Days of Thaw

Days of Thaw

The True American:
According to the by-laws and edicts of today’s neoconservative, to truly be patriotic one must be Christian in good standing with an affiliated evangelical church, bow to an hierarchy of male authority, own guns, do not voice one word of protest against a right-wing government or policy whether it be local, state or federal. There’s still more…irregardless that most established Americans have an immigrant heritage background, there is no way current immigrants (primarily Latinos or those of other faiths) could bestow allegiance to the U. S. One must separate one’s self wholly from ones in need, promote corporate infiltration into government legislation (as corporations have individual rights just as any real person would) and list any social program in a democracy as socialism. The worst case scenario though is to be liberal in thinking. If you are a ‘progressive’ (the trending term liberals are now going under for some reason), under the neoconservative belief there is no way one can be patriotic to his or her country.

This is nicely made-up and make-believe fairy dust, but it puts the right-wing right into a genuine hypocritical grip. I have heard TV evangelical preachers actually say to his lonely and fixed-income viewing audience that, “Jesus wants you to send your money to me where I can further spread the Gospel.” To be Christian simply means to be Christ-like. Unfortunately, today’s American mainstream moral majority has drifted from behaving as the one they claim they actually follow. Nowhere, but nowhere, did Jesus say to give to the richest. If he truly reads his Bible that TV preacher should be handing over income to his fixed-income listener, not the other way around. With the multitude of New Testament verses such as Mark 10:25, Matt. 5:3, 6:24 Luke 6:20, 24, 16:13, 18:25 & Rev. 3:14-22, Jesus was not only for the poor, but more intently for the destitute.

Jesus clearly expected the wealthy to be generous to the poor. To him it truly was a grave sin to cloak the eyes with disguised indifference towards the poor or those currently in need. Yet, the moral conservative right is doing exactly that. Today’s conservative prevailing mantra is I want to horde the money I work for and definitely do not like even handing a smidgen of it over to someone who’s less fortunate.

In their minds, the wealthiest among us should be able to hang onto their wealth with the aid of subsidies, loopholes and tax breaks, while all social programs should be the first to be deleted in paying down the national debt, no matter the time these programs are most needed during this recessive hold on unemployment and lost sense of self-dignity.

Literally, the righteous among us bar the doors to keep the less fortunate as distant from them as possible. To underscore the idea that we are all in this together needs to be further scrutinized. For no matter your monetary standing, we have relied heavily on each other from taxation to charitable donations.

I once played football all my preteen and teen life, even a stint in college into adulthood.  The one thing that stuck with me throughout all the experiences of trials and jubilations on the field is that in order for the team to succeed, when one was down and hurt, you had to pick up the slack and get him through his rough time. You did this for you knew he would do exactly the same for you when it becomes your time of having to play with pain along with its disadvantages thwarted your way.

In my simple-mindedness, I view Americans as all on one team, not as separated into political parties. Since the days of Tom Delay, the former Republican House majority leader, where he insisted that Democrats were the enemy of the U.S., Republicans took off on that embellishing its extension to anyone who’s liberal in thinking. If Delay truly wanted to confront an enemy of America, someone should have shipped his happy little fanny-perpendicular to the Khyber Pass situated between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There, he could have confronted the real enemy of America and there he could really afford his tail to be jacked between his legs in seeing what a true enemy of America is actually like.

To truly be patriotic it is a civic duty to aid your fellow man when he/she is in time of need.

No longer in a team player analogy, America has become divisive, but why is that? There are many areas to point the finger at, but without a doubt, it is the firm hold that right-wing conservatism has placed on the Republican mantle. No matter how the right will scoff, it is one of the top seeded reasons of divisive concern in this country. It is simply too self-serving…too extreme.

Throwing Dirt:
From the moment Obama won the election, Mitch McConnell, Republican senate minority leader bunched all his Republican senator colleagues into a closed room office, not to discuss ways to get the country out of its worst recession, but how to get Obama out of office through obstructionism.

From that very same moment President elect Obama was celebrating his inauguration, on January 20, 2009 Republicans from the house and senate met in a secret conference to discuss ways not on how to get corporations to employing Americans again, but yet again on how to defeat the new president.

