Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘United States’

5
Aug

Sharing the Outrage: An Innocent Man Executed

This morning I read this New Yorker Magazine article “Trial By Fire,” on my cell phone, as I was taking my dogs out for their first walk of the day, and my teeth are still clenched. I feel like there’s this vice-grip-like anger pounding in my neck.  It’s like this astonished and futile anger and I would just like to spit.  And curse – really loud.

Shit.

But, see?  Cursing is completely pointless.  So is spitting for that matter.

And then, after reading this insanely sad article, I realize it was written in 2009!

Where the hell have I been?  Todd Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas in 2010!

Another innocent man murdered by the death penalty – murdered by our own US government.   This is the greatest country on earth, we’re so often told, and we do this?   We murder our citizens is what we do.

I sat for a while on my couch, after reading the article, with my dogs on my lap, drinking my coffee, the sun pouring in from the window behind me, and I imagine being hauled away – accused of a crime I didn’t commit.  Dudes with guns coming into my home, throwing my dogs aside and tackling me in my pajamas because they knocked on the wrong door.

And then…What if I had to go to trial with a court appointed hack as a lawyer, in a paltry town in Texas, knowing my lawyer didn’t give a rat’s ass about me because his D.U.I. cases pay his bills?  What if?

And I think – forget what if – that could be me.  I could be Todd Willingham.  It could happen to ANYONE (well, except for the very rich – they buy themselves out of those kinds of outrages).

Our justice system isn’t. Our children are being scooped up – young black children, in particular. Yes,  children, scooped up in a system that isn’t even a system anymore because it only knows quotas and profits because criminal justice is a business now.  It’s become its own criminal enterprise.

See the movie “Kids For Cash” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll understand.

Thinking about the death penalty in this country and thinking about how criminal justice is itself, criminal, is very depressing.

“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.”  Cameron Todd Willingham
 

I get so frustrated.  I want to work on this cause (to abolish the death penalty) with my whole body and soul and make it the single most important pursuit of my life.  Except I have a life with bills to pay and a mortgage that I can’t really afford because I live in Florida and got sucked into the mortgage mess.

I want to do something real.  But what?   Well, for now I can share what I read this morning – this insanely well written story in the New Yorker Magazine, by author David Grann,

Sharing the outrage.  It’s the least I can do.

The New Yorker Magazine article tells the story of how one woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, teacher and playwright, befriended Todd Willingham, while he was on Death Row, learned about his story, and fought to save his life.  She would have succeeded, too, if Rick Perry hadn’t intervened by ignoring the appeals and the new exculpatory evidence in the case (evidence which would have exonerated Todd Willingham).

Instead, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, had him killed.

Bastard. Shit-head. Fucking Lunatic.

Excuse me while I go spit.

Resources:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s website:

http://camerontoddwillingham.com/

A Movie about the case:

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/film/incendiary-the-willingham-case

A CNN clip

26
Mar

Let Justice for Trayvon Shine

I’ve been very upset about the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  I’ve started to write about it a few times, but I end up so angry and frustrated that I have to walk away from the computer.

That poor child, all of seventeen, had not even begun to live his life!  A handsome and bright-eyed boy full of promise….. and he’s gone, in the rain.  Guilty of wearing a hoodie.  Guilty of walking while black down a Stanford Florida street teeming in ignorance.  The ignorance of the Neanderthal white man cannot be tolerated!

There was the sad and tragic case of Emmitt Till.  And now, some sixty, or so, years later, we have another tragedy born of the same white Neanderthal ignorance.

Jeb Bush and his ilk are nearly as guilty of the death of Trayvon Martin as is the Florida nutcase who pulled the trigger.  Zimmerman was made bold by the 2005 Stand Your Ground law in that says it’s okay to shoot when threatened.  But Zimmerman was NOT threatened, as we all now realize.  Zimmerman clearly murdered this young man in cold blood.  In Cold Blood.  This law is being misconstrued to call a “perceived” threat a real threat.  That’s what Zimmerman believed – he perceived he was threatened by a young man in a hoodie, in the rain.

This Florida law, so despicable, disgraceful and bold is often misunderstood with TRAGIC consequences that are too many to list here.

I remember 2005 and the arguments about this law’s passage.  I remember being outraged by it.  And I remember feeling hopeless because Jeb Bush was then Governor of Florida.  Need I say more?  (Jeb’s middle name may as well be NRA.)

If you live in Florida, as I do, you know the harm that Republicans like Jeb have done in this state.   Just as his brother did so much damage to the United States, so too did Jeb to Florida.

I wrote about a similar situation last year about the NRA drafting a Florida bill.  (That’s no typo – yes, the NRA helped write a Florida bill.)  I kid you not.

The Florida law makers make gun laws like the Wild Wild West because they believes more guns will improve the crime problem.

Below is a snippet from my blog post.  To read the full post, click Oh, That NRA Second Amendment.

….lawmakers in Tallahassee are pushing a new gun bill that is backed / written by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The purpose of the bill?  To loosen current regulations on the use of gun and ammunition ownership, and to prohibit lawmakers in Florida from fashioning stricter gun laws that would change or supersede the law.

Senator Joe Negron (R), has been working with the NRA for six months to craft this bill.  Negron said it’s entirely coincidental that this bill was filed this week while the tragedy in Tuscon was unfolding.

As if that is not bad enough, Senator Greg Evers (R), and Rep. Jason Brodeur (R) filed identical bills that would make it a felony for health care professionals (doctors or any medical provider), to inquire about whether a patient has access to firearms.

Currently in Broward County, a three day waiting period (a “cooling off” period) is in place, and has been law since 2001.  Negron’s bill would do away with the cooling off period entirely.  In addition, the law would prohibit all lawmakers from making changes to the gun laws once this bill is in effect.  All of Florida would have to abide by one state gun law, one standard as opposed to variations from county to county.

Trayvon’s blood is on the hands of the good ole boys of Florida.

How many more young black men have to be killed???  The media and the politicians might call this tragedy a “culture” issue.  I call it a hate crime.  I call it murder.

I can’t write anymore …..

Below are flowers for the Martin family, and for all of us who grieve….  I named this photo, Shine Shine Shine!  Let justice shine for Trayvon, and soon.

Photo by Andrea O'Connell, 2012. All rights reserved

 

15
Mar

American politicians make me want to puke

Like that GOP goon, Sanatorum, recently said about hearing John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state – that it made him want to “throw up…” well, I say, anyone who believes or takes these GOP operatives seriously make me want to puke!   Actually, they make me want to cry.

Any politician who also feels the need to stress their Christianity and tell everyone they are a good Christian, makes me want to puke.   Why in hell should you or I care about a politician’s religion?  Does it make a person a better person because they profess to believe in God and religion?  Never.  Never ever.

The Pope makes me want to puke because he is clearly a women hater.  The fact that the POPE can profess his hate for women on his world-stage is very frightening.

I’m angry.

I’m angry that men – in the 21st century – who are in the public eye – are actually making strides to destroy some of the basic rights that women hold dear such as the control over their own bodies.   And I’m angry that this country seems to have lost its way in the values department.

