What Mitt Romney Really Thinks Of Women

By Brian Dann


“We're going to have to have employers in the new economy…that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women.”
Those were the words of Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate responding to a question about equal pay for women.  This is a sentence he said on national television with an audience of over 55 million people, and felt it was a perfectly OK statement to make.  Just in case you are reading this and saying to yourself, “Yea, what’s your point, so he wants a lot of women to be hired.”  No – that is not what he is saying.  He is saying that he is going to create so many jobs that employers will actually want to hire women! They will resort to hiring women.  There will not be enough men to go around so they will have to hire women.  Boy oh boy women, aren’t you lucky to have this man on your side? So in Mitt Romney’s world, which apparently is a lot like the show Mad Men, women get there fair shot only if there aren’t enough men to fill the jobs.  This says nothing about if they will be paid the same, just that they will get there shot since there won’t be enough men to fill all the slots.
In this same exchange Governor Romney also said, and I quote, “I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.” 
So now you may be saying to yourself, “Uh, what’s wrong with this? Romney’s being sensitive to the special needs of women in the workplace and the demands from their home life.” Let me enlighten Governor Romney and the rest of the GOP to the realities of the year 2012.  It is no longer the sole responsibility of women in the home to cook, clean, and take care of the children.  It is no longer the sole responsibility of women to have a hot meal on the table for when their husbands come home from a hard day at work.  Sometimes it is the husband who has these responsibilities and sometimes they are shared.  In a world of equality of the sexes these are not needs that should be reserved only for women but for both men and women, unless those needs are purely biological.  It is up to individual families to decide who does what roles in the home, which person makes dinner, who cleans the house, and if these roles will be shared or be done by one person.  The flexibility that Mr. Romney says he is so sensitive to should be afforded to both men and women so that every family has the opportunity to be able to balance work and family in a way that they see fit, not because it is a women’s place to cook, clean, take care of the kids, and blow there husband.  In addition the piece that Governor Romney also seems not to be sensitive to is that some families consist of a husband and a husband, so in Governor Romney’s world one can only assume that neither spouse, in this case, would be afforded the flexibility to balance work and family since he seems to think that this balance is only reserved for women.  Of course there is also the case of single fathers, are they afforded the sensitivity and flexibility that Governor Romney would afford to single mothers?  Not according to this statement.  According to this statement women must be treated differently than men because they have a certain place in the family and society that apparently the Governor learned from Leave It To Beaver.   Governor Romney goes on to enforce his position on this by stating that he wants employers to create “a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”  In 2012 this is not a women issue it is a human issue.  Families and roles have changed and these issues that the governor spoke about need to available to all workers regardless of their sex or sexual orientation.
It is clear that Governor Romney sees women differently than he does men.  He has made it clear that he does not support the Lilly Ledbetter act that guarantees equal pay for men and women, and if he does not support this he will not support future legislation.  It is clear that Governor Romney will do everything he can to defund Planned Parenthood making it harder for women to get the essential health care that low income women and women with no insurance desperately need.  It is clear that Governor Romney will put judges on the Supreme Court that will be committed to removing a women’s right to choose. It is clear that when Governor Romney repeals ObamaCare, as he promised to do, women will once again become a pre-existing condition and will again pay more for health insurance then men do.
Since I do not have an editor to answer to, and I do not have to be politically correct, I can say this without the fear of anyone censoring me.  Mitt Romney is an insensitive, pompous, chauvinistic, elitist asshole, who sees others as being below him, who will never see women as his equal, who cannot be trusted to maintain his position on any subject because at any moment he may changes his position to suit the situation.  But what I do know is this.  When Governor Romney is not on script, his true colors come out and his views on equality, women, and their role in society become crystal clear as they did in the second debate.
“We're going to have to have employers in the new economy…that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women.”
I guess otherwise, they would only hire men?




Discovering Who You Should Vote For, Getting Past the Politics

By Brian Dann


President-boxing-romney-obamaI have to admit something.  I hate politics.  Now you may find that a bit surprising coming from someone who won’t shut up about it, but quite frankly, I wish this whole thing was over, Obama is declared the winner already, and the Republicans could return to rolling women’s rights back to the 1950’s and taking away all our Obamacare.  But seriously, I don’t want to get political here, because remember, I hate politics.  And that really is the whole point of this article.  You see, the real problem with electing someone for president is that there is way too much politics involved.  I know that sounds a bit crazy because after all isn't this whole thing about politics? Well yes and no. In past elections it often was hard enough to get past the sound bites and the political ads, but at least ads of the past had to end with the candidate stating, “I’m Brian Dann, and I support this message.” Ok seriously that is scary.  If you EVER hear that at the end of an ad, slip me two roofies, plant some cocaine in my glove compartment, and post pictures of me on Facebook dressed like Dr. Frank N Furter with two crack whores in a room at a Red Roof Inn, because I’ve obviously lost my mind!  Anyway…today it takes real work, real effort to sort past all the ridiculous sound bites from the media, from pundits, and from the one thing that has been the most destructive to this political system, ads funded by SuperPACs, and really figure out what each candidate stands for, and who you most align with.  Now before I go on I am going to assume that you have no idea what a SuperPAC is because most people do not.  According to OpenSecrets.org,  SuperPACs are:
“…a new kind of political action committee created in July 2010 following the outcome of a federal court case known as SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission.
Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, Super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis -- the Super PAC's choice -- as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates.”
Yea, I know…Bla,Bla,Bla…what that really means is that millionaires and billionaires can now donate as much money as they desire, to a fund, or "SuperPAC" that “legally” has NO connection at all to any particular candidate(yea, right), and then can spend as much as they desire, to create ads that do not have to contain even a shred of truth, for the sole purpose of making the opponent appear to be an America hating Nigerian who wants to take all your guns, socialize your health care, and make Islam the official religion of the U.S.A…hypothetically…for example.  Since “legally” the candidate has NO connection to the SuperPAC (yea, right) and the ad is not funded by the candidate (yea, right), he or she no longer has to say “I, (insert name here), support this message.” “Legally” candidates are not affiliated with those paying for the ad or the SuperPAC, and unlike previous elections where individuals and corporations were caped as to how much they could donate directly to an individual candidate, that is not the case with SuperPACs, so candidates, their supporting parties, and the SuperPACs can spend as much as they want to and effectively “buy” elections thereby destroying our system of democracy as we once knew it.  Thank you Supreme Court. 
All this is great for the individuals and corporations that are funding the SuperPACs because there goal is for all of us to be mindless drones absorbing whatever Republican or Democratic Koolaid they feed to us, never questioning the truth or validity of their message and hoping that they outspend their opponent to the point that we just buy into whatever garbage we are hearing the most.  They are counting on the fact that most people just do not take the time to determine if what they hear in a political ad or on a “Fair and Balanced” news show is really accurate.  You see, I don’t have to say who I support.  If you know me or have read anything I have written, you know exactly where I stand, but what you don’t know is the reason I stand where I stand.  I stand where I stand because after I hear the ads, after I hear the pundits and listen to the speeches, I do the research.  I find out what is true and what is not.  I educate myself on the issues and then form my own opinion based the facts that I discover.  I remove the lies, the propaganda, the politics and the SuperPACs from the equation and look to see who out there is most like me and what I believe in.  Then deciding who to vote for, what party to support is a no brainer because my decision is not influenced by them, by the SuperPACs, by the talking points, it is determined by me.  It is up to all of us, before we cast our vote to go beyond the ads and the speeches, the pundits and the politicians, and to educate ourselves on the issues, to hold our politicians and those supporting them with unheard of amounts of money accountable for their claims, and to find out, regardless of how we feel personally about the candidate if their positions on the key issues match our own.  Then and only then will we be able to be certain that the person you are voting for is the person who is best for you and for this country.  
There are many places on the internet where you can find information on the issues and where the candidates stand on them.  Here are just a few.
Use these first two sites to take a quiz that will tell you whose views most match your owns:

See where the candidates stand on 61 important issues:

Check the Facts:

How much money has each SuperPAC raised and who do they support:

How much money has each candidate raised?

Compare Candidates:



Top 12 Slogans For The Romney-Ryan Campaign


1.  Don’t Worry, It Will Trickle Down Eventually.

2.  If I had Paid Taxes, I’d Release Taxes.

3.  Every Man For Himself.

4.  Smiling Like We Care.

5.  If Hair Were Electoral Votes, We’d Have This Thing In the Bag.

6.  The Poor Can Suck Our Rich White Dicks!

7.  At least I Didn’t Pick an Insane Hockey Mom From Alaska.

8.  Not Michelle Bachman.

9.  Fighting For You, and By You I Mean People Like Me.

10.  The Best The Republican Party Could Come Up With.

11.  At Least England Likes Me…Hmmm?...What?...Not Anymore?...Nevermind.

12.  Seriously, I’M the Candidate!?


Should Cannabis Be Illegal?


