Tag Archives: current-events

Hope and Change at Easter

“…living in a world whose leaders seem determined not to learn from disaster…”            -Paul Krugman

I read this in a piece in the NY Times, and immediately heard the DEEP VOICE (DV) that does movies trailers. Sounds like a cool new flick, with serious actors and high drama, where the stakes are the future survival of the world itself.  (DV) WILL THEY SURVIVE????

While Krugman’s piece itself was not so melodramatic, the end question isn’t really that different. Will WE survive those who would sacrifice the many in order to preserve the wealth of a few?

I wonder about our future on this Easter Sunday, a time of Nature’s rebirth, of brown giving away to green, of chill finally taking it’s leave and making room for the warmth to come. Can the dark chill of racial and ethnic hatred be dissolved away by the light that is Truth and Love? Will the chill of austerity enforced by class give way to the warmth that is charity and brotherhood?

We can hope; and we can be buoyed that, like the birds returning after winter, there are signs of a coming thaw.

I am not a Catholic, but it seems to me that the new Pope, Francis, in his actions and messages, has demonstrated a desire to get back to the original mission… helping the poor of the world. That can only be a good thing. He laughed and smiled as he reached out to the ‘flock’ and both touched and was touched by those whom he serves. (And unlike our Evangelical leaders, he didn’t weep openly as he told us how much God wanted us to give him our money.) It was a fine scene, one that engendered much hope for the future. I hope he has a sit down talk with our Cardinal Dolan, one that discusses who their customers REALLY are, and what their mission is, and is not.

Here in the US, there are more women serving in Congress than ever before. There is now a PAC dedicated to helping women run for office.  I’m a believer in gender equality, the notion that our sex makes us physically different but not less capable or valued under the Law. Women are not, by virtue of their gender, immune from the political processes that corrupt; but by virtue of, for ages being on the short end of society’s benefits, women are more likely to tear down the closed and unfair rules, and replace them with open and fair rules for everyone. If nothing else, I’d like to believe that a Congress with more women wouldn’t go to great ends to protect the unborn child at the expense of the child already living. As long as our government is intent on legislating women’s bodies and the morality of everyone, I feel better having women there to temper the dull chill of testosterone, and to make sure that everyone has a plate at the dinner table.

Outside of the US, England has agreed to honor a vote on Scottish Independence! Can Ireland be far behind? Yes, it can, despite recent apologies and mea culpas from the UK government. I recently met new friends through a young Irishman’s blog, and have learned that while passions still run hot, the republican ideals of yesteryear belong to yesteryear; today’s people have their own lives and passions and loyalties, and like us in America, sometimes their own tightly held ignorances as well.  I don’t agree with all that I read, but I thank them all for sharing their opinions and views, even the troglodytic, and wish them Peace.

Because people are people, and we’re more alike than not.

This Easter, my prayer is for peace, love and understanding to prevail upon all of the Peoples of the world.

Legitimate Rape, Domestic (in)Equality and Why…

I am continually surprised at how some elected individuals are willing to insult almost half of the voting population. I’m not weighing in on whether there is a “War on Women” by the conservative party, I’m looking into ‘why’ there is such a concerted effort to turn back the clock when it comes to women. It either shows how little respect they have for women, or how much they are beholden to the religious right, or how low they’ll go to keep the white, redneck voter.

First, I don’t for a minute believe that (most) republicans don’t have respect for the women in their lives. Easily half of the republicans I have known have been women.

Women who believe in equal rights, fair pay, and equal protection under the law for the fairer sex. I’ve known both sides of the GOP base, the wealthy and educated, and the low to middle-income, hard-working “we-don’t-need-no-education” side. They are all, as with people everywhere, (mostly) good people, and I’d say that less than a quarter of their men slap them around these days. Forty years ago that number was much higher.

Now granted, while recent republican actions show a great dis-respect for women as… a group, or a concept, they don’t really carry it over to their own wives and daughters. See Dick Cheney on same-sex marriage. Or see the ‘blue collar patriot’ guy whose wife works as a nursing aide in a catholic hospital and has to pay cash for her migraine medicine, which, because it can also be used as birth control, the insurance doesn’t have to cover.

“Legitimate Rape…”

I know this quote was shocking to many. I’m not shocked at all. I know lots of Lindsey Graham’s angry white guys who think that date rape isn’t rape at all, and moreover they think it unfair and highly prejudicial to hold them responsible for using Rohypnol (roofies) or alcohol to incapacitate a girl before using her. Seriously. Here in America in 2012.

