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Gene’s Political Affiliation

May 22, 2010

The Red Shirt Guy has Tea Party friends, believe it or not. Their spelling and grammar notwithstanding, I love and welcome my Tea Party friends’ views. I love how they’re distrustful of big government, as I had been during the Bush administration. I love their refusal to bend over and accept the government’s mandates without a fight. I just wonder why they were so silent between 2000 and 2008.

The Red Shirt Guy is all about two things: talking about himself in the third person, and dissent. So how can you not love the Tea Party? They may be subtle racists, bad spellers, and have some extremely right-wing views, but darn it, they’re dissenting!

But I’m not going to pick apart the Tea Party platform…today. I’m here to pick apart my own. There’s a connection, and I’ll get to it.

Anyway, a friend of mine who aligns himself with the modern Tea Party movement had insisted that I am a Socialist; I vehemently deny this. I do espouse some Socialist principles, but I am a firm believer in the free market.

I do believe the system we have in place is in dire need of reform. The ladies and gentlemen entrenched in the market are way too greedy, and seem to be hoarding necessary commodities. Deregulation has exacerbated this problem.

Conversely, I believe in private ownership. I like owning my own home and land. I think EVERYONE should have their own home and land. President Clinton thought so, too. His intentions, however, were exploited by greedy bankers, which some say led to the housing market’s meltdown in 2007.

Here’s where my Tea Party buddy calls me out as a Socialist: I believe in social justice. Glenn Beck teaches his viewers that social justice is a keyword for Nazism. I feel that our culture needs to work towards a caring, equitable stewardship of our world. I am a Christian, but respect all of my fellow humans’ beliefs.

I believe that President Obama’s new healthcare bill is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough. I want my fellow Americans, when they’re sick or injured,  to be able to enter a hospital, see a doctor, receive adequate treatment, and not pay a dime.

Jesus Christ was a dark-skinned man who walked around healing people. Just sayin’.

He did not charge the sick for His services. Otherwise the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead would be a lot less miraculous. Death, one might argue, is a pre-existing condition.

I also believe that Americans should have the right to receive a free public education. Public schools are a mess. I also think that college should be part of the public education system.

I believe in the free market, but some aspects of our lives, I believe, are sacred, and should not be subject to capitalism. I believe we should love and take care of one another before we exploit one another at the cash register. Yes, I believe in personal responsiblity and accountability, but only when the playing field is level.

If that makes me a Socialist…well…that’s probably why I call myself the Red Shirt Guy.

Well, sort of.

Universal Healthcare: A quick perspective

February 26, 2009

I think I know where GOP lawmakers, like Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Gov. Bobby Jindal, get the nerve to prop up the health insurance industry and fight against a universal health care system that would save lives and ultimately money:

Because they have free health care for life.

Can it be that simple?

The legislative branch has done nothing but quibble and waste time for decades. I propose we send them all home (without a severance package or health care) and let the people vote on issues directly via the Internet. Let’s create a true democracy. If the GOP wants to scale back the size of givernment, let’s start with them.

BTW- I’m researching this Senator Shelby character; something about him just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s the way he keeps trying to force U.S. Automakers to bust unions. Maybe it was the self-righteous indignation he gave Nardelli, Mullally, and Wagner when they asked for a paltry few bucks to keep 3 or 4 million Americans working, while he smiled and handed his banker buddies $700 Billion. Maybe it’s the way he puckered up to the credit card companies when they testified before the house for ripping people off. I’ve been reading about Shelby on Wikipedia and his own website. I’ll have more on hime later this week, so be sure to subscribe to this blog by clicking the RSS feed button at the top of your browser.

Be excellent to each other.

My Response to the Republican Response

February 25, 2009

Louisiana’s esteemed Governor Bobby Jindal shared his immigrant father’s inspirational quote, “Americans can do anything.” Gov. Jindal’s eloquence is impressive, his message felt sincere, yet I question many of his remarks. I would amend the Governor’s quote to include a parenthetical notation: Americans can do anything (as long as they’re rich).

