Really America, WTF

Soapbox LogoI simply can’t imagine how we got to this place in time. I know, I have watched it all and often railed against it all; yet still I simply am unable to wrap my head or heart around why we are here, at this place as a nation, as a people. My only real and heartfelt reaction to it all is, REALLY JUST WHAT THE FUCK.

I am struggling to make sense of it all. Trying to understand the definitions and terminology. What we say and believe and just how quickly we erase history so we can pretend something new is the only thing that is true. My heart weeps for Orlando. There are no words to express the tragic and terrible of what has happened, for those gone and for those left behind who must now pick up the pieces of and move forward.

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CNN: Mourners at one of many makeshift memorials in Orlando

The human lives lost, the human lives changed forever these are what our focus should be. It didn’t take long though for our focus to change to labels and politics. It wasn’t but mere minutes before we discovered and begin to shift through the blood and anguish, searching for the agenda to latch onto; depending on our own deep-seated and personal design. Never mind, the humanity and need of those in the center of this terrible tragedy, those ‘who knew best’ saw the opportunity and like leeches they attached and attacked.

There are those who see this as an opportunity to raise the flag on gun control. Well yes, there is a need to have this discussion. Most reasonable, thinking people agree. But did you need to flood social media and my inbox with reminders within 3 hours, before bodies were removed from the streets? Before loved ones were informed of their loss? I am on your side, truly I am but I would prefer if you would show some empathy and compassion. I would also prefer it if you would stop using the same tactics as the opposition, stop using fear. Get your facts straight, start calling things what they are rather than what suits your agenda, stop using hyperbole, please. Don’t misinform, inform.

imagesThen there are those who want to raise the flag of Islamophobia (Donald). This really is a red herring and thinking people know it is. We know there is an element of violent and radical Muslims in the world, just as with any religion there is an extreme element and they commit terrible acts. We see their horror stories and hear their latest atrocities screamed at us, constantly. We need only turn on our television to hear about their latest acts of violence against those of their own faith (their primary victims) or be reminded how they hate us by the talking heads of the Right. We need only listen long enough to hear commentators tell us how they are representative of the entire Islamic faith, all 1.6 billion of them. In our minds, we know this is a lie. We know, yet we are afraid because we listen and we can’t help ourselves.

The reality is each and every single time another tragedy happens we look for a reason, beyond the obvious. Another asshole, another disenfranchised, miserable human being murdered innocent people. Maybe they were Christian (Dylan Roof, Timothy McVeigh) Extremist who wanted to strike a blow for their religion or race or gender or maybe all three or any combination. Maybe they were Radicalized Muslims (Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook) who wanted to show their loyalty to their religious ideology. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Terrorism is exactly what it is, no matter where it comes from. We shouldn’t apply a different standard when it is committed by Christians versus Muslims, it is one and the same thing ultimately; it is a violent act against Americans, against America. It is a tragedy costing life and freedom.

 

What I know is the person who shot up Pulse was sick, a lost soul and we as a nation shouldn’t focus on him, shouldn’t give him status in our dialog. He wasn’t a terrorist rather he was a single human being, he hated himself and sought to murder what he hated most in himself. He attacked those he feared and hated; murdering what he hated. He claimed allegiance to a terrorist group in his final hours, he self-radicalized over the months prior to his terrible and tragic act, yet in truth by all the accounts of those who knew him he wasn’t religious. He was, simply self-hating, racist, closeted and lost. He struck out and destroyed lives in his self-hatred. Remember though, he wasn’t an immigrant, he was an American he was one of us.

What I know, there are forty-nine innocent Americans dead. There are fifty-three innocent Americans wounded. There are one hundred and three families who will have to figure out how to put their lives back together, how to get up out of bed every day, make it through the day and live with the horror of lost lives, lost loved ones, lost futures and what ifs.

I weep for Orlando. One more community that must pick up the pieces. I weep for America, once again we must look at ourselves and it seems we will turn our backs on what is so obvious. Our refusal to fix what is so terribly broken. The great divide and our failure to act, to stem the tide of hate and fear and the violence it invokes.

We must ask ourselves, are we one people or many small communities?

Do we come together, working for common cause and finding compromise or do we continue to dig the trench wider and deeper?

Are we Americans or do we continue to place the hyphen in front to create the definition of who we are, separate and apart from each other; always. Do we stand up together and build one America for all of us, no matter our differences. Do we search for ways to come together or do we finally fail as a nation. Do we allow the hate-mongers, the monsters to win, to finally draw the lines of segregation back into place, build the walls so high we never see over them again or do we stand up, as a single people in solidarity and say no more, never again and stop what is causing us to fail.

I weep for America, I weep us all.

 

Lambs to Slaughter

635522618755355850-AP-Women-In-Combat-001My people, my people. My fellow Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, do-gooders, my sisters and feminists in the trenches ….what the fuck is wrong with you?

Yes I just said it and now I am going to explain it.

Women in combat. I cannot be silent on this one any longer. Those of you who believe we, that is women, should do anything and everything men do can demand my Feminist card be returned in the mail immediately and I will send it back postage due. The fact is men and women are different, we simply are not the same. Some of those differences are of course socially imposed, I get that and agree. Yet, some of those differences are natural, they are bone, spirit, heart and mind; they are the truth of our being.

Yes, I know many nations have had women in combat for decades, if not more than decades. The problem is, if you look at their records you will find there are very few women actually serving in combat units. I fear we will not follow these vanguard nations, no we will instead throw young women to the wolves both our own and those of the enemy.

tammy-duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

I grant you, some women want to be warriors. Some women want the privilege of standing up and fighting for this nation. Some women can earn that privilege with no special quarter given, they should be able to do this with no walls or glass ceiling standing between them and their dreams. Those women who have this wish, should be given every opportunity, without barriers including the right to advance to the highest levels in every branch of our military and I say more power to them.

With this being said, are you aware the Generals have asked that our daughters just like our sons should be made to sign up for Selective Service on their eighteenth birthday? Did you know Armed Services Committee of Congress is considering this, so far there has been NO decision? Do you know what this means? Do you know if a Draft is reinstated your daughters, just like your sons could be called and they will not be given a choice where and how they serve?

Is this what you want for your daughters?

Maybe some of you are too young to remember Vietnam and the Draft. Maybe you don’t remember thousands of flag draped coffins being unloaded every night on the news, coffins filled with young men who didn’t want to fight and die on foreign soil, in a war they didn’t understand or didn’t agree with. Maybe some of you are too young to remember, I am not.

