Friday, July 25, 2014

Why This Year Matters

Democrats have a bad history of sitting back in non-presidential campaign years and not turning out to vote in sufficient numbers.  Or not working to get others out to vote.  Back when we held comfortable margins in the House and Senate that didn't matter too much.

But now it does.  Big time!

Unless we win back the House this November, Obama will continue to run a three-legged race legislatively with a tree for his partner.  He ain't going nowhere. There will be no new legislation about anything.

Even worse, unless we hang on to the Senate, we can lose everything we already have, provided the GOP can muster a large enough majority to override Obama's veto of their attempts to take our country apart.  Kiss goodbye to Obamacare, aid to the poor and students, environmental and consumer protection, voting rights, women's rights.  You name it; we lose it.  And so we get rolled over into Ayn Rand Land where might makes right and the Right make a lot of money.

Come off it, you say.  The GOP will never get a veto-busting majority.  Oh, honey, don't you wish.  If the GOP holds the House and takes the Senate while the economy is hitting on all cylinders, as it now is, and Obama is low in the polls, you will see Democrats  -  yes, I said DEMOCRATS  -  in the Senate and in the House mooching over to vote with the GOP and against Obama.  The name of the game will be "Every man for himself!"  Or woman for herself.  It won't be pretty.

And what about state and local races?  Are we going to hand those over to the GOP too?  Like 2010?    We stayed home in 2010 and ignored politics and our kids' and grandkids' future and let the GOP scoop up lots of state legislatures and governorships just in time for redistricting.  Oh, yes.  They scooped like crazy, and thus they controlled a redistricting so severely lopsided that they won a majority of House seats even though the Democrats outvoted the GOP by ONE MILLION VOTES nationally in the Congressional House races.  The GOP won 49% of the popular vote but won 54% of the House seats.

Thanks, all you Democrats who sat home and neither voted nor tried to get others out to vote.  You shafted the rest of us royally.  Those same GOP state legislatures and governors you greased into office have gone beyond redistricting and in 36 states have blocked our people from getting federally paid health care.

Let me put this plainly.  Your laziness has killed people.

And caused others to lose the right to vote through obscenely restrictive voting laws.  And started resegregation of schools.  And taken control of women's health access.  And how about those cuts to school budgets?  You've created monsters in many states.  Was your slacking off really worth all this pain and misery.

Don't kid yourself.  Your neglect of local races has also been very bad.  Who controls your zoning?  Your kids' schools?  Your justice system?  Your local health department?  Your road building?  Your hospitals?  Your transit?  You did, back when you voted on these offices.  Now the GOP is running all this into the ground in many places where folks tuned out "just this once".

Get back in the game and save yourselves, your kids, and the rest of us.  No one else is going to do your job in making things work.  If you don't save our government from the crazies we are all going to suffer horribly from global warming these next decades as we slide into hell.  I won't be here to perish with you but you know what?  You will be getting exactly what you deserve.  Too bad your little grandkids will have to pay the price too.

This year indeed matters.  It's a question of life or death.

Your life and your grandkids' deaths.  


Saturday, July 19, 2014

To Our Dear Ukrainian Friends

Somewhere in Ukraine, in spite of the frightening Russian threat to that country, there is a group of people who read this blog almost every day, even going back to posts written several years ago.

I'm grateful for this loyal readership, but  -  far more than I feel gratitude  -  I feel admiration.  How does someone focus on a political column when their country is confronting all that faces Ukraine?

That takes courage and faith and hope.  It takes courage to focus on the politics of America when your own are so threatened by  Russia's snarling and superior might.  It takes faith to focus on something beyond the current peril, a belief that politics and not war will be your lot.  And it takes hope to believe that democracy and Westernization can come at long last to a people so victimized throughout the twentieth century.  

The world has largely overlooked the travails of Ukraine.  I am old enough to remember what Stalin and Hitler did there and what followed during the long night of Russian control.  But not many my age can remember or even knew originally.  The younger people know nothing of this story.

