Congress

Supreme Court’s Ruling is a Game Changer

Today’s Supreme Court decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, is watershed and a game changer. Simply put, Roberts’ decision will change the face of healthcare in America because now not only is it constitutional, it forces the GOP to be in favor of actual reform (something they’ve only given lip-service to for years). 

The conventional wisdom inside the D.C. beltway today was that “Obamacare” (or ACA) would be struck down by a 5-4 decision and that the decision would be written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. Very few in the smart crowd actually thought a) Roberts would side with the liberal Justices and b) that the nexus of agreement between that unlikely group would be Congress’ ability to levy a tax versus whether or not the individual mandate was constitutional under the Commerce Clause.

That’s a lot of D.C.-speak, which sounds remarkably similar to Charlie Brown’s teacher: “whonk whonk whonk whonk whonk.” What this reminds me of is the fallout from Brown vs. Board of Education, something a large number of Americans remember or have studied in civics class.

In Brown, the Court combined several high profile cases into one and issued a sweeping ruling. Like Brown, ACA was highly controversial leading up to oral argument before the Court and after the subsequent ruling. Social unrest throughout many parts of the country was prevalent, notably with Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, Alabama George Wallace, Virginia Senator Harry Byrd’s “Massive Resistance” and the “Southern Manifesto.” For the record, all of these men were Southern Democrats.

The political outrage was palpable then and it is today. I’ve written before that the day President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, he told his aides he had delivered “the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.” I’m not sure what happens at the ballot box this November or precisely how today’s ruling will affect the public’s perception. What I do know is the opinion issued today by Chief Justice Roberts matters. It matters because it validates Congress’ actions, which declared universal healthcare to be something we should strive towards. That we are the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of the world but with over 22 million uninsured is embarrassing and the Roberts court today has said what Congress did is perhaps not popular but without a doubt legitimate.

Legitimacy matters to me and ultimately I believe to the American people.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, Presidential 1 Comment

Ruth Riechl and the Corruption of the Farm Bill

One of the reasons I love New York City (and there are many) is there’s always something to do. This little peninsula is rife with endless possibilities and she lets me engage or disengage at will. For a city of nearly nine million, New York’s uniqueness is her neighborhoods. They allow me to escape to magical places. I can walk away from the madness of rush hour traffic on Fifth Avenue straight into Central Park and the world just quietly slips away. If I’m jonesing for an energy booster,  I can dive right into Times Square. No Starbucks, you’re not needed, but thank you just the same.

Another NYC specialty is the Sunday New York Times and as usual, I head straight for the “Opinion” pages first. Tom Friedman’s opinion piece from yesterday, “Down With Everything,”  details the balance between two important economic engines: the private sector and the public sector. Friedman posits partisanship is “paralyz(ing) our whole system” of government. He ends his column on a familiar note: “Our deformed political system–with a Congress that’s become a forum for legalized bribery–is now truly holding us back.” I’ve been harking on and on about this on MSNBC for over a year now and I’m still baffled why the American people simply aren’t engaged in and outraged by the legalized system of political corruption that runs our government.

My weird, southern brain “got to thinking,” as my grandmother used to say, about our “bought” government and oddly I made a connection between this corruption and something I heard Ruth Reichl mention recently. Reichl, who was the Editor of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine, was introduced to me as summer beach reading on the Outer Banks of North Carolina almost a decade ago by my friend Mary Beth Albright . Reading Tender at the Bone that August made me fall in love with Reichl’s delivery of the written word not to mention her love of food. Very few writers have the ability to make me hang on every word, turning page after page, yet feeling so bittersweet when I get to the end. Simply put, I selfishly don’t want Reichl’s books to end!

A close friend gave me tickets to see Ms. Reichl and Mark Bittman of the Times give a “foodie” presentation at the 92nd Street Y, another one of those NYC venues where every night of the week presents an opportunity to learn something I didn’t know before. Both Reichl and Bittman entertained a packed auditorium with various nuggets of food wisdom but it was toward the end of that magical evening that Reichl made an interesting comment about the current “Farm Bill” winding its way through Congress that shook me much like her novels. She alluded to the plain but ignored reality that America’s large agribusiness conglomerates buy and sell their way into subsidy after subsidy, usually to the detriment of the American consumer. It goes without saying I’ve followed the Farm Bill for nearly 20 years but Ms. Reichl? 