I’m so angry.

I’m amazed that we are even having a public discourse about, of all things, contraception!  I seem to recall that this is a war women already fought, and won!

Why are men again declaring war on women?  What is that about?

Why the hell can’t women in this country turn the tables on the contraceptive issue and DEMAND that ALL men who want to have sex become castrated? What’s the difference between a man being castrated and men demanding women give up their right to control their own reproductive system?  What’s the difference?

My body is my body no one has a right to tell me what to do with it – just like I have no right to demand a man be castrated.  If government and the church wish to control my female body, why won’t it then control the male body and require castration?

What’s the difference?

How can someone as morally corrupt as Rush Limbaugh, drug addict that his is, feel as if he can call women who use contraception sluts and whores, etc.?

If a woman has sexual relationships with men who are castrated she’d not need contraceptives and thus, using Limbaugh’s logic, they’d not be considered sluts or whores, correct Rush?

How dare any man or any church or any religion tell a woman how to respond sexually while a man can pop out his willy nilly willy nilly?

I need to talk about this but it’s late and I need sleep.

Here is a listing of my rants – for another day…..

I need to talk about immigration and the hate that goes along with that issue.  I need to talk about the killing of homosexuals in Uganda, and elsewhere. I need to talk about the war on women in this country.  I want to tell women in this country TO WAKE UP!  I want to tell idiots – total IDIOTS like those running against each other in the GOP race to SHUT UP and leave women, religion, marriage, and all social issues alone because you have no right to push a social agenda that is clearly meant to inflame those in our country who are uneducated because of the school system GEORGE CRIMINAL BUSH AND HIS ILK HAVE DESTROYED.

I need to yell and let loose with my anger about the dumb-ing down of America by the “Haves” who want it ALL and MORE.  I need to talk about what greed has done to this country.  Greed and Power, Power and Greed make this country tick and to hell with those living below the poverty level.

Money and power.  That’s it folks.

That’s why we cannot have a decent healthcare system in this country…. what would happen to the insurance and drug companies if healthcare were free?

If Americans would stop thinking about their next meal and get off the couch long enough to figure out what’s going on in this country, maybe they’d do SOMETHING to promote positive change?

Below is how I feel as a result thinking deeply about America and its politics, its religion, its values or lack thereof, and its MEN who want nothing more than  to see women BAREFOOT and WITH CHILD.

9
Feb

Creative Whack #15: Let Your Mind Wander – mostly to the left

It’s been a while since I posted a Creative Whack.  This is number 15 of the 64 marvelous cards created by Roger von Oech – http://www.creativewhack.com/

This particular card, Let Your Mind Wander, is a very good mind-tussle for me today.  It’s timely since there are many startling and mind-bending things happening in the news lately and I have so much to say!  I have more to say than I can write here…  I’m going to try to get most of it, out.

One of the things I’ve wanted to write about is the mind-bending topic of the crazy, bordering on obscene, GOP primaries.  This whole GOP primary is a fiasco bordering on madness. Does anyone expect Newt or Romney or Santorum to be taken seriously?   If it weren’t for the fact that it’s really happening, it would be a huge joke, and a great movie. It would be like one of those “Focker” movies.  The Fockers are a focked up family who…..

Anyway…..How anyone over the age of 40 could actually vote for Newt Gingrich, after his despicable history in congress and as Speaker, is mind-numbing.

If Newt was president, wouldn’t you be afraid that he’d treat the U.S. and its allies like he treated his former wives?  Wouldn’t you be afraid that he’d bring back his proposal to send the children of people on welfare to orphanages?  Don’t laugh.  That was a Newt proposal during his dismal “Contract ‘against’ America” days. Maybe he’d try to make school-children janitors, after all.

If the inane ideas of some (not all) of the people in the GOP weren’t bad enough, their religiosity drives me crazy!   And yet, the GOP, with their heavy reliance on family values, are not even holding their collective noses when it comes to Newt.  Now that surprises me.  Unless it’s a matter of the GOP realizing that Newt can’t possibly win anyway.  Maybe the GOP just doesn’t want to play with Newt.  I don’t really think they like Mitt too much either.

But, really, to the GOP who would back Newt, I’d ask, “What about your marriage and family values? How does fig the Newt stack up with those principles?”

And now there’s Rick Santorum who, in the last three primaries, has trampled over both Newt and Mitt (Romney).  Last week Newt and Mitt were the players to beat in Florida.  Now Rick thinks that because he won Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, he’s joined the big boys….

Um, does anyone actually believe that Rick has a chance to be the GOP candidate?

Back to Newt and Mitt.… (There’s something about the iteration of those two names together…..  When I think of Newt and Mitt I think of the Little Rascal in Spanky and the Gang.)  

Newt and Mitt, they recall (for me) the days of Ozzie and Harriet, Denice the Menace cartoons, coming out of the 1960’s and segregation to be bowled over by the surprises of the seventies…. another story, the 70’s.

The Newt and Mitt Show.  The Mitt and Newt Show… No matter how you say it, it’s a lousy sounding title.  It doesn’t sell.  Neither does The Newt Show.  Or The Mitt Show.  Can’t take either seriously.  One sounds like it could be another Sid the Science Kid show with cookie commercials, and the other sounds like a story about a kitten who looses his mittens…..

With Newt and Mitt, or Rick – frightening men each one – in Washington, would Civil Rights be pushed back 50 years?  That’s what I am afraid of should either one win the presidency.

I was reading a book about the history of America yesterday.  From the Civil War, to WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, and all through the struggle for Civil Rights in this country.

And, I am reminded anew of the hard-fought battles for Civil Rights and equality for all.   And, not only did I realize that the lead-up into the Great Depression mirrors where we are today in our Great Rescission, but I realized that the GLBT is fighting just as hard for equality today as blacks (and women and other minorities), mostly blacks, fought for their rights.  It’s the same type of battle.  And the economy issues are the same issues today as the Great Depression.  There are many, many similarities!  Hoover’s failed state until FDRs New Deal… the rich v. poor, the banks, and on and on the similarities between today and the Great Depression continue!

The Hitler / Stalin Pact. Japan.  How this country treated Japanese American’s after Pearl Harbor is such a terrible blight, such a huge sore that festered until the US finally apologized, in 1988, I believe.  Can you imagine that happening now?  No?  I can.  You know why?  The people – not the government so much – the people of this country who are filled with hate and rage against “Muslim” or “Islam” that such isolation could happen all over again, like it did to the Japanese in this country.   I hate to think that… but, if we don’t remember our history, we’re bound to repeat it.

I pray we never forget the horrors that we put the innocent American Japanese through. I pray we continue to teach the bitter and ugly history of slavery.  I hope we continue to teach about what led to the murder of 6 millions, mostly Jewish, people. I hope we teach our children what hate does to people, to countries, and to us all.

Remember FDR?  He was a Democrat.  He followed Hoover who ran this country into the Great Depression.  FDR and the New Deal (and the lead up to WWII) got this country going again.  Anyway, FDR promised us that we need to hold sacred four freedoms:

The freedom of speech and expression.

