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A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand…

August 5, 2009 2 comments

So I recently saw an interview, on MSNBC, with Orly Taitz regarding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Apparently, Orly is one of the leading spokespeople for the “Birther” movement, which claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore not eligible to be President of the United States.  You can check out the video below…

After watching the video a few different emotions swelled up. I felt pity for Orly, anger towards the MSNBC “journalists” who set her up, and regret about the level of political discourse in this country. In my opinion, the two MSNBC interviewers simply had Orly on the show to give her a public flogging. I don’t know if the interviewers felt better after publicly humiliating themselves and Orly, but if they do it should be short-lived.

I believe that the only thing the interview did was further strengthen the views of those on the political, social, and cultural extremes and make moderates sick to their stomach. If you are someone who either believes the allegations that President Obama is not a US Citizen, and/or you believe the mainstream media is a liberal propaganda machine, this interview only made you more resolute in those ideas. If you are a liberal who believes everyone on the far right is a nut-case then this interview made you glad that none of your friends are Republican.

This type of “journalism” divides our country, and if we ever want to have anything more than an entertaining political discourse people must push back against this behavior from the media and elected/non-elected leaders.

We are currently in the midst of one of the most important debates of this century regarding the future of healthcare, and all I hear are Republicans jeering Democrats for wanting to take away people’s choices and for wanting to kill old people (thanks Rush Limbaugh). And Democrats respond by calling Republicans greedy insurance company salespeople who only care about money. This CANNOT be the healthcare debate that the American People deserve.

It’s time for our elected officials to step up and tell us what is really going on. It’s time for the American People to hear a debate based on substance and issues, rather than a propaganda campaign being fueled by Insurance Companies, Lobbyists, Doctors, Chambers of Commerce, etc. Universal healthcare has been undertaken by three politically skilled Presidents: FDR, LBJ, and Bill Clinton. We are not going to pass comprehensive and effective legislation if WE - the American People – continue to allow our representatives to grandstand and demagogue. It’s time for all those who say they want change to truly demand it. Instead of going to your townhall meeting with signs, ready to shout-down your representative, go with substantive questions. Go to these meetings and demand that your elected officials cut through the talking points and really level with you. It will be far more difficult and far less rewarding in the moment, than yelling “socialist” or “facist” at the top of your lungs, but maybe… just maybe… you will actually get some straight talk from your elected official. AND maybe… just maybe… your elected official will remember that conversation when they go back to Washington.

As a straight man, how would my daily life change if gay couples had the right to legally marry?

April 11, 2009 7 comments

The short answer to that is that I am not 100% sure, though I am confident that most of the impacts would be positive. It would mean that my gay friends would be able to have the same legal rights as straight couples. That  translates to, among other thins, that they would have the legal right to adopt children, see their partner in the hospital, share insurance coverage, open bank accounts together, etc. From my perspective all of these things would be a step forward and would positively impact my life. It would tear down many of the legal barriers that have been constructed to keep a group of people from enjoying legal rights and priveleges. My sense is that this would raise the quality of life for gay couples. That would impact me in that I am friends with, work with, and love many who are gay. The logic here is that when those that surround us are allowed to be free and happy that we become freer and happier as a result. I get that this the logic here is quite simple, but I think there’s something to it. 

None of this is to say that even if gay couples had the legal right to marry that all of the world problems would cease to exist. There will still be individuals who hate others if, for no other reason, than they are simply afraid of those who are different. There will still be hate crims committed against homosexuals and other groups. There will still be people who think that gay marriage is akin to beasteality and incest.

Therefore, it is with sorrow and pitty that I post the following video. The organization who funded this ad – which is running in California – calls itself the National Organization for Marriage. Before watching this video ask yourself, how would your daily life change if homosexual couples had the legal right to marry? Please post your responses in the comments section!

How we measure impact…

April 2, 2009 2 comments

Over fourty years ago Bobby Kennedy gave a speech about how we – as a Country – measure our worth. I think the ideas expressed in the speech are of value now more than ever. We currently live in a world where former institutions of American ingenuity are crumbling before our very eyes and people are losing their jobs and savings in the blink of an eye. It is now – more than ever – that we must remember that our worth cannot be measured by dollars and cents. Out true value comes from the strength of our relationships, our families, and our communities.

It is also time for us to remember that by pursuing puntative measures that we hurt ourselves. When we incarcerate individuals for long periods of time, criminologists and sociologists find that when the person released from prison that he or she is more dangerous than ever before. Punishment for the sake of justice is not justice at all. When we target bank executives hateful and slanderous remarks who benefits? When we legislate out of populist rage how does that impact the average citizen? It’s time for us – as a people – to come together and work through the current challenges that we face. We may not agree on every issue, but we can certainly reach out a hand to those who are struggling. 

