If All Liberals Thought Like This……..

Steven Van Zandt.

The problem with Facebook is that I get so caught up in some great onversations over there that I find no time to keep this blog going. Not that that is such a big deal, but I do still like keeping this blog going, and from time to time we get some good conversations going over her as well.

One of the great recent conversations on Facebook is in regards to this great piece from the Huffington Post that I posted on Facebook last week. I’m not going to give a lot of opinion here, I think this piece stands well on it’s own. Enjoy:

There Is Only One Issue In America by Steven Van Zandt.

I was obsessed with politics in the ’80s. I’ve recovered and I’m feeling much better now thank you.

By the time I realized, as interesting as it was, I’d better stop this stuff and try to earn a living, I had discovered many of our social problems and quality of life issues could be traced to the same political source: our corrupt-by-definition electoral system. The solution to the problem was as easy to discover as the cause: The elimination of all private finance in the electoral process.

I was working doing most of my research in the area of our foreign policy since WWll, whatever fell under the umbrella of international liberation politics, but I examined and analyzed a fair amount of local issues as well.

I wanted to know how things work? Where’s the power? Who’s pulling the strings?

The economy of the world came down to the unholy trinity of guns, drugs and gasoline — military industry, drugs (legal and illegal), and energy — and now I would add agribusiness as the fourth controlling commodity, and always with the enabling bankers never too far out of sight making their profits far too often from wars and slave labor.

While that readily explained the suffering of the Third World, it didn’t immediately answer why in America it was possible for so many people to be unhappy with our government’s decisions, both foreign and domestic, when we’re supposedly living in a democracy.

A quick analysis of our electoral process revealed the obvious answer. The simple fact is we do not live in a democracy. Certainly not the kind our Founding Fathers intended. We live in a corporate dictatorship represented by, and beholden to, no single human being you can reason with or hold responsible for anything.

The corporation has but one obligation, which is to increase profits for its shareholders by any legal means necessary by the next fiscal quarter.

They have no moral, patriotic, social, environmental, generational or even sustainable responsibility. They have only a short-term economic mandate and their only responsibility to society is to stay within the law to accomplish it.

This doesn’t mean corporations shouldn’t exist or even that their directors are evil by their very DNA. It has been a legally acceptable basic flaw in the form of our capitalist system that allows corporations to operate without a moral compass or obligation to society — but that’s a discussion for another day.

The law is rarely a problem because the corporations’ legal obligations are pretty much designed first and foremost for their maximum profit by the legislation created by the legislators belonging to our two national political parties, both of which are wholly bought, sold and controlled by Wall Street. The banks and the corporations. In other words the game is rigged. Feel like a sucker? We all do because we all are.

The manipulation, aided by a very willing media also owned by the corporations, has made things easier beginning with what has become the amazing Orwellian staple of every newscast, selling the public on the lie that the Dow has somehow become America’s scoreboard!

We’re all hypnotized, rooting for them like they’re our home team at a football game, cheering for THEIR scoreboard mindlessly forgetting WE’RE THE AWAY TEAM!!

You think your congressman is working all day to get you a job? He may want to. He or she is probably not a bad person. They probably want to do the right thing. But they can’t. Long-time Capitol Hill staff and campaign strategists tell me the average legislator spends one-third of their time (or more) every day raising money or on activities related to raising money.

Yes, they are “elected” which creates the mass delusion of democracy to keep the masses from rioting, but congressional races are costing millions of dollars and some Senate seats are going for tens of millions each, and they’re predicting well over one billion dollars for the next presidency.

That’s some democracy we’ve created there, isn’t it?

Of the people?

By the people?

For the people?

What people?

Democracy in America is a sick joke and the masses aren’t laughing anymore.

Yes, we can demonstrate. We can march. We can write and sign petitions to our Representatives. We can occupy.

And we should because it’s healthy to vent, and we don’t feel so all alone. But the truth is, other than the value of venting, we’re wasting our time. It is naïve to expect political results from any of these activities.

Our representative can give us lip service. A lot of sympathy. Empathy even. But we don’t pay their media bills, gabeesh?

We need to eliminate all private finance from the electoral process.

And let’s not be distracted by “reforms.” Let’s spare ourselves the unnecessary discussions about transparent disclosure, or the conflict of interest of foreign countries buying favorable treatment, or protection after protection being gutted by dangerously diluted regulations, or trying to impose this limit or that limit, etc., etc., etc.

Campaign finance doesn’t need reform. It needs elimination.

To accomplish this we must overturn Buckley v. Valeo, one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.

The ruling makes the extraordinary decision that money is protected by the First Amendment.

Presumably Chief Justice Gordon Gekko presiding!

These smartest guys in the room actually decided that spending money is the equivalent of free speech. You might wonder why no one in that smart room stood up and said wait a minute, if money is speech, isn’t lack of money lack of speech?

You know, as in the rich get to talk, and the poor don’t? How are the non-moneyed classes represented by this decision?

I guess nobody stood up then, but it’s time to stand up now.

In fact, I am now introducing a new pledge to be signed by our legislators. Of both parties. Indies too. Everybody’s welcome.

THE PLEDGE FOR A DEMOCRATIC AMERICA

(We’ll need someone more educated than me to draw it up, or we can copy Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but it would go something like this.)

I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to its democratic principles. I may take corporate, PAC, SuperPAC, or Chinese money to get elected or reelected (martyrdom accomplishes nothing), but upon my election I will make campaign finance elimination one of my immediate top priorities.

Now somebody should be starting a new Third Party whose platform is dedicated to this one idea. Twenty-five years ago that’s what I’d be doing right now.

But the need for a Third Party aside, this idea applies for everyone. Just as much for the Tea Party on the right as the 99 Percenters on the left (the corporate oligarchy actually has no Party affiliation, it just looks Republican).

Both groups should adopt this issue. The Occupiers need not agree on anything else, because frankly nothing else matters, and a bit more focus on the root of our problems for the Tea Party certainly wouldn’t hurt them either.

Let’s see who’s serious about representing the “people.”

And you know what?

We might be pleasantly surprised at how many congressmen and senators sign this thing who would rather be doing something more dignified with their lives than spending half their time begging for money.

 

Folks, I would love your feedback on this piece….

Advertisements

It’s A Government Life

Have you ever seen that e-mail going around, the one titled “Bar Stool Economics” Well, it’s an interesting analogy, showing how the progressive tax system works, using ten drinking buddies at a bar, each one representing 1/10th of the population’s earners, by percentage.

Now I’m not writing about that particular story, or even about taxes in general. I bring this up because one of my liberal friends on his blog – garyhasissues.com – discussed this piece, and put his own typical liberal spin on it. And by “typical liberal spin” I mean that is was based on assumptions and emotions, but not at all grounded in reality.

Some of you may know Gary. As a matter of fact, those of you reading this blog that have no connection to me or my hometown may still know Gary from his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1982 to 1985, or perhaps in his Emmy-winning role as Reggie in 1990’s “Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again”. Okay, he didn’t win the Emmy, but damn it, he deserved it.

Anyhow, Gary and I grew up in the same town, we both have blogs, he loves his two kids, and…. well, that’s probably where the similarities end. He’s a hell of a lot better looking than I am, and politically we are pretty opposite, but Gary is one of my more liberal friends on Facebook that I really like, because he doesn’t always just follow The Media Matters Handbook, like so many on the left do, but occasionally… well, maybe “rarely” is better word… but from time to time Gary does try to see the other side, or at least understand why conservatives think like they do.

But let’s get back to Gary and the Bar Stool Economics discussion. What Gary did was take a popular story and spin it to fit his ideology. Now I’m not going to claim Gary was messing with something sacred, this analogy is not that groundbreaking, but he did take a story that – while simplistic and “homey” – was rooted in actual mathematical data, and add some sob story elements that, well, weren’t rooted in anything factual. If interested, you can view that article here:

http://garyhasissues.com/?p=1688

So, if I’m not going to discuss the Bar Stool Economics story, or taxation in general, why bring it up? Because ever since I read Gary’s article, I’ve been intrigued by the concept of presenting a story that we all know was meant to express one thing, and telling it in a way that represents something completely different. It isn’t just about taking a liberal idea and putting a conservative spin on it, because ultimately it needs to make sense, not just a partisan spin.

So I’ve been thinking about that for a few days, and the other day I heard an old joke/story that I thought might be a perfect opportunity for me to try my…. Oops, I mean Gary’s concept out on. You may have heard this joke before (I’m kind of hesitant to call it a joke, because to some it may and can be a true message), and the truth is, this is neither liberal or conservative in nature, but, if it has any ideological slant to it, it would be religious. Here it is:

At one time there was a man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. The report said that the whole town should evacuate immediately. But the man said, “I’m religious, I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”

But the waters began to rise. A man in a rowing boat came along and he shouted. ‘Hey! Hey you! You up there. The town is flooding. I can take you to safety.‘ But the man shouted back: “I’m religious, I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”

A helicopter came hovering overhead. A guy with a megaphone shouted. ‘Hey! You there! The town is fully flooded. Let me drop down a ladder and I will help you to safety.’ But the men shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God would take him to safety.

The man drowned.

When he got to the pearly gates of St Peter, he demanded an audience with God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?‘ God said, ‘I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowing boat. What on earth are you doing here?

Cute story huh? Well, okay, maybe not BUT I do believe that there is a message in this story, a message that we can all learn from. Actually, I think the author actually meant for there to be a message, and that message is that God speaks to us in many ways. Not being a particularly religious man, let me expand on that to make the message “Life speaks to us in many ways.

And with that, I give you my take on the story. Like I said, I’m not a particularly religious person, but I am going to somewhat stick to the religious theme here, although to be honest, I think I probably borrow as much if not more from Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” than I do from the actual Bible. Here we go:

Jerry had had a rough life. Born to a single parent, Jerry and his mother moved around often, and he never seemed to be able to put down roots anywhere. Even as an adult Jerry never seemed to have many opportunities, and his life continued to slide away. Jerry felt let down by those around him, by his government, and by himself, until one day Jerry decided he could take it no more, and decided to take his own life.

