Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Civil Rights Act. As usual the GOP forgets their History

          August 28,1963. I was ten, pushing on eleven. Once more I saw history unfold through lens of CBS News and covered by Walter Cronkite. That network and his voice covered unprecedented social change with a calm elegance, treating the audience as thinking, intelligent people. The voice of news as I grew through the tragedies yet to unfold.

Of course I refer to the March On Washington and Reverend Martin Luther King's amazing "I Have A Dream" speech.

The most reliable estimates I have found put the crowd at 200-250,000 people.

There's no reason to repeat what I heard at home. My parents were products of their time. As were too many, north and south, who never tried to overcome the wrong they learned. To listen to their better angels seemed futile in the face of such hatred and anger.

That March in the summer of '63 was massive. It was peaceful. And many hoped once the coloreds blew off some steam everything would go back to normal. Progress at geologic speeds.

The rhetoric of the speeches was uplifting. King's voice wasn't the only one that day raised in hope. Raised in a cry for freedom and equality.

Earlier that summer President Kennedy called on Congress to act. After the violence in the South he decided the time had come to forever change America. Kennedy knew it was going to be a brutal political war and decided to wage it. He was going to need his Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, the former Majority Leader of the Senate, to twist arms to ensure passage.

The mood of the nation was changing. We saw Bull Connor's deputies beat demonstrators to the ground. We saw the dogs loosed on men and women. We watched as fire hoses were turned on people only wanting the American Dream. Equality. As we watched in horror people were accepting Jim Crow was an evil chapter of American History far overdue to be closed.

Kennedy had the bill introduced in the House, a more liberal body ready to take on the issue. Unfortunately, Jack Kennedy never lived to see the bill pass. He was gunned down in Dallas on 11/22/1963. President Johnson was determined to pass the strongest possible bill.

The Bill passed the House on February 10,1964, 290 for, 130 against.

In the Senate it was filibustered on introduction.

Johnson was a consummate political deal maker and knew where the bodies were buried. Hell, he'd buried many of them. The President knew no amount of pressure, arm twisting or political favors would bring The Segregationist, Southern, Democratic Senators back into the fold. Another way had to be found to break the filibuster and force cloture. He turned to Everett Dirksen(R-IL), Senate Minority Leader.

Both men knew this would be tricky. They met often in The White House and charted a course of action over drinks. The Minority Leader knew he'd have problems using Republican votes to bypass a mutiny by a wing of a sitting President's party.

Dirksen had reservations on the bill, mostly doubts about constitutional issues. He also realized something had to be done.

Dirksen was an orator of the sort the Senate hasn't seen much of since the first half of the Twentieth Century.
I recall his low stentorian voice from appearances on TV. Like Johnson, he knew how to work the Senate.

He did so.

He offered a flurry of amendments, using them to gauge positions held by his colleagues. He seemed lukewarm at times, drawing out a better picture of the stances being taken. The President and the minority leader moved in May of 1964.

He presented the Republican version and immediately faced a mutiny of his own, led by Senator Hickenlooper (R-IN).

Senator Dirksen called a press conference.

Using his considerable speaking skills he lectured the press about the moral need for a Civil Rights Bill. He claimed and held the moral high ground as he revealed his unequivocal support of the bill. This amazing example of leadership quashed the revolt. Now it was simply a matter of keeping the Caucus in line till the vote.

On June 10,1964, Senator Everett Dirksen took the floor of the Senate and gave a quiet,moral argument to the Senate and the nation about an idea whose time had come. He was exhausted.

The eighty-three day filibuster was broken, clearing the way for passage of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964.
This would not have happened without the Senate Republicans and their leader working in concert with a Democratic President poised to crush the GOP presidential nominee. They did this for America. In an election year.

Needless to say this could not happen today. there is a different tenor in the strident rhetoric of the GOP. Rather than visionary, patriotic leadership, there is petty, partisan bickering passing as America's only hope to stop the tide of progress.

Can anyone see any way that landmark bill could be passed in this poisonous political climate? A climate where it seems to be a badge of honor to gut the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act. Both bills were helped to passage by Senator Dirksen. Can anyone imagine Mitch McConnell showing that level of political courage?

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Washington was this week. Rather than step forward, acknowledge their role and claim their place in History the GOP decided to not attend. It wasn't the usual crowd of wackos only that stayed away. it was all of them. Every. Single. One.

When they realized the optics a desperate attempt at spin was hurriedly put forth. The damned Liberals didn't invite them. That was quickly exposed as the lie it was.

So, when they had a chance to reach out to a diverse crowd the GOP passed on it.

When they had a chance to stand with America, they passed.

When they had a chance to show everyone how petty and out of touch they were, they jumped on it.
The party of stupid, indeed.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I stand with women.

             I've been asked by men I know who have occasionally read these posts or talked with me. They usually ask a question. Why do you say what you say about the so-called war on women? "Are you gay, one of the girl's?" I've been asked. No, not that it matters. "Are you doing this just to get laid?" No, I'm not doing this to get laid.

I am doing this because I believe equal means equal.

I do this because I have a daughter.

She is a beautiful, brilliant, nineteen year old Sophomore at a well respected, small Liberal Arts College in Ohio.

When she finishes her education I want her to be able to do whatever she wants. And to be paid the same as a man with equal credentials and talent.

I want her to have full and equal access to the justice system if the unthinkable happens.

I want her to have full and equal access to the healthcare system without conservative religious views codified as law to prevent that. Having a uterus is not a pre-existing condition any more than having testicles is.

I want her vote to be counted and not discarded because she's a student.

I want her to live in a nation where she is not a second class citizen, condemned to a state of socio-economic slavery simply because of gender.

I want her to live in a Nation where a Violence Against Women Act is not used as a political football and is unnecessary.

All I want is a Country where she is a citizen first and a woman, second.

Apparently this is too much to ask.

Ninety-three years ago this week the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. That finally gave women the right to vote.

During those years the fight for women's rights has made significant progress. We have a long road to travel yet but we were always moving in the right direction. I knew this would be a better world for my little girl.

It seems I may have been too hopeful and naive.

Both of us are in Ohio. Not a woman friendly State anymore.

Ohio, through most of it's history was a powerful political State. It was a hotbed of the Abolition movement. Major lines of the Underground Railroad went through the State. 

Many of the stations are still standing as private homes. The owners are proud to point out the history of their house and the hiding places for escaped slaves to visitors. 

Lincoln carried Ohio twice.

During the Civil War Ohio produced more troops per capita than any other State in the Union. Many of the Generals were Ohioans also. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Harrison, Hooker and Custer to name a few.

Ohio continued as a political powerhouse. Senator Sherman of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was a progressive Senator from Ohio.

During the Progressive era Ohio helped those progressive laws pass in the House and Senate.

Ohio produced six Presidents following the Union victory. Two of them were assassinated.

What I am trying to show is Ohio has a tradition of being a moderate, yet powerful force in American politics. A defender of liberty. Sadly in the last decade that has changed.

Now Ohio is a leader of a different kind. The reactionary Republicans that have seized the State are determined to support and champion the rejection of history, science and women as an equal citizen.

In 2011 the lizard brained psychopaths in the Ohio House passed the Heartbeat Bill. They did this in the center ring of the National Political Circus. 

These venal, theocratic rat bastards, in the pocket of the Tea Party and the Westboro Baptist wing of the Party gave us a bill banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, About six weeks, pror to most women even knowing they are pregnant.

In committee, a woman undergoing an ultrasound so her fetus could testify made a joke that a transvaginal probe would work better. The compassionate men on the committee chuckled over that witty bon mot.

The Ohio Senate, after having their asses handed to them by the people of Ohio on Union Busting, buried the heartbeat bill.

The Republicans in 2011 came up with gerrymandered political districts.They appeared to be drawn by Strom Thurmond on acid. So even as Mitt Romney's Presidential dreams were gutted like a trout in Ohio, a more rightwing batshit crazy Legislature was elected.

Thus in their wisdom the Republican Legislators in the Great State of Ohio, after seeing Ohio reject the GOP social stances in the Presidential election, acted. 

With clear logic they came to the conclusion the most pressing issue facing the State was abortion. So, they went after women. They acted with the glee of frat boys spiking drinks at a party.

In order to avoid a ballot repeal by the sane, they put their demented views into the Budget. 

As believers of input from the public they are supposed to represent, these regs were slipped into the budget at the last minute to avoid public hearings. No point turning over a rock to expose these creepy  slimy slugs to the light of day.

They doubled the waiting period to forty-eight hours. An ultrasound must be performed with a voice over of what's going on. 

A woman must be told the chances of carrying the child to term. Healthy or not.

Since being a member of Ohio's Legislature automatically makes you a de facto OB/GYN they redefined pregnancy. It now begins at conception. After all what does the AMA know?

There is a script healthcare providers have to read that links abortion to increased chances of breast cancer. It doesn't matter the American Cancer Society says there's no correlation. A bunch of liberals. 

Fetal pain, something that has never been established as fact must be mentioned as if it's an accepted medical concept. Any MD that doesn't lie to his patient can be found guilty of a felony and fined $1,000,000.(not a typo)

The redefinition of pregnancy makes some forms of birth control abortion agents . So to get the pill, an IUD or Plan B, you get the lecture, ultrasound and waiting period.

