In The Words Of A Founding Father…

For those who demand that the US pass a so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” banning gay and lesbian marriage; For those who demand that the government intervene in the relationship between a woman and her doctor for fear that she might take a contraceptive or consider an abortion; For those who demand that the US be declared a Christian nation; For those who demand that our schools teach Chrisitian values to students; For those who believe that a failure to follow the commandments of the Bible will result in the collapse of our nation, consider this:

In Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson outlined his views which led to the separation of church and state: “The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit.  We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.  But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. … Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.”

A Real Memorial For Our Warriors.

I’m writing this on Memorial Day, the annual celebration of those Americans who died in military service.  On this day, some Americans fly the flag.  Some attend memorial services.  Some place flowers on graves.  But most have a picnic, attend a baseball game, go shopping, take a mini-vacation or otherwise enjoy a day off.

What would be more fitting is to change our national mindset toward war. 

Some time ago, I realized that our nation has been at war for all but 33 years of our existance.  When we’re not at war, we’re preparing for war or meddling in the affairs of other nations.  We have fought against Native Americans, the British, Spanish, Mexicans, Libyans, Philippinos, Chinese, Japanese, Italians, Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Panamanians, Iraqis, and Afghans.  We have threatened many more.  We have even fought each other.

Some of these wars were necessary.  Many were not.

It’s time that we came to the realization that the US is a warrior nation.  We have spread our influence around the globe at the end of a gun.  It’s no coincidence that the world’s only military superpower is also the world’s greatest economic power.

We have created an American Empire in the mold of the Roman Empire.  But there’s an ominous warning in that comparison.  You see, the Roman Empire also ruled through military conquest.  Eventually, it over-extended its resources and collapsed of its own weight.  It simply could no longer afford the military and the political infrastructure needed to keep its subjects in line.

If the US doesn’t want to fade into history, we need to heed that warning.

Instead of a three-day weekend in recognition of those who have fallen, we would better honor our military heroes by reimagining our future; by seeking to avoid conflicts through diplomacy and true leadership; by refusing to use our military in support of our economic interests (aka greedy corporations); by relegating war to the avenue of absolute last resort; and by committing to never again send our sons and daughters to fight in an unnecessary war halfway around the world until all other options have been expended.

I can think of no better way to honor our fallen warriors than to dramatically reduce the number who join their ranks in the future.

Cutting Defense Spending Does Not Have To Compromise Military Readiness.

Although Teapublicans insist on cutting government spending despite our fragile economic recovery, they categorically refuse to consider cuts to our defense budget.  They claim such cuts will leave the US vulnerable to attack.  So, when they passed the Ryan budget plan in the House, they included significant budget increases for the Pentagon.

In doing so, they disregarded a Pentagon report requested by Senator Bernie Sanders that shows, over the past decade, the government has awarded contracts totaling $1.1 trillion to defense contractors and their parent companies found guilty of defrauding the government.  In other words, when a military contractor is found guilty of defrauding the government, we demand a settlement.  Then we give them an opportunity to do it again!

If Teapublicans are serious about cutting deficits, the military/industrial complex is the very first place they should look.  Not the last.  The military budget is so bloated the Pentagon can’t even determine what happened to the $60 billion or so that has gone missing in Iraq and Afghanistan!

The money that can be saved by cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security pales by comparison to the money that could be saved just by increasing oversight of military spending.  Moreover, the money spent on safety nets tends to go right back into our economy, while much of the money wasted on military fraud tends to line the pockets of CEOs and foreign dictators.

Of course, Teapublicans don’t want to stop with cuts to safety nets.  They want to hack away money from education, too; money that is truly an investment in our future.  Money that will pay us back in innovation and future increased tax revenues, as opposed to excess military spending that will result in more fraud and waste.

Both parties say this election will determine the future of our nation for generations.  The question is what future do you want?  More military and more wars?  Or a better standard of living for our youth and our seniors?

