Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finally, Something Seems to be Trickling Down, Senator McConnell

Dear Senator McConnell:

Not only was your performance on Meet the Press this morning entertaining, it reminded me to question everything because not much is what it seems. I was nodding along, admiring your artful dance around the questions and enjoying how skillfully you substituted your familiar song in lieu of answers when your expression seemed to change, a ha ha ha slipped out, and you seemed like a real person. And that’s where the trouble started; you seemed like a person I know, who seemed like a different person than he actually is.

If this seems confusing, please stay with me while I try to explain.

A man who seemed like a friend, and who seemed honest, asked me to help him get to Washington. He needed the work he had been offered in Washington but had no one to watch his children while he was gone. I will admit that I am not as nice as I seemed because my first thought was that he should ask the woman he dates, or her children, not me and mine. But he seemed desperate. I said I would talk to my daughter; if she wanted to watch his children for a week, I would help on the evenings she had to work late. He seemed grateful and relieved me of responsibility by assuring me his teen-aged son would watch the children while she worked.

Washington is not the only connection. Like you, he did not go there to work on what we thought we were sending him there to do. Sources close to him reported that he had gone there with a special interest (the woman). In the end, the two of them had a fun time, posed for a few photo ops, and lined their own pockets, but they did not return any of that to the babysitter who thought she was sending him there to do a different job. And, like you, he did not care how badly the people he left behind suffered as a result of his irresponsibility and dishonesty. When the babysitter reported that she had been robbed, her car had been vandalized, she had been threatened with physical harm, and had lost time at her job in order to deal with the problems he left behind, his response was much like your response when David Gregory asked, “Are the tax cuts paid for?” Same as you, he danced all over the place, tossed out some unrelated talking points, pointed a finger at the baby sitter, and suggested that she deserved what was done to her. Like your special interest groups and your party, his special interest sponsored dishonest propaganda about the babysitter and told her to pull herself up by the bootstraps (or eat shit and die, as the case may be).

A week later, he has not answered the one simple question (what is the name of the boy who tried to coax his buddies into tag teaming* the babysitter and vandalized her car?) the same as I can bet that a week from now you will not have answered the simple question, “Do you think the tax cuts you support are paid for?” Honestly, getting this boy’s identification from the irresponsible father seems as difficult as getting that list of donors from you a few years ago, and I don’t have the Courier Journal digging for me.

None of it seems right to me. Unless, of course, right refers to political leanings. In that case, it seems totally right.

While comparing the two situations might seem like a long stretch to some people, I say it is not. The longer people live with corruption and dishonesty, the more normal it seems to them. Those are the things that do trickle down - all the way into the neighborhoods in your community, Senator McConnell.

So, do you think the tax cuts for the wealthy are paid for? It seems like a very simple question. It also seems like THE American babysitters need leaders who demonstrate honesty and courage. Here’s your chance to make a positive change.



*Tag team has several definitions. In wrestling, a tag team consists of two wrestlers who are working together as a team. The urban definition is when multiple guys have sex with a girl and one tags another when a break is needed. When the girl is a babysitter who is trying to force drunken teens out of the house, I think it is safe to assume the urban definition would apply, and the suggested activity would be gang rape.

Hell froze over, pigs flew, and Mitch McConnell’s name landed in my Honest Politician group

Dear Senator McConnell:

I am as surprised as anyone to see your name enter the carefully moderated pages of my Honest Politician Group. With so little chance you would ever accidentally utter a truth or purposely break your only perfect record, and no way in hell anyone could sneak a dishonest post about your non-existent virtues past me, I thought the group was safe.

And then came this deliciously ironic twist of events.

Hell didn’t exactly freeze over but temperatures here in McConnell hell did drop into tolerable ranges during Kentucky State Fair week, closely resembling the same phenomenon. And pigs, both of the two and four leg varieties, were involved. The country ham went for $1.6 million; no word yet on what you or Rand Paul sold yourselves for in that room full of corporate money.

