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Thursday, February 24, 2011

GOD, AND JESUS, ARE LIBERALS!


I have never been one to wear religion on my sleeve. I believe that one's religion and spirituality are personal matters, and that only vain and insecure people feel compelled to force their religious beliefs on others. Not to say that discussing religion offends me, or that I myself have not done so. What I take exception to, though, are those who constantly put themselves in one's face about the matter, insisting that THEIR brand of religion is the only true religion and everyone had just better believe exactly as they do. HOGWASH! A lady comes to mind who wouldn't do business with me unless I was "born again." Early Christians NEVER had such a stipulation. They believed that this rebirth occurred at the moment of baptism. The current notion of the term came about with the more conservative sects during the Reformation, and, to this day, neither Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, or those who are Eastern Orthodox follow or believe in it.

For this and many other reasons, I have had ny fill of rigid, fundamentalist, religious right conservatives who sanctimoniously claim God is on their side, or that Jesus hates Muslims and gays, and who then go off spouting their support for, and encouraging others to support, earthly leaders who engage in hatred, war, prejudice, cruelty, or plunder for profit.

God the Father, and His son, Jesus, never expressed a political philosophy, to be sure. Neither endorsed big OR small government. Indeed, the only reference to government was a quote by Jesus from Matthew 22:21, advising us to "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." That, incidentally, would strongly imply sacred support for the concept of the separation of church and state, which some conservatives are now trying to deny and even blur!

Yeshua ben Joseph (the real name of Jesus, in Hebrew, meaning "Yeshua, of Joseph") was a Nazarene, meaning He rose from what the Romans of that time regarded as a radical sect of Jews. Clearly, His life and teachings were most radical for that era. His originality and creativity shocked and befuddled the elders and leaders of those days. While neither He nor God the Father ever specifically endorsed institutionalized liberalism, it is clear from both their teachings that they did espouse kindness, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, and selflessness in one's own personal behavior, all of which are liberal traits. Neither ever advised anyone to reward the rich with tax breaks which would make them even richer, for example. Nor did they encourage accumulation of vast wealth, especially at the expense of, or through the exploitation of, others. Quite the contrary! Neither ever advised or said to engage in pre-emptive war or torture - they preached exactly the opposite! Dozens of times, in the Old and New Testaments, both told us to care for the sick and poor, the weak, and the afflicted. Neither ridiculed or advised others to look down on the less fortunate, and both warned us to not be selfish, vain, or greedy. "Thou shalt not kill!", God the Father commanded. He did not say it was ok to kill or persecute to protect or further His name. No, that notion came later, in the conservative application of the institution which became known as the Christian church.

Below are a number of quotes taken directly from the Bible. They bolster my conviction that both Jesus and God are liberals, and are not reactionary conservatives. For, to actually be conservatives, they would have to contradict these very statements below, of which there are far too many in this vein to even suppose they could be conservatives! Take a look at them:


"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."
- Luke 12:33 -

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
- Proverbs 31:8-9 -


"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
- Matthew 6:24 -


"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."
- Proverbs 17:5 -

"But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
- Luke 14: 13-14 -

"He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich-both come to poverty."
- Proverbs 22:16 -


"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."
- Deuteronomy 15:11 -


"Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
- Matthew 5:39 -

"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
- Matthew 5:44 -


"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
-1 Timothy 6:9-10 -

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
- Matthew 6: 1-4 -


"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
- Mark 10:25 -


"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."
- Matthew 19:21 -


"In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables."
- John 2:14 & 15 -

"And He taught, saying unto them, 'Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?, but ye have made it a den of thieves.'
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine."
- Mark 11:18 & 19 -


"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
- Luke 12.15 -



- Matthew 25:
14 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,
32
and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34
Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
36
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'
37
Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
40
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41
17 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42
For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43
a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
44
18 Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'
45
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
46
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."



"But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
- Matthew 5:39 -

"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you."
- Matthew 5:44 -

"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her."
- John 8:7 -
"Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to
you."
- Matthew 7:1 & 2 -

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."
- Matthew 5:7 -




"Love your neighbor as yourself."
- Matthew 22:39 -

"So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you."
- Matthew 7:12 -





The conservative's idea of God is apparently a no-nonsense authoritarian God, who sets specific rules and everyone had damn well better obey them or else. To this end, many conservatives of the religious right have taken it upon themselves to enforce what they see as God's will, and this manifests itself in the way they feel justified in persecuting gays, Muslims, atheists, obstetricians who perform abortions, and anyone else they determine is not following God's law perfectly, or the way they would like. These same people, many of whom vehemently oppose governmental intrusion into their own dealings, think nothing of dictating to others just how they should live. In the past, these beliefs have led to pogroms against Jews, Crusades against Muslims, and the burning at the stake of persons suspected of witchcraft. Their self-righteous beliefs led them to extremism, much like today's political and social conservatives. But my question is this: who appointed THEM policeman, judge, jury, warden, and chief executioner?

Jesus merely asked His followers to spread the word about God, not to browbeat or cajole others. For such an action completely ignores the fact that God Himself has given each one of us a Free Will: a choice as to whether we will or won't believe in Him or follow His teachings.

There are those, myself included, who see God not as some ranting, raving authoritarian One whose main aim is to punish those who disobey His commandments, but as One who is loving, merciful, forgiving, and anxious to have us join Him in Heaven. (To be sure, He WILL punish those who oppose or stand up in defiance against Him; look what happened to Satan and the fallen angels! But, by and large, to join Him in heaven, He only asks for obedience and due respect, and is ever ready to forgive small trangressions). For this reason, we liberals tend to be more tolerant and forgiving than the conservatives. Call us the Religious Left if you will: we oppose any effort by other humans to persecute, punish, or deny people their rights to live their lives as they wish, to accept or not accept the teachings of God, or to even question or deny His existence. A person's choice (or non-choice) of a religion is each individual's right, we believe, just as is stated in our Constitution. For we believe conservatives today are placing the right of a person to pursue his or her own individual wealth far above all else, including even common sense, even at times above the wishes of God. Certainly, the conservative Supreme Court was NOT "speaking up and judging fairly" or "defending the rights of the poor and needy" in last year's Citizens United case, for example, which conservatives hail for allowing unlimited corporate donations into our political process, thereby stacking the deck AGAINST the poor and needy!

Agnostics and atheists, you are perfectly within your rights to believe as you do. I only ask that you show the same tolerance and respect toward the Religious Left as you do other members of the progressive community, such as civil rights leaders, or as we do to you. For, I think as you have read this blog, you have come to the realization that much of the Christian teachings mirror your own beliefs about how one should live his or her own life, and are actually quite harmless to you and are good overall. For, as you have seen, God, and Jesus too, are LIBERALS who spread the good word about how we should live with the help of the Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PROOF OF THE GOP's EXTREME FAR-RIGHT DRIFT (PART III)!

This is my concluding segment proving the Republican Party's rightward drift is no illusion. I again present the abridged 1960 Republin Party platform as evidence. As in the previous two segments, my occasional comments will appear in bold italic, like this.

Housing
...Continued effort to clear slums, and promote rebuilding, rehabilitation, and conservation of our cities.
New programs to stimulate development of specialized types of housing, such as those for the elderly and for nursing homes...
Adequate authority for the federal housing agencies to assist the flow of mortgage credit into private housing, with emphasis on homes for middle- and lower-income families and including assistance in urban residential areas... Modern conservative Republicans would call these desires "socialism" and would dismiss them as unneeded government interference in the "free market".