After reviewing the options available to him, Jerry decided to go downtown to Washington Plaza, the tallest building in town, and jump from the 21st floor. He figured that not only was this likely to be the quickest option, but one that even he was not likely to screw up.

As Jerry reached the roof of the plaza, he began to walk towards the railing, surveying the street below and looking for the place to jump where he was least likely to land on some poor slob. Jerry had screwed up so often in life that he sure didn’t want to end with causing death or injury to someone else.

Jerry found what he thought was an ideal spot, that is if you can use the word “ideal” for what he was about to do, when the voice behind him startled him.

“Hello Jerry”

Jerry turned to see an elderly gentleman standing behind him. “Who the hell are you….. and how the hell do you know my name?”

“Jerry,” the elderly man replied, “who I am doesn’t matter. What’s really important here is that I’m here to stop you from making a terrible mistake.”

“Mistake? You think I’m making a mistake? Listen old man, the only mistake I’m making is in waiting as long as I did to do this. My whole life has been a mistake.”

“But that’s where you’re wrong Jerry” the old man said. “It’s true that you’ve made a lot of mistakes in your life, heck so does everyone, but your life is not a mistake. No human life is ever a mistake, because it’s God that gives you life Jerry, and he doesn’t make mistakes.”

Jerry was starting to get the picture now. This was some old do-gooder, nearing the end of his own life who now apparently gets off on telling other people how to live their lives. “Okay”, Jerry thought, “Let’s show this geezer just how wrong he is.”

“Well you’re wrong old man, my life WAS a mistake, and I can prove it. Say, what did you say your name was again… and how the hell do you know who I am”

“Well Jerry, I didn’t, but it’s Martin” the elderly man answered, “and I doubt that you’d even believe me if I told you, but I know who you are because I am your Guardian Angel.”

Now Jerry was convinced the old man was bonkers, but he was also intrigued. Heck, it’s not like he couldn’t toy with this old man for a few minutes and then kill himself, right? I mean, it’s not like he was on a schedule.

“Alright old ma…, I mean, Martin, if you’re my guardian angel, let me ask you something. Why do I even have a guardian angel, assuming of course that’s what you really are? I mean, it’s not like I even believe in God. Heck, I can’t remember a time in my life when I ever did. So if you’re one of his angels, shouldn’t you be watching over someone that actually believes in him?”

Martin replied “That’s true Jerry, you never have believed in God, but he certainly believes in you. Everyone has a guardian angel, and I happen to be yours Jerry. Oh, and I can answer your next question as well: The reason that you feel your life was so bad has nothing to do with me not watching over you as closely as I should. Most people never see or feel the influence of their Guardian Angel. We only appear whenever someone is going to make a huge, huge mistake. The kind of mistake that you’re thinking of now.”

Hold it, how the hell did you know what I was going to say next?” Oh, I get it, it just makes sense that a man that was going to end his life would ask that of someone claiming to be an angel. Good one Martin, you almost had me fooled. So I suppose this is the part where you take me and show me how the world would have been different if I had never lived, right.”

“No,” said Martin, “that old bit has been done to death. No Jerry, we’re just going to sit here for a few minutes, and I’m going to answer any questions that you might have. And when we’re done, if you want to jump, then go ahead. It would be a huge mistake, but I can’t stop you.”

“All right old man, I’ll play along. Let’s see how good you really are at this parlor game of yours. Okay, like I said earlier, my whole life has been a mistake. Heck, my birth was a mistake. My Mom got knocked up at 17 by some loser, and boom, here comes Jerry the Mistake. So if god is really watching over me, how did he let that happen.”

“Good,” said Martin, “lets start at the very beginning. But first, let me tell you how God actually works. God does not make things happen. He gave humans a little something called “free will”, and Jerry that means that everything you do or say you have 100% control over. But, with that being said, God does plant opportunities in everyone’s lives, but it’s up to the individual to actually seize upon that opportunity.”

“What are you talking about” Jerry asked, confused.

“Okay Jerry” Martin could see that he might have caught Jer’s attention. “Lets talk about your birth. I know you don’t know anything about your father, so let me fill you in. His name was Harry Weller. Harry wasn’t a bad man, kind of a “smooth operator”, although I’m not sure you’d find to many folks to sing Harry’s praises either. Harry was 21 when he got your mom pregnant. Oh, he told her all the right things, told her that he loved her, told her that he wanted to be with her forever, and you’re mom bought it, hook, line and sinker.”

“Okay” Jerry interrupted, “so where were those “opportunities” that you were talking about? You said yourself Harry was a smooth operator. How was a naive 17 year old girl suppose to resist a guy like that? If you’re going to tell me that “she should have said ‘No’”, that that was her opportunity, then I have to call bullshit on you Martin.”

“Well Jerry, you are right that she should have said ‘no’, but it’s more than that. It was obvious you’re mom couldn’t see the kind of guy Harry was, so god sent several of  your mothers friends, friends who could actually see the kind of guy Harry was, to try to talk her out of it. But, like I said, ultimately she had free will, and she choose to sleep with Harry. But that’s not the end of the story Jerry. Even though the big guy is not what you would call the #1 fan of birth control, he gave both your mom and harry several opportunities to obtain some, but they didn’t. Free will Jerry, free will.”

Okay, so you’re saying that ‘God’ gave my mom an opportunity to not have a baby at 17. And I’m assuming that he wasn’t going to keep Harry in the picture – free will and all – but let me ask you this then about your God: Why would he allow me, an innocent life, to suffer such a ball of crap life. Sure, Mom & Harry made a mistake, and I was the result of that mistake, but it wasn’t my fault. After all, isn’t our entire system of government set up to correct the kind of mistakes my mom made?

“AH HAH!” Martin bellowed. “You Jerry, are a very sharp man.” Most people don’t get right to the point like you do, but whether you know it or not, you’ve gotten right to the point.”

Jerry looked at Martin with a confused expression. “Martin, what the hell are you talking about?”

Remember when you said that you didn’t believe in God Jerry?” Martin replied. “Well, that’s not exactly true. You have been following religion all of your life Jerry, it’s just that your God, the God who was tasked with looking over you and taking care of you, was the U.S. Government.”

“Oh that’s ridiculous.”

“Is it Jerry? Look, you feel that your life has been a mistake, that both God and the government have let you down. Truth is Jerry, it’s you who have had the power all along, you just kept giving that power to others. To others that really don’t have the ability to do near as much as you do in controlling your life.”

“Jerry, let’s look at your early life. We’ve already determined that you got a hard start by being born to an unwed 17 year old mother, but at least you were born Jerry. That’s one strike that’s actually in your favor. I wish I could say the same about your brother and sister.”

“Hah” Jerry chimed in, “that PROVES that you’re not my guardian angel, because I don’t even have a brother and sister. Face it Martin, you’re full of crap.”

No Jerry, I’m not. You see Jerry, you were born in 1972, one year before the Supreme Court made abortion legal. That was your saving grace. Sadly, your twin brother and sister were born…. I mean would have been born two years later. But, thanks to Roe V. Wade, they never got a shot. Too bad too. Your brother, he was gonna be a real nice kid, have a real shot, but it’s your sister that would have been given the chance to really change the world. She was going to have been a real brain, and been given the opportunity to discover advances in alternative energy that would have put us years ahead of where we are now, but…..”

“Well,” Jerry replied, “I don’t buy it” (although deep down Jerry was beginning to wonder if this Martin was the real deal). “But forget this supposed brother and sister. Isn’t it the responsibility for the federal government to provide me with a good education and a real chance at life?”

No Jerry, not exactly. Do you remember what I told you about God, that God doesn’t personally interfere in people’s lives, but that instead he provides all of us with opportunities? Well, the government’s role is similar. It’s not the government’s responsibility, or for that matter even their ability, to provide you with a good education. No Jerry, government provides you with AN OPPORTUNITY for a good education, and Jerry you were given that opportunity. No one can force you to take it.”

“Bullshit” Jerry blurted. “I went to a horrible school. Thanks to my mom getting pregnant in high school, she was forced to raise me alone while working two crappy jobs. We lived in a slummy part of town, and that so-called ‘school’ I went to was horrible. There were gangs, there were drugs, and I’m sorry, but I didn’t see one damn ‘opportunity’ at all.”

“But Jerry, there’s a lot more to the story. Look, I know that you don’t know your grandparents well, because your mom didn’t want them to be part of your life, but your mom did not have to face the tough life that she did. Your grandparents were very disappointed when your mom got pregnant, and while there were several fights about it, your grandparents offered to help your mom out, to have her continue to live with them and raise you, and to continue in her schooling. But your mom, she thought that they were making too many demands of her, so she decided to leave, even before you were born.”

“As for that crappy school, you’re right. You were educated in probably one of the worst school districts in the state, but that didn’t have to be the choice either. You see, just as you were entering kindergarten, there was a bill going through the state legislature, a bill that would have allowed underprivileged at-risk kids like yourself to obtain a voucher, a voucher that would have allowed you to go to a private school and have an opportunity – there’s that word again Jerry, ‘opportunity’ – to go to a better school. As a matter of fact, you’re mom had already made arrangements for you to go to St. Josephs once the bill passed.”

“But I didn’t go to St. Josephs” Jerry replied.

“No,” Martin responded, “You didn’t go to St. Josephs, because sadly the bill didn’t pass. Despite overwhelming public support for the bill, not to mention tons of data that showed that at-risk students really benefited from such an opportunity, the teachers union used their influence and shot the bill down, claiming that it violated the so-called ‘separation of church and state’, because it would allow government money to be funneled to religious schools. I think the real embarrassment for the teachers union didn’t have anything to do with religion, but rather the fact that these schools generally turn out students with much higher grades than their public school counterparts, at about ½ the cost.

“So you see Jerry, the ‘government’ that you relied on to make sure that you had a shot at life, more often than not is the one that put up your roadblocks. Perhaps if you had been given the opportunity for a good education you would have actually graduated from high school”

“Yeah, and maybe then I wouldn’t have had to take all of those crap jobs. Hey Martin”, Jerry piped up, as if he had found a loophole, “what  about all of those crap jobs. Where was the opportunity there?”