The freedom of worship.

The freedom from want, and

The freedom from fear.

FDR's 4 Freedoms, painted by Norman Rockwell

FDR, of course, and his congress were not perfect.  Far from it.  But, FDR understood oppression.  He understood the need for equality.  FDR knew about fear when he consoled the American people by saying:  “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Whereas the Bush administration badly wanted an America who stood afraid so he could better control it, FDR wanted to warn AGAINST fear when he said, on January 6, 1941, in his speech that is now known as “The Four Freedoms” speech, the following:

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception — the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

So, yes.  We must remember history.  We must believe in the bottom of our hearts that all men and women are created equal.  We MUST put religion back into the living rooms of our homes and in our churches or temples, where it rightfully belongs.  We MUST not care if a man loves another man, or a woman another woman, or if a man born a man but meant to be a woman, becomes a woman not by choice, but by necessity.  It is not our business.  Be happy for the men and women who marry each other.  There is no greater thing than the ability to be happy for someone else’s happiness.

There are mean and unhappy people in this world who wear their hate like a duck wears its feathers.  These people let happiness and thoughts of equality drop off of them like water on a ducks back. The trick is to deny them an audience – let them swim in a pond of their own making.  Ignore those who would wish ill on another person.

Our sanity depends on it.

February is Black History month, which reminds me of the enormous struggle, years in the making, that raged and raged, and to a large degree, still must rage.

However….. can it be there is light in the distance?

A wonderful and amazing and beautiful thing happened just the other day with regards to Civil Rights:  California’s Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional!  Which of course it is.

Other states, we hope, will follow suit and realize that equal treatment for all, means equal treatment for all.

Equal means just that.  Equality doesn’t measure sexual persuasion or gender into its equation.

The US Constitution never mentions the bedroom or the bed, now does it?  Does the Constitution mention sex at all?  Nope.

So, I would tell Mr. or Mrs. Jane and John Doe in Idaho who rails against abortion, same-sex marriage, and all GLTB issues —>  Keep your nose out of other people’s bedrooms, keep your hands off my female body, let me chose the contraception I alone want to use, and for Gods sake stay out of the marriage argument!

The only marriage argument any one person should have needs to pertain to their own marriage.  How dare anyone try to relegate my marriage?  I don’t think Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe would like to be told who they can or cannot marry.  Equal means equal.  It doesn’t mean equal for everyone but GLBT and women!

Oh, and while we’re at it, can we please remember to treat Muslims with the same respect we give our Christian brothers and sisters?  That would be wonderful.

And so, as I think about this 15th Creative Whack: Let Your Mind Wander, I think, well, this is a good exercise for opening the mind to the acceptance of other ideals or values that are different from our own.

For instance, I just read that Bill O’Reilly, the loud and wild man on Fox News who I am loath to listen to, recently stood up for Ellen DeGeneres .  Yes, he is on record, saying that to fire Ellen or to treat her differently because of her sexuality is akin to McCarthyism.  My, my, my!  Who would have thunk that O’Reilly would have such a heart?

I heart Bill O’Reilly!!!  Well, today anyway.

I think, therefore, we all can have new thoughts, just like Bill O’Reilly did!  If we use creative associations that trigger thoughts and beliefs that are potentially loving and kinder towards groups that have historically been targets of hate, it’s a great start!  After all, no one wants to continue to see children bullied to death or to suicide due to their sexual identity, right?

So, think of the children. Think of poor Robert Champion who was “hazed” to death by FAMU students.  Think of humanity…… Think of the Ugandan government who believes so strongly in Western religion they tried to pass a law to give homosexuals who are “caught” either a life sentence in jail, or the death sentence.  (Their legislation is “dead” but is still being “reviewed” by the government as of today.)

To start with, this creative whack uses the example of Work and goes on to compare it to play.  You’d think that work and play would be opposite, right?  Not true.  To be creative and make work meaningful, there are strong elements of “play” (though some would disagree).

Anyway, the trick here is to keep our thoughts positive and kind….

So, when we say:

Marriage, let’s associate it with Anyone.

When we say: Equal, let’s say Same Sex

When we say: Homosexual, say Love;

Equality: Everyone;

Children: Protection;

Reproduction: Women’s rights;

Differences: Blessings;

Religion: To each their own.

Respect: Women’s bodies; laws; rights of others; differences…….

And on and on we go!

16
Jan

Dr. King’s Dream – Let it Ring Some More!

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

If collectively we didn’t have a group to hate, we’d have to invent one (to hate).

I can’t remember who said that, but sadly, I believe it’s true.

When I was born, in 1957, segregation still prevailed. There were “colored” bathrooms, beaches, water fountains and many other indignities.

Through the years, and again today, my mother said that, when I was two, I could read and I knew what the “colored only” sign over the water fountain meant, but not what it stood for.

She told me that I thought the “colored” fountain had pretty colored water, like Kool-Aid.   (Children will see things as they are, without filters or ugly meanings.)

“Did you allow me to drink from that fountain?” I asked my mom, today.  “You couldn’t have reached it. You were only two,” she explained.  “Well,” I asked her, “Could you have held me up to drink from it?”

As she thought about it, I pressed on, “Was it because of the times?”

“No, you were too little and didn’t know how to drink from a fountain,” she told me.

It was a different time; and my parents were not the type to rock the boat.

I don’t remember being told I could not drink that colored water.  I wonder if my two-year old self would have felt let-down, or maybe kind of deprived?

Little did I know that an entire population of Black Americans were deprived of much more than colored water.

We have come a long way since then, but not far enough.  I think that either we haven’t come far enough, or we’re regressing.  Personally, I think we are regressing.

We have a long way to go in regards to Human Rights, Equal Rights, and certainly with the right to marry, and Gender/Transgender Equality.

People who today will deny immigrants a place in our country have forgotten that Dr. King’s dream was for ALL rights.  Human rights, Equal rights, Equal treatment, and basic human decency towards all people.

The leaders here in Florida, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere, need to abolish their bigotry towards immigrants and towards anyone who happens to be different.  If the inhumane treatment of immigrants (and the torture of our enemies), continues, it will destroy the rich history of “for and by the people democracy” that continues to make this country appealing to people from other countries who simply want to come here for a better life.

We have to have compassion all people or hate will prevail in earnest across the other States in this united land of ours, destroying the fabric that keeps our country good and strong.

The Dalai Lama talks about compassion a lot.  In his book, “Ethics for the New Millennium,” he says that without compassion for the sufferings of others, a person will not be truly happy.  He talks about how we must continue to cultivate our inner goodness.  If we do, our actions become conducive to the creation of continuous compassion for others  Things like patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on, are the building blocks of compassion, says the Dali Lama.

The inability to have inner restraint will deny the ability to know compassion, thus happiness, he says.

With the bankruptcy of America, which was put into motion by the wealthy one percent, and by the banks who are not taking responsibility for their actions, we need Dr. King’s words now more than ever:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think it’s good that a dialogue about living Dr. King’s dream by engaging in service to others, is happening in my community.