Attendees from the House of Representatives were, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), Paul Ryan (WI), Pete Hoekstra (MI), Pete Sessions (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Kevin McCarthy (CA) and Dan Lungren (CA). From the senate, Senators attending were, John Ensign (NV), Tom Coburn (OK), Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ) and Bob Corker (TN).

Outside of holding an office, but deeply entrenched inside the political realm, in attendance also was Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and strategist. Who would ever know why, but none other than Newt Gingrich was in the meeting too.

The agendas set down from the meeting were one, to go after Tim Geithner, Obama’s newly inducted Secretary of the Treasury. Indeed, Kyl immediately did the very next day in constantly harassing Geithner with ill-conceived questions and smug remarks during his confirmation hearings.

Of course, throughout Obama’s term we witnessed the other agendas to ‘relentlessly jab Obama’ and show united and unyielding Republican opposition to Obama policies, in particularly economic policies.

After the meeting, as Newt was leaving he hollered out to reporters, “You’ll remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”

During the debt ceiling debates this past August when Republicans nearly let the country default on its loans and payroll, Michelle Bachmann, who at the time was actually running for the office of the presidency, said at a National Press Club speech that she would not vote for raising the debt ceiling where the U.S. could meet its obligations and further ranted on that if indeed the country does default, it is due to the Obama presidency. 

It is quite odd that Republicans can blame the Obama administration for not getting us out of a Republican induced recession and financial crisis soon enough, while all along the way of Obama’s attempts at seriously pulling the country out of its woes, Republicans are intentionally stonewalling and obstructing the recovery. Then they have the audacity to point out Obama’s economic recovery policies aren’t working fast enough.

This, at the expense of working together in aiding all Americans and therefore the country, it is in the GOP-DNA ambition to pledge allegiance to a particular party which just so happens to be called Republican. Power and wealth appears to have conjured an annulment to decent diplomacy, compromise and the whole good of the American people.

This rich man private club mentality has leached towards complacency and neglect for the fellow man. That is one main cause for the fall of the American middleclass. It is one of the main divisive strokes.

A farmer in his freshly plowed field picks up a handful of soil and says this is good. He carries that same handful of soil with him into the house then throws it on the kitchen table. His wife then proclaims this is not good. To take anything from this is that political legislation is essential in a democracy, but it is where, what, when and how it is implemented that makes it pertinent or improper. Tax cuts for the rich or relief for the financially burdened middleclass? Throwing soil is not the problem, but its final landing is…good earth or just plain dirt…

Sparkle in Someone Else’s Eyes:
To reach out beyond your inner circle and give an uplifting hand to a stranger I must say is less done by us all than it is. It’s human nature to place more importance on the ones closer to you than those that aren’t. To give up one of your kidneys to a dying close relative most probably would be an instant decision to perform the surgery and organ donation. To give up a kidney to a total stranger or even a distant relative, there would be pause to reflect more on the final decision with “no” most likely being the final outcome. For some, even voluntarily donating an organ to a stranger beforehand after their own untimely death, is frowned upon. 

This thought of protecting your own to a great extent is a good thing, for it promotes the familial institution providing us with survival strategies that has maintained us as a species throughout the millennia in family or clan groups. But to a degree, it made us wary of others, even though we were of the same species. We concentrated on the few differences, such as ethnicity, instead of the vast human similarities, thus developing mistrust. From this, we have warred for resources, cultural gain and religious dominance; doing our best to negate diversity within the fold whether unknowingly or knowingly.

America became the great experiment for diversity within mankind to excel instead of being thwarted. The vast melting pot of cultures, societies, ethnicities and religions came together in this grand American experiment with in-placed guarantees of freedom to express the greatest ideas, methods, ways & means to achieve the best in us as a democratic majority. With corrective measures installed by the founding fathers by means of amendments, no one group could overtake another politically, morally or religiously. In the end, we all remained as one.