“Jerry, do you remember that job that you had at the lumberyard?”

“Yeah”, Jerry said, almost smiling. The lumberyard job was the one job in Jerry’s long line of jobs that he actually enjoyed. Heck, the lumberyard was union, and Jerry was almost through his six month probationary period when he was laid off. Just another example of ‘the man’ screwing Jerry.

“So are you telling me that the lumberyard job was my shot at a good life? Because if that’s the case, why the hell was a laid off. I was damn good at that job, and  I didn’t deserve to lose that job. There was a hell of a lot of dead weight losers working at that yard that should have been let go before I was.”

“You’re right Jerry, there were quite a few people working at that yard that didn’t do half the job that you did. But do you know WHY you were laid off Jerry?”

You know, it had been so long ago, and Jerry had been pissed off about it for so many years that he couldn’t even remember the circumstances that lead to his termination.

“No Martin, I have no idea. Why don’t you enlighten me.”

“Alright. Jerry, you had the unfortunate fate of getting that job right as the housing boom was becoming the housing bust, and by the time six months had past, the construction industry was in a full blown recession. And as you might guess, when construction is hurting, lumberyards are as well.”

“And the truth is, the Abraham brothers, the men that owned that lumberyard, they felt that the bust would be short lived, and that six months to a year later they would be right back in the thick of things. But like you said, the shop was union, and the Abrahams wanted it that way. But they knew that, to survive, they were going to have to ask the union for concessions. They knew if they could get the union to agree to a wage freeze, as well as postpone the new vacation and health care increases for year, that they could probably ride this storm out without having to lose a single person. They knew that if the union disagreed, they would have to lay off at least 25% of their force. Well, you can guess what happened. The union voted overwhelmingly to go ahead with their increase in benefits, despite the fact that a quarter of their ranks lost their jobs because of it, including you Jerry.”

“And you know the rest. Because of these concessions, or more precisely the fact that there were no concessions, Abraham Lumber suffered, and despite an increase in construction 18 months later, they were never able to regain their former greatness. In fact, only three years later the doors were closed for good. And if you choose to take comfort in the fact that the brothers went bankrupt and lost everything they had, don’t forget Jerry that 81 other fine folks lost their jobs as well. All because the union convinced them that the Abrahams were only looking out for themselves. Of course, we all know now that wasn’t the case, but what’s done is done.”

Jerry thought about this for a minute. “So what your saying is that, if the union had voted for the concessions, that I would still be working at the lumberyard, and making a good living.”

“No” Martin replied. Martin could see the puzzle that Jerry’s face had become. “No Jerry, the opportunity that God gave you came after the lumberyard. Do you remember when you were laid off, and looking for work?”

“Damn right” Jerry said, felling bad for cursing in front of an angel. “I must have applied for 100 jobs, and the only offer I got was for that McDonalds job.”

“And how did that McDonalds job work out for you Jerry?”

“It didn’t, I never took the job. Thank god the government voted to extend unemployment benefits that week, or else I might have actually had to take that crappy job.”

“So what great job did you find during that extended period?”

“You know damn well Martin that I didn’t find a job. It was almost three months after my unemployment and welfare ran out before I got another job, and it’s been one loser job after another. Which is why I’m here today. And that reminds me, I’ve got some jumping to do.”

“Wait Jerry, please wait. What would have happened if the government hadn’t passed the extension.”

“Well,” Jerry replied, I guess I would have taken that crappy McDonalds job.”

“Right. Jerry, do you know who Ernie Jamison is?”

“No”

“Well, Ernie is the gentleman that DID take that job, after you turned it down. Ernie is the gentleman who got YOUR opportunity.”

“Big deal”. Jerry was getting a little tired of this game. “So I gave up some great opportunity, and know Ernie is flipping burgers instead of me.”

“Oh, Ernie’s not flipping burgers. Nope, Jim and Melinda Carter, the people that own the McDonalds – you know, the people that wanted to hire you – well Jim and Melinda saw something special in Ernie, just like they were going to see something special in you. Ernie didn’t stay on the fryer too long, no, he impressed them and quickly was promoted to supervisor, and then assistant manager.”

“Big whoop” came Jerry’s response. No, he was definitely tiring of Martin’s game. “So because the government extended my unemployment, I missed the opportunity to be an assistant manager of a McDonalds. My heart is really breaking here.”

Martin smiled. “Oh Ernie’s not an assistant manager. No, last year Jim and Melinda opened their 14th store on the west side of town. You know the one, just off University. And since Jim and Melinda have always believed in promoting from within, Ernie is now the manager of that store. And doing pretty good for himself too, pulled down just over 80k last year. Oh, and remember that cute little redhead that was working the day you filled out that application? You remember, she was the reason that you filled out the ap in the first place. Well, she and Ernie married two years ago, and they are expecting their first child in September.”

Jerry jumped to his feet and ran towards Martin. To anyone watching, it might have looked like Jerry was going to strike the old man. “Damn It old man, you really suck at this angel thing, do you know that? I mean, if I wasn’t depressed before, I sure as hell am now. Give me one damn reason not to through myself over railing right now?”

“Don’t you see Jerry? Yes, you have wasted a lot of opportunities in your life, and you have been the one who has suffered because others have wasted a number of opportunities in their lives. But here’s the great thing about opportunities: We don’t just get a limited number of them in our lives. If you choose to jump Jerry, then that’s it. Your life is over, and you will get no more opportunities. BUT, if you instead walk down those stairs, and open yourself up to the possibilities that are all around you, then you will be amazed at the opportunities that await you.”

Jerry was calming down, but still not convinced. “So what you’re saying is, I have to put my faith in God?”

“No Jerry, that’s not at all what I’m saying, although I’m sure the boss wouldn’t mind if you did. Look Jerry, there are three types of people in this world. Those that put their faith in God, those that put their faith in the government, and those that put their faith in themselves.”

Now putting your faith in God is good, but doing so is not enough. Like I said, God doesn’t guide our lives, he doesn’t make decisions for us. He just provides the opportunities, and even those who have the greatest belief in God will not succeed if they don’t believe in themselves.”

“And government? Jerry, never put your faith in government, because all it will do is let you down. As much as many misguided folks want to believe, government does not possess the ability to give you a good life. They do have the ability to give you opportunities, and that is a very good thing, but again, just like with God, those opportunities mean nothing if the people don’t believe in themselves first.”

“No Jerry, the answer is simple. Whether you succeed or fail, you do so based on your own decisions, and the actions that you take. It’s all about personal responsibility Jerry. Now, can I guarantee that if you focus on making the right decisions, that if you look for and take the opportunities that you are given, that then you will be a wealthy, happy person? No Jerry, I can’t. But I can tell you that the chances that you will succeed will become immensely better than if you sit around waiting for either God or the Government to solve your problems.”

Jerry sat back down and thought about what Martin had just said. He wasn’t sure that he was convinced that Martins advice was true, but it did kind of feel right. “Okay Martin, I’ll make you a deal. I’m not going to jump, at least not yet, but I’m going to give this “opportunity” thing a shot. But if I’m not on the path to happiness in a year, I’m coming right back to finish what I started,”

“Sorry Jerry, it doesn’t work that way” Martin said. “Look, I have no idea where your next opportunity is going to come from, but the beautiful thing is you don’t have to wait for the Lord – and you sure as heck don’t have to wait for the government – to place that opportunity in your path. You have the ability to create opportunities for yourself, each and every day.”

Jerry still wasn’t 100% convinced, but at least he had hope, which was something he hadn’t had for a long time. “Alright Martin, I’ll give it a shot. I’m not making any promises, but I will give it a shot. I do have one question though.”

“Anything my friend” came Martins response.

“Okay, you say that having faith in God isn’t enough. Now I’ve never been a religious person, but I know a lot of folks that are, and it seems to me that they put a heck of a lot of stock in their faith in God. Why isn’t that enough?”

“Well,” Martin said, pausing for a moment, “Let me tell you a little story. At one time there was a man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. The report……..”

An Opportunity For Discourse, Education & Healing Turns Into A Blatant Attempt To Push An Agenda.

I would really love to post every day if I could, but even my goal of a post of week has been almost impossible to meet, between work and family obligations, and now Spring and all that that brings with it (planting, lawn care, etc…), it just isn’t happening. But I think the main reason is Facebook, because so much of the venting I used to do here is now done there. It’d fast, easy, and much less involved than blogging. And today, I am going to combine the two, by taking a comment that I posted on Facebook (and the subsequent replies that comment received), and bring them over here to continue the discussion, because A), it will allow me to keep the blog somewhat current, and B) there are limitations to Facebook that a blog does not have. With that said, here is my original comment I posted a few days ago:

“I, along with most Americans, am deeply saddened by the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, and the sadness at this event is only eclipsed by the disgust I feel from the left for their rush to cash in and exploit this tragedy for their own agenda. Have these people no shame? Apparently not……”

What follows, with alternating comments in red and blue, are the few comments that followed that post. I have eliminated the last names of my friends who commented to protect their privacy:

 ROD: I too am angered by anyone who would exploit a situation like this. I do, however think that all these “stand your ground” laws need major change. They are far too ambiguous to keep these tragedies from happening.

ME: I agree Rod. Actually, when a tragedy like this happens it can open much needed debate in several areas, and if the people debating are adults and sincere, then maybe something good can come out of this mess….. but that is not what we are seeing here, is it. Look, given today’s journalistic “standards”, while I dislike all the misinformation floating around, I’ve come to expect it. But the blatant use of this tragedy to promote pet causes that have nothing to do with this shooting, it’s about as low as you can get.

CHRIS: I agree Bob but again its not just the left. FOX commentators have said some awful things as well.

STEPHEN: Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Where’s the cash? What agenda are you talking about? The “Don’t Shoot Unarmed Kids” agenda?

ME: Chris, let me address that (Stephen, I’ll have to wait until later this evening to address your disturbing and somewhat racist comments, and equally disturbed by Chris’s “like”). Did some Fox commentators say some awful things? I’m not aware of any, but then again I don’t watch Fox News. However, considering the amount of liberal radio I’ve listened to over the last few days, I’m surprised I didn’t hear those comments there, as they usually have a heyday with Fox flubs. And if Fox made some awful comments, I condemn those as well. Please, share with me what they said so I can address those as well.