After the Reichl/Bittman dialogue, I hopped on the Six train and headed back downtown. This may sound heretical, but there’s a peacefulness to the New York City subway, a place to gather your thoughts and do some very good people watching. So while I stood on the train trying to pull this all together I couldn’t quite wrap myself around how to write about what Ms. Reichl said. Reading Mr. Friedman’s piece in yesterday’s Times, that lightbulb in my head went off.

Most Americans don’t have a clue what’s in the Farm Bill. Did you know the “Food Stamps” program is authorized and funded in the Farm Bill to the tune of nearly $60 billion a year? This program, especially in harsh economic times, feeds nearly 46 million Americans. While this may enrage some taxpayers, I have to wonder then why we sit silently by as we directly subsidize the domestic sugar industry to the tune of $2.4 billion a year without nary a harsh word but decry Food Stamps as a “handout?” Crop insurance costs us $8 billion a year and benefits only a handfull of wealthy farming conglomerates. What a dichotomy: decry food subsidies for the less fortunate but praise a “safety net” for farmers who don’t even plant their fields? I mean, welfare is welfare right? Perhaps if those farmers actually planted their fields with something worth eating, fewer Americans would have to rely on imported food paid for by Food Stamps? I know it’s a stretch but I’m just trying to get my hands around why we subsidize large farming conglomerates for NOT planting while we have a record number of Americans starving and living below the poverty level. I haven’t even touched on the issue of “Pink Slime” and while I could keep going, I think you get the point. The half a trillion dollar (over five years) proposed Farm Bill funds other important and worthy programs including international food aid, farm conservation programs, and healthy forestry programs that will cut down on devastating forest fires.

But here’s the rub: every single one of those programs has a team of lobbyists who walk the halls of Congress to protect their prized piece of government largesse. They’re not the problem frankly. It’s the money, the legalized bribery of politicians to be in favor of this largesse, that’s corrupting our system of government. Both Friedman and Reichl are dead right. Political money is paralyzing everything from the Farm Bill to the Wall Street bailouts. What should be an easy, regional, bipartisan exercise in legislating, this year’s Farm Bill may fall victim to partisan sniping and stands a good chance of not passing before the November elections. Wall Street’s bailout legislation was needed and timely but find me an American that likes that piece of legislation that brought us back from the brink of economic destruction.

I spent many a wondrous night as a child at my grandmother’s farm in rural South Carolina. It’s there I learned when to plant flat pole beans, when to pick them, and how to cook them. In that quiet little hamlet, I listened to that evening symphony of dueling frogs and cicadas, lit brightly by fireflies and a galaxy of stars that would make those lights of Times Square bow down from embarrassment. I think back on waking up at 5:30am on a sweltering summer day in any given August, walking with my grandmother into her garden and thinking “this is what we will eat for supper tonight.” Today, a majority of what people eat is grown on farms bigger than some cities and we don’t have a clue how it got to our tables. Today, every meal a child eats in his or her school comes straight from a large can and has the nutritional value of paper. It’s no wonder they call tendons and ligaments Pink Slime but we let our kids eat it everyday? Really?
I don’t think it’s odd that I can walk into my small garden down in the mountains of Virginia and have as much peace of mind as sitting in the middle of Central Park. Both places give me great peace and solace. What’s sad for me (and for you) is that most folks just aren’t engaged, they just don’t care. Americans aren’t outraged. We need more voices like Ms. Reichl’s and Mrs. Albright’s. We need mothers and fathers to become outraged by what our children are eating. Hell, what we’re eating! And most importantly, we have to speak up because if we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame for the fact that some large company bought Pink Slime’s way into our homes.
Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Food Politics 7 Comments

What the Hell is Wrong with the Republican Party?

I love when someone criticizes a group of people or a segment of the population but then adds that caveat “Oh, and I have a lot of  (                    )  friends.” This brings me to something I’ve been debating in my head for a while: what the hell is wrong with the Republican party? And let me be clear, I have a lot of Republican friends!

