The Commons Revisited

I want to return to one of my favorite political / philosophical places on the map, The Commons. When I first wrote about The Commons, back prior to the second election of our current president it was with some hopefulness ( backstory). Truthfully, most Americans do not refer to the Public Sector, the services and systems provided by government as The Commons. Since January 1981, we have as a nation, been on a mission to destroy The Commons and our memory of how they serve us.

How did we get so damned mean?

Do you ever ask yourself this question when listening to news reports, watching a debate on the floor of Congress or reading the latest memes posted from either side of the ideological debate? I know I do. It seems both sides have sunk to new lows, specializing in simple nastiness and personal attacks rather than solving problems. We cloak it in humor, we laugh at political satire and even excuse those who attack our ideological enemies with terms of gender, race, ethnicity where if these terms were turned on us we would scream bloody murder and demand immediate retribution.

What in the Hell is wrong with us anyway?

As a nation, as a people we cling to our notions and ideologies neither side willing to listen or move from their platforms. The problem is both sides have moved both sides have slid further toward the right, leaving the nation and The Commons in peril of ultimate destruction. We have become a nation of sound bites, ignorance, misinformation and political distractions. We fly willy-nilly off the handle at the slings and arrows thrown by irrelevant talking heads and ignore what is important, critical even to our lives as citizens. We fail as citizens to understand what is important for our future and the future of our nation, focusing instead on immediate gratification as if playing a video game.

The Commons, Safety Nets and the Fall of a Nation

Do you wonder what is the Commons? Many do, they haven’t really heard of The Commons, truthfully many think all the services they receive are simply there, free of charge and might be better if they weren’t, free that is. With this in the back of our mind, let’s consider what are commonly thought of as The Commons:

  • Public Safety – Police, Fire and Rescue
  • Public Transportation – Roads, including local, state and interstate and lest we forget bridges, of which many are considered close to failure.[i]  We also shouldn’t forget in here, the ports, river ways, airways, the list truly does go on.
  • Public Health-  including Free Clinics, Hospitals, Research, the FDA and the EPA to name just a few of the services we receive in the name of our health and well-being.
  • Public Parks – preservation of our wild areas
  • Public Education – from pre-school all the way through university in some states.
  • National Security – Military and that great huge spy apparatus we have and all too often decry.

These are just a few, the list could continue, for pages and pages if truth were to be told.

Then there are the safety nets, no I am not talking about those nets we pay for throughout our working lives but instead the ones we have in place for the weakest of our society:

  • Medicaid (Healthcare, but only one part of the whole)
  • Aid for Women, Infants and dependent children (WIC)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP (aka: Food Stamps)
  • Housing Assistance to families
  • Temporary Assistance to Families in Need, TANF (aka: Welfare)
  • Pell Grants
  • Child Nutrition or School Lunches
  • Head Start and Child Care
  • Job Training
  • Unemployment supplements
  • Energy Assistance (LIHeap)
  • Lifeline (aka: Obama Phone), funny about this one, it was actually started in 1997 but somehow has been attached to our current POTUS.

In their entirety, these programs make up less than fifty percent (50%) of the entire budget, think about that for a moment, ponder it. All the supports, both Common Good and Safety Nets excepting National Defense, make up less than half the expenditure of the federal government. One must ask where does the rest of our money go, why don’t we have a more stable economy and better infrastructure. What are all these fiscally responsible, conservative members of our federal government doing with the trillions of dollars they collect from us and borrow from others? It is a good question, worth asking, isn’t it?

2014 Federal spending chart

Damned Mean and Getting Meaner by the Day

Is it indifference or cynicism that has taken us down this road, allowing us to not see the suffering before us, to not care when a child is hungry or an entire neighborhood falls victim to blight. How do we turn a blind eye as our schools, once the pride of our neighborhoods fall into disrepair, our children once the ‘best and brightest’ are no longer able to read, write or do simple math upon graduation from High School? Why do we find it better to make excuses as our nation drops in every category measuring national success and citizen happiness?

We beat our chests as if illiteracy makes us superior and ignorance of simple science will advance us as a nation. Our failure to advance within the global economy isn’t accidental; we are the only nation with a classification of ‘working poor’, we seem to be damned proud of having added designation, while ripping all security from tenuous hold on hearth and home. A once proud middle class, slips further adrift, families shuffled into parking garages, tent cities and shelters; no longer too proud to beg.

So long as we can point and say, ‘not like us’, we happily run to the polls and pull that lever for the guy who looks most like ‘us’ then wonder why we are losing our jobs, our homes, our cars, our access to healthcare. When we do and there is nothing there to help us when we fall, we still look to the other guy, the inner city guy, the immigrant, the fatherless child, the unmarried mother; we blame them for our fate and cry foul. We look to the guy we elected, we beg and plead and remind them of their promise to, ‘stop those lazy folks sucking on the public tit, not like us hard working folks just like them’. It is only then we might realize we aren’t any different; we also need help but do we get mad at those ‘just like us’ folks we elected who have screwed us into the dirt of our rented land? Hell no, we get madder still at the ‘not like us’ folks suffering right beside us they’re still ‘not like us’ and we are still going to find a way to make them worse off and we are still going to find a way to elect those that are ‘just like us’.

Do we learn though, do we find common ground? No instead, we continue to put the charlatans with their hands out taking money and spinning the wheel to find the next target to focus our ire upon. We would rather put money into the greedy, grasping hands of those who could feed, educate and rebuild this nation with nothing more than the interest paid on the welfare checks they receive from our tax dollars. But we are mean, so long as we have a target we are happy to remain mean, happy to point to the other guy, the guy that isn’t us, that looks different from us and blame them for our misfortune, for our failure to thrive for the failure of The Commons to lift us up from our misfortune.

 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. Matthew 25:45

[i] http://www.asce.org/failuretoact/

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/10-poverty-myths-busted

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2014USbf_15bs2n_000201101220#usgs302

 

No Restraint

Paul Ryan, the other half of the Romney ticket is an adherent of Ayn Rand and her watershed novel Atlas Shrugged. If you haven’t ever read Atlas Shrugged, you might wonder why this is so frightening and so at odds with his Catholic faith. The problem with the philosophy of Ayn Rand when applied to nations is its failure of compassion. Ayn Rand believed in Free Markets above all else, Free Markets and individualism. The philosophy of objectivism and selfishness, says the wealthy the “makers” have value and worth in society. Others, the “takers” have none. The entire premise of Atlas Shrugged is a nation, no, a world gone mad as the “makers” withdraw their resources leaving the “takers” to their own inept devices, incapable of managing without the direction and firm hand of those at the top in wealth and resource. This premise is of course faulty, it assumes the 95% without great wealth are incapable and unintelligent, but this was the assumption of Ayn Rand and it is also the assumption of Paul Ryan and his cohorts.

