Monday, June 13, 2016

Must We Continue to Mourn

Obama has had to be mourner-in-chief fifteen times during his presidency, and he’s faced the nation from his bully pulpit with eloquence and deep sadness. I believe the sadness has become deeper with each mass shooting, and his frustrated inability to get our Congress to pass sane gun laws. Trump says that “Hillary will take away the Second Amendment”; that line is simply for idiots whose ignorance is allows them to believe what is not possible because no president can add or take away an amendment. The sad truth is that our Know Nothing-Do Nothing Congress refuses to pass sensible guns laws. They tell us that we need to be “protected,” and so children find these unusual toys, shoot other children, their mother or themselves. The Principal in Connecticut had a gun in her office; of course it was of no use to her. Don’t you think that in a state like Arizona, when Gabby Gifford was speaking at a popular mall, that some people in the audience had guns? These people understood that they could not use their guns because they were more likely to hurt innocent bystanders. In fact, most police officers could reliably shoot one person in a crowd. Few are trained sharpshooter. A lady with a large handbag, however, did manage to hit the shooter over the head while he was reloading. Now if only that shooter could not have gotten weapons.

We need to ban the sale of assault weapons to civilians; they are weapons of war, and war has been declared by these mad shooters. No more assault weapons except for    soldiers in war. No cartridges that can shoot many rounds without loading.

And most importantly, we can’t lose sight of the fact that except for 9/11, every mass shooting (and of course 9/11 was not a shooting) has been committed (with very few exceptions by an American citizen. Most were not of the Muslim Faith. Our problem with this love of weaponry and killing is not solved by banning Muslims (a crazy solution f ever I heard one). We must have background checks with a national registry. People register their cars, so what is the big fuss about registering guns? The national registry is very important, and there must be a minimum waiting period. Sale of guns, like automobiles must be registered if the transaction takes place at a gun show, or if a private individual sells or resells a gun. Just like a car. These are sensible laws.

Oh, yes, the discussion of gun control can never overlook the NRA, for the NRA doesn’t want any of it. The only way around that, people, is to vote them out of the pockets of our Congressmen. The NRA is not a sports club for hunters, it is not an advocate for gun owners, it is the lobby for the gun manufacturers. The NRA would like to see every man, woman, and child have at least one gun. Maybe ten. I don’t care if you’re sane, and if you register every single one  (and absolutely no assault weapons).

No other developed nation has the level of gun violence that we have, and the shooters are for the most part unbalanced American citizens, very few Muslims. Don’t let the politicians distract you with hateful rhetoric that doesn’t lead to a solution but becomes part of the problem. The few Muslims involved in home grown terrorism have not made up the majority of the mass shootings, and with few exceptions, the Muslim shooter, such as the Orlando killer, was an American citizen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why They Voted for Trump
MARCH 2, 2016 [New York Times]

In today’s New York Times, an article appeared; some of Trump’s voters were interviewed and explained why they voted for Donald Trump. It was telling, and I thought I’d share the article with you¾with my responses     to them. I could think of no other way to respond to these people, but I felt the need to respond because their reasons for their vote seemed to me to reek of a lack of thoughtful basic research.
Voters in the Super Tuesday states explain, in their own words, why they supported the day’s big Republican winner.
“I got six kids. It’s difficult. To have them grow up and be respectable and decent members of society is important. His kids aren’t running around like Paris Hilton and dragging their bodies through the mud.”  And Hillary Clinton’s daughter, a graduate of Stanford, is not a decent member of society?  
Albert Banda, 59
Somerville, Mass.
“He has such a big ego — that actually works in our favor, I think. He doesn’t just want to be a president. He wants to be the greatest president. He doesn’t want to be a laughingstock.” He already is a laughingstock in much of the world. Worse, we are a laughingstock for letting him get this far. People are shaking their heads and wondering whether we’ve been drinking Kool-Aid. He must be the most unqualified candidate for high office since … gee, maybe George W?
Elizabeth Burns, 55
Leesburg, Va.
“He’s not afraid to get in the trenches and fight for you. He’s going to be a bully, and he’s going to tell them what he thinks, and he’s going to push to get it done. He don’t care who he makes mad in the process.”  And the truth about bullies is that they are really cowards, and they bellow to keep people from seeing their fear. They expect everyone will just let them get their his way. And Trump  pushes so hard because he is for himself. He has always been for himself, so why change now?
Mark Harris, 48
Canton, Ga.
“The same with Muslims getting on airplanes: I think we should spend 25 times as much time searching a Muslim young man than a white middle-aged woman. It’s just common sense, even though it sounds like prejudice.”  But they do security checks and that’s how they caught the guy with the bomb in his shoe and the car bomb at Times Square before any damage was done. You may not have noticed all the security that’s going on because, usually, no one notices if nothing happens. We surely notice when something happens and in this large country, yes, things have happened, but a small percentage of what was planned. Could we do it better? Always. But don’t think nothing is being done¾and it is within the law (and that’s important because if we decided not to have laws about this, then we could be the next to be picked up if someone decided, hey, I can get back at my neighbor for whatever by reporting this person¾ and without rule of law, well …).
John Rupert, 75
Mahtomedi, Minn.
“More or less, it’s the statement: Listen, we’re sick and tired of what you people do. And we’re going to put somebody in there — now that it’s our choice, we’re going to put somebody in there that basically you don’t like.”  I would respond to this if I understood what this guy was talking about.  Who are “you people”?  Isn’t he one of the people? Aren’t we all one of the people? Is this Ken one of the people who identifies with the Trump slogan, “I’m going to make this country white (oops, great) again.”“
Ken Magno, 69
Everett, Mass.
“You’re letting refugees in, after what we’ve been through with 9/11? Are you kidding me? No! No, no, no. Now we have a bunch of people being killed, we’ve got ISIS cutting people’s heads off.” Please, Pam, don’t panic. So far, heads are not rolling in this country although it is true that in some of these Middle Eastern countries, terrorists are acting like terrorists and murdering people. But we do have a strong country and much as you probably won’t believe me, George W maybe slept on the job, but Obama seems to have kept awake. Hey, he caught bin Laden, didn’t he? As well as a bunch of other terrorist leaders. Yeah, we’re not finished, but he’s got people on it, and it seems with good success.
Pam Fisher, 52
Edina, Minn.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our Do-Nothing Congress

