Friday, September 29, 2006

A Horse of a Different Color

This from an article regarding the teenager who shot his school principal to death earlier today:

“He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids,” she said at a gas station nearby where students and townspeople gathered.

A couple of conservative bloggers have thought it funny in the past to mock threaten a few with weapons. I'll not mention names. If you are regular cheddarsphere bloggers, you know who I am talking about.

This shooting is another reason why it is not funny.

Hamsters Are Woosies

Hamsters are such woosies. My son's gerbils would have hijacked the plane and forced it to the Mongolian Desert where they originally came from.

We Don't Need No Thought Control

More propaganda from the friends of Mark Green and Mr. Comic Relief (yeah, it's a gratuitous shot). If you didn't think the press was sidling over to the right, this should convince you.

h/t Robola

(click picture to enlarge)

Nah. There's no such thing as right-wing press (though "right-wing" and "press" are really contradictory).

Road Less Traveled

August 20, 2004
Speech at Robert Frost's Farm in Derry, New Hampshire
by Granny "D"

Thank you.

Robert Frost is connected to that strong spiritual and ethical river that flows through Whitman and Hawthorne, Melville, Cather, Dickinson, Clemens, Wilder, Muir, Douglas, Foster, Gershwin, Joplin, Sousa, and the almost countless others who were charmed and inspired by the musical words of our Founding Fathers and of our great and eloquent Native American leaders.

And from these voices onward, up to our own time and through the eloquence of Bernstein, Cohen, Copland, Ellington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Capra, Ginsburg, Pete Seeger, Ansel Adams and so many others of the modern era's great minds and writers, an idea for who we are and who we want to be as Americans has been shaped in our hearts.

We want to be a just and honorable people, trustees of a beautiful land and gardeners of a great democracy. We want to be a fiercely free people--good providers to each other and good neighbors to our townsmen and to the other people of the world.

This American spirit is an ideal that defines not only who we are to ourselves, but to the rest of the world in how they want to think of us. It is what they love about us, and they do.
And despite all our hard times, our wars, our depressions, our genocides, our suppressions and oppressions, our experience with slavery itself, we still stand at the edge of woods dark and deep with our future ahead of us and this dream still in our hearts. We still are perched at Half Dome Rock and along the grasses of the Hudson and the forests of the misty Olympic Peninsula and in the mud of the Mississippi at Hannibul. It is still a most beautiful country filled with most wonderful people. And we are still young.

Yet we have come to a new time. We and our natural world are poised now at a parting of the road. One path leads where powerful nations have gone before. It is the road of silver and blood--the short, noisy road of empire. The other is a path no great nation has taken before. The only way we can take this less traveled road it to blow the ashes off the still living fire of our American Revolution--where the people naturally rise against great and oppressive forces and reassert the human heart, human freedom and our highest values as a people.

Click here for rest of speech

Please, Don't Pass the Syrup

Patrick McIlheran is at it again. In a column appearing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sept. 24 entitled “Check here to opt out of another social revolution,” McIlheran argues for voting to ensure that “…marriage remain what everyone thought it was until about 10 minutes ago.” Leaving aside the fact not everyone thinks in the same way as McIlheran claims, his snide comments throughout the piece reveal that the old saying, “If the shoe fits …,” is an apt description for his bigotry.

It’s not really about the wording of the amendment. And, it’s not really about an issue being forced upon the populace as he would claim. Don’t let him kid you. It is all about McIlheran saying that a man/man, or woman/woman relationship should not be legal because marriage … (wait for it) …

… is the public's grant of a privileged position for relationships that often involve love but have mainly to do with producing the next generation.

Ah, now we get to the nub. The heck with the previous ten or so paragraphs in which McIlheran couches his bigotry in unassuming words and dips them in syrup to make the result sound sweet to the ears. No, what he is really saying is that marriage is reserved only for those who can impregnate and those who receive their seed.

I could add he should say that to the faces of the thousands of children abandoned as a result of illicit heterosexual unions, and who were lovingly adopted and raised by homosexual couples.

Or, I could add that he should speak to the children many did not wish to be burdened with; those with birth defects and other abnormalities, who were also adopted and raised by homosexual couples.

And, I could joust with him and tell him to say it to the faces of interracial couples living in today’s society.

What? What does being a part of an interracial couple have to do with this?

Well, it wasn’t too long ago that interracial marriage was against the law, too (1999 in Alabama). Back then, as is now woofed about homosexual unions, interracial marriage was said to be “contrary to God’s will.” Interracial marriage was “unnatural.” Interracial relationships were seen merely as illicit sex … even those that were committed and longstanding. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

You see, McIlheran and his cohorts oppose the cause of marriage for homosexuals not because of any real legal reason to oppose it, not even a religious one. They oppose homosexual marriage because they are afraid. The thought of a man sleeping with another man is loathsome to them. It’s unnatural … a perversion.

This fear has often coalesced into anger and the result has often been violent. While it is probably true that today’s modern conservative scribes would never resort to violence (nor to fighting in a war they prop up with patriotic gargles), I do believe it is true that their current fears are no different that the ancient fears of black sexuality. Fears of black sexuality have been responsible for some of the most notorious incidents of anti-black violence and persecution, from the Scottsboro Boys to Emmett Till.

