Tag Archive: right wing

Greg Sargent, noting the current state of stand-offery on the Senate floor, spoke to one of my Big Things, something that’s been on my mind for over two decades.  The vision of the world held by the staunchly Right Wing does not include me.  Most likely, it does not include you, whoever you are. It does not include a legitimate place for liberals, even moderates, certainly not non-Christians (by their definition), and folks who don’t see the world they way they do.

A whole mass of Americans – not the majority, thank goodness, but a sizable chunk – has decided to move through life willingly like a horse with blinders on. Note: normally the horses do not choose the blinders, and probably would shed them if given half a chance. But the extreme right does not. It happily keeps them on, framing the entire world in terms of that limited perspective. Hence, the gridlock in Congress, where one side deliberately mucks up the works so nothing can get done, proudly proclaims that’s what they’re trying to do, and then points fingers at the other side when nothing gets done.



Remember: Republican Senator Bob Bennett wasn’t denied renomination because he was actually liberal on issues. He was defeated by Tea Party Republicans because he was open to cutting deals. Right now in Texas, a high-priced Senate primary is about to result in a win for a previously obscure conservative over the Texas Lieutenant Governor on basically one issue: the willingness to compromise with Democrats.

via Battle of the century: Norm Ornstein versus Mitch McConnell – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.

We’re stuck with a significant minority of legislators who won’t discuss, won’t compromise, won’t negotiate in good faith, whine when required to face up to what they agreed to, backstab and lie about their opponents, and generally act like unreasonable six year olds – and believe me, I’m warm to the idea that real six year olds could probably get more done in Congress than this bunch of yahoos.

And why don’t they feel the need, the responsibility, to compromise? Because everyone not like them isn’t worth their consideration, is on the outside of their world. This is the result of the idea of a Permanent Republican Majority.

As Steve Benen is fond of saying, This is why we can’t have nice things.


11 April 2010

Remember when Sarah Palin popped off with this famous quip from the September 2008 Republican National Convention?

I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities.

If I had hackles to raise, it woulda raised ‘em.  I was offended by her statement, demeaning and dismissive as it was, and not backed up by any real meat on her side of the argument either.  From what I hear, some mayors (and half-term governors) don’t take care of their actual responsibilities.  Of course, none of that Palin-intrigue had come out yet, at the rather dour Republican convention. Not long after the convention, I found this wonderful motivational creation:



Some blithering-idiot talking points never die.  Today I read over at Salon.com that Sen. David Vitter, speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this weekend, was spouting this same crap.

… Vitter strolled out to introduce former Sen. Rick Santorum — and to push back a bit against President Obama. "If that’s the choice in 2012, I’ll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day," he said.

TV personality? Whoever could he mean?

Presumably Sarah Palin, according to the punditry.  I have to admit, my mind went to Glenn Beck, but whatevah, and of course, The Media Creation Which Is Palin is the correct answer.

Steven Benen responded with a sentiment I can relate to.

… the snide, condescending denigration of community organizers among right-wing leaders got tiresome quite a while ago. Working with communities in a bottom-up model may seem worthless to the modern Republican Party, but community organizers deserve respect. ….

…. Community organizers tend to be all the more necessary when American families are crushed by the bankrupt governing philosophy of clowns like David Vitter.

If Republicans want to ignore this often-thankless work, fine. But let’s not pretend that community organizers deserve this kind of right-wing derision.

Benen also points out that the Community Organizer label the right sometimes sticks on Obama is not only not a negative, but it’s not the full picture either:

Obama worked for three years a community organizer — working with churches to create opportunities in economically depressed areas — more than two decades ago. He went on to become a lawyer, a professor, a state senator, and a U.S. senator, before seeking the presidency. A few too many on the right make it sound as if Obama went from being a community organizer to a national campaign. This overlooks nearly all of the man’s adult life

And I am struck by a weird pairing:  the Tea Partiers, Patriots and all such groups are supposedly built of those salt of earth, honest to God, down home real Americans.  Sounds grass roots to me, even if some of the push has come from major organizers like Dick Armey et al.  And isn’t community organizing, ya know, kind of a grass roots thing?  Aren’t these folks on the right wing, the tea partiers, making efforts to build a groundswell in local government and state government through taking over precinct groups, and electing adherents to that line of thinking to office?

What the hell do they think community organizing is?

. . . so to speak . . .

22 October 2009

I watched an excellent Frontline episode (The Warning, aired Oct. 20th), and was poking around their website, reading interviews, looking at a timeline on the financial meltdown, and clicking here and there.  Clicked over to an interview with Barney Frank, featured in a previous Frontline episode, Inside the Meltdown, and found this nugget.  He is, in this case, talking about the difference between Republicans in the House and Senate and how it influenced the failure of the TARP bill when it first came before the House.

There was a difference between the House and Senate Republicans. The House Republicans have been more ideologically conservative. Maybe to win a whole state you can’t have quite the same ideological fervor. … And what you saw was conservative Republicans rebelling. [emphasis mine]

Now, I had marked in my mind that there is a higher proportion of extremely right-wing members in the House as compared to the Senate, but I had never thought about why.  I think this may be it.  House Representatives need only justify and explain themselves to their smaller districts, need only represent what may be homogenous communities, as opposed to a state-wide diversity in political and social values.

It explains why I can never envision a Michelle Bachmann or a Virginia Fox in the Senate.  Not to say they can’t sneak into that more austere body of 100 souls.  But it’s harder to envision, and harder for them to get there.

Seems rather obvious now.  Still, better understood late than never.

1 October 2009

I’ve had a conversation on my mind for almost a month now. Just a stupid conversation-turned argument, in a bar I frequent for their good late night food and lights turned high enough to read by.

samsplace2-drybrush2My debate partner was a somewhat tipsy fella, known around the bar as a know-it-all.  Usually John pontificates on diverse topics such as “The Greatest Guitar Player in Rock n Roll” or “The Best Whiskey” or “Why Manufactured Homes are Superior to Stick-Built,” but this night’s topic was public education.  As in, “Why Education Sucks and is a Government Plot to Control Your  Children and Inspire Mediocrity.”  He, of course, picked the topic; that’s the way it works.  His take on public educations followed much the same drift as the folks at this rally on health care.  The gist? Government is bad, no matter what.  Teachers are louses. They’re lazy.  The NEA is communist (or socialist, or a bunch of fascists, or a bunch of dupes… take your pick).  Different topic, same arguments. 

All this from a fellow who had the benefits of enough income to send two children through private school and college, so that he could avoid the evils of public education.  (Note:  so he says; my bartender told me later the real family saga was a different story.)  I’d bet quite a bit on the likelihood that he shares the beliefs of many in the video featured all over the internet this past summer.  Distrust of every public institution, and disgruntled disgust at the hand life had dealt them.  I’d also bet he worked a job that never put in the position of being without health insurance.  But that’s another topic.

Still, it seems much the same to me:  assigning ridiculous claims about health care, or education, or other government programs, based on fear and assumption, rather than reality.  There are undisputedly logical concerns about education (or health reform) which should be voiced, and where merited, addressed.  But paranoid fantasies are not the same as valid concerns. 

I had to leave the education discussion (and my favorite bar) when the fellow insisted that ethics – the work ethic of teachers in particular – should be defined by "doing no harm."  The dude INSISTED, while hoisting his Budweiser, that if I would look it up in Webster’s, or "Google it" (which he seemed to think was the ULTIMATE in research), I would find the definition of ethics to be the question of whether someone would "do no harm."   I respectfully declined to agree.  He insisted.  Arguing that the "do no harm" thing was not necessarily a bad consideration, I patiently disagreed with him that this was implied, but not really the definition, and that in all probability, a yes-no question of whether harm was being done was unlikely to define ethics. 