From what I hear, the Annual Country Ham Breakfast, an event where politicians and pork come together to impress power ($) and people, went pretty much as usual. Pigs did not fly nor did my hero, Congressman John Yarmuth, earn the recognition he deserved - until later, when a listener emailed a radio talk show host to ask why he didn’t stand to applaud you at the pork fest. And a hero was born.

I’ll let Joseph Gerth of the Courier Journal tell the rest of the story:

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth sharply criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Friday, saying the most powerful Republican in Washington “has this wonderful habit of being meticulously accurate with what he says and rarely honest.”

Yarmuth, D-3rd District, acknowledged that he didn’t stand for McConnell and said the Republican leader was misleading the crowd when he talked about the impact of a Democratic proposal to allow some of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of the year.

Specifically, he took issue with McConnell’s claim that increasing the income tax rate on the top earners would affect 50 percent of all small business income.

“I didn’t have a Joe Wilson moment, although I was close,” said Yarmuth, a reference to the South Carolina Republican who shouted “you lie” as President Barack Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress last September.

McConnell, in a statement, responded by saying, “I appreciate John pointing out that my arguments against the Democrats’ efforts to raise taxes on small businesses in Kentucky were ‘meticulously accurate.’ ”

McConnell told the breakfast that Republicans and Democrats would be fighting over a tax increase when they return to Washington next month.

“You’ve heard those in charge in Washington argue that this is only going to be a tax increase on people making over a quarter of a million dollars a year and you’ve gotten out your tax return and breathed a sigh of relief and said, ‘Gee, it won’t affect me,’ ” McConnell said.

“The problem with that is, if you raise taxes on the top two (tax brackets) you will impact 50 percent of small business income and 24 percent of the workforce in the middle of a recession, because a huge percentage of our businesses don’t pay taxes as corporations, they pay taxes as individuals,” McConnell said.

On the WHAS program, Yarmuth argued that, while McConnell was technically accurate, only a small percentage of small business owners would be affected by a tax increase.

“The 50 percent of small business income is basically being earned by billionaires,” Yarmuth said. “It’s just so disingenuous to try to create the impression that the vast number of small business owners are going to be affected.”

Republicans and Democrats agree that more than 90 percent of small businesses pay taxes at individual rates. But the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan congressional group, says that in 2011 only about 3 percent of all taxpayers reporting net positive business income — about 750,000 — would earn enough to qualify to pay higher rates if taxes are raised on individuals earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.

Yarmuth said he has known McConnell for about 40 years and was a political ally before becoming a Democrat in 1985. Throughout that time, he said, McConnell has used facts in such a way as to mislead voters.

And, calling McConnell “devious,” Yarmuth said the Senate minority leader knew he was mischaracterizing the statistics he cited.

I thank Congressman Yarmuth for his honesty, and for being courageous enough to say that he thinks we deserve the same from you. I hope other honest politicians will take his lead and stand up to those who are purposely misleading the public.

Bring It On Home To Me, Yeah

When I bring complex or troubling issues home with me, my principles instinctively apply themselves. In natural surroundings and familiar circumstances, I find my heart and the answers I need to work around talking points, campaign rhetoric, corporate double speak, and baseless opinions. Then, with my principles in check, it is much easier to leave the small world of home and consciously apply those same principles to the complex and troubling issues in the huge world outside.

For example, when someone comes to my home thirsty, hungry, cold, sleepy, or in pain, I offer drink, food, a sweater, a pillow, or an Aleve™. When I look someone in the eye, I do not wonder if he has a sandwich in his pocket that he is too lazy to pull out, or assume his pain is fake, or that it is punishment for failure to properly worship some god. I don’t smack her down and tell her to grab a bootstrap and find her own drink. I don’t begrudge a Coke, a sandwich, or an Aleve™, or cry over the hard-earned sixty-five cents I wasted on someone who isn’t me. When I bring it on home, I want everyone to be comfortable.

If I take those same principles out the door and into my community, I donate time and resources to food drives and shelters. I check the winter-help box on my utility bill and pledge a dollar toward heating a low-income home. Beyond the community, my country awaits my contributions through awareness, taxes, and action and my world provides agencies that will bring ‘me’ home to others when I can’t get to them.

