Friday, May 30, 2003

Love Everyone-Except Republicans: On the eve of the current Bush's inaugeration, I was in a church listening to a sermon. The pastor used his sermon to basically castigate the incoming GOP and talk about how wonderful Clinton was especially in terms of race. I sat there fuming. The sad thing I was sitting in a service for gay and lesbian Christians. Here was a place where people knew what it meant to fight for tolerance and diversity, except for Republicans so it seems.

Last night, after a really bad day, I decided to watch an episode of "Queer As Folk." There was a quote from Debbie, the gay friendly Mom explaining how gays have survived "AIDS, gay bashing, and 'asshole Republicans.'" Oh, how nice.

Today, I read a great story about the bigotry expressed by so-called tolerant liberals of those who happen to be Republican. I don't know about you, but I get tired of people who know that I'm openly gay, pro-choice and pro-enviroment wondering why I am a Republican. It's because I believe in liberty, free markets and free expression. I get tired of people thinking that conservatives are all dumb as opposed to the smart liberals.

Anyway, enough ranting. Enjoy the article.

Tell it, John: I was happened to stumble on this after reading Andrew Sullivan's website. It is sad that we Republicans are running up deficits and yet can still say we are fiscally responsible. Excuse my French, but bullshit. The GOP believes that all taxation is just plain evil and wrong. As John notes, taxes are an obligation, the price we pay to have a decent, functioning and orderly society. High taxes are never good for an economy, but neither are low taxes. A similar debate is taking place here in Minnesota where the GOP has become allergic to taxes and allowed huge cuts in social services. Of course those who are doing well are not effected, but the poor and working stiffs like me, do get hit.

Taxes suck. They just do. But if we want good parks, safe streets, and excellent schools, then you have to pay for them. What is sad is that the GOP has jettisoned the rhetoric of responsibility and opted for a user-fee society. If you need safety, go buy a gun. Need health care. You better hope they take Visa. There is no sense that we must take care of each other as the Bible states (why is it that the Religious Right can talk about morals, but are immoral when it comes to caring for the less well off?), just a sense that we are on our own. It was Maggie Thatcher that once stated that there is no society. The Republican Party has sadly adopted that same agenda.

Multiculturalism Run Amok: In today's Globe and Mail from Canada is a story about a job opening where white people need not apply. The Canadian government wants to make sure that their government is more reflective of the country. As a member of a visible minority, this is a worthy goal, but the wrong way to get there. Hearing a job description limited to certain groups reminds me of those horrible "whites only" signs found in the American South a half century ago. There are many ways to recruit persons of color to apply for positions. Affirmative Action is not a bad idea, it is a way to make sure that the best qualified person is found for a position regarless of race or gender or sexual orientation. But telling whites that this is a "colored position" smacks of an isidoious form of racism. It is pure tokenism. Affirmative Action should be about widen the meritocracy that was limited to whites in the past. It should not be about praceling out jobs to this minority of that. If I were a betting man, I'd put good money on those who are against Affirmative Action here in the States jumping on this and showing how bad Affirmative Action is here. It seems like those who favor racial equality shoot themselves in the foot so often that the bigots don't have to do a thing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Texas Democrats come home: I never said anything last week about the flight of some 60 Texas Democratic lawmakers to Oklahoma to stop the GOP leadership from enacting a redistricting plan that would substantially reduce the power of the Democrats in the state House. Many journalists were on the side of the Democrats and casted the Texas GOP as evil. Well, I don't think there are heroes and villians in this story. Yes, the Republicans were unfair in doing things like spliting the Latino community in one Texas city into six districts, but Democrats in other states have done some sneaky things too. Remember, how Louisiana created a district to touch major areas in order to get a majority black district? Or the other majority black district created that at times was as wide as I-85? How fair were these?

To me this makes the case for having redistricting done by a nonpartisan body instead of under the ageis of political hacks. No one is innocent in this and to make the Dems innocent after a century of drawing boundaries to suit them is to be blind to the truth.

Whitman Walks: News reports state the Christine Todd Whitman has resinged as EPA chief. Whitman had some serious disagreements with Bush over the environment and it looks like she had enough. The Bushies have now lost their green figleaf that they need to help them next year. I'm glad Whitman decided to leave. She is a champion of the environment and was getting soiled by Bush's attempt rollback environmental protections. Now that one moderate is leaving, I hope the other prominent moderate, Colin Powell, will consider leaving and expose the Bush Aministration as the radical reactionaries that they are.

You Can't Handle the Truth: If you thought the coverage of the recent war in Iraq was rather thin and almost looked like cheerleading, well you are correct. TheNew York Review of Books reports that CNN actually had two sets of reporters covering the war; one for American audiences and the other for International auidences. Guess which one acutally had real journalists covering a war.

What's sad is that there is an assertion that Americans can't handle seeing the blood and guts that come with wars. We want wars, but please don't tells us that there will be suffering and all that. Just show us the pictures of statues coming down, and soliders showing the flag.

Are we Americans really that cowardly?

