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Truman's Conscience

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Mississippi Bill Will Allow Guns In Churches

Sat, 16 Apr 2016 16:14:00 +0000

On March 30th, 1981 President Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. just short of 70 days into his administration.  Three others were wounded as well, including press secretary James Brady.  Three decades later Brady would die from complications of his wounds.  I've always wondered why gun enthusiasts claim that arming good guys is the only way to stop bad guys from killing people.  After all the clarion call has always been, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."  What I find amazing is here is an instance where a sitting POTUS, surrounded by highly trained and armed secret service personnel, was not able to avoid being shot with three others.  There was no doubt Reagan was surrounded by a small army of armed 'good guys,' including local police and was not able to avoid being shot by an individual who was not trained in the usage of firearms.  As far as I'm concerned, that 'good guy with a gun' argument falls apart irrevocably with, not only this instance, but many more that have the same circumstances.Now we see the governor of Mississippi signing into law a bill that is based entirely on that canard about "good guys with guns:""The Church Protection Act, as sent to [Mississippi Gov. Bryant's] desk, allows individuals selected by the church's governing body to carry weapons into the church for protection purposes. It also does not require people to have a permit to carry a holstered weapon."Naturally the bill's proposal was, according to its sponsor, in response to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina shooting spree in June of 2015 that killed nine.  Republican State Representative Andy Gipson makes it clear Churches needed to arm themselves for protection against future incidents like those in Charleston, SC.It seems to me the only way to stop such incidents of "bad guys with guns" is to be mind readers  as well to quickly figure out who "the bad guy is" and not be surprised when a gun is produced and the shooting starts.  Unfortunately for State Representative Andy Gipson I don't think there is a bill that will fill that requirement.As one might expect the bill wasn't met with universal approval, especially by those that will be most affected by this urban myth of 'good guys  with guns:"Those opposing the bill, including the Mississippi Association of Police Chiefs, have argued that it removes important restrictions on who may obtain a permit."This bill would put law-enforcement officers and all Mississippians directly in harm’s way," Ken Winter, the group's executive director, said in February.What's interesting is the Mississippi Association of Police Chiefs is all a bunch of "good guys with guns" and they don't seem very happy about this legislation.  I mean, after all, who wants hear from a bunch of people who have direct experience with people who shouldn't be allowed with a permit in the first place?  Right?Truman's Conscience [...]

Bernie Sanders Wanting His Cake and Eating It Too

Sat, 16 Apr 2016 15:03:00 +0000

I almost did not watch this past Thursday's Democratic debate on CNN.  As a Floridian I've already voted in our state primary back on March 15 when Hillary was a big winner.  I had decided that watching yet another deliberation on the variations of liberal and center-left policy arguments was a waste of time since my mind had already been made up and my vote cast.  As a Hillary supporter I recognize that my liberal proclivities should pull me more toward Bernie than her.  But I'm also a pragmatist and I'm more comfortable with her ability to face down the reign of attacks on the Democratic candidate by a well funded GOP than I would be with Bernie.  What concernsme about him leading the ticket is the fact the GOP smear machine will make the word 'Socialist' his first name in every social medium possible.Having said all that I did watch most of the debate because I had decided I wanted to watch the dynamic between them to see if they were going to cut into each other beyond what is necessary to gain enough support for a victory in the coming New York primary this Tuesday, April 19th.  Right away I felt uncomfortable with their demeanor as they addressed one another.  After all I can just as easily vote for Bernie in the general election as I can Hillary no matter who wins.  I didn't like the tone both were taking with each other though I understand this is a political bare knuckle fight for the bounty of 240+ delegates at stake.  My point of this discussion is something that continues to bother me about Sanders and how Its really starting to turn me off about him.Since the beginning of the campaign he has been going after Hillary steadily over her Wall Street connections and the money her campaign is receiving from the various firms that inhabit the financial capital of the country.  Then there is the continued call to release the transcripts of her paid presentations to a variety of various wall street firms.  The thing is I have no problem with her connections to the sinews of power that make up the core of the United States financial market matrix.  She should never apologize for that as it gives her power and gravitas to  work from within Wall Street and the financial community when she's in a position to initiate reforms which brings us to the crux of this discussion.The list of Hillary's top donors seem to be missing one conspicuous organization in particular:  the NRA.  The thing is Sanders can't keep harping about who she gets or receives money from for her campaign when it can be proved she hasn't made a decision that favors them in a specific instance with a quid pro quo for contributions.  As for the NRA and her 'F' rating Sanders can't have it both ways attacking her for her connections with various Wall Street lobbying firms and their PAC money while she attacks the NRA lobby and the money from their PAC's rejecting a possible money stream to her campaign.  If she is so craven and crass to take money from any source this argument makes no sense.  I would feel better if Bernie and Hillary both would confine their argument on the nuance of policy differences as opposed to attacking one another on moral grounds.Truman's Conscience [...]

