Is America Corrupt?

Is America corrupt? Are our government leaders concerned about the well being of the country over and above their own self-interests? How many citizens cheat in business, and personally? How many taxpayers fudge their returns? Do many people pad their medical insurance reimbursements?

The college application scandal has been a real shocker. Well-to-do parents gamed the system to insure that their undeserving children obtained coveted acceptances from elite colleges. In some situations the children received help taking standardized tests, and bribes were paid to school administrators and sports coaches. The parents are not the type of people you would expect to actually commit felonies, even to benefit their children.

The scandal makes those of us who follow the rules wonder whether we are in the minority. Do most people cheat in everyday life?

Cutting corners starts early in life. If your parents didn’t take the time to tell you to respect others, then you probably don’t care about anyone but yourself. And, if you have opportunities to cheat playing basketball or monopoly as a child to increase the odds of winning, you took them. Even though no money was involved, you needed the self-satisfaction of winning.

And what about those of us who attend church, temple or mosque and pray to God? How many walk out of houses of worship and cheat on their taxes, abuse family members and steal from others? God does not bar anyone from visiting his house even if they are sinners because He has faith that we can behave better. In today’s environment this perspective may not be reality.

Whenever I listen to politicians and world leaders I feel like I’m being treated like a fool. Do these people really believe that I’m so stupid that I can’t recognize lies and twisted logic? Frankly many voters are fools if they rely on political claptrap to make their decisions.

Voters should spend time preparing for Election Day. Don’t vote exclusively on one issue. Consider the totality of a candidate’s principles and beliefs. Depending upon FOX News or the NY Times exclusively is a recipe for disaster. Good citizens learn about both sides of issues before they pull a lever at a polling place.

For so long I relied upon written news for my information. Sure, reporters are biased like anybody else. But newspapers, good newspapers, should ensure that reported news is factual and not tainted by opinions of the authors.

Today both sides of the political spectrum politicize every occurrence. To make matters more complex, those reporting the news offer their perspectives even as we assume they are unbiased. The feelings of the press towards our current president are deeply seeded with hatred and scorn (this is not to say the bad feelings are not justified by our leader’s demeanor). The facts in the newspapers and on TV are peppered with contempt.

If market or public sentiment changes from world events, everyone wants to know if it will impact their lives. Very little empathy is generated by the aftermath of certain events if they do not have an effect on one’s life. Things like famine, disease, war, oppression and abuse are other people’s problems. This perspective is inappropriate because events that do not seem to have any relevance can change how people act towards America.

And then there is our current president, the all-time master of misinformation and self-aggrandizement. To his credit Trump is transparent. He has not hidden facts from us except those that are related to his personal life (like his tax returns and his relationships with women). The man is not concerned about details. Rather, he cares only whether an event will benefit his ego and reputation. All the while his sycophants are telling him he is great every day.

Frankly I don’t believe Trump’s behavior will influence today’s young people. He is not and does not want to be a role model. Trump is so far off the grid that his behavior will be denigrated long after he leaves office. He will be rated as one of the worst presidents ever regardless of his accomplishments because he represents the worst of the way a leader should act.

My concern is whether I can believe anything said by my leaders, candidates for office and the media. Every time they step in front of a camera, it’s an effort to pump up their reputation or sell a political perspective as opposed to giving us germane things to think about. Americans are shielded from bad things like children not old enough to process negativity.

Honesty, integrity, empathy, generosity and courage along with creativity, innovation and risk-taking are what make a person great. When you add in concern for family, friends and country, you have a complete individual.

Does The U.S. Have A Moral Obligation To Aid Iraq And Defeat ISIS?

By Sal Bommarito

The United States bears a great deal of responsibility for the emergence of ISIS and affiliated terrorist groups. George Bush authorized the invasion of Iraq, which in retrospect was a terrible choice that fueled insurgency and terrorism. Similarly, Barack Obama’s decision to withdrawn troops from Iraq proved to be disastrous and beneficial to ISIS.

In the past, when America defeated an adversary, it assisted them in their reconstruction. Granted, Muslims throughout the Middle East have not been enthusiastic about American nation building, and often, Arab leaders have indicted that the U.S. should not occupy any states in the region. But shouldn’t the U.S. lead a restoration of the region? If not, who else will assume this dangerous and costly enterprise?

A perfect storm has overwhelmed the Middle East. ISIS has been able to prosper and feed upon discontent because the U.S. and Arab nations have not aggressively confronted it. Some how, some way ISIS has absconded huge tracts of land that straddle Iraq and Syria. Additionally, it has stolen oil and antiquities and sold them to finance its military operations. And, ISIS has successfully recruited disenfranchised individuals from around the world that are now fighting against the U.S. coalition. All this has been accomplished in spite of despicable ISIS tactics that include genocide perpetrated against Shiites, Christians and other groups.

The question that hangs over many Americans is whether the U.S. has a moral obligation to deal with ISIS more directly and put our brave soldiers harm’s way. This burden is based upon two considerations. One, should the U.S. take a major role in rebuilding Iraq because it contributed to its demise? Two, has ISIS become a significant threat to world peace to warrant an escalation of U.S. involvement? In other words, has ISIS risen to the status of Nazi Germany or imperialistic Japan? Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Syrians have been slaughtered and five or six million people are now in mortal danger.

The U.S currently is engaged in a feeble effort to apply airpower to stem the tide of ISIS. This strategy, which dramatically decreases the risk of American casualties, has not been productive. For the most part, the enemy has embedded itself in populated places, so the chances of collateral damage are great.

Ground troops are needed to root out the insurgents and direct bombing attacks. Reliance on Iraqi forces to serve in these roles has not worked out favorably. According to Ashton Carter, the Defense Secretary, the Iraqis don’t have the will to fight. Further, the involvement of Shiite militia affiliated with Iran has been vetoed by the Obama administration. And finally, Shiite fighters attacking ISIS in Sunni territory have fueled sectarian resentment. Peace between these two sects is a prerequisite to peace in the region, but it is light years from becoming a reality.

The U.S. is the only party that can turn the tide of the ISIS war.