Tag Archives: current-events
Why America is NOT the greatest country in the world, anymore — A Provocative Rant
In fact, waking up this morning with the weight of last evening’s intellectual joust at a dinner with friends still pressing on me, I found this video rant to be like looking into a mirror. So much so that I forwarded the clip to one of my best friends (who’s often witness to my passionate defense of how I see the world — our reality — and this nation’s place in it) with the subject: “Oh, My GAWD! This Is Me Going On My Rants & Receiving The Same Stares.”
When I encounter the too-often-experienced-and-reflexive pushback to any criticism-observation of our nation’s current reality or my past experience within that reality, my passions take hold. I stake my position and launch into an energized and confident diatribe citing the same statistics and facts and interspersing the same colorful metaphors and F-bombs dropped throughout this video. And I usually receive the same stunned stares from those uninitiated to my opining, as well as the slanted smiles from experienced ones thinking, “Well, now it begins.”
Such was the experience last evening in a Japanese restaurant, around a low slung table with eight extremely intelligent and educated friends seated on thin mats on wooden benches near the floor. As always the discussion evolved from casual and superficial fare to more high-brow and intellectual pursuits. So, toward the end of the several-hour-long meal — and after much sake, wine, and drink — three of us began to discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions. Ah, nothing unusual here…this would be expected of us.
What was unexpected was one friend’s reaction to my assertions: 1) That I thought the court’s and Scalia’s decisions in the cases concerning the Voting Rights Act and the cases regarding gay marriage were inconsistent and conflicting and thus indicative of decisions based upon ideological grounds rather than point-of-law; and 2) That the decisions involving gay marriage moved me to tears because it was the first time I felt at least partly validated by my nation as a full citizen worthy of the rights that should be mine simply by definition. By implication, I asserted that ethnic minorities like my husband might rightly feel more ostracized and invalidated by their nation because of the SCOTUS decisions on voting rights.
I was informed by my friend seated directly next to me that I was being extreme in my tearful reaction and unreasonable in my attitude toward both the nation and these court decisions…that this was a great nation, that the courts were basing decisions on points-of-law, and that I could not possibly know what was in the mind of someone like Supreme Court Justice Scalia (Well, of course, no one knows his mind except Scalia but I can have a perspective of his mindset and an opinion about it…damn it!).
As a gay man married (in Europe) for several decades to a gentleman of mixed ethnicities (African-American, American-Indian, and White Anglo-Saxon), I’ve personally experienced, heard personal recounts, and witnessed a few of the discriminations that expose me to the raw realities of modern American life. I’ve thoughtfully considered those events and experiences to better know and understand that reality, why it exists as it does, and what must change to make us a “More Perfect Union.”
On what are clearly very personal and emotional issues to me, I was informed in a coldly intellectual and dismissive manner that I was being extreme in both my judgement and my reactions to the decisions.
So, when I received further criticism that I was being extreme and unreasonable in my tearful reaction to the gay marriage ruling and resentment to the voting rights decision, I launched into a typical Faustian urGe to explain my positions. Namely, I went into the America-is-not-as-great-as-you-think rant (ala, the above video), nor does it offer the constitutionally mandated protections this person, my counterpart, takes for granted (assumed from my perspective).
After attempting to keep the discussion confined to intellectual reasoning, I finally just had to blurt out loudly , “You only feel this way and don’t understand how important these rulings are to real lives, to real people, to people you know like me…because you didn’t experience working a decade for a major corporation for which you helped to earn tens-of-million-of-dollars in profits and then get tossed out with no recourse because you were a ‘faggot’ too high up in the ranks! But I have. And you don’t know what it feels like to have state constitutional amendments banning you as a person from ever receiving your rights as a citizen! But I do!” Silence, and then, “I didn’t know that.”
The point is that one shouldn’t have to “know that,” to know a person viciously discriminated against simply because of who they are, simply because of their very existence as a person. Everyone’s rights are worth protecting and enforcing. That’s why they are called “Rights” and not “privileges.”
The third person in this troika discussing the courts, the national reality, and experience then interjected and said to me, “I think you’re being very reasonable. In fact, it amazes me that people like yourself and especially african-americans like your husband have any love or respect for their country at all. Always amazes me. That you work to improve this country on many levels is a great testament.”
American Citizens Remain In The Dark On Crucial Aspects Of Health Care Reforms
How many times do we need to take a step back and try to explain health care reform… again? For huge swaths of the American public — for a ridiculously absurd number — it’s just not sinking in.
Forget whether you and I disagree on the merits of the Affordable Care Act. We would engage the debate because we are “aware” and educated about the issue’s facts. I’m not speaking about knowledge-based disagreement; I’m talking about willful ignorance proliferating across the nation.