Donald Trump's Next Book: The Art of the Fine Whine

Sat, 16 Apr 2016 01:52:00 +0000

One of the fascinating aspects of Donald Trump's run for the White House is the aura of business acumen he projects as one of his greatest strengths.  He is never at a loss of words to describe his ability to always maneuver from a  position of strength to strike an agreement when he has the obvious advantage.  By his own admission he has a genius for being able to not only strike a deal where he is in a win - win situation but to make the end result one where the other side always wants to come back for more.  There is a large segment of the population that still sits in awe of the successful business person with abilities to achieve high levels of success through a public persona that suggests a shield of invincibility all due to their own prowess and powers of persuasion.According to the Donald his acumen and power to construct deals will be unmatched in contrast to a bunch of unimaginative and dull witted government bureaucrats not able to comprehend the power and strength of his abilities to conduct high level negotiations in a cut throat world of multinational deal makers.  They will fall to their knees in sheer bedazzlement at his ability to coerce reluctant and reticent lawmakers to come around to his agenda and beg for more.  This perceived aura is a common thread running through his supporters when you see them in interviews or panel discussions.  They feel he can achieve things no one else can while ignoring off putting characteristics that would spell certain doom for any other mortal denizen associated with public service through an elected office.  This is where we come to the Donald's problem.  Over at Digby's blog, Hullabaloo, she has a great piece detailing Trump's sudden realization that maybe he isn't the man he thought he was dealing with people unaware of his powers and abilities.  It's suddenly becoming all to evident the tycoon who claims to be known for his genius at deal making is completely befuddled by a convoluted process with a labyrinth of rules and mechanisms for delegate selection:[...]Donald Trump made it all the way to April of the primary season as front runner for the presidential nomination without being aware of [the GOP nominating process] says everything you need to know about his organizational acumen. It turns out that national politics isn't as simple as a branding deal with Macy's over ties and underwear. It isn't a Manhattan real estate negotiation either. But like so many wealthy men, he assumed that making all that money must make him a genius, so much so that he's capable of running the world by the seat of his pants.To go a bit further there's more to it than his sudden discomfort from being in a position where he doesn't have the upper hand:The Republican front-runner claims to be the world’s smartest businessman, a master at cutting deals and winning with his negotiating savvy. In recent days, though, he has been looking like a chump who bought property in Florida without reading the fine print stipulating the land was underwater and infested with alligators. Trump appears to have jumped into his campaign for president thinking all he needed to do was show up for the debates, call in to TV news shows and tweet out his random thoughts to a waiting world. Actually, thanks to the big boost he got from being a reality show celebrity, that approach did bring remarkable success in the early months of the presidential race.  Now, however, he is getting snookered in many states where the Cruz campaign is far better organized and knows how to exploit the delegate selection rules.Since the early days of the primary calendar the Cruz campaign has been waiting for its moment to strike.  The Texas Senator patiently waited for caucus and primary states where the Trump campaign would be caught with its proverbial pants down with staff that were not only light in numbers but without knowledge of the ins and outs of that particular state's byzantine mechanism of deleg[...]

Progress With Anti-Bullying Campaigns Nationwide Being Undermined By 2016 Election Campaign

Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:26:00 +0000

For the first time in twelve years, since I've been teaching high school, there is a perceptible change taking place in my classroom dynamic.  My Muslim students, some whom I have known for two or three years are now telling me for the first time things are being said to them about their religion and who they are.  One young girl whom I've taught for two years told me that this year she's had something said to her about her belief system from several students, including ones she has known since beginning high school and that for the first time they felt uncomfortable about who they were.I've also picked up rumblings from my students about LGBT's suddenly getting harassment in ways they've never experience before.  This goes for my black students as well who tell me they are hearing the 'N' word more often how than ever before.  There is no doubt something is happening in my school I've never experience before and apparently I'm not the only one:"I think there's a real danger of harm taking place in all American schoolchildren," Maureen Costello, an education expert at the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), a civil rights group, told Al Jazeera."We've seen 10 or more years of anti-bullying work get rolled back by a hostile atmosphere in many schools. Teachers describe disillusionment, depression and discouragement among kids who feel like they now know what people have thought about them all along," Castello said.What seems to be causing all of this?  The data from a Southern Poverty Law Center survey of some 2,000 schools across the nation appears to be unambiguous in its findings:An SPLC survey of some 2,000 US schools found that two-thirds of teachers described their vulnerable students - including blacks, Muslims, Latinos and other minorities - as affected by rhetoric in the 2016 White House race.It shows a spike in racist bullying. For Muslims - or even some non-Muslim brown-skinned children - the acronym "ISIS" has become a stock taunt, referencing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, which is also known as ISIS).There doesn't seem to be any coincidence with the findings of this study and the 2016 campaign for the White House where a leading Presidential contender is talking about building walls and describing Mexican immigrants as anything but in a positive light.  At the beginning of businessman Donald Trumps campaign he started a firestorm with this opening gambit to the 2016 race for the White House:“[Mexico] are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists,” the business mogul said.The damage being done to the classrooms across the country seems to be undeniable.  The anti-bullying campaign being so assiduously used over the last 10 years now almost seems to be for naught with the prevailing atmosphere rolling in from the hateful rhetoric by the Republican side of the 2016 campaign.  The damage being done by the rhetoric of fear, anger and racism spilling out of the Donald Trump campaign is going to make it so much more difficult to roll back after such positive progress that seemed to be so evident with that nation-wide anti-bullying campaign.  I never imagined the source of ugly xenophobic rhetoric you would hear at this level would be rooted in the campaign for the White House.Truman's Conscience [...]

