Monday, December 13, 2010

There's that "H" wprd again!

Rachel nailed it again!  She just aired a story that shared the hypocrisy of Republicans once again through the hypocritical stance of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.  It seems that the good Sen. Hatch, during the Clinton years, proposed an individual mandate for health care insurance; yet now that same good Sen. Hatch has declared that a judge's decision against the individual mandate was "a great day for liberty."  Huh?  Your own decision just became objectionable because it was brought into being by the Democrats?  Is that what you are telling us, Sen. Hatch?  Sounds like moves by other Republicans since this President took office - what you pushed for a few years ago has now become anathema to your party and you yourself attack yourself over your previous positions - and are completely unable to admit mistakes or hypocrisy.  McCain has done it, even to the point of standing in complete opposition to his own family.  Others have also been shown to have reversed completely positions they espoused just a short time ago.

Since when does an idea become good if one party thinks it up, but horrid if the other thinks it up?  Since when does only the religious/political right have the good ideas?  Where would this country be today, if only the Tories had good ideas during the late 1700s?  Where would we be if only the Segregationists had the good ideas during the Civil War and Reconstruction years?  Where would this country be if the Texans had succeeded at becoming a separate nation?

Come on, Congressional leaders!  Get with it!  I work for Wal-mart, and will admit freely the problems within the corporate structure, but also think Sam had one amazing thing to say to all of us within and outside our company -- "Listen to our associates (employees),.  They are our best generators of new ideas."  You need to start listening to the real voice of this nation, and acting accordingly.  If you did, several of the divisive issues would have been dealt with.  Freedom of speech allows everyone, including those in diametric opposition to share their voice, but it doesn't say that a small but vocal minority can hold the nation hostage over their particular hot button issue.

Hypocrisy?  I recall a quote from a professor I greatly admired in Seminary - a conservative religious leader with a sharp, insightful mind - when a fellow student raised the "position" that people had stopped going to traditional churches because of all the hypocrites in those churches, "You can either be in the church with the hypocrites, or spend eternity with them."  Now, over my lifetime, my own beliefs about eternity have evolved, and I'm not sure we would still see eye to eye on them, but his insight is important!  We won't get rid of hypocrites, but we don't have to let them control our lives or our country!

OK, Sports shows extreme social attitude

It's happened before, I know, but this is still shocking, and not - a NY Jets coach deliberately tripped and injured a Miami Dolphins player to help his struggling team.  Woody Hayes, Head football coach at Ohio State punched an opposing player - and lost his job over it.  A college player in a bygone era was so excited by his team's inability to stop what appeared a sure return for touchdown, stepped from the sidelines to tackle the opposing team's streaking return person.

What does this raise a flag for me?  Well, it is a clear and prominent reminder of the attitude instilled by many of the institutions and social organizations of this nation - win at all cost!  Intentionally injure a player from the other team that is hurting your efforts to win (or step off the sidelines to tackle, or punch that opposing player who just stopped your vaunted team's efforts, or trip and injure an opposing player), intentionally try to influence the officials to get a call in your favor, even when you know it's wrong. 

We've seen it in Olympic sports, the Tour de France, baseball, basketball, football, track and field and other sports.  Medalists have lost their medals and faced prison time.  Named Champions are forced to step down in shame.  Records are cheapened by cheating.  And it is all in the name of winning.

What is the real message we share with the world with this win-at-all-cost attitude?  Do we show ourselves as a nation of honor, who instill sportsmanship in our people; or that we are like all those other countries where dictators intimidate to get the results they want?

Perhaps it is time to reconsider our national obsession with winning.  I enjoy seeing my team win as much as the next person, but prefer to watch at team play to their full potential, with honor and pride in their effort.  I've been a player, I know the desire to win, but I value more that quality that allows us to honor and respect someone who played better on this day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another Indication

There is yet another the Republicans, Tea Party-ers and religious and political righties have no intention of working with progressives for things the citizens of the nation want, but instead will dictate their particular view of what life in this nation should be - benefits for the rich, paid for by the middle class.  What do I speak of now?  The announced plan to repeal health care legislation that passed on a partisan vote simply because the hate-mongers kept enough pressure on that Republican legislators weren't willing to represent their constituents and vote their desire for that legislation.