The closest I heard to condemnation to comments on the right was reaction to Newt Gingrich who said “What the president said in a sense is disgraceful. It’s not a question of who that young man looked like,” in regards to the President saying “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids…. If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” Now let me first say that I find no issue with President Obama’s words. I think they were heartfelt, and I don’t think that, as Gingrich apparently feels, that they were “divisive.” But that said, let’s not pretend that there is a double-standard at play here. If this had happened four years ago when Bush was president, and the young boy shot was white and had been shot by an African-American, and President Bush said “If I had a son he’d look like (insert name here), the man would have been racked over the coals. BUT, that wouldn’t have been fair, nor would it be fair now for us to attack President Obama.

But keeping with Newt, let’s consider this. I heard his “disgraceful” clip played multiple times over the last couple of days on the left, from Ed Schultz to Thom Hartmann to Bill Press and others. What I HAVEN’T heard is what came after Newt said those words, which was this: ““I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative to investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together – federal, state and local – to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.” He then added “Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background….. it’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American. It is sad for all Americans.” Nope, we can’t allow the whole comment to be aired, can we? After all, if we do, people might actually get the idea that Newt is… gasp…. Human, and we can’t allow that, can we? What would Media Matters say?

STEPHEN: The problem I see here, Bob, is the attempt to somehow connect this unfortunate situation to some kind of left/right ideological dialogue. Maybe you were just making a joke that didn’t go over. If so, no problem. However, I don’t see any opportunity to accuse either side of playing politics on this one by anyone other than the idiotic Republican candidates who tried to gain traction by condemning the president of the United States for his personal comments. You don’t need Fox News or anybody else to tell you that Newt is a dipshit for believing that Obama was in anyway being ‘disgraceful’, whether you listen to his entire remark or not. He’s just not a good person, period. You can’t blame the media for pointing out some of the especially stupid stuff that comes out of his mouth.

It seems to me that your evaluation of any political situation immediately boils down to whether or not you label it as ‘liberal’ or ‘left’, then crying foul if it seems that there might be some left-leaning bias, completely ignoring the blatant bias from the ‘conservative’ or ‘right’ side of the spectrum. Is there bias on both sides? Yes. Is it worse on the right? As I see it, absolutely. Nobody walks in lock-step like the Republicans (their lack of compromise in Washington will be remembered as historic), and I don’t see any liberal networks out there that are as big as Fox, nor as dedicated to a single political view. The closest thing on the left to the commentators on Fox are all comedians like Mahar and Stewart, and those guys openly acknowledge this fact, are a damn-sight better informed, more intelligent, more tolerant, and more entertaining. Did I mention that they are comedians?

How you will try to paint me as a racist for quoting a once-popular televison program character’s response to the unbeliveable is something I can hardly wait for. So, I for one am still curious as to which ‘agenda’ you were originally referring to. All jokes aside, was it really the “Don’t Shoot Unarmed Kids” agenda?

JAMES:  I guess sometimes humor of any kind and tragedy don’t mix. This struck me as the a case of stupid doing what reasonable people know we shouldn’t do after being told by the authorities not to do it. It sometimes is impossible to understand or predict all the implications that some person might attempt under any given law. This guy just wanted an excuse to use his gun and he now must pay the price for his stupidity!

CARL:  The problem I have with Gingrich’s comment is that he’s smart enough to know that the leading comment is what airs and gets noticed. As such, he’s playing his usual game: speaking in divisive and racial terms to rile up the bigots that support him. He then provides enough rational thought after that to provide cover for all sensible, realistic people to hear and give him the benefit of the doubt. For him to intentionally mis-hear honest empathy from Obama is disgusting. No matter what he follows it up with.

He’s been sly since he first ran for office. From an article in the New Yorker by Frank Rich: The new GOP was hostile to female liberation, period, not just female sexual freedom. The pitch was articulated by Newt Gingrich in his first successful congressional race in Georgia in 1978. His opponent, a state senator named Virginia Shapard, crusaded for the Equal Rights Amendment and bankrolled her own campaign. That uppity profile gave the Gingrich forces an advertising message: “Newt will take his family to Washington and keep them together; Virginia will go to Washington and leave her husband and children in the care of a nanny.” Newt won by nine percentage points. One of his campaign officials tied his victory to the strategy of “appealing to the prejudice against working women, against their not being home.”

My point is not (only) to bag on Newt. But to just to give a different take on his comments. I don’t hear a lot of exploitation happening here. I hear genuine outrage about a kid getting murdered in cold blood. And I look forward to hearing where the exploitation is, cause my friends and I don’t see it.

JAMES: The exploitation is by everyone including the media in presenting this case in anything other than the facts. All have their own agenda and the media of any side is always interested in hyping interest to sell its papers, time or impressions. Other parties, candidates & individuals like Sharpton or Farrakhan simply interject their bias for their own purposes and agendas. None of whom were there as witnesses to the tragedy! That’s really what it is, because loss of a life for no real apparent purpose is just that and until anyone else has facts the rest is just plain conjecture.

Okay, so, as of this writing, that’s been the discussion so far. Now I would like to clarify my initial point, give you a few examples, and see where we go from there. But, before I do, let me give you a quick background on the players.

Rod and Carl are two gentlemen that I used to work with when I worked for Kinko’s. Some of the greatest people you will ever meet and have the opportunity to engage in a discussion with are Kinko’s people. Why? Because as a company they developed a culture of passion in the old days, one where we were encouraged to think for ourselves, express ourselves, and display said passion. Some of the most heated discussions I have ever had have been with Kinko’s folks, and at the end of the day we always embraced, respected (although no always agreed with) each other, and headed out to share a beer.

Chris, Stephen and James are gentlemen I went to high school and/or college with. Stephen was a couple years ahead of me, and while I didn’t know him well I was good friends with his brother. Both (he and his brother… as well as the rest of the family I guess) are very engaging and intelligent people. And tall. In the last few months Stephen and I have had some, shall we say “interesting” discussions on Facebook. James was a year ahead of me as well, and Chris, well Chris is something else (and that’s a good thing).

I consider Chris one of my dearest friends. He was one of my roommates in college, and I’d tell you more but I’m not sure the statute of limitations is up on some of those things. He is a remarkable human being, and the polar opposite of me in almost all things political. He lives in D.C., and his wife is a member of the Obama administration.

I think Chris also has an interesting perspective to bring to this conversation – should he choose to rejoin it – because he, like George Zimmerman – is a “White Hispanic” (seriously, when before this case have you ever heard that term?).

Okay, Okay – back to the discussion at hand, which was shameful liberal exploitation of this tragedy. I should also ad that my discussion on this will probably be viewed by some as uncaring towards Trayvon Martin or supporting George Zimmerman. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact those two words – the truth – is what I am really passionate about. Personally, I think the Sanford police flubbed the investigation, and this case really does need to be investigated and, if the evidence supports it, charges need to be filed. Once filed, if the evidence supports it, Zimmerman needs to be tried.

“Bob, what do you mean ‘If The Evidence supports it?’ Of course the evidence supports it, Zimmerman is Guilty”.  – And that, comments like that, are what I am talking about. It’s amazing how so many people – without all the evidence – are so certain of someone’s guilt or innocence. And hey, it’s okay for you, me, and the average Joe on the street to rush to judgment. Well, maybe it’s not really okay, but you, me and Joe aren’t exactly influencing large sections of the country, whereas the media is.

Despite this murder taking place over a month ago, it really started to build steam about 10 days ago or so, and that’s when I first heard about it. Unfortunately, my initial knowledge came during a short spring break vacation with my wife and daughter, when I had access to neither my computer or my satellite radio. All I knew was – according to the reports I was hearing – some white guy in Florida stalked and killed a black kid and got off Scott free.

Once I returned home and had my car (and satellite radio) again, I started listening to the political channels to get more. And as I am prone to do, I listened to mostly liberal stations, and heard basically the same story – white guy/black kid – from Bill Press, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, etc… I also listened to a number of African American commenter’s, to get their perspective.

I guess it was probably four or five days before I heard that Zimmerman was in fact Hispanic. Now why does that matter? Well, it shouldn’t, but since we are being told that this is a racially motivated crime, I found it funny that they were trying to hide one of the races involved. Of course Zimmerman has now gone on to be described as a “White Hispanic”. And I was serious when I asked before has anyone ever heard that term commonly used? I mean, Zimmerman does have a white father and a Hispanic (I believe Peruvian) mother, so yes, he is ½ white and ½ Hispanic. But think about it, has anyone ever heard anyone say “President Obama is a White Black”?

This is concern one, that the left so needs and wants this to be racially motivated that they have to be sure that “White” is predominantly displayed in the description. Sure, “mixed race” is a more common used term, but what is the mix? Nope, make sure they know he’s part White… all the better for our narrative.

And in fact Zimmerman could be a racist. He could have been motivated to go after Martin for nothing more than the color of his skin, and gunned him down in cold blood. And if that is true, then let him rot in a cell before he rots in hell.

Let’s stop for a minute and look at a few quotes from the press. Now keep in mind that every word I am reprinting hear COULD be 100% true. They could also be 100% false. The truth is, at this point we don’t know for sure, that’s why an investigation is needed. But my concern is that these quotes are presented in these reports as if they are facts, with no “an investigation into these allegations is still pending” type disclaimer added. Once again I’ll flip back and forth between Blue and Red to distinguish differing quotes, giving the source at the end of the quote:

Martin’s death “compromises the integrity of our legal system and sets a horrific precedent of vigilante justice,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in a statement. “As a nation we cannot, should not, and will not ignore, Trayvon’s brutal murder and the inconceivable fact that his killer remains free. … Trayvon had a family, friends and a future all taken away because of the color of his skin.” (Politico)

Before the shooting, Zimmerman, who has a weapons permit, told a police dispatcher there was “a real suspicious guy” who looked “like he was up to no good or on drugs or something” and looked to have “something in his waistband.” The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to approach the teen, but Zimmerman pursued Martin anyway. He chased Martin on foot and eventually shot him. (Politico)

How do we go from one state to 30? Who was the Typhoid Mary for this horrible outbreak? Try not to be surprised. It’s the usual suspects: the Koch brothers, the NRA, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Clinton vets, remember the Scaife family? Oh, yeah. These are the same people who stymied gun regulation at every point who funded and ghost write these laws and others that have become a core of the conservative agenda that is being implemented across our country. It’s the same group that also wrote the voter I.D. laws which threaten to disenfranchise some 5 million american voters, many of them African-American. (Karen Finney, MSNBC, discussing “Stand Your Ground laws)

The new Black Panther Party offered a bounty of $10,000 Saturday for the “capture” of a Florida neighborhood watch captain who killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin……“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” leader Mikhail Muhammad said after announcing the reward for George Zimmerman at a protest in Sanford, Fla……Muhammad called on 5,000 black men to mobilize and capture the neighborhood watch volunteer.

