Random Thoughts

Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Letter From A Tea Party Leader, And My Response

A recent letter to the Editor appeared in my local newspaper from a tea party leader, Amanda Norris. Her letter, and my reply:

Similarities are few between tea party, OWS

I keep hearing that the tea party and Occupy Wall Street have a lot in common. There are two key issues where we share frustration: the bank bailouts and crony capitalism. 

 Both groups are adamantly opposed to both issues, but that’s where the commonalities begin and end. Tea partiers believe those problems should be fixed by a return to constitutionally limited government – return government to its original scope, and you eliminate the ability of special interests to receive special benefits.
The overwhelming majority of OWS protesters would rather destroy capitalism and replace it with ... what? Not too many of them will say, but I’m guessing it will involve taking from some to give to others. Many ignore the hypocrisy of criticizing bank bailouts while demanding their own bailout through mortgage or school loan forgiveness.

Those folks have a right to protest, but they have no right to litter, vandalize, attack police or disrupt private businesses.How many tea partiers have been arrested at our rallies? Zero. How many OWS protesters? Thousands. There are small groups in communities like ours who respect private property and the law, but standing in solidarity with those who do not sends the wrong message. Wall Street isn’t the lone culprit in this crisis, and vilifying capitalism fixes nothing.

Tea partiers love this nation, want to peacefully restore it, and ensure it remains the bastion of liberty and opportunity it’s been since its inception. OWS occupiers want to create chaos and to replace everything this country stands for with a system that’s failed time and again.
For those tempted to support Occupy Wall Street, be careful who you stand with. If you value this nation, our Constitution, and the rule of law, stand up for them, fight to restore them – don’t stand with those who would violently dismantle them.

My reply:

A Reply To Amanda Norris' Letter
Dear Editor,

To paint people with a broad brush like they are all the same foregoes any possibility of discussion.  Too bad that Amanda Norris has chosen to take this tactic to paint the OWS movement.  She says the overwhelming majority of us want to destroy capitalism and replace it with something else, but we don’t know what. The group that protests Friday at Grandon Civic Center is hardly that. They do want a well regulated capitalism to make a fairer playing field.  Theodore Roosevelt understood the dangers of business getting too big way back at the turn of the 20th century. It was a wise train of thought then, and it is a wise train of thought now.

Ms. Norris says no tea party people have been arrested, that they respect private property and the Constitution, that they love this country.   There have been no arrests at any local protests, private property has been respected, and to infer that because OWS protesters do not agree with tea party philosophy that they somehow cherish the Constitution or this country less than they do, is a cheap shot.     

Instead of slinging mud based on assumptions, try and open an avenue of communication.  Would that even be possible? There are no doubt issues of agreement between the two groups if the hubris of being correct at the expense of the other side being wrong is overcome.  Or will it be more of  the old tactic, keep the peasants fighting among themselves to maintain the status quo? And remember, there are always those who wait in the wings, ready to grasp control from a movement and use it to gain power for themselves. And when that happens, we all lose.  Don’t say it can’t happen to either movement. History proves you wrong.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Random Thoughts On The Prophet Amos

For a long time I’ve been reading the book of the prophet Amos in the OT . Amos is my favorite prophet, probably because his message of justice resonates so deeply within me. The language of Amos not only tells it like it was in ancient Israel and Judah, but for our times too. Sometimes the best way for me to really ‘get’ something is to go ‘whole hog’. Read it, reflect on it, read other commentary about it. So that’s what I’m doing this summer with Amos. And here’s a tidbit of commentary that ‘lifted the veil’ from my eyes, so to speak. The commentary refers to Amos 6:12-14 and I quote from The New Interpreter’s Bible:

“At the center of this passage lies the issue of wishful thinking. Amos speaks of people who put their trust in a strong military force, thinking prosperity (for themselves) is assured as long as their borderers are secure. As long as the enemy can be located outside their borders, the remedy is simple: Keep the army strong, and enjoy life at home. The sickness within can be ignored as long as the parties can continue. But for Amos, the measure of the health, the continuing viability of a nation, is justice, and he has seen it turned to poison. There is no “quick fix” for the internal problems of a society that has turned against itself, but in every generation wishful thinking turns to force as its quick fix. The realism of Amos recognized that force will not solve the problems created by the failure to maintain justice for all, but are there not still more wishful thinkers than realists in the world? In the past, extremely severe penalties for stealing did not stop the hungry from stealing when they saw no other way to stay alive. In the present, more police on the streets and mandatory or longer sentences may seem to be a quick and straightforward way to make communities safer, and indeed, they may have some useful effect. If people in those communities are hungry and hopeless however, there will still be no peace in the land.”

