Monday, May 27, 2013

remembering Arlington

I remember years ago visiting my uncle's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. He was a Navy ensign pilot during WWII and was killed in a plane crash while he was training a new pilot. He had just gotten married a few weeks before and so it was especially hard on my grandparents and my mom (as well as his widow). I never got to meet him, though I played his cello in school and heard many stories from my Mom about this creative, fun-loving brother of hers.

I remember seeing a group of kids walk by and I remember thinking "Oh God, please no more stupid wars. Please protect these kids from those who would throw their lives away as a way to make political points or settle personal scores".  The Iraq war was still going on then and I was opposed to it from the beginning because it was such a stupid war.  We had a bumper sticker which said "Support the troops, Bring them home". Those who serve should have their service honored, in part by using that service wisely.

We have had in our history too many wars and other military engagements which squandered many lives and should have been avoided. One of these was the Mexican-American War, which was opposed by Congressman Abraham Lincoln, later one of our greatest Presidents. He believed that it was contrived and not in our national interest. He was one who agonized over war, not gloried in it, something that our political leaders should remember and emulate.

Gazing over the field at Arlington should be a requirement for anyone who contemplates political office. And remembering the lives those graves represent should be a requirement for everyone. Honor the dead and be resolved that, as Lincoln said, "these lives should not have died in vain".

Saturday, May 18, 2013

faulty memories

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest do you remember how  several years ago Mt St Helens rumbled to life again with ash plumes and lava dome buildup? It was a nervous time for many, but after a time it all quieted down. No repeat of the 1980 eruption whose anniversary we remember today. Anyone who would say the mountain's recent activity was like the 1980 event would be laughed at, since such a comparison would be ludicrous.

Well, it is also ludicrous to compare the current administrations scandals/misdeeds to Watergate as some have recently done. While I have issues with some things the  Obama administration has done or not done, particularly in the civil liberties arena, there is no comparison to Watergate and the actions of Nixon. It is personal for me, since I politically "came of age" in that era and remember well the events. Just as with 9-11 I remember where I was and what I was doing the day President Nixon resigned (the only time that has happened in American history) and remember the days of listening to Senate and House Committee hearings involving Watergate. That was much worse than anything today, by far.

The problem is that those who would make such comparisons today are the same ones who back in the 70's were whitewashing any wrong Nixon. So of course they would paint Obama as worse than Nixon. They have faulty memories of the past  because of their bias. Those of us who lived through eras such as Watergate must stay true to what we know and help others to learn the truth about the past.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

beware of pointing fingers

Once again leave it up to Sister Sarah (Palin) and friends to point fingers and ignore the irony. Recently the IRS had to issue an apology because they had been giving extra scrutiny to any organization with "tea party"or "patriot" in their name on applications for tax exempt status during the 2012 election. I agree that the IRS should apologize, but at the same time I think it is a bit much for Palin and friends to try to make political hay out of it.

Why? Well, they are the same kind of people who absolutely no problem with warrant-less wiretapping of phones, traffic stops and workplace ICE raids based on suspicion of illegal alien status, and measures that forced people to "prove" that they were not up to something wrong (like voter ID laws). Their response when confronted was always "well, if you have nothing to hide you won't have a problem with it". Now they sing a different tune.

We're not talking about increased penalties, just examination. Perhaps they are afraid some IRS person will find out they are a fraud? I don't agree with what the IRS did, but I think in light of past statements certain political figures should refrain from protesting when it's their "goose" that's getting cooked.

As a wise person said, when you point your finger at someone remember that four other fingers are pointing back at you. ....Just my two cents for today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

organized for success

Many people have issues with unions and think poorly of the term "organized labor". They point to reported abuses of power (like Jimmy Hoffa, etc) or the influence of union money in politics. Or they are so "pro-business" that they think company management should be able to do whatever it wants and that people should just "be happy that they have a job". While there no organizations are perfect, why should that be a reason to oppose organization? I mean, businesses organize so why shouldn't workers?

The influence of organized labor has brought great and beneficial changes in the workplace. The 40 hr workweek (5 day week of 8 hr days), payment for overtime, paid sick leave, and workplace safety standards (OSHA) are just a few of the reasons we should be thankful to unions. And we need to remain vigilant because unions are under attack across the country - Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, all have governors strenuously opposed to workers organizing. I know from experience how not having a union can be detrimental to workers. Let's not forget to be thankful and continue to push for better workplaces through an organized workforce.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goldilocks Politics

You know the story of Goldilocks. A little girl enters the house of three bears, examines their porridge, chairs, and beds before falling asleep in on bed, then gets discovered by the three bears and flees into the woods. The tale is very old, but I'd like to apply it to a very modern issue....political discussion.

On one level it illustrates finding the right fit : not too hot, not  too cold; not too hard, not too soft;
not too big...oops, too small (chair breaks). And it is true that it is important to make sure we are not going to extremes and instead are finding the right fit that will work for us.

But as I pondered using this fable as an example of that I was struck by how there is something that is usually missed in this cute little tale. The girl entered someone else's house and was messing around with their furniture and food. She had no business there and at the end was chased out by those whose house it was.

What does this say? Sometimes we argue over details and miss the big picture. We argue over the details of law and policy and forget that there are real people affected by our actions. There is no human face to our discussions. We talk about immigration without considering immigrants and their situations. We talk about gun violence and forget the shooting victims (case in point: the NRA response to the Newtown shootings). We talk about healthcare without discussing the sick.

We often criticize younger people for doing something hazardous...saying that they think they are invincible, that bad consequences will never happen to them.  This type of thinking is not limited to the young. We do it every day when we debate policy while thinking it is about some "other" group, not us. And even if we would never be affected by it, we still must think how it will affect others.
As the English poet John Donne once wrote, "no man is an island, entire of itself....we are all a part of the whole"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

celebrate May Day

Remember "job creators"? It's been the big buzzword the last couple years. The conservatives take on the economy is that the "job creators" (businesses) are the driving force and so we have to remove anything (like pesky regulations) that stand in their way. But I say it is the workers that drive the economy  because they are the ones who do the work. We should be watching out for their welfare, and if they are happy and productive and motivated then business will thrive and everyone will benefit.

Today is May Day, a day recognized world wide as a time to celebrate workers and their contribution to our world.  Many jobs go unseen and unappreciated and some of those are the most important. Please take time today to show appreciation for the hardworking staff wherever you go, whether you are shopping, going out to eat, or even interacting with a government agency.  Treat your coworkers, companions, and loved ones with respect and honor them for the work they do, even if they aren't getting paid for it (like many mothers - thanks Mom!:)). And don't forget to respect yourself and honor the work you do.

Happy May Day!

For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."