Monday, May 25, 2009

 

Whatever the California Supreme Court Decides on LGBT Marriage Tomorrow, We Shall Overcome Someday

At 10 a.m. PT tomorrow (May 26) the California Supreme Court will announce its decision on whether or not to overturn Proposition 8, an amendment to the California state constitution (passed by a majority of California voters last November) banning same-sex marriage in the state.

I’m a progressive heterosexual Christian who fought against Prop 8 and is appalled at the Christian Right's upside-down version of Christianity—Pro-Rich and Pro-War—and its war on the LGBT community and the U.S. Constitution, including the separation of church and state.

But I’m almost hoping that the legal efforts to overturn Prop. 8 are unsuccessful.

Good God, why?

Because I’d relish another fight at the California ballot box against the Forces of Darkness who oppose LGBT rights.

I’d like to see a light once again focused on rightwing churches, a light that would be much brighter and harsher this time around.

I’d like to see political pastors like Rick Warren squirm a little more, as they realize they’re on the wrong side of history, human rights and Christ’s ministry.

I’d like to eliminate the rightwing argument that it was liberal out-of-control judges who imposed their personal “agenda” on the people of California.

I’d like to be able to say that the people of California, especially progressive Christians, finally stood up for the LGBT community … and themselves.

Yes, if needed, let’s have another rumble at the ballot box.

Whatever the California Supreme Court decides on LGBT marriage tomorrow, we shall overcome someday.


Monday, March 30, 2009

 

Red River Rising

As a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and a graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, I’ve been following with special interest the current flooding along the Red River of the North, which flows north into Canada and is the boundary between North Dakota and Minnesota. 

The Great Flood of 1997 hit Grand Forks hard, as well as East Grand Forks, its twin city on the east side of the river in Minnesota. 

The national attention during the current 2009 flood is rightly focused on Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city, which is 80 miles south of, and upriver from, Grand Forks.  Fortunately, it appears that the tremendous individual, community and government response to the current crisis will save Fargo from catastrophe.  Whatever happens, I’m proud of their efforts.

As for the Great Flood of 1997, you perhaps recall the extensive national attention to that slowly unfolding disaster, as many square miles of the two cities, including their entire downtowns, were inundated by floodwaters.

Notwithstanding heroic efforts, the Red River in 1997 broke though the dikes and became a river more than ten miles wide.  My childhood neighborhood in Grand Forks, more than a mile from the river, was flooded.

The Grand Forks Herald won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for public service after continuing to publish daily during that “Flood of the Century”—and fire—of April 1997, even though its offices were destroyed.

I remember well the Herald’s famous headline, “Come Hell and High Water,” and the remarkable photos showing several old familiar downtown buildings in Grand Forks burning—yes, burning—while sitting in the floodwaters. 

My biggest disappointment—and shame as a North Dakotan—relates to the substantial rightwing propaganda that makes racist comparisons—both thinly veiled and overt—between mostly white Grand Forks (which bounced back from disaster) and mostly black New Orleans (which did not.) 

If you can’t easily digest political humor from the left—but prefer instead the tangy taste of racist comparisons between the whites of Grand Forks and the blacks of New Orleans—do yourself a favor and read no further.

Luckily, the Clinton administration—not the Bush regime—was on the job in 1997 and responded splendidly to the Grand Forks Flood of the Century.

Thanks in large part to billions of dollars in federal assistance, Grand Forks recovered from the 1997 disaster stronger, better, and more beautiful than ever, and with a new levee system designed to prevent a recurrence of the disaster.

If Bush had then been in office, the headline might have read, “Come Hell, High Water and Bush”—now that’s scary! 

Luckily, this flood of 2009 is occurring after Bush slithered out of office.  So, once again—whatever damage this current flood causes, and whatever level of federal assistance is needed—the fine people of the Red River Valley will do just fine.

You can bet on it. It’s like money in the bank.

Oops, I forgot—that “money in the bank” simile no longer works. 

Dang, is there anything the Bush regime and almost three decades of Reaganomics didn’t wreck?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

 

AIG Bonuses: $165 Million Would Go a Long Way for Peace

The $165 million in AIG bonuses could fund the U.S. Peace Corps worldwide for six months.  (The Peace Corps budget for 2009 is $330.8 million.)

Although $165 million is an enormous sum, the total AIG bailout to date is more than 1,000 times greater.  It could fund more than 500 Peace Corps for an entire year!

The interest alone (say 5% annually) on the total AIG bailout could fund 25 Peace Corps worldwide in perpetuity.

AIG stands for:  “America Is Greed.”

Capitalism unregulated is armed robbery, only worse. 

Almost three decades of Reaganomics—capped by eight years of George W. Bush—have royally screwed America.

Deregulate, deregulate, deregulate.

Give trillions of dollars to the Super Rich and Big Business.  Run up multiple huge unsustainable deficits and debts.

Bankrupt America both morally and financially.  Plant the seeds for the GOP Great Depression II.

Screw generations of the unborn by making them pay for everything.  Take the money and run.

Why do we put up with this?  Are we nuts?

Don’t we at last have a reason to keep Guantanamo Bay open?  Why not fill it with our financial crooks—our Masters of the Universe—and send our best water boarders there?