Paul Ryan would be Libertarian, except the Libertarian platform allows for the decriminalization of Drugs, Abortion and Gay Marriage. Otherwise, most of the Libertarian platform is based on the Ayn Rand philosophy of Free Market without regulations, no taxes and no government supports or safety nets. The other problem for Paul Ryan and those of his ilk, within the houses of Congress, those within the various state legislatures and within the various Governorships; well they simply can’t win without the support of their far right Christian coalitions today. Ayn Rand was an Atheist and the Libertarians believe strongly in keeping religion out of government but individual rights to worship protected from interference.

Paul Ryan’s budget, yes that infamous piece of tripe, the basis of the platform of the Republican Party the ineptly named Path to Prosperity, which has been vetted and rejected by every non-partisan group is based on the philosophies of Ayn Rand and the premise of Atlas Shrugged. It is nothing more or less than a GIFT to those who have no need and a THEFT from those who have great need. The GOP having failed to take heed of the results of the people’s choice in the most recent election have made Paul Ryan their lead negotiator for the next round of Budget talks. We will fall over the Fiscal Cliff; buckle up.

The real issue though, the real problem with all of this is the idea of Free Markets, markets without restraint or restriction. History is a strange thing, we forget if not constantly reminded. We jump up and down with glee, say hallelujah, amen give me unrestrained markets and let them go where they will. We say, Drill baby drill and bring down the cost of gas at the pump. We say, a person or corporation (oh forgive me I forgot they are persons too) should be able to do anything, say anything without restriction, restraint or regulation. We forget, perhaps we want to forget we have been down this road and brought this nation to its knees.

This is one result of the Free Market with no restrictions.

Image from the Dust Bowl, man-made disaster

Want to know about the Dust bowl? The disaster brought about by greed and unrestrained commodity markets, in this case wheat, do some research on the Dust Bowl. It took FDR investing in research and re-development of the region to change the Dust Bowl disaster. I recommend watching the PBS special now airing http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/

Seattle Hooverville, Great Depression

These tent cities were built outside of most large cities across the nation during the Great Depression. People thrown from their homes and migrating to find work, sound familiar? What brought on the Great Depression? All the money and resources held by a very small contingent and unregulated banking. It took a world war, horrifying loss of life and Glass-Stegall and the Securities and Exchange Act to bring an end to the Great Depression.

Cuyahoga River burns due to chemicals and pollution

Unrestrained the Cuyahoga River burned. Chemicals had been dumped for years and finally this river along with others showed the world what happens when man pays no attention.

Just one sign, unrestrained and state supported

Until 1964 business could do whatever they like, whether using public or private lands. Got an idea? Theater, restaurant, how about a water fountain in the deep south? No matter what it is, you only need provide it to White Folks, they are human the rest of humanity not so much. That was the reasoning of Jim Crow and it was not only allowed it was supported by law. Libertarians believe and it is stated in their platform; racism, sexism and gender orientation are perfectly legitimate reasons for bias and any business owner should be allowed to place a sign in their window, like this:

December 2011, Ohio

That date isn’t wrong, in fact both Ron and Rand Paul supported this business owners position.

Floating Pacific Trash Island

It is estimated the floating trash island in the Pacific is bigger than the state of Texas. It is made up mostly of plastics and destructive to sea life. Man could change this, we could replace nearly all plastics with Industrial Hemp products, instead we allow the natural product which has no pharmaceutical use to remain a controlled substance requiring a license to grow from the DEA. It is estimated there are at least 25,000 products possible to make from Industrial Hemp, many of these can be found in the Floating Trash Island.

BP Deepwater spill

This wasn’t the first and it likely won’t be the last as drilling continues off every shoreline where the potential for fossil fuels exist. With minimal regulation or oversight and massive profits just waiting to be pumped to the surface, why worry if a fuel lives are lost. Right?

This is the world, the world of Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan and Free Markets without oversight, regulation or restrictions. But is this the world we want? I can only say this isn’t the world I want to leave for my children or grandchildren.

GOP, Rape and the New Rage

This is the world of the future for women if the GOP takes the White House. The following may be sound ideological, even strident, I won’t apologize for this now or at any time in the future. I apologize for my offending your delicate sensibilities on this subject, stop reading now if you are of the opinion a woman should not be the ultimate Sovereign of their procreative health and choice. Please stop reading now if you are of the opinion old men, government or religious institutions should have greater authority over a woman’s body integrity than the individual woman.

This is the platform of the GOP.

“Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the nonconsensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Please note in the above the absence of any exceptions, none. Not to save the life of the already born woman, not for rape, not for incest.

Since Ronald Reagan invited the Religious Right into the GOP, there has been a slow march toward every greater misogyny, punishing women for our sexuality and choosing to express it. Essentially, punishing us for having a vagina and using it was intended, something more than spitting out baby after baby.

The following are some of my favorite quotes from elected GOP members across the US:

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record,” Ryan told WJHL-TV in Virginia in an interview aired Thursday. “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

Paul Ryan, VP Candidate WJHL.com Interview

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI television in an interview widely distributed by Democrats. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Representative Todd Akin ( R ), Fox News interview

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” he said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Representative Richard Mourdock, Indiana Senate Debate

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.” Duckworth accused Walsh of allowing a woman to die rather than get an abortion, and Walsh said that was unfair. After the debate, he explained further to the press, NPR reports. He told CNN: “This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable. There’s no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has been, has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason.” He told WGN: “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance … there is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.

Representative Joe Walsh, ( R ), Illinois ongoing Debate and interviews

I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose the way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

Scolforo: Similar how?

Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

Scolforo: That’s similar to rape?

Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.

Tom Smith ( R ), Reporters Interview
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mitt Romney started his political life ambivalent toward the issue of women’s right to choose. His mother was firmly Pro-Choice during her Senate race. According to Mr. Romney he has always been personally Pro-Life and politically willing to keep a foot in both camps until he started this run for the Presidency. Now he is firmly and without exception in debt to the Religious Ideologues who hold the GOP in their hot hands, ready to turn the clock back and push women into the kitchen and the closet. Early in this run Mitt stated he was Pro-Life without exception, gaining the support of the crazies. Since that time he has moderated his stance, now he will make exceptions for Rape, Incest and the life of the already born and enfranchised woman, to save her life.

