Where do we go from here?

I have this terrible feeling that I, along with everyone else in this country, am being sacrificed at the altar of hubris and zealotry.

“Take no prisoners” is a way of waging war.  It is not a way of governing.  True believers and purists on both sides of the aisles are important counterbalances, but they cannot dictate the future of our nation.  Even Grover Norquist said letting the Bush tax cuts (which affect me) expire and closing tax loopholes are not “new” taxes (phew, because if repealing subsidies for corporate jets is so problematic in these times of George W. Bush deficits, then let’s all join hands and drown ourselves).  Shouldn’t the true believers be swayed?  I guess it is a new, virulent strain of true believer.  One that speaks to God directly.  It must be a local call because the long distance charges alone could bankrupt a person.

For those who invoke G-d and destiny in the argument surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling, I send this quote:

“Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God.”

This is the answer to two questions posed in Micah, Chap. 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you? What are you supposed to do to live faithfully with your God?”

Why am  quoting scripture?  Because I am that desperate for the extremists to take pity on us and our nation and make some hard and dare I say, PRACTICAL, decisions.

I understand taking a hard line in the abortion debate, in the capital punishment debate and in the war debates.  These are about potential life, actual life and the taking of life.  But, in the money debate?  I think you can tell what God thinks about money by who has the most.  So, let’s not bring God into this.  Let’s be honest.  It is about political gain and power. And that is about as un-God-like as you can get.

You know the world is tilted in the wrong direction when I am trying to “protect” God’s good name from God’s self-proclaimed followers.  As far as I can tell, they are frauds.

 

President Obama, Save the Date

Dear President Obama:

I know, deep down, in your heart of hearts, you are not anti-gay marriage.  In fact, I think you don’t understand why people draw the line in the sand on this issue.  Given what a mess heterosexuals make of marriage, who should care if more people want to get married and then pay the marriage tax, to boot.  If some crazy gays want to do this, then G-d bless, right?

But you’ve missed the point.  It’s about taxation.

People don’t want to subject us queers to the marriage tax because the problem in Washington is spending, not revenue.

How about if you have a special tax code exemption for us so we don’t have to see our hard-earned dollars go into social programs? Maybe speak with Majority Leader Boehner (and how come his name isn’t pronounce “Boner” anyway?) about this.  I am sure that he will drop his Defense of Marriage Act defense once he realizes the gay marriage is not back door taxation.  (Don’t even think that was a clever pun for those who are male.)

Look, the GOP standard bearers want to protect our lives and our incomes.  Why else would they not want us to serve in the military?  And not marry?  Well, aren’t we the unanticipated darlings of the far-right?

This is the triple negative political action play that is making my head spin.  But never mind the GOP.

Andrew Cuomo, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have all stepped on the bandwagon.  Now I know the Clintons aren’t running for political office anymore (maybe a seat on the Supreme Court . . . ).  But Cuomo figures by 2016, equality will be a non-issue.  And he is right.  But you are in the “here and now” where it is gutsy to be a sitting President and lead by example.

You’re in a tough spot.  Let me sweeten the pot.  POB (partner of blogger) and I are getting married next year.  We had planned it well before the vote because we just wanted to celebrate our family and friends.

There’s an invitation with Michelle’s and your names on it if you just say. . .

Yes, gays can.”

 

Who is Grover Norquist and why is he so powerful?

Check this guy out.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist.

Why is this man more powerful than the rest of us voters?  Why does he get to trump the one-man, one-vote rule of our democracy?

If you think I am joking, read this:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-24/norquist-emerges-as-barrier-to-u-s-debt-deal.html.

Most of the GOP lawmakers have signed a pledge prepared by his organization that there will be no new taxes or increases in taxes.  According to the Bloomberg article, Norquist, President of “Americans for Tax Reform, says he has secured written pledges from 40 of the 47 Republicans in the Senate and 233 of 240 party members in the House. More than 1,300 state-level legislators, governors and even auditors have also signed, Norquist said. That includes Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Ohio Governor John Kasich, all Republicans, he said.”

Of course he was lobbying for Fannie and Freddie before he was against them as emblematic of government waste and overreach.  (He may not be wrong, but he says it with unclean hands.)   “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac brought us this collapse … This was criminal negligence on the part of Barney Frank and Dodd.”  Really?  Really? 