You know them too, they are the ones who cheer at the thought of letting an uninsured accident victim die by the side of the road. They are the ones who boo the Marine who fought three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but is also gay. Or especially if lesbian.

So Todd Akin’s comment stems from his threatened republican male psyche, reeling from the social progress of the sixties and seventies, resenting the changes in societal norms, yearning for the good ol’ days of the ‘50’s when men were men and women did what they were told and then kept their mouths shut about it. Akin’s type, bolstered by hate trumpeter Rush Limbaugh, is sure of the notion that “feminazi’s” are now taking our jobs and then taking advantage of us by crying rape after the fact, when it really isn’t rape at all (well, from the rapists point of view, anyway).

And that BS about doctors telling him that the female body “has a way of shutting down a pregnancy from rape” (if legitimate, wink-wink)… that’s just the continuation of the abortion fight. After all, there’s no need for abortion in case of rape if there’s no pregnancy that can result. Facts are beside the point.

Combine the two in a public speaker, the GOP and the Religious Right mentality, and you get quotes from Todd Akin, Pat Robertson, Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum ad infinitum, that make absolutely no sense at all in a modern age. Here’s one that both fits and makes a nice segue:

“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.” –Pat Robertson

Domestic equality…

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but among other things this year (not jobs), the republicans in Congress have:

– failed to renew the Violence against Women act;
– vowed to repeal the Ledbetter Fair Pay for Women Act;
– introduced more bills designed to limit a woman’s choice over her body than any other Congress in history;
– attacked Planned Parenthood because low-income women are the main users.

This years Republican Party platform calls for the end of the Federal Student Loan program. The fact that women now outnumber men going to college might just be coincidence.

But I don’t think so.

Why pick on girls? See the Pat Robertson quote above. There are others.

But I am a male, so these things aren’t about me. Yeah, right.
I’m a father, and I have daughters. So these things really set me off.

Call me crazy, but I think my daughters should have the same rights as my sons; the same opportunities, the same consideration before the law, the same protections in society and the workplace.

Know what? Dick Chaney does too. Todd Akin does too.

Pat Robertson… not so much.

It didn’t happen for my mother’s generation, and even between siblings in my family there are big differences in the gender opportunities and access that were available to us during and after high school.

But our kids deserve better. Our parents believed that, and we got better than they had. We believed that, and our children got better than we did.

Now that our children are adults, they need to believe it as well. The clocks should run forward, not back.

The Religious Right

In the late 1970’s, a Christian based political movement gained momentum and even ran candidates for President. Their goal was to transform our government into one that ran on the principles of the Christian interpretation of the Bible.

Around the same time, the GOP picked up most of the southern white males (and by default, their women and subsequent generations) who couldn’t stomach the thought that blacks had equal rights, and they blamed the Democrats for giving them away.

“But here’s the thing about rights-they’re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they’re called rights.” — Rachel Maddow

That also means that rights can’t be ‘given’ away, only recognized. Now think about that for second…

Anyway, when the Moral Majority couldn’t get elected by the majority of the people, they threw in with the GOP, in a grand bargain to reshape America in their own image. They wanted Roe v. Wade gone. They wanted mandatory prayer back in the schoolroom, the Ten Commandments back in the courtroom and the Bible in our bedroom. The GOP had the political organization to make it happen.

The GOP wanted, as always, breaks for the corporate and wealthy, mostly in the way of deregulating governmental oversight of business practices. The kind of business practices that used sweatshops and child labor. The kind of business practices that caused Love Canal, and the BP oil spill. Business hates regulations, because safety, ours and that of their employees, cuts into profits. It’s not personal or anything. It’s just capitalism.

The GOP’s problem had been there were not enough voting American’s that benefited from perks to the wealthy and corporate. They needed votes, and Moral Majority ones would be just fine. Or so it seemed at the time.

Since the normal democratic process wasn’t working for them, they would attack through the back door. The fact that the majority of Americans didn’t want what they were peddling was of no consequence, because they believe they know what’s best for all of us.

The key for both was to fight a progressive Congress by stacking the judicial system with religious conservative minded judges who would rule in their favor against ‘liberal’ laws.

The key was to get a President elected who could appoint Supreme Court Justices that would decide for conservative and religious causes, and last for years after that President was gone.

Then they both started screaming about ‘left wing activist judges’ who were turning America into a godless, socialist State.