You will recall that earlier I mentioned an avowed aim of erasing any good thing our current President has accomplished, to obstruct and stone-wall at every turn, unless they are, of course, controlling the direction of legislation and policy-making.  Sounds bipartisan, doesn't it?  Sounds like congressional leaders REALLY interested in the diminishing middle class, doesn't it?  Sounds like more of what I have come to expect from McConnell, Boehner and the rest from that side of the aisle!  More of play by my rules, or I'll take my marbles and go home!

That really strikes me as adult, mature, reasonable and reasoned leadership.  A prime example?  Well, GOP leader and spokesperson Rush Limbaugh or his mini-me Glenn Beck and the other far right windbags at FOX News.  And if anyone happens to offer a reasoned rebuttal to their gas explosions, then the heat is turned up full tilt and try to get rid of them.  Note efforts in the recent past to get Kieth Olbermann and Rachel Maddow out of the way, lying about their stories, their staff and what their network plans for them; oh, and refusing offers to come on those shows to defend their positions.

I don't need Kieth or Rachel to show what the Republicans, Tea Party-ers and religious/political right have become, I just listen to what comes from that side of the aisle.  Wake up, my friends, because if we don't start standing up to this, it will become the direction of this nation with more and more powerful commercial interests dictating just how little they will be willing to pay for the services of the common people doing the work that nets them their millions - while spouting drivel about really caring for the common people.

I want the corporations to make money, but I also want them to be honorable and honest, caring and concerned about the welfare of the people who work for them, buy their products or services, and are direction affected by their policy decisions.  I want them held accountable when they ignore safety standards to make a better bottom line, when they send people into unsafe working conditions and disasters happen.  Why?  Because it is right and proper to do so!  Plain and simple.

Think about it, and be truly honest with yourself as you do.  That's all I ask!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Speaking Out

All the time I was in college and graduate school, growing more liberal and progressive in my thinking, I was being told that liberal minded people don't speak out on their beliefs because they don't want to force their views on others, but prefer for those others to develop their own thoughts.  Well, the results of that thinking are now manifesting in this country!  We hear over and over that the country is primarily a moderate nation, but what is the dominate voice we hear - radical right extremes!  Rescind the voter registration legislation, send the "aliens" home, find ways to keep minorities - women, people of color, LGTB persons.

Let's think about those things.  Why rescind voter registration legislation?  The only reason is to keep non-whites from influencing legislation and political policy.  There is no other reason for this move - and make no mistake, Tea Party-ers have indeed indicated this is something they want.

Aliens?  Does someone who comes to his country as an undocumented, come from another planet?  Is our government keeping secret planetary travel that allows these extraterrestrials to come and to make us want to sent them home?   Of course not!  And to anyone who thinks about the history of this nation, who upholds the near-sacred icon of this country - the Statue of Liberty - they know this nation was built on the backs of undocumented immigrants - some brought against their will - people that until the modern era were allowed to come here and build this country.  Think of the Chinese brought to build railroads, think of the Irish, Jewish, Polish people who came and helped build this nation.  Perhaps we need to call to mind repeatedly the words of the Statue - "Give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free . . .

What scares these people is the thought that the white nation founded - one might point out over the slaughtered bodies of Native Americans - will be subsumed under the minorities brought in the help build the infrastructure of the nation, and increase the wealth of whites willing to do anything to get more wealthy, more powerful - be that slavery, cheating on contracts, reneging on treaties - all in the name of "manifest destiny."

It's time we acknowledge our past, our dark secrets (that aren't even secrets), and start maturing beyond that domineering, empire-creating mentality.  It's time to recognize that blacks, whites, Indians, Hispanics, Asians, and women, straight and gay, have all contributed to the legacy of this nation.  Let's start by having progressives speak out with as much power and vehemence as the ultra-conservatives.  Or at the very least, let progressives learn to use all the tools available to silence the hate-mongers on the right.  First amendment rights do not include inciting rebellion, and second amendment isn't an excuse to allow people to develop personal arsenals and to form private, white-supremacist militias that have in fact spawned domestic terrorists.  I have no problem with someone owning guns, but no sportsman takes an automatic, weapons-grade rifle to shoot game.  I have no problem with someone sharing their alternate view of this nation's direction, so long as they understand and honor that it is indeed the right of every citizen to speak their mind.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Sen. John McCain has really gone of the deep end!  He's flying in the face of his daughter's orientation, flying in the face of his wife's support of repealing DADT, and, in something we have come to expect from the far right political machine, has stooped to insulting the people who are in a better position to make the determinations and former service member John McCain.  He flies in the face of history, and shows his paranoid reaction to those whose sexual orientation is different than his own.  One has to wonder what Mr. McCain would have reacted to a such insults and questions of his ability and qualifications to make the decisions, as he did to his Commander in Chief and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

All I can say to the senator is, "Grow up, son!"  I don't care if he's older than I, he's acting like a kid with a chip on his shoulder.  In his position of leadership, John McCain needs to stop acting like a teen aged boy with an attitude problem, and start acting like a leader who has in fact served honorably and with distinction as a former prisoner of war.  Whether he realizes it or not, McCain, probably has served alongside gar service men.