Keep in mind though, Mitt has said without equivocation it is his goal to overturn Roe v. Wade. It is his plan to defund Planned Parenthood. He fully supports disallowing the tax exemption for any health insurance policy that includes Abortion as a covered service. His Vice Presidential pick has co-sponsored five (5) anti-abortion bills all of which were dubious in their language, infantilize women and further strip them of their legal rights,  personal authority and body integrity.

My personal favorite is the Sanctity of Life Act, this little gem of a bill would have stripped SCOTUS and all other courts of their authority to hear challenges and rule, while at the same time making abortion mostly illegal for any and all reasons, no exceptions. Paul Ryan and Todd Akin were co-sponsors on this treat, not once but they introduced this in multiple sessions of congress.

Before I end my tirade I want to remind women and men, these ‘Sanctity’ of the sperm, because this is what they are, bills are nothing more than attempts to diminish women. Attempts to define the ‘life’ of a zygote as having greater value than an already born women; they are rubbish. When Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan call the social issues, particularly women’s issues such as our right to determine our health and future nothing more than a distraction from the ‘real’ issues of the day they show their true colors. The men I quoted are not on the right side of history and those who pick up the banner and run with it are running backwards and make me afraid.

These Bills not only want to strip women of their right to access safe and legal abortion, they will take many safe forms of contraceptives off the market. They will make IVF illegal. They will make most forms of stem cell research illegal. Some of the Bills introduced, including Paul Ryans would give a Rapist the right to sue his victim to prevent her from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion if the worst were to happen.

I fully support your right to be Pro-Life, whether for religious reasons or because you truly believe life begins at conception. This is your right.

Stay out of my business. Make your decisions based on your personal beliefs and choices. Do not interfere with my right to make my decisions based on my personal beliefs, my doctor’s medically sound advice and what science tells me. I love science and believe in it.

When someone says to me these things don’t matter they make me cringe. When they say these are distractions I realize they believe that 51% of the population of this nation, women; their mothers, daughters, wives don’t matter. But I am not a special interest group any longer, I am part of a majority. I am a bread winner, in fact the primary bread winner. I am not a distraction, but if the GOP wins my daughters and granddaughters might just once again become distractions, less than or not enough.

I fear for our daughters in the world the GOP wants to create. I fear for our daughters in a world where Rape is no longer a violent assault but something equivalent to having a child out of wedlock, or maybe ‘Gods will’, another form of conception. I fear for our daughters who might not have access to safe, affordable and certain contraceptives and will be subject to the same condemnation I was as an eleven-year-old Rape Victim with nowhere to turn and no one to protect me.

Is this the world we want for our daughters? Is this the world we fought for?

Race 2012, Platforms & Ideology

This nation has taken on the inequity of education at every level from K through university as part of the on-going debate. The question we have to ask ourselves is it only poverty that drives the inequity or is there something else at work is there a racial undercurrent, still. It is hard to ask the question, hard to look at the year and think back to the days of Civil Rights marches, sit-ins, busing and finally forced school integration and have to ask; have we really not come any further than this?

There are some things we can see in black and white, there is no question there is a lack of parity. What is not so easy to determine is why. It is easy to say this is pure institutional racism, brush our hands together and move on to the next subject. Is that enough, have we solved the riddle? I don’t think we have, the inequity built into our education system has been with us for a very long time, it is the outcome of how we fund and administer our local schools. It is only natural, eventually, as poverty forces people together into communities, schools along with other services would suffer the consequence of economic decline.

It isn’t just poverty that divides us. Unless we cannot absolutely avoid it, we will always seek out communities where we are comfortable. We will always seek out a place to settle where the people look like us and sound like us.

Ruby Bridges, New Orleans 1960

It is natural, we might not even realize we are doing it; it is our own deep-seated fears and underlying prejudice driving us on, informing our choices. We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.

I am not a Racist!

Except where racism is overt, where the neo-Nazis, KKK and others of their ilk march down city streets decked out in well-pressed sheets or Para-military gear, racism hides behind polite social forms. Since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there have been changes in what is accepted in our public discourse regarding race we have even found a racial etiquette, at least until recently. This etiquette though, this burying of the Jim Crow era overtness has given way to new resentments and new racial dog-whistles.

  • Government Intervention
  • Welfare
  • Affirmative Action
  • Title I
  • Drug War

What does all this mean when it comes to education? It is an unfortunate truth, the very communities that have been ripped apart by our failed policies and barely concealed bias, have failing schools. We covertly accept some children, within some communities will not thrive and thus set up the circumstances for them to fail while paying lip service to hoped for success.

I am not going to try to hide my disdain today; the following quotes are taken directly from the GOP Platform, you can read all about their thoughts starting on page 35 [2]:

The Republican Party is the party of fresh and innovative ideas in education.

periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography; renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation;

We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity.

We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.

Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s under performing education system, and we applaud these advancements.

Now let me just quickly give some examples of what one Republican Governor has done as part of the reform of his under performing system.

  • Removed Thomas Jefferson from history books as part of the Enlightenment. Why you ask? Well because he was a known Deist who coined the phrase “separation of Church and state”; can’t have that coming out of the mouths of one of our Founding Fathers. He is still in the History Books, obviously can’t remove him completely but he isn’t mentioned as one of the key figures of the Enlightenment.[1]
  • Added a section called the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action. In the meantime, there is a section about the positive aspects of slavery in America and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is now referred to simply as ‘Atlantic Triangular Trade’. [1]

Can you begin to guess who this genius of Educational reform is? This stellar representative of a GOP Right Wing-nut might be? This would be President? Oh, I won’t hold you in suspense; it is my very own Governor Rick Perry. Only in Texas would they think to screw the pooch of Education this deep, keeping in mind a very large portion of our students are poor, Hispanic or Black.

The GOP promotes school choice, so do I so should we all. The GOP also promotes vouchers and privatization of our education system, here is where the GOP and I part ways. Families with no means to send their children outside of their communities, no transportation, no extra funds for school uniforms will not be in a position to ‘choose’ schools outside of their immediate communities. School choice is only for those with true choices, true means beyond the single ‘voucher’ for tuition and possibly books. The meme of borrowing money from your parents doesn’t begin to touch on what poverty means to those whose entire communities have been decimated by it.

Private industry will not build schools or invest in communities that represent no return on that investment, no profit. What does this mean? It means public funds will be all that remains and will be even more limited so long as we continue to limit public funding to property tax collection. It means after the Unions have been busted, public school teacher ranks have been further demonized and decimated and school text have been bastardized by boards with agendas, our children our future will be left in failing systems with no hope and no future.

