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Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Is a seat in the United States Senate worth over 100 million dollars? Is it worth $86 million? How about $78 or $72 million? What is worth spending those kinds of dollars? It seems that ever since the Supreme Court struck down the ruling on campaign contributions, PAC’s of all types and sizes are going wild with the money they are throwing around to get their candidate into a Senate seat. Senator John McCain was disgusted when he recently spoke to a Washington reporter. McCain, as we know, was one of the authors of campaign finance reform.

Back to the big bucks…Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, the state House Speaker who is challenging her, could retire for life with the money that is pouring in from their party as well as from “independent” sources. In Colorado, Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall and his challenger, Republican Cory Gardner are wooing voters with over $86 million. And Udall is in trouble, in part because of his support of the Affordable Health Care Act.

If the Republican Party takes control of the Senate as it has the House of Representatives, it’s time for many people to be frightened. Obama might as well take the next two years off because he sure as hell isn’t going to get any bills passed by a Republican Congress. Senior citizens may as well take classes in shoplifting and other crimes to supplement what will surely be a reduction in Social Security…if it’s not cut altogether, along with Medicare benefits. Am I sounding like an alarmist? You-are-goddamned-right, because while Obama care is not perfect, the Republican House tried more than 40 times to get it repealed and failed each time. Can you imagine how fast it will go down the tubes if the entire Congress is controlled by Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? Neither has the courage to stand up to the Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Joe, “You’re a Liar” Wilson and other crazies who put themselves ahead of their constituents and the Republican Party they are supposed to represent.

If the 113th Congress was the least productive group ever to occupy the halls, the 114th will be one of the most productive, and Barack Obama may go down as the President who vetoed the greatest number of bills. The question then becomes, will Congress, with majorities in both houses be able to override those vetoes? If so, what will that mean to Mr. and Mrs. Average American?

How have we come so far away from where we started? Our founding fathers didn’t agree on everything that appears in the Constitution, but they at least had the ability to discuss questionable phrases and clauses within that document. In addition, there has always been a certain degree of rancor in both houses, but in the overall, things were accomplished, and we, the people, were better off because of it. That’s not so today.

Twice I voted for this President. I believed his rhetoric, and I still believe that he has the best intentions for the nation in his heart. Today, I believe he was not ready for the job; today, I believe that if he had waited; had gained more experience; had learned to listen to some of the more seasoned members “on the hill,” that he would have been better prepared. His failure to involve members of Congress from the onset of his presidency has cost him dearly with both parties. His inexperience in foreign policy has alienated many of our allies. His choices for department and division heads have been questionable, at best, and downright stupid in a number of cases. Could I have done a better job? Don’t be ridiculous. Could Hillary Clinton, his opponent for the nomination, have done a better job? I have no idea. Personally, I believe that Mrs. Clinton has a long list of people who did not serve her husband during his time as leader of the free world, and should she ever win the presidency, those folks would be wise to hunker down and hide.

I shudder to think how much money will be spent on the 2016 Presidential campaigns. My singular hope is that between now and then, a campaign finance reform bill will be passed by Congress, one that the Supreme Court will find acceptable, and that will make campaign spending more respectable. It’s time that “We the people” take back our rights; that instead of being led like sheep, we begin to howl like wolves and say that the rich may not be allowed to buy the United States Congress; that the rich may not be allowed to buy a President they can control; that there is a middle class in America, and we are sick and tired of being screwed by those who believe they can control us with their money.

 

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When are Americans going to become sufficiently pissed off that they are going to demand action be taken to bring together the Executive and the Legislative Branches of the Federal Government  to begin to cooperate?

