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When Will Government Get Out Of Our Lives?—Socialism In Clear View

Above is a picture I took two days ago in Cincinnati’s Eden Park.

Look at all the ways government intrudes in our lives.

Government tells us we are at the corner of Alpine and St. Paul.

Maybe we feel we are someplace else.

The government just wants us to think we are at the corner of Alpine and St. Paul.

Government tells us this is a one way street.

What about hard-working, English-speaking, tax-paying Americans who want to go another way down this street? 

First they tell us what we can do in our very own cars. Next they will harvest our organs for a United Nations organ bank.

The government wants us to stop at a certain place on the road.

What if this is not the place we wish to stop?

Should not free citizens be able to employ their superior knowledge of traffic management to know just the right place where they should stop?

Government says we can not turn left between noon and ten on Sunday. 

Where is that restriction in the Constitution?

Sunday is the sabbath. What if God directs me to turn left at Alpine and St. Paul in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday?

If you look at the top of the stone wall near the pole of the traffic sign, you see that the stone wall was built by the New Deal Works Progress Administration in 1941.

Socialism.

When will the Cincinnati Tea Party come to tear down this wall and build a new one with citizen-volunteer labor?

How have the people of Cincnnati allowed this socialism to stand in clear view for 70 years? 

When will government get out of our lives?

( Photo copyright 2011 by Neil Aquino)

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Donation To Democratic National Committee—Consider What You Can Do As Election Nears

Above you see Franklin Roosevelt Action Figure, Andrew Jackson Action Figure, and George W. Bush Action Figure . They are standing with a $50 money order that they bought at the supermarket, and are going to send to the Democratic National Committee.

F.D.R.A.F. says that Health Care Reform is as close to a New Deal program that we going to see in our corporate owned nation. He reminds that HCR, among many helpful things, ends lifetime limits on policies, stops the practice of kicking people off insurance because they sick and offers free immunizations to kids. (Read about Health Care Reform on your own.)

Andrew Jackson A.F. says that in his day, slavery was expanded and Indian removal was aggressively pursued all in the name of expanded democracy and liberty. He says he would have done something about it all, but for the fact that he was in favor of all the bad things taking place.  Old Hickory says that in our day, the so-called Tea Party and the Republican Party use talk of expanded democracy and liberty to empower the rich even further and to make sure that millions won’t have access to health insurance. (A good to book to learn about the “evolution” of democracy in the first half of the 19th century is The Rise of American Democracy–Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz. )

George W. Bush A.F. says that many of our problems are indeed his fault.

The donation does not change my view that the Democratic Party sometimes ignores the poor and urban voters who are often it’s most reliable supporters.

Nor does it mean that I’m any less frustrated with President Obama‘s failure to communicate effectively for progressive values.

But we are where we are, and we must move ahead past the upcoming election.

The Republican Party has from the moment President Obama took office said no to everything he has proposed. They never had any intention of saying anything other than saying no.

They have said no regardless of the severity of the recession, regardless of the millions without health insurance and regardless of the reality of climate change.

They don’t appear to care about the severity of these problems.

I suggest that you please consider what you can do to help Democratic candidates in the weeks ahead.

After the election is done, there will be plenty of time to discuss what comes next.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is America?—How Should America Be Defined?

What is America? How should America be defined?

America is the idea and the fact of a strong federal government over the lesser powers of the states as written in our United States Constitution. The Constitution was in many ways a response to failure of the Articles of Confederation and the incompetence and corruption of state legislatures.

America is Emancipation and the victory of freedom over states rights treason in our Civil War.

America is the expanded economic freedoms and opportunity of the New Deal.

America is the hopeful progress of the Great Society and the Civil Rights Movement.

These are the things that define America.

It is a story of progress, of ever-expanding freedom, and of an always widening definition of what it means to be an American.

If America ever becomes something else than the progress we see detailed above, then it will no longer be America.

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is The Subconscious Mind?

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For many years I had a recurring dream that I was in the Brown University Bookstore on Thayer Street in Providence, Rhode Island. (Above you see a picture of the Brown University Bookstore I took last year. The store is the grey building on the left. To the right is Thayer Street.)

