Number of Days Until the 2014 Mid-Term Elections

Number of Days 113th Congress Still Hasn't Introduced A Jobs Bill

It's A Question Of Theology

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Though I considered Christopher Hitchens one of the most brilliant minds during my life time while he lived he could on occasion go off the rails.  But, as a World History teacher for the past 8 years, I've had to put theology in an historical context as a global phenomenon while discussing its impact regarding relationships between civilizations.  I have to say after reviewing an old Hitchens video where he discusses theology as a "poison pill" is one of the best, and for him, lucid, explanations of how theology has played a critical role in determining outlooks on life and existence in the fabric of belief systems in a global community.  These belief systems that include an "end times" or "rapture" do seem, as Hitchens points out, something anticipated by a major portion of the global population.  In other words, it can't come soon enough.  I'd never thought about this in that context until I ran across this clip where he discusses it.  It does give one pause to think this is always in the backs of most peoples minds when they make life decisions.  Particularly those that vote.  See Michele Bachmann.  

The Scurge of Rabbit Hole Politics

Thursday, May 16, 2013

 This is why the GOP is infuriating.  The Wall Street crowd that nearly brought our country to its knees still goes unpunished.  How many thousands have had their homes improperly foreclosed on?  So far not one person in the financial industry has been held accountable for this.  Then there is the Iraq war.  Over 4,500 deaths and untold numbers of wounded and maimed for life American Soldiers and not one committee hearing on how we got into the war in the first place now that we know the first 50 reasons given for attacking Saddem Hussein have all been proven false, misleading, or outright lies.  And now we get this from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio):
“My question isn’t about who’s going to resign, my question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?"
This is his remark regarding the IRS "scandal" where social conservative groups like the 'Tea Party' were allegedly singled out unfairly by the the IRS for further scrutiny over applications for non-profit status.  Its amazing how brazen they are in their hypocrisy and their blatant disregard for context with the recent past.

The Shrinking Budget Deficit

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Every Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson has either left office with a surplus or less than what the deficit was when they took over from a Republican predecessor.  On the other hand, every Republican President since Eisenhower has  left office with a larger deficit than the one they inherited from thier Democratic predecessor.  Go figure.

The United States Supreme Court Sides With Goliath Monsanto

Monday, May 13, 2013

Call me cynical but watching a Robert's court side with a corporate giant like Monsanto is like watching adults from the sidelines cheer on a grown adult male bullying an eight year old.  There is no doubt this is a disaster for the small farmer.  It just wasn't a win for the corporate giant, it was a unanimous court decision, 9-0.  After listening to Kagen deliver the majority opinion I had to stop and wonder what the rationale I just heard was.  The fact that Monsanto went after a little guy the way they did it doesn't for what look like it was about money, thought in the end Monsanto is not doubt acting in the long run for what's best in the monetary future.  No, this seems it was a message about power.  A sort of 'don't mess with us' message an stop trying to take these types of grievence to the top of the court system.

It couldn't be any clearer for me what that message was:  the United States of Corporate America Supreme Court. 

Benghazi Is The Only Consulate / Embassy That Matters

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!  It's like a broken record for the GOP.  One has to wonder how much longer Republicans feel they can milk this before it becomes like the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, being ignored by the MSM.  The not so amazing thing is the context with which the GOP keeps harping on this.  This attack on the Benghazi consulate is not new regarding other U.S. consulates/embassys around the world.  It's almost common considering how many times this happened under George W. Bush's administration.  When considering those incidents [there were 13] where was the outrage there?  A quick review of the incidents themselves happens to be very good context for the attack on the Benghazi consulate back on 9/11/2012:
January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.
June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.
October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.
February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.
May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.
July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.
December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.
March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)
September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.
January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.
March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.
July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.
September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.
h/t to David Atkins
No outrage here.  No Congressional investigation committees.  Though with this number one might think a committee reviewing the funding for security might be in order.  The House GOP though has continually voted to cut funding for security at all international U.S. bases and State Department properties.  Yet, nothing is said about that by the GOP leadership.  Then there is the loon contingent from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann:
"9/11, Benghazi Were God's 'Judgment,' So We Must Hold Day Of Prayer On Sept. 11"
Really Michele?  Apparantly the other previous 13 attacks don't merit spiritual comfort according to Bachmann.  I'm reminded here of that famous song from the broadway play 'Evita' about Evita Peron:  "Don't cry for me Argentina."  According to the GOP, other than Benghazi I guess you could say the same here to the tune of that famous lament singing instead, "Don't cry for me [insert name of consulate / embassy here]!

Hey Minnesota, Welcome To The 21st Century

Sometimes patience has its rewards.  In Minnesota it finally paid off.  The North Star State on Thursday passed a bill to legalize gay marriage.  That was the good news.  The even better news is Gov. Mark Dayton has already acknowledged he'll sign the bill.  And all this after just six months ago the same state legislature rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.  Though the vote was till largly along party lines this is a move in the right direction as Minnesota becomes the 14th state to do so.  In a sentiment that reflects a refreshing show of courage new freshman Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, has already taken some heat from some of his constituents on the issue. But he still voted yes.  Speaking the language any liberal could appreciate he spoke about freedom and equality.         
"For me this is a vote for freedom and equality. This is a vote for the rights of all of my constituents," he said.
Welcome Minnesotans, to the 21st century.  Believe it or not there's room for everyone.

