for a decade; missing the first WTC bombing; and missing the bombings in Africa just to name a few). Relying on an intelligence assessment to make a decision for war in a case like this (not to mention going against the advice of the nation's top Generals) is beyond risky, it's downright reckless. Based on its record I don't trust any report that the U.S. intelligence community comes up with. Furthermore, the assessments they make are not usually strong facts.... leading to any solid conclusion. Instead, they are guesses. The WMD in Iraq was a guess based on group-think and bad information from opposition groups who had a motive to drag the U.S. into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. The same thing is taking place with Syria right now.

The fact is, it is not clear who may be using chemical weapons. There are indications that both sides may have used them. What many don't understand is that there are many chemical weapons technicians in Syria, mostly in the military....due to the large amount of these dangerous weapons in the Country. So there is a lot of know how. The FSA and other militia's are an offshoot from the Syrian Army. These men have the same training. There are many in the opposition who know how to build these weapons, mix the chemicals and use them. There are also radical Islamist groups fighting the FSA, with motive to use such weapons if they got their hands on them. Many of those groups are also fighting Assad. There are many different sides in this war. There are militia (extremist) groups in Syria who may not be under Assad's direct control who may have access to these weapons. The chemical weapons storage facilities are all over Syria, but Assad's forces don't control all parts of the Country. But it is clear that the FSA or other groups fighting Assad (including terrorist groups that are part of Al Qaeda) would have the most to gain from using such weapons.

Lastly, the UN report, even when it comes out, will only be able to establish conclusively whether a chemical agent was used. The investigation will not likely be able to determine who actually used the weapons. So again... even if Obama waited for the UN report, he would be deciding to go to war on partial, flimsy information... which he indicated he would not do.

Now Obama has switched gears again and added that his goal will be to prevent another use of chemical weapons. But that has been quickly panned. Every military expert and analyst that I have read and heard agrees that (IF Assad was responsible... and that's a big if) an attack would not do anything to prevent another use of such weapons. But on the contrary, if the rebels or some other loose group was responsible, a U.S. attack would actually encourage more attacks, not discourage them. Because the rebels would see that it got what it wanted.... U.S. military intervention. In that scenario a U.S. attack would essentially hand over control of the U.S. military (and eventually NATO) to the rebels. They would see that the U.S. reacted (positively in their minds) to the use of such weapons... so they would actually be incentivized to use them as much as possible... having the opposite affect of what Obama claims that he wants...and it would eventually drag the U.S. full force into a bloody civil war.

So Obama is really 0 for 5 here. He has basically not kept his word about anything he stated that he wanted to do as part of a western "response". (He has basically lied to our faces). Or at least it appears that way. If he decides at the last minute to make a more logical choice... then he would make himself look a little better. However, all indications are he is leaning towards some sort of conflict. But even if he changes his mind... he has really dug himself too deep into a hole. For me he can never again be the man who he presented himself to be back in 2004, 05, 06, 07, 08. That Barack Obama is gone for good. His antics over the last 5 years, and especially over the last week (rushing to judgement and rushing towards another stupid, ill advised war) was enough for me. He is now in the same group as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton... post impeachment. Not the gifted, brilliant, visionary bringing a new approach to the White House, supporting Progressive values, and looking out for the interests of everyday Americans. Sadly, that guy may have never existed.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington

President Obama talks with Yolanda Renee King, 5, granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., her mother Andrea Waters, and Martin Luther King III

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syria & Beyond: Obama's Predictable Pattern on War

In my April commentary "Just Another War President"... I pointed out how Obama's foreign policy was no different from Bush or any other predecessor.