Oh, yeah, his partner in his lobbying venture was convicted in the Abramoff scandal.

I guess it begs the question: how stupid are WE?  After all, we as a country elected representatives that promised to be doctrinaire no matter what happens, no matter what they find when they get to Washington, no matter what they learn on the job.  If these representatives took that pledge after we elected them, that would be treason, because they would be beholden to someone not “the people” or the “nation”.  Yes, treason.  TREASON.

Grover Norquist is made possible through the ignorance of us all.

Hitting the roof

Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, even the Republicans, Boehner himself, have acknowledged the catastrophic nature of our nation’s defaulting on its obligations. Yet, lawmakers are trying to leverage our need to raise the debt ceiling to exact political points.

Yes, lawmakers think they can play brinksmanship with our future.  The mere fact that our politicians would keep the world — and us — in suspense until August will erode our creditworthiness abroad and the global confidence in our economy.  We think of us as a society where our word is our bond.  Well, look in the mirror.  It isn’t pretty.

Imagine how you would view a country so divided in their “parliament” that one side is willing to risk ruin to have its way — slash and burn tactics.  So, just because we are the United States of America, you think we can mess with this stuff, without ramifications?  If you do, you are arrogant AND crazy.

Am I good with so much debt? No way.  I pay my credit cards on time.  I can afford my mortgage and could pay it off tomorrow. I believe that a person, a family, a country must live within its means.  If we need to spend more, then someone needs a second (part-time) job.  We didn’t do that and fought two wars and gave tax cuts to people like me who never asked for one, didn’t need one and didn’t want one.  So, now we have to live with the consequences. And I am willing to pay more in taxes to clean up George Bush’s and Trent Lott’s and Bill Frist’s nightmare.

It is important to note that the GOP — under whose governance drove us into this debt hole — is the party that is playing it to the bone.  Not because they are arrogant; but because they are hypocrites.   And the hypocrisy is so galling that it makes me want to go to the Congress and shout: “WORRY ABOUT US AND NOT YOUR POLL NUMBERS, YOUR JOBS AND YOUR POWER!!!!!!! FIX IT NOW.” If there is a report of a middle-aged lunatic screaming in the House of Representatives, you’ll know that I may be off-line for a while, in federal custody.

I think we have to raise the debt ceiling, not only because the credit of our great nation is at stake, but because it makes sense.  And, although I am an unabashed and unapologetic liberal, I am conservative in my investments and my rationale for raising the debt ceiling is, to my mind, steeped in the rudiments of getting out of debt and on a sustainable course.

It is, perhaps, counter-intuitive that a shirt-maker in bankruptcy should be allowed to borrow MORE in order to pay workers to stitch together the pieces of cloth so that they become shirts.  Scraps of cloth are worthless; however, a completed shirt sells for something.  That differential is presumably more than the amount borrowed.  The net effect is that there is a meaningful exit from bankruptcy where the assets of the company are maximized to pay off debts and re-emerge on sounder footing.

We have many fights ahead about just how we re-emerge from this mess a stronger nation, indivisible, with liberty, FAIRNESS and justice for all.  Let’s give ourselves some breathing room, for our sakes and the future of our country.

You may disagree with me on principle (IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) and JR (old friend from Camp Wingate/Camp Kirkland): go at me) but you can’t disagree with the necessity and exigencies of the circumstances — with a no-win choice, you must choose to raise the roof.

 

Dear Paul

Dear Paul:

I am not a Ryan, but I know members of your extended family. 

I know you come from such a good family, with strong community values based in religious precepts, like the one about taking care of the poor and the stranger.  Or the other one about not putting a stone in the way of a blind person.  And even though Rabbi Hillel said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” that is totally in sync with the Christian Bible.

Here’s the big problem with your budget:

No amount of spending cuts is going to get us out of the hole caused by waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya. 

Paying for these requires tax increases.   (Remember when the GOP just put the Iraq and Afghanistan tabs on the credit card and, oops, forgot to put these line items in the budget??????) 

Cut all you want from social programs, etc.  Go on.  

But one year from now, when the deficit is still essentially as large as it now, there will need to be a tax increase on all Americans. 

All you will have done is gutted the social compact that each generation has with another:  we will not leave those vulnerable in our society — the young and the old — to fend for themselves.   The very social compact that makes America great.

What are you thinking?

Politics, Politics

Ok, the rant is building, building, building . . . here it comes!!

I liked the State of the Union address.  The President could have touted that he saved the car industry, that he kept the country from economic free-fall, that the US and Israel disrupted Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but he didn’t.  I think he should have because America needs to remember all that he has accomplished.   But that is because I am partisan.  I think he struck the right tone as willing to make principled compromises. Besides, he had one hour to say all things to all people.  Hey, now that’s a reasonable expectation.

The sign that he did a good job was that he was being pilloried by MSNBC, CNN and, even without watching it, FOX.

Oh, and, apropos of nothing, Speaker Boehner has a bad body colorist.

In the GOP retort, Paul Ryan said investment is a code-word for spending.  It is not.  There is no code. Investment is spending.  When I invest in real estate, stocks, etc., I am spending money, with an eye toward making a good return on my investment.

So, the three things that distinguish the GOP and the Democrats is who should do the spending, on what and how much.

I believe in spending on education and innovation.   I believe that these will provide a good return on the money invested.  The GOP believes that investment should be made by private enterprise.  How private enterprise would have developed the Internet and GPS or will develop high speed railways and clean energy without government grants is beyond me.  And should we abolish public education?  No, but the GOP wants to starve it so that the little money spent on it would be a waste.

We pay the least amount of taxes of the industrialized nations.  Before WWII, tax rates had some people paying 80%.  So everyone, chill out on taxes.  Remember the GOP spent willy-nilly (not a usual phrase for me) on two wars and kept it outside the budget so that the American people wouldn’t know.  So, now, NOW, we have to worry about taxing the top 2%?  Did you ask me?  If you did, I would tell you to keep my tax cut and buy some muzzles for the Tea Party legislators.  Now, that is a good investment.  Do you think it is really tea?  It is a dry weed-like substance.  We should try rolling that “tea” and seeing if smoking it give us delusions of intelligent impact on the national discourse, too.

Paul Ryan seems like a lovely guy but I was distracted by his perfect hair and a little freaked out by his Biblical references. And why is your part half way between the middle and one side?  Isn’t that radical?

Rep. Ryan said something like our regulations were fine, it was just the corporate and governmental evil-doers that stole our prosperity.  But, wait, that happened BEFORE President Obama was president.  Remember, that Decider guy?  Yeah, that one.  He was running the show.  And, wait for it . . . he is a Republican!!!  Omigod, how embarrassing, Paul.  Still, with that gaffe extraordinaire, your hair did not move.

And, will you stop about small government?  There are 300 million of us.  We need hordes just to pave roads and administer social security and Medicare, run the military and veterans benefits.  You don’t mean to scrimp on these things, do you Paul?  You even referred to the days of Lincoln as an example of small government.  Those crazy, high energy, innovative days when were no fair labor laws, children worked 14-hour days, no food or product safety laws and, oh, yes, no truth in advertising or disclosure by companies.  So we could die in the factory, die from rotten food or poisonous products or lose our life savings to corporate con men.  And, as a student of history, you know that our nation went through boom and bust cycles every decade because of the inability to regulate the unbridled greed of speculators and market makers.

Oh, yes, sign me up, Paul, for your vision of America.  Or I guess I could just go to a third world nation for the same experience.

No pulse

Dick Cheney has no pulse.   Another fact that points to his being Satan.

He had a new procedure (read about it in the Huffington Post — Dick Cheney’s procedure) that inserted a pump that essentially overrides the heart.  As if he had one to begin with.

Let’s set aside whether he should be eligible for a heart transplant at his age and physical condition and whether it is right of the living to go hunting and shoot his friends.

Who in America can afford this procedure without insurance?  He had a pre-existing condition.  Luckily, he is wealthy and has a government health plan that will pay for him.  What about a 69 year-old factory worker? 

The health care overhaul is designed so that we don’t have to choose whose life is more valuable.  So, health care reform is the exact opposite of the “death panel” lies and propaganda. 

