LGBT Equality In the Workplace – 2013

Back in the June 2012 timeframe, I posted several blogs referencing the position companies in America have taken regarding the rights of the LGBT community as reflected in their corporate or company policies.  For anyone following the issues – political, legal, social, whatever – faced by this community over the past year, there has been some real positive change achieved – key events I’ve also tried to capture as they happen in my blogs.  While there has been a good deal of positive movement forward it is unfortunate we still have the haters and bigoted core of people who see their mission to ensure that anyone different – in most ways – from themselves be held to the same rules of life they profess to hold – not necessarily live by but at least say the words.  My view on these people need not be repeated in this particular blog as it is very evident in most of what I have written – basically a pox on these dim-witted and heartless cretins.  Sorry – I digress.

But with all the progress I think we’ve seen this past year, we can’t forget we still need to get the message out where we can actually influence.  While I don’t expect to ever change their views – it takes an active mind and ability for them to think and reason – I still submit the best approach is in what remains the greatest lever we have as a country – hit them in their pocketbooks.  We all have the opportunity to choose where we spend our money – or where we don’t spend it.  The HRC or Human Rights Campaign Foundation provides us an ongoing view of how Corporate America takes account of equality across our people, particularly in terms of how the workplace approaches Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality.  Every year they publish their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and the publication for 2013 was recently released.  This is the 11th year of the Index and it has provided a good means to track how we are doing in the Workplace no matter the inequities and bias that remains in the various levels of our government.   There is a wealth of information available in the publication to which I can’t really give justice so I would suggest a visit to their site – http://www.hrc.org/ – or  http://www.hrc.org/corporate-equality-index/#.UozWxOLyQYk  to view or download the actual Corporate Equality Index publication.  While I’m happy to say that the company where I am employed is in that group of Fortune 100 corporations scoring a perfect 100 on the CEI scale, the number of major corporations that remain out there in 2013 that don’t is astounding as well as a disgrace.

Some of the good news:  Despite the reality that people can be legally denied a job or fired simply for their sexual orientation in 29 states and their gender identity in 34, Corporations in America have ignored antiquated and biased legislation to provide these protections in their company.  From the report – “For the first time in history, a majority of the Fortune 500 offers both sexual orientation and gender identity protections. Beyond these basic and essential protections, record numbers of Fortune-ranked and other major businesses have comprehensively updated their benefits packages to ensure that newcomers to their workplaces can expect both partner benefits and transgender-inclusive benefits and that retiring LGBT workers will see the financial benefits that they have worked so hard to accrue will go to their surviving family members.”

STATEWIDE EMPLOYMENT LAWS AND POLICIES - From HRC.com

From HRC.com

The bad news is that there are still many corporations and companies who remain staunchly opposed to equality in this space.  The HRC site has a great tool that should help you decide where you might want to open your wallet and more importantly where not.  Their “Buyer’s Guide” is located at http://www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide/index.php#.UozaNeLyQYk.   Here you can view, by shopping category, those companies which excel in workplace equality as well as those companies where progress has been essentially non-existent.  To help us when we are on the go, they actually have an Iphone application for anyone with mobile Apple devices.  For other mobile platforms (Android, Windows 8) they offer the ability to access the data from any mobile phone by just texting SHOP and the company or product name to 30644.

While I have had some insight into the companies I don’t want to buy from, in reviewing the information across the categories in the Buyer’s Guide I was astounded by some of the companies that remain in the social dark ages.  I’m sad to say that a good number of my purchases have been from companies in the list below – just one example of the information in the Guide – it includes the Company, their brands, their overall CEI rating (Green, Amber, Red) and their actual CEI score.  Guess I won’t be purchasing that Rolex any time soon…..

I wish I could easily provide all the data but it is just too extensive but I would suggest you at least take a quick stop at one of the links I’ve indicated above and become a more informed consumer and shopper.  We’ve all been made aware of the companies that extensively use sweat shops and basically slave labor to provide their products from overseas (hello, Walmart?) – maybe we need to be a bit more discerning of how companies that do business on our own shores treat our sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends, whatever – your choice of whose success you want to support.  Is it possible to stop shopping at all the sub-par companies? Probably not unfortunately given the wide expanse of ones we all typically shop at but, to quote Chinese philosopher Laozi – “The longest journey begins with the first step”.

