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Monday, August 10, 2015

Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr.

I grew up lying in front of a Stromberg-Carlson stereo console listening to Bill Cosby albums. Lying next to me was the brother whom I shared a bedroom with for many years. There were seven of us in a three-bedroom rowhouse. We would laugh until our sides ached. Instead of going to sleep, we would recite “Street football” and other bits like, “The life expectancy of a medic from the time he steps off the landing craft to the time he almost makes it to the beach is uh seven seconds.” If I put my mind to it, I could probably recite “Noah”, all three parts.
On Monday mornings, Mary the “colored girl” would come to do our laundry. She was a wonderful loving woman whom we welcomed into our family. Bill Cosby helped make us see her as a hard working woman instead of a Negro woman, or a black woman. My siblings can still recite Maryism that she would say to keep us boys in line. “I’m goin’ put somethin’ on you; you won’t wash off” was my favorite.”
As a white kid growing up with more privilege than I was even aware of, Bill Cosby thru his comedy, his acting, his appearances on Carson’s show made me look at black people differently than so many of my neighbors. There was a lot of racism in my old neighborhood. I won’t begin to list all the racial epithets I not only heard but also used as a boy.
Bill Cosby helped change the way Americans looked at African-Americans. Then he got all high and mighty and began lecturing other blacks as if he had done it all. Dr. Cosby you did very little. I don’t remember one politically or socially challenging bit of humor coming from your mouth. By many of your contemporaries in show business, I’m quite sure you were quietly being labeled “Uncle Bill.”
You attacked Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and others for their use of the word fuck. Really, they’re doing their race a disservice by using the word fuck and the whole time you’re hanging with Hugh Hefner and slipping “ludes” to women. Let me list a few of your contemporaries who did far more for race relations than you ever did, Diahann Carroll, John Amos, Esther Rolle, heck even Jimmie Walker had white kids running around saying Dy-no-mite.
Now the truth of your life Dr. Cosby is coming to light and it’s as bright as a klieg light. You have been a serial rapist. Your pretty, young, black female attorney coming on TV to spin it, as a part of the times is bullshit. Yes, we did do drugs including Quaaludes in the seventies. The difference between you and all the rest of us sir is when we gave someone a lude they knew they were being given a Quaalude.
It saddens your many fans to learn you are a rapist. Considering your well reported rants about black families not doing their jobs as parents. Your constant comments about kids fashion are a joke. Here’s an example of just how ridiculous you looked in 1970. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Bill+Cosby+1970&view=detailv2&&id=DF174C80FD369CE2E3BE2BE8B20F0638405ECEFD&selectedIndex=2&ccid=TlxSd5rL&simid=608020443242104154&thid=JN.%2bPUdNIgDXLdvTtknoE%2fC2A&ajaxhist=0
Here’s a piece where you say black Americans in general should be like Muslims: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1016&sid=25561839 You go on to say they don’t drink or smoke, they put great effort into teaching their children and then you really went off the rails when you said the following, “they protect their women…” The dot, dot, dots, having nothing to do with women, which is why I cut off the quote there. Muslims should protect their women and if they are true followers of Islam, they would. However, the reality is in Muslims communities outside the protection of the United States Constitution women can be stoned to death for being raped. Oh yea that’s right you like rape; it gets you off. You fall somewhere in the DSM between a power-reassurance rapist and a Necrophilic.
Dr. Cosby it is time for you to exit stage right, the left wants nothing more of you. American society in general wants nothing more from you. Get out your checkbook, do what you can monetarily to make your victims whole. They never will be completely whole again; you stole that from them when they were unconscious. When you have given them your fortune, go find a refrigerator box under the Schuylkill Expressway and live out the rest of your miserable life there.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rhetoric v. Reality