In the Case of Obama, Impeachment Is Not Such A Dirty Word Anymore

Growing very tired of Barack Obama. Can we trade this guy? I would even support the idea of impeaching this jackass. Dragging this country into a dangerous, intractable war (even risking it) is reckless. Doing so against the advice of the chief Generals is even more outrageous. He needs to go back to Chicago so that he can finish ruining that. Then he could listen to his rap music til his hearts content. We have seen how much damage a hip hop mayor can do. We don't need a hip hop President. I have absolutely no respect for this clown. He has disappointed a few times too many. He came dressed in sheep's clothing and had a nice speech, but over the past 5 years he has shown himself to be a continuation of politicians who came before. He's just another jackass in a suit with little integrity.

According to one recent survey, only 9% of Americans support U.S. military intervention in Syria. NINE PERCENT. Folks, let me tell you... I have been around for a little while... have followed war and politics for a good 20 years... and I can tell you, this is rare in the last few decades. Americans are typically infatuated by war... they love it. War is the national fetish. The country is addicted to it. You might see opposition get to 40%, 50%, 60%...and on rare occasions...70%. But a poll showing only 9% support for war in a country that usually can't get very rare. If Obama ignores that... and in addition to that (as mentioned before) goes against the advice of Generals who want no parts of the war in Syria... then Obama is unfit to be President. I would support any effort to impeach this man. (Republicans have been calling for impeachment for they finally have a legitimate reason).

I wish I had a Party to vote for. The closest thing that matches my viewpoint is the Green Party (Jill Stein)....but of course that isn't much of a viable choice. Their core beliefs are basically America first... fix Americas problems...fix infrastructure, healthcare, education, energy policy, the economy, deal with debt, pass the dream act/fix immigration, come up with a plan for student loan relief, and spend more time improving life for Americans at home...and leaving other countries alone.

It's ironic that America is celebrating the march on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, while a Black President, benefiting from the sweat and blood of King, may be deciding to launch another war. Ironic because Dr. King's anti-war activism was just as important to him as his work in civil rights and economic justice. But the media and certain politicians like to conveniently forget that part of his history. I can't forget it. It's one of the aspects of King that I admire most. He wasn't assassinated until he started to speak out strongly against U.S. war policy. Obama and the mainstream Democrats are just a slightly milder version of the Republican Party....but their bull---- is all the same.

Luckily I didn't vote for him in 2012. Wrote Jill Stein's name down in protest.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Americans Focused on Miley Cyrus's Sex Show While Obama Takes Country to War

While Obama takes the Country to war, Americans are busy focusing their attention on Miley Cyrus's simulated sex routine on the VMA's. America, once a great nation, is now just a permanent f*cking nightmare. All too typical.

On Syria Obama Is Reminiscent of George W. Bush

Just a short 2 days ago Obama stated that he would wait for all the "facts" and for a thorough UN investigation.

He also played down military action and stressed that a UN mandate and a strong international consensus would be needed before any tougher measures on Syria.

The British, in the last 24 hours or so stated that any action on Syria would have to be taken "in accordance with international law and would require broad international support". (statements by Cameron and Foreign Secretary Hague).

Now, on 8-26-13.... suddenly the UN doesn't matter. Any investigation has already been tainted. So they will create their own facts. They have basically made up their minds already (classic group-think). They decided to go to war even before the UN workers started their investigation. Let me translate what they mean by a broad international coalition. To them, a broad international coalition means NATO/Western nations (the rest of the world...the majority of the world doesn't count, particularly Russia, China & the developing world). Folks, that's not a broad coalition. To them, "international law" means whatever they decide it is going to be. So everything they stated they were going to terms of doing things right.... I knew they weren't going to do. The drumbeat of war had already started some time ago... and their appetite for war is just too strong.

Obama has lied about not going to war and making such a grave decision without waiting for all information (one of many lies he has told regarding Syria...and other issues). He also hinted that he would not make a decision to use force unless it could be determined for sure what happened and who used what. Well, there is no way to determine that in this case. So that would be another lie to add to the pile.