NOTE: The following copied directly from the HRC Buyer’s Guide

Apparel & Accessories

Business Rating Rank
Abercrombie & Fitch  abercrombie kids; Gilly Hicks; Hollister; 100
Gap  Athleta; babyGap; Banana Republic; GapBody; GapKids; Old Navy; Piperlime; 100
Levi Strauss  Denizen; Dockers; Levi’s; Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.; 100
Limited Brands  Henri Bendel; La Senza; Pink; Victoria’s Secret; 100
Nike  Cole Haan; Converse; Hurley; NIKE Golf; Umbro; 100
Nordstrom  1901; Calibrate; Classiques Entier; Halogen; HauteLook; Jeffrey; Last Chance; Nordstrom Direct; Nordstrom Rack; Public Opinion; Trouvé; Zella; 100
Sears  Apostrophe; Canyon River Blues; Covington; Jaclyn Smith; Joe Boxer; Lands’ End; Structure; 100
Target  C9 by Champion; Cherokee; Circo; Gilligan & O’Malley; Honors; In Due Time; Liz Lange; Merona; Mossimo; Nick & Nora; Utility; Xhilaration; 100
TJX  HomeGoods; Marshalls; T.J.Maxx; 100
A|X Armani Exchange  95
American Eagle  77kids; aerie; 95
J.C. Penney  a.n.a; Ambrielle; American Living; Arizona; Arizona Jean Co.; cooks; Decree; east5th; Every Day Matters; J. Ferrar; Linden Street; Okie Dokie; St. John’s Bay; Stafford; Studio; Worthington; 95
Bon-Ton Stores  Bergner’s; Boston Store; Carson Pirie Scott; Elder-Beerman; Herberger’s; Younkers; 90
Kenneth Cole  Gentle Souls; Kenneth Cole New York; Kenneth Cole Reaction; Le Tigre; Unlisted; 90
Macy’s  Alfani; American Rag; Bar III; Bloomingdale’s; Charter Club; Club Room; Epic Threads; First Impressions; Giani Bernini; Greendog; I.N.C.; Jenni by Jennifer Moore; JM Collection; Martha Stewart Collection; Style & Co.; Tasso Elba; 90
Ralph Lauren  Chaps; Club Monaco; Denim & Supply; Lauren; Lauren Jeans Co.; Ralph Lauren Black Label; Ralph Lauren Childrenswear; Ralph Lauren Collection; Ralph Lauren Golf; Ralph Lauren Purple Label; RLX; RRL; Rugby; 90
REI  Novara; REI Private Brands; 90
Tiffany & Co.  90
Fifth & Pacific  Juicy Couture; kate spade; Lucky Brand Jeans; Mac & Jac; 85
A�ropostale  P.S. from Aéropostale; 75
Coach  Reed Krakoff; 75
Hanover Direct  International Male; Silhouettes; UnderGear; 70
The Jones Group  Anne Klein; Bandolino; Easy Spirit; Enzo Angiolini; Evan-Picone; Gloria Vanderbilt; Joan & David; Jones New York; Judith Jack; Kasper; l.e.i; Le Suit; Mootsies Tootsies; Napier; Nine West; Rachel Roy; Sam & Libby; 70
L.L. Bean  65
Burlington Coat Factory  Cohoes; MJM Designer Shoes; 60
Hanesbrands  Bali; Barely There; Champion; Duofold; Gear for Sports; Hanes; Just My Size; L’eggs; Outer Banks; Playtex; Wonderbra; 60
PVH  Arrow; Bass; Calvin Klein; IZOD; Tommy Hilfiger; Van Heusen; 60
H&M  55
Brown Shoe  Avia; Buster Brown; Dr. Scholl’s Shoes; Famous Footwear; Franco Sarto; Lifestride; Naturalizer; rykä; Sam Edelman; Vera Wang Lavender; Via Spiga; 35
Ann Taylor  LOFT; 30
J. Crew  crewcuts; Madewell; 30
The Men’s Wearhouse  K&G; Twinhill; 30
Adidas  Reebok; Rockport; TaylorMade; 15
Burberry  15
Collective Brands  Airwalk; Keds; Payless ShoeSource; Saucony; Sperry Top-Sider; Stride Rite; 15
Donna Karan  DKNY; 15
Foot Locker  CCS; Champs Sports; Eastbay; Footaction; Kids Foot Locker; Lady Foot Locker; 15
Guess?  G by GUESS; GUESS by Marciano; GUESS kids; 15
Neiman Marcus  Bergdorf Goodman; CUSP; Last Call; 15
Urban Outfitters  Anthropologie; BHLDN; Free People; 15
VF  7 For All Mankind; Bulwark; Eagle Creek; Eastpak; Ella Moss; JanSport; John Varvatos; Kipling; Lee; lucy Activewear; Majestic; Napapijri; Nautica; Red Kap; Reef; Rock & Republic; Seven for all Mankind; SmartWool; Splendid; The North Face; Timberland; Vans; Wrangler Jeans; 15
Warnaco Group  Olga; Warner’s; 15
Berkshire Hathaway  Acme Boot; Fruit of the Loom; Garan; H.H. Brown Shoe Company; JERZEES; Justin Brands; Russell Athletics; Spalding; 0
Cabela’s  0
Chico’s  Boston Proper; Soma; White House/Black Market; 0
Dolce & Gabbana  D&G; 0
Fossil  0
Giorgio Armani  Armani Collezioni; Armani Jeans; Emporio Armani; 0
Gucci  Alexander McQueen; 0
Quiksilver  DC Shoes; Gnu; Hawk; Lib Tech; Radio Fiji; Roxy; 0
Rolex  0
Ross Stores  dd’s DISCOUNTS; 0
Under Armour  0
Versace  0

ENDA – Another National Disgrace for Nation – Boehner and the House

Today, the US Senate passed a bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals.  What you say?  It has not been illegal to fire people based on the fact they are gay or they are trans-gender?  No, in the United States while no one can can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, they can because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Of course, most all of the Fortune 500 companies (88%) have policies that cover this but there is no federal law that does.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation that was proposed for the first time in 1994 in the United States Congress.  It prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.  When I first read about this law I, like many, was surprised that we don’t have this law on the books already.  In fact, there are 29 states where it is perfectly legal to terminate the employment of an individual who may be gay or transgender. The reality is that it is legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation in 29 states. For those who are transgender they can be fired or denied employment solely based on their gender identity in 33 states.  Take a look at the map – won’t be real surprising which states but that is a whole other topic.   Pretty astounding when you think about it that in 2013, more than five decades after passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act and then subsequent passage of the American Disabilities Act, we still have a country where this can happen.  To be honest, this is one of those “duh” moments where you wouldn’t think there should be even a question – not like I’m forcing you to take healthcare.  But we have a couple of key problems we need to cover as we look at why this has been taking so long and why, given the stance taken by those broad and deep thinkers in the US House – John Boehner in particular.