Senator Richard Shelby, in seeking a sixth term, has stalled the work of the Senate banking committee, which has not approved any of President Obama’s sixteen nominees.  Now why should Senator Shelby be re-elected if he does not do the work of the government to which he he was elected? 

Republicans like Shelby who have attempted to make Obama’s presidency “illegitimate” have, instead, made their own positions irrelevant. After all, why do we need politicians in Washington who not only “disapprove” of the president but refuse to do the work they were elected to do? What would you think of someone who was hired to work at a company and then refused to consider any of the work put on the desk but rather sat back doing virtually nothing but give speeches and collect a big fat paycheck? 

Why should anyone back home vote for such a person? We bemoan this  “do nothing” Congress, but the Congress will continue to do nothing until and unless the folks back home decide they want people how, whatever party they belong to, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. No excuses of any sort. No “I would work like hell but I don’t like the president” excuses. 

The rest of us don’t have the luxury of deciding that the boss is not to our liking so we just won’t do any work. Could any of us get away with that? Why should the US Congress? These people make more money than most of the citizens who vote. So who the hell are these constituents who vote against their own best interests? And, believe me, it is in no one’s interest to have people in Washington who do nothing. 

Nobel-prizing winning candidates for positions have not even been considered but have been allowed to languish until the candidates finally gave up on being voted on and allowed to get to work; bills that would have put many people to work on fixing infrastructure have not been voted on, not even considered; and yes Congress has repealed Obamacare at least sixty times and numerous bills curtailing the rights of women. Should a Republican president come into office, we might see a revolution¾but I am not sure that it would be to people’s liking once it became clear exactly what these measures meant for people’s lives and future.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

I have wanted to write something here for quite a while, but I have been swamped with work. But the campaign season has begun to nauseate me, and I must start writing here again. Jefferson said that a democracy cannot survive without an educated electorate. Well, it seems that we have a great number of uneducated and ignorant people who may vote for one of the candidates who could destroy this country. No, not hyperbole. For example, the narcissistic  Donald Trump could easily start World War III. Without reaching the Oval Office, he has already alienated many of the world leaders who would not be able to deal with him. Who may not want to deal with The Donald. At the same time, I don't know that any other Republican is much better. Perhaps not as dangerous, but equally unfit for high office. Ben Carson believes the Holocaust could have been avoided if the Jews would have had guns. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising proves him wrong. He doesn't seem to  be aware of the fact that Jews have always made up a very small minority in every country---even today in the United States, Jews do not make up more than 2 percent of the population. Anyone who believes in such a ":simple" solution for a complicated problem should not be sitting in the Oval Office. Even the baby-faced Rubio who seems to need a lot of coaching. Not ready for prime time, no matter what Nikki Haley says.

Not one of the Republicans believes in global warming or evolution. If questioned, I have a sinking feeling that most, if not all, would pontificate on creationism and deny everything that science has taught the rest of us. I still recall Sarah Palin, who doesn't seem to have understood anything she's ever read, saying that it's a "theory," so it isn't true (or did she say "ain't"?). I guess no one explained how the word "theory" is used in math and science (or perhaps she didn't qualify for that course). I wonder how she would explain away Einstein's Theory of Relativity because it's a "theory."