Sunday, March 8, 2009

 

Prop 8— Another Rumble at the Ballot Box

The California Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge to strike down Proposition 8, which was passed by a simple majority of California voters in November 2008 and amended the state constitution to eliminate the constitutional right of gays and lesbians to marry.

I’m a progressive, pro-LGBT-rights Christian who fought against Proposition 8 and is appalled at the Christian Right's upside-down version of Christianity — Pro-Rich and Pro-War — and its war on the LGBT community and the U.S. Constitution, including the separation of church and state.

But I’m almost hoping that the legal challenge to overturn Prop. 8 is unsuccessful.

Good God, why?

Because I’d relish another fight at the California ballot box against the Neanderthal forces that oppose equal marriage rights for the LGBT community.

Because I want a much brighter light focused on rightwing churches and other organizations that oppose LGBT marriage rights (just as they opposed interracial marriage two generations ago.)

Because I’d like to see political pastors like Rick Warren squirm a little more, as they realize they’re on the wrong side of history and human rights.

Because we must eliminate the rightwing argument that it was liberal out-of-control judges who imposed their personal agendas on the people of California.

Because I want to be able to say proudly that the people of California finally stood up for the LGBT community.

Yes, let’s have another rumble at the ballot box.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

 

GOP Financial Wizardry: — An Accounting Joke That Says It All

Is it even possible to describe the fraudulent accounting used by the GOP as it pushed America off the cliff and into the GOP Great Depression II?

Yes. 

Bearing in mind that the best humor is anchored in truth, here’s a wonderful accounting joke that hits the nail on the head:

The GOP’s balance sheet for America has two sides, with liabilities on the left, and assets on the right. The problem is that on the left, there’s nothing right, while on the right, there’s nothing left.

That's the Whole Truth.  All the rest is simply commentary.  

Accountants (and anyone else) who want more detail can now download for FREE my entire $25.95 book, "The Bush League of Nation."


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

 

Tom Daschle Should Not Be Secretary of Health and Human Services

I’m a progressive, a native of North Dakota (the “other” Dakota), and a longtime supporter of Tom Daschle. However, he’s a terrible choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

My primary concern is not his bad “tax avoidance” decisions, but rather that he would be the kiss of death for universal healthcare that works.

When it comes to healthcare, Daschle represents the revolving-door, corporate-business-as-usual, Republican wing of the Democratic Party.

Especially troublesome are his ties to that life-sucking dinosaur known as UnitedHealth Group, which is Exhibit A for what’s wrong with healthcare in America. 

Our healthcare system is wasteful and corrupt precisely because it is con game run by and for huge corporate interests.

The privately-milked system is structured to provide maximum returns for shareholders and wealthy industry executives who are not caregivers, while denying and delaying coverage, and passing around like “hot potatoes” those individuals most needing medical care.

America’s private health insurance companies spend billions each year on advertising and gaming the system.

Patients and the actual caregivers—doctors, nurses and other staff—are forced to waste enormous time and money coping with the bureaucratic obstacles and paperwork of hundreds of different billing and reimbursement schemes.

William McGuire, the CEO of UnitedHealth, received compensation totaling $124.8 million in 2005—an amount which could have paid the total cost of medical care for an entire year for more than 33,000 average Americans.

McGuire retired under pressure in October 2006 due to a pay and stock options scandal at UnitedHealth. An investigation determined that McGuire’s options to purchase 1.5 million shares had probably been “backdated” to increase their value. His stock option package was reported to be worth $1.6 billion—imagine 1,600 piles of one million dollars each.

That amount is many thousands of times what is paid to the most highly compensated executive in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is run more efficiently than America’s private healthcare system.

Incredibly, the $1.6 billion in stock options for McGuire could have paid the total cost of medical care for an entire year for 422,400 Americans.

The enormous financial and political muscle behind entrenched interests like UnitedHealth to date have killed the messenger and sidetracked any serious policy debate on the merits.

This is why any “reform” coming out of Congress always keeps these companies in the business of screwing America.

Sorry, Tom, but you’re part of the problem, not the solution. 


Saturday, January 31, 2009

 

"Pray the Devil Back to Hell"

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” is a must-see documentary film about the unimaginable horrors of the recent civil war in Liberia and the heroic efforts of a Liberian Christian, Leymah Gbowee, to fulfill the dream of peace she had in 2003, by first organizing the women of her Lutheran church to pray for peace and then creating an all-women peace initiative, the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, that spread through both the Christian and Muslim faiths.

Tens of thousands of civilians had been slaughtered, rape was endemic, children were starving, and countless men, women and children had had their arms and legs intentionally hacked off in a brutal campaign of terror.

Thanks to the extraordinary courage of Ms. Gbowee and other Christian and Muslim Liberian women, a tentative peace was achieved, the brutal dictator Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria, and eventually, on January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president of Liberia, the first woman ever elected president of an African nation.

Bob Herbert writes about this story of courage in his op-ed piece, "A Crazy Dream," in the January 30, 2009, edition of The New York Times.

I can barely imagine where Leymah Gbowee gets her courage.

How many of us won’t even put a political bumper sticker on our car because we’re worried about what others might think, or that our car might get keyed?

We Americans sometimes criticize oppressed peoples for not standing up to their brutal dictators. But try to imagine taking action when the cost may be the torture, rape and slaughter of all those we love.

Ms. Gbowee, your photo should be in the dictionary next to the definition of courage.

 

 


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