Ultra-conservatism is taking that founding concept away in America that was bestowed upon us. Today, no one can argue that the center of gravity in the GOP has shifted far to the right. Centrist Republican politicians are losing in primaries such as Senators Robert Bennett (UT) and just this week, Richard Lugar (IN) to more extremist politicians.

The newer elements in the GOP are ideologically extreme, scorns compromise (preferring instead to pursue self-principle) and dismisses any factual content that might arise from scientific evidence or technological understanding. The reasoning for the conflicts with their beliefs. When one group strays this far from the centrist mainstream, it virtually makes it impossible to direct legislation constructively in addressing the country’s immediate concerns. Just look at the results of congressional progress in tackling America’s ills these past few years. Well you cannot, for there are none unless you count the destructive filibustering and obstructionism that has actually worsened America’s standing in not getting things done in congress.

I’m tiring of hearing the over used justification that, “Both sides do it.” Since the post McGovern Democrats, the Donkey Party has been more diverse from liberal to blue Democrat ideology. Since Bill Clinton’s era many reforms on social programs have actually shrunk these welfare agencies, not expanded them. On the other hand, right leaning programs have proliferated in decreasing financial institution regulations, augmenting corporate subsidies, increasing the defense budget and lowering taxes for the wealthy. Obama himself, whom the right insists is the most socialistic president this countrys ever had, has enacted multiple entitlement cuts, proposing even more and has offered tort reform and signed several free trade agreements; all staunch Republican mandates.

When you have one growing group so far out on the limb from the main trunk, the search for legislative common ground becomes untenable.

Since President Obama’s election, in unanimous opposition, whether it be on financial stabilization, economic recovery, affordable healthcare or presidential appointments, Republicans in both houses have vehemently opposed every Obama initiative whether they were popular with the populace or not. They even barricaded the nomination of a director to the post of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for reasons in not that they felt he was unqualified. No, it was to prevent him from implementing regulatory laws to the financial system to ensure another financial crisis of the 2008 kind is avoided for future generations to contend with and to enforce regulations that were already in place. 

This GOP partisanship even led to America’s first credit downgrade last year. Standard & Poor (S&P) announced the downgrade due strictly to the fact of “political brinkmanship.” S&P expressed the partisanship debate over the debt on behalf of Republican politicians made the abilities of the U.S. government to manage its finances, “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” Of Course Republicans in congress, who are masters at conjuring up woes only to throw the blame on someone else, laid all fault on the credit downgrade squarely on Obama’s shoulders because it happened on his watch. It’s like a grown kid getting into all sorts of trouble but when caught, blames all his guilty deeds and juvenile delinquent actions on his parents.

Using power to nullify duly enacted laws and to paralyze government in general simply because the sitting president isn’t liked by them should be criminal. These elected officials were put into office to uphold legislated laws and do for the greater good, not to hold power grabs and instigate grudge matches.

What sums up best the current GOP mentality is Richard Murdouch’s philosophy. Murdouch is the upcoming Republican who has just handily defeated Lugar in the Republican senate primary in Indiana.

After winning in the primary results, he was interviewed this Wednesday (05/08/2012) on Fox & Friends. When asked about his unrelenting partisanship, he said in a serious tone, “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” Mourdouch, if he truly feels that way, is a narrow-minded idiot in running for political office in a representative democracy. That isn’t bipartisanship…thats authoritarianism…

The utmost in absurdity can only explain how Republicans are currently functioning in legislation. In early 2009 there were eight Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan healthcare bill reform plan. By early 2010, all eight Republicans had turned down their own reform bill with GOP fingerprints all over it in amendments simply because they wanted the greatest distance from appearing even remotely receptive to Obama’s health reform initiative. One of them, Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) was asked by the Washington Post’s, Ezra Klein why did he abandon the reform bill after all the work, effort and taxpayer’s dime was put into its completion and his response was, “I liked it because it was bipartisan, (but) I wouldn’t have voted for it.” Do you find any logic in that? I certainly don’t.

Keith Poole of the University of Georgia and Howard Rosenthal of New York University have published results of a decades long evaluation. They meticulously charted ideological shifts and swings in American politics going back to the eighteenth century. In their conclusions, it is the GOP that has swung the most and not only so far to the right, but intransigently so. Today the GOP is more right-winged and polarized than has been recorded in over a century.