Now that’s a sort of generically-boring statement because you can just take out “Republican” and insert any other group: black, gay, jewish, christian, democrats, whatever. Having been an english major in undergrad, I’m hot for adjectives. Adjectives, by their very nature, help us. They help us see something, smell it, taste it. They help us understand better. Being a son of the south, I come from a long line of habitual adjective junkies and frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Republican” as an adjective seems to be in transformation. Understanding what it means to be a Republican in today’s America has gotten tricky. In fact, I don’t know of a single Republican today who will tell me their party isn’t in crisis.

Back in November 2011, former Bush White House speechwriter David Frum wrote a very interesting piece in New York magazine that was one hell of an eye-opener. He’s of the opinion that his party is heading in the wrong direction, that his party is re-defining the meaning of real conservatism.

Frum is no “RINO” aka “republican in name only.” This is the guy who came up with the term “axis of evil.” He considers himself a “conservative Republican” and has written more than a few books about his political party, many to great acclaim and some to great scorn.

So what’s Frum’s problem with his own party? By his own admission, he helped “make the mess.” It seems fair to me for his fellow conservatives to ask him where and why he’s gone astray but I also think that’s a two-way street. If questions from within can’t be asked, questions from the outside are the only voices shouting in an echo chamber. Martin Luther’s affection for hammer, nail, parchment and the subsequent questioning of his own church began the Protestant Reformation. So questioning our very own isn’t radical. Instead it’s the questioning in real time that seems to be the problem.

From Frum’s perspective, what’s wrong with his party is “the drying up of the conservative creativity.” He posits that Republicans have to show a better way, an alternative way to that of President Barack Obama and frankly of his former boss President George W. Bush.

Being “against” instead of “for” the other side is largely an apt description for both political parties today. Whether this is a perception issue or reality issue doesn’t matter. What matters is what the public thinks. What matter is what they see and how they feel about the political parties. Gone are the days of getting our news from the late Walter Cronkite and, most importantly, trusting the news. The country has always had a healthy dose of political skepticism. Today’s 24-hour new cycle (of which I’m admittedly a part) in many ways is responsible for this chasm between what’s reality and what’s perceived to be reality. We are inundated with so much from so many places, it’s hard to cut through the bullshit of it all.

Frum devotes a major portion of his November reflection on the GOP to Fox News and talk radio. He states “The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a ferver of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel).” Mind you this is a thoughtful conservative accusing Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world of brainwashing the masses. While Frum doesn’t accuse the Democrats of such brainwashing, I readily admit my side of the aisle engages here as well.

Frum, who advocated for his party to reach a deal with the Obama White House and the Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, was fired from the American Enterprise Institute and castigated by the far right for suggesting something heretical: compromise. I’m reminded of the 60 Minutes interview with the incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH) who refused to even utter that dirtiest of dirty words “compromise” when asked by Leslie Stahl over and over again. In fact, he even went so far as to say “I reject the word.”

Speaker Boehner is a good man in my opinion. He’s “old school;” he gets the art of the deal. He worked hand-in-hand with the late liberal stalwart Senator Ted Kennedy (MA) to pass the No Child Left Behind legislation. Today, he’s the top Republican in the country but he’s being held hostage by the far right wing of his party. It’s no wonder he and his party refuse to simply “compromise?” And it’s no wonder David Frum is an outsider in his own political party.

I wonder what late Senator Barry Goldwater if he were alive would think of his political party today. By all accounts, Goldwater led a nascent conservative movement into the modern era and set up the mantle for the likes of Ronald Reagan and others to carry forward into a conservative’s virtual Glory Days. This was the Republican candidate for President who said “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Sounds to me like a current Tea Party movement soundbite doesn’t it?

In his latter years though, Goldwater castigated his party for their stance on issues ranging from equal rights for gays to the separation of church and state. In his final term in the Senate, he took to the Floor on September 15, 1981 to discuss the issues of religion, conservatism, and the Republican party (Congressional Record, 127.15, 1981, pp.20589f). I’m intrigued by something Senator Goldwater said:

I, too, believe that we Americans should return to our traditional values concerning morality, family closeness, self-reliance, and a day’s work for a day’s pay. These are the values our forebears clung to as they built this Nation into the citadel of freedom it is today. And I, too, have been pleased with the swing of the pendulum for in recent years to the conservative, moral end of the spectrum. But I object to certain groups on that pendulum and then claiming that they caused it t0 swing in the first place. And I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D…” And I’m more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-given right to control my vote on every rollcall in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism.