There’s a word that describes what the Religious Right is trying to do: Dominionism. No, it’s not trying to be like Canada. If only…

It’s trying to change our government, from the inside, to one that governs according to Biblical concepts. Think Sharia law (laws and justice based on Muslim holy scriptures), only with Evangelical Christians for Imam’s and Ayatollahs, and with the Bible instead of the Quran.

Both call for stoning people to death in a number of rather minor instances.

I’m all for living by Christian values, a quick read through this blog reveals that I believe in feeding the hungry, and in charity for the poor, and in helping those in need.

But then there’s this:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s the First Amendment to the Constitution, the first of what is known as the Bill of Rights. Our rights.

Which makes Dominionism more than un-Constitutional. It’s anti-Constitution.

Which makes it anti-America… so I’m 100% against it.

Here’s a little bit why…

The Pilgrims (1620) came here to get away from state enforced religion.

Protestants under Roger Williams (1636) did too.

As did most of the Irish. We were taught in school that it was the potato famine (1840) that brought them to America. They didn’t tell us that the ‘famine’ only affected the catholic Irish, or that most of the food grown in Ireland during the famine was shipped to England, by the Protestant government, intentionally, in an effort to literally starve more catholics to death, in the name of both God and Country. Today we’d call that genocide.

It was State religion, in this case Anglicanism, which drove our ancestors here to found a better place.

The Founding Fathers were open in their expressions of their individual faith, and clear in their intention that religion has no place in the governing of a free people.

The Constitution is clear that we are free to worship as we please, and that there will be no State religion to say otherwise.

The concerted efforts by the GOP to pass legislation and use judicial activism to press their religious views on the rest of America crosses that line between individual religious freedom and State enforced religion. Their actions are, at their core, un-American.

Joseph McCarthy never found the Red threat he thought was trying to take down our American system of government from the inside. I say he was just forty years early and looking for the wrong Reds.

The Point

In America, we are free to go (or not) to the Church of our choice, even one that uses an interpretation of the Bible of it’s choice, or even no Bible at all.

In America, we are free to proselytize, preach, give testimony, or witness to anyone who will listen.

But in America, we are not free to force others to listen, to make others go to our church, to make others say the Lord’s Prayer our way, to tell others who they can’t marry, or to make others also keep their women down.

Those that champion laws that enforce religious belief are free to live here as they believe, yet they would force our compliance with laws when we do not share their belief.

They are even free to make laws making the rest of us live their way. Even bad laws can and have been passed. But they should not stand. The First Amendment is quite clear and the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

We have a judicial system that is designed to protect the majority from the whims of a minority. As we’ve seen above, that system has been the target of an agenda that has the clear goal of subverting the Constitution in order to make all Americans live their way.

And that’s where the grand bargain falls apart. The “I’m a little bit business, I’m a little bit evangelical” marriage between the GOP and the moral majority hits the wall right here.

You see, the people who make up the wealthy and corporate GOP base are Catholics and Methodists and Agnostics and Presbyterians and Mormons and Lutherans and Jews and various flavors of Baptist and Christian other than Evangelical. They could tolerate the fringe ideas as long as they were walking down the same path to mutual power. But now that they’ve come to the ultimate fork in the road, taking the step to Dominionism leaves them out in the cold with the rest of us masses.

And you know how much the wealthy and corporate hate being mingled with us masses.

Some of the uncharacteristic dysfunction we see this year from the GOP is, in my mind, a result of the growing divide between the religious right and those traditional conservatives who have begun to realize that they’ve been working against their own interests by helping those who, in the name of God, want to infringe on other people’s rights.

Thomas Jefferson said,
“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.”

…. yes, even that of the wealthy and corporate.

Meanwhile, know whom you vote for, know what they stand for, and vote for those who believe in a diverse and free Country over those who want us all to be the same.

Because there is no freedom in all of us having to be the same.






Better off?


The question is not “Am I better off today than 4 years ago?”, the questions we should be asking is   “Is the Country better off, and Is my State better off, and Is my City better off?”  In other words, it’s “Are we…?”, not “Am I…?”

Ok, I admit I dig JFK’s ‘Ask not…’ speech, the one that says we all have a duty to help make the USA a better place. It says that when we contribute to making the Country better, whether in our own, small way, or by placing the needs of the Country above our personal, selfish one’s, our actions make the place better for all of us.

We, not I.

We elect Presidents and Senators and Representatives to go to Washington to run the country, Governors, State Senators and Representatives to run our States, Mayors and Councilmen and women to run our cities. We expect them to work together to get the job done. It’s the way we’ve done it for over 200 years.