capenda

Credit: HRC.org

The arguments justifying this continued discrimination are several:

First, of course is the idea that it is okay to discriminate if something goes against the tenets of your so-called religion.  One of the core objections against ENDA bases itself in the religious right and flails around with the oft-cited “religious freedom” banner.  That too has been the rallying call behind the forces that have tried to stop many other causes that have come about to right the wrongs many of our citizens have endured over the years.  I read it as “I should be able to discriminate against anyone and anything that doesn’t fit into my set of beliefs” – which of course makes sense because they are right and there are no other belief systems with any merit.  But try to challenge their rights in any manner and listen to the cries of discrimination.  They feel that this legislation affords special protection to a group that is not disadvantaged so it isn’t really an issue of discrimination.  I don’t know but when I look around and see the second class citizen status these people have been pushed into, seems a bit disadvantaged to me.  For anyone reading my blogs with any consistency, you will know I have little regard or time for those who profess religious base and demand special rights but don’t see the same rights for others and have no issue refusing to acknowledge that their view of the world, which might work for them, might not work for anyone else.   See how far I would get if I, as an atheist, decided not to hire anyone who believed in a God because it somehow appalls me.  Not sure that would fly.  Of course, the immediate response would be that I couldn’t do that because you can’t discriminate against an individual based on their belief in a God.  But believing in a God doesn’t fit into my belief framework around religion.  Where’s my religious freedom?  Again. ridiculous argument on one level but not sure where it is that different – mostly because reality and what is “real” as far as beliefs and what fits and doesn’t fit is in the eye of the beholder.  And in the case of these religious zealots, the eyes seem pretty well closed.  And, oh by the way, while I strongly disagree it since we are still allowing discrimination, religious organizations are provided an exception from this protection, similar to that found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  So you already have your cake – you don’t need to eat it too.  We don’t have to live as you do (well, not that most of you really live what you speak – again, a whole other topic).

credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

The Hypocrisy of it all
credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

Now, onto John Boehner, the majority leader of the US House who has consistently demonstrated he doesn’t get that he is there at the will of the people in this country.  He, single-handedly, will keep ENDA from hitting the House floor and therefore will try to ensure we continue to allow states to discriminate.  Now, I happen to think that Johnny B. is somewhat of an asshole.  Okay maybe not somewhat but entirely.  Anyone who can effectively allow our government to shut down and bring us to the brink of default seems to have some flaws in leadership capability and really doesn’t get any points for style.  But I digress.  In the case of ENDA we see his opposition is really about jobs and the economy.  His spokesman, Michael Steel said the bill “will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”   Anyone seeing a pattern here.  I think he has one page of talking points and it is “one size fits all”.  Aside from helping continue the Republican death march they started with the shutdown last month, this stance continues to play politics with our citizens and their rights.  Not sure I understand the frivolous litigation other than the reality that we won’t allow businesses to discriminate in this area and we are protecting the rights of real people – doesn’t sound frivolous.  Also easy to fix – don’t discriminate.  I don’t know what you can do about Johnny boy here other than hope that the cigarettes and tanning booths actually take an early toll.  In the meantime, I do have to wonder what skeletons he has in his closet – he doth protest too much.

Maybe John has a small secret?

Maybe John has a small secret?

So why did this particular item lead me to a blog?  Despite the rant and the throwing of my usual rocks, I hope this one is a little educational.  I pride myself on being up on most things but was taken entirely by surprise on the issue behind ENDA.  This is a national embarrassment that needs to be rectified as soon as we can.  If it be by election (hopefully it won’t take that long) then we need to inform.

Okay, last surprise – Fox News didn’t see ENDA as a news-worthy item as it advanced toward the Senate vote today – and of the 4 minutes of coverage it got, two minutes was spent discussing how ENDA was a planned distraction to take attention away from coverage of Obamacare.

credit: mediamatters.org

credit: mediamatters.org

Pocono Township – Fear and Half-truths Defeated

It would seem from unofficial results that the Pocono Township First Class Initiative has overwhelmingly passed with 77% of voters supporting the change to how we are governed.  Congratulations to all that worked on getting the first class initiative passed – kudos for your hard work and great results.  I’m also pleased that the people of Pocono Township were intelligent enough to vote for what is best for our community as well as send a message to the Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township that we aren’t as dumb as they think.  It is no longer the time of the good old boy network and it is time we actually have citizens step up with the skills, experience and integrity needed to help manage and grow our community as it demands in the coming years.

All that being said, I’ll take a chance of being seen as a poor winner but I would suggest that we not underestimate the drive and willingness of the Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township to do whatever possible to undermine progress since returning to anything resembling the status quo will protect and ensure their personal gains no matter the cost to the township.  Don’t be fooled as many of these people have been working behind the scenes for years to push their agenda. our elected officials essentially only pawns in the process.   We all have a view into who many of the “Vote No” business people are and anyone who has attended the information meetings have heard the slanted and  misrepresented views and information they were willing to spew and stand behind in order to further their gains.

