February 28th, 2013 ~ Nearly a year has passed since the latest reauthorization of 1994's Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) came before our federal legislature. Mother Jones covered House Republican "objections" to inclusion of tribal provisions back in March 2012.
Today, House Republicans finally allowed the reauthorization to be voted on and it passed, in part, because House GOP Majority Whip, Eric Cantor, had to literally warn his caucus that not doing so could instigate "...a civil war..." within GOP ranks. Interesting choice of words.
February 22nd, 2013 ~ Many have been either amused or enraged by Vice President Joe Biden's recent "...buy a shotgun" comments in a "Parents Magazine" Facebook Town Hall Q&A.
Actually, our Joe might have a good point. Chris Rock, however, suggested an equally effective solution to gun violence quite a few years ago. WARNING! Adult language may not be suitable for younger viewers:
February 17th, 2013 ~ Five nights ago, our President gave his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress. Almost immediately afterward, every MSM talking head and partisan political hack was putting his or her "spin" on the substance and timbre of what he said. It's taken me a bit longer to fully digest what I think our President was truly saying. Here's my take on his speech.
Citizenship. Our President's ENTIRE speech was a call to ALL Americans - especially members of our Congress - to remember they're Americans FIRST. Citizens of the most prosperous, innovative, industrious, and influential nation on our planet. That might seem so obvious to most that it doesn't need repeating. Certainly, it's obvious to America's most recent citizens, who have pinned their aspirations and those of their children on the "American Dream". Unfortunately, it's not so obvious to others. Our President made it clear what American citizenship is.
American citizenship is recognizing that OUR government is not some disengeged, distant entity to be pleaded to for some undeserved largesse, or to be feared as a dictatorial giant. OUR government is US! It allows US to stand toe-to-toe with Big Banking, Big Energy, and Big Pharma and demand a level playing field; clean air and water for our children; safe, affordable drugs for our seniors.
Can government become profligate, wasteful, dictatorial? Of course it can. Haven't we seen state governments passing all sorts of laws to abrogate individual rights and liberties? Haven't we witnessed the disgusting spectacle of a 102 year old woman, forced to wait nearly SIX HOURS to vote by the UNAMERICAN machinations of a state government? Haven't we seen collective bargaining rights stripped from workers even as sweetheart tax deals are arranged for the wealthy and powerful? Haven't we seen women forced to travel to adjacent states because their own state government has made it impossible to exercise their right to their own bodies? Of course we have.
That's where citizenship comes in. As citizens, We, the People, must jerk the reins of OUR government out of the hands of the well-paid, well-connected lobbyists, and the intractable partisan hacks and make sure OUR government serves ALL Americans; not just the wealthy and powerful few. We can do this with something as simple as a letter or email to our Senators and Representatives, expressing our will. If more direct political action seems warranted, there are many ways to start or become involved with single-issue political action committees (PAC's) or grassroots movements. A strong and vibrant democracy cannot be sustained by a passive citizenry.
American citizenship is demanding reasonable laws to at least TRY to prevent another Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting or another police officer shot twelve times defending his fellow Americans at that temple; as was officer Brian Murphy. Citizenship is our elected Senators and representatives passing legislation to repair our crumbling roads and bridges and electrical grid; doing whatever is required to help our nation reclaim its global position as the engine of innovation, opportunity, and prosperity. Citizenship is holding the traditional CONSERVATIVE values of keeping government out of our bedrooms, out of our Doctor's offices, while affirming the rights of ALL Americans to equal pay for equal work.
These are some of the points about citizenship I believe our President was getting at. All in all, I found his State of the Union speech inspiring and optimistic; describing the BEST of what America has been, is, and will be. As an American citizen, I was well pleased by that.