ICARE Community Initiatives Clouded By Mayor Curry's Pension Reform Issue As Conditional For Support

Wed, 13 Apr 2016 02:03:00 +0000

I was fortunate enough to attend the ICARE Nehemiah meeting on Monday, April 11th at the Abyssinia Baptist Church on Interstate Center Dr. For those unfamiliar with ICARE it is the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation, and Empowerment that is a coalition of 24 churches, mosques, and synagogues dedicated to improving the quality of life in Jacksonville, Florida by addressing neighborhood and city-wide justice issues important to our members. The evening event in question subjected the Abyssinia Church with an overflowing crowd that waited in anticipation for the expected appearance of Mayor Lenny Curry. It is no secret Mayor Curry was a reluctant participant to attend and had to be pressed into attending with constant entreaties from the ICARE community and the publicity surrounding his reticence. Once he was invited on stage to answer questions regarding the community initiatives supported by the ICARE board it came as no surprise that he based his administration commitment to the initiatives on the outcome of the pension issue currently simmering in the current local political discourse. In a nutshell Curry based his argument for giving a full commitment to the ICARE community initiatives on the 'success' of his pension reform plan which includes cutting pensions for city employees with a proposed shift to 401K's which have well known vulnerabilities as a retirement plan with details that go outside the purview of this discussion and can be discussed at a later date as it has a direct link to the pension issue. In 2011 Rick Scott instructed state and local governments to start cutting teacher salaries by 3% to contribute to the Florida state pension plan to replace up to $1 billion contributed by the state. My pay was cut 3% to increase donation to the pension fund statewide that was not my original contracted agreement as a salaried teacher. Scott offered in exchange an increase in educational funding based on a per student formula statewide. Not only did he abrogate the agreement to increase that funding he has steadily cut statewide per student since 2011. This is a typical bait and switch tactic on government spending agreements used by Republican Party operatives for statewide monetary policy. Mayor Curry is now trying to employ the same Rick Scott playbook not only on ICARE community initiatives but on citywide initiatives based on the pension 'crisis' being reformed through policies approved by his plan similar to the tactic Scott used for the state pension fund. Curry decries a tax burden on on the city as one obstacle to helping defuse the pension crisis which was admittedly mismanaged by the pension board for using public investment in a volatile market that backfired and helped cause the current crisis. Reaching for a 401K alternative is offering the same formula which helped cause the crisis in the first place which is another matter for discussion outside the discussion here. Let's quickly review the tax structure on the city of Jacksonville as outlined at the city's website which has the third lowest "tax burden" in the country:"As an added argument to the local tax structure being unduly burdensome to the citizen taxpayer as the lone supporter for upkeep of the community infrastructure without city based businesses contributing one dime here is the current city mill rate compared to the top 10 cities in the state:In a nutshell this is the current “pro-business” tax structure for city based businesses in Jacksonville proper [Duval county]. The city based business entities enjoys this under-taxed pro-business tax structure that by design allows them to be exempt from committing to a tax investment in the very infrastructure they exploit. This is a typical Republican "pro-business" blueprint for city based businesses to use and exploit the Jacksonville community infrastructure and force the entire burden for its upkeep on the citizen taxpayer. The cor[...]