It was the summer of 1988.  I was doing a semester abroad. I sat down in this little coffee shop, just off of some street whose name I would not even attempt to pronounce for the fear of twisting my tongue in a knot that I would never get out.  After waiting for a few moments, the waiter, who spoke perfect English, handed me a menu.  I opened it up and inside was a selection of every kind of coffee and tea concoction that they served.  The words were easy, no ventis or grandes, no frappuccinos or macchittos.  They kept it simple and I quickly ordered a plain cappuccino.  After a few minutes they brought me my drink, then handed me a second menu.  Quite honestly, having never been to this kind of coffee shop before, I did not really know what to expect.  The last thing I expected was for the next selection of items to be presented to me in a menu, maybe on a plate neatly arranged where I could simply point to the one I wanted, or perhaps in a glass, temperature controlled case like some fine chocolates, but most defintly, not in a menu.  At the time I was in college doing a semester abroad and it had been many years, high school exactly, since I had last partaken of this particular indulgence, but considering the uniqueness of this opportunity, an opportunity that I would never have a chance to experience anywhere in the United States at the time, I felt almost obligated to place an order from this second menu.  I took my time and looked the menu up and down reading each description, considering my decision carefully knowing that unless I ever came back to this part of the world I most likely would never experience a purchasing opportunity like this again. Then the waiter came back to my table and asked me if I had made my decision. I had. “One gram of Jamaican Sinsemilla please?” The waiter asked, “Would you like anything to smoke that with, a pipe, a bong, a hooka?” Not expecting to be able to partake of it right there and then, I answered, “No, I’ll take it to go.” 
I just could not imagine being able to smoke marijuana so openly and legally, and even though I knew that in Amsterdam, where I was visiting for a few days, it was perfectly legal, as an American, the culture shock of being allowed to smoke cannabis as if it was no different than a cigarette or a shot of tequila, was something I just could not wrap my brain around.  Quite simply, it was just too weird.  Whether I actually smoked it or not was not what was important.  It was the experience, the experience of being able to buy something, so openly and so legally, that in the United States is considered so taboo.  I paid for my coffee and ganja, placed the bag in my pocket, and walked down to the red light district where I could observe Japanese business men and English students on break legally paying for hookers, another experience that was just too weird to see so openly and legally.  Also where there was this little Greek restaurant that I ate at every night I was there.  I thought to myself either this country is the most immoral on earth, or they’ve got it all figured out.
In the United States of course marijuana is illegal.  The funny thing is, as a teenager marijuana was just as easy to purchase here as it was legally in Amsterdam.  The only difference was that in the U.S. it wasn’t done in the openness of a coffee shop, but instead in some guys basement or behind a 7-Eleven.  The truth is if a person wants to smoke marijuana, there is not a single law out there that is going to deter them from doing it.  I am sure that today, if I wanted to get high, which I don't and haven’t done so since my early college days, in a matter of three phone calls I could buy whatever I want to. So why exactly is marijuana illegal in the United States?  To tell you the truth I have no idea. Cigarettes are legal and nicotine is considered to be more addictive than heroine.  Marijuana actually has no addictive properties at all and is impossible to overdose on. Alcohol is legal but to this day I have never seen a mob of stoned people beating the crap out of each other, but get a bunch of drunk hockey fans together, and two kegs of Guinness and you have a riot. In the U.S. annually the number of deaths that can be attributed directly to cigarettes is around 450,000.  The number of annual deaths directly attributed to alcohol is about 85,000.  The number of deaths attributed directly to marijuana... is zero.
Listen, I am no angel.  I went to college, I was in a fraternity, I’ve done beer bongs, I have a photo of myself that was taken after a night of drinking Ouzo in Greece and my eyes are going to two different directions. How I got back to the hotel I have no idea but somehow I eneded up on a boat to Mykonos!  Hung over doesn’t even come close to how I felt on that boat! And that is from something that is legal.  I’m not even going to get in to how addictive alcohol can be, how destructive it can be to a person life, to their family, how many car accidents have been caused and lives have been lost by drunk driving, all from something that is perfectly legal, and not to mention taxed by our government.  So why should Marijuana be legal?  I’ll tell you why, and this is coming from a guy who does not smoke it.  It should be legal because it makes sense.  There is nothing stopping anyone from getting it, and the amount of money that we spend on trying to keep it out of this country, on enforcing the laws that exist, on the cost of keeping someone in prison for possessing it, simply is not proportional to the amount of people who are being either prevented or deterred from using it.  From 1980 to 2009 the amount of arrests for Marijuana has more than doubled from 401,000 to 858,000, yet the potency of the drug has gone up and so has the usage.  Prohibition has simply failed, it is simply not a deterrent. Consistently in surveys of high school seniors it is reported that 85.5% state that marijuana is easy to get.  And the amount of money it is costing us to enforce this failed policy, as well as the revenue we are losing from potential taxes, simply does not make economic sense.  Just as many Americans will smoke marijuana this year as will buy a new car or truck.  The reality is that it is simply a matter of economics.
In June 2005, Jeffery Miron, a visiting professor of economics at Harvard University released a report entitled “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition”.  In this report, Professor Miron states, “legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure (it has since been updated to 13.3 billion) on enforcement (costs alone) of prohibition.  $5.3 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $2.4 billion would accrue to the federal government.”  Milton goes on to say that, “the report also estimates that marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.”   The amount spent on the prohibition of marijuana and everything associated with it including enforcement, as well as court costs, and daily imprisonment, is estimated to be as high as 27.2 billion per year.  So not only could we potentially save as much as 27.2 billion per year but we could also generate a potential revenue of 6.2 billion per year, which would then translate to a combined savings and revenue of 33.4 billion per year to our economy that is facing record deficits in the trillions.  In fact this idea of legalizing marijuana is so well received by the economic community that over 500 top economists including three Nobel Laureates have co-signed an open letter to the President, Governors, Senators and State Legislators.  In the letter it states:
    “The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm.
     We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.”  In fact, just just recently during a online town hall meeting hosted by YouTube, President Obama stated, for the first time for any sitting President, in regards to drug legalization,” I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate.” Although he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, this is the first time ever that any President has shown support for a debate on the subject.
No one is suggesting that marijuana should be made legal for children. The same minimum age logic would apply to marijuana that would apply to alcohol and cigarettes.  But the facts are clear.  Anyone can obtain marijuana any time they want.  The current laws are simply not a deterrent.  Prohibition simply has not worked.  It didn’t work for alcohol in the 1920’s and it isn’t working for marijuana in the 2012’s. The amount of money being spent in the billions far outweighs any perceived deterrent and every year we are losing revenue from a product that can be controlled and taxed exactly like alcohol and cigarettes are today.  In Amsterdam, crime related to marijuana is virtually non-existent and there has been no increase in the use of marijuana due to its legalization.  So how is it that Holland has it all figured out but we cant seem to?


CNBC- Marijuana USA



Is That A Banana In Mitt Romney's Pocket?

By Brian Dann


So you and Donald Trump stop at a fruit stand to buy a bunch of bananas.  I know what you are thinking but this is not the beginning of a bad joke.  And we all know that when Donald Trump wants a banana he tells one of his birther investigators to take a break from tracking down evidence that the President is Kenyan and go pick one from the Trump International banana garden located on the top of Trump Towers in Manhattan.  Anyway, like I was saying, you and Donald Trump stop at, oh let’s call it the “Fox” Fruit Stand, to buy a bunch of bananas.  When you go to pay, the cashier tells you that your bananas are $3.00 but with tax your bananas will be $3.50. Next The Donald goes to pay for his bananas with his Gold Amex card made of actual solid gold from his baby seal skin wallet.  The cashier tells Mr. Trump that his bananas with tax will only cost The Donald $3.17!  You go, wait! I just paid $3.50 for the same bananas that Mr. Apprentice here is only paying $3.17 for!  What’s the deal?  And the cashier tells you that although Mr. Trump makes so much more than you, and can easily afford to pay the same in taxes, and could actually afford to pay more, his immense wealth actually classifies him as a “Job Creator”, so he gets a ridiculously disproportional break in taxes so that he can take his 33 cents in tax savings and invest it in building more hotels, hiring thousands of employees, and thereby save the economy (commonly known as trickle-down-economics). You then tell the fruit stand owner that this simply does not seem “fair or balanced” and from now on you will be buying your bananas from the Jon Stewart Fruit Market across the street.  It’s at that time you notice that Mr. Trump has invested his 33 cents in a bamboo back scratcher so that he can pamper himself.
Tax-CutsAnd that right there is why giving enormous tax breaks to the rich does nothing to create jobs.  Instead of investing in new American made bamboo back scratcher factories that hire hundreds of well paid American workers who can then contribute fiscally to our economy by buying goods and services, the ultra rich invest their huge tax savings in things to make their own lives better like cars, boats, houses, off shore tax shelters, and occasionally back scratchers.  The truth is tax breaks for the wealthy do not create jobs, do nothing positive for the economy, and make no one any better off financially, except for the Donald Trumps and Mitt Romneys of this world.  And yet Mitt Romney and the Republicans want you to believe that making rich people richer will somehow make the rest of us richer as well.  I’m sorry but it just doesn’t work that way.  You see when the ultra rich get ultra tax breaks they keep that money for themselves, and instead of using those billions in savings to increase the salaries of their workers, or putting it into research and innovation, or opening factories to create new jobs, they do the types of things that Candidate Romney does like quadrupling the size of his summer home in California or flying his dressage horse to competitions.  So are we to expect that if Mitt Romney, who incidentally according to Forbes magazine is worth an estimated $230 Million dollars which would make him the richest American president in history, were to actually become president that his allegiance would not be to the other multi-millionaires, billionaires and mega-corporations that he knows as friends and colleagues, and would instead make his focus lifting up all those average Americans who so badly need tax breaks, affordable health care, and a dependable paycheck.  Are we to believe that he would abandon the demands of the Tea Party Republicans, and provide meaningful reform to immigration, support gender equality in marriage, push for equal pay for women, support the people’s right to bargain as a union for the pay and benefits they deserve, and increase taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the deficit?  Or would “President” Romney not only keep the Bush tax breaks but instead actually increase the Bush Tax Breaks, that incidentally to this very day are still the single driving factor keeping our National Debt where it is today, not President Obama’s bailout of the Auto Industry, or “Obamacare” which actually increased business for private insurance companies, or the stimulus package that saved millions of jobs, or any other false claim that Mitt Romney or the GOP wants to make.  Here is a sobering dose of reality.  The Bush tax cuts combined with two unpaid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,  that the Washington Post estimated in 2008 cost us over 3 trillion dollars, not including the ongoing cost to treat the wounded and the interest to be paid, (this was the first time in history that we cut taxes at the same time we went to war, forcing us to borrow the entire amount to pay for both wars from China) was the single largest factor in not only blowing up our deficit from 6.4 trillion in 2003 to over 10 trillion in 2008, but also in eliminating the surplus we accumulated under President Clinton. That is right. There was no deficit before George W. Bush entered office.  We had a surplus.
You see, Mitt Romney and the Republicans can complain all they want that we have to stop blaming Bush for our bad economy, but it does not change the fact that what we are dealing with today, at this moment, as you read this sentence, is the fault of George W Bush.  It was not President Obama that put us into two unpaid wars. It was not President Obama who borrowed the entire amount of those wars from the Chinese.  It was not President Obama who gave the largest tax break in history to the wealthiest 5% in this country.  But it is Mitt Romney who not only wants to preserve the Bush Tax cuts but also wants to increase them.  Consider this.
Mitt Romney wants to cut the top tax rate from the already low 33% to 28%.  The only effect this will have is to increase our deficit even more and make the rich even richer. He wants to cut the Corporate Tax rate from 28% to 25% and eliminate all taxes on foreign earnings that currently exist.   Neither of these proposals even take into account all of the tax loop holes that allow some corporations to pay zero taxes already and some individuals to pay income taxes as low as 12%. He wants to raise the eligibility for Medicare, forcing millions of aging Americans to pay for health insurance they already can’t afford, and raise the retirement beyond 65.   And he has yet to show us how all of this will benefit anyone except those like himself, corporations like Bain Capital, and the Donald Trumps of this nation.  Mitt Romney is absolutely a man of the people…people like him.
President Obama’s responsibility in all of this is simply to do everything in his power to dig us out of the hole that President Bush’s disastrous economic policies left for us.  But President Obama is not our king.  He does not have supreme rule over our land.  He cannot unilaterally make laws without the cooperation of a House and a Senate and a Supreme Court to make change happen in this country.  In some situations he can enact executive orders where he has the authority to do so.  But only so much progress, only so much change, only so much economic recovery can happen if you are constantly fighting a uphill battle of non-cooperation.  And even if the President did have the full support of congress in passing the bills that he put forth, it would still take much more than four years to recover from the mess that George Bush left us.  But I will tell you what the solution is not. It is not going back to the economic policies that got us in this mess in the first place, and it is most certainly not going beyond those disastrous policies to put us even further in a hole that as of today will take us many years far beyond this, the next, or even the next administration, before we see anything even resembling a full economic recovery.   And if we let a Mitt Romney, a man who has no ones interests at heart, except himself, other like him, and the corporations he answers to, we will all be left with nothing except a bunch overpriced bananas.