So what can we do?  Within our family, we have made it a point to speak loudly thru our wallets when we encounter businesses or people who work directly against that we believe – especially those who make it clear their concerns are only for personal gain and profit and care little for the needs or wants of others.  We will do the same to the extent we can locally and make sure that we do not support any of these people or their businesses.  If that sounds harsh I would ask you to think about who they have been concerned with over this needed change for Pocono Township and where they put their priorities.  I don’t believe they will just lick their wounds and skulk off into some corner.  No, they will work to find ways to undermine the changes and will look for alternative means to influence and turn decisions in their direction.  There needs to be ongoing vigilance of the upcoming changes as they happen.  I have no doubt that the people who have been most influential in this Initiative will remain fully engaged and attentive.  We, as the rest of Pocono Township, need to do the same to support them and to make it clear to those looking to step backward that it isn’t going to happen.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.  It’s time we know who is behind that curtain.

Pocono Township, PA – Scumbag Politics & Tactics Flow Downhill all the Way to Local Politics

poconoTwnp_map

I don’t normally blog about local issues but we citizens of Pocono Township, PA in the heart of the Poconos are in the midst of a ballot referendum that has become rather heated.  At issue is the governing structure of our approx. 12,000 resident community.  The question is whether to move to a First Class Township structure or to stay as a Second Class Township.  In reality, the guidelines and rules are quite similar across class of townships with only several key areas of difference – albeit important differences.  While I don’t intend to go into the details to a great extent, my opinion and perspective is that the change reduces the likelihood of personal agendas and influence, governance by proxy (who is really pulling the strings behind the curtain) and the myriad of unethical and unacceptable actions that have taken place in local government for years.  While we have slowly moved forward from the “old boy” network that was evident when we moved here 26+ years ago, the back room dealings and decisions remain an ongoing event.  Is it just Pocono Township?  No, it is rife throughout Pennsylvania if one does a google of incidents of impropriety in local government in PA.  The move to put this First Class initiative on the ballot was driven by the actions of several of our current Supervisors.  In fact, we now sit on a million $ lawsuit as a result of these supervisors.  But back to the issue at hand.  As with any change there are those who support and those that don’t.  Same here but interestingly enough (not surprising though) the “citizen” group that supports the current Second Class Township structure is made up of local business interests who fear the change as their level of influence will weaken if not disappear entirely.  My opinion only but given the tactics and the information spin their campaign has taken you can see fear and loathing as they look at the potential shift in power.  Again, not surprising, this is primarily a group of Republicans.  Now if we have learned anything at all about the current Republican Party, whether national or state, taking care of the people’s needs is not a priority.  One needs look no deeper than the recent Federal Government shutdown to see it at the national level.  At the state level, look at the havoc Tom Corbin, our Republican Governor, and his massive cuts to education and social programs to see it isn’t about anything beyond politics.  And we in Pocono Township now can be our own microcosm of what we see at higher levels.

 

Our three Supervisors - Guess which one is the RoadMaster?

Our three Supervisors – Guess which one is the RoadMaster?

This struck home very clearly this past week when we attended a “non-partisan” information session advertised to objectively address the differences between a First and Second class township structure.  The attorney, experienced in dealing in both structures, was actually very good.  However, on the table as one walked in was the propaganda literature being offered by the “Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township” (let’s call them CCPT) – a non-profit organization leaning heavily to the right.  I, for one, judge any organization by the honesty and accuracy of its message and supporting information – which means I do try to read and research most any statement or position taken before I decide my stance.  In this case, I’ve read (several times) both the First and Second Class Township Code documents so I think I’ve got the detail.  While it is obvious the CCPT has read and understands the differences, they have taken the liberty to play loose with the facts – something very obvious in their political literature.  Let’s take a look.

 

Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township Propaganda

Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township Propaganda

So – we have only CCPT choosing six statements to scare the public into voting against the First Class Township initiative this Nov 5th election.  When you dig a bit into the detail it becomes quickly clear that not one of these statements is really true – if we define true as meaning it is entirely true – so we have the spin factor to contend with.  These are all partially true – leaving out important details that when considered take the bite out of all of them.  To help put, I’ll rate these on a simple scale – the Bullshit Scale.  Pretty simple – the more BULLSHITs – the larger the lie or partial truth or the larger the manipulation. I don’t really need a symbol for entirely true since none of the statements actually qualify.

Let’s take a look at each one –

1. Raises the maximum general purpose tax rate to 30 mils.  Okay – in a First Class township this is true.  They are comparing to a Second Class Twsp where the GENERAL PURPOSE TAX RATE is capped at 14 mils.  However, there are several additional opportunities to add other tax mils to that number in the Second Class code – in actuality when comparing apples to apples, the total potential tax burden is actually higher in a Second Class Township – they just don’t have it all in the general tax bucket.  And, by the way, this is really about the maximum potential mils – doesn’t really read that way in this literature leaving quite a bit of room for interpretation that our taxes will rise. So this is not only misleading but implies something (raised taxes) that it has nothing to do with.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

2. Mandates that all future police officers qualify as Civil Servants.  Yes, all future police officers will have to pass a test established by a Civil Service Commission established to oversee all matters related to the Police Department.  Not sure the problem with requiring that future police officers be required to pass a test that is specific to Pocono Township as it is a test created by the commission.  I guess the problem is that a board of three, non-paid commissioners can’t play favorites as easily and having it establish an equal playing ground for police qualifications means there might actually be a test to get a job.  No criticism of our current police force in Pocono Township at the moment but having to demonstrate qualifications is not a new concept for getting a job.  No current policemen lose their jobs and yes, there is qualification to be a police officer in the future.  Then again, anyone working for any form of government can be considered a civil servant – not sure why today’s policeman don’t fall into the same category.

civil servant

noun

: a person who works for the government : a person who works in the civil service

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

3. Mandates a Township Manager Position.  This one is somewhat true but it does require a bit more examination at which point it becomes less than forthright.  Our illustrious supervisors, since they all hold down township positions (part of the problem – they are their own bosses and accountable to no one other than at election time) felt the need to hire a Township Administrator at somewhere around $60K salary.  So the current position is not called “Manager” but it essentially does what the “mandated” role will do – especially since the commissioners can define the job generally as they please.  So to protest the new position might be a little disingenuous.  The other interesting consideration here is that the Code also provides the Commissioners with the power to abolish the position of Township Manager.  As I read it, doesn’t sound like a mandate.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

4. Substitutes elected Supervisors with Court Appointed Commissioners.    Not really but in the initial transition to a First Class Township there is no provision for a special election and the new Commissioners need to be in their position by the January following the election.  A board of judges from our County Courts does the initial appointment but that is the only time there is not an election to select the Commissioners.  So part truth but a bit misleading all the same.  Once established, all Commissioners are elected as current Supervisors are.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

5. Mandates that anyone holding a position with the township must quit their job before they can seek public office.  The only consideration close to this that I can find in the Code is that Policemen cannot hold any public office while being a policeman. I’m calling this one a total fabrication – sounds good as a talking point but this is an outright lie.  I’m only deciding not to give it 10 BULLSHITs since I can’t find it and I could have missed it – doubtful but maybe.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

6. Can result with 5 new commissioners who have no experience running the township and potentially no experience with the sewer system and its known deficiencies.  Okay – I guess this is true but again we have an intent to mislead and make a problem where there is not necessarily one.  To be honest, this can happen anytime anyone new is elected to Supervisor in the current structure.   All we need to do is look at the current Supervisors (kind of our local Moe, Larry and Curley of sorts) to see that this concern about experience is not a new one.  Our current trio consists of an ex-policeman who most recently sold advertising for billboards, a road department employee and a plumber.  Don’t get me wrong, these can be honorable professions but I fail to see the deep experience that any of these three brought to the table with they were elected.  Not really anyone with broad and deep management experience or capability among them.  As far as sewer knowledge, I’ll give the plumber some latitude when it comes to dealing with crap but given the size of the sewer project (many millions, many years, much coordination), I might concede this point a bit if the number and the size of problems being realized wasn’t so large – and the plumber has been around for most of it.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT  BULLSHIT

Total BULLSHITs – 47 (yes, that’s a lot of BULLSHIT)

Average BULLSHITs – 7.83 – on my scale, I’d say this average rating positions the good Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township as pretty high up there on the BULLSHIT scale – pretty much full of shit.  Just the type of people I want leading my township and its future.

So when we look across the “concerns” and the “facts” as to why we should stay a Second Class Township, one would think that it should stand on its own merit – not the lies, spin and manipulation that is evident in this case.  Maintaining the status quo in this case only really seems to be good for those running things today – whether as supervisors or puppet masters pulling the strings in the background. They all have something to lose and it is personal in every case.

We can only hope that there are enough of us Pocono Township citizens who can see this for what it is when Tuesday rolls around.

Losers by the Handful

Just what we want in a Leader

Just what we want in a Leader

The last couple of months I’ve struggled a bit to keep my focus on this blog – something obviously not a problem prior to the last election cycle.  It is not that there is nothing to share feelings about – I think it has been more I’m not sure where to start.  My head spins as I look at what is going on around me – not the world but here in the United States.  For any one reading this blog it is obvious I’ve got a bit of anger – most of the time – and anger has fueled much of what I have written.  While it isn’t also the most pleasant for those around me, I’ll have to say that anger sits reasonably well with me.  I’m not saying it is good but it is an emotion I can deal with.  And I don’t see it going away any time soon – not with the direction we seem to be going as a nation.  But recently, there is a “buddy” to sit alongside my anger and this emotion is one I have always tried to avoid at all costs.  That “buddy” happens to be embarrassment.  While there is a lot to be angry about but we have reached a point in this country where we should all be embarrassed.  Not only because of the state of our politicians and the mess they have made but also about many of our people.  In particular the know-nothings and the loudmouths that continue to say they represent the American public or they are looking out for our country.  I’m embarrassed that Ted Cruz (and some others of his ilk) are US senators – but even more embarrassed there are people supporting them – and it’s not because they don’t believe what I believe – I’m used to that and I don’t expect that my views and beliefs work for anyone else.  It is because these people are generally not nice people in any sense of the word.  They are basically self-centered, don’t care about anyone but themselves, narcissists.  They feel better about their state in life by bringing down others. And they are stupid enough to actually believe that Ted Cruz believes in the same things they do and not that he is taking advantage of their ignorance to prop his own interests to the forefront.  I’m embarrassed we have congressional leaders that let freshman congressman wield the power to bring our economy to its knees.  I’m embarrassed we have become a people who generally don’t care about those that are not so well off and because there are some who take advantage and cheat the system, then everyone in need is bad. I could go on and on.

Fool me once.... credit: theguardian.com

Fool me once….
credit: theguardian.com

But today I read something that really encapsulates what we should all be embarrassed about as it speaks volumes of what we have become as a nation.  Take a swing over to The Huffington Post  – take a read of this article –  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/niels-gerson-lohman/us-border-crossing_b_4098130.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular.

For some out there, they will see nothing wrong – it is just the US looking out for our safety and security.  I’m embarrassed for you people too.

For once, Pennsylvania had some sense and got rid of at least one loser.... credit: pumabydesign001.com

For once, Pennsylvania had some sense and got rid of at least one loser….
credit: pumabydesign001.com

It is Scary as Hell

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.  –  John F. Kennedy

It has been quite a period of time since my last post.  Probably a combination of a number of factors but as I began to think about it, the reason became a bit clearer.  Am I any less angry or awash in angst over the state of our country at the moment?  Not at all.  In fact, my level of concern is at a level that I don’t believe has ever been higher.  The difference is I am also at a point of being frozen given I am beginning to doubt that we are fixable.  I’m not apathetic as I would expect that might cure my anger.  At times I’ve wondered if part of getting older is that the situation doesn’t really change but our perception is what morphs.   Kind of “It has always been this screwed up – I just didn’t notice or it made less of a difference.”  Well, I don’t think that any more – it hasn’t been this bad before.  Yes, times have been bad before and we have struggled as a nation and a society.  The difference is I think there was more of a set rules that bound us together as a nation and there were individuals who were actually able to work together for the betterment of the country – not a mass of individual wants or pockets of agendas that needed to get their 15 minutes no matter the cost.  I am no Pollyanna thinking that things haven’t always been unfair, the deck wasn’t stacked for many and that there haven’t always been agendas and benefits to the “haves” vs the “have nots” but we have arrived at this time as a country run by morons and half-wits who only see their self-interest as the end game.  Not sure where it was lost that we live in a democracy and that the majority basically rule.  Our constitution ensures that majority can only go so far but to have reached a point where every small political group feels their wishes need to be part of the solution has taken our country to the point where nothing works.  To believe that every solution has to work at 100% of everyone means that nothing will work for anyone.

I started this blog as somewhat of a catharsis to deal with the level of anger and frustration I feel as I walk, watch and interact with the world around me.  It started local and got broader as I found some nice targets as we approached the last Presidential election.  I tried to point out the folly of thought and the disconnect of action of many of those out there that profess to have the qualities to be leaders.  To be honest, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  I’ll be the first to admit I have few answers.  I know what works for me and I know where my focus has been in particular on making sure those closest to me are okay.  In comparison to many, I’m in pretty good shape.  I want to little in terms of physical needs.  Despite my level of anger (i have my good days and bad) which is obvious to those around me, I’m at terms with most everything I can have influence over.  So back to my original point in why I haven’t been blogging – I’m not sure where to start for one thing.  I’m also frustrated that people don’t seem to want to help themselves.  I remain incredulous of the laziness and ignorance people have no issue sitting in.  As I’ve said many times, the fact that people are willing to support and vote against their own interest remains one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  I do reach a point where I wonder if we just need to hit rock bottom before most people start to pay attention and we realize, as a country, that it isn’t really politics first and people second.  To be where the Tea Party has any influence in any situation is close – it tells me that people’s moral and ethical compass is broken and true north has been lost.  When Miley Cyrus gets the number of news cycles she does, you have to wonder.  It is scary as hell.

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.   –  Mark Twain

You mean Racism is still a problem?

Talk of the news stations last night and all the Sunday morning new shows this morning was unsurprisingly the “Not Guilty” verdict from the Zimmerman trial.  Like any trial with this much attention, the final verdict elicits a variety of responses that cover every gamut of the situation – whether legal, social, racial, etc.  To be honest, while I believe the situation to be a travesty – when a young life is lost it can’t be anything but that.  However, my biggest surprise was that it appeared the jury actually maintained a purely legal perspective and decision, not that Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  Given the law in Florida and the points of consideration that should have been the focus, the outcome was not a surprise.  Sorry, the trial and it’s outcome isn’t really about the problem that a black child can’t get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea without being concerned about being shot – despite the number of predominantly black panelists that made that the point of order this morning.  That argument isn’t going to bring anybody in this country closer to being open-minded and accepting.    Yes, a travesty and tragedy that speaks volumes of how we treat each other but it will not be fixed in the courtroom other than from a legal perspective.

That being said, there are obviously many more issues and factors in play here.  I was astonished with the number of panelists on news shows this morning that raise the specter that racism exists in this country.  Really?  I didn’t even think that was the elephant in the room.  I must have missed the announcement that we as a country have overcome bigotry.  I say bigotry because this problem challenging us is bigger than racism as the problem is bigger than the color of one’s skin.  In any case I would submit the first step, if we are to make any progress on the issues of how blacks are viewed and treated (a reality), we need to move from one case like this.  Turning the results and reactions to a specific trial into the rallying call or headline of actions is a risky and often “one step forward and two steps back” approach.  I remind everyone of the OJ Simpson trial and the reactions that followed.

It would seem to me it is more important to look at some of the broader questions and challenges here.

Haven’t heard much about gun control in this case – seems to me to be another poster child for why we shouldn’t just let any one walk around with a firearm.  Sure make the case that if Zimmerman hadn’t left his car, Martin would be alive.  Imagine if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun – he probably wouldn’t have even been out there on his neighborhood watch as this wasn’t a man who appeared to have a lot of extra testosterone – except when buoyed by a weapon.  Sounds familiar to many of our gun loving citizens.

More importantly, I’m going to position a view that will piss off many as it will be received as a statement that somehow attributes responsibility for the death of this young man and the bigotry as a whole back to the black community (or any minority community for that matter) which it does not because my point is really about us as a country and a society and the responsibility we owe to the society we live in.  And my position stands for any segment of our population, no matter the minority we speak to.  If you as a minority want to be treated differently and not be pre-judged, profiled, whatever, then practice what you preach.  Don’t expect that behavior in others if you can’t live it yourself.  In this case I will pick on the black community for one particular reason – the view of the majority of blacks towards the LGBT community is one of almost total intolerance.  I won’t start throwing the data out there but if we look at gay marriage, equal rights under the law, just a view of gays in general, the black community has a rather dismal history of anything approaching acceptance.  On the scale of bigotry, in this area it doesn’t look too good.  Yes, I know all about the religious basis of it all and I’m sure you can rationalize a great deal of it but at the end of it all, it is still bullshit.  I’m met many a racist who has easily found a rationalization for their view.

But until the minority segments of our society can show equal openness and acceptance to the LGBT community that matches what they want, expect and demand for themselves, my words to you are pretty much get ready for more of the same – it is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is horrific but if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  Ye Reap what Ye Sow.  Karma’s a bitch.

Yep, we’ve got quite a journey ahead.

Religious Freedom???

credit: en.paperblog.com

credit: en.paperblog.com

In the continuing spirit of calling out stupid, we have a new contender for stupid of the month.  No, not speaking about Rick Santorum but close.   Not to dump any more than necessary on the religious zealots out there (something that should actually be a bit more of a focus) but they again step into the realm of “you’ve got to be kidding me” with a recent lawsuit out in California where parents have sued to stop the school district from having kids perform yoga as part of gym class.  The parents see teaching yoga in schools as a violation of Church-State Rule.  The parents sued claiming the classes are being used to indoctrinate children and  “spread the gospel” of Ashtanga yoga.  I’ll have to say, if anyone knows about “indoctrination” and “spreading the gospel”, it is the Christians.

Here is the original source of the news:  http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Yoga-Class-Encinitas-Lawsuit-San-Diego-Reglious-208538581.html#ixzz2XuEUSfP0

credit: sodahead.com

credit: sodahead.com

Doesn’t it seem interesting that these religious nuts are always the ones seeing things that are bad and evil being foisted on them, no doubt as part of a scheme by Satan himself to disrupt those good Christians just out to do good and follow the ways of the Lord.  The level of paranoia is pretty amazing and one must ask what is really feeding it.  If one is so secure in one’s belief system, why so concerned that it will topple in a 30 minute gym class.  It’s not like these kids aren’t going home and being brainwashed on a daily basis.  If it isn’t an alternative religion, it’s sex or some other prurient interest that these people apparently fell short on getting enough of so their interest and attention remains rather high.   I would submit that most of these people don’t need to look too far to see where the devil really lies.

credit: cafepress.com

credit: cafepress.com

Maybe if these people spent a fraction of the time they spend focused on other people’s habits and beliefs and spent a bit more energy on looking inwardly and working on developing some insight (assuming ability to do so – a big assumption), these Christians would soon realize that many of us look at them the same way – as those out to make everyone else see, think and act like they do.  The only difference is that we are more confident in our beliefs and are not taking them to court to force our views into how they live their lives.   Does anyone doubt these same people wouldn’t see any issue with prayer back in the schools?  Let’s make sure we have the “violation of Church-State Rule” argument ready to go next time they complain about something taking away their religious freedom.  But of course the rules are different for them because they have God and the bible behind them.

Let’s call stupid and bigotry what it really is….

credit: classwarfareexists.com

credit: classwarfareexists.com

 

Point of today – actually two points – we are who we follow and let’s do a better job of calling bullshit when we see it.

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” – Pat Robertson

It is obvious I have issues with religion and those who unabashedly profess to be leaders of the masses – many of whom are actually more bigoted, unforgiving, selfish and most everything anti what I was always taught the teachings of the bible are about – one person you won’t see with a WWJD bracelet on is Pat Robertson.  I won’t go into much detail about his first son being born out of wedlock (do what I say, not what I do) or his repeated misogynistic stances regarding women and their place with men (essentially men cheat because their wife doesn’t take care of them as they should) as that would take too much time and space for today.  I happened to be channel surfing and stopped on the 700 Club – not a usual stop but given the SCOTUS decision on DOMA this week, I thought there might be some reaction from Pat.  I was not disappointed as my timing was right on.  He was discussing the issue with Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ, a right-wing, pro-life group that focuses on constitutional and human rights law worldwide (as they define them).  Just for context, Sekulow is also a regular on Fox News.  As expected, the discussion was obviously on the horrible decision made by the court but where did Robertson immediately go? His first question was whether Sekulow had any insight into whether Justice Kennedy had any homosexual law clerks.  He followed it up with a derisive comment on the judge in California who had declared Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, immediately leading the discussion to his understanding that the judge was in fact himself a homosexual.  So no discussion on human rights, equality under the law or anything else other than a view that all these decisions were no doubt just self-serving actions – something I expect that Robertson knows quite a bit about.   What a piece of shit – and well representative of all those who support him and his extravagant lifestyle.  But he is consistent on one level – he pretty much holds both gays and women to the same level of contempt.