The GOP says this is for the health and safety of women. That would be why any women's healthcare clinic that even mentions abortion as an option goes to the end of the line for funding, including rape crisis centers. A child of rape is a gift from God, you know.
This puts the anti-abortion fronts known as pregnancy crisis centers to the fore. They routinely lie to women about the effects of abortion. 

In other states they've been caught saying abortion created antibodies that will induce miscarriages in future pregnancies. 

They've tried to link abortion to mental health issues, falsely. 

They say the pill causes abortions, again contradicting the AMA. 

Also, condoms are naturally porous so they don't work. 

The only  way acceptable way to avoid pregnancy is the ole rhythm method or abstinence.

The sole reason for these regulations undoing decades of progress is to force women to give birth. They want to humiliate unmarried women who have sex. Basically codifying slut shaming.

Since women are wilful, sinful creatures they need to be shown the sonograms. Obviously they don't realize that is a baby, not an undeveloped clump of cells.

We all know they blithely seek abortion as an easy, convenient form of birth control. They are too stupid and hormone addled to make these decisions anyway. After all they refuse to accept the consequences of their sinful, wanton desire to have sex outside of marriage.

The very best way to keep these feminazis out of public life is to control their reproductive options. 

Because of the hippies and commies in the Sixties, women have decided they should no longer be subservient to men. They have this absurdist notion they are as intelligent as and equal to men. The girls think they deserve equal pay also.

The Nineteenth Amendment was a mistake. Ask Ann Coulter.

The best way to remove these pesky women from business and politics is let's keep them pregnant through most of their reproductive years. If they can't plan their life they have to settle for women's work. They'll stop taking jobs from men. We'll quit wasting money and time educating them. After all how much education does a walking life support system for a fetus actually need? 

The girls need to go back to their God ordained role in the family. An incubator and child rearer. They need to be obedient to their husband.

To these views being passed off as helping women I say, are you fucking crazy? This is the Twenty-First Century for Christ's sake. We can not treat women like we are still a bronze age nomadic tribe.

I respect women as the individuals they are.

I respect women as equal in all ways before the law and in society.

I want my Daughter to live a long fulfilling life seeking her happiness, not some preacher's view of that.

I do this for my daughter's better tomorrow.
Who do you do it for??

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fear and Loathing in a new Millennium: I miss Hunter Thompson

          I discovered him in the pages of Rolling Stone.
 Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. His prose, viewpoint and voice changed in explosive ways the way I viewed the world, politics and writing in general.
To me he was an anarchist unleashed in print, striding the world as a larger than life figure. With laser like precision he lobbed firebombs at convention. He eviscerated celebrity and politicians with intellect, inspired joy and at times, brilliant insanity.
His coverage of the 1972 election cycle was presented in issues of Rolling Stone. The viewpoint was seemingly a drug and alcohol fueled frenzy that belied the prescient despair for America's political future. It is in my opinion the best first person account of the American political process ever penned. The visceral horror he showed us was only shades of what would eventually become the norm.
Those dispatches from the bitter battlefield of modern America was collected and published as "Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail". This book should be required reading for any Historian, Political Science major, pundit wannabe or a sane person trying to understand modern political insanity as it happened in real time.
Doctor Thompson presented as a proud, intellectually secure anarchist. He held all our institutions in disdain. Hunter was alternately, whimsical, vicious, bemused and bewildered by the social ruins he wandered through. Often as a provocateur rather than an observer.
Looking back Hunter Thompson and Richard Nixon were natural enemies. Like the cobra and the mongoose. Together they defined the American experience of 70's America.
Nixon showed us the venality of anything goes, end justifies the means and leave your opponents corpse rotting by the road school of American political life. He was a master media manipulator even as it turned on and devoured him. Nixon was the walking dead in the American nightmare. Throughout his life he was repeatedly destroyed politically and left for dead. He always rose, stronger and haunted us anew.
Nixon was destroyed when he lost his run for California Governor in 1962. He displayed a hint of his arrogant, vicious disdain for America as he lashed out. "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore", he promised. He lied.
From '62 to '68 Nixon travelled the US like the Ancient Mariner. A shade seeking salvation while doomed to wander aimlessly.
He attended Republican fundraisers in places most of us didn't realize existed. He collected political IOU's like we collected baseball cards. If it would give him an edge in his quest for the Presidency he would cut the ribbon at a new Pet Store. Again he was reinventing himself. The vicious, venal cold warrior was replaced by a visionary statesman.
After he was hounded from office, one step ahead of impeachment, he was a disgraced Republican pariah. No candidate would be caught dead anywhere near him. Rather than fade away he arose again as an elder statesman. The criminal bastard was treated as if his outlook on world and domestic issues even mattered.
At his funeral he was eulogized as an important personage in American History. That he was. The thug that singlehandedly nearly destroyed the Country. It seems this time they drove a stake through that evil demonic prick's heart. He hasn't risen from the dead like an American vampire as he was wont to do for decades.
For far too long I was a cable TV installer. Once I was hooking up cable for a woman here in Columbus. It was a rather upscale apartment complex of the type Central Ohio is rife with. She was moving in and in one room were framed photos of the Trickster. Autographed. I may have looked askance at them. Obviously she saw I despised the disgraced, not rotting in prison, former President. She looked me in the eyes and said,"You're one of those, aren't you?" i replied than indeed I was. She had helped on his memoirs. She asked me to leave when I asked if she planned to write more fiction.
Hunter Thompson went after Nixon like a terrier after a rat. He exposed to us the underbelly of a man obsessed with power at any cost, A man that would do anything to get it . And anything to keep it.
With Dick, as with everything else he did, Hunter said exactly what he felt about Nixon. He gave voice to a generation that learned to despise RMN. And he put Nixon into context of a nation in a death spiral.  Thompson was my Salinger. A worthy successor to Twain as a commentator on the foibles and phantoms of society. He pulled no punches. He was honest in his views. He was intellectually consistent. The prose was a epee in the hands of a master.
Thompson eviscerated the George W. Bush Presidency with the same glee and profanely, precise view he had of Nixon. He showed us that Bush/Cheney was the successor to the corruption Nixon wrote the playbook for. He exposed their hatred for American political convention. He told us how they took a prosperous nation at peace and turned us into a war waging debtor.
When Hunter took his life we lost a genius.
America lost a voice that transcended the petty noise that passes for commentary today. We need a hundred Thompsons today.
I'd settle for one.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Again the Ohio Gop is ready to ban Abortion in a heartbeat