Sperm Are People Too!

By Brian Dann

SpermMany Christians and those on the right believe that life begins at conception.  I’m gonna say something that may get me in trouble and it may come back to bite me but oh well, here it goes.  I think they’re crazy! I think they have totally missed the boat here.  There is no way that life begins at conception, that is just utter ridiculousness, because the real truth is life begins much, much, much earlier than at conception. The truth is life begins at Spermatogenesis, or the creation of sperm.  Oh, I know what you are saying to yourself. That is just a bunch of stinkin’ thinkin’ Brian. Well Darnit! (oops! please forgive me for swearin’ like a Mormon who couldn’t baptize a dead Jew,) but this whole “when does life begin” debate really gets my panties in a holster!   Have you ever seen sperm up close?  Seriously, they are so darn cute with their oversized heads and their long wriggily tails! They're like tiny little half people! Couldn't you just eat them up?!  But I wouldn’t because that would be wrong, and not for the reasons that you are thinking you sick little puppy. But because of what I said earlier. Life begins at spermatogenesis.  Basically any waste of sperm should be considered murder.  That would mean that any type of sexual act that doesn’t have the possibility of resulting in conception would be considered a crime.  That would include, anal sex, oral sex, sex with a condom, sex with any form of birth control, sex with a women who knowingly cannot conceive, homosexual sex, and of course masturbation, or as I like to call it, Sperma-genocide or the mass murder of millions of potential human lives.  But to take this one step further, I would be in favor of allowing men to masturbate only after they are forced to undergo an ultrasound to show them the inside of their scrotum as well as watch a video of sperm happily swimming around like little children in a pool.  I would also have them meet with an adoption counselor who could inform them of the many places sperm can be donated for storage and eventual adoption to a loving couple. Then I would have them participate in counseling to discuss their decision to masturbate, and finally wait 3 days before they can actually perform the masturbation.  Sounds crazy?  Sounds like harassment and intimidation to try to get men not to masturbate?  Well here are just some of the actual laws that currently exist or have been proposed to harass and intimidate women into not getting an abortion or in some cases even make if illegal.
In South Dakota women must attend a lecture at a “pregnancy crisis” center which are actually anti-choice, anti-contraception facilities and must wait a first ever 72 hours before being allowed to have an abortion.
Arizona passed a law that imposes criminal penalties on doctors who perform abortions with the knowledge that the race or sex of the fetus is a factor in the decision to abort.
In Ohio there is a bill that would outlaw any abortion after a detectable heartbeat can be found which is normally around six weeks.
A Texas bill would require doctors to provide women with a sonogram of the fetus and to hear the heartbeat before performing an abortion.  Women would be allowed to close their eyes and cover their ears.  Victims of rape or incest would not be exempt.
In Kansas and Idaho there are proposals to ban abortions after 20 weeks on the claim that this is when a fetus can first experience pain, even though the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that there is no evidence of this.  The Kansas bill will also require doctors to tell women that abortions increase their risk of breast cancer, “a controversial theory that the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute and gynecological groups in the United States and the United Kingdom have said is incorrect,” according to an article in the Huffington Post.
Virginia just passed a bill that requires internal ultrasounds before performing abortions, or basically forcing a women to be penetrated without her consent, thereby raping her,  in order to show women what they are about to abort.
A bill in Georgia would force a woman to carry a fetus past 20 weeks even if it is dead, regardless of the health of the women or any other fetus that may be alive in the womb as well.
Now I don’t want to point fingers here or make this strictly a political issue but it is kind of too late for that since all of these laws or bills have been a result of Republican law makers putting their own religious values before the rights and health of women in this county.  They don’t care if woman dies because a dead fetus is in her body, or if a girl is pregnant because she was raped by her father.  And to use tactics of intimidation to guilt women into not going through with an abortion is frankly despicable.  Republican law makers have shown time and time again that the health rights of women in this country simply do not matter to them as much as their religious beliefs do.  This has been shown in everything from the Religious Republican Tea Party war on contraception, to their attempts to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act or what they refer to as ObamaCare, a term that I could not be happier with.  Any time they want to use the words Obama and Care together is just fine by me.
If Republican law makers had their way in this country, abortions, including those from rape or incest would be illegal, women would pay more for health insurance then men simply because women use doctors more often than men do.  Women’s preventive health screenings, including mammograms, and cervical cancer screening, would no longer be free.  Provisions in ObamaCare for mothers who are breast feeding, including break time to pump or breast feed as well as a clean place to do so other than a bathroom would be eliminated.  Birth control pills would not be covered by insurance companies, even though women use birth control for many things other than birth control, including regulating cycles, controlling ovarian cysts, even eliminating allergic reactions to progesterone.  It has been proven time and time again that it is less expensive for insurance companies to provide women with birth control pills then it is to pay for everything from delivery, to the ongoing cost of unwanted pregnancies,  to treatments for cancer, and so on. The insurance companies have no problem with free contraception for women, it’s the Republican religious law makers who do, and most of them are men.
But where does Mitt Romeny and Paul Ryan stand on womens health issues?  Well Mitt Romeny has been very clear on where he stands.  He has pledged to roll back ObamaCare and take away all of the benefits that this legislation provides women.  He has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood even though the majority of their services have nothing to do with abortions and it is currently illegal for Planned Parenthood to take federal money for abortions.  And on the question of free contraception, he said, if you want free stuff, “vote for the other guy.”  I plan to.  As far as Paul Ryans’s views go, Mr. Ryan co-sponcered the Protect Life Act in 2011 which would allow hospitals to refuse to provide referrals for abortion if the facility does not provide abortion services, effectvly allowing a women who requires an abortion to save her life to die on the floor.  I am normally pretty tolerant of other people’s views, but letting a women die becuse your religious convictions trumps saving a womens life is basically bat-shit crazy!
Lastly let’s put this all into some perspective.  Many Republican law makers in states including Florida, Virginia, Arizona, South Dakota and Texas, put so much time and effort into pushing through legislations to harass and intimidate both women who want or need an abortion, sometimes for health reasons, and doctors who perform these services, and who have joined with religious leaders to restrict the rights of women to have basic health services such as screenings and contraception provided to them free of charge, are the same Republican law makers who refuse to put any restrictions on the sale of hand guns to any person regardless of their mental capacity or criminal record.  They will let any individual, no questions asked walk onto a gun show and with no background check of any kind, walk out with as many lethal weapons as they can carry, weapons that have been leaked to terrorist attacks, Mexican drug cartels, gang activity, and even school shootings.  Apparently to them, killing people before they are born is a no no, but after they are born is just fine.   Women in this country deserve better then to be given less consideration then an insane criminal at a no-questions-asked gun show.  If it were men facing these health issues, there would be no issues. No one is asking men to pay a co-pay on a prostate exam or forcing them to watch a prostate being removed. 
To declare that life begins with spermatogenesis, as I did earlier, may seem a bit over the top but the Wilmington Delaware City Council doesn’t think so. They recently passed a resolution by a vote of 8 to 4 that states, “Each 'egg person' and each 'sperm person' should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor and be protected against abuse, neglect or abandonment by the parent or guardian…laws should be enacted by all legislative bodies in the United States to promote equal representation, and should potentially include laws in defense of 'personhood,' forbidding every man from destroying his semen.”  You see, be careful what you ask for. Apparently sperm are people too.



I Am White.

By Brian Dann


I am white.  Honestly, I don’t really think about it much, being white that is.  Being white really has not been much of a problem for me in my life, in America.  No one has ever looked at me with suspicion because I’m white, or pulled me over in a wealthy neighborhood because I’m white, or denied me a place to live, because I’m white.  I’ve never lost a job interview, because I’m white, or been asked why so many of us white guys are standing around together, because we’re white. No one has ever crossed the street to walk on the other side when they see me coming, because I’m white, or refused to serve me, because I’m white.  And no one has ever wondered why I am walking around their neighborhood, a neighborhood where my father also lives, pursuing me even though the police said not too, while calling me a racial slur, and shot me in the head, killing me…and then claim self defense because they think a box of Skittles and an Ice tea are dangerous weapons…because I’m white.  Honestly, that just doesn’t happen to us white guys, and I’ve come to learn that there’s a name for that, White Privilege.  Now I didn’t make this up, it really exists, and if you’re not white, you’re thinking to yourself, no joke it exists, because if you are black in this country, what happened to Trayvon Martin, is the fear of every black mother and father in this country, that their son or daughter, or even themselves, will be harassed, discriminated against or even killed, because of no other reason than they are black. If Trayvon was white, this would not have happened.    

Personally I never heard of White Privilege until the tragedy of Trayvon Martin.  I knew that as a white person in America there were obviously some situations in life that I did not have to deal with, some ways in which society reacted towards me that was different then how they may react towards a black person, but I lived my life never giving it much thought as probably most white people do.   I never heard it defined before with the term White Privilege.  But before I even heard what the actual definition of what White Privilege was, I knew instantly that the phrase fit, it just made sense.  As a liberal, progressive white person, I sometimes like to think that things have gotten so much better in this country.  I like to think that because I don’t tend to make color an issue in my own life, because I prefer my kids to be in a school that is more culturally diverse, because I teach my kids to treat all people equally regardless of any differences, because I just don’t encounter the type of prejudice that many black people encounter on a daily basis, and I don’t usually give it much though as to why, I’ve come to falsely believe, as many have, that things have changed.  And while we have come a long way in the way of civil rights in this country, the tragedy of Trayvon Martin is a stark reminder that serious, unjust discrimination still exists in this county.  And the fact that I don’t encounter these daily acts of prejudice, and I don’t have ongoing fears of being harassed, beat up, or even killed because of the color of my skin means that by default, I have White Privilege, whether I like it or not.  And while some may think that having Privilege is something good, in this case it means that we have very far to go in this country before the dream of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be fully realized.  