The title of this should really be Conservative Rhetoric v. Liberal Realty. A while back, I was called a neoliberal socialist who is ruining America. When I looked up neoliberalism, I found this on Wikipedia, “Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States.” Say what? I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t look at Reagan or Thatcher as liberal in any sense of the word. Liberal is defined as “1. Showing or characterized by broad-mindedness, 2. Having political or social views favoring reform and progress” Does this sound like Reagan and Thatcher to you?
As for being a socialist I can address this easily – I am. Socialism is not Marxist-Leninist communism. Socialism is defined by the state controlling the economy through regulation or ownership of critical industries. Here is a list of the top socialist democracy in the world today. I will deal with China later:  China, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, and Belgium. The European countries on this list are all a part of the European Union. The others China, Canada & New Zealand are not a part of the European Continent. All however are successful countries with long histories. Much longer than the United States who as we all know only exists because Europe sent explorers here to steal lands from the thriving peaceful societies that already inhabited the New World.
China was once a Marxist-Leninist communist country but has reformed its government in recent decades. This began after a moderate Republican open a dialogue with Mao Tse-tung. That of course was Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in disgrace for a series of burglaries including the Democratic National Party Headquarters located in the Watergate complex.
Calling me a neoliberal socialist is rhetoric. The facts are liberals lead nations forward, through education, science, technology and secular separation. The Scandinavian countries listed above are frequently listed as countries with the happiest citizens. The United States does not crack the top ten. Go ahead and call me a socialist, I proudly accept the label just as Jack Kennedy proudly accepted the label of liberal.
Now on to conservatism, which is defined as, 1.  belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society, 2. Dislike of change or new ideas in a particular area. Now that sounds like Thatcher and Reagan. It sounds like every member of the once liberal Republican National Committee. However, those days began to end when America elected Richard Nixon president. The coup of the once Grand Old Party was complete when the Religious Right rose up and rejected their previous presidential candidate and elected Ronald Reagan.
Reagan despite his Alzheimer’s disease was great at rhetoric. He was an actor who could still remember his lines. Those lines were fed to him by capitalists and Evangelicals. The goal of Reagan’s rhetoric was convince the American people that its own very successful government was the problem and only rich capitalist who believe in Christ can fix America’s problems.
The reality is Reagan’s policies have been ruinous to American society. They have all but destroyed the middle-class. They have severely weakened the Constitution, especially the First Amendment. Reagan and his supporters have, in no particular order done the following negative things:
Ø  Promoted the false premise that a War on Drugs (Prohibition) is good for America
Ø  Allowed those with great wealth to accumulate even more while the middle-class ended up with less and less disposable income
Ø   Taxed making money by moving money less than making money from hard work and sweat
Ø  Pumped up the Military Industrial Complex while attempting to undo all the good the WII generation accomplished at home The MIC that the last liberal Republican president Ike Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address
Rhetoric is merely words. Sometimes positive like when Bobby Kennedy used to quote George Bernard Shaw. “Some men see things the way they are and ask why, I dream things that never were and ask why not.” John Kennedy’s inaugural address included the famous call to action, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Compare that to Reagan’s first inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” It was the start of this ridiculous “we need to take back our country” crap.
Reality, in the years following the WWII America created a strong middle-class while taxing those at the top of the earnings scales a staggering 90%. Here’s the thing in 1953 when my parents had their fourth child my father was making less $7,500 (probably less than $5,000). If you were at the bottom of the upper bracket making just $250,000 a year and after taxes, you cleared more than Mickey Mantle who only earned $17,500 for the 1953 season, Mickey never made more than $100,000/year in his whole career. By comparison, the Yankees top pitcher that year the great Whitey Ford earned $9,500 in 1953. You can see why I believe my father a paper salesman, was making significantly less than even $7,500 in 1953.
Here’s another comparison, in 1968, Brooks Robinson had one of his best baseball seasons. In 1968 the year my father passed away, he had his best year ever. Dad made $15K that year Brooks made $81K. Brooks lived in a nicer part of the suburbs. Compare that to the complex that Cal Ripken lives on.
Reality - I began my own family during the Reagan years, which means both my wife and I worked, my own mother didn’t work outside the home until she was a widow. Together we made more than double my own father’s highest earnings of $15,000/year in 1968. Double and my father was buying not just our own home, but owned outright one rental property they inherited from my grandfather, he was buying three other houses. I on the other hand was renting and continued to rent until I was fifty-eight. My old man died when he was 49. This is what the GOP calls financial progress - for who?
Rhetoric – The Iran deal - President Barack Obama is marching Israelis to "the door of the oven" by agreeing to the Iran nuclear deal. That’s Mike Huckabee’s rhetoric.
Reality – Mike Huckabee hasn’t seen this deal. Mike Huckabee won’t see any of the important parts of the deal because he’s an unemployed politician not a member of Congress. Despite what FoxNews may make it sound like none of their pundits know what they’re talking about when it comes to this deal. Why is that, because they’re pundits not members of Congress. The members that do appear of Fox are mostly GOP politicians who have been obstructing since election night 2008.
Reality GOP rhetoric doesn’t match their results or even their behavior. GOP rhetoric says no sex before marriage, you know abstinence only, yet they’ve been caught time and time again cheating on their own wives. IOW you miss teen girl you’re slut if you have sex out of wedlock. Me I’m a stud because I cheated on my wife with a hot Argentinian journalist.
Democratic rhetoric often comes to fruition. Kennedy said put a man on the moon before the end of the decade – we did that. FDR said nothing short of unconditional surrender for Hitler & Tito and they surrendered unconditionally. Well actually, Hitler committed suicide but his government surrendered unconditionally.
We fought a war on poverty with welfare and food stamps and things got better, not great but better. We protected senior citizens from poverty thru Social Security. Guess what conservative capitalists have been fighting these programs since before they were signed into law. They are still fighting against them calling it trickle-down economics and privatization.