                  Same old story. The same old song and dance.
In the last legislative Session the Ohio House of Representatives decided a major problem that faced the once moderate State of Ohio was Abortion. So they acted.
After passing their version of Senate Bill 5, gutting Public Sector Union rights and passing a draconian budget, they turned their attention to women. As attention was directed at trying to stop the union busting bill in the Senate the House went to work.
In 2010 the GOP gained control of both Ohio Houses. As I remember the election cycle in '10 was the GOP slamming Democrats for losing jobs in Ohio during the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. The litany was job,jobs, jobs, mirroring the National Party's strategy to retake the US House of Representatives.  If abortion was mentioned I don't recall it being a front and center promise by the Republicans.
Republican Rep Danny Bubp cited the 2010 Election as a vote for change which the Caucus sees as a green light to go after abortion rights in Ohio. Thus the Heartbeat Bill was introduced. The bill's primary purpose was to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. That occurs at about six to seven weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant.
The bill was written as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade which permits abortion, as a woman's right, until fetal viability outside the womb, commonly seen as 24 weeks. Everyone knew the bill would not stand judicial scrutiny as to its constitutionality. Speaker of the Ohio House Bachelder   even said they were writing bills for the courts. After slashing the Ohio Budget to the bone saying education, safety nets and safety services were unaffordable at pre-2011 levels an expensive court fight was reasonable. Because, you know......FREEDOM.
The bill garnered forty-eight Republican co-sponsors. It contained no provision for rape, incest or the mental health of the mother. Janet Folger Porter the former legislative Director for Ohio Right To LIfe called the bill the most "protective" in the nation. Opponents called it the most restrictive.
This bill was called unconstitutional by Ohio Right To Life and they urged the House not to pass it. They saw no point in a protracted, expensive court fight on a loser of a law. They were also concerned a loss on this fight could roll back the restrictions Ohio had passed and were planning.They were ignored as the House opened a mortifying example of political theater. Ohio was about to take center stage in the National theater of the absurd.
In committee the GOP had fetal testimony via ultrasound to have the heartbeat heard and the fetus seen on a big screen. One woman who was nine weeks along, when they had trouble finding a heartbeat quipped if a vaginal probe was used there'd be no problem. This witty comment drew chuckles from the men on the committee. A classy bunch, these Republicans.
An attorney said many women who are raped want to carry that child to term as a form of victory over their rapist. This elicited gasps from women in the audience. Surprising since who knows how a woman feels about rape better than a man. He also mentioned had Romeo been able to detect Juliet's heartbeat he wouldn't have committed suicide and would have saved Juliet from that fate as well. When your reasons to push a bill are mostly fictional you may as well cite a play.
The only comment Ohio Governor John Kasich had was the bill may not be a good for attracting new businesses to Ohio.
The Heartbeat bill hearings and vote were the caliope for the political circus that was Ohio during 2011. It passed along a party line vote and went to the Senate. The Ohio GOP was in the process of being bitch slapped by voters over the Union busting bill and The Senate Majority Leader quashed the abortion bill in the Senate. It never made it out of committee before the session ended in 2012.
Since the Republicans controlled all the Statewide offices and both Houses of the Legislature they gerrymandered the State to within an inch of it's life. The result was a larger, veto proof, more extreme GOP Legislative majority.
When the new Legislative session began Ohio was under the gun for a new biennial budget. They prohibited Medicaid expansion. Also because it is an important budgetary issue, they passed extremely restrictive abortion regulations and redefined pregnancy in the budget. For good measure let's slide these provisions in at the last minute to prevent public hearings.
Many observers felt since these regulations were so restrictive Governor Kasich would use the line item veto to remove them. He got the budget on Friday afternoon. Over the weekend he reminded everyone within earshot of his pro life credentials. Every chance he got and the media gave him numerous chances. On Monday, surrounded by only men, he declined to veto those measures.
This was celebrated as a victory by the pro lifers. They were giddy with self righteous joy.
At this time Texas was hogging the headlines with their own abortion extravaganza so Ohio didn't receive the outrage it should have. Once more this is portrayed as a Southern attitude as Ohio tries to out crazy Texas. Which they have since Texas hasn't redefined the definition of when pregnancy starts. Yet. The North has proved this isn't a regional issue. It is a Republican Priority to appease the base.
Since to the Ohio GOP the provisions of the budget didn't restrict abortion enough they decided to revisit the issue. The Heartbeat Bill is on a comeback tour.
The anti-abortion group Faith2Action sponsored the presser to announce the CPR on the Heartbeat Bill. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar,along with seventeen of their nineteen children, attended and endorsed the bill. The circus is putting the big top back up.
One should expect the absurdities once more as the Republicans posture and proclaim their pro life credentials prior to the 2014 elections. Red meat galore will be thrown around the State House. Political theater masquerading as thoughtful debate in committee. After all being a Republican officeholder in Ohio make you a de facto OB/GYN and qualified to direct MD's in the proper, moral way to practice medicine.
Once more into the breech.
Our voices need to be raised.
The bill will pass the House. It may pass the Senate. I believe Kasich, as he positions himself for a run at the White House will sign it. There is no better way to prove you are a champion of marginalizing women than signing a bill that won't survive a court test. You tried but those activist judges thwarted the will of Ohioans.
We need to yell, NO! Reasonable Buckeyes need to make this an issue. Force the GOP to proudly show how they feel about women in this State.
We need to get out the vote and try to overcome the gerrymandered districts and take back the State from the Taliban.
Make it loud.
Make it local.
Make it Statewide.
Make it National.
Make Kasich a one term Governor.
Stop his Presidential hopes here and now.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rand Paul:We all shrugged.

          The biggest problem I feel facing the Republican Party in 2016 is 2012.
Remember the Debates? Thoughtful, compassionate crowds in attendance. One booed an active duty, deployed service member for being Gay. Another booed Ron Paul as they cheered "let him die" concerning a hypothetical thirty year old stroke victim that was uninsured.
As it looks now the potential candidates will make the 2012 crew look thoughtful, reasoned and statesmen like.
Let's look at the Freshman Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Dr. Rand Paul.
He is the son of Ron Paul, the darling of campus Libertarians(Mostly on his stance on legalizing Marijuana)
Rand was elected in 2010 during the Tea Party wave.
He immediately went on the Rachel Maddow show and stuck his foot in his mouth. He postulated that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional because it forced businesses not to discriminate. It was a Federal Government intrusion into the ownership and use of private property. Newly elected Senator Paul felt the free market was better suited to ending segregation than Government fiat. He said that people who didn't agree with banning African Americans from public establishments would cease supporting those businesses. This would force free market adjustments ending the practice to maintain profitability. This was going so very well in the Sixties. If Woolworth's was still in business we could ask how that was working out. Those lunch counters were the picture of progressive America.
Senator Paul has made it a point to push his brand of Libertarianism into the workings of the Senate, a place where change is not a very welcome visitor.
Paul did an actual 13 hour talking filibuster(which made the GOP nervous in case it created a new precedent). It was sort of about the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director. He used this to also push his opposition to domestic use of drones on US citizens. As a politician he exaggerated the effect.
Rand Paul is an opponent of Foreign Aid and expounds an isolationist view of the American role in the world. This has caused clashes with more militarily aggressive Republican Senators like John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham(R-SC). It has also attracted support from the Unicorn /Emo wing of the Left.
Senator Paul has been visiting the early primary States lately building support for a possible 2016 run. He is hoping to draw on and solidify his father's 2012 base and fundraising channels.Yes, I know it's early. Hell we just had an election last November. It appears the silly season of Republican Presidential hopefuls has started extremely early. This may have the benefit of an early self immolation of nascent GOP hopefuls.
Now he has joined the Senate reactionary push to shut down the Federal Government over defunding the Affordable Care Act. Like his Senatorial cohorts he feels the Democrats and The President will take the political heat for GOP extortion.
There are downsides to Rand Paul's chances.
Only one sitting Senator has been elected President since John Kennedy did it in 1960. That's right it was Senator Barack Obama. After a forty eight year hiatus it may not be extremely likely to happen again so soon.
Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Dem nominee. It is hers to win or lose. Her debate skills are well known. As an Opthamologist Senator Paul's debating skills are suspect. Smart money would be on him getting hammered by Hillary.
His anti immigration stance will likely hurt him with Hispanics. His free market civil rights stance may increase turnout in a general election by concerned African Americans.
His dislike of Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist may hurt his chances with Seniors. He is also not a fan of the safety net. That and his not viewing Women's issues as freedom issues won't help close the GOP's gender gap.
Senator Paul is being touted as a strong candidate by pundits right and left even though he has only won one election. This only helps candidates remaining in the background. Guy's like Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker.
Both are experienced Executives of large States. Both are honing their national images as pro life, union busters to appeal to the rabid right base.
The next three years wil be interesting. Like the Chinese curse interesting.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ted Cruz: A basket full of crazy. Bless his heart.

                 I am sorely conflicted about Texas.
Some things I love about Tejas.
Friendly people abound.Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, ZZ Top and the music in general. South By Southwest is on my bucket list. Food, You know, texmex and BBQ. Mmmm. Their love of imbibing. Is Pearl still around? Texans also know how to party. The great State of Texas is also known to have a lot of stunningly beautiful women.
I've been to Texas and enjoyed myself immensely.
Now the flip side of the coin.
The politicians who garner national attention by saying stunningly stupid shit. Their extremist views on women, minorities and America in general. This isn't a recent development. Unfortunately, at the time, many in America thought if John Kennedy were to be assassinated, it would be in Texas.
For decades Texas was an extreme outlier in American politics. (has LBJ been disowned by Texas yet?) There were a lot of right wing wackos with money railing about commies under the bed, civil rights and not nuking the Ruskies or Chinese. Or both. The Hunts come to mind.
So Texas since Nixon unleashed the covertly racist, reactionary Republican "Southern Strategy"is not a surprise.
That election strategy has unleashed the worst of racial fears and attitudes, not just across the South, but throughout The United States as well.
Where Texas was once a political outlier they are now a leader of extremism. States like Ohio are in a competition to see who can out Texas, Texas.
Rick Perry embarrassed Texas throughout his 2012 run at the White House. As Governor he has drawn amazed disbelief of sane people for his policies. The man's explanations of said policies are confusing at best. He has raised a lot of money for Democrats nationally.
I could list the extreme Texan policies and politicians but I don't have days to devote to it. So, as an example, let's talk about Senator Ted Cruz.
Oh dear God, where to start?
Birthers seem to be OK with Ted Cruz. A white man, born in Canada. Sure, his mother was an American citizen. His father? A Cuban who fought with Castro. A Cuban who didn't bother to become an American citizen until less than a decade ago. Senator Cruz discovered recently he may have dual citizenship. Ooops. He renounced it this week. Just in case anyone thought he may be a Canadian Manchurian Candidate. He needed to reassure Texans he wasn't going to impose Hockey, Curling, Canadian Football, Gay Marriage and universal health care on them.
Obviously this man is eligible to run for President, unlike Our current President. That mixed race man, born in Hawaii to a mother who was an American citizen is blatantly ineligible.
After winning an expensive, even by Texas standards, primary runoff, Cruz has been anointed the intellectual leader of the Tea Party. I would say that is a dubious distinction. Somehow intellectual and Tea Party seems a contradiction in terms. Just sayin'. Though by all accounts he is said to be a very intelligent man. Princeton . Harvard Law. Like the President. Oops, again.
As a well educated attorney he seems to hold Constitutional beliefs not supported by precedent or Judicial cannon. Another case of a conservative saying I am right though everybody else and American history is wrong.  I wonder about his feelings on Marbury v. Madison?
As a matter of policy Senator Cruz(R-TX)has decided not to play nice with the Senate Republican Caucus.The Freshman Senator has broken ranks with the party repeatedly. He has declined to endorse Minority leader McConnell in his Primary in Kentucky. This could cause Senator Cruz problems should McConnell be reelected to the Senate and as Minority Leader in the next Senate. Or, God Forbid, Majority Leader.
Ted has staked out a position that defunding the ACA should be the Republican Party's stand in upcoming Continuing Funding Resolution talks. He says fund everything except the ACA. Pick a fight over this with the Democrats and the President. Republican leadership in both Houses see this as a loser. Shutting down the Federal Government didn't workout so well the last time.
Cruz has been ripped by other Republicans for pushing a shutdown to build his mailing lists and support for a 2016 run at the Presidency. His response? Calling the Senate Republicans the Surrender Caucus. A good idea to alienate people whose support you may need if you do run for POTUS.
Senator Cruz opposes abortion rights. He voted no on The Violence Against Women Act. He has said unemployment Compensation creates unemployment. Marriage Equality will end free speech. Funding birth control is an assault on our liberties.Ted felt the Newtown families were props as he opposed background checks.
A Harvard Law educated Attorney said that the only reason the President hasn't been impeached is a Democratic controlled Senate. Shh. Ignore there is no impeachable offense. He truly thinks that the public will give the Republicans a pass on shutting down the government over the ACA if Dems don't cave.
All in all, even for Tejas, this man is a special kind of crazy. He masks it well. He tries to appear reasonable as he says something beyond the pale.
With Cruz, Paul and the usual suspects lining up for a '16 run, they will make the '12 field look reasonable and thoughtful. It seems the GOP has bought the myth that had they run someone far right the would have beat a left/center Democrat.
Good luck with that idea. Go for it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Crazy Train is in the Station.