“The reason that we fought the [American] Revolution in the 16th century — was to get away from that kind of onerous crown, if you will.” —Rick Perry

I also caught a brief news clip on that illustrious governor of Texas – Rick Perry – another shining example that if you’re from Texas, you don’t have to be very smart to get elected to a high office.  While much of the country was giving high kudos to Sen. Wendy Davis who held up the vote on more limitations on abortion and women’s rights in Texas, Perry was quick to play the “man” hand and pretty much dismissing her accomplishments (not sure Rick could even spell “HARVARD”) and bring it down to some stupid comment on learning from her mothers’ decision not to abort her and therefore reversing her stance on abortion rights.  Key word – “rights”.  Heaven forbid anyone traipse on their religious “rights”.  It was also rather revealing that during Sen. Davis’ filibuster, it was only the men in the room who work to thwart her effort.  Another situation where men work their hardest to control what women do.

So, a quick take away from these two seemingly separate items.  It is really about women and how they decide to deal with all these idiot men.  These people in power only maintain their position if women support them.  Probably a little less influence over Robertson but maybe not quite as much an issue.  At 83 years old, we can only hope he gets to meet his maker before long – and assuming I’m wrong in my lack of belief in God, he gets to explain himself to the big guy.

As far as Rick Perry, one can only hope that the women in Texas begin to understand his concern is not for women and he is willing and able to work against the rights due all women.  In the meantime, I’ll stay thankful none of us live in Texas and the women in my life can still think for themselves.

credit: moveon.org

credit: moveon.org

Another take on the DOMA decision was made this morning on Face the Nation this morning with Bob Sheiffer.  Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, an American conservative Christian group and lobbying organization shared one of the horrific impacts of the decision.  Let’s put the Family Research Council in some appropriate perspective here – In 2010, the FRC paid $25,000 to congressional lobbyists for what they described as “Res.1064 Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion” in a lobbying disclosure report.  The US House of Representatives, in a moment of rationale thought,  passed the resolution condemned the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill which, among other things, would have imposed either the death penalty or life imprisonment for sexual relations between persons of the same sex.  Let’s make sure we recognize what kind of christian organization we are talking about here. 

credit: back2stonewall.com

credit: back2stonewall.com

In any case, back to Tony.  He was very concerned of the impact on bakers, photographer and florists who would inevitably lose their religious freedom by being forced to do work with gay couples looking to get married. He in fact indicated that there were already a great number of court cases in play and there were instances where these business people were being forced to sell services to gay couples.  It did take Schieffer a moment to clear the incredulous look off his face as he forced what was essentially a “Really?” out of his mouth.  Tony was firm in his view that when people realize this sort of impact is inevitable, the tide will turn, people will regain their senses and all will be right with the world again.   Can’t say that was an impact that I was really worried about.

More Lipstick on a Pig – Part 2

 

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”  ― Benjamin Franklin

Whether we look at the decisions around marriage and equality we have seen today or we listen to the wailings of Paula Deen, it becomes obvious our biggest enemy remains ignorance and hate.  I still struggle with why anything I feel is important or “right” is the same for others or why the wills and beliefs of others need to be applied to the rest of us.  This is not a new problem nor is it one that is going to go away in the near term but it is one that we cannot let take any greater hold than it has already.  To be honest, I harbor no illusion that people who are so ignorant and bereft of empathy will ever change or see life and liberty thru any glasses other than their own thick and obviously warped lenses but we need to call bullshit when we see it.

 

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

So back to Paula Deen –

Let me preface this with the fact that I am not a Christian nor a believer of any religion for that matter so forgiveness is something I work thru given my own faculties and beliefs based on what I see in people.  I do believe that people make mistakes and there are times they are truly sorry and apologetic and they really mean it – can’t say I saw that in Deen’s Today show appearance this morning.  I expect people will see what they want to see and her supporters saw one things and the rest of us something else but I’ve looked at the interview several times to see what I missed and I really didn’t see much apology or her taking responsibility for her actions.  Yes, she was sorry it caused the problems it did.  But she seemed to have every excuse in the book for why she really wasn’t accountable or wrong.  I did love her line at the end that there was someone evil who was essentially jealous of what she had and wanted to take her down.  Her confusion over what was hurtful or derogatory to others was also laughable – and blaming the young people around her for it was even more unbelievable.  To reach her age and to live in the times she has and to not know the “N’ word was bad – amazing.  I’m not quite 66 years old but I have a pretty good idea of what is acceptable to minorities and what isn’t.  While I can’t guarantee it, I would submit that use of the “N” word wouldn’t be in my response even with a gun to my head – that word is either in your vernacular or it isn’t.

I was also pretty amazed at the lack of tears.  A lot of sobbing but no real waterworks.  Hate to admit it but I’ve cried in situations of lesser issue or stress.  Note to her handlers – tell her to get some tears going next time around.  For my part she remains pretty much the shitbag and low-life I thought she was.

So for you supporters, you should be all set.  She was really speaking to you all.  You can continue to eat the bacon and sticks of butter that she offered to get you down the path of diabetes and you can continue to frequent her restaurants.  Me, I’m heading out to the store to get some Smithfield ham.

 

“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to
ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all
the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant
people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking
among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all;
who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would
invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it
bitterly.”
  ―
    Isaac Asimov