What McCain and those who are with him in this position, are perpetuating social attitudes that have existed for ages - if you are same-sex-oriented, hide it!  Get married, have children, and hide your true orientation in secrecy and deception.  How sad that a person who speaks so much of honor, feels a need to force others to live in deception. 

And I have listened to service men who served with known gay service people, that said they knew and it didn't make a bit of difference, because they knew this person had their back, would support and protect them just as they would him.  It seems to me these service people are far more mature and prepared to address the repeal of DADT than McCain.

This nation's religiouslyy conservative element has mired the social conscience in a bygone era and in ignorance and prejudice.  When confronted with science, they stick their heads deep into the much and mire they thrive in and deny it or create pseudo-science to support their point of view.  I have heard science that supports that sexual orientation is genetically determined, and that has been for four decades or more.  During that same time, I've heard repeatedly that the supposed "cures" for same-sex-orientation simply do not work, that those who are "cured" later return to the lifestyle because it is who they are.  I have worked side by side with same-sex-oriented persons, and found them to be persons of deep faith, deep compassion - more than their detractors show them - and deep respect for the feelings and concerns of others.  I wish I could say the same about those homophobic mouthpieces for the religious right.

It's time we stop putting people down for being different, whether for skin color, national origin, gender, physical or mental ability, or sexual orientation.  God makes us who we are, so let's celebrate the gifts God gives us, not try to second guess the Creator!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Christian" killing

I've had it with a radically conservative Christianity that leads supposed Christians to grisly murders based on their whacked-out idea that the Devil has taken over a child, a parent, a spouse, a friend or a stranger.  I just read of an actor who claimed to see the Devil in his mother, and stood shouting scripture while he hacked her to death with a sword.  Yes, I understand there is mental illness involved in many of there, but I also understand, as a progressive minister myself, that when people are brow-beaten by screaming pastors who see the Devil in anything that doesn't fit their limited view of acceptable.  I've had to work through counseling with people who were sure they were damned to hell because of something in their past.

Strangely, these so-called Christians will quote the Ten Commandments, then support war, capital punishment and preemptive strikes to take out "enemies."  So, You will not kill becomes something with all kinds of leeway.  And they will be the first to proclaim their own innocence should their teaching lead to something like the crime I just mentioned.

It is time for Christians to start doing what I've been advocating for years - live by the teaching of Jesus, not the teaching of Paul or the teaching of Moses.  Doing that will stop a lot of the backbiting nastiness of different factions of Christianity.  Doing that will remove many of the controversial issues of our times.  Doing that will put Paul into perspective - a divorced man who never left his Jewish faith, and thus made the teaching of Jesus legalistic, but based in faith-salvation.  In the centuries since, Christians have made Paul the sole theologian of Christian faith.  Now, it is time to get back to the teaching that was the basis of the faith of the disciples.  What Jesus taught is that faith we need to live!

If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then we need to live our lives that way!  If Jesus said love others as I have loved you, then we need to do that - being willing to give of ourselves, sacrificially to help others, being willing to follow the examples of soldiers who have jumped on grenades to save their fellow soldiers, as a sign of our faith and love.  Jesus said that people would know we were Christians by out love, not by our hate-filled rhetoric, our savage invective against those we consider too different to be acceptable.

Enough is enough!

