Life Isn’t a Smorgasbord…

Not sure if fits...just love the picture!

Not sure if fits…just love the picture!

Gun Control, Abortion Rights, LBGT Civil Rights (someone please tell me how this is not a Civil Rights issue) – quite a bit going on this week and next.  As our Congress spends the majority of time playing pocket pool and continues to demonstrate ineptitude beyond belief, they systematically ignore where this country has been and is heading in these areas.  Recent legislative efforts by Kansas and North Dakota (again, both states that never make the top 10 list for admirable points for which most strive) to outlaw abortion, again demonstrates a vendetta against Women’s rights and a direction counter where most people in this country are.  The Supreme Court this week will hear two cases crucial to the pace of progress in giving LGBT citizens their civil rights and equality under the law.  Gun Control – little progress in even what a thinking and feeling person might think would be an easy step forward – Universal background checks.

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

In every case the American public who, as a whole, is well ahead of the political musings and stances, makes it clear they support abortion rights (a woman’s right to choice, let’s be clear), LGBT equality and the right to marry, and better gun control (in particular Universal background checks).  The problem is in the details as we look at the state and local level and the way political divisions have been drawn. We end up with a clear division of view of where the Federal should have rule and set law and where it should fall to the State and Local.  While I don’t always believe the Federal Government is right and should be making choices for States, I would be more inclined to move decision-making for these specific issues I’ve cited to the State and Local levels if I actually believed they had the intellectual and social where-with-all to make smart decisions.  Again, my judgment to sure but making decisions based on bible teachings, views that harken back to how we used to treat both women and Blacks in our country and lastly, some misguided view that the government is trying to take everyone’s weapons seems to fall short of the yardstick of a civilized and informed society.

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

That being said, I am willing to take a shot at letting the states have their way.  We can move these sorts of decisions out there and let the states decide for their people.  However, I suggest we should also begin to play approach out to the full extent of the concept.  If you really want the Federal government out of your shorts, sounds good to me but then let’s make it incumbent on the States to then provide everything the Federal Government provides today – try that for health care costs.  We can let the States deal with the repercussions of making abortions illegal.  We can watch as States continue to outlaw LGBT Civil Rights.  We can let more idiots own guns in those States that want it and watch more people die from the results.  End of the day, the costs, both financial and social, can sit with the State.

What happens is that we get more pockets of the same type of people living in different states as people with a social conscience and intellect migrate either to those more progressive states.  We can watch the distribution of income and educated people move around at the same time – sorry but I would expect that the median income and level of education isn’t going to rise in the South or places like North Dakota and Kansas.  And these states will lose most everyone there who have kept their state within arm’s-length of civility and humanity (maybe even Texas has a few).   At some point it will become obvious that the longer-term impact of attitudes and mindsets from the 50’s isn’t a step forward.  Sad commentary but maybe we let them have what they want.  I for one might actually see my Federal tax bill drop a bit when I’m no longer having my tax dollars going to states that are the “Takers” and depend on Federal support to run their states – interesting that as of 2011, we now have 30 of the 50 states having 1/3rd of their state budget dependent on Federal funding (my state is one of them) and two states (Oklahoma and Louisiana) with more than 50% of their state budget Federally funded.

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

 

Sometimes you just can’t protect people from themselves.  However, we can only hope that people at some point realize that life isn’t a smorgasbord – it’s basically “Eat what’s on  your plate” – some you want and some you don’t but in the end it’s all there for a reason.  And if you’re good, you might get some .

“All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke 

When it hits close to home…

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.  (Photo credit – MSN.com)

Not to pick on Sen. Portman per se but I find it very insightful that we again have a situation where we have a politician who maintains a political position which might be contrary to what their constituents want to see UNTIL somehow it comes home to roost.  The following (a part of which I have included) was reported on MSN this morning –

“Sen. Rob Portman, who voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, says he has changed his mind on the matter since one of his sons came out as gay in 2011.

 CINCINNATI — Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.

Ohio’s junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch, he said the decision came after a lot of thought.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents that he was gay and that it wasn’t a choice but “part of who he was.” Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were very surprised but also supportive.

He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective — that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.”

