Category Archives: Politics

Planning for my next millennium.

Rev. Zita and Rev. Kelly

 

There are a lot of very embarrassed people out there right now. Well, that or they have already shut down the phones and websites, grabbed the money and run. Given the amount of media hype over the last twenty years, I’d say it is probably the latter.

I’m talking about all the interesting people who have been hawking books, websites, survival kits, bugout bags, videos, classes and spare toothbrushes over the last couple of decades. They’ve made a lot of money by claiming the world was ending and they could get you what you needed to survive. If they were scamming us, they have vanished by now. If they were sincere, then they are either very surprised or are trying to figure out what went ‘wrong’.

Oddly, I have a problem with the continuation of the world being ‘wrong’, but then I didn’t buy a generator, learn to make candles or stock up on baked beans. Since I have survived the apocalypse, I have decided to make the best of my next 1,000 years. I even have ideas.

Rev. Zita’s top ten list of ways to spend the next Millennium:

  1. Read everything that Warren Buffet has ever written. For a billionaire, he seems like a pretty cool guy.
  2. Vote Independent. The regular parties are just so last eon.
  3. Finally decide on a hair color.
  4. Invent my own religion based on sacred sarcasm and the Zen of lifting the perfect sardonic eyebrow. Groucho Marx will be our prophet.
  5. Create the perfect hot sauce. I’m actually well on my way with this one.
  6. Learn to dance without beer. Need I say more?
  7. Write a manual on how to live the perfect individual life. Including references and diagrams.
  8. Learn to use technology correctly. Seriously, I’m so far behind that it’s sad.
  9. Help people to see that the world can be a very good place if you want it to be one.
  10. Learn to enjoy the life I’ve been given without freaking out at every little thing Chicken Little says.

I’m going to get out of my life the things I put into it, and I intend to put some very good things into my life. You should too. Make a list for your next thousand years, and we can share them. If we get enough responses, we can put up the best suggestions and goals for everyone to enjoy. What will you do for the next Millennium? Tell me, I want to know. We all could use some good ideas.

Find your peace and have some fun.

Rev. Zita.

The Post-Election Blues

It’s all over and for once there isn’t much shouting. Obama is once again the President, but sadly the Congressional roster didn’t change all that much. The Democrats have hung on to the senate but the Republicans have kept the House. It may be silly of me but I choose to be cautiously optimistic.

For the last four years we’ve heard the Republicans declare that defeating Obama was their highest priority. Not being wise legislators, not creating good laws and not balancing the budget.

While the overall makeup of our government has not really changed that much, the Republicans have suffered some pretty serious losses in the public eye. Democrats as well have been smacked in the face with the realization that this is a new political game out there. They, however, do seem to be far more adaptable than the Republicans.

As a voter and a citizen of the United States of America, I have some hopes for the next few years. I don’t think they are outrageous or extreme, I think they are fairly reasonable. Here they are:

  • Party infighting has got to stop. Congress has done nothing but stall and create a vicious cycle of fiscal difficulties and then tried to blame it on the other guy. I don’t care who started it, clean it up.
  • Compromise is not a dirty word. It also is not treason to make a deal that will benefit the entire country and not just your political party.
  • Pragmatism has its’ place, and it is definitely in politics. Be practical and you can get a lot more done, no matter which side of the aisle you are on.
  • Obstructionism is the political name for whining and throwing a temper tantrum when you don’t get your own way, and that is how our senators and congressmen look while doing nothing. See also filibustering.
  • Pump some money into the small business sector.
  • Get some basic manufacturing back on home soil. Right now we can’t make our own toothpicks, for gods’ sake. Get some agribusiness and biotech in the pipeline.
  • Improve the school system. Smart ideas have to come from somewhere.
  • Take care of our own, first. We’ve spent sixty years being the helping hand all over the world, but we have forgotten to take care of ourselves.

Like I said, I feel these are reasonable expectations for the new congress for the next four years. The tragic thing is that I really don’t see any of them happening in the near future without some pretty serious attitude adjustments taking place for both republicans and democrats. I can only watch and hope and plan for the next election.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

A letter I sent to the Friends of Scott Walker

Dear Governor Walker,

 

Today my husband received a letter from your campaign asking for our household to support you and send you money to defeat “Big Government Labor Unions”. We are not supporting you, and here is why:

  1. In April, you repealed the equal pay act of 2009 making it easier for women to get the equal pay for equal work. As a woman and my husband whole heartedly agrees this is discriminatory and insulting.
  2. You are looking to increase premiums and drop women, children, and families enrolled in Badger Care making it impossible for them to obtain quality health care.
  3. While the unemployment rate in Wisconsin has dropped, you do not have a comment or even mention that we have replaced living wage jobs with jobs that pay only slightly better than minimum wage, yet have the nerve to complain about people using public assistance to make ends meet. Minimum wage is not a wage that a family can live on.
  4. Wisconsin is still dead last when it comes to unemployment numbers, so if you are creating so many jobs, why is that?
  5. You would like to end a woman’s right to birth control and the right to choose. This is America, and if you do not like abortion, don’t have one.

