Americans most generally have a great sense of pride for their country, because they believe in what it stands for and the principles it was founded on.
Over our nation’s history, America has had many voices speak out, though in protest or by petition, from many segments of its population, thanks to the strong civil liberties we all inherit by being citizens of this great country. Most of those voices came from minorities, protesting their rights to equality. Some came from religious groups and anti-abortion groups, and some groups have tried imposing their will on all of us by changing our laws to reflect their own beliefs.
Much of the battles for civil rights, from the Emancipation of slavery to the fight for gay rights, women’s rights and other civil rights movements of today, have molded this nation into what it has become. We have grown enlightened but at a somewhat slower pace than many of our European allies. Then of course, some of the countries that we have fought wars in are far behind us when it comes to women’s rights, gay rights, and civil rights in general. Read more
It’s Tuesday January 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1877, Crazy Horse and his noble warriors fought their final battle against U.S. military forces in Montana. General Nelson Miles of the U.S. Army located Crazy Horse’s camp along the Tongue River. According to what is formerly known as The History Channel, “U.S. soldiers opened fire with their big wagon-mounted guns, driving the Indians from their warm tents out into a raging blizzard. Crazy Horse and his warriors managed to regroup on a ridge and return fire, but most of their ammunition was gone, and they were reduced to fighting with bows and arrows." Read more
Since 2007, the year the Democrats re-gained control of Congress, the filibuster has turned into standard procedure for virtually everything that happens in the Senate. What was once considered a special rule to be used on rare occasions for personal dissent on an issue has become a routine matter of course for obstructing the other side of the aisle and gaining a political advantage.
The filibuster has been so abused that it stops the Senate from accomplishing even the most mundane tasks — like keeping the federal agencies funded and confirming non-controversial judges. It’s even used by the minority Republicans to block bills that they support, just because they want to make it more difficult for the Democrats to run the Senate. Because small and rural states are overrepresentated in the Senate – two senators per state regardless of size – it’s possible for 41 senators (the minimum needed to filibuster) from states representing just 11.3% of the U.S. population to basically shut down the Senate. Read more
About a hundred years ago, our nation was engaged in World War I, and needed to simplify how the government funded its responsibilities. For the Treasury to be able to fund debts incurred from obligations already legislated by Congress without additional votes from Congress every time money was to be released, the debt ceiling was created.
The government website describes the debt ceiling best: “Indeed, the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments; it simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have approved in the past.” (http://www.treasury.gov/)
The debt ceiling has been raised dozens of times, and typically with no fanfare, until… Read more
We all know that U.S House Speaker John Boehner is well-known to break out in tears, as he did recently after being reelected as House Speaker. John Boehner is a weeper, the only thing is, what he weeps about usually is something not worth weeping about. He wept uncontrollably once over an Iraq war spending bill.
This is my Bead-Read for Mr. Boehner:
Find something worth weeping about John. Many of us Americans weep, just as we did recently when a madman with a gun, mowed down 26 people including 20 children at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. Right now, I myself could find a fresh batch of tears, just thinking about it. Read more
The fiscal cliff was an artificial problem caused by a Congress punting an issue and settled by Congress punting an issue.
When President Obama caved last time, he swore it would truly be the last time, a resolution he re-resolved this time, which will last until he caves next time.
The Republicans show serious resolve to refuse to seriously solve anything. The Democrats are only resolute in their commitment never to be too resolute.
We're kicking off a new year, but Washington can't kick old habits. We need a New Year's resolution to see this year new real solutions…or hey, we'll say we want a revolution.
Our revolution begins at happy hour so make your resolution to raise a glass at your local progressive social club.
Find - or start - chapter near you.
For Gay Americans like me, the last couple of years have been good ones for us. We have seen the end of DODT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) so that our gay brothers and sisters cannot only serve, but serve honestly and openly about their sexuality.
We have also seen the very first American president make a statement saying that he supports gay marriage. Along with that, we have several states, which have legalized same-sex marriage across America. Gay people are now accepted by a majority of Americans as friends and good neighbors, along with our right to marry. Many of us can still remember a time when being gay could cause you the loss of a job or housing, or even arrest. For someone like me, I am amazed at the speed that approval for gay rights has grown in the last few years in this country Read more
Within the next couple of days, Fidlerten Place will be launching a new segment called Bead-Reader. It is culled from a catchphrase used in the gay community from at least as far back as the sixties and perhaps further. Someone might say, “Did you here that girl read his beads? She sure told him!” or “I just read her beads, that (expletive)!”
It means to tell someone off really well. If you “read someone’s beads”, you are giving them the “what for”. I am sure most of us can remember a time we would have liked to straighten someone out on a few facts and give them a piece of our mind.