If that job isn’t getting done, if things aren’t as they should be, then we deserve to ask why not?

In the case of the Country, there is little doubt that improvement has been made over 4 years ago, despite the obstructionist Congress we’ve had.

Harry Truman said that his Congress in ’47 did so little that he called them the ‘do-nothing Congress” for only passing 900 or so pieces of legislation (most were pro-business).  The Congress of 2012 has passed only a fraction (close to 16%, or one sixth) of that. In Founding Father terms, that makes this year’s Congress 1/6th of a Do-Nothing in terms of representation.  Ayn Rand would sneer at their ‘productivity’.

Four years ago, as a result of self-inflicted finance and housing sector chicanery, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month, every month. Millions had already lost their jobs when the Obama administration took office. Today, instead of losing almost a million jobs a month, as we had under the Bush administration, we gain 100,000 or more jobs every month. That’s simple math, folks.

Four years ago we had our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers fighting and dying in the sand, in two wars that we started in two different countries, neither of which can be easily justified. Today, we’re down to just one, and it is winding down. That’s a better than 50% improvement, or twice as good.  Again, that’s simple math.

Four years ago the finance sector and Wall Street were able to run roughshod over our mortgages and pensions, thanks to a GOP deregulation mania that removed protections put into place as a result of the Great Depression, and a concerted lack of funding to enforce the regulations that existed. We have survived (maybe) the Great Recession that resulted, and today, against all odds, we have the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau, which is already successfully cracking down on such practices and punishing those who steal from working Americans. All despite incredible opposition from Wall St. and the GOP, who have vowed to dismantle it as soon as they are done with the EPA and FDA and Federal Reserve.

Four years ago the auto industry, and all of the suppliers (think glass, steel, plastic, nuts and bolts, wires, tires, stereos, electronics, upholstery) who depend on the auto industry, were on death’s door, and Osama Bin Laden was laughing at America while training and sending others to kill more of us.

Today, the auto industry is well on the road to recovery, the suppliers are still in business, and Bin Laden sleeps with the fishes. I’ll take that one any day.

Compared to 4 years ago, only the factually challenged can deny that we’re not better off today as a Country. Despite the challenges of what he inherited from his predecessor, and a Congress who said little but “NO”,  the President has made remarkable progress.

In the States, however, there is little doubt that most are NOT better off than 4 years ago. Overwhelmingly, the self-imposed austerity measures from both Congress and the GOP Governors have resulted in lay-offs at the county and municipal levels, primarily in public schools where bus routes have been shut down, sports teams dismantled, and students go without books for lack of enough to go around. Teachers, police and fire services have all taken personnel cuts.

The Recovery Act was meant to spur the economy,  in large part by helping the States meet their obligations to us peeps and our families. The GOP Congress made sure there wasn’t enough money to do the job.

Then the GOP Governors refused to take what money was offered, choosing instead to blame Unions and the poor for budget shortfalls, and firing teachers and cops to make their point.

Then they declared the President and the Recovery Act a failure for not helping the economy.

Why would they do that? Their  #1 stated goal of making the current President a one-term guy.  We thought their #1 goal was to run the Country, and not off the cliff, thank-you very much!

But wait a minute… we elect these people to run the Country, not to do the work of their Party, not to make sure that the President, (this President in particular), gets no credit for helping America. But not helping an America in crisis, for any reason, is by definition, not running the Country.

Nor is ignoring an America in crisis patriotic, as some would have us believe. Rather, I submit that it’s treason against their oath to the Constitution, as is holding their oath to the non-elected Grover Norquist and his teenage wet dream above their duty to America.

How many of us working people without car elevators would last on a job with that kind of performance, that level of dereliction of duty?  The answer is obvious… we lose our jobs for much less.

So should they.

We the People hold the key, and it’s in the voting booth. The president has been saying “Here’s how we can make things better for everybody”, and the GOP responds with “NO, Nobody gets help but the rich and the Corporate, and NOT from you”. Behind closed doors their candidate says nobody deserves help but the rich and corporate. Now think about that for second…

It’s no surprise then that the GOP is into voter suppression the way football fans are into workplace pools and tailgating. Not enough Americans benefit from GOP policies for them to win anything fairly.  Most Americans suffer from their policies, so will not vote for them. The only way for them to win is to go back to Jim Crow laws to suppress those people, the non-rich and non-corporate of color, from voting…

… and to scare the rest of us with lies.

How un-American is that?