Friday, January 27, 2012

The Power of Words

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior wrote that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" in 1963.

Just last week Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan said that "A terrorist attack on any of us is an attack on all of us."

I shared both quotes with my Civics class, but one eighth grader wrote on the board under Dr. King's words that  "no one gets this." I asked if they'd like me to discuss it with them and the same student said, "no, we don't care either."

That made me thing of Jimmy Buffett's famous line, "Is it ignorance, or apathy? I don't know and I don't care."

I care, God knows I care, but God only knows how I'm supposed to teach eighth graders how to care.

So I took King's words,

Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to Justice EVERYWHERE

and I paired them with James Madison's words-

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

[Disunity] ANYWHERE is a threat to [Unity] EVERYWHERE

[Turmoil] ANYWHERE is a threat to [Tranquility] EVERYWHERE

[Insecurity] ANYWHERE is a threat to [Security] EVERYWHERE

Or would that have sounded better with [Offense] ANYWHERE is a threat to [Defense] EVERYWHERE?

[Suffering] ANYWHERE is a threat to [the General Welfare] EVERYWHERE!

Now THERE'S one that probably makes "rugged individualists" absolutely cringe, but AREN'T I my brother's keeper?

And of course,

[Tyranny] ANYWHERE is a threat to [Liberty] EVERYWHERE

So isn't it true?

Don't you CARE?

Don't you realize? Don't you know?

That "Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to Justice EVERYWHERE!"

Is justice really blind?

Have you ever heard, "No Justice, No Peace!"?

Did you know, what Cornell West says?

He says that “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

Merrium and Webster say that "public" means 

"exposed to general view : 
open, well-known, prominentc : 
perceptible, material..."


"of, relating to, or affecting ALL the people."

Did you know?

Do you care?

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" 

Amos 5:24

Monday, January 09, 2012

Who Are We Dealing With Here?

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in New Hampshire 2012
In his column in this week’s Newsweek, former Clinton adviser and CNN commentator Paul Begala (whom I always thought was the model for Josh Lyman’s character on ‘West Wing’) absolutely hit the nail on the head when he explained the Republican party’s never-ending stampede to the right.

“The story of the Republican Party in the last half century is a nearly unbroken march to the right. Nixonwas more conservative than Eisenhower. Goldwater was more conservative than Nixon. Reagan was more conservative than Goldwater. Gingrich was more conservative than Reagan. And George W. Bush was more conservative than Newt.”

I for one, once thought of myself as a centrist, perhaps even a somewhat conservative Democrat. I supported deficit hawks like Paul Tsongas and Paul Simon in the 80′s and imagined my self a working-class, Midwestern Gebhardt-Democrat, but felt pushed further and further left by the extremist positions and outrageous abuses of the “Neo-Conservatives” during the last Bush administration.

A quick look at the current field of Republican candidates confirms that our rivals on the right have pretty much gone off the rails on a crazy train.

Front-Runner Mitt Romney obviously wouldn’t get the Occupy Wall Street crowd, as a bonifide billionaire who refuses to make his tax records public. This the same reason that a lot of Tea Party Republicans may not trust him (even though they’ll take money from Kansas oil billionaires like the Kock brothers). Meanwhile some Republicans SAY they don’t trust him because he “flip-flops. (also known as telling voters what he thinks they want to hear, which politicians have done as long as there’s been politics). Die hard conservatives, of course, can’t forgive him for having been a moderate governor of a liberal state. As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times already, he used to be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-health care reform.

Evangelicals (right-wing religious fundamentalists) don’t like him because he’s Mormon- As a former Arizonan, I can tell you that the LDS establishment can have a way of amassing, defending and wielding social and political influence that could rival any ethnic, religious, or immigrant group in history. Whether there’s anything any more insidious or conspiratorial I’m not sure. Whether or not being apprehensive about Romney’s Mormonism constitutes the same kind of religious bigotry that Know Nothings’ anti-catholicism did in another time, I’m also not sure.

If Rick Santorum doesn’t revive Protestant prejudices of Catholics, I’m not sure what would. He certainly makes me think about an old Monte Python number called “Every Sperm is Sacred.” Do you realize that he’s not just pro-life, he’s rabidly anti-contraception? I can respect someone who opposes abortion because they genuinely want to protect unborn babies (though I have issues with rape and incest that Santorum leaves no room for), but I just don’t get attacking birth control. For one thing, preventing pregnancies also prevents abortions. As a devout believer myself, not to mention a devoted monogamist, I appreciate more than most secularists that he thinks that people shouldn’t be having sex as casually as watching TV or poking each other on facebook. Be that as it may, not everyone in married committed relationships wants to have 12 kids and I say if some of the secular hedonists and nymphomaniacs out there want to prevent either unplanned pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted diseases, by God, we outta let ‘em.