While we don’t have a draft today, who is to say we won’t have one in the future. Each of the GOP Presidential candidates want to build a bigger, stronger military so who is to say one of their solutions wouldn’t be to reinstate the Draft, so all our children, all our sons and daughters could be cannon fodder for their dreams of World Domination. Keeping in mind, it won’t be their sons and their daughters, just as none of them ever served a single day fighting or bleeding neither will their progeny, but yours and mine, yes they will fight and they will be returned without limbs, unsound in their spirits and minds or in flag draped coffins.

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What is wrong with us, by us I do mean women in particular but all of us in this nation?

Why do we sit idly by as our nation is torn apart and say nothing? We do we sit idly by as our children are put at risk and say nothing? What is wrong with us?

We are not the same, the genders are different physically and emotionally. I am not ever going to change my position on women in combat, I do not believe they belong. If a woman wants to be there, can perform in these positions without putting others at risk I will support her right to do so, but I don’t believe it is a natural setting either physically, emotionally or mentally for most women.

I have two young grandsons and two young granddaughters, I don’t want any of them to ever see a war up close and personal. Not ever. I want those I love to be safe. I want the next generation to have futures that are bright and full of promise unlike those of my generation who returned from the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam broken, addicted and forever changed.

I am bothered that neither of the Democratic candidates have addressed this issue. I think we all should be bothered as the election year progresses that these issues go under the radar and no one says a word. The GOP stomps their feet and screams bloody murder to the infidel. The Democrats stay silent.

Silence is not golden, it is a death knell.

Juxtaposition Shots Fired

OpEdThe State of Texas informed me a few days ago one of my shooters was re-entering the Parole system, no he hasn’t been granted parole he is simply being considered. I don’t know how I feel about this, I am processing my reaction. I know how people think I should feel, hell I know how I think I should feel, but I have changed, my heart is heavy as I consider my response.

Then, a few days ago, I read this, by Jeff Winbush who I greatly admire. I realized while reading this piece about the mistrial of Randall Kerrick, just how truly great the chasm sometimes is.

When I was carjacked, shot three times and left in the street for dead I was scared. There is no other way to describe my feelings, I was afraid. I did not know how I was going to survive what could have been fatal wounds. I did the best I could; I staggered to the nearest home late at night and pounded on their front door. The couple was older, they didn’t open the door, they told me to go away. There was nowhere for me to go, I couldn’t go further, I slid down their wall and in tears begged them to call 911. Nothing more, just call 911. Once again, they told me to go away; they didn’t want to be involved. At that point, I was so afraid but I was angry too how could anyone turn his or her backs on another human being in need? I didn’t understand, my only response too what seemed a terrible cruelty, ‘I am not going anywhere, you will have to explain a dead woman on your front porch tomorrow if you don’t call 911 now.’

I sat, waiting to die. I didn’t know if they were going to call. Holding the tourniquet, I had made and wrapped around my neck, feeling my warm blood as it dripped through my fingers, I talked to the universe. The one thing I was not afraid of was the police, I knew if they appeared I was not in danger, I knew if they were called and saw me sitting on the porch of these strangers home their instinct would be to help me, they would not see me as a threat.  I knew, if they rolled up on me they would not do so with guns drawn, screaming for me to get on the ground. I knew if the police were called they would help me, it would be foremost on their mind, to save my life.images (8)

My unwilling hosts must have weighted their options, they made the call. I heard the sirens in the distance and shortly thereafter, the blue lights of police and rescue cars rolled up the street. I was surrounded by men in blue whose first concern was my life and well-being. Could I talk, could I tell them what happened came after. How I got to that house, that porch came as I was laying on the gurney. I told them only part of the truth, not that I had to ask more than once for them to be called, only that I had been shot elsewhere and how far I thought I had walked. I didn’t understand until weeks later why they didn’t want to be involved, why they wanted me to ‘go away’. Even with my intellectual understanding, it would be years before I let go of my fury at their disregard for my life.

This brings me to the juxtaposition of my experience and the mis-trial of Randall Kerrick. If you don’t know who Randall Kerrick is, or why he is on trial I would suggest reading Jeff’s piece that I linked above, or this piece also by Jeff, but in short.

Jonathan Ferrell_zps6diudjvmOn September 14, 2013 Johnathan Ferrell, 24, had a car accident in the middle of the night. He crawled out of his car and made his way to a home where he tried to ask for help. The homeowner, after seeing a disheveled and bloody young black man on her porch immediately calls 911 and asks for assistance. When the police arrive things go from bad to worse, there doesn’t seem to be a point in time where the police attempt to discern if Johnathan is a threat, instead there is simply an assumption he is. First, as he runs toward them, likely because he is injured and needs help there is an attempt to Taser him when the Taser fails to discharge, Randall Kerrick fires his weapon, not once, not twice but ten times. Excessive? Absolutely.

Does anyone but me see the difference in response? I don’t believe it is getting worse, I believe it has always been this way, the difference is we are seeing it more now, hearing about it more now. We are becoming more aware and having to face just how truly unequal our entire system is. The push back on the demand for equality is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The fear that if we acknowledge indeed Black Lives Matter, we somehow are saying other lives do not yet for centuries we have said through our actions Black Lives Matter Less. How can we now demand inclusion in a movement of recognition?

The other day I saw this and thought it a perfect explanation of what is happening to the conversation, yet was saddened it had to be said.

BlackLivesMatter2

The last question is important, why are we having these misunderstandings? Why aren’t we able to reach common ground, accept there is a problem and begin to work toward solutions together? What is it about our national psyche that forces us to demand there be winners and losers, rather than all of us working toward common good. Why do we continue to hate ‘other’?

I do not ask these questions rhetorically; rather I ask them because they deserve answers. I look at the very real difference I as a white woman am treated by the police and the way in which Sandra Bland, a black woman was recently treated by the police leading to her death in custody, these questions demand answers. I consider the ‘arrest’ and death of Walter Scott in South Carolina in comparison to the extraordinary protections taken in the arrest of Dylann Roof, these questions demand answers. I watch the press and many others with voices smooth over the actions of Dylann Roof, calling him a troubled youth, but jumping on the horrific actions of Vester Flanagan as a Racist Hate Crime, I wonder why do we allow these definitions to stand.11951145_476709872503362_4356076426194746518_n

When do we all start to truly question the systems that keep us apart, keep us from building the necessary bridges toward true freedom and real power. When will we realize it is time for us to find common cause, common ground.

I stare at the letter from the State of Texas, I have the right to respond. I have the right to speak to the Parole Board, through a letter, on the phone or in person. I have done so every time one of my shooters has been up for parole. Three years ago, both of them made parole and both of them were back inside within 120 days. My heart has changed a great deal in twenty-three years, my understanding of the world changed too. I don’t know how I feel anymore, I don’t know if I want to demand more of my pound of flesh in retribution for my pain. I don’t know anymore if I am being vengeful or if my heart simply won’t let go.