It seems like an easy choice for me.

Running To The Left.

Teapublican candidates are notorious for running to the right during primaries in order to placate the base.  Then they run to the center during the general election.  What about Democrats?  When’s the last time you saw a Democratic candidate run to the left during the primary contest?

It’s a trick question.

The answer is most likely never.  In my voting lifetime, I cannot recall a single instance of a Democratic candidate changing positions following the primaries to become more centrist.  They all seem to be centrists, that is if you consider the center to be what once was the right.

More and more Democratic candidates are refugees from the new Teapublican Party.  More and more of them talk about the need to cut social programs while maintaining or increasing defense spending.  More are in favor of corporate tax cuts.  And more are in favor of liberal gun laws.

The result of this dynamic is that, with each election cycle, Teapublicans are successful in moving the discussion further to the right.  And Democrats just keep going along with it.  In fact, it would be difficult to distinguish a “liberal” of today from a conservative of the 1970s or 1980s.  The “liberal” President Clinton signed a Republican bill repealing the Glass-Steagall Act regulating the financial industry.  The “liberal” Clinton signed a bill making it easier for corporations to export jobs.  The “socialist” President Obama signed a law permitting guns in our national parks.  And, instead of pushing for universal healthcare, the “socialist” Obama settled for health care reform based on a concept from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.

What the Democratic Party really needs is a less belligerent, liberal version of the Tea Party that will force candidates to run to the left in order to win their primaries.  Maybe then we can turn our political discussion back to the real center.

This Is A Reason To Vote For Romney?

Teapublican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has said that anything more than 4 percent unemployment is a failure for the Obama administration.  (It should be noted that the US has rarely achieved such a low unemployment figure.)  Now Mitt says that by the end of the first term of a Romney presidency, unemployment should be somewhere around 6 percent!

Hmmm…so Romney is already predicting that his first term will be a failure?

Even more puzzling is the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that continuing the policies of President Obama will result in an unemployment rate of 6 percent by 2015 – a year before the end of President Obama’s second term!  So, if this election is all about jobs as Mitt Romney has said, tell us again Mitt:  Why is it we should vote for you?

The Party of Hate.

Teapublicans love to say incendiary things about their political opponents.  In just the past few weeks, Teapublican candidates and representatives have called President Obama a socialist, communist and fascist.  A Teapublican Senator called President Obama the most divisive figure in politics.  A Teapublican stated that gays should be rounded up, surrounded by an electric fence and killed.  And the Teapublican Secretary of State in Arizona has stated that he won’t allow the president on the state ballot unless the State of Hawaii will send documentation of his birth.

And that’s not to mention the usual drone of really hateful rhetoric on conservative talk radio.

Yet whenever Teapublicans are accused of fomenting hate, they ridicule the accusers.  They claim Democrats are manufacturing a straw dog for political purposes.  They claim that their remarks do not stir up violence.

Unfortunately, the facts don’t support them.

Just consider this:  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (the organization that tracks domestic hate groups), the number of radical “anti-government” militia groups has increased from 150 to 1,274 during the years of the Obama presidency. The SPLC also reports that there have been more homegrown domestic terrorism attacks by right-wing groups than by international terrorists during his presidency.

Of course, Teapublicans say that has nothing to do with their constant drumbeat of hatred aimed at the nation’s first president of African-American ancestory.  Nooooo!  It’s only because of Obama’s policies, they say.

The last time hate groups were so prominent was during the Clinton administration when the SLPC identified 858 such groups.  So when a Democrat is in the White House, hate groups increase.  When a Republican is in the White House, the number of hate groups is diminished.  And when a black Democrat is in the White House, the number of hate groups explodes!

If you think that’s simply a coincidence, you haven’t been listening.

Undisciplined Democratic Candidates vs Monolithic Republican Zombies.