Governor Walker, you do not have my support, I will not send you money, and frankly I will not vote for you either. From what I have seen of your term as governor, you do not represent any Wisconsin value that I know of.

Sincerely,

Reverend Kelly K Hunt

Has the Republican Party lost its collective mind? Act 219 and Wisconsin women.

With a Governor facing a very hostile recall election and the overall poor performance the party has been showing they have done it again: repealed the Equal Pay act of 2009. This law allows women the right to sue their employer when pay discrimination is discovered. It counters the restrictive sections of the Ledbetter act by making it possible to sue after discovery, rather than suing when the discrimination begins, as in Federal Law. If you want to check out both, just Google ‘Lily Ledbetter’ and ‘Act 219 Wisconsin’. You can get a list of the Senators who sponsored and seconded the act as well.

219 has other results as well: it bans coverage of abortion or birth control by any insurance obtained through an exchange, and keeps workers from suing over the results of genetic testing by employers. It keeps teachers from discussing any form of birth control or STD prevention other than abstinence.

 Back to my question, however. Are they crazy? The Republicans have completely forgotten that 52% of the population is female. Yup, that’s right, more than half of Americans are women, and they are voters as well. The very same voters on which the republicans depend to attain their positions in the first place. These same female voters have husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers and male friends that might also dislike what is happening. Husbands don’t like it when their wife’s pay is cut. It makes them change political allegiance to protect their womenfolk.

Those same women voters are patient people for the most part. We don’t like to make a fuss; we just want to get on with our lives. But everyone’s patience has an end point, and it is starting to look like the Republicans are getting on our last nerve. I’m having enough trouble making ends meet and they are making it harder than it needs to be. I intend to take some practical action.

I’m not going to start camping on the steps of the state capitol and whine about how unfair it is. That is not an effective tactic. Instead I’m going to vote the crazy people out of office and get someone in who is actually going to get things done properly and fairly. I’m checking out the voting records of incumbents and looking at the histories of new candidates to determine who will do the best job. That’s the person I’m going to vote for and from what I have seen so far, it will never be a Republican.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

Note: In addition to voting them out of office, write, no flood the offices of your state representatives with letters and emails. Find out how to contact them here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx They only will listen if we make them.

Love to all,

Rev. Kelly

When Did Socialism Become a Dirty Word?

Most, if not all, of us had American History at some point in our education. We were taught that America was made great on the backs of those who worked hard, served their country and communities. Of course there are other things along the way, such as hard times, social changes, and wars, but the details of our history is not what concerns me so much as the big picture.

Going back to the birth of our country, there were a few things that England, our then ruler, was imposing on the colonists that really stuck in their craw. Religious suppression and unfair taxes seem to come to mind to me. When the time came for the leaders of the American Revolution to start making their own rules, a little document called the Bill of Rights was created. Part of the number one Right is the freedom to of religious exercise. Part of almost every religion that I can think of is to help your neighbor.

Jesus stated that one must help the poor and a rich person has about as much of a chance of entering heaven as a camel has of passing through the eye of the needle. Buddha stated that attachment (to things) causes suffering, One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat or to give a portion of one’s riches to care for those who are in need (read the poor). Judaism has Tzedakah or charity as one of their founding principals (in spite of the jokes). I could go on.

Here is where my confusion comes in. Most Republicans want to get rid of public programs like Social Security, Medicare, Disability, current health care legislation, and other resources that have been established by past government officials to help the needy, the poor, and those less fortunate. Most Republicans also claim to be fundamentalist Christians who follow the Word of God and Jesus among a small following from other religious sects.

So here is where my confusion sets in. If Republicans are so Christian why are the programs developed to help those in need under attack while tax breaks for the rich and greedy corporations passed into law so easily? Even the Tea Party, that ultra right wing Republican group is doing the same claiming that the Constitution and God are the basis of their movement support breaking the common man to forward their own agenda to get richer and fatter. I just don’t see the work of God, Allah, Jehovah, or any other god in that agenda.

To be fair, this trend is not just followed by the Republicans or the Tea Party, but is across the board. I just see the vocal Republicans who use their religious memberships to further their career as much worse than those who do not wave the flag of “belief” to gain popularity with the general public.

Honestly, if any political leader truly believed what their religious beliefs stated, they would be for the social programs. They would want to help America out of our current crisis and not bail out the fat cats, but instead develop programs that will actually put us back to work and care for those who simply can’t work. There would have been no bail outs for the fat cats when they got themselves in trouble.