The Speaker of the House of “Representatives” [who do they represent other than themselves] won’t bring a Senate-passed immigration bill to the floor. Then he blames the President for not doing anything about immigration reform. In California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, illegal immigrants are pouring across the border; yet, one recent poll shows that only 38 percent of Americans are concerned. If I tried to haul my butt over the border to Mexico, I’d be tossed back in the Rio Grande like an unwanted fish. Mexico’s immigration laws are far stricter than those of the United States…and they enforce them. Yes, we have border control, but it’s a bitch to patrol almost 1,896 miles of river when you’re also attempting to cover desert crossings, along with the various entry points along the four-state border. In addition, the number one priority for the customs and immigration folks now is blocking drugs from coming into the United States and blocking money from going back into Mexico to support the cartels. Many have said that we have already lost the war on drugs. Are we also giving up on the war against illegal immigrants? If the United States House of Representatives has anything to say about it, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” However, 62 percent of Americans don’t really give a damn!

According to a story in the Washington Post, the House is active in another area. It seems that Congressmen no longer will be “…required to list any of their domestic or foreign travel that was paid for by an outside group.” While they still must file such information with the House Ethics Committee, it no longer appears on the financial disclosure form which Congress members must submit annually. If anyone – other than a member of Congress because they find it so simple to lie with a straight face – can look me in the eye and tell me that this isn’t an ideal way to buy votes, I’ll eat whichever hat that person chooses from my collection. How many Americans are mad over this? Are you, or you, or you?

Earlier this week, a main commuter road and the bridge which spans it were shut down because of accidents. The road narrows at the bridge to barely two lanes. The bridge clearance is only ten feet, six inches. The first accident involved a tractor trailer and ripped off nearly his entire top. First, the trailer and truck had to be removed; not a simple task when your roof is damn near completely destroyed. This also meant that the bridge had to be inspected for potential structural damage. The following day – not 24 hours later – a truck carrying 700 pounds of live lobsters smashed into the same bridge with a similar result. Sorry, I couldn’t get there fast enough to grab any lobsters. Here’s the point of this story: That bridge has been on the government funding list for as far back as I can remember. Now, I understand that Congress is refusing to act on President Obama’s highway funding bill that will replenish the trust fund that would help to make repairs on not only the bridge noted above but on roads and bridges all over the country. Anyone in his or her right mind who votes to allow his or her Congress person, particularly in the House of “Representatives” to stay in office is a fool. It’s time for a house cleaning. In addition, it’s time we put term limits on both Senators and Congressmen for the sake of our country.

In all probability, most Americans were probably more disappointed with the outcome of the USA/Belgium soccer match than they are with the manner in which our country is now being governed. If you ask the man on the street about our government, he might say, “Yeah, nothing’s getting done but I’ve got a job; a family to support; a mortgage to pay, and besides I’m only one person and one person can’t make a difference.” He’s right; the President of the United States receives hundreds of thousands of letters each day. They are gone through by staffers who decide which ten – that’s right, ten – the President will get to read. In other words, the President isn’t listening to what we say or what we want him to hear. Our relative importance to the nation is being judged by a bunch of staffers. I know that the President can’t read all those letters, but who are the people who are looking at them? Are these staffers any more qualified to say which letters are sufficiently important for the President to read? I’m certain that the same thing is true of members of Congress. They are so important that they must have their letter-reading staffers also, and those staffers determine whether or not our Congressman or Senator gets to see what we’ve written. Government service is supposed to be honorable and representative of how you and I vote. It certainly has lost a great deal of its luster to this voter.

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Is there any politician or CEO left in this country who will accept responsibility when things go wrong? When President Obama introduced the Bergdahl  family in the Rose Garden, it was all about how he was responsible for bringing Bowe home safely. Now that Congress is getting its hackles up, the President appears to be shying away from responsibility and keeping his mouth shut. When General Motors announced the recall of the various Chevy cars, one of which had already caused 13 deaths because of a faulty ignition switch, who was blamed? Seems to me that not one of the sons of bitches who were in power when those cars were produced had the balls to step forward and say that it was their responsibility. It took new CEO, Mary Bara to accept the bitch slaps that GM was receiving on all fronts…and she did. Now that GM has released its report that has already lead to the firing of fifteen individuals – with more to follow, I’ll bet – Congress is blaming Bara for not reporting all of GM’s failures. Congress is still the old boys’ network and any chance they have to take a shot at someone other than one of their own, they go at it both barrels.

