Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Elections

In slightly over a week the 2006 midterm elections will take place. Democrats feel pretty good that they'll be able to take control, at least of the House, but maybe the Senate as well. I remain unconvinced that any such thing will take place.

There are many many people who distrust the Dems, even as they distrust Bush. It's a shame of course, because Bush and his cronies are leading us down the path of complete one-party rule, which defeats the purpose of a democracy and would make us just another banana republic.

The Dems certainly felt they had the elephants on the run with Iraq, the economy, Foley, Noe, Abramoff, torture, illegal wiretaps, and countless other scandals and misteps. But because the Dems have yet to propose any other option with any substance, they will lose again. And if that's not enough, the recent NJ Supreme Court ruling for gay rights will certainly energize the radical right in key races. I believe it was the right decision, and I would not have them take it back, but the timing was not advantageous for the Dems. We are in fact, doomed. I fear for this country and I fear for our children.

This is not the America we grew up in, and if we let it continue to go down this path for much longer, we may not be able to retrieve it back, short of armed revolution.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Minimum Wage

Two months ago the Democrats brought up the issue of raising the minimum wage, which hasn't moved an inch in 10 years.The Republicans screamed and bitched until the issue was dropped, though some states went ahead and did something about it. Interesting to note that Ohio, the state I just moved away from, decided to raise their minimum wage TO $5.15 an hour.

Now, with the mid-term elections closing in and Republicans feeling the heat, they have decided to revive the minimum wage issue, not because they want to raise it, but because they want the Democrats to kill it. They'll accomplish this by tieing the minimum wage to reducing or doing away with the estate tax. The Dems won't reduce that tax and will be forced to vote down the whole bill, allowing the Rep's to say' "See? We want to do what's right for Americans. It's the Dems fault."

Over the last 10 years members of Congress have received cost of living increases several times equaling many thousands of dollars a year each, unconditionally and without being tied to any other legislation. Don't the lowest wage earners in this country deserve the same consideration?

One argument is that by raising the minimum wage it would force businesses to increase prices, so the overall effect for minimum wage earners would be nil. What we forget here is that prices have gone up dramatically in all areas in the last 10 years, but minimum wage hasn't gone up at all. Now, it's important to note that someone making minimum wage 10 years probably is making more than that today, but for many unskilled workers it probably isn't much more. Many factory jobs pay only $7 or $8 dollars an hour, and they would almost have to be affected by a raise in minimum wage. On the other hand, workers in industries that pay $15, $20, $25, or more an hour have no need to be affected by this. Those people make enough to live on now. And if they feel they don't, how can they possibly say that people making less than $10 an hour do?

The Republicans are once again using an issue to make it appear they care, just in time for an election. The reality is that Republican lawmakers simply don't care about the average American. They care about rich Americans.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Must be election time

It must be the run up to the elections. The Republicans, who certainly can't run on their record, are trotting out the old boogieman issues like gay marriage. The Federal Marriage Ammendment has passed out of committee and will be voted on by the full Senate on June 5th. Can you say a waste of time?

I have to ask the question. Is this really what the people of the United States consider their top legislative priority? Is this what Americans think is the burning issue of the day? Do they really think so little of gays, who are their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, that they wouldn't allow them any recognition of their relationships, would afford their families no protection under the law? Since when does someone's religious beliefs determine who gets rights?

The Republicans have given the Democrats so much fuel this election time, it's almost inconceivable that we don't pick up ground during this election cycle. Yet, strangely, I'm not convinced that we will. The Repubs are great at attacking the enemy, when that enemy is the the Democrats. They're not so good when it's Iraqi insurgents.

The Repubs are simply using the gay issue cynically, as they have all along. It's designed to get out the religious right vote. They know they can't win without those people, so they are willing to do whatever it takes to get them into the voting booth. And the Dems will allow it to happen, will fail to come up with a reasonable campaign, will fail to have a platform that actually addresses the important issues, and they'll allow the Repubs to attack relentlessly.

And when we wake up the day after the election the Repubs will still control the Congress easily. And things will only get worse. For everybody.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

To Be Or Not To Be

There's a controversy in Missouri. A high school drama teacher has had to resign because a few people in the town objected to her selection of plays. She had the drama club do a production of Grease. When she selected The Crucible for the next play they raised concerns. She then selected A Midsummer Night's Dream. They weren't happy with that selection either.

These of course, are staples of not only Amerrican theater, but American high school theater. Grease is a guaranteed money maker, as most musicals are, and deals with teenagers in the 1950's. The people, all members of the Callaway Christian Church, objected that it showed teenagers smoking, drinking, and kissing, as if this never happens among teens and didn't happen in the 50's as well.

The Crucible is about the Salem witch trials. What possible objection could there be to one of America's classic plays by one of America's greatest playwrights?

What is there to say about Shakespeare? My first introduction to high school dramatics was A Midsummer Night's Dream. I would have never met the people who have been my friends for life without that production.

They are saying these plays are immoral, that they don't reflect the values of the community . If that's the case, aren't all plays immoral? The Music Man? The guy is a con artist. South Pacific? Isn't that about an inter-racial love affair?

I'm wondering what plays they would have the students present. Wouldn't it just be better to take on your parental responsibilities and discuss the content of the plays with your children, talk about the values expressed in them, and show how they either fit or don't fit in with the values you are trying to dispense to your children?

I guess that would be too easy though. It's so much easier to blame society, to blame others.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The South Dakota Abortion Law

South Dakota's legislature has decided that they want to ban virtually all abortions except those where the woman's life is in jeopardy. Rape, incest, and the woman's health will not be reasons to terminate pregnancy. The governor of South Dakota expects that he will sign the bill.

Despite the fact that all the polls consistently say that 65 to 70% of the American public favors the basic right of a woman to have an abortion, those that wish to control everybody else's life will continue to try and push items like this through.

The issue really comes down to whether someone else's religion and moral values can and should dictate the moral values of all other citizens in this country. The First amendment suggests that they can't and shouldn't. That doesn't seem to stop those in the minority on this issue. They are so full of moral indignation. One message board poster complains that abortion shouldn't be a form of birth control, that there are other forms of birth control and abstinence to prevent unwanted pregnancies. To this I say, the same people who are anti-choice are the ones who want sex-education to consist strictly of preaching abstinence. These are the same people who feel that a pharmacist should have the right to not dispense a prescribed birth control pill if it against the pharmicist's religious beliefs.

The problem with this poster's argument is that the people who want to outlaw abortion don't want people to have access to the birth control devices that would prevent the unwanted pregnancies. Simply said, they want people to only have sex when they're married. Yeah, I believe that's a workable solution.

Should there limits on abortion? Very possibly, as long as they are reasonable. Should abortion be outlawed? Absolutely not.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ann Coulter

She claims it was only a joke. As soon as she opened her mouth and said what she said, she knew she went too far and tried to pass it off as a joke.

I don't see how somebody can suggest that someone be poisoned simply as a joke. Especially when that person is someone that you have villified in the past because his political viewpoints are the opposite of your own. Especially when you have a reputation as a dirty fighter. Especially when you believe that anybody that disagrees with you is less than human. It was no joke. She meant every word of it.

It seems to me, rather, to be an attempt to be in the limelight again. I guess she doesn't think she gets enough press. Same problem Pat Robertson has. What a shame there's no cure.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What's fair and what's Constitutional?

This is my first attempt at a blog and I'm not at all sure how it's going to work out. I have a history of messing
up the easy stuff, like life and junk like that.

That being said, I must begin by discussing one of the issues that has been important to me since about the age of 12, the age at which I first realized that I had "homosexual tendencies." And before anybody yells and screams that nobody that age can know if they're gay or not, you're wrong, many of us do. What we ourselves do with that knowledge is another thing altogether.

At what point would you think that we would realize it? It seems to me quite natural that the moment you become a sexual person, at puberty, the things that attract you will come to the fore. For me it was guys. Not that I didn't try with girls. How many of you gay guys and gals out there tried with the opposite sex? Most of you I think. Because as a teen we are extremely concerned about how our friends view us, and back in the late 60's and early 70's being gay was not something you wanted your friends to think about you.

I'm still trying to figure out when it was I chose to be gay, as the radical right likes to suggest we do. I can't remember ever sitting down and thinking what a joy it would be to be a homosexual, to have my family and friends disown me, not uncommon at that time, or even now though it's gotten better. Rather I tried everything I could to be straight. It didn't work, and truth be told, I'm glad it didn't. If it had I would have never met my partner of 21 years (my Hideaway friends may not know that fact). In fact I may never have met my friends from the Hideaway, and I'm not sure I could live without them, though we had no contact for many years.

At 21 years we've outlasted many marriages. Is our relationship perfect? Show me a perfect marriage anyplace. Show me any relationship that doesn't have ups and downs. How is mine any different than yours except for the gender of the people involved? Seems to me to be a pretty minor difference considering we've been happy AND monogamous.

Where in the Constitution does it even mention marriage, a contract traditionally assigned to the states NOT the federal government? What the Bill of Rights says is that people are not to be denied their rights as American citizens without a compelling reason. Since the Supreme Court has acknowledged that marriage is a fundamental right what is the compelling reason to keep gays from getting married?

Does marriage have religious connotations? In many cases yes, it's true that religion plays a large part in people's marriages, but certainly not all. Many marriages each year are performed by Justices of the Peace as purely secular excersises. Therefore religion doesn't play a part in the debate. No religion, priest, pastor, or anybody else who objects on religious grounds would be forced to marry anybody, except maybe a Justice of the Peace who would be doing his duty in a secular setting NOT a religious one. And in fact religions do not have to marry anybody they don't want to. They can opt out of performing the ceremony.

The radical right is loud and they repeat themselves incessently. But that's how propaganda becomes a part of a people's belief system. It's not the truth of what they say, since there's little, it's how loud and long are you willing to say it to draw people into your beliefs. The similarities between them and the Nazis are truly amazing. Check out what the Nazis said about Jews, then check out what the radical right says about gays. You would be amazed at just how close they are.

Isn't it time for fairness to come to gays too? We pay taxes, have responsible jobs, vote, give to charity, volunteer, coach, serve in the military, though once again we have to hide our feelings, and most importantly we have families.

They say we're anti-family. How can that be when we just want the families we have to be recognized as such?

Is that too much to ask of the American Dream?