Now let there be no misunderstanding.  I have been discriminated against in my life.  I am Jewish.  I have experienced blatant outright ugly discrimination against me for no other reason than I am Jewish.  I experienced kids who teased and beat me up on the playground while they called me Jew boy.  I had a co-worker make blatant, anti Jewish remarks that were so offensive the non Jews in the office complained.  He was fired. But the difference is that while some people may be able to look at me and think because of some facial features, I may be Jewish, it’s not as evident as the color of a black person’s skin.  I have never been pulled over in Highland Park, Illinois because I looked Jewish, but a co-worker of mine was pulled over in Highland Park, Illinois because he was black.  I have White Privilege, because of no fault of my own. When I enter a store, no one is going to wonder if I might steal something.  I can be assured that I will be treated well at almost any restaurant I go to, and if I travel to certain parts of the south, unless they find out I’m Jewish, and last time I checked I was not wearing a gold Jewish star anywhere on my clothing, no one will harass me. I have White Privilege, but unlike most privilege, this is not something to be proud of.  What it means is that our country, because of decades of legalized slavery, because of decades of legalized segregation in both the north and south, because of civil rights legislations that while they were an enormous sign of progress and long over due when they were past, they have also made us complacent.  The laws were passed to de-institutionalize discrimination in this country, but many of the attitudes have remained, and because it is now easy to point at the law and say “well it’s now illegal”, we have stopped putting forth the effort to change what was at the core of the prejudice in the first place, the fear, the ignorance and the misunderstanding.   

I recently asked my friends on Facebook what they believe White Privilege to be.  I was hoping to get responses mostly from the black people I am friends with simply because I wanted their perspective that as a white man I could never have.  One wonderful woman, Shawn, who I met on my trip to Australia in December 2010, said “I believe it to be an overall conclusion that you are…trust worthy, right, better, more beautiful, deserve more respect, and not held to the same standards as non whites.”  She then went on to say, “And with that said, I think it’s all crap.  I don’t believe that anyone is better than me.  I am simply amazing. Believe that.”  I do believe that.  I believe that Shawn is simply amazing as are all of us.  I believe that the color of our skin should never give us privilege over someone else. I believe that a country where a man can shoot a seventeen year old boy in the head because of the color of his skin, who is carrying nothing but an Ice tea and a bag of Skittles, and not get arrested, and hide behind a ridiculous law that let him claim self defense, and have the police dismiss the entire situation, says more about the failure of our society as a whole, then it does about this one individual man who killed out of hate and ignorance. I believe that we have much more work to do then just bringing this one man to justice and having him pay for his crime. I believe we must use this crime as a call to action to reform attitudes in this country so that Trayvon Martin’s life has meaning and so that his parents who were so proud of their son can continue to be proud of him.  As our President said "I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this, I think about my own kids…If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.”Trayvon does look like our President, and just think how much it must have meant to Trayvon to see someone who looks like him become president.  That is not something this President could ever say about me.  I am white.






Komen For The Christian Right...Is Just Wrong

By Brian Dann


Breast Cancer.  Those two words scare the hell out of anybody. Let’s try something.  If you ever had breast cancer, raise your hand.  I know I can’t see you, but just indulge me. Thanks.  If your spouse ever had breast cancer, raise your hand.  If a parent of yours ever had breast cancer, raise your hand.  If a sibling of yours ever had breast cancer raise your hand.  If any relative of yours ever had breast cancer, raise your hand. If a friend of yours ever had breast cancer, raise your hand.  If anyone you know has ever had breast cancer, raise your hand.  If any anyone you know has ever had a breast biopsy, a mammogram, felt a lump, raise your hand.  If you are a woman, raise your hand.  If you are a man, because men can get breast cancer too, raise your hand.  By now your hand should be raised.  Now imagine being a person who has no job, no money, no health insurance… and a lump in your breast.  Without insurance, you have no access to a mammogram, no money to pay for a biopsy, and your only choice is to hope that lump is nothing and will just go away.  That is a situation that no person should ever have to be forced into and for millions of women across this county they have not had to make this choice because Planned Parenthood has been there for them.  One of the vitally important services that Planned Parenthood offers, along with their partners, at no cost to the patient, is free screenings for breast cancer, including free biopsies for those who otherwise could not afford this life saving procedure.  In the publication, “Close To The Heart” available on line from Planned Parenthood, they share stories from women who were helped because of the services they provide.   One woman, Abigail wrote,
“In January of 2010 I found a lump in my left breast, hard, mobile, about the size of a small grape…The total cost for the ultrasound and needle biopsy which had to be done through an outside health institution would have been over $7000.  I was nearly penniless, without insurance and terrified… (Planned Parenthood) connected me with the resources I needed to pay for needed medical services through Susan Komen…Luckily, I know today that it was benign…Without Planned Parenthood, I would still be walking around years later unsure of what was going on inside my body and the immediate future of my health.”
It was the Susan G. Komen foundation that provided the funds to let this woman know that her lump was benign, the Susan G. Komen foundation that has become synonymies in this country with fighting Breast Cancer, The Susan G Komen foundation that so many people have committed themselves to through their annual walks for cancer, and so many companies have partnered with to raise funds to fight this deadly disease,  and now it’s the Susan G. Komen foundation that has cut off all funding for these life saving procedures from Planned Parenthood.  Yes you heard me right.  The Susan G. Komen foundation will no longer pay to help thousands of woman obtain life savings procedures through Planned Parenthood.
But isn’t fighting cancer what the Susan G. Komen foundation is all about?  How could they possibly be cutting funding for something that is at the heart of what they are all about?  Well maybe it’s because it’s not what they are all about.  Just take a look at this Re-Tweet that Komen Vice President, Karen Handel posted on Twitter soon after the news of this defunding went public:
“Just like a pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river.”
Now let’s be clear here, this is not something that Karen Handel said, this is something that someone else said, that she agreed with so she re-tweeted it on her own Twitter page.  Yes, the vice President of Komen agreed with this.  This statement is so wrong on so many levels it is almost mind boggling!  Let’s first follow the logic of this statement.  Susan G. Komen decides after years of partnerships with Planned Parenthood, to discontinue the funding of breast cancer related activities, and Planned Parenthood is wrong for addressing the public outrage that has ensued due to this decision by Komen.  Next, the funding that Komen provided did not go to any activities related to abortions at Planned Parenthood but in many cases went straight from Komen to the women being treated.  Third, the gross generalization that a “Pro-Abortion group” has a predisposition to throwing political bombs is just purely offensive by its nature.  I guess it wasn’t a political bomb when on January 11th, 50 innocent children, 4 and 5 years old, were sent into the offices of Ohio senators by an anti-abortions group , unannounced, holding teddy bears that played 18 week fetal heart sounds, asking them to pass a bill that would outlaw all abortions that occur after the fetal heart sound can be detected.  Many of the senators said that the kids looked scared, nervous and were clearly reading from a script.  Then there is the overall unbelievable insensitivity of the overall statement, considering the strong feelings that surround the entire issue of breast cancer and the thousands of women who have been effected by this terrible disease, to reduce the collective outrage at this move by Komen, to a bunch of cry baby abortionists, shows what kind of people the leaders of the Susan G. Komen foundation truly are.  “Cry me a freaking river?”… Seriously!? 
I’m not looking to get into a political debate here on whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal or who should or should not fund organizations like Planned Parenthood because that is not what this is all about.  What this is all about is The Susan G. Komen foundation coming clean.  This is about the Susan G. Komen foundation being honest with all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this organization and taking ownership of the real motivation behind this insensitive and offensive decision. It is not because they now have new policies as to who they give money to.  It is not because they have decided it is wrong to give money to any organization that is under federal investigation.  It is not these things because it just so happens that the only organization that Komen partnered with that was under federal investigation, conveniently, is Planned Parenthood.  Keep in mind that there is never a time that Planned Parenthood isn’t under Federal investigation because there is always some Republican trying to stop all funding to Planned Parenthood.
The truth is Karen Handel is a former candidate for Governor of Georgia who ran on a platform that was aggressively anti-abortion.  According to the Huffington Post, she “was endorsed by Sarah Palin because of her opposition to reproductive choice. Handel wrote in her campaign blog that she "do[es] not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."
"During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a 'Healthy Babies Initiative,'" Handel wrote. "Since grants like these are from the state I'll eliminate them as your next Governor." She also wrote that she opposes stem cell research and supports crisis pregnancy centers, which are unregulated, Christian-run operations whose main mission is to convince pregnant women not to have abortions.”
Handal was hired by Komen in 2010.  In addition various Christian groups that had been donating to the Koman foundation discontinued to when they discovered that Komen was partnered with Planned Parenthood to help women in need of services related to Breast Cancer.
Komen can go on record as much as they want, claiming that this was simply a policy decision that will affect any company under federal investigation by the government, but it still remains that Planned Parenthood is the only company that happens to fit that profile.  The day I will believe that this is about nothing except enforcing a new policy is the day I will believe that Fox “News” is fair and balanced.
The bottom line is that an organization that has been a champion for fighting Breast Cancer for millions of women, that has tackled this disease like no other organization ever has, without ever politicizing this disease, has turned around and done just that and in turn has not only let down the thousands of women who they could have directly helped through their partnership with Planned Parenthood, but has let down all of the men and women, and the not-for-profit organizations and corporations that have partnered with them.  They have turned a cause, that started so pure from the pain of a women who lost a sister and vowed to do whatever she could to help other women fight this terrible disease, into just another casualty of the religious right, and their obsession to put religion before the needs and free will of people they claim to be advocates for.
Thankfully this is not one of those issues where there is nothing you can do.  First there are many other organizations that raise money to fight cancer that you can give your money to, BreastCancer.org, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, just to name two.  Second you can send a message to the Susan G. Komen foundation that this action is not ok by refusing to buy products that have partnered with the Susan G. Komen foundation in order to pressure those companies to tell Komen to reverse their decision. Third you can donate directly to Planned Parenthood and bypass Komen altogether.  And lastly, you can stand with Planned Parenthood by adding your name to the list of thousands who also have raised their hands. Susan G. Komen has the right to make whatever decisions they want to, but so do we.  Hopefully one day no one will ever have a reason to raise their hand.
To Stand With Planned Parenthood Click Here

Read "Close To The Heart" from Planned Parenthood


UPDATE: 12:30pm 02/03/2012   The Susan G. Komen Foundation reversed its decesion to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood. For the full story Click Here


Mitt, Newt, a Lamp Post...or Colbert, Hmmmm?