Years ago, I was throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall that was part of Holy Family School in my hometown. At one point I missed; the ball struck and broke a window. To use an often overlooked phrase, “I was scared shitless.”  Heck, I was still in elementary school…and it wasn’t Holy Family. I ran home and told my mother – Dad was at work – what had happened. Her solution was simple. “You march right back there; find the nun who’s in charge; tell her what happened and that it was an accident; then you tell her that you, not your Dad and I, but you will pay for the damage somehow. Now go.” Me, alone, off to see the top penguin. Since I didn’t know much about nuns, only horror stories told by those who went to Holy Family, I was terrified. The school was about a hundred yards up the street. It was like the Green Mile; I felt I was marching to certain death by crucifixion. See, I still remember some of this stuff. Anyway, the school door was locked so I had to go to ‘the nun’s house’ next door. I was greeted pleasantly enough and asked for the “head nun.” Things get kind of blurry after that except for one thing; the mother superior spoke to me gently and thanked me for coming forward. There was no ruler across the knuckles; they didn’t pull out a couple of boards and some nails; no one told me that I had committed a sin that would prevent me from going to Heaven. They were nice. I remember that I had to erase blackboards after school, but I don’t remember for how long. I also remember the relief I felt as I walked home. I was kind of proud that I told someone I had done something bad and had been forgiven. I’m not even certain I knew what the word, “responsibility,” meant. Today, I can look back and say, “Yeah, I accepted responsibility.” The lesson must have stuck because I believe firmly that I should accept responsibility for my actions, good or bad. It’s a code I’ve tried to live by all of my life, but I think that it was my mother who instilled that into me when she sent me back to Holy Family on my own. Can you imagine the majority of today’s parents doing that? I’ll let you picture in your own mind how today’s mothers would handle that situation.

It seems to me that everyone rushes forward to accept praise and will even exaggerate a bit to overemphasize the word, “I.” However, if the shit hits the fan, those same people revert to their old “duck and cover” drill and hide until the air is clear. Did President Obama personally bring home Sergeant Bergdahl? Of course he didn’t. Who knows how long negotiations were taking place to free the sergeant? Who knows if any Americans were involved in the negotiations? Chuck Hegel might have initiated the negotiations by speaking with people in Qatar, but I don’t know. I’m certain, however, that it was a team effort to free Bergdahl. Was he on the verge of being killed? Who knows? Who cares? “No man left behind” is not some rah, rah bullshit; it’s a code and a damned good one. We had to give up five bad guys to get him? So what? I have no idea why the hell we’re still in Afghanistan in the first place. Look at Iraq. It’s already falling back into the hands of those we oppose. Are we supposed to send our troops back so more Americans can die? We damned well better not or I’ll lead the march on Washington. These people are primitives. Let them have their 2,500 years of stupidity. They’re wrong, but I’m not willing to give up one more American life to show them just how wrong they are. If they wish to remain in the Stone Age, fine; let’s cut off all aid and tell them to get along on their own. Perhaps that, in and of itself, will be enough to force us to give up our dependence on foreign oil or whatever the hell the Iraqis and Afghanis are giving us. If our own Muslim population starts to complain, ship them back where they came from. If you’re in America, act like an American. If you want to help your country, get your ass back there and help them that way. I am just plain tired of this nonsense.

Repeat after me: “If something good happens and I did it alone, I’ll keep my mouth shut. If something good happens and my team was responsible, I’ll praise my team…all of my team. If something bad happens and I’m responsible, I will step forward, admit my error, and take whatever punishment is due. I will do all of these things because I am a responsible person. I don’t need to give myself accolades, only those who did the grunt work.” You can leave out the last sentence if you wish. In fact, you may wish to rewrite the entire credo; just remember it’s never ‘I’ when something succeeds; there is always a ‘we’ somewhere in the mix. As for the failure, sure, it could also be a team effort, but if you were top dog, accept the blame and move on. End of sermon.