So, really when did socialism become a dirty word? It is not a dirty word, it is a good thing that shows that the government and the nation’s communities have a heart and want for society to be healthy.

And before you comment, yes, I know that there are those that abuse the system and take when they shouldn’t. But the vast majority using the system are doing so because they have been left no other choice.

Let’s be proud of being socialist and mark it up to being religious or to being a good person. Your reasons for helping others does not matter; what truly matters is that we as people and as a government show mercy and caring to those who are in need.

Scandals and Politics

Here’s a note from a truly jaded and disinterested voter.

Just another sex scandal. Ho-Hum.

In the last few years we’ve had more than the usual number of sex scandals going on, from sexting to congressional pages to illegitimate children and beyond. And as always, the spin doctors are out in full force acting like somebody’s Victorian maiden Aunt, which means that the Republicans and the Teabag—er, Tea party members are doing their usual song and dance of “ooh, look at the bad, bad Democrat!”

Yeah, right. It’s all pot and kettle, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve heard it all before. The last time somebody tried this, Bill Clinton got another term.

Do you have any idea of how utterly bored we are with continuous scandals? I’m starting to think that even rock stars behave better than professional politicians. It’s all pretty routine, after all.

Democrats are always accused of sex scandals. That’s the way it is. I’m not sure if that means that they are having more sex than the Republicans or if they are just not as good at hiding it. Somehow I have the feeling it is probably both. From the last few scandals, I can say that at least they pay their child support, even if they have to use campaign funds to do it.

Republicans are generally accused of misappropriation of funds or cronyism, insider trading, or something of that nature. They seem to like their stuff rather than sex. They do seem better at wiggling out of it, however. The fact that a lot of Goldman Sachs officers are now working for the Federal Government shouldn’t be a source of concern, should it?

Scandals. Politicians have been creating them, using them and hiding them for as long as politics has been going on. We, the voters, no longer care. I am not so naïve as to believe that my elected representatives are pure as the driven snow. However, there is a limit to my patience and it has been reached. So listen up, ALL of you:

Knock it off and get some work done, damn it!

I don’t care if you are Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Libertarian or a cross-eyed Jedi. Stop acting like college students at a kegger, for God’s sake. Get your sticky hands out of the cookie jar, it’s empty. Settle down and figure out how to get us out of this hole you’ve dug us into or you can go out and get a real job just like the rest of us!

Professional Politicians don’t seem to be getting the job done at all. Maybe we need to do something both drastic and sensible, like setting term limits for them? After all, we do it for the Presidency, maybe it’s time the Senate and House had to deal with the same limits on their power.

Sounds good to me.

Rev. Zita

Note from Rev. Kelly: If politicians stopped worrying about what happens behind closed doors and started worrying about the condition the country was in, we might see our economy turn around. Instead they are trying to keep us distracted with bullshit.

Congratulations New York!

I was so happy to learn over the weekend that New York has passed legislation that makes gay marriage legal. We know and support people who live and work in that area and from what we are hearing from our friends is that many people are very happy this law passed.

Unfortunately, passing this law has no been easy. New York tried to pass it in 2007 and 2009, where the Senate let it die after it made it through the Assembly. And from all reports, this law almost did not pass this time through either. After much debate and giving allowances for religious organizations that are against gay marriage, the law passed late on Friday.

So let’s make a big noise and congratulation New York for passing a law that brings our nation one step closer to the ideal that we all should have equal rights. Eventually the rest of the country will catch up.

What does Embryonic Stem Cell Research Mean to Us?

The Federal Appellate court today vacated the ban on embryonic stem cell research. This means that instead of a measly $40 million dollars, the research that can save lives and cure neural and blood diseases will now receive something like $125 million from the federal research allocations. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to things like energy research and oil exploration which receive billions, but it is a start at least.

Yes, I am in favor of embryonic stem cell research. Before you jump all over me, let me give you a few of my reasons.

First and foremost, this research is being done for the express purpose of curing degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Damaged adult neural tissues do not regenerate in any useful fashion, so a means of repairing them is needed, badly. Alzheimer’s eats away at the brain, destroying memory and linguistic functions and literally erasing the personality and mind. I work in an elder care facility and I see the devastating results of these diseases every day, so don’t even try to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Secondly, this research could be used to tailor treatments for more exotic and less-common diseases that aren’t ‘economical’ for pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for. My mother died of a rare bone marrow disease that has no real treatments other than mild chemotherapy which eventually destroyed her capability to make red blood cells. This might have helped save her life had it not been blocked by religious conservatives.

Thirdly, there is a real possibility of re-growing new organs, eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs during and after transplant operations. The new organs would simply be perfect for their recipients. I really like that idea.

Fourthly, we are talking about embryonic stem cells. These cells are harvested from a tiny ball of cells about five days after fertilization. The ball has about 50-100 cells, none of which has differentiated yet and which hasn’t even implanted into the uterine wall. It’s about the size of the tip of a needle. No brains, no organs, no hands, fingers, toes, nothing. In fact it isn’t even an embryo—it’s called a blastocyst.