When Newark Mayor Cory Booker went on Meet The Press and attacked the Obama campaign strategy, he did more than expose himself as a disloyal “surrogate.”  He pointed to the greatest difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Had he been a Republican attacking Mitt Romney’s campaign, he would have been quickly dismissed as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).  He would have been challenged in the next primary, defeated by the Teapublican base, and his political career would be done.

On the other hand, there is no such thing as a DINO.  A Democrat can go on national television and say anything he or she wants with few repercussions from the Democratic Party.  It’s frustrating for the Democratic base.  We have enough of a battle on our hands fending off Teapublican lies.  We don’t need cannibals devouring the party from within.

Mayor Booker is an impressive young man who seems to be a good mayor. He has shown personal courage by rescuing a neighbor from a fire.  And he seems to have a great future as long as he remembers who politically supports him.  But based on his statements on Meet The Press, he needs the equivalent of a time out.

Three Explanations for Romney’s Claim He Doesn’t Remember Cruelty.

Recently, several of Mitt Romney’s high school friends recounted an event in which they held down a gay classmate at their Michigan private school while Romney hacked off the terrified student’s bleached blond locks.

Certainly, most of us do dumb things as teenagers. And most of us never forget them. I did and said some terribly cruel things as a teen to prove that I belonged with the “in” crowd. I remember each of them vividly and I have long regretted them. Indeed, I wish I could meet with the victims of my cruelty and beg for their forgiveness.

Yet what I did pales in comparison to Mr. Romney’s reported actions.

So when Romney says that he doesn’t recall the incident, what are the possible explanations for his memory failure?

1 – His classmates are lying.

2 – He’s lying.

3 – He committed so many cruel acts that he can’t single out just one.

Since the story has been corroborated by at least five former classmates, we can logically rule out number one. That leaves only two options. Both are an indictment of Mitt Romney’s character.  And both should disqualify him from becoming President of the United States.

How Teapublicans Win.

What happens when you combine the least educated and least curious portion of our electorate with the most selfish and greedy?  What happens when those people are guided by the religious certainty that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that the destruction of our planet will only hasten their opportunity to ride in the golden chariot to heaven?  What happens when they’re led by people who are willing to tell any lie and embrace any falsehood to be elected?

The result is today’s Republican Party.

Of course, they’ll never admit it.  According to Teapublicans, they’re simply trying to rescue America from socialists, communists, fascists and other undesireables such as Democrats, women, school teachers, government workers, labor unions, immigrants, gays, lesbians, transgenders, people of color, and the poor.  I’m sure there are many other “enemies,” but I don’t know what’s inside the minds of Teapublicans.  And, given the ugliness of their rhetoric, I certainly don’t want to peek inside!

The reality is that Teapublican leaders want their followers to fear their neighbors, so they won’t notice the big money interests pulling the strings behind the curtain.  They’re quite literally rigging the system and walking off with the money.  They’ve pushed their tax burden onto the already overburdened middle class.  They collect billions in government contracts and subsidies. And by gaining control of the Supreme Court, they’ve usurped even more control of our political system.

Now they’re out to undermine Social Security and Medicare.  The end result will be to give large financial institutions and insurance companies (both controlled by Wall Street) access to still more of our money.

If more people recognized what’s going on, Teapublicans would never again win an election.  They can’t win based on an open discussion of ideas and truth.  They can only win through a combination of lies, intimidation, dirty tricks and fear.

This year, they are led by a candidate who quite blythely says today what is in direct contradiction with what he said yesterday.  And his followers eat it up.  They’ve manufactured the usual number of straw dogs to excite their base and intimidate opponents, such as ballot measures designed to appeal to their religious base in order to incite more campaigning from the pulpit.  They’ve created PACs and Super PACs with tens of millions in anonymous money to buy votes.  And they are well on their way to repressing minority votes through new voter ID laws.

We’ve seen it all before…in 2000, 2004 and 2010.  And with each passing election cycle, the conversation leans further to the right and ordinary citizens lose a little more control of our country.