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A panicked Senate Majority Leader sent me a four-page hysterical appeal the other day. He expects me to send money to stop the Koch brothers from buying the United States Senate in the November 4th elections. Now you have to understand that the Koch brothers have a net worth that exceeds $100 billion. There’s an old Tanzanian proverb that says, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” Okay, fine, but Mr. Speaker…that’s Harry Rein from Nevada…your own net worth is between three and ten million dollars. How much of your own personal fortune are you committing to ‘stop’ the Koch brothers?

It seems to me that American politicians are bought and sold on a pretty regular basis, depending on what bills are before Congress or what bills might come before Congress. Since, Mr. Speaker, your own net worth has more than doubled since you went to Washington, isn’t it fair to say that you, too, have been bought and sold a few times? Heck, the Koch brothers are just the latest in a long line of carpet baggers that have sought to line their own pockets with a few more shekels and enrich a few other people who believe as they do.

Another assumption you have made that I I don’t understand, Mr…oh, hell…that I don’t understand, Harry is why you address me as a “…fellow Democrat.”  That just straight out isn’t true. I’m not a party person – at my age, in more ways than one – but Harry, I’m not a Democrat. I am an independent voter who supports candidates, not parties. You’ve been in the Senate long enough to have heard Tip O’Neill say, “Country first; state second; party third.” You and your colleagues – on both sides of the aisle by the way, have changed that to be “Party first; me second, state third…and the nation a distant fourth.” The number of ethical violations of which you have been a part lead me to believe you’ve either completely bamboozled the voters in your state or that you have spent even more money to ensure they don’t know of your ethical abominations.

If you are so interested in defeating the efforts of the Koch brothers, why not turn to that great Democratic supporter, George Soros. Granted, he is getting along in years, but he certainly has much of the money required to dull the sharp blade of the Koch swords. You state in your letter that the Republicans are “…outspending us 3 to 1 in must-win Senate battlegrounds! Join us in the fight to retain our Democratic majority!” Well, hell, Harry, you don’t want me; I’m one of those senior citizens living on a fixed income. You need to turn to the big guns you’ve turned to in the past.

Although I’m quite certain you will say it’s a right-wing propaganda machine, Investors.com, states that “Right after the Supreme Court’s decision to lift limits on campaign contributions, Democrats and their left-wing supporters assaulted the decision as a boon to Republicans, “the party of the rich.”

“This of course is part of a far-wider narrative — slavishly repeated by largely unquestioning liberal media — that the GOP outspends Democrats on campaigns thanks to big-buck donors like the billionaire Koch brothers.

“But, as it turns out, that’s a lie — as big a lie, in fact, as “you can keep your insurance,” “you can keep your doctor” and “ObamaCare will bend the cost curve down.”

“By almost every measure, in fact, it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are the party of the rich.

Start with Congress itself. Who are the wealthiest members? Well, there are 269 millionaires among Congress’ 535 members. And most of them are Democrats.

“And contrary to the hand-wringing on the left about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling Wednesday, Democrats far outspend Republicans on elections. It isn’t even close.

“According to OpenSecrets.org, from 1989 to 2014 rich donors gave Democrats $1.15 billion — $416 million more than the $736 million given to the GOP. Among the top 10 donors to both parties, Democrat supporters outspent Republican supporters 2-to-1.

“But what about the villainous Koch brothers, those conservative plutocrats supposedly seeking to control American politics? They rank 59th on the list of big givers — behind 18 unions and No. 1 Act Blue, the massive left-wing fund raiser that gives only to Democrats.

Now there is no question in my mind that figures don’t lie, whether they are presented by left-wing extremist such as you and many of your colleagues or by right-wing radicals such as Rand Paul, Mario Rubio, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and company. But it’s a known fact that liars do know how to figure. You paint a portrait of disaster if the Senate should be taken over by the Republicans. Perhaps having them do so would not be quite as disastrous as you think. It just might rattle the American public sufficiently that they will begin to think once more about who should be running the country. If health care disappears for millions; if Medicare and Social Security sneak off into the sunset; if our children suddenly find themselves being taxed to death, then it won’t matter what the Tea Party and their Republican allies do to the planet, everyone will be dead and there will be no one left to care.

In your diatribe you state that “Republicans don’t care who gets hurt in the crossfire as long as they get their way. And trust me, their Tea Party and Super PAC’s must not have a free ride to spew their nonsense.”  I’m sorry, Harry, but that kind of scare tactic went out with Herbert Hoover. To paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but the scare mongers,” and that is exactly what you have sent to your “fellow Democrats.”

Senator, it’s you and your ilk, along with Mitch McConnell and his ilk that have brought on this terrible gridlock in Washington. Drop the scare tactics and begin discussing issues. Don’t tell me to fear the Koch brothers. Give me honest answers about why I should give you and your colleagues my vote.

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You’re going to have to forgive an old man if he misinterprets some of the horse manure that floats from the halls of Congress into the media below…or is it “onto” the media below. It really doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot, but it seems to me that Congress is supposed to enact legislation for the benefit of its constituency; you know, the people who elected them. I don’t know where it says that they are supposed to go looking for ways to mess up an incumbent administration or cast aspersions on the Office of the President…keep an eye open, sure, but not beat a dead horse until the entire animal smells like what’s comin’ outta the south end.

The US mission in Benghazi was attacked by a group of who-knows-who [wink, wink] on September 11, 2012. The attack was fatal and killed a number of people. There were insufficient resources to defend the mission. That is the fault of US intelligence. That those resources weren’t there is the fault of US intelligence and the military not working together. That no one in the US Department of State or in any US intelligence agency OR any US military organization OR in any branch of government didn’t believe there would be an attack on the US somewhere in the world on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is sheer idiocy. Every mission, embassy, military post on foreign soil, and tourist who is travelling on September 11th of any year, should be prepare to be treated as a target. Anyone not considering this deserves whatever happens to them. What the hell has to happen for people to wake up to the fact that America is at war on its own soil as well as abroad.

The Republican House of Representatives is dissatisfied with how the Benghazi attack (a) could possibly take place in beloved Libya; (b) who should take the blame for the attack…not the attackers themselves, mind you, but who is to blame from the American side; (c) has been falsely described by the White House according to House Speaker John Boehner. To get to the bottom of all of this, Speaker Boehner is appointing a “select” committee to “… investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, accusing the Obama White House of “misleading the American people” by withholding emails on Benghazi – emails that only just surfaced this week despite a 2013 subpoena.” According to the New York Daily News, Speaker Boehner stated, “This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.” Hey, Jack, the American people know what happened and the families of the victims don’t require constant reminders that they don’t have a loved one anymore. Build a goddamned bridge and get over it.

On the basis of Mr. Boehner’s House controlled half of the Congress, perhaps Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, should appoint a select committee to determine who is responsible for the erroneous information that precipitated our invasion of Iraq. Perhaps the Senator could subpoena then Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to testify where all of those wonderful and fraudulent photographs came from that “definitely” showed Iraq with weapons of mass destruction. We might have bring former President George Bush and his string-puller, Dick Cheney to the Halls of the Senate to tell us why 4,487 American soldiers died in a war that was (a) unnecessary; (b) a personal vendetta on the part of George Bush; and, (c) a bold faced lie.

Speaker Boehner is being led around by the nose by his aggressive Tea Party Republicrats. He has fallen in line with a group of crazies who will do anything, use any reason, and tell any lie to discredit the incumbent administration in order to gain an edge in the 2016 elections. Is the Obama administration withholding some information about Benghazi? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Did the Bush administration openly lie about the weapons of mass destruction that preceded the invasion of Iraq? Without question they did.

Benghazi is now a footnote in the history of the United States. We have not learned from it. We will probably be just as complacent on September 11th 2014 and then wonder why a mission, an embassy, a military outpost or fort was attacked. And leaders from the minority party will blame the leaders of the majority party and more horse shit will fly around the Halls of Congress. Meanwhile, important legislation will languish in some committee or other because either Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Reid believes it will give brownie points to the opposition. Is this any way to run a nation? The idea of a two-party system [try to forget about the Tea Party for just a moment here, puh-leze] of government is wonderful. It’s wonderful as long as the two parties understand that their role is to move the country ahead in pursuit of goals that will help the nation. It doesn’t matter which party wins as long as the nation benefits as a whole.

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                             Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.                                                                                           Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s rather difficult to take issue with the longest serving first lady of the United States and, without question, the most politically active and decisive woman ever to be in the White House. However, the quote above is one with which I must disagree in that it is often the ideas of great minds that sets in motion events that, if not disruptive to the nation as a whole, can certainly prove disruptive to thousands of others within our nation itself.

Perhaps the most recent idea that had to have come from some reasonably great minds is the General Motors debacle over the problems with their automobiles.  For example, can you possibly believe the Rick Wagoner who chaired GM from 2000 – 2009 did not know about the problems with the 1.3 million cars that were built between 2003 and 2007? He was chairman and CEO and this was kept hidden from him? Puh-lease, give me a break? So, what happened after he had milked GM for $63.3 million during his tenure, excluding a $10 million retirement package, and was finally forced to resign by the White House? Another of GM’S ‘old boy network, Fritz Henderson took the reigns – well, at least for eight months he held onto them. The Board forced him out and put the Chairman, Ed Whitacre, in his place in a move that shocked the automotive industry…can you say, “Old boy network continues?” Oh, and by the by, still no action on faulty cars that have been rolling off the assembly line. Daniel Ackerson, another GM board member succeeded Whitacre with an eye to improving GM profits.

There’s a pattern forming here that should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense. The emphasis was in turning the company around without bothering to examine how this was being accomplished. Bottom line became more important than quality of product.

It is solely my opinion that the men of General Motors, finally realizing just how badly they had messed up, even while bringing the company out of bankruptcy, decided they needed a sacrificial lamb on whom they could lay all of the product problems that were plaguing the company. Welcome to the head of the class Mary Barra, Chief of Product Development, to which I say, “Just put your head right on this block My Queen, Dear Antoinette; it will only hurt the first time!”

It may be wrong of me to believe this, but it’s the way my mind works. I’m betting that all of these men from the old boy’s network intentionally through Mary Barra into the number one position solely so that she will take the heat for their errors. Guess what, boys, Mrs. Barra has more guts and more courage than any of you, because she will stand up and admit that GM really messed up between the years 2003 and 2012, and that her job is to make it right. She will also resolve that nothing like this will ever happen again on her watch…and it won’t.

Now that the secrets are no longer, perhaps it’s time that the White House stepped in once more and revoked the $10 million retirement package given to Rick Wagoner. Perhaps liens on his assets to the tune of that retirement compensation could be used to partially compensate the families who lost members due to the failure of those GM vehicles. New research is saying that it is no longer just 12 people who lost their lives and the number may climb to over 300. Perhaps liens should also be place on those who succeeded Wagoner up to time that Barra took over. Will all of this bring back the family members who lost their lives? Will this bring “closure” to the families? Lord but I hate that word, “closure.” There is no such thing because closure would mean having daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers back as living, breathing, laughing, and loving members of families, and that’s just not going to happen.

I’ve seen your videos Mrs. Barra. You’ve been kind to your predecessors, but as you have noted, you’re not just the first woman to head a major automotive giant; you’re a family person, a mother of four, and someone who knows what this loss really means. No one is asking you to micromanage, but everyone is asking that you become more involved than your predecessors about the day-to-day operations and engineering designs. I’m certain you have the ideas about which Mrs. Roosevelt has spoken. You bring to the table much broader experience than the boardroom boys. Let me put it another way: I think you’ve a hell of a lot smarter, tougher, and more empathetic to the consumer than your recent predecessors. Go get ‘em, Mary; give ’em hell!

 

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It would appear that no matter how hard we try; how forcefully we put forth, pronounce, write laws, and scream from the rooftops, there are just certain occasions when “You can’t fix stupid.” The latest example of that is epitomized by the homophobes who wish to tell gay people how or even if they can march in parades that are privately organized. Constitutionally, I guess they have the right to exclude any group from any activity that is privately funded, which just goes to show you that there are still people who are living in the 20th Century and who don’t want to be concerned about moving forward in their thinking. Put another way…you just can’t fix stupid.

The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, according to some, is the celebration of Irish heritage. However, from what I can determine, it’s more a celebration of Irish Roman Catholic pride. For example, no one is allowed to march if they are marching for a cause. This includes pro-life Irish Catholics or anyone who does not subscribe fully to the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. In other words, if you don’t bow down to the Vatican, you can’t be in a parade. Perhaps these should be called “Hypocrites Parades.” They are parades of exclusivity rather than inclusivity, and in today’s world, that sends the wrong message to a great many people. I suppose that if you’re not Catholic but 100 percent Irish, they might allow you in the parade, but only if you’re draped in a loin cloth and nailed to a Celtic cross!

These people who are picking and choosing who is allowed to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, and heaven only knows how many other places are stupid. According to Timothy Meagher, a history professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., “The parades are a statement of showing our colors, showing our numbers, showing that we are powerful and important.” Meagher added that St. Patrick’s Day in the United States was first celebrated with banquets at elite clubs in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. This year, the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast should drive many of the bigots’ wild. It will be hosted by State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, a Haitian American who numbers, among others, South Boston in her constituent base, and it is tradition that the Senator from Southie has hosted the breakfast. Some have suggested that because she’s married to an Irishman (oy vey!) that it will be okay for her to serve as emcee.

Boston’s history of bigotry is really blight on the City. When segregation was mandated decades ago, Boston resisted about as harshly as George Wallace in Alabama did to allowing Blacks to attending college in ‘his’ state. One of my own kids is married to a man whose mother was proud of the fact that her picture was in a sociology book, shown protesting integration. Bless her soul, she has now gone to meet her maker, but bragging about that time in her life always shocked me.

We are better than all of these disputes. Yes, some of us are Irish, but not Roman Catholic. One of the early churches in the Boston area was an Irish Presbyterian Church. What people in this country seem to forget is that our ethnicity is secondary to our heritage. We are Americans. When we travel, we don’t identify ourselves as Poles or Jews, Italians or Irish, Lithuanians or Armenians; we are Americans. That’s how we describe ourselves and that’s how others think of us. Sure, be proud of your ethnic heritage, but don’t use it as a crutch to discriminate against those who aren’t exactly what you want them to be, particularly in your own country. Our doors have always been open to people from many lands. We laud the customs and culture they bring to our shores. Let us celebrate the diversity, not only of ethnicity but of other beliefs that are different from our own.

One of the things that I truly enjoy about St. Patrick’s Day – other than the corned beef and cabbage and the Irish stew – is the knowledge that all of these Irish men and women are actually celebrating a day that was given to them by an Englishman who was born in what today may be part of Scotland. That’s right; for those who haven’t heard the story, it goes like this:  St. Patrick was originally named Maewyn Succat, son of a rather well-to-do family. At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave back to Ireland or, as it was called in those days, Hibernia. Slavery was a little different then; no jail cells or chains. He was assigned to tend sheep in the fields and on the mountainsides. “… every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed — the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; … and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me — as now I see, because the spirit within me was fervent”. After six years, it is said that he was spoken to by God and told to leave Ireland. He did and become a priest, taking the name Patricus or Patrick. He did not bring Christianity to Ireland but was sent there to assist the Christian population and to bring Christianity to the largely Pagan population. Eventually, he became the patron saint of what we know as Ireland. During his lifetime, it is said that he baptized tens of thousands into Christianity. We don’t really know if he used the shamrock as a tool to teach The Trinity, but it makes a good story. In addition, there is no evidence that he drove the snakes out of Ireland, largely because there never were any snakes in Ireland…other than those in one or more of the many pubs that dot each village. “The old saint died in his beloved Ireland on March 17th, 460 A.D. The land that once enslaved him had now been set free.”1

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  1. Much of this paragraph has been drawn from many sources. Where quotation marks were necessary, they have been placed. Other historical references have been paraphrased. The story of St. Patrick is drawn largely from his Confession, written during his life and capturing his own version of what actually happened. Remember, this was one long, long time ago, almost before I was born.

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