NO BACKBONE: THE MITT ROMNEY CHRONICLES: MINIMUM WAGE

The minimum wage in the United States is one of those issues that people on both sides of the political spectrum have differing views on. To some extent, I can see both sides of the argument, though I would want the minimum wage to increase with respect to inflation. Looking at it simply, if someone who works two jobs at minimum wage barely makes ends meet at the end of the day, especially if one has a family to take care of. If inflation is a part of the economic situation at the time, then how can one realistically still be able to meet those financial obligations without an increase in the minimum wage to match inflation.

Costs of everything go up, but minimum wage should stay linear? I don’t think that is the right thing to do. This may explain why some states have differing minimum wages, many of which are higher than that of the federal government mandate.

Mitt Romney was asked this question earlier this year; his position on the minimum wage. His response was “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the Consumer Price Index or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.” Two months later, literally two months later, Mitt Romney changed his mind on this saying he was not in favor of tying the minimum wage to inflation in order to placate the republican base. Supporting the minimum wage being pegged to inflation or consumer price index is not a position that the GOP generally stands for. What is puzzling is that Mitt Romney actually held this position when he launched his gubernatorial campaign in 1994. However, when it came time to sign a bill that would have increased the minimum wage, he did veto the bill. With many policy positions, he straddles both sides of the fence.

The argument against tying the minimum wage to inflation is that it will not spur job creation. In fact it will have the opposite effect. In countries like China, India and some other south-east Asian nations, there may not be minimum wage laws, which may also explain why children as young as 10 work long hours (12-14 hr days) getting paid $1-$4/day. The argument here is if we scrap the minimum wage, there will be an increase in job creation in the United States. However, minimum wage last went up to $7.25/hr in 2007, and corporations have seen for the most part, nothing but record profits or met growth/profit estimates. Mitt Romney seems to know that the republican and conservative base views him as suspect, but it is an odd marriage because they certainly don’t prefer the alternative. On major policy issues, Fmr Governor Mitt Romney does not seem very decisive. Just change positions for political expediency.

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NO BACKBONE: THE MITT ROMNEY CHRONICLES : GUN CONTROL

This is the first in a series of issues that define Mitt Romney’s political stances that seem to accommodate change like the direction of the wind. When someone says and does anything to go with the wind, then you doubt if they have the character necessary to seek the highest office in the United States of America.

Mitt Romney, seems no different than Barack Obama when it comes to the issue of gun control. However, Mitt Romney seems so bent on not trying to have anything in common with the president that he will go to great lengths to marry a position on guns he never had. He has basically disavowed the policy he favored when he was governor of Massachusetts.
In 2004, then Governor Mitt Romney said “I believe the people should have the right to bear arms, but I don’t believe that we have to have assault weapons as part of our arsenal.” In looking at the second amendment, I think any citizen should have no issues here with this. Handguns, shot guns, and hunting rifles are all weapons that any average citizens can and should have. M-16s, AK 47s, Uzis and other automatic assault weapons just don’t belong on city streets.

The NRA will tell you that by banning assault weapons, the government is infringing upon 2nd amendment rights. However, Mitt Romney had this right. There is no reason why military grade weapons should be in the hands of average citizens. They belong in one place only, and that is the men and women in uniform. 2012, Mitt Romney decides to go give a speech to the NRA to shore up their support. The NRA I am sure does not trust Romney, and I am sure his opponents do not trust him as well.
“I believe the people should have the right to bear arms, but I don’t believe that we have to have assault weapons as part of our personal arsenal.” – Mitt Romney 2004
The Brady Bill in particular that Mitt Romney now says is irrelevant and not needed should indeed be law. Automatic Assault Weapons should not be common place. Mitt Romney once was a strong champion of the Brady Bill, but now he has had a change of heart, because of course he is running for president. Conservatives and Republicans think he is suspect for good reason, because this guy does not have any backbone politically.