And so it goes, in the time of Amos and in our time. Without justice for all, there will never be peace in the land. Peace and security cannot be brought about by force, only by justice. That so many people are concerned for their own personal ‘justice’ at the expense of others underlines the greed, the self-serving, the exclusivity of the Teaparty and other ultra-conservative political advocates as well as the holier than thou religious. And as for some of the so-called liberals, is it possible that they are doing more harm than good? Is it possible that some of the so-called peace advocates are also doing more harm than good? If justice is not served equally for all, despite economic, social or racial status, how will the world ever find peace? How can The United States presume to be the leader of the free world when questions of national security and blood redemption lead to the invasion of a foreign sovereign nation and the assassination of a ‘foe’? Is that justice, and is that how we as a nation want to serve justice? I wonder, when will the ‘Babylonian Captivity’ of America happen? Or has it already begun?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Random Thoughts On Change

We were all bombarded with the promise of change for this country in the last presidential election, but the radical change we hoped for isn't going to happen overnight, if ever. Not with Obama, not with anyone else elected within our system of big money politics.

But how many people are really ready for the type of change that may be necessary, I wonder? I once did some in-house training for the steel mill I worked at before it shut down. I was asked to develop the training and present it. I learned more than the people taking the class,as was often the case whenever I did any training. I learned that many people, I daresay the majority of people are set in their ways. Habit is a strange thing, for even the most inefficient action if performed often enough can become a habit. Once it is a habit, humans can get a sense of comfort by repeating it, no matter how wrong-headed it may be. And bad habits seem much easier to acquire than good ones. So it went with the people that were in the class. I trained classes of union employees, lower, middle and upper management employees, and it was pretty much the same. most thought that what they were doing personally was good, hence they didn't need to change. It was those OTHER people that needed to change.

There is a saying that goes, "If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always got." If you're getting what you need, then it makes sense to continue on the same course. If you aren't getting what you need, you need to change your course of action. But the false comfort of habit overrules the necessity of changing time and time again. That goes in varying degrees and with differing people with politics, personal relationships, money, religion, you name it. There are a ton of people in this country it seems that ignore what is in their best interest for the sake of maintaining the status quo, doing what they've always done, holding with tradition, creatures of habit, right or wrong. It is the fettering of human creativity and inventiveness caused by the rigid adherence of tradition and habit that may be one of the root causes of some of the reactionary responses to change.

I am not without some of the same feelings of comfort that can be derived from habit and tradition. But I have learned that whenever a major life-change has happened to me, it is an opportunity for growth, not fear. For hope, not despair. The older I get, it seems that for every door that closes, more than one door also opens. I do not like all the changes that have happened in my life, but after so many I've learned to go with them instead of against them.

I don't embrace change for the sake of change, but change for the sake of improving humankind. My life has forced me to be the opposite of reactionary. There are some things to be sure that still work and are viable. But there are sure as hell many things that aren't. Those are the things that need to change. Change is far from the dirty word some make it out to be. Change is necessary, or there is no progress. Without progress, the inequities, injustice, taking of life through unnecessary war, and all the negatives that plague our modern world will never cease.

We need change in our government. In the system, in those that are elected to lead us, in those that elect them, in the population in general. A mindset that embraces change that makes the lives of human beings better is a positive, not a negative. Putting such a high value on the profit motive does not make the lives of the majority of human beings better. Not in this country, or the world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Random Thoughts On Tax Cuts

With a few days left before the election, the issue seems to be the economy. With a national debt growing like a weed, with a $700 billion bail out bill already passed and who knows how many more government bail outs around the corner, with the occupation of Iraq still in full swing and costing how many billion a month, and hundreds of billions of other dollars being spent on who all knows what. But the candidates have laid out their plans for recovery. And what do both of them want to do? Cut taxes.

John McCain wants to cut capital gains tax, cut corporate taxes, because this will stimulate the economy by helping to create jobs. The premise being that if businesses, investors and capital gains earners get a break, they will invest more money into growing existing businesses and starting new business ventures.

First off, there's very few business persons that will start a business or expand a business with only their own money. Some don't have enough to do it, others that have the money already have the money invested and making money for them. Credit is the key factor here. The amount of money a person has determines how much credit they can get. Credit can be a funny thing, as the people who prove they don't need it because of their assets are the most likely to get it. So if a person has money earning more in a percent of return than he can borrow at, why would they spend their own money? Remember that the prime interest rate is only given to those that have the best credit, the ones that really don't need the loan in other words.

