Category Archives: politics

10/18/10 – the “great” debate…

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The New York State governor race debate just ended. The election is November 2.

There are two major party candidates – Republican and “Tea Partier” Carl Paladino, a developer from here in Buffalo who takes in $10 Million a year in rents from New York State; and Democrat Andrew Cuomo, our state’s Attorney General and son of former governor Mario Cuomo.

Paladino is known for mass forwarding emails including n***er jokes and women “riding” horses, and last week read and issued a statement criticizing gays. Oh, and then it came out that he recently owned, and his son managed, a couple Buffalo gay bars. And he acknowledges a 10 year old daughter from an extramarital affair with his secretary. And in an argument with a reporter, threatened him with “I’m gonna take you out, buddy!” His opponent Cuomo is leading by a 3 to 1 margin.

And 5 other third party candidates, including a dramatically bearded and black gloved (really) Rent Is Too Damn High Party candidate (New York City is unique in America in having a Rent Control Board and it is a huge issue there); and for the Anti-Prohibition Party the self-acknowledged former “escort” and madame whose service was the downfall of our resigned former governor Eliot Spitzer. Seriously.

It was a mess, no debate; in the 1-1/2 hours, maybe 8 questions posed with each given a minute or 90 seconds to reply. No debate. Everyone just talked to the audience and the camera. And no one had the time to explain anything in depth, how they were going to effect changes.

Waste of time and energy.
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poem 4/23/10 – Sarah Palin writes haiku

Today’s NaPoWriMo 2010 Challenge….

Read Write Poem member Sage Cohen has a terrific suggestion for today’s poems: Write a poem in which you combine a speaker and an event that normally don’t go together (such as sports broadcasters and poetry writing), as Jay Leeming does in his poem, “Man Writes Poem.”

Sorry! I couldn’t resist…
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Sarah Palin writes haiku

One two three four five
One two three four five six seven
Oops, that’s one too many!

Catholic Health Association, abortion, and celibacy

Okay, back to a serious topic after a week having fun with poetry and fiction.  I hope it’s not too incongruous…

The national Catholic Health Association – comprised of Catholic hospitals and health care systems, as opposed to the Catholic Church, and in this case opposed in so many words – came out yesterday supporting the Democratic health reform plan.

In the statement titled The time is now for health reform” posted this weekend on Catholic Health World, President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan states

CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women.

She points out that in the bill that any money going to an abortion has to paid by the individual insured independently from federal funding, so that, despite opponents’ claims, tax money will not pay for abortions.

Unlike “pro-lifers”, the Catholic Health Association understands that women’s health needs – especially for those who are most needy and vulnerable – is an array of concerns and issues, in a full and sometimes nuanced and even fluid context.

Hardline “pro-lifers” simplify the discussion into a childlike good-evil binary equation – they are deadening it, they want to take away the supple language that more thoughtful souls use to mold their opinions as they actively engage the world.   They know that the only way to get their view across is to attempt to hinder thinking about it; the only way they can win is to deny you your humanity.   That is the purpose of the Stupak amendment.

George Will, several years ago, made the point that the problem with celibacy as a required condition for Catholic religious is that celibacy is nothing but the last remnant of a complete lifestyle of Augustinian austerities they were expected to live by.   The rest of it that created a context for celibacy, such as maintaining a limited diet and not listening to music, have fallen away.  Celibacy was, for the right person, a choice that could be held fast and celebrated in the heart as part of a life-encompassing purity.

Now out of its proper context, celibacy is a demand that is at odds with the sensuality (in the broad sense) of the environment most Catholic religious have comfortably created for themselves.  And that is why we are seeing, in the news daily, that today celibacy is untenable.

In the same way, hardline “pro-life”‘s vehement demand that no “babies” be aborted (ignoring the fact that God has put into play biological conditions in which half of all human babies conceived die of spontaneous abortion) rips abortion from its true place in the spectrum of women’s health considerations and services – albeit a very narrow, very dark band in that spectrum of options that ideally should be used only after all else in exhausted – and forces it to stand alone and out of context.    But alone, the only means to keep it standing, without the natural buttresses in overall women’s healthcare, is to ossify it.  Making “abortion” a hard and dead and therefore unyielding issue is the only worldview hardline “pro-lifers” can have.   A worldview that ignores 900 of their neighbors are dying each week from having no health coverage or under-coverage, and that millions cannot, or would not be able to if they lost their job and eventually their COBRA, get health insurance at any price.

