Newt Gingrich and William Bennett say America is now in the midst of World War III. They say the enemy is militant Islam and America is involved on fronts all across the world. I saw these men say this on TV.
What I’d like to see, if we are in a so-called Third World War, is a call for mobilization involving real sacrifice. Like a tax increase instead of tax cuts for the rich.
It is hard to pick a most offensive aspect of the conflict in Iraq as conducted by the Bush team. But one thing I could nominate is the failure to ask American citizens for any type of sacrifice. Our troops and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are dying in a war America started, yet we are not asked to change anything about how we live. This despite the fact so many of us live like pigs. It’s appalling.
A friend told me about the annual gay pride parade held recently in Cincinnati, Ohio He told me the parade route ran past a police station. He said he saw a few women police officers in the window of the station giving the parade a “thumbs up.” I’m glad to know Cincinnati has such officers patrolling the streets.
The following is a letter I wrote to Enterprise Rent-A-Car Chairman and CEO Andrew Taylor. People don’t have to just sit around and take this kind of stuff.
Dear Mr. Taylor:
I recently rented an Enterprise car. I picked up the car at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport. I took your shuttle bus from the terminal to the Enterprise location.
The radio in the shuttle bus was tuned to a conservative radio program. During my ride to the Enterprise office, the driver was listening to the Sean Hannity show. Mr. Hannity was promoting an upcoming interview of Oliver North.
I found this frustrating. I was not paying Enterprise to listen to Sean Hannity. I did not complain to the driver because the real issue is that Enterprise allows customers to be subjected to programming they may find offensive.
It’s clear why a shuttle bus driver would listen to the radio to help him get through the day. I have no problem with that. But surely there is a sports talk show or some music the driver could listen to instead of a show that by its nature is designed to anger some people.
As a repeat Enterprise customer, I please ask you to review this matter and to realize that not everybody who rents a car is a fan of Oliver North.
The following is a letter I recently wrote to Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
Dear Senator Obama:
My name is Neil Aquino. I live in Houston, Texas. I am writing to tell you how disappointed I am with your characterization of the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota as a “gadfly.”
Senator Wellstone was a great champion of liberalism. His vote against the Iraq War, his advocacy of issues for those suffering from mental illness and his willingness to stand for his liberal beliefs remain a source of inspiration to many Americans.
You appear to see Senator Wellstone’s legacy as being little more than that of a nuisance.
Norm Coleman and his allies used lies about behavior at Senator Wellstone’s funeral for political gain in Mr. Coleman’s campaign against Walter Mondale. Now it appears you are modeling yourself on Senator Coleman’s shameful conduct. You’ve twisted Paul Wellstone’s record after his death to signify you are more a centrist than a liberal.
Maybe you are more to the center than to the left. That is a matter between you and the people of Illinois. I just wonder why you picked such a lousy way to make the point.
Such conduct may, or may not, help you politically. It will never, however, win you the respect who people who have given much effort to elect candidates such as Paul Wellstone, or, before these unfortunate remarks, you.
As an active participant in the process who discusses politics with many different people around the country, I had looked forward to your political career and the optimism it seemed to represent. Now I don’t feel that way at all.
A report in the June issue of the American Sociological Review says many Americans have few or no family or friends with whom they can discuss important personal issues.
The report cites a number of reasons for this state of affairs. People are working long hours and have less time for relationships. Since women have entered the workplace in great numbers they have less time for social networking.
Other factors cited were an increase in commute times and time spent watching TV and, as I’m doing right now, sitting in front of a computer.
I’m sure all this is all true. An article published in American Sociological Review no doubt passed a rigorous process of academic review and conformation.
But I think some reasons were left out.
Maybe people would have richer social lives if they did not invest so much energy in hating other people. Political attacks against immigrants and gays are all the rage in some circles. Pushing people away is not a good way to have friends.
People of all colors might have richer social lives if they not assert the worst about people who are different. Living in Houston, I’ve heard black people criticize Vietnamese people and Chinese people criticize black people. Everybody has a gripe about everybody else.
Perhaps working hours could be cut back if people who already have everything they need in life would scale down their material ambitions.
Maybe working hours could be cut back if people stopped voting for candidates who support profits for the few instead of decent lives for the many.
People are free to vote for gay-baiting estate tax repealing right-wingers. But these acts have consequences and an impoverished social life may be one of them.
It’s possible many of these right-wingers know just what they are doing and value their hatreds more than the more hopeful aspects of life.
The political liberal is well-equipped to work past some of the barriers modern life throws up against a healthy social life. He or she is able to embrace a broad definition of family, community and personal fulfillment.
It’s easier to have close and trusted friends when you are accepting of many different types of people. It’s easer to have friends when you apply some imagination and effort to your relationships. Good friends can often be found by simply working hard at existing relationships and never giving up on a relationship even if you have lost touch for a time.
An excellent book is Ray Miller’s Houston published in 1982. This book is a history of Houston and, to a lesser extent, of Texas. Miller relates the story of Anglo settlers who came to Texas to fight the Mexican government. Wrote Miller — “Texas had agents in the United States by 1835 enlisting volunteers to fight against Mexico. Volunteers without any legal status were coming in, looking for action. They were the original illegal aliens in Texas.”
Maybe turnabout is simply fair play.
I ate out on the Fourth of July. I think everything should be closed on the Fourth–But that is a losing battle. I tipped the waiter 25% for his help. If someone is working for you on a holiday, you should pay that person the same time and a half you would expect. Being a liberal means acting like one.
We all sometimes wonder if Republicans holding high office have any true convictions. A recent vote in the Senate suggests that maybe some of them do. The silly flag burning amendment failed in the Senate last week by just one vote. Three Republicans voted no. One Republican no was from Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island. Senator Chaffee is running for his life this year in a state that should not be sending a Republican to the Senate. His vote is no big deal in Rhode Island. However, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, someone almost always on the dark side, and Senator Robert Bennett of Utah also voted no. If either of these men had switched their vote the amendment would have gone to the states. It seems that both Mr. McConnell and Mr. Bennett acted out of principle. They realized a flag amendment would cheapen the Constitution.