Once a week, if not more, I will be publishing a Bead-Reader. This will be done by either: Read more
Update, 7pm ET, Friday Jan. 4th, 2013: Data from the 113th Congress is now live on OpenCongress. Blog post coming soon on brand-new bills introduced over the past two days. Hey, if anyone wants to start an OC wiki list linking to profile pages of the 90 or so new members, feel free. Judging from our initial review, bill & member info is displaying correctly from GovTrack, and campaign contribution data from OpenSecrets (go team) will follow accordingly – we’ll keep our eyes out for bugs – if you noticed some slightly malformed info somewhere on the site, we’re happy to look into it – file a new ticket on our Lighthouse issue tracking system, assigned to me, drm, or email me at david at opencongress.org. We’ll get it fixed right away if anything looks amiss. Otherwise, feel free to browse bills & senators & reps off the top-hand navigation, and get familiar. Thank you for using OpenCongress, more to come. Read more
Watching the House vote on the Senate’s bill to avoid the fiscal cliff last night, I was struck by how relieving it can be to watch our leaders to their jobs. When the votes were tallied, we saw forward movement, with Reps. Boehner and Paul voting in favor of the necessary legislation. A splinter of hope was realized in the middle of the night on New Year’s Day. Rationality won out over ideology.
What has nearly broken our union time and again is a devotion to identity politics: so often we vote for candidates we think are like ourselves rather than the best people for the jobs. President Obama’s administration has been harassed and harangued by politicians and a media outlet obsessed with how his identity is different than theirs- and consequently, they’ve felt him unworthy of their support. At last, we are seeing that strident belief begin to weaken, and a glimmer of logic shines in. Read more
Though it took going past the deadline into the New Year, the United States Congress managed to settle on a deal that raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans who make over $400 thousand a year for individuals and $450 thousand for couples and yet continues the Bush tax cuts for everyone else.
There was dissatisfaction from both sides of the aisle, as some Democrats were angry about President Obama raising the threshold for raising taxes, from $250 thousand a year to the $450 thousand, and some Republicans were angry because of the lack of spending cuts in the bill. The last step for final passage of the bill in the house, saw the Republican leadership split, with House Speaker John Boehner (OH) voting for the bill and Eric Cantor (VA) voting against.
The bill passed the U.S. House 257-167 and now awaits Obama’s signature which he has assured us he will sign. Read more
If anyone said the solution to drunk driving was more alcohol, we would all think they were nuts. Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) finally made a statement concerning the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where 26 people were killed, including 20 children who were all six and seven years old.
LaPierre called on Congress to pass a bill to put armed guards in every school in the United States. The NRA is putting together a safety plan called “National School Shield” in which they are hoping to be a model for schools nationwide.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” remarked LaPierre in the statement. The problem with that is, some good guys with guns turn into bad guys with guns; just add maybe some alcohol and a jealous rage and anything can happen. Read more
The end of the world came and went and instead of a Mayan apocalypse, we saw the NRA proposing its own.
The Christmas holiday came and went and instead of creating peace on earth, we scuttled Santa's sleigh with drone strikes.
The fiscal cliff's about to come and go & though no deal is better than a bad deal, both sides will use the dire, urgent moment to push unwanted, unnecessary ideas.
Seems like the biggest disasters aren't made by Mayan prophecies but the ones we bring on ourselves.
Let's put away our guns and drones, man-made crises & political apocalypses -- and instead of ending the world, how about we just end the year?
Here's to a healthy, happy, big-hearted more progressively prosperous new year.
In the meantime, share a night with us, sharing reflections, resolutions & a toast at your local progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.
Its December 18th, do you know where your podcast is? Ok so it’s not December 18th. Due to the wonderfully automated customer service at AT&T our material has been held hostage by Internet issues. Listen to episode 39 for a full drubbing of AT&Taint. Thankfully we are back on line, tired, frustrated, and weary of our culture’s reliance on technology. On this date (you know what we mean) back in 1620 the Mayflower made its final stop at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. After originally reaching Cape Cod on November 11th and exploring the coast for over month for a place to “settle”, the Puritans were finally ready to begin the process of making their new home. Their choice seemed to be an inhospitable one as 50 of the original 102 members of the colony were dead by spring of the next year. The only saving grace was Massasoit - the tribal chief of the Wampanoag tribe that had survived in the region since the glaciers receded at the end of the ice age (roughly 10,000 years) - who helped the Puritans learn to grow what grew there and kept them alive. Certainly, if given the chance, he would take a mulligan on that one! Read more