I do know my experience is a very different one than that of Sandra Bland, Johnathan Ferrell, Walter Scott and the thousands of others. I also know there is something inherently wrong that needs to be corrected.

Heretic in the House

joanstilkestake

Remember, Val, that only 60 years ago, that same argument would have been used to shut YOU up? Because what you believe now is mainstream, but would have been heresy to the mainstream back then.

The above is a quoted from a comment I received recently on another post I wrote. I had to sit back and consider the context, the person and the content of my post. I will grant the commenter is very much on the other side of the political aisle from me on nearly all subjects. I had to wonder though, did they listen to the video or simply take for granted there was nothing fundamentally wrong only that I disagreed with it and thus it was fine except it represented ideals I disagreed with.

So then I thought about my political positions, my social positions and wondered am I really that radical are my positions which are more accepted today than 60 years ago, would they have been heresy 60 years ago as my commenter suggests. I wondered about this the entire day, thought I would take some of my more ‘radical’ positions, compare them to 60 years ago, and see.


tumblr_mj4iy9ckaL1rpj3m6o1_500Civil Rightsyes, I believe strongly every single citizen of the United States of America should enjoy the same exact rights. This includes access to jobs, education, voting, housing and all the other ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’ of being a citizen. I believe strongly there should be no impediments to these rights. I include in these rights the freedom to marry, which I believe is a civil right and requires only recognition by the state and federal government, the issue of Church is not relevant and is independent of Civil Rights.

I suppose there might be some legitimacy to the argument of my heresy. Certainly, I do not support the suppression of any person or group of people and sixty years ago, it was the norm to do so.  Hell, today it is the norm to continue to do so. Pile on the kindling and get the stake ready, there might be a bonfire in my future.

Women’s Rights – this is likely part of the Civil Rights issue, but yes, I am a supporter of Women and their rights. I am a feminist, I believe women should be able to work and be paid equally to men. I believe women should be able to choose Suffragette Float, New York 1913 Courtesy Wikipediawhether to marry, where and how to work and even more importantly that we should be equally represented. Today, we are not it is my hope someday we are since we are slightly more than 50% of the population.

Well there is another one where I am a heretic and would have been 60 years ago too. In fact, I have been a feminist since my early teen years.

Pro-Choice – I am and don’t equivocate about it. No woman should ever be forced, as I was to have an abortion. No woman should ever be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. I am not Pro-Abortion; I think most women approach this choice as a last resort and with heartbreak. Nevertheless, it is no other persons business. It is the pregnant woman and her medical provider, sometimes it is also her partner but most of the time it is her and her alone that images (3)must make this choice. You, me, the state and certainly the church going throng of ijits attempting to shove their ‘beliefs’ down her throat and up her uterus; they have no place in her decision. Beyond the issue of abortion is the very real issue of women and their ability to access preventive care, this is also necessary and constantly at risk. I am a proponent of birth control, a proponent of women and men receiving education and the means to prevent pregnancy and I am perfectly willing to have my tax dollars pay for it.

Alrighty then, another heretical soapbox I stand on. I stand firmly on this one too. Boy oh boy, that kindling is getting piled higher the bonfire is going to burn bright soon.

Freedom of and from Religion – big one here but my belief that I should be free from religion within my government is supported by the US Constitution. The very first amendment of the US Constitution, the very first sentence: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; could it be any clearer than this. We are not now nor have we ever been a theocracy. We are not now, nor have we ever been a Christian Nation. What we are now and have always been a nation with a population of primarily Christians of different denomination who are unable to agree even among themselves. The founding fathers of this nation understood the problems of nations ruled by the Church, whether it be the Catholic Church or the Church of England, they built into our Constitution protections to prevent this from happening here. This nation was intended to be a Democratic Republic, without Church interference; one that allowed representation of all people whether Christian or other. It was not until the 1950’s that God was inserted into our Pledge and onto our currency, previous to this God was not there we stayed true to our founding principles.

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In truth, my views are not so different from others of 60 years ago and even further back. They saw this coming; they saw the problems of allowing the Christian crazies get hold of the government. So no I don’t think I will get any additional kindling for my views on this one. Get your church out of the government. The churches already receive tax exemptions, I already pay for your views to be heard I should not also have live with your views through legislation in my bedroom and elsewhere in my life.

Guns and Violenceobviously I am not mainstream on this one and never will be. I believe strongly I and my children, my grandchildren and all the generations to come should be safe from violence in the streets. I believe guns do not make us safe but instead create a society where we are more prone to violence not less so. The Constitution does not promote individual ownership of arsenals; it promotes a well-regulated militia, which has only recently been interpreted to mean children-guns-nraindividual ownership. Historically, it was much different. That this nation turns its back on the death and mayhem created by guns and gun ownership simply saddens me.

Interestingly through the first part of the 20th century, most of the legislation passed regarding guns and gun control fell firmly in what I would consider my camp. In fact, all of it, at both the federal and state level placed restrictions on the types of guns that could be sold, who could sell and transport them and who could own them and for what purpose. It wasn’t until the rise of the Right-Wing Anti-Government lunatic fringe and the true shift of the NRA in the mid 1990’s things changed dramatically. Ruby Ridge and Waco are the two defining moments that brought the fringe to the front. Since the mid 90’s the swing to the Right on the issue of guns has been dramatic and with horrifying results.

Call me a heretic, call my views heresy I am good with that. When any of you lay in the street with three bullets in you and wonder if you will survive, talk to me about how good guns are. When any of you bury a child due to violence, please give me a call and let’s discuss the need for more guns on the street I will be happy to debate this with you. Pile up the kindling boys and girls I am ready for the fire. On this one though, I was aligned with those in positions of authority, hell me and the NRA agreed 60 years ago now that is damned frightening.

Linda1I just picked a few of the key issue; I could likely do this for many other key issues of the day. Tell you what though, ask me anything and let’s see if I am truly a heretic. I am guessing I am only a heretic if you compare me to the other side of the aisle, not necessarily to 60 years ago. I will do my best to answer in context of both today and the 60-year mark though.

Ravening Wolves

Gray-Wolf.-Courtesy-U.S.-Fish-Wildlife-Service27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.

Ezekiel 22-27:29 


There is nothing to say about passion that hasn’t been said before, except this, it festers under the skin, like a wound that never quite heals. We search for that salve we can rub across the wound and for a brief moment, it works, then we realize the salve was full of grit and all we have done is taken the top layer off and opened it up to the air.

