Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

Resist: The Downfall of the United States

20 Jan

resistI know I and millions of Americans are in mourning today. We are in mourning for the contempt, disdain, and utter destruction of Trump and  his racist, homophobic cabinet of multi-millionaires. We are mourning the celebration of sociopathy over compassion and love and the idea of paying it forward. We are mourning the day in history when the world will look back and ask: “why and how did people support Trump?” Today I weep for America.

The old rules of any type of civility are now over and we are now navigating a Trump world of sociopathy. Yes, Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and most of the GOP are now engaged in such mendacity and hypocrisy that the world seems upside down.

How do we resist? We keep vigilant, we continue to protest, we continue to call our members of congress and demand to be heard. I realize this is difficult, given that Paul Ryan seems to have disconnected his phone, as I have been calling his office once every day. We must never normalize this. We must never become people who turn their backs on the poor, the targeted, the registered! We all know that Trump will soon turn Americans against each other and ask that we spy on each other and report people. We know from his behavior that soon news outlets will not be invited to the White House; that he will censure journalists that ask questions; or that he will just stop providing news conferences.

I will challenge myself and all of America to take action! We need to organize, support each other, and change this system. Let us make every effort to mitigate the destruction he has laid out, the shredding of rights he has promised. Stay mobilized and passionate! There are anti-Trump rallies taking place all over the country — people are organizing and taking action. Be part of the movement, the resistance.

Basket of Deplorables: The Death of Empathy

19 Sep

deplorable-basketI have been doing a lot of reflecting on Hillary Clinton’s reference to “half of Trump supporters” as a “basket of deplorables.” Initially, I would have preferred she framed it as: I am overwhelmingly concerned with those people supporting Trump, as he stands for all that is deplorable in our country. However, upon further reflection, I must admit, she is simply calling out bad behavior. Note picture of above–peddlers of hate for profit!

When Trump said: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” is that not deplorable? Is it not deplorable that people support and encourage that bullying behavior? When Trump made fun of a reporter with a disability, is that not deplorable? Is that not the worst part of our country? When Trump, referring to Mexican-Americans says, “They’re rapists. And some, I assume are good people.” Is this type of racism not deplorable? Trump’s treatment of Khizr Khan and his family was nothing less than deplorable and is a signature moment for Trump, showing his disdain for veterans and those currently serving in the military.When Trump calls for both a mandated registration of Muslim-Americans and a national ban of Muslim immigrants, is this type of racism and Islamophobia not the worst of our country? How awful must this man prove to be? I am nonplussed to say the least.

For all of those people who support Trump’s brand of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and bullying behavior, is this indeed not deplorable? And while I do find it deplorable, I am also exceedingly disturbed and troubled: how do we then reach a population that seems to have zero capacity for empathy or reflection? How do we reach a population full of so much hate towards women, African-Americans, the Latino Community, the LGBTQ community, and the Muslim community?

Sadly, I am able to provide you a map and numbers of people of color harassed by Trump supporters here. I will also provide more disturbing facts from Public Policy Polling: 65% of Trump supporters believe that President Obama is Muslim — this is so troubling in so many ways, I have not the time to fully unpack how awful it is.  59% of Trump supporters believe that President Obama was not born in the United States. Again, this is so very troubling and tells me that there is a certain population that will not be bothered with facts, rather they are fueled by hate. According to Reuters over half of Trump supporters describe African-Americans as more violent than whites and the same percentage of supporters describe African-Americans as more criminal than whites. I’m not sure how to expose racism more blatantly. All of this should be, legitimately, labelled deplorable.

Trump famously shouted at voters of color, “What have you got to lose?” The media gave him a pass, when the answer is clear. We all stand to lose our dignity, self-respect, and shared humanity. Giving in to that would be deplorable.

While it would be quite easy for me to yield to a misanthropic abyss during this election year, I must work hard to reach people and communities and engage in conversations that demonstrate that our country is so much better than Trump and his supporters — that we have so much more potential — that our strength is in our diversity. There is no strength in the politics of rage and separation that works to oppress women, LGBT people, people of color, people with disabilities, and all of the intersecting identities there in. Calling that out, and asking us to be our better selves, well that’s not deplorable at all. Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity against hate!

Celebrating the Much Despised Labor Day

5 Sep

Labor DaySince the Reagan era, we seem to have surrendered to what I would term an irrational, inexorable disdain for the laborer. Labor Day seems to have become a hollow holiday for some without a sense of history. Let us remember why it is important to celebrate and elevate the laborer. This is a time for us to reflect and look at how we value human beings; how we look at and address income disparities; how we address and look at people who are over-employed!

Yes, over-employed, those who have to work more than one job and still remain in poverty, while CEOs and those who enjoy being in the top echelon of corporations and organizations earn exponentially more than those who actually allow those organizations to sustain themselves. According to the Economic Policy Institute and Fortune, many top executives make over 300 times that of their employees, many of whom live at or below the poverty line. Yes, CEOs earn 20 times more than they did 20 years ago and 30 times more than they did 30 years ago. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, “In between 1978 and 2014, inflation adjusted CEO pay increased by 1000%,” while the typical worker has only seen a possible 11% increase in that same time frame. That 11% means workers are now either earning the same as they earned in 1978 or even less, allowing executives to earn so much money that it is next to impossible to chart.

We saw the architecture of this with Ronald Reagan, who did his best to bust unions. You remember the union, the reason why we have a little something called a “weekend,” and an 8 hour workday, and protections against the exploitation of children workers. Unions: the reason  we hope to never witness another tragedy like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.

Just a little history about Labor Day. Labor Day was started in 1882 by labor unions, but it would be many more years before it would be recognized as a Federal Holiday. Oregon was the first state to recognize and honor Labor Day in 1887.  Finally in 1894, under the Cleveland administration, it became a national holiday on the first Monday in September.  Congress passed it unanimously, a very rare event indeed. Today we have an opportunity to reflect on why we need to celebrate the laborer and to look at the maldistribution of wealth in the United States. It’s particularly important to note how Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan show nothing but contempt, disdain, and even disgust for the laborer.

Many of us have been working in movements to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. This would be just a very small move forward and still does not address a living wage. Sadly, the common theme from Trump and Ryan and their ilk — remember, they aren’t as different as they’d like you to believe —  has been nothing less than hostile. They all seem to subscribe to the false notion of a meritocracy. Our current Republican controlled House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against the equal pay act — the same people who want to throw out the Affordable Care Act and witness millions suddenly going without health care. All the while ALL of those in our congress have Cadillac insurance packages and earn a minimum of $174,000. Yes, you read that number correctly. Please watch this very short video of the maldistribution of wealth in the United States.

Labor Day isn’t just an excuse for a long weekend or a chance to grill an extra burger before autumn sets in. It’s a chance to reflect on the work that is done at all levels of our society and the value of all that labor. It’s a chance to celebrate the collaboration that makes work better and working conditions safer. In the words of the great Joe Hill (as sung by Billy Bragg)

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackeys out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child

There is power in a Union.

Happy Labor Day to all who have to work today and that have no pension, no health benefits, and are at the poverty line. We must stand in solidarity!

Paul Ryan: Beware

2 Nov

Paul RyanI’m not even sure how to begin to unpack this colossal lying, hypocritical,  racist, misogynistic, ignorant, self-serving piece of hell whom we now call the Speaker of the House. I think I will start with the miseducation of Paul Ryan. I heard him say that this is not a national position. What? Did you really just say that out loud? Where did you go to school Speaker Ryan? The Speaker of the House is second in line to become the President of the United States, should something untoward happen to the President and Vice-President. How is that not a national position?

I think it would behoove all of us living in the United States to fully understand what we have with Ryan as he now holds such emormous power.  This is the man who said in his acceptance speech that:

I never thought I’d be the speaker. But early in my life, I wanted to serve in the House. I thought the place was exhilarating—because here, you could make a difference. If you had a good idea and worked hard, you could make it happen. You could improve people’s lives. To me, the House represented the best of America: the boundless opportunity to do good.

But let’s be frank: The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.

We need to let every member contribute…

Wow! Clearly, this is a man who has zero capacity for self-reflection. When he said, “improve people’s lives,” about whom was he talking? His career is built on keeping many targeted populations from having better lives. For example, Ryan proposed to cut social programs such as Medicare and Food Stamps and gutting Planned Parenthood. I will use his own words here: “I support the rights of the unborn child. Personally, I believe that life begins at conception, and it is for that reason that I feel we need to protect that life as we would protect other children.”  Sadly, he does not support family leave for women or families to take care of children — more than ironic given he demanded he be allowed time to spend time with his family before accepting the job of Speaker of the House. What a perfect example of “I want mine and I don’t care if you get  yours.”

Yes, Mr. Ryan, the House is broken. When were you planning an apology here? Let us remember that you are one of the architects who helped to break the House with your obstructionist agenda.  Of course you are not “interested in laying blame,” because that would mean you would have to apologize to the people of the United States, specifically all targeted populations and all people experiencing poverty. Perhaps we could “wipe the slate clean” by putting you and the other tea party members in check.

You continue to obstruct the Affordable Health Care Act and offer to repeal it. How does that “improve people’s lives”?  Easy for you to propose because you have a Cadillac health insurance policy paid for by the citizens you are working against.  In fact, you continue to work AGAINST women, people of color, the poor, and the LGBTQ community. (You champion promoting workplace discrimination against the LGBT community.)  From my perspective, you seem to be only concerned with white, heterosexual, Christian, wealthy men.

You also seem to be a big fan of wars, having supported going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Have you been to war? What do you propose to do to support veterans after they serve? You have consistently voted to cut veterans’s benefits, which seems both ironic and hypocritical if you are sending troops to war.

I can only hope your tenure as Speaker of the House is exceedingly short lived and that more intelligent voices will prevail and replace you with due speed.  I do wonder what your mentor Ayn Rand would think of your current position, or the fact that even former Speaker Bohener (not a friend to anyone) thought your budget proposal was too harsh.

Sadly, I am not encouraged or excited to see how you will perform in what is most certainly a national role.  Let us hope you prove me wrong.

Distribution of Wealth in the United States: A Scary Picture of Money

1 Apr

bag_of_moneyI have been rather astonished and disappointed with all of the hullabaloo being made over the record highs achieved with the Dow, as though it were an accurate instrument measuring the financial success and stability of ALL Americans. This continued subscription to “trickle down economics” is part of the dark legacy of Ronald Reagan.  This distorted view of economics does hold true…if you are standing in front of a Fun House mirror.  Regardless of my own philosophy and my own political convictions, the unbiased truth is that the recent record highs of the Dow only demonstrate the exponentially increasing wealth of the top 10% of Americans.

I admit to having my own very conflicted feelings around money and about capitalism, so I will try to contain all of this article to just facts regarding wealth in the United States.  I have to thank my friend Steve Joiner for inspiring me to write this.

First, let us divide the country into five sections of wealth: The Bottom 20%, The Second 20%, The Middle 20%, The Fourth 20%, and finally the top 20%.  92% of all Americans believe the distribution of wealth needs to be more equitable and distributed more fairly.  Sadly, this same 92% of Americans’ perception of the actual distribution of wealth is far removed from the reality.  The reality is that the bottom 40% of Americans have an infinitesimal portion of the distribution of wealth, while the top 1 % have more than the entire wealth that 9 out of 10 Americans believe the top 20% should have.

I will try to make this a bit more simple and understandable.  Let us say the entire country has 100 people total.  Of that 100 people, 60% of those people are either destitute, or struggling to make ends meet. Another 20% are doing well financially.  The final 20% can be split up as follows: 18% are doing exceedingly well and controlling a great amount of wealth, but then the top 1% control so much wealth that it cannot be pictured on a simple bar graph of wealth due to its disproportionate size.  For greater detail and so you can see the actual graphs, click here.

What can be done?  We know that 92% of Americans want this inequality to change, so where do we begin?  Here I have to thank my friend Bruce Kestelman for inspiring me to address Paul Ryan’s budget redux.  Here is where the disparities in wealth have to become political and I have to call out bad behavior.  Paul Ryan continues to offer a budget for the United States that only  benefits the top 2% of Americans.  Yes, he continues to beat the tired old drum of ending Medicare and gutting Medicaid and of course, lowering taxes on the very wealthy.  Am I the only one nonplussed here?  While claiming to be in alignment with “Catholic Values,” see what Catholics say in response to Ryan.  How on earth does Ryan’s budget honor the social contract or social justice in any way?  We can change the inequitable distribution of wealth with our votes.  We can take power away from Paul Ryan and John Boehner by not voting for them!

I realize today is April Fool’s Day, but I regret to say this is not an April Fools joke.  Well, sadly the joke is at the expense of the American people.

Number 2 Bigot of the Year 2012: Republican Party Platform

30 Dec
Number 2 Bigot of 2012

Number 2 Bigot of 2012

There are those who claim that a party platform is just a bunch of words to rally the faithful and that what matters is each candidate. To them I say, words matter. Candidates who stand up under a party banner should note what they claim to stand for. This year, the Republican party approved a rancid Tea-soaked platform that slid even further backward into a viciously white, male, heterosexist hierarchy. With that being said, I still refuse to paint all Republicans with this tea stained brush.

It should come as little surprise that the platform was rabidly anti-gay. FRC President Tony Perkins was allowed to draft language that not only called for a national one-man-one-woman amendment but targeted all the progress made during the Obama administration for dismantling.

The War on Women showed up in the guise of a personhood amendment, the most egregious type of attack on reproductive choice. Trampling freedom of religion, the platform trumpeted the farthest right of so-called christian values, elevating the “rights” of a random assemblage of cells over even the life of the mother. How very pro-life THAT is–protect the fetus at all cost, but damn the mother and the child after birth.

The platform also attacked health care and called for dismantling the Affordable Care Act without proposing any alternative. It painted immigrants as greedy illegals, celebrating Arizona and Alabama-style immigration laws and demanding intrusive bureaucracies to force companies to investigate all potential employees. How’s that for smaller government?

The hypocritical, anti-everyone — unless they’re white, rich, christian, heterosexual men — document was a shocker even for the 21st Century GOP. Sadly, the candidates picked up the hateful flag and marched.

Dishonorable mention goes to four particularly loathsome GOP men. Mitt Romney leads the list, railing against the LGBT community, women, and the poor while pretending to tack to the center. His cruel detachment and willingness to do anything to win make him a perfect exemplar of this decaying party. His running mate, Paul Ryan, gets special notice for his Randian budget plans, a real “I’ve got mine so go to Hell” approach to governance.

Two angry men round out the list. Regular TSM bigot winner Allen West leaves office in a fit of petulance. Despite his clear loss, he prepared to waste thousands of dollars and ignore election law to try to change the results. Fortunately, he was so nuts that even in Florida he couldn’t make the case. Sen John McCain (R – Pleistocene) rounds out the list. His regular angry rants hit a new low when he targeted U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. He hypocritically attacked her integrity — after supporting Sarah (Gun) Palin and  Conoleezza Rice and her lying ways years earlier — in a blatant move to get John Kerry out of the Senate and give his mini-me Scott Brown another shot. What a sad, nasty creature our McCain (Gollum) is.

Chris Christie: Storm Damage and Broken Clocks

30 Oct

Governor Chris Christie (R – NJ) has never been shy about his criticisms of the Obama administration. It’s especially notable, then, to see him set aside politics this week as his state copes with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Noting the importance of Federal assistance as New Jersey copes with natural disasters the like of which it seldom sees, Christie praised the President and his hands-on approach to the storm.

The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit. I’ve been on the phone with him, like I said, yesterday, personally, three times. He gave me his number at the White House, told me to call him if I needed anything, and he absolutely means it. It’s been very good working with the president, and he and his administration have been coordinating with us great. It’s been wonderful.

Truly a broken clock moment for Gov. Christie, who deserves credit for doing everything he can for the citizens of his state.

Hurricanes don’t have politics; they devastate everyone in their path. Sadly, the GOP ticket for the White House has indicated an approach that would have left New Jersey in a very different situation. Remember nearly a year ago when “severely conservative” Mitt Romney was wreaking devastation on his primary opponents? He actually indicated that he found Federal disaster programs “immoral” because of their impact on the budget. His running mate, Paul Ryan, is a primary architect of a proposed Federal budget that would gut the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As the New York Times notes:

Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness. Representatives Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other House Republicans have repeatedly tried to refuse FEMA’s budget requests when disasters are more expensive than predicted, or have demanded that other valuable programs be cut to pay for them. The Ryan budget, which Mr. Romney praised as “an excellent piece of work,” would result in severe cutbacks to the agency, as would the Republican-instigated sequester, which would cut disaster relief by 8.2 percent on top of earlier reductions.

In spite of this, the President has worked with his administration to significantly improve disaster response protocols, making the aftermath of Sandy easier to bear despite the horrific devastation. This storm provides a sad, practical illustration of the importance of this election.

TSM wishes the best for everyone feeling the effects of Sandy and sends all our positive energy to the storm-struck states.

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