Friday, February 28, 2014

My Political ID

I vote in every election, Presidential and mid-term.  EVERY election.  Since I could.

I have moved often within the states over the years.  And one of the very first things that I always do is register with their Board of Elections.  My right to vote is precious to me.

I have been a registered Republican and I have been a registered Democrat.  I have even been registered with a third party.

But I can’t remember the last time I voted for a major party candidate for President.

I have positions on most political issues – strong, mostly immoderate positions, on most political issues.  I am NOT a moderate, nor am I a “character voter” (in my mind, that usually substitutes for not having positions on the issues).  My stands on issues run the gamut of liberal through conservative.

Once you read a blog post of mine that sounds liberal, some of you conservatives will be tempted to curse me under your breath and never read me again.

Once you read a blog post of mine that sounds conservative, some of you liberals will be tempted to curse me under your breath and never read me again.

I can’t stop you from seeing what you think you see.  All I can do is promise you that I will always try to make my case with a mix of common sense, decency, love of country, and a command of history and logic, and facts that I will source.

I am neither saint nor devil.  But I am worth reading.  I am worth your time and your consideration.

Follow me.

Katy Perry and Allah

To my Muslim brothers and sisters:

For starters, you may not choose to call me brother when you finish reading what I have to say.

For hundreds of years, Jews have suffered indignities from their fellow-Americans.

For hundreds of years, Roman Catholics have suffered indignities from their fellow-Americans.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gay Rights and Religious Freedom

The state of Arizona (with its Senate Bill 1062: Denial of Service to Gays on the grounds of religious beliefs) presents us with an interesting problem.  Who has rights and who does not?  The issue argues the rights of gays to be served anywhere in public vs. the rights of business owners to refuse to sell to gays (because of religious freedom).

Let me begin by suggesting that no Christian religion worthy of the name discriminates against gays.  Jesus would not have approved.  The Old Testament, maybe.  But Jesus, never.  But that is just my opinion (we both read the same Book; we are just pointing to different passages in the same Book).

Let me now declare that it is my right to love or hate whom I choose and it is your right to do the same.  I am not suggesting that hate is a GOOD thing, merely that it is a constitutionally protected RIGHT.  I may hate black folk, I may hate Jews, I may hate the non-religious, I may hate dwarfs and very tall people, I may hate vegetarians, I may even hate God-fearing white Christian men who devour large quantities of red meat at every meal, and everyone who believes in God, I may hate all women, and I may surely hate gays!  All these are protected rights!  You may have to be a real jerk or worse to automatically hate anyone who belongs to any of these groups, but it is your RIGHT!  It is your right even without God’s blessing!  It is your right, even without the First Amendment's religious freedom clause.

Now let’s take this issue apart and see if we can come up with a workable solution.

It is your right, as a customer, NOT to shop where such people shop or where the owner is such a person.

Baseball Justice on Steroids

This Blog is a political blog.  It will venture also into economics and history, as how can a political blog not?

But as it is MY blog, I can write what I want.  And this post is about Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and steroids and his punishment.  And about Barry Bonds.  And Babe Ruth.  So, a sports blog?  No, a blog about justice, in sports.

So, it is probably fair that A-Rod be suspended from play for lying under oath and for using illegal performance enhancing stuff.  So, fine, punish the dude.  But what is NOT fine and NOT just is the unequal distribution of justice which lets the biggest abuser of steroids in the history of the game get off scot-free and keep his cursed records, without asterisks no less.  I am talking, of course, about Barry Bonds, slugger extraordinaire.

I will not here argue whether Bonds did use steroids and what laws he may or may not have broken; I will only assert – without proof, and without fear of being wrong – that there is not a baseball fan alive in these United States who does not KNOW that Bonds took huge amounts of steroids to get his …ummm … changed physique and his home run records*.

But, for the sake of this rant, I will give the dude his ill-begotten records and compare him anyhow with Babe Ruth, whose performances were not HELPED by the prodigious amounts of alcohol that he consumed.  Nor was his physique – chicken legs and a barrel chest – enhanced by any foreign substances; the Babe looked more like a beer hall regular than a baseball player.

Here goes: Barry Bonds (on steroids) vs. the Bambino (clean, sort of).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Patriotism

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

WTF???!!!

This is the most famous quotation ever about patriotism, and it is a slander!

Samuel Johnson (Great Britain, 1709-1784) said it.  Johnson was a towering figure in English literature and the only person ever to have a literary period named after him: “The Age of Johnson” (1750 – ca 1800).  His biggest literary triumph was not even his own; it was his biography, “The Life of Samuel Johnson," written by the world’s first groupie, James Boswell.  Well, OK, he wrote the first widely used dictionary in the English language, and he did rescue from obscurity a playwright named William Shakespeare.

OK, fine!  But what did Johnson mean by that slander on patriotism?

First, what is patriotism?  At its core, patriotism means “love of country.”  Nothing more, nothing less.  Having conservative values does not qualify you as a patriot; having liberal values does not qualify you as a patriot.  A patriot is one who loves his country, that’s all.

Johnson was, of course, slandering what he thought was FALSE patriotism, the kind of patriotism that some folks wear on their sleeves, a patriotism for show, for display.

Examples, please.  Wearing an American flag pin, putting out your flag on July 4th, attending a July 4th fireworks display, and voting every four years.  If that is ALL you do, you are a false patriot.  These are all fine and patriotic things to do; but if they are all you do, you do not really love your country, you are no true patriot.  Patriotism demands more than that, true love of country demands more than that.

What then qualifies an American as a TRUE patriot?  Anyone who has voluntarily performed military service – as a career, or for only one tour, or even state-side – loves his country.  That is enough.  If you went to work for the government – if you took a public service job – when you could have had a higher-paying private sector job, and you also suffer the indignities of not being appreciated by the public, you love your country.  If you attend city council meetings, and town hall meetings; if you read the news parts of the daily newspapers, and listen to the local and national news (Fox News and MSNBC don't count, and you should know why!) every day; if you write your Senator and your Congressman with a piece of your mind, if you write letters to the editor about the state of your state, you love your country.  If you are an active member of a local political club, if you volunteer your time on Election Day, you love your country.  If you read history for pleasure, you love your country.  Your love of country is evidenced by how much of your time, your muscle, your brain and your heart you give to your country as a real honest-to-God patriotic citizen.

Here's another test of patriotism.  If you were born here and schooled here, and you are a grown-up of at least 25 years, can you score better on a Citizenship test than the Swedish fellow down the block who just became a citizen last month?  He needed to answer correctly 6 out of 10 random questions out of 100 possible questions; can you score at least 80 out of the full 100 questions?  If you can't, can you really claim to love the country you know so little about?  Frankly, you should be embarrassed if you score less than 90%.  Give it a shot; no one is looking.  The questions are embarrassingly easy.  Google "sample citizenship test" or try this one (full-length or timed versions of the test).  And check this out too.

Why do I jaw on about patriotism and patriots?  Because there is a lot of work to be done, and it will be done by patriots, TRUE patriots.  If you are not one yet – OK, most of us are not there yet – come along with me and we will get you back in shape.

And need I add, most of my book, To My Countrymen: The Essential Handbook for Tea Partiers, Occupiers, and Every American Who is Mad as Hell and Isn't Going to Take It Any More, was written to make you a better citizen, a more informed citizen, a real patriot who puts his body where his mouth is, and hopefully a committed citizen-soldier for our great fight – to restore our democracy to We, the People!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Introduction to My Blog

I am "A Son of Common Sense," a son therefore of Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809), who was sometimes called plain “Common Sense,” after his pamphlet’s title.  Paine's Common Sense (1776) was the most important and most persuasive argument for the colonies’ independence from Great Britain.  It called on us to form a democratic republic, it called us for the first time the “United States of America,” and it can honestly be called the father of the Declaration of Independence, whose sentiments echo its own.  It was by far the biggest selling book in U.S. history – after the Bible of course – as it sold 500,000 copies to a population of 2,000,000 (which would be like selling 80,000,000 copies in today’s America).  Paine published Common Sense anonymously and he earned not a penny from its sale.  He cared about his message.  (As an aside, a half-dozen new biographies have been written about Tom Paine since the turn of the century.  Here is an article from Wired magazine written in 1995 that may have sparked the renewed interest in my Dad).  And here is Bill Moyers interviewing a conservative and a liberal, both huge fans of Paine.

I care about my message too.