This is the depressing, discouraging take-away from the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And once again in April, the numbers underscore our collective ignorance about the domestic policy issue that has dominated political and business news coverage for nearly four years — not to mention an entire and most expensive presidential election!
- Only 3 out of 5 Americans understand that the 2010 Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” remains the law of the land and is being implemented at full speed, according to the April survey of adults from April 15-20.
- Among the 42 percent who got it wrong, 7 percent think the Supreme Court overturned the law (it didn’t),
- 12 percent think Congress has repealed the law (it hasn’t), and…
- 23 percent simply don’t know (where have you been?)
- Nearly half — 48 percent — of Americans told Kaiser pollsters a month earlier that they have heard “nothing at all” about their State’s debate over whether to set up an online health insurance marketplace, called an “exchange,” and…
- a stunning 78 percent said they didn’t know whether their state had decided to expand Medicaid, the law’s single largest avenue to coverage for uninsured Americans!
- 58 percent of respondents in March told Kaiser they believe health care costs are rising more quickly than usual over the past few years… the exact opposite of what has actually occurred!
It’s all very nice and easy to explain away or excuse these figures of ignorance about the single biggest influence in business and inflation and personal bankruptcies in America. Sure, “regular people’s” lives are shaped more by youth soccer schedules than by health care policy, so we should cut the public some slack. Right?
A resoundingly negative, No! If you are voting in elections, you need to know truth and facts. If you don’t, then please keep away from election day voting stations. You endanger democracy and societal progress. And we should be calling it and you out for exactly the danger ignorance presents.
Better yet, please don’t offer up opinions on anything more important than Justin Bieber’s incessantly changing hair styles.
More and more, Americans are embracing the logical conclusion that if they don’t know the facts, it’s difficult to form an opinion. D-oh!
In April, a historic high — 24 percent — said they have no opinion when asked if they generally approve or disapprove of the new health care law. That’s progress of sorts, in a dystopian way.
America’s blind and willful ignorance… That’s why…
- That’s why we went to war preemptively against a nation that not once threatened the US and had not one weapon of mass destruction (that would be Iraq, my fellow Americans)
- That’s why the knee-jerk reaction to rescuing the financial markets from complete destruction was considered “communistic” and led to the rise of the hateful Tea Party
- That’s why the “Birther” movement questioning the President’s American birth got traction
- That’s why it matters that a dullard such as Sarah Palin even existed on the political scene and almost become the second-most powerful person in the world
- That’s why our schools are failing and the US falls behind every other major industrialized nation on test scores (how can schools succeed with kids molded [or left bereft] by ignorant parents?)
- That’s why we need strong federal regulations to protect the safety of Americans from their own ignorance
- That’s why we need Obamacare to mandate and provide necessary insurance to protect Americans’ health from their own ignorance
The post-election rant of some of my conservative, Republican family, friends, and associates continues.
They just simply do not comprehend how they could have mis-read the election outcome and absolutely can’t fathom that so many Americans see the world differently than they… as “everyone [they] knew felt exactly the way [they] felt about Obama and our fast decent into ‘socialism.'”
Perhaps they should develop friendships and interaction outside of their gated suburban communities, isolated corporate halls, and self-selecting church sanctuaries.
To listen to our congresspersons speak from “the other side of the aisle,” it’s clear they haven’t stuck their heads outside the window either.
To be fair, my closest personal conservative, Republican friends [meaning that they are a different sort, as they live in the urban residential heart of a major city within a highrise community of shared living], have issued forth no rants… just casual and respectful thoughts of, “Well, my guy didn’t win, but that’s democracy in action and how it goes.”
One business associate said he started an online conversation that has run into the hundreds of responses agreeing with him… His piece is titled, ” I Don’t Recognize My Country Anymore.” Oy Vey! It’s NOT YOUR country; it’s OUR country. This is exactly what YOU don’t understand.
In post-election commentary, too, Republican leaders have made no mention of the changing electorate, the expanded voter base despite the obstacles deliberately placed in the way, and the need to repair relations with different ethnic voters.
I think this cartoon sums up things well…
Thank you to everyone who helped defeat the same-sex marriage ban in Minnesota and who contributed to passing marriage-equality legislation in Maryland and Maine and Washington.
The statement is clear: America is tired of division. America is tired of discrimination, of exclusion… of unthinking oppression.
Today’s children will grow up in a nation one step closer to tolerance, love, and equality.
Together, we made historic progress to enshrine the guiding principles of freedom and happiness for everyone.
Together, we can support the continuous fight for equality — to living your own life vs. someone else forcing their choices upon you.
Together, we can treat others the way we want to be treated, with dignity and respect.
There is work yet to be done, but we passed an important milestone today.