These cells are harvested from excess fertilized eggs resulting from in vitro fertilization procedures and would normally be destroyed, usually by cremation or chemical means. Furthermore, this is done with the full permission and understanding of the couples having the in vitro procedure done—they are using their personal difficulty to save the lives of others.  They have my gratitude for their courage.

The Appellate Court has my thanks for their decision. This is an exciting path of research that has the capability of helping us all—a good slice of the population is at risk for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, remember that. I see no difference between this and an organ transplant, really.  All I see is the capability to save and improve lives far beyond anything we’ve been able to achieve so far.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

1st Amendment vs Personal Privacy

As Americans we hold our right to free speech near and dear. We have an opinion on everything, and we say that opinion pretty openly. But when it comes to other people and company privacy, where is that line drawn?

For your employer the line is easy to draw and enforce, you post it you are out of a job. That does not mean that you cannot say it, but that if you choose to do so, you also choose to work elsewhere. But on the internet, it seems to be a free for all, guns blazing, smack down. Even the Supreme Court does not seem to want to get into the Wild West that is on parts of the Internet.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for free speech, as long as it is stated politely. I have allowed those who think differently from me post…as long as it was stated without name calling, harassing, or just plain being mean. I am not talking about people disagreeing. I am talking about people being mean, cruel, and doing nothing but spreading poison and hate. A prime example is one that has been in the news frequently, which is a shame; the Westboro Church. Even their web address is offensive with godhatesfags.com, which is down.

In February, the Westboro Church was brought before the Supreme Court for protesting at soldier’s funerals. I find this behavior despicable, but apparently it is legal, but that doesn’t make it right. I honestly think their mother’s should have done a better job. Now the Supreme Court said that what they are doing is legal, and one writer interjects that they got that ruling on a technicality, which had more to do with how the claim was submitted to the Supreme Court and less to do with actual facts or evidence. Essentially, out of 9 justices, only 1 had the courage to face the whole story.

That brings us to Anonymous, the hacker group that has taken on another Wild West personification, the vigilante. I do not agree with their tactics, hacking is illegal and should be for various reasons, but find it hard not to be behind their message: stop spreading hate. Now, whether or not the Westboro Church site is down due to the actions of these hackers, other hackers, or some other technical snafu, I have no clue, but find it interesting that it is down.

What I also find interesting is that Anonymous is holding some organizations responsible for spewing hate and others are getting by without a threat of being hacked and brought to their knees, electronically speaking anyway. The Dove World Outreach center who we mentioned last year for wanting to burn the Koran, was apparently successful in their hate demonstration. Instead of petitioning a hacker group, because there are always ways to get a new website or get the word out; we had news before the internet; we should be looking to our leaders to deal with these groups.

But wait, all of these groups are protected by the same rights I am exercising. So where does the line get drawn? What should be covered? And where does it become appropriate for the Supreme Court to step in and stop hate speech?

The Blueberry Story

This was emailed to me and in light of what Governor (used loosely) Walker is doing to Wisconsin and its educational system, I think that we should pass the word.

A Businessman Learns a Lesson
by Jamie Robert Vollmer

“If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn’t be in business very long!” I stood before an auditorium filled with outraged teachers who were becoming angrier by the minute…  My  speech had entirely consumed their precious 90 minutes  of in-service. Their initial icy glares had turned to restless agitation. You could cut the hostility with a knife.

I represented a group of business people dedicated to improving public schools. I was an executive at an ice cream company that became famous in the middle 1980s when People Magazine  chose our blueberry as the “Best Ice Cream in America.”  I was convinced of two things.

First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic  selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step  with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society.”

Second, educators were a  major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.

They needed to look to business. We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement! In retrospect, the speech was perfectly balanced equal parts ignorance and arrogance.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up. She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.  She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes  good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium  ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.” I was  on a roll.

I never saw the next line coming.  ”Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap. I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie. “I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries. We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused,  frightened confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant. We take them all: GT, ADHD, ADD, SLD, EI, MMR, OHI, TBI, DD, Autistic,  junior rheumatoid arthritis,
English as their second language, etc.
We take them all!  Everyone!
And  that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business. It’s a school!”

In an explosion, all 290 teachers, principals, bus drivers, aides, custodians and secretaries jumped to their feet and yelled, “Yeah!  Blueberries!  Blueberries!”

And so began my long transformation.

Since then, I have visited hundreds of schools. I have learned that a school is not a business.

Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best  CEO screaming into the night.

None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a post-industrial society.

But  educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission and active support of the surrounding  community.

For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America.

Please forward THE BLUEBERRY STORY to
teachers, parents, politicians and everyone interested in education.