Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Isn't Sedition a crime?

               Since the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, we have seen numerous calls for impeachment, arrest, assassination and armed insurrection from so-called "Patriots" on the far right.

These people cry tyranny as they attempt to inflict their warped value system on the rest of us. They simply can't accept that President Obama has been elected twice by convincing margins. They view him as a usurper. After all he couldn't have been elected without massive fraud and assorted shenanigans.

The radical right has rejected the American electoral process simply because they don't approve of the results.

It seems the hateful, racist rhetoric is not enough. Now we have a Retired Army Major General volunteering to reluctantly lead a military coup. It is as if over night the USA has morphed into a third rate Banana Republic. The cacophony from the right is beyond amazing.

Retired Major General Paul Vallely has repeatedly spoken of a purge of Military general staff that feel POTUS is a tyrant. He has repeatedly called for his arrest. It seems General Vallely has forgotten the US Military is subservient to civilian authority.

Removing the President is not enough according to General Vallely. The Vice President and Congressional leaders of both parties must be forced to resign. Vallely calls for massive protests believing it will force resignations as it did with Nixon. He, like so many in the Tea Party fueled dwellers of an alternate reality sees creeping "progressive socialism" running rampant.

General Vallely declines to call for impeachment like so many of his compatriots because it can't be done politically. Thus, he rejects the will of the American people as shown in our last two national elections. He believes a new George Washington must come forth from the Military and lead America back to what he sees as better times. It doesn't matter the America he wants to restore never existed.

Vallely says we are in "a battle for America" and cites Senator Ted Cruz as saying the same. The General is calling for a groundswell of protests to force the President and congressional leaders to resign. I am amazed he feels the GOP leaders of the House and Senate are complicit in helping "progressive socialism" destroy America.

He cites all the imaginary scandals, Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the ACA. According to Vallely the administration is forcing political correctness on our Armed Forces, weakening us as a Superpower.

Now, as a true patriot, he told a Tea Party group in Surprise Arizona, he would reluctantly lead a coup, if called upon. He advocates surrounding the White House and the Capital building with 250,000 armed Marines to force mass resignations. He claims he has been offered this armed force by some in power who believe like him.

The question is, is Sedition still a crime? Vallely and others constantly call for overthrow of the duly elected Government of thee United States. He wants to reluctantly lead a military coup. Enough is enough. The First Amendment has limits and inciting treason is actionable. It is way past time to get these people's attention with arrest and indictments, followed by a trial.

Disagree with the Government? Fine, speak out. To call for rebellion because you don't like the Nation's course goes past any rational line of protected political speech. Major General Vallely is rejecting over 200 hundred years of American tradition by calling for a military coup. We have to show this type of demagoguery is unacceptable in a Republic. It is time to arrest these traitors.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.

               Sometimes I wonder what has happened to America. This is not the country where I grew up and came of age. Not the country that shaped my worldview, that forged the ideals I hold dear.

We were the good guys. We did the American dream as it was intended.

Maybe the 80's were the turning point.

The post war period was the America I came of age in. The America that was coming to grips with the dismantling of our shameful apartheid. We were struggling in learning to treat women as people.The fight for equality for LBGT Americans was in its infancy, nascent but growing as an idea whose time was near.

Unions had not been decimated. A minimum wage job was a starting place but you could live on it. Higher education was still affordable for any who wanted it. Class was something that could be overcome in our society. We were a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope, freedom and equality..

Of course there were fits and starts. Nixon comes to mind. His prime legacy was a deep abiding mistrust of our government and those in it. Even so, he was talking of national healthcare but got distracted by a burglary in '72. The EPA was created on his watch. He opened China to the world and helped us pull back from decades of cold war brinkmanship with the Soviet Union. Nixon's rampant paranoia was the venal bastard's undoing.

We wandered through the 70's in a daze, a hangover from the 60's tumult and anarchy. And Vietnam. Many of us boomers changed course and became what we once despised. And in far too many ways we were far worse. The quest for money and status as success was for many an obsession.

Many of privileged avoided serving using the very draft deferments they condemned for those opposed to that tragedy in Southeast Asia. They honed their contempt for those not like them. Others that dodged the war they supported for the masses were developing a worldview diametrically opposed to American tradition.

We saw the Cheneys and the Rumsfelds move into mid level positions in Republican Administrations. As we staggered through the 70's they moved upward as they developed and pushed their ideals. It was eventually called Neo-Con for New Conservative. They were actively rejecting the conservatism of William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater. These Neo-Cons aligned themselves with the worst of the American ideologues. They took Nixon's Southern Strategy of playing to fear and racism and made it a driving force towards winning. They saw division, distrust and racism as a winning recipe for power. For reshaping America to embrace their views. They wanted to drive a stake through the heart of The New Deal and Great Society.

These men went after unions as a major threat. They demonized those that disagreed. Any who opposed them were liberal. That was a term they took ownership of, making it obscene. The equivalent of Commie. Of Socialist. Of America haters. In disarray, the Democratic Party fled from many of their ideals to avoid being tarred with that liberal brush. The clear differences between the parties started to blur in the 80's.

Ronald Reagan became the face of the new Republican Party. He parleyed two terms as Governor of California into becoming President. Eighty was close. Eighty-four was a landslide.

Ronnie slashed taxes for the wealthy. Reagan pushed the idea that government was the problem. He demonized moderate Dems as liberals. He pushed the drive to decimate the Union movement. Reagan was intent on unleashing unfettered capitalism by trying to do away with "job killing regulations". The very regulations that protected Americans from harm. He followed the playbook written by a truly evil genius, Lee Atwater. Lee's descendants are active today, driving GOP policy and election strategy.

Reagan changed us from a lender to a debtor nation. He raised taxes as the deficit exploded. Too little. Too late. He took advantage of geo political trends and helped push the USSR into oblivion. His present disciples see him as doing it singlehandedly. It was the result of forty plus years of concerted pressure from the United States and Europe.

The world did rejoice as the Berlin Wall was demolished, the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet Union collapsed. We had no plan for the aftermath. The Neo-Cons stepped into the void.

The Reagan years set the stage for our modern political landscape. The standard bearers for these culture wars came to maturity under Saint Ronnie. In was then the us versus them mentality took root, dividing the nation as we struggled for identity following the end of the cold war. Being the last remaining Superpower was enticing to those who saw an opportunity to expand American power and influence abroad. They envisioned an imperial America and the dawn of Empire. Of course it was never phrased that way.

Our attention shifted from Moscow as we let it collapse into anarchy. We stood by as the Soviet nuclear arsenal was held by assorted break away states. We were more concerned with regaining our influence in the oil fields of the middle east. We saw a concerted policy to reestablish American policy and power that had diminished following the fall of the Shah of Iran.

We increased ties with the Saudis. We supported Iraq as they fought Iran to a stalemate. That support included chemical and conventional weapons.

As Iraq moved to occupy the power vacuum left in the region by the Soviet collapse we pulled our support and treated our former proxy as a rogue power.

Then came the first Gulf War. We established a presence in the Arab monarchies that continues to this day. We supported the opposition in Afghanistan to the Soviet occupation then abandoned them following the pull out. The result was the Taliban.

As we kept a military presence in the region we saw the rise of groups like Al Qaeda. .

We blasted through the nineties oblivious to what we had wrought. We were too busy making money to see what was coming. Dissident voices were ignored. America was engaged in the first battles of the culture war that is currently crushing the gains of the last one hundred and twenty years.

A two term President was hounded and vilified by the GOP. Clinton was eventually impeached by a Republican House who knew it would never clear the Senate. Political theater as policy was now a tool of the burgeoning right. A Texas Governor was poised for a run at the office held by his father.

In the background we saw the religious right seize the primary process of the GOP. They allied with those who were the products of twenty years of the Southern Strategy. These "conservatives" establishment conservationism replacing it with discredited strong States and weak Federal government point of view. In essence they rejected views and lessons learned since the Civil War. Any who disagreed were cast aside as secularists. As Un American. As haters waging war on Christianity. These new Republicans pushed the party to the right. They were unforgiving. They viewed compromise, the lifeblood of a republican form of government as surrender.

Under George W.Bush we saw a surplus squandered. Tax cuts for the wealthy. The acceptance of the myth of the job creators. We saw a Republican controlled House and Senate rubber stamp prolifigate spending. Vice President Chaney famously said, deficits don't matter.

We saw the Neo-Cons, now in power make their move to establish American dominance at the end of a gun.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis as cold warriors were calling for a first strike against Cuba, Robert Kennedy remarked that America doesn't strike first. That's not who we are.

In the first Administration of the twenty-first Century we saw that ideal crushed and swept aside.

September 11, 2001 we saw the attack on America, live on TV. We saw the Pentagon smoking. We saw the wreckage of an airliner smoldering in a Pennsylvania field. We watched, live, the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The world was with us. NATO invoked Article 5 of the charter for the first time. That states an attack on one is an attack on all. the terrorist strike was identified as being planned and directed from Afghanistan. We attacked with NATO support and pushed the Taliban out of power.

Then the Bush Administration began banging the drums of war turning to Iraq.

Iraq was bottled up. Yet it was portrayed, falsely, as collaborating on the September 11 attacks. The Bush Administration knew this wasn't true. They portrayed Iraq as on the verge of having a nuke to use on us or Israel. They also knew this wasn't true.

The new Bush doctrine was The United States would strike first if we felt endangered. This abandoned two centuries of US policy that war should be a last resort. It diminished the role of diplomacy in favor of expanded military options.

When George H.W. Bush decided to invade Kuwait in response to Iraqi aggression he did so with the backing of the United Nations and the Arab League. There was a coalition of States from the region to push Iraq out of Kuwait.

When his son decided to launch an unprovoked attack on Iraq there were few who joined in the ensuing war. The partners were few and the contribution small when compared to the size of American deployment.
We also struck first.

The war did not divide the nation like Vietnam did a generation earlier. You can than a excellent public relations push through the media by the Bush Administration. The public had been convinced by the selected use of leaks and released intelligence to paint a threat where there was none.

The right wing rallied around the war wrapped in the flag. Any not on board were demonized as soft on terrorism. Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld called those opposed appeasers. He went there recalling the specter of a Hitler unleashed on Europe. This was the first time since Vietnam my loyalty and patriotism had been questioned for not falling in line.

I was enraged by that.

Those of us that saw through the charade that was presented as fact were vilified as cowards and anti American. I heard the same flawed arguments directed at us from Vietnam. We were undermining the war effort. We were not patriotic. We were a de facto fifth column giving comfort and hope to the enemy.We hated America and the troops.

Well, I decided I put up with the love it or leave it shit once before. Not this time.

Almost immediately we saw just how unprepared we were for this fight. We saw how badly the plan unraveled.

We went in with far too few troops for the mission.  We did not have the troops to maintain security after we eliminated what police forces that were there. We allowed the welcome to turn into resentment and hatred. Sectarian violence exploded as there was nothing in place to do the basic operations a citizenry expects from the government. Food. Water. Power. Safety.

Our troops were poorly equipped. There was a shortage of body armor. The Humvees were unarmored and quickly became targets. We were enmeshed in a struggle for power between factions that had simmered for decades under Saddam.

We reallocated resources from Afghanistan to Iraq.

America squandered the world's goodwill, sympathy and support.

Here at home there was growing opposition to the war. People like me who had been quiet since the Sixties became reanimated.

In 2004, Bush nearly lost to John Kerry showing how unpopular his policies had become. Bush misread the election results and saw a mandate where none existed. With his radical Republican allies he sought to dismantle Social Security. He had his ass handed to him. His domestic policies were met with stiff opposition. In the 2006 midterms the GOP lost the House and Senate.

During this America saw our troops returning to a underfunded and unprepared VA. Troops were sent on multiple deployments due to there not being a military large enough to carry out the assigned missions. Under Bush we saw how the military is treated by the GOP. Fights over proper funding of the VA. Ignoring the plight of our troops as they tried to reenter society.

All during this the far right wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross attacked those Americans not in lockstep with the agenda as Un American. Michelle Bachman suggested members of Congress be investigated as to whether they were true Americans.

The Bush Administration carried the wars off the books as we saw record spending. For the first time in our nation's history we cut taxes as we went to war. Wall Street was unwatched as it turned the economy into a casino.

The economy crashed. Bush put together a package to bail out banks and investment firms. An aid package was put together to save the last of our major manufacturing base,the auto industry. These moves came at the end of his two terms.

The day Barack Obama took office he was blamed for all the debt accrued in the previous eight years.

Since the election of the first black President we have seen America sink into a vicious, far right conspiracy fueled quagmire.

We see Republican members of the House and Senate reject science. We see them declare law must be based on Christian principles. The President has been assailed by blatantly racist theories. His policies have been obstructed. It is a clear case of politics over the well being of the nation.

They are attacking the old, the poor, women and students. The nation is forced to turn it's back on those in need. The nation is depicted as split between takers and makers. No job? Lazy. Women are too stupid to make decisions regarding their health and futures so the state must do it for them. Christianity is under attack. Science is a liberal plot. Education indoctrinates a hatred of God. People go state to state looking for the best welfare. Ensuring healthcare is tyranny. Gays and independent women have destroyed America.

I can not remember a time when sanity was under attack from so many sides.

Like I said I will not be called a traitor for my beliefs.

To top everything off, I am bi polar. With this disease comes anger. At times it is overwhelming. Part of the way I am surviving, with no healthcare, is directing it into something constructive. I oppose the destruction of this nations ideals by a vocal, uninformed, delusional minority.

So I have become active. I feel the anger and passion I had as I opposed the status quo in the sixties. We ended a war and brought down a presidency. We pushed America towards it's promise lit by the 18th century revolution.

Hell yes I'm angry. It's a burning white hot anger fueled by injustice and nurtured by my disease. An anger I am cursed with that I use to stand and say no. No farther.  My hyper periods give me energy to fight. My depressive periods gives me the quiet to eventually gather my thoughts. I may be a voice in the wilderness but, I am empowered by the belief that someone wants to know where we are. And where we are going.
A sense of purpose. Watch out. I'm not going away.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Principle over people? The GOP in action.

            The Senate Republicans are doing a filibuster in the drive kill the Unemployment Insurance Extension. These Senators are claiming this is a principled stand to prevent sloth and dependency from claiming the jobless in it's cold socialist grasp.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said if you continue to pay people who aren't working, they won't look like a job. He is continuing the idea that the unemployed are on an extended vacation and partying their asses off on that $250.00 check. I mean paying rent, utilities, buying food and fuel for the car leaves a lot of discretionary spending.money. Some feel drug tests are needed. Hell, you can't buy a bag for $250 let alone what's left after life preservation.

The Senate Republicans are stressing this is a matter of principle. We can't afford it without offsetting cuts. As usual these cuts will be made to other parts of the safety net. Never do any of the perks for the wealthy come under the Republican budget ax.

The GOP mindset is UI causes dependency on the dole and discourages finding work. They actually feel the small amount of money one receives is barely enough to keep body and soul together. After all those who aren't wealthy will become addicted to getting money for nothing. It doesn't matter to collect one has to be looking for work.

This extension was signed into law under G.W.Bush when unemployment was 5.6%. Under Bush it was renewed with no problems. Killing this program when unemployment is still over 7% is unprecedented. It is devastating to those long term unemployed. It's not as if they have savings left. It's not like they're lounging around the house.

When Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was talking about why he was opposed to the current bill he spoke of better matching jobs with those in need of jobs. He mentioned there were a 100,000 open jobs in Ohio and 4000,000 unemployed. He accidentally highlighted there are four people for every job.

When the GOP talks of principle we know they are ready to slam the needy again. Never are programs that benefit the wealthy ever put at risk. The Senate Republicans defend all tax loopholes for the rich as they vilify the poor. The bloated Defense budget is sacrosanct.

This is an election year. if the unemployed haven't starved and lost everything they need to push these heartless lizard brained bastards out into the cold, cruel world. Send them packing and show their billionaire backers America is not for sale. We reject the serfdom being forced on us.

The ballot box is the key. Vote!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Suing to save the right to lie in political ads.

               The urban, industrialized areas of Ohio are blue islands in a sea of red. Ohio has gerrymandered the districts to the point they look like they were drawn by a madman using LSD as a muse.The result is an overwhelming majority held by Radical Republicans in the US House and State Legislature.

Republicans talk here how Ohio is a conservative state. I think Ohio electing Barack Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown twice belies that. In the midterms coming up Ohio Dems are in a good position this early in the cycle to retake the statewide offices. Governor Kasich is in a tight race with the Democratic challenger Ed Fitzgerald.

These Ohio Legislators in 2013 slid horrendous abortion regulation into the State budget. The regulations are considered among the worst in the nation, right up there with Arkansas, North Dakota and of course, Texas. The Head of Ohio Right to Life sits on the State Medical Board which oversees healthcare professionals in Ohio. Ohio redefined when pregnancy begins in that budget. The so called "Heartbeat" bill is meandering through the legislative maze currently. This bill effectively bans abortion and is designed to attempt to force the overturning of Roe v Wade.

Suffice it to say the "pro Life" cadre swings a lot of weight in the politics of Ohio. With the Bible in one hand and the flag in another they claim the moral high ground as they try to turn back the clock on women's issues. That claim of superior morality now seems suspect. Two Cincinnati groups are taking a fight to SCOTUS to save their right to lie in political discourse.

During the 2010 midterms, Steve Driehaus (D-OH) was running for reelection against Steve Chabot
(R-OH) in Ohio's first Congressional District. That district has portions of Cincy and a couple of rural counties that border KY and IN.

We all remember 2010 as the emergence of the Tea Party as a reactionary and loud voice in American politics. They targeted Republicans for failing purity tests and demonized Democrats. In this climate the Susan B. Anthony List decided to go after the incumbent Dem, Driehaus. The plan was to buy billboard space claiming Driehaus voted for Federally funded abortions by voting for the Affordable Care Act. This was a blatant lie. Anyone familiar with the politics of abortion knows that the use of Federal funds has been banned for years. The ACA does not change that. And the Susan B. Anthony List was aware of this. however they decided not to let the truth stand in the way of a good billboard ad campaign.

Imagine, lies being told in political campaigns. Shocking, I know.

Now the real shocker is Ohio has a law against knowingly telling lies in political campaigns.The process is cumbersome but the Ohio Elections Commission has the power to block untruthful ads and recommend prosecution.It has been used in the past to stop blatant lies, usually ruling after the election when it's moot. Usually the offending ad is scrapped prior to being run or is pulled if running. Offhand I don't recall any major fines being levied but there may have been.Also in politics, lies are in the eyes of the beholder.

Representative Driehaus went to the Commission over the billboards. The Election Commission concurred the ad's premise was false and blocked them.

Driehaus lost to Steve Chabot in the resultant Tea Party wave. Case closed. The seat was now held by a Republican, which was the goal.

Not so fast.

In 2011 the Susan B. Anthony List filed suit in Federal Court contending Ohio's False Statement statute violated the First Amendment by chilling free speech. A Cincinnati Tea Party group, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes also filed and the suits were joined. The court decided the plaintiffs had no standing to sue since they were not prosecuted under the law and dismissed the suit. The 6th District Court also dismissed the suit on appeal for the same reason.

The groups appealed to SCOTUS saying the very existence of the law has a chilling effect on free speech and is prior restraint. The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case to determine if the groups have standing to file suit. The hearing will be in April with a decision expected towards the end of the term.

In defending Ohio, the Attorney General, defeated Senator Mike DeWine, has also filed an amicus brief acknowledging constitutional issues with the statute. This happens when a state's attorney or US attorney feels the law is iffy.So, we know where a Republican Attorney General stands on the right to lie being protected speech.

When SCOTUS decided to hear arguments the plaintiffs were ecstatic.

According to The Huffington Post, Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of The Susan B.Anthony List said, "We are thrilled at the opportunity to have our arguments heard. The Ohio Election Commission statute demonstrates complete disregard for the Constitutional rights of citizens to criticize their elected officials."

So this group equates lying with legitimate criticism. They seem to be missing the point of political discourse and the vigorous debate of issues. Your goal is supposed to defend your chosen position with facts to sway public opinion. If lying is a necessary strategy the legitimacy of your argument and strength of your position is suspect. As well it should be.

I'm not a naif. Lies are common currency in politics. Usually they are half truths, exaggerated for maximum effect. Reality is twisted to fit the narrative, However no one comes out and admits to lying. Thus you have fact checking rating the degree of "truthiness" in a statement. If lies were rare there wouldn't be a pants on fire rating.

Now an organization, in a movement in Ohio, who constantly claims moral indignation and a basic mission from God is fighting for the right to lie, without being called out, to further their political agenda. You would think this would damage their perceived moral superiority and righteous claims to a moral agenda. We'll see.

I am conflicted. Should I be glad that lying is now an admitted part of their agenda? Or should I be disappointed in having my cynicism reaffirmed?

Also, remember this is the Supreme Court that gave us Citizens United.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year and Same old stuff.

               As Congress came back to DC in this frigid new year The Senate saw the lapse of long term unemployment benefits as a major and pressing issue. The Democratic majority and a few semi-sane Republicans forced cloture and went about the business of crafting a bill that can pass, restoring unemployment coverage to the long term jobless.

The GOP controlled House saw the priorities differently.

H.R.7 is in committee. The seven indicates this is the seventh bill introduced this session.  And it is an abortion bill. Here we go again.

The bill has an Orwellian title, "The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act". Really. it doesn't matter that no Federal tax money is used for abortions now or in the past. It's all about insurance.

First off it forbids abortion coverage in the ACA State run insurance market places. Though, Tea Party controlled States like Ohio have already done that. So again a hammer to close a door that's not open. Like voter fraud.

This bill goes off the cliff when it comes to sanity. It totally destroys what little credibility these "small government" anarchists have.

Here we go through the looking glass.

This bill wants to restrict what Private insurance plans may offer and how they're paid for. A business that offers health insurance to their employees( encouraged under the ACA with tax breaks)that offers abortion coverage will be subject to new taxes. It also eliminates any health expenses deductions for abortion except for RAPE, INCEST or to PROTECT the Mother's life.

This change to the tax code means the IRS will be able to determine if those conditions are met to their satisfaction before allowing the deduction. That's right, a rape audit. Because having an IRS agent grill a women about whether she was raped, or about to die is a good and proper thing. After all slut shaming is a proper function of government.

Abortion is routinely covered as general health care in private policies.  Under this bill the insurance policy would only be able to cover abortion in those narrow parameters. Many carriers would opt to not cover at all. So women would be forced to buy rape insurance or pay out of pocket. Since most people can't afford to pay out of pocket for any medical procedure( hence the need for insurance) abortion will be only affordable to the wealthy.

There is only one reason to introduce a bill like this. A De facto abortion ban. Rationing by class and income. Since there is no real ban, this could likely get by the current SCOTUS.

It is good to see the House knows what America needs even if it doesn't want it. Women need to know that they can't use abortion as birth control. After all, they are too hormone addled to be rational about this issue.

So a House committee  made up entirely of men will help you gals through this. Remember how to thank the GOP for this in November. Just say NO.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A new year. The annual journey out of the dark.


The New Year falls a week after Christmas. The old pagan ritual that celebrated the the dark and the path back to the warmth, light and rebirth of spring. A festival of hope. The darkest days are behind and the future is bright.

In our modern world there are remnants of that Holiday buried under layers of crass commercialism, cynical trappings of joy and peace.But if you look deep and just feel you find the flickering flame of hope still illuminating the dark winter landscape. It's as if it's still coded in our cultural DNA or RNA. A memory, fleeting yet compelling, forcing us to believe that as the days grow longer we can keep the darkness and cold at bay.

There are tidings of comfort and joy. We wish each other peace and happiness. Resolutions are made to improve one as a person. We look back at the losses of the previous year, thinking of those no longer with us.

The resolutions are seldom kept. The Holiday wishes are rote, the meanings lost in a sea of swirling cynicism and pious platitudes.Gift giving has become a contact sport, We keep score. The human herd tramples one another for a great deal. We assault each other for the big screen TV. We jostle and jockey for the must have toy of the year. For some reason production never ramps up to meet demand to ease any shortages.

The parties become an excuse for excess. We eat too much. We drink too much. All under the guise of celebration of a religious birth and the end of a year.

Still the facade of hope at times brings forth the best of us even as we wear our worst behavior as armor. Someone anonymously pays the lay away balances for some who struggle to provide a bit of joy for their children.In an economy that's hammering the poor we still dig deep to fund the charities that help the needy among us in this wealthy nation.

Somehow we still hope. We reach out toward the light even as we struggle in the dark with our cultural demons.In this season we see both the best of us and the worst. Perhaps one yule we may be able to strike a balance. Not this year. Likely not next year either. But someday.

If humanity stops trying to emulate the divine what's the point? We improve the way we treat our fellows or we sink into a morass of apathy and despair. Maybe we can do it one smile at a time. Reach out with a hand, to help, not to slap.

Maybe one day we can actually behave as if we believe in this season of hope and joy. Act as if we care enough that it is no longer an act.

That would be a gift, indeed.

Happy New Year.