Robert F. Kennedy: A Legacy In Words

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Was showing a film clip today from "Thirteen Days" to my Honors World History class.  I was reminded how instrumental Robert was in helping solve the Cuban Missle crisis.  Even though it happened back in 2008 I still remember reading about former G.W. Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino admitting she knew nothing about the Soviet Union putting missiles in Cuba in 1962 and causing a crisis that nearly led to nuclear war.  This is so endemic of the 'know nothing' meme the GOP likes to push.  This allows them to see current events without any context so they bend an issue to any ideological bent that suits them.  It also leads to disaster such as Iraq and Bush's coveted GWOT [Global War On Terror].
As I was thinking about RFK today I was reminded of one of his more profound insights when he stated,
“Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others.”
This could not be more profound when considering the current climate surrounding issues of gun rights in our country.  The NRA seems to live on swagger and bluster at the expense of shattered lives.  I am truly sorry he did not live longer to influence our political direction over the decades.  He surely embodies that "what could have been" longing.

A Corporate Culture of Life Only A GOP'er Could Love

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I'm always hearing from Libertarians and Republicans about how bogged down and unresponsive government can be inferring that capitalist corporations can turn on a dime to help the customer in need.  Don't ask Californian Terri Weissinger to confirm that.  Since corporations are now "people" with rights I find it interesting that this corporate "person," in the figurative flesh known as U.S. Airways, felt the need to refuse a helping hand when it was their fault in the first place when Ms. Weissinger found herself between a rock and a hard place.  Oh wait, when they act like this maybe they are people after all.  Another example of Republican "culture of life" at work since they are the ones that insist corporations ARE PEOPLE.  I guess U.S. Airways was proving they are the GOP's kind of people.  How quaint.

Guns, guns, and more guns....

History has a funny way of putting things in perspective, especially when it comes to American gun culture.  I guess today even the old west archetype of individualism, Wyatt Earp, would be a pariah in his own country since he was for restricting some places where guns weren't welcome.  I always find it interesting when conservative gun owners celebrate the facilitation of introducing more firearms into public and private domains without restrictions.  Since Gov. Walker of Wisconsin signed a new bill making the state one of now 49 that allow the carrying of concealed weapons into churches I'm inclined to ask  the age old sarcastic inquiry of "what could possibly go wrong there?"  When individual instances of just exactly what can go wrong take place its always a conservative mantra to utter something about the price we pay for freedom on some level even if that price is the life of human beings.  When I read about Walker's bill taking effect it dawned on me how a certain symmetry exists in the conservative matrix of what value they place on human lives.  I  now completely understand the American conservative movement and their insistence that human lives have a price in the context of accessible health care for any citizen that can afford it.  If you can't afford it you don't deserve it and you just die.  The corollary that seems to go along with that seems to be if you aren't carrying a firearm when somebody goes off for any number of reasons then that's just too bad and you made a poor choice.  Your life is expendable.  That's some "culture of life" they have going there.  And its so Darwinian of them. 

Why We Pay Taxes

I'm not sure there is a parable here for the insane denizens that seems to make up Libertarians, Republicans and the so-called "Tea Party" but once in a while a teachable moment rears its head and makes a statement for the obvious even they should be able to understand. Taxes are for important community "stuff" that everyone shares in. This "stuff" enables sane people to continue being contributors to society at large by sharing the expenses that make it possible to be, you know, a community. But I guess the people of Highland Park, MI don't believe in safety for those who work at night or can't afford or chose to own personal transportation. I won't even go into the other things a community does to make life possible in a sane world. But paying taxes is one of the things one must do to make this possible. Whenever a red faced conservative shouts into a microphone, "its your money and you should keep it!" there is no doubt you made that "money" through the things that community makes possible by providing you with a way to to earn it like roads, police and fire departments, public schools that produce educated labor, [in some cases] trash pick-up, street lights, stop lights, and on and on. It's amazing to me how many people have forgotten that....

Senate Democrats Letting Speaker Boehner's Agenda Run Over Them

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The malaise that permeates our nationally elected Democrats continues to deepen. The mind boggling aspect of all this is the fact that John Boehner’s battle plan is so simple that it seems to confound the Democratic leadership. If Speaker Boehner’s $100 billion dollar budget amputation was so odious in H.R. 3 then why does it suddenly become palatable to the leadership across the aisle if it’s chopped into increments amounting to the same thing? The grin on Boehner’s face in light of this is only going to get more indelible when the GOP takes this maneuver and runs with it against the Senate Democrats in 2012. There is a page on Facebook calling for Alan Grayson to take the reins of the Florida Democratic Party. I say let's forget that and start a movement to make him the head of the national Democratic Party. Mr. Grayson would be just what the doctor ordered for this creeping malaise that doesn’t seem to show any signs of abating in the near future.

Questioning The Validity Of Teacher Pay Polling

Whenever ever I see polls about teachers like the one on CNN this morning I’m always leery of the wording the poll question takes. There were two: (1) “Should teacher pay be based on quality of work?” and (2) Should teacher pay be based on a standardized scale for all teachers.” The problem with asking the second question is like any query using the word “standard.” The first question works perfectly if teachers have control over their environment. In reality though teachers are more susceptible to conditions outside their control i.e. class sizes, more and more politically driven budgetary concerns, economic conditions, and on and on. That’s why it continually gets driven toward the standard end. Right now across the country communities are demonstrating their lack of value in education through their elected representatives’ continuous propensity to make it the first thing they target in budget cuts. Perhaps when value is shown through actions the first question can finally be the yard stick everyone desires.