Monday, November 22, 2010


I just saw a very refreshing and insightful interview on Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC.  The interview was with Rapper Russell Simmons (I think), and he made the point that the divisiveness of the far right could lead to the same kind of ethnic cleansing that has been seen in Africa, Eurasia; he spoke of his job - and the job of every American - is to try to defuse that divisiveness, to work for the betterment of everyone everywhere by doing our best to make our own corner of the world the kind of world the Creator would be proud to visit.  This is a man who made a load of money in a disparaged music style, has now started philanthropic efforts through 5 charities, and reaches out through campaigns on issues he feels strongly about, and offers help and advice to others.  Hm, maybe he has a point, and we all need to make wise choices, do supportive and helpful things for those around us, and LEARN from those who are different. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

True Colors

I don't think any progressive or honest person was surprised when the Republicans went into stall mode as Congress got ready to get back to work after the mid-term elections.  That party has shown itself in recent years to be long on rhetoric and very, very short on truly wanting to work for the betterment of this nation.  They are willing to send us into wars based on trumped up information, but unwilling to work with the current president to end  that war, claiming he is weakening our nation in the world.  They claim to want to help working Americans by extending cuts, but even the very rich in this country understand that the time has come for the rich to pay taxes, instead of getting breaks the common worker can never match!  Who in their right mind thinks it is fair, right or good for the country when the topmost of the wealthy pay a lower rate of  tax than the middle income people who carry  the nation on their taxes and work?  Yet that is just what the Republicans want to do!

I remember when Steve Forbes ran for President and wanted to initiate a flat tax of 10 percent on everyone, no exemptions.  Many decried that thought, but perhaps Mr. Forbes indeed had it right.  If everyone simply had 10 percent of their earnings given over as their tax, it would simplify the mad tax scramble every year, and the government would have more money to work with,, because the rich and the corporations would also be chipping in to support the nation's efforts to encourage economic growth and erase the deficits that were created by the Republican president and control of Congress which preceded the current administration.  Democrats have been charged with reducing and removing the deficit the last two times they have controlled Congress, and occupied the White House - while the Republicans have taken a healthy economy and trashed it!  And still they portray themselves as "fiscal conservatives.?"

Time to wake up, folks, and smell the real garbage in Washington and in the states!  Let's look for and elect fiscally responsible people, and let the Republicans and Tea Party cool their heels until they understand the difference between calling oneself a fiscal conservative and acting like one needs to do all possible to line one's own pockets at the expense of anyone you can put below you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cut the Deficit?!

I was just reading a news story about the anticipated results of negotiations on extending the Bush Tax Cuts.  An eye-opening line was that if the Republican desire - a permanent extension of the tax cuts to those earning $250,000+ - the result will be a cost of $700 billion over the next ten years.  I truly hope that if this permanent extension should happen, progressives and others will remember that little statistic, and bring it up regularly in the 2012 campaign for President of our country.

I am amazed at the short memory of people when applied to the national deficit.  Bush Sr. helped continue Reagan's big spending and left a huge deficit when defeated for the presidency by Clinton, who, over eight years, reduced that deficit, in fact, as I recall, erased it.  When "W" took office, the deficit burgeoned more and more.  After his eight years, we were in deep trouble - but for some strange reason, the Democrats got the blame.  Our president took office, with the economy in the tank, and got Republican support for bailouts, but then they turned on him, blaming him for the horrible condition of the economy.

Reality bites, and I'm hoping it will bite those who put us in this mess and then played the blame game!  It is time to hold people accountable for their public posturing and their actual performance.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Revisited

One of the angers I feel, surprisingly, aims directly at some of my fellow progressives - specifically at those who want to demonize those who serve in our country's military.  Why that anger, because their demonizing of these people shows a two-faced danger.  They rely on there service people to protect the freedoms they flaunt, but then try to make them monsters that betray the freedoms they fight for. 

Do I think all military people are paragons of virtue?  No, I've seen too many stories of people who over-react or let their true nature come out and slaughter innocents.  There are some demons in our military, but those demons exist in churches, corporations, social service organizations, and as mercenaries who fight for money - money determines who there enemy is, not whether someone has become a true threat to humankind.  But I've known too many of those who serve, who do so with honor and devotion to duty, following orders and protecting not only our citizens, but those who are innocent and in need of protection as well.  I've heard too many stories of the selfless acts of soldiers who give up their lives  to protect others, who have shown enormous character and grace through their acts and thus made allies for us in the most unlikely places. 

Our military people are just like us - PEOPLE, with all the faults and bright spots of brilliance as the rest of us.  So, let's all learn to honor the service, the service men and women, while keep an eye out for those demons wherever they may be - realizing there are demons in Democratic circles as well as Republican circles, and I could name a few that I think are there, but you know them as well as I do.