His opening remarks attempted to ingratiate himself and his party to President Obama. He tried to invoke the very spirit of bipartisanship his party has recently ignored. It was, in my estimation,  quite ineffective. The Republican Governor, I’m sorry to say,  is feeding us the same rhetoric that lost John McCain the election. Here are the specific concerns I raise about Gov. Jindal’s speech:

480px-bobby_jindal

  • “The way to lead is not to put more money and power in the hands of Washington leaders.”  I agree that Americans can do anything; this includes swindle and steal from each other. Preventing corruption requires oversight. Oversight means keeping an eye on the fatcats and the wannabe fatcats who are looking for ways to circumvent the bureaucracy and steal American taxpayer’s money. “The way to lead is by empowering you, the American people, because we believe Americans can do anything.” Thanks, we’ve been empowered by the last election. Sorry, Governor. Lack of guidance from our leaders in Washington allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to give loans to people who could not pay them– which does not excuse Americans who accepted the loans knowing they couldn’t make the payments. Let’s face it: we need guidance and oversight, which is going to cost a few bucks. It’s SSDD.

 

  • Health Care: Gov. Jindal told Americans that the Republican Party believes that Americans should be able to choose their own health care provider and not have the federal government do it for them That would be great if we actually had a choice; most of us take whatever paltry plan our employers bless us with. For many more of us, our employers unscrupulously keep our hours below 40 per week so they won’t have to provide us with health care.

 

  • “To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down.  All of us remember what it felt like to pay $4 at the pump – and unless we act now, those prices will return. “ Sorry, Governor. We all know we were paying those astronomical prices at the pump because you and your Republican cronies refuse to use our own oil and did not support U.S. automaker’s efforts to create vehicles that use alternative fuel technology; not to mention the suspicion those oil companies funded most of your campaign coffers. Try again.

 

  • “To strengthen our economy, we must promote confidence in America by ensuring ours is the most ethical and transparent system in the world. ” How can we expect transparency without oversight? It makes no sense!!! We can put systems in place to prevent corruption, but with no one there to enforce the rules, who knows what schemes the fatcats will swindle us with next? Heck, why don’t you just make Bernie Madoff Secretary of the Treasury? He’ll make America some money, won’t he?

 

  • “In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear – because our party got away from its principles.  You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility.   Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington.   Republicans lost your trust – and rightly so.” Yes, sir, we did, but no, sir, you did not. You and your Republican friends are sticking to the same old song. Sorry, but your speech has shown little effort to change. It’s same stuff, different day.

I noticed Gov. Jindal did notmention education reform. Another mess the Republicans made that Pres. Obama is going to have to clean up.

I could go on, but this is a blog, and I’ve already lost some readers’ attention. Let me conclude with this: things are tough now, but we’ve been through worse. We’ll get through this as long as we support our new leadership, especially President Obama. It’s the Republican’s turn to feel disenfranchised. We ares till paying $341 Billion per day to fight a war the Republicans got us into. Now that President Obama wants to get us out of the war, this lousy economy, and staggering unemployment the Republicans created, they just want to poo-poo all over him. Well poo-poo on you, too!

Be excellent to each other.

Many Americans Feel Federal Support for Big 3 Unfair

February 25, 2009

We Detroiters are all too aware that many fellow Americans disagree with the Senate and Congress’s decision to loan Chrysler and GM taxpayer money to remain in business. My new friend, Richard, responded to my Monday posting with an apt analogy of a neighborhood restaurant nobody likes being subsidized by city council. I turned the intelligent comparison over in my noodle a few churns, and have what I believe to be a fair retort. First, let me explain the conservative and my new friend Richard’s point of view as I understand it:

Many Americans, even some Michiganians, feel slighted by our government’s decision to provide automakers bridge loans. They feel, their tax dollars are going to pay for a company whose business practices they disagree with.