By Brian Dann


It was the fall of 1993. I was sitting in the audience in the upper tier of the historic Second City main stage theater, waiting my turn to go up on stage with four other hopefuls and audition to be one of the cast members of this historic institution. I had dreams of following in the footsteps of such great actors like John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, and Gilda Radner.  Between The Players Workshop, the Second City Training Center, and the ImprovOlympic, I had put in my dues in Chicago learning the art of improvisation.  This was going to be my final and third attempt to become one of the few to be asked to be a part of this great legacy of comedic actors.  But the best improv education I had received was not from a training class, was not from performing onstage with others, but was from sitting in the audience at the Second City, night after night, watching some of the best actors I had ever seen perform their craft.  That was the real education.  That is where I learned how to do it, how it’s not about trying to be funny, and how improv can be as easy as listening and reacting just like you would in life.  Little did I know at the time how famous two of those actors on that stage would become.  Both of them were named Steve.  One was Steven Carell, easily one of the funniest people I had ever seen on the Second City stage.  He could make you laugh so hard you would be crying, and then he would turn around and give a moving performance worthy of an Oscar.  The other Steven was sitting right next to me in the audience, in the upper tier of the historic Second City main stage theater, as I waited my turn to go up on stage for my final audition.  Although he was probably the smartest improviser I had ever seen in my life, no one could have predicted the level of success he would obtain as the host of The Colbert Report.  Watching Stephen Colbert do improvisation was like watching Fred Astaire dance. So knowing that I was about to go on that stage that I had watched him perform on night after night, I took that moment to get whatever words of wisdom I could from him to give me that added boost of confidence to go out there and make them want to hire me.  I introduced myself to Stephen, told him I admired his work, and then asked him what advice he could give me before I went up there.  All he said to me was, “Just be yourself.” Then off I went.
Looking back on that day I think to myself the complete irony of that advice Stephen Colbert gave me because today he makes a living being anything but himself. His television persona as the overly pompous, self righteous, ultra right wing conservative, political pundit is as far from whom Stephen Colbert really is.  His Stephen Colbert character has been crafted so perfectly that at times some real ultra-right wing conservatives simply don’t get the joke.  This cannot be more evident than in what a recent poll by the firm Public Policy Polling showed.  Colbert, who is not even running for president, is not on the ballot in South Carolina, and is not even really a Republican, beat John Huntsman by one point. According to the poll Colbert would receive 5% of the vote and Huntsman 4%. Reportedly, after hearing the results of this poll John Huntsman was overheard uttering the Mormon expletive “DAG NAB IT!”  Is there really anywhere to go with your campaign after you are beat in the polls by someone who is not even running? A fake republican, who is NOT running for president, and is NOT on the ballot, is beating someone who is!  Seriously!?  Can we just forget all this election crap and just declare Obama the winner already.  Even if Romney becomes the candidate, there are republicans out there who are so against voting for him that they would rather give the nomination to a television comedian who is not even a republican, let alone running, than to Mitt Romney!  Of course Mr. Colbert has taken this ridiculous set of circumstances and fully capitalized upon it by launching a mock exploratory committee to consider a mock run for the presidency, and has transferred his very legitimate Super PAC to the control of Jon Stewart so he could legally explore a run for office and at the same time expose the loop holes and inherent fraud in the Super PAC system.  He has even gone so far as to rename his Super Pac, oops I mean Stewarts Super Pac, the “The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC”.   But seriously, what does this really say about the current state of affairs of the Republican Party, about their leadership, and about the voters?
Let’s start with the voters.  The clear message that this sends is that there is no one running on the republican ticket that anyone really and truly wants as their candidate. Santorum is to way too religious right wing, Paul wants to end paper money, he wants to remove all foreign aid, and is basically wackadoodle, Newt wants children to work as Janitors, and his name is Newt, (really, president Newt?) and Romney basically has nothing going for him except that he’s not Obama, and looks like a Hollywood TV version of what a president should look like  It’s like if you were a fan of rap music, and you won free tickets to any rap concert coming to town over the next two months but the only rap artists you could choose from were Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Ice Tea, or Al Gore doing his tribute to NWA, and you choose Stephen Colbert… rapping!  Voters cannot even bring themselves to get excited about the candidate they do vote for.  Overwhelmingly the best reason that voters can give for supporting Romney is that he’s not Obama.  So basically they would vote for a lamp post before they would vote for Obama in November.  The truth about Romeny is that he has the personality of a lamp post, and this has actually worked to his advantage.  He is like the contestant on Survivor who says nothing, stays in the background the entire time, let’s all the other contestants bury themselves, and then comes out on top because he never said anything stupid enough to get anyone to hate him enough to get thrown off the island.  Besides only paying %15 in taxes (not exactly one of the 99%, is he?) destroying numerous companies and ruining thousands of people’s lives through his business dealings, he has led a relatively boring, clean scandal free life. So then why is it that 5% of this poll went to Stephen Colbert?  Out of the entire Republican party why isn’t anyone running of any substance, of any power, or at least of any popularity?  I will tell you why, because no one wants to loose, because any republican who would actually be a candidate that the voters could actually get excited about would rather wait to run against Joe Biden, then Barack Obama, and because currently, in the positions they are in, they have more power to derail everything the president is trying to do and push through their own agenda then if they had to actually be in the president’s position and convince the congress to follow their program. If any Republican of any substance were to actually run for president, who doesn’t come off as either a extreme right ultra-religious wacko, a libertarian in republican clothing, or an imbecile incapable or remembering a list longer then two items, Mitt Romney would be in the same position he was in four years ago, nowhere.
For Barack Obama, this election is his to lose.  It doesn’t matter who the candidate is because all the republican talking points are the same regardless of the candidate and once you apply logic and truth to them, they fall apart.  If the President can do that, and constantly expose Mitt Romney (assuming he is the candidate) as nothing but one of the 1% who will do nothing for the middle class, this will be his election.  The truth is the republicans blew it.  There was only one candidate in the whole pack that could have been a real threat to President Obama, but Stephen Colbert beat him in the polls. Mr. 4%, John Huntsman was the only candidate capable of beating the President.  Why?  Voters are divided up in to four groups, those who will vote for literally any one besides Obama, voters who will only vote for Obama, the undecided, and those who will vote for Obama but will switch at the drop of a hat if they are given a credible alternative.  John Huntsman was their credible alternative.  He’s smart, well spoken, respectful to both parties, served under Obama as Ambassador to China, has domestic and foreign policy experience, is moderate enough for those who want to switch but would never vote for a far right ultra conservative like Rick Santorum, and is extremely likeable.  Huntsman was their ace in the hole, their trump card, their best chance, but more of South Carolina voters wanted a comedian, who’s not on the ballot, and is not even a republican, then John Hunstman.  John Huntsman didn’t flip flop, he didn’t cater to latest poll numbers.  John Hunstman was a candidate with substance who could have actually beat President Obama. But Republicans, from the upper leadership, to the corporate donors, to the average voters could not see their golden ticket staring them right in the face and that is because John Hunstman, unlike many politicians, followed the advice that Stephen Colbert gave me while I was sitting in the audience in the upper tier of the historic Second City main stage theater, waiting my turn to go up on stage for my final audition, “Just be yourself.”  And like Huntsman, I took that advice. The next thing I knew I was on stage, with four other nervous improvisers, trying to prove I was the one worthy of a place in the Second City cast.  I tried my best to follow the words of Mr. Colbert.  I have no idea what I said, or what I did.  It all went by so fast that I can’t even remember leaving.  But all I know is this.  I had about the same success with my audition that John Huntsman had running for President.  Thanks for nothing Colbert.


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What I Have Learned From Kim Kardashian

By Brian Dann


Yesterday morning on the way to work I was listening to the left wing liberal progressive radio talk show host Bill Press, as I tend to do most mornings on the way to work, and he asked the question, jokingly, “what do you think Kim Kardashian thinks about politics?”  My first thought was I wanted to call in and say, I don’t think Kim Kardashian can spell politics. I do have to admit though, I have actually watched the voyeuristic candy shop known as “Keeping Up With The Kardhasians” and “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” but I have sadly missed “Khloe and Lamar”.  Hopefully they will release a collector’s box set soon that I can place under my rear tire and run over.  Now just so that I can get my Man Card back (which I somehow misplaced when I scored that trip down under with Oprah, yes it was me who wrote in, not my wife), I do have to say that I have never actually turned on a Kardashian show but instead have been maniacally sucked in to watching them when my wife has made the unfortunate choice to “Keep Up.”   There is definitely a higher power at work here when it comes to the Kardashian franchise, a higher power that causes you to stop whatever it is you are doing and forces you to “Keep Up” as well, no matter how much you resist.  After about two minutes of hearing Kim whine to Kris Humphries about why she doesn’t want to be a soccer mom living in Minnesota, and Kris telling Kim that she does nothing and in a few years no one will remember here anyway … and what was with Scott watching porn on his laptop and wanting Kourtney to get it on with another girl, and why don’t they just get married already, really, they have a son, I mean I can’t believe that Khloe is always so mean to Kim, OMG! (SCREEEEEEEEEECH!)  SEE WHAT I MEAN!  It’s like you have to watch!  We’re talking video heroin here. But before I go on I just have to say one more thing.  Why the hell is Bruce Jenner mixed up in all this mishegoss (that’s Yiddish for insane rich people who get paid to publicly display their crazy senseless lives on national television)!? He is like the square peg in a round Louis Vuitton hole.  If it wasn’t for some incredibly bad plastic surgery that has made his face look so tight you could bounce an Olympian off of it, I’d blame his involvement on bad casting, except for the fact that this is reality.  You would think that legendary Olympian Bruce Jenner would be doing something great with his life, working with underprivileged athletes who have aspirations to follow in his footsteps, maybe running a youth sports facility training the decathletes of tomorrow, or giving lectures to inspire people to achieve the greatness that he achieved so early in his life.  But no, he is a reality TV star with a bad facelift.   And maybe that is what the problem is here. Maybe that is what there is to learn.  Maybe we are all “Keeping Up” with the wrong things.    

