Tag Archives: Veterans

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!

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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.

Congress Cashes In While Country Crashes

4 Oct

dimeI need to thank my friend Sarah B. for some of the research done here. If you are not outraged with the GOP/Tea Party, you are not paying attention. There is a great economic and emotional cost to this government shutdown–the brunt of the cost is being paid by the workers, the middle class, and lower classes of the country.  While millions of Americans in the United States are having to go without a salary and resources, John Boehner , Ted Cruz, and all the others drinking the Kool Aid are GETTING PAID while they devastate the country.  It is difficult to believe there is not a sad and disgusting thread of racism as part of what is motivating the Teahadists.

Let us look specifically at just some of the direct costs of this horrific behavior:

Furloughed Employees:

  • Over 800,000 Federal employees have been furloughed and will not be paid.

Head Start:

  • Up to 19,000 children are unable to attend head start programs, depriving them of early childhood educational opportunities and leaving their parents scrambling for childcare.

Cancer Patients Turned Away:

  • Cancer patients trying to enroll in clinical trials at NIH have been turned away until the shutdown ends.

No Flu Outbreak Monitoring:

  • Monitoring of Flu outbreaks nationwide has been crippled, with only cursory examinations and no “in-depth” investigations of potential outbreaks.

Assistance for low-income families comes to a halt:

  • The WIC program, which provides food assistance to families with children, has shut down. Some states are not accepting new applicants, and other states are running on reserves which will last mere days.

Colorado Springs:

  • Over 18% of the workforce in Colorado Springs, CO (55,000 workers) are on furlough and won’t be paid.

Highway Investigations:

  • Incidents like the deadly bus crash in Tennessee cannot be investigated because the staff at the National Traffic Safety Board are furloughed.

As of today, the cost of the Shutdown is now well over 1 Billion Dollars and all because a bunch of wealthy congressmen (who have full health care and are still collecting a salary) want to get rid of the much-needed Affordable Care Act, which they are calling Obamacare.

Here is where the GOP/Teahadists need to catch a clue and pay attention.  The Affordable Care Act is a huge success in just four days.  Millions of people are enrolling and for many this is the first time they have had health insurance in years. Enrollment is so vigorous that it is crashing web servers.  Now tell me again why the Affordable Care Act is a bad thing?

As programs continue to shut down when their existing funding ceases, the crazed militants in the House speak about the situation out of both sides of their Tea-holes. While many Republican members of the House laugh and call the situation “fun” and “the best part of my job,” others bemoan aspects of the shutdown that inconvenience them. (Yes, Rep. Neugebauer (R, TX), who publicly shouted down a park ranger who wouldn’t let him into a closed memorial, we’re talking to you.)

While it is great to see the President and the Democrats united in standing up to this bullying, the impact on the country is horrific. How long will the so-called “moderate” and “rational” Republicans be cowed by the fringes of their party? Until enough members of the House agree to do their jobs, the most vulnerable citizens of our country will continue to suffer.  Sadly, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell (two Madhatters) were caught on mic with their despicable behavior.  Click here to see them.

Reflections of the 4th of July Holiday

3 Jul

DeclarationOn July 4, 1776 thirteen colonies, which would become the United States, declared their independence from England through the Declaration of Independence. I thought it would be interesting to look at this holiday and the document which sparked the American Revolution and examine where we are now through a social justice lens.

I must confess that I weep a little every time I read the Declaration of Independence, for it really is a beautiful living document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Allowing for the sexist language in its context, this is some powerful stuff here. Now —  237 years later — how are we living up to this declaration?  Several points come to mind when I read this and I worry we are still failing.  When I look at the current environment of how we try to control women and the disgraceful misogyny displayed today (Rick Perry and Wendy Davis), I am saddened. When I think about how we continue to target and marginalize the LGBT community, I am saddened.  When I think about the multigenerational impact of the intentional marginalization of people of color, I am saddened. When I think about the Occupy Movement and the devastating disparity in income in the United States, I am truly saddened.

What are we to do? How do we right these wrongs? How do we “throw off such a Government” that seems to be working for only 24% of Americans? How do we end endless wars? How do we take better care of our veterans? How do we ensure ALL people have health care?

It seems to me we have the answer in the Declaration of Independence.  The document charges us all with the task of: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

A true democracy — of the people, for the people, by the people — is a glorious thing. But a Congress frozen in partisan bickering and held hostage by a slender fringe minority, a high court that capriciously abuses its power to place corporations over people, an executive that practices terror to fight terror, these are not democratic ways.

There must be some type of resistance, or non-violent way to have a revolution that ensures: “that all men (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let us all join together, demanding the full celebration of our rights, and help transform this country to best represent its lofty, and laudable, intentions.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 6, Rep. Joe Walsh

6 Jul

Bigot of the Week

Today a familiar face returns to bigotopia. Regular TSM readers may remember Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) who sat out a chance to work with the President on jobs for Americans and played the racist elected-while-black card when criticizing the President. This week he sank to a new low in his bid for re-election.

Walsh’s opponent for IL-8 is Tammy Duckworth. A Black Hawk helicopter pilot, she was one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq until November 12th, 2004 when her helicopter was hit by an RPG. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries. Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006 and narrowly lost. Since then she has served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walsh, whose career consists of venture capitalism and lobbying for school voucher schemes, has no record of public or military service until the Tea Party swept him into office in 2010 (after three failed election attempts). He has mounted an attack on Duckworth because she has the audacity to mention that she served her country and was injured.

Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.

Bizarrely, Walsh was comparing Duckworth to the supposedly reticent John McCain, who has mentioned his military service and injuries just as prominently in every campaign he has ever run. This is nearly identical to the sadly successful campaign run against Sen. Max Cleland, a disabled U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, by Saxby Chambliss, who sat out the war on deferments. Clearly, these Republicans believe serving your country only counts if you preach the Republican gospel.

As a delightful side note, musician Joe Walsh (Eagles, James Gang, etc.) has endorsed Duckworth, disgusted by his namesake’s behavior.

Memorial Day and Remembering Whose Land We Are On…

28 May

I hope this post accomplishes at least two goals.  I worry we do not do nearly enough to support our brothers and sisters returning from duty; let us not forget that it was George W and the Republicans that wanted to cut funding for their benefits.  Secondly, I wanted to make it clear that this holiday is far more complex when you think about colonization and the Native American Holocaust.   I think the picture I have included says more than I could ever say, and it says it far more eloquently!

Veterans Chime in on DADT

4 Dec

Thank you to my brother-in-law, Scott, who is a retired army soldier and served in the war in Iraq and is just a gem of a person, for sending me this article.  The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) have joined the top military leaders in calling for the repeal of DADT!  “IAVA shares Secretary Gates’ and Admiral Mullen’s opinion that upholding the integrity of the military as an institution is critical. All men and women who have committed their lives to service and sacrifice in our military should be treated equally,” IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff stated. “We also share the concern of military leaders that a prolonged court battle resulting from failure to repeal DADT legislatively would be damaging and disruptive to our armed forces.”  Senator McCain and Senator Graham stop acting on behalf of your own homophobic agendas! See the whole article here.

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