Archive for November, 2009

Generation Cleanup

November 12, 2009

Ten years ago today I became a father, and by doing so I have left my indelible mark on society. Long after I am gone my two children will still roam the earth and try to live a good life in the wake of those who came before them. That’s what every generation does. We are all born amidst the circumstances and conditions that were created by those who came before us, and we have to live our lives either prospering from the ways of the world, or trying to make things better for ourselves in spite of the hand we are dealt.

Politicians like to fret over the budget deficit by saying “we can’t saddle future generations with our debt”, or “we can’t punish our children and grandchildren by making them pay off our excesses”. They say we can’t kick the can down the road for someone else to deal with. That is why politicians are up in arms about the bailouts, health reform, and deficit spending. They contend that government can’t afford to invest more money in fixing the economy right now because future generations will spend their lives paying off this debt.

I say that this is a baseless argument for two reasons.

First of all, unless we fix the economy NOW, my children will have far worse problems to deal with in the future. For example, if the economy continues to go south and I lose my job then my children will be at a huge disadvantage. We lose our home, their lives will be severely disrupted, and their future will be uncertain. Plenty of studies show that children whose parents struggle economically often turn to drugs, crime, and (for girls) are more likely to become pregnant teens. I would argue that these conditions are far worse than my kids dealing with higher taxes and inflation as adults when their generation has to pay off government debt. If they have good careers and healthy lives then they will have the ability to deal with it. It won’t be ideal, but it will be possible.

Secondly, “passing the buck” is a part of American history. The “Greatest Generation” dealt with cleaning up the Great Depression and fighting World War Two. The Baby Boomers helped remake the US economy by transforming us from a manufacturing and agricultural society to an information and technology society. Generation X (my generation) has to struggle with the looming transformation of the healthcare industry and its impact on the economy, while the country’s financial resources are evaporating under the heat of fighting two misguided and seemingly endless wars. And my children (and probably my grandchildren) will be paying the tab throughout their adult lives.

But that scenario is far better than having them struggle through poverty as children. The US government needs to invest more money where the US consumers currently can not. Otherwise there will be nothing left for our children to deal with when they are old enough to do so.

That’s the true way of life as Americans. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is, and it doesn’t matter when it gets cleaned up (unless China decides to call us on the debt we owe them, which will never happen because they will lose their biggest global customer and plunge the world into economic oblivion). We need to get through right now with some semblance of normalcy so that our children have a decent life to grow up strong enough so they can have a decent chance to actually pay for our sins. And besides, after generations of mounting debt, it would be more unfair to suddenly say “this is wrong, we must clean this up right now” and start slashing things like infrastructure, social services, and more jobs. That would be far worse that pushing it off for another time.

So I say we keep kicking the can down the road until future generations are strong enough and better suited to pick up that can and throw it in the trash where it belongs. Spending beyond our means is wrong, but so is ruining the lives of generations that aren’t at fault for the situation they were born into. Let’s give them a fighting chance.


Bang-Bang! We’re all dead.

November 10, 2009

Yesterday in Pine Plains, NY a man with a gun took a high school principal hostage, apparently in response to his son being suspended from the school. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the police now have this would-be shooter in custody. There were approximately 600 students, teachers and faculty in the school at that time. According to the suspect has a local police record.

On Friday a man walked into his former place of business in Orlando, FL and started shooting a handgun. He killed one person and wounded 5 others. Apparently he was taking revenge for being fired from the company two years ago for “performance issues”. As police took him into custody he muttered “I’m just going through a tough time right now. I’m sorry.”

Everyone in America not living underneath a rock has heard about the shootings at Fort Hood last week.

And tonight at 9pm EST, John Allen Muhammad (AKA the “Beltway Sniper” from 2002) will be executed for killing 10 people. He claims to be innocent, even though his 17 year old accomplice at the time testified against him.

Of course I could also mention Columbine, and the 1000s of other horrible episodes of gun violence that happen in this country every year. But I won’t because it’ll just make me sick.

There are many ways to obtain firearms in the USA–legally, illegally, or in the grey areas that exist at gun shows with their lack of background checks and abundance of loopholes. Guns can’t be stopped because after all, the Constitution says we all have the right to own a gun. I know plenty of folks who own guns and the majority of them are hunters, but all of the gun owners I know are law-abiding and decent folks who would never kill someone unless it was in self-defense. They lock up their guns and take great care to be safe with them.

But what about all the nuts out there who “go postal” everyday on their former co-workers, wives and girlfriends, classmates, kids, and innocent bystanders? What will we do to prevent people from getting their hands on a gun and playing God (although I suspect that God would never use a gun to make a point)? Why do they have the right to own a gun? It’s not like the British are coming over the hill to attack us anymore, and our military and police forces are here to act as the militias that the Constitution said we might need to assemble. Those days are long gone.

How come we all have the “right” to own a gun, but you need a license to go fishing? How come criminals laugh at gun laws? How come the NRA is so powerful? How come Japan and the UK have outlawed guns and they have a much lower murder rate in their countries than we do? Is it because it takes more nerve to stab someone to death than it does to shoot them from a distance?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I know that I hate guns. I hate how easy guns make it for people to resolve their violent and twisted issues. And I hate the way guns make cowards very powerful.

So as long as guns are available we will continue to see more violence and killing by people without the intelligence or stability to resolve their personal problems in a humane and civilized way.

Because of the randomness of so many gun crimes, everyone in this country has a theoretical target on their back. So good luck to us all. It’s a jungle out there, and everyone of us is being hunted whether we–or the shooters–know it or not.

And that is guaranteed by law.

UPDATE: Only a mere 3 hours after this entry was first posted, and there has been another shooting. This time in an office park in Oregon. Two people are reported dead by

When will we wake up as a country and stop the madness?

Healthcare is NOT the Holocaust

November 5, 2009

All of my grandparents survived the Holocaust. Most of their families back in Europe did not. As survivors my grandparents never shied away from teaching me about the horrors they experienced: starvation, torture, mental abuse, and the grind of always being aware of the death surrounding them, closing in on them everyday. My grandparents told me about the Holocaust because they wanted me to be aware of the hatred that exists in this world–NOT because they wanted to exploit their experience for any other reason. What they went through is a very personal tragedy, whose lessons should only be harnessed for the power to do good, not more evil.

So when Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her GOP cronies organized a “House Call” rally that exploited the Holocaust by comparing healthcare reform to the atrocities at Dachau and other concentration camps, I became absolutely infuriated.

Let’s be clear–the Democratic Party’s plans for healthcare reform, no matter what you think of them, have nothing to do with the following:

murder, starvation, rape, beatings, torture, medical experimentation without anesthesia, bayonetting live babies, mental anguish, imprisonment, genocide, assembly line extermination, cramming people into windowless cattle trains for 3-day rides with no food or toilets or beds, random killing for intimidation, mass graves, eating rats and bugs, ghettos, tattooing serial numbers on your arm, branding with hot irons, death marches, humiliation, family separation, typhoid, crematoriums, and gas chambers.

All too often the GOP plays the Hitler card in this debate. They make signs of Obama with a Hitler mustache, or call healthcare reform “Nazi Medicine”.

Where is the outrage of America’s Jewish population?

Maine, Maine go away…

November 4, 2009

“…the institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine, and across this nation.”

When Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for “Stand For Marriage Maine”, uttered those words last night he must’ve thought pretty highly of himself. I mean, it’s not everyday that you get to “save” an entire institution that impacts just about every single human being on the planet.

Scott Fish, a spokesman for the group, said the campaign had never been anti-gay. “The campaign was very clear about that,” he said. “This was a campaign about protecting traditional marriage.”

Ah, but Mr. Fish’s statement is very telling in his use of the word “protecting”, as if homosexual people are out to harm marriage. As if two gay people who love each other and want to share their life together will have any detriment to my own marriage. I’ve always been confused about this. I have a close friend who is gay and he has been with the same partner for 25 years–much longer than many “traditional marriages” last. They love each other and want to be together for the rest of their lives. They live in Minnesota, so they are not legally married, but the way they live their life actually makes my marriage stronger because they are promoting the ideal of commitment. Their relationship is a beautiful thing and should be a standard for the way “straight” people live.

On the other hand, I have another friend who has been married and divorced twice. He has a child with his first wife, who ultimately went on to marry someone else who was also divorced. This divorced friend of mine has actually weakened my marriage because he is proof of just how flimsy this institution really is. People jump in and out of marriages so often that the pillar of this institution–commitment–is meaningless. Wasn’t he paying attention to the “until death do us part” line? That is the crux of the whole thing–that no matter how tough life gets, you will always be able to depend on the person you married to be there for you. It isn’t “until someone better comes along do us part.” It isn’t “until I can’t deal with your BS anymore do us part.” It isn’t “until we realize that we made a mistake do us part.” Marriage is supposed to be the ultimate commitment, and that’s all that matters in this debate.

I make no judgements against divorced people–my own parents are divorced, and I have several friends who are divorced. And I think that it’s better to divorce than to be miserable for the rest of your life, especially if there are children involved. But for all these activist groups to claim that they are “protecting” marriage by barring an entire segment of our society from making a loving commitment to each other is just a coverup for homophobia. They claim it’s dangerous to re-define marriage because that will open the floodgates for adults to marry children or animals. That’s just nonsense. The only way to define marriage in it’s truest sense is “the monogamous union of two adult human beings.” It has nothing to do with how you have sex.

Let’s just call banning gay marriage what it really is: discrimination. And let’s just call an institution that is defined by lifelong commitment, but comes with an out clause just in case, what it really is: hypocrisy.

The only way to really protect the institution of marriage is to make divorce illegal.

Election Day 2009

November 3, 2009

It’s the first Tuesday in November, so that can only mean one thing: time to vote. But for the vast majority of the US electorate there is nothing to vote on today. NY, NJ and VA have some important elections and Maine has a gay marriage issue to vote on, but outside of that what does election day mean when there is no President or even a mid-term to go to the polls on?

Today’s election results will provide America with a barometer of where we all stand after just one year into Barack Obama’s Presidency and the Democratic takeover of the Congress. Some call it a referendum on the President. Others call it a measure of the GOP’s power. It’s kinda like taking the PSATs–the results will tell us how best to prepare for 2010.

2010 will probably be one of the ugliest election years in American history. The Tea-Baggers will be losing their minds all year. Democrats will be running scared if they don’t get healthcare reform signed into law, and even if they do they’ll have a lot of problems if a bill passes that doesn’t make the Liberal/Progressive base happy. Rush Limbaugh will flap his gums for months about Obama and Socialism (will it morph into Communism by that time?). Glen Beck will lie about anything he can. Keith Olbermann will get nastier and angrier. Michael Steel will spout stupidity and insanity. Joe LIEberman will flip-flop on everything. And the gang over at Air America radio will rake in the ratings. But what about the voters?

That’s why today is the most important off-year election ever. By the time all the results are in tonight we will know how the country feels about Barack Obama much more accurately than the public opinion polls show. Have the Conservative lies and smears sunk in and caused the reform-minded voters on this country to lean towards the right? Or have they backfired and made voters turn to the left in disgust?

If VA, NY’s 23rd district, and NJ all vote Republican today does that mean the Democrats are in trouble next year? Yes AND No. Somebody once said “the numbers don’t lie” and that’s just as true for election returns. But while those numbers don’t lie, they can be deceiving. From a Democratic perspective, no matter what happens today will be good news for Democrats. If they get beaned in NY/NJ/VA then they will get confirmation that their agenda is off track and it will be a warning sign that they have some hardcore explaining and campaigning to do to their base in 2010.

However, if the Democrats do well today (and here’s also hoping everyone in Maine voted “no” on repealing gay marriage), then we will all know that the Conservative dirty work of 2009 has no traction, and we can expect to pound them into oblivion in 2010.

So I will personally be kicking back tonight and watching the news for all the returns–for clarity of vision in 2010. Because in this case, as Joey LaMotta (Joe Pesci) said in Raging Bull, “If you win you win, if you lose you still win.”