Health
There has been a five-fold increase in government-assisted medical research during the last six years, We pledge:
Continued federal support for a sound research program aimed at both the prevention and cure of diseases, and intensified efforts to secure prompt and effective application of the results of research. This will include emphasis on mental illness.
Support of international health research programs.
We face serious personnel shortages in the health and medical fields. We pledge:
Federal help in new programs to build schools of medicine, dentistry, and public health and nursing, and financial aid to students in those fields. Today's GOP would take a very dim view of either federal help or of financial aid. After extending more tax cuts to billionaires, they would claim any more federal involvement in these areas of health to be a contributor to our deficit, and would shelve them altogether.
We are confronted with major problems in the field of environmental health. We pledge:
Strengthened federal enforcement powers in combatting water pollution and additional resources for research and demonstration projects...
Federal authority to identify, after appropriate hearings, air pollution problems and to recommend proposed solutions... Republicans of today, who hate environmentalists and ridicule them, would never support actions like these.

Protection of Consumers
In safeguarding the health of the nation the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration's initiative has resulted in doubling the resources of the Food and Drug Administration and in giving it new legal weapons. More progress has been made during this period in protecting consumers against harmful food, drugs, and cosmetics than in any other time in our history. We will continue to give strong support to this consumer-protection program. Current conservative Republicans would outright reject the notion of strict federal regulations, or they would appoint friends of each industry to a regulatory board to ensure that industry's wants and needs, and NOT those of consumers, would be taken care of!

Civil Rights
This nation was created to give expression, validity and purpose to our spiritual heritage—the supreme worth of the individual. In such a nation—a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—racial discrimination has no place. Except, as teabagger Rand Paul insists, in the case of PRIVATE businesses, which he believes ought to be able to set their own standards without government interference. It can hardly be reconciled with a Constitution that guarantees equal protection under law to all persons. In a deeper sense, too, it is immoral and unjust. To today's conservative Republican and teabagger, there is no morality or justice except protecting one's right to acquire as much wealth as possible free from government interference.
As to those matters within reach of political action and leadership, we pledge ourselves unreservedly to its eradication.
Equality under law promises more than the equal right to vote and transcends mere relief from discrimination by government. It becomes a reality only when all persons have equal opportunity, without distinction of race, religion, color or national origin, to acquire the essentials of life—housing, education and employment. The Republican Party—the party of Abraham Lincoln—from its very beginning has striven to make this promise a reality. It is today, as it was then, unequivocally dedicated to making the greatest amount of progress toward the objective. Nearly all persons of color would disagree that this is much of a priority for the modern-day GOP. Nor is discrimination confined to the discrimination against Negroes. Discrimination in many, if not all, areas of the country on the basis of creed or national origin is equally insidious...
The Republican Party is proud of the civil rights record of the Eisenhower Administration. More progress has been made during the past eight years than in the preceding 80 years. We acted promptly to end discrimination in our nation's capital. Vigorous executive action was taken to complete swiftly the desegregation of the armed forces, veterans' hospitals, navy yards, and other federal establishments.
We supported the position of the Negro school children before the Supreme Court. We believe the Supreme Court school decision should be carried out in accordance with the mandate of the Court.
...the Republican Administration's recommendations resulted in significant and effective civil rights legislation in both 1957 and 1960—the first civil rights statutes to be passed in more than 80 years.
Hundreds of Negroes have already been registered to vote as a result of Department of Justice action, some in counties where Negroes did not vote before. The new law will soon make it possible for thousands and thousands of Negroes previously disenfranchised to vote. Persons of color would strongly disagree that the modern Republican shares this view, and would point to Jeb Bush's closing of roads leading to polling booths in Florida in 2000, and the transfer of a large number of inner city polling machines away to suburban locations in Ohio as evidence to the contrary. And, as far as their current stand on civil rights goes, look at the anti-Obama signs we have been seeing at teabagger rallies, with the President having a bone through his nose, and dressed as a black Hitler!
By executive order, a committee for the elimination of discrimination in government employment has been reestablished with broadened authority. Today, nearly one-fourth of all federal employees are Negro.
The President's Committee on Government Contracts, under the chairmanship of Vice President Nixon, has become an impressive force for the elimination of discriminatory employment practices of private companies that do business with the government. The Rand Paul/Libertarian clique would oppose this today and call it social engineering or interference by the government in the affairs of private industry.
Other important achievements include initial steps toward the elimination of segregation in federally-aided housing; the establishment of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which enforces federal civil rights laws; and the appointment of the bi-partisan Civil Rights Commission, which has prepared a significant report that lays the groundwork for further legislative action and progress.
The Republican record is a record of progress—not merely promises. Nevertheless, we recognize that much remains to be done... They have reduced their focus in this area significantly.

Each of the following pledges is practical and within realistic reach of accomplishment. They are serious—not cynical—pledges made to result in maximum progress.

1. Voting.
We pledge:
Continued vigorous enforcement of the civil rights laws to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens in all areas of the country.

Legislation to provide that the completion of six primary grades in a state accredited school is conclusive evidence of literacy for voting purposes.

2. Public Schools.
We pledge:
The Department of Justice will continue its vigorous support of court orders for school desegregation. Desegregation suits now pending involve at least 39 school districts. Those suits and others already concluded will affect most major cities in which school segregation is being practiced.

It will use the new authority provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1960 to prevent obstruction of court orders.

We will propose legislation to authorize the Attorney General to bring actions for school desegregation in the name of the United States in appropriate cases, as when economic coercion or threat of physical harm is used to deter persons from going to court to establish their rights.

Our continuing support of the President's proposal, to extend federal aid and technical assistance to schools which in good faith attempted to desegregate.

We oppose the pretense of fixing a target date 3 years from now for the mere submission of plans for school desegregation. Slow-moving school districts would construe it as a three-year moratorium during which progress would cease, postponing until 1963 the legal process to enforce compliance. We believe that each of the pending court actions should proceed as the Supreme Court has directed and that in no district should there be any such delay.

3. Employment.
We pledge:
Continued support for legislation to establish a Commission on Equal Job Opportunity to make permanent and to expand with legislative backing the excellent work being performed by the President's Committee on Government Contracts.
Appropriate legislation to end the discriminatory membership practices of some labor union locals, unless such practices are eradicated promptly by the labor unions themselves.
Use of the full-scale review of existing state laws, and of prior proposals for federal legislation, to eliminate discrimination in employment now being conducted by the Civil Rights Commission, for guidance in our objective of developing a Federal-State program in the employment area.
Special consideration of training programs aimed at developing the skills of those now working in marginal agricultural employment so that they can obtain employment in industry, notably in the new industries moving into the South.


4. Housing.
We pledge:
Action to prohibit discrimination in housing constructed with the aid of federal subsidies.


5. Public Facilities and Services.
We pledge:
Removal of any vestige of discrimination in the operation of federal facilities or procedures which may at any time be found.

Opposition to the use of federal funds for the construction of segregated community facilities.

Action to ensure that public transportation and other government authorized services shall be free from segregation. Much of this was cleared up or reduced with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

6. Legislative Procedure.
We pledge:
...We reaffirm the constitutional right to peaceable assembly to protest discrimination in private business establishments. We applaud the action of the businessmen who have abandoned discriminatory practices in retail establishments, and we urge others to follow their example. Such is no longer the case. Starting with Ronald Reagan, union-busting has become a rampage among Republican officeholders. They no longer support or will condone wildcat strikes or demonstrations in private industry.
Finally we recognize that civil rights is a responsibility not only of states and localities; it is a national problem and a national responsibility. The federal government should take the initiative in promoting inter-group conferences among those who, in their communities, are earnestly seeking solutions of the complex problems of desegregation—to the end that closed channels of communication may be opened, tensions eased, and a cooperative solution of local problems may be sought.