After some years of this dream, I began to think about this place during my waking hours. 

As long as the dream went on, I never figured out why I was having the dream.   

As a kid I often went to the Brown U. store.  Last summer, in Providence for the first time in 20 years, I went into the bookstore for first time since maybe 1980. I’ve not had the dream since I went into the store last year.

In the past couple of months, I’ve had a new recurring dream. I dream I’m in parts of Providence that I knew as a kid, but did not see when in Providence last summer. I’ve now had this new dream three times.

Though I lived in Providence for my first 13 years, I consider Cincinnati, Ohio  my hometown far more than Providence. Cincinnati is where I lived the 18 years after Providence. Yet its Providence I keep dreaming about.

I think this is in part because I visit Cincinnati twice a year and have only been to Providence once in the past 20 years. I think if I did not regularly see Cincinnati, I would dream of that city as well.

In any case, all this got me to thinking about the subconscious mind.  What is the subconscious mind? 

A New York Times article from 2007  says it is something that guides your actions more than you realize. It says our minds respond in ways we don’t fully control in response to clues and triggers. For example, if we see a briefcase we may become more competitive. 

Past that article, what I found by poking around on the internet—perhaps reflecting a subconscious view that I don’t really want to know what is lurking in my mind—was nothing very solid.

There is a lot of stuff about using your so-called subconscious mind to quit smoking or become rich. Other web pages had a New Age feel. New Age stuff is fine for people who go for all that–But it does not do so much for me.

Wikipedia has a definition. 

Beyond my wariness of what I read in Wikipedia—And I do appreciate Wikipedia for all the pictures I use on this blog that I get from that source—I find myself wondering how we can well-define something that takes place in our subconscious. How can anyone know for sure?

I’d like to think that right now in my subconcious mind some type of dinosaur fight is taking place—

File:Laelops-Charles Knight-1896.jpg   

Here is the defintion of subconcious from The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

” Of or pertaining to, existing in, the part of the mind which influences actions etc. without one’s “full” awareness.”

I think this is as close as we are going to get to a good definition.

Your subconcious mind is present in some respect and it is messing with you in someway. If all it is doing is making you have a dream about a place you left a long time ago, you’re likely getting off lucky.

( Here is a link to information about Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Maybe those of who reached this post via a search engine question will have thoughts of all the good FDR and the New Deal accomplished planted in your subconscious when you are deciding in the future how to vote.)

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Specter Switch—Republicans Unable To Get A Hold On Senate Since 1929 Crash

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The switch of Arlen Specter from Republican to Democrat leaves Republicans with just 40 Senators in the 100 seat Senate. After Al Franken is seated in Minnesota there will be 58 Democrats and 2 independents who mostly vote with the Democrats in the Senate.  

( Above–Arlen Specter with Martin Luther King. Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)

This weak Republican presence in the Senate is not out of line with Republican membership in the Senate since the 1929 stock crash. Beginning with the 1930 election, the first after the crash, Democrats have reached 60 or more seats in the Senate 11 times. Mr. Franken’s seating will make that 12 times.

The peak of Democratic control was the 76 seats won in the 1936 election.

(Below–Charles McNary of Oregon was leader of the very small Republican Senate minority after the 1936 election.)

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The Republican high since 1930 is just 55 seats. This mark was reached in the elections of 1996, 1998 and 2004. The last time Republicans were as strong in the Senate as are Democrats today was after the election of 1920 when they had 59 seats. The Senate at that time had only 96 seats as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet part of the union.

Democrats have won more than 55 seats in the Senate 20 times since 1929 in contrast to the inability of Republicans to win as many of 56 seats since that year.

( Here  is the link to the web home of the U.S. Senate. There is a lot of information to be found at the Senate site. Here is a link to the divisions by party going back to the beginning of the Senate in 1789.)   

The last time Republicans reached 60 seats was the election of 1908. Republicans won 60 seats that year in what was a 92 seat Senate.

