Thursday, February 26, 2009

Drop the grandstanding and get to work

26 Feb 2009

I saw the handwriting on the wall Jan. 20 while reading the 5 a.m. news on the internet. Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas announced he would hold up Senator Hillary Clinton’s confirmation as Secretary of State because he wanted more time to talk about her husband’s foundation. Wanted to be certain there were “transparency protocols” in place, among other things.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I thought, “Here we go again.”

What I heard that man say is, “I’m doing this because—I can.” Serving notice on day one that the Republicans have it in their power to obstruct and by gawd they intend to do it. More of the same tired game playing and showmanship from the same tiresome people.

I won’t run through the list of the many problems we Americans are facing right now but I have noticed something. President Barack Obama has the list and has presented many ideas about how we can approach the work ahead of us. He’s talking about creating jobs, providing health care for all Americans, making college affordable for all the Americans who want to attend, providing better pay and benefits for the women and men in the military.

He has asked for bipartisan support in coming up with solutions. And the Republicans decline to help because all they want are tax cuts and not for the 98 percent of non-wealthy in this country but for corporations and the wealthy two percent. The famous “base” of the ideological zombies.

I remember when Reagan took office in 1981 and everything was about tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts. In order to make that work they slashed budgets, except for the Pentagon’s, that financial black hole. Then they sang this pretty song about how all the wealthy corporations and individuals would use that money they no longer had to pay in taxes to create trickle-down prosperity for the rest of us, roughly 98 percent of the population of the US of A.

Well, I’m still waiting. I have yet to see evidence that so much as a dime has trickled down from the two percent of the population these tax breaks benefited. I assume that Republicans either don’t understand how bad things are in this country or they don’t care. Their ideological stance seems more important than people or the planet.

Ideology is safe, it feels secure, it promises to eliminate questions. And we can all fall prey to that need for safety and security and pat answers to our questions. But there is a different way of approaching the world, of managing and governing.

It sounds simple. During discussions you forget everything you “know” and you listen to all the other people in the room, attentively and with an open mind. No one is called upon to change his or her mind. Just listen.

What happens, and there is evidence out there to verify this, is that people who have learned to listen this way find they are able to hold two or more opposing thoughts in their minds. Their minds don’t change, they grow. There is openness, expansion, and in that environment new ideas show up.

People who are locked into ideological zombiehood never get to experience that bigger, grown-up mind.

So here’s the deal. New jobs would take people off the dole and in time provide some disposable income. Affordable health care would benefit businesses large and small, helping to create more jobs, and making us more competitive in this country and the rest of the world. Affordable college would create a more productive work force and possibly even a thinking population. I have to remind myself that the leading zombies went to university. Higher education doesn’t always ensure an open mind.

All the ideas President Obama offered are up for bipartisan discussion and we need creative solutions to our problems. But you can’t squeeze them through an ideological funnel. Three Republican senators managed to get past the cant to help pass the stimulus package. I’m anxious to see if any other Republicans can drop the ideology and get to work.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's my birthday

23 Feb 2009

Today is both my birthday and my first blog posting. To celebrate I went to breakfast with a friend followed by a walk to our local theater to see “Frost/Nixon.” Excellent movie. Sean Penn had some amazing competition for that Oscar.

Received cards and gifts in the mail and am being taken to dinner tonight.

According to “The Writer’s Almanac,” produced by Prairie Home Productions, W.E.B. DuBois and Samuel Pepys were also born Feb. 23. Pretty heady company!

I was born in 1940 and according to a bookmark I’m holding, produced by Pages of Time in Millersville, Tenn. the Dow Jones average was 134 that year. The average income was $1,725, a new car cost $850, a new house $3,925. A loaf of bread was 8 cents, a gallon of gas 11 cents and a gallon of milk 55 cents. Gold was $35 an ounce. And radar was invented that year.

I’m happy, healthy (good genes on both sides of the family) and I have enough income. I’m rich in family, friends, work, pets (cats and a dog), and play.

My first job was as a babysitter when I was 12 years old. At 14 I got my Social Security card and a job as a waitress. I’ve since worked as a clerk in a county office, a reporter, a waitress again, and finally, a librarian. I attended college off and on my entire adult life and finally earned a liberal arts degree at age 53.

I retired in 2002 and love the freedom although the first few months were unnerving while I was working out a structure. After 50 years of working for other people whose rules required that I show up regularly at specific times, retirement offered way too much freedom. I eventually got it under control and no longer spend days at a time reading from morning to night, eating sandwiches and organic soup from a box. I’ve not been bored one minute since retirement and sometimes wonder how the hell I managed to work and do everything else I did and do.

Life is good.

And, there are a few problems in this wonderful country which I shall write about, offering my ideas for improvement. I have many very bright friends and a few have said they will write for this blog, thus the title, Constance and a few good friends. I promise they are good writers.