No, John insisted, look it up; it would be there.  You’ll see.  Just look.  His body language at this point was that of the superior scholar, the knowing patriarch.  He wouldn’t drop the point.  He wanted me to agree with him; I couldn’t agree because I had serious doubts that he was right.  He was like a dog on a bone.

I knew, at that point, it was time to leave.  The guy just wanted to argue.  Turning to go, I thanked him for “an always interesting discussion.  I don’t usually agree with you,” I confessed, “but it’s always interesting.”  As I walked away, I could hear him bitching to the bartender about how I’d see he’d been right, wouldn’t that be a wake up call, etc etc etc.

Okay, so caving to curiosity about the actual definition of “ethics” (knowing full well the “do no harm” thing wouldn’t be in there), I looked it up at home 10 minutes later, and yes indeedy, in three dictionaries and good ‘ol’ Wikipedia, his staunchly-defended "do no harm" thing fell to pieces. 

Main Entry: eth·ic

  • Pronunciation: \ˈe-thik\
  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: Middle English ethik, from Middle French ethique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ēthikē, from ēthikos
  • Date: 14th century

1 plural but sing or plural in constr : the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation
2 a : a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values <the present-day materialistic ethic> <an old-fashioned work ethic> —often used in plural but singular or plural in construction <an elaborate ethics><Christian ethics> b plural but sing or plural in constr : the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group <professional ethics> c : a guiding philosophy d : a consciousness of moral importance <forge a conservation ethic>
3 plural : a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness) <debated the ethics of human cloning>

It’s not in there.  It might be a good idea to think about “not doing harm,” but it’s not part of the definition of ethics.  Sticking a misplaced definition in there is a kinder, gentler version of the need for invented death panels, and socialism, and a myriad of fantastical fears.  John’s posturing was him feeling backed into a corner, for no actual reason.  I wasn’t attached.  I gave him plenty of outs to drop his defense of his do-no-harm stance, everything from a polite “I disagree, but I’ll look it up,” to “well, we’ll just have to disagree on that.”  No go.  He was so sure of himself, or at least had to posture it that way.

Much like Mr. "USS Constitution" the argument fell apart with a small amount of fact checking.  The guy in the video above might  claim anything he likes, but for those of us who REALLY read the Constitution, and perhaps more than 3 whole times, we understand that this incredibly enlightened document defines an approach, not just particulars.  CheshireCat2The guy I was arguing with might say anything he likes, much as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.  But out here in the real world, we like to agree on what words mean, and stick to it.  It sooooooo improves communication.

In any case, the incident has stayed with me.  I don’t think it would have, except that the same aversion to facts and civil debate seen all over the country this summer seems to have affected the know-it-alls in my midst, tightening their grip on Reagan’s quip about government being the problem, whether its public education or health care or anything else.  The topics differ a bit, but the myopia is the same.

I’ve got news for the 15 million or so folks clinging to some kind of reactionary fear of All Things Publick, be it health care or education or the health of our economy.  We are the government.  You know, the old line, “We the people,” and all that?  Even if it isn’t you sitting in Congress or the White House, or the state and local branches of government, or the schools, it’s your neighbors, and perhaps even your relatives, however distant, and hopefully they represent you.  If they don’t, well, put the pressure on, but if you’re in the minority – however strong 15 million sounds, it’s still a significant minority – you might think about bending to the will of your fellow citizens, and figuring out how to co-exist, rather than foaming at the mouth about government takeovers and the need for The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants getting spilled all over the place. 

To bring it back to the debate in the bar, the gentleman I was arguing had a good point here and there (before he appointed himself the New Webster’s official representative), but the basic issue was that John wouldn’t concede that the system could accommodate good people, good efforts, or that there might be a range – some good schools, some awful school, some in between.  No, for him the whole system was malign, filled with lazy and crooked and socialist teachers and administrators, top to bottom.  No such thing as a talented, devoted public school teacher.