A Slur By Any Other Name Is Still A Slur

Thu, 07 Apr 2016 01:33:00 +0000

I've been following Hillary Rodham's career ever since I first became aware of her in June, 1991 as Arkansas First Lady.  I liked her right away as she presented herself, to me anyway, as a woman of intelligence, strength, and perseverance in the face of adversity as a public figure I've never seen for anyone else before or since.  And that includes the likes of Richard Nixon at the height of his, of his dishonor, LBJ at the height of his disapproval over Vietnam, or Harry Truman when he left office with a 23% approval rating as examples.  She has been the target of a right wing slur machine put into motion from the first moment she stepped foot on the national political scene as the political activist and wife of then Governor Clinton of Arkansas.  As a latch key kid in the late sixties I watched my mother raise myself and my brother mostly on her own while we had a father that seemed to be so important to the navy in the midst of the Vietnam war he was hardly ever home with unending overseas duty assignments up until he finally retired in the late 1960's.  I was too young to understand as a boy as I watched her endure a patriarchal world in segregated North Caroline where society was constructed on a system of institutionalized racism and sexism.  Yet she still managed to wind her way through societies built in obstacles that favored white males to do a job I still marvel at raising my brother and myself.  As I look back on those years watching her do her work as a mom I can only admire as a son in total awe I developed, over time a feminism, that was almost nearly as radical as any adherent the women's movement could produce at its height of activism in the early 70's. One of the pet peeves I developed through this period was the detestation of two names for females of any age, social/class circumstance, or race that would be uttered to describe them in the heat of emotional conflict, debasing humor, or worse, everyday conversation:  'bitch' and 'whore.'  These two labels have always in the past and still do in the present exist in an environment for which there is no male equivalent.  These two labels, if you will, serve only one purpose: to be used as a tool of debasement to identify a behavior that does not meet the expectations of a male. It is especially unnerving for me to hear other women to use those monikers of derision to affirm male expectations of behavior.  As a son of a mother, a husband to my beautiful wife, and the father of a precious and beautiful daughter I am very sensitive to the usage of these terms of debasement.  I flinch with disgust whenever it is wielded on women in my family, circle of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or strangers I encounter in everyday movement through the general negotiations of public encounters.  My male feminism is one of many driving forces of my liberalism that has laid out boundaries of what I will not tolerate from other individuals as a public citizen, father, school teacher, or the unending circumstances of public encounters.This brings me back to Secretary Clinton whom I currently support for President of the United States for 2016.  I recently ran across this chart/table of names on Twitter that has been put together tracking  the slurs used to identify her in social media.  The image is visceral as a tool for dehumanization demonstrating contempt for a female who certainly does not know or insists on not recognizing the boundaries for women and their place in a patriarchal world still institutionalized socially, culturally, politically, legally, economically, and especially sexually to favor white males, focused on those particularly inhabiting positions of power and influence.  Note the number of times names that are unprintable in social media have been used in contrast with the others: [click to expand]There is no doubt she has en[...]

A Bull In A China Shop

Sun, 03 Apr 2016 17:01:00 +0000

I had a great meeting this morning with a group in my church aptly named: "Playing With Ideas."  On the first of the month the topic is always 'Current Events.'  As one might imagine the focus of conversation centered on the GOP nomination contest and Donald Trump.  What I found interesting was the variation of ideas offered to define his appeal to certain groups based on personal vignettes and local readings of Florida primary results in and around regional counties.  What fascinated me was the different number of reasons people attributed to his appeal to a specific demographic whether it was a localized upper income group or a generalization based on what would constitute a 'low information' voter.Driving home I realized that the main reason Donald Trump has a large enough appeal to be in contention as a nominee was the fact he was something of a blank slate if you will.  A blank slate one could use to make any justification they wanted for him to be worthy of their support due to fact they hate the status quo and what they current make up of the GOP represents:  an inability to act on the agenda they've had since the Gingrich years in the 1990's.I keep hearing in various social media and mainstream media outlets a meme that really came home to me on my pensive drive home.  The GOP rank and file voter detests the current make up of the GOP and what it has become and Donald Trump represents that feeling no matter what he says he represents issue wise.  He is the strongman to effect change on a party that has become moribund in intransigence at the expense of compromise to be purist in their beliefs that range from privatization of most government functions to the eradication of what they define as 'entitlements.'  Donald Trump represents someone that will remake that intransigence through tactics that represent authoritarianism and an ability to 'get things done' on sheer will.Unfortunately for his supporters our system of government not only doesn't work that way, it was designed specifically not to.  Unless his supporters find a way to fundamentally change the way our government works as a representative republic it is not possible for a Donald Trump like political entity   My fear is there are people out there that tire of our system of incremental change through a deliberative process.  Their goal is to change our system of government that favors authoritarianism and the ability to exact change on a dime without thought out deliberation from a representative body.  History is filled with examples of what they want and as usual it never ends well for either the strongman they envision for the people that put them their in the first place.Truman's Conscience [...]

The Scurge of Rabbit Hole Politics

Thu, 16 May 2013 15:33:00 +0000

(image)  This is why the GOP is infuriating.  The Wall Street crowd that nearly brought our country to its knees still goes unpunished.  How many thousands have had their homes improperly foreclosed on?  So far not one person in the financial industry has been held accountable for this.  Then there is the Iraq war.  Over 4,500 deaths and untold numbers of wounded and maimed for life American Soldiers and not one committee hearing on how we got into the war in the first place now that we know the first 50 reasons given for attacking Saddem Hussein have all been proven false, misleading, or outright lies.  And now we get this from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio):
“My question isn’t about who’s going to resign, my question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?"
This is his remark regarding the IRS "scandal" where social conservative groups like the 'Tea Party' were allegedly singled out unfairly by the the IRS for further scrutiny over applications for non-profit status.  Its amazing how brazen they are in their hypocrisy and their blatant disregard for context with the recent past.

The Shrinking Budget Deficit

Wed, 15 May 2013 04:35:00 +0000

(image) Every Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson has either left office with a surplus or less than what the deficit was when they took over from a Republican predecessor.  On the other hand, every Republican President since Eisenhower has  left office with a larger deficit than the one they inherited from thier Democratic predecessor.  Go figure.

