Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Think it doesn’t matter who is president?

Posted in "North Carolina", Ecology, Environment, Politics by helenofmarlowe on October 7, 2016

I have heard intelligent people in recent weeks say that it doesn’t matter who the president is. It troubles me. I want to say to them, imagine if Al Gore had actually taken the White House when he won at least the popular vote and maybe the electoral vote. Do you think the US would have gone to war in Iraq? Think about all the repercussions of that misguided decision to take our country to war.

And climate change: If Gore had taken his place in the White House, we would be much further down the path to dealing with climate change, which is surely the most urgent issue confronting our world.

One of our candidates has said that climate change is a Chinese hoax. He has said that he will get rid of the EPA. EPA doesn’t just invent regulations, it enforces laws passed by congress. (He has also said he’d tear up the Paris climate agreement. Perhaps he doesn’t understand that he can’t do that, but he can take our country out of it.)

As The Guardian says, “Scrapping the EPA … would cause an unravelling of basic protections of air and water. …Trump is demagoguing. It plays to the far-right base but it would have enormous consequences for people’s health.”

And, from The Washington Post,

But more prosaic powers also present grave dangers. U.S. prosecutors have enormous discretion to investigate, or not investigate, and Mr. Trump would appoint his attorney general and a raft of new U.S. attorneys. These have to be confirmed by the Senate; but if you take comfort in that, simply imagine a Gov. Chris “Bridgegate” Christie at the Justice Department, or a Newt Gingrich — who, in Mr. Trump’s thrall, has advocated expelling any American who believes in sharia law — as homeland security secretary.

If Mr. Trump wanted to wield the IRS against that Chicago family; if he tried to use U.S. diplomats to help his hotel business in Russia or Azerbaijan; if he barred disfavored reporters from the White House; if he ignored a judge who told him, say, that immigrants had to be given hearings before being deported — what recourse would Americans have?

We should take comfort in the polls which show Trump unlikely to win. But then,look at the surprising Brexit vote, and the surprising Colombian vote against the peace agreement. Polls can make very very wrong predictions.

Think it doesn’t matter who is president? I go back to Al Gore, and the reminder that we would not have had the war with Iraq, and we would be working seriously on climate change, if the candidate who won the people’s vote had taken his place in the White House.

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What’s the Significant Difference?

Posted in Government, Politics, Religion by helenofmarlowe on February 18, 2012

What is the significant difference?

There is something I’m  missing here. The Catholic church went into a frenzy in their moral outrage at the idea that a Catholic institution should be required to provide for their employees an insurance policy that includes birth control, which they say they believe is immoral.

I won’t get into the seeming contradiction that they hate abortion even more than they hate contraceptives, and are sticking by their guns in spite of the evidence that the one reduces need for the other. There’s probably some logic there that I just don’t get.

And I won’t yet try to understand why the compromise offered by the White House, that insurance companies would instead provide contraception coverage separately and at no cost, was not welcomed by the bishops.

What I’m really trying to figure out is this:  What’s the significant difference between appeasing the Catholics on this issue, and requiring Quakers to pay for war (via taxes)?

Quakers are  opposed to war and to all forms of violence.

And what about requiring Seventh-day Adventists to support our government’s policies on  factory farming?

 For more than 130 years Seventhday Adventists have practiced a vegetarian dietary lifestyle because of their belief in the holistic nature of humankind. (http://www.sdada.org/position.htm)

Yes, I see that in the case of the Quakers and the Seventh-day Adventists, it is tax policy that pulls them into the fold of a behavior that contradicts their religion, but is that a substantial difference?  Does it follow, logically, that Catholics should impose upon non-Catholics their beliefs (well, just some of their beliefs; institutionally, they are also against the death penalty but I haven’t heard our Catholic presidential hopefuls mention that)?  That they should impose upon non-Catholic employees, for example, a Catholic rule that even 98% of Catholics don’t actually follow?  And what about Christian Scientists?  Should employees at Christian Science establishments be required to forego health insurance altogether and rely upon prayer?

Is there really a substantial difference, or is it just that Quakers and Seventh-day Adventists, and Christian Scientists,  are not trying to defeat our president?