The objective statistical methodology that the two scientists incorporated showed an ideological movement for both the main parties, but by far the graph of Republican conservatism has rapidly shifted to more extreme extensions where Democrats have actually reversed the leftist trend and are moving back more towards the centrist neutral zone ever since the late 1980s.

Ronald Reagan got legislation pushed through congress because he had blocks of moderate Democrats to act upon America’s behalf and not just solely the party. Obama has had to fight tooth and nail in passing water-downed legislation because he has blocks of conservative Republicans that do not act on behalf of America, but instead devote loyalty to a party.

The Republican Party is evolving and it’s changing rapidly from a traditional political entity into a fashioned cult, almost apocalyptic if you will with a very narrow lens to view from in ideology.

How Hard is the Rock:
For many millions of Americans, the damage from the recession runs through some very deep, wide and rapid water. It is vexing enough to keep a head above water, much less swim to safety with family members in tow.

If you are one of those that lost his or her job during this bad fall in the economy, then you understand perfectly well the above statement. Unfortunately, most Republican politicians do not.

Just listen to the current Republican rhetoric. Newt Gingrich this past November said of the Occupy Wall Street movement, “Go get a job after you take a bath,” then took an heir fuehrer bow to the applauding Wall Street Republican audience he was addressing. Although it is interesting to note that when Gingrich was a college student, he begged his parents to support him where he wouldn’t have to work and later, once he was married, insisted his first wife work in supporting him through graduate school only to divorce her for another woman once he graduated.

At the end of last month, State Attorney General, Robert McKenna, who is running as a Republican for the governorship of Washington, was being tracked down by a young female activist on a downtown sidewalk. She asked him his stance on how he would vote on the Reproductive Parity Act, a bill that would expand insurance coverage for abortions in the state insurance plan as long as the plan covers maternity care as well. Without answering her question and also without hesitation simply replied, “Get a job.” Actually she has a job in running youth empowerment programs at the local YMCA.

Just this past Sunday on May 06, the Republican Maine governor, Paul Lepage delivered a rather torrid speech at the Maine Republican Convention when he demanded of the unemployed, “Get off the couch and get yourself a job” If he only knew that it’s easier said than done.

All Republicans in the 2010 elections primarily ran on the platform of repealing ‘Obamacare’ and creating jobs. They won picking up seats in the senate and taking over the majority rule in the house.

As the new speaker, John Boehner claimed the sole goal of Republicans is to create jobs when he proclaimed, “We’re going to have a relentless focus on creating jobs.”

2010 rolled by with no new bill produced by House Republicans for job creation. 2011 rolls by with no house bill resolutions, much less bill passages for job creation. We’re well into 2012, but still with no jobs bill legislated and passed by Republicans.

Oh, they’ve done their best in attempting to hamper the new healthcare bill’s implementation, adding amendments to the bill to gut it and have introduced legislation to repeal it; even calling it unconstitutional.

To give their due, Republicans have passed house bills such as the worst transportation bill that Secretary of Transportation, Ray Lahood, a Republican himself said he’s ever seen. His words, “This is the most partisan transportation bill I have ever seen. And it also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen. It hollows out our No. 1 priority, which is safety, and frankly, it hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we’ve been about for the last three years.” LaHood finally adds “It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”

They’ve also argued on how to enhance hunting, fishing and shooting, but no job push. They’ve voted twice to end Medicare. They’ve held hearings to cut federal employees benefits, and tried to redefine pizza as a vegetable and exactly how ‘aircraft’ should be defined.

Heck, Republicans even had the time to propose a bill to keep welfare recipients out of casinos and strip joints and liquor stores and take drug tests. They reaffirmed “In God We Trust” and attempted wholeheartedly to defund NPR, but still couldn’t find the time to seriously pass a jobs bill.