I get the obsession with the whole Kardashian thing.  We enjoy watching the Rich and Famous, and even more, we enjoy watching the rich and famous crash and burn.   Kim’s fairytale wedding turning into a nightmare, Lindsey Lohan appearing in court again, and again, and again, Charlie Sheen “winning” when that was the furthest thing from the truth, it is all very entertaining, and as a form of escapism it has a place in our society, but so should paying attention to real issues that can change our lives for the better, and it seems that unless politics starts to approach the circus level that the Kardashians reach on a daily basis, no one pays any attention.  Herman Cain, and his countless sexual affairs, Donald Trump, well, being Donald Trump, this is what gets our attention.  This is what the press pays attention to.  We spend more time reading about Kim and Kris’s ridiculous wedding, but spend hardly any time finding out why it is so important that the tax cuts to the middle class don’t expire, and calling our congressmen and women to voice our support.  We spend more time debating whether the wedding was staged or real, and no time reading about where Ron Paul or Mitt Romney stand on Iraq, or gay rights, or any other issues that are important to us.  And I am certain that more people can tell you who Herman Cain had an “alleged” affair with then what his stance was on gun control.  We are living in a country that is being destroyed by greed, we have become content with resigning ourselves to the notion that nothing will ever change, that the middle class will never get their fair share, that politicians are all crooks and the American dream is a dream that only a few will ever see.  So to escape what we have excepted as a reality, that we are convinced we cannot change, we “Keep Up with the Kardashians” and we live for the moments when their lives fall apart because it shows us that rich people are often as messed up as the rest of us. We forget about the fact that “Keeping Up” with things that can actually make a difference in this world will actually make a difference.  We forget about the changes that happened in the Middle East because people refused to accept the status quo.  We forget about the Occupy movement that has swept the United States, Canada, and countries in Europe, and that politicians are taking notice, we forget all the change that has happened in this country because people “Kept Up” with our leaders, with issues that mattered to them,  and made their voices heard.   And sure the Occupy movement is still going strong, but it never received nearly as much press coverage as the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, which by most accounts was fabricated to get ratings for the E! Channel.   

The true reality that we need to “Keep Up” with, is that the richest people in this country pay less in taxes than they ever have, and that we had to watch our President practically beg congress to give a tax break to the middle class.  The true reality is that even with the Presidents Health Insurance reforms we still will have millions of people with no health insurance or insufficient insurance, and unless we can provide single payer insurance to all Americans we will continue to have millions uninsured, millions going bankrupt, millions who cannot start small businesses because they can only qualify for health coverage if they receive insurance through an employee group plan.  The true reality is that half of all Americans will live at the poverty level at sometime in their lives.  The true reality is that corporations are not people and until the courts change this, corporations will have far too much influence on the outcome of our elections.  The true reality is that we need to bring manufacturing back to this country if we want to see jobs come back.  The true reality is that two wars, which we did not pay for, have economically drained our nation.  The true reality is that we actually can make a difference if we just “Keep Up” with the world and events going on around us and “Speak Up” about them instead of just accepting the status quo.  This is exactly why the middle class tax cut was passed, because people spoke up and put pressure on the congress to do the right thing.  We need to remember that our elected officials work for us, not for the banks, or the corporations, and we can take them out just as easily as we put them in there.   

Hey, there is nothing wrong with living vicariously through Kim Kardashian and her equally shallow and annoying sisters as long as this is not all we “Keep Up” with.  We have the power to make real change in this country.  We do not have to accept things the way they are.  Revolutions often start off quiet, and one voice can make a difference.  Don’t accept the sound bites we hear on the news and in commercials but instead research the claims that are made before accepting them as reality.   Call your congress members and tell them your opinions, sign petitions.  “Keeping Up” with the truth behind what you hear is the last thing our politicians want us to do because then we control the information and not them. Information is power and power can influence change.  Recently I actually had the opportunity to ask Kim Kardashian what she thinks about politics.  I actually have no idea what her answer was because I was too busy staring at her ass!  (YESSSSSSSSS!...I got my Man Card back!)  




The Great Republican Lie To The 100%

By Brian Dann


The most effective way to seize power and ruin other people’s lives, is to convince the people whose lives you are going to ruin, that your enemy is also theirs, that their downfall is the fault of others, and that their passion comes from within and not the rhetoric that you feed them, systematically, on a daily basis. Then they will hand you the power, with no fight, and defend your right to have it before they ever realize the mistake they have made. In 1932 Adolf Hitler’s Socialist party took power in Germany. But it wasn’t until 1939, seven years later, that the Nazi’s invaded Poland.  It was during those seven years that Hitler, slowly and systematically, put in place his “Final Solution” and convinced that German people that all the social and economic ills of their time, that were a part of everyday German life at that point, were the fault of the Jews, with the help of the blacks, the gays, and the Gypsies.  And even though all of this was categorically false and the real truth was that Germany was a country that had never recovered from the economic, and structural ravages of World War 1, the people of Germany trusted in Hitler’s rhetoric and through constant false and misleading rhetoric over seven years came to believe that the solution to Germany’s problems was Hitler’s Final Solution which he drafted while in prison long before he ever came into power.  Hitler convinced the German people to buy into his own selfish and sociopathic beliefs by convincing them that clearly insane policies would fix their country. Clearly they were wrong, but they listened to Hitler’s rhetoric, handed him the power, and defended his right to have it, before they ever realized the mistake they had made.  Sound familiar?  

Today we live in a country, a world, that is experiencing economic collapse, inequalities in income, and social injustices that we have not seen or experienced since the time of the great depression and pre-WW2 Germany. Our middle class is experiencing record foreclosures, millions of people can’t afford health insurance or can’t afford to pay for the out of pocket expenses not covered by their insurance, and regardless of the rhetoric, our Congress has not even began to take seriously the commitment to getting our middle and lower class Americans back to work.  According to the IWRP/Rockefeller survey, a year and a half after the Great Recession “ended” in 2009, the middle class in America is having trouble paying for things like:  

Food (26 million women and 15 million men)

Health Care (46 million women and 24 million men)

Rent or Mortgage (32 million women and 25 million men)

Transportation (37 million women and 28 million men)

Utility Bills (41 million women and 27 million men)

And saving for the future, which used to be a staple of American life can no longer be done by at least 56 million women and 45 million men.  

Middle class incomes are stagnant or dropping and the unemployed are unemployed for longer than ever, and are often forced to take deep cuts in pay in order to simply get a job which will provide them with health benefits that they could not otherwise afford on their own.  

We sacrifice programs that effect our children education, our ability to place police on our streets, to provide effective health care to those who can’t afford it.  We no longer pay a fair wage for a fair days work but instead ask our workers to take pay cuts, and reduced benefits.  Our government borrows to invest in wars overseas, rebuilding other countries, but we no longer invest in rebuilding our own country.  Then we give tax breaks to the people who don’t need them, and who can afford the most to pay them, then expect a middle class family who is facing foreclosure because of medical bills that they cannot afford, who barely make enough to put food on the table and are facing cutbacks in the workplace, to pay higher taxes then those who are wealthy enough to not even realize the money is gone.  

And why are we in this position?  Because slowly and systematically we believed the rhetoric.  Sound familiar? Because like the Nazis hammering home the false message over and over again that if they just got rid of the Jews, all their problems would be solved, the Republicans have been hammering  us with the false message that if we simply lower the taxes of the richest Americans in this nation to utterly ridiculous levels, if we give massive bailouts to the largest banks that helped put us in this mess in the first place, if we remove all the regulations on all of the corporations and let them do whatever the hell they please, somehow all this good will, all these tax saving to the rich and corporations, all this unregulated corporate wall street freedom, will “trickle down” to the most needy among us. We have been asked to believe that these wealthy Americans and corporations are not going to keep the money they save in taxes,  and are not going to use these billions in tax saving on things like multi-million dollar executive bonuses, company meetings in Aruba, private jet airplanes, and so on, but will instead use this money to invest in company infrastructure, open new plants, create new jobs, distribute the savings among the workers to increase their wages, lower the cost of the good and services they provide, contribute more to retirement accounts, and that the complete selflessness of these warm hearted companionate executives and corporations will  make our country a better place to live for everyone, and not just a better place for the executives and corporations.  But the reality is that over many years, starting in the Regan era and culminating with the irresponsible economic policies of George W Bush, we have been fed a multitude of lies designed only to benefit the wealthy and no one else.  Corporations are greedy, executives like to keep their money, and ultra wealthy people do not become ultra wealthy by being charitable to others. This is not opinion, this is not politics, this is plain simple common sense.  

The truth is this, and this is not a Democratic talking point, this is not propaganda or false rhetoric, this is not a liberal or progressive “point of view”, this is the truth, any institution, whether it is a private company, a not-for -profit, or our government, needs a source of cash flow coming in, in order to be able to provide goods or services.  If there is not cash flow coming in, we end up with record deficits, services that have to be cut, programs that have to be cut, and the only way for our government to obtain cash flow, and therefore be able to provide to us the so much needed programs and services that we require as a nation, is either to borrow trillions from other countries, putting us further in debt, or raise taxes. This is not rocket science, this is Economics 101.  In order to have money to spend, there must be a source of revenue. Yet for some reason, 238 of the 242 House Republicans, and 41 of the 47 Senate Republicans have signed a pledge, not to the American people, but to a lobbyist named Grover Norquist that promises they will never ever raise taxes or eliminate any tax deductions.  Only 3 Democrats from the House and Senate have signed this pledge. So that I cannot be accused of paraphrasing, here is the exact text of the pledge in its entirety:  

“ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”  

Basically, to put it in a nutshell, anyone who signs this pledge promises never to raise taxes under any circumstances, for any reason…ANY REASON!?  So I guess my question is, WHY?! How does this benefit anyone? Oh wait…it does.  It benefits really, really rich people, because they get to keep more of their money and get even richer.  It benefits corporations because they get to give huge bonuses, trips to Aruba, and contribute as much as they want to politicians who are going to keep their taxes low because they signed this ridiculous pledge.   And it benefits Republicans because they are given huge amounts of money for their re-election campaigns.  And the craziest thing about all of this is that slowly over time, the Republicans have led many of us to believe that this is somehow the best thing for our country.  They have led many of us to believe that eliminating billions of dollars in tax revenue, will somehow allow us to bring down our debt and create new jobs, that somehow we will become a more profitable nation with less revenue, and many of us, who are not the ultra wealthy, have become so brainwashed, slowly and systematically over time, that we have gone ahead and handed them the power, we have elected individuals to the House and Senate who support policies that will never benefit us in any way.  

Because of these economically disastrous policies, we now are facing trillions of dollars in spending cuts to essential programs because we simply do not have enough revenue coming in to pay for these essential programs.  According to the Washington Post, some of these cuts include: 

$942 Million from a fund that helps rehabilitate housing in low income neighborhoods.

$456 Million from the Public Housing Fund that authorities use to maintain and repair public housing.

$504 Million from the Women, Infants and Childrens Program that provides food and infant formula to low income families.

$870 Million from the Dept of Labor for job training and creation programs, community college curriculums for dislocated workers and a fund that prepares workers for new green jobs.

$183 Million from the Workforce Investment Program that uses federal money to create state and local services in literacy, vocational education and welfare-to-work strategies for adults, young people and laid off workers.

$0 from programs that affect those making over $1 Million per year.  