And on top of it, give them a capital gains tax rate cut. Why? Are not capital gains income? Because if we allow the wealthy to have more money via a lower capital gains rate, it will help all the rest of us? I really don't have anything against the wealthy. There have always been and will continue to be folks that out of ambition, hard work, skulduggery, inheritance or a combination thereof, will have more than most. But they sure don't need to be given any more advantage than they already have.

Barack Obama is advocating a tax cut for those making less than $250,000, and a tax hike for those that make more than that. There's even a tax cut calculator on Obama's website that will tall you how much you'll get in tax cuts (as long as you don't go over the magic $250,000 figure). My tax cut is around $1,000. Now I can buy into that more than a tax cut for the rich, which tells you how much I make a year. But this is pandering for votes just as sure as McCain's plan is. It's just pandering to a different base. While I'd sure take the tax cut, will it make my life demonstrably better?

So, history will show that the turning point in this election was when the economy tanked. At least when it tanked bad enough that it hurt more than just the ones towards the bottom of the economic ladder. And right in the middle of it, both candidates tried to buy votes by offering lower taxes for certain people. In essence, both candidates tried to buy votes with whose money? The very same people who pay them in the first place. As for me, I'd rather see some old-time electioneering, and have the candidates buy me a ham sandwich and a beer on election day.

And where have the other issues gone? Buried under an avalanche of lipstick on a pig, $150,000 wardrobe spending, guilt by association allegations, not experienced for the job a bad thing (Obama) , not experienced for the job (Palin) a good thing, and so many other non-issues. And all the while, things that have a direct affect on the state of the economy are not even glossed over. They're not even mentioned. The occupation of Iraq, the grand plan of how to pound sand down a rat hole at the most cost possible still goes on. What's really sad is that life is still being lost there and in Afghanistan, without much being said about it.

But the people have to be shown what's in it for them. Historically, it has been a chicken in every pot, or a full dinner pail. Now tax cuts are offered. Both candidates must think that a lot of voters are in this game for the money. I'll be damned, it looks like they're right. But if the economy doesn't turn around, if this country continues to have over 300 military bases around the world and spend more in 'defense' spending than the rest of the world combined, will tax cuts really do anyone any good?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Inspired, The Confused, The Angry

Senator Barack Obama continues his quest for the Democratic nomination for president with an eloquence that inspires some, confuses others, and angers and scares far too many.

I understand the ones that are inspired. Obama from the first has had the gift of connecting to his audience. You really don't know how powerful a speaker he is until you hear and see him in person. Being skeptical by nature, Obama's charisma has made him suspect in my book. I don't look at any candidate through rose colored glasses, no matter how eloquent they may talk. And the few rabid Obamaites that have put him on a pedestal are setting themselves up to be disappointed. He is human after all. But I do believe, among the candidates still in the running, he is hands down the best one for the job. At least I am willing to give him the chance to try and walk the walk that he's talking.

I understand the ones that are confused. Obama's message is inclusive to a degree that has not been heard in recent memory. The past 12 years has been the ultimate in partisan politics. I'll not lay blame on one party over the other. While it is true that Republicans controlled congress and the White house for 6 years, the Democrats have done little to change things since their winning a majority in both houses, in my opinion. Those that have grown accustomed to one-party control no doubt can't fathom how anything would get done without partisan politics. Obama's message is one of working together, across party lines, a time when the majority party has a loyal opposition party to help keep them honest. Obama's talk of inclusiveness has lead to much criticism from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives don't want to compromise their values to a liberal, and vice versa. Whenever both sides of the aisle do not like or do not agree with what someone is saying, it should give pause for reflection on the likelihood that the opinion in question may be the correct course of action.

Lastly, the ones that are full of anger and fear. Running the gamut from racism to contempt of anything less than a conservative political philosophy. Might as well throw hatred into the mix along with anger and fear, for all three emotions are connected and feed off each other. What Obama has done with his speech about race is to try and open the door to a dialogue about race relations in this nation. A dialogue that has been needed for a long time. But as long as fear, hatred and anger rule the hearts of some, all of the hope Obama represents will not bear fruit. That some fan the flames of hatred is obvious to me. To get power, to keep power, for money, whatever the rationalization. That certain members of society, the media, and political leaders benefit (or think they benefit) from fanning these flames is despicable. In these times of the monied and powerful (same thing) elite in this country, that is not to be condoned but expected. But for those that fall outside of the monied elite and powerful that harbor so much hatred and fear, it is an example of the degree of ignorance that some folks are infected with.

Obama is but the catalyst. It is up to us to spread the word, reframe the discussion, peacefully engage people in discussion, be willing and able to maintain our composure when we are inevitably confronted with naked prejudice and hatred. From all races, from all sides. This is the hope that Obama represents to me. Not pie-in-the-sky daydreams, but the beginnings of making the right steps towards bettering race relations in this country. To my mind, Senator Obama has shown much courage in speaking out the way he has. Regrettably, race relations are in such a state that he has left himself wide open to political and physical danger. Sometimes ya gotta go with the best that you've got. Obama's courage has shown me that he is the best that we've got. To hell with my skepticism. Now it is up to me to give support. Not just with donations, but by engaging in the type of dialogue he is advocating. By doing such, I am supporting much more than a politician running for the presidency. I am supporting the possibility that things just may be going to get better. With eyes wide open, it is the least I can do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Presidential Experience?

The debate about which Democratic Presidential candidate has the experience to be president rages on. Clinton insists that eight years of being First lady adds to her resume of qualifications and presidential experience. The fact of the matter is, as far as national political experience gained by being elected to a position in either house of congress, Clinton has two years experience on Obama in the Senate. That's it. As far as total elected office experience, Obama was in the Illinois State legislature from 1997 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Of all things to make a campaign issue, this is one of the most ridiculous. The argument as to most experience for either candidate is basically the same. Neither of them has been president before, combine all of the years of experience in elected office of both of them in Washington and it comes to about 10 years. Being a community organizer and member of the Illinois legislature for 8 years does not make Obama experienced, and being First Lady of Arkansas and The United States doesn't either. Period.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Internet Can Be A Spooky Place

This post is not about any current event. It is about a strange occurrence happening right here, right on this blog, right at the top of the page above the title.

Take a look. Notice the 'Ads By Google' box? Funny, I never put it there. I used to have google ads on this blog, but I inserted that code myself. This 'other' google ad box just appeared one day. I removed the google ad code I had inserted, just to see if somehow the two were connected. No dice. The box at the top remains. Where did this nefarious Google Ad Box From Hell come from?

Why is it nefarious? Read on:

  • It is obvious to anyone that's read my blog very much that I am mostly politically liberal.
  • It is also obvious to anyone that has read my blog that I am pro labor union.
  • To those who do not know about Google Adsense, the entire premise is to get website and blog owners to install the code on their sites to help promote the advertisers that pay for google advertising. When someone clicks on the ad and visits the promoted site, a small sum is paid to the owner of the blog or site that hosted the Google Ad. Google has set this up so that most ads that show up on your site will be relevant to the content of your site.
Now that I've explained (or confused you), my question is: Why do the ads that appear in this Google Ad Box From Hell advertise Mike Huckabee's website, and an anti-labor union website? Not always. Sometimes there is an ad for Genuine Maytag Parts, which could be because of a few posts concerning the shutting down of the Maytag plant in Newton Iowa. But most of the time adds appear that are promoting things I am not in favor of. In fact, they are 180 degrees from what I agree with.

Relevancy as concerning the internet can be very broad. But I fail to understand how a an anti-union website is relevant to my blog, or how Mike Huckabee's website is relevant. And why is this Google Ad box even on this blog, when I never put it where it's at, or installed the code? I have no idea where the code is. I'm not very good at the code stuff, so it could be right in front of me and I don't know it. But I've looked.

So I can't remove the Google Ad Box From Hell. I've attempted to find out some info on Google's help page. No luck. Logged in to my Google Adsense account. More options for questions and help that boggle the mind, but I could not find out any information about which websites I've got Adsense on, just a total I've earned so far (65 cents). Looked and looked for someone to contact about my question. Forget it. The only option is the Google Adsense Forum. Uh, no thanks. I've already spent enough time on this.

Perhaps it's just me, but Google seems to not be very 'user friendly' about this specific problem. As this blog costs me nothing, I probably should not complain. I've thought about just closing down this blog altogether, or moving to another blog provider. But I nixed that whole idea. Ego aside, there's no great shakes about just leaving the damn blog up and running, no matter the ads at the top of it. But The Google Ad Box From Hell is still quite annoying. If anyone out there in the vast expanse of cyberspace has a clue about all this, let me know. I'd appreciate it.

Site Meter