In summary, we pledge the full use of the power, resources and leadership of the federal government to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin and to encourage understanding and good will among all races and creeds. This is no longer a priority for the modern conservative Republican, for rather than attempting to be INCLUSIVE, they have adopted a pattern of EXCLUSIVITY, particularly against blacks and immigrants.

Immigration
Immigration has historically been a great factor in the growth of the United States, not only in numbers but in the enrichment of ideas that immigrants have brought with them...
Immigration has been reduced to the point where it does not provide the stimulus to growth that it should, nor are we fulfilling our obligation as a haven for the oppressed. Republican conscience and Republican policy require that:
The annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled...
The guidelines of our immigration policy be based upon judgment of the individual merit of each applicant for admission and citizenship. Republicans have see-sawed back and forth on immigration for years. Today, they oppose illegal immigration, not because it represents a threat to lower-wage American workers, but because of the tax burden illegal immigration places on local and state governments. But during the Bush administration, illegals were viewed as a source of cheap labor that could be easily exported. They also used illegals to further weaken labor unions.


Conclusion
We have set forth the program of the Republican Party for the government of the United States. We have written a Party document, as is our duty, but we have tried to refrain from writing a merely partisan document. We have no wish to exaggerate differences between ourselves and the Democratic Party; ...The history and composition of the Republican Party make it the natural instrument for eradicating the injustice and discrimination in this country... That last statement is no longer true. Today's Republicans, under the banner of "free trade" encourage and support all forms of discrimination along economic lines. Starting with their capture of Congress in 1995, they have also begun a bitter partisan and uncooperative struggle with the Democratic Party which lasts to this very day. They have become demanding and uncompromising, and all facade of civility has been tossed out altogether...
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This platform was the mindset of the Republican Party a mere 51 years ago, before Vietnam, Watergate, Ronald Reagan, 9/11, pre-emptive military strikes, the Bush Doctrine. non-bid military contracts to large campaign donors, or wildly out of control deficit spending had infected and perverted the party. In those days, they properly referred to their opponents as the "Democratic Party", not the disrepectful and ignoramtly-phrased "Democrat Party" we hear so many of them use today. They also believed the federal government must play a regulatory role over business and industry; that labor unions had and deserved a spot in the national economy; and that taxes were an accepted way of raising revenue for the expenses of government.

Speaking of taxes, it is curious to note that they did not even devote one single topic heading to the issue of taxation, even though AT THAT TIME THE MARGINAL RATE FOR THE HIGHEST INCOMES STOOD AT A WHOPPING 91%!!! Republicans of that day, most of them anyway, recognized the paying of taxes as a responsible civic duty, and they didn't scream for mercy and flee the paying of taxes as they do now, at a top marginal rate of ONLY 35%, A FULL 56 POINTS LOWER! Nor did they make any policy regarding Religion. For in those days, most Republicans didn't wear their religion on their sleeve and truly recognized and accepted its role as being kept separate from the affairs of state. Yesterday's Republican Party placed a much higher value on education than its counterpart of today, and they truly WERE fiscally responsible without favoring the wealthy to the exclusion of all else. They were also MUCH more tolerant, more honest, and less biting in their remarks against the opposition party than they are today. After the mistake of letting Joe McCarthy lead them down an extremist path of senseless witch hunts, they had regained a sense of reason and pragmatism sorely lacking in the modern-day version.

WE CAN ONLY HOPE THEY WILL SOON RETURN TO THEIR SENSES AND DISCARD THE REACTIONARY COURSE THEY HAVE BEEN INCREASINGLY FOLLOWING!



UP NEXT: GOD, AND JESUS, ARE LIBERALS!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

PROOF OF THE GOP's EXTREME FAR-RIGHT DRIFT (PART II)!

I now present part II of the abridged 1960 Republican Party platform, in an effort to prove how far rightward that wretched party has drifted over the past 50 years. Just as in part I, my comments will be found from time to time in bold italic, like this.

Government Administration
...We must undertake further reorganization of the Defense Department to achieve the most effective unification of defense planning and command.
Improved conflict-of-interest laws should be enacted for vigilant protection of the public interest and to remove deterrents to governmental service by our most able citizens.
The federal government must constantly strengthen its career service and must be truly progressive as an employer. Government employment must be a vocation deserving of high public respect. Common sense demands continued improvements in employment, training and promotion practices based on merit, effective procedures for dealing with employment grievances, and salaries which are comparable to those offered by private employers. PROGRESSIVE EMPLOYER? Hear that, O'Reilly, Beck, and Limbaugh? Your 1960 forefathers were saying that government employ was noble and deserving of respect and that those employed in government should earn a salary comparable to those doing similar work in private industry! How DARE you preach otherwise today, or insinuate that they are paid too much!
Needed federal judgeships, appointed on the basis of the highest qualifications and without limitation to a single political party, should be created to expedite administration of justice in federal courts. Today's conservative Republicans would have no use for such a provision---they only want CONSERVATIVE judges issuing CONSERVATIVE verdicts, and true justice be damned!
We favor a change in the Electoral College system to give every voter a fair voice in presidential elections. Today's GOP would rather limit minority voters and make creation of all political ads open to corporate money.
We condemn bigotry, smear and other unfair tactics in political campaigns. We favor realistic and effective safeguards against diverting non-political funds to partisan political purposes. Not any more, they don't! The past2 presidential elections have been FULL of smear ads put forth by shadowy big-money front groups (Swift Boat veterans, Obama pals with terrorists, etc.).

Education

...We express our gratefulness and we praise the countless thousands of teachers who have devoted themselves in an inspired way towards the development of our greatest heritage—our own children—the youth of the country. Today's Republicans are far more anti-education, and some, like Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's Jon Kasich, want to strip teachers of their collective bargaining rights. They also ridicule college professors.
Education is not a luxury, nor a gift to be bestowed upon ourselves and our children. Education is an investment; our schools cannot become second best. Each person possesses the right to education—it is his birthright in a free Republic. Only now, a number of Republicans want to do away with public education altogether, favoring a system of pay-as-you-go private schools. Some want to completely dismantle the Department of Education!
Toward the goal of fullest possible educational opportunity for every American, we pledge these actions:
Federal support to the primary and secondary schools by a program of federal aid for school construction—pacing it to the real needs of individual school districts in states and territories, and requiring state approval and participation...
Support of efforts to make adequate library facilities available to all our citizens.
Continued support of programs to strengthen basic research in education; to discover the best methods for helping handicapped, retarded, and gifted children to realize their highest potential.
The federal government can also play a part in stimulating higher education. Constructive action would include:
The federal program to assist in construction of college housing.
Extension of the federal student loan program and graduate fellowship program.
Consideration of means through tax laws to help offset tuition costs.
Federal matching grants to help states finance the cost of state surveys and inventories of the status and needs of their school systems.
Provision should be made for continuous attention to education at all levels by the creation of a permanent, top-level commission to advise the President and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, constantly striving to focus the interest of each citizen on the quality of our education at every level, from primary through postgraduate, and for every age group from children to adults... Isn't that what the Department of Education, which many Republicans now want to do away with, does?