When it comes to gun laws, Mitt Romney favors/favored the Brady Bill in MA, one could conclude because it was a liberal state. However in seeking and ultimately getting the Republican nomination for president, he is no longer in favor of the Brady Bill, because of course that contradicts the GOP platform.

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President Obama’s “Pretty Please” Foreign Policy

Pretty Please is a sweeter or kinder way to say APPEASEMENT. The word no President wants linked to their administration when it comes to foreign policy.

I must admit that when I heard this from Mitt Romney, I could not help but laugh. They say ignorance is bliss but this comment by Mitt Romney made me question if the former governor actually lives in this world.

Romney would have us believe that President Obama is weak on foreign policy. Well, let’s see what OUR President has to say about the “Pretty Please” foreign policy especially in regards to the base, or what much of the Western World knows as “Al-Qaeda”.

Many republicans seem to think that to have a strong military or national defense we have to go invading every nation that does not toe the line of the United States.  The U.S. has been down that road before with Iraq in very recent history and the consequences are real. How is it that you would want to carry out an attack against Iran? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is suffering terribly in his country as far as how his leadership is viewed. In some circles, he is isolated. Now how do you think an attack on Iran would play out in that nation, especially if the attack was unprovoked, as was the case in Iraq? The consequences would be beyond severe. In the short-term, gas prices here in the States would hover around $6 – $10/gallon. Iran would most certainly try to close the Straits of Hormuz (approximately 1/3rd of the world’s global oil supply goes through these waters), leading to an even bigger regional conflict with the United States.  Iran would definitely launch an attack on Israel directly and through Hezbollah and Hamas. Iraq would be caught in a difficult place, but likely would stay neutral or side with Iran, given the fact that there is a Shiite-led government in Iraq now. And all this is the tipping on the iceberg.  Yet these Republicans would have us believe that they are showing the world the U.S.’s military might by imploring WAR as an option.

So Mitt Romney, how exactly will you get tougher on Iran? War should not be the answer in this case. The path to war is not one our nation can afford.  Already, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have almost the United States bankrupt.

So is President Obama soft? Let’s go back to the Bush administration. What exactly did the Bush administration do with regards to Iran? Not nearly enough despite all their hardcore rhetoric and mentions of Iran as part of an axis of evil!

In this present Obama administration, the sanctions against Iran have been the strongest that any administration has levied, yet Republicans would have us believe that President Obama is soft on foreign policy. No he is pragmatic, and stands on the fact that military power alone does not solve all the world’s problems. The sanctions against Iran have immediately been biting that nation. Already, its currency has gone through devaluation with future devaluation a great possibility. Transactions are becoming much harder as people are penalized for carrying out transactions with Iran’s main Central bank. This has led to the Iranians threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. They would not be doing this if President Obama’s tough sanctions on their country were not having an effect. They are being boxed into a corner and closing the Strait of Hormuz, while feasible, cannot be maintained by the Iranian Navy for a prolonged amount of time especially if multiple allied Navies get involved in ensuring the Straits remain open. Besides, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz will have a detrimental effect on the Iranian economy as well. They need their oil shipments to go through those Straits. It is a difficult situation all in all, and I must stress, war is not the answer.

Romney says President Obama wants to talk to our enemies without preconditions. What is so wrong with that? This idea of shunning those governments we disagree with until they meet our demands is ludicrous. How did the U.S. and the Soviets resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis? A time when the world was so close to a nuclear war? They talked amongst each other! Albeit privately, that conversation between both adversarial countries led to the disarmament of missiles 90 miles from the U.S., and the U.S. agreeing to remove its missiles from Turkey.

Suppose President Obama talked with the Iranian president in a neutral country or at the United Nations during the general assembly and held other talks but with no success on getting Iran to stop developing its alleged nuclear weapons program. Then the world community would see that all the diplomatic channels had been exhausted, and war could possibly be a last resort. Personally I am against war but in this case, if there is a direct threat to our National Security or if the Iranians launch an attack first against the U.S. or on the U.S.’s interests in the Middle East, I see no reason why we should not defend ourselves.

I don’t fully agree with President Obama’s foreign policy, especially with regards to Libya, but some may call the Libyan operation a success given that a man who ruled Libya for 42 years is now gone; Osama bin Laden is dead; other numerous military actions have directly saved American lives in dangerous parts of the world. This President realizes the limits of military power, which allows diplomacy to take on an even bigger role. Unlike his predecessor who managed to alienate the United States from the rest of the world, it is imperative for President Obama to maintain a multilateral pronged policy when it comes to world affairs. Iraq is a mistake that should never again be repeated.

The U.S. lost a drone to Iran recently, which is what prompted Republicans to call President Obama weak. But why? Because the Obama administration demanded the Iranians to return the unmanned drone? What was President Obama supposed to do? Attack Iran over a drone?  Let’s get real. Would you spend billions of dollars in a war just to save an unmanned drone that doesn’t cost as much? Very illogical it seems. All this tough talk by the Republicans is just pandering to a right-wing base, but it would be foolhardy to launch missiles, much less invade a country over a lost unmanned drone. What can I say…Politics as usual. Except this President is too busy executing a sound foreign policy.

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Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial: A Profound Feeling

As Matt, D and I headed back to Paris from Pointe Du Hoc and Omaha Beach, we made a stop at the American Cemetery.  This memorial contained the tombstones of the United States servicemen and women whose remains were laid to rest in Normandy after WWII. We arrived to find the facility was closed to the public. It was being run by a former U.S. Marine (Take note: You don’t say former Marine because ‘Once a Marine, Always a Marine’). D, being a military veteran, helped convince the owner to give us five minutes to visit and be out.

I decided to just take as many pictures as I could, saving their reviewing for later, since we could only be in the memorial for a short amount of time. As I ran up the steps, I came to a complete halt as I saw the vast number of graves. Oh, the ugliness of war.  I thought about all the families that lost their loved ones during this battle. I looked out in the distance at Omaha Beach and serenity came over me. Because no one else on the premises but us three, one could hear the waves crashing on Omaha Beach.  The saying “REST IN PEACE” could not have rung more true.

Who knows what the world would have been today had our WWII veterans not valiantly and bravely defended our humanity? To show my continued appreciation and gratitude, I always make sure to say Thanks to every living WWII veteran I cross paths with. Their generation helped shape the world as we know it today. To all veterans and military families, I wish I could do more than thank you for your service, but as a serviceman told me, “Thanks for paying taxes.”

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Pointe Du Hoc: A Brief Stop

 

 

 

 

 

As Matt, G, and I left Omaha Beach, we made a quick stop at Point Du Hoc, which was a short 10 minute drive away. Our driver gave a brief narrative of the assault US Rangers undertook to get rid of some artillery guns the Germans were storing at this strategic hilltop side.

Much of the site still remains intact from the days of WWII. Bunkers, or craters from bombs, are all still in place. The area belongs to the United States, so I suppose in a technicality, we were in America while in France. Nonetheless, it was a great deal to witness all the history that we learned from history classes and saw in movies. To be at the site where very important battles took place was a worthwhile experience.

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Omaha Beach: D-Day June 6th, 1944 — A Promise Fulfilled

In search for something different than the fast pace, lights, glitz and glamour in Paris, my friends G, Matt, and I decided to take a day trip from Paris down to Omaha Beach, which is located in the Normandy, France. On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory”. More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high- more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler. ~ http://www.army.mil/d-day/

G, Matt, and I took a two hour train ride from Paris to Caen and from there, a two hour taxi drive to Omaha Beach. Our driver did not quite know the area well, but he was good about getting the right directions and making sure we got to our destination on time. What we were fortunate to have in our driver was the fact that he knew all the history of the region. This meant that, everything of historic importance, we got a brief or long narrative about.

It was a pleasant change driving through the country side enjoying the opened air view, bright flowers, and of course the narrow highways – nothing like what we have in the United States. Upon arrival to Omaha Beach, we made arrangements with the driver on what time to meet back at the taxi to return to the train station. We drove on the banks of the beach, and he showed us where the American troops attacked from. It was unbelievable that we were driving down a sacred historical site where, just almost 70 years ago, was the site of a bloody fight to liberate France from German occupation.

Those brave American troops faced enormous odds. Any German soldier who was on the banks on the beach could easily pick off American troops coming from the waters. However the Germans weren’t just on the banks, but high up above ground, which made the success of their mission a whole lot more remarkable in my opinion.

I took a quiet reflective stroll on the beach and paid my respects to those WWII veterans who sacrificed their lives and to those who lived to tell of the battles. Before traveling, a patient of mine in Daytona Beach told me that if I ever went toFrance, I should visit Omaha Beach and see ‘what we overcame’.  “I lost a lot of friends there,” he said, “go there for me and pay your respects to my brothers-in-arms.” This patient was always referred to as WAL-E. Thinking back to those words and reflecting on the stories he had shared with me about the war rendered my time on Omaha Beach an emotional moment; emotional in part because of all the military servicemen and women on active duty today, those who served before, and those who gave their lives for their country.  Let’s not forget the families that had to live on with the memories of their loved ones who were lost in battle. But above all, I had kept my promise to WAL-E, and that gave me a sense of accomplishment.

After our time on the beach, my friends and I took a walk to see the German bunkers. Along the way, we saw a tour group gathered around an individual. We later learned that this person was a former military member of the British or Australian force who was doing the narration of what occurred during D-Day. The top of the cliff gave unparallel scenic and panoramic views of the beach and the little town below. Though peaceful, the German bunkers – still in original shape – left remnants of the war vivid in my mind. After an hour, we returned to the meeting point, and headed towards the American military cemetery and the area that America was directly involved in, completing our tour of Normandy.

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Paragliding: Stepping out of the Box

It was night time when a friend I came across in Austria known as the King of Salzburg, or V, mentioned that he was going to do a tandem flight on the next day that I got to thinking, “What is a tandem flight?” He explained that basically you go flying with an instructor for about 30 minutes and it is a great experience. I was hesitant from the beginning so I decided I would walk around Salzburg and explore the city on my own while he did the tandem flight. I was however eager to find out how it went.

We met later at the hostel we were staying at and he told me all about it. Running off a cliff, and having the wind pull you up even higher were things that did not sit too well with me. Again, I told him I would pass on it, to which he replied, “You only live once. You have to try to get out of your box, and go through different experiences… ones which you would not otherwise do. There is a wonderful opportunity here for you to do this, so try it.” He gave me the instructor’s card to call and book my appointment.  After much contemplating, I called and booked my spot.

The next day at noon, V and I drove with the instructor to an unbelievable height on the mountain. I went through the formalities, paid the required fee, and signed my life away: literally. All the while, V was laughing at my plight. I looked confident on the outside, but on the inside my heart was racing. I peered down at the town below and the mountains in the far distance, and said to myself, “If things go wrong, at least I went out trying something new.” And with that, my fear was temporarily conquered.

The instructor and I walked to one end of the mountain where you could see the city below and waited for the right amount of wind to come before making a push for it. Unfortunately it never came, so we went to another side of the mountain with nothing but trees below. I immediately asked the instructor if I could close my eyes as we ran off the cliff but he said no; it was even more dangerous doing so as I could trip and fall and put both of our lives at further risk. “You have to see where you are running to”, he said.  But in my mind, I sarcastically thought, “Both of our lives are already in danger.” With the right burst of wind, he counted to three and I ran as hard as I could, my heart rate racing, beating forcefully against my chest wall, and we jumped off the cliff. Right away the wind pulled us up even higher! After those initial seconds, there was a calm that floated around me. At that instance, I said to myself, “This is how a bird must feel;” for the world seemed so small at this elevation.

The flight was serene and peaceful. It was a new experience that I was glad to have tried for the first time. There is an even greater chance that I will do it again someday.  It was 30 minutes of my life that was not in any way wasted.

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