Saturday, April 30, 2011

OK - Come and get me

It’s the day after the so-called fairytale wedding of Prince William and Kate – sorry Catherine Middleton - and the real world has not gotten any better. Without a doubt the supposed happy ending for the newlyweds cannot ever be worse than what many of my fellow countrymen have been forced to endure day in and day out for a period way too long. I look at my young family and try to put my happy face on for them to mask the concerns I have for their futures in the short and long terms.

My daughter increasingly tells me that she is afraid to grow up. She doesn’t know what the future holds for her and she is scared. This breaks my heart because I feel like a part of her childhood is being stolen from her or I’m failing as a father – I don’t remember suffering this type of insecurity when I was eleven years old. Heck by this time in my life my father had passed and I had several newspaper routes and did yard work around our neighborhood. Unlike the Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, my aspirations are not for my kids to have to go to work early.

In fact, so much that allowed my family to stay together after my father’s untimely death is now under attack by people who may not understand the benefits programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have made. People who have been blessed not to have lived under circumstances that required the American social safety net may not understand that instead of five children that could have gone wrong in other times are now productive members of this society – paying taxes and bringing up another productive generation of Americans.

I’d like to point out to anyone reading this that considers themselves a conservative or Tea Partier that even though I consider myself to be a bleeding heart liberal progressive with socialist tendencies – that I am the only one of that ilk from my family. Even my Momma has Fox News on the tube during her waking hours. I may be the biggest horror in her life of disappointments but we are still family and I will always be thankful for our relationship. However, my point is that it isn’t just your opposition that benefits but many of your own tribe that do as well.

Enough background on me – I hope it may help you understand my perspective or at least give you something to make fun of – since when I make my views known and the debate ends I am often ridiculed for my appearance or weight. Yes, even this ugly old fatty has opinions and can debate them without wondering from where the next cheeseburger or Twinkie is coming.

Today I’d like to touch upon many areas that concern me – lightly now and more in depth later. Since my intent is to stake out my position on these topics I am open to discussion and challenges from any quarter. I am here not to educate you but to be educated by you; however, do not misunderstand or take offense if your argument does not end in conversion but a strengthening of my position.

Topic 1 – President Barack Obama
If you have read any of my Tweets or posts on Huffington Post (mostly) you may think I am a bit schizophrenic about our 44th President of the United States. Let me assure you that I supported him in 2008 and I will again in 2012. He hasn’t been exactly what I had hoped for when I cast my ballot but he is my President and the best person for the job in 2012. Yes I have criticized him and his administration – he deserves to hear from his supporters what they think without having to decipher meaning or intent.

Topic 2 – The Democratic Party
I believe there are better days to come from and for the Democratic Party. There are certain Democratic politicians that seem to be working against the values I hold but I do not see how I can make this party better from the outside than from the inside. I also understand that in our current political environment that it is a numbers game – so since the Republicans have once again unmasked themselves for the corporate fools they are I will support the Democrat in the general election.

Topic 3 – The Supreme Court
This once hallowed body has exposed itself to be just another politically driven entity. I cannot in good conscious support the Court as it is currently constituted. The positions that have to be spun by any nominee to gain Senate approval make it impossible for me to believe that any of these justices deserve the title and responsibility they hold. Of course I can again be accused of being a bit schizoid here but the conservatives on the court do seem to me immune to the brand of hypocrisy they display so often.

Topic 4 – The Economy (Stupid)
I think I’ve made my feelings about the social safety net known above. We should protect these programs with our lives since they mean life for so many disadvantaged. I think we need to get our fiscal house in order but not on the backs of the poor, sick, children and the elderly. Please try to imagine what your life would be like without these people – they are people – worthy – loving – valued and deserving. Too many believe the stereotype of the welfare queen or those that will not find a job because the government money and cheese is just too good – let me assure you they are a vast minority and deserve to be routed out – just don’t further injure the innocent in your quest to punish the cheaters.
Reform the tax code – it should be progressive – reasonable – and enforced. I’ve got a lot to say about this but if I get started now I won’t be able to say any more.
Unemployment Insurance – yes. One day or three years – yes. Again – a lot to say about this.
Too Big to Fail, Wall Street, Multinationals and Monopolies – all need to be addressed through regulation and divestiture – they need to be reminded that they exist to serve the public not suppress it.
Unionism - To kind of quote the Speaker of the House, John Boehner: “HELL YES!”
Insurance and Healthcare is again a topic I will go on and on about. My short answer is single payer.