I don't think Obama is as bright as people proclaim him to be. Clearly he doesn't understand international affairs, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. He just doesn't have a good grasp on what is going on. In the case of Syria, his inexperience and lack of good advisors has helped to lead up to this situation. For example, his "red line" speech was nothing short of stupidity. His advisors should have never allowed him to make that speech in the first place. I have no doubt that it actually exacerbated the situation in Syria. It gave extreme motive to any number of bad actors in the civil war.

The fact is that U.S. officials really don't know who is responsible for the alleged chemical attack. They are guessing. Obama has already made up his mind that he won't rely on the UN, after calling for a UN investigation. He will now rely on intelligence reports... which is just a system of guessing. The intelligence community in the U.S. has a bad reputation for getting these assessments wrong....and not just a little bit wrong... but extremely wrong, as was the case with Iraq. In the case of Iraq, U.S. policymakers (who also wanted to go to war anyway...and were looking for an excuse) relied on bad information from opposition groups and Iraq expatriates. It was revealed later, after the U.S. had already sacrificed much blood and treasure, that the whole effort by the opposition groups was an elaborate ruse and a fraud. It turned out that the information that they provided was completely phony....and thus, there were no weapons of mass destruction. The opposition groups, knowing that the U.S. wanted an excuse to go in, offered some bait that would allow us to do their dirty work and remove Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. is following the same script in Syria. It is clear that they simply want an excuse to go in, because they don't seem concerned at all about whether their information is correct.

Key fact missing here is that 1). There are several factions fighting in Syria with a motive to produce and to use chemical weapons. The U.N. has even reported that the rebels have had some responsibility for chemical weapons use. 2). There are numerous chemical weapons specialists in a country like Syria, many from the Army. The FSA is an offshoot of the regular Syrian Army, and many of these fighters (from the FSA opposition, and the regular pro government army) have had the same training on chemical weapons, ordinance use, and many could have at some point had access. The militant groups may also know how to make and use such weapons.

With Obama mentioning a "red line" for triggering U.S. military involvement (the #1 goal of rebel forces), he created the impetus for rebels and possibly others, to begin creating & using these weapons. There is no doubt that as soon as Obama made that "red line" speech, rebels and militant factions began either making chemical weapons (which a skilled chemical ordinance technician or a chemical engineer could do), or they set out to acquire them. Terrorists fighting both the FSA and the Assad government would love to have them. The point is, the government forces are not the only side in this fight who could possibly use chemicals.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Speeches from the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Here are some speeches from today's Anniversary of the March on Washington

From Rev. Al's speech:

I come to tell ya, I know why they're screeching and hollerin and talkin crazy...cause old America has passed away. Old America that only worked for white males has passed away. Old America that only worked for English-speaking has passed away. Old American that'd tell you who to sleep with, but don't put food in the kitchen has passed away. Old things have passed away. We see a new America. We see an America of equality...of justice...of fairness. We march because we're gonna bring a new America - one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice - not just for some, not for who you chose, not for who you like - but for all. We believe in a new America.

The U.S. Should Stay Out of Syria

It appears that the U.S. is moving closer to launching a war against Syria, as if we need any more wars. Certain officials in Washington seem intent on finding an excuse to attack. I wish they'd launch a war on poverty, inequality, a lagging education system & unemployment with the same kind of energy.

I'm afraid Mr. Nobel Peace Prize will bow to pressure again and take another step to get us entangled in the mess there. The U.S. always seems to get suckered into these wars. It happened in Iraq (with phony information from opposition groups) and to some degree in Afghanistan (with Al Qaeda one of its goals... to draw the U.S. to the region so that they could slaughter our people). The U.S. and its allies fall for it every time. Hopefully (praying) this time they won't. But so far it doesn't look good. What most Americans don't understand is that the war in Syria includes Jihadi extremist groups (terrorists... including Al Qaeda) vs. the FSA opposition, as well as Opposition vs. Assad, and Jihadi extremists vs. Assad. It's not just FSA vs. Assad. There is a 3, 4, 5 way major battle taking place...not including smaller factions within those sides jockeying for power. There are numerous groups with an incentive to use chemical weapons. The Jihadi terrorists would certainly use chemical weapons if they stumbled upon them. The opposition, which the UN has already suspected of chemical weapons use, deinitely has a motive to use them in order to drag the U.S. into their stupid, brutal, senseless civil war. The Assad government would actually have the least to gain from using chemical weapons. It makes little sense for them to use such weapons with a UN chemical weapons inspection team just arriving.

