The Fight For the Soul of America

For the past six years, Republicans have used every dirty trick in the book, and a few more, to hold this country hostage for its temerity in electing a black president – not just once – but twice.  They have stopped every bill proposed that might have alleviated the suffering of the 98% and done all they could to allow the 2% to continue to rule and rob this country.

The Republicans, driven by blind hatred of PRESIDENT Barack Obama, stopped every piece of legislation that might have benefitted the citizens of America.  Nothing mattered except causing harm to Obama. That they were destroying the country at the same time did not deter them.

Despite this and, at least, partially due to gerrymandering, Republicans have now taken control of both the House and Senate.  Already, Mitch McConnell is expressing frustration.  They have wasted no time in working to further cripple the country they are, ostensibly, supposed to be serving.  To their astonishment the Democrats, rather than slinking away, quietly, to skulk in a corner, have chosen to fight back.

McConnell

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. It is the Democrat’s turn to obstruct. There is, however, a crucial difference.  The Democrats are driven by the love of this country and its citizens. They will fight Republican legislation that will destroy it. They will do all they can to ensure that the Republicans never have enough of a majority to override a presidential veto.  They will stop the bills that will solidify the hold that the 2% has on the members of Congress and, thus, on our country.  They will fight legislation that will destroy the environment and cause more harm to Americans.

Reading articles that describe the machinations of the Republicans being thwarted by Democratic resilience, I could not help but be reminded of the speech by Shylock in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.”  With just a bit of adjustment that I hope doesn’t cause Shakespeare to roll over in his grave, his words still ring true.

 

To bait fish withal; If it will feed nothing else, it will feed our revenge.
They had disgraced us and hindered us half a million
Laughed at our losses, mocked at our gains,
Scorned our nation, Thwarted our bargains,
And what’s their reason?  We are Democrats, and we support President Obama!
Hath not a Democrat eyes?  Hath not a Democrat hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a Republican is?  If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?  If you poison us,
do we not die?  And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Democrat wrong a Republican, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Republican wrong a Democrat, what should his
sufferance be by Republican example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach us, we will execute,
and it shall go hard but we will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I, “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare – paraphrased)

 

It will be a difficult two years, but it is not hopeless.  With resolve and ingenuity, the Democrats can fight a Republican party that is intent on destroying what is left of this country.  They will do all they can to stop the Keystone XL pipeline because they know the death knell its passage will sound for the Ogallala aquifer which supplies water for millions of people and irrigation for many of the crops that feed this nation.  They will fight to ensure that women have the right to choose the best course of action when faced with a difficult and extremely personal decision.  They will do their best to maintain the social safety net that allows millions of impoverished Americans to barely survive because of rapacious Republican greed to give more and more to those who have everything.

For the next two years, Americans will witness ugliness and cruelty at its most base and evil.  It is evil to sell our environment for the profit of a few.  It is evil to force babies to be born when most will face unimaginable suffering.  It is evil to deny food to hungry people including millions of innocent children.

Hopefully, Americans will finally learn their lesson and turn to the Democrats who offer the only hope this country has for a sustainable future.  Tuesday, November 8, 2016 can’t come soon enough for this country.  Let’s hope that right will finally defeat might.


Posted in Democrats, Government, Patriotism, Republicans, The Future by with no comments yet.

The New Religion

Okay, people, I have it all figured out.  I read this article, and it gave me a great idea:

I’m going to start a new religion.  I think I’m going to call it the Temple of the True Believers or something like that.  There will be no specific, written doctrine, so anyone with any beliefs can join.  Then, I’m going to start ignoring the laws I don’t like because that is what my deeply held religious beliefs tell me to do.  There are so many possibilities, it is mind boggling.  In fact, this is the time to really apply my imagination.

smilingFaceThumbsUp PNG32

I have even gone through the trouble of selecting a religious symbol.  I picked it because it is a happy face that gives two thumbs up.  That means you have the approval of the Temple of the True Believers to do whatever your deeply held religious beliefs tell you to do.  In other words, if it makes you happy (one of the basic tenets of this new religion), do it.  There is no meanness in this new religion – hence the happy face.

I have also selected the first piece of music for the liturgy.  Make yourself HAPPY, and listen to it at least once a day.  It will do you good – physically and, I guess, spiritually since this is, after all, a religion.