Liberal comedians have had a field day insinuating that Santorum’s homophobia and his pastel sweater vests suggest that the Senator himself is repressing some latent tendencies, but again, I think we need to respect his right to believe differently that we do. While Jesus Himself never mentions homosexuality in the Bible, both Moses and Saint Paul do. I don’t mean to excuse or condone Santorum’s tendency to obsess about gay marriage, I just think that rather than attacking religious beliefs or even social attitudes, Democrats need to focus on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the constitution. Whether your religious passions are aroused by the very thought of gay sex, like Senator Santorum, or whether it leaves you cold, we must all agree that ALL Americans are all entitled to due process and equal treatment under the laws of the land- that is as conservative as you can get as far as I’m concerned.

Then there’s Newt. Ah Newt. I think it’s ironic that he indignantly claimed to have maintained a positive campaign here in Iowa and was shocked, SHOCKED that Super PACs supporting Mitt Romney would stoop to demonizing his character and maligning his record in so many TV ads. I also think it was poetic justice.

I think it was ironic that his rivals all painted him as the Washington insider and someone who had been willing to work with Democrats, potentially compromising himself to get things done. Especially since this was the man who took the Reagan/Bush rhetoric about reversing 40 years of Liberal programs and turned it into a “revolution” to undo a hundred years of Progressive protections and advancements. The very guy who as Speaker of the House, gloated over the ridiculously petty and partisan impeachment of one of the most popular and effective presidents in recent time, Bill Clinton. The same guy who was one of the first to issue actual talking-points memos to keep his party members on message and in lock step- and in many of those memos taught Republicans how to manipulate language so as to make their opponents not just sound like they were in disagreement, or even incorrect, but to deliberately make them sound immoral- the guy who paved the way for all the radio and TV demagogues and gubernatorial despots of the last 14 years- THIS guy, responsible for so much of our polarization and incivility, this guy was actually referred to as part of the “liberal Republican establishment!” I not only think that’s ironic, I also think it’s poetic justice.

Do I even BOTHER saying anything about Texas Governor Rick Perry? When he first entered the race, I was indignant about the fact that he’s advocated Texas seceding from the Union. I thought that alone was too outrageous for him to be taken seriously. Certainly I’ve been appalled by his cynical abuse of religion to appeal to the basest instincts of Iowa voters. Most glaringly his performances in debates and at campaign events at best reveals him to be an inept imitation of George W. Bush or worst a pathetic addict of some sort.

Should we bother talking about Ron Paul? When you hear him talk about Iraq, you almost think he must be a democrat. When you hear him talk about the war on drugs, you wonder if he hasn’t been hanging out with Woody Harrelson and Willy Nelson. How could any Republican take him seriously? Perhaps Liberals and Libertarians have more in common than just a root word. But then he starts talking about Wall Street- here is where you’d think that the Tea Party and OWS could find common ground. Why bail out jerks who are just going to give each other a big bonus? It is at this point when you could fall under his charm, but then he starts talking about eliminating pretty much every thing about the Federal government that protects anyone or provides any structure or regulation to anything and you remember that this guy lives on what we all used to call “the fringe,” before the Republicans moved us all dangerously close to the precipice that the fringe isn’t even on any known maps anymore. Now anyone who’s done any digging at all has heard about how his newsletters have had their share of white supremacist and racist ideology in them. Hopefully whatever eccentric charm you saw in him is tarnished.

Yep. I’d say that if somehow God magically eliminated President Obama and the Democratic Party from the face of the Earth, so that I had no choice but to vote for a Republican, I’d have to go with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Of course, you know why Republicans don’t like him, right? Not because he’s Mormon. Not because he was ambassador to China. Because he was willing to serve as an ambassador to China FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Crawford County Caucus Information

Little Charter Oak Iowa, population 530, has over 144 registered Democrats only two of whom attended last night’s party caucus in the Denison High School cafeteria.
County Chairman Larry Peterson welcomed participants from all over Crawford County. Democrats watched the live message from President Barrack Obama and a recorded one from former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. Vilsack has been touring all 39 counties in Iowa’s new 4th Congressional District in hopes of unseating Tea Party demagogue Steve King. Vilsack emphasized Iowa values like civility, responsibility, and respect.
Crawford County Dems also had the chance to meet Denison native Kasey Friedrichsen, who is running for Iowa House District 18 as well as County Sheriff Sheriff Jim Steinkuhler and County Auditor Terri Martins.
Attendees were given the opportunity to submit proposals for the state party platform, volunteer to help support campaigns, and serve as delegates to conventions.
Petersen invited Central Committee members to a meeting at his home 7:00 PM, Tuesday January 10.
The Crawford County Democratic Party Convention will be held Saturday, March 10.
The District 4 Convention will be April 28 and the State Democratic Convention is planned for June 16.