Damn that hurt, again.

I have become cynical. I weep at the history, I weep in pain some days as well. But I have become cynical. As I look down the barrel of another surgical intervention, I have become furious at the lack of compassion and empathy this nation has for the weak, the aged, the young, the disenfranchised, those different from ourselves. We celebrate the ignorant among us, whether this celebration is through their election to high office or their constant media attention, it is nonetheless a celebration. Meanwhile, we ignore sometimes even vilify those who do good works, those who deserve our attention through their contributions to society, our communities and our lives.

I weep when I consider the consequences of our apathy. I am appalled when I realized we are more concerned with the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass than we are with just how diminished the office of the President is by the disrespect shown to kim-kardashian-ass-memes-funny-6this President by every member of the GOP in elected office today. Really people, is this what we have become? I am disgusted that every single Sunday I hear the same tired conspiracy nut jobs (IRS, Benghazi, Sharia Law and Muslims, Guns Guns and More Guns, oh and let’s not forget there is no Global Warming and Make War not Peace).

I shudder when I listen to the first off the Clown Bus to enter the fray officially tell me to ‘Imagine’ a world he envisions,  one based on Christians values and morals. I cannot begin to imagine a world where all bets are off and corporations and people in his tax bracket will have all the rights and breaks while the rest of us suffer the consequences of his worldview. This though is the world of no empathy and no compassion Mr. Cruz wants us to imagine.

Of course, Phil Robertson falls right in line with Ted and his ideas. At a prayer meeting yesterday this is what Phil, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family had to say about those who didn’t profess a Christian view. This is what we would have to look forward to if Ted became president of the United States of America.

The worst part is, some of this is already happening across this land. Laws to strip those who are not Christian, White, Heterosexual are already being passed. Laws to enable businesses to discriminate against others based on their ‘Christian’ beliefs are passing state legislatures across the land. These new discrimination laws are enabled by people like Ted Cruz and encouraged by the fact that Phil Robertson and his network still exist on without any of us saying no, you are not allowed to say these things and stand on the First Amendment as your protection. You are not allowed to pretend it is just a joke ‘fantasy’ to threaten rape of young girls, decapitation of women, neutering of men simply because they are not of the same faith as you. What the hell is wrong with people they think this is ‘okay’.

Which leads me to the next problem, as a victim of violence I look at this nation and think to myself always when will it end? When is enough ever going to be enough, when will we say as a nation, not another child, another man, another woman will lie in our streets. When will we say not another parent will bury their child, not another child will pick up a gun in play and end up killing their sibling. When will we say enough? When will we say the police are not sanctioned to murder our citizens? When will we say enough? Surely, there comes a point in time when the lives of our citizens are of greater value than the profits of the corporations manufacturing the guns that are killing us. Certainly, at some point enough of us will stop and think, the laws in place today are not protecting anyone but those who are profiting most by our deaths, by the deaths of our children.

Then I saw this and I was brought to my knees. I realized it was us, Elyse over at Fifty Four and a Half simply put it out there and I found it stunningly simple and in your face.

Which leads me here to this, another great example the debate, of what is wrong with us as a nation and a people,. Is this ‘Free Speech’, the First Amendment at its finest? Or is it something worse, something so deeply disturbed I cannot even find the words. You tell me, with no lead in other than to say I had to watch it twice before finally realizing it is parody but also defines the the terrible ease with which anyone could do exactly what this video lays out, step by step.

Well that is my rant for the day my friends. Passion, if we don’t get it and soon we lose everything we stand for as a people, everything we once stood for as a nation. We have been slowly eroded; we have stripped down bare and shown the very worst of ourselves for the past six years. We have shown our dark and ugly side and those of us who should have stood up and spoken up, we did little and said little. We should be ashamed for allowing it to go so far. For those of us with the means to do something, we should be ashamed for not doing enough, for staying home when we should have been in the streets even where we might not have been fully embraced. It is time, it is past time that we push the boundaries and demand the change we need to make this a nation worth living in and fighting for, not just for some people but all people. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

Want to tell A & E what you think about Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty: aefeedback@aenetworks.com

What I think, Where We Go

OpEd

This is a long one, I will apologize up front. Sorry

If one listens to the talking heads, whether Right, Left or somewhere in the Center it is easy to get lost in Ideology, rhetoric and frankly nonsense. There are times we can get sucked into believing the problems of this country are so large, so complex, so far above the intellect of the average person we shouldn’t even try to think about them let alone demand simple and straight-forward solutions, plans for resolution.

I am a Progressive Independent.

The following is my personal political stand or:

“How I Would Fix What is Wrong Without Regard to Liars, Thieves, Scoundrels or Other Politicians”

The Economy:

  1. Balanced budgets at State and Federal levels must be the law not just a campaign platforms. New Constitutional Amendments to be written and passed. Given some of the comments thus far I am compelled to add this caveat, a Balanced Budget does not mean states and the fed cannot take on debt, cannot examine need and determine what and how much debt is appropriate. What a Balanced Budget means is they cannot take on more debt than they are able to service through current revenue streams (tax, tariff, etc)
  2. Transparency in campaign spending must be the law at all levels and there must be limits on contributions of both private citizens and corporations. Citizens United must be overturned. No, corporations are not people, they do not have a similar voice or similar rights; they must not be treated as such.
  3. Regulatory laws must be in place to protect the consumer, yes there is such thing as predators and yes our government should protect consumers from them.
  4. Banking regulations must be in place including oversight on lenders, credit cards and market speculators. There was a reason why they were there after the first Great Depression, we shouldn’t have forgotten. There is no such thing as “To Big To Fail”.
  5. Reinstate Tariffs’, balance trade with our “partners” and do it within 12 months. No more weak ploys and pansy assed negotiations. Either there is fair and balanced trade with partners who
    Bill Clinton signing NAFTA, the first disaster He's no Huckleberry

    Bill Clinton signing NAFTA, the first disaster
    He’s no Huckleberry

    buy and sell in markets that are open both ways or there isn’t, it cannot be a one-way relationship. This will very rapidly begin to bring jobs back to the US. No more NAFTA!

  6. Jobs, we must repair our economy and bring jobs back to this country. Correcting the imbalance with our trade partners is just the start. While part of the sucking sound was manufacturing and the cost difference in fact this is not the entire story; millions of high-tech white and pink collar jobs have gone overseas since 1999, add to this the millions of H1B jobs that are on-shored displacing US workers. This must end! We must stop rewarding those US corporations sending jobs overseas. Stop all H1B’s for jobs that can performed by American workers. Stop all government contracts employing foreign workers until audited for cause. Stop all corporations (e.g. Microsoft, HP, IBM) from continuing to import technology and clerical workers until audited for cause.

