Thursday, May 31, 2012

There is no excuse for this so help me GOD!

Every now and then there is a story that doesn’t need my editorializing.

Here it is from Progressive Health and also from channel 6 news

An Oklahoma emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim because the medication violated the health provider’s personal beliefs, a local CBS News affiliate reports. The hospital also denied the victim a rape kit, noting that it had no appropriate nurse on staff to administer the test.

“I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs,” the doctor allegedly told the rape victim and her mother, Rhonda. “She knew my daughter had just been raped. Her attitude was so judgmental and I felt that she was just judging my daughter,” Rhonda told the news station.



I didn't play the race card. I just trumped it.

In the span of just a few days I have been struck over the head with overt and clear descriptions of racism’s strong hold still in America. This will not be a popular blog with some. I truly don’t care. It is time someone points it out and says the truth.

Let me begin with a statement in the Dallas Morning News today from the Metro section where a teacher was fired. He had alleged discrimination and harassment in the Frisco School district. (For those not familiar with the Dallas area, Frisco is in highly conservative {read Tea Party} Colin County. They don’t even like the GOP there if it is anywhere near the center. I was shot the finger while on the George Bush Toll Road because I had an Obama-Biden bumper sticker on my car. Another friend’s wife had her car keyed for the same reason in a Collin County parking lot. That’s just the kind of county it is. Affluent, white and backward.) One of the things the fired teacher pointed out was a conversation with another district employee who said, “You’re black. I bet you voted for Obama. I bet you’re a Democrat. Obama’s the reason this country is screwed up.”

And there in that quick, vile and hate-filled diatribe is the entire feeling that a lot of folks have in this election. True, some are disappointed over certain policy. I, for one, do not like all the policies that this administration has put together.  I find many of them too pandering to the right. That’s correct – to the right. But I feel most of the vitriolic responses coming out are veiled racists feelings.

Now for a case even closer to home: my neighborhood. I was in my local grocery store third in line right at a shift change.  We got one of our favorite checkout ladies, a black woman, who we all love to talk with and joke with. She is as likable as any human I’ve ever met. Fun, filled with joy and especially fast at getting you through the check-out lane. The next in line ahead of me was an older white female shopper who asked the checker for the store manager.  The checker immediately called for a store manager and the woman took her basket out of line and waited.  I pushed mine up next and the checkout lady greeted me and we talked for a second or two. The store manager arrived and I couldn’t help but over hear the lady say, “I want a white person to ring my groceries up. I don’t like it when a negro does it.”

I heard it.  The kind checkout lady heard it. And the store manager, embarrassed by his dilemma hurried the woman off and into another line where he, himself, rang her out. (I later told him I would not spend another cent in his store for buckling under to racist pressure.) “She should have been told that this is one of our finest checkers, if she won’t do for you, you can find another store.” That’s what he should have said. As it is, I spend a huge amount more in his store than the old bitch does.  He has lost a lot more with my leaving than standing up to her racists attitudes. When I went outside to the parking lot I saw her being escorted by an employee to her Cadillac with a sticker that said, “Take our country back.” It was shamefully printed in red, white and blue with an image of the American flag on it.

Racism is rampant in America. And when the opposition accuses me of playing the race card in this election it infuriates me because I can so clearly see it and others want to hide their heads in the sand and say it is a non-issue.

It is an issue.  Many Americans don’t think that “Obama boy” should be the President.

He is the reason we are in such trouble as a country (What trouble?)  He is the reason all our freedoms are being taken away. (What freedoms? Name one.)  He is the reason we are in such debt. (Okay, he spent a lot, but he didn’t start two wars AND cut the taxes at the same time. He inherited that mess from a WHITE REPUBLICAN FROM DALLAS.) He’s the reason the family is under attack. (Which family is suffering?  Where is the war?  Name me a battle site where your family has lost its right to be a family.)  He is the reason there is a war on religion. (I am so tired of hearing the Christian Right cry in their ice tea {I was going to say beer , but they don’t drink in public, just at home behind closed doors.} about the his striking down their liberties.  Name me one liberty the church has lost in America?  The strongest voice in this election is from far-right religious jerks.  You aren’t under attack. You are the ones waging the war.) He is trampling on the Constitution. (Which page?  Show me. He has done more to shore up lost liberties under the Constitution that we lost under the last administration that it is pathetic for the other side to even bring this up. I do wish he had not renewed the so-called Patriot Act, but then again he's not perfect.)

You see, the arguments against this president are nothing short of folly for the most part.  He saved the country from a Great Depression – which in all fairness Bush helped out, too.

He help save GM and Chrysler. (True Fiat played a role in that but only because we backed the sale with US Bonds pushed for by this administration.)

He bailed out the banks (which I am still not sure I would have done, but the experts say it staved off a far worse recession or even the big one #2)

He brought bin Laden to justice – or at least to meet his maker. (Again with the help of the previous administration. And that just shows the continuity of his administration with the last. There hasn’t been a huge revolution in our government. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you’d never know we changed leadership for the most part.

He has lowered our taxes.

Has given us reason to feel proud of our foreign policy again, as the world once more sees us as a fair and honest light in a world of darkness, not a bully trying to throw his weight around which we had become.

He gave us Affordable Health Care, which some call socialism and it is anything but; since it is based on a totally free market system that allows insurance companies (those bastions of free enterprise) to be the backbone of the system. (I myself would have rather had a single-payer system and I will always disagree with this President over not doing that from the beginning, but instead knuckled under to the right-wing of the GOP and gave us something less than a great system…but still we got a universal system, just the same so now my daughter can get insurance and my neighbor who has had cancer can’t be rejected for a prior condition.)