Is this Race Based? It is poverty based and has the unintentional effect of further kicking the can down the road, closing the door on dreams and opportunity for those who would like to live the once real American Dream.

Is this Race Based? Perhaps a more important question is this truly unintentional or is it simply the new more polite Jim Crow.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_sdi.asp

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012006.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-05.pdf

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=0

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/education/22texas.html?fta=y

[2] http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

Civil Free Fall, Platforms 2012

We come to what was intended to be the last of the 2012 Platform comparisons, Social Reformation or do what I say whether it is in your best interest or not. Both parties have a great deal to say about Society and social direction, both have their own ideas about the course our nation should be traveling and what is wrong with us. Obviously, the Candidates at every level have been speaking their minds for many months on many of the issues so we might think we know what is in store for us if one party or the other win the day in November, but do we really understand the platforms.

I am to the best of my ability going to try to keep this to the issues within the platforms and keep my opinions out of the way. I saved the social issues to the last knowing this would be the most difficult.

Let’s get to it shall we?

DNC GOP

Civil Rights

We believe in an America where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules. At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability status. Democrats support our civil rights statutes and we have stepped up enforcement of laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and other settings. We are committed to protecting all communities from violence. We are committed to ending racial, ethnic, and religious profiling and requiring federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice, and we continue to support enforcement of Title VI. Nothing

Women’s Rights

We will urge ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Nothing
We will continue to promote the full engagement of women in the political and economic spheres. We will work to address underlying socio-economic problems, including women’s access to health, education, and food security. And we will ensure that women are equal participants in reconciliation and development in areas affected by conflict. Under our Constitution, treaties become the law of the land. So it is all the more important that the Congress—the Senate through its ratifying power and the House through its appropriating power—shall reject agreements whose long-range impact on the American family is ominous or unclear. These include the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the U.N.
President Obama overturned the “global gag rule,” a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provided information about, counseling on, or offered abortions. And that is why the administration has supported lifesaving family planning health information and services. The United Nations Population Fund has a shameful record of collaboration with China’s program of compulsory abortion. We affirm the Republican Party’s long-held position known as the Mexico City Policy, first announced by President Reagan in 1984, which prohibits the granting of federal monies to non-governmental organization that provide or promote abortion.
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs. Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the Sanctity of innocent human life.
We are committed to ending violence against women, why Vice President Joe Biden originally wrote and championed the Violence Against Women Act during his time in the Senate and why we support reauthorizing and strengthening it now. Nothing
The President and the Democratic Party believe that women have a right to control their reproductive choices. Democrats support access to affordable family planning services, and President Obama and Democrats will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers. The Affordable Care Act ensures that women have access to contraception in their health insurance plans, and the President has respected the principle of religious liberty. Democrats support evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education. Nothing

 

See my notes below

My Notes: I urge you to read in its entirety the GOP statement on women’s health services beginning on page 13, I have not posted it here. I also recommend reading those UN White Papers, Conventions and Reports the GOP takes issue with. The links are below. The GOP has stated their intention to overturn the Affordable Healthcare Act. Within this context they have also stated their firm intention to limit access women’s health services including abortion, birth control and other services where these collide with ‘moral’ convictions of the insurance provider, employer or medical services provider. This information is provided in detail on pages 32 – 34 of the GOP Platform.

Same Sex Marriage & DOMA

We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values. My Note: I left out several paragraphs of fluff, read on page 10

We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.

I could simply do what others do; I could simply rail at the sound bites of the day. Rail at the stupidity of the news coverage from those who should be informing us but are not, more shame them. I could simply stop where I am, this is hard and not terribly popular this road of compare and contrast. I feel I am losing audience each time I post. Honestly, I thought I would be able to end the Platform 2012 review today, I thought this would be the end. I suppose it could be, but with less than 40 days to Election Day and would that make sense? Should I simply stop where I am? Perhaps.

Civil Rights, not privilege granted because someone granted a favor but RIGHTS. The GOP spends a great deal of time in their Platform 2012 criticizing Liberal Activist Judiciary. The GOP doesn’t seem to mind Judicial Activism though when it is their own, in fact they frequently praise judges, legislators and Governors for their activism, for their creative stripping of citizens’ rights. Yes, the GOP truly doesn’t seem to have a real problem when it is Activism that strips citizens of Rights guaranteed within the Constitution, Rights enumerated by the Bill of Rights or defined by our Declaration of Independence as inalienable so long as those citizens affected aren’t models of Right Christian Propriety.

Well, despite my intent to end it here it seems we have one more to go, maybe even two.

Education

Poverty and Programs

Voter Suppression or better said maybe the Right to Vote

Republican Party Platform: http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

Democratic National Platform: http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

United Nations Human Rights: http://www.un.org/en/rights/

Convention on Women: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

United Nations Women: http://www.unwomen.org/

Convention of the Rights of the Child: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml

Taxes, Platforms 2012

I said I would take on taxes, but there isn’t much to say on the issue of taxes when it comes to the two parties. I say this with a bit of disappointment; once again, the two parties do not make it easy to do a side-by-side comparison. This time it isn’t the GOP who fails to put in black and white their intent, this time it is the DNC that is a bit opaque. This being said, here are what the two parties have said about their plans for taxes.

DNC – Tax Plans

GOP –  Tax Plans

Individuals  – Individuals –
Democratic Party cut taxes for every working family – providing $3,600 in tax relief to the typical family over the President’s first term in office – and we are committed to extending the middle class tax cuts for the 98 percent of American families who make less than $250,000 a year, and we will not raise taxes on them.We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholesWe are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do. Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages—commonly known as the Bush tax cuts—pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends,and capital gains;

Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a revenue-neutral manner;

Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers;

End the Death Tax; and Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.

My Notes:Starting with the ‘Death Tax’, most of us in the 97% will never have to worry about this, as we won’t be inheriting estates valued in the millions, just as an example in 2011 the amount exempted from tax was $5,000,000.

Interest, dividends and capital gains; really how many of us working for a living  actually worry that are very small incomes from these amounts are being taxed at a lower rate or not at all? Do you worry? By the time we retire and are living on our Social Security and small retirement funds we don’t have large enough incomes to pay federal taxes, we are part of the 47% that no longer pay taxes because our incomes aren’t large enough. Again, this is a bit of dishonesty on the part of the GOP. Sounds good but really isn’t honest, or perhaps it is simply stubbornly stupid.Across the board reductions without reform makes no sense, especially in combination with repeal of the AMT.