This week, to the great sorrow of the world, the tragedy of Ukraine reached to the very skies and pulled down a passenger jet loaded with people from all over the world.  Ukraine's troubles are now the world's troubles, and perhaps Europe and the UN will now respond more vigorously on Ukraine's behalf and support President Obama in his determination to squeeze Russia and Putin economically to the breaking point. 

I can't do anything to help you, my Ukrainian brothers and sisters, except this one thing.  I can promise you that President Obama is going to see you through this troubled time and will not let Russia invade your country.  Stay strong.  A brave and very determined man is on your side. 

And so is history.

We salute you.   

Friday, July 18, 2014

Too Late For Billie Holiday

Too late.  It's way too late for Billie Holiday, but today the feds announced they were releasing 50,000 people imprisoned for drug offenses. We are not going to stop locking up hordes of people for sick behavior. The United State imprisons more people per population than practically any other country in the world. Back when there was a Soviet Union, we incarcerated more people per population than the Soviets.  A huge segment of this imprisonment is for drugs.

I don't approve of drug use.  Hard drugs are killers.  But the war on drugs was lost a long time ago.  We have to let those who want to kill themselves with drugs just go ahead and do it.  Moreover, we absolutely have to take the ferocious profits out of drugs, which is what legalization will do.  The profits are "ferocious" because the drug gang wars kill thousands of children every year in our country, even babies caught in the crossfire, and now that same turmoil is producing the conditions which are driving thousands of children to risk death by fleeing across the deserts of Central America, seeking sanctuary across our border. 

The same old sanctimonious segment of our society that opposes decriminalization also created Prohibition and brought gangsterism into our urban world.  And guns.  Up until then there were few guns floating around in American society, contrary to the phony social history you have been fed. Even the cops weren't armed until Prohibition made criminality and gunfire immensely profitable.   

For the past sixty years, the prigs like Nancy Reagan have force-fed us on "Just Say No".  It's vapid advice and silly policy. If we spent the same money on medical care and rehab that we do on incarcerating drug users, maybe we could get them to say no.  I don't know.  But I think it is criminal to imprison sick people.  And treasonous to have public policies that make real criminals rich and cause children to die.

So it's beginning to end now, the long nightmare of delusion about prison for drug offenses.  If the Obama administration gets this monkey off our backs, then that accomplishment is equal to his getting health insurance for our people and full rights and respect for our gay brothers and sisters. 

But it's too late for Billie Holiday, our precious musical genius, who  -  with Louis Armstrong, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walt Whitman  -  transformed the world of art.  They are the greatest of America's artistic geniuses and innovators. They are of worldwide importance.  But Billie died in a hospital room, under arrest for drugs, believing in her last moments that she faced an arraignment the next morning.  What a disgrace!  Not of her but of us.  And the same disgrace coats the federal prison term she had served a few years before.  We jailed a genius for drug possession!  A genius!

No, I won't take your time to bemoan the conditions of her childhood that led her to the world of drugs  -   the poverty, early rape, ignorant mother, homelessness and hopelessness.  It was while working in a whorehouse as a teenager that Billie heard the recordings of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith and knew what she must do.  Terrible the road that led her to that whorehouse, but blessed are we that she heard those recordings.  Hers is a strange and heartbreaking story but she left us a treasure beyond gold.  By contrast, Nancy Reagan and her ilk leave us nothing but a vinegary image already fading away.  And thank God Nancy is fading.  Forget her.  Forget the bitterness and hatred she and her husband sowed in our country.  

Just remember Billie.

Go listen to her now.  And ask her forgiveness.


Friday, July 4, 2014

The Same 35% Still Hate Obama and Say He's the Worst

Headlines scream it:  "Poll Says Obama Worst President".

Oh, for heaven's sake, who cares?

So 35% of those polled by Quinnepac say that Obama is the worst president since 1945?  So what? This is far fewer than the number of voters who voted against him in 2012.  They hated him then and they hate him now.  

It's a warm July afternoon, the Fourth of July to be exact.  I'm going to take a nice nap.  

Wake me when there's some real news.  God bless America and all the ships at sea.