What Should Have Been

 Culture, Entertainment, Music  Comments Off on What Should Have Been
Nov 042009
 

Recently I complained about the overall demeanor and conduct of a Naturalization Ceremony I attended. I commented about the fact that with all the beautiful American Anthems available, they had chosen to play, “Proud to Be An American.” I know some people like it, but it’s a bit too country and smarmy for my tastes, and it just seems it would have been all to easy to use something like this.

This just stirs me far more.

(You’ll have to turn up the volume, it’s quite low.)

And To The Republic…One Nation?

 Constitution, Featured, General, Politics  Comments Off on And To The Republic…One Nation?
Jul 042009
 

One can’t be as opinionated as I, and not post a message on Independence Day. As I have stated before, I remain concerned about the condition of our Republic. We no longer seem to be one nation…we have devolved into red and blue states, with the extreme right and left pulling the center apart. We’ve become a nation of “haves” and “have nots” We have lost touch with that primary Constitutional principle of “the common good.”

U.S. Flag“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Two days before this date in 1776, the Continental Congress had actually voted to break with Britain. It was on this day in 1776 that the assembled adopted the Declaration that set in motion the events that would forge this republic. What does it mean to be a Republic? The word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin phrase res publica which can be translated as “public affairs”. In its broadest definition, a republic is a state or country not led by a Monarch, and in which the people have influence on their government. Are we there yet, or did we have it and lose it?

I think we still have some ways to go, and sometimes I think we are losing ground. People of color have made progress, but make no mistake that racism remains alive and well. Gay people are only just starting to gain the legal rights to equal treatment. In that great document adopted on this day Jefferson talked about unalienable rights, and cited as examples “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” If we all merely stepped aside and granted to each person those three things, we would be closer to a perfect union.

The primary and stated purpose for creating a Republic from the many states is in the preamble to Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The founders were intent on insuring several things for their and future generations. First is Justice and securing the Blessings of Liberty. The founders had previously cited King George’s unfair legal system that denied people fair trials, locked people away without charge or trial, took them to foreign soil without trial…sound familiar?

The others, “the common defense” and “promote the general Welfare” impose on Americans a need to care for one another. The idea that America is about nothing but individual freedom is not true. Each man is and should be free to pursue happiness, unless and until his goals come in conflict with the common good, or the rights of others. We seem to have so much lost sight of this part of our founding, and in that is where I find my fear for the survival of the republic.

We all complain that the government wastes money, and certainly in many cases they do, but so do big corporations. Any organization, once it’s large enough, supports a bureaucracy that is prone to waste and indifference. The hope of our founders is that the people would hold the government and their representatives accountable, and we can. With corporations, we have little recourse. So people go without healthcare and insurance because we allow our representatives to be bought and paid for by the insurance industry. We fail in educating our children because we don’t want to pay taxes, and we attend “tea parties” that are actually sponsored by wealthy corporations fomenting support for lower taxes on themselves, in the name of protecting “the little people.”  Continue reading »

Tortured Logic on Torture

 Crime, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Tortured Logic on Torture
Apr 262009
 

Wooden_stocks.jpgSen. John McCain was on Face the Nation Sunday morning, and the contortions he went through to let the previous administration off the hook for their illegal torturing was astounding.

He starts off reiterating that he and his (ahem) friend Lindsey Graham talked to Al-Qaeda operatives who said that U.S. torture was a main recruiting tool they used. He goes on to try claim that it was all just the result of some bad legal advice…despite being sure he took credit for passing a law prohibiting torture. So, it was important for him to get the bill passed, but not important for the Bush regime’s lawyers to read it?

They are still trying to get traction with the canard about it being all about settling political scores, and how we just move on and take care of the two wars we are in. Again, what score does Obama have to settle. He didn’t even serve a full term in the Senate, and he wasn’t running against Bush. And McCain has the gall, after the campaign he ran, to say, “We need a united nation, not a divided one.”

Early in the interview McCain makes the claim that he believes no other Administration will ever make the same mistake (of using bad legal advice…I guess), and torture again. But then he tries to use the Ford pardon of Nixon as a justification to move on. Obviously, not pardoning Nixon allowed the Bush administration to believe, as Nixon said, “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.” This is incredibly twisted logic.

But here’s the real kicker to it all. While McCain is arguing that there should be no retribution against the legal hacks of the Bush/Cheney Regime, he says (after admitting we violated the Geneva Conventions), “and by the way, those who say our enemies won’t abide by the Geneva Conventions…uh they will if they know there’s going to be retribution for their violation.”

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Apr 212007
 

An excerpt from Iacocca’s new book – read the entire excerpt:

Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have….

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them-or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy….        Continue reading »

Sick But True-Healthcare in America

 Congress, General, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Sick But True-Healthcare in America
Nov 102005
 

For some time, the conservative "position" on health care has been a stalwart commitment to the status quo, resisting any proposals for sweeping reform. Two new studies comparing global health data — one by American Progress distinguished senior fellow Tom Daschle, another by the Commonwealth Fund — spell out what this position entails: conservatives apparently are content with a health care system that ranks #37 in the world (behind both developed and developing countries); a system that has the highest rate of medical mistakes, medication errors, and inaccurate or delayed lab results of any of the six nations surveyed by Commonwealth (Australia, Canada, German, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom); and a system that forces fully half of sick adults to report cost-related barriers to needed care. This disparity is not simply about health practices or economics; it is about our most basic values as Americans: our current health care system violates our core commitment to the common good, and betrays the simple notion (articulated by Sen. Daschle) that the "world’s wealthiest country should be its healthiest." (The Center for American Progress, unlike the Bush administration, has developed a real plan for making America healthier. Read all about it, or watch the flash video.)

THE MORAL COST OF THE STATUS QUO: The most substandard element of our health care system is arguably also the most morally troubling. As Paul Krugman explains, "Americans are far more likely than others to forgo treatment because they can’t afford it. Forty percent of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor when sick or from getting recommended tests or follow-up." That citizens must regularly deny themselves and their families medical care is bad enough; that it happens in the wealthiest country in human history is almost unbelievable.

THE ECONOMIC COST OF THE STATUS QUO: Employment-based health insurance "is the only serious source of coverage for Americans too young to receive Medicare and insufficiently destitute to receive Medicaid," yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. The reason? The strain of health care costs for employers is growing, "possibly to a breaking point." The average total premium for an employer-based family plan was $9,979 in 2005, representing nearly the entire annual income of a full-time, minimum-wage worker. The cost of premiums for employer-based plans has outpaced wage growth by nearly fivefold since 2000. According to one report, by 2008, health costs will exceed profits at Fortune 500 companies. Comparing the U.S. system to countries with universal coverage, Sen. Daschle found that "in general, their predictable and broadly-financed costs along with their outcomes — improved health and productivity of workers — tend to benefit their businesses, and give them a competitive advantage over ours."

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