There is no viable military option in Syria. Direct U.S. military intervention would make the situation worse, at least in the short term (hitting the military would inevitably mean hitting infrastructure that civilians rely on...compounding the suffering). U.S. involvement also runs the risk of spreading the war.... drawing in other countries. Russia is already suggesting least enough to try to keep Assad afloat.

Once again the U.S. is listening to a shady opposition...this time in Syria. This is the same opposition that was reportedly caught in possession of dangerous weapons...and based on a UN report was responsible for chemical weapons use. But these are the groups that U.S. leaders are now relying on for information. It's the worst kind of deja vu.

Luckily Gen. Dempsey doesn't want any part of the mess in Syria. He is trying to get the warmongering idiots in Washington to settle down. It's funny how John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the other cheerleaders for war always say "listen to the Generals". But I guess that doesn't apply this time. But as Dempsey has indicated...the cost/benefit analysis for going to war is lopsided in favor of not attacking. Going in would likely make matters worse, not better....while at the same time... it would not solve any of the problems related to the use of chemicals. In fact, if the rebels are responsible...a U.S. military strike will simply encourage them to keep using chemicals to get the U.S. to do what they want the U.S. to do... to attack and get further entangled in their war.

Public opinion is on the side of staying out. In one survey, almost 70% of Americans polled said that the U.S. should stay out of Syria.... including 68% of Democrats & 69% of Republicans. Rare consensus.

Yet Obama will be pressured to attack (notice how there was never this kind of pressure to help the poor folks in Rwanda or Darfur...dying in far greater numbers...but deemed unimportant because they were Black Africans). Add Israel & oil to a region (selfish interests in the big scheme of things) and all of a sudden the U.S. finds a humanitarian heart & is concerned.

I say stay out of the mess in Syria. I hope caution & sanity (and our best interests at home) wins the argument for once. This war, as brutal as it may seem, is not our war to fight. There is this idea that every war (with the exception of parts of central and southern Africa) requires U.S. intervention. American officials have really bought into the insane idea that the U.S. must save the world... that we are the almighty global hegemon that must police the world and intervene militarily everywhere it can.

Give the rebels humanitarian assistance and perhaps more.... but let them fight their own battles. Instead... the U.S. should work on a political settlement, although with extremist groups now involved, that will be more difficult.

There should be more pressure applied to the Russians (and perhaps the Chinese) to get cooperation from Assad. The Russians should be shamed. Russia is not a normal country and doesn't adhere to diplomatic norms. It is run by old KGB figures.... essentially like a mafia State. But as cold-hearted and indifferent as they may be, there are two things that Russia still cares about: 1). Its image around the world and, 2). Money (economics). Russia, unlike some other renegade countries, does not want to be isolated. The Russian government knows that it must keep the average Russian relatively happy.... or at least it doesn't want to spark too much economic instability and discord among the masses. It must also keep the Russian elite happy (those who run the nation and control the financial system). To do that, Russia must maintain good relationships with other countries.

If other countries are so concerned about Syria they should show it by dialing back their economic ties (at least temporarily) with Russia. If you hit Russian trade and slow international investment...and if Europe in particular could find ways to significantly cut its use of Russian energy, Russia will feel the pinch and would quickly realize that Assad isn't worth the cost. Russia has to be shown that it is in its best interests to be more cooperative with the bulk of the international community and end its efforts to re-establish the Cold War (something that I have always said never went away... but it is clear now that Russia wants to bring back the Cold War of old). The U.S. and other countries should, at the same time, put more carrots on the table for Russia. Letting them know that cooperation could lead to more economic benefits for Russia.