If we lead by Dr. King’s example, our children will grow into people who are world’s better than the people of the 20th century.  Better than those who would erect signs to keep fellow human beings off of “white” beaches, out of “white” bathrooms, and unable to use “white” drinking fountains.

If Dr. King were alive, don’t you think he would tell the haters that the only way to heaven is to have compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender?

Wouldn’t Dr. King tell us that God doesn’t care what your religion is, or how pretty your church is?  I think so.  I also think Dr. King would say something like this:  It doesn’t matter who you pray to, what matters to God is, did you do the right thing?    I think what matters is to have compassion for others; to stand for something, and to deny the haters an audience.

I think he’d say something like that.  I know we’d listen.  But, would the haters listen?

We can dream, right?

7
Jan

rants about labels

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers.  His novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was made into a play in the late eighties.  It started at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and then went on to Broadway.  I had a chance to see it in New York because a friend of mine was in the  New York cast and he arranged a ticket for me.  Gary Sinise played the lead and he was incredible.

Needless to say, it was an amazing production.  It was especially cool because they built a pool on the stage – placed downstage center, and they created real rain, which was unique for the time, and utterly impressive to see.

Anyway, I came across a very timely quote of John Steinbeck’s (below) which accompanied the photo, also below…. And, that’s what made me think about The Grapes of Wrath, one of my all-time favorite novels.  The story about the struggle of poor folks moving away from the poor-as-dirt-West to find a better life in California, is very much an immigrant story of today.

Back then great wagons moved entire families.  Everything they owned was piled high on wagons bound for California – the promised land where there was work and better times.

It’s far different now.  Cubans come to our shores on make-shift rafts, Mexicans pay thousands to be smuggled in and these people have nothing when they arrive. Soon they’ll work their bodies into the ground in a job no American wants – a terrible job but to them it’s not; it’s freedom.

I find it very odd that many people in this country know so little about human rights issues.  The Human Rights issues are often ignored; people are labeled and the very ugly and distasteful issues about Human Rights are ignored, or so it seems.  I find it mind-boggling and more than ironic that the people who are hurting the most will vote against their own interests simply out of ignorance or out of living with perpetual rose-colored glasses teetering on the end of their noses.  Here’s what Steinbeck said so long ago about it:

photo from an anonymous source

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. That’s the only reason I can see why people in the US continue to vote against their own interests. – John Steinbeck

Reading that quote, and the picture that went with it caused me think about the cruelty of today’s immigrant situation in the US, and the cruelty that we can’t seem to fix the homelessness of Americans.  Homelessness, instead of being a problem that needs to be fixed, it’s become something that we just deal with now.

There was a time, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when homelessness began to be noticed in the mainstream media.  A lot of people, and the government, talked about ways to fix or solve the issue, right?

Now, of course, it’s just a fact of life.  It’s so common-place now, universities and US Financial Aid – which is handled by the Department of Education, accepts it as a matter of course.  Universities EXPECT to have homeless students.

That floors me.

When I was in college there was no way a student could be homeless without the other students knowing about it. There would have been absolutely no way anyone would be homeless or hungry and in school without people helping them out.  Granted, I was naive and still am to a degree, but it would not happen back then, other students would help. Professors would find out and help, too.

That was then, this is now, I suppose.

The irony of homelessness in today’s society is that so many got so very rich off of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and now many, many of the American veterans are homeless, suffering from PTSD and other terrible mental health illnesses.   It’s so wrong on so many levels.

The problem with the immigrant populations, say the haters: “They’re taking our jobs, using our hospitals, crowding our schools….” and other such horrible and despicable words and comments about fellow human beings.

The facts are the facts.  Immigrants don’t take the jobs Americans want.  They do the jobs Americans don’t want!  This type of hate, by the way, is what drives class wars… And, well – that’s really a topic for another day.

(When I sat down to this computer tonight, I intended to post some of the pictures I took today, but somehow my mind got stuck on Steinbeck and I completely forgot about the photos!  There was nary a cloud in the sky today and I took Jazz (my dog) for a long walk around the neighborhood.  I took my camera and while he found nice trees to relieve himself on, I found nice flowers, a butterfly, bees and a bird to photograph!)

One of these days, maybe, I’ll understand how our country and so many of our citizens can get away with labeling someone a “Socialist” rather than coming up with a solution to an issue.  By virtue of labeling a problem or a person or a group of persons with some label, the problem is solved – it’s easier to label than to deal with the root of what is causing an issue to be labeled in the first place.  Like the label takes the place of the problem to be solved.

I label you as a Jew because I don’t like Jewish people and that takes care of my problem. You’re Jewish so I can avoid you as my friend, as my grocer, landlord, sales person, hairdresser, etc.   You are a Jew and I don’t like you therefore you are in the group called “my unlikeable’s” and so I put you over there, on a shelf, where you cannot mix with others who are not labeled like you…..

You know what I mean?  It’s the same thing we do to Muslims today.

And so, because my labeling has worked really well with Jewish people and I’ve gotten them out of the loop and out of my space, I’ll do the same thing with immigrant people and gay people, and Muslim people and red-headed people and poor people, and before you know it, I have huge groups of disenfranchised people who are shrouded with that one big label that gets put on groups that haters hate.  People get labeled because people are people and people have to hate because they know they can and be accepted by other haters for being a hater.

There are three kinds of people in the entire world.  Only three kinds – three groups:  Male and Female and In-between.  And they should not be labeled either because we are all the same, at the end of the day, anyway.

Do you want to see a crisis? How about the MASSIVE poverty? How about the generation of children growing up in poverty, children whose parents were foreclosed out of the middle class by greedy fucking bankers, children whose parents didn’t stand a fucking chance against the big banks, children whose parents were born into poverty themselves, straight on down the line for years and years. And I’m supposed to feel bad for the rich bastards who refuse to pay decent wages or taxes? ~ The Daily Kos – Dear Beltway Insiders, while you make pretty speeches, I am being cut to shreds

4
Jan

Creative Whack #14: Look to the Past (JFK style)

So, last night Iowa reminded us all that it’s an election year.

I believe that 2012, if history repeats itself, will bode well for the economy and for jobs.  Optimism has flourished during Presidential election cycles over the years.  Optimism is my cry for 2012.

Hope in 2012 is on the collective minds of the American people who are, at this moment, suffering.  We have to hope, the opposite of hope is not an option.

To the homeless and the thousands of people who are hungry, jobless and without unemployment benefits (while fat-cat politicians wine and dine heavy-hitting money-makers to pay for another opponent-smearing TV ad), I’d soberly say, we need to hope, but we can’t hang our hats on that alone.

We can’t trust only in God without taking action ourselves.  God is good, yes, but He can’t pay the rent – unless someone pays us to preach.

When I hear people in desperate situations say, “It’s in God’s hands,” while the kids are hungry, it drives me nuts.  When in the world did that become a tactic for survival?

Massive homelessness and hunger was something I never believed could occur in the United States – that was when I was younger and more naive.

Still, I would never depend on God to fix the problems we face as a nation.   But, that’s a real problem today in Presidential elections – many people in this country want to elect a God, not a smart, honest and fair person to run the country.