               OK I know it's 2013 I am also aware there is no Presidential election until 2016. However the speculation is rampant and the GOP hopefuls are starting to work to raise their national profiles. Part of this I feel is media driven, After all a 24/7 news cycle is hungry for topics to pretend are actual news.
I may as well have some fun too.
On the Democratic side it's rather quiet. The reason being the idea the Nomination is Hillary Clinton's to lose if she decides to run.
Now. the Republican side is quite different. Already you have potential candidates making moves, much earlier than usual. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are making the usual potential candidate noises.They're visiting the early Primary States. State Fairs, County GOP dinners and evangelical Christian conferences that normally don't surface into news coverage until the Primary season. These venues are attracting a slew of National Republican figures.
The search for support this early is usually done more quietly. Nixon ,while he was in the wilderness after losing in California, perfected this. He went anywhere. State GOP gatherings. Small county gatherings. He campaigned for anyone. Did fundraising. In '68 he'd accumulated a stack of IOU's which he cashed in for the nomination. The tradition continues.
It appears the Republicans have been listening to the pundits who say the reason they were unable to defeat Barack Obama was their candidate wasn't conservative enough. I've never understood that reasoning. John McCain and Mitt Romney both lost to a left/center Democratic candidate by convincing margins.So. someone more conservative could pulled more voters who were sitting out to overcome the lead and win? I find that idea dubious at best. So, if they decide to go off the edge this election cycle will be interesting.
The early hopefuls are very conservative.
Rand Paul, Freshman Senator from KY, feels the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional. Paul is Ok with shutting down the Government over ACA. He's an isolationist. That ideology peaked just after Pearl Harbor. He is also perhaps the most visible exponent of Libertarianism. See we tried that in the 18th Century and said Hell No, scraping it for Federalism.
Ted Cruz is the freshman Senator from Texas. Rabid abortion foe, proponent of shutting down the Government to defund ACA. He brags about not being a team player in the Senate. Now, that can only help as you may need local politicians while you run for President. Oh,he was born to a Cuban father(who fought with Castro) and an American born Mother. In Canada. He just renounced Canadian citizenship.(Dual Citizenship) I am still waiting for all the birthers to go batshit.
marco Rubio Freshman Senator from Florida. A fan of shutting down the Government over ACA. For immigration. Against immigration. He has no problem with wet foot/dry foot policy towards illegal immigrants from Cuba.His support of the Ryan budget may be hard to explain to the retirees in Florida.
John kasich the Governor of Ohio is being touted on Fox as the way to rebrand the GO. On the surface he seems reasonable. An illusion. He has presided over a failed attack on Unions. He's cut taxes on Ohio's wealthy. He has signed reprehensible, regressive abortion regulations. He flies his pro life flag for the National base. He's come out in favor of the Balanced Budget Amendment, a perennial conservative favorite. We'll forget his abysmal 2000 run.
Rick Santorum is lurking about. He was front and center in Iowa again. He was front and center in the Abortion debacle in Texas. If restoring 8th century feudal Catholic policies and the Inquisition is that popular on the right he could be viable. As the runner up in '12 he should be the traditional GOP front runner. Guess they're abandoning tradition.
Rick Perry. He'll run. He forgot why he lost in '12.
Bill Kristol thinks Sarah Palin should run for Senate in Alaska to rehab her image. Does she even realize her image needs rehabbed? All I can say is..please.
And old Mike Huckabee is staying visible perhaps hoping to become a king maker.
So let's sit back and watch. This will be interesting. I am a big fan of right wing political cannibalism. If the GOP bans CNN and NBC from debates, it will be even more interesting. If Fox is the lead in GOP debates it will showcase the extreme positions being passed of as sane.
So it is time to sit back and wait for the train wreck.
Remember though, there is a lot of money out there ready to be thrown around we can't be complacent
The GOP States will try to suppress the vote.
We need to control the message. Truth versus their lies, misrepresentations and paranoid fantasy.
We must hold the Senate.
We need to take the House.
We need to out work them.
We need to out organize.
Out vote them.
2016 starts today.
2014 started yesterday.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kasich in '16? The branding of the meritocracy of mediocrity.

          Governor John Kasich(R-OH). has utilized the non-denials from election playbooks to play down a supposed groundswell of support for a future run at the Presidency. Let's remember that in 2000 he left the US House of Representatives and started a campaign for the White House.
He tried to position himself as the guy who single handedly balanced the Federal budget. John boy has never been shy about taking credit where credit isn't due. His campaign collapsed under massive indifference.
So. He took a job with Lehman Brothers(Yeah, those guys), hired on at Fox News and was considered a viable political commentator. Kasich had a Fox show called "The Heartland" until he started running for Governor. He subbed for Hannity and O'Reilly. He was seen all over the Network.
During his run he was on with Sean. The appearance was basically a telethon for Kasich's fundraising efforts. Not surprisingly Hannity tossed Kasich softballs and mused about how important "we" win the Ohio Governorship. Sean has never been shy about overt partisan campaigning on his show. The only real surprise is Fox allowed it for so long.
John ran a campaign against Democratic Governor Ted Strickland that was the usual GOP,Tea Party infused, fact challenged travesty that 2010 was so noted for. It was vicious. He blamed the meltdown of Ohio's economy on Governor Strickland, ignoring the catastrophic collapse caused by his former employer Lehman Brothers and Wall Street using the market as a casino. As it was he barely won by about a percentage point in a year when The Tea Party and GOP bitch slapped complacent Democrats across the country.
To plug an 8 billion dollar hole in the Budget (exaggerated, some reports said) Kasich slashed State Jobs(as he gave large raises to political appointees) cut school funding by nearly 12% and funding to local governments by 50%. This lead to layoffs of  teachers.firefighters and police officers and curtailment of other vital services. All this did was move the need for funding to local property tax levies. The administration also thought it was a good idea to eliminate the Estate Tax and cut taxes for the wealthiest Ohioans.
The 2010 electoral massacre gave Kasich a nominally GOP State Senate and House.The reality though was most of the freshmen were Tea Party members or sympathetic to them. This caused issues for the leadership in both Houses. Zealots are notoriously tough to keep in line. A lot like herding cats.
Like George Bush in 2004, Kasich felt a razor thin victory was a mandate to over reach. They decided it was an amazingly good idea to take on Organized Labor. Bills were introduced and passed stripping bargaining rights for Public Sector Unions. Kasich pitched this as a way to save local governments money and make Ohio more business friendly. We Democrats knew if this passed Private Sector Unions were next.
The protests I attended at the Ohio State House were the largest I'd seen since the opposition to the Vietnam War. I liked the fact there were no clubs and tear gas. Union members from across the State voiced their opposition. A Delegation from Wisconsin arrived in a show of solidarity. You know you have issues when WI feels sorry for you. After assorted Republican political shenanigans the bill passed and was signed into law.
Immediately those opposed to this scathing strike against traditional Union rights sprang into action.
A petition drive to put this law on the ballot for repeal garnered a record amount of signatures in a record amount of time.
Panicked by poll numbers the GOP tried to negotiate. They said they would remove restriction on Police Unions in a blatant attempt to divide and conquer. To their credit the Ohio Fraternal Order Of Police told them to shove it. The Republicans offered to repeal if the ballot measure was dropped. They basically said, trust us. We'll change the bill. Since all opposing committee testimony was ignored, the decision was made not to trust them.
So, as massive amounts of out of State money poured in, The Right tried to paint the supporters of repeal as unreasonable for not negotiating. This ignored the Legislature's steamrolling this bill through.
Kasich stumped for the law. GOP contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry came out in opposition to repeal. A Republican operative I know said the poll numbers was only an education problem. Voters needed to be taught why repeal was bad. He predicted the repeal would fail. He also predicted Romney would take Ohio by 5 points.
The repeal won 61% to 39%. Kasich and the Republicans had their asses handed to them.
So the Legislature looking at the vicious fight going on over the repeal and the impending defeat of their law they continued business as usual.  They basically outlawed abortion.
The Ohio House introduced The Heartbeat bill in the Spring of 2011. This bill banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat was detected. This usually occurs around five or six weeks before most women even realize they are pregnant. There was also no exemptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. At the time it would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
The Republicans had testimony from fetuses via ultra sound in committee. They heard from supposed "abortion survivors", and women who said they were mislead about the effects of abortion. Opponents' testimony was given short shrift.
The House Speaker admitted the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. Right to life groups were split on the bill. It passed in the House along party lines.
When asked about the bill the Governor's Press Secretary said the Governor doesn't take a position on every bill and took the opportunity to fly Kasich's pro life banner for the base.
On the same day the House passed three abortion bills. One banned abortion after 20 weeks. One prohibited the coming insurance exchanges from having abortion coverage in any policy sold there. And the Heartbeat bill.
The first two passed the Senate and became law. The heartbeat bill languished in the Senate and died there at the end of the session.
2012. Social issues were debated in the Presidential campaign. The President won Ohio, convincingly.
Social issues were also debated in the Ohio United States Senate campaign. Democrat Sherrod Brown spanked challenger Josh Mandel the Eddie Haskell of Ohio politics.
Due to the gerrymandered districts in Ohio more extremist right wing State Reps and Senators were elected. There is a veto proof majority in both Houses. Following the rejection of their social agenda they did the only logical thing. The GOP immediately went after abortion, again.
They passed regressive attacks on women's health and rights in the biannual budget bill. This stops a ballot repeal. Many Dems I know felt these were so restrictive that the Governor would use the line item veto on them. I disagreed. I would have rather been wrong. He let them stand. Texas was on stage at the time and Ohio sorta slid under the lights not getting the outrage it deserved.
Prior to signing the Budget Kasich took every opportunity to mention his pro life credentials. By signing that bill he was presenting himself as a fearless defender of the unborn and a champion of marginalizing women. This was for the National conservative base.
He has received presidential endorsements(meaningless this early). He's already appearing on Fox and getting softballed. He came out in support of a balanced budget amendment, a perennial conservative favorite.
So I don't care about denials. John's preparing a run.
The best way to derail him is to make him a one term Gov. However his tendency to go off script would have been fun to watch as he crashed and burned.
The people here in Ohio have to take back our State from the extreme.
Ohio was once reasonable.
It must be again.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tin Soldiers and Nixon coming. May 4,1970 (REVISED: Video link added)