Countries could also threaten to boycott the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Russia wouldn't want that PR disaster. There are a number of creative ways to deal with Russia.

I am hoping that this time, sanity will prevail.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

George Duke: 1946-2013

Black Messiah, Part I Live in Berlin (composed and performed by George Duke)

Black Messiah Part II

Health Problems and No Insurance,, Stress, ACA, and Politics

I have been on a very long hiatus from this blog..... I have been gone so long I almost didn't remember my password this time. But the fact is.... I would read the posts and log in every week or two to clean up the comments section....but I would never have time to post or make any updates of any kind.

I have been dealing with health issues over the past few months/weeks. I have also been overtaken by stress. The photo posted is from my bp machine. This is what life has done to me. (have thrown up numbers worse than this). I have been struggling on the job front as some may know. I recently found out that my company has been sold...and I may be going through the same process (yet again) that I went through just a couple of years ago... a major change-over where you have to prove to people why they should keep you. This will be the 3rd change-over for me, and I literally can't take it anymore. I work in a job that is not only less than desirable but that is also stressful. Change-over situations add even more stress to what is already there. So I have had to check out. Blogging hasn't been anywhere near the top of the list of things to do..... in fact, it hasn't even made the list at all.

After going to a required physical, more problems cropped up. Some of it is a manifestation of all the stress I have been under. Part of it has to do with a combination of genetics, a lack of healthcare, and a lack of physical activity (which I attribute to the stress). To make matters worse...and what has made the stress worse has been the fact that I have been dealing with health issues without any insurance. I am looking at several out of pocket doctor bills. I managed to obtain private insurance when the chaos all started...but I quickly found out that all I had was an insurance card.... not health coverage. Aetna refuses to pay even for simple doctors visits, even though the plan I purchased covers them. Aetna is by far the worst of all insurance companies both in the group and in the private insurance markets. Do yourself a favor and avoid them if you can. It has been nothing but a nightmare within a nightmare for me. They have literally made my health worse.... not better.

My current employer unfortunately does not provide comprehensive health coverage.... it only offers a mini medical plan that robs your payroll check but offers very little in terms of healthcare. I believe it only covers doctors visits... but nothing in terms of actual medical tests or specialist care. In other words, you can see a doctor, but it wouldn't cover anything that a doctor might find. Knowing that....and considering how much it would take out of my pay... I elected not to sign up. Of course ....although not feeling great at the time, I was not as sick... and decided to take the chance, hoping that I would be able to find a more suitable job that matched my education and experience. But being in the St. Louis job market (a job market built on lousy service jobs) I was not so lucky. After 2 years... not much changed. So I have been getting worse and worse. Now, with my insurance falling through, I really can't see the doctor for any in depth consultations.... at least not right now.

Luckily ACA or The Affordable Care Act will go into full effect (the bulk of the law) in just a few months. Hopefully i won't need it.... but it will be good to know that it may be an option. But the numbers that I have been seeing for the cost of the exchange plans has me wondering if this will be a viable option. The numbers are just speculation. No one knows what the actual costs will be (impossible to know until it is clear how many people will be in a particular pool...the more people enrolled the better....or at least that is conventional wisdom). The amount and availability of subsidies is also an unknown. With my income (between 30k & 36k), I would definitely qualify for additional assistance. But at the moment.... I am at the mercy of Aetna and the private insurance industry...and for all practical purposes, I have no coverage. (Aetna has started the rescission process on me, after just 3 weeks on their plan). It would have been better if they would have rejected me from the beginning...allowing me to find another provider. Something told me not to go with Aetna....because I knew their reputation. But their plan looked inviting and I fell for the lies they told me. I'm worse off now than if they would have rejected me from the start. Now it will be harder to find any other company. Aetna is truly a criminal organization masquerading as a legitimate business. I hope they are the first health insurance fraud to fold after ACA takes effect.