In his later years, Goldwater famously took the substance of his Floor speech a step further and became a surprising advocate of equal rights for the LGBT community and even went so far as to say abortion shouldn’t be a political football. This leads me back to Mr. Frum.

To close his article, Frum notes “…a great political party is worth fighting for.” He’s right, literally. Goldwater felt the same way by continuing to speak out  after he left the Senate from retirement back in Arizona. Of late we’ve heard former Senator Alan Simpson (WY), who wasn’t considered a moderate in when he was the Republican Whip, on the overreach by the right-wing of the his party. Former Senator John Danforth (MO) has chimed in as well. 

But the juncture at which Frum and Goldwater’s paths cross is the point they begin walking together in search for something bigger. It’s this issue of allowing their party to be hijacked by extremists that unites the living and the dead. My friends on the American right can learn something from their counterparts across the “pond:” British conservatives. Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has been quoted favoring equal gay marriage rights.  The Prime Minister eloquently said “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” This is groundbreaking. The idea of supporting stable marriages between two consenting adults versus being told as a group your assimilation isn’t wanted is stark.

One of the major reasons I switched from being a Republican to a Democrat in 1992 was the issue of equal rights for gays. Since then my politics have obviously evolved into a much larger vision about which political party aligns with me. I’ve spent nearly 20 years in Washington, DC with 15 of those years working directly in politics. My nearly seven years as a Senate staffer were filled with low pay, immense power, and an insatiable soaking-up of policy. After another seven plus years as a lobbyist for just about every industry under the sun, I got the other side of the DC equation: politics.  With education comes knowledge right? And much to the chagrin of my friends on the Left, the Democratic Party has lost its way in many ways too (that’s another column for another day).

I’ve said before and I continue to believe the best kind of government is the one that leaves us alone when we need to be left alone and lifts us up when we need a helping hand. Like the tall case clock that sits in my living room, that government pendulum swings back and forth between the leaving alone and the helping hand. Unlike my clock, sometimes the pendulum of government gets out of whack by over reaching or under reaching and that’s why we have elections.

This November, voters will walk into the polls, pull that curtain, and take a gut check. For some, they will go through the same gut check I went through 20 years ago when I reluctantly switched from the Republican to the Democratic party. If the polls are any indication for the fall, the Republican party could be in for a massive wakeup call. If you don’t believe me, just ask Republicans like Frum, Danforth, and Simpson. I bet you’d hear the ghostly echo of Goldwater from the Senate Chamber of yesteryear when the GOP was the most popular political party in America.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, Presidential, Senate 1 Comment

Religious Freedom For All?

I have said on MSNBC, Twitter, and Facebook numerous times that we seem to be in a political environment where men have a surging desire to tell women what to do (or not to do) with their bodies. Many of my friends on the GOP side of the aisle  and frankly some on the left have pushed back, claiming this current debate to be about religious freedom only.

I have an inherent faith in people, including people of faith, whether they be Democrats, Republicans, or none-of-the-above. When someone tells me something, I start from a place where they’re telling me the truth unless I have a reason to believe otherwise. Perhaps this faith in “man” stems from my undergraduate days at The Citadel where we were bound by an honor code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal,  nor tolerate those who do.”

Over the course of my weekend reading and researching for this column, I ran across a piece by The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein concerning the number of legislative actions restricting a woman’s right to choose currently pending in those neat little laboratories called the 50 state legislatures. This led me to the Guttmacher Institute’s website, where I found a ton of information on the proliferation of “religious freedom”  legislation pending all across America, including in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

You might imagine how surprised I was to learn that there are currently pending 430 bills in our state legislatures restricting abortion. According to the staff at Guttmacher, roughly 83 of these kinds of bills were signed into law in 2011. Now compare that number to November 2010, prior to the GOP taking over a majority of the state legislatures when only 23 bills were signed into law. This is troubling not because I have strong opinions about abortion but because I’m being lied to and that, my friends, really hacks me off.

If these debates in the states are supposed to be about religious freedom, exactly whose religious freedom are we protecting?

America is by and large a Judeo-Christian nation. We are made up of believers in a higher power and of non-believers as well. I happen to be a believer, an Episcopalian, and my religion is perhaps the most private aspect of my personal life. I, like many other Americans, am a member of a church that is in the mainstream of our culture on the issue of abortion and choice. And while we’re at it, I don’t know what pro-life is vs. pro-death but I think if I had my druthers I’d rather just be pro-woman. That’s another column for another day though.

The Episcopal Churchthe Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church all play this issue right down the middle, where most Americans actually find themselves. Combined, these churches account for over 13,000,000 communicants. Obviously there are millions more Protestants than these three churches but I single them out because these are mainstream faiths which have existed since the founding of our country. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, maintains a population of around 65,000,000. Without a doubt, there are more Catholics in the USA than any other religion.

This begs the following questions: A) Should the majority church determine religious legislation? B) Should the minority’s stance on abortion, contraception, gay marriage, interracial marriage or any other social issue be ignored under the guise of “religious freedom?” and C) Should any government big or small be involved with our bodies (remember Terry Schiavo)?

What about America’s Jewish population? I don’t seem to recall anyone in the 50 state legislatures standing up for the religious freedom of their Jewish constituents. According to halacha (Jewish law), as a general rule abortion should only be allowed if the life of the mother is in danger. Once the baby’s head has exited the womb and has taken its first breath, only then does the child have the same rights as the mother. Again, I must ask the question: which if any of these state legislatures are taking their Jewish constituents’ religious freedoms into account when they pass these laws?

If our governments (either state and federal) want to protect religious freedom, shouldn’t they be protecting that right and privilege for ALL Americans by staying out of our homes and our doctors’ offices? Many of us are familiar with the tyranny of the majority. My fellow South Carolinian, former Vice President and Senator John C. Calhoun, spoke repeatedly about what is known as the “concurrent majority” i.e. the states passing laws when they feel their rights have been infringed upon by the Federal government. I believe strongly in states’ rights but not at the expense of civil rights. Jim Crow laws and bans on interracial marriage stemmed from this theory and I’d love to hear someone defend those types of laws today.

I have developed what I like to call the “pajama test.” If you’re in a room where PJ’s are required or worn, the big hand of government should rarely be your guest. We have the right to be left alone in our homes and in our doctors’ offices. Justice, my friends, is blind. She wears the blindfold for a reason and I don’t think she wants to see our pajamas.

Legislation being passed across this country isn’t about religious freedom for everyone. It’s about religious freedom for some. Once again we as a nation find ourselves at the same crossroad of personal liberty and equal rights and once again, it’s an election year. And I really wish our politicians would stop lying to us about their intent and stop hiding behind a governmental pulpit. It just seems so, well, dishonorable.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, House, Presidential, Senate 3 Comments

Blame the Guns or Blame the Hate?

This morning’s news of another school shooting in Ohio is tragic. There’s simply no other way to describe it. When we send our children to school every weekday morning, we fully expect them to be safe and return home at the end of the school day (whether or not they’re educated is a different column for a different day). Today, one Ohio family won’t have the luxury of the latter and every single Chardon family will now question the former. As of this writing, one student is dead and four others are injured. According to MSNBC, the suspect is a fellow student and is in custody.

When these things happen, I try to take a deep breath, say a prayer for those affected, and think about what would make someone shoot and kill a fellow human being. Politicians would be wise to do the same but instead we’ll most likely see the now-mundane reactions from both sides of the political aisle. Democrats will by and large decry the tragedy and then scream loudly for more “gun control.” Republicans will express sympathy, affirm their unshakeable faith in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and then pray like hell the story will go away. Both sides are missing the point.

Just after the tragic shooting of former-Rep. Gabby Giffords and 18 others in Arizona in early 2011, I discussed this issue on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show.  If you watch the clip, you’ll get the gist. If not (and you should, not because I’m in the clip but because it’s a great debate amongst my colleagues Dylan, Karen Finney, and Susan Del Percio), here are my points:

  • While guns are easy to scapegoat, they’re just a weapon. Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun on that terrible day in Oklahoma City, OK; he used a homemade bomb. The 9/11 hijackers didn’t use guns but instead used planes filled w/ innocent people and jet fuel to kill others. Adolph Hitler didn’t use guns to kill most of the six million Jews during World War II. He gassed most of his victims. And finally, those men who killed Matthew Shepard used their bare hands.
  • Just because you fire a gun at someone doesn’t make you “crazy” or mentally ill. Sure there are plenty of examples of men and women with mental illnesses who’ve exacted violence on others. And we already have laws on the books that prohibit the mentally ill from owning guns (albeit loopholes abound). I, for one, though don’t buy the line that all criminal murder defendants are “nuts” and not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • The common thread running through all of these examples of murder is learned HATE. When you kill six million people of the same religion, you hate them. When nearly 3,500 black men and women in the United States were lynched, Southern white law enforcement officials claimed the prevention of rape and murder. Sorry but the sad reality is they were lynched with ropes by white men because they were black.