I expect the sentiment shared by Portman as to the different perspective driving his change of heart is not one that will change most of those stone-hearted anti-gay politicians (or any other person of influence in any position of authority) who seem to look through political, religious, etc. lens as they continue to treat many of our citizens as 2nd class people, at best, and lesser human beings, at worse.  I said the same thing after the Sandy Hook travesty that maybe when the anti-gun control lobby people actually have someone in their family killed in a similar manner (or any manner with a gun to be honest) we might be able to manage our issues with guns with a little more common sense     A little sad that it takes a personal event to get someone to take notice and to start to feel a little.  I would suggest that empathy is a quality that goes much too unnoticed as we evaluate and elect our leaders and that maybe it is time people begin to not look at caring and understanding as a weakness and maybe see it for the benefit it brings. But this all requires some thinking and empathy to get there.  And we have a long way to go.

Santorum_StanL

Now the next question is at what point will one of Ricky Santorum’s five sons comes out – and how apoplectic will Ricky become….

Stupidity – the new normal?

I’ve read several articles that raise the question whether people in general are less intelligent today than in the past. I actually like the phrase “more stupid” as it gets more to the core of the issue but the question raised is one that should not be taken lightly. On an individual basis there is no doubt that there are many more smart people today than in the past. One need only look around at the conveniences of daily living we enjoy to see there are obvious signs that there are many out there who have put their education and native intelligence to work. But the bigger issue is society in the US as a whole. There is thought that with the proliferation of many modern technologies, there is less to stress and exercise the brains of most people. Just look at the result of the use of calculators. Watch a lot of cashiers work out change when you provide the challenge of giving them extra coin so you get back a whole bill. Something is missing. People have gotten lazy as there is less to work at. That too adds to stupidity as a brain unexercised doesn’t grow. Now I don’t need to see large scientific studies to prove this – just look around. Lazy and stupid aren’t too far apart on the continuum of human conditions.

First example – the blizzard that just hit the Northeast. Seems that despite the rather advanced warnings, there were many in Long Island who figured they knew better that everyone else and took their cars out for some reason that only they can probably make sense of. Now, I know that New Yorkers are smarter than most of the rest of us and are much more experienced and worldly (they always seem quick to make it clear that they know more than those of us that don’t live or haven’t lived in New York) but in looking at the number of vehicles that figured they could traverse the blizzard based no doubt on their superior intelligence, let alone vastly better driving skills, I offer up the following picture.

What do you mean I can't get my car thru here?  It has FWD.

What do you mean I can’t get my car thru here? It has FWD.

So bad enough that they are that stupid to go out and get quickly stuck, most of them ended up abandoning their cars causing other issues with getting roads cleared or put emergency workers at personal risk when they had to go out to rescue them from their own stupidity. My suggestion would be that any vehicle that was abandoned be picked up and immediately brought to a junk yard to get crushed and recycled. My guess is that those individuals would be a little less stupid next time around.

I do believe that stupidity is our biggest problem at the moment. It invades most every other issue and it is the common denominator across most every situation where anyone who can actually think looks up and scratched their head and says “WTF”. Stupidity hides itself in many ways and is core to many other shortcomings people consistently demonstrate. I have to believe that if you are a Tea Party member, stupidity is at the core. And admitting it is just one more piece of evidence. If you can today still take the stance there is no reason for further control of guns in our country, your proclamation of patriotism and 2nd amendment rights is a cover for stupidity.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

Just look at the current political landscape. A lot of stupid people in politics – the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz demonstrate that quite nicely. But we also can’t ignore those who actually felt the urge to vote them into office. So without stupidity, many of our politicians would not get elected, let alone be able to take the political stance they do. While I think the Republicans have it down pat (one of our current favorite phrases is from Bobby Jindal where he called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” – and they still don’t get it), the Democrats aren’t without their share.

To a great extent I think organized religion and most “devout” religious belief is steeped in stupidity – not in whether one believes or even what they believe but that most of these assholes feel they have to have the rest of us live in the same aura of stupidity and bow to the same inane beliefs. Hey – you don’t want to take birth control, fine, but keep it in your own family – and by the way, the likelihood is your son or daughter is out there screwing around anyhow. And by the way, at least 1 in 5 of you have a gay son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, mother, father…pay attention – but then again, you are stupid.

Most prejudice is about stupidity. And there is a lot of that going around. I think the Boy Scouts of America are clearly a beacon of demonstrated stupidity. To think that they are upholding a more “moral” standard by discriminating against gays is monumental stupidity. They have enough moral challenge when it comes to patrolling their own ranks of child molesters. Another level of moral question when one looks at the effort to cover it up – more stupidity to think they could actually get away with it. Only to be outdone by the Catholic Church – but that is a another whole story.

Future Leaders of our country?credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

Future Leaders of our country?
credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

And speaking of Boy Scouts, that shitbag of a human being, Ricky Santorum managed to squeeze into the public eye again as he felt it important to identify another area where he could help report the demise of old and prejudice opinions as he continued his assault on gays – concerned the BSA was abandoning the “founding moral principles that nurture boys into men”. BSA and morals in one sentence is a problem to begin with – having Santorum in your corner doesn’t speak to mainstream longevity.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

“The wise understand by themselves; fools follow the reports of others” – Tibetan Proverb

Lastly, I did want to share a few experiences that I had recently that brought it home very clearly to me the level of stupidity we are dealing with out there. The first occasion was when I stopped by our local township office to make a “Right to Know” request. I had asked for an organization chart of all our public employees indicating all reporting relationships. As the woman at the desk reviewed my form, she very seriously asked “Why do you need to know who is related to who in the organization”? I will say I managed to keep a relatively straight face as I explained the concept behind the term reporting relationships – maybe I’m expecting too much but really?

Lastly, while getting an order from the deli counter in our local supermarket, I asked for 1/3 of a pound of turkey breast – yes, 1/4 was too little and 1/2 was too much but I digress. As I watched the deli guy get my order, I overheard him ask another deli guy how much 1/3 of a pound was. I was even more amazed at that point that he was actually allowed to operate the deli slicer and that he had all his fingers intact.

End of it all, stupid takes a lot of forms – I recognize that some people are doing their best but the vast majority of stupid is there because of laziness and an unwillingness to think. Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting much better.

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

Take Action: Petition to remove Westboro Baptist Church from Tax-Exempt Status

Credit: cheezburger.com

Credit: cheezburger.com

While it is the right of any organization to stand up and show the world how degenerate and despicable they are, as the group Anonymous takes their action against the Westboro Baptist Church, we ordinary citizens can also step up and make our voices heard.  There is now an open petition to have the Westboro Baptist Church recognized as a hate group and to have them removed from their designation as a tax-exempt organization.  I, for one, would prefer that my tax dollars (indirectly or not) are not somehow supporting an organization so heinous the people running it should be sub-human.

An action which you could consider is to not only sign the petition yourself but to also spread the word on the petition that has been started to attempt to get the religious designation the Westboro Baptist Church has that keeps it from paying any taxes.  The current petition of the White House has more than 175,000 signatures, and asks the government to “legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”  Whether this will ultimately result in a decision to remove the church from its tax-exempt status is far from a given, this is one small step we can take to make it clear we really see what this organization is about.

The petition is located at:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legally-recognize-westboro-baptist-church-hate-group/DYf3pH2d

The White House petition reads:

“[Westboro’s] actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”

A Day of Thanks

In light of most of my rants and ravings there is relatively little time where I am not grateful for what which I have been blessed.  While there are many days where I consciously spend brain cycles recognizing how lucky I have been in my life, Thanksgiving provides a better time to share.  Whether read or understood by anyone else, writing these down and having the opportunity to see the words helps solidify and deepen the appreciation I should never lose sight of.

I am thankful for many things – some personal and some a bit broader:

1.  My wife – the most important person in my life.  She is my best friend and she has provided me guidance, advice and support for almost 32 years now – despite me often pushing back or trying to ignore it.  She has got to be one of the most caring and giving people I know and she has been an ongoing balance to much of the imbalance I’ve brought to the party.

2.  My kids – they were a lot of work (as all kids are – if you do it right) but they have both blossomed into great, capable and caring adults.  They are a source of both pride and ongoing discovery for me as they grow, learn and continue their journey thru adulthood and all that goes with it.

3. My life in general – I am extremely blessed for what I have.  Yes, I have worked for it but there are many that work hard and meet greater challenges and have less.  I want for little and don’t really have to think twice for anything I really need that I don’t have.  I am blessed that when the unexpected comes up I don’t have to make the hard choices that many do.  I can take care of my family as needed without much concern other than recognizing that I can’t fix everything. (sorry Erin…).

4.  My health – yes, I’m getting older and there are aches and pains that come with that and I have had to have a few parts fixed so they will continue to work as I get even older.  But I am healthy and my family is healthy.  How does it go – when you have your health… –  a saying that becomes more and more true if you look around and see what many deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Anything I have pales in comparison so my complaints don’t really count for much.

5.  It might sound strange but I am thankful for what lies ahead.  We have planned well and have been pretty balanced in how we have lived life so as I look out towards retirement (not that far away) I don’t feel panic.  We will be okay.  I have a life partner to share it with, we will be far from destitute and we will have time to discover new adventures for ourselves.

6.  I am thankful I have lived during a time where the change in this country has been dramatic.  Growing up and coming of age when things like civil rights and equality for women had their roots, experiencing the impact of the war in Vietnam as well as Woodstock, JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr.  – it has all been instrumental in helping shape who I am today.  It all helped my form a sense of conscience about we as people and how a society should be.  It helped establish a view that we need to be aware of others and that we, as a society, have an obligation and responsibility to take care of others who need help and support.  Not sure what happened to a lot of my peers but for me it is hard to ignore.  And we had the best music.

7.  I am thankful for this younger generation.  While it is important to realize that my generation reared many of them and that is why much of the attitude and perspective is there, how refreshing to see a generation of young adults who are less bigoted and biased.  There is a core of our society that truly doesn’t see people around them as less deserving or 2nd class because they are black, gay, a different religion, whatever.  It gives me hope (and some solace) that my son will be able to live a normal life and will be able to marry and live without constant discrimination because he is gay.

8.  I am thankful for this last election and the American public that made it clear it isn’t just about the economy and it isn’t just about the present at the expense of the future.   Because enough of us cared about others and not just ourselves, we will have at least four more years of progress in rights for women, rights for our LGBT community, forward progress on our environment and global warming, healthcare rights and reform, maybe some fairness in terms of tax reform, etc.  For those of us on the side that won, it was pretty much goodness and a break from having to worry about what progress we’ve seen being rolled backward.

9.  From a different perspective, I am thankful that the likes of Romney, Ryan, Rove, Trump, Santorum, McConnell – the names can go on and on – were unable to really hide who they really are – which are pretty much self-centered shit heads and assholes – to the extent that it became pretty obvious and helped move the election in the direction it went.  Taking nothing from Obama and the Democratic machine, the other side and their views of a “new” America, was so out of touch it became almost laughable if it hadn’t been so sad.

10.  Lastly, thankful I live in a country where I can say and write all the things I have in this blog and not have to worry I’ll be in jail or shot for it.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

It’s a New Day

Back from vacation – turned out to be a great week – almost 6 days in Las Vegas (Disneyworld for adults where real life only intrudes in small pieces) and an election that pretty much worked out as I had hoped.  I will admit there was a point a week or so before the election where I had I had my doubts as to whether we would bring back President Obama for another four years but as the election grew nearer I was pretty sure we would be okay.  I already expressed some of my initial feelings on election night – posted from my cell in our room right around the time Romney appeared to deliver his concession speech.  I was not awfully elegant nor was I gracious in the least but I’ve reached that point in my life where I realize that conciliatory is not necessarily better – something I hope the Democrats keep in mind as I expect the Republicans are far from looking to make things work going forward.

Not much I can add at this point re: the election results other than a couple of thoughts:

1.  The fact that it would seem the entire Republican Party, most importantly Romney, was totally taken off-guard when they didn’t win is pretty reflective of the lack of connection with reality Mitt would have brought to the Presidency.  While we all have a tendency to see things as we wish them to be, this takes it to a new height.  I think this is also reflective of the type of CEO Mitt probably was – surround yourself with only those who tell you what you want to hear.  Doesn’t make for a company (or a country) that can realistically deal with the real problems and solutions.  Only thing I wish is that I could have been in the room when the realization that they lost became clear.  There’s a sweet picture.

2. At some level, my faith in the people in our country is a renewed.  I was disheartened thru much of the election cycle by what appeared to be the same level of intellect and lemming-like mentality that re-elected Bush the 2nd to office twice.  To have an election that wasn’t really a close one was an uplifting experience.  Nice to see there are enough people out there not focused purely on economic considerations that the care and focus on people and social issues has not been lost.  No doubt we need to fix things from an economic side – but to do it with no consideration of other human costs is not a palatable strategy.  It’s not just the economy, stupid.

3.  I am most elated with the progress in the results of Gay Rights.  Aside from a plethora of elections of GLBT candidates to the Senate and House, the shift in state votes on gay marriage was monumental as same-sex marriage was legalized in three more states using ballot referendums and not legislation.  This was the people talking – this is the voting public.  Kudos to Maine, Maryland, and Washington who all voted to allow same-sex  couples the right to marry in their states as well as to Minnesota which became the first state to have voters reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  While opponents to gay rights have quickly put their spin on why and how, the tides continue to change and we continue our march towards a country where all citizens are recognized equally under the law – how disheartening is it that this is even a statement that can be made in 2012.  The future for my son is looking better and while I labor under no illusion that there remain many out there who would have him stay a second class citizen, they are slowly losing.  In reality, there will always be stupid and hateful people around but we can only hope (as I’ve offered on many ocassions) that they die off quickly as they are a dwindling breed.  They remain a bane on our society all while sucking out everything they can while giving nothing back.

4. Nice to see that the idiot men whom so eloquently gave us insight into their prehistoric views of women and how they are treated in regards to sex, rape and all that were so soundly defeated.  Nice to see that there are some things that no level of spin can help.  The larger stain here is that the Republican leadership was essentially absent in their condemnation – yes, there was the attempt to distance but not the outrage one would expect (at least one who actually believes that men and women are equals and that rape is never legitimate).

5. The lack of influence of the Tea Party this time around was refreshing.  I guess watching all these old and uneducated people who are taking Social Security and Medicare rant on about getting the Federal government out of their lives resulted in a moment of cognitive dissonance for many in our country.  Trying to have it both ways is somewhat disingenuous –  another thing that Romney seemed to forget about.

6. Additional kudos to the youth of our country for showing up again – despite all the dire predictions.  It is good to see they all recognize they have quite the vested interest in making their voices heard. I know both my kids were there without prodding – my daughter even stood for hours in line down in Washington DC.

7.  I remain somewhat embarrassed at the obvious bias and bigotry that remains with white voters.  To think that only 39% of white voters were with Obama is disturbing.  Sure, I’m sure that there are many whites who would position that it was about policy and platform differences but we all really know there is much more beyond that.   As a white male over 55 I am definitely out of step with the majority of my peers – and boy does that feel good.

8.  Last point – after watching Obama speak to the crowds after his re-election and most pointedly in his talk with his campaign staff, I again saw probably what I saw as one of the main reasons I voted for this man – it was obvious he was tired and worn out from the process but his emotional reaction was not scripted and we got a good glimpse into the type of person we just re-elected.  His level of emotion and his deep sense of caring was obvious.  He wasn’t and hasn’t been playing a part or emoting a position based on who he is speaking to.  This is a man who, at least in my view, truly cares about this country and it’s people.  Not just some of the people, not just those who can help him.

Boy, do I feel better.

Structurally Sound | It’s the randomness that keeps me going.

http://structurallysound.wordpress.com/

I don’t normally re-blog the writings of others but as always there are times where exceptions are called for. As parents of two great kids our feelings of pride are easily elicited. Then there are the times where one of them does something that drives it up even more. My daughter has the gift of words I will never approach but it becomes even more special when she writes of her childhood made more special thru her now adult eyes – and I get even prouder. This is her blog I’m attempting to re-blog made even harder as I attempt it over my cell phone. Thanks for sharing, Erin.

It’s not the demeanor, stupid!

Wonder how Ryan’s mom feels being one of the 47%?

It has been a while since my last post and to be perfectly honest I have pretty much tired of this presidential campaign as I can hardly bear to listen to Romney and Ryan as they manipulate and lie their way forward. I can only hear so much garbage and can only tolerate those who continue to not see anything problematic with the shifting sands in which their campaign run sits. However, after the last debate with Biden and Ryan, to hear the differing perspectives of who won, who was more professional and/or stately, whatever, it become entirely clear that the details really don’t matter to most. We have reached the point where it is less about what really is impactful and critical to our future and more about whether the candidate presented themself in a way that meets our expectations. To be honest, I would rather have someone who I feel is honest about who they are and how they feel. I find Biden’s dismissal of Ryan as basically a liar and a lightweight actually refreshing – not only because I agree but mostly because I know that is really how he feels. This positioning and guidance that Obama got for the first debate not to get angry and not to show his true feelings I believe did more harm than good. And in typical Republican style, Mitt took quite the advantage of it and has continued to pound his chest and throw off all that recently found testosterone – which was usually more reserved for Ann Romney.

It is time to really get angry and more aggressive in light of what lies ahead as potential consequences. To be at this point in the election and still be undecided speaks more to someone not really paying attention or someone who really has no stated values or philosophical stand on life. This is symptomatic of our arrival at being a society where People Magazine is the literary choice of most, the Kardashian family a focal point of many and how we look is less important than who we really are. Pretty sad but also something that explains the lack of real attention to detail.

I don’t think that everyone else needs to believe what I believe or feel strongly about those issues I find important. But you have to stand for something. You have to know what is important to you and what will make a difference.  To be undecided and to have your decision on who you vote for based on whether Joe Biden interrupted too much (was it only me who thought Romney did a bit more butting in) or snickered more than you thought was right, I find that mind-boggling. What really set me off was an item I saw right after the debate this past week. I actually read a twitter comment from someone who was part of a group our local paper (a bastion on inadequacy in its own right) that after watching how Biden comported (my word) himself in that debate, she was changing her vote.   Amazing – but not really a surprise given the “undecideds” still on the fence. If you are still undecided at this point I would submit you did not pass the litmus test of having enough intelligence to actually vote – or you have been in a cave for the past 11 years and didn’t see what had brought this country to its knees. But that is my concern – to think that Romney might win and it not be because people agree with his policies (what ever they are today) or what he will likely change is disheartening – it is because of some shallow, really unimportant factor like whether you like someone’s demeanor.  Look, I think Romney is a flaming asshole and is so far away from what it most people’s life experience that his ability to understand or relate is non-existent. But if I believed in his policies and his direction for America, his persona is of less importance. Sure we want likeable. But that won’t cut it. As I recall, the Bush the 2nd polls showed him as someone with whom you would want to have a beer – unfortunately that “likeability” can now be enjoyed by almost 7000 less American military people given the execution of his policies and his view of what was good for the US.

This time around, I see there are several key areas where you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a difference between the candidates. You don’t need to agree but recognize what you will get on each side. My list of what is important:
1. Equal Rights for our gay citizens – whether you want to recognize it as the same as the rights won by minorities over the past decades, gay rights and equal right to marriage and the perks that go with it will not move ahead in a Romney win.
2. Women’s reproductive rights and their ability to control their own destiny – I still remain in awe of the women that support Romney. His abortion and birth control agenda will move our country back 50 years.
3. Abortion – related to above but important enough to put as its own headliner. Still trying to overturn Roe v Wade 40 years later – persistent but not based on what the American people want.
4. Religious Freedom – or what is in reality the installation of religious intolerance of anyone who doesn’t believe as I do or doesn’t hold the same view of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I could give two shits about what you do and how you do it in your personal space – but don’t limit mine. I won’t tell you what to do beyond stay out of my life and how I live it.
5. The poor and the needy – as if they haven’t had it tough enough already. Sure there are those who suck off of the rest of us but let’s not ignore our responsibility to those who are really in need – not going to happen with Romney – once politics are aside, it is back to Republican tactics and focus on the rich getting richer.
6. Behind most everything – who sits on the Supreme Court – do we want another Scalia? Do we want more political leaning and furthering of a right leaning agenda? It is likely the next 4 years will bring us at least one appointment of a new justice – and the current tenuous balance will disappear with a Romney administration.

Sure the economy is important but it is and will continue to improve. Not my hot button since I will likely be okay no matter who is in the Whitehouse and probably better with the Republicans but that really doesn’t sit well – we aren’t great as a country because we only care about our own self-interest. Bringing back the policies of yesteryear and depending on trickle down economics flies in the face of reality. There is quite a bit of money sitting in corporate coffers (keep in mind that corporations are people too) and they are doing nothing to take care of the workers – middle class or not.  They are the rich and well-off – and they have been at the core of much of the pain of the middle-class.  Do we really think corporate behavior will change?  It will only to the extent that their profits are larger – and profits at the expense of everything else.

An uncanny resemblance – has anyone checked Ryan’s birth certificate? (A “Saved by the Bell” moment – who could forget Screech – no doubt one of the more annoying characters from kid’s TV)

 

Now, quick comment on the debate this week – townhall-style, questions I believe from the audience. If I could have my wish, I’d love to see a “Michael Dukakis” moment where Romney can’t hide behind his corporate and political persona. I’d ask him “what are you going to do and what is your first action when one of your sons announces he is gay?”.

Let’s really see what kind of person we have here.

Why is it always these religious assholes?

I strongly doubt that I am on the front edge of putting out there the recent news about a Maryland politician and local pastor, Emmett C. Burns Jr. and his letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens regarding statements made by one of the Raven players on support of gay rights but the news and particularly the supporting letter back to Burns from a teammate were so impactful I thought I’d re-post it in case anyone reading this blog missed it.  I apparently did (sometimes too busy to keep up with the news and not a strong sports news person) but as soon as my wife pointed this news item out to me, my immediate response was “need to get it out in my blog”.

Quick facts –  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage.  Burns shot off a letter on Maryland House of Delegate letterhead to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti seeking action against Ayanbadejo.  That letter follows.  An NFL teammate of Brendon,  Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s, then shot off a response to Burns – and it has to be one of the best letters/responses to an asshole of Burns caliber that I have ever read – I can only dream of writing so clearly and thoughtfully.  Not a whole lot more comment necessary on Chris Kluwe’s note – pretty much sure most thinking people would pretty much read it and go “f”ing A” – nice response.

So, first, Pastor Dimwit’s letter:

Credit: Yahoo Sports

This is even better given Burns is black and should be a bit more understanding of prejudice and equal rights – but then again, many of these small thinkers don’t take it that far – pretty much a view of “I’ve got mine – time to shit on others”.

Now the best part.  The reply from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.

Sincerely, Chris Kluwe

P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

So today, I’m going to begin a new award.  In the spirit of trying to be more positive than my usual negative intent, I want to actually recognize these two NFL players who have taken that step forward and taken us a little bit forward to progressive thinking on one hand (Brendon) and calling an asshole an asshole when deserved on the other (Chris).  In both cases a role model that is critical in moving this country forward.

Brendon – congrats on being the first recipient of the “Hero of the Day” award –

Brendon Ayanbadejo – Baltimore Ravens

We have a “twofer” today as I would also like to recognize Chris for his elegant and impactful response –

Chris Kluwe – Minnesota Vikings

Of course, given this attention and what would seem to be extra outrage back at the man, Pastor Burns has now done a quick turnaround and has made statements supporting Brendon Ayanbadejo’s right to state his opinion.  Of course that goes without saying (or should).  However, no apologies for recognition of his obvious step over the line.  In any case, here is an person whom deserves some extra attention.  And of course, it wouldn’t be me without doling out a “Head in the Butt” award when so obviously deserved.

So here you go Pastor Burns – no doubt Jesus would be proud –

Maryland politician and minister Emmett C. Burns Jr.

And thank you for re-affirming my decision to embrace atheism and for also showing that the Republican party doesn’t have all the miscreants.

Christie and A bit of Rick Perry

Do as I say, Not as I do…

Now, if he just moved over a bit to the left we could take Mitt entirely out of the picture!

In his speech Tuesday night at the RNC, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke to the lack of civility and cooperation in American politics. “We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America,” Christie said.  Of course, he immediately began the negative attacks on Obama and almost every other speaker followed suit.  Now, being realistic, we know that is what happens at these conventions – whether they be Republican or Democratic.  It is to be expected.  But there is something here that I see as a good deal of the problem with the Republican leadership today (and over the past three years).  Say one thing and do another.  Talk cooperation and then take a contrarian action.  Speak of embracing diversity and then pushing agendas and legislation that further divides.  Again, not saying it doesn’t happen on both sides of the aisle, it is just not so obvious on the other side.  I’d bet, say $10,000, that the likes of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can’t  actually put aside their own agenda’s set to make that happen.

Is there some way to give Texas back to Mexico?

The USA – in better times

Texas Gov. Rick Perry released a statement today about the Voter ID court ruling.

“Chalk up another victory for fraud,” he said. “Today, federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections. The Obama Administration’s claim that it’s a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense.

As my wife so aptly put it this morning as she read this in the paper (and I paraphrase) “he doesn’t get it – if we left it up to the will of the people, blacks would still be sitting in the back of the bus”.
I think we all saw the level of intelligence resident in Perry during his laughable run for the Republican nomination.  I expect the only reason he can run a state is because the state itself  is generally one that seems to be living in a different universe – kind of a world where logic never prevails and priorities are never for the good of the whole – wait a minute – maybe not – sounds a lot like the Republican Party platform.
Let’s take a look at Texas under Perry as Governor (with some help from Wikipedia)-
  • With Perry in the lead, Texas rose from second to first among states with the highest proportion of uninsured residents and had the lowest level of access to prenatal care in the U.S. Perry and the Republican-led state legislature have cut Medicaid spending and made it more difficult to enroll in the program, which now covers one-third of Texas children. The cost of caring for uninsured Texans has been borne by those with insurance, leading to substantial rises in insurance premiums and leading Texas to rank next-to-last among states in terms of affordability of health insurance. The Los Angeles Times wrote that under Perry, “working Texans increasingly have been priced out of private healthcare while the state’s safety net has withered.”
  • In 2010 Perry signed into law a bill requiring that a sonogram be performed prior to every abortion, and that the practitioner discuss the sonogram images with the patient except in limited cases where the patient may waive the explanation.
  • In 2011, Perry had an epiphany and now opposed all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. He did come back a little and said he would allow an exception for abortions that would save a mother’s life.
  • In February 2007, Perry issued an executive order requiring all girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine, a positive (in some aspect) step given the vaccine protects against some strains of the human papilloma virus, a contributing factor to some forms of cervical cancer.  Unfortunately, it did not seem that his decision was necessarily based on looking out for the welfare of his citizens.  Shortly after the edict, news outlets reported various apparent financial connections between Perry and the vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck and Merck’s PAC has contributed $28,500 since 2001 to Perry’s campaigns.  What a guy.
  • Perry supported the Texas 2005 ballot proposition which amended the Texas constitution by defining marriage as “only a union between a man and a woman” and prohibiting the state from creating or recognizing “any legal status identical or similar to marriage”.
  • In 2008 in his book On My Honor, Perry offered his view that there was a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism, writing that he is “no expert on the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate”, but that gays should simply choose abstinence. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he criticized the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
  • During his run for the 2012 Republican nomination for President, the Washington Post reported that Perry’s family leases a hunting camp once called “Niggerhead” (apologies – I even hate to write it).  According to local residents interviewed by the Post, the Perrys had used the camp for years before painting over a large rock with that name on it, which stands at an entrance to the area, and during this time Perry hosted many friends and supporters at the camp.  Perry’s campaign disputed the claims, stating that the Perrys painted over the rock almost immediately after acquiring a lease on the property in 1983.  Of course, being the broad-minded thinker he obviously is.
  • Perry again showed his open-minded when, in a presidential campaign video he stated “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but your kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas.”

Given this recent proclamation about Voter ID as well as Rick’s long-standing role as a big thinker leading to a better America, I have no other option other to award Rick the latest “Head in the Butt” Award.  Congratulations Rick – you can hang this one on your belt right above the concealed weapon you carry!

We have a 2-for-1 special today as I think it is only right to further recognize the great state of Texas which again shows continued evidence of excess, imbalance of the “haves and have-nots” given the news today of the opening of a new football stadium. Normally not news but this stadium cost a mere $60 million for a Texas High School stadium with free Wi-Fi, and a high-definition video screen.  It is a sunken design and “has a more intimate feeling than the old one” according to some locals.  While it would seem that the old stadium was in need of replacement, given the struggles in meeting educational and student needs across the country (and I would expect equally if not more so in Texas), this outright in your face move by the people of Allen, Texas deserves a bit of attention.  While probably more deserved by the city of Allen, given that this is not the largest stadium in Texas, as I’m feeling a bit magnanimous (being it is Friday and a long weekend), I also want to award the state of Texas their own “Head in the Butt” award.  Maybe they can hang it in one of the many corporate boxes in the new stadium!

I leave today with one more thought – especially given the level of rhetoric we are currently experiencing in our country with the great divides we see.  Our real challenge is focusing on what we are leaving those who follow us.  A little too much hate going around at the moment.  The quote is by Golda Meir and is specific to the Israeli/Arab relationship at the time but I think the sentiment (just take out “with the Arabs”) is one that can be applied universally –

We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us”- Golda Meir