Stepping Up: Running for Congress

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Moments ago Tabitha Isner, a highly respected friend and ministerial colleague, sent an email announcing she’s running for Congress.

You can meet Tabitha and learn why she’s running on her campaign website Tabitha Isner for Congress, on FaceBook, or that thing that issues early morning messages that make us groan: Twitter.

Tabitha is the only Tabitha I’ve ever met in person. I do remember another Tabitha whose Bewitched TV  sit-com daughter Samantha could change the world with the twitch of her nose. Tabitha is no Samantha! knows it will take more than the twitch of a nose to make democracy work in America.

Thank you, Tabitha, for stepping up and stepping out.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN

 

Between Here and There

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A CNN report caught my attention this morning. Anticipating today’s Congressional vote on the president’s $36.5 billion disaster relief aid package, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said the following.

“People want to be helpful here. They’ve turned on the television. They know these are awfully genuine needs,” he said, arguing that Republicans simply want to fund the measure in a “prudent” way.

Early this morning the president took to twitter with a series of tweets about Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.” says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of…..

..accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend….

We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!

Rep. Cole spoke truth that “people want to be helpful here. They’ve turned on the television. We  “know these are awfully genuine needs….” But the “here” is a question. Where is “here“? Is “here” Houston, northern California, Puerto Rico? All of them? Or only some of them?

Or is “here” Congress and the Oval Office, the seats of authority and power in a constitutional republic — the branches of government where the television-watching American public hopes against hope that those we elect to represent us get their information from something other than their televisions.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, unlike Houston and the wine country of northern California, is poor. Its history is that of a pawn in the chess game of powerful nations.

The Smithsonian website article “Puerto Rico — History and Heritage” — offers a brief history of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico remained an overseas province of Spain until the Spanish-American war, when U.S. forces invaded the island with a landing at Guánica. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico (along with Cuba, the Philippines and Guam) to the U.S.

As a result, the turn of the century saw Puerto Rico under United States sovereignty. At that time, Puerto Rico’s economy relied on its sugar crop, but by the middle of the century, an ambitious industrialization effort, called Operation Bootstrap, was underway. Cheap labor and attractive tax laws attracted American companies, and soon the Puerto Rican economy was firmly grounded in manufacturing and tourism. Today, Puerto Rico is a leading tourist destination and manufacturing center; the island produces high-tech equipment and many top-selling American pharmaceuticals.

Puerto Ricans received U.S. citizenship in 1917 and Puerto Rico officially became a U.S. Commonwealth in 1952. The issue of political status is one under constant debate, with some in favor statehood, others independence, and still others the continuation of commonwealth status.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy purchased two thirds of the island to use as a naval base. The Navy used the area for military exercises and bombing practice for nearly 60 years until a civilian was killed during a bombing exercise in the 1990s. This sparked a wave of protests that finally ended when the base closed in 2003. Since then, the Navy’s lands have become wildlife reserves.

Today Congress faces a moral issue that begins with the question of where “here” is and with a couple of early morning tweets that divide the world between here and there, and want to leave “there” behind, ignoring the wisdom of The Letter of James:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” [i.e., the world divided by here and there; us and them; rich and poor]. – James 1:26-27.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Verse – It Works with Congress

Some think a score-keeper’s in heaven.
They say that it simply must be.
For life here below,
It’s easy to show,
Is not fair for you or for me…

You’re sweet and always kind-hearted,
But also as poor as a bird.
I’m mean as a snake,
But I always make
So much money, it’s simply absurd!

You work-out, but never are healthy.
I drink booze and lounge with TV.
I’m never unwell,
And all can just tell
I’ll out-live you, just wait and see.

Some say Justice waits till here-after.
The scales must be balanced up there.
I hope that a BRIBE
Will get me inside,
And that Heaven will still not be fair!

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Nov. 12, 2015

The Cock-Fight

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell

Uh, Oh! Cock-fight!!! 

The GOP House and Senate roosters are at it with each other.

And the loser is…national security and the public image of the GOP. There is no hen house in Congress. Ever tried to herd a bunch of roosters? Cock-a-doodle-do and death to Yankee Doodle Dandy.

 

America Compromised: the Budget Bill of 2014

The Congressional omnibus budget bill is a compromise – a BIG compromise. It turns the clock back on regulations put in place after the financial market meltdown in 2008 had taken us to the brink of another Great Depression. It undoes the core provision of Dodd-Frank and increases the limit for wealthy giving to political campaigns.

Cover on John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire in which "Sorrow" the family dog floats to the surface after the plane crash.

Cover on John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire in which “Sorrow” the family dog floats to the surface after the plane crash.

The dog we hoped we’d buried still floats, as Views from the Edge published on MinnPost a year after the 2008 crisis.

Click Sorrow Floats: the Healthy-Deregulated-Capitalism Myth Just Keeps Resurfacing.

Sorrowfully, memory is short, and, because the American electorate chooses amnesia to consciousness, the old dog still haunts us.

 

 

Puppy salutes Martin Luther King’s Dream

Barclay and the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Barclay and the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fourteen-week old Barclay was reading the morning paper where he read for the first time about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I have a Dream speech” 50 years ago this Wednesday. “Woof!” said Barclay. Then his eyes became sad as he read the other stories in the paper and told his Dad to put on the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) shirt Barclay’s Mom found at a garage sale. The America Barclay wants is one that prevents cruelty to animals, including humans.

“Dad,” he said, “We have to go to Washington this Wednesday! We have to keep the dream alive.”

“We can’t go to Washington,” said Dad. “We’re not ready to go to Washington. Not until you learn to go potty outside. Maybe next year, when you’ve learned that going outside is your contribution to the prevention of cruelty to humans and the American way of life, we can go to Washington and visit Congress to train them too.”

Barclay looked at Dad and said Dad wasn’t worthy to wear that t-shirt. Dad goes inside all the time. “It’s prejudice, pure and simple and I won’t have any part in it! Dad hates dogs!”

“Sit,” said Dad.

“Just another form of cruelty and intimidation,” said Barclay. “Martin would never have treated me like that.”

“You don’t understand,” said Dad. “Martin was able to accomplish what he did in the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement because he put himself under the strict discipline of non-violent resistance. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood discipline and self-discipline. I want you to learn the same thing. Every time you go in the house, it’s an act of violent resistance. It’s an act of terror. Do you understand? Sit!”

Barclay sat, knowing that the treat was in Dad’s hand. He took the treat, then squatted right in front of Dad, and said, “Maybe some day I’ll be self-disciplined like Dr. King. Right now I’m just a puppy in training. … So next year we can go Washington, D.C. and train everyone in Congress and the White House not to make a mess in their own houses?”

Beyonce on the floor of Congress

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Congressional leaders are singing off key, inviting a national food fight. They want us to believe they’re soul-singers. But the sound is wooden. No heart. No soul. Instead we hear only of sequestration, protestation, damnation, remonstration, and gyration, but no gestation, no universal gun registration. Only sequestration.

Bring in Beyoncé! “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming fo’ to carry me home. I looked over Jordan and what did I see? A band of angels comin’ after me, comin’ fo’ to carry me home.”

If you agree that Congress is acting like the prisoners before Beyoncé came to their rescue, send this link to your Congressional Representatives. Tell ’em Paul Robeson, Johnny Cash, Etta James, and Beyoncé told you to. 🙂

Grover Norquist: High Priest of Purple Kool-Aid

Grover Norquist is quoted in Mallory Simon’s “GOP Resistance to Anti-Tax Pledge Grows” as saying:

“You’ve had some people discussing impure thoughts on national television.”

“Impure”?…  Is The Taxpayer Protection Pledge a religion? With its own “elect”? And its own high priest and Lord High Executioner: Grover Norquist? Thank God for the former cult members who have had “impure” thoughts and are going on national television to either repent or to “weasel out” of their pledges.

No elected representative should take any other pledge than to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to faithfully exercise the duties of their office. The Norquist pledge, while it has rallied support for candidates’ election to office, limits their ability to exercise of the duties of office, as many former signers are discovering while standing at the edge of “the fiscal cliff”.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge (“Anti-Tax Pledge”) was always bad religion. It asked candidates, and the whole country, to follow the example of another religious high priest, Jim Jones, who led this flock into the jungle where they frank the purple Kool-Aid of mass suicide.

We’re not in the jungle of Guyana with Jim Jones. We’re in the United States of America. Time to dump the purple Kool-Aid religion. Time for some fresh orange juice, a bowl of nutritious oatmeal with raisins, and lots of conversation over coffee in the Congress and the White House.