“If the government won’t do the job, we’ll do it,” Muhammad said, leading chants that included “freedom or death” and “justice for Trayvon.” The group hopes to collect $1 million off the outrage by next week.

New Black Panthers members pointed to what they called the inaction of government officials — from Sanford city officials up to the governor — and accused them of lying and delaying justice.

They (The New Black Panthers) also said Angela Corley, the newly appointed special prosecutor, was an enemy of the black community. “She has a track record of sending innocent young black men and women to prison,” Muhammad said.  (New York Daily News)

This is Treyvon Martin (holding up a picture of Martin). Trayvon Martin’s murderer is still at large. It’s been one month, thirty days, with no arrest. I want America to see this sweet young boy who was hunted down like a dog, shot in the street, and his killer is still at large.

Not one person has been arrested in Treyvon’s murder. I want to make sure that America knows that in Sanford, Florida, there was a young boy murdered. He is buried in Miami, Florida, and not one person has been arrested even though we all know who the murderer is. This was a standard case of racial profiling. No more! No more! We will stand for justice for Treyvon Martin. (Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida))

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Friday that he’s grateful the rest of the country has sat up and taken notice of the tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin …Then along comes the Trayvon Martin case, and facts that are not in contention: Volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman pursued and then gunned down the unarmed 17-year-old last month, and never faced arrest because police said there was no evidence to contradict his claim that he fired in self-defense.

He (Jackson) added: “Blacks are under attack.” African American families are facing record home foreclosures and unemployment. Their children are burdened with student loan debt. States, particularly conservative ones, are passing voter laws that leaders know will disenfranchise blacks and other minorities. Meanwhile, the nation’s prisons are brimming with black faces, he said, and their numbers that suggest that the legal system is quicker to send blacks to prison than whites.

“Our disparities are great,” he said. “Targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business.” (LA Times)

“So, when presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says that ‘really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. No habit of I do this, and you give me cash — unless it’s illegal,’” Finney said. “Or, Rick Santorum says, ‘I don’t want to make black people’s lives easier.’ Or Rush Limbaugh calls a presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, a ‘magic negro.’ Or Mitt Romney says nothing at all. The effect is dangerous, because they reinforce and validate old stereotypes that associate the poor and welfare as criminal behavior with African-Americans and people of color, calling us lazy undeserving recipients of public assistance.”

“In the case of Trayvon, those festering stereotypes had lethal consequences,” (Karen Finney, MSNBC)

Okay, so how do these comments back up my original claim that the left is rushing “ to cash in and exploit this tragedy for their own agenda”. Well, let’s look at some of them.

First, we have Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) saying that “ Trayvon had a family, friends and a future all taken away because of the color of his skin.” The truth is, we do not know at all if Martin was targeted because of the color of his skin. Sure, that could have been the case, and when you hear claims like these often enough it starts to feel like the truth. But while we are looking at what the media was reporting, it is also important that we look at what the media WASN’T reporting.

For example, in the initial days, the media wasn’t reporting that Zimmerman was Hispanic (or partial Hispanic). Now, that doesn’t mean that a Hispanic can’t be guilty of racism, of course he could be. They also failed to note that Zimmerman had several African American relatives, was mentoring a single African American mother of two, and helped raise funds for an all black church. Again, all of these facts can exist AND Zimmerman can still be a racist, but if you tell the whole story it makes pushing your agenda harder to do.

Next we have the Politico reporting this: .“The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to approach the teen, but Zimmerman pursued Martin anyway. He chased Martin on foot and eventually shot him. Now we know that the dispatcher did in fact tell Martin not to approach the teen, BUT Zimmerman’s own account basically has Martin approaching him at this point. Again, I am not saying that Zimmerman’s claim is correct or the Politico claim is false, BUT the fact is the Politico is reporting something as fact that has not been established as such.

And it’s easy to say at this point that “Well, this isn’t really pushing an agenda as much as it is shoddy journalism”, and I think that’s fair, but how does that explain a few of the other things. First, you have the New Black Panther Party. The article states “The group hopes to collect $1 million off the outrage by next week.” THAT is using a tragedy for personal gain, and that is disgusting. I also think that the whole $10,000 bounty and vigilantism of this group is sickening as well. Call for an investigation. Absolutely. But state ““If the government won’t do the job, we’ll do it,”” while at the same time accusing Zimmerman of being a vigilante, don’t you see the irony here?

And I want to give the New York Daily News a little credit here. They did, in this story include this line: “The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the New Black Panther Party, a black-separatist group created in 1989, “virulently racist and anti-Semitic.”

But let’s talk about Jesse Jackson for a minute. Jesse Jackson, just like Al Sharpton, are excellent at promoting what matters most to them, which just happens to be, well, Jesse Jackson (and Al Sharpton). When asked about the Black Panther pledge to put together a militia to “capture” (they had earlier released a “wanted” poster – dead or alive), did Jackson use this opportunity to denounce this call for violence and ask that calmer heads prevail? No, Jackson called it “A Distraction”. Serious Jesse, a call for violence is “a distraction”. Maybe that is why you are considered less and less significant as time goes on.

But Jesse chooses to use this tragedy to state that “Blacks are under attack.” He speaks of African American facing record home foreclosures, high unemployment and student loan debt. He attacks “conservative” states, claiming they are trying to “disenfranchise blacks and other minorities.”

Now, are these NOT issues? Of course they are, and they are very serious issues. But choosing to use a teenagers death to push your agenda is just creepy. And then, he ads this little gem: “Targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business.” And no one considers this exploitive?

And what about Karen Finney, who is described as a “MSNBC Contributor and Democratic Fundraiser” – Yeah, nothing but fair and objective there. She uses Trayvon’s death to attack Rush Limbaugh, The Koch Brothers, Santorum and Gingrich, and every other right-wing boogeyman. Fair? Well what would your take be if folks on the right tried to tie this tragedy to George Soros, Obamacare, Nancy Pelosi or Eric Holder. Well, my guess is you’d say that was ridiculous. And guess what… you’d be right, which explains the lunacy of Finney’s comments.

Now I can go on, but I think you get the picture. Like I said, this is a tragedy, and it needs to be investigated and acted upon. BUT, we all need to keep an open mind and let all the facts come out. And I am not in any way suggesting that there may have been circumstances that justify the killing of Trayvon. But what if, as Zimmerman states (and witness have partially collaborated), after he was told not to pursue Martin he was returning to his SUV when Martin approached and attacked him. Sure, still does not in any way justify the shooting of Martin, BUT it does change the narrative.

Oh one last thing. When it comes to exploiting a tragedy in the worse possible way, how do you ignore the Obama Re-election team putting their “Obama 2012” Hoodie on sale, and tweeting this information out. Now I’m not attacking the President here, I doubt he came up with this idea. But whoever did should be fired.

I do want to take a moment or two to address a couple of Stephen’s comments, but before I do that, let me explain the comment that I made to Stephen, accusing him of making a racist comment. Was I serious? Well, not really, BUT I was trying to make a point. Look, I think that Stephen’s comment was meant to be harmless, BUT in light of the topic, it was, well, insensitive.  No? You don’t think so?

Okay, let’s say that one of the republican candidates was out stumping, and a reporter said “What is your take on the Trayvon Martin tragedy”, to which they replied “What you talkin’ about Willis?”. The fact is, this is not a time for levity, and considering the tensions with race relations that this event has stirred, this is not only insensitive, it’s tacky.

And I want my liberal friends… hell, for all my friends, remember this instance next time you want to accuse someone of being a racist (or at the least making a racist comment). Most of the times that I have ever heard anyone accuse someone else of making a racist comment, they really haven’t. Oh, they may have used unfortunate wording, and there may have been a racial aspect to the comment, but that doesn’t make it racist. Sadly, I think this will be lost on most.

Okay, below are a few of Stephen’s comments (in red), and my responses:

I don’t see any opportunity to accuse either side of playing politics on this one by anyone other than the idiotic Republican candidates who tried to gain traction by condemning the president of the United States for his personal comments. : Well Stephen, hopefully now you can see an opportunity to see how in fact this was politicized. Yes, you are right, those slamming Obama for his comments are doing so for political gain, and that is shameful. BUT, if you still can’t see the horror on the left here, then you are just to blind – by choice – and I doubt I can have further discussions with you.
It seems to me that your evaluation of any political situation immediately boils down to whether or not you label it as ‘liberal’ or ‘left’, then crying foul if it seems that there might be some left-leaning bias, completely ignoring the blatant bias from the ‘conservative’ or ‘right’ side of the spectrum: Stephen, have you really listened to our past discussions? Show me where you have ever embraced a conservative idea? Hell, today (in one of your Facebook comments) you were bitching about Nixon for God’s sake. Let it go. But in our conversations I have mentioned my support for Gay Marriage and the repel of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” – not exactly republican cornerstones. I have also, in a previous conversation, supported the repeal of the Bush Tax Cuts (I guess they are now the Obama Tax Cuts, given he signed their extension), not only for the reach, but ALL of the cuts. I believe that we have a need to massively cut the size of our government, and while I believe that means addressing social programs, I also feel that one of the biggest opportunities for these cuts is in our military budget. I have also been a huge supporter of ending the war on drugs, and have been very vocal regarding the disparities in sentencing laws between black & white criminals.