He is working to make student loans more affordable, to help those with student loans pay them down in a more equitable manner.

He has helped shore up the home loan crisis in the country.

And during this time he has only gotten three new federal judge nominations approved by the Senate.  Mitch the Bitch from Kentucky will not work with him in filling federal bench seats. So when you complain about our slow moving courts, don’t point at the black man in the White House.  Point to the old frog from the Blue Grass State who hasn’t smiled since 1867 his birth year.

You see what this president is up against? A congress that truly doesn’t like him. And many in his country that thinks he has no right to be in the white house either because of (a) his birth certificate, or (b) is race. Both articles of which are bullshit.

So to my friends who say that I am riding the race card too much, this is your answer. Racism is alive and well in America. The blacks finally had one of their men elected to the highest office in the land. Something they took great pride in and someone their young people could look up to and have pride and empathy with – someone to which they could emulate. And that pissed the white, redneck, conservative, Christian right wing off no end.

Has Obama been a great president? No. But he has been a fairly good one. And he has recognized and made us recognize that America is more than billionaires and Wall Street and Fox News and the GOP white country club set. He has made us realize that we have problems feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and taking care of our own and our less fortunate. He has said over and over we need to protect our boarders, not foreign lands.

He has made us sit up and take notice of those less fortunate than we are. And that is a good thing. After all, there was once a man named Jesus who forced us all to do that, too.

But hell, he was a Jew. How can you trust a Jew, for God’s sake?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There is a stench in Forida.

I have been following the adventures of governor Scott in Florida and his idea to purge the voter registration lists for the “good” of the state.

I find it ironic that most of the names come from heavily democratic areas and or minorities. Scott claims there is no bias in the process by which Florida is going on about their purification process. Yet, over and over American citizens, who have voted in past elections, who sit on juries, who hold driver’s licenses from the state and who have birth certificates or naturalization papers, are being purged. And still the governor states that his acts are legal.

I disagree.

Not since the McCarthy days have we seen witch-hunts like we are observing now. Wisconsin recently had one. Ohio tried, but their governor stopped it. Arizona (of course) was at the lead on this movement. “We don’t want illegal aliens to be deciding our government.” Like they would or could.

Scott is different though. There is nothing like honor at all in what he is doing. He is blatant about his actions and unrepentant when they are wrong. Besides, he even looks the part of a Nazi SS storm trooper, so he looks like evil personified. We shouldn’t hold that against him. After all, the minority leader of the Senate from Kentucky, from Scott’s own party, hasn’t smiled since birth and looks like he just drank bad milk. So looks should not a man be judged by – and neither should his color or his zip code. But Governor Scott persists in claiming that certain areas of his state foster cheating and election fraud especially from people of color.

The only election fraud provable in Florida, are the actions that the governor himself is taking. Freedom in America is going away if bullies like this get their way. Forget Obama taking away your freedoms (Although Miss Right Wing from East Texas you still haven’t replied to me about what freedoms he has taken so far), the actions of governor Scott will, if let stand, mark a turning point in civility and free elections in our country.

My favorite story is about the 90-something year old lady notified that she is not a recognized voter any longer because she was not on the driver's license roll.  She told election authorities that she had voted in every election since FDR's second term and she had never driven a day in her life.  She did hold a picture ID issued by the state as well as her voter registration card. When asked about that, Florida officials said, "Some mistakes will happen."  Over 3,000 so far. That would be enough to change Bush v Gore. A few votes in Florida can change any election. and Scott knows that.

You will never have to raise billions of dollars in super PAC moneys again.  Donors will not be necessary.  You simply legislate who can and who cannot vote and you put a corral around those who disagree with you and deem them ineligible to vote. It will be like a talk-show host hanging up on a caller he disagrees with. We’ll never have to hear from “those other people” again.

And you think the constitution is in trouble because of who is sitting in the White House? For get about it. The constitution in under attack from subversives wearing red, white and blue and calling themselves patriots. I am sorry, my Republican friends, but they are overwhelmingly coming from your party.

It is time for people like Scott to be sent packing. His actions are wholly un-American.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The other guy is a liar.

I have had it. Commercials for the political campaigns sicken me. This guy thinks this other guy is un-American or that woman thinks this guy is a fascist. (She probably doesn't even know what a fascist is.) This group polarizes people from this other group.

And why?

Because nobody. Nobody. I MEAN NOBODY has any new ideas. No one has any grain of creativity. It is all bickering and posturing as usual – on both sides. Democrats do it. Republicans do it. PAC’s do it. And the media eats it up and feeds it non-stoop to us.

I am tired of it. Back-biting, dirty advertising has turned me off. Anybody who continues to do this will not get my vote. Either on the left or on the right.

If you want to hold office in America, come to the game with some fresh ideas and new thinking.

I think I speak for a lot of us in my home state of Texas. We really don’t care if the tire company in China hired a lawyer running for Senator or not. And I really don’t care what the former governor of Arkansas thinks of the other candidate. We don;t give a damn what Sarah Palin believes. We want ideas. We want plans. We want to know what you stand for and how you are going to make America a better place.

If you can’t articulate that – get out of the race. You don’t belong running for office.

Bring the heroes home!