          I was a High School Senior on May 4,1970.
I was at Whitehall-Yearling High School, in a suburb of Columbus Ohio.
I didn't know the world was going to change.

I came of age in the Sixties. Walter Cronkite showed me the world every night on channel 10, the CBS affiliate. I saw Jack Kennedy speak in Berlin and murdered in Dallas. I saw the dogs, fire hoses and clubs in Selma, Birmingham. Watts and Detroit went up in flames. I watched too many cities burn. I saw Martin Luther King say "I have a dream." I watched the aftermath of his being gunned down in Memphis.

I watched in awe as Bobby Kennedy campaigned for President in 1968. I saw the hope he brought to America. I was moved by the impassioned crowds, the soaring rhetoric. Bobby's speech the night Martin died, in the ghetto of Indianapolis, from the back of a flatbed truck was what may be the best speech of the last half of the twentieth century. In June of '68 Cronkite, like he did with JFK, tried to make sense of Bobby's death in L.A. for a stunned nation.

I saw the Days of Rage at the '68 Democratic Convention as the Chicago Police beat press and protesters alike into the ground.

The Soviets crushed the Prague Spring. The United States and The Soviet Union were locked in a deadly dance of madness. Walter reported every night. The Sixties were not just fun, sex and music.

And there was Vietnam.

Always Vietnam. It wound itself through the psyche of America like a vicious parasite, dividing the nation. Young versus old. Longhair versus hardhat. Hawks and Doves. If you were white and had some means at all you could beat the draft. If you were poor or black you were in Saigon. The children of privilege supported the war and draft knowing they would never be in harm's way.

We young hit the streets to protest this travesty of a war. We tried to open the eyes of America to issues that festered and needed attention. We were called Commies. Un American. All we heard was Love it or leave it. My country right or wrong. It was the closest a white kid could ever get to being black. Stopped and searched for your looks. The way you were dressed. The music you were listening to. Police violence directed at you without recourse. America.

The anti-war protests were dismissed by many as the work of the East and West coast elite intellectuals. Columbia and Harvard. UCLA and USC Berkeley. The middle of the nation was rather quiet as the big cities dealt with the anger of their children. There were protests but they were smaller in scale and rather well behaved.

The times they were changing.

Something we have never learned here in the US is when you violently try to crush a movement you risk radicalizing that movement.

There were calls for violent resistance and revolution. There were bombings. There were a few kidnappings. Protests turned into riots as rage built. And the body-count went on.

LBJ was the first President since Lincoln to use the word divisiveness in a speech. America for the first time in a century was poised for a civil war. All the bottled up issues we'd been in denial about were boiling and bubbling to the surface. Like the Civil War, the United States was turning upon itself. Father against son. Brother against brother. Mother against daughter.The racial divide was explosive. The war was not only a foreign policy issue it was a racial issue as well. It was a generational issue. The protests were the largest ever seen. Washington was a city under siege by it's own offspring.

In 1968 Bobby Kennedy may well have won the Presidency. On that night in June, in the Kitchen of The Ambassador Hotel, the future was irrevocably changed. We'll never know how America would be today.

Instead Richard Nixon, consummate politician he was , devised "The Southern Strategy" and "The Silent Majority" riding the politics of race, us versus them and fear to the White House. His vaunted "Secret Plan" was not to end the war but to win power at all costs. It blew up in his face.

There was a convergence of actions that would change the Nation occurring.

The SDS and others were wanting to show that opposition to the war wasn't simply a coastal rebellion by the intelligentsia. A show of widespread support in the heartland was needed.

The other action was Nixon invading Cambodia.

No one knew how badly this was going to end.

At the end of '69 and into 1970 members of the SDS and other groups spread out through the Big 10 talking to and organizing  students across the midwest. I met a woman in an apartment just off the Ohio State Campus. All of us talked about the war and stopping it. I left after about an hour or so. It wasn't till years later I realized I had likely been talking to Bernadette Dohrn.

The war and events of '68 had pushed this white kid from a white blue collar suburb far to the left. I'd grown up on John Wayne and the Lone Ranger. We were the good guys I couldn't square that with what was happening in 'Nam. Many of us had that problem. We might be a bunch of naive white kids in the midwest but we were pissed.

The tinder was ready. All we needed was a spark. We just had to wait for Nixon to do something outrageous and arrogant. As usual the Trickster didn't disappoint.

In the spring of 1970 Nixon ordered an incursion into Cambodia. There was heavy resistance from the North Vietnamese Army. We suffered high casualties. A helicopter pilot during that invasion had a life expectancy of about thirty-five seconds. Unfortunately we weren't at war with Cambodia. Nixon also neglected to mention this little invasion to Congress or the American people.

When the story broke there was worldwide outrage. The Nixon administration was doing frantic damage control as college campus' across America exploded into chaos.

Here in Ohio to cope with a Teamster's trucking strike Gov. Jim Rhodes had called up the National Guard. When Ohio State and the other Ohio colleges erupted in protest Rhodes deployed an already exhausted Guard to quell the outcry.

Even in 1970 Ohio State was a huge University dominating a large portion of the north side of Columbus economically and socially.We high school kids went to campus to buy music, clothes and just to hang out with the Hippies. Or get into the bars, with a friends Draft Card, to see bands and maybe learn how to score.

Like most protests the one at Ohio State started as a non violent student strike on April 29,1970. The protests were about the creation of a Black Studies Department and adding Women's Studies to the course offerings. Campus buildings were picketed. The Ohio Highway Patrol(which has authority over State property)barricaded roads and moved in with loaded firearms and mace. The situation went to hell in a handbasket.

The crowd moved off campus and on to High St. A group of about 2000 students(and this High School Senior) gathered at the intersection of North High St. and 15th Avenue, the entrance to the OSU campus. There stood large iron gates that were a gift of an early twentieth century class. The students closed those gates symbolically closing the University. The reaction from the Ohio Highway Patrol and The Columbus Police Department was swift and brutal. The intent was to crush these "radicals"

Bricks and Molotov Cocktails were thrown, store windows were smashed and there was looting.
The protest at Ohio State was now massive and in response to police overreaction turned extremely violent. As usual the Columbus Police Department came in swinging. Badge numbers were concealed. The infamous "D" Platoon cut a bloody swath through the protesters.