On top of that... not much else has gone right. At some point I will write about some stories. I'll just say this... the dating world sucks...and yes... women (a good portion of them) are nuts. When you are a Black guy attempting the online dating thing... you quickly realize...within the first 2 or 3 weeks, that you were born the wrong color. And the women have no problem letting you know it. To be successful....or to even get a decent response rate.... let's say 1-2 women interested per month.... you have to be white (this is the most basic requirement), and you have to be financially comfortable.... that means that the women want to see an income of $60-$70k if possible. They may take you if you make $50k...but you have to be extra good looking. A lower middle class or working class guy.... earning a bit less is not good enough....can never really be good enough. Those are the 2 big strikes against me... being Black...and not earning top dollar. Reading the profiles, the women make it clear that they want you to maintain or provide a certain lifestyle for them. It's like they are for sale. It seems much more like a business transaction... like someone selling a sofa on Craigslist as opposed to an effort to get to know another human being and to potentially find a life partner. It is odd indeed. The Black women are looking for thugs, some sort of strange Tupac rapper clones with college degrees....or guys with tattoos and "street sensibility" or "street cred" (of course they claim they don't want this...but that argument was lost years ago.... this is by and large what they want). Even many of the so-called good Black women... the "Claire Huxtable's" and the Lisa Bonet's have regressed and now see this as the ideal guy. It is strange indeed. And you have to earn top dollar for them too... they are the worst. So I don't tend to fit what they want.

Asian women primarily want white and/or Asian men. There are rare...very rare... exceptions. But for the most part they will not date a black matter what kind of person you are. I find them to be extremely (and openly) racist.... they are worst than any other "community" in that regard. Many will post in their profiles that black men need not apply. I have read things like... (paraphrasing)... 'If you are a black Guy...please don't contact me. I cannot stand black guys. Gross'. Basically Asian women (even if they liked a black guy) cannot introduce you to their families. It is considered an embarrassment... because it is seen as degrading...and "dating down". I could be Barack Obama...and it wouldn't make much difference.

White women also see dating a black guy as an embarrassment and "dating down". They too don't want to be frowned upon by their friends and families (at least that tends to be the case for the kinds of women I tend to go for...educated...ones that would make a good girlfriend, wife, mother to children, and share my interests, etc). Black & White couples are common in other regions of the country. But St. Louis has lagged behind. St. Louis has been recognized (in a number of reports) as one of the most segregated cities/regions in the U.S. and the dating divide is just another reflection of that. This is one of the reasons why I would love to leave St. Louis and start over somewhere else. And they are also very money focused for the most part.

Basically the women on the popular dating sites are vultures. I would say 2/3 are money focused gold digger types.... Extremely shallow.... lacking in substance of any kind. The remainder have some sort of problem with race, are crazy black women who have no clue what a good man actually is, or can't be honest on their profiles about who they are.... (usually lying about weight). Genuine humans with souls are few and far between on the online dating sites. Participating in that kind of madness has been draining... adding to my stress.

Would love it if the higher power (if he/she exists) would send me a wife at some point.... or at least some wife candidates. I'm in no hurry to get married.... but I at least would like options. It's a shame that just because of my skin color.... I don't even have the options that other men would otherwise have. It's strange knowing that if only I were white.... or if I were some homicidal thug covered in tattoos with drugs, murder, rape or some other felony on my rap sheet.... I would have more options in terms of women. It's a very strange world we live in. One thing is for certain... the "gentleman" is dead. Unfortunately that went out of style immediately after the Cosby era.

I have a ton of things going on that will keep me away from blogging anytime soon.... I am in the process (if all goes as planned.... and with my luck... this is truly a toss up situation) of changing jobs, and moving into a new place. I also have a volunteer gig that I put on hold when I got too sick. I am also dealing with managing health issues.... and my stress situation isn't getting any better. All of this is taking place simultaneously. Hopefully things will settle down in a few months (but something tells me that won't be the case).