As responsible citizens, we need to do two things. Educate ourselves to differentiate between rhetoric from the reality of governing. Even more important we must get off our asses and VOTE!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Farewell - Great Trip

This Sunday in Chicago, the Grateful Dead or at least the surviving members who are on a fiftieth anniversary "Fare Thee Well" tour will culminate that tour with three shows at Soldiers Field ending on Sunday. For Dead Heads it amounts to one last farewell concert and they are descending on the Windy City.
There is a story that went around awhile back. It went like this. Walter Cronkite’s daughter took him to see the Grateful Dead. This is undisputed and has been affirmed by Walter Cronkite on many occasions. The unconfirmed part is that at the end of the concert Walter’s daughter turned to him and asked if he had enjoyed the experience to which he said he had. Then she asked would you go see them again. Again, the answer was yes, at which point she allegedly turn to her famous father and said “Cool, Dad’s a Dead Head”.
For me it was at what turned out to be a three-day party. It was a big old house and everyone who lived there had a stereo system for their rooms. For the party they wired them all together, put the speakers in the windows and cranked Europe ’72 at full volume. The speakers each put out 100 watts per channel, there was a bunch of them and they turned the house into one big speaker box. Add to that Quaaludes, weed & cocaine, and it was a great intro.
The first time I saw the Dead live was a hoot. I was chef at a restaurant very near the venue, the Baltimore Civic Center. As we attempted to pull onto the restaurant parking lot we were – delayed. There was a girl on her knees going down on her boyfriend and had no intention of stopping until the deed was done.
We walked into the restaurant and the boss was more than a little upset. All those Dead Heads were parking on his lot. He looks at us and asks why we’re here on my day off. We sheepishly admitted we were headed to the Dead concert.
Our seats were in the very last row of the Civic Center. We didn’t care we were seeing the Dead. Now by this point we were pretty loaded. We were "don’t go near a car" loaded. We look around and I turned to Carol and said, “I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I don’t think we’re high enough for this show.” At that the girl who is nearly half our age as we are in our early thirties, turns to us and says, “want a bite of my cookie.” Oh yea we are definitely not high enough for this. That’s okay, there was time to kill before the band kicks off; we can catch up while we wait.
We thought the sound would suck, worried about bounce back. What we found out was the bounce back went buy so fast we never heard it so the sound was great. Being at the top of the arena had other benefits too. For one, for those who were tripping there was plenty of room to trippy dance up there on the third concourse. This also meant the bathrooms never had a line, so adding it up, great sound, room to dance, and no lines at the bathroom, overall a great concert.
The next time we saw the Dead was one of Jerry’s last shows. It was June 25, 1995 at RFK Stadium in DC. Bob Dylan opened the show. Momentarily, we worried that RFK would be shaken down to the ground. We were near the railing in what would be box seats for a baseball game and even that concrete was shaking under our feet. Even after the stage was rushed and people went out onto the field that stands were full.
From “Working Man’s Dead” thru “Europe ’72” until “In The Dark” with “Touch of Grey” & “Hell in a Bucket” I may not be a true head but I’m definitely a fan. However, when Jerry Garcia passed away a little more than six weeks after I saw the Dead at RFK a wake was in order.
Following a couple of shots after leaving work early, it was off to the races. Ordered pizza for dinner and broke out the tequila. We kept the volume in check. I can’t say the same for my mouth. I was already on poor terms with the President of the Board of Directors of our Homeowner’s Association so it was probably not good to call out to him to ask if he had any Dead CD’s we could borrow.
We really did keep the volume in check, we know because people came over to our yard because we wouldn’t crank the volume. It was cool in our yard without blasting the whole court away. Which is why we were so shocked when, we got “the letter.”
The letter accused us behaving so badly the police were called, Shouting profanities across the street and fighting in the streets. Plus one more that I’ll deal with separately. First, there were no fights involving me. The couple across the street whose wife had an epileptic fit and didn’t want to go to the hospital had an argument, as she was loaded into the ambulance. The police accompanied the ambulance. Therefore, that dismisses one of the accusations.
As for the last accusation, “a loud party, reportedly drinking and dancing in the front yard.” This goes hand and hand with the “shouting of profanities” across the street. Of the profanity, guilty, I would shout, “Did you hear Jerry died?” and they would shout back, “Yea fucking bummer.” I’d say something like, “fucking A right, come on over and toast Jerry with us.” The complete extent of this garbage mouth was that conversation about twice. As for the party, there were no more than eight people dancing on my front lawn. Wow what a blow out!
I got so pissed I sent a copy of the letter to the ACLU. They responded, not their type of case at this time but advised obtaining council because our rights were being threatened. I sent a copy of that letter to the HOA. It was one of many battles I had with the busybody, battle-axes that ran the HOA and tried to run our lives. We even had one Board member that thought garden statues looked trashy and wanted them ban. But, of all the battles with the HOA, the Jerry Garcia Wake battle was the most monumental. So was the hangover.

The trip may have been strange at times but still a great trip. As for the Grateful Dead what can be said that hasn’t already been said before. I’m not enough of a Dead Head or music critic to try. Believe this though every time, “Sugar Magnolia” Or “Tennessee Jed” or “Uncle John’s Band” comes on the radio the volume will approach or reach max level.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

WTF PPS

I’ve had enough alcohol & Valium I should be as asleep as a bear in hibernation. Yet I’m not, I am out on the deck in the predawn light writing. How does this happen? With Post-Polio Syndrome when you over do your fatigue is so bad when your head hits a pillow even if it’s just to rest – bam you’re asleep. Then there are times like tonight when you have over done so much when you lie down to go to bed your muscles vibrate like you’re hooked up to a low electrical charge. Your mind tries to sleep but it never gets past REM.

I recently read the tale of a young woman who suddenly was having severe mobility issues but no diagnosis as to what was causing her weakness. Abbreviating this story as much as possible, they wanted to do two things before beginning their family. One was a trip to Europe and the other a trip to the Big Apple. Naturally, the young lady thought none of this was possible anymore. The husband to his credit said bullsh*t we can do both of those things and I’ll prove it to you – we’re going to New York first.

They spent several days doing New York with her devoted husband pushing her around in a wheelchair so she could see all the sights she’d longed to see. In a moment of despair, after seeing just how hard it is to push a grown adult around a major city in a wheelchair she expressed her biggest fear. Her fear being that, yea while this is working for now, she worried that one day he will tire of caring for her and leave.

I love this part of the story. His response was to tell her they were going to renew their vows so she knew that when he said, in sickness and in health… they weren’t just words to be said at a wedding. He really means it. I teared up.

I know just how she feels. Polio was a disease that I was sure I had beaten like a red headed stepchild. From twenty months until age ten, I was in braces twice. I got rid of both them with hard work at physical therapy. I went on to play little league baseball where at first I had to wear my leg brace to and from the field. When I got there, I could take my brace off, put on my tennis shoes and play baseball. Luckily, that routine only lasted one season.

The years that followed were full of baseball, gymnastics, even sandlot tackle football which meant full contact football without the equipment. I played in our CYO’s soccer league. However, what I loved the most was dancing. We had Teen Center dances on Friday nights and CYO dances on Saturday night. I was no Fred Astaire or Tony Manero but I danced well enough to always to have a partner to get out on the dance floor with. I loved going to dances, dancing for three hours and coming home with my ears ringing from the loud rock & roll blasted out by some of the best bands around.

Tonight after dinner, my wife & I were reminiscing about going dancing when we first met. Sometimes there wasn’t even a dance floor we didn’t care. If someone was picking a guitar and played a song we loved, we got up and danced. I still remember the last time we danced together.

We were at this great dockside bar/restaurant where friends were playing all the oldies we grew up to, JT, CSN&Y, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and of course songs by Lennon & McCartney. When they played our song, “Old Time Rock & Roll, by Bob Seger, despite being on forearm crutches, I got up and did something that resembled dancing. When the crowd around saw what was happening they began to applaud my effort, it was the last time I set foot on a dance floor.

I’m telling these stories for only one reason. I want people with new disabilities to understand something. Your life has changed and right now, you feel it has changed for the worse not the better. It doesn’t have to be that way. It can simply be that your life has changed. If you are lucky enough to have the love of a good person like myself and the young woman above, know that you are not going to go through this alone. This is a huge advantage. Even if you are alone right now, that’s not permanent. Plenty of disabled people find love and marry.

What is most important to your physical and mental well-being is finding something that excites you that you can still do. For me, one of those things is writing. I’m one of those truly rare writers that the first time I sent out a query letter about a story I had written the magazine bought it. I was hooked.

The second thing was sailing. That’s right sailing. At first, I still was strong enough, especially my upper body to sail my own boat single-handed. My wife worried every minute I was out there on Chesapeake Bay alone but I always made back to harbor safe and sound. I no longer risk that as I have weakened even more over the years.

When my own boat was damaged in a storm beyond what I could afford to repair, I called on someone who knew all too well the struggles I was dealing with, Don Backe. He had been an avid sailor before an automobile accident left him a T-4 paraplegic. That means that everything below his diaphragm was paralyzed. Not wanting to give up sailing he learned about the National Ocean Access Project (NOAP).

NOAP eventually morphed into Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB). When Casey’s Dream, my boat was damaged I knew the club wouldn’t want a boat that needed so much expensive work but they would be interested in my Nissan 9.9 HP outboard motor. I donated the motor to CRAB for which I was given three years of Admiral level membership. Though the club doesn’t do memberships any longer at the time it meant for the next three years I could use any boat in the fleet pretty much anytime I wanted. The only exception was if CRAB needed the boat for use by another group.

What a CRAB sailor learns and tells about with pride, is that when we are in the helmsman position on our boats, no matter how many people it took to put us there, no matter how many straps are needed to keep them safely in that helmsman seat, others out on the water don’t know we are physically challenged. All they see is another sailor doing just what they are doing, watching tell-tails, feeling the wind on their face and adjusting their course or their sails to get the most out of their boat. We even have a race team. Heck I even won one of those races. There’s no need to go into how many races that took here.

It is for people like the young lady in this story and all of the others with challenges that I do what I call citizen lobbying. I’m affiliated with on organizations. I have been in the past but now that I know what I’m doing (or at least I think I do), now I do the lobbying on my own.

Wheelchair dependent people face one more challenge that they don’t need added to their burden, paying to adapt vehicles for use with their chairs. This is why Casey’s Dream, http://caseysdream.blogspot.com/ and Help Keep Me Rolling, http://www.gofundme.com/b9khek exists. It is also, why I have begun a lobbying effort to change the health insurance laws or regulations to force insurance companies to pay for vehicle adaptations for wheelchair dependent people.
To this end, I have spoken to or met with state and federal lawmakers or their advisors. Once again, I’m not revealing their names at this time. I am holding off on that until I get firm commitments to sponsor the legislation required to make this happen.

To insure success in this endeavor I need to upgrade my wheelchair – not a problem the health insurance company will pay at least 90% of that cost. They’ll pay all of it if I first reach my max out-of-pocket for this year. We exceed that amount most years.

When I get that new wheelchair my old derrick style lift will no longer work with the new style chair. I have previously posted a video showing my derrick lift is breaking down. The new chair is my responsibility. However, insurance companies NOT considering the adaptations that allow a physically challenged person to use their chair outside of their home as Durable Medical Equipment, is unconscionable. When I asked my old insurance company about adapting my van the person on the phone said, “Oh sir, that’s a luxury. You have to pay for that yourself.”

What can you do with all this info? First, of course I would greatly appreciate any and all donations to Help Keep Me Rolling, http://www.gofundme.com/b9khek. Secondly, you can join me in writing to your lawmakers and let them know about the plight of wheelchair dependent people. Personally, I would love it if one of my lawmakers wrote and sponsored the bill that fixed this problem. If on the other hand someone else’s legislator did it, I would lobby for that bill. What matters is that we help wheelchair dependent people eliminate the financial hardship of retrofitting a van or car to haul around 200lb wheelchairs that are necessary to live a full and productive life.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Education In America

I may only be a man in his sixties with a computer but I have learned at least this. If we want our state or nation to be this powerful economic engine, we need an educated work force. I was lucky enough to go through an inventive feeder school system. I experienced having teachers that really tried to reach their students. I was one of those students. While I have to admit I was sweating some generous grading to graduate with my class, it was my class. They were the same students I started school with in first grade.
States shouldn’t be raiding pension funds to fund education. However, we should be funding schools in a way to turn our schools into the schools every other city wants their schools to be like. In a city like Baltimore, schools should be something every Marylander points to with the same pride, they do Mt. Vernon, Ft. McHenry, Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium, and The Inner Harbor.
We’ve seen what education does. We watched as guys with slide rules sent men to the moon and back with less computing power than my mobile phone. In my lifetime, I’ve gone from only black & white TV to watching YouTube videos on my iPhone. Heck, who am I kidding the video phone that was going to be this unit built into the walls that we were promised as students, that’s now an app on our mobile phones.
Every state has a big city with big city problems. Education that is well rounded is the solution to those problems. Yes, we need to concentrate on English, Math & Science but our kids also need Art, Social Studies, Phys. Ed. and foreign languages taught. Most important in inner city schools we need real sex ed. not this abstinence only BS. We need honest and factual drug education and not the lies told by D.A.R.E. Inner city kids know more about crack and heroin than the cops that conduct these programs.
On the subject of Social Studies, we need to teach about government. We need to teach about people who saw an injustice and gathered people together to fix the problem. Teachers should be molding good citizens who will grow up and participate in their own governing in Social Studies.
Don’t get me started on Science. I was never that great in science though certain sciences certainly sparked my interest. What cannot be allowed to happen is to replace Darwin with Adam & Eve. If you want to believe, every word in the bible is fact that was covered under freedom of religion and was taught in Social Studies class. However, if you want a high school diploma than you had better understand evolution and know the true age of the planet you live on and not some bullshit calculation by a theologian. If I were a congressional representative or senator, I’d vote to break up the Marines and turn ‘em all back into sailors before I’d vote to do away with the Dept. of Education.
We have a government, of, by & for the people, all the people. We can no longer sit back and accept the education inequality of this nation. Just because of gerrymandering, we now have a government that thinks Koch Industries should all the same rights as me an individual citizen. Citizens United is the worst ruling from SCOTUS since Dred Scott. It will be overturned by a new SCOTUS and sooner than the Guardians of Privilege think. The Koch brothers and their Christian Right cronies are dumbing down the South & Midwest while the states on either coast that have the most citizens are fighting to improve education for everyone.
It’s been strange to watch how the Guardians have convinced poor white people in rural areas that their employers, who have minimized their wages, done away with benefits, stole their pension funds have their best interests at heart. Fuck that they have their bottom lines at heart. So by waging this war on democracy by telling people to follow only the bible they are taking away centuries of intellectual advances. Hell before you know, it they’ll be telling them to outlaw the four-cylinder engine because they go to slow and use too little gasoline.

When it comes to education, as often is the case on the issues affecting our nation JFK may have put it best. Speaking at Vanderbilt in 1963 Pres. Kennedy said, “Liberty without learning is always in peril; and learning without liberty is always in vain. Any educated citizen who seeks to subvert the law, to suppress freedom, or to subject other human beings to acts that are less than human, degrades his heritage, ignores his learning and betrays his obligations."  In my opinion, the RNC’s plans for educating America puts us at more peril than 100 Osama bin Ladens. An educated population would recognize that the GOP is dead set on embroiling us into this religious war between Judaism, Sunni & Shia. Instead of teaching intellectual subjects, they prefer to spread the falsehood that we are a Christian Nation and they can only accomplish that long term by turning public schools into parochial schools. This must be stopped.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pushing the Envelope

This is what political activists do we push the envelope. We see an injustice, roll up our sleeves, warm up our computers and begin to find support to right a wrong. Buying groceries is not a luxury. However, that is exactly what your healthcare company considers it. You're asking WTF is he talking about. I’ll explain.
Health insurance companies divide services they provide into categories. One of those categories is called Durable Medical Goods (DMG).  DMG covers things like canes, crutches, braces and wheelchairs. How they are covered varies by company and policy provisions. There may be a deductible, or a co-pay or co-insurance payment. Either way these costs are usually, far less than the equipment they cover. My brand of wheelchair can cost between $3,000.00 - $6,000.00. What they do not consider DMG is adaptations of vehicles to haul these behemoths. A quick look at some of the popular brands of power wheelchairs these chairs can run between 250 - 400 pounds.
We've all seen people in wheelchairs using a variety of adaptaions to carry their wheelchairs and scooters. What most people don’t know is that those people paid for those adaptations out of their own pockets or were lucky enough to find a charity to help. This is wrong. These adaptations are durable medical goods. They are as important to the patient’s health as the wheelchair. Without vehicle adaptations, wheelchair dependent people become shut-ins.
That’s the history. This is the future. I plan to change that law. To that end I have begun meeting with lawmakers on the both the state and federal level.
This Wednesday I traveled to Washington to meet with aides for Sen. Cardin & Rep. Sarbanes. Like when I go to Annapolis I didn’t stop at those meetings. I went sort of door to door to pitch the idea. Here’s a quick rundown of those interactions.
First up was Sen. Mark Kirk (R) IL., who is a stoke survivor. He now uses a wheelchair though I believe he does retain some ability to walk or at least to transfer on his own. I spoke to Andrew Vogt the senator’s legislative aide. I would describe his reaction as intrigued. He promised to raise the issue with the senator.
Secondly, I met with Matthew Spikes, Esq. who is the Legislative Correspondent to Sen. Ben Cardin (D) Md. Matt was the first to commit to a meeting so he gets extra kudos for that. I would travel to DC for this one meeting alone but was lucky enough to score another confirmed meeting. Matt was extremely interested in my ideas. His plan is to write a position paper to present to the Sen. Cardin and is Chief-of-Staff.
While still in the Hart Office Building, I stopped by my other senator’s office, the senior senator from Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D). For some reason I am having trouble arranging a meeting with her staff. While there is story there, it is a story for another day. I didn’t get past the receptionist. I did leave my business card.
Next, it was over to the house offices. I had a little extra time and as the Cannon House Office Building was first in line from the direction I was travelling, I stopped by the office of another Illinois politician that should have empathy for our cause, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) IL. Since the House was not in session, there was no one around to speak to except her receptionist. I explained the issue to her and she told me to contact Anthony DeMarino, Special Assistant who advices Rep. Duckworth on disability issues. I will reach out to him next week.
Lastly, I met with Peter Gelman, Legislative Correspondent to Rep. John Sarbanes (D) Md. 3rd Dist. This meeting that took some doing. Not because no one was willing to meet with me but because every meeting time offered was taken on my end. Like Matt Spikes in Sen. Cardin’s office Peter was very interested in the idea. He said he’d speak with the congressman about it and advised that I also contact Rep. Sarbanes’ Chief-of-Staff, Dvora Lovinger. That too is on next week’s calendar.
Next week besides contacting Ms. Lovinger and Mr. DeMarino, I have a meeting with Del. Terri Hill. There are a few other suggested contacts but let’s see where these meetings go first.
It is not easy changing a law but here is what people are agreeing with. Insurance companies make the rules but congress and state legislatures can change those rules. It is all about being the squeaky wheel. When men bitched about the cost of their Viagra, insurance companies changed the rules. However, women are still fighting over coverage for birth control. The system is broken when men get a pill paid for so their dick will stay erect while they court the trophy wife they’re about to leave the mother of his children to be with.
The student with menstrual problems that stands up and demands her birth control pill that will treat her condition be covered is called a slut on national radio but a fat drug addict.
Couples who had tried everything to have a child were told being a parent is a luxury. They were told if God wanted you to have a baby, he’d give you one. When those parents banded together regulations covering the coverage of in vitro fertilization were passed.

Vehicle adaptations should be a right. It is a right not to be a shut-in. It is a right to go to church. It is a right to go to the grocery store. With that, I have to sign off - so I can go to the grocery store. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Enlightenment Did Not End

Three hundred sixty five years ago, the world began The Enlightenment. It was never meant to stop. For most of the world, this has been true. We have made great strides having faith and science coexist in society. It’s time to lay down our weapons, go home and make peace. Practice your faith the way you believe you should but leave your neighbor free to practice his beliefs in his home and with his neighbors.
America has fought wars over a great many things in its history but not once have we fought with each other over religion. I am not a church going Christian but I am a follower of Christ.  I know this; the God in the Bible is the same God as in the Quran, as in the Torah. If any of our religions are true than this is a fact. So why the hell, are we fighting each other. Our God surely does not want this.
We have the governments of predominately-Christian nations from Europe to the Americas fighting with a small fraction of radicals out of more than a billion Muslims. Why are they fighting? They apparently are fighting over Holy Land. The most radical in these religions believe the Jews must be returned to Jerusalem. Okay, fine let’s make a treaty to make that happen but oh, wait they want this to happen so God will end the world and all the truly holy people will ascend to have heaven like Jesus Christ and Mohamed did. What, why do we want the world to end?
Again not a theologian but I thought God put us on Earth to live in peace with each other. That when God sees all of us living in peace, He will return to take us all to heaven. Maybe I missed something in CCD classes.
Why are there so many sects of Christianity? The last time Christianity was this fractured Constantine had to convene the Council of Nicaea. However while it was supposed to be a religious conference to reconcile the factions of Christianity it was really a political convention to concentrate Constantine’s power.
Why, if you believe in Christ are you choosing war as the solution to our problem? I have more questions than I have answers. The logic of our wars escapes me. The conflict between Sunnis & Shiites goes back to 632AD and we’re allowing ourselves to be dragged into this fight. Why? The only answer I hear is because (and we’re back to it) America is the Christian nation in this dogfight.
No, America should be the peacemaker in this fight. America should be telling the combatants to lay down their weapons and go home. We should be encouraging courts based on justice not scripture. We should be encouraging loudly that everyone go home and give religious freedom a chance. (I can’t believe I just wrote that). Religious freedom should be everyone’s right no matter where they live. Being the beacon of religious freedom is supposed to be our great gift to humankind.
Instead, we have a wing of the Republican Party that would love to enact laws based on their interpretation of an interpretation of the Bible. Which I thought teaches faith. And we’re back again to, whose faith. In America this is supposed to be everyone’s faith including those with no faith at all. We’re supposed to be supporting religious freedom around the world. This means we support ending belief in religion as a requirement of citizenship. It means Muslims need to begin to get along with each other by ending Sunni – Shiite hostilities. The leaders of Islam need to preach acceptance within their own faith and with other faith’s around the world.
Israel needs to stop thinking it’s entitled to certain lands on Earth based on stories in the Bible. The world did what it could to right the wrong done you by giving you a homeland. While the world was still trying to pacify Muslims who were rightfully upset about their land being given to someone else Israel grabs even a little more land via war. Now it is run with a “papers please” policy to make sure they know where those Muslins are and what they are doing. Wasn’t this how Germans treated Jews in the Ghettos?
No large surprise it was Europeans and Americans telling one nation we are given some of their country to someone else. It wasn’t Europe or America’s land to give to anyone. It was America all over again. It sucks, but is the answer, constant war. War that now includes as a tactic, attacks on innocent civilians by people who believe this is a biblically justified tactic. What will happen when America says enough is enough and stops worrying about civilian casualties? Do we want that kind of carnage with our names signed to it? I don’t.
Some of these Christian Church leaders are scary with their pronouncements. They are scary for the very reason they are popular. They are scary because when we we’re afraid their donations go up. These “ministries” that are run in the name of religion are cash cows for the guy whose face is on their movement, Billy Graham, Joel Olsteen, Rick Warren, and Pat Robertson.
Pastor John Hagee just recently pronounced that the recent “Blood Moon” signals the end of times is coming. And I’m a Leo who likes long walks on the beach… I’m sorry but when the preacher is preaching nonsense than it is time we call them out on it. The problem is for the rest of us to call them out then they yell we’re interfering with the free practice of their religion. They are trying to turn faith into a test of patriotism. Their faith and their patriotism which if they were honest they’d admit is faith in capitalism and the superiority it brings.
Why else would Ted Cruz choose Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University? Why was his rhetoric more of this “take back our country” for those who believe in Christ. Take it back for good Christian Americans so long as they are white Christian Americans, which includes Latinos but only if your family came here centuries ago instead of decades ago. Oh, wait 1957 is okay but no later than that.
Now these same zealots are trying to replace teaching evolution with Adam & Eve. What’s next? Do we go back to the churches original teaching that Earth is the center of the universe and the Sun revolves around it? Galileo will rise up out of his grave to shout, “Hey I didn’t endure years of persecution so you dolts can take the world back to the Dark Ages.” Galileo wasn’t the only one and Christianity wasn’t the only faith to persecute scientists.
Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī or Rhazes was a pioneer in medicine from Baghdad. Rhazes attempted to compile a volume of all known medical knowledge. Which since he lived from 865-925 CE wasn’t much. Never the mind when a Muslim priest learned of it he had Rhazes beaten over the head with his own manuscript until he went blind.
Michael Servetus was a Spaniard who discovered the pulmonary system. He penned a book explaining his discovery and the changes the Church should make to its doctrine in light of his discovery. After escaping the Spanish Inquisition, he fled to Switzerland where he came up against the Protestant Inquisition. In 1553, John Calvin burned him at the stake on the shores of Lake Geneva and for good measure used his writings as fuel for the fire.
Even Henry Oldenburg the founder of the Royal Society of London was thrown into the Tower of London for several months. His crime you ask, corresponding with other scientists around the world to compile scientific knowledge. His goal was to encourage the development and use of science. His charge was treason.
Last year we were told the story of Alan Turing and his incredible contribution to ending WWII. He was subsequently persecuted and chemical castrated (his choice over jail) for being a gay man. Hitler was kicking our collective asses and without the accomplishment of Turing’s team, we may very well have lost WWII.
Homosexuality persecution is a religious thing. There is no secular reason to object to homosexuality. Yet Alan was persecuted to the point that (spoiler alert) he committed suicide on June 7, 1955.
Think about it if Turing doesn’t beat Germany’s Enigma Machine, Einstein’s warning about Hitler’s nuclear ambitions would have been meaningless because they would have developed the A-bomb first. Without ethical scientists, what would the world look like? Could America have bounced back the way Japan did if Hitler had nuked America’s equivalents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Imagine Baltimore, a leading ship building city & Pittsburgh, a leading steel producing city in 1945 being nuked. Do you think Adolph would have had a German version of the Marshall Plan to rebuild these cities? I sure don’t.
All of that is history, or is it? We’re passing religious freedom laws. These laws which initially at the Federal level protected Native Americans and other fringe religions from prosecution for using cannabis or peyote in religious ceremonies.
Now they are being enacted to allow private business owners discriminate based on their religious beliefs claiming it’s the same principal. These were the same arguments private businesses wanted to use to discriminate against blacks in the South. The good news is this argument still doesn’t work.
Some want to end the Dept. of Education. Why, so there child isn’t exposed to evolution. They prefer to teach the bible story of Adam & Eve. These same parents don’t just want to ignore the science of evolution they question the actual age of the planet.
Scientists put the age of our planet at 4.5 billion years. Theologians (or at least some) put the age of earth at 6,000 years old. However, they say that comes from the bible. The bible says nothing about the age of the earth. The 6,000 years old figure comes from a 17th century Irish Bishop. Hardly the word of God even if you believe the Bible is the word of God.
 Thanks to scientists from every country on this planet, we learn more and more about our planet, our bodies and the universe we live in. However when I listen to the Right Wing Christian Nut Jobs speak about taking America back to when it was the “shining city on the hill” I cringe. However, the whole idea that America is a “city upon a hill” that the whole world is watching comes from a sermon by the Puritan Reverend John Winthrop while still off the coast of Massachusetts. What does it say to you that the Puritan colony of Massachusetts has become the poster child of liberal politics in the eyes of conservatives?
Face it all this talk about what the forefathers were all about is bogus. I had a Twitter troll tell me Islam wasn’t included in America. When I explained that Jefferson not only owned a copy of the Quran he studied it the only response was to point out a typo.
America in the beginning was segregated by faith. Don’t go running off the rails just yet. Think about our history. Puritans were in New England. Quakers had New York & Pennsylvania. Maryland was a Catholic Colony, Baptists and Anglicans populated the South. Each of these communities eventually came to the agreement that we should all be able to worship in our own way.
Now certain GOP leaders want to ignore this history and codify in the laws of this great nation their idea of religious rule. It appears to me that they have reached the conclusion that if Sunnis are going to fight Shiites and both are going to fight Jews than we must be the Christian dog in the fight. Their way to accomplish this is to interject their dogma into the laws of their states. This must stop.
America is a bright shining city on a hill but not a Puritan city, or a Jewish city or Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran or Baptist. We are not even a bright shining secular city on a hill. Our city shines from the hill because it is lit by the beacon of religious freedom. Don’t fall for their theological propaganda. Stand up for religious freedom including the right to be free from religion. America must never be allowed to devolve into one more theological government engaging in war with other theocracies.