Most Michiganians depend on "The Big 3" for our livlihood. But these companies' collapse would be catastrphic blow to the US economy.

Most Michiganians depend on "The Big 3" for our livlihood. But these companies' collapse would be catastrphic blow to the US economy.

 They feel our U.S. car companies have failed to produce quality products, made poor financial decisions, and dropped the ball on new technologies, alternative fuel, etc. Furthermore, they feel the companies, all three of them, will only become financially viable with significant management restructuring. They are probably right.

Now, allow me to use this same thinking on a couple of other issues:

It’s not fair that our elected officials spend our money in ways we disagree with. That’s the beauty of living in a capitalist democracy: we have checks and balances. Maybe we should replace both houses with Internet voting on all the issues. Once all U.S. adults are online, a website with all of the current issues will be set up for us to pick, choose, and vote. Then we’d have a real democracy!

‘Nuff said. My new friend and I may disagree on some things; I hope he continues to read and respond. I hope to find detractors, I invite you to speak your mind here. I will do my best to respectfully respond. I will continue to speak my mind, spotlight what’s right and just, as well as what is criminal and wrong.

American Education: The Feds and the Fat Cats VS. Our Kids

February 24, 2009

I’ve always believed that a solid investment in a sound future for our country would be to fund public education.

You see, I have this revolutionary idea:  we create meaningful learning experiences and safe environments in our public schools– all of them, not just the ones where rich, white kids go.

We hire smart, creative, dedicated people to design, manage, and maintain these schools. We make a sincere effort to fully prepare young Americans for the brutal, competitive workplace the future holds for them.

That’s my revolutionary idea.

It’ll never happen.

Wanna know why? It’ll cost too much, and The Man refuses to invest in a future he’ll won’t be around to see. Screw the grandkids’ kids, I gots to have my fat bottom line today. 

Today’s red shirt guys are the children of our great nation. We’ve polluted, corrupted, and generally loused up the planet and the systems meant to manage it. Now we’ve thrown our friend common sense out the window. Instead of, at the very least, trying to improve the current system, we are closing schools and laying off teachers.

Improving public education will call for many things:

  • A reduction in average class sizes (which means hiring more teachers)
  • An overhaul of standardized testing (Sorry! Multiple choice tests are a poor way to measure a person’s academic growth)
  • Overhaul of the nation’s curriculum; school needs to be more challenging, not less
  • An overhaul of the school lunch program (young people need to eat nutritious low-fat foods at lunch without a bunch of chemicals)
  • Community outreach programs (Parents need to be involved in education)
  • More technology in the schools

This is just a short list. I’ll complain more in the future. This stuff is going to cost money, folks.

Despite the efforts of our former president, we are leaving more children than ever behind. President Obama is giving a glimmer of hope. The new economic stimulus package will provide $92 Billion to improve education in our country’s public schools. Hopefully these monies will be carefully tracked.

I know the economy is in a sorry state right now. Believe me: if we suck it up now, we’ll thank ourselves later. More importantly, our kids will thank us later.

It’s Hard to be Proud When You’re From Detroit (But Darn it, We Are!)

February 23, 2009
Detroit's signature landmark, The Reanissance Center, sits on the banks of the Detroit River which separates the U.S. and Canada.

Detroit's signature landmark, The Reanissance Center, sits on the banks of the Detroit River which separates the U.S. and Canada.

Detroiters don’t usually proudly proclaim where they’re from– they admit it with a modicum of shame. While there are many things to be proud of in the Motor City, we’re like the outcast child on the edge of the American playground waiting for the other cities to come ask them to play.

The executives who steer the “Big 3″ auto manufacturing companies are arguably Detroit’s most important figures. If you live in Southeast Michigan, you either work for one of them directly, or indirectly in a support role. Their recent efforts to garner federal support to remain in business, while necessary, drew a great deal of stern attention from the blogosphere. People from other cities are under the false impression that if Ford, Chrysler, or GM go belly-up, then it’s just Detroit that suffers.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is there a car dealership in your hometown?
  2. Are there any factories that produce auto parts?
  3. How many jobs would be affected if  one or all of these companies failed?

Detroiters pride themselves on what we view as “our” product, but in fact, cars are produced all over our great country. Let’s face it: if the Big 3 fails, America fails.

Yeah, yeah, yeah: GM messed up in the 1990’s when they dropped the electric car program. None of the Big 3 saw the alternative fuel trend coming. They lacked vision. Now they’re paying the price: the most popular news agencies on the web falsely identify the Prius as the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. The fact is no one really knows which car saves the most gas because the system used to  measure the efficiency numbers is outdated. They’re measuring MPG (miles per gallon) when the should be measuring gallons per mile.

Our recent mayoral scandal cast a blinding spotlight on the corruption that infests city government. The light sentence Kwame Kilpatrick received and the cushy job he managed to get in Dallas doesn’t help the wounds heal. But I’m confident he’ll get his. The Kilpatrick family is trying to put the past behind them in Dallas, Texas– I think their past is something that will loom over them for years to come. 

To make matters worse, the Detroit Public Schools continues to suffer leadership problems, schools are being closed, and parents are forced to enroll their children in charter schools– which seem like a viable alternative because they have smaller class sizes, but  they lack resources. 

Okay- the Lions are the worst team in NFL history. Let’s rub salt in Detroit’s already painful wounds.

Driving in some parts of Detroit is downright dangerous. The blight continues to spread. With our country’s economic ailments, there’s no end in sight. Yet, one might see a light in the future of our city.

When we talk about the future in Detroit, we refer to a time when things will get better, not if. We have seen bad times in Detroit. We’ve been lean and mean.

And guess what else, Senator Shelby? WE ARE A UNION TOWN– THAT WILL NEVER CHANGE. We need the unions. They are our source of strength. They give us a center to hold us together.

We may not always be proud of our town here in Detroit, but it is OUR town. We will get through this. Detroit pride will permeate this nation one day. And to all thise bullies who dismiss us like the proverbial outcast child on the playground, go ahead and pick us last for kickball. Go ahead and talk about us behind our collective back. But one day soon, you may want us on your team. And guess what?

We’ll be there.

Battlestar Galactica: In Search of an Interesting Plot

February 21, 2009

Disappointed. Bored. Waiting for the punchline.

Breathlessly, I waited all winter for the final season of BSG. The questions made me dizzy: What happened on Earth? Would they stay there anyway? What about the final Cylon? (Which turned out to be a bummer, anyway.)What’s up with the hybrid baby, Hera?
The first two installments of the SciFi original BSG sent me to Snoozeland. Gaeta and Tom Zarek staged a mutiny, creating an exciting two-episode arc. Then we found out who the final Cylon is, Ellen Tigh, and that she had been resurrected before Galactica destroyed the resurrection hub. That, while interesting, felt like an antithesis. The show is getting boring again.

Now the rebel Cylons, Col. Tigh, want to leave the fleet. Weird. I mean, what’s Chief Tyrol’s problem? Last week he had his nose up Adama’s butt trying to fix all of the cracks in Galactica’s aging hull. Suddenly he’s all fired up to board the baseship and bail.

I’m praying that the writing staff is setting us up for a cool finale. There are a mere four episodes remaining. I speculate that they’ll pull a Sopranos on us, leaving the door open for more in years to come, but if not, some semblance of closure. Here are their options as I see them:

  1. The fleet remains united; finds a habitable planet; begins a hybrid civilization leaving everyone with a warm, fuzzy feeling
  2. The other Cylon fleet with Cavil at the helm catches up with them; there’s a fight; good guys win; find a habitable planet; audience is left with warm fuzzies.
  3. Galactica & fleet DO NOT find a new home, keep searching; leaving door open for future episodes, but not giving the audience the warm fuzzies.

Oh well, only another month until we all know. Until then, keep ‘yer frakkin ears open!

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