Now to the meat of the matter. Here are just a few of my plans:

  • I am going to go into my friendly, neighborhood bank and demand a few hundred thousand dollars.  I am a socialist, and I don’t believe anyone should have that kind of money.  Since banks have a lot more than I do, I don’t believe that is right according to my deeply held religious belief in pure socialism.  I will take that money and help other people.
  • I will stop paying taxes.  I don’t approve of the job the government is doing, so why should I support it.  According to my deeply held religious beliefs, I feel it is my obligation to stop financially supporting a government I feel is corrupt, etc.
  • I will stop paying my bills (See #1.  Remember, I am a socialist.).

I can see that this ruling could end up being a really good thing.  After all, most of us have deeply held beliefs.  Now, all we have to do is call them religious, and we’re good to go.  I guess I have the Supreme Court of the United States to thank for all of this.


Posted in Philosophy/Ideas, Satire, Taboo 2 by with no comments yet.

The Real WMDs

I found the real WMDs, and they’re not in the Middle East.  They’re here – right under our noses.  Hopefully, they’re on their way out.  It isn’t difficult to predict that they will not go gently unto that good night.  So what are the WMDs?  They are White Male Dominators.

In the end, this is what the struggle in our country is all about.  Those who fondly remember the days when being white and male meant instant success don’t want to see their leg up take off.  They long for the days when even poor, male, white trash was better than “them.”  They enjoyed being able to abuse everyone else without fear of retaliation.  They liked being able to apply for jobs and colleges without the competition.  They were comfortable knowing they were not held accountable for the suffering of those who were not white and male because they were secure in the knowledge that the white male was superior.

Thankfully, for the rest of us, their days are numbered.  The writing is on the wall, but they refuse to read it.  They are doing everything in their power to maintain the status quo, but it’s becoming more difficult.  Every day, more people are stepping up to claim their portion of the American dream.  White Male Dominators (read Koch brothers, Adelson and their ilk) are doing their best to buy Congress and create laws that will keep them in control.

So what’s stopping them?  What’s the monkey wrench in the works?  I’ll tell you.  We are stopping them.  We are the monkey wrench in the works.  We, the people, those of us who have struggled to get where we are, are not willing to give back what we have fought and, often, died to attain over the last two centuries.

When our founding fathers (What happened to the mothers?) wrote, “All men are created equal,” they meant all white, male property owners.  Women, people of color and those who are different in any way had to struggle to get ourselves included.  We have made progress, but the fight is far from over.  In many ways, the real work is just beginning.

If you are not sure you are on the right side of history, ask yourself this question.  Do you believe it is important that all people are treated well. If so, then you are thinking of others.  That is the litmus test.  If, however, you believe you deserve more than other people, irrespective of the reason, your time is coming to an end.

If you want to work for universal equality, there is something you can do.  Social media and the Internet have given us a way of finding each other and working together to bring all people into a future that will be bright if we all have the opportunity to share in its rewards.  Vote for the people who have your best interests at heart.  Keep up the pressure.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let up.  Work together to achieve equality.  Don’t let them divide and conquer.  We will prevail.  If we don’t, it is unlikely democracy will survive.


Posted in Bigotry, Economic Inequality, Hate/Violence, Humanity, Philosophy/Ideas, Social Media, Struggles/Protests, The Future by with no comments yet.

Dear Mr. Cliven Bundy:

You have taught me a valuable lesson and, for that, I thank you.  Although I suspected it, you have driven home the fact that prejudice is learned – passed on from generation to generation.

You betrayed your profound ignorance with your comments about believing that part of the problems of black poverty can be traced to their failing to learn to pick cotton.  Mr. Bundy, I know this will come as a surprise to you, but people haven’t picked cotton for more than 50 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_picker).  In fact, there have been several models of mechanical cotton picking machines available to farmers for decades.
Cliven Bundy
What you revealed is that your brand of racial bigotry goes back at least 60-70 years when people, primarily blacks, did pick cotton. It is obvious that you are caught in a time warp. Blacks are no longer property. They don’t work the cotton fields, and they don’t sing because they’re happy to be slaves. They now have the opportunity to seek the same kind of success you enjoy, and they have been struggling against your kind of prejudice every step of the way.

While I realize that many who once supported you have abandoned you because of the comments about black people, I wish to express something other than anger and indignation.  To be sure, racial prejudice is a bad thing.  I am not advocating on your behalf for your feelings and beliefs.  What I am doing is offering my hand as welcome in case you would like to join the human race – those who have grown beyond the petty prejudices of yesterday.

You might ask why, so I will tell you.  We are all the same – interchangeable in many ways. If you believe in God, then I ask you to think about it this way. If God designed our bodies, then do you think God is stupid? I bet not. If He did not intend for the “races” to mix, he could have made it impossible with a stroke of the genetic pen. He could have designed us so we could not create children. However, He did not do that. He wanted us to create children of many colors, so He designed us in a way that allowed that. To believe that blacks are somehow deficient is to fail to appreciate God’s design.

If you truly believe that federal programs cause many of these problems, I can’t disagree. They need to change, but blaming people for the failures of the government is counterproductive. Work to change the programs and improve them. Of course, you have a problem because you do not recognize the existence of the federal government. I find that fascinating because you are the beneficiary of so many of its programs and services.

Consider this. We do better together.  We are stronger together.  You disavow the existence of the United States of America without realizing you acknowledge its existence every day. If you use electricity from the grid or interstate highways, etc., you use the resources made available to you by the government of the United States. The freedom you treasure is made possible by the military that protects you, the people you care about and, even, your cattle. Why is it that you are reluctant to pay your share of the cost of creating this powerful infrastructure? Do you realize that your fellow ranchers pay their share? You take advantage of them when you refuse to participate. Do you also realize that if you were to graze your cattle on Nevada land, the charge would be considerably higher? Can you not understand that you have no right to treat your neighbors so unfairly?

If we are to move forward together, we must learn to forgive each other for our imperfections. Thus, I am forgiving you and hope you will forgive those I, most certainly, have. Find the courage to change. Consider the feelings of other people – all of them. They matter as much as you do, and they deserve your consideration. Think about all those you hurt when you do not participate in the process as opposed to trying to destroy it by refusing to acknowledge its existence. We all have a voice in the way this country moves forward. By all means, express your opinion, but respect the opinions of your neighbors – including me.

I don’t want to shun and condemn you. You can’t help the way your were raised, but you can help the way you feel now. It doesn’t seem to me that anger is going to make you feel tolerant and compassionate, but friendship might.

Sincerely,

RLH


Posted in Bigotry, Dear..., Hate/Violence, Patriotism by with no comments yet.

A Car Tale

They call me “The Clunker,” I’m not much to see
I sit here alone every day
It makes me so sad to know what they think
And I wonder how long I can stay

I’m quite an old car, with things that don’t work
And it hurts, for I used to have pride
Now I’m ashamed of the dents and the rips
And no one takes me for a ride

I spent my life working, accepted my fate
I worked hard, did my job, lived my life
And now I’m forgotten, as I sit here and rust
It’s a pain that can cut like a knife

I was here when they needed me; I was loyal and strong
I didn’t let them down, that is true
I know they don’t see that I still have a dream
But I don’t know what else I can do

How can I get them to fix up the scars,
And restore all the gleam and the shine
To mend all the bumps and replace what was lost
And restore all the strength that was mine.

My heart is still here, and I am still strong
Don’t judge me by what you can see
Beneath all the pain is the car that I was
Under it all I’m still me

If you could just help and fix all the things
That have broken with service and time
I know I could be the car that I was
If you can, well, just give me a sign

I’m ready to work and ready to drive
And ready to get out and be
The best in the world, just give me a chance
To be happy and proud to be me.

I’m tired of hurting and being alone,
“The Clunker” would much rather thank
The people who fix me and help me to be
The car that is known as “The Tank!”

IMG_0092.JPG
I have nothing to do with my time but sit here and think and… write poetry. I was born in 1963 in Miami, Florida.  I wasn’t really a fancy car, that is true, but I was big and strong.  I was bought by a family with two young children.  I took care of them for many years.  Then, when the young man was in college, his parents gave me to him.  So, I have been with William since I was born.

William was always very nice to me.  He was happy with me because I did not cost him a lot of money.  In all of the years he drove me, he only rebuilt my engine twice.  I believe I have almost half a million miles on me, but the odometer has been broken so long, I can’t be sure any more.

Then, in 1996, he decided he needed a new car.  I didn’t have any air conditioning, and he wanted to keep cool.  What could I do?  So, I retired.  He took care of me and drove me once in awhile but, eventually, he forgot about me.  I just became a thing he didn’t want to part with because he had been with me from the beginning.

Now, I want to be beautiful again.

Please don’t bury this old wreck
Just because I’ve gone to heck

Very Sincerely and Hopefully
“The Tank”


Posted in Humor, My Creative Writing by with no comments yet.

The Ethics of Ethics

I have contemplated the question, “Why should we be ethical?” It bothered me. Would you ask, “Why should we breathe?” No. So, what should the question be? To be truthful, I am not sure.

Anne Frank believed that all people were good at heart. That has also always bothered me. Was she wrong? Could she be right?

I know that when I first became a mother, I read books and articles about how to parent. Some experts suggested leaving an infant to cry, in the crib, so the child learn to terrorize parents at bedtime. I couldn’t do that. To me, the lesson learned at that incredibly young age was that you were, ultimately, alone. That was not the lesson I wished to teach. In the end, my husband and I raised our children the way we had been raised because we had both enjoyed our childhood.
dalai_2014boxcomp.indd
I grew up feeling safe with my family. My family behaved in an ethical manner. They were honest and compassionate. That’s how I was raised. To behave differently would make me horribly uncomfortable- like wearing my pants backwards. They actually did what a lot of child experts claim you shouldn’t do… it was a child-centered home. It was clear that my parents’ goal was to give us the best they could. They gave us the gift of themselves and, in doing so, gave us the gift of ourselves.

I believe that it is in our nature to be trusting, loving, and ethical. We are taught to be different. When our parents and the world betray us, we learn to take care of ourselves. The essence of ethical behavior and decisions is that the behavior and decisions are based on what is right as opposed to what suits us. If we are safe within ourselves and feel loved, then ethical behavior is not an issue. It is just a natural part of life.

I am 60 years old. I now know that behaving in this way can be very costly because the world does not reward ethical behavior. In fact, it often punishes the honest. It certainly appears to reward the dishonest. So, why continue to be ethical?
Actually, it is because I am terribly selfish and self serving. I like being loved. I like being respected. I revel in the adoration of my husband. I glow when he looks at me with love and trust and passion after almost 40 years of marriage. I feel good when my children trust me and turn to me for guidance. I couldn’t bear to see that change.

The problem is, how can you get people to understand that those gifts are worth far more than anything you can acquire by unethical behavior? The answer is, you probably can’t. The decision, ultimately, has to be made by the individual. In my case, it was easy because I was raised in an atmosphere of trust and love. For those who were not, it is very difficult.

I have tried to help people in my life. I have discovered that it is an uphill battle because they can’t feel my love and hope for them. No matter how much I love, no matter how much I give, if they can’t feel it, it is of limited value. But I keep trying. Why?

It is because I want the world to be right some day. My private world is still full of love and trust, so I feel safe. If I want the world to be that way for everybody some day, I have to serve that cause by trying to help people and make the world a better place.

In the end, we are best served by behaving ethically. If I find money today and return it to the rightful owner, I have a better chance of having what I lose returned to me some day. No, it won’t happen in my lifetime. I will return the item and, probably, lose mine but, when I die, I will not be ashamed of myself.

And I guess that’s the real question. What is worth living for? I have dedicated my life to the one instant that I believe all of us eventually face. I think it is possible that there is a moment when we know that we are about to die. There are no more appointments to keep or excuses to make. There is no tomorrow to make things right. It is that moment for which I live. I want to be able to face it without fear and shame. I want my soul to be as clean as it can be. It is the only thing that is truly mine and the only gift I have to give.


Posted in Philosophy/Ideas by with no comments yet.

Ronald Reagan’s Most Important Legacy

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon a “full, free and absolute” pardon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, and the future of the United States was forever changed.  It signaled the beginning of a new relationship between the country and its citizens.  It is difficult to imagine it could have been any worse if the country had endured a trial that would have been contentious.  It is easy to believe it could have been better than the inherent distrust now felt by many citizens.

A little over six years later, Ronald Reagan solidified the antagonistic feelings experienced by many Americans.  In his first inaugural address, delivered on January 20, 1981 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=43130), he galvanized the nameless distaste so many citizens had been feeling when he stated, “… government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

While this country was founded with a strong thread of disagreement imbedded in the nature of its citizens, it was so necessary that we should be united, our founding fathers included that word in our name.  We were not founded as the “Group of States of America.”  No.  We were established as the “United States of America.”

Ronald ReaganSome may disagree, but a brief look at the quotations of other presidents reveals that no other has so many pronouncements attributed to him that speak negatively about the institution and the public servants who carry on the business of the country he promised to lead.  In the more than three decades since he took office, his policies of deregulation and taxation have brought this once powerful country to the brink of destruction.

Taking his election to a second term as a signal he should continue his assault, he noted his commitment to the same destructive principles in his second inaugural address delivered on January 21, 1985 (http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres62.html).  He observed, “We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people’s lives.”  Again, the federal government was cast as the “bad guy,” and Reagan was unrelenting as he continued to eat away at our respect for the government we had created.

Here are just a few of the statements attributed to him.  Some of the quotations may vary from source to source, but the sentiments are clear:

The Bureaucracy

  • Unless bureaucracy is constantly resisted, it breaks down representative government and overwhelms democracy.
  • The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world.
  • Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

Government Funding

  • The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.
  • Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.
  • And I have to point out that government doesn’t tax to get the money it needs, government always needs the money it gets.

Government Power

  • Government is never more dangerous than when our desire to have it help us blinds us to its great power to harm us.
  • There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.
  • The federal government has taken too much tax money from the people, too much authority from the states, and too much liberty with the Constitution.
  • Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
  • Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself. … [I] hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.
  • I’m convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority.
  • Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.
  • Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.
  • Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
  • No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!
  • Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.
  • Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
  • The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.
  • Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.
  • The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
  • The best view of big government is in the rear view mirror as we leave it behind.

He ended his presidency the same way he had begun it.  In his farewell speech of January 11, 1989 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29650), he reiterated his distaste of the government when he said, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  Now, it seems, we cannot free ourselves from his terrible legacy.

SOURCES

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

http://appalachianconservative.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/ronald-reagan-quotes-on-government-and-liberty

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22The+best+view+of+big+government+is+in+the+rearview+mirror+as+we+leave+it+behind.%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

INTERESTING LINKS

http://www.examiner.com/article/8-reasons-why-ronald-reagan-was-the-worst-president-of-our-lifetime

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/29/ronald_reagans_shameful_legacy_violence_the_homeless_mental_illness/

Last Edited:  2015-02-18


Posted in Federal, Government, Patriotism, Presidents by with no comments yet.

Politics

Politics has nothing to do with morality,… but it should.


Posted in Taboo 2 by with no comments yet.

Social Media and Civil Discourse

Once upon a time, not so long ago, people disagreed but still treated each other with respect and dignity.  They participated in passionate discussions about a variety of topics and thought nothing of calling those they disagreed with vehemently family and friend.  It’s hard to believe, but they exchanged conflicting ideas without becoming vulgar or belligerent. This no longer seems possible.  I believe the Internet and, especially, social media have helped facilitate this change, but it is not clear if it is the cause.

During my relatively brief time being politically active on the Internet, primarily through Facebook, I have been stunned to discover that vulgarity is something some people have no problem using when putting people down.  If I had been told I would encounter incredible rudeness, ugliness, childishness, ignorance, cruelty, hatred and intense bigotry while sharing my opinions, I would not have believed it.  A few short months expressing my disagreement with those who hold dissimilar political beliefs have proven otherwise.  I cannot recall ever being talked to, in person, the way I have been “talked” to on Facebook.  Is it the relative anonymity, or has the world become more violently confrontational?  Sad to say, I think the world has changed and not for the better.

Once an individual has been identified as a target, no attempt at diplomacy will be accepted.  Instead of responding to a post or observation in a civil fashion supported by facts where appropriate, the statement is frequently ignored.  Responses are often in the form of attacks with viscous name-calling and even more vitriolic and threatening language.  Is this what the world is coming to?

Regardless of which place on the political spectrum a person falls, it should be obvious there is some truth to this assertion.  While most of the rage and bitterness seem to come from the far right, there are many on the far left who are just as horrifying.

Specific Examples

These are just a few of the examples of the kinds of exchanges I have had with some people.  What amazes me is that they don’t seem to mind having their names associated with the language they use.  Some make threats that must come to the attention of local, state and federal authorities.  If someone ever looked at their Facebook communications, it would forever change the way they were seen by the brick-and-mortar world.  However, nothing seems to deter them.

Conversations - Rude

The sad truth is, unless we learn to communicate with each other in a more reasonable way, we are doomed.  We will descend into a special hell buried beneath the fanatical screams of those with mouths and no ears.  Those on the extreme ends of a topic will attack each other with emotional weapons of mass destruction, and the rest of us will be crushed by their unwillingness to embrace the human in all of us – even our most bitter adversaries.


Posted in Humanity, Philosophy/Ideas, Social Issues, Social Media by with no comments yet.
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