At some point I will try to make a blog post once per week. But to be honest... I haven't been inspired by anything on the political front. The Republicans are still the same incompetent, reckless, irresponsible, obstructionist racists that they've always been..... scum... with Democrats not doing much better. Obama is just lurching along right now.... behaving like a lame duck even before his second term began. I am just hoping that he doesn't lurch us right into another war... writing more checks that we can't cash. Any new foreign policy missteps (wars) could dwarf Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. is in the worst foreign policy position that it has been in since the 1930's. No one respects the U.S. anymore. No one respects our word. In many parts of the world, the U.S. is now the evil empire that we once disparaged. I don't see it getting better anytime soon. Until a new foreign policy approach is allowed to emerge (something to replace old Truman Doctrine & Reagan era thinking) the U.S. will be in trouble. U.S. policymakers still believe that the U.S. should be involved in every conflict in every part of the world. It's insane. Idiots in Washington D.C. see war or threat of force as the answer for solving every foreign policy dispute. There is no innovative thinking taking place in foreign policy circles at all. U.S. foreign policy should be based on realism and pre-emptive problem solving.... not drones and pre-emptive attack. It's no coincidence that the best foreign policy scholars in America (those who were right about Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) are realists. I just hope Obama will listen to voices like theirs.... and not Republican war nuts like John McCain.

The healthcare reform/ACA rollout and immigration reform will be interesting to watch. I don't think Republicans will allow any serious, meaningful legislation on immigration reform.

But I will try to find something to blog each week (starting in a few weeks). Trying to get my health situation under control will take some time. Meanwhile, I have been trying my best to take it easy.

I also want to start doing restaurant reviews for various spots in St. Louis. I have done two reviews here so far. This will give me a reason to write.

I spend most of my time these days reading news journals, listening to programs on the NPR site, and using Twitter and Facebook. Not a huge fan of Twitter or Facebook. But they are useful. I use FB primarily to stay connected with a few relatives. I could give you my FB page information.... but I would have to kill you.... since I use my real full name.

Enjoy the last few weeks of Summer.

~ Brian

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bandana's BBQ: A Must Have If You Are In St. Louis

I usually avoid blogging on local interests but this meal was just too good.

Bandana's BBQ is a must have if you are ever in St. Louis. I have wanted to check out this restaurant for at least a year, but with my work and grad school schedule, the planets never aligned. But today everything fell into place. This restaurant is a small local/regional chain, and this particular location was in Rock Hill, in southwest suburban St. Louis. I was just finishing up a doctors visit in the area...and this time remembered to pay a visit.

Due to recent health issues, I had to order the turkey platter. I included a healthy baked potato and some baked beans to make a pretty decent meal. The server was outstanding and the food came out nice and quick. The turkey was slow smoked to perfection. And my sides were just as I ordered them (must give credit for that... I am finding that a lot of restaurants get confused and screw order when I ask for no seasoning/no salt). Someone always checked on me every 10 minutes or so, but I didn't feel smothered. Granted... I chose to go during the middle of the week at a time when the restaurant was not packed with dinner guests. Although I hate crowds...and usually avoid them if I can, I may go back at a busier time to see if I get the same service.

I would rate the service at about a 9. The food gets an 8.5. I would give the restaurant an 8.5 overall. But that's just based on one visit. Unfortunately I had to lay off the BBQ ribs (my favorite it is for most people). But I will cheat on my diet and try the ribs in moderation on my next visit. It has been said many times that Bandana's has some of the best BBQ in St. Louis.... maybe even THE best. The top of the BBQ hill is a steep one in St. Louis, since we are one of the nation's top regions for BBQ, along with Kansas City, Memphis, Chicago, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Texas (among others). There are several others who claim the top spot here - Piccadilly at Manhattan, Pappy's, and 17th Street Bar & Grill to name a few.

I hope to try them all at some point to find out for myself which is best.