RESPECT THE WEAPON
My father slept with a loaded revolver underneath his pillow every night. I knew it was there and not one single time did I ever get anywhere near it. We had a gun case down at our Pee Dee River house filled with shotguns and rifles and the only time I ever went near it was to pull one out to go hunting. From an early age, I was taught guns were used for to defend yourself, your family, your property, and to hunt for food. This isn’t just a “southern thing” as one friend pointed out. Good, law-abiding people all across this great country from the Northeast, to the Great Lakes region, and yes even Californians own guns. When you’re taught to respect the weapon and use it for the above purposes, I don’t have problems with gun ownership. It’s when there’s a lack of respect for others that I draw the line.

RESPECT YOUR FELLOW MAN
Man has employed the use of firearms since the 12th Century for purposes beyond hunting and defense such as war. And while war is an entirely different matter, how we treat each other during peacetime is where the rubber hits the road. Prejudice against others is nothing new in this small world of ours. I’m of the opinion we all have varying degrees of prejudice in us. It’s when you’re taught to hate someone because of their skin color, their gender, their religion, or their sexual orientation that you’re running slap up against Judeo-Christian beliefs. As I have said on tv several times, I was taught blacks were an inferior race to my own race. I was taught that to be gay was against the “will of God.” I’ll never forget the time I was in the car with my Daddy, listening as he screamed and hollered about how terrible Jews were.

I am without a doubt “Southern” in so many ways, my accent being the least of them. But as I struggled with my own sexuality as a kid, as a teenager, and then as a young adult, I had to admit to myself eventually that I was either going to recognize the worth of my fellow man or I was going to stay in the closet and let my own self-loathing express itself on others simply because they looked different than I looked. This awakening, per se, this realization of how to respect my fellow man was perhaps the most emancipating thing I’ve ever experienced. Let me be clear: I’m judgmental. Ask anyone who knows me well: I let my opinions be known far and wide. And yet, despite my ability to judge others so easily, it takes a hell of a lot for me to disrespect someone and by God, I can’t think of a single person on this planet who I truly hate. Perhaps I just didn’t drink enough of the Kool Aid.

When parents teach their children to hate someone either deliberately or in passing, they’re passing down a set of values. When I’d hear my Daddy use the “N” word, I of course thought it was fine for me to say exactly the same thing.  And I admit using that horrible word freely as a teenager and young adult. When our politicians espouse their religious and so-called moral beliefs on the campaign trail to deny equal rights to others, they’re passing down a set of values to their constituents. When our religious leaders stand by silently as their parishioners’ civil rights are trampled upon, they’re complicit in their silence.

Perhaps I’m simply naive to dream of a world where we can mostly get along. Perhaps I’m just too near-sighted to think that despite my Daddy’s bigotry towards pretty much anyone who wasn’t lily-white, that he wasn’t a terrible or immoral man. He was taught his bigotry pure and simple.

I caught a rash of hell from my friends on the professional Left for “going soft on guns” after the Giffords’ shooting. From my friends on the Right, utter silence. Perhaps some of my Republican buds think if you don’t talk about the issue, it will go away. I’d rather talk about it, hence this column. Having a dialogue or discourse on how we treat each other is a good thing. While a national dialogue on hate is too late for the Ohio family who will bury their child in the coming days, it’s not too late for any other parent who sends his or her child to school every single day. Blaming the gun or choosing to sit silently doesn’t solve the problem. The child who died this morning deserves better and frankly so does the kid who murdered one of his own classmates.

On the surface, it looks as if we as a society have failed both children. That’s something we don’t have to keep doing. Hate is something we definitely don’t have to keep doing.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights Comments Off on Blame the Guns or Blame the Hate?