Credit where credit is due

Posted in Government, Obama, Politics by helenofmarlowe on November 21, 2011

I came across this (click photo to see) post on Facebook. Darrell Garrett, whom I don’t know, is apparently a friend of a friend, and that’s how I saw this. (Anyone with more than 750 friends is bound to cross that six-degrees-of-separation line somewhere.) I wanted to respond to Mr. Garrett’s challenge, since he says that no one has been able to. But I don’t know how to write in the “response” block. I don’t hang out on FB a lot. Perhaps FB allows responses only from Friends. And I think Mr. Garrett and I would agree on one thing at least – that we would not be companionable Friends.

Click to open

I’ve been disappointed with President Obama. He has moved much further to the right than I expected, and he seems to have been very late in discovering that what he called negotiating we called betraying his supporters. He has referred to liberals as “sanctimonious”. And like everyone else in American politics he has become beholden to big money. Some of his largest contributions come from Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Time Warner, IBM. But in this era of he-with-the-most-money gets the most “free” speech, I don’t know what he can do about that.

But he does deserve some credit, so here goes: my late-night effort to look for reasons to support President Obama.

1. President Obama has proposed a Jobs Bill that will reduce unemployment, and will not increase the deficit. Republicans have blocked it, but he has done what he can do get around the blockade.

2. He has created a Consumer Protection Agency, which you will benefit from. The Republicans have tried to gut it of all it’s authority and have refused to accept as its leader the woman who has done the most work on it, but at least it now exists.

3. He has appointed two moderates to the Supreme Court, moderates who actually have legal credentials and high scores from the bar.

4. He has cut taxes for the middle class and for small business, and has tried valiantly to reduce the loopholes that allow the rich to take more and more from the poor. (Yes, hard-earned money from the working poor IS being re-distributed to the rich. And no corporations actually pay the tax rate that Republicans are fond of quoting.)

5. He captured Osama bin Laden

6. He has made some effort to address the very real and serious environmental problems.

7. He has put a stop to the policy of allowing politicians to re-write scientific reports.

8. He has instituted a more humane policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to travel to visit their parents and children.

9. He has removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.

10.He can put a sentence together, even a compound or complex sentence, complete with subject and verb. This may not be important to you, but it is important to our standing in the larger world.

Would anyone care to add to my list? Or challenge my list?

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How Do They Fool So Many Voters?

Posted in "North Carolina", Economy, Government, Government Politics, Local Government, NC, Politics, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on October 10, 2011

I’ve never known anyone over the age of 13 to be as obsessed with sex as the current NC Republican legislators. They were hired to create jobs and improve the economy, but they’ve done nothing so far except insert themselves into the private lives of citizens. They’ve cut the budget so severely that the UNC system has had to cut more than 3,000 positions. This, they think, creates jobs? They’ve cut and closed government offices, putting many thousands of public employees out of work. Do they think that moving people out of jobs and into the un-employment lines is good for the economy? Our NC – DOT has just cut 400 positions. Will putting those 400 people onto the un-employment rolls help the economy? Our NC Republican legislators have passed laws curtailing women’s reproductive rights to a degree not seen (correct me if I’m wrong, anyone) in any other state, and approximately equal to the reproductive rights of the most restrictive theocracies. Not because they care about babies — I see no evidence that they care a whit about babies — but because they want to abolish the individual right to privacy. They are now spending their (our?) time and energy and tax money working on passing a Marriage Amendment to the NC constitution. Yep, not just a law, but a Constitutional Amendment! To strengthen it, I believe, against a possible newly elected and saner legislature changing that in future.

And this is the party that claims it wants to get big government out of our private lives. It’s clear their main goals are 1) causing as much damage to the economy as possible, so as to ensure our president will not be re-elected, and 2)  control the private lives of individual citizens.  How is it that they can fool so many voters?

US Uncut – Coming Soon to a City near You

Posted in Economy, Government Politics by helenofmarlowe on March 2, 2011

US Uncut!

