Now that the government shutdown is a reality, I want to take this opportunity to register my disgust at how this played out. I try and take a reasonable approach to the issue of who is responsible for government problems, and have a rather evenhanded focus, but in this, I am rather upset at the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
The subject of Father Scott's homily on Sunday was "tunnel vision," something our local parish priest knows a lot about since it was not until he was in his twenties and well out of high school that Father Scott finally got his driver's license. "Tunnel vision," said the state trooper who flunked him. "Stop focusing on the straight lines in front of you and see everything around you."
But it wasn't to whine about being the only kid in his senior class who still rode a bike to school that Father Scott brought up the subject of "tunnel vision." Instead, it was as a prod to urge the rest of us to stop fixating on the bright lines defining our own narrow prejudices, or tribes, or self-imposed prisons so that we might see the larger world around us.
That is because, as Father Scott explained, "God colors outside the lines."
Mine is a parish, as I have mentioned before, that lies on the outskirts (and mostly under the radar screen) of the larger Boston Archdiocese. It's a town that is predominantly Jewish but which has a protestant church on three of the town square's four corners and also a mosque all our own. Read more
I spent a little time in California over the summer. It had been awhile. I remember going there as a kid and being so impressed. It seems that the days when everyone in the nation looked up to California, that magical land filled with perfect weather, sandy beaches, gorgeous women, and glamorous movie stars, have gone the way of the VCR and the cassette deck.
The first condition that I noticed was that the check stations, that used to manned by friendly, professional, state officials, who welcomed you to California and asked if you were bringing fruits or vegetables to or from that state, now look like the ruined shacks from Fallout 3. I was waiting to be attacked by "Mole-Rats".
Oh, and the rest areas are all closed so don't bother trying. You have no choice but to pee at truck stop as you're paying $6.02 a gallon for gas. Read more
We have all been seeing for years now the arguments put forward by some that President Barack Obama was ineligible to run for President because he was not a "natural born citizen" as his father was from Kenya. Despite Hawaii finally giving over a copy of the long form of Obama's birth certificate, and the repeated refusal of courts to entertain the issue, many are still making the same, tired arguments. Well, we have a debunking of that argument in the form of an Obama opponent who was born in Canada, holds dual citizenship due to Canadian law, and one parent who was not a US citizen at the time of his birth. That person? None other than Tea Party favorite and ultra conservative politician from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz. Read more
Mickey Edwards steals a page from those early Progressives who believed the cure for democracy was more democracy. Joining a long list of Republican "reformers" who are trying mightily to help the GOP avoid a rendevous with hostile demographics, the one-time Oklahoma Congressman wants to scrap the two-party system altogether in favor of a more participatory "nonpartisan" democracy able to govern itself without party labels.
It's an appealing vision of a restored "civic republicanism" that Edwards offers in his latest book, The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans. Appealing to me, at any rate, because it reflects my own belief that it is far more important how a party or a country thinks than what it thinks - since, as Edwards says, "democracy is not about policy but about process" and "how we select our leaders, how we deliberate, how we decide" are what really determine whether Americans are fit for self-government. Read more
My first memory of any recognition of race was the day I brought my new friend home for lunch. My grandma must have been watching us come up the steps because she met us at the door and said it wasn't convenient to have guests for lunch. She sent my new friend packing and then set me down and told me to never do that again. She said we don't mix with Blacks. That's all she would say.
Later, I asked my mom what she meant. Mom said that grandma had moved to the city from the farm and she had no experience with people of other races. She said Grandma was prejudiced. I asked what that meant. Mom said prejudice was fear of others because they are different from us. She said there were lots of ways to be prejudiced but race was the most common. I went to public school and in the 50's there wasn't much integration so I didn't have many interactions with other races. Read more
It seems puzzling that Harvard University would grant tenure, let alone appoint someone to be the chairman of its economics department, who fundamentally doesn't believe in economics. But there it is, all spelled out in a much talked about new paper, "Defending the One Percent," by Harvard economics professor and former Mitt Romney advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
After summarily dispensing with the arguments offered by those on "the left" for greater income equality, specifically those of Joseph Stiglitz who condemns today's yawning wage gap as not only unjust and obscene but economically inefficient as well, Mankiw concludes his 25-page apologia for the bulging portfolios of today's plutocrats by asserting that taxing the wealthy to support socially useful purposes is just plain "wrong." Read more
Yes. I busted my ass for Obama the first time around.
Opened my checkbook, campaigned, knocked on doors. Did everything I could to see that he carried Florida in the Presidential election.
