Saturday, October 25, 2014

America's Broken Government: Good, Bad and Ugly Choices for Voters

There was a time when the two party system, although imperfect, worked reasonably well in this country. This may have been because the leaders of both parties had some respect for each other and were willing to compromise for the good of the nation. When one party became too powerful, the American people tended to vote them out thus allowing the pendulum to shift from the right to the left and back again. As a result, the country remained fairly close to the center on the political spectrum. When times got tough, Democrats came up with social programs like Social Security and Medicare or put people to work on the government payroll. When things improved, Republicans stepped in pledging to lower taxes, encourage the creation of private sector jobs and kick the freeloaders off the public payroll.
Unfortunately, it's long past time to admit what is obvious to the rest of the world. America's government is broken. The two party system isn't working. It no longer cares what is true or false, right or wrong or even what is good for the American people. All that matters is holding onto political power and shutting the minority party out of the governing process. The people tolerate this because they have become convinced by the media that the members of the other party are evil, greedy, uninformed, corrupt or just plain stupid. Contributing further to the destruction of our Republic is the incredible amount of money required to fund political campaigns. It is evident to everyone but the United States Supreme Court that those campaign donations come with an extremely high price tag. 
As the November elections draw near, where do voters turn for the information required to make an informed decision at the polls? Hopefully not the media. Both conservative and liberal pundits spin every issue; cloaking it in their ideological prejudices and far too often deliberately lying to the public. Politicians will say anything if they believe it will appeal to the base. This makes it impossible to know where they stand on the issues or if they possess the courage to cross party lines and vote their conscience. Campaign ads are so hateful and misleading, they're painful to watch. It's not surprising many people are either voting strictly along party lines or choosing to stay away from the polls.
Blind party loyalty is dangerous, particulariy when there is so much disparity in the platforms of America's major political parties. The GOP insists the federal government, labor unions, and millions of Americans unwilling to take responsibility for themselves are the enemy. They claim most problems in this country can be solved by lowering taxes, relaxing government oversight of corporate America, keeping government out of the lives of American citizens (with the exception of a woman's right to choose and same-sex marriage), disbanding social welfare programs, deporting illegal immigrants, securing our border with Mexico, privatizing public institutions and injecting Christian principles into our secular government. The Democrats look to the federal government for solutions. As the creators of Medicare and Social Security, they are less willing to cut funding for public assistance and social welfare programs. Democrats are also more likely to invoke the power of the federal government in preventing discrimination, guarding the public against corporate exploitation, safeguarding the environment and defending civil rights. Although sometimes referred to as the "tax and spend" party, the real difference isn't that they spend more than Republicans or care less about the deficit. It's their spending priorities are different. Their tax policy supports tax cuts for the middle class but calls for increases in the tax rates for the wealthy. 
Pollsters predict the November election will be an overwhelming victory for the GOP. If true, there will be tough times ahead for the growing number of Americans living below the poverty level, labor unions and those who have benefited from the Affordable Health Care Act. It will also be a setback for those concerned about climate change or a women's right to choose. It will, however, be a good day for those who believe opportunity still exists for anyone with the will to succeed, social programs such as food stamps and housing assistance create dependency, voting is a privilege not a right and the price tag for ensuring all Americans have access to health care is too high.
Both parties have something to offer the American people. Unfortunately, the mentality in Washington these days is winner take all. The GOP gaining control of the Senate will not result in a new spirit of cooperation and the battle the GOP has waged against President Obama will accelerate. Meanwhile, liberal pundits will shout to the heavens that wealthy conservative donors bought the election aided by Voter ID legislation sponsored by Republican Governors.

Is it any wonder that rest of the world shakes their heads in wonder at what the American political system has become?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Seems Like Celebrating the American Worker is no Longer in Fashion

Labor Day was created to celebrate the efforts of American Workers. With income inequality growing at an alarming rate, collective bargaining under attack and increasing number of workers paid less than a living wage, there isn't that much for American labor to celebrate. The following Harold Meyerson column points out how corporate behavior has changed over the past few decades and the devastating impact these changes have had on the American worker and, in turn, the destruction of the Middle Class. Definitely worth reading.



Harold Meyerson: The Rosetta Stone of America's economic decline : Ct

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ConnectUS - Helping Severely Multiply Impaired Adults

Recently had the opportunity to speak with a remarkable woman named Eileen Whalen. She and her husband Tom, are the founders of ConnectUS, a non-profit organization established to provide quality day programming for severely multiply impaired (SXI) wheelchair-bound adults. Eileen is committed to expanding opportunities for SXI adults like her son Michael in a supportive and caring environment.  

The program, which operates in the Livonia, Northville and Plymouth, Michigan area,  hosts events in which impaired young adults, working with student interns and volunteers, produce things like book covers, felt hand puppets, dog treats and bird feeders. At one event, they even baked ginger cookies.

In a recent newspaper interview, Eileen talked about the organization's goals and her belief that "...everyone has something to offer and the needs of one can be an opportunity for another. Our goal," she explained, "is to make the connection happen.”

You can read the entire interview, learn more about ConnectUs and find out what you can do to help at the organization's website at http://connectus-livonia.org/ .

Monday, July 28, 2014

Impeachment? Really?

Apparently many Republicans no longer believe in a two Party system.  They now subscribe to the philosophy that any President who isn't a Republican should be impeached. The fact he was duly elected by the majority of the people is irrelevant. Trashing President Obama is their one and only priority.

Congress has become a sick joke. Dysfunctional doesn't begin to cover what is happening in Washington. The word I would use is betrayal. Anyone who isn't white, Christian, rich  and politically conservative doesn't  matter. This is why these openly racist, sexist and incredibly ignorant politicians are working so hard to keep people who don't fit this profile from voting.

Our democracy is dying and the rest of the world knows it. Hard to understand why so many of the people in this country don't.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Isn't it time for CEO's to start doing time????

Two Supreme Court decisions have asserted Corporations have the same free speech and religious freedom rights as individuals. Yet Corporations are formed to protect their executives and their personal assets from individual liability for corporate acts. CEO's are protected by the Corporate Shield only if the corporation is completely separate as a legal entity. 

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that CEO's are free to assert their religious beliefs in decisions affecting the Corporation, the Corporate Shield should be tossed out the window. If the Court has seen fit to grant Corporations freedoms that previously belonged to individuals, they can't have it both ways. They should no longer be entitled to the legal protections unavailable to "real" people. That means no more paying huge fines with investor money when their Corporation  defrauds the American people. Real people go to jail when they commit crimes. Why shouldn't corporate CEO's?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Lost Children of Detroit

Reading about the senseless shooting of three year old KaMiya French in Inkster, Michigan is heartbreaking. One wonders if the young man who shot her to make it the last thing her father saw before he shot him, too, is insane, evil or a mutant no longer human.

Sadly, some will write this off as "typical" of the violence that plagues the nation's cities. For them, this is simply another "black on black" crime that has little effect on their lives. The media may give it a bit more play because of the sheer brutality of the act, but then it will be forgotten. The media will not, however, forget about the white man who left his young son to die in a hot car.

Media bias, and more importantly, the indifference of the majority of white Americans to the violence the children of this nation's cities are exposed to on a daily basis, is a central theme of my novel, A Monster's Game. What will it take to make protecting children a national priority? I'm guessing it won't happen until the people in this country place equal value on the lives of all of our children, regardless of race.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Charles Krauthammer has lost it

Although I usually don't like to post personal attacks, I'm going to make an exception in this case. On June 16, Charles Krauthammer wrote a column entitled "Sox-Rays, Revenge American Style." I'm certainly no Krauthammer fan, but this column was so inane and ridiculous, I wonder if he has completely lost what little reason he has left.

The focus of the column involves an incident in which Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price deliberately hit Boston player David Ortiz in retaliation for "showboating" after scoring two home runs in a game the previous season. Krathammer praised Price for waiting so long to take his revenge.  Here is a quote from the column:

"What is so delightful about this classic act of revenge is both the length of the fuse — eight months — and the swiftness of the execution: one pitch, one plunk, one message delivered. Revenge as it was meant to be: cathartic, therapeutic, clean, served cold. No talking it through. No sublimation by deep breathing, reason or anything in between. No arbitration, no mediation."

Just when it seems the column couldn't get worse, it does:

"We Americans, children of so young a country, can barely fathom such ineradicable grievances. We did give the world Tonya Harding and the Godfather's horse's head in the bed, but the best we can do outside sport and fiction is "Remember the Alamo." Wonderful sentiment, but with Mexico now a best buddy, hardly a battle cry.

No. We'll do our vengeance on the playing field, thank you, where unwritten rules apply and the frisson can be enjoyed with Bud in hand. So mark your calendar. Next Sox-Rays encounter: July 25. Here's hoping Price is pitching."

I can't help but wonder if Krauthammer gave any thought to the possibility that Ortiz could have been seriously injured when Price intentionally hit him full in the back. Or did he consider the example this type of behavior sets for American children participating in sports? Do we want these kids to value sportsmanship or become thugs willing to attack their opponents when things don't go their way?

Many on the far right claim America has lost it's moral compass. I don't dispute this claim, but in my view it's the acceptance of unbridled corporate greed, racism, homophobia, income inequality, gun violence, climate change and refusal to provide a social safety net for the poorest among us that personifies America's moral decline in the eyes of the world. Isn't it those on the far right who are most willing to turn a blind eye to this country's failings while they mock those on the left for caring so much.

Krauthammer's column goes beyond glorifying an act of violence, it trivializes the terrible human suffering people of other nations experienced in the name of revenge. Price's action in hitting Ortiz with a pitch is neither justified nor acceptable. Krauthammer's belief that it in anyway demonstrates American superiority suggests it is Krauthammer's who has lost his moral compass.