The Catholic Health Association recognizes that abortion considerations and concerns are just one part of a balanced perspective on women’s health issues, to wit

In addition, there is a wonderful provision in the bill that provides $250 million over 10 years to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. Another provision provides a substantial increase in the adoption tax credit and funding for adoption assistance programs.

That is pro-life.


a conservative at the pearly gates

When you stand before God at your final reckoning, He will glance at the big book of your life – He doesn’t need to read it , He knows every word and comma in it, of course – and He will note,  “You were a Republican, a conservative, and of course a Christian.”

And you will nod.  “Of course, my Lord.”

“And when your president asked for your support when he raised the debt for you and your children to fund a war to invade a sovereign nation that did not attack yours, a nation which experts said was not a threat to yours, you agreed?”

“Yes my Lord,  he was a good Christian like myself, for he exulted your name in public, so I supported him as he smited our enemies and their children.”

“And when your president asked you to take on that debt while he lowered taxes for the very wealthiest, what did you do?”

“I believed this was in praise of You, for the wealthy are obviously righteous and deserving in Your eyes, for You have kept them free from want.”

“And when your president gave himself permission to suspend the rule of the Constitution at his discretion, and secretly read your emails and listened to your phone calls, you were not concerned and even supported him?”

“Yes my Lord, as I knew in my heart was a righteous Christian I therefore trusted his discretion and his wise leadership.”

“And when your president, as he was leaving office, increased you debt by giving  $700 billion in unsecured loans to help already-wealthy men who had proven they mismanaged the money already in their charge, you supported him?”

“Yes my Lord, those men had merely made human mistakes, and that is to be expected.”

“So you were willing to give this president of your money and of your freedom, when he asked you.”  God will glance up at you.

“And when your next president asked you to give a little more, and share of your nation’s great bounty, to see to it that your neighbors could rest easier knowing that if they fell ill or came to injury through no fault of their own, or that if their children were born into sickness, they could get reasonable attention, and without the worry of financial ruin, as do the people of any of your nation’s allies, what did you say?”

“Why, my Lord, I had grown weary of being asked of, I have my limits, even You needed a day of rest. I turned my back, and rolled my eyes at the stories of those who suffered.  Can I come in now?”

gays, brunch waitresses and biblical relativists

Pastor Rick Warren says: “Moral relativism is the root of what is wrong in our society.”

Sorry, fundamentalist and evangelical Christians – at the same time you condemn non-theists for your assumption that whatever morals they have are defined by their concupiscence and immediate personal and social expediency – as Relativists – you yourselves are Relativists when it come to the word of God.

In a post-Prejean moment, Lauren Ashley, self proclaimed Miss Beverly Hills in the Miss Universe Organization universe, told www.foxnews.com (who have taken down the original post, or hid it from search)

The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, “If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.” The Bible is pretty black and white.

The Miss Universe committee says they are proud to develop women who are not afraid to express their opinions.  The City of Beverly Hills points out Ms. Ashley is from Pasadena, has taken the moniker “Miss Beverly Hills” without their consent, and “condemns” her pronouncement, saying the city of Beverly Hills is, itself, a diverse, accepting community.

Anyway…

The passage Ms. Ashley quotes is Leviticus 20:13. The usual passage in the Bible – from among about 4 in that big book – quoted to show how “black and white” God is in condemning gay men.  Apparently God gives a free pass to lesbians.  And it’s been suggested that passage is actually an admonition against the accepted practice at the time for victorious soldiers to rape their vanquished foes.

As Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic points out, this is a matter of life and death for many men, in Uganda and Iran, and elsewhere.

What Christians don’t so often quote is Leviticus 20:10

And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

God demands the same punishment – death – for your garden variety straight adulterers.