I know this list seems kind of wild but there is so much more – I just don’t want to lose the steam and I feel like that’s what’s happening now. Let me leave off with just one last thought. I believe that being a progressive liberal means to be in touch with life at all levels in our society and to fight the good fight for those that can’t defend themselves – to be a part of something bigger than myself and my family. If what it takes to correct the problems of the United States means furthering the discomfort of the afflicted, poor, children and elderly then perhaps we as a nation have lost the vision that was put to paper by our founding fathers and there is little hope of ever regaining the greatness we once knew and the rest of the world envied. I hope we all can get through these trying times together with goodwill and understanding. Life is too short.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Reaction to DeNiro's Comment

I do not have a major disagreement with Robert DeNiro's statement - just that it really doesn't get to the root of the problem. In fact, his assessment that this is largely a Republican problem seems spot on to me. My comments to the piece reported on the Huffington Post follows:

For me the bottom line isn't the Trumps of this world. Trump is merely repeating the behavior that has become all too common on both sides of the aisle. We make statements that we do not mean "to be factual" hoping that some of the malice will adhere itself to the intended target and that there are suitably large numbers of people simpleminded enough to grab onto it as the truth.

Once upon a time we had a media that was governed by a measure of journalistic integrity that would both ignore these pronouncements and not give them any traction by allowing them the same weight as truly factual comments. A media when faced with outright lies and misleading commentary by the political ruling class or their big business overlords would shine the light of truth upon it. Today, sadly, the media has been taken over by the same overlords and we get the false equivalencies fed to us over and over again.

Today we do have a way to combat some of this with information gained from other sources and the common sense that we all possess - even if it is weakened from under use. We can also become more active in demonstrating our support for American ideals - new and old - through activism - yet another quality that has atrophied since the 60's and 70's.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The deficit of compassion

Can you name one wasteful sacred cow program the Democrats are supporting? In fact they acknowledged that all waste must be cut out of the budget and government. This is viewed by the Republicans as a weakness in the Democratic caucus.

On the other hand, the Republicans can only sing the song of cutting social spending to the bone while handing out additional job killing tax cuts to the wealthiest of families & further exemptions to taxes for the big businesses they refer to as small business. Additionally, Republicans support additional savings and relief to the wealthy/big business by relaxing regulations and defunding the IRS so there are fewer agents to conduct audits that have recently focused on the wealthy.  So I can name some of the sacred cows of the Republicans: Koch Bros., Koch Industries, GE, Offense Contractors etc. At the same moment let me name some of the lambs they would slaughter: Head Start, healthcare for the poor, elderly, handicapped and children, school lunches, Social Security, family planning, PBS and anything that has a socialist tinge to it in their minds.

What is Trump's game?

Mr. Trump is one of "those" people that long for the days of old when "those other people" could be kept from voting by various tests - land ownership, sex or literacy. Since those tests could not prevent the election of Barack Obama the new test is the "birther question" and the requirement that this president be the first to be compelled by a tiny minority to prove to them that which they will never accept. Their claims to irrational theories surrounding this man's birth and the slandering of his parents by people such as Rush Limbaugh have led to many of the problems and distractions that plague this nation during a time of trials like no other in our life times.

I suspect that Trump's game has nothing to do with an actual candidacy because if it did he would just jump in and accrue for himself the benefits of getting the early start on the rest of the pack. I think his motives are simpler - promotion for him and his other money making efforts - which have not been hurt by President Obama's election. This is sad since it is so cynical and hurtful to the nation at this time.

So who is the real American and who is the Capitalist? American ideals are not necessarily capitalist as many of the 2 percenters would have you believe.