Remembering their service, we need to be a nation that honors our commitment to those who serve, providing jobs and care for them when they return home.  Providing a seriously meaningful debriefing process that makes them able to re-enter society without battle honed instincts that might threaten others through no fault of the returning service personnel.  Yes, I've seen, heard and read those stories as well.

Don't get me wrong, I think we as a race need to start looking for some way other than war to solve differences between nations, but some leaders will simply not respond to attempts to peacefully solve differences, and truly become threats to the whole world.  Hitler is perhaps the easiest personality to point to - he was a truly evil person who affects a nation-wide mania to rid the German people of any HE determined to be defective or less than the "super humans,"  The armies of free world needed to rid the world of this leader and his cadre of similar demons.  But we need to be growing beyond that as a race.

But for now, it is ultimately important for us to honor our nation's military personnel, their service and sacrifice and live up to our commitment to them.

Thank you, Navy sailors, Army soldiers, Air Force airmen and women, and Marines!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deficit Reduction Plans?!

This morning I was listening to the hosts of Morning Joe and was struck by the information about the panel considering reducing the national debt.  The proposals are radical in the extreme, drawing criticism from several sources.  One says the plan throws the nation's seniors to dogs, under the bus - choose your metaphor.  The hosts talked about the amazing proposal to rewrite the tax code so there are no exemptions, one commenting that the current code certainly needed amending given that heads of "small businesses" that are actually national corporations, and pay a lower rate of taxation than a plumber.  There was nothing but incredulity in the tone of his comments.

I find myself in complete agreement.  A proposal that the retirement age be raised, yet again, because is has been raised again.  That proposal isn't particularly surprising, and is probably consistent with the realities of our age.  I personally don't think I'll be retired much before the age of 70, simply because the two crashes of the stock market since I started a retirement account have devastated the nest egg I thought I had set aside to take care of my wife and I in our senior years. 

How do I feel about such plans, well, it's a mixed feeling.  Some of my feeling is that shock at the amount lost to us, by a system that should have helped protect out investment.  Some is a feeling that this is simply more of what we have seen in recent years.  I'm dismayed to have become so skeptical of our elected officials, but there it is!  Anybody else feeling the same way?

Angry, writing, and planning to write again.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Post Election Reflections

Well, the mid tern elections are over, and the pundits are weighing in on what it means.  Well, here is what angers me, a progressive that has decided to sound off a bit, some pundits are saying the message of the midterms is that Democrats are going to have to start working with Republicans.  Excuse me?  The last two years have seen the Democrats trying to reach across the aisle, to no avail because the Republicans from day one have been obstructionist, refusing to work with the Democrats or the President.  They have NOW announced they will obstruct to the point of gridlock in order to kill the legacy of our President.  Where is the criticism of the Republican leadership that had obstinately refused to work across the aisle?

Am I enthralled with our President?  No, I'm a bit disappointed, to be quite honest.  Why?  Because there was a candidate that promised to make things different in Washington, to represent the progressive agenda, to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell," and he has fallen away from most of what he promised to work for - probably because of political expediency, but it still is disappointing that so much of what Dub-yuh put in place is still the direction of the country.

Why are we still so strong in Iraq, why are we still such a presence in Afghanistan - when the promise was a withdrawal beginning after the election that put the US in line with so many other countries by electing a Black person to the chief executive office?  Why have we not moved stronger to stop hate crimes, even to the place of bringing the law down on those members of Congress who want to use the speech of "uprising" and hatred in order to express their point of view?    I live in Minnesota, and quite frankly, I'm embarrassed that we have to be represented by a nut-case like M. Bachmann!

I have been told for years that conservatives are more willing to get in people's faces to get their view across, while progressives are reluctant to do so, because we want people to think for themselves - maybe we need to wake up to the reality that by letting people "think for themselves" we've abandoned the very ground we claim to hold for our world.  We need to be willing to match the Tea Party with the Progressive voice.  We need to get our voice in front of the nation, so there really is a grand debate and people can hear two or three or six sides to a discussion.

I'm tired of listening to right hammer away at the progressives, and I plan to speak up regularly. 

And a point that needs to be made today is that even progressives honor the sacrifice of our nations warriors!  Thank you to our veterans, our active duty service members - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  There is a real need for this nation to honor our service people by providing ALL the support that is needed for our returning service people - emotionally, physically, with regard to employment, housing, and the decompression that is needed for warriors to return to civilian status.  Morning Joe is addressing this issue even now - but the government is NOT doing enough for our veterans!

Enough for today!  I'll be back!