I guess what I’m saying is that while I am a conservative, and I don’t apologize for that, I look at policies and situations on a case-by-case basis, and use my own logic, and understanding to support or oppose individual situations. Some of my support would be considered left-leaning, some would be considered right-leaning. Can you say the same?

Nobody walks in lock-step like the Republicans (their lack of compromise in Washington will be remembered as historic) : Our current congress – as well as many of the congresses in my lifetime – are flawed, heavily flawed. And yes, I think the republicans in the current house are obstructionists, just as the 110th congress, lead by the Democrats, were obstructionists. But assume that a bill, any bill, is brought up in the house, and it all of the Republicans vote one way, while all of the Democrats vote the other. In your mind, the Republicans would be voting “in lock-step” (a nice Nazi image, probably not unintentional), while all of the Democrats would be “banding together, voting in unity”. Truthfully, there is no difference. Do we need to see more compromise in Washington? Beyond a doubt, BUT compromise is not compromise if we only expect it from one side of the aisle.

I don’t see any liberal networks out there that are as big as Fox, nor as dedicated to a single political view: I don’t have the data to show how many viewers view each station, but I am willing to bet that the numbers for MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC and ABC far outnumber the numbers for Fox. Now, I am not saying that those stations swing as much to the left as Fox does to the right (with the exception of MSNBC), BUT they do lean left. Suppose that Fox averages 3 million viewers, and the other networks average 30 million. Now, suppose that on a scale of 1 to 100 – 1 being as liberal and bias as you can get, 100 being as conservative and bias as you can get – Fox scores an 80. Then, suppose that the other group scores an average of, oh, let’s say 43. Using this scale, Fox is about 4 times more bias than its competitors. BUT, take that 30 points above “neutral” and multiply it by 3 mil views, and you get 90 Million conservative “ticks”. Now, take the 7 points of left-leaning bias on the other group, multiply it by their 30 million viewers, you get 210 Million liberal hits, about 2-1/2 more than Fox.

Scientific? Nope, but all-in-all, the media as a whole is much more liberal than conservative. There are exceptions. Talk radio is much, much more conservative. Newspapers on a whole are much, much more liberal. Cable news? Well, I think Fox probably has as many or maybe even slightly more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined, so it probably skews more to the right. Network news. Not even close – HUGELY left-leaning, although again, not as left leaning as Fox, with its much smaller audience, is right leaning.

So this shows my support of Fox news, right? Nope, I don’t watch Fox news, don’t really care for it.

All jokes aside, was it really the “Don’t Shoot Unarmed Kids” agenda? : I must say this is hugely offensive and alarming. Your first use of this line I took at a (poor) attempt at humor. However, your second use – in which you start “All jokes aside”, leads me to believe that you might actually believe that I was initially bothered by this event because so many people were complaining about the shooting of Trayvon, and I was actually glad he got shot? Seriously Stephen, is there anything I have ever said in our dealings that make you feel I found joy in the death of this young man? If so, tell me so I can clarify my words. But, I believe that the case may be that you are so brainwashed in your thinking of what a conservative is, and so warped by the most extremist feelings on the left that you may believe this, and if so I feel truly sorry for you.

Again, despite the “all jokes aside” comment, I believe you thought you were trying to be humorous, and fell flat on your face.

In all of the coverage of this event, I have not heard one single person on the right express any level of delight that this boy was killed. Oh, I’m sure there are some truly sick racist bastards out there who think this is a hoot, but I am talking about conservative broadcasters, politicians, and pundits. At the same time, I have heard numerous politicians and broadcasters on the left accuse the right of not only supporting this kind of tragedy, but finding joy in it – despite the lack of any such signals from the right.

And this isn’t the first time. Whenever there is a racially tinged tragedy, the accusers from the left come out of the woodwork trying… Hell, HOPING for conservative support from the right. Seriously, what is it about the left that feels the need to paint people who display no racist tendencies as racist? And again, I am not saying their aren’t racists on the right (although I would suspect you would deny any racists on the left), there are, and racism is a disease that we need to address and eradicate. BUT, they way to do that is not to paint those that are trying to do the right thing as something they are not.

Okay, you’re turn…….

THIS JUST IN: Just as I was ready to post this, I found a new story regarding the case. It seems that George Zimmerman’s father did an interview earlier putting out George’s side of the story. I am going to reprint it hear in its entirety. Why? Not because I believe this is “the truth” – I am in no position to call this story true or false (neither are you). But, if true, or even partially true, it does shine a light on some of the comments from the left and how irresponsible and damaging they were, which was my original point.

And again, this story could be 100% bullshit, and in fact Zimmerman did actively hunt down and execute Martin. But stating as fact, as many of the reports have done, ANY side is journalism at its lowest.

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Zimmerman interview

By Valerie BoeyFOX 35 News

LAKE MARY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – For the first time since that fateful night on February 26, the father of a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager sat down for a television interview.

Robert Zimmerman, father of George Zimmerman, said he decided it was time to speak out for his son, against the advice of others. He shared with us what George said happened on the night that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin died.

“It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him,” the 64-year-old Robert Zimmerman said.

He said he felt his son has been portrayed in the wrong way. He also said he and his family have received death threats and asked that we not show his face on camera.

Because there has been a lot of break-ins in the area, Robert said George thought it suspicious that someone would not be walking on the street or the sidewalk on a rainy night that Martin would be walking between the town homes. He said after making those observations, his son decided to call the police.

“He called the non-emergency number first, and they asked him where he was, because he was at the rear of the town houses and there was no street sign,” said Robert.

Even though a dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Martin, his father said his son continued his pursuit to locate an address to give to police.

“He lost sight of the individual, he continued to walk down the same sidewalk to the next street, so he could get an address for the police,” he said.

“He went to the next street, realized where he was and was walking to his vehicle. It’s my understanding, at that point, Trayvon Martin walked up to him and asked him, ‘Do you have a [expletive] problem?’ George said, ‘No, I don’t have a problem,’ and started to reach for his cell phone… at that point, he (Martin) was punching him in the nose, his nose was broken and he was knocked to the concrete.”

Robert said Trayvon, “continued to beat George, and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.”

When asked about the screams for help which were heard on a 911 call, Robert replied, “All of our family, everyone who knows George, knows absolutely that is George screaming. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind.”

As for accounts from Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend, who claimed she was on the phone with Martin right before the altercation, he said, “I don’t believe that happened. I don’t believe she was on the phone with him, and I find it very strange with the publicity involved… that all of a sudden, after three weeks, someone would remember that they were on the phone.”

Zimmerman said he had faith in the FBI and others investigating the case and that the truth will come out.

Robert Zimmerman, a former magistrate judge and Vietnam War veteran, said he has never had to deal with anything of this magnitude.

“Unimaginable,” he said. “Tough was being in Vietnam and other things. This is way beyond anything I can imagine.”

He believes his son will be cleared of any wrongdoing, but has a message to all the critics out there.

“I’m sorry for the hate going around from the attorneys, from everyone involved. They’re just making up things no true about George.”

Really? So THIS Is What You Consider “Liberal Values”?

Look, despite ideologies, I try to avoid using the terms “Values” or “Morals” in my posts, mainly because A) folks have vastly different points of view as to what constitutes a value or a moral, and because B) it usually then strays into a conversation involving religion. And if you think folks have different opinions on the meanings of the two words, that’s nothing once you through religion into the mix.

And while some hard right conservatives think morals and religion go hand-in-hand, I tend to disagree. Yesterday when I was driving into work I heard a caller to a talk show state that those without religious convictions lack a “moral compass”. Why? Sure, I agree that God can provide a moral compass to his believers, but I also think that there are other forces at work that can provide a moral compass. What about your children? Don’t you have an oligation to them to lead a moral and ethical life? And even without children to lead, Why can’t one just WANT to lead a moral and just life?

And lets face it, many of those that preach the loudest about value and morality are among the worst violaters of what they preach.

But today, I want to briefly discuss “Liberal Values” – not liberal values as I see them, but as self-described liberals see them. Earlier today I came across a story about an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, that says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”.

Let me give you a moment to let that sink in. The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth.

And we’re not just talking about the killing of disabled children here. The authors concluded that “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.

And if that statement doesn’t send chills up your spine, Giubilini and Minerva also stated that it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.

So how did I determine that this kind of twisted, evil thinking constitutes “Liberal Values”? Oh, I didn’t. The journal’s editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, (under whom Giubilini and Minerva had studied) says those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

Now I don’t know what percentage of self-proclaimed liberals would consider the concept of “after-birth abortions” (God, what an evil concept) as one of “the very values of a liberal society”, but I can only hope that it is a small, small number. I look forward to my liberal friends proving the good professor wrong on this one, but should I get the silence I expect, I can only fear for what our society will beome. Or perhaps, has already become.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html

Why I Support Obama…

I’m certain that when most of my readers, at least those familiar with my politics and my past writings, saw the headline of today’s post as something of a surprise. And we’ll get into the meaning of this post in a couple of minutes, but first I want to share a couple of other things that may seem unrelated to this post, but in fact they are the foundation for it.

In October of 2010, I saw the following comment posted on several of my friends FaceBook pages: “This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays all in one month. It happens only once every 823 years.”

The first time I say that I thought “well that’s interesting“, and didn’t really give it a second thought. But then I started seeing this comment repeated time and time again, and something about it bothered me. Let’s see, what exactly needs to happen for October – or any month for that matter – to contain 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays? Two things. First, the month needs to have 31 days (which October does), and second, the month has to start on a Friday. Certainly we don’t have to go 800+ years for a month to start on a Friday. And the fact of the matter is, if a month starts on Friday, depending on leap years, the next time this can happen will be in as short as five years and as long as eleven. Not exactly 823 years.

And given that 7 different months have 31 days, the odds are that most years will have a month that has the “Phenomenon” of the three Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. So why did so many otherwise intelligent people buy into this hoax?

Okay, consider this. How many of you have seen something similar to this on Facebook recently: “Please share this post (which is usually a photo of an adorable toddler in a hospital bed). If we get 1,000 share, little Timmy will receive a free heart transplant.” Really folks? And again, I’m talking about otherwise intelligent folks passing this stuff along. And I get it, we want to believe that our “sharing” will help little Timmy – and I don’t fault people for having a heart – but can you really see the doctors going to little Timmy’s folks and saying “Jeez, I’m sorry, Little Timmy’s face book post only got 673 shares, so I’m afraid he’s going to die

The fact of the matter is we don’t look at these post critically. Too often we believe them because we WANT to believe them, which is why people are still giving their checking account numbers to that Nigerian Prince so he can deposit those millions, or passing on whatever the latest good luck chain e-mail was to ten of their friends so that they too will receive good luck.

And the same holds true in our political beliefs as well. Whether you are conservative or liberal you WANT to believe that your “team” is the good guys in the white hats riding in to save the country from the “other” team, whose only goal is to starve the elderly, poison our air and water, and exploit orphans. And because of that kind of lop-sided thinking, we are seeing more and more of this political “spam” being passed off as truth.

Last month I wrote a post describing a post from Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC that was making the rounds (https://planetofbob.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/how-stupid-do-this-people-think-we-are-and-more-importantly-how-often-are-they-right/) that did exactly what these other posts were doing: Putting out false, misleading information that painted one side as 100% pure, and the other side as 100% evil.

The latest meme to start making the rounds is titled “Why I Support Obama”, and is listed below:

 

The problem with this little campaign is that it’s a little too lop-sided, and a little too misleading. Now before I tackle some of these claims, let me say this: If you support Obama, if you think that he is the better choice compared to the Republican nominee, if he represents your ideals more than the “other guy”, then great. Campaign for him, donate to him, vote for him. I’m totally cool with that.

But again, I’m seeing WAY too many of my otherwise intelligent friends just bending over backwards to prove that this guy is in fact the second coming. And again remember that we are not talking about the “I support Obama, I’m gonna vote for him” folks. No, we’re talking about the “Obama is the best president this country has ever had, we need to amend the constitution so we can make him President-For-Life” folks. These folks are pretty much exactly like the folks that continue to this day to insist that George W. Bush was not just a good or acceptable President, but that he too was the greatest man to ever lead our country. In both cases we have some pretty delusional folks out there.

Look at the claims this photo makes: “For 30 years I’ve heard politicians talking about health care reform, and he’s the first one to do something about it. The affordable care act removes restrictions on pre-existing conditions, makes health care more affordable for small business, raises the age at which children can be on their parents policies, removes lifetime caps, and more. With the possible exception of insurance execs, who would not want these changes?”

Okay, well if you really want to re-elect Obama because he is the first politician to do something about healthcare, shouldn’t you really be considering Romney? After all, he did something about healthcare long before Obama. Heck, Obama’s plan is based on what Romney did. As for the lifetime caps, the pre-existing conditions, and some of the other parts of his plan, I think there great. But there is one key point here that these folks seem to miss: in no way did this law make healthcare more affordable. Did your premiums go down? Mine didn’t, and according to experts on the left and the right, this plan will not do anything to lower healthcare costs.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that healthcare before Obamacare was great. It was definitely broken and needed to be fixed – still does need to be fixed – I’m just not sold that this is the fix.

Next we have He ended the war in Iraq and is drawing the war in Afghanistan to a close. Like he said he would.” Okay, but again we leave out one little key piece of information. He “ended” the war in Iraq by following the timeline for the war’s end set forth by the previous administration. And I give him credit for sticking to Bush’s plan, but giving him the entire credit here is kinda like having your mom put together an entire casserole, and telling you to put it in the oven at 350 degrees at 4:00, and then claiming you made dinner. Nope, you followed the instructions that were left for you.

He thinks women should have access to free preventative healthcare. Why is this still an issue?” Why do so many folks not understand that there is no such thing as “Free” when it comes to anything coming out of Washington? Now I’m not really rallying against this statement, because I too think that women should have access to preventative healthcare. You might be surprised to find out I think that men should have access to healthcare as well. But why should it be free? I think that everyone should have access to meals and shelter as well. Should that be free too? Look, we need to have systems in place to make sure that those that cannot afford this care get it, but by making such care free for all you are asking the government to pay for people who are more than capable of paying for it themselves, just adding to our debt.

And while this campaign piece doesn’t get into the whole “contraception/religious rights” issue that is brewing right now, let’s address it anyway. Folks, I am a huge proponent of contraception. I think that we need to educate our kids on contraception, and we need to make it readily available. I’m not totally buying into the president’s mandate that all insurance companies supply birth control without cost or co-pay, mainly because I’m not sure that the government should be in the business of making such demands from private businesses. But all-in-all this is not a big issue for me, because I do believe that contraception needs to be available.

At the same time, I do not agree with the Catholic Church’s stance that birth control is a sin. BUT, the fact of the matter is, this is their stance, and requiring Catholic services to provide birth control when this goes against their teachings is just wrong, whether I believe in that stance or not. I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a religious person, but despite that I do believe in religious freedom, even if I am not a believer in the particular religion. We’ve been hearing the left for years shout about the need to keep religion out of government. Okay, I get that, but shouldn’t the same be true for keeping government out of religion.

Moving on: “He believes in equality for all people and signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy

Let’s address these two points separately, First, I applaud his stance on equal pay for equal work. Good for him, no issues here.

But when it comes to “don’t ask, don’t tell” Obama did not end this policy, the Supreme Court did. And, it was based on a case brought forward by a REPUBLICAN group (see “Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America”). But I’m not going to try to convince you that the reality is the right is more supportive of gay rights than the left is. That’s just not true, although I believe the right is slowly coming around on this issue. But again, this is not a black & white issue. Remember, the evil “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was put in place by Democrat Bill Clinton. It was also Bill Clinton who signed the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between a man and a women. And keep in mind that Obama has said that he too believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman, although he is “evolving” on this issue. Personally, I feel that Obama probably never really had an issue with Gay Marriage, but has campaigned that he believed in DOMA to get the votes of middle America. In other words, in all likelihood he may have thrown the gay population under the bus for political gain. Then again, maybe not. One of the key reasons Prop 8, banning gay marriage in California, passed in 2008 (but has since been found unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court) was because of the high African American voter turnout for Obama, the same African American vote that went decisively for Prop 8.

He is promoting and investing in clean energy jobs. Finally”. Okay, I like clean energy, and I definitely think we need to be investing in and looking for alternative fuel sources. And as we all know, not a single dollar was invested in these fields prior to Obama, right? Or is it just that the left wants to pretend that was the case. And we all know that the President’s interest in this area is purely for the good of the country, right. I mean sure, the Washington Post reported this week that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing has flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers. Not like this is anything new, and certainly I’m not saying the republicans hands are clean in these kinds of dealings, but I guess that when you’re dealing with solar or wind over gas or coal, the corruption is somewhat more acceptable. I mean hey, when these shady deals were made to benefit Halliburton all hell broke loose, but the same shit happens with Solyndra, and the left is more than happy to look the other way. And why shouldn’t they, Solyndra certainly did their part in following the “suggestion” from the White House that they hold off announcing their bankruptcy until after the 2010 elections.

He supports education by giving more flexibility to No Child Left Behind (thank you!) and by making college aid more available.” Now I certainly don’t think that “No Child” was by any means a success. I applaud Bush for trying to do something to improve education, I just think that this was a short-sighted “solution”, and I think that, just as President Obama has stated, it needs to be tinkered with, if not outright tossed and started over. (side note: check out Clinton’s education “solution” while he was governor of Arkansas, and show me what parts are not identical to “No Child”. I’m betting you can’t. My point? Bad ideas come from both sides of the aisle.)

Personally, I’d be more willing to give Obama more credit here if under his administration D.C. hadn’t cancelled its voucher program, a program that on every level was a huge success. Well, there was one level where it wasn’t, and that was in showing the massive flaws of the teacher union bureaucracies.  But the bottom line is I think it’s too soon to give Obama a passing or failing grade on education, and I have hope that he can make some movement here in the right direction. I also want to take a moment to thank all my liberal friends for acknowledging a massive increase in per-student funding – 60% – during the last administration. Oh wait, they didn’t….

He thinks millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us. Really, this is a no brainer”. Guess what? I believe the exact same thing, but, as Paul Harvey was fond of saying, “here is the rest of the story…”

You see, with a few exceptions, these millionaires and billionaires that are not paying their fair share of taxes, are not in fact doing anything illegal. They are paying little to no taxes (in some cases) because the current tax code ALLOWS for them to do so. And increasing the top margins from 35% to 40% isn’t going to do a damn thing if the overall system isn’t changed and these loopholes still exist.

And to be fair, Obama has addresses some of these loopholes, but the fact is it’s basically just been lip service. No, real reform is needed, and you’re not likely to get that real reform when business leaders like Jeffrey Immult, CEO of GE earns $13 mil. a year while his company pays ZERO taxes – and Mr. Immult is one of Obama’s top advisors. Kinda like getting Col. Sanders to head up PETA.

And let’s not forget that President Obama actually EXTENDED the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which in effect makes them the Obama Tax Cuts, doesn’t it? You can argue that he HAD to extend them, that the republicans were forcing him to, but at the time Obama had majorities in the House and the Senate. Don’t believe that lie, he didn’t have to do anything of the kind. Yep, the right was making it tough for him, but in fact once again we see Obama abandoning his principles.

And let me take a moment to say that in no way am I saying that the right has a better track record on taxes. They are a joke here as while. Me? I’ve been on record as saying that Obama SHOULD let the Bush tax cuts expire, not just for the top earners, but for all. Doesn’t that mean that I would then be paying higher taxes? Sure it does, but unlike my friends on the left, I feel that I too should be made to take a role in the country’s recovery. I’m not looking to just have the “other people” pay the price.

Despite inheriting one of the worst economic messes since the Great Depression, he added 2.6 million private sector jobs to our economy, and indications are that the economy is slowly improving. To anyone who thinks it’s been too slow – don’t you know you can’t turn the Titanic around in a day?”

This is the one I’ve been waiting to get to. Let me ask you a basic, simply math question. If you had 7.2% unemployment at the beginning of your term, and now you have 8.3% (after going over 10%), how is that ADDING jobs?