Taxes:

  1. Tax laws must be simplified, no more loopholes. Apply the KISS method; tax all income on individuals and businesses. This includes both passive and active income. Taxes don’t have to be egregious they only have to be fair. To my mind the right strategy is to level the field by modification of the current system of graduated brackets. Eliminate all subsidies and credits available only to the very wealthy and corporations; reduce the number of deductions but increase the overall family deduction to a more reasonable amount. Incorporate cost of living into the annual calculation for marginal income (0% Tax rate on Net Income). Finally create 4 distinct brackets:

* 15% > poverty level to $90K

* 25% $90K – $250K

* 30% >$250K – $500K

* 35%>$500>

*Corporate Tax Rate flat 10% up to first $1B and 15% thereafter

  1. Stop Corporate Subsidies to the wealthiest corporations in the world. This should not be taken the wrong way, the government has a role to play in scientific advancement and we should encourage organizations to invest in partnership with government where appropriate; however it should not be with taxpayer dollars year after year where we will also being paying for the ultimate outcome as they sell us the products at inflated rates.

Government:

  1. Term Limits for all elected officials, especially at the Federal level. Three Terms and you are out of there.
  2. Stop all earmarks, as a matter of Law. Keep Bills straight-forward and simple don’t hide new spending for Arrow Fletchers or Ice Blowers in the bottom half where no one will see it. Don’t hide the fact that those shovel ready jobs in Michigan won’t require E-Identify to confirm citizenship or competitive bids simply to provide the biggest campaign contributor the ditch digging job.
  3. Stop all attempts to pass laws that are focused on personal decisions, choices or health matters where government is attempting to undermine what has already been decided (e.g. legality of Abortion). Stop using language in Bills that attempt to diminish the experience of more than half the population, redefinition of the word Rape is inappropriate, immoral and unethical.
  4. My father overlooking the Grand Canyon 1993

    My father overlooking the Grand Canyon 1993

    There are many reasons we pay taxes one of them is infrastructure! Ours are quickly eroding and we need to invest, our roads, levees and bridges are failing. We should also remind ourselves we pay taxes to preserve our heritage; our national parks, museums, arts and access to other facilities are maintained by the taxes each of us pay. I am happy to contribute my fair share each year to insure the wealth of this nations heritage is preserved and maintained for future generations, all members whether rich or poor. I want all of the generations that come after me to be able to read the words of Lincoln, to be able to walk the Vietnam War Memorial, to view and enjoy the Washington Mall, to see the California Redwoods in their glorious and natural splendor, to see the beauty of the Painted Desert or awesome desolation of the Salt Flats. All of these are maintained by our tax dollars, all of these are on the chopping block today if we don’t stand up, pay attention and crawl out of our apathy.

  5. End illegal wars and the massive spending on the war machine that is the beltway bandits aka The Defense Contractors. End all non-compete contracts. End the palm greasing within the Pentagon that cost the US Taxpayer billions every year.
  6. Cap Federal Reserve ability to print money. Yes, I said it there must be a check and balance and the government must be held accountable. We have never defaulted on our loans; however we must maintain our rating in Capital Markets. We must stop spending and begin paying down our outstanding debt, stop printing money to service the debt.
  7. Close foreign military bases immediately or charge the host nation to maintain them! With the exception of South Korea there is no legitimate reason for the United States to maintain a military presence in any foreign nation.

Humanities:

  1. Education, we are the only free nation in the world that doesn’t invest in our youth! We must give our young people the tools to be competitive in the market of tomorrow. We cannot continue on the path we are on, this isn’t about feel good methods rather it is about changing the manner in which we approach education and funding. We must give every child a fair start in life, the same access. We have to extend the same opportunities and make available the same tools. Public education should not ever be reliant upon the wealth of one’s parents! This isn’t about passing a child through where they don’t show aptitude but rather about giving every child the opportunity to advance based upon intellectual stimulation, capabilities and desire. Education should be consistently provided no matter the wealth of the neighborhood, teacher pay should be consistent no matter the wealth of the neighborhood, schools should be safe, children should not be hungry. Children should not be the scapegoat or the victims of society. Our system must change to meet the demands of the future.
  2. Stop the militarization of our police. Stop allowing them to murder. Stop defending their actions by creating an entire devaluation of men and women who don’t look like you, that is don’t look like you if you are Caucasian. This has to end, twelve year-old children responsible for their own murders because a White cop mistook him for a ‘scary’ adult.

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  3. Stop attempting to define this nation as a Christian nation in direct conflict with the United States Constitution! It is not, it is a Democratic Republic and a Secular Nation as it was intended to be by the Founding Fathers and as it has been clarified by case law several times by several different US Supreme Courts.
  4. Stop limiting Civil Rights based on religious views, Nationalistic views or other narrow views that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual Civil Rights of individuals born or naturalized as citizens of this nation. Civil and Human rights apply to all members of society no matter their Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Gender; if they don’t apply to all members equally they apply to no members.
  5. Stop the war on Drugs! It was ineffective and truly focused primarily on the inner city with imbalanced sentencing (e.g. powder vs. crack cocaine). The War on Drugs created the highest prison population in the free world with no real end in sight.
  6. Stop the war on the Middle Class! Focus instead on how to repair the most vital part of our nation’s economy. It isn’t Teachers, Fire Fighters or the Police causing States to bankrupt. It isn’t Unions causing the problems. It isn’t those earning $50K per year that is the problem today; they are paying their fair share in taxes across the board. Yet all eyes are on them as they struggle to pay their mortgage, worry whether they will keep their jobs, struggle to pay health care bills and keep gas in their 10-year old cars.
  7. Hold this nation to the same standard we hold others. I said it. We have to hold ourselves to the same high standard; it isn’t a matter of feel good but a matter of Law. Our law-makers must begin to respect the laws of the land; that means all of them starting with the Constitution. We must hold Trials for those held in Gitmo, we must hold accountable those Bankers and Speculators who broke the financial back of this nation, we must bring to trial war criminals no matter who they are. We cannot afford as a nation to continue to ignore the liars, thieves, war-mongers, torturers among us as if they either didn’t exist or worse, are above the law.
  8. Invest in science and our future. Stop the madness of religious holy wars against progress. Invest in clean energy sources, stem cell research, technology, high speed rail and anything else images (2)that will move this nation ahead of the competition!
  9. Get out of my bedroom, my medical decisions, my marriage choices and all my other personal decisions as a matter of law and morality. It isn’t your business and frankly shouldn’t be all that interesting to you. As a matter of Law, afford me the same rights as anyone else. As a matter of morality keep your opinion off the law books as it doesn’t belong there.