In fact, those who oppose health care reform don’t want to kill the Grandpa who is rich like Dick Cheney but they will let the Grandpa who is a retired factory worker die.

Sometimes it is fun to stoop to “their” level

Ok, since I hate most all of which Senator McConnell stands for, I can’t help but revel in a little meanspiritedness.

In the photo, he is addressing reporters about holding up all legislation unless the Bush tax cuts are extended (and thus impliedly shutting down the government and allowing unemployment benefits to expire).

But what he is really saying, as he points to his colleague Senator John Cornyn, is, “listen to me, but look at John Cornyn’s strong chin while I squawk like a chicken.”

Yes, it is mean.  But the rabid GOPers do it all the time, with impunity.

Ok, I feel really bad.  He cannot control how he looks.  But I probably wouldn’t notice that he looks like Thanksgiving dinner if he weren’t soooo venal.

I really feel bad.  I am tormented.  I’ll take it down tomorrow.  Maybe.  It doesn’t feel so good after all, this meanspiritedness.  Mitch, you can keep the gutter politics.  I am only sitting in the muck with you this one time.

First, fire the pundits. Second, let’s talk about race.

Yesterday op-ed by Bob Herbert of the New York Times really got me nuts.  It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I don’t care which party “gets it” or not.  That is not even a relevant question.

That we have a president named Barack Hussein Obama is in fact a delivery of his campaign promise of change.  The fact that he is decried as not that much different from other presidents is another delivery of his campaign promise of being President of all citizens, not just blue states.

You see, you may not have noticed, but the President of the United States is African-American.  Now, I am a middle-aged, white, Jewish lesbian (MWJL).  And I have no idea what it is to be anything or anyone other than who I am. But from my perspective (for what it is worth):

The President may be post-racial, but the country is not.  (We are making progress and, as we do, sometimes there is backlash that makes us think we are losing ground.)  The fact of his presidency is a challenge to much of the nation.  The fact that he is continuing some of the Bush policies in matters of war means that his opponents (the Grand Old White Man Party) need to frame his domestic policies as so radical as to threaten our very existence as a nation.  Thus, the charged rhetoric.

Because it is, at least in part, about race.  (Please no eye rolls — I am a MWJL, remember?)

Lest we forget that John McCain and Sarah Palin got a lot of votes and stirred up fears of the end of the reign of the Old White Man.

Remember when he let a little of his anger show when Professor Gates was arrested?  You would think that he created an international incident.  All he did was call the actions of white cops stupid.  Imagine George Bush doing that.  Not even a blip on the radar.

Listen to the racist language of the Tea Party.  These people are scared that they will be treated the way they have treated minorities.  They know that karma can be a painful boomerang.  So, now that the Establishment is run by an African-American, they are fighting the Establishment tooth and nail.

I had an epiphany the other day about DADT.  The President is Commander in Chief of a military run by conservative white men.  When he leads, they need to follow.  So, he needs to show he will listen, too.  So, maybe he needs to protect DADT for now as it winds it way through the courts and the Congress.

The President is the embodiment of the American dream, with the picture-perfect American family.  But he is not a reflection of America yet, but an aspiration of what America can be.  We all have some work to do.

Gays in the Military

Does anyone really believe that, with the lifting of the ban, gays will start wearing rainbow flags and singing Judy Garland songs instead of the national anthem? 

Military is a macho place where gays will be harassed for decades to come.  I doubt gays will start coming out of the closet in droves tomorrow. 

The point on the injunction is that no one can get forced from the military for being gay, so gay service members don’t have to live in fear of discovery while they serve our nation on the battlefields.  Our nation should be grateful to those who love this country so much that they will risk their lives even though they face senseless discrimination. 

Let’s get at the fear, which is sex:  Some people think that gay service members will start propositioning heterosexuals and start having sex in public. 

First, straight people over-estimate their attractiveness. 

Second, these people are trained military personnel who abide by a code of conduct. 

If a gay or straight service member acts in a way unbecoming an officer or enlisted person (use any example you want) then that service member can still be, and should be, discharged. 

And, President Obama, don’t fight this injunction.  We are here, we are queer and we are tired of waiting.