A few weeks earlier Vice President Agnew had advised police treat protesters as enemies. He suggested police should imagine protesters as Nazi Brown Shirts or Klansmen wearing white sheets and act accordingly. CPD took Agnew's advice to heart.The CPD used tear gas and live ammo on the crowd.

This was my first experience with tear gas, a billy club and the full force of a nascent police state . It wasn't the last.

This confrontation went on into the night until at 10 PM Governor Jim Rhodes deployed the National Guard.

The sight of tanks and armored personnel carriers rolling down the streets of an American city and on a Major College campus stopped the disturbance that night. An occupying army does seem to have a chilling effect. In the aftermath it was discovered seven people had been shot and wounded.

A little side note During the day OSU Football Coach Woody Hayes tried to stop the violence, unsuccessfully. During the entire student revolt Hayes would be the only member of The Ohio State University's Administration to actually talk to the students in person.

The next day on April 30th 4000 students took to the streets again in response to Nixon and Cambodia. The violence continued throughout the day. There were 400 arrests and 131 were injured in clashes with the Ohio National Guard.

Over the next week there were occasional confrontations as The Guard and law enforcement kept the area shut down. There were checkpoints manned by troops.Tanks and halftracks rumbled down the major north/south thoroughfare of Columbus Ohio. A couple weeks later I was on campus for a State American History Achievement Test competition.(I placed second) The cloying smell of tear gas still hung in the air. The Ohio State University Campus looked like Prague in '68 after the Soviet's moved in. Troops were everywhere, M-1's slung over their shoulders.

Security was stifling as news of the shootings at the much smaller Kent State University broke. On May 6th OSU closed until the 19th.

Like many I was shocked and angry when the killings at Kent State occurred. I became more liberal. (Radical to some of my friends. even today) The culmination of the Sixties had instilled a deep distrust of Government and the GOP. Rhodes and Nixon were responsible for that. I actively disliked Jim Rhodes and despised Richard Nixon.

Nixon's public response was to the KSU shootings was callous and pandered to his "Silent Majority" base. The tone and other comments by members of the Administration implied it was the dead students fault they were gunned down. John Halderman cited Kent State as the start of Nixon's slide into paranoia. It would culminate in Watergate and the attendant shenanigans.

Nixon's hard line pushed me farther and farther left. I made it a point to participate in every action against the war I could. I protested in favor of establishing women;s studies and African American History departments at Ohio State. I joined hundreds of thousands nationwide in the two Moratorium marches.

Kent State galvanized the left. It resulted in the nomination of George McGovern, our version electorally of Barry Goldwater. Nixon's use of race and fear was nearly overt. Massachusetts stood alone in opposing the reelection of Tricky Dick


The Pentagon Papers were leaked. My Lai and other war crimes became public. America was finally turning against the Vietnam war, slowly, but irrevocably. We signed a peace treaty the day after Lyndon Johnson died. We could have gained the same terms four years earlier but Nixon kept the war going to insure his reelection. The additional names on the wall are his legacy to venal, political fuckery.

The Sixties are remembered for peace, free love, civil rights, the mainstreaming of the Women's Movement and music. It was all of that and more.

Yeah, Rock and Roll changed the day The Beatles hit the States.

America finally responded to the Legacy of Reconstruction and acted to end Jim Crow.

A social upheaval unprecedented in American history unfolded in a decade.

In the space of five years I completely remade myself. I rejected ideas my parents had instilled in me. I embraced equality not as a concept but as a way of life. I rejected war as a first response. I rejected blind patriotism. If you love your nation it is a duty to make it better.

I am liberal. I wear that term as a badge of honor.

I participated fully in that era. I learned lessons that have served me well.

That time has left scars that still affect America today.

We've yet to come to terms with the aftereffects of Vietnam.

The Right today is trying to undo all the advances we made in equality and social safety nets. They condemn that decade for being responsible for all of America's social woes. My response to them is shut the fuck up. We are now fighting new battles in a war I thought we had won. I took beatings then and am prepared to again. Unfortunately, I don't heal as quick as I once did.

The huge violent revolt at Ohio State is largely forgotten now. The State and City tried to play down what happened in the national press. Kent State also pushed all the coverage off the front page.

Kent State, Ohio University and Ohio State cost Jim Rhodes the Republican nomination for Senate in the Tuesday May 8th primary. Rhodes would serve two more terms as Governor. He has a statue and a 30+ story State office tower named after him. Both are on E. Broad St. across from the State House.

The Oval, a large grassy open area in the heart of OSU's campus is crisscrossed with foot paths. The brick walkways were replaced with asphalt because the bricks were thrown in 1970.

The massive iron gates at 15th and High were replaced with two ornamental concrete columns to prevent them from ever being shut again.

The National Guard Unit deployed at Kent State was cleared of wrongdoing in a Grand Jury. No one was disciplined for violations of The Army Field Manual for having loaded weapons in a riot situation. It is still not clear if there was an order to fire. The initial claim of firing in response to a sniper collapsed nearly immediately.

Crosby Stills Nash and Young wrote, recorded and released "Ohio" in about thirty days. The urban legend is Neil knew one of the four killed that dark day.

A monument to the slain and wounded at KSU had been built and dedicated on campus. The Site itself is on the National Historic Register.

I attended an anti war protest when we launched the invasion of Iraq. I took some flack from some young frat rat and managed not to kick his pompous, privileged ass. People who had no intention of serving cheered on the uncalled for invasion. Vietnam redux.

When Occupy Columbus was forming I went to an organizational meeting in the small amphitheater on the Oval at OSU. As I was talking old times with some contemporaries, I overheard a remark from a young woman. She told a companion the people in the Sixties ruined protesting for everyone. I may have told her she was ill informed, pretentious and elitist. She glared at me scornfully as she adjusted her Coach handbag. The protest outfit she was wearing likely cost more than I pay in rent. But she wanted to protest income inequality, bless her heart. Later she made a statement that men's ideas on women's rights were irrelevant since they were the oppressor. I left. Yeah, I am turning into the cranky old guy bitching at the kids for getting on my lawn.

We need to remember the past in order to change the future. That is the forlorn dream of historians.

We need to fight these battles again to restore America's place as a great nation. Unfortunately we are fighting battles today in wars I thought we had won.

America has a rampant resurgent racist rhetoric going mainstream as we are hell bent to reestablish the worst of our past under the guise of tradition and patriotism. Racism is no longer covert as many embrace it calling the 60's as the reason America is now, godless and in decline. We demons on the left are vilified as Un-American.

Love it or leave it? Not so much. I put up with that shit over forty years ago, not going to do it now.

Let's learn our lessons and move forward.

Remember these people

Allison Krause.
Jeffrey Miller.
Sandra Scheuer.
William Schroeder

From the May 4th Memorial at KSU--"Inquire, Learn, Reflect."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The I word. GOP policy of rejecting election results they don't like.

          Since 1992 and the election of Bill Clinton it seems to be Republican policy to assume any Democrat elected President is a usurper of power. It is therefor their duty to remove the threat through a bloodless coup. Let's impeach the bastard.

We'll ignore the fact St. Ronnie should have been Impeached for Iran-Contra. Reagan only ignored Federal law and sold weapons to Iran. It was St. Ronnie so that's cool. He also covertly funded the Contras in Nicaragua in contravention of law. Again if Ronnie did it, cool. If Bush the Elder had not pardoned Ollie North he would have done time and could hang out with G.Gordon Liddy in the felon as conservative icon club.

As it is though when Bill Clinton was elected President the GOP, led by Newt Gingrich, went off the rails. they spent the entire Clinton Presidency trying to find a way to remove him from office. The high approval ratings in polls Clinton enjoyed meant nothing. America was under the spell of a Southern scalawag and had to be saved from itself. Clinton, along with Hillary, murdered Vince Foster, committed fraud in Whitewater, even though they lost money in that investment, and was an evil philanderer.

So after years and millions of dollars they found an excuse to impeach. It was also along mostly party line votes. That should, I guess, prove it wasn't a partisan rejection of two presidential elections. The fact when he was impeached president Clinton's approval rating was 60% and there was no possibility of the Senate convicting was irrelevant. The Republicans felt justified in attempting to nullify the will of the electorate. Because, the public was deluded and wrong. The GOP simply could not accept that having the White House for twenty of twenty-four years had not become their right. A Democrat could not win without shenanigans or a mass delusion of the American voter.

After Bush the younger was elected(sorta) their feeling of ownership returned. Having control of the Congress helped fuel their sense of entitlement. The GOP controlled House and Senate rubber stamped an era of profligate spending and an extremely aggressive foreign policy.

After lying us into an unnecessary war, cutting taxes, blowing a surplus, racking up record debt, their laissez-faire policies derailed the economy.

When Barack Obama was elected the Republicans went around the bend so far their behavior towards Bill Clinton seemed reasoned and polite.

Absurdist conspiracy theories, paranoid beliefs and rejection of his legitimacy became the political norm on the right.

The election was stolen by massive voter fraud perpetrated by ACORN to get a fellow community organizer elected. The President was a secret Muslim. He was a socialist. He was a Kenyan plant following a massive conspiracy to con us into believing he was actually an American citizen. A communist sleeper agent. He was a black terrorist bent on destroying the United States.

These extreme and in many cases delusional views were actually given airtime and column space by reputable media. They were espoused by office holders. Fringe wackos who not long before would have been laughed out of the public arena were treated as actual scholars, serious intellectuals and investigators.It seems that any pretense of rational political discourse has been discarded in favor of absurdist political theater.

The House of Representatives has had myriad investigations, that in a more rational climate, would be called witch hunts. They have examined every use of Presidential policy for attempts to destroy America.

Traditional Presidential actions are called usurpations of power.Appointments by a Democrat are held up for not being reactionary Republican enough.

Since day one there have been Republicans and so called pundits calling for impeachment. The usual reasons given shows a total lack of understanding of how the Federal Government works and a total lack of understanding of the Constitution.

The calls have moved out of the fringe into what is passing for mainstream.

Rep. Steve King(R-Iowa) tried to force repeal of every law signed by President Obama. I can't follow his reasoning it was so convoluted. Another Rep. told his constituency there were enough votes in the House to impeach.

The right has spent the entire Obama Presidency undermining, blocking, attempting nullification, rhetorically rousing the base into calling for open rebellion and civil war. A total rejection of election results, still.

The farthest right wants impeachment over imagined violations of the Constitution. They say they want their country back. This is the most disturbing aspect of today's political climate.

The United States has a long sacred tradition of peaceful transfer of power. Elections stand. You don't agree or want a change, win the next election. I have lived through some tumultuous times in America and have never seen such wholesale rejection of election results. The calls for armed rebellion. The calls for the removal of a popular, twice elected president because he is not American. Talk of Secession. Rampant attempts at nullification.Constant calls for impeachment over things that don't even remotely meet the Constitutional test. Again an impeachment that could never result in conviction in the Senate.

Look guys, you lost. Get over it. Trust me an armed rebellion is not going to work. Impeachment is not going to happen. The President is a citizen so he won't be removed and tried as a usurper. When you lose an election here calling for insurrection because you didn't win is sedition. And Un American. Period. Many of you are lucky a broad interpretation of the First Amendment is being applied. There are still sedition laws on the books. And many of you are in violation of them. So a word of advice. Shut up. Deal with it. Put you gun away unless you think you can take out a tank, a drone, a cruise missle or Ranger team.
In other words grow up. You lost. So, the country you want back is still here, last time I checked. Go sulk and leave the rest of us alone.


Already some GOP officeholders say that if they regain the Senate, they will impeach and remove president Obama from office. There is no better reason to get off your ass and vote Democratic. Holding the Senate and making gains in the House are imperative, The stranglehold of GOP/Tea Party hysteria must be broken. It is the only way to move America forward. We must show we reject sedition and constant rejection of the will of the electorate. Vote!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ohio. Again. The Heartbeat is on a comeback tour.

          Ohio. Again. I am so tired of typing those two words. This State was once moderate and sane. In the Seventies and Eighties we had two Democratic Senators. John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. A decorated fighter pilot. An extremely effective and respected Senator. Senator Metzenbaum vied with Ted Kennedy as the most Liberal voice in the Senate. Now we have Sherrod Brown, a strong progressive voice and Rob Portman, George W. Bush's former Budget Director. This man has forgotten his history and is now somehow a Deficit Hawk.
After Republican control of Ohio for nineteen out of the last twenty-three years Ohio Republicans have, like the party Nationally, lurched blindly to the extreme right. This in a State that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both carried twice. There are those who feel Ohio was stolen in 2004 by George Bush with the aid of the extremist Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Following the 2010 Census GOP lawmakers met in secret to carve up Ohio into safe districts. They rented a hotel room in Columbus with taxpayer money and excluded Democrats from the process. Needless to say the public was also excluded. The result was basically election proofing the Ohio Legislature to maintain GOP control of both houses and the Congressional delegation till 2020.
These extremist Ohio House members passed the "Heartbeat Bill" in 2011. It would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat was detected. Since that usually happens at approximately six weeks, before most women know they're pregnant, it would have effectively banned abortion in Ohio. The Ohio House had "Testimony" from a fetus via ultra sound. Ohio became a national laughingstock. Again. There was also testimony from so-called "Abortion Survivors".
This bill was extreme enough to split the anti-abortion movement in the State.
The bill's backers were open that this bill was designed to challenge Roe v.Wade. The phrase ending abortion in Ohio was thrown around a lot. Many leaders in Ohio's anti-abortion movement felt this was the right bill at the wrong time. They saw such a blatant rejection of established Constitutional law would be a loser in front of SCOTUS. The result would be overturning Ohio's existing restrictive laws. They were hoping for a GOP Presidential win and a more conservative court before having such a draconian law passed.
These concerns didn't deter the Ohio House. They passed the bill in 2011 and sent it to the Ohio Senate. There it languished in committee until it was quashed by the Senate Majority leader.
With the Gerrymandered map Ohio wound up with an even more extremist Legislature in 2012. Both Houses had enough Republicans to steamroller any Democratic opposition.
Following the GOP attack on Public Sector Unions in 2011, when they had their asses handed to them by Ohioans via a ballot measure The Ohio Legislature decided to go after women's reproductive healthcare and rights by using the budget process.
Planned Parenthood and responsible medical providers were moved to the back of the funding line simply for making abortion referrals as were Rape Crisis centers. After all a child of rape is a gift from God. The so-called Pregnancy Crisis Centers are front and center for State family planning funding. In other States these groups have been caught giving misleading information and lying outright about birth control. They only support abstinence for single women and the rhythm method for married women. So organizations that don't believe in birth control are the ones providing advice.
The Budget also redefined pregnancy. The AMA defines the beginning of pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall. The State of Ohio, in their superior wisdom, defines pregnancy as beginning at conception. This plays havoc with some forms of birth control.
This budget is an anti-woman repression template for the rest of the Reactionary State Legislatures. To see the lengths these people have gone to I recommend an excellent Ohio political site, .The budget coverage here has been supurb. The appalling regulations are laid out in detail as are the consequences.
This repressive attempt to relegate Ohio women to simply being a life support system for a fetus doesn't go far enough for these Legislators. They plan to reintroduce The Heartbeat Bill. After all Ohio can't be outdone by Texas for slut shaming and stripping women of their rights as American citizens.
The bill is designed to force a direct challenge to Roe v.Wade. None of the supporters deny this. However at this time it is simply a moot pander to the base. North Dakota already has a similar law. It has been blocked by a Federal Court as an unconstitutional attack on established law. The current SCOTUS is unlikely to over rule this court's opinion. This would also make the Ohio and Texas versions void as well.
Since Governor John Kasich of Ohio has Presidential ambitions and signed the extremist budget he would likely sign a Heartbeat Bill. It would solidify his position as an anti-choice crusader. Ohio doesn't seem to get sustained coverage of it's attack on women. The media prefers the idea this is simply a Southern aberration. Texas gets the press. Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Kansas seem to get a pass. These States have passed awful laws on restricting women's access to safe abortion and family planning services. They are all Northern States. This shows this isn't a regional or Old Confederacy issue. I know this give scant comfort to women in the South but their Northern sisters are under a concerted attack also.
So sane women and men in Ohio and Nationally must be prepared to stand against this attempt to reestablish the time when women were trapped by biology in roles that kept them from fulfilling their potential as human beings.
Women are not walking incubators. They have an inalienable right to decide how their bodies will be used.
They are equal citizens with all the inherent rights that come with that.
The best way to remove women from the public and political arena is to keep them pregnant during most of their reproductive years, Keep them at home, too harried and busy to do anything else.
We can not allow this to happen.
Women across the country must stand with their sisters.
Men must stand with their wives,lovers, sisters, daughters, aunts and mothers.
Draw the line in the sand,. No farther.
Stop this war on women.
Through inaction comes defeat.
Through defeat comes slavery.
Act now. Raise your voice and an army of support.
Now. Time is running out.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You can't fix stupid.

          I've been known to sit back and relax at times. I'll fire up the blu-ray and watch a whole season of a favorite show. Fringe. SG-1. Doctor Who. Sometimes I do it with movies. A bit of Film Noir. The Duke. Star Trek and numerous others. A wonderful way to enjoy the small pleasures of life.
Then I will turn on the news or hit a news site on the web. Perhaps a link on Twitter. My calm is then seriously damaged.
All it takes is hearing the latest GOP attack on voting or women or any other insanity du jour.
Ron White is right. You can't fix stupid.
What I try to do is decide how much is stupid, how much is simple willful ignorance and how much is planned political partisanship. A chance to gain power through intimidation and fear. Unfortunately I think it's all of the above.
There are extremist evangelicals who have won seats in Congress, Statehouses and Legislatures. There have been Tea Party members elected with them. So, we have reactionary ideologues in power. Single issue zealots. People who would burn down the house rather than fix a leaky pipe. People who believe women are the reason for the so-called destruction of the traditional family. People who believe their version of God needs to be inserted into American life by law. Some because they dislike or disagree with history and feel it didn't happen that way. It is some kind of conspiracy to hide the truth.
There are others who reject science on religious grounds. They feel they have a right to impose their vision on everyone.
So let's take a trip through their alternate reality.
Since the Eighties we have seen an unprecedented rise of a strain of conservatism that would appall William Buckley and Barry Goldwater. The intellectual conservatives that founded the American Conservative movement knew that the extreme fringe were antithetical to the American values
Buckley and others were espousing. Thus the Ku Klux Klan, The John Birch Society and the American Nazi party were pushed out and banished from mainstream conservatism.
As the thoughtful leaders of the movement died they were replaced by men without the intellectual discipline needed to maintain the right's integrity as a viable, sane political power. So without an ideological standard the movement started to splinter into assorted factions. Some stayed true to the Buckley/Goldwater view of America. Others wandered off into the weeds of single issue or uninformed, reactionary views of what America should be.
These splinter groups mostly fell into two categories.
1) Reactionary evangelicals. Those who believe The United States was founded as a Christian Theocracy favored by God to spread our way of life.
2) Single issue and extremist reactionary political ideologues.
Down the rabbit hole we go.
Both are the result of Nixon's play to the so-called "Silent Majority" in the 1968 election. It was a blatant attempt to woo Southern voters angry about the Civil Rights Act. By claiming the mantle of "traditional American" values they fostered an us versus them mentality. Us being white men and them being everybody else. George Wallace went after the same voter and was far less subtle in his appeal to racism and the anti youth/Peace movement sentiment.
After Lyndon Johnson decided not to run there was a bloody Democratic Primary fight between Bobby Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy.
In April of 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis Tennessee. in Indianapolis, Indiana Robert Kennedy heard the news right before a scheduled campaign stop in the African American area of town. Local police said they couldn't protect RFK in the heart of the Ghetto. His aides urged him to leave. Kennedy refused and gave what many feel is one of the best speeches in modern political history. The speech lasted four minutes and fifty-seven seconds and was given off the back of a flatbed truck. Bobby spoke of King's vision and told the crowd he could understand their grief and anger since his brother had been gunned down in Dallas. This was the first time he had referred to John's murder in a public forum. Kennedy quoted the Greek playwright Aeschylus, he called for peace, wisdom and compassion.
Cities across America burned that night. Indianapolis was not one of them.
Bobby Kennedy may have clenched the Democratic nomination that night.  Two months later RFK fell to an assassin himself in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.
The Days of rage turned the Chicago Democratic Convention into a war zone on TV. Humphrey won the nomination in a bruising floor fight with the Kennedy delegates. Even with this baggage Humphrey barely lost.
Nixon decided to go after the older, angry white voter. "The Silent Majority". The Southern Strategy. This was the first openly racist campaign waged by the modern GOP. Us vs. them equaled Black and young vs. white and angry. It was worse in '72. Almost overt. Code words flew every time Nixon or Agnew opened their mouth.
After Nixon was kicked to the curb Ford ran a rather clean campaign. It was about the last.
Southern Dixiecrats and many Dems became Republicans. In the North the same thing happened as white voters felt threatened by black political and social gains. The Southern Strategy had matured into a solid generational Republican voting block.
The Evangelicals and extreme conservatives were used as ground troops in knocking on doors and getting out the vote.
In popular culture these people were derided as hillbillies and holy rollers. As I've said before many looked at "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Hee Haw" as documentaries.
In the movie "Oh God", God got snarky with the Televangelist.
In the anger over how they were treated and lack of political power in a country they saw slipping away the GOP solidified this population.
Ronald Reagan used his folksy charm to wage a campaign of covert racism. He also demonized the Democratic opposition. They made the word liberal an insult. Anyone who disagreed was smeared as being Un American A socialist bent on destroying traditional American values and waging war on Christianity. Even reasonable moderate voices were tarred as Liberals.
During the papacy of St. Ronnie a war on Unions was declared. Corporations and the rich were vaunted as the basis of the American post war economic miracle. Union workers were lazy and overpaid. Taxes were cut. Deficits exploded and taxes were raised.
The cultural war against secular life was heating up. Hollywood was destroying American life. Homosexuals were plotting to take over America. Women were abandoning their traditional roles upsetting the natural order of things.
The Robertson's and Falwell's were being taken seriously. The expert use of Television was spreading their word, filling their coffers and growing their political clout. These preachers were frequent guests  at the White House. Political endorsements were sought and turned elections. Fewer people
identified as members of the traditional Religious denominations and were calling themselves Born Again.
Evangelical conservatives railed against the secularization of the United States. Hollywood and Collegiate elites were condemned for destroying American values. Women no longer stayed at home. They wanted careers.They enjoyed sex. African Americans no longer knew their place. They were uppity and wanted equality. Homosexuals were plotting to convert everyone and let their pedaphile prolictivities loose. Lesbians were going to beat up men and take their jobs in construction, law enforcement and the military.
The nation had fallen from the path of God and there would be dire consequences if the Almighty wasn't restored to daily life
The political conservatives were natural allies of the evangelicals. They both distrusted change. So they joined forces.
Both groups felt the GOP was simply paying lip service to their causes and taking advantage of them. They were right. The Republicans were not about to turn the party over to zealots. So, the insurgents took it. They ran against incumbents in primaries and won.
Since the late 90's we have seen moderate voices driven out of the party. The result is as they came into power they were lurching farther to the right. With no moderate power structure to keep them in check they reveled in their newfound ability to legislate to their heart's content.
There were no old warhorses to teach them how to govern. These neophytes saw the lifeblood of government(compromise) vilified as selling out. There was no one to tell them their concept of the Constitution was flawed at best, completely wrong at worst. Most fell over themselves running to the worst case scenario.
This coalition has decided to undo all the progress made over the last century plus. They are fed validation by media sites that would have been laughed out of existence a generation ago. The Fox news model of disinformation, half truths and lies has been adopted and expanded. We are deluged by a tsunami of willful ignorance, lies and hate, 24/7.
The audience that receives most of their information from these sites are deluded into believing we are on the verge of civil war. They are convinced they are under attack.
This has gone from people not understanding how governing works to wanting to destroy what they see as a monolithic, secular government wishing to establish a godless, socialist utopia.
Never underestimate the stupidity of people in large groups. Even more so if they are frightened. They latch on to anything that makes them feel safe.
I lived through the sixties and I have never seen division and hatred the way it exists here today.
Rather than make fun of the Militias we should be concerned at their explosive growth. How many McVeigh's are out there?
Rather than make fun of these extremists we should be concerned. There are likely people North and South who would love to fire on FT. Sumter again.
We need to out work them.
We need to out vote them.
We need to out evangelize them.
Too long have we let the right control the message. We need to fight back against the the lies with cold hard facts.
We can no longer be concerned with hurting their feelings. We've been punching bags for too long. Time to punch back.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ohio joins up with Pregnancy Centers for Women's health. What??

          In  the rush to judgement over the abortion restrictions in Ohio we have lost sight of the deep, caring commitment the GOP legislators are showing to Ohio women. After all, these rules passed in Ohio's budget are for the health and safety of Ohio women. Just ask them.
Clinics that provide abortion services are required to have transfer agreements( A precaution in case of medical complications). These clinics are now forbidden from having transfer agreements with Public hospitals. Since most private hospitals in Ohio have religious affiliations clinics may have problems fulfilling this requirement. It is an excellent idea in a medical emergency,when time is a critical factor, to increase the distance a patient needs to be transported. After all any life saving procedure would be tantamount to an abortion and we can't have public money used to save a woman's life. We all know if she had not had sex she wouldn't be in this situation. Obviously it is the stance of the State of Ohio that sluts don't deserve compassion.
Another way to prove there is no war on women in Ohio is to defund Planned Parenthood. Or sorta defund.
What Ohio has done is change the funding priorities. Any family planning service provider, even if they don't offer abortion services, move to the back of the line for funding if they even make abortion referrals. This includes Rape Crisis Centers. Everyone knows children of rape are gifts from God. Since being a Republican legislator in Ohio makes you a de facto OB/GYN, you can decide if medically responsible treatment can even be mentioned. Once again, had the tramp not gotten knocked up there wouldn't be an issue.
So under these rules Christian anti-abortion, push for carrying to full term propaganda groups are funded. Planned Parenthood, not so much.Thus to ensure the health and safety of Ohio women, which is what these regulations are all about, contraception services will be provided by groups that don't believe in contraception. Natural methods are front and center. Rhythm and abstinence. Two methods that are proven to control a women's reproductive options.
Now, just because these groups have been caught lying in other States doesn't mean they will lie in Ohio. They won't tell women that condoms don't protect against STD's or pregnancy because they are naturally porous. They won't tell women that birth control causes mental health issues. They won't claim abortion can cause the formation of antibodies possibly forcing her immune system to reject a fetus causing a miscarry. Side effects not on the warning sheet are possible.
I am so very proud to live in a State that feels women need to be lied to, humiliated and considered too stupid to make important decisions concerning her health and future. Facts are stubborn things. They only get in the way of caring for women. Giving faith based groups public money to advance their anti-science agenda is needed. God knows women are willful creatures needing a strong hand to guide them. Now, let's go after other rights that are an affront to God. It's the new American way.