It is Memorial Day here in the United States: a day when we remember the fallen heroes who protected our freedoms. For the most part I agree with that. Especially those fallen in World Wars I and II and Korea. After that, I am not sure we have fought a war so much to protect our freedoms and liberties, as we have staged military actions to better our foreign policies.

This is not a popular notion on Memorial Day. Sorry. I lost several friends in Vietnam. No way did that conflict closely approach the “fear and dreading” the Johnson and Nixon administrations fed us. The domino theory was right up there with “Trickle Down” theory of things that were never going to work. Korea was, perhaps a different animal, but I’ve never been too sure.

We then had famous wars in places like Grenada, Croatia and Somalia. (We went 2 out of three. Not bad for a superpower.) Then we were told there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. We went hell-fire-and–brimstone into that desert country ready to purge it. And after two or three weeks President Bush declared Mission Accomplished. Never have been sure what we accomplished there.  But I know we invaded a sovereign nation that had not provoked us into invading them. To be sure a decade earlier that regime had invaded an ally of ours (read oil producing state of Kuwait) and we attacked then. But like I say, that was to shore up our foreign policy, and the only freedom we were protecting was the right for Saudi Arabia to charge us more for oil because they let us build air and ground bases in their Kingdom. Bush Senior saw to that one. We’ve been paying for it ever since.

So we didn’t find WMD-not one. So the administration under Acting President Chaney changed the tune and it was regime change and nation building – something Bush W said he was against as he ran for office. Now somewhere about here some one is going to say, “Wait. What about 9-11?” I agree.  Our foray into Afghanistan was supposed to root out the Taliban and help us find Al Qaeda and bin Laden. We eventually did. So let’s get out. Now. And quit wasting other lives. The mission truly has been accomplished.

That is the crux of my Memorial Day message. Stop Wars. Quit sending precious lives into battles that are not ours. Use our resources more wisely and less policing across the globe. Bring the troops and our money home.

Let’s give peace a chance.

If someone provokes us and threatens us – I mean truly threatens us, let’s bury them And fast. Otherwise, these protracted wars and police actions are draining the national will and treasury. But more importantly, they are taking from us wonderful men and women who sacrificed their lives to see to it that the US policy of strength abroad is carried out. And, my friends, that has very little to do with liberty at home, especially while we have things like The Patriot Act and Guantanamo staring at us in the face.

It is Memorial Day. I am proud of every American who gave their life for us. I just hope and pray our leaders will soon stop sending them into harm’s way for every little skirmish across the map.

We are safer now that bin Laden is gone. But that didn’t take 3,000 lives to pull off. We are not safer because of Iraq – in fact the opposite might be true.

I hear rumblings about Syria. I doubt we’d go in there. Little oil and lots of trouble.  Let Russia handle this one. Or China. Let’s bring the men and women who have for so many tours been abroad fighting for our nation – let’s bring them home for a rest. Let’s give WAR a rest.

And let’s try and nurture a little peace.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stuff: Chapter One

My publisher informs me that my new book, Stuff, will be ready for publication in the next two weeks.  So today, I thought I’d give you a taste of the story by pre-printing chapter one for you.

Stuff is based on the Bastrop fires in Texas during the drought of 2011.  Watch for Stuff at an eBook seller near you soon.