When you pass a serious car accident on the highway what do you do? Do you stop and ask the people what happened? Do you drive by without batting an eye? Or – do you call 9-1-1 for help? 

Stir Your World

April 1, 2009 1 comment

My only questions are: what will move you to take action? How will you be moved/stirred into action?

The New Colossus

This afternoon, in typical Sunday afternoon fashion I found something incredibly trivial to do with my spare time. So, my girlfriend and I went to redbox and rented Milk.  It was a great movie, and somewhere in the middle Harvey Milk speaks about the words engraved in the pedastel of the Statue of Liberty. Below is the full poem, I wanted to post it because I think that it truly reflects not only my own ideals and values, but those of our Nation.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” —Emma Lazarus, 1883

The words “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” particularly strike me. She is not asking for the best of us, rather she seeks those with the least: she seeks those without education, food, money, shelter, or belongings.  I fear that sometimes we – as a people – lose sight of these values. I fear that in the current economic climate that we will retreat into hostile populism and persecute those whom we assign some sort of ambiguous blame. 

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I fear that in the epitaph of human history that when historians look back to the United States of America that those words – engraved into the Statue of Liberty – will not ring true. It is with this fear in mind that I call on all of my contemporaries to demand statesmanship from those whom we’ve elevated to positions of authority and power. I propose that we demand our legislators to act as facilitators and mediators rather than mouthpieces for the lowest common denominator. Instead of telling or legislators how to vote or what they should do on AIG we should engage with them in a dialogue about the most prudent course of action. Let us find a way to include those of us who may lack in material posessions, but demonstrate a wealth of wisdom and compassion far beyond their educational attainment. 

It is my sincere belief that it’s time for us – the electorate, the people – to demand that our representatives speak with us rather than to us. It’s time for us to stop quibbling about how we help those in need of substanance and simply do it. We, as a nation, must commit to one another. This will take time, energy, and struggle but I believe that unless we make the commitment now we will lose our soul in the process. 

We have a choice, and it’s not just up to those who work in Washington. It’s up to each of us to re-define how we interact with each other, our government, and our institutions. The time has come for us to cease the talk and move into action. Change will not come without action, and action will not necessarily bring about change. Let us pursue those goals that reflect the poem above, let us take in the poor and the weak. Let us take in those who yearn to be free. Let us raise the torch of liberty higher than ever before for the whole of humanity to see. Let us humbly move forward and cease the frivolous bickering of ideology.

The cynical and those mired in the old paradigm will ask “How should do we do this?” My only response is as simple now as it was during the 1990s when Nike first coined the slogan, “Just do it.”

 

Sad because it’s true…

While I don’t like to take political stands on this blog, I feel that this humorous video gets to the heart of much of what is wrong in our country right now. While separation of church and state is not overtly written into the Constitution, one of our founding fathers – and author of the Delcaraton of Independence and Constitution – coined the term “separation of church and state.” Thomas Jefferson had the opportunity to see – first-hand – the awful and destructive power that organized religion can have when it is used to promote intolerance. Many of our country’s founding fathers had forebears who left Great Britain due to religious persecution that ranged from legal sanctions to death. 

This video tells this story in a painful and humorous way.

On the Recent Unemployment Numbers

Republican Congressman from Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter, gives a powerful speech on the recent unemployment numbers and what they mean to our society. As you listen to him think about the following questions:

  • What can each of us do to release our own entrepreneurial spirit in these troubled times?
  • What must we demand of our government as unemployment rises and economic news worsens?
  • Who do we want to be at the other end of this economic downturns?

The Bobby Kennedy Quote in the Speech:

“Even as the drive toward bigness [and] concentration . . . has reached heights never before dreamt of in the past, we have come suddenly to realize how heavy a price we have paid . . . in loss of the values of nature and community and local diversity that found their nurture in the smaller towns and rural areas of America. And we can see, as we enter the last third of the twentieth century, that the price has been too high. Bigness, loss of community, organizations and society grown far past the human scale-these are the besetting sins of the twentieth century, which threaten to paralyze our very capacity to act, or our ability to preserve the traditions and values of our past in a time of swirling, constant change. . . . 
 

Therefore, the time has come . . . when we must actively fight bigness and over concentration, and seek instead to bring the engines of government, of technology, of the economy, fully under the control of our citizens, to recapture and reinforce the values of a more human time and place . . . 
 

It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to . . . the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility . . . and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future . . . if this country is to move ahead

. . . it will not be by making everything bigger, not by piling all our people further on top of one another in huge cities, not by reducing the citizen to the role of passive consumer and recipient of the official vision, the official product.” 

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