Boehner will tearfully well up and tell you that his Republican House has passed 30 something jobs bills. They’re ‘something’ alright, but that something certainly isn’t jobs bills. An example is HR 3606 titled as, ‘Jumpstart Our Business Startups JOBS Act.’ To insiders it’s better known as ‘Reopening American Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act’ and is exactly that in relating to markets, for it is strictly a financial market tool for deregulation. It has nothing to do with creating jobs except in name only.

There is a certified jobs drought out there, but Republicans tend to think that is not the case, but rather it is the middle class and poorer worker who simply don’t want a job for they would rather sit on their cans and collect unemployment.

The GOP always points to the fact that America is experiencing the highest unemployment and food stamp recipient rates the country has ever experienced since the Great Depression and alludes to the fact it is all under Obama’s watch.

Well duh! Yes it is and whoever would be president following and inheriting the financial mess brought about by the Bush years, would also have the same spillover from this dire economic situation.

The sheer numbers in no way reflect that Obama has done nothing, he has curbed it, but its magnitude is enormous. With the corporate fad that fully developed during the Bush years of outsourcing, employ lean and mean and lay off as many as possible while cutting overtime and benefits for remaining employees hinders gainful employment. Corporate trending toward part time hiring only hasn’t helped much either. These business choices set the country up for what was the icing on the cake by the time the financial crisis hit.

High unemployment isn’t that the American worker is lazy wanting something for nothing as Republicans are fixated on, it’s due to living wage jobs are just too far and in between to be found.

The GOP mindset in thinking that anyone who is able to work and willing will find a job. If the GOP has any grasp as to what the job market is today, then they would know that unemployment is involuntary for the vast majority of U.S. workers.

In April of 2011, Republican politicians and investors said if you want to really work go to McDonalds, their hiring with 50,000 new job openings. Well Americans did, over one million applied for those 50,000 hamburger flipping openings.

According to the U.S. Labor Bureau of Statistics, accounting for all segments of unemployment whether they be short term or long term in their U6 report, 24 million Americans can’t find employment.

Another statistic that surveys the employed points out that 40% of American families that are employed have suffered from reduced wages, hours and benefits. As we all know here in America, for the vast majority of the middleclass it takes two incomes to keep comfortably afoot. A household member today, may be working, but his or her spouse has lost their job, or both still work but have had total work hours reduced, or benefits have been taken away or gone up so high they can no longer be afforded, or a combination of all these instances have occurred.  

Yes this weakened economy courses through a deep and wide river. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with their estimate of real GDP, which is a measure of sustainable output. It shows that the U.S. economy is 7% below operating capacity than what it should currently be now. That is in the neighborhood of $1 trillion per year of less value we as a nation should be producing but aren’t. This is a measure to real GDP growth of manufactured goods we are losing out on and won’t gain back.

Why is this CBO measure not gaining any attention? Republicans insist it is only for short term and focus should instead be on long term. But this continuing slump undermines our future investment. Republicans retaliate with myths that its uncertainty that undermines future investments “with that socialist in the White House.” But investment is currently a low trend because businesses aren’t selling enough to use the capacity they already have. Why is that? Because the greatest consumer spending resource in the world is the American worker and he is not employed.

As long as public programs are being pillaged through cuts and eliminations during this economic crisis that unemployed American worker is not going to consume while being savaged from both ends in job security and the taking away of programs to get him back on his own two feet.

Besides the physical abuse middleclass working Americans have endured from this economic crisis and stripping of public program benefits and services, there has also been a great emotional and personal toll that may change the character of the average American worker.

To remain unemployed is demeaning to say the least. It engulfs the pride and joy once maintained in knowing the family was being provided. It adds stress and pressures that can’t be absolved without income. When self-dignity reaches its limit, despair can easily settle in. In having a resourceful income in an economy driven society it is an enormous boost to human well-being and self-worth. That for the time being has been lost for a lot of folks.

For those that simply mutter, “go get a job,” are the first that would have to honestly confess they know of no jobs that they could offer and lead one to. Economical and natural disasters do and will occur, but so far we have been able to pull through them. The shame about this current economic crisis, is that our leaders have the knowledge, tools and technologies available to approach this current fallout, but a few of our leaders prefer to ignore these resources and allow the agony to continue.

In Opinion Commentary

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