The wonderful thing is that finally people, Democrats and Republicans, are starting to realize that this is just wrong, that something needs to change.  The Occupy movement is much more than just a bunch of hippy young people camping out in parks and carrying signs.  It is average people, the middle class, those who can’t find work, those whose houses have been foreclosed on, those who have seen their pensions and 401k decimated, those who teach our kids, build our roads, and work in our factories.  The Occupy movement is all of us and it is even the ones who won’t realize they are part of it until they benefit from the change that will happen. And the Occupy movement, contrary to popular belief, is even more than the 99%, because it is also the 1%.  The 1% became the 1%, not because they are stupid, but because they are smart.  The 1% knows what it takes to be successful, they know what it takes to run a business, what it takes to make money, and they know that in order to recover from the hole that we are in, we need to raise taxes.  The 1% knows that the added revenue they would pay yearly in taxes would be such a small percentage of their yearly income, that they would not even miss it, and that the benefits that this country would gain from lowering our national debt, being able to keep essential social programs going, being able to put Americans back to work and give them the income to purchase the good and services that the 1% create for the other 99%, would benefit 100% of each and every person in the United States of America.  And if you don’t believe me, ask them.  

Many of these Millionaires and Billionaires who are part of the 1% have joined together to form PatroticMillionaires.com. On their web site, to Our President, to Harry Reid, and to John Boehner they have written:  

“We are writing to urge you to put our country ahead of politics. For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000.  

We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.  

Our country faces a choice – we can pay our debts and build for the future, or we can shirk our financial responsibilities and cripple our nation’s potential.  

Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have.  

Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.”  

The 1% is part of the 99%, and if I’m not mistaken, that makes 100%. They have written a nine page letter that was sent to every Republican in the House and Senate detailing the exact reasons why the current policies must be changed, why the Bush Tax cuts must not be renewed, and why they must pay more in taxes.  Read this letter.  It will open your eyes and make anyone who reads it understand how the lies that we have been told by the Republicans, slowly and systematically, have economically destroyed our country, while making the ultra rich, ultra richer .  

The truth is, if we simply forget about this ridiculous pledge, made to a lobbyist, if we simply do what other Republican Presidents such as Ronald Regan, and George Bush Sr. did many times during their presidency, if our elected officials simply would do what is best for this country and stop making their priority blocking every single thing that our President wants to accomplish so that they can win an election, if they would simply raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans who can most afford it, who contrary to their beliefs are alright with having their taxes raised, and start giving the breaks to those who those who need them, then slowly and systematically we will start to see some real economic change in this country.   Like many people in many countries recently, we are facing our own form of oppression from those who have the power.  But just like those other countries, the power eventually comes back to the people.  The Occupy movement is all of us, not the 99%, not the 1%, but the 100%. And while we all may not be able to leave our daily lives and Occupy a park, or a building, on November 6th 2012, all of us can Occupy a voting booth.


Read the Letter PatroiticMillionaires.org sent to Congress.



Steve Jobs - You May Say He's a Dreamer

By Brian Dann


I remember the day John Lennon died. December 8th 1980, I was watching Johnny Carson and in the middle of his monologue NBC news broke in with a special report. It was at a time when Lennon was experiencing a resurgence in his career. Double Fantasy was just about to be released literally the next day, and the music contained on that vinyl disk was some of the best he had ever produced. Double Fantasy became an instant classic and the sense of loss that the world felt collectively was palpable everywhere you looked.  The loss of a creative genius who had so much more to give to the world and the knowing that there was so much more we would never see or hear from this icon was almost impossible to believe.  We were grateful for what he had given us, for how he changed the face of music and the impact he had on our lives. And here we are again.
Like Lennon, the loss of Steve Jobs is almost impossible to comprehend. But unlike Lennon, the scale in which the creative mind of Steve Jobs has impacted all of our lives in so many different ways, is almost inconceivable. To imagine what the world would be like today without the creative genius of Jobs is to imagine a world in which you could not read this in the way that you are right now, a world in which music, like Lennon's Imagine, could not be listened to in the way that it is, a world in which computers are not personal, windows are only things we look through, and a phone is something that you only make phone calls on.  Jobs legacy was not the material things that he gave this world, it is the fact that not only could he imagine these things, but he could then inspire those around him to join in his vision, to care about the people that he was creating for, to show us that dreams can become reality, that one person can make a difference, that we all have the ability to change the world.  Jobs showed us that if you follow your heart, trust in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what Wall Street, investors, marketing analyst, or anyone else thinks, like a Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.
Steve Jobs was part of a club that only few belonged.  Jobs was to technology, what Gutenberg was to the printing press, what Einstein was to science, what Ford was to the manufacturing, what Bell was to communication, what the Wright Brothers were to aviation, what Disney was to animation. He had the vision of Edison, the creativity of Da Vinci, and the spirit of Lennon. He showed us all what it was like to imagine, he showed us that it’s easy if you try, and you may say he’s a dreamer, but he showed us that he’s not the only one. To steal a quote I saw on Nightline, “If heaven doesn’t exist, Steve Jobs will invent it.” We are grateful for what he has given us, for how he changed the face of the world, and the impact he had and will continue to have on our lives. 


Don't Imagine President Obama In His Underwear

By Brian Dann


I think most people get it.  I really do.  It comes down to this. Be nice to each other.  It’s that simple.  We all just need to be nicer to each other.  We can disagree.  We can be angry.  We can be passionate about this issue or that issue. We can be grateful as I am that President Obama is now our President, or we can even be disgusted by the thought for whatever reasons we have, whether it is the fact that he is a democrat and you are a republican, or even if it is because you are a racist and the President is black, but in the process, in our discourse, we can be respectful to each other, but what we can’t do is be so mean spirited that it fuels a culture of hate so venomous that it is both scary and appalling all at the same time.  But before I go on, I want to try something.  First, clear your head of any thoughts you may be having at this very moment, I’ll wait… Now that you have done that, I want you to think of President Barack Obama, bowling, wearing nothing but his under wear. Take a minute if you need to, to really picture that in your head. Get a really good image of President Obama bowling in his boxers or briefs, whatever you choose.  Good, now that you have that mental image floating around in your brain, forget it.  Erase it completely from your head. Do not think of President Obama, bowling, in his underwear.  You can’t do it, can you?  No matter how hard you try you are now imagining President Obama bowling, wearing nothing but his underwear.  It’s out there, I said it, and now you can’t forget it.  You see, the reason why you can’t get that image out of your head, even though I told you to erase it from your mind, is because, quite simply, words have consequences.  This consequence may be very small.  I used words and the consequence is an image you can’t get out of your head.  But words can also lead to consequences that aren’t small, that are big, very, very big.
Now don’t get me wrong here.  I am in no way insinuating that the hateful tone of our discourse or any individual’s rhetoric was in any way shape or form directly responsible for the shooting that happened in Arizona like some have tried to do.  In fact I will go so far as to say that I do not believe for a second that Jared Loughner, the gunman who shot Gabrielle Giffords, was influenced by anyone other than his own deranged mental illness, not even Sarah Palin as many have also attempted to link to this. Jared Loughner is a mad man who was determined that day to reek as much death and destruction as he could and only a miracle and maybe stricter gun control laws could have stopped him.  But regardless of Jared Loughner’s actions and the tragedy that occurred in Arizona the fact remains that since Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President, the tone of our discourse has been nothing short of appalling, disgraceful, disrespectful, hateful, and at times plain racist.  I knew that when Barack Obama became the Democratic Candidate that this would be a major test for our nation. It would be a test to show who we really are as people.  It would be a test to find out just how far we have come in this country or how far we have not.   It would be a test to show our true colors.  I fully expected we would see the ugly head of racism show itself in ways we expected and did not expect.  But for some reason I never thought the hateful rhetoric and racism would last for so long and at times be so blatant.  For some reason with this President, the critical rhetoric has much more venom, much more of a tone of deny and destroy everything that this President stands for, and do it at any cost. 
The truth is, this is not an article I wanted to write because I didn’t want to finger point and say that it is their fault.  I’m certain that there is hateful rhetoric coming from both sides, the problem is that I can only find evidence of this rhetoric from one side. Two separate incidences occurred that made ignoring this rhetoric impossible. The first was a statement this past Thursday by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum while being interviewed by the CNS News.  While speaking about President Obama’s stance on abortion, Santorum said,” is that human life a person under the constitution?... And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.”  Just in case you missed it, what exactly does Barack Obama, being a black man, have anything to do with his ability to form a stance on abortion or on any issue for that matter? Exactly what issues is a black man qualified to form an opinion on Mr. Santorum?  Oh, I don’t know maybe basketball, or the right water melon to eat, or maybe the best place to learn tap dancing.  Rick Santorum may have well said “you people.” This is a clearly racist remark, directed directly at our President, from a former U.S. Senator. And this is exactly the type of hateful rhetoric that we have been hearing from all over this country from both government officials and private citizens alike when speaking about our President. The truth is the dirty little secret about this country, that thousands of people will never admit to, is that thousands did not vote for Barack Obama for no other reason than he is a black man.  There are thousands who may have rationalized not voting for President Obama one way or another, and did not want to even admit it to themselves that the bottom line was they did not vote for our President because he is black, but deep down inside at the core of their reasoning, the reason was racism.  There is a reason why at tea party rallies, and even at mainstream republican rallies, the participants are always overwhelmingly Caucasian.  And it is at these rallies that we see the most hateful signs and t-shirts that I can ever remember at a political function short of a KKK rally. Signs depicting our president as Hitler, or the Joker, signs spewing lies about death panels, or messages that the President hates America, that he wants to turn us into a socialist nation, these are just a sample of what has to stop, if for no other reason than it is just not true, it is lies and it is tearing this country apart.  We all need to take a step back.  We need our leaders on both sides to send a clear message to their constituents that we need to be truthful about our discourse and respectful to each other.  The Republican have the house and they have an opportunity to now set the example, but instead the first thing they do is put thru a piece of legislation called the bill to repeal the “Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”.  My god, set the tone from the beginning.  This was wrong on at least two levels.  First there is no concrete evidence that the Health Care Reform act kills any jobs and to use such language in the name of the bill itself is simply petty and childish.  Be respectful and truthful.  Call it what it is, a bill to repeal the health care reform act, and nothing more. The second level is that coming from a group that spent the last two years complaining that the Democrats were not doing enough to create jobs and spent too much time reforming health care, why was anytime at all spent on a bill that had no hope of ever being signed into law, to repeal health care? What about jobs? What about getting down to business on something that was not a total waste a time, just to make a point.  This wasted time, money and showed a complete lack of respect to the political process.
Now I could go on and on about inappropriate statements from various legislators regarding taking up arms, taking them out, and I could write an entire book on Sarah Palin and her endless string of inappropriate comments, but quite honestly, she is too stupid to know right from wrong so what’s the point.  And let me say, that comment directed directly at Sarah Palin is neither hateful, nor inappropriate because it is true and accurate.  She had an opportunity to say to the world that even if she did not intend for those “surveyor marks” or “cross hairs” to us simple folk, to come across the way they did, she understands that in retrospect it offended many, may have been inappropriate, and may have sent the wrong message to the country.  But instead she presented herself as the victim and blamed the press, and the left.  Sure, Sarah Palin and all the others out there who said hateful things are not responsible for the shootings in Arizona, but never the less the negative tone, and the heights that it has reached has done nothing to calm those that need just one spark, one reason to do something crazy.  We need to stop the lies about the state of our healthcare system, the lies about Wall Street, and we need to face the realities that maybe there are actually radical changes that need to be made in this country, and that maybe we are not perfect and that while we consider ourselves to be the greatest nation on this earth, maybe we are not as great as we used to be.  We are no longer number one in education.  We are no longer number one economically. We are no longer number one in manufacturing and for a long time, the only thing that we have been number one in is waging war.  In that we are the best, and that is the one thing around the world that we are known for.  We need to become the nation we once were, the nation that invented things, that produced things, that truly was the greatest at everything we set our mind to, and until we can stop the climate of hate and division that this country has become accustomed to, we will never be that great superpower ever again.  We all want the same thing and the only way to get there is to do one thing, be nice to each other. It’s that simple. Get it?



Arizona, "What Is The Government Going To Do?"

(Update: Origionaly published after the Arizona shooting, the Colorado theater shooting makes this even more relevant)

From 1999 through 2007, in Great Britain, 473 individuals were killed by firearms. During that same time period in the United States, 106,125 individuals were killed by firearms.  What is the difference?  In 1997 it was made illegal for a civilian to own an assault weapon in Great Britain.  No one owns guns, except for firearms that fall into the category used for hunting, and so far the government has not taken over.  There has been no need for their citizens to rise up against a government trying to oppress them, and the argument that now only the criminals will be the ones with guns, simply has not come true. In 2008, gun related deaths in Britain dropped 18% to 42, from 51 the year before, and no, that’s not 42 per 100 people, or 42 per 100,000 people. That’s 42 people total! In 1997 Britain disarmed.  They disarmed because of a massacre that occurred in their country.  Their politicians took charge, passed legislation and did whatever had to be done to make sure that no one else would die because of a firearm.  Imagine that, they actually did something.  What a novel idea! People with guns, killed lots of people without guns, so to stop people getting killed by guns, they got rid of guns! That’s fucking genius! So I suppose that is what will happen here now.  Monday morning the House and the Senate will all get together, forget about their party lines, and with a collective outrage at the events that have unfolded in Arizona, will passing sweeping legislation that will make all assault weapons illegal for civilians to own, finally putting an end to the extraordinary bloodshed that we have witnessed at Columbine, Virginia Tech, in countless schools and workplaces across our country, from inner-city gang violence,  and most recently outside a supermarket in Arizona during a peaceful gathering of Senator Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents.  I’m certain that in the name of the victims that fell that day and the others that were wounded, including the death of a nine year old girl, our politicians will finally ignore the gun lobby and the NRA and pass the necessary laws that will ensure that violence of this magnitude will never happen again.  And then monkeys will fly out of my ass!  Seriously, because that is about as likely as our politicians doing something about this.
Just once I would like to see our politicians forget about getting re-elected, forget about the millions given to them by the gun lobby, and instead do whatever has to be done to save lives.  There is no reason for anyone in this country to own an assault weapon of any kind.  It’s pure and simple.  Make all guns illegal except for ones used for hunting, disarm all civilians, including the criminals and no one will need a gun to protect themselves because there will be no guns for a person to be protected from.  This is not rocket science people!  It is illegal for a civilian to own a grenade launcher.  I don’t need to own my own grenade launcher to protect myself from crazy people with grenade launchers. No one has grenade launchers so that threat does not exist.  The fact is gun control laws as they exist today do not work. The criteria required to declare a person insane is too strict. The fact that the laws are different from state to state make it that much easier for any person no matter what their background to obtain an assault weapon.  The fact that gun shows do not require a seller to perform any kind of background check, and any person, no matter their criminal record or how insane they may be, can walk into these gun shows and walk out with enough fire power to arm a small country, is simply beyond insanity.  The fact that you can buy bullets for these weapons at the same place you can get toys for your kids or your tires rotated is beyond my comprehension.  I have a hard time understanding how the executives at Walmart can sleep at night knowing that the bullets used to kill and wound these innocent people in Arizona, were purchased at one of their stores.  After the tragedy at Columbine, Kmart, where the bullets used in that massacre came from, had enough sense to discontinue the sales of ammunition from all of their stores.  I only hope that the officials at Walmart follow their lead.  The fact is that during the shooting that happened in Arizona the individuals who stopped the man with the gun were all people who were unarmed, and the one person who had a gun for his own “protection” almost shot an innocent bystander, had he not been stopped from doing so.
Tonight on Nightline they interviewed five children who had all left letters as part of the makeshift memorial for those that were killed and wounded outside the supermarket with Senator Giffords.  This nine year old boy read his letter.  He hoped that Gabrielle Giffords would get well soon because, as he put it, “what will we do without her”.  Then the reporter asked him if he has been thinking about this since it happened, and the boy asked, in a way that only a little nine year old boy could, “What is the government going to do, what are they going to do?”  This time it can’t be nothing.  This time it has to be something, because somewhere in Arizona there is a little boy who is scared that a man with a gun, using bullets that came from the same store where his mom and dad buy his toys, is going to shoot him, and all he wants to know is “what is the government going to do?  Well…what?
On this, you can do something.  Call your Senator and your Representatives and leave them a message stating that in the wake of the tragedy that happened in Arizona you would like them to support stricter gun control laws. Believe it or not, they do listen.  To find the direct phone numbers for your representatives in Congress go to http://www.contactingthecongress.org/.


Arizona, A Senseless Shooting, Again, and Again, and Again, and...


I don’t often feature other writers on NorthShoreDad.com, but once in a great while I come across an article written so well and so powerful that I realize that there is no way I could have said it better myself.  The shootings in Arizona of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords her staff members, a nine year old girl, and others, defies understanding and deserves only outrage.  I applaud the members of the house from both parties for coming together in the most bi-partisan way to support this senator, her aids and the others that were mortally wounded.  I only hope that this same spirit, that we are more than just party members, we are humans, and that we can accomplish more as friends then we can as enemies,  will be remembered in the days and weeks to come when these legislators debate the issues at hand.  Speaker of the House, John Boehner said of Rep. Giffords, “Gabby was attacked while doing the most important role of a member - listening.”  And in an e-mail I received from former Senator Alan Grayson, he said about Rep.  Giffords, “Gabby is one of the most cheerful, charming and engaging people I have ever known. She's always looking on the bright side. She has something good to say about pretty much everyone. Bad news never lays a glove on her. She loves life, and all the people in it.  No matter what is going on in your life, after fifteen minutes with Gabby, you'll feel that you can touch the stars.”  But what struck me as soon as I heard this news was what a gun, in the hands of someone who should never have had it, did to another human being.  Enough is enough. I ask you to read this article by Dennis Hennigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, regarding the shooting in Arizona.  Frankly, I could not have said this better myself.


By Dennis Henigan on January 9th, 2011, (Originally posted  from The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence)
As the nation recoils from the horror of the mass shooting in Arizona, I am struck by a strong sense of terrible inevitability. The cauldron of political violence had been allowed to boil for too long. As it did in 1995 with Timothy McVeigh, at some point violent action was destined to follow the violent talk and the brandishing of guns.
It started two summers ago during the red hot public debate over health care, when angry protesters with guns started showing up at Presidential events and town hall meetings. A dozen people openly carried guns outside the Phoenix convention center where the President was giving a speech, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle strapped to his back. A New Hampshire man stood outside another Presidential appearance on health care reform with a pistol strapped to his thigh. And like a bizarre premonition of yesterday’s shooting, in August of 2009 an armed protester actually dropped his handgun at an earlier “Congress on the Corner” event with Rep. Giffords, then as now outside a Safeway.
And then there was Nevada Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle, with her call for “Second Amendment remedies” to be used “when our government becomes tyrannical.” Indeed, openly displayed pistols became commonplace at Tea Party events. Threats of violence were made against supporters of the President, and the windows of Democratic offices were shattered across the nation, including the district offices of Rep. Giffords (apparently by gunshot), all in apparent response to an appeal from a right wing website. A political extremist, inspired by the ravings of Glenn Beck, was intercepted on his way to attack San Francisco’s Tides Foundation. During her reelection campaign, Rep. Giffords’ Republican opponent exemplified the toxic mix of guns and politics when he held campaign events where he invited his supporters to rally against her by joining him in shooting machine guns.
In the wake of the Tucson bloodshed, there has been much commentary already about the incendiary rhetoric and violent imagery that has invaded our political discourse. The Becks and the Palins who have so poisoned our politics deserve our derision. But it is not only an issue of rhetoric and imagery. The fact is that the rhetoric springs from an ideology of political violence – a set of convictions about the relation between citizens and their government — that has found a home among radical “gun rights” zealots.
When Sharron Angle spoke of “Second Amendment remedies,” she was echoing a core belief of the “gun rights” movement, including the leaders of the National Rifle Association, that guns are legitimate tools of political dissent. The NRA often talks of the Second Amendment as the “First Freedom,” because it is the potential of an armed populace to take up arms against their political leaders that deters tyranny. In the aftermath of Tucson, it is chilling to recall the words of an NRA official, who told the New York Times some years ago, that “the Second Amendment . . . is literally a loaded gun in the hands of the people held to the heads of government.” Or, as NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, told a cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2009, “Freedom is nothing but dust in the wind till it’s guarded by the blue steel and dry powder of a free and armed people . . . Our founding fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”
Much is yet to be known about the beliefs and motivations of the Tucson killer. But we know for certain what he has done. He targeted a U.S. Congresswoman, who now lies critically wounded, and his attack killed six innocent people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child, as well as wounding 13 others. At some level, he felt justified to take up arms against a government official. He sought to “make his own rules” with a semi-automatic pistol. The result was mass slaughter.
In our republic, the rules are made, not through violence, but through the vigorous discussion of issues between the people and their elected representatives. Ironically, that is what was occurring outside that Tucson Safeway when the gunman struck. He was attacking not just Rep. Giffords and her constituents. He was attacking our cherished tradition of peaceful dissent and democratic decision-making. In hindsight, it seems especially appropriate that, during the recent reading of the Constitution on the House Floor, Rep. Giffords read the First Amendment.
The time has come for political leaders of both parties, whether liberal or conservative, to renounce the ideology of political violence. Ideas have consequences. The idea that “the guys with the guns make the rules” has inevitable consequences that can no longer be tolerated.
For more information, see Dennis Henigan’s Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy (Potomac Books 2009)