I am a progressive and proud of it. I believe in the ingenuity of people and most of the time the greatness of the human spirit.

I am a capitalist in that I believe a free market is the best market for entrepreneurs, perhaps the difference is that I believe all markets must exist with trade regulations and restraints to work properly in a global market.

I am an American first but I am a citizen of the World, perhaps more so than most Americans having lived and worked abroad on and off most of my life.

I am I believe a moral and ethical person though I profess no religion. I am a social Liberal and believe strongly in the rights of all members of society to be free and respected for who they are and their ability to contributed no matter their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

I believe our nation is failing; we have set ourselves up for failure. We are creating a society that will exclude most members from ever achieving anything beyond the minimum while those in the upper tier stand on their shoulders demanding greater effort, more of their labor for less. What boggles my mind is the number of people who believe they will somehow make it into that stratosphere someday, make it out of the muck and the mire and so vote against their best interest and the best interest of their children.

I am a progressive not because I want a welfare state, not because I want the country to pay for my care or the care of my children from cradle to grave; no I am a progressive because I want future generations to have the same opportunities that my parents had.

Sadistic Nation Revealed

OpEdEmpathy, a wonderful leveling of the field when we actually feel the pain of another being and thus act with some care or compassion towards them, setting aside our personal interest in favor of helping another person. Yes, in their best interest, or at least with kindness and care towards them. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, doesn’t have to take you out of your head, your comfort zone; just has to be something small, something simple, a touch or a cup of coffee on a cold morning. How many of us think we can make a difference in the life of another? How many of us try?

I am more than certain there are those of us, that is members of humanity, who are not completely selfish and self-serving. The problem is, for the life of me I can’t find them in great abundance. My breath is knocked out of me right now, on every single level of my being, I look around and I think this nation has sunk to a new level of assholery and we are without a single overarching redeeming quality. Our failures, as a nation and a people pile higher than Mt. Everest, our disregard for our impact on the world a phenomenon I continue to be stunned to my soul by.

With each revelation of just how badly entire bodies of government are behaving, Ferguson or the 47, I am moved further toward a belief we are a nation in its final death throes. We are choking on our hate, on our fear and on the absolute ugliness brought out of the closet by the election of Barack Obama. Let’s not pretend otherwise, let’s not insult each other’s intelligence. The election of10801513_10153167396029255_486623207564289575_n this president, not once but twice threw a wrench in everything, brought all the animus boiling up to the surface and caused usually reasonable people to show their true colors; they couldn’t help themselves. Compassion and empathy flew out the window in favor of hate and destruction at any cost.

Since 1976 one side of the house has had it in its mind they would control the economy and thus the nation at all costs, they have run a game on us all. The very wealthy have controlled the direction of our nation through control of one party with little concern for a vast majority of its citizens. With the dogma of smaller government translated into cuts to services and paid for by constant cuts in taxes for those at the top of the earnings bracket our nation has become cruel, sadistic even. Until recently, until the election of this president these changes were small, incremental and went nearly unnoticed. Now though, now they are out there for all to see, no longer incremental but instead entire programs focused on those who can least afford to lose even ten dollars a month, let alone a hundred or more. Worse still, that same party has become adverse to science, adverse to facts and given to fear mongering, leading us into wars throughout the world.

Empathy and compassion cannot even be found from the pulpits of our churches, today. Instead, many of those who lay claim to the mantle of Christianity, instead preach against those in the most need, preach against compassion, preach against this president, preach against all that Jesus stood for. Many in the government who run on a platform of Christian morals, family values they also fail to evaluate what this means, fail at compassion, fail at empathy and of course fail at the greatest lesson of all, this is a nation of diverse people, diverse beliefs and a Constitution that guarantees us the right to live our lives without interference of Church in our homes, bedrooms or state run institutions.

We are destroying our greatest asset, our people; by making education out of reach for all but the wealthiest, we are undermining our future. By cutting funding to public education at every level, we are destroying our future for generations. By shipping our manufacturing off-shore and bringing in from elsewhere those who have the education to fill our white collar jobs, whether it is high-tech, science or medicine we have cut huge swaths across the American opportunity prospective, now and in the future. Soon we will not have a problem with immigration from Mexico or elsewhere to fill the jobs ‘no one else wants’, these will be the only jobs Americans are qualified for. Soon, we will be a nation of serfs in our own country; unqualified for anything but picking fruit and vegetables, cleaning toilets and begging for scrapes.

As a nation, we are without mercy, without compassion for our own. We have no sense of justice, no sense of right and wrong. It fascinates me, always; how we can point to Iran, call them a terrible Theocracy, or ISIS, and call them Terrorists when we have no space in either our distant or current history from which to hide. We who marched into sovereign nations and murdered, tortured with complete disregard for their right to self-governance. We who within our own borders have entirely ignored the rule of law, treating our own citizens to injustice, torture and even murder to enrich a criminal justice for profit system that has broken families and communities. No, we have no right to cry foul at injustice abroad when we only gloss over the offenses in our own backyard.

One where the police are free to murder twelve-year-olds in parks and blame them for their deaths, is this the nation we want? One where schools are crumbling and children cannot learn and the likelihood is if you are poor you will not graduate from high school, is this the nation we want? One where if you are a Black Man you have a one in three chance and a Latino Man a one in six chance of being imprisoned during your lifetime, compared to a White Man who has only a one in 17 chance; this says nothing about the crimes committed only how sentencing is handed down, how justice is served. Is this the nation we want?

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We as a nation are in descent. Falling rapidly into a fiery pit from which there is no way out unless someone steps in, someone with enough will to offend and enough backbone to stand up to all the old white men and women who have stayed on their happy asses in Washington and elsewhere in seats of power for far too long. Someone needs to start calling this out; someone needs to start saying no more, enough is enough. All of us need to start asking ourselves, is this truly the nation we want to pass on to our children?

I can honestly say it is not the nation I want, this nation disturbs me frightens me even.

Godless Liberal

The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal”, not for the first time, during a political debate; I pondered this for a few minutes before I responded. I understood my opponent was angry with me, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:Anger

GODLESS LIBERAL

Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”

Perhaps the words I used were too big, maybe he didn’t understand them. Whatever the case was, the discussion went downhill from there, the content of his argument went from senseless fiction regarding the state of police violence to comments regarding my gender and my relationship to canines (Fucking Bitch was one of the least offensive but most frequently used).

The entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our national conversation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking; outside the usually polite boundaries we maintain in professional settings, we have none anywhere else. We are perfectly comfortable with name-calling, crossing any previously established boundary to disparage our opponent and we have not the least amount of shame in our behavior. What made this complete faceless stranger feel comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms?

Just to keep this all in perspective, he continued to pound me and everyone else with his moral superiority based on his Christianity, which apparently also magically infused him with intellectual superiority as well. I was frankly astounded.

Right-wing-Christian-hall-of-shame

Of course we only have this group of truly wonderful examples to compare him with.

 

That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and unworthy of anything approaching civil discourse. I did not surmise this, he told me he was under no obligation to treat me with respect as I was a ‘non-believer’ and bound for Hell.

Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity

Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he fully understand or was he just parroting mindlessly what he heard from others. Was this his only answer when he was no longer able to debate the issue at hand?

The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Whether we subscribe to a ‘religion’ or not, we nonetheless subscribe to a common set of Principles, though some may be more porous, more flexible within the context of our day-to-day lives.

I have been thinking about this all week. This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think, am I right or wrong?

Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.

  • Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
  • Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
  • Don’t murder (killing might be okay though for the right reason)
  • Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)

Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to.

  • Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
  • Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
  • Respect for local culture
  • Respect for environment
  • Deliver profit to shareholders

Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –

OpEdStarting at the reading of my four Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.

If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner, I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been in trouble for doing so in the past. With this answer in mind, I am also a person of Ethics.

Continuing with my reading through the last group of definitions, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.

Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society does it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual. I do not subscribe to any religion created by man to control society, engineer preferred outcomes or oppress entire segments of society by gender, class or in some cases race. In fact I don’t just not subscribe, I reject.

Liberal, indeed I have been an agitator, a protestor and at times an ‘in your face’ type of Godless Liberal. I am now and have been since I was old enough to understand the difference a Progressive Left of Center Liberal.

Being a Godless Liberal wasn’t an illegal or immoral political stance last I heard, in fact some of the greatest men and women of history were staunch Liberals, including our own Founding Fathers. It seems we have lost our way. Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?

Look Over There

OpEd

Today, in the United States of America, we have a national tragedy on our hands and we casually turn our backs, shrug our shoulders and with aplomb blame others, including the victim, for outcomes we own entirely. In the year of the Lord 2014, we continue the slow and sure genocide of those members of our society we first enslaved and then disenfranchised, no matter the dreck we pretend to, post racial my happy azz. Then throw in those members of society we stole the very land we call our own, the land we stole through hook, crook, death dealing and broken treaty, yes they remain on lands we continue to try to steal ‘back’. Finally, there are those who cross our borders in search of a better life, we have the gall to stand before them as if we ourselves are not the descendants of immigrants, demanding they return from whence they came pretending there aren’t criminals and other shady characters slipping about our family trees. We are a soulless community hate filled hypocrites that make me ashamed to claim my citizenship most days.

But just in case anyone doesn’t know the history of pap and dreck called Civil Rights, it includes:

  • Emancipation Proclamation of 1863
  • Thirteenth Amendment of 1865
  • Executive Order 9981, giving ‘equality’ within the Armed Forces
  • Brown v. Board of Education, 1954
  • Twenty-Fourth Amendment of 1964
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1968
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 1971
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, overriding Reagan’s original Veto
  • Civil Rights Act of 1991, overriding a threatened Veto by Bush
  • Shelby County v. Holder, 2013 the current SCOTUS reverses the voter protections of section 4 and made section 5 toothless of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act. In a strongly worded dissent, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the V.R.A.” (Voting Rights Act).

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The President said today, “We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists.”

No the President of the United States of America was not talking about the Terrorists in our midst, he was talking about others far away, others we in fact created. Created through our love for war and our propensity for nation building and the spreading of the falsehood of ‘Equality’, ‘Democracy’ and ‘Freedom’. This nation is built on a lie, a great huge sinkhole of propaganda. We are neither Equal, Free nor are we by any stretch of any imagination a Democratic Republic and we get further and further from this shining ideal every single day of our existence.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about the police who are terrorizing and brutalizing entire communities. Killing children, men and women in the street and in their homes. Beating them on the side of the roads with impunity. Raping them without fear of retribution. Arresting them for no reason other than they are Black and sitting on a public bench outside a bank in broad daylight. I ask, what is the difference in these four killings?

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I personally do not give two tinkers damn if IS (ISIL, ISIS) continue to make their way through every nation in the Middle East, let them fight their own battles. I am unwilling to spend another drop of American blood, another drop of American sweat untangling the mess. I personally have no desire to see another American life destroyed for greed and the ignorance of rich white men who don’t give a damn whether any of us survive so long as their bank accounts thrive and they can ultimately negotiate another contract with another puppet government when it is all over.

This is what I give a damn about, right now, right here, today and without equivocation.

  1. Educating our young people from pre-K through grade 12 and making it possible for every young person to gain either a trade or a university education without going into a lifetime of debt. I want this education to be ‘real’ and I want it to include Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, History, Philosophy, Human Biology, Age Appropriate Sex Education, Science, Political Science and Comparative Religion and the Arts. I want sports to be secondary but PE to be mandatory. I want every child to have access to Head Start, Healthy Meals, Technology and Books (real ones). I want education to be PUBLIC and every school no matter where it is to have the same access to information, facilities, books, equipment and teachers. I want children to be taught to alleviate ignorance not to pass a f’ng test.
  2. Invest in our INFRASTRUCTURE, now and without trying to pick and choose who has the ‘best’ must kiss-ass-suck-up Senator or Congressperson. There are plenty of reports that identify the roads, bridges, ports and rail that are in the most desperate need, start there and work forward. This nation should be ahead of the curve instead of decades behind our competition, we should have high-speed rail for transporting goods and people. Our airports should be state of the art rather than third world nation, our ports should be pristine, we suck at all of it.
  3. Pass gun laws, now. No bullshitting on this one, no pansy ass negotiating with the NRA, tired of them. Let’s all face it, guns have one purpose to kill, that is their only purpose. Screw the Second Amendment, repeal now. Want to shoot stuff, want to kill stuff? Join the Army and volunteer to go over to the Middle East or wherever the latest hot spot is, otherwise no guns on your back, in your car, on your hip; no armory in your house. It is ignorant and stupid. We do not live in the Wild Wild West and guns are unnecessary.
  4. De-Militarize the police and start testing all applicants for sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. Take away their toys first. Put cameras on their cars and their uniforms next. Anyone who turns a camera off is subject to automatic unpaid suspension. Establish external, citizen investigation of all complaints of police brutality. All police killings investigated by DoJ. Internal affairs essentially to become null, departments should never be allowed to investigate themselves, ever.
  5. Let’s start emptying our prisons of non-violent criminals, shall we? These mandatory sentencing laws are ridiculous. Three strikes, can you guess who this hurts the worst? How about life-sentences for juveniles, any guess who are sentenced most often? While I am at it, I want an end to the play for pay scheme all together, no more private prisons in the Good Ole US of A, no more Governors boosting their coffers by emptying streets into these horror shows.

I want; damn what I want is for all of us to be lifted up out of this soul sucking poverty we seem to have fallen into without a fight. I want an end to dead men, women and children of all races lying in the street at the hands of cops who are not held accountable for their actions. I want all of us to give a damn again, to give enough of a damn that we demand a change and demand it now rather than allow our horrifying descent into us-against-them feudalism, where all of us lose to continue. We have turned our backs on what we were supposed to stand for, what some of us did once stand for and now we are burying our dead, every single day without a tear shed.

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Out of Dreams Nightmares

OpEdMany things are weighing on my mind, it is nearly impossible to turn on the television, open a newspaper or even look at social media without being bombarded by the most recent human tragedy. The problem I have is the magnitude of those tragedies; our response, as a nation and frankly as human beings saddens me. I am not a Christian, I do though subscribe to some basic tenets of the Christian system, this is my favorite:

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

Matthew 25:31-46 parables of the Sheep and the Goats

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I find myself in a quandary as I consider our current national and international crises and the response of our citizens to them. We are a nation full of individuals who presume to call themselves Christian, who gather together and stand on their Bibles demanding their Rights and Privileges using their Christianity as a justification for what I consider mean, ugly and nasty behavior toward those in need. It seems we are a nation that has forgotten the basics of compassion, empathy and humanity toward our fellow man, while standing on a shaky platform of Christianity.

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.” 

Lyndon B. Johnson

I have been less than impressed by our response to the refugee problem at our borders, make no mistake this is nothing other than a refugee problem. Women and children, in some cases children alone, fleeing violence begging for safe haven, only to be met by screaming xenophobes telling them to turn around, die, starve no matter just go home. We helped create the problems in Central America, our money, our bankers and money laundering and our ‘War on Drugs’, we did this1. This nation helped create the cesspools these children are escaping from, where their lives are in danger, where they live in poverty so terrible none of us could possibly imagine even in our worst nightmare. We did this and some of us have the audacity to stand before buses and on borders, demanding they be turned away. We did this, yet governors of Border States find nothing wrong with patrolling with guns drawn and calling out the National Guard to shoot them as they come toward us, hands out begging for shelter and aid.

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Our President has found himself between a rock and a very hard place. Following a law signed by his predecessor, he is vilified by those who believe he is opening the borders to ‘thugs, criminals and disease ridden children’. With Congress taking Comprehensive Immigration Reform off the table for this year, everyone has something to say, it makes me wonder when some of these cretins will simply fade into the woodwork and shut the hell up. Everyone has an opinion, not a single one of them, from Hannity to West shows a bit of compassion, their snark and ugly shows only a partisan standard line of attack on the President, on those fleeing the violence and poverty we helped to create. Everyone who speaks up, attacking those in need and the President claims Christianity as their Rock, their guiding light yet fails to remember CHARITY, COMPASSION and LOVE for their fellow man as the foundation of that faith.

I have been anything but impressed; truthfully, I have been stunned by the actions of the city of Detroit’s Water Department. The city is in bankruptcy seeking any all means to pull themselves out of dire financial straits. The 04_Womenproblem with this solution is, water is both a fundamental human requirement of life and according to the United Nations a Human Right2, apparently the city manager and the head of the Water Department in Detroit didn’t get that memo. It has been suggested by some, famous and otherwise, those who do not pay their water bills can simply ‘tote’ their water from the lakes and rivers nearby. Others have suggested those private citizens who are not paying their water bills are doing so while they choose to pay other less necessary household expenses, such as cable and medicine. While the city cuts services to thousands of private residences they are remise in cutting services to businesses that owe hundreds of thousands, even the State that at last look owed $5M.3

To my mind, Detroit is a test ground for what the rest of the nation can and will become if we don’t stop this attack on basic human rights and humane treatment of our fellow man, now. This is an attack on at least two levels; one is the basic human level where those who have will continue to have (see Peter Brabeck-Letmathe4 and his assessment of what is a human right about access to water), the other is a continuation on the attack on women in particular. Wonder how this is an attack on women? How will women, in particular, be affected by a crisis of this nature, look at the world and ask yourself this question who will tote that water, who will be left to care for sick children affected by unsanitary conditions? Take women out of the workforce, cripple them economically and shove them backwards educationally, as a nation we are broken, we become the dreamscape of the nutjobs on the Far Right, a land of hopelessness for millions starting with women and extending to everyone else not of their liking.5

drought

For those who think racism and sexism are things of the past, think again. These are simply two stark reminders we are living in a nightmare reality only brought to a screaming head in 2008 by the election of Barack Obama. Every single xenophobic fear was outed when he shot to the office of President seemingly out of nowhere and fulfilled the hopes of those of us who believed he could begin to undo what eight years of the Bush / Cheney nightmare had done to this nation. His election flung wide the closet doors of all those who previously had agreed to keep their bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and simple lack of core morality under the covers in favor of social acceptance. Of course, since the days of Ronald Reagan the Right had been working toward this moment, when White Sheets in the form of a well-tailored suit would find acceptance on the national stage and even a man or woman of color would join in the decimation of our nation, our civil rights and our laws.

Congress does nothing day by day but spends our money on conspiracy theories, threats of impeachment and lawsuits against the President; we sit back and shake our heads but do nothing. The Senate shuts down the government, deadlocks over things both vital and trivial; we sit back and do nothing. SCOTUS is bought and paid for, stripping us of our rights one by one; we do nothing but bitch and whine.

How do we change this trajectory of the United States becoming a feudalistic state? We stand up, get up off our apathetic asses and demand change. We engage locally, we stop whining and we start doing something, including Voting. We write letters. We go to City Council meetings. We hook up with local organizations and throw our name out there to volunteer.

Dammit we engage and we VOTE.

I leave you with this, I think it is appropriate for today.

1http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9252490

2http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/human_right_to_water.shtml

3 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/26/detroit-shuts-off-water-to-residents-but-not-to-businesses-who-owe-millions.html

4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2P7lqDsle4

5 Statistics: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/statistics?filterEEF299BDEFB04B4A89206672AC6D5578=92B3B8726E5549ECB87EFAA64D5E5B05#filterContent

5 Sanitation facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

5 Hygiene facts:  http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

5 Water facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

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