God has nothing to do with the work of a politician or US President.

Should it matter that a President goes to church or temple? NO!

Should we care how often they pray?   NO, no, a thousand times NO!!!

I don’t much like Presidential politics.  I especially don’t like politics when religion is in the mix.

But, I really don’t like the nasty attacks and the lamb-to-slaughter advertising we see these days.

You’d think politicians would want to advertise the good work they’ve done in office, not just trash the opponent. But, constant trash-talk?  Well, that’s the name of the game now.  The candidates must now suck-up to royal Got-Rock-Backers to pay for ads that slime the opponent.

Created by Roger von Oech

The issue of campaign finance and slimy ads is a non partisan beef of mine, by the way.  Democrats play this game, too, although generally to a lesser degree.

I tend to get cynical around Presidential election years.  I despise the television ads and don’t trust most politicians.

I don’t want to believe that the Make-the-Other-Guy-A-Slime-Ball game even exists.  But it does – the game has been years in the making, too.

Yeap.  The game must be played.  When a candidate today doesn’t play the game and get backed by a Mr. or Mrs. Got-Rocks with a slimy agenda, say bye-bye to that candidate.

The winner of an election, it seems to me, goes to whomever can out-spend and out-slime the other guy.

Game-winners are those able to pay clever writers who craft wild stories out of whole-cloth.

Remember a time when “Swift-Boating” ads and tactics didnt‘t win elections?   I can’t.

“Swift-boating,” though not in Webster’s dictionary – is defined, depending on how you look at it, as either whistle-blowing on a bad-guy, or re-writing the history of a good guy.

Regardless, it is now an election-year strategy that is bought and paid for by the American people, in more ways than one. Blood sport, really.  Power is at stake.

Anyway, getting back to what I intended to write about: Looking to the past.  Here is my short look-back at the words of John F. Kennedy (JFK):

The voters selected us, in short, because they had confidence in our judgement and our ability to exercise that judgement from a position where we could determine what were their own best interest, as a part of the nation’s interest.  From JFK’s Profiles in Courage, 1956.

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity.  1959 Speech

The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises — it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.  Acceptance Speech as the Democratic presidential nominee

If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” 1960 speech in New York.

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.  And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

And finally, this….

For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us—recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state—our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

  • First, were we truly men of courage—with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies—and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates—the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?
  • Secondly, were we truly men of judgment—with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past—of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others—with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it?
  • Third, were we truly men of integrity—men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us—men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?
  • Finally, were we truly men of dedication—with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?

Courage—judgment—integrity—dedication—these are the historic qualities … which, with God’s help … will characterize our Government’s conduct in the 4 stormy years that lie ahead.  1961 speech.

“Courage—judgment—integrity—dedication,” said JFK, are the qualities that should define us.   I believe our current President is the embodiment of these qualities.

I believe Obama is both the hope and the keeper of faith that the American People need now.

And that’s my look to the past and to the future.

10
Dec

Dismembered and unceremoniously cremated American soldiers – anyone surprised?

The story of how the US Military handled the remains of soldiers fighting in the Middle East, continues to weigh on my thoughts.

When the Iraq invasion began, in March 2003, it was supposed to be a quick in and out, over in a couple of weeks, remember?  The Great US was going to liberate the people of Iraq.  Life would be so much better for them, we were sold, I mean, told.

“W” aka George W. Bush, and the military and the rest of the liars in the Pentagon and Washington, knew Americans had a short attention span for these things.  They wanted Americans to move on to another story, and they did everything within the power of the President as a bait and switch marketing game for the gullible among us.   And, for a while it worked.

W jumped on the Marine boat looking utterly ridiculous in his soldier costume. The pomp and circumstance with the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner waving in full view, was sickening.  Anyone with a brain thought it was the most ridiculous spectacle of propaganda we’d ever seen.  It was absolutely sickening.

It was a ruse to change what Americans thought about what was really going on in Iraq.  It was pure propaganda.  Period.  And, of course, it soon became clear the Mission Accomplished was a farce – no, worse than that, it was a lie and a clear ruse to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the USA.

As the numbers of dead American Service men and women began rolling in, the callous W., et al, made sure to ban any pictures or video of coffins coming home to America.  Was that because the military was not handling the corpses with any respect or honor?   Not photographing coffins, I thought back then.  There is only one reason to keep that out of sight and out of mind, I thought.  The reason?  If those coffins were shown on the evening news it would be emotional for everyone – it would show the reality of those dying over there to people who pay attention to the news.

It could incense Americans to the extent that we asked the hard questions about Iraq.  Why were we there?  Why are we killing women and children over there?  Where are the weapons of mass destruction?  That’s why we are there – to get those weapons, right? Well, we know now there never were any weapons.

So, because the whole affair was a lie, was that why the dead were not  given the respect of a coffin with a flag?  Were the remains of the dead just dumped together – toe tagged maybe, into a bin like dead fish as they were brought back home to this country?

My intuition tells me that there were no coffins to photograph.  I have an idea that because the invasion was so expensive, the cost of ceremony over the dead was only a “nice to have” but not important enough to be a must-have.

When the rule about no photography of the coffins coming home from Iraq, it gave me an uneasy feeling.  It didn’t make sense.  Why would W and the Pentagon want to shield us from the reality of Iraq?  Could it be that the reality was not in the least bit aligned with our expectations?  Apparently so.

I would absolutely expect this country to treat its own this way.  Any government who’d defy the Geneva Convention and torture in ways so heinous, is a ruthless government.  Ruthless is our government.  Inhumane is our government.

Hell, the men and women in Iraq didn’t even have the equipment they needed to maintain their presence there.  Hummers were falling apart.  Soldiers didn’t have what they needed to do their jobs, which is why I have convinced myself that W and the Pentagon would be loath to pay for coffins, or any kind of pomp and circumstance to honor anyone. Plus, the American forces in Iraq had to be a smoke-screen to hide the real reason we were there – Money.  Contracts.  More Money. Big Contracts.   Remember Blackwater?

Sorry, I got off topic for a moment…. back to the main story.

There was a special counsel appointed to investigate the cremation and despicable treatment of the corpses.  You can find the report at this link:  http://www.osc.gov/FY2012/Scanned/10-04%20DI-10-2151,%20DI-10-2138%20and%20DI-10-2734/Analysis.pdf

Here is a small piece of the report (below).  I am including this to illustrate that the military has rules about the treatment of those who died in service to his or her country.  Here’s a snippet from the report that I referenced above:

Dignified Transfer of Remains

The dignified handling of remains. Image by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

… the Port Mortuary is required, under AR 638-2, to process remains in a manner reflecting “the highest standards of the funeral service profession.”  ….. “[r]emains will be handled with the reverence, care, and dignity befitting them and the circumstances …..   Port Mortuary Embalmers are required to hold a state Embalmer or Funeral Director’s license; however, most states provide only general guidance or are silent on specific prohibited embalming procedures.  It also notes the military’s policy that every effort will be made to prepare the remains of personnel so that service members’ families may view them in uniform.