Not easy in a place where Fred Thompson signs were as common as plastic pink flamingos at the time during the primary and right wing nuts carried Soviet flags outside of local Obama campaign headquarters. Where women thought Palin was the essence of true feminism. I had the lone Obama sign on my lawn in a sea of McCain - Palin cardboard.
But I got the last laugh. At least I thought so at the time.
We had elected a Democratic President and controlled the two Houses of Congress. And we carried Florida.
Maybe something would get done.
Maybe universal healthcare. Maybe peace would come. Maybe a society which would leave behind racism. Maybe repeal of the Bush tax giveaways to billionaires. Maybe we would spend money on people rather than aircraft carriers. Maybe we would stop torturing people. Maybe Gitmo would close.
Maybe. Read more
"Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if his name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.
Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft? "
Thus wrote David Sirota last week in Salon.com.
"There is, of course, no definitive answer to such a complex question. However, a look back at some lost history shows that today’s public acquiescence to militarism was exactly what the government wanted when it ended the draft. Read more
Gun rights purists can’t believe their luck. One lunatic on a Texas college campus has proven their point: it’s not the guns that kill people. If someone wants to wage deadly mayhem, he’ll find a means to do it. Gun control liberals can finally STFU now.
Except, a lunatic with a knife differs pretty distinctly from a lunatic with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Where Newtown saw thirty children shot multiple times, funerals spanning a month, and a nation in perpetual mourning, in Houston, Texas every single victim lives. Two are in critical condition, the rest are stable. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as is any human who has suffered the trauma of a physical attack.
Every attack on multiple people is different. Every one is isolated and born from unique reasons – the failure of the mental health structure here being the basis of some. To lump them together as an anecdotal instance to prove a political point is to compound that failure. No one wins here. Read more
It’s March 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history in 1774 the government of the British Empire embodied the term “tyranny”, passing The Boston Port Act, The Massachusetts Government Act, The Quartering Act, and The Administration of Justice Act. You know what they say about those who don’t study history right? The Sons of Liberty, or insurgent rebels to the British, had dumped three cargo ships worth of precious tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act. In response the British government passed the draconian acts to remind the insurgents of their place. The British enjoyed global hegemony and needed to remind the colonists, and the rest of the world, that they were not to be trifled with (in British parlance those are actually strong words). With zero sense of the justice that many British philosophers helped to define, the empire closed the port of Boston, made the Massachusetts government impotent, placed British troops in the homes and businesses of the insurgents, and placed British officials above the law. Read more
This year I will be 71 years old, assuming I make it and I have close family now into their eighties. I was born in the first year of WW II and my older relatives born in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
When I was a kid grandparents lived with their children and their grandchildren. One of the kids took in their mom and pop while the rest of the kids were expected to kick into the pot to provide for their support.
That’s the way it was before Social Security.
Folks were expected to work until they died which usually wasn’t long. The average life expectancy for a male in the 1920s was 49 years. If you lived longer there was no expected retirement age. You worked until you could no longer work or until you could no longer find work.
Then you were expected to live on your savings. Home ownership at the time was below 20% in the lower working class and the average wage adjusted for inflation in today’s purchasing power was around $13,000. So usually old folks didn’t have sufficient resources to live on.
So you went to your children if you had any. It was expected. Grandma usually got one of the children’s bedrooms. Read more
Lest we forget, here are the highlights:
Susan Fluke … so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills.
What does that make her? It makes her a slut right? It makes her a prostitute! She wants to be paid to have sex
Ms. Fluke...Who bought your condoms in the 6th grade?
She’s having so much sex it’s amazing she can still walk.
Random hook-ups that these babes are encountering here … having sex nearly 3 times a day.
Ms Fluke and the rest of you FemiNazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex...then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke, and that would be the videos of this sex posted online so we can see.
There's more--a lot more. Although you can't find the transcript on Rush Limbaugh's website, which otherwise contains a meticulous archival treasure trove of hate speech. He erased it when he realized what he had done. Read more
It’s Thursday February 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1861, the U.S. Congress created Colorado Territory. They didn’t actually create anything. They just wrote and signed some pieces of paper that claimed the land that would come to be known as Colorado Territory was now officially Colorado Territory. The land wasn’t aware of its new name. Until that time, the land had always been the land on which the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe people lived. What’s most surprising about this decree to those of us alive today is not how the U.S. Government had taken yet another brutal step in annihilating the indigenous peoples of North America (that’s old hat – and we’re still going to write about it until the day we die), but that the U.S. Congress somehow managed to get something done. Times have changed. Read more