He also demands exile for a couple if they get together and it turns out she has started menstruating. (Leviticus 20:18)

And what does God command you to do in Exodus 35:2?

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

God uses the same language to condemn brunch waitresses as He does homosexuals.

So why don’t Christians storm their local supermarket on Sunday morning and drag out and kill the cashiers?

You don’t because despite one of your favorite disdainful accusations against the non-religious, which I myself have been called – ” Relativist!” – you are the same when it comes to God’s word.

take away Glenn Beck’s library card

I didn’t think Glenn Beck gave a bad speech closing this year’s CPAC 2010 convention last night.  At one hour, maybe a bit long though.

His tone, and what he talked about, was different than I expected.

Surprised that he took the Republican Party to such harsh task for its “spend and no tax” working philosophy which helped raise unprecedented deficit in the last decade.   The binge is over, and now we can no longer avoid a morning of vomiting and headaches – his imagery.

He did give most of his vitriol – his words and his delivery steadier and less shrill than I had expected, actually – for the evil he labeled “Progressivism”.  As he says, represented by Theodore Roosevelt.

Forget that progressivism doesn’t describe a tribe or a thing or a singular book, but one edge of the political continuum. A continuum that is forever moveable, sometimes even transient. Remember, it is progressivism that freed the slaves, that fought to give women the vote, and set in place the safety regulations that say a gas pedal really shouldn’t stick and if it does it is Toyota’s responsibilibty to fix it.

And forget that Theodore Roosevelt was establishing laws and regulations to rein in the power and nation-threatening concentrated wealth of the monopolies, those child employing, industrial behemoths that had grown giant and influential in the unregulated late 1800s. Roosevelt also created the National Park system as a bulwark again unguarded industrial mining and deforestation.

A lot of Mr. Beck’s speech was about his own personal story – analogizing his own alcoholism and redemption with what America must do to become a muscular and healthy society once more.  His was a by-your-own-bootstraps self-redemption.

I’m going to stand on my own two feet and figure it out. And because of that failure, I can stand here today!

As he was getting his life back in order, going through the daily routine of his radio show, “homework” for the next day’s show, picking up his children from school and looking after them, he taught himself.

How?  By taking advantage of the public library – “Books are free!”

And I went and I read. I educated myself. I went to the library – books are free! I went to the bookstore… I educated myself. My education was free, and I’m proud of that! When did it become something of shame or ridicule to be a self-made man in America?!

The public library is one of the great pillars of America, that the Founding Fathers maintained was as an ideal for every community.   The public library as we know it was conceptualized and established by Benjamin Franklin, who also understood we needed a commonweal controlled, reliable national communication system: the United States Postal Service.

Libraries have traditionally been created and supported with tax dollars, supplemented somewhat by benefactor donations (well, and overdue fines).

Glenn Beck, who a few minutes earlier said “What we don’t have a right to is health care, housing, or handouts,” thinks he has a right to free book.  At least books that are free to him (he also mentioned spending time in bookstores, but not actually buying the books).    Those library books are paid for mostly by tax dollars, the librarians are government employees, the lights that allowed him to read there are replaced and lit with money from taxpayers who were not given the choice not to.

And…

(Yes, I spent my Sunday afternoon researching this)

That point in his life that Mr. Beck describes occurred when he lived in Washington, DC.  The Washington, DC, public library system was
created by Congress in 1896 “to furnish books and other printed matter and information service convenient to the homes and offices of all residents of the District.” That was after a long campaign by Theodore W. Noyes, editor of The Evening Star. Among Mr. Noyes other concerns? Getting the streets cleaned regularly, and fighting for the government to build an incineration plant so the city would stop dumping all its garbage in the Potomac.

For his time, Mr. Noyes was a “progressive”.

And when the Central Library building was completed in 1903 who did the dedication? Mr. Beck’s despised president Theodore Roosevelt.

Sorry, Mr. Beck, if it weren’t for progressives you wouldn’t be the man you are today – you admit it.

And next time you run into Sarah Palin, ask her how that free socialized government health care her grandson Tripp is getting is working out, will you?