In the same vein, fears of homosexuality have been responsible for notorious incidents such as the murder of Matthew Shepard, left to die hanging on a fence after being beaten by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney.

It was in Massachusetts (in a weird twist of history repeating itself) that a group of “radical abolitionists” argued that the law against interracial marriage went against the American ideal of equality and succeeded in having that law repealed in 1843.

One hundred and sixty three years later, Wisconsin citizens have a chance to tell the rest of the country that bigots and conservatives be damned … Wisconsin IS a Progressive state and its citizens do not discriminate. It’s a straight-forward choice.

No gimmicks.

No syrup!

Just vote NO.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Temperature Rising

Just to keep busy and to earn a little extra spending cash, I work for a local gas merchant. He's a fairly well-known fellow in the Brookfield community. A church-going guy (who's apt to ask everyone who enters his establishment if they went to church on Sunday), he believes the world was created in 6,000 years and the stars in the sky are purely decoration ... there is no other life in the universe.

He is also a Mark Green fan, which is his absolute right. I enjoy working for him. He is funny, is a font of oral history, and he is generous to his employees, providing free health care to two of them, a college student and the other a woman who supports her father.

Anyway, it isn't clear who did this, but someone placed one of those large Mark Green signs on the lawn next to the intersection that this establishment is located. No one is sure if the land is city property or his, either. I could care less. What Mark Green stands for is revolting to me, but that my boss agrees with his beliefs is no concern of mine. We've discussed it briefly in passing and have come to an understanding that we'll agree to disagree.

Back to the sign: Today, a man came into the place and asked if I was the owner. I said "No," but pointed to the woman on my right and said she was his wife. He proceeded to tell her that he had been patronizing this establishment for years, but could no longer do so because of the Mark Green sign outside the place. I almost started laughing. She said she was unsure who had placed it there, and anyway, wasn't it city property? He didn't think so. I shrugged my shoulders when he looked at me.

Finally, he said he could not in good conscience patronize any place that supported Mark Green. The owner's wife shrugged her shoulders and said that she was sorry he felt that way. He turned and left.

After he left, I thought: "What a pompous ass." I mean, I'm as liberal as they come and will likely be voting for Jim Doyle this election. I agree that Mark Green is a slime bag and does not deserve election. However, to say that you will not patronize this place because of a sign is absolutely ridiculous.

The fact is, after this election is over and passions have cooled, we still have to live with another. I'll bet even that old, crusty barnacle, dad29, would agree with me.

Global Warming Dangerous

Who are you going to believe. Evangelical nutjobs whose mission in life is to tell you they've read the Bible and determined that the world is 6,000 years old ... please send us money to spread that message.

Or scientists, with no possible agenda, who tell you that global warming has reached a dangerous level?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Believing in Togetherness Itself

November 16, 2004
by Granny "D"

Thank You.

My recent campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire was a great adventure, and its eventual outcome was fairly well-known even before we began--though we worked hard to win. Would I have decided to run had I known in advance that I would not win? The answer is yes, I would have still done it, for life itself has a predictable outcome, and it is not in our final day that meaning comes to our lives, but in the days spent along our way.

As to the politics of my effort, I will tell you that I am an old Progressive-Populist, and that tradition has crossed both the Republican and Democratic lines, and now the Reform and Green lines, too, but it is considered more of the left, now, than the right.

I understand that many of you hold far different political beliefs, and, rather than bend my remarks to the agreement of all, let me instead help you see inside the thinking of a particular kind of belief system that has been important in America since just after the Civil War, when farmers banded together to fight the railroad, banking and meat packing monopolies by forming their own political party.

That party, the Populist Party, which was largely based in rural America, joined forces with the more urban-based Progressive Party at turn of the 20th Century. The leaders of this powerful new movement, which sprang for the most part out of the town of Madison, Wisconsin, included Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, whose seat in the U.S. Senate is now held appropriately by Russ Feingold, a solid reformer whose campaign finance reform bill I walked across America to support. When La Follette raised the Progressive movement to great power in America, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt were quick to see the future and danced quickly in front of that parade.

Out of that movement we got the monopoly-busting anti-trust laws, which largely came undone in the Reagan Administration, the labor laws which gave America the strongest and most prosperous middle class the world had ever seen—also which came undone in the Reagan Administration, with later help in the Clinton Administration. And from the Progressive-Populist Movement we got environmental clean-up laws, worker safety laws, and the Social Security System, which ended the long era of elder destitution that had been increasingly a fact as industrialization overran the family agrarian roots of our nation.

My father and mother were solid Republicans, and they celebrated and participated in many of these reforms. Most Americans, through most of my lifetime, have seen the federal government as a necessary tool for working Americans to provide for justice and its prosperity.

All those beliefs and accomplishments are now coming undone or are under attack. Social Security will be the next to fall, perhaps, and we see it coming, as America becomes again what it was in the first days of industrialization: a nation of the very rich and the very poor--the exploiters, who own the politicians, and, on the other side, the exploited, whose great power to move history smolders silently, waiting for the oxygen of leadership and political opportunity.

It is interesting to those of us on the left that the American vote no longer breaks down as a division of the exploiter and the exploited. People seem happy to vote for those who do everything possible to export their jobs, give their common wealth to the already too-wealthy, and undermine their social safety net programs, their right to organize, right to privacy, and on and on.

The division in the electorate is now between those who see government as a place where practical solutions are forged among people of different interests, and those who see government as an enforcer of their own private belief systems, regardless of the costs to themselves.
Both groups are willing to make a sacrifice. The first group is willing to not impose their personal belief systems when they are operating on the common ground of civic life, as when John Kennedy declared that the Constitution, not the Catholic Church, would be his guide in the civil matters of the presidency. The second group is not willing to lay down their private beliefs to find common ground in civil affairs, but they are willing to sacrifice their jobs, their health care, and the good name of their country in the world, and, more significantly, they are willing for all other people to suffer as well, in order that the government might be an enforcer of their personal spiritual beliefs.

Now, if this strikes you as a less than objective analysis of the situation, I told you going in that I am not bending my language to suit the audience, but only to express how the Progressives feel about things today.

If you look at the red state – blue state map of the recent election, it doesn’t tell you much. If you look at the red county – blue county map of the United States, you see a more useful picture. You see that urban areas voted Democratic and rural and suburban areas voted Republican, on average. It is meaningful to some degree, because where one lives is more a matter of personal choice today than ever before, and one might generalize that antisocial people tend not to live in dense communities, and social people do. The word anti-social well describes the dismantling of social systems, environmental protections, job protections and all the rest that has been going on with a vengeance during the Bush years. You might agree with what has been done, but I would bet that you also believe that government is too big, that it is the problem, not the solution, that minorities have too much given to them, that women should not have too much power, especially over their own bodies, and so on and so on. You tend to favor systems of authority over systems of shared power, and so the word Democrat doesn’t appear anywhere in your wallet.

If this is a useful observation, then Progressives like myself must wonder what it will take for us ever again to have a common ground where we work out our common needs in a civil--meaning non-religious and non-ideological--manner. How do you do that when half the population does not believe that government is our venue of cooperative action?

Well, I may be overstating my case in order to make my point come into focus, but let me look around at the human situation, not just the deadly abstractions.

The fact is, we are, each of us, both kinds of people: we believe in individualism and we believe in cooperation. When I pay my taxes, ask me if the government is too big or too small. When my Social Security check is late, ask me again. We all have our belief systems that inform our words and actions, but the real world is a beautiful negotiation between our needs and our beliefs, and that is also the case at the larger scale, where we act as the American people.

The Republicans have a great duty to do in this nation, and that is to guard the rights of individual action. The Democrats have a great duty to do in this nation, and that is to guard the necessity of cooperative action. If the pendulum of power can but swing freely, we do all right on both fronts. But it must operate in a civic atmosphere of mutual respect, or the swings will become wildly erratic and the machine may fly apart. I sense that rumbling now and pray that we can reason together as one people.

What happens when it swings too hard and too long to the right? We have seen that in the world, and we sent our young men and women off to die to end it several times in the last century. I have felt those sacrifices in my lifetime.

What happens when it swings too hard and too long to the left? Cruelty and oppression thrive at the extremes; we have seen that you can go around to the dark side of life from either the right or the left.

Both swings crush the freedoms of individuals and destroy the diversity of culture and human life that define higher civilization.

The right wing of American politics is now moving toward such a crushing of diversity, and it is doing so in the name of religion. If you cannot see the danger in that, you have either not lived though as much world history as I have, or you have not read your history, or you have no imagination. The danger is perfectly real and anything can happen here that happened in other places, and it has already begun.

But the saving grace for us, I think, is the fact that Americans are richly complex, and we are for something one minute and against it the next. We have an abiding, deep-set love of justice, even when we allow it to be unevenly applied to others. There is no opinion that we do not all share at least a little bit, and there are enough facts in the world to justify about any opinion.

We will move through this time, neighbor-to-neighbor, and friend-to-friend. We have seen the divisions in our own families, and it isn’t because one side of the dinner table is out in farmland and the other is in the city. Our divisions of opinion are more personal than that.

Are we all trying to have a democracy? I am not sure of that, but I hope it is so.

Are we willing to let our religious beliefs guide our private and family lives, but leave them aside when we work with people of other religions in the problem-solving civic arena? Your answer to that question answers whether or not you are trying to have a democracy, and the answer, given my millions of people, will tell us if we will still have a democracy to leave to the next generation, or not.

As for me, the future is one day at a time, and the joy of democracy is in that old democracy road, not in any shining destination. Being with people who care, who love each other and their country--that is such a blessing! It is why I ran for office, to meet more people and to share more adventures on that great road.

We Americans have to walk it together, or we shall only remember the great nation we once had, and the greater nation we could have built together, had we indeed believed in togetherness itself.

Thank you very much.