I tried to copy a graphic over from “barackobama.com”, but I was having trouble doing so, but I want you to go look at the chart that Obama himself put out: You can find it here: http://www.barackobama.com/jobsrecord

It shows job loss during the last couple of  Bush years, followed by month by month loss numbers in the early Obama term, trending up until, starting in March of 2010 we actually see monthly job growth numbers. It’s good news, it really is. Sure, we’re not seeing fast enough growth, but we are seeing growth.

But here’s the kicker: If you go through month-by-month on Obama’s own chart, and add up the lost jobs from the beginning of his term until March 2010, you’ll get 4,492,000 lost jobs. Then, if you add up the jobs added since March of 2010, you get 3,663,ooo jobs. Now I know that I went to public schools, so my math may be wrong, BUT I’m pretty certain that, using Obama’s own numbers, we are still 829,000 jobs in the red. So where does the 2.6 million added jobs come from? Well folks, this is Washington we’re talking about, so who really knows.

But the bottom line is, there are fewer Americans working today than there were when Obama took office. Is that his fault? I’m not saying that. I’m sure his policies have cost some folks their jobs, and his policies have created some jobs. But, the percentage of Americans working right now is at its lowest point since the 30’s. Sorry folks, Obama has not added jobs.

And again, I’m not blaming him, I’m just showing that, one of the facts you use to tout the reason to re-elect Obama is a lie, plain and simple.

And whoever created this inspirational piece was 100% right, you can’t turn the Titanic around in a day (yeah, I know, it’s a crappy analogy, given the Titanic actually sunk, and no one was going to turn it around. But let’s go with it) But, if you want to turn it around, a better plan would have been to steer away from the iceberg, not further into it.

Now I could give you dozens and dozens of reasons why I don’t think the president deserves a 2nd term, starting with all of his failed campaign promises, but I’m not here today to try to persuade you to vote for anyone in particular. The truth is, Obama actually could be the best choice of whatever the field ends up being, at least between the two major parties. Me, I’m not committing to anyone just yet, although I still support Dr. Paul. I’m just pretty sure he’s not going to get the nod – America’s not smart enough to realize they have a solution right in front of them. No, I’ll more than likely do what I’ve done in the last two presidential election: vote third party. Sure, I’m aware that my man (or woman) won’t win, but I’ve never bought into that whole “you’re throwing your vote away” crap. You see, I don’t see how having principles and then sticking to them is such a bad thing.

No, like I said in the beginning, I just couldn’t figure out how otherwise intelligent people were buying this obvious falsehoods and misrepresentations, and furthermore, why they would put their names to such fiction. But you know, I think I’ve figured it out: They’re not trying to convince you and me to vote for Obama… they’re trying to convince themselves.

Obama’s “Read My Lips” Moment, And Why It Should – But Won’t – Matter

“Read My Lips: No New Taxes”. Anyone familiar with modern American politics knows that that phrase, spoken by then Vice-President George H.W. November. And his failure to stick to that pronouncement is one of the main reasons that he was not re-elected four years later.

Now a politician not living up to his campaign promises is nothing new. As a matter of fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a politician who didn’t go against some of the promises that he or she made during their election. So why would Bush’s failure to live up to his “No new taxes” pledge be any different? Why? Because it wasn’t just the fact that Bush made that pledge, but the manner in which he made it. It was the “Read My Lips”, followed by the solemn, stern manner in which he made his pronouncement, that made his failure to live up to that promise so much more serious.

And now, President Obama has had HIS “Read My Lips” flub, and I’m willing to bet that it hardly rates a blip in the political circles. And it’s not like Obama hasn’t already backpedaled on several of his campaign promises. He promised to close Gitmo, and not only hasn’t but has now added that he will house Americans there. The man who campaigned against both the Patriot Act and the Bush tax cuts has extended both. But one of the cornerstones to his first campaign was the fact that Barack Obama would not let corporate-moneyed interests affect his campaign. And this wasn’t just another one of those off-the cuff campaign remarks, he was serious. Dead serious.

In a 2007 campaign stop in Iowa then-Senator Obama railed against outside groups and their influence in an election, stating that someone “can’t be against them one day and for them the next. (December 22, 2007). In this clip he talks about John Edwards and a group supporting him that is “getting around campaign finance laws.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bB_OnZJazkw

You can’t say yesterday you don’t believe in them and today you have three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you,” Obama said.

You can’t just talk the talk,” Obama told an audience during the campaign event. “The easiest thing in the world is to talk about change during election time. Everybody talks about change at election time. You’ve got to look at how do they act when it’s not convenient, when it’s harder.”

Well President Obama, it looks like it is no longer convenient, that it is in fact harder. and we ARE looking at how you act.

Remember those words, and then read this New York Times (not exactly FOX News) article from two days ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/politics/with-a-signal-to-donors-obama-yields-on-super-pacs.html?_r=1&hp):

The above link gives you the entire article, I’ll give you the highlights here:

Obama Yields in Marshaling of ‘Super PAC’ By JEFF ZELENY and JIM RUTENBERG Published: February 6, 2012

WASHINGTON — President Obama is signaling to wealthy Democratic donors that he wants them to start contributing to an outside group supporting his re-election, reversing a long-held position as he confronts a deep financial disadvantage on a vital front in the campaign.

The Republican National Committee sharply criticized the decision. A spokesman, Joe Pounder, declared: “Yet again, Barack Obama has proven he will literally do anything to win an election, including changing positions on the type of campaign spending he called nothing short of ‘a threat to our democracy.’”

You see, this is not a matter of political convenience, a matter of compromise. This is a matter of principle, and Obama is showing us that, instead of the man of principle he told us he was, in reality he is just another Washington politician. I think one of the things that makes this so much more than just politics as usual. Think back to the elections of 2010. 49 democratic incumbents lost their bid for re-election that November night, many of them because they voted for the unpopular healthcare bill. They knew it was risky at best and quite possibly political suicide to vote for that bill, and yet they did. They did so because they knew in their hearts that to them it was the right thing to do. They stood by their principles, and paid the price.

Consider Former Democratic congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, a Catholic from Erie, Pennsylvania, who cast a crucial vote in favor of Obamacare in 2010. A vote that was only cast after she was assured that federal funds would not go to fund abortion, something that her heavily Catholic district felt strongly about. And now this week, after Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services said they would require all private insurers, including Catholic charities and hospitals, to provide free coverage of contraception, sterilization procedures, and the “week-after” pill “ella” that can induce early abortions, Dahlkemper has come out and stated that she was betrayed, that had she known Obama would do this, she would have never put her political life on the line. She stood up for principle, not only her own, but those of her president. Except now we know that her president – our president – has no principles.

But sadly, I don’t think it will matter in the general election. Bush I lost his election because enough of his supporters knew they could no longer support a man who goes back on his principles. Obama supporters, at least the ones that I’ve been talking to, don’t seem to grapple with those same moral dilemmas, and I doubt that anything I have to say would change their minds, so I won’t even try. But I have to wonder if they would be willing to listen to the voice of one of their own, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

ROBERT REICH: Obama Has Handed The Election Over To The Super Rich

It has been said there is no high ground in American politics since any politician who claims it is likely to be gunned down by those firing from the trenches. That’s how the Obama team justifies its decision to endorse a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums for his campaign.

Baloney. Good ends don’t justify corrupt means.

I understand the White House’s concerns. Obama is a proven fundraiser – he cobbled together an unprecedented $745 million for the 2008 election and has already raised $224 million for this one. But his aides figure Romney can raise almost as much, and they fear an additional $500 million or more will be funneled to Romney by a relative handful of rich individuals and corporations through right-wing super PACS like “American Crossroads.”

The White House was surprised that super PACs outspent the GOP candidates themselves in several of the early primary contests and noted how easily Romney’s super PAC delivered Florida to him and pushed Newt Gingrich from first-place to fourth-place in Iowa.

Romney’s friends on Wall Street and in the executive suites of the nation’s biggest corporations have the deepest pockets in America. His super PAC got $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of last year, including million-dollar checks from hedge-fund moguls, industrialists and bankers.

How many billionaires does it take to buy a presidential election? “With so much at stake” wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the Obama campaign’s blog, Obama couldn’t “unilaterally disarm.”

But would refusing to be corrupted this way really amount to unilateral disarmament? To the contrary, I think it would have given the President a rallying cry that nearly all Americans would get behind: “More of the nation’s wealth and political power is now in the hands of fewer people and large corporations than since the era of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. I will not allow our democracy to be corrupted by this! I will fight to take back our government!”

Small donations would have flooded the Obama campaign, overwhelming Romney’s billionaire super PACs. The people would have been given a chance to be heard.

The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn’t go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn’t need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn’t even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.

And now he’s made a total mockery of the Court’s naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC, and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the super PAC.

One Obama adviser says Obama’s decision to endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect. “Our donors get it,” the official said, adding that they now want to “go fight the other side.”

Exactly. So now a relative handful of super-rich Democrats want fight a relative handful of super-rich Republicans. And we call that a democracy.

Read more: http://robertreich.org/post/17251255054#ixzz1lqPIlCV5

Looking For Ideas Folks……

Well, the last couple of posts regarding the Lawrence O’Donnell piece have really sparked some discussion, with almost 1,500 hits – by far the largest number of hits any posts at this quiet little blog has gotten. But I think we’ve pretty well run that sucker dry, with those “opposed” to my take just repeating the same old spin, spin that didn’t stick real well the first time around, and certainly isn’t sticking after it’s been brought up for a 10th time. But all in all I think we had some real good discussion on both sides of this issue, and that is after all what I hope to achieve here, some honest discussion that is almost impossible to find elsewhere. Unlike the cowards, we actually welcome all viewpoints here.

And now dear readers, I’d like to through the planet into your court. I have a couple of ideas of discussions I wouldn’t mind having, but lets see if there is any lingering discussion out there that you want to have. Any ideas? And remember, I’m looking for honest discussions and an opportunity to throw around some ideas here, not just a vehicle to bash one side or the other. So, any ideas dear reader?