Science and Technology
Much of America's future depends upon the inquisitive mind, freely searching nature for ways to conquer disease, poverty and grinding physical demands, and for knowledge of space and the atom.
We Republicans express our profound gratitude to the great scientists and engineers of our country, both in and out of government, for the remarkable progress they have made. Reliable evidence indicates, all areas of scientific knowledge considered, that our country has been, is, and under our system of free inquiry, will continue to be the greatest arsenal and reservoir of effective scientific knowledge in the world. Today's GOP no longer values questioning of the status quo or free inquiry. Instead, THEY question and ridicule important and far-reaching scientific positions on climate change and they ridicule the concept of evolution. They simply try to dismiss and demean all who don't agree with them by calling them "socialists" and not listening what they have to say.
We pledge our continued leadership in every field of science and technology, earthbound as well as spacial, to assure a citadel of liberty from which the fruits of freedom may be carried to all people.
Our continuing and great national need is for basic research—a wellspring of knowledge and progress. Government must continue to take a responsible role in science to assure that worth-while endeavors of national significance are not retarded by practical limitations of private and local support. This demands from all Americans the intellectual leadership and understanding so necessary for these creative endeavors and an equal understanding by our scientists and technicians of the needs and hopes of mankind.
We believe the federal roles in research to be in the area of ( 1 ) basic research which industry cannot be reasonably expected to pursue, and (2) applied research in fields of prime national concern such as national defense, exploration and use of space, public health, and better common use of all natural resources, both human and physical. We endorse the contracting by government agencies for research and urge allowance for reasonable charges for overhead and management in connection therewith.
The vigor of American science and technology may best be inspired by:
An environment of freedom and public understanding in which intellectual achievement and scientific research may flourish.
A decentralization of research into as many centers of creativity as possible.
The encouragement of colleges and universities, private enterprise, and foundations as a growing source of new ideas and new applications.
Opportunity for scientists and engineers, in and out of government, to pursue their search with utmost aggressiveness.
Continuation of the advisory committee to represent the views of the scientific community to the President and of the Federal Council for Science and Technology to foster coordination in planning and execution.
Continued expansion of the Eisenhower-Nixon Atoms-for-Peace program and a constant striving, backed by scientific advice, for international agreement for peaceful and cooperative exploration and use of space.

HUMAN NEEDS
The ultimate objective of our free society and of an ever-growing economy is to enable the individual to pursue a life of dignity and to develop his own capacities to his maximum potential. Today's conservative GOP still believes this to be true: for workers outside of our borders. That's why they support outsourcing of good-paying American jobs to cheap foreign-labor markets. So long as corporations and their board of directors thrive and prosper, that's all they care about. In adopting this approach, today's GOP has reduced American workers to a mere commodity (hardly a position or life of "dignity") and has completely turned their back on them. Their actions have started a stampede of wealth flowing upward rather than evenly throughout the economy. Government's primary role is to help provide the environment within which the individual can seek his own goals. In some areas this requires federal action to supplement individual, local and state initiative. The Republican Party has acted and will act decisively, compassionately, and with deep human understanding in approaching such problems as those of the aged, the infirm, the mentally ill, and the needy. That's right: today's GOP has acted to avoid and even exploit most of them!
This is demonstrated by the significant increase in social security coverage and benefits as a result of recommendations made by the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration. As a result of these recommendations and normal growth, 14 million persons are receiving benefits today compared to five million in 1952, and benefit payments total $10.3 billion as compared to $2.5 billion in 1952. Today's conservatives want to privatize Social Security and leave it vulnerable to Wall Street speculation. They also want to restrict the age at which one becomes eligible for it to those 70 and over. That is a HUGE difference in approach compared with their forefathers! In addition, there have been increases in payments to those on public assistance, both for their basic needs and for their health and medical care; and a broad expansion in our federal-state program for restoring disabled persons to useful lives—an expansion which has accomplished the rehabilitation of over half a million persons during this Administration... Today's teabaggers and conservative Republicans, in their current budget-cutting mania, would DECREASE rather than increase such payments!

Older Citizens
To meet the needs of the aging, we pledge: Expansion of coverage, and liberalization of selected social security benefits on a basis which would maintain the fiscal integrity of the system.
Support of federal-state grant programs to improve health, welfare and rehabilitation services for the handicapped older persons and to improve standards of nursing home care and care and treatment facilities for the chronically and mentally ill.
Federal leadership to encourage policies that will make retirement at a fixed age voluntary and not compulsory.
Support of programs that will persuade and encourage the nation to utilize fully the skills, wisdom and experience of older citizens... Today's Republicans would refuse to spend anything more for any of these people. In their view, the defense budget and tax cuts for the very wealthy are far more important.

Health Aid
...For the needs which individuals of all age groups cannot meet by themselves, we propose:
Removing the arbitrary 50-year age requirement under the disability insurance program while amending the law also to provide incentives for rehabilitated persons to return to useful work...
A strengthened federal-state program to rehabilitate the estimated 200,000 persons who annually could become independent after proper medical services and occupational training.
A new federal-state program, for handicapped persons completely dependent on others, to help them meet their needs for personal care. Again, modern Republicans would rather spend money on defense and give it to the rich than invest in these people.

Juvenile Delinquency
The Federal Government can and should help state and local communities combat juvenile delinquency by inaugurating a grant program for research, demonstration, and training projects and by placing greater emphasis on strengthening family life in all welfare programs for which it shares responsibility. Today's GOP would never favor such an approach and would instead defer such programs to private institutions or churches, neither of which could handle the job.

Veterans
We believe that military service in the defense of our Republic against aggressors who have sought to destroy the freedom and dignity of man imposes upon the nation a special responsibility to those who have served. To meet this responsibility, we pledge:
Continuance of the Veterans Administration as an independent agency.
The highest possible standard of medical care with increasing emphasis on rehabilitation. Neocon Republicans like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld decided that it wasn't important to give soldiers in the field secure-enough Humvees. They negated their responsibility for safety and implemented a featherbedding system of rewarding huge campaign donors like Halliburton with lucrative non-bid military contracts. Also, a number of today's teabaggers have advocated privatizing the VA.
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Again, today's overly conservative Republican Party has embarked on a course so reactionary it almost contradicts the policies favored by the GOP 50 years ago. Instead of moving forward with their agenda, they have chosen to look and move BACKWARD, to a time where government involvement in the economy and business was practically nil. Whereas in 1960 the GOP recognized a spot for both government and organized labor to be at the table, today they want both entities as powerless as possible. They turn a very blind eye toward the shrinking of the middle class and the growing numbers cof American poor, even as they pursue policies that benefit the very wealthy almost exclusively. In so doing, they have become more self-centered and ignorant than ever before.Their aim is to maximize personal profit, and they will attack anybody or anything that stands in their way.Reasoned and responsible Republicans like Margaret Chase Smith, Everett Dirksen, and Clifford Case would feel very out of place in the 2011 edition of the GOP, and with good reason!


COMING IN PART III: Housing, Health, Protection of Consumers, Civil Rights, and a list of catergorized 1960 pledges by the GOP, and my summation.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PROOF OF THE GOP's EXTREME FAR-RIGHT DRIFT (PART I)!

Much comment has been made about how ultra-conservative the Republican Party has grown over recent decades. Its agenda today is truly reactionary: especially with the rise of the ultra-wealthy Koch Brothers-supported Tea Party and Dick Armey's shadowy Freedom Works movements, it now seems hell-bent on returning the nation both socially AND economically back to the 1890s! The Republicans have been captured by a far-out-of-the-mainstream group of government hating, union-busting pirates and extremists who have successfully pashed our national political agenda ever-rightward. In so doing, these so-called lovers of the Constitution have embarked this country on a number of decidedly UNconstitutional practices which threaten our democracy, and especially the type of country we have all grown up in!

As true Republican Engineer of Knowledge, a fellow blogger with a great amount of common sense correctly notes, this has amounted to an invasion and perversion of the Republican Party. I thought it would be useful for readers of today to see what the Republican Party was like before it became captured and enslaved by the far, far right: when Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck would have been correctly regarded and properly ignored by nearly all as being extremist crackpots. For, just a few years prior, the insane claims of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Ike is an unwitting tool of the Communists, and there are Communists in the US Army) had been largely repudiated, and similar conspiratorial rants had been largely discredited. By 1961, conservative giant William F. Buckley even attacked the John Birch Society for its craziness, and extreme Birchers soon found little comfort in the GOP. It seemed like, for the first time in many years, the Republicans had finally grown more mature and sensible. I will now, then, whisk you back to the golden days when this GOP was far more pragmatic, fair-minded, and forward-looking than it is today...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 1960 REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM (in abriged form). Due to its length, I will present part I now and parts II and III in my next two posts. MY own comments will be inserted from time to time in bolded italic form, like this. This platform was drafted and put forth near the end of the Eisenhower administration, in time for the party convention which nominated Dick Nixon to run against JFK for President. You will be amazed when you compare it with today's version of Republican beliefs. For this is the true Republican Party, back in the days when reason and good sense were prominent in its aspirations and pronouncements. Regrettably, the same cannot be said of today's far-right version of that wretched party:

Preamble
The United States is living in an age of profoundest revolution. The lives of men and of nations are undergoing such transformations as history has rarely recorded. The birth of new nations, the impact of new machines, the threat of new weapons, the stirring of new ideas, the ascent into a new dimension of the universe- everywhere the accent falls on the new. At such a time of world upheaval, great perils match great opportunities—and hopes, as well as fears, rise in all areas of human life. Such a force as nuclear power symbolizes the greatness of the choice before the United States and mankind. The energy of the atom could bring devastation to humanity. Or it could be made to serve men's hopes for peace and progress—to make for all peoples a more healthy and secure and prosperous life than man has ever known.
One fact darkens the reasonable hopes of free men: the growing vigor and thrust of Communist imperialism. Everywhere across the earth, this force challenges us to prove our strength and wisdom, our capacity for sacrifice, our faith in ourselves and in our institutions.
Free men look to us for leadership and support, which we dedicate ourselves to give out of the abundance of our national strength.
The fate of the world will be deeply affected, perhaps determined, by the quality of American leadership. American leadership means both how we govern ourselves and how we help to influence others. We deliberate the choice of national leadership and policy, mindful that in some measure our proposals involve the fate of mankind.
The leadership of the United States must be responsible and mature; its promises must be rational and practical, soberly pledged and faithfully undertaken. Its purposes and its aspirations must ascend to that high ground of right and freedom upon which mankind may dwell and progress in decent security.
We are impressed, but not dismayed, by the revolutionary turbulence that is wracking the world. In the midst of violence and change, we draw strength and confidence from the changeless principles of our free Constitution. Free men are invincible when the power and courage, the patience and the fortitude latent in them are drawn forth by reasonable appeal.
In this Republican Platform we offer to the United States our program—our call to service, our pledge of leadership, our proposal of measures in the public interest. We call upon God, in whose hand is every blessing, to favor our deliberations with wisdom, our nation with endurance, and troubled mankind everywhere with a righteous peace.
Foreign Policy
In the Middle East, we shall continue to support the integrity and independence of all the states of that area including Israel and the Arab States.
Recognition of Communist China and its admission to the United Nations have been firmly opposed by the Republican Administration. We will continue in this opposition because of compelling evidence that to do otherwise would weaken the cause of freedom and endanger the future of the free peoples of Asia and the world. The brutal suppression of the human rights and the religious traditions of the Tibetan people is an unhappy evidence of the need to persist in our policy. Of course, this was written well before President Nixon recognized China, successfully playing them off agaibst the Soviet Union, and before the Republicans were completely gobbled up by corporate special interests. We now have an ungodly trade imbalance with China which has lent to the destruction of many American industries and jobs. Net result: slightly lower prices for us on these imported items, but huge corporate profits for the importing corporations. Need I mention that, as China's standard of living is rising, ours is DROPPING?
The countries of the free world have been benefited, reinforced and drawn closer together by the vigor of American support of the United Nations, and by our participation in such regional organizations as NATO, SEATO, CENTO, the Organization of American States and other collective security alliances. We assert our intention steadfastly to uphold the action and principles of these bodies. That was true until the rise of the neocons, who held the United Nations in contempt and tried to go around them whenever possible. ARE YOU LISTENING, JON BOLTON?
The firm diplomacy of the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration has been supported by a military power superior to any in the history of our nation or in the world. As long as world tensions menace us with war, we are resolved to maintain an armed power exceeded by no other. MANY cost overruns by defense contractors later, that is still true!
Under Republican administration, the Government has developed original and constructive programs in many fields—open skies, atoms for peace, cultural and technical exchanges, the peaceful uses of outer space and Antarctica—to make known to men everywhere our desire to advance the cause of peace. We mean, as a Party, to continue in the same course.
We recognize and freely acknowledge the support given to these principles and policies by all Americans, irrespective of party. Standing as they do above partisan challenge, such principles and policies will, we earnestly hope, continue to have bipartisan support. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush simply trashed this idea altogether by lYING about and then attacking, conquering, and occupying Iraq under false pretenses.
We confront today the global offensive of Communism, increasingly aggressive and violent in its enterprises. The agency of that offensive is Soviet policy, aimed at the subversion of the world. Substitute "radical Islamists" or "terrorists" for "Soviets", and we have the same ol' battle all over again. It's great how the GOP has managed to constantly supply us with a deadly mortal enemy to go to war with, isn't it?
Recently we have noted Soviet Union pretexts to intervene in the affairs of newly independent countries, accompanied by threats of the use of nuclear weapons. Such interventions constitute a form of subversion against the sovereignty of these new nations and a direct challenge to the United Nations.
The immediate strategy of the Soviet imperialists is to destroy the world's confidence in America's desire for peace, to threaten with violence our mutual security arrangements, and to sever the bonds of amity and respect among the free nations. To nullify the Soviet conspiracy is our greatest task. The United States faces this challenge and resolves to meet it with courage and confidence.
To this end we will continue to support and strengthen the United Nations as an instrument for peace, for international cooperation, and for the advancement of the fundamental freedoms and humane interests of mankind. The neocons all but abandoned this strategy when they adopted the policies of pre-emptive warfare, rendition, and torture. Nice job, neocon war criminals!
Through all the calculated shifts of Soviet tactics and mood, the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration has demonstrated its willingness to negotiate in earnest with the Soviet Union to arrive at just settlements for the reduction of world tensions.
We recognize that firm political and military policies, while imperative for our security, cannot in themselves build peace in the world.
We have already created unprecedented dimensions of diplomacy for these purposes. We recognize that upon our support of well-conceived programs of economic cooperation among nations rest the best hopes of hundreds of millions of friendly people for a decent future for themselves and their children. Our mutual security program of economic help and technical assistance; the Development Loan Fund, the Inter-American Bank, the International Development Association and the Food for Peace Program, which create the conditions for progress in less-developed countries; our leadership in international efforts to help children, eliminate pestilence and disease and aid refugees—these are programs wise in concept and generous in purpose. We mean to continue in support of them. These efforts have been supplanted by the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund, all of which are supported by today's Republicans, and each of which is run by, for, and for the benefit of, huge multinational corporations which prey on poorer countries. What happened here, Republicans?
National Defense
The strategic imperatives of our national defense policy are these:
A second-strike capability, that is, a nuclear retaliatory power that can survive surprise attack, strike back, and destroy any possible enemy. SECOND strike? That's a HUGE difference with today's trigger-happy pre-emptive strike crowd of Dick and Liz Cheney Republicans!

Economic Growth and Business
To provide the means to a better life for individual Americans and to strengthen the forces of freedom in the world, we count on the proved productivity of our free economy. Today's laissez-faire-infected, "free market" Republicans no longer care about or value individual Americans' needs or wants. Instead, they only care about their own well-being and that of major corporations who supply them with dividend checks. They view American workers as parasites who always want more, even as they themselves are enriched moreso all the time. They don't want to pay taxes, and they don't want anybody or anything to interfere with what they view as their god-given right to maximum profit for themselves. They, of course, are too self-centered and blind to realize that the "free market" only allows freedom for them and others with lots of money. The overwhelming majority of the country no longer has any say in the wages they are paid or the benefits they get or don't get.
Despite the lamentations of the opposition in viewing the economic scene today, the plain fact is that our 500 billion dollar economy finds more Americans at work, earning more, spending more, saving more, investing more, building more than ever before in history. The well-being of our people, by virtually every yardstick, has greatly advanced under this Republican Administration. WERE THAT ONLY TRUE TODAY!Families have lost ground for much of the past 30 years, through 3 different Republican administrations!
But we can and must do better. We must raise employment to even higher levels and utilize even more fully our expanding, overall capacity to produce. We must quicken the pace of our economic growth to prove the power of American free enterprise to meet growing and urgent demands: to sustain our military posture, to provide jobs for a growing labor force in a time of rapid technological change, to improve living standards, to serve all the needs of an expanding population. If only that were on the agenda of modern Republicans! All the current crowd want to do is to increase production but pay LESS for it!
We therefore accord high priority to vigorous economic growth and recognize that its mainspring lies in the private sector of the economy... we favor: Broadly-based tax reform to foster job-making and growth-making investment for modernization and expansion, including realistic incentive depreciation schedules.
Use of the full powers of government to prevent the scourges of depression and inflation... (Unless, of course, the Democrats hold the White House with a black President who initiates a stimulus program. Then the full powers of government become harmful, ineffective, and socialistic. OH, FOR THE COMMON SENSE AND HONESTY OF YESTERDAY'S REPUBLICANS)!
Relating wage and other payments in production to productivity—except when necessary to correct inequalities—in order to help us stay competitive at home and abroad.
Spurring the economy by advancing the successful Eisenhower-Nixon program fostering new and small business, by continued active enforcement of the anti-trust laws, by protecting consumers and investors against the hazard and economic waste of fraudulent and criminal practices in the market place,... Today's GOP would NEVER go for that---they would call it scialistic government regulation!
Continued improvement of our vital transportation network, carrying forward rapidly the vast Eisenhower-Nixon national highway program and promoting safe, efficient, competitive and integrated transport by air, road, rail and water under equitable, impartial and minimal regulation directed to those ends. Again, today's far-right GOP would call this "socialism" and would never pass it!
Carrying forward, under the Trade Agreements Act, the policy of gradual selective—and truly reciprocal—reduction of unjustifiable barriers to trade among free nations. We advocate effective administration of the Act's escape clause and peril point provisions to safeguard American jobs and domestic industries against serious injury. In support of our national trade policy we should continue the Eisenhower-Nixon program of using this government's negotiating powers to open markets abroad and to eliminate remaining discrimination against our goods. We should also encourage the development of fair labor standards in exporting countries in the interest of fair competition in international trade... This would NEVER occur in the types of trade deals current Republicans now favor and shape!
Discharge by government of responsibility for those activities which the private sector cannot do or cannot so well do, such as constructive federal-local action to aid areas of chronic high unemployment... Current privatization-crazy Republicans would NECER support this!
Action on these fronts, designed to release the strongest productive force in human affairs—the spirit of individual enterprise-can contribute greatly to our goal of a steady, strongly growing economy.
Labor
Labor and management cannot prosper without each other. They cannot ignore their mutual public obligation. Truer words were never written!
Industrial harmony, expressing these mutual interests, can best be achieved in a climate of free collective bargaining, with minimal government intervention except by mediation and conciliation. Today's fiercely anti-labor Republicans would view this as absolute heresy!
Even in dealing with emergency situations imperiling the national safety, ways of solution must be found to enhance and not impede the processes of free collective bargaining—carefully considered ways that are in keeping with the policies of national labor relations legislation and with the need to strengthen the hand of the President in dealing with such emergencies. Today's Republicans argue that collective bargaining is unnecessary and a threat to free markets. Boy, are THEY ever mistaken!!!
In the same spirit, Republican leadership will continue to encourage discussions, away from the bargaining table, between labor and management to consider the mutual interest of all Americans in maintaining industrial peace. This would mean a stop to outsourcing and union-busting. No current conservative Republican would accept that!
Republican policy firmly supports the right of employers and unions freely to enter into agreements providing for the union shop and other forms of union security as authorized by the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (the Taft-Hartley Act )... NOT ANYMORE THEY DON'T!
Republican action has given to millions of American working men and women new or expanded protection and benefits, such as: Increased federal minimum wage;
Extended coverage of unemployment insurance and the payment of additional temporary benefits provided in 1958-59;... Today's Republicans and teabaggers all violently oppose these measures!
Extension of federal workman's compensation coverage and increase of benefits; ...
DITTO!...
Seven past years of accomplishments, however, are but a base to build upon in fostering, promoting and improving the welfare of America's working men and women, both organized and unorganized. We pledge, therefore, action on these constructive lines:..
Upward revision in amount and extended coverage of the minimum wage to several million more workers... Strengthening the unemployment insurance system and extension of its benefits.
Improvement of the eight-hour laws relating to hours and overtime compensation on federal and federally-assisted construction, and continued vigorous enforcement and improvement of minimum wage laws for federal supply and construction contracts.
Current Republicans would cast these as being inflationary, even though they turn a very blind eye to ever-increasing CEO salaries and benefits packages...
Continued improvement of manpower skills and training to meet a new era of challenges, including action programs to aid older workers, women, youth, and the physically handicapped.
Encouragement of training programs by labor, industry and government to aid in finding new jobs for persons dislocated by automation or other economic changes.
Improvement of job opportunities and working conditions of migratory farm workers.
Assurance of equal pay for equal work regardless of sex; encouragement of programs to insure on-the-job safety, and encouragement of the States to improve their labor standards legislation, and to improve veterans' employment rights and benefits.
Encouragement abroad of free democratic institutions, higher living standards and higher wages through such agencies as the International Labor Organization, and cooperation with the free trade union movement in strengthening free labor throughout the world. Today's GOP believes in none of this and would like to trash the free trade union movement altogether.
Agriculture
...To utilize immediately surpluses in an orderly manner, with a minimum impact on domestic and foreign markets, we pledge:
Strengthened efforts to distribute surpluses to schools and low-income and needy citizens of our own country... Today's GOP would rather sell them on the open market to the highest bidder!
Expansion of the Rural Development Program to help low-income farm families not only through better farming methods, but also through opportunities for vocational training, more effective employment services, and creation of job opportunities through encouragement of local industrialization. Today's Republican would rather just let huge agribusiness firms buy out or dispossess the poor family farmer.
Legislative action for programs now scheduled to expire for the school milk program, wool, and sugar, including increased sugar acreage to domestic areas.
Free movement in interstate commerce of agricultural commodities meeting federal health standards.
To prevent dumping of agricultural imports upon domestic markets... The modern GOP would oppose this as government interference in the global market.
Natural Resources
A strong and growing economy requires vigorous and persistent attention to wise conservation and sound development of all our resources...
We pledge:
Necessary measures for preservation of our domestic fisheries...
Full use and preservation of our great outdoors are pledged in:
Completion of the "Mission 66" for the improvement of National Park areas as well as sponsorship of a new "Mission 76" program to encourage establishment and rehabilitation of local, state, and regional parks, to provide adequate recreational facilities for our expanding population.
Continued support of the effort to keep our great out-of-doors beautiful, green, and clean... Today's Republican would, at the very best, give tepid support to all of these measures.
Continued support for federal financial assistance... Not any more!
Vigorous implementation of long-range programs for fish and wildlife.
Government Finance
To build a better America with broad national purposes such as high employment, vigorous and steady economic growth, and a dependable currency, responsible management of our federal finances is essential...
Government that is careless with the money of its citizens is careless with their future. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Frist, and Tom DeLay certinly never adhered to this principle! They WASTED half a trillion dollars!
Because we are concerned about the well-being of people, we are concerned about protecting the value of their money. To this end, we Republicans believe that:
Every government expenditure must be tested by its contribution to the general welfare, not to any narrow interest group.
Except in times of war or economic adversity, expenditures should be covered by revenues. More principles ignored by current and recent Republicans!
We must work persistently to reduce, not to increase, the national debt, which imposes a heavy economic burden on every citizen... Dick Cheney and his friends said the defict doesn't matter. I guess it doesn't if you're a self-centered Republican who is almost dead... We must resist assaults upon the independence of the Federal Reserve System; we must strengthen, not weaken, the ability of the Federal Reserve System and the Treasury Department to exercise effective control over money and credit in order better to combat both deflation and inflation that retard economic growth and shrink people's savings and earnings... Ron Paul, his son Rand, and numerous other Republicans today HATE the Federal Reserve Board and want us to return to the gold standard...
National security and other essential needs will continue to make enormous demands upon public revenues. It is therefore imperative that we weigh carefully each demand for a new federal expenditure...
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This document was revealing in that it reflected the great hope and optimism of an America that was not saddled with debt from two very expensive unpaid-for wars, and not suffering the disastrous consequences of excessive deregulation of banks and derivatives, which the modern conservative Republicans pushed for and passed and caused our Great Recession. It also reflected respect and recognition granted our then very prevalent trade unions, entities whose destruction was begun by conservative President Ronald Reagan and was nearly achieved through industry outsourcing and the further efforts of George W. Bush, the worst President in all of our history. This platform also accorded government MUCH more respect and inclusion than we see in the rabid anti-government Republicans we now have. Stay tuned, folks: there will soon be more!

COMING UP NEXT IN PART II: Government Administration, Education, Science and Technology, HUMAN NEEDS, Older Citizens, Health Aid, Juvenile Delinquents.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A BROKEN RECORD!

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich; you now control the House of Representatives; and you've been Speaker of the House for over a month. In those weeks, you have WASTED TIME on failed social initiatives like H.R. 3, triing to extend the unconstitutional Patriot Act, and trying to repeal the Affordable Health Care for America Act. NOW, WHERE THE HELL ARE THE JOBS YOU SAID WOULD BE CREATED WHEN THE REPUBLICANS GAINED CONTROL, MR. JOHN BOEHNER?

Ho hum. Different day; same old shit. The highly unstable and paranoid Glenn Beck is spouting a new conspiracy theory putting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood together with socialists and communists; Ann Coulter's out shooting her mouth off about how more reporters should be jailed; Rush Limbaugh is trying to link the President with terrorists; the birthers are still questioning President Obama's citizenship; and congressional Republicans have done not one thing - not one thing - to relieve the nation's unemployment problem.

Not that we expected them to, of course. That confounded party, temporarily strengthened with new blood from the Tea Party sham, is far more interested in more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy than they are in job creation. So long as big corporations can make ever-increasing profits and the rich get ever increasingly richer, they don't care one bit about the poor working (or non-working) stiff who comprises the overwhelming majority of this country.

Republican priorities are very clear: blame the President for everything, make sure he is not re-elected, hold his programs and agenda hostage by withholding funding for much of it, further deregulate business, tax cut, tax cut, tax cut. They claim to want to reduce the deficit, and they love to accuse the President of adding to that deficit, but they refuse to cut the vastly overbloated defense budget. Instead, they are aiming almost exclusively at entitlement programs. And their insistence on tax cuts for the wealthy belies their so-called concern for the deficit. They will only ADD further to that deficit!

But meanwhile, not one effort has been made toward creating new, good-paying jobs for the American worker.

Republicans are obsessed with power for the sake of having it. They don't really care about the average American. They have no agenda for that group. Conservatives USED to care about the well-being of all the people, but today they just want power to ensure that nothing is done by the government to endanger the ability of the very rich to make even more money. Everyone else can go to hell. That is why so many of them are lining up for a shot at winning the presidency next year. Once again, they will say or do anything to tarnish the current President just so they can recapture that office. But once again, they will fail, just as they did in 2008. By continually reaching out to only a small segment of the population, the very wealthy, they will again be failing to offer anything of substance for the majority of the country, so they will fail. Meanwhile, all the rest of us will be struggling, mainly the ever-shrinking middle class, the unemployed, and the growing amount of poor.

The Republican platform is a broken record of unrealistic and unfulfillable promises based on the dismally failed notion of trickle-down economics. Robert Reich had a piece a few days ago in his blog which stated the Republicans have not had a credible or workable new idea for more than 80 years. He was totally correct. The Reagan, Bush I and Bush II eras, the great conservative reign, all prove the fallacy of the trickle-down theory. All boats do NOT automatically rise with the tide of increased corporate profits and tax cuts for the rich. Instead, the flow has been trickling upward the entire time. It is now starting to gush.

So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record myself, I'll once again ask: Where the hell are the jobs, Mr. Boehner?

I will keep on asking, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FACES OF CUBA

During our journey to Cuba in 2001, we were fortunate enough to get some outstanding shots of the local population. I share them with you here now. (Left click on each photo to make it larger). We asked each person their permission to be phutographed and tipped them $1 for the privilege. This first guy was a happy-go-lucky fellow we met in a small shopping mall in the El Vedado district, almost to Miramar (see map in part I). The man at top left, who looked like he had been through two world wars, we saw standing in a doorway, surrounded by paintings, in Habana Vieja. The old woman enjoying a cigar at top right we caught in the same area, nearby. Men and women alike enjoy fine Cuban cigars. The two girls struck a pose for us further into Habana Vieja. Spandex is very prevalent throughout Cuba. The man below left was a newspaper salesman we caught up with in the government district near Nuevo Habana. Next to him was an old woman we saw in Habana Vieja. Nrxt to her was a saintly lady we encountered in El Vedado. At bottom right was a happy young lady being held by her mom in Habana Vieja. To their left, very near the government district, we caught that lady enjoying her stogie. As I have taken the liberty of adding a few additional photos to the previous segments of my Cuba series, you may also wish to revisit the first four segments again.

At the conclusion of this piece, I will present my opinions on Cuba, its people, its government, and what I hope for her future.








































I would describe none of these people as feeling hopelessly oppressed, or desperately itching to leave their homeland, although a number of Cubans DO feel that way. For, while the Cuban Revolution has indeed cost them their freedom, the Castro government has done more to benefit the country than all of its neglectful predecessors, and for more of the population, too. For this reason I believe the people, most of them anyway, have come to accept life as it is. It seemed to us that the Cuban spirit was too lively to be caught in continual despair. The two families we stayed with did not display any noticeable discontent, or exhibit fear in having us stay in their dwellings. Both simply let us be and went about their business in a normal way. While their living conditions were modest, both had working 19" color TVs, and both had medium-level boom boxes, and each seemed content with what they had. They unsparingly offered us food and drink, which we joined them in on occasion.

In a tobacco shop, we spoke with a woman who had good command of English. She mentioned that everyone we saw on the street was wearing a "false face." We didn't press her for an explanation, but she did mention she had applied for an exit visa for herself and her daughter, so perhaps she was speaking mainly for herself. For most of the people we encountered were basically rather happy-go-lucky and seemingly content overall, although nobody would be totally content with product shortages being a fairly common occurrence. Our trade embargo against Cuba, the major cause of these shortages, began in 1960, after Cuba had nationalized some U.S. companies. It has been a total and complete embargo ever since, covering all types of products. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla has described it as an "economic, commercial, and financial siege" that has now entered its sixth decade. No such embargo exists between Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, or any other major European or Asian power and Cuba, and no one else's citizens are restricted from either going there or spending money there. A report prepared for the UN General Assembly puts the cost of this embargo at US $750 BILLION, approximately 7 times Cuba's annual GDP. In other words, our embargo has cost Cuba 7 years of development. But has it worked? Has it convinced the Cuban government to change its ways? Absolutely not: all it has done is hurt the Cuban people. Needlessly.

China, the now vitally important U,S, trading partner and major supplier, still engages in major human rights violations among its own people. Press censorship is very tight there. Yet we ended our embargo against them nearly 40 years ago. There are infinitely more political prisoners today in China than there are in Cuba. So why do we continue to pick on Cuba for that reason? 36+ years ago, we were at war with Vietnam, and not only did they kill many thousands of our soldiers, they have certainly not granted their people the type of freedom we enjoy since the North took over the entire country in 1975. Yet we trade with them, but not with Cuba. We trade freely with Egypt, even provide them with billions in foreign aid, even though it is ruled by iron-fisted dictator Hosni Mubarak who has been guilty of many atrocities over a 29 year span, but we still refuse to trade with our next door neighbor Cuba. It is a most unfair paradox to keep Cuba out of our trading circle while we actively engage in trade with other repressive dictatorships across the globe. Why do we continue this insanity and double standard when none of the rest of the world does the same?

To be sure, the Castro government has been guilty of many deplorable human rights offenses. There have been executions of political opponents, and jailings without due process (SOUND FAMILIAR?). Press censorship is a way of life, and I abhor all of that. But because Cuba does not hold a strategic trump card for us the way China or Egypt do, it is unfairly being singled out for punishment. I, for one, say it is time for a more pragmatic approach.

In many ways, our embargo has backfired on us. Right off the bat, it pushed Cuba smack dab into the broad, outstretched arms of the old Soviet Union and away from us. Overreactions on both sides almost led to nuclear war in 1962 during the Cuban mMssile Crisis. But those days are long gone. Cuba hasn't had offensive missiles pointed at us for nearly 50 years, and gone are the days when Cuba was actively engaged in trying to export revolution to other Latin American countries by sending revolutionaries and soldiers. Countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, and even Brazil have instead instituted their own revolutions in recent years, mainly due to exploitation and benign neglect by the U.S. or the tin-horn dictators we once supported. That is a fact of life. Cuba didn't cause the leftward shift of a number of Central and Latin American governments: WE did! Our penchant for supporting any pro-American government so long as it was stable and anti-Communist, no matter how repressive it was to its own citizens, is the reason we have lost so much ground in that region. Our entire history of dominating the area through military intervention and by other means is full of glaring mistakes: Chile in 1973, and El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s are the most current examples. Therefore, the days for punishing Cuba should come to a screeching halt. We simply must start to treat our southern neighbors as just that: fully independent neighbors who are not our possessions.

The main reason we persist in this folly of punishing Cuba is due to the strong influence of the free-Cuba lobby. Composed mainly of refugees and their families who fled Cuba just after the first days of the revolution, many of whom were wealthy and/or large landowners, they see the Castro regime as all evil and one which must be toppled so they can return home and once more establish control for themselves. While I share their desire for fair, open elections, the end of press censorship, and greater civil rights for Cuba's citizens, such things do not occur merely because we have pointed a gun at a foreign government and told them to toe the line or else. Also, these well-to-do landowners did very little before 1959 to really benefit the country. They catered to American gangsters and exploited Cuban workers to make a quick buck, just as our own corporations are now trying to do to us here in America right now. Also, few governments in history have been all good or all bad, and that is especially true of the Castro government. We were certainly not good to have engaged in torture or to have practiced rendition over the past decade! Even Hitler's Nazi regime was not completely bad: it lifted Germany out of the Great Depression with massive government spending and built the first modern freeway system in Europe, the Autobahn, for heaven's sake. In terms of exactly what the Castro government has accomplished during its tenure, consider these facts:

1). It turned a population that was 23% illiterate in 1959 into one with ONLY 4% ILLITERACY IN ONLY TWO YEARS' TIME! Today, UN estimates place this figure at 6.8%, but that is still evidence of remarkable progress! Education is FREE from kindergarten all the way up through a doctorate level in college (to those whose grades qualify them for it).

2). It has now the second highest number of doctors per capita of any nation on earth (we are far behind at no. 52), and health care for ALL is universal and FREE, just as it should be here! At the time of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the country had 6,000 doctors, of which 3,000 left right after it occurred. Now there are over 64,000 doctors providing medical services all throughout the island. Cuba currently has three times as many doctors in the Third World as the World Health Organization! She also trains hundreds of medical students from the Caribbean and other developing countries free of charge, a most unselfish gesture! Today, at 75 years, the Cubans have achieved the longest life expectancy, and the lowest death rate among every 1,000 live births (7.1) in all of Latin America, AND THEY HAVE DONE SO IN SPITE OF OUR CRIPPLING EMBARGO WHICH SEVERELY LIMITS AVAILABILITY OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT! Imagine what they could accomplish if they were freed from that embargo!

3). All discrimination based on race, gender, and class inequality has been greatly reduced. I saw whites, mulattoes, and blacks mingling freely with one another, without the slightest hint of racism.


Our beazen attempt to blackmail Cuba into adopting an economy just like ours, with so-called "free" markets and an ever-expanding-in-wealth yet ever-shrinking ultra-rich elite, has been an abject failure. It has only strengthened Cuban resolve to resist, and has provided other developing nations with proof that the "American way" is NOT the only way to economic development! No other nation on earth punishes Cuba like we do, and this foolish course of action MUST end!

I do NOT support Cuba's excesses in the field of human rights. I do NOT support its press censorship. I am NOT suggesting that we coddle a dictatorship, or that their way of doing things is a paradise on earth. What I AM suggesting, though, is that we take the first step in thawing a very old and now very cold relationship. Just as one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, if we show the Cuban government we are sincere and won't dictate terms to them, they will invariably feel less threatened by their big neighbor to the north and might well begin to slowly reform themselves ON THEIR OWN. We could, and SHOULD, begin this thawing out process with cultural exchanges centered around, say, Cuban baseball or Cuban jazz music. Then, the Presidents of each country should hold a summit and lay the groundwork for eventual full diplomatic relations to be restored. Travel restrictions between each country should end. At the very least, it is worth a try, especially because an effort like this has never really been made!




This, then, concludes my reminiscences of an unforgettable trip I made to Cuba 10 years ago. I sincerely hope that, within another 10 years, I shall be able to return there, LEGALLY, and note with great satisfaction that progress has been made to amend the excesses found in BOTH of our systems!












VIVA A NEW AND FULLY INDEPENDENT CUBA!!!