Both the GOP and the DNC are correct, the tax code does need reform. That reform needs to look at how taxes are calculated, what deductions are fair and sensible and ultimately how taxes are paid. Today, all citizens pay taxes, income, payroll, state and local. These come off the top of our earnings before we can save for our future. Our tax code is ancient, unwieldy and frankly nothing more than a partisan bat to beat the other side with. The language of the DNC in their platform makes me as uncomfortable as the road to failure the GOP plan represents.

Corporations – Corporations –
We are also committed to reforming the corporate tax code to lower tax rates for companies in the United States, with additional relief for those locating manufacturing and research and development on our shores, while closing loopholes and reducing incentives for corporations to shift jobs overseas. We will reform the tax code to allow businessesto generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America.To level the international playing field, and to spur job creation here at home, we call for a reduction of the corporate rate to keep U.S. corporations competitive internationally, with a permanent research and development tax credit, and a repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax.

We also support the recommendation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as well as the current President’s Export Council, to switch to a territorial system of corporate taxation, so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home without additional penalty.

My Notes:The DNC doesn’t really tell me enough on this one, nice words but doesn’t give me enough to go on. During the first couple of years of this administration a total of 18 Small Business Tax Cuts, but don’t let this go to his head of these some were only temporary; in total there are only 5 that were permanent.

You can’t have it all, but the GOP is right those we do business with our partners and competitors are mostly using a Territorial Tax system. It only makes sense we look closely at this system and weigh whether it makes sense for the US to move forward with a more balanced approach for the future.Big sticks aside, we must align ourselves with a global economy and encourage business to bring work and do business here, on our shore.However, you can’t have it all. You can’t have taxpayer subsidies, corporate welfare, loopholes big enough to float the Queen Mary through and lowered tax rates that mean the wealthiest corporations in the world pay big fat Zero’s in Taxes or worse, get refunds each year while at the same time entirely reforming the Tax Code.

That is it in a nutshell taxes from the two sides of the battle for our hearts, minds and pocketbooks. You wouldn’t think taxes would be such a battleground would you, but it is more than just who pays, it is a moral distinction these days.

Reagan had his Welfare Queen moment; with his derogatory description, he shifted our entire worldview from the nuclear dust bowl family in need of our support to the lazy usually black single mother, defrauding the system. Reagan’s legacy endures, he reshaped presidential politics and his worldview continues to affect the public’s reactions, including the issue of taxes; who pays them and how they are used to the public good. When I see signs and Facebook posts about taking the country back, I have to wonder, from whom and for whom. These are two random pictures from the conventions, notice anything?

GOP National Convention Delegates, Google Image

DNC National Convention Delegates, Google Image

We, the people continue to our own detriment to defend the wealthiest of this nation in their extremely successful efforts to rape us of all we work for, all we save, all we need to make life even semi-safe, semi-comfortable and semi-palatable for our future. We hold up signs demanding the college transcripts of the current President of the United States but shrug at the GOP Candidate paying 14% on an income of $13,000,000, more than many will earn in their life time.

Meanwhile, we find nothing disheartening in the idea that Veterans, old people and children might not receive even basic care they need under a Republican administration. Nearly half this nation would be disenfranchised and receive even less than they do today because they are part of the 47% that do not pay any taxes!

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Taxes are not redistribution of wealth, nor are taxes class warfare. What taxes are is a the duty of each citizen to insure a civilized and safe society.

“I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

2012 Platforms, Foreign Policy Knot

I needed to take a short break from the Platforms of 2012; the slog through ideology and rhetoric was depressing me. I felt as if the words of both parties were meaningless, stones rolled down from mountaintops gathering in the valleys below piled high enough none of us could pass through to the other side.

Honestly, I continue to try my damnedest to be even-handed as I look at the two Platforms. I am trying to find the good, the bad and the downright ugly in each; offering the words straight from the Platforms themselves and minimal commentary from yours truly. Admittedly, I take only a small cut from each, but I try to take what is relevant and can offer a true comparison, I provide the links to both of the platforms so you can read for yourselves the entire product of the unthinking minds of our political leaders.

I simply could not do the normal alignment with foreign policy. I was unable to place them side-by-side and contrast, there simply is not enough common ground on this issue. I recommend for those of you interested in looking at where the two parties stand, read for yourselves.

I have to tell ya’ll, this past week of idiocy, well it has just scraped my brain raw. I have felt as if I was standing in a room of evil imps and they were running their sharp nails down blackboards while playing Cat Scratch Fever on out of tune guitars.

DNC – The World

GOP – The World

Diplomacy and Foreign Relations  – Divine Providence & American Exceptionalism –
The Obama administration has moved away from Cold War thinking by reducing the prominence of nuclear weapons in America’s national security strategy, and it has urged others to do the same. As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee the defense of our allies. A strong and effective strategic arsenal is still necessary as a deterrent against competitors like Russia or China. But the danger in this age of asymmetric or non-traditional warfare comes from other quarters as well. With unstable regimes in Iran and North Korea determined to develop nuclear-tippedmissiles capable of reaching the United States, with the possibility that a terrorist group could gain control of a nuclear weapon, it is folly to abandon a missile shield for the country.
The President and the Democratic Party understand that we have a special obligation to every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman who puts their life on the line for our nation. We must send them into harm’s way only when it’s absolutely necessary. When we do, we must ensure they have the equipment and the support that they need to get the job done. And we have to take care of our troops, their families, and our veterans when they come home.Eleven years of continuous military operations and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched our forces and strained their families. Going forward, our troops will face fewer deployments, allowing them more time to train and ensuring that they are ready for the full range of missions they may have to face. We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.We support military women’s exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.We affirm the cultural values that encourage selfless service and superiority in battle, and we oppose anything which might divide or weaken team cohesion, including intra-military special interest demonstrations. We will support an objective and open-minded review of the current Administration’s management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action.

The spiritual welfare of our troops and retired service members should be a priority of our national leadership. With military suicides running at the rate of one a day, with post-service medical conditions, including addiction and mental illness, and with the financial stress and homelessness that is often related to these factors, there is an urgent need for the kind of counseling that faith-based institutions can best provide.We support rights of conscience and religious freedom for military chaplains and people of faith. A Republican Commander in Chief will protect religious independence of military chaplains and will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities. We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Armed Forces as well as in the civilian world.

Frankly, the GOP has taken the opportunity to disparage the current administration and declare war on the world, any Platform statement that begins with American Exceptionalism and within the first paragraph continues with the following statement:

“While the twentieth century was undeniably an American century—with strong leadership, adherence to the principles of freedom and democracy our Founders’ enshrined in our nation’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and a continued reliance on Divine Providence—the twenty-first century will be one of American greatness as well.”