I beg to differ.  For someone like me, who was taught by and raised by such teachers, by people who truly invest themselves in teaching, thems fightin’ words! (My apologies to every English teacher I ever had…). Not being one to throw a punch, I went home instead of sparing over the offense.  But the parallels between his unwillingness to concede the smallest points, to allot any kind of humanity to someone working in a public position, echoes the mindset on display in the health reform town halls.  The echoes are gloomy, and make me cranky, and grumpy.  I’m left to grousing about my fellow citizens here on the internet.  Hopefully, having purged myself a bit, I’ll be able to move on to new heights of jaw-dropping disgust at the continued antics of the reactionary right.

Till next time, John!

19 September 2009

I was so irritated at Randall Terry.  My disgust at his technique and his use of James Pouillon’s death for his own propaganda campaign spurred me to write and post on Terry’s actions, before setting down my thoughts on the murder itself.

When I heard about the murder (or most probably read it somewhere online), I stopped in my tracks, teared up, went digging for information with a very heavy heart.  Murder is tragic, regardless of politics or passions surrounding the victim.

Searching for information on an event which is both remote and striking did help me process my sorrow.  It also deepened the sorrow and painted a limited picture of the situation.

I imagine Pouillon was the type of elderly, hard line anti-abortion protester I’ve seen many times on the sidewalks outside clinics, and not a person I would want to discuss abortion with in any form.  Usually nice folks, just not folks I agree with. I sincerely wish he and others wouldn’t hold up gruesome signs and draw such deep lines in the sand.  But this is no justification for murder.  His killer is rightly being held and presumably will be incarcerated for the murder.

Without knowing why Pouillon was targeted by Harlan Drake, it is hard to know where Pouillon’s anti-abortion stance figures into the reasons for the murder.  But it gets me thinking, following tangents that don’t specifically have to do with this particular murder, but spin off the speculation around it.

I asked myself whether someone on the pro-choice side had finally reacted in kind to the murder of abortion providers, arson, intimidation and violent rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement.  And that thought scared me.  All of the years I’ve been following or involved in women’s reproductive rights (a much broader field than just abortion), the left has never struck back in kind.  Pro-choice activists, however extreme, haven’t stalked and killed people in the anti-abortion movement, haven’t fire-bombed their offices, or harassed their co-workers, friends and family with pictures of women dead from botched, illegal abortions, in an effort to get anti-choicers to stop their activism.

I believe it’s the responsibility of (dare I say it) good citizens to engage in civil debate, and not solve their problems by, oh, for example, killing people they disagree with.  Of course, there are folks on the extremes of both right and left who can’t quite wrap their minds around that concept, but I’ve seen a lot less of it on the left.  Not none, but considerably less. 

The extreme left is not at war with society in the same way that the extreme right is.  That, again, goes back to the Frank Schaeffer post I wrote about the other day.  The aim of the left, even the extreme left, is to create a harmonious society which works to the benefit of all citizens.  It gets crazy when you look at totalitarian systems on the left (think Mao), but most of the left is not interested in tyranny, but rather pluralism, a flexible society.  The presumption is on bringing together the diverse strains, not eliminating them.  The aim of the right is… well, it takes various forms, but getting everybody on the same page – religiously, politically – looks to be at the heart of it.  The extreme right-wing, the religious far-right, proudly states their aim to remake the United States as a “Christian Nation” and not just any ol’ Christian nation either.  The adherents of this view promote a very specific type of Christianity, one in which most progressive Christians and often Catholics, have no place and are actually considered agents of Satan.

Suffice it to say that in my view the left permits a larger diversity of opinion within its vision of a good strong America, and the right prefers to see a closing of the ranks.  In the middle, the more moderate left and right simply pushes and pulls at each other, progressive America pulling us forward in response to changes in our society, conservative America pulling back in worry that changes will come too fast, too hard, too recklessly.  If politics is a spectrum, good sane policy is founded in the middle (moderates, centrists), the factions just left and right of center do their jobs of promoting change and urging caution, and the fringes on either end yammer away, usually ineffectually but occasionally stirring either critical thinking (yeah!) or crazy hysteria (boo!).

These days, to the extent the fringes of the spectrum are pretty extreme, it is much more extreme on the right hand side.

The extreme left has targeted the physical, the properties of what it doesn’t like: buildings, logging equipment, SUVs.  People have been harmed in the process, but haven’t generally been the actual target, and the extreme left generally doesn’t promote or condone murder of its opposition.  The extreme right has also targeted buildings and equipment, but have specifically advocated and sometimes practiced violence against particular people, targeting clinic doctors and escorts, and ultimately killing some of them.  Rhetoric condoning the killing of abortion doctors is an example of how this violence is sanctioned on the extreme right.  The left and right approaches (property vs. property and people) seem to me to be two different versions of reprehensible and terrible actions – but the degree to which the differ speaks to something really disturbing.  I don’t sanction the violence of the extreme left, but the violence on the extreme right scares me even more.

And back to Mr. Pouillon, a victim of his murderer. 

I don’t know if Drake killed Pouillon because he disagreed with him about abortion, or didn’t think he should hold signs up, or because Mr. Pouillon just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  What I do know is that someone is dead because his killer couldn’t figure out a better way to deal with his anger or frustration or whatever it was that drove him to pick up a gun and start firing.  And, I don’t know which is scarier – that Pouillon died because of his beliefs, or that Pouillon died as a random target of a raging man with a weapon in his hands.

I’d like to think that this kind of violence will someday be a thing of the past.  But I doubt very much that will ever be true, and certainly not in my lifetime.

16 September 2009

Is there a literary equivalent for having your jaw drop?  Do my fingers fall to the ground mid-typing?  Is it a screen-freeze on my monitor?

I haven’t posted for days on end, and certainly not because there hasn’t been anything to write about.  No, it’s some kind of jaw-drop reaction to the right wing craziness on their hot-button issues:  health care… or taxes… or big government… or government at all… or something?  As the protests over the last few weeks have ramped up, it’s been more and more difficult to get a fix on exactly what the “tea party” folks are aiming to achieve.

It been pretty bizarre.  My last post on the town hall/health reform/evil government contingent was when Barney Frank used his “dining room table” comparison.  I think he was having a jaw-dropping moment, but manage to pick his up off the floor and respond, sort of in-kind.  Since that post, things have moved along alarmingly.  Just off the top of my head

* A finger was bitten off in another heated Town Hall exchange

* Light was shed on The Family and the C-street house

* Glenn Beck, Glenn Beck, Glenn Beck

* Orly Taitz-isms continue to provide background noise

* The latest Texas secession rally actually gets attention

* A big ol’ flurry over Obama’s speech to school kids: indoctrination? or….

* Joe Wilson yells “You Lie!” during Obama’s speech to Congress

* The Nine-Twelvers held a healthy but over-rated rally in DC

And all though this mess, of course, like an annoying squeaky wheel (say a small one, on a child’s red wagon) the hysterical extreme right continues to blather on about their fears: socialist/ communist/Muslim/ foreigner/ fascist/ death panels/ internment camps and coffins for tea partiers/ etc etc etc, on and on, a never-ending whine of crap based on nothing but paranoid fantasies about the communists, and/or heathens, and/or darkies taking over, pardon my french. 

Gawd.  It makes me tired just re-living it.

As if this endless stream of dangerous fantasy wasn’t paralyzing in and of itself, a few days back, Frank Schaeffer posted a great piece on the extreme religious right, how the decades of growth of the politicized religious right led to the Nine-Twelvers.  He shares what he believes these folks really want in American politics, how it shapes the bizarre thinking that sparks cries of “socialism” and considers the bulk of American society as agents of Satan.  Literally.  I value Schaeffer’s perspective, as an religious right insider from childhood, who late in life left the flock after realizing how crazy his isolated world view had become.

But it scares me – knowing what’s going on down deep in the thinking of the Christian extremists – and Schaeffer’s piece on the Nine-Twelvers ramped up my immobilization, my writers block, if you will. 

I guess the Joe Wilson thing broke the gridlock for me.  I moved from jaw-drop to thinking again, in actual words and sentences  instead of the white noise of my cacophony of outrage.  Because it is outrage – outrage that people are so far gone in how they think about our society, casting the events around them in a light which has nothing to do with facts, and everything to do with fear.  Fear, I think, of change, and of the Other.  Add the adrenaline rush of Being Part of a Movement!!! … I guess some people just can’t resist the cocktail of fear and adrenaline and a sense of Doing Something, anything, to gain an illusion of control.

One thing I know:  I have to resist the immobilizing jaw-drop experience, or I’ll cave to despair.  Venting – here or elsewhere – is just the medicine I need.

15 August 2009

Steve Benen had a post in today’s Washington Monthly that tickled the back of my mind on an issue I’ve been pondering for months:  the issue of our General Welfare and the sheer number of U.S. citizens living today.

I’ll start with Benen’s article.  He writes about citizen Katy Abram, who faced off with Senator Arlen Specter at a Town Hall meeting on health reform.  Like Benen, I choose Abram not to pick on her, but because she is at least articulate about her concerns, rather than screaming them across a crowded room in order to drown out the opposing views; I also think her concerns typify those of a significant minority of conservative Americans.

Katy Abram fears health reform will assist in “dismantling” this country.  She was able to phrase her concerns in a reasonable if passionate manner, and asked Specter, "What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the Constitution?"  This brought applause in the Town Hall meeting, and in an MSNBC interview later, she amplified,

"I mean, I — you know, yes, I mean, there are programs in place that, you know, the — the founders did not want to have here. The — you know, I know that there are people out there that can’t afford health insurance, that can’t afford a lot of different things. And, you know, with the founders, they had — they thought and hoped that the goodness of the people would allow the people to take care of those who could — who were doing without.

While Benen’s article focused on the issue of uninformed conservative folk heroes (which apparently Abram has become) featured as political talk show guests, my interest is in this idea of Americans expressing this desire to return to some Constitutional Never-Never Land, presumably to honor our Founder’s vision, but also to return to some fantasy of a more pure American society.  Abrams was somewhat more articulate than some of the screaming Town Hall protesters we’ve seen in the last weeks, but wasn’t all that far from the woman at the Arkansas Town Hall meeting on August 6th, who sobbed “I want my America back!”

What America, I could ask?  Is there even one “real” America? and has there ever been?  But that’s another discussion.

Back to my somewhat amorphous topic.  What does the Constitution actually say about health reform or the public welfare?  Not much, but it does say this:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

Emphasis mine, because this key concept in the preamble to the Constitution frames my understanding of why it is appropriate for the Federal Government to get involved in the lives of its citizens.  The general welfare, to my mind, includes the health of communities in our nation, and the literal and figurative health of its human members.  That means having the government help people from falling through the cracks.  And it’s the proper interest of the government – federal, state or local – because if too many people fall through the cracks, the local community and nation as a whole are both much less stable.  Less healthy, if you will.

When someone like Abram claims we need to get back to the way things used to be, I think they imagine something unrealistic in today’s world, that all the community’s social needs can be taken care of through volunteerism.  As she more or less said in the excerpt above,

… the founders … thought and hoped that the goodness of the people would allow the people to take care of those who … were doing without.

Now, I don’t know one way or another what the founders thought about taking care of those who were doing without.  What I do know is that however it looked in the late 18th century, the landscape of American society is very different in the 21st.

This is where a look at the numbers becomes important.

Take a community of 50 or a hundred people. When someone’s health or finances (or any number of other issues) gets rocky, it’s not too hard for their fellow citizens to step in and lend a hand, provide support, give leg-up or whatever it takes.  And I think Katy Abrams, who maintains faith in people’s desire to help, to volunteer, is right to think that we can rely on people’s good intentions to deal with those who are “doing without.”

When the community is bigger, say a thousand people, it’s still a small enough number that folks can keep an eye out for each other, but it’s a little harder to coordinate, and there are also a larger number of people in need.  But still, it’s quite possible for the community to take care of its own.

When that group jumps to a city of five or ten thousand people, things start to change.  It’s harder to see who is in need, it’s harder to coordinate, and the sheer numbers of people in need is much higher.  At that point, the citizens pool their resources through some kind of group effort organized by, say, the City Council or the Health Department or some other small government agency.  Doesn’t cut out citizen involvement, but the government backing of the effort to help the needy makes it more possible to spot the need, address it, and keep people from falling through the cracks.

When you are dealing with a major city of 100,000 or better, involvement of the government in taking care of those in need is absolutely required, or it just doesn’t happen.  No one neighborhood, church, or volunteer group can take care of everybody at that point.  It’s time for the city or county or state government to step in, not to interfere or control, but to do what it’s supposed to be doing:  provide a citizen-based coordinated effort to help the citizenry take care of its self.  The government, after all, is US, its members drawn from our own ranks, not interlopers from some other universe.

People like me and Katy Abrams and a number of other good souls can volunteer up a storm, but it still won’t be enough.  More numbers:  Let’s say in our village of 100 people, there are 3 very needy folks who just can’t do it by themselves.  That’s 3 percent of the population.  I have no idea how this relates to actual numbers of people in need, but for the point of illustration, I’ll pick 3 percent.

In the town of a thousand, we now have 30 needy people. In the town of ten thousand, we offer our help to 300 people. In the city of 100,000, that’s 3,000 folks who need a helping hand.  In a major metropolis of a million, that’s 30,000 of our citizens.

And in a country of 310 million citizens, we wind up with a very large number of people:  some nine million or better.  And I doubt this reflects the real percentage of people in need – I think I’m ballparking very low here.

We need more than volunteerism.  No doubt about it, and America has rightfully taken pride in our history of helping ourselves.  But it’s not enough.  We also need our government to step in and help us all take care of each other.  And that, I think is totally supported by the Constitution which advises us, demands of us, to consider the general welfare of our nation to be a the center of our reason for having a government in the first place.

6 Aug 2009

If you pay any attention to the news lately, you can’t miss the hollering, rude fools interrupting Town Hall meetings around the country.  They don’t just voice their opinions, they shout them, and they often keep anyone else from being able to voice their opinions in these gatherings.

schoolhouserockbill2 But if that’s not bad enough, their understanding of how Congress does things is appalling.  I’m thinking we need to start mandating Civics classes again.  In the meantime, perhaps people should be required to review choice episodes of School House Rock, or at least the one on How a Bill Becomes a Law

Where the screaming stops long enough for these otherwise disruptive people to voice a somewhat coherent point, they seem clueless about how government works.  One questioner grilled her representative on whether he would vote on the health reform law, whether he had read it, basically trying to pin him down with a commitment that the bill would be voted on exactly as he had supposedly read it.  The poor representative tried to explain that there were already about 70 amendments to the proposed bill, and that it was still in process.  The poor gal didn’t really seem to understand that this is normal, that bills go through many changes on their way to hopeful passing by both houses of Congress.  It’s not to create subterfuge, or to trick the public – legislation changes as it moves through the process.

Hence my feeling that How a Bill Becomes a Law should be required viewing for all Americans.

It’s times like these that I don’t feel much faith in my fellow citizens.  In fact, they kind of scare me.  In fact, they kind of seem like flocks of big, misled sheep, or maybe it’s cows, because they’re all stampeding towards the edge of a cliff, mooing and moaning desperately about something completely imagined.

Maybe we need some wolves to turn the stampede?  Hmmmmm.

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