And then there is this, below, also taken from the report, regarding the destruction of a corpse so he’d fit in a coffin for the family viewing, and for burial.   Warning…  The below is very disturbing.

Preparation of Remains of Deceased Marine
Mr. Parsons, an Embalming/Autopsy Technician, disclosed information concerning an incident that occurred in February 2010, involving the preparation of the remains ofa deceased Marine. He alleged that Port Mortuary Director Quinton Keel determined that the remains in this case should be made viewable for identification, despite the assessment of several Mortuary Specialists/Embalmers (Embalmers) that the remains were non-viewable and should be wrapped in a full body wrap, with the unifonn placed over the body, rather than dressed in uniform?
Mr. Parsons noted that while a full body wrap was necessary, the Marine’s head and face were in good condition and would have been preserved for viewing by the family, if desired. He stated, however, that Mr. Keel instructed him and an Embalmer to prepare and dress the remains in uniform. When they were unable to position the Marine’s left arm so that it would fit into the uniform, due to massive injuries sustained in that area, they sought guidance from Mr. Keel. In response, Mr. Keel instructed them to saw off the left arm bone and place it in the right leg of the protective undergarment inside the uniform, where the lower portion of the leg was missing. Mr. Parsons refused to cut off the bone; however, the Embalmer complied with Mr. Keel’s instruction and Mr. Parsons placed the bone in the right leg of the undergarment.

I’m going to continue to dig for news about this story.

I won’t be happy until people are arrested and charged with war crimes over this and the war itself.

8
Dec

The US Air Force dumps soldiers in mass graves

I left work two hours early today, at 3:00 and normally don’t get to hear the BBC news on NPR.

So, when I started my car, preparing  to drive  home, the BBC news was reporting on a story that I would never believe was true, but it is.

Because I hadn’t heard the beginning of the story, I missed the worst part – that these atrocities occurred not way back in a war of the past, like during the Vietnam years.  I was sure that was probably the case – I thought our nation was better able to handle the logistics of war and the caring for the dead.

I was wrong.  I just read tonight that in 2004 until 2008 the United States Air-force had been systematically been dumping the remains of soldiers in a landfill.

Are you ready to cry or vomit like me?  I’m sorry if you hadn’t heard this news and you’re learning it here for the first time.  It doesn’t seem possible, does it?  This is the United States of America!  We are better than that, right?

In 2003 that mad scientist that drunken horrible president, and sick, sick, sick, liar sent American men and women into a war that was not a war, it was a one-sided attack on people who never, never, never attacked us!  After all, this country set Saddam Hussein up – gave him all the support in the world.  Why?  Can you spell O. I. L?  Oil and money. Money and Oil.  Guns and gun making.  That’s what it was about.  The fat cat non-military consultants were making millions – millions.  Our soldiers, giving their lives and their limbs, their sanity and their minds, were dying every day only to be thrown away like trash.

Image by WeMeantDemocracy via Flickr

Remember how the nation felt when the adorable little Caylee Anthony was thrown into a swampy grave in the woods?   This is the same situation times hundreds of dead American soldiers.

God Dammit!

It makes me want to throw something when I think about this.

People mean nothing?

George W. Bush – the worst criminal the American Presidency has ever known – should, along with the criminal VP Dick Sick Cheney, be tried for war crimes against the United States of America.

History will look back at what these two maniacs did to this country and, with any luck, future generations will learn from it.  Well, we can hope that happens before the right-wing evangelical, racist extremists completely destroy this country.

From a mother’s perspective:

Gari-Lynn Smith, the widow of an Army bomb-disposal expert killed in Iraq, began asking the military in 2007 what happened to some of his remains that were identified after his funeral the previous year.

After four years of letters and phone calls she received a letter from the mortuary in April informing her that her husband’s partial remains had been disposed of in the King George County landfill, reports the Post.

“I hope this information brings some comfort to you during your time of loss,” read the letter.

Ms Smith told the Post that what the mortuary had done was “disgusting”.

Since the landfill dumping ended three years ago, such cremated partial remains are now buried at sea.

After the Post reported the practice in early November, federal investigators released a report lambasting “gross mismanagement” at the air base mortuary.

It emerged that a dead soldier’s ankle had been lost and a damaged arm bone was sawed off a dead Marine before burial so he could fit in his uniform and coffin.

The commander at the morgue, a colonel and two civilian officials were disciplined.  READ the full BBC story here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16081240

Here is the story from the Washington Post, the paper who broke this story: Air Force dumped ashes of more troops’ remains in Va. landfill than acknowledged

I am so tired tonight I am seeing double.  I will give this a more in-depth exploration tomorrow.

3
Dec

What is marriage and what is hate?

Marriage is a symbol of love between two human beings, usually.  Well, unless those two human beings are the same gender.   If two human beings are the same gender, such a symbol is not available for them to own – well, only in a few states.

But, in the US, marriage is the union of two persons.  Simple, right?  Not for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender (GLBT) people.  Such a union is mostly outlawed, like in the wild-wild-west.

It’s difficult for me to understand what is the problem with same-sex marriage?

If Tom and Teresa can own the symbol, why can’t Tom and Terry?   Ahhhh, it’s how we perceive Tom and Terry or Sue and Karen – they are not like us therefore they are beneath us therefore they are not deserving of the basic human rights you and I enjoy.

To deny persons who are part of a GLBT community the right to marry, or to deny them anything at all based on sexual identity, is so obviously absurdly wrong! Well, to me it is.  Well, to most of us it is.

The people in power, those with religious power especially, cannot allow people who are hated as a group, any benefit that might encourage them to be happy.   Marriage would make people in the GLBT community happy.  That’s not good.  No no no no no.

If the GLBTs were happy the religious leaders would hate the political leaders for allowing that to happen.  That would be bad for the political leaders – they’d not get re-elected.   Then the religious leaders would put someone with more hate into power and everyone would be worse off.   If society got anymore hateful, a fertilized egg after a one-night-stand would have rights.   In fact, if the really hateful religious leaders had their way, a fertilized egg would have more rights than the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered person.

It’s bully-ism on a large-scale.  (Not sure bully-ism is a word, but you know what I mean, right?!)  I think hate is synonymous with Bullying.   GLBT (and too many others, namely immigrants), are the prime targets of school bullying.

We sit aghast at the stories coming from elementary and high schools about bullying and the resulting suicides.  But, do we realize that children, when they terrorize other children, are mirroring what they know adults and flaky pastors hate?

By the way, I don’t hate religion – I don’t hate anything, other than inequality.  I hate only hate.

I hate the hate of a Religious Right kind of hate because I see it becoming systemic in America.

What am I talking about?

I’m referring to the Religious Right who are not really religious but who thump the Christian bible because they think it will translate into political power.  I’m talking about the “Christians” who think God tells them to hate and to deny the rights of people they don’t even know.  I’m talking about the people who claim they take the bible literally but when push comes to shove they can’t but are loath to admit it.  I’m talking about the hate that is, religiously speaking, ironic because it promotes separation and racism.   I’m talking about the hate that denies equality to large  segments of society who are as deserving as you and I.

