Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Dawn of the Trump Era

I have neglected this blog for quite some time. Instead turning inwards to reflect on our state of affairs and to spend valuable time with our growing family. We welcomed our fourth grandchild into the world last Friday. As I try to imagine the world these little beauties will inherit from us, I am compelled once again to do my small part, through actions and constructive criticism, by attempting to influence those in government making decisions about our collective future.

Ideas about how to proceed don't arrive fully formed. I'm not always sure about how or when to act and where I should prioritize my time and efforts.You can help with your feedback and insight. Let me know when I'm off track. Share your stories and send me links which you feel are pertinent to the subject at hand.

My interests are many and varied. This blog will focus mainly on politics. I have been deeply distressed in the wake of the recent US Presidential election and intend to do all in my limited power to expose the many contradictions, half-truths and outright lies of Donald Trump and his band of kleptocrats. 

The latest atrocity of note is the House seeking to remove ethical oversight of themselves by dissolving the Office of Congressional Ethics. Thankfully, a day after secretly voting for this in a strictly partisan vote, the GOP have come to their senses and reversed themselves. While the final outcome is looking more hopeful, the fact that this was proceeding for even a moment is deeply concerning. If ever we needed government ethics oversight, it's now in the dawning of the Trump era.  

Sunday, February 08, 2015

National Prayer Breakfast speech prompts ugly GOP responses

Republican commentators and elected officials alike have a tendency to manufacture outrage in response to routine presidential comments, appearances and activities. Case in point, comments made by President Obama at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia characterized the President’s remarks as “preaching political correctness and excuses” and showing “deference” to ISIL. Apparently reciting historical facts is considered by Westmoreland to be “criticism of Christian and American history”. There are no words in this speech, or any other for that matter, which could be construed as the President expressing respect or esteem for ISIS/ISIL. It does make one wonder what the hell Rep. Westmoreland is talking about and why he is so upset.

These are the actual words spoken by the President with respect to atrocities committed in the name of religion:

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."

Recounting historical fact is not and should not be construed as political correctness, excuse-making or criticism of Christianity. We’re all well aware that ISIS has recently committed horrendous, indefensible acts in the name of Islam. We all grapple with the contradictions of killing and torture in the name of God. Recent images and videos are disturbing. There haven’t always been documentarians able to share these stories in real time, but they have always happened. Throughout the course of human history human beings of all faiths have killed, tortured and abused others while claiming a divine rationale.

Predictably the “weak leadership” meme crept into Westmoreland’s diatribe. It is ironic that this president continues to lead extremely aggressive actions against ISIS and radical Islam, without excuses and without tolerance, for their profession of acting in the name of Islam.

There is no alternate reading of history at work here. The president is not condemning or persecuting Christians with his comments. This knee-jerk outrage response has become far too common. Rep. Westmoreland has no real point. He’s just a sore loser with no ideas of his own, and like many in a position of weakness on the wrong side of history he’s lashing out at the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

Georgia deserves representation with integrity and decency. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland continues to come up short on both counts. Sadly he’s not alone in his unfounded attacks on the President. The only outrage here is that Westmoreland was sent back to Congress, virtually unopposed in the last election. Surely we can do better.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Countries with Socialized Healthcare. Are they or were they Socialist?

A list of countries with socialized healthcare systems that are not socialist states, because some people can't tell the difference between socialized and socialist.

                                                                                                                      Socialist by             
Country                                               Type of Government                     Declaration or                                                     
                                                                                                                      Constitution       Formerly

New Zealand         Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy              No                     
United Kingdom   Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy              No                     
Sweden                 Unitary Parliamentary Representative Monarchy             No
Iceland                   Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic               No
Norway                   Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy             No
Denmark                Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy             No
Finland                   Parliamentary Republic                                                     No
Japan                      Unitary Parliamentary Democracy                                   No
Canada                   Federal Parliamentary Democracy                                   No
Australia                Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy            No
Italy                         Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic              No
Portugal                  Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic       No                     Yes 
Greece                    Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic              No
Spain                      Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy             No
South Korea          Unitary Presidential Constitutional Republic                   No
Taiwan                    Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic        No   
Israel                       Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic        No
Austria                    Federal Parliamentary Republic                                       No
Belgium                  Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy            No
France                     Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic       No
Germany                  Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Republic            No
Luxembourg            Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy          No
Netherlands            Unitary Parliamentary Representative Monarchy         No
Switzerland             Directorial Federal Republic                                            No

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"We Built That"

Signage and big screens at the RNC read "We Built It".

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, draped with this message, is a publicly financed and publicly owned venue, financed using $80 million in city and county bonds, backed in part by taxes.

Both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are directly financed, in part, by taxpayer money. According to the FEC, The Presidential Election Campaign Fund gave public grants of over $18 million to each convention.

The city of Tampa Bay, financed by federal and local dollars, paid $2.7 million for beautification projects and infrastructure upgrades to get ready for the RNC, which improved highways, planted trees and redesigned signage.

The city has also received $11 million from the federal government to complete The Riverwalk, a two-mile greenspace near the Forum utilized by RNC attendees.

The federal government also provided a $50 million grant to provide security for the RNC, which is being used to pay police overtime and enhance equipment.

I get that they're not claiming that they built the arena, but it serves to illustrate the point that "we" are direct and indirect beneficiaries of state, local and federal spending. Spending made possible by our collective contributions.

Infrastructure spending is needed and important. It's how and why we have public spaces, with roads and bridges and bike paths allowing for, among other things, consumers and producers to get together.

We did build it in a sense, but that's not really the underlying message of those signs. The message seeks to divide us, but we're all in this together.

It may sound trite and possibly naive. Maybe, but I'd still like to have issues framed in a way that doesn't seek to push us hither and yon.

I expect we'll see more, yet different "messaging" at the DNC. In either case, pandering to low-brow BS is not helping.