The United States Supreme Court Sides With Goliath Monsanto

Tue, 14 May 2013 04:56:00 +0000

(image) Call me cynical but watching a Robert's court side with a corporate giant like Monsanto is like watching adults from the sidelines cheer on a grown adult male bullying an eight year old.  There is no doubt this is a disaster for the small farmer.  It just wasn't a win for the corporate giant, it was a unanimous court decision, 9-0.  After listening to Kagen deliver the majority opinion I had to stop and wonder what the rationale I just heard was.  The fact that Monsanto went after a little guy the way they did it doesn't for what look like it was about money, thought in the end Monsanto is not doubt acting in the long run for what's best in the monetary future.  No, this seems it was a message about power.  A sort of 'don't mess with us' message an stop trying to take these types of grievence to the top of the court system.

It couldn't be any clearer for me what that message was:  the United States of Corporate America Supreme Court. 

Benghazi Is The Only Consulate / Embassy That Matters

Sat, 11 May 2013 18:31:00 +0000

Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!  It's like a broken record for the GOP.  One has to wonder how much longer Republicans feel they can milk this before it becomes like the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, being ignored by the MSM.  The not so amazing thing is the context with which the GOP keeps harping on this.  This attack on the Benghazi consulate is not new regarding other U.S. consulates/embassys around the world.  It's almost common considering how many times this happened under George W. Bush's administration.  When considering those incidents [there were 13] where was the outrage there?  A quick review of the incidents themselves happens to be very good context for the attack on the Benghazi consulate back on 9/11/2012: January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.h/t to David Atkins No outrage here.  No Congressional investigation committees.  Though with this number one might think a committee reviewing the funding for security might be in order.  The House GOP though has continually voted to cut funding for security at all international U.S. bases and State Department properties.  Yet, nothing is said about that by the GOP leadership.  Then there is the loon contingent from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann:"9/11, Benghazi Were God's 'Judgment,' So We Must Hold Day Of Prayer On Sept. 11"Really Michele?  Apparantly the other previous 13 attacks don't merit spiritual comfort according to [...]

Hey Minnesota, Welcome To The 21st Century

Sat, 11 May 2013 17:27:00 +0000

(image) Sometimes patience has its rewards.  In Minnesota it finally paid off.  The North Star State on Thursday passed a bill to legalize gay marriage.  That was the good news.  The even better news is Gov. Mark Dayton has already acknowledged he'll sign the bill.  And all this after just six months ago the same state legislature rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.  Though the vote was till largly along party lines this is a move in the right direction as Minnesota becomes the 14th state to do so.  In a sentiment that reflects a refreshing show of courage new freshman Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, has already taken some heat from some of his constituents on the issue. But he still voted yes.  Speaking the language any liberal could appreciate he spoke about freedom and equality.         
"For me this is a vote for freedom and equality. This is a vote for the rights of all of my constituents," he said.
Welcome Minnesotans, to the 21st century.  Believe it or not there's room for everyone.

Robert F. Kennedy: A Legacy In Words

Wed, 08 May 2013 01:22:00 +0000

(image) Was showing a film clip today from "Thirteen Days" to my Honors World History class.  I was reminded how instrumental Robert was in helping solve the Cuban Missle crisis.  Even though it happened back in 2008 I still remember reading about former G.W. Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino admitting she knew nothing about the Soviet Union putting missiles in Cuba in 1962 and causing a crisis that nearly led to nuclear war.  This is so endemic of the 'know nothing' meme the GOP likes to push.  This allows them to see current events without any context so they bend an issue to any ideological bent that suits them.  It also leads to disaster such as Iraq and Bush's coveted GWOT [Global War On Terror].
As I was thinking about RFK today I was reminded of one of his more profound insights when he stated,
“Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others.”
This could not be more profound when considering the current climate surrounding issues of gun rights in our country.  The NRA seems to live on swagger and bluster at the expense of shattered lives.  I am truly sorry he did not live longer to influence our political direction over the decades.  He surely embodies that "what could have been" longing.

A Corporate Culture of Life Only A GOP'er Could Love

Fri, 04 Nov 2011 02:02:00 +0000

(image) I'm always hearing from Libertarians and Republicans about how bogged down and unresponsive government can be inferring that capitalist corporations can turn on a dime to help the customer in need.  Don't ask Californian Terri Weissinger to confirm that.  Since corporations are now "people" with rights I find it interesting that this corporate "person," in the figurative flesh known as U.S. Airways, felt the need to refuse a helping hand when it was their fault in the first place when Ms. Weissinger found herself between a rock and a hard place.  Oh wait, when they act like this maybe they are people after all.  Another example of Republican "culture of life" at work since they are the ones that insist corporations ARE PEOPLE.  I guess U.S. Airways was proving they are the GOP's kind of people.  How quaint.

Guns, guns, and more guns....