Chapter One

The first things I thought about were the dogs: Chester and Allan. Both were still asleep on my bed and would continue to be so, until I went upstairs and roused them from their deep slumber.  They would be none too happy with my early-morning disruption of their precious naptime. Those two could while away the hours unconscious longer than any two animals on the planet, maybe with the exception of my son, who has been stripped of that habit by the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Now, a crack-of-dawn officer, he is away at sea somewhere on a ship with a special mission that none of us can know about; so, you might say the second thing that I thought of when I heard the bullhorn, was my son, missing in action from me, but safe with the Navy somewhere on a far off edge of the globe. But he didn’t count. I didn’t have to rescue him.  Just everything else, it seemed.
            The man in the yellow overalls and heavy boots, stood in the bed of a Ford pick-up truck with a bullhorn pressed to his lips blaring instructions to us on the cul de sac.  “Pack your things and prepare to move.  Pack your things and prepare to move.  Use County Road 6.  Do not drive to Holloman.  The road is already blocked. Do not drive to Holloman. The road to Holloman is already blocked.  Prepare to evacuate.  Pack your things and prepare to evacuate.  You have less than an hour.  You have less than an hour.  Pack your things and prepare to evacuate-” and so it went. It was as if he said it enough, it would happen – on cue.  Tell them and they will do it.  Tell them often and they will do it faster.
            I could already hear the sirens of the fire trucks coming up the hill on Bardstown Road. That was less than a mile from me. Looking to the southwest, I could see the smoke rising and occasionally I got a glimpse of orange flames licking the pre-dawn sky as the advancing wall of fire ate at vegetation, forest and homes in its way.
            “Stop looking, sir. Get your stuff and get out.”  The man was now aiming the bullhorn squarely at me, as I gawked at the events around me. Ash blew over us with an advancing wind; the sky turned grey from smoke and charred debris. Sleep fought with reality as I tried to focus on the events unfolding before me.  I was swimming up to the surface, trying to clear my mind and my vision to grasp what was facing me. “Hurry sir.  You have less than an hour to get out.” I decided not to retrieve the newspaper from the front lawn; instead, I returned to the house and closed the door.  Feeling its safety around me I almost thought of hunkering down and waiting it out, like a spring thunderstorm. Get to a safe part of the house and wait until the wind and lightning have passed.  But this was different.  A thunderstorm was like the flu.  It could be fatal but usually is not, merely uncomfortable; but a fire was cancer.  It was going to eat through everything I owned.
            The voice on the bullhorn faded as the truck in which he rode drove out of my neighborhood and headed for the next small subdivision of Forrest Ridge. “Pack up now and get out.”  The words drifted away, but not their meaning.
            I called to the boys and I could hear them give a low growl each, saying, “Leave us alone, Dave. It is sleeping time.  You are up way too early.” I raced up the stairs and shook both of them vigorously. The dachshund, Allan was first to rise. Reluctantly, Chester, my border collie, followed suit. Both animals were cranky. “Come on fellows, we got a lot to do.  Fire is coming.”
            They could have cared less.  They had been awakened and now it was feeding time.  That is how the world worked. You wake us – you feed us. And only then shall we see about all this nonsense going on about outside.
            I went downstairs, taking two steps at a time, trying to show the dogs that I had a sense of urgency about me. I raced to the kitchen and poured dry food into two bowls and called for them. Slowly I began to hear the jingle of collars and the click of nails on the hardwood floor as they made their way to breakfast. One set of clicks stopped and I could just imagine Chester stretching out, first one hind leg and then the other, as he shook his head trying to clear the cobwebs and to get his motor revved for the day’s fun and play.
            Now I had to decide how and what to pack. A fire was bearing down on the neighborhood, the same fire that I had been seeing on TV for two days and reading about in the morning paper just yesterday.  It had already consumed 25-thousand acres of prime Texas forest and grasslands and was nowhere near being wrestled under control.  Hot, summer, drought weather and stiff winds rising from the parched, desert plains of Mexico, were stirring the fire and encouraging it forward.  Until this morning its’ trajectory was away from my house, but now the gods of fire and destruction had changed their minds and the wall of orange and red energy was sweeping toward me.
            I had to pack and get out.
            I was beginning to panic.
            There were pictures that captured in time the history of the family.  There were shots of Matt at every age and in every possible uniform kids can attain. Scouts, soccer, baseball, band, Navy, you name it and Matt wore it. Then there were other family shots – my mom and dad; uncles and aunts and cousins, whose names I had long forgotten. There were things about the house, which Matt had made: a bookshelf and ceramic ashtray. He had painted an Indian painting, which still hung in the den. He always threatened to take it down every time he visited, but yet it endured, as priceless to me as the Mona Lisa is to the rest of the art world. There were things still in his room – memorabilia of a young man’s ascent into adulthood.  The blue ribbons from the science fairs and the wall of merit badges earned on the way to an Eagle Scout award, and there were pictures of his friends and coaches and little league teams.  There was even a long scroll panoramic shot of his graduating classes both from high school in Holloman and from college in Annapolis. The panoramic shots took up the top portions of two walls in Matt’s room. It all had to be saved.  It was the stuff of memories – of history – of life.  I hastily began to grab for things and make piles near the door.
            In the midst of my mental mayhem, the telephone rang. I thought to myself, “At least the cell towers are still standing.”  There was one such tower less than four hundred yards south of the entrance to the cul de sac.  I grabbed the cell phone and answered.
            “Dave, are you all right?”
            Ann’s voice was raspy as always. She sounded like she had just smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a fifth of bourbon during an all night binge, but she was a teetotaler and never had placed a smoke to her lips.  It was just the sexy way in which my ex-wife spoke.  It was something that had attracted me to her many years ago. “I saw the fires on the Today Show.  They said it was heading east.”
            “Yes.  We’ve just now been given the signal to evacuate.” It crossed my mind that several minutes had transpired.  How much longer did I have?
            “Dave get out.  Get the boys and get out.”
            “I’m trying Ann, but there’s a lot to grab.”
            “It’s just stuff, Dave.  Stuff.  Get Chester and Allan and get out while you still have a chance.”
            Her own parents had been killed in a fire in downtown Chicago while Ann was a junior at Northwestern.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A curveball gift from Arizona.

Already in the State of Arizona, forces are at work to fight the new absurd law that allows an employer to challenge a female employee’s taking of contraceptives paid for by company insurance.

The real twist to this issue is how the employer will know if the employee is doing such. There are two ways under the new law they can find out. One is to ask. That in itself is a violation of privacy. It is like asking on an interview what religion are you or are you gay or lesbian. Not cool. Even the conservative courts have sent that one back down stream with huge reprimands. There are some things even conservative justices won’t stomach. The other method is to find out information from the insurance carrier in the form of a financial audit.

As this begins to unfold, it reveals a huge chink in the armor of those who would fight women on the issue of privacy concerning their birth control methods. An argument for the Arizona law would affectively ruin the HPPA statues in America and a free-for-all would ensue; marketing to you and to me based on our very private medical records. No court in America is going to allow that to happen. And if they do, the Second American Revolution will be just days behind the ruling.

So that means that the courts will more than likely find that the Arizona law violates a person’s privacy and will be held to be unlawful; if not unconstitutional at the same time. So what you say! Here is where this could take us.

If the courts rule that Arizona overstepped the bounds of the law in violating an individuals right to privacy, the house of cards for all this anti-Roe v Wade legislation sweeping state legislatures across America just came tumbling down based on the same logic. Arizona’s statue could be the underpinning that releases common sense back into the argument that government has no right to be involved in any person’s decision regarding medical advice and treatment either by decree or by license of another party’s actions in its place.

If you can’t invade my privacy in Arizona about contraception techniques, you can’t invade my doctor-patient privacy about any healthcare decisions. Not in Arizona, not in Texas. Not in any corner of the Union. Privacy would, in fact, become protected.

So as worked up as we are about the stupidity of Arizona’s law, they might have given us a real present in the long run. They may have given us the precedent to uphold Roe v Wade finally as an act of protecting privacy as part of the American fabric of life.

Now wouldn’t that piss the extreme right off!

Now it is up to the courts to decide. We either have privacy or we have anarchy. Courts love stability. Guess which they will choose.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Your voice versus their dollars.

The more I watch and listen to the pundits talk about this election (which has gone on far too long already and it is just May) I get the distinct notion that the Robert’s Court really screwed America. Their ruling of Citizen’s United v Federal Election Commission is a travesty of the first order.

Now many have decried its outcome and placed blame on the five justices who supported the folly, but I want to take a look at the ruling from a historical context. Something Scalia and his brothers sought to prove that Jefferson, et al. would have approved. They believe that the Founding Fathers would want all entities to have a voice in America’s government. And by all, they mean corporations as well.  I whole heartily disagree.

Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Franklin all wrote about the dangers of large institutions controlling the colonies. Our forefathers had left England, after all, to get away from a monarchy that had too much power concentrated in too few hands. Even Alexander Hamilton, who was by far and away the most open to allowing large institutions to have a role in our financial life, wrote against allowing large concentrated power to once again dominate American values.

So when the court sanctimoniously said it was what the Founding Fathers had in mind all alone – from the very beginning – I laugh and scoff at them for being very poor students of history. But of course they are not trying to be scholars of history; this court is trying to be a concentrator of right-wing power in America. The average citizen has little, if any, voice on this court as long as Justice Kennedy keeps siding with the extreme political right on the bench. Kennedy was suppose to be a voice of reason and represent the middle of America. Instead, he has sided with the evil empire in recent decisions. As Justice Hugo Black, first thought to be a conservative, proved, one can never be sure how a justice will turn out once seated on the high bench.

Citizen’s United is but one of the examples of this court messing with the constitution in the same way it and its sponsors (the GOP) has criticized the leftist court of Black and Douglas a generation past. I want my court to be neutral. In the center. Representing justice as a value with no leanings in either direction. That is hard when dealing with people who have strong convictions. But to give away the power of the voting booth, to the moneyed machines of corporations and super PACs is ridiculous and can’t be defended in any logical way, if you study real American History.

Perhaps the people writing the American history books that Roberts, Scalia and their cronies read from, are the same people now writing the science books that proclaim the Earth to be a mere 6,000 years old. ‘Who cares about facts. We will just change history and science to meet our limited worldview.’

We have seen institutions – strong and powerful, have to change their stances when their ideology is proven wrong. For centuries the church proclaimed the Earth to be the center of the universe: that the sun revolved around us and that the Earth was flat. To argue with this belief was heresy. And you could be excommunicated and even put to death for such radical denial of the held doctrine. But we know that is wrong.

At some time, someone is going to have to challenge the people who have taken over the thought process on the right. Just as the church had to abandon the ‘Earth is flat’ doctrine, the GOP is going to have to move into the 21st century for conservative messages to have relevance anymore. Even the strongest voices of conservative reason, Will, McCain, and even Gingrich for heaven’s sake, has warned the right not to hold to doctrines that will make them be on the wrong side of history. Recently the New York Times ran an article describing the typical Republican voter and it is an aging upper, middle-class white person. I remember when Cadillac found the same to be true for its target market and it had to retool its product line and its marketing message to keep up with the times or become irrelevant. The same is going to happen to the GOP.

But there is hope for conservatives. The first step is to get the Citizen’s United ruling reversed. If not on the bench then by legislation. To be sure, it is working in their favor now. But what happens when they become so out of step with the times that it works against them. Then what?

No amount of corporate money can change the fact that people will get tired of being bullied. And that is how the GOP is getting their power right now.

And nobody…nobody…likes a bully.           

Citizen’s United ruling just made bullying legal for a while. But how long will American stand for it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fore. Four. For.

So, we decided to play some golf.

Do you have any idea how hard golf is? How frustrating it can be? How demanding it becomes. You almost become a slave to it. And the equipment– my goodness it is an expensive sport. The other day some friends wanted us to go and play a round with them at a prestigious course. (We have no business being out on a prestigious course because we will dig it up surely.) The cost for such an outing was going to be over $200. Each.

No way. Not on my watch.

But we persisted and have slowly learned the game. I actually don’t trust a sport where the low score wins. It somehow reminds me of the Electoral College, which isn’t a real school, nor a good idea.

But golf has this captivating way of sucking you in., It lets you do quite well the first few times you go out onto a manicured grassy lawn and play the game. It is like a drug dealer. Come. Enjoy.  And you do. It is fun and you have the ability to compete with Tiger Woods. I mean the first few times you hit the ball straight and all your putts seem to drop in the tiny hole.

But then…

Then comes the TRUTH. You are not very good. And golf shows you this in mean and cruel ways. Your drives go sideways. You lose fifty balls (And that’s just on the first three holes.) You putts run long or stop short depending on which you do not need to happen. Your score is triple your age, regardless of when you were born. And in the end, you find aches and pains and blisters in places you never knew possible.


Golf lets you have a good day.

You recover your confidence. You buy a new putter (after all your old one is bent around an oak tree on the 15th green.) You buy better shoes and golf glove and a new sun visor. You look the part.

But then…

Golf laughs at you in the face. You develop a hook. Or a slice. Or you start standing up  every time you try and hit the ball. Golf laughs at you.

And so it goes. You are addicted. Your crack is a tiny white ball. Your sin is trying to believe you are any good at this game. And your punishment is one more round.

We’re going to play golf this morning. I have warned you and I have warned God…close your ears. The laughter will be golf’s. the cursing will be mine.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The "little" Talk

Employer:              Judith, please come in. Sit.  Coffee?

Judith:                   No. But thank you very much.

Employer:            It is time for your review, and I can tell you this is easy to do. Your work here has been exemplary. Sales in your division are up, in fact, you are leading the entire sector.

Judith:                   Well, it is a team effort.  I have good people working with me.

Employer:            Yes you do.  There was one thing we wanted to discuss with you this morning. It is a bit delicate, but the company is interested in knowing why your health care records indicate you are taking Alesse? That’s is a contraceptive, right?

Judith:                   Uh, yes. That is correct.

Employer:            I take it you have a prescription from a licensed doctor for that?

Judith:                  Yes. Dr. Amella.

Employer:            And he is your–?

Judith:                  She. She is my OB-GYN

Employer:            I see. And the reason you are taking this pill?

Judith:                  I don’t really think this is any of your business, Mr. Lowery.

Employer:            Oh, but Judith it is! The state legislature made it our business. You know I am a devote Christian and I just do not believe in the free-for-all sex. It is against the Lord’s Word. God made sex for the procreation of the species, not for our pleasure.

Judith:                   Well, the truth be told, my husband and I are not ready for children yet. We are both young and still enjoying the fruits of our careers and would like to continue to do so. And we would like to have the intimacy associated with marriage.

Employer:            I see. But that is not how it works here Judith. We don’t want to take the risk of having a female employee being able to have casual sex. It is not biblical.

Judith:                   The prescription is also for hormonal balance. Dr. Amella uses it to help regulate my periods, which before the pill were quite painful.

Employer:            Yes. Well I am sure the insurance company nurse can help you find a suitable alternative. I just do not want my company paying for women to have sex whenever and wherever they want. Like I say, it goes against my faith.

Embarrassing and far-fetched you say? Not so. This could happen right now in the state of Arizona thanks to a bill pushed through the legislature by the GOP and signed by the Republican governor. But don’t relax. The states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are also looking into the same issues.

It is time women began to rally against this party and tier leaders. It is time the assault against our privacy ends. And men you are not exempt. If they can have this conversation with your wives and girlfriends imagine what they will push to be able to ask you:

Employer:            Mr. Smith, your records indicate you are taking Paxil. Are you having emotional problems we should know about?

There is a point where government has no right to invade our lives and that includes giving license to private industry and business to do the same.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Death Where Is Thy Sting?

I was recently asked why I spend so much time and ink in my writing covering the death penalty. I have a very straightforward answer for that. Texas is known to have killed at least two innocent men on death row.  We are afraid the number is even higher.

So what? This person replied and I said the so what is that when a state becomes involved with capital punishment, it is taking on the ultimate sentence for a crime or crimes committed.  It is the FINAL act.  There is no turning back. There is no review after the fact. Once the injection is given and the prisoner goes to sleep (the state’s words for the act of killing a human being) there is no next steps for that person.

That means if we are going to have the death penalty, it had better be right. !00% right.  All the time.  And unlike Justice Scalia’s remark, that we can’t be certain we got the right person every time but in most cases we know the deed deserves the punishment, if we are going to administer a life and death sentence, then it is our obligation as a society to make sure we got the right person. And in recent days, it has been made painfully clear that the State of Texas isn’t real good at this. Forget the innocent ones we killed. That is macabre enough. The ones we let get to the very last round after twenty or more years of living on death row, only to find out they are innocent, is enough to make you sick.

Here is why this matters so. As a society whose principles are based on the rule of law, if we as a people violate our own laws in the name of justice, then we have no justice. And if, during the violation of our justice we put a man or woman to death, then we as a society are murderers, for we allowed it to happen on our watch.

Think about that. How would you like it if someone called you a murderer?  I wouldn’t.  But that is what we are corporately, as citizens of a state who has discovered the most mechanized approach to ending life – Death Row.

If a prisoner doesn’t get a fair trial, isn’t represented properly, doesn’t get a complete hearing in appeals and is summarily dismissed by court after court on technicalities (Sorry we close our doors at 5pm), and that prisoner is then executed; only for us to discover post act that the prisoner was in fact, innocent of the charges; then we as a people- our government representing us- we the people have committed an act outside of justice in taking the life of an innocent man and that is murder.

It is a slippery slope, this death penalty business. One bad apple in the DA office (Dallas County alone as a bushel basket of them apparently) one asleep at the wheel public defender, one lazy judge – that all it takes for the wrong person to get our final vengeance.

Besides, I think Life Without Parole, is a far more meaningful sentence. You do the crime and you serve the time. You take a life and we’ll put you away for the rest of yours. But to take it, to snuff it out, is a final act with no possibility of admission of wrongful prosecution.

Too late.  Too bad.  Tough luck. None of those satisfies my soul. Not the way we dish out capital charges these days. Not in Texas, anyway.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A bit of advice

Recently I had the opportunity of writing a piece for the Brainz Group, an on-line writers group that takes a topic and dissects each month. The topic for this month was “advice.” Good, bad or indifferent, we were to write about advice we had received, or heard or ignored.

I did my piece and put it to bed, as all good journalists would say. Then a thought struck me. What was the worst advice I ever gave out?

There was the time I told my gang in California, where were hard at work developing a website (this before any of us knew what a website truly was – say around 1994-95) that I thought the whole Internet thing was a fad and wasn’t going to work out. “Don’t put your money in this technology stuff, men. It’s just a passing fad.” Or the time I told a friend that the dot com run of stocks was about up. (It lasted two years past my prediction and many who didn’t listen to me made fabulous money by ignoring my short-term advice.) I sold Apple when I thought they were through. I bought it back when I knew they weren’t, then I told some friends that I thought Apple was the hottest stock around. They bought it and it immediately went down. (They do not talk with me any more.) I swore that Facebook was a momentary flicker on the social media horizon. (They will go public today for about a gazilliion dollars.)  I believed it would never last and that Amazon would never make money. I predicted Obama would pick Hillary as a Vice Presidential running mate. Who is this Joe Biden anyway? I told some friends that I thought the whole electric car thing was a fad and would go away. (That was in the 1980’s). And I told another friend, “How can real estate prices ever go down in California? They aren’t making any more land, you know.”

About the only thing I have predicted correctly was that I told my father on the eve of our invading Iraq, that we would not find a single weapon of mass destruction. I nailed that one.

But over all, I would say that if I give you a stock tip or make a prediction about a social phenomena, I would do the opposite of what I say. The numbers don’t lie. I have a horrible track record for predicting the future or reading the tealeaves, as it were.

By the way, I am sure Romney will be the next President of the United States.  Take it to the bank.

Winner and Losers

The Olympic Games are just around the corner and London will be filled with screaming, yelling fans. Athletes from around the globe will step foot into their venues and give their very best for their country and to their sport. Flags will wave and national anthems will be played.

And someone will cheat.

One or two athletes will dope or do something that will garner headlines for a few days and then we will all forget about it. At the same time, the Tour d’ France will be accelerating through the wine country and true to form, several riders will be charged with doping or rigging their bikes. The controversy, like the tour, is an annual event.

In our own country I read on an almost weekly basis about NCAA football players being kicked off their team for robbery, assault, drugs and other crimes. Kids who were heroes in the fall are now villains in the spring. And their coaches and fans say they were not treated fairly. They were given a raw deal.

So, when I read the article about the young high school golfer in Oregon who was going for a state record of four consecutive state titles only to have her chances squashed by signing a miscalculated scorecard, I thought of winners and losers.  She was truly a winner.  Because she turned herself in. That’s right, she told officials about the mistake and under the USGA rules that disqualifies a player for that round.  

 She lost.

But when you think about it, golf, with its self-policed rules and regulations, shows the true character of the sport. Here was a young woman about to make history (no other male or female golfer had won four straight titles) and she found a mistake her playing partner had made in the scorecard, told officials she had signed a card that was wrong and her day was done. And so too, was the record.

I think we need her on the Today show. I think we need her on the evening news. I think we need her as a national treasure.  She did what she was supposed to do under the rules and she paid the price for it. She didn’t protest, scream, rant or attack anybody. She didn;t call a lawyer or hold a press conference. She didn't go to court. She thanked the officials and went home. I am sure the young lady who filled out the scorecard in error feels horrible. But accidents happen and the young golfer stood up and took responsibility for signing a card that was wrong.

The key here are the words “took responsibility.”  She signed the card and by doing so was saying I have approved this score and it reflects accurately what I shot for that round of golf on this day. I heard one sports commentator on the radio say, “She should have left it alone and she would have won.”  Maybe. But golf would have lost. And so, too would society. For it is only when we step forward and say this was my fault – my bad – that we will once again become a society that doesn't try and blame others for every little issue.  If more people were like the golfer, sport and life, would once again become honorable.

So to Eugene (Ore.) Churchill High golfer Caroline Inglisa tip of the hat to you. In my book you are a true champion. And I think, regardless who took home the trophy the other day, you are the winner.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oliver Gold: a revisit.

 Oliver Gold came riding his bicycle by my house yesterday afternoon.  He said he was doing fine.  This is a good thing. If you remember he was a homeless man I have written about who was at one time living out of a cardboard box. Now he has a job, and apartment and has even settled his financial difficulties with his ex-wife. He seems to be on the road to recovery.

“I haven’t had a drink in three months. I have made new friends at my work and things seem to be going well,” he said as we stood and talked for a brief moment. “Don’t know what the future holds, but right now it seems to be going in a good direction.”

I am glad for Oliver. He was one of hundreds, if not thousands who have been displaced in our economic downturn. But he somehow, with the help of others, found a way back up. Had a chance to catch his breath and move on. He even had a new hearing in front of a different judge who slammed the old judge for being totally insensitive and out of touch with reality.  I love it when one judge pokes at another. Sorry ladies, but I found the female judge and her decisions to be totally insensitive to the plight that had befallen Oliver and she showed no mercy whatsoever. Now she has tasted a bit of her own medicine. Touché.

None of that, other than the outcome, seems to affect Oliver. He is just happy to have a job to go to and a home over his head to come home to at the end of the day. I asked him about his long-range plans and he said he would like to visit the Grand Canyon some day. I asked why that particular place and he explained that when he was at his lowest he had ripped a picture out of a National Geographic Magazine of the great hole and kept it in his pocket. “It reminded me things could be a lot worse.”

“How did the Grand Canyon remind you of that?’ I asked, not following his logic.

“That’s a deep crevice in the ground. Yet, with hard work, you can climb out of it. It is not impossible.”

That is a great philosophy about life for all of us.  The Grand Canyon philosophy by Oliver Gold. Think things are bad, just remember, the hole you are in can be climbed out of. It is not impossible.

I always like seeing Oliver.  He brightens my day and makes me realize that goodness of people can still shine through all the crap in this world. Someone had given him a really cool bicycle.  I had two in my garage; I wish I had thought of that. Next time!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not right. Wrong.

Yesterday I wrote a blog about the Governor of Arizona signing a horrible piece of legislation into law that would allow employers to question their female employees about the taking of contraceptives.

This constitutional debacle will be played out before us in the courts, no doubt, but it did raise the hackles of one reader in Arizona, who accused this blog of being a left-wing propaganda machine.

I want to set the record straight. The outcry from this blog about this horrendous act by the Arizona lawmakers is not a leftist idea.  It is rooted in Jeffersonian conservative ideals. It is all about keeping government intrusion out of our private lives. Ironically, in this case, the government didn’t have the balls to do it themselves, instead they empowered business to act as their agent. So not only is this act unconstitutional, it is cowardly as well. For all their bombastic speeches, the ultra-right are bullies. They rule with fear and inside are cowardly bastards.

I can only imagine Thomas Jefferson arguing against such a heinous act by using the argument that the privacy of an individual’s life trumps anything the state may think it has the right to know- religion be damned. This veiled attempted at yet one more step of demagoguery in the Arizona desert is a sign that ultra-conservatives are massing to police America in a theocracy that would rule your life and mine by means of religious order and ideals. Think the Taliban, if you want an example of what this legislation leads to.

I have no argument with the 10 Commandments. But in a country where there is supposed to be no organized state-supported religion, the advent of theological laws used in conjunction with state laws, starts walking a very slippery slope. At what point do we start telling everyone they HAVE to attend a religious service on Sunday? At what point do we force Jews and Muslims (Mormons for that matter) to convert to mainstream Christianity? It is an easy step from requiring you to answer questions about your private life by employers who wish to know why you are taking the medications you have in your medicine chest, to a full-scale blanket of laws that would affect your daily life in all areas. Does your employer have the right to know that you take Viagra–that you have a problem keeping it up on your own? Does your government have the authority to give away your right of privacy?

Is there no stopping these zealots?  These people have been waging war on individual freedoms for at least the last forty years that I can remember. And at the same time, they cry the loudest in their own media about being persecuted and having their own freedoms trampled on by the “liberal press and the “hostile government.”  Barry Goldwater, himself an Arizona Republican, warned us of the religious right and their destructive mentality. He warned his own party – the GOP– not to get in bed with these people for it would bring a downfall on the true ideals that conservatives believe in.

These people want to get into your personal life. That is their plan. They want to impose on your life, their ideals and morals. They want to tell you how you will lead your personal life and they will stop at nothing to see that their narrow worldview is turned into law one way or the other. This is not evangelism. It is fascism.

No, this is not a liberal notion.  This is an American notion. These people are dangerous and stand against the conservative values of Thomas Jefferson – freedom for the individual and freedom from government interference in our lives. I guess that makes me a Conservative of the highest order then. And that is a truly weird thought for this old liberal.

Let us hope and pray that the courts will have the backbone to stand up and face this crowd of morons in the desert and tell them, enough is enough. It doesn’t spread from here. I just hope it is not too late. (Kansas, Indiana, Texas and Tennessee are not too far behind.)

So to my friend in Arizona, my answer is pure and straightforward. Your Republican legislature screwed up. It became the very thing you didn’t want from government.  It became an overreaching, despot in your life.  Good luck. Now you’ve got to live with it.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Arizona has crossed the line

At what point will Arizona stop the onslaught of our freedoms? 

Now the governor, Jan Brewer, has signed legislation that will allow employers to question their female employees about prescription contraceptives they are purchasing on their health plans. Really?

Jan, this in un-American and you are un-American for signing it.  I move we remove Arizona and their idiots from the Union.

What is next? I have to get permission from my employer for aspirin or for anti-depressants or for condoms? It is none of their God Damn Business. To quote Barry Goldwater, who warned us about these ultra conservative Nazi’s who are taking over the Republican party.  “They are more dangerous than any communist ever thought about being.”  Ouch. Take that GOP.

Wake up, America.  They are coming for your liberates.

This is now for real.  If you looked away because it was just about gays and lesbians and all those weird people you have nothing to do with.…well guess what sweetheart…they just landed in the heterosexual beds in America. They just invaded your relationship with your spouse and your private conversations with your doctor. They just crossed the line.

It is WAR.

Think they are kidding?  They want you to kowtow to their ideology. Even in the privacy of your medicine cabinet. What right do they have even suggesting such illegal activities? Where is thier logic?  Where is their sense of privacy in America. IT IS NO EMPLOYER'S BUSINESS ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH TO ASK MY WIFE WHY SHE IS TAKING THE MEDICATION SHE IS TAKING. NONE! AND IT IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS WHAT I TAKE EITHER.

Here's a great Republican line that sums this mess up:  GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR PRIVATE LIVES.

If this doesn’t piss you off, you need to move to Arizona. I’ll even help you pack.