Democrats have had two main periods of dominance in the Senate since was 1929.  In the years between and including the first election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and his final election in 1944, Democrats never fell below 57 seats.

( Below—Republican Robert Taft of Ohio was Senate Majority Leader at the time of  his death in 1953.

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In 1958 Democrats won 65 seats and in 1978 they took 58. In between those years, they never went lower than 54 and seven times eclipsed 60.  

(Below–Mike Mansfield of Montana was Majority Leader of the Senate 1961-1977. That is the longest tenure in that position.) 

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Republicans have only had two stretches since 1929 where they’ve won control of the Senate in consecutive elections. 

In the Reagan years, Republicans ran the Senate after the 1980, 1982 and 1984 elections. After the Republican Congressional landslide of 1994, Republicans won at least 50 seats each election up to and including 2004.  Though after the 2000 election Republican control was ended when Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched to the Democrats giving Democrats a 51-49 edge.

( Below–Howard Baker of Tennessee served as both Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Senate.)

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A qualification to all this could be that many Democrats in the years of Democratic control since 1929 were Southern Democrats who often voted with Republicans. True control of the Senate often eluded the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party.

There is truth to that qualification. But it must be said that the New Deal and Great Society programs that conservatives would like to undo were passed in these years. Civil Rights legislation also passed in these years though it took a long time and required the principled support of some Republicans in the Senate.

Today’s strong Democratic majority has moderate members, but nothing like the segregationists of the past. 

For 40 years, since the Sunbelt driven election of Richard Nixon in 1968, we’ve been hearing about the supposed realignment of American politics towards Republicans. Well–Where is it?

( Please click here to read about the Senate’s art collection.) 

Today’s Democratic majorities and the states that Barack Obama won come from all around the nation. In the South, Mr. Obama won North Carolina, Virgina and Florida. Senator Specter’s switch only adds to the 80 years and counting slump of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate.

( Coming soon -A look at membership of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1929. The story is much the same as it has been in the Senate.)

(Below—Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia has seen a lot of Senate history since he entered the Senate in 1959.  He is the longest serving Senator ever.) 

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April 29, 2009 Posted by | Art, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Does Not Make Sense For Republicans To Give Away Core Beliefs

Republicans in Congress have little reason to negotiate in the current stimulus debate. The way the stimulus bill uses large sums of taxpayer dollars to fund new programs and expand the role of government is directly against the core principles of the Republican Party. Republicans may well be right to guess that the provision of health care benefits to unemployed people that is part of the House version of the bill, is a pathway to government-sponsored universal care. This is not something Republicans are eager to see. 

That the Republican view of limited government and tax cuts for the rich has been proven wrong by our current economic mess is not the point. This is so even if the good of the nation should come before failed ideology. Reduced to an ineffective minority in the House, and barely holding on to 40 seats in the Senate, Republicans have few options. They can offer opposition, or they can melt away completely during the Obama years by going along with the proposals of the White House and the Congressional majority.

What is the point of being a Republican if you give away your core beliefs? Republicans look back to Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency and see that hard as they try, and even given a number of successful attacks, they still can’t undo the New Deal after 75 years. Many aspects of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society remain in place after 40 years.  Why would they back another wave of government expansion?

This is the main reason why President Obama can’t make much bipartisan headway on the stimulus bill. He’s asking Republicans to give away the farm for little in return. Republicans can’t “out-government” Democrats.  Why would they even try? I’m sure Republicans in Congress and their core voters do not feel any need for a second Democratic Party.

Maybe it serves President Obama’s political intrests to reach out to Republicans. It’s possible that as we go along he may be able to pick off a few Senate Republicans for his initiatives. If this turns out to be the case than maybe the nation as a whole will gain. 

But what we can’t have is wasting this fleeting period of Democratic Party ascendancy during a time of economic crisis in order to try and reach people who can’t be reached. Now is the time for an aggressive push to expand the role of government in our economic life, and to move towards universal health care. 

After years of economic and moral stagnation under the winner-take-all philosophies of Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and many others, we cannot blow this chance to help remake America as a more fair and just nation.

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , , | 3 Comments

As Roosevelt Acted To Stop Farm Foreclosures, So Must Government Help Distressed Americans Today

I’ve been reading The Coming of the New Deal by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. This book, published in 1959, was the second of three titles in Professor Schlesinger’s The Age of Roosevelt  series.   

Described in the book is Franklin Roosevelt’s response in the first weeks of his administration to problem of farm foreclosures. I’m less interested on the specifics of the program—I know little of farms or banking—than I am in the fact that the actions detailed here took place at all. These are things that took place within the first weeks and months of the Roosevelt administration in 1933.   

( Above is a picture of a dust storm in the Depression-era Dust Bowl farm crisis. The farm is in Stratford, Texas. The photo is from 1935. Here is some history of the Dust Bowl and of farming in the 1930’s)

From The Coming of the New Deal—

“The mortgage question was causing more immediate unrest than anything else;, and the administration had already moves with vigor to relive the situation. At the end of March, Roosevelt reorganized the hodgepodge of federal agricultural credit instrumentalities into a single new agency, the Farm Credit Administration….It’s powers confirmed by the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act and supplanted in June by the Farm Credit Act, FCA refinanced farm mortgages, developed techniques for persuading creditors to make reasonable settlements, set up local farm debt adjustment committee, and eventually established a system of regional banks to make mortgage, production, and marketing loans and to provide credits to cooperatives. It loaned more than $100 million in its first seven months–nearly four times as much as the total of mortgage loans to farmers from the entire land-bank system the year before. At the same time, it beat down the interest rate in all areas of farm credit…Though anger still rumbled in the farm belt, FCA gave every evidence of getting at least the emergency debt problem out of the way.”

The response to the problem of farm foreclosures reported In New Deal are such a contrast to the go it alone ethic of recent years. It reminds us that government has a role to play in our economy and in our society.

In the days ahead, as we recover from the current financial crisis, let’s recall that government action has served us well before and is needed again to take us back to prosperity. 

Hopefully, larger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and a new Democratic President, will lead the way. Hopefully, our newly elected political leadership will have the courage and imagination to try new ideas and ask the American people to see that we are all connected in this life. 

Here is some very good history of the New Deal.

Here is a history of New Deal agricultural programs

President Roosevelt’s first Secretary of Agriculture, and future Vice President, Henry Wallace, was an interesting figure. American Dreamer–The Life And Times Of Henry A. Wallace by former Iowa Senator John Culver and John Hyde is a good book on Wallace and Depression era agricultural programs.

( Below is an Iowa farm foreclosure sale from the 1930’s)

digital file from original neg.

October 10, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Many Presidents Have Died Early In Their Terms—President Palin

When a President has died in office, it has often been quite early in his term. This has often made a big difference in American history.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

The first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, expired just a month into his term. Harrison died in 1841. President Harrison, at 68 the oldest President to that point, was a Whig. His Vice President, John Tyler, was a representative of the Southern planter class picked to help balance the ticket and not in full agreement with the Whig mainstream. As President, Tyler pursued policies, such a veto of a national bank, that greatly distressed Whig leaders such as Henry Clay.

President Zachary Taylor passed on in 1850 after serving just 17 months of his term. He was succeeded by Millard Filmore

Abe Lincoln’s (above)1865 assassination occurred just a month into his second term. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson (below), who had not been Lincoln’s first term VP, had very different views than Lincoln on Reconstruction, and how the South and Southerners should be handled after the Civil War.

Here is a stark difference between the person elected President and the person elected Vice President. The United States got one month of a great President and just under four years of a terrible President. And black folks got a century of Jim Crow.  

James Garfield was shot in the first year of his term in 1881. He died a few months later. Garfield’s successor, Chester Arthur, might well have been an improvement. President Arthur sought Civil Service reform and was surprisingly independeant despite a reputation as a machine politician.

William McKinley was shot and killed in the first year of his second term in 1901. McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who like Andrew Johnson had not been the first term VP, was a very different man than McKinley.

Franklin Roosevelt was shot at in 1933 in the time between his election and inauguration. Roosevelt’s Vice President-elect, John Nance Garner was far more conservative than F.D.R. You might never of had a New Deal if Garner had become President instead of Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would later die in the first weeks of his fourth term. Vice President Harry Truman who had not been VP in the first three F.D.R terms, took the White House and did a pretty good job.  

Also, Ronald Reagan was shot and seriously wounded in his first year as President in 1981.

Let’s say you are less than a hardcore Republican, yet are still considering voting for 72 year old John McCain. American history shows us that you may feel you’re voting for Mr. McCain, but that what you really may get is President Sarah Palin.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar & White Liberals—The Line Between Good And Evil

 

Recently I read the Paul Laurence Dunbar novel The Sport of the Gods. This short book, published in 1901 as Mr. Dunbar was dying of tuberculosis, is about a black family that has moved from the South to Harlem. As you might suppose, it is a bleak tale. 

Mr. Dunbar, who died at age 34 in 1906, was once termed by Booker T. Washington as the “Poet Laureate” of the Negro Race.    

Mr. Dunbar was known as a “dialect poet.” He added black “dialect” to his poems. This was not “proper” English. Mr. Dunbar did this to gain acceptance as a poet. Mr. Dunbar did not always want to write in that form, but found it difficult to find equal praise for his poems in standard English.

This is what happens when your work is defined by people, who, whatever they might claim, do not at heart care about you as a human being and do not care about your aspirations in life.

Sometimes in life you have to work very hard to find your audience. 

Click here to read and hear Mr. Dunbar’s poetry in various forms. This link is provided by the University of Dayton. Dayton, Ohio was the hometown of the poet.     

In Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow–The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore by Eleanor Alexander, Mr. Dunbar is shown as an abusive man towards his wife, the poet Alice Ruth Moore. Ms. Alexander is a professor at Georgia Tech.

This book was reviewed in The New York Times in 2002 by Professor Paula Giddings who teaches at Smith College.  

From the review—“… Dunbar, whose alcoholism was compounded by what appears to have been a bipolar disorder that eeirly mirrored the society around him. The result was effusive expressions of sentiment, melancholia or violent outbursts—all of which found their way to Alice….Dunbar’s drinking and ranting got worse and even spilled over to public acts of humiliation and violence. In January 1902, four years before his death…he beat Alice within an inch of her life. She left him and, ignoring his ardent entreaties for reconciliation, never saw him again.”

As I read The Sport of the Gods, I often recalled the book review I had read five years earlier. Whatever the stresses in his life, and they were terrible stresses I’m certain, what could justify Mr. Dunbar beating up a woman? 

Are the literary merits of The Sport of the Gods and other works by Mr. Dunbar obscured or diminished by the way Mr. Dunbar behaved? 

While reading the book I also thought about how racial conditions played a large part in the anger of Mr. Dunbar went largely unaddressed for all the years of the New Deal and beyond. This was many years after Mr. Dunbar’s death. These conditions went on and on and still go on in many respects in our cities.

Here is information from the Library of Congress about racial discrimination in New Deal programs.

Most of the white liberals I would have likely voted for had I lived in that time where content enough to look the other way at the aparthied of the American South. FDR wanted Southern votes. So did Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson and John Kennedy. ( Which is not to say that Mr. Truman or Mr. Kennedy did not make some gains in this area.)

Do these facts diminish the liberal accomplishments of the New Deal era and its aftermath?

Personally, I’d say yes. People’s lives were wasted living in an unfair country while people who claimed to care about fairness and justice did nothing or next-to-nothing.     

And while Mr. Dunbar’s work stands on its own, I can’t deny I was aware as I read Sport that Mr. Dunbar was guilty of the some of the same abuse he was writing about.

That said, we must never lose sight of the humanity and the frailty that is at the core of each individual in the world. I’ve yet to meet a person with totally clean hands.   

December 6, 2007 Posted by | Books, Poetry, Political History, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment