Archives For Politics

It Is Never About Race….

November 1, 2014

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In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”…

State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement late Thursday calling Landrieu’s remarks “insulting to me and to every other Louisianian.”

“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” he said. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.”

Being that we are three days away from our two year congressional elections I am going to forego by picture post today for more politics. Anyone who says that part of our political partisanship is not motivated by race is in my mind the most naive person on earth. Of course race bigotry is still very much present in our country in the north, east, west and particularly in the south. I am old enough to remember when the south changed wholesale from the Democratic party to the Republican party totally due to race. When a Democratic president (LBJ) started pushing civil right as one of his highest priorities a very large portion of the southern States population made the shift. It was all about race. To somehow believe that all racial bias somehow evaporated since those years is utopian dreaming.

I admire Mary Landrieu for blurting out the truth even though she probably didn’t intend to do that. It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out that some hate our president primarily because of the color of his skin. Now, I am not saying that all people of the South are racial bigots or even a majority but I am saying that it is still present especially in the older pre-Civil Rights southern population. Racism is not an in-born thing so I’m sure some of it was passed down to later generations.

I personally saw racism at its worst when I used to visit Senator Landrieu’s State on business during my corporate life. I was totally embarrassed to see how blatant it was back then and am thankful that it is at least moved under the radar now. That is definite progress but I know it hasn’t miraculously disappeared for the entire southern landscape.

If you want to see change in our political system then you must do two things. Get out to vote next Tuesday and to vote the “In” “out”.  That seems to be the only message they will not be able to twist into some political spin. If you are really disgusted with the politics of today you can change it wholesale with your vote on Tuesday. Now I realize that my reader base is small especially compared to all those radical pundits but that doesn’t mean that my reader can’t do their part to affect changes needed in our great country…

2014-10-19_08-26-11The instant the Ebola crisis hit American shores, the inevitable happened. The GOP blamed President Obama for it. First, it was the lame brained borderline racist charge that Obama either deliberately or through sheer incompetence did nothing to seal the borders to keep the virus at bay. The only slightly more intelligible attack was that Obama did nothing to command the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take panic measures to insure no incidence of the disease would turn up in the country. Then the GOP campaign strategists stepped in and had some of its top candidates suddenly parroting the kooky line that Obama was to blame for a supposedly porous and negligent CDC and border security lapse. Obama’s appointment of an “Ebola Czar” provided even more grist for the GOP hit mill on Obama. It was variously blown off as too little, too late or ridiculed as a desperate appointment of a supposedly medically unqualified political crony.

This is political gamesmanship of the lowest order, playing on media and public fears over a legitimate and terrifying health crisis, to again belittle Obama. And with the stakes sky high in the 2014 midterm elections, the dirty political pool by the GOP was totally predictable.

But the twist in the Ebola saga is that the dirty hit job has backfired. The attack opened the GOP wide open to media and public scrutiny of the galling fact that the GOP has systematically whittled away vital funding for dozens of health programs since 2010. The CDC, much the whipping agency for the supposed Obama health dereliction, was stripped of nearly $600 million; millions that could have gone to ramp up monitoring, screening, and education programs, as well as research on vaccines to deal with infectious and communicable diseases. The names of the more than two dozen Republicans who poleaxed the CDC budget have been published. And to no surprise the bulk of them are either directly affiliated with or have been in part bankrolled by tea party factions.

SOURCE: Republican’s Blame Ebola on Obama Ploy Backfires | Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

I know I vowed to stay away from politics at least for the most part but this latest fiasco from the GOP is just too “down in the gutter filthy” to ignore. I hope all of you who are not totally engrained in the Tea Party schemes will click on the source to see the article in its entirety.  We got to do what we can to send a message to these yahoos that this stuff will not be tolerated…..  enough said

Please Run Ted…….

August 27, 2014

2014-08-08_08-34-15To all appearances, Cruz is riding his fight with the Republican establishment into the 2016 race for President. He has established himself as the hardest of the hard-liners on Obamacare and on immigration. His likely rivals Marco Rubio and Rand Paul agree with Cruz on the health-care law though neither invested as much as Cruz in the fight; on immigration, Rubio joined with McCain in the Gang of Eight, and Rand Paul has at least hinted at a softer line on the issue.

SOURCE:  Ted Cruz, Immigration, and the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

It would be a dream come true if Mr. Cruz did get the 2016 presidential Republican nomination.  Yes, I know he is the darling child of perhaps 20% of the population but to the other 80% including some Republicans he is toxic. He is an extreme narcissist who deems himself the savior of the world. Kind of like Goldwater did in my early voting days. His ego seems to have no bounds.

If by some fluke he managed to kidnap the Republican nomination for president that would without any doubt secure the demise of the Republican party and therefore open up our country to just maybe a more sane political system. Yeah, the same thing would result if we managed to get rid of the Democrats but they seem just too disorganized to make that happen.

Ted Cruz is a primary example of what is wrong with this country today. Too many people, me probably included, think they know more than they do. They think they are perfect and have all the answers.

I will leave here with a short quote from a recently reacquired hero Alfred E. Neuman. I couldn’t possibly say it better….

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What’s at stake, after all, is citizens’ representation in Congress. Partisan gerrymandering undermines the whole notion of a representative government. For proof, just look toward the lopsided seat distribution in the current Congress.

SOURCE:  What 60 years of political gerrymandering looks like – The Washington Post.

I don’t know if gerrymandering was a foregone conclusion when our democracy was formed. Everyone wants to take advantage of all possible means in order to win. I can imagine that in the 1950s someone with a pile of voting records and a map tried to figure out how to gain an advantage. Because the chore was almost overwhelming using the existing tools not much was able to be accomplished.

Fast forward to the computer age and gerrymandering has become an art form. Computer models are able to track almost every vote by location and draw thousands of different maps to take advantage of every single vote. Thus we see voting districts morph into what is shown above.  One of the secrets to being able to accomplish this jigsaw task is that one political party must have the power to accomplish this re-districting after it is configured and to maintain that status over a number of years.

The American obsession of winning at all costs almost dictates that these sort of things happen. To the winner goes the spoils and the spoils in our political processes amount to trillions of dollars. I have a dream that some year, probably in the very distant future, saner minds will finally prevail in this and so many other areas. When we can finally concentrate the common good and get away from the extreme partisanship of today then we might be able to accomplish things that benefit us all instead of a small segment of our society. I have a dream but unfortunately that is probably all it will ever be.

2014-05-01_08-26-30Today is the primary election day in my State. I write my posts usually well in advance of them being published but I can assuredly say that I have voted already. Those of you who know me at all know that I am a self-proclaimed “bleeding heart liberal”. I am a big believer in social and economic justice issues. They are a very strong part of how I vote in each election.

Having said this it seems obvious that I generally vote the Democratic ticket in most elections so how come I voted in the Republican primary today instead of the Democrat?? I believe I can give you a very nuanced answer to that question. First of all I am in a State that allows you to declare your party at the polls. Sometimes I vote Democrat sometimes Republican but it seems for the last several years it is Republican. The primary reason for that is to try to eliminate the extreme candidates as early on in the election process as possible so that I might have a “real” choice come the November general election.

Maybe I shouldn’t be letting this secret out. Indiana is a very red State and one that has been doing everything legally possible lately to restrict the vote.  My mother, rest her soul, was not able to vote in the her last election because she did not have a valid driver’s license. I’m sure I am not the only one with this primary election strategy and if my Republican friends find out how I help them get rid of the wing nuts in their party they will likely try to prevent me from doing that in the future.

I don’t know if the State Senator candidate who has been sending me the weekly mailings of how he will do everything he can to eliminate Obamacare and protect my gun rights at any cost realize that I now know to vote for his opponent, whoever he is. I can pretty safely use the pronoun “he” as there are not many women at any level in the GOP in my State.

I can also rest assured that I was able to get in and out of the poll place pretty quickly since, as usual,  on one in five or so will join me at the polls today. If only people realized the power that they hold over their daily lives with their vote!

 

Sitting Pretty….

May 1, 2014

Corporation“This country is a thousand times bigger than any two men in it, or any two parties in it. These big politicians are so serious about themselves and their parties. This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super-nation. If by some divine act of Providence we could get rid of both parties and hired some good men, like any other big business does, why we would be sitting pretty.” – Will Rogers, 1 November 1932

Many of us tend to think that all this putrid politics is a recent thing But Will’s quote above from 80 plus years ago shows us that is simply not the case.  Our political system has stunk for years but our country continues for the most part to thrive in spite of it. At least it thrives for some of us.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that Corporations have pretty much the same rights a people maybe we should re-think how our country is governed? Is it time that we incorporated the country? That way we could hire and fire people when we want to. Most of my Republican friends seem to think that corporations are the real leaders in this country anyway so they should be on board.  Not on the board but on board with this idea ;) .

Forget giving all the folks in those very red and very sparsely population prairie States who have much more voting power than the rest of us. In the new USA Inc. we could all be equal stockholders.  States would disappear replaced by maybe some subsidiaries but still under control of the same CEO and board. If corporations are what makes this country great then why not go all the way and make the country a corporation?

OK, enough of this silliness but we do kind of have to do something about all this gutter politics of the last hundred years or so…. sooner rather than later I hope.

Legislatures are like animals in a zoo. You can’t do anything about ‘em’. All you can do is to stand and watch ‘em’

About being a U.S. Senator, the only thing the law says you have to be is 30 years old. Not another single requirement. They just figure that a man that old got nobody to blame but himself is he gets caught there

— Will Rogers —

Politics and Karma…

January 24, 2014

Part of the reason conservatives have historically opposed the growth of the welfare state is the belief that it grants people a sort of karmic exemption, allowing those who are lazy or irresponsible to draw resources from those who are more industrious (see Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment). Hence conservatives agree that the world would be a better place if we “let unsuccessful people fail.” That also includes unsuccessful countries (like Greece) and companies (like GM).

Liberals, by contrast, would prefer to live in a world governed by compassion. They are more likely to give people second and third chances.  For example, they are more likely to endorse this statement: “It is generally better to show mercy than to take revenge.”

The law of karma is not real. In free-market societies, hard work does pay off much better than laziness, yet cancer, unemployment, and other forms of bad luck can strike anyone. And cheaters, exploiters, and law-breakers do often prosper…

SOURCE: Your Politics and Your Personality: Take the Quiz | TIME.com.

I can see some truth to the thoughts above but I think the article paints with too broad a stroke?  It basically says conservatives align with karma and Liberals with compassion. That may be generally true but other factors certainly come into play in how we react so differently under the same conditions. I think fear is an even more dominant emotion in discerning this difference.

But the purpose of this post is to talk a little about the idea of karma.  Karma is actually believed to originate in India and is an integral part of Buddhism and Hinduism beliefs but generally the phrase has a different meaning in its western interpretation. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

Karma — The  Western interpretation

Many Western cultures have notions similar to karma, as demonstrated in the phrase what goes around comes around. Christian expressions similar to karma include reap what one sows (Galatians 6:7), violence begets violence and live by the sword, die by the sword.In Hinduism, God plays a role and is seen as a dispenser of its version of karma. The non-interventionist view is that of Jainism and Buddhism, the latter originally a non-theist religion. Generally, Western popular culture portrays karma as more of a supranatural mystical force than a perspective on causality. This is more similar to Hinduism’s concept of karma than Buddhism’s.

To state it as simply as possible I don’t put much credence in the idea of karma.  I don’t think there is some supranatural mystical force that I have little or no control over that drives me to be what I am. We are not destined to be a certain thing.  The other aspect of karma is living with the consequences of your actions. Of course we must live the with consequences but that does not mean that one mistake at some point in our lives should doom us to an eternity of grief and inhumanity.

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Poverty is systemic and government must have a role in reducing it. This is not an ideological assertion but a basic truth given the size of the problem and the complexity of modern society. The Census Bureau reports that government safety net programs cut the poverty rate last year by nearly half. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, kept 4 million people out of poverty, and most of that support went to families with children and a wage-earner with a job that didn’t pay enough to fully feed their families. Without a safety net, the poverty rate would have been 29 percent in 2012, according to an analysis of the Census report by USA Today. Government benefits protected 41 million people, including 9 million children, from poverty.

Conservatives need to stop saying that government programs don’t reduce poverty, because the facts demonstrate that is just not true. Referring to safety nets as “hammocks” simply betrays a lack of knowledge of, or relationship with, people who are struggling and need help. Government is not always the enemy, but often a valuable partner.

Yet, liberals cannot imply that government alone is enough, or that the safety net is capable of completely lifting people out of poverty. After all, the whole idea of the safety net is that it catches you after a fall. There are vital programs that protect people from poverty during hard times and keep many people from falling into further impoverishment, but they do not eliminate the root causes. The problems of family breakdown in our society need to be taken seriously and the cultural pathologies poverty creates require a response. Both social and personal responsibility are needed to end poverty. Economic opportunity must be actually available to everyone, especially lower-income people and families. This is a basic premise and goal that should be the starting point of the conversation between liberals and conservatives.

SOURCE: Want to Win the War on Poverty? For the Sake of the Most Vulnerable, Let’s Work Together – Jim Wallis | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

I just received another moving email from my friends over at Sojourners. Above is part of that message.  As usual in our political system the truth lies somewhere between the two-party extremes of wanting to eliminate all help for citizens struggling and trying to fix all the problems with government programs.

There is a medium point between blaming those who have for one reason or another gotten themselves into trouble and those who think their problems can be totally fixed with government resources without doing something to address the underlying problems, and corresponding lack of responsibility, which caused the distress.  As mentioned above BOTH social and personal responsibilities are needed to end poverty. You can’t do it with only one of these solutions.

I can only dream that someday those yahoos in Washington can put aside their petty bickering and come to an agreement on this very powerful problem.