As everyone in the house that night will attest, I got pretty excited when I read about UK Uncut in the January 21 issue of The Nation.   I fervently hoped this movement would cross the ocean.
To summarize (and oversimplify) the article (read Johann Hari’s article in The Nation!),  UK Uncut began when a group of British citizens in a pub wondered why the new Conservative government in Britain is imposing the most extreme cuts to public spending since the 1920s.  Among their many observations was this:  All the cuts in housing subsidies, driving people out of their homes, are part of a package of cuts to the poor, adding up to 7 billion pounds. Yet one of Britain’s leading cellphone firms, Vodafone, owed an outstanding bill of 6 billion.
So if this one company had been made to pay its taxes, these people would not have been forced out of their homes.
These people announced a national day of protest, and soon, so many British citizens were staging protests that several Vodaphone stores were shut down.   My favorite line in this story:

“Prime Minister David Cameron wants axed government
services to be replaced by a Big Society, in which volunteers
do the jobs instead.  So UK Uncut announced it was the Big
Society Tax Collection Agency.”

The movement has indeed jumped over the ocean.  See http://usuncut.org/

In the US, $100 billion annually is lost because of corporations putting their money into offshore tax havens.   Instead of cutting funds to schools and libraries and CPB, why not just collect the  $100 billion owed to the US by corporations.

One thing you may not know, if you get your news from mainstream media (or from Fox Broadcasting, heaven forbid) — or even from NPR, which has now become dependent upon corporate sponsors — is that in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker — who has been in office only five weeks! — inherited a state budget surplus.  In five weeks  Governor Walker  turned the surplus into a deficit.

The governor called a special session of the state legislature and signed business tax breaks  that lower  tax revenues.  These tax breaks were not offset, and this helped turn a surplus into a deficit.  As Brian Beutler  writes in Talking Points Memo, “public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.”  These acts by Governor Walker  turned Wisconsin’s surplus into a deficit.

Now this quote comes not from a liberal source, but from the respected financial publication  Bloomberg Businessweek:

Walker and other Republican leaders in the state have made a big deal of the “gold-plated pensions” of state workers, yet median state and  local pensions in Wisconsin are less than $23,000. Fewer than 2 percent receive pensions of $100,000, the threshold bantered around in the ress as commonplace. These pensions are most likely the managers and top administrators, as well as senior police and firefighters, who, coincidentally, are excluded from Walker’s draconian legislation.

According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations that operate in the US exploit corporate tax havens. Since 2009, America’s most profitable companies,  including Exxon, GE, and Bank of America such all paid a grand total of $0 in federal income taxes to Uncle Sam.

I hope this movement swells beyond containment.   I will not start a chapter in Winston-Salem, but if one does form I will join it.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/ettervor/

American Theocracy

Posted in "North Carolina", Local Government, Religion, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on February 23, 2010

It was a circus, the county commissioners meeting tonight.   I have photos and video, but I don’t have the heart to post them.

The people in our large overflow room singing Christian hymns.

The shouted and hollered Amens and Yesses! when speakers spoke about Jesus.

The buses — I have photos of the church buses lined up along Chestnut Street — this is what our democracy (theocracy?) has become.   It will not be on your tv.

I am so disheartened, I am going to bed, simply to get this day over with.

Bob, and one retired Baptist minister who said he was also a member of the ACLU (and was booed for it) were the only speakers who asked them to let this drop. All the other speakers invoked the name of Jesus as they successfully urged our commissioners to go forward in our march to theocracy.

A man sitting behind me hollered,  If they don’t want to pray, they can stay at home!

I turned around and said to him, What if they have county business?

Bob leaned over to me and said,

You have to look on these people without  hating them.  Don’t hate them.

Well I don’t, of course, but was sorely annoyed.

Church buses herd the troops

When the group broke out in song, in a Christian hymn (clearly practiced and on cue) I felt disheartened.  Bob, with his philosophical and moral strength, just smiled at me and said,

That was an interesting moment to observe.

We have a major university in our city.

Not one Wake Forest University  professor– not one professor of history, not one professor of religion, not one professor came out to identify the misrepresentations made tonight about our history and our constitution.

We also have a state university here.   If there were any representatives from Winston-Salem State University, they did not get media coverage and I am not aware of their presence.  It was needed.

Seven hundred sheep getting off church buses, and with very few exceptions,those reliable few, our citizens declared this a Christian nation.

Commissioners Beaufort Bailey, Ted Kaplan, and Walter Marshall cast minority votes against the appeal.

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