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Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun laws, of course, but what else?

“We can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them, we must change.”
- President Barack Obama, Sunday night, addressing participants at a prayer vigil for the 26 teachers and students, murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Friday
There is no snow on the mid-December ground in Newtown, Connecticut, to hide the furry ears of teddy bears, the bundles of flowers, the mounting piles of notes and photos, mourning the dead children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary, beneath a quiet pile of white. Instead, the cold ground, in the small New England town, under tears and rain, lays its sadness bare. The national empathy is loud and palpable, through sad news reports, police press conferences, brave family statements, and the president’s words of comfort to a community devastated over its loss of innocence, and innocents.
President Obama addresses prayer vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, Sunday, December 16, 2012. (From Whitehouse.gov video)
President Obama addresses prayer vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, Sunday, December 16, 2012.
(From Whitehouse.gov video)
“Are we really prepared,” President Obama asked, at Sunday’s vigil, “to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?  Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
“I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens,” he promised, “in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
He said he would gather those who can help with the issue of mass killings at the hands of deranged minds, including parents, teachers and mental health professionals. But in this inexplicable tragedy, we are all stakeholders. We are all engaged. We are all responsible. We cannot only rely on whatever politically expedient solution the leaders of our country come up with, and call it done.
But what else do we do?
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Throwing stones at Goliath – the frustrating fight for the states

Lest you thought you could stop and revel in the leaf turning another few degrees leftward through the political arc, with November victories muting many of the worst DC ogres and trolls in their teabag hats, December comes with its season of deception, and reminds us all that the fight for a progressive America is not just what happens in a room with the president, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority Leader. We were all so busy admiring our woodcarving handiwork, we’ve forgotten that this is a country full of Tea Party termites, happy to lull us into a sense of accomplishment for what our efforts presented to the world, while state by state, they chew at the infrastructure of community interdependence that built our nation. If we are not more vigilant, we will be staring at a husk that turns to dust when flicked by an American flag rat tail, wielded by an uninformed, ignorant electorate.
What happened the past five days in the great state of Michigan is neither the opening salvo of our battle against our big-money foe, nor is it the last arrow in their quiver. It was exactly two years ago this week, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), fresh off his election, announced he was going to seek to curtail collective bargaining for the public sector unions in the Badger State. Neither unions nor AWOL state senators were able to stop the Koch brothers’ acolyte, Walker. The support from Democrats, on the national level, was almost non-existent, as the unions sought to punish Walker for his about face, with a failed recall election.
What these two similar events demonstrate is that the sleeping giant of conservatism lives in the state legislatures...
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michigan attempt to stifle labor puts politics ahead of people

English: Rick Snyder, 48th Governor of Michiga...
Rick Snyder, 48th Governor of Michigan,
takes the oath of office the Capitol, in Lansing,
at his inauguration.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Obama, Monday, drew a parallel between the divisive politics of the federal budget's so-called fiscal cliff, and the politics of the Michigan governor's fight against unions. "These so-called 'right to work' laws, they don't have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics," he told a crowd of supporters at the new Daimler diesel plant, in Redford, Michigan, at a previously scheduled stop to push his call for a tax rate increase for top earners.

Saying the unions that thrived in the cradle of the American automotive industry "have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America," Obama called the actions of Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan state legislature to remove rules regarding union membership in union shops, a politically vindictive choice rather than necessary legislation. He then used the familiar language of frustration, unmistakably similar to that used in the budget debate in Washington, DC. "[W]e’ve got to get past this whole situation where we manufacture crises because of politics," he said.

Both these events - the fiscal cliff created by Congress' stubborn ineptitude and the unexpected turnabout of Michigan's Snyder on the unions who supported his election - the president went on to say, are attacks on the health of the American middle class...
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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Republicans shameless attacks based on sham principles

It’s probably a holdover from war propaganda technique. Dehumanize your enemy; make them less sympathetic. For Republicans, that requires inventing an artificial social standard for which they can create consensus, something they ironically call the “real America,” a militaristic, political force of religious, cultural warriors who fight for all they choose to define as good and true, a standard that exists only because believing makes it so. They then point out how communities that challenge that standard are unfaithful, greedy heathens.
It could be as simple as Group X saying, “We keep the poor from dying,” and the Republicans claiming Group X gives help to murderers, rapists and thieves. Wanting a hand up is cast as envy. Wanting a fair wage is seen as ingratitude. Asking for considerations when one has needs but no means becomes socialism.
Planned Parenthood and the United Nations are among those the GOP has singled out in its fight, organizations that a generation ago were honored and revered by Republicans and Democrats alike. Emboldened by their hand in the destruction of ACORN, an organization that did nothing but help inner city communities, they think they have a precedent of success for their self-righteous attacks.

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