I understand that Obama's presidency has been a landmark in American history, and he has accomplished an incredible number of things, for which Republicans give him no credit: catching Bin Laden, enacting Obamacare (I don't think the people giving ACA that name realized they were awarding Obama's legacy beautifully with that appellation); opening the door to Cuba once (really akin to Nixon going to China); brokering the Iran deal (yes, we keep our friends close, but we keep our enemies closer); the many summits in which he played a leading role in getting accords about emissions, trade, and an array of other things. He has gotten the respect of the world, and I  believe he is much admired everywhere---but here.

Obama's election brought all the bigots out of their dark underground burrows; they found a new cause and a person they could freely hate. Many of them would like to pretend that he is not a legitimate president, still spouting birther theories and such although I suspect that history will eventually accord him one of our greatest. I have to admit that I admire his infinite reserve of restraint when he is time and again insulted, usually by rather stupid people.

I seem to be going far a field here, but I had been watching the Republican Town Hall this evening, and it made me angry, frightened, and upset. To see that there are people out there who believe that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, or in fact of them are actually fit for high office is rather frightening, especially with a Republican Congress. Congress has a vast array of bills they've passed, only waiting for a Republican president. Abortion could very well be denied to most women; even birth control could be on the table. Planned Parenthood would lose its funding; and I wouldn't be surprised to see the arts losing support in favor of further building up a military that doesn't need further building up. Donald Trump said on this evening's Town Hall that he, like the other Republicans, would get rid of Obamacare (which this Congress has repealed about sixty times) and go for a "voucher" program. For those unaware of what that is, it would mean paying for your medical expenses and then deducting the expenses on your taxes. And how, I wonder, would any poor person manage that? In fact, that would be a hardship for any but the very rich, especially should they need surgery.

The sum of what I heard from all of these candidates is that the rich would get richer and the poor would pay for it. The middle class would be further eroded. They speak of helping the middle class, but their programs all point to further catering to the rich. Obama has taxed the rich more than any president in recent times, but that could easily be erased by a Republican president with a Republican Congress. And my greatest fear, aside from war, is that with no middle class, we will become a banana republic..

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And They Call This Airport Security

When I got to the Denver airport for my return to New York, I allowed enough time for the security check, arriving almost two hours before flight time. After going through the x-ray machine, I was tapped and told that the machine had randomly selected me for a fuller check. I think I stood there with a perplexed look n my face. A machine had selected me at random for a closer security check? Is this how security is done at Denver airport? After rubbing something in my palms, I was then told a complete check was in order as their little procedure had shown that I had a dangerous chemical on my hands (perhaps something to do with making a bomb?) I protested that this whole procedure was ridiculous, but they insisted that since they had found this chemical on my hands, they knew I was indeed someone to check. I remarked that I would change my hand lotion if I ever made it back to Denver.

Did no one have any sense there? When I asked what they did if the machine “randomly” selected a child, the response was a gleeful “Oh, we’d check the mother.” I had the impression that I was the only unfortunate pick that day to get a fuller check. And check they did. My boots came off, my coat came off, and everything, including my handbag was kept from me. And I was told not to touch anything—even if they finished looking through it. They rummaged through all my dirty laundry in my suitcase, they opened and peered into the computer in my backpack, they ran something over the phone in my purse, and they scrounged around any belongings of mine they could find. Looking for what, I couldn’t imagine. Everything had been through the x-ray machine, and nothing remarkable had emerged. But they took my coat, all my shoes, boots, slippers, and a few other things and from what I heard, ran them through three different machines, and then brought them back. I think what annoyed me most was their obvious desire to find something incriminating and their treatment of me as a “suspect.”

When I said I had a plane to catch, one commented that “maybe I would make it.” With the implication that maybe I wouldn’t. And someone else at the end of the ordeal said that I should have come earlier (I was there about one and three-quarter hours before flight), but then I didn’t know I was to be put through this ridiculous charade. I had never been even given a second look at any airport before.

They saved the best for last—the complete pat down in a private room. Two women, one happily giving me a hands-on search from top of head to bottom of feet, making sure to cover every possible spot. She kept up a stream of talk supposedly telling me what she was doing as she did it, but it was in their official lingo and I had no idea what she was talking about, so I kept saying “Excuse me?” And the other woman would say “She’s telling you what she’s doing.” To which I responded, “I think I know what she’s doing, and telling me doesn’t make it any nicer. It is still totally outrageous.” When one finally nodded to the other, it seemed to be with some disappointment that I got the okay to go. Everything in my suitcase was in total disarray. I had no time for anything but to run to the gate before I missed my plane. They were boarding and had already called my section, and I just went on with the last section. I had had no time to even buy a bottle of water, and although I immediately asked an attendant for water, she told me that I wait to wait till we were in flight. I had to wait an hour and a half to get that water.

I think that Denver should be grateful that terrorists do not seem very interested in the city. They trend to gravitate toward cities like New York, Washington, Boston, and the like. Denver seems more likely to spawn local, disturbed gunslingers who wreak havoc in their own horrible way. And none of them are older women either. Strangely enough, they all seem to be disturbed young men.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The So-Called "Right to Work"

Back in the early 1930s, the New Deal’s National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA) for the first time in American history guaranteed labor the right of collective bargaining, and thus began the burgeoning of the middle class. Nothing did more to build and strengthen the American Dream and allow people the mobility of leaving poverty and earning a living wage.

These “right to work” laws, with their lovely rhetoric, have the potential of leading employees back to those pre-New Deal days and into poverty. This cannot be overstated. The right to work act puts power back in the employers’ hands as far as having the right to determine whether people will be able to work for a living wage or toil for sustenance. Without labor unions, there can be no collective bargaining; there can be no one to stand up for the rights of workers. Everyone is in danger of becoming a “Walmart employee,” a situation whereby the employees do not earn a living wage despite working full time. And the rest of us pay for the benefits the employer eschews, such as health care.

Even today, teachers do not earn a professional salary despite the necessity of a master’s degree for certification in many states. Teachers who earn a decent salary do so because of the fight of teachers’ unions for their members. What is most instructive however is that so many people who never belonged to a union benefitted from the work of the unions in fighting for decent salaries. Many however are still struggling to make ends meet. The result is reflected in a shortage of teachers in some areas, the dearth of male teachers in a profession that treats its people like unskilled labor, and our children not getting the education they need. This situation can only be exacerbated by right to work laws. This is only one example of what the future holds in states with right to work laws.

Will these laws attract new companies? Who knows? And if they do, what sort of companies will they be, and how will they benefit the community and the state? I suspect the results of these new laws will not reflect a better future for the state any more than they do the workers. Weren’t we told many years ago about how casino would enrich the states they came to? Weren’t we told that profits would be poured into the educational systems of those states? Has anyone noticed that the only people to profit from gambling casinos are the owners of the casinos? And so with these new so-called “right to work” laws, only the employers will benefit. Certainly not the workers. And that means the country loses.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


It has been said that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote. But there are several amendments that do in fact address voting, and they are as follows:

Amendment XV Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIX The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXVI Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XV was passed after the Civil War and gave the right to vote to black men. Yes, although the word people is used, the Fifteenth Amendment gave suffrage only to men. It was not only 1920, fifty years after this that the nineteenth amendment gave women the right to vote. The twenty-fourth Amendment, part of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s helped blacks in the South overcome Jim Crow to get to the polls. The twenty-sixth amendment lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen, with argument that if eighteen-year olds were old enough to fight and die for the country, they should have the right to vote. So we do have Constitutional rights to vote, but no one amendment that makes voting an absolute right. In other words, there are always ways to keep people away from the poll without saying you can’t vote because of age, race, gender, or taxes. Seems like a comprehensive list.

That is, until the Republican Party saw a new possibility. Photo IDs are now required in many office buildings, and they are in fact easy to obtain if you happen to work in the building. If you are going into a security-conscious building in, say, New York, City, you are usually asked for a photo ID, and the number one form of this is the driver’s license. Hey, thought some Republicans, let’s demand photo ID from voters, claiming that we need it to protect against voter fraud, which by the way is so low these days that the percentage is something lower than 1 percent.

The idea was clever on their part because they realize (as does everyone else) that poor people, people of color, Hispanics, and the elderly are least likely to have photo ID. It has also been found that a majority of these people are likely to vote Democrat. It is no wonder that State Representative Mike Turzai, a Republican and the Pennsylvania House majority leader, gleefully announced in front of a video camera, when the new law in Pennsylvania requiring photo ID to vote passed that “voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

If that weren’t enough, when the law was challenged in court, a Republican judge declared the new voter identification law could take effect. At the same time, the Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett squashed the plan to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.

Why, after all these years, do we not have a partisan election commission in each state that works to guarantee that every citizen who is qualified not be deprived of the right to vote? It is long overdue. As for voter ID, it should be sufficient for someone to show a utility bill that came to them through the mail, together with a birth certificate. There are a number of pieces of identification that should qualify, and the fact is that these pieces of ID are good enough to guarantee authenticity as much as a driver’s license or passport, both of which can be forged (for those who claim that’s the reason for the photo ID). Combined with the low level of voter fraud in this country, that should be enough. Indeed, it is not voter fraud we have to worry about but voter apathy.