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Aren't we supposed to be fiscal conservatives? With the passage of the President's tax cut plan in both houses, the GOP has pretty much ceased being the party of fiscal responsibility. I mean, we can't call castigate the Democrats for being "tax and spend liberals" when we are "cut and spend conservatives. As a friend once said, "pot, kettle, black." Matthew Miller spotlights Peter Peterson, which is sadly one of the last repsonsible Republicans. It's a good read, but it reminds how far this party has fallen from its roots.

Aren't we supposed to be fiscal conservatives? With the passage of the President's tax cut plan in both houses, the GOP has pretty much ceased being the party of fiscal responsibility. I mean, we can't call castigate the Democrats for being "tax and spend liberals" when we are "cut and spend conservatives. As a friend once said, "pot, kettle, black." Matthew Miller spotlights Peter Peterson, which is sadly one of the last repsonsible Republicans. It's a good read, but it reminds how far this party has fallen from its roots.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Paying for the Good Life: I've sent a letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday about the current budget crisis here in Minnesota. The GOP and the Republican governor are beholden to a pledge many took from an anti-tax group, the Minnesota Taxpayers League. The common complaint is that Minnesota is a high tax state that is crushing business and families. What is interesting is that three former GOP governors have stated they would raise taxes to close the deficit in order to preserve Minnesota's high standard of living. Enjoy.

When I first moved to Minnesota back in 1996, I took a job working at a local coffee chain. The pay was pretty low-$6 hour. Health insurance was available, but I could not afford the premiums with such low pay. In November of that year, I got the flu. I took a few days off of work and them came back. Days later, I started to feel ill again and stayed in bed for a few days. I started to have trouble breathing. I went to emergency and found out I had pneumonia. I was given a five day supply of antibiotics and went home...and got much worse. After a week of illness, I went to the doctor to find out that I needed to go into the hospital right away. My nurse practitioner saw I was fighting a massive infection. I was worried. How was I going to deal with this without any insurance?

Luckily, I went to a clinic that served low-income people and the nurse was able to get me connected with Medical Assistance. I was able to get the care I needed and not be worried about how the bill for all the services would be paid. After a two week hospital stay, I was on my way back to recovery.

As a Republican, I do believe in limited government and individual liberty. However, government should be there to help those who can not help themselves as Abraham Lincoln once said. I don't want a big government, but I do want a compassionate government. If we want a government that is efficient and responds to the needs of people who are down on their luck by no fault of their own, then we have to pay for that.

Governor Pawlenty and the GOP leadership complain that we live in a high tax state. We do, but I can attest that the money has been used rather wisely. I have lived in other high tax states such as Maryland, that spend the money they receive from us very poorly. Republicans should not be against taxes per se, but against them being spent poorly. This is the people's money and it should be spent wisely. Government must be responsible for how it spends our money and it must be responsible for taking care of those who are less fortunate.

Minnesota has been known for its high standard of living. That did not come by accident. It came because both parties wanted to create policies that made this state a good place for all to live. They wanted a place with safe streets, good roads, great schools and healthcare for those who can't afford it. In a recent debate, three former Republican governors believed taxes must be raised in order to make sure that the government can provide services. Their reason was not that they want to hurt people, but because they know that to have a good lifestyle you have to pay for it.

I fear what will happen to a low wage worker who gets ill now. He may go to emergency and get less than the needed treatment. Instead of getting better as I did, he may well get worse, all in the name of lower taxes. We may become a lower taxed state, but at the expense of our souls.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Canada's Santorum: It looks like there is another politician suffering from Foot in Mouth Disease. The Globe and Mail reports that Progressive Conservative MP Elise Wayne of New Brunswick, basically to gays and lesbians asking for marriage right ought to "live together and shut up about it [marriage]." She also wondered why gays have to be in public and putting on parades. Is Ms. Wayne a bigot? Not according to her. She has many gay friends, but they keep their sexuality to themselves. (Then how does she know about it?)

There was some good news to report. Scott Brison, a fellow Tory MP has asked for her to step down as deputy leader. Brison is running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party and is also openly gay.

It's a shame that Ms. Wayne continues to make it look like all conservatives are bigots, but I'm thankful for people like Mr. Brison.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

The "51st Star": I have to admit, I missed reading Thomas Friedman. He is an astute politcal observer with the common man's touch. But the war made him hard to read until lately. His latest article is a worthwhile read. Like it or not, those of us who were against the war have to admit that we are in Iraq to stay and stay we must. We can't leave now because Iraq is now a vacumn and to leave would be to cede it Islamic fundies or make it the new breeding ground for terrorist groups like Al Queda. The question is how to make it a functioning society. As Friedman says, we need to come up with an alternative to the policy that the neocons have. But we need to admit, we lost and not find ways to win the peace, because the neocons have no idea how to do that.

Friday, May 02, 2003

These are Republicans? I haven't written a whole lot about the Santorum flap. It is horrible, but the reaction from the GOP honchos is not surprising. Gays are still personae non grata in many parts of the party even though there have been some gains. It does show that the Far Right has tight control of the party. What is interesting is that these types tend to not want the government involved in things like, helping people, and are aghast that there should be any control of the economy. But these so-called limited government types seem to have no problem with government controlling the passions of the general populace. Jacob Sullum has an excellent article about Santorum's reasoning which should make anyone who believes in liberty scared.

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