At home, I open wedding invitations and mark my calendar. Sometimes, I think it might be too soon or they are too young. I have even fantasized about jumping out of my seat at that part of the ceremony where we always keep our piece, to say he surely hasn’t thought about how she will nag forever and she’s crazy if she thinks he is going to keep a job. In the end, however, I know the decision to marry belongs to them. The same principle applies to everyone out in the bigger world, regardless of any misgivings or misguided opinions I might have.

At home, I try to resolve conflict through verbal communication and compromise, understanding others, making new rules and promises, and making a rational plea for what I deserve. I would never purposely punish one child for the misdeed of another. I would not (at least willingly) allow people to take what is mine, lie to or about me, and fail to defend myself. I would not fire weapons into my neighbor’s home, kill his wife and children and destroy everything dear to them because I think he might be an abusive husband and have a gun hidden somewhere in the house. The same principles kept me from chanting bomb them back to the stone ages on September 12, put protest signs in my hand before we invaded Iraq, and made me denounce the administration that tortured in my name.

At home, I know my actions and decisions make or break my life. I thank the breadwinner and the cook for my meal. Outside my home, I thank the farmer who grew my food, the people who prepared and delivered it to me, the agencies that protect me from those who would harm me for profit. I am grateful to the doctors who keep me alive, to the people who help me physically, emotionally, and politically. In the bigger picture, I attribute the condition of our world to the humans who protect or destroy it. At home, the words I’m sorry, I love you, and how can I help mean nothing without actions to support them. I take credit or grief for my contributions and failures and expect the same actions – not prayers or promises – from humans in the bigger world, not super-beings in the sky or their imaginations.

When someone claims to like my new couch while propping his muddy shoes on the seat, I know his action speaks louder than his words. When he says he hopes I get well soon but stands between me and the doctor or medications I need, I know he wants me to believe he hopes I get well but he does not honestly wish that. When he says he prays for my safety yet decries funding the agencies and departments that keep me safe, I know he hopes I will transfer responsibility from him to his god. I recognize the same dishonesty outside the home, when you claim you care about me and then smear your muddy shoes on every bill that would prove it.

Stuff happens at home. Sometimes it feels like everything falls apart at the same time, usually when I can least afford to replace or repair them. As much as I hate debt, I know replacing an engine costs much more than a tune-up, and if I don’t repair the brakes I could hurt others, so borrowing money to maintain is wiser than standing firm on my vow to live debt-free. Investing in education and new tools might enable me to increase my income and ease the next disaster period. At home, I realize it is necessary to reconsider and update my vows as circumstances change. Leaving home with this one gets complicated since my principles tell me it is important to maintain necessities and to stay out of debt. However, when I look at what is in the best interest of everyone concerned and for the future, going into collective debt with the people outside my door makes sense.

At home, I feel the consequences of short cuts. The first time I bought cheap toilet paper, I realized I get what you pay for. The same is true outside the home. My government gets what it pays for.

I’ve grown weary of people who talk about values but show little evidence they intend to do anything more than whip out the word or promise to pray for their god to deliver what they are too lazy to think about or do. I want my home filled with friends who appreciate intelligence and honesty, who care and share, and who are not afraid of words like liberal, social, intelligence, and taxes. I want friends who read, discuss, and care about things that matter and who would not criticize anyone for wanting facts or challenging lies, or for caring more about people than things. I want to know that the people I associate with live ethics and morals instead of preaching them. I want to be around people who know that everything in life involves politics and beliefs, so refusing to discuss these topics would only mean they don’t care about life. I want the same things in people I associate with and support outside my home.

I say it is time to stop wasting precious time and energy on the same circle-debate regardless of the issue. Until both sides bring the issues home, attach and own the principles involved, the discussion will go nowhere and will accomplish nothing. If I had my way, the Democratic Party would adopt Bring It On Home as their only campaign slogan. It already has a really cool song to go with it and it would clearly demonstrate the difference between honest progressives and your party of no.