When two consenting adults wish to symbolize or honor their partnership, just as heterosexuals do, it should be a non issue.  It goes without saying that divorce trumps the statistics of those who stay married, that’s a non-starter though.  The issue is really not about that – that’s adding a negative to a the positiveness of love between the partnership of two people of the same-sex.

How in the world can people hate who they don’t know?  Why would anyone deny persons they don’t know the chance to experience happiness?  Who gives Sam – who has never left the state of Texas – the right to tell Joe, in Florida – a stranger to him, that he cannot have this or that piece of happiness?

So, what is marriage to the haters?  What is marriage to the GBLTs?   It’s the same thing – or will be when the GLBTs have the right to it.  The real difference between the GLBT marriage and the Hetero marriage is that one is more often made up of a love that is lasting.

This video explains it so much better than I ever could.

Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got.

28
Nov

so much for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

I have written about the hedonistic immigration laws in Alabama in the recent past.  What prompted me to write about this again was the Op-Ed I read today in the New York Times titled The Price of Intolerance that examines the economic and social toll the immigration law has taken on the state.

Even though Alabama’s Immigration Law is fairly new – less than 6 months old – and is modeled after Arizona’s aggressive law, its problems are becoming increasing painful for Alabamians.  Whether or not Alabama will revoke the laws because of the economic issues, is another thing altogether.

Regardless, this law is doing damage to nearly all sectors of Alabama’s economic and social stratosphere.

Few words are more famous or more evocative than these from Emma Lazarus's "The New Colussus": "Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, they have come to represent America's promise. Institution: American Jewish Historical Societquite a while to come.

Let’s hope the fallout in Alabama will be a critical warning sign to other states, like Florida and California, hoping to pass a similar law.  Florida, where I live, is one of the few states considering a similar law to Arizona and Alabama’s.   Florida is also building its own Immigration prison slash detention center.  They don’t like to call it a prison, though we all know that is precisely what it is.  It’s a prison for immigrants who are CAUGHT without papers.  SLAM goes the door to the cell that will hold mothers and fathers of children who did nothing to deserve having their life destroyed  other than being born in the USA.

Apparently illegal immigrants are being held in Florida’s criminal jails.  Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but I didn’t think this was happening.   I know that immigration facilities existed, but I was under that impression that people held there were also criminals.  WRONG, Ms. Ostrich.

In a recent article by Laura Wides-Munoz of the Associated Press, the plans are laid out:

The proposed facility is part of the federal government’s new plan to move immigrants from jails to detention centers it says are better for holding people with no criminal background. The centers are also supposed to be easier to reach for detainees’ relatives and lawyers  (Arizona Republic, Nov. 19, 2011).

I find it difficult to wrap my head around this.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think that the Immigration Detention center will jail people without any criminal record.  They will be criminals just as soon as they’re caught without paperwork.   I have also learned this Florida Detention center will be privately run – i.e. not run by the government. That is scary in itself.

As far as the impact to Alabamians, the damage is just now coming to light, according to the New York Times.   For instance, workers who’d normally work on farms are largely, if not all, immigrants. Americans don’t want these jobs.

In Alabama, workers are fleeing for fear of being jailed.  This means the farmer’s crops are dying on the vine, work is not getting done in other businesses supported by an immigrant population.

The New York Times Op Ed asks, how will Alabama deal with the extra police needed to handle the immigration dragnets?  Alabama is not exactly a wealthy state -far from it.

Who will step into the jobs held by the immigrant populations?

Undocumented immigrants make up about 4.2 percent of Alabama’s work force, or 95,000 people in a state of 4.8 million. For all the talk about clearing the way for unemployed Americans, there is no evidence that Alabamians in any significant numbers are rushing to fill the gap left by missing farm laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers (New York Times, The Price of Intolerance ).

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a manager from the Mercedes-Benz company was visiting the local work site.  The manager was found driving without a driver’s license or any legal identification documents and he was taken to jail since he was potentially an illegal immigrant.

Now, that’s a cautionary tale.   We are America, the land of the free?

“Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” wrote Emma Lazarus in her sonnet, The New Colossus, written at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Not so much.  Not anymore.

20
Nov

change viewpoints, whack #6

I think this Creative Whack, by Roger von Oech, works well as today’s post, and here’s why:  I’d been thinking about changing the look and feel of my bl;og (yes, again!), but I had to pay for this blog theme, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.   But I really liked it.  So, after going back and forth for about two weeks, and because life is good to me, I changed my mind!

So, here it is, my new blog site! Tah Daaaaah!

I’m also working on a website, too, but that won’t be finished for a while.  I’m developing the site it in Joomla! which is the free, open-source software for building websites.  It’s not too difficult, but it’s very time intensive.  And, time and patience are exactly what it’s going to take me to build it.

To be honest, I am one of those people who loves change.

Art and life are always changing.  So should ideas and viewpoints.   I don’t think it’s wise to be stuck in a rut – immoveable to change.  Whether it’s views or beliefs, when the mind is open to new possibilities, it’s possible to change old belief systems.

For instance, the people who talk about “Obama Care” like it was a threat, usually have no idea what it even means!

When people say they don’t want Obama Care they are mouthing what Republican politicians want them to say – blindly and with distaste.

The truth, I believe, is that Republican politicians came up with the phrase “Obama Care” because they are on the side of insurance and drug companies who could lose some money as a result of the plan.

But, honestly…. The percentage of Americans who snarl about Obama Care are those who haven’t got a clue what it’s about!

It’s so easy to do a few minutes of homework on a topic before speaking about it.  Think of all the millions of American children and mothers and fathers without any healthcare.  That’s what I care about, and that’s one reason why I believe in helping people, not insurance companies.  And, it’s not “socialized” medicine.

Many people I know are like me, we have health insurance through work which means any changes will not impact us.  However, I wish people would do a bit of research on the topic before stepping on the idea.

The lesser than two evils

This Creative Whack is bizarre!  Imagine coming up with those two solutions?  One solution is certainly better than the other (putting food in the coffin versus a stake through the heart), but food in a coffin is obviously a wacko idea, too.

I know it happens when there is a critical decision to make about something important, we are sometimes faced with the lessor of two evils.  I think this Creative Whack is warning us that it’s easy to settle for a bad idea, especially if it’s easy.  It’s important to look at the outcome and the impact of decisions large and small because life is much too short.

Tainted viewpoints

It seems like every day I hear ignorant comments about Islam. It’s not a triangle:  Muslim/Islam/Terrorism.  They do not go hand in hand.  It’s simply not true.

It’s terrible to put people into a box based upon faith.  To think that Terrorism has anything at all to do with Islam, has no basis in truth.  Heck, there are Christian serial murderers, though we don’t call them Terrorists, that’s what they are.   It should go without saying that all the religions have their share of murderers and rapists – bad American people acting like terrorists.  There is no reason in the world to fear Muslim people in this country.  None!

It’s really about fear and fear closes so many doors; stops many opportunities for further research; kills creativity, too.

FDR’s words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” should continue to ring a bell between all our collective ears.

Change is good.

Yes, change is good, but I think I’ll keep this blog design for a while!

19
Nov

I love the YMCA!!

It was a day to remember.

I was up at 7:00 a.m., and out the door soon after for a YMCA Board member retreat, at the Westin Hotel, lasting all day today.

I’m a member of the Board of the YMCA Children’s Advocacy Center in Broward County, Florida.   In Broward County, there are seven or eight YMCA centers each with their own Boards.

Today was a great opportunity for all the YMCA Operation staff and Board members to get together and begin the process of strategically planning what the next five years will look like for our communities.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement!  What plans we have!  Our work will touch so many lives…. children, young adults, seniors – we’ll touch them all, improve their lives and the community.

It’s going to take me a couple of days of writing to put today’s ideas and plans down on paper.  And the work is too important to breeze over the details in haste.

Well, let me start by introducing you to Mark Fenton, our Keynote speaker today.

Mark took us through the why, how, and when of the enormous change that needs to happen, not just in Broward County, Florida, but all over the country.

The thrust of our work, the country’s work, is to change behavior in the community as it relates to public health, safety, wellness, healthy eating, and particularly obesity.

The data with regards to kids with Type 2 Diabetes is startling, numbers are off the chart.  We used to refer to this kind of Diabetes as “Adult Onset.”   We cannot really refer to it as Adult Onset any longer because it’s now a child’s disease and is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes.  (I am not familiar with Diabetes because it’s no one in my family is afflicted with it, fortunately, so I’ll have to do some research in the coming weeks.)

Anyway, back to Mark Fenton.  His website says:  Engineering physical activity back into American communities and lives.

He is an MIT Engineer and today is an Associate Professor/Researcher at Tufts University.

He is a sought after public speaker (he was wildly entertaining), a Public Health expert / community planner – an author, athlete, environmentalist, and so much more.

Here’s his website:  www.markfenton.com/index.html

In a nutshell, his goal when working with government and communities is:

Build communities that support a healthier, more physically active population, and more sustainable and enjoyable lifestyles. The pathway there, however, is very challenging. Mark Fenton is a public health, planning, and transportation consultant who is trying to help America find its way to more active and more livable cities, towns, and neighborhoods. He works with organizations and communities around the country to build environments, policies, and programs that help to create places where more people walk, bicycle, and take transit more of the time. And its not just about healthier people. Done well, active community designs lead to economically, environmentally, and socially thriving cities, towns, and rural settings where people of all ages, abilities, and incomes lead long, vibrant lives.

Needless to say, our goals involve changes in transportation planning, government, and education…

I’ll be sharing a lot more about this journey that I’m going on with the YMCA in the coming days.

12
Nov

Get Your Guns Out: Let’s All Celebrate Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day.  I had to work, but I managed to read stories about various celebrations going on across the country in honor of the day.

It is good to pay respect and honor the men and women in the military, they are doing what they are paid to do.  (At least they get a paycheck.)    I do think celebrating today’s “wars” is hypocritical.  (Maybe hypocritical is the wrong word.  Disingenuous is more like it.)

Let’s face it – we all know today’s involvement in conflicts around the world are not “wars.”  We call it war, but it’s not.

Who attacked us?  Certainly not Iraq and certainly not Afghanistan.

Yet we call our invasion into these countries (who never attacked us) a “war.”

Our military involvement and the involvement of American contractors (who’re making millions of dollars a year), are not helping to end a war!

We are in a money war.  The sole reason for our involvement is to bring enough stability in a region to take over their oil and profits.

We can’t head into Iraq or Afghanistan and ask them to roll over so we can rape and ravage their land.  No.  It is necessary to invade these countries on the premise of instilling so-called democratic values;  christian and capitalism values to profit and control the regions.

Of course it’s appalling.  Of course it’s also true.

The 1% who have stolen America’s wealth and seek to extend our form of “democracy” over the remainder of the world’s people, are the only ones who benefit from our aggressive sorties into other continents. The mercenaries, Pentagon bureaucrats, military contractors, and pathetic fools who serve in and with our armed forces, because there are no other jobs available in this economy, recognize the absurdity of calling these murderous conflicts “wars.” Wars are fought with those who can fight back. Germany’s slaughter of the Jews was not a “war,” it was murder, plain and simple –likewise with the conduct of our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now, Africa. ~ Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken / November 11th, 2011

This article (click the link below) is sad but honest.

Get Your Guns Out: Let’s All Celebrate Veteran’s Day.

9
Nov

no hasta la vista for the constitution, baby!

Tuesday’s votes in various states – many of which were extremely controversial – were for the most part defeated.  Mississippians rejected the Republican Personhood/Anti-Abortion Initiative… (phew!)

A story in The New York Times concludes:

And while voters in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, turned away a measure that would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception and had drawn conservative support from members of both parties, they tightened their voting laws to require some from of government-approved identification. Democrats had opposed the requirement, saying it was a thinly disguised attempt to intimidate voters of color.

In Maine, where Republicans recently had ended same-day registration at polling places, voters decided to restore the practice, which Democrats support.

In my view, it was a wonderfully DISMAL day for Republican Conservatives who want to set the clock back on women’s issues, LGBT issues, gay marriage, Unions, abortions, immigration in favor of Christian rule….  and so much more.

For the record, I have nothing against Christianity – I’m one, sort of.

Every religion has value – just as every human being has value.  Christianity should not define a person any more than Islam should.  Let people wear their religion proudly but quietly, please.

I get very cantankerous when it comes to categorizing the United States as a Christian nation.  It is not true.  Never has been.  Talk to the hand on that one.

Why do people have to shout so loudly about “being Christian?”   It seems unbecoming and counter-intuitive to the spirit of Christianity.

Anyone who has to press and press and ram religion down people’s throats is insecure in their own belief.  True “Believers” don’t need to call attention to themselves.

Christian Conservatives, and many of the tea drinkers, would like the rest of us to believe if you are not Christian, you’re nothing.   Excuse me?!!

How would the Christians like it if we became a Hindu or Islam nation?  They wouldn’t like hearing that anymore than non-Christians like to hear Christians shouting their superiority!

How does this sound…

We are a Jewish nation because Judaism rules!

I say we are a Buddist nation.

Excuuuuse me, we are a Islam religious nation.

Dammit, I said we are a Hindu nation!

Well, CLEARLY this nation is all about Scientology – duh!

Get outta town, you nut case – there’s no denying that we are becoming a Bahá’í people.

Gimme a freakin break people, we are a Tele-evangelist society, always have been, always will be.

Well, butter my biscuits, we are a nation of Yoga tele-novelas!

Butter your own biscuit buddy – you clown, there is no dispute here – we are an HBO nation.

HBO.  They don’t HAVE religion on there!

Hah!  That’s my point, you pea brained parasite – I like my religion ‘HBO Latino’ style.   So, hasta la vista to you, baby!

This country was built by immigrants of all religions. We are a diverse nation of every color and every religion known created by man.  Every one of them has a place behind the scenes and out of the workplace, out of government – not down our throats!

I get so angry when people can’t see WHY religion is the ultimate, dangerous divide.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.  ~ Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, (1818 – 1883)

%d bloggers like this: