Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's One Thing For Me To Nag ...

... and quite another thing when you're the leader of the nation and the free world, and all you can do to the people who have supported you through thick and thin is treat them like a bunch of ungrateful whiners.

For a guy who made his national reputation on being inspirational, Obama sure hasn't shown much inspirational ability in the Oval Office.  He's really run an in-box, out-box Presidency--and, frankly, what's ended up in the out-box has a lot of legislative fingerprints and not as much change that we can believe it.  He was supposed to be the next FDR.  Where are the fireside chats.  Laugh at Bill Clinton all you want for feeling your pain, but it got him elected and re-elected.

Memo to Obama:  Stop treating your best friends as ingrates.  Start listening to people's problems without acting like they're picking on you.  It's all right to show the public that you can walk a mile in their shoes.  In fact, for the people and the nation, it's essential.

If Only There Were More Conservatives Like This One ...

... we'd be in much better shape.  Brooks sometimes descends into isn't-America-a-happy-land-of-happy-opportunists rhetoric that makes you want to tell The New York Times that, whatever they're paying him, it's too much.  But, just when you want to strangle him, he turns around and shows you that he really does get it, after all.

As much as I disagree with the other side, I agree with Brooks here:  we are all much better off when we can find a balance between our perspectives.  And so is the country.  And so is the world.

Why Do We Still Need Immigrants?

Well, for one thing, we're so lazy that we can't even pick the food we can't afford to buy.  It's one thing to talk about a work ethic, and quite another thing to actually have one.

Promises, Promises

That's what the GOP has to offer when it comes to spending cuts.  If you believe them or (worse) if you vote for them based on this, you richly deserve the disappointment coming your way.

I Once Was Blind, But Now I See

I like to think that I have some insights into the evangelical portion of the VRWC, simply because, for the first 12 years of my adult life, I was a born-again Christian.  It was something I drifted into at a time when I had no real anchor or direction in my personal or professional life, and I stayed with it until it stopped helping me make sense of the world--and when I started to ask myself a disturbing question:  if God only wanted us to believe, why did He/She/It/They give us the ability to think?  So I started to trust myself to make decisions--and I've never regretted it, nor do I feel that I'm less of a believer in God for it.  As I've told several people, it's easier to hold onto God's hand when you use a looser grip--the kind that Fundamentalists, who map out God's will for everything (including taking out the garbage), don't approve of having.

In my experience, you either are born into being born-again, or (as I did) you drift into it.  I'm glad to see, in this case, that you can be born into it, leave it, and find as I did that there is life after being born-again.  Never forget:  not all Fundamentalists are Christians--and not all Christians are Fundamentalists.

Why Progressives Can't Walk Away

It solves nothing.  And it makes you unworthy of success.  I'm not the only one who feels this way, but I can't express those feelings as well as this writer does.

Suck it up and dig in, indeed.  Let's find out how many of us have what it takes to do it.

Why We Can't Ignore Growing Income Inequality

Timothy Noah of Slate.com spells it all out here.  He's right.  Who wants to live in a banana republic?  And, if that's the case, why do we live in one?

I think it boils down to this:  the American fantasy of getting rich quick is more appealing to most people than the hard work of building a just society.  We were at our best as a society when we valued hard work.  We don't value it anymore.  We send it overseas, move money around (turning it from capital to debt in the process), and pretend that we're creating value.  We're not.

The dirty little secret to so-called post-Reagan "prosperity" is the same main culprit behind our current crisis:  too much debt, both public and private.  And (sorry, righties) the private sector is the biggest, most egregious offender.  They're the ones digging the holes in all of our pockets.  Between tax cuts we can't afford, and leveraged deals that don't generate the income needed to pay for them, we've dug ourselves into a ditch we may never get out of (and certainly won't get out of if the GOP takes over Congress).

Want to get angry at someone, Tea Baggers?  Buy a mirror.  Look in it.  Repeat until sanity in the form of liberalism takes hold.

The Way To Go Forward: Surprisingly, It Involves Going Forward

... and it involves keeping up with the world, not narcissistic navel-gazing based on so-called "exceptionalism."  We can't expect jobs that have gone away forever to come back; we need to create new ones based upon the work that we really need to do now.  This involves saving the planet, not exploiting it.  Here's one voice speaking from that point of view (and yes, you can dislike the source but, when it comes to this subject, he knows what he's talking about).

Speaking Of Paying For Social Security ...

... here's one way to do it, and stand up for human rights at the same time.

Slash Social Security? No, Double It!

So says this article, and it even explains how to pay for it.  Want to change the subject, Democrats?  Here's one way.

Is The GOP The Tea Party?

Not if this is true.  Unless Tea Party folks think that Big Government, which you can vote in or out every two years, is irredeemably bad, while Big Business, which isn't even phased by a Great Recession, is always virtuous.

29 Days Later ...

... and here I am once again.  I've been rehearsing, and am now performing in, a production of Paddy Cheyevsky's "The Tenth Man" for a great deal of the past two months.  A rewarding experience artistically, a stressful one in virtually every area of my life otherwise--I've been rehearsing/performing nearly six days a week for the past eight weeks.  Just typing that thought exhausts me!  And, in at least one respect, it has been nearly tragic--a key cast member contracted West Nile Virus a week before we opened.  He's hospitalized now and on a ventilator; your thoughts and/or prayers on his behalf are appreciated.

None of this, of course, has been conducive to blogging.  Which is a pity, because there's a lot to talk about, especially in the political world.  And, if you're of the political bent that I am, it's mostly not good.

As I write this, there seems to be a better-than-average chance that the GOP will take over one, and perhaps both, houses of Congress.  History in the form of 1994 appears to be ready to repeat itself (although this time we got health care and financial reform done first, along with two not-too-terrible Supreme Court appointees).  Already, speculation has appeared in the media centered around two questions:   how did Obama and the Democrats get here, and what will he do now with Congress controlled by the opposition?

There will be plenty of time to answer those questions later, if reality demands it.  We're not there yet.  And, God willing, we won't get there at all.  But what disturbs me the most right now is the extent to which those of us on the progressive end of the spectrum enable it--by staying at home and sulking.  This is the behavior of children, not adults.  Do you think the GOP is where it is today because it stayed home and sulked after 2008?  Far from it.  They acted as if it was a minor setback in the larger battle for achieving its goals.

Guess what?  We need to learn to do exactly the same thing.  All the things we did in 2008--organize, fundraise, call, write, march--are things we need to keep on doing, win or lose in November.  We have better ideas, and represent people who deserve to see them become the law of the land.

Above all, VOTE, and make sure others do the same.  You are responsible for the results in a democracy, whether you like it or not.  And history rewards doers, not doubters and sulkers.  Staying home is exactly what the Karl Roves of the world want you to do; it's the only way they ever win.

Don't hand them a victory.  If Fate decrees them the winners, then make them tear victory out of your hands.  It will make you that much more ready for the fight that has to start the next morning.