Their diatribe begins on page 39 of their Platform. Nowhere within the Platform of the GOP is ending wars we have fought for a decade on the radar. The idea that our nation should impose a set of ‘values’ on the world, should continue a policy of Manifest Destiny in the Twenty-First century, has me shaking in my boots.

On the flip side of the Divine Providence – Chickenhawk strategy of the GOP, the DNC continues the Iron Fist inside the Velvet Glove, a policy that while imperfect has restored our reputation worldwide. The DNC Platform has specifics in most cases and strong words for those nations on the path of developing nuclear and biological weapons and nations that continue to harbor terrorists. Key though is the following statement;

America’s leadership extends beyond our economic prosperity and military might – it is also rooted in our enduring commitment to advancing a core set of universal values. These include an individual’s freedom to speak their mind, assemble without fear, have access to information, worship as they please, and choose their own leaders. They also include dignity, tolerance, and equality among all people, and the fair and equitable administration of justice. The United States was founded upon a belief in these values, and people of every race, region, and religion around the globe have claimed these principles as their own.”

The DNC Foreign Policy statement begins on page 21, there is a significant amount of information including specifics on our relationships with Iran, Russia, North Korea and China. The significant difference between the two platforms is the absolute lack of specifics by the GOP, other than the demand that all sovereign nations apply the same ‘moral’ rules and religious ‘freedoms’ of America (e.g. no abortion, limit marriage, freedom of Christianity). This is consistently found in the stated intent to withdraw support from NATO and the United Nations unless both reform to suitable standards consistent with the Republican moral platform, calling both corrupt (page 45).

This is important, I am going to keep repeating it…..the Platforms were voted on by those who were elected to attend the conventions, the delegates. These Platforms are what the national conventions agreed represent the principles of the party, all the candidates running under the party letter whether a big “R” or a big “D” and receiving money from that party agree to adhere to those principles.

I don’t buy everything on the DNC platform, never have. But this year, yeah this year I am voting a straight Democratic ticket for the first time in my adult life. I am voting for every single Democrat I can find, locally, at a state level and at a national level and yes for the President.

Be none of you Outrageous

Why? Because the GOP scares the Hell out of me.

Next? Taxes and last but not least, the social issues. Then back to the history of the platforms through the last 100 years.

How did we get here? How did it get this bad?

http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

What a Tangled Web, 2012 Part II

I was accused by one of my siblings on the other side of the political aisle of offering a biased review in Part I of the 2012 Platform. I am trying hard to not be too biased, but admit freely and without shame to being on the side of the Democrats more often than not this year. This hasn’t always been true, not every year since my turning 18 and voting for the first time in 1976 for Jimmy Carter. While I did not regret my vote for the man I still consider the most honest politician elected as President in my lifetime, my next vote went to Ronald Reagan, a vote I continue to regret to this day. Oddly, I liked the first George Bush despite his association with Ronald Reagan and though I voted against him when he ran the first time, I voted for him for a second term. That second term was the last time I voted for a Republican for the Presidency, it was also the last time the GOP put a reasonably sane and moderate person before the general public to vote for.

I like a government that works. I believe in Democracy and Transparency, two things I think we are seeing less of these days, especially at the federal level. It is my belief the only way a government works well is when there are tensions over policy and position that can be debated towards a compromise that is best for the American people as a whole. We, that is this nation and our politics have been dominated by a two-party system that has

All American Rocky and All Russian Drago duke it out

polarized us, put us into corners rung the bell and sent us to the center of the ring like prizefighters. We are bloody. We are brutal in our attacks, at every level. We are willing to beat each other down, willing to beat strangers, friends and even family members with platforms and ideology until one of us cry uncle simply to make it stop.

Today I want to pull apart the economic platforms of our two parties, for what they are worth. Neither party is terribly forthcoming in their plans.

DNC – Jobs

GOP – Jobs

Open Markets – yes Open Markets – yes
Small Business – President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to continue cutting red tape for small businesses, helping them sell their goods around the world and access the capital they need to grow. This includes tax cuts for small businesses that make new investments, hire more workers, or increase wages. Small Business – We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America. We will encourage investments in small businesses. We will create an environment where adequate financing and credit are available to spur manufacturing and expansion. We will serve as aggressive advocates for small businesses.
Since 2008, there have been 18 small-business tax cuts, altogether, the President’s Small Business Jobs Act accelerated $55 billion in tax relief through 2011.
Infrastructure – We support long-term investments in our infrastructure. Roads, bridges, rail and public transit systems, airports, ports, and sewers are all critical to economic growth, as they enable businesses to grow. That’s why President Obama and Democrats in Congress have enacted infrastructure investments that will sustain our Highway Trust Fund and provide states, U.S. territories, and communities with two years of funding to build needed infrastructure. These investments are critical for putting Americans back to work and strengthening America’s transportation system to grow our economy. The President has proposed to go substantially further, including a significant up-front investment in our infrastructure followed by sustained increases in investment paid for with part of the savings from winding down our overseas wars, together with reforms that will better leverage government dollars and target significant projects. We will continue to partner with local communities to support their sustainable development.  Infrastructure – We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation. Amtrak continues to be, for the taxpayers, an extremely expensive railroad. The public has to subsidize every ticket nearly $50. It is long past time for the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the northeast corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country.
The DNC has big dreams, it is true we have a crumbling infrastructure and need to address it. It is also true there are billions being spent on wars and Nation building at home should be a high priority, but we first need to deal with balancing a budget and getting our nation out of hock. Though the DNC platform address our debt and deficit; maybe it is me but I think there needs to be a balance between the privatization strategy of the GOP and big dreams of the DNC.
Insourcing– The Democratic Party believes in insourcing so that America can out-build the rest of the world again. We want to cut tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and for special interests, and instead offer tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America, betting on American workers who are making American products we sell to the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.

We Democrats also recognize the economic opportunities created by our nation’s community colleges.That is why the President has invested in community colleges and called for additional partnerships between businesses and community colleges to train two million workers with the skills they need for good jobs waiting to be filled, and to support business-labor apprenticeship programs that provide skills and opportunity to thousands of Americans. The President also proposed to double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade.

And to make this country a destination for global talent and ingenuity, we won’t deport deserving young people who are Americans in every way but on paper, and we will work to make it possible for foreign students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to stay and help create jobs here at home.

Outsourcing – That will be critically important if States establish Personal Reemployment Accounts, letting trainees direct resources in ways that will steer them toward long-term employment, especially through on-the-job training with participating employers.

We can accelerate the process of restoring our domestic economy-and reclaiming this country’s traditional position of dominance in international trade-by a policy of strategic immigration, granting more work visas to holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from other nations. Highly educated immigrants can assist in creating new services and products.

In the same way, foreign students who graduate from an American university with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or math should be encouraged to remain here and contribute to economic prosperity and job creation. Highly skilled, English-speaking, and integrated into their communities, they are too valuable a resource to lose. As in past generations, we should encourage the world’s innovators and inventors to create our common future and their permanent homes here in the United States.

It is an important note on the GOP Platform there is continued support to broaden the H1B and L1 Visa availability during a national unemployment crisis. This means while Americans are without work the GOP proposes to continue to bring in White Collar workers in high paying positions, willing to work on contract thus leaving Americans without access to full time positions. This has been an on-going position of the GOP since 1999, millions have lost their jobs and remain outside of the workforce.
Labor Unions – Support Labor Unions – Oppose and will actively work to bust.

I do not believe America is exceptional, we once were but we have sold our future out and stand in the quicksand of past glory. Could we regain our place on the world stage, rekindle our greatness? Perhaps we can, but not with the philosophy of Manifest Destiny as our standard, not with the drums of war as our song.

Next up? Taxes I think.

http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

The Party is Over, Platforms 2012 Part 1

First, while I am looking through the lens of history at the two parties that shape our political conversation every four years, it is the Silly Season and both have now released their official Platforms. It would be remiss of me if I completely ignored this event, stuck my fingers in my ears and shuttered my eyes pretending the Platforms of the parties did not matter today. Some would have you believe they do not, but in fact, the Platforms do matter, they matter a great deal. The Candidates shape the platforms along with party leadership, these statements of purpose and intent define Philosophy and how the Candidate, Presidential and others intend to govern the nation if elected.

Ignoring the meat and potatoes of the Party Platforms is a mistake, one that we cannot afford to make as citizens. Let me just say this year, more so than many years I have read thus far the two parties spent much of their time taking swipes at the other side within the context of building their own argument, it was a bit disconcerting. I believe this quote is perfect for the season:

“People never lie so much as before an election, during a war, or after a hunt.”
― Otto von Bismarck

Are both sides in the game liars? Sure they are. I can honestly say I am disappointed in some of the DNC Platform this year, not entirely because of what is there but rather in some cases because of what isn’t there. I am also extremely disappointed the DNC used their opportunity to communicate their roadmap for the future to ‘Bash’ the opposition. I want to know, from both sides, what are your plans and how will you govern in black and white! I don’t care what you think of the other side; in fact, I already have a good idea of what you think of them by now, just tell me what you will do differently.

This being said, let’s take a walk on the wild side, shall we?

DNC

GOP

Immigration: Democrats know there is broad consensus to repair that system and strengthen our economy, and that the country urgently needs comprehensive immigration reform that brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and requires them to get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship. We need an immigration reform that creates a system for allocating visas that meets our economic needs, keeps families together, and enforces the law. Immigration: State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked. The pending Department of Justice lawsuits against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah must be dismissed immediately. The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built. In order to restore the rule of law, federal funding should be denied to sanctuary cities that violate federal law and endanger their own citizens, and federal funding should be denied to universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, in open defiance of federal law.
There is of course more on both sides. The DNC has pushed for the Dream Act for young people brought to the US as children, the GOP rejects out of hand and under all circumstances the Dream Act calling even these children criminals. In 2008 the RNC position on H1B Visa’s was to increase the numbers, further. Both sides continue to support this position while Americans continue to be unemployed or underemployed in key white-collar fields.
Veterans: continue to prioritize support for wounded warriors, mental health, and the well-being of our military families and veterans. We will keep working to give our veterans the health care, benefits, education, and job opportunities that they have earned. That’s why the President and the Democratic Party supported the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to provide opportunities for military personnel, veterans, and their families to get a better education. That’s why the President has launched partnerships with the private sector to help veterans transfer their experience into skilled manufacturing jobs, and why the President has proposed a new Veterans Jobs Corps to put veterans to work as first responders. That’s why the President signed an executive order making it harder for for-profit colleges to prey on veterans. That’s why we enacted the Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit to give companies incentives to hire vets. Veterans: is essential to meet our obligations to them: providing health, education, disability, survivor, and home loan benefit services and arranging memorial services upon death. All its branches in those various fields must be made more responsive, moving from an adversarial to an advocacy relationship with veterans. To that end we will consider a fundamental change in structure to make the regional directors of the Department presidential appointees rather than careerists.We urge immediate action to review the automatic denial of gun ownership to returning members of our Armed Forces who have had representatives appointed to manage their financial affairs
Both the GOP and DNC have peppered this section with platitudes. The GOP do not recognize that many of the programs they support have already been enacted. Unfortunately, much of the discussion by the GOP in their Troop support and Veteran support was a Faith based such as the discussion of their support of DOMA, which can be found in great detail elsewhere in the Platform. The GOP in their Platform is against the Veteran Jobs Corps, though this is buried in a very long paragraph, along with their support of the proposed Tax Credit incentives for hiring Veterans.
Civil Rights We are committed to protecting all communities from violence. We are committed to ending racial, ethnic, and religious profiling and requiring federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice, and we continue to support enforcement of Title VI.We are committed to equal opportunity for all Americans and to making sure that every American is treated equally under the law. We are committed to ensuring full equality for women: we reaffirm our support for the Equal Rights Amendment, recommit to enforcing Title IX, support the Paycheck Fairness Act, and will urge ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Civil Rights Nothing within the platform
Health Care We remain committed to eliminating disparities in health and will continue to make sure families have access to mental health and substance abuse services. We will strengthen Medicaid and oppose efforts to block grant the program, slash its funding, and leave millions more without health insurance. We will continue to invest in our public health infrastructure – ensuring that we are able to respond to emergencies and support community-based efforts to prevent disease. Health Care

  • Repeal Affordable Healthcare Act (ObamaCare)
  • Protect Faith Communities and Provider Choice. This means ensure no care provider, no employer, no doctor or nurse, no pharmacist will have to provide care or transportation even if the care you, the individual needs, goes against their personal ‘faith’.
  • Tort reform, to protect the medical provider from ‘frivolous malpractice’ suits and
  • Return healthcare to the Private Insurance Provider
  • Make costs transparent so you, the unhealthy individual can decide not to seek care given the high cost to both you and your health insurance plan

Well that is it for today; I thought those were some fun highlights. Tomorrow I am going to take on some of the economic issues within both platforms. Both the DNC and the GOP are rhetoric heavy and rather light on facts, figures and just plain bottom line. I have slogged through both of their Platforms countless times now, some of it makes me weep, some makes me so angry I could spit nails into concrete.

Anyone who reads me regularly knows where my heart lies; I seem unable to hide my light under a rock. I am an old hippie at heart, a social liberal to my last poor aging bone. I suppose the difference between me and many of

Special thanks to Google for supplying the photo

my contemporaries who sorta made it, meaning who learned how to earn a dollar instead of a dime; my personal ethos didn’t change with the adjustment in my income level and tax bracket. I haven’t forgotten where I came from; I haven’t forgotten my personal struggles or those who reached out to help me when I was at my lowest, those who held the door open so I could walk through and achieve my dreams. Perhaps my struggles are why I remain so very much committed to the American Dream being a real Dream for all of us.

I swore I would remain pragmatic and fair in my reading of the Platforms. I am trying my best to do so, the tax and economic issues are tough though. Let us all hope I can keep my cool.

http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

Ideologies or are they, 1900

One hundred and twelve years ago things were a bit different in this nation of ours. Women couldn’t vote, some states were still territories, Hawaii had only been annexed recently, Poll Taxes were still all the rage, child labor was an accepted standard throughout the land. The nation was very different indeed. Before I posit you some nuggets from the platforms of the two parties, let us take a look at what the administration and Congress were busy with leading up to the turn of the century and our first election year.

1898 – Spanish American War

President William McKinley ( R )

Both houses of Congress majority led Republican in the 55th Congress.

Senators were still selected by State senate’s rather than direct vote; this would not change until the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the US Constitution in 1913.

These are the key facts leading to the creation of the Democratic and Republican Platforms of 1900. Key legislation enacted by the 55th Republican led Congress were the following:

Dingley Tariff, imposed duties on woolens, hides, silks, china and sugar. The Dingley Tariff remained in effect until 1909 when the Payne-Aldrich Tariff was passed. During its effective period average tariffs on items it covered were 47%.

Erdman Act provided for mediation between railroads and workers. The most significant provision of the Erdman Act was the section prohibiting railroads from demanding workers not join a union as a condition of their employment. The act covered workers who on moving trains because of the interstate clause but not those who worked in the yards or offices.

Annexation of Hawaii, statehood would come later but this was the first step.

Rivers and Harbors Act, made it illegal to dump refuse in any harbor or navigable water. While the act goes much further than this the River and Harbors Act is the oldest environmental law in the United States.

Bankruptcy Act, provided corporations protection from creditors.

Gold Standard Act, established the value of a dollar at 23.22 grains of gold at 20% purity and as the only standard redemption value for paper money. This established the Gold Standard and stopped bimetallism.

Now to the platforms of the election year, I think if will be fun to post some of the key platform issues from each of party. I am not going to tell you which party they come from, you guess.

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# 1:

Corporations should be protected in all their rights and their legitimate interests should be respected, but any attempt by corporations to interfere with the public affairs of the people or to control the sovereignty which creates them, should be forbidden under such penalties as will make such attempts impossible.

We favor an amendment to the Federal Constitution, providing for the election of United States Senators by direct vote of the people, and we favor direct legislation wherever practicable.

We are opposed to government by injunction; we denounce the blacklist, and favor arbitration as a means of settling disputes between corporations and their employees.

We are proud of the courage and fidelity of the American soldiers and sailors in all our wars; we favor liberal pensions to them and their dependents, and we reiterate the position taken in the Chicago platform of 1896, that the fact of enlistment and service shall be deemed conclusive evidence against disease and disability before enlistment.

In the interest of American labor and the uplifting of the workingman, as the cornerstone of the prosperity of our country, we recommend that Congress create a Department of Labor, in charge of a secretary, with a seat in the Cabinet, believing that the elevation of the American laborer will bring with it increased production and increased prosperity to our country at home and to our commerce abroad.

We denounce the failure of the <someone> to carry out its pledges to grant statehood to the territories of Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and we promise the people of those territories immediate statehood and home rule during their condition as territories, and we favor home rule and a territorial form of government for Alaska and Porto Rico.

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# 2:

We recognize the necessity and propriety of the honest co-operation of capital to meet new business conditions and especially to extend our rapidly increasing foreign trade, but we condemn all conspiracies and combinations intended to restrict business, to create monopolies, to limit production. or to control prices; and favor such legislation as will effectively restrain and prevent all such abuses, protect and promote competition and secure the rights of producers, laborers, and all who are engaged in industry and commerce.

We renew our faith in the policy of Protection to American labor. In that policy our industries have been established, diversified and maintained. By protecting the home market competition has been stimulated and production cheapened. Opportunity to the inventive genius of our people has been secured and wages in every department of labor maintained at high rates, higher now than ever before, and always distinguishing our working people in their better conditions of life from those of any competing country. Enjoying the blessings of the American common school, secure in the right of self-government and protected in the occupancy of their own markets, their constantly increasing knowledge and skill have enabled them to finally enter the markets of the world. We favor the associated policy of reciprocity so directed as to open our markets on favorable terms for what we do not ourselves produce in return for free foreign markets.

In the further interest of American workmen we favor a more effective restriction of the immigration of cheap labor from foreign lands, the extension of opportunities of education for working children, the raising of the age limit for child labor, the protection of free labor as against contract convict labor, and an effective system of labor insurance.

The Nation owes a debt of profound gratitude to the soldiers and sailors who have fought its battles, and it is the Government’s duty to provide for the survivors and for the widows and orphans of those who have fallen in the country’s wars. The pension laws, founded in this just sentiment, should be liberally administered, and preference should be given wherever practicable with respect to employment in the public service, to soldiers and sailors and to their widows and orphans.

We favor home rule for, and the early admission to statehood of the Territories of New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

We congratulate the women of America upon their splendid record of public service in the volunteer aid association and as nurses in camp and hospital during the recent campaigns of our armies in the East and West Indies, and we appreciate their faithful co-operation in all works of education and industry.

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Okay, you guess whose platform for the election year 1900 was #1 and whose was #2? No cheating, no peeking! I didn’t take all of them and you might note some were interestingly close in their intent. They were also civil in their writing of their party platforms, very focused on the business of governing. While each take a couple of small potshots at the other, within the body of the platform there is nothing like you see today.

One thing you will not see is any mention of God! No mention of Church or of taking our nation back.

The winner of the election, by the way: William McKinley who was assassinated in 1901 and succeeded by Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, President 1901 – 1909

Reference sites:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29630

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29587

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