Andrea Fay Friedman’s self-determination

This has be very hard to write; maybe the tone will feel to waver or change.  This is a flashpoint topic for a number of things for me, as you will see toward the end. I am still not sure exactly where I stand – as co-dependents often affirm, I reserve the right to change my mind, at any time, without having to give an explanation.

Something funny happened on the way to how Family Guy presented Ellen, the teenage girl with Down Syndrome featured in its Valentines Day episode.

She’s not retarded.

Despite Stewie’s insults about her – some of which were indeed crude and mean-spirited – that word is never said or even caught in someone’s mouth.  Stewie makes crude comments on her appearance and motor skills – which since it is something she has no control over, is just the lowest form of humor.  Too cheap.

But Chris – the hapless chubby teen – has had crush on her.  He thinks she’s beautiful and sexy.  Despite his own denigration of her, Stewie dedicates himself to helping Chris ask her out, then helps him clean and dress for his date with her.

Ellen turns out to be beyond prepossessed – she turns out to be a Queen Bitch.

Chris does all he can think of on their date to please her, but it’s not enough.  He ends up yelling at her: “All right, that is it!  I don’t care how hot you are!  I don’t much like being treated this way,  Y’know, I used to hear that people with Down Syndrome were different than the rest of us, but you’re not!  You’re no different at all! You’re just a bunch of assholes like everyone else!”

Ellen’s Downs Syndrome has nothing to do with her as a person.

It certainly does not define her, and she is not the perpetual child that so many people – especially well meaning people – think all the DS population is.  She is a fully sexual young woman, both in Chris’s eyes and her own.  She goes to the same school as Chris.  She is capable of maintaining a multiple-sentence metaphor about Chris’s (minimal) chances of getting with her.

She was actually voiced by part-time actress Andrea Fay Friedman.  Her fulltime job is with a law firm which has employed her for 20 years.  She lives on her own.  She drives a car.  She’s a globetrotting motivational speaker.  She speaks Japanese.  And she beats me out on three of those five things.

When Sarah Palin said on her million-friend Facebook account and on The O’Reilly Factor, that she felt she had been “punched in the gut” from a joke made about her through the character of Ellen (when Chris asks her about her family, she says her father is an accountant, and her mother is a former governor of Alaska – I do think that creator Seth MacFarlane’s defense that it was directed at Palin only and not at Trig is disingenuous, at the least…)

Well, Ms. Friedman sent an email response to The New York Times.  Including:

I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm.” In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life.

The Times expanded on it with a brief interview.

The comments on Palin’s Facebook page and elsewhere are peppered with her supporters claiming someone with Down Syndrome could not form and maintain her own opinion.  For example “How sad that Andrea is allowing herself to be used by the left to continue bashing Trig Palin.”  This is from Mediaite.com, in comments to an article which itself doubts Ms. Friedman wrote her email to The New York Times herself.

Apparently, the commentators on the right who scream about self determination – and Ms. Palin is a paid commentator now for the same Fox Entertainment Group that produced and broadcast that Family Guy episode –  do not think challenged people are capable of self determination. This week, Rush Limbaugh drew our attention to threatened school in New Jersey – he played a clip of a 13 year old with visually impairment speaking out against cuts to his education and life skills support; Mr. Limbaugh insisted, and he then put on a caller who agreed, that this teenager was certainly being manipulated and used by his parents and liberals to push their own agenda.  That by some warped perception of human nature, his being worried about cuts to his school programs had to ring false.

My sister Eileen has Down Syndrome.  She deserves – and in many respects, needs – particular and focused protection granted by our society, yes.  She does not deserve to be made fun of because of things she has had no control over, like her physical shortcomings.  No one does.  Not even Michael J. Fox, despite Mr. Limbaugh’s protestations.  Such base humor coming from Family Guy‘s attractive, bright Seth McFarlane – towards anyone – is unconscionable.

But even though it is so hard to see, like Andrea Fay Friedman, Eileen’s Down Syndrome has nothing to do with her as a person.   And like Ms. Friedman, she determines her own life, as much as any of us do.