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 21:53:00 +0000

(image) History has a funny way of putting things in perspective, especially when it comes to American gun culture.  I guess today even the old west archetype of individualism, Wyatt Earp, would be a pariah in his own country since he was for restricting some places where guns weren't welcome.  I always find it interesting when conservative gun owners celebrate the facilitation of introducing more firearms into public and private domains without restrictions.  Since Gov. Walker of Wisconsin signed a new bill making the state one of now 49 that allow the carrying of concealed weapons into churches I'm inclined to ask  the age old sarcastic inquiry of "what could possibly go wrong there?"  When individual instances of just exactly what can go wrong take place its always a conservative mantra to utter something about the price we pay for freedom on some level even if that price is the life of human beings.  When I read about Walker's bill taking effect it dawned on me how a certain symmetry exists in the conservative matrix of what value they place on human lives.  I  now completely understand the American conservative movement and their insistence that human lives have a price in the context of accessible health care for any citizen that can afford it.  If you can't afford it you don't deserve it and you just die.  The corollary that seems to go along with that seems to be if you aren't carrying a firearm when somebody goes off for any number of reasons then that's just too bad and you made a poor choice.  Your life is expendable.  That's some "culture of life" they have going there.  And its so Darwinian of them. 

Why We Pay Taxes

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 20:07:00 +0000

(image) I'm not sure there is a parable here for the insane denizens that seems to make up Libertarians, Republicans and the so-called "Tea Party" but once in a while a teachable moment rears its head and makes a statement for the obvious even they should be able to understand. Taxes are for important community "stuff" that everyone shares in. This "stuff" enables sane people to continue being contributors to society at large by sharing the expenses that make it possible to be, you know, a community. But I guess the people of Highland Park, MI don't believe in safety for those who work at night or can't afford or chose to own personal transportation. I won't even go into the other things a community does to make life possible in a sane world. But paying taxes is one of the things one must do to make this possible. Whenever a red faced conservative shouts into a microphone, "its your money and you should keep it!" there is no doubt you made that "money" through the things that community makes possible by providing you with a way to to earn it like roads, police and fire departments, public schools that produce educated labor, [in some cases] trash pick-up, street lights, stop lights, and on and on. It's amazing to me how many people have forgotten that....

Senate Democrats Letting Speaker Boehner's Agenda Run Over Them

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 22:40:00 +0000

(image) The malaise that permeates our nationally elected Democrats continues to deepen. The mind boggling aspect of all this is the fact that John Boehner’s battle plan is so simple that it seems to confound the Democratic leadership. If Speaker Boehner’s $100 billion dollar budget amputation was so odious in H.R. 3 then why does it suddenly become palatable to the leadership across the aisle if it’s chopped into increments amounting to the same thing? The grin on Boehner’s face in light of this is only going to get more indelible when the GOP takes this maneuver and runs with it against the Senate Democrats in 2012. There is a page on Facebook calling for Alan Grayson to take the reins of the Florida Democratic Party. I say let's forget that and start a movement to make him the head of the national Democratic Party. Mr. Grayson would be just what the doctor ordered for this creeping malaise that doesn’t seem to show any signs of abating in the near future.

Questioning The Validity Of Teacher Pay Polling

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 15:42:00 +0000

(image) Whenever ever I see polls about teachers like the one on CNN this morning I’m always leery of the wording the poll question takes. There were two: (1) “Should teacher pay be based on quality of work?” and (2) Should teacher pay be based on a standardized scale for all teachers.” The problem with asking the second question is like any query using the word “standard.” The first question works perfectly if teachers have control over their environment. In reality though teachers are more susceptible to conditions outside their control i.e. class sizes, more and more politically driven budgetary concerns, economic conditions, and on and on. That’s why it continually gets driven toward the standard end. Right now across the country communities are demonstrating their lack of value in education through their elected representatives’ continuous propensity to make it the first thing they target in budget cuts. Perhaps when value is shown through actions the first question can finally be the yard stick everyone desires.

DOMA Gets GOP "Family Values" Support

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 22:50:00 +0000

(image) You knew it wouldn't take long before the "I" word would began to find its way into the GOP conversation with their new majority in the 112th Congress. But to infer that impeachment procedings could come up over the Obama administration's DOJ policy change regarding DOMA is a strange avenue to chose to get there considering the guy who brought it up. Denizens of the party of "family values" continue to have a strange way of demonstrating their view of marriage as a "sacred institution." Mr. Gringrich's propensity to hold the very institution he claims to defend in contempt with his actions to date while pointing a finger at a man who seems to be the epitome of a family values man is quite a contrast in character and hubris. I suspect any 2012 Presidental run planned by Newt will get quite a review of his interesting take what constitutes "family values." Since he changes wives like he changes clothes it seems his actions tells us quick divorces should be a part of that equation. Since Republicans love slogans to define their ideology this little nursery rhyme like parable should fill the bill here:
"What's good for me
Is not good for thee,
Just ignore the hypocrisy!"

City of Jacksonville Budget Workshop Well Attended

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 02:26:00 +0000

(image) I just got back from the first of five planned City of Jacksonville budget workshops here in Arlington at the Regency Square Branch Library. This was my first time attending one of these and it was well worth the time. It was a capacity crowd that needed extra seats brought in to hold the participants. I talked to one of the Mayor's assistants and she indicated the first one is always the most popular but as they start running through the schedule attendance drops off. I ran into City Council District #1 candidate Lindsey Brock again and we exchanged pleasantries. The event itself was fascinating and very informative. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely attend these things on a regular basis. I got a small bit of insight into the budget priorities of the city and how it spends our tax revenue. I'll have a more comprehensive recap later with some thoughts about what I saw and who was there.

Gun Control Advocates & The Argument They Should Use

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 20:13:00 +0000

I don’t know what it is about watching national and state elected Democratic officials when they face off with their GOP counterparts but more often than not it’s usually a deer in the headlights moment. This morning on CNN I sat and watched Texas State House Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D – Dist. #51) square off with Texas State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R – Dist. 25) about pending legislation in both state houses to allow guns on college campuses that will no doubt pass without much resistance during the current legislative term. While Wentworth projected that serious aura of knowing exactly what he was talking about as he laid out his side of the issue with the Virginia Teach shootings as the center piece of his argument you could almost see Rodriquez’s wheels spinning in his head on how to answer his tired, by now worn out rationalizations for looser gunright ownership regulations. The only thing I can remember about Rodriquez’s convoluted counter points is this old liberals need to reach through the TV screen, reach down his throat and pull out the argument he should have given that would have effectively had Wentworth hitting the reboot switch on his GOP/NRA trained talking points in a loop and looking foolish.What we were presented with instead was Wentworth giving the usual rationale that if more people on campus and in particular in the classroom had been armed this horrible incident would never have happened. The coup de grace of his argument was noting that in Texas all registered hand gun owners are required to complete both the classroom and range components of the handgun proficiency course (10 hrs) with a $25.00 dollar fee (he may have said $100.00 but I can’t be quite sure) from a qualified handgun instructor before being issued a concealed handgun permit. This way each of these certified gun owners would have training to help them in a situation similar to Virginia Tech. It was at this point I was ready to lunge at the TV screen if Rodriquez could not even come up with one point of value to shut this guy up. Instead he opened with the “I’m a scared Democrat” regurgitation of his stand that yes, everyone should have a right to own a firearm, but on the other hand blah, blah, blah….. I nearly lost it. Whatever was said after that point was unmemorable and worthless.The counter argument for this craziness is not rocket science. I just don’t understand where Democrats are coming from with this irrational fear of these crazies. What’s even worse is the crazier the right gets with their rationalizations the more afraid Democrats become. It’s disheartening. It's time to open a school for the liberal, the left of center, or just plain sane Democrat on how to make rational arguments in the media. Let class begin with an example of how to counter this argument: how Rodriquez should have answered Wentworth.Thank you for allowing me here today to talk with your viewers about this critical issue and its place in our society. The recent Detroit police station shooting should make everyone in the country stand back and give pause to the argument that regular citizens possessing firearms in this country with minimum or no training in their use would react accordingly in a crisis situation. A man walked into a Detroit police station this past January with a concealed shotgun, not even a handgun, and seriously wound four police officers in a shooting spree in a building full of armed professionals who make this their life work. Even then it did not deter [...]

Jacksonville Small Businesses & Unemployed Get Lost In GOP's National Agenda

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 22:25:00 +0000

Oh good god...all over the country people are starving for information on what Congress is doing about jobs. You would think the newly elected 112th Congress would be all over it. Instead we get enablers from the mainstream corporate media villagers. This Sunday on Meet The Press was sure an eye opener on cognitive dissonance from not only the villagers but our elected officials on both sides of the aisle. With the new GOP House masters of the universe not only in control of one house of Congress but driving the MSM meme this is what we heard courtesy of The Washington Monthly's Steve Benin:During the hour-long episode of "Meet the Press" yesterday [Sunday, Feb. 20th], there was exactly one reference to the U.S. unemployment rate, uttered by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). The word "spending" was used 40 times. [My emphasis]The very first sentence of the broadcast was host David Gregory telling viewers, "The battle to rein in government is shaping up to be the major fight not only of this year, but of the 2012 campaign."There was no discussion of how, exactly, this became "the major fight," only that the political establishment has decreed it to be. If you thought economic growth and job creation was at the center of the policy discussion in Washington, I'm afraid your attitudes are so 2010. I bring this up because this sounds so familiar here locally. At the Jacksonville Mayor & City Council District 1 candidate forum this past Thursday I heard one candidate mention the flight of small businesses not just leaving but running out of the Arlington area mentiond ONCE the entire evening. What was driving the converstation of the candidates? City deficit spending. Sound familiar? Its like this guy is driving the agenda for the whole country. So here is my memo to Audrey Moran: Party DOES matter at the national, state, and local levels.Truman's Conscience [...]

Jacksonville Mayor & City Council District 1 Candidate Forum Recap

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:59:00 +0000

As promised here is my report on the District 1 Candidate Forum this past Thurday, February 17th put on by my neighborhood organization: The Alderman Park Civic Association. I've decided not to use any photos I took during the evening because of the poor quality of the photos and the lack of competency on the part of the operator. It was held off Lone Star Rd. in Alderman Park’s St. Andrews Episcopal Church. It was a fairly well attended event with a full slate of candidates shaking hands and kissing babies. The TU was even present. The first thing I noticed was the demographics of the crowd: mostly white, gray-haired, fairly balanced gender mix, probably retired and very, very conservative. The President of the Association is a Teaparty Republican who was a Rick Scott backer sporting one of those “Have You Prayed For A Liberal” bumper stickers on his car. It always strikes me that conservative’s bumpers always conveys a message to marginalize someone’s philosophy or belief system as it is never something to persuade. In any event, there is no doubt political ambitions are bubbling in that head as he is probably a good bet for a future District 1 City Council candidate once Clay Yarborough decides to take his homophobia and religious bigotry to the state house in some capacity.I walked around and saw a couple of neighborhood folks I knew and exchanged pleasantries and took a few photos, which had the effect of everyone giving me a wary eye. There was no doubt that in all probability, with the exception of DINO’s Warren Lee and Ken Jefferson, I and poor old out manned Darryl Fleming, a candidate for Clay Yarborough’s City Council seat, were the only Democrats in the room. One of the Group 5 at large candidates for City Council, Robin Lumb, ambled over and introduced himself and left a card and then the forum was gaveled to order by the intrepid association President.During the course of the evening three main themes emerged from the Republican cavalcade of tax cuttin’ cowboys as they burnished their conservative credentials for three minutes of allotted time to address the audience: (1) [Wait for it…] tax cuts!; (2) reducing the size of government [a shocker, I know]; and finally (3) union basing. That last one caught me off guard but looking at the slate of candidates I really should have expected it. Everyone seemed to be against the Craig Airfield extension and for some reason round-a-bouts.The candidates for Mayor that did show up were Dino Warren Lee, and GOP’ers Mike Hogan, and Rick Mullaney. I guess Audrey Moran was reaching out to Democrats somewhere else in the city that evening along with Democrat Alvin Brown since we were at a minimum in the room. I was hoping Ms. Moran would be there so I could ask her about her UNF forum statement regarding taxes and fees but considering the crowd in attendance and their hostility to anything approaching the statement she made at UNF it might have been a wise decision to have a convenient schedule conflict as an alibi. Mike Hogan and Rick Mullaney looked like two of Pavlov’s dogs barking in unison on taxcuts [More! More!] and cutting government and making it smaller. I should follow them around with a little bell and ring it and watch them bark out Taxcuts! like one ofo Pavolov's subjects. But my liberal sensibilities tell me that’s cruel. Rick Mullaney touted his “34 point plan to […wait for it] shrink government and cut taxes. Mike Hogan was the one candida[...]

Wisconsin State Democrats Fighting Back

Sun, 20 Feb 2011 07:24:00 +0000

(image) I was just over at Balloon Juice and picked this up from E.D. Kain of this absolutely amazing video of Wisconsin State Representative Steve Hintz (D - Oshkosh District #54) setting the record straight how the minority party is getting treated by the new Teaparty way of doing government business. I feel like this has been happening for awhile now in the Florida legislature but not this severe. If Gov. Rick Scott's legislative backers start hitching their stars to him this is the treatment we can expect our elected state Democrats to get. Watch and behold this civics lesson rant for the ages about the integrity of the GOP majority and their leadership in Madison:

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The latest reports I'm hearing is the Wisconsin public employee unons have already agreed to the financial concessions except stripping away their collective bargaining agreements. Once Florida state senator Steve Wise finishes with his efforts there is no doubt the teacher unions here in our fair state will be rendered impotent and stripped of our collective bargaining rights as well. Welcome to the Teaparty world where taking away rights is what they are all about.

Elected Florida Democrats Get A Warning From Wisconsin

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 15:25:00 +0000

(image) The showdown taking place in Wisconsin as I post this is starting to reach critical mass for the public sector employees in the state. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen elected Democrats take actual stands against their Republican counterparts and not act intimidated or cower in their caucus rooms worried sick about how they will be portrayed in the media. At this moment I wish I was a Wisconsin Democrat joining in the fight. It’s more than just a fight for public employees to keep their bargaining rights: it’s a fight for human beings to be taken seriously for the worth of their labor against the crushing corporate tide rolling over the American landscape.

I seriously hope our Florida Democratic legislators, at least the few we have left, are watching what’s taking place in Madison right now. The reason being is they are going to have to do the same thing. They are going to have to take a stand against the onslaught that’s about to come from a Governor, who by the grace of 50,000+ plus voters is going to pull the same thing as Gov. Walker is doing in Wisconsin. We better get ready. The firefighters, the police and sheriffs’ offices, the communications workers and finally the teachers who all share membership in unions the time is coming. Tallahassee is coming for us and they aren’t going give any quarter. We are about to be in a fight for all we are about. We are about to find out what our beliefs mean to us not only as Democrats and union members but what it means to be a citizen in this state whose labor has worth to our community and our families. We have more worth than nameless corporations who are going to come in and use our infrastructure and our community services and not pay a dime for it. These corporations will take their profit margins and send it out of the state never to be seen again while us, the citizens that call Florida home, give them a free ride through their bidder in the Governor’s mansion.

Get ready. They’re coming.