Tag Archives: United States

Empathy and Compassion

Ann Romney has multiple sclerosis and had cancer.  Rick Santorum‘s baby has a major disability.  Both need medical care that is very expensive.  Ann Romney, as the wife of a multi-millionaire, has access to all the care that she needs.  Rick Santorum, assuredly has health insurance and most likely the insurance he was given by the American people as US Senator to cover his child’s health care. We are told their stories over and over to humanize them and to make the “likable” because they suffer.

Yet, Ann Romney is married to a man ,who if elected, has promised to cut the healthcare that is offered under the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Rick Santorum, showed no compassion or empathy with people who do not have access to health care and have sick children.  Before the Affordable Healthcare Act, children with severe disabilities faced the lifetime cap that precluded them from getting anymore coverage.  Some of the children reached the cap at an early age. Compassion and empathy without a commitment to some form of social and economic justice is an empty sentiment.  A cheap Hallmark card.  An empty gesture.

When someone seeks compassion and empathy for themselves and shows no such compassion or care of people who suffer the same condition and have few resources then that is simple sadistic cruelty. Santorum used simplistic analogies of people “expecting free medication”  yet they buy and iPad for $900.  This is exactly the kind of “folksy” oversimplification that is used against people to dehumanize them and to take away a social sense of compassion and empathy for our fellow citizens.  Instead, they become a caricature.

These self same politicians and their wives, want us to see them as humans with real pain and suffering. When you make your life’s work the demonization of your fellow citizens and of the people of other nations, do not cry and beg for my compassion.  Do not try to pull my heartstrings.   So, Mrs. Romney, I do not care about your struggles until I see that you face the heartless policies of your husband.

As far as I am concerned, you are nothing more than the wife of a mobster, Carmella Soprano comes to mind.  You choose to be with that man.  You have free will.  Your struggles are artificial and deserve little of my attention.  I will save my compassion for those who are left out without care, without protection.

Mr. Santorum, your parents worked for the VA, the biggest national healthcare.  They paid for your healthcare as a child from generous public benefits.   If they were so capable, why did they not work out in the private sector?  You have been on the public teet your entire life and you go around scolding others as if you are some type of self-made man.   I know a scoundrel when I see one, and you are one.

To the Republican Party and particularly the Romney household.  Your personal narrative of suffering should be repressed and kept private.  If you follow your core values, your fellow citizens do not owe you one ounce of compassion.    


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Filed under American Politics, Culture and Society, Uncategorized

The Casey Anthony Trial

Medea (about to murder her children) by Eugène...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, in the 102 degree heat, sitting on the easy chair with clicker in hand I took a tour of the TV nether lands.  An alien area where  people pick one crime, one incident, to re-enact all the social goo we love.  I would not be one to deny anyone their low brow entertainment, but there was something tragic and pathetic with the attention and the devotion to watching the trial.

I frankly know nothing of the case and the characters and do not care to find out. But, for sure, the accused has no chance.  The mobs outside have drawn and quartered her.  The TV announcer, in a sportscaster tone, spewed the highlights and the drama of the day in court.  If I was an alien from another planet, I would think this was the only murder of a child in America, ever.  Ninety percent of America fancies itself to be a forensic expert by merely watching some television shows such as CSI.  People across America are glued to this spectacle of  Roman Colosseum style justice.

Medeas have come and gone and they have alway grabbed our attention.  They offer one balm to the shallow thinker: ” Evil”.  A clear and true manifestation of all that is evil beyond the shadow of doubt, or argument.  It seems calming to offer up to the masses something they can all agree on:  an evil mother.  Annually about 1,400 children are killed/murdered, 60% of those deaths are committed by parents.  Yet, this woman is chosen for the drama.  This pathetic oddity who seems to have wanted to relieve herself from the burdens of parenthood.  So once again, we take our social problems and dilute them down to a melodramatic passion play.  A play that makes us feel superior and cleansed and united in a common social value system.

I am not making excuses for any parent who harms a child.  In fact, there are no excuses.  In the drama spectrum we have the Disney apotheosis of the orphaned child, the ultimate angel.  To the tragic cases such as this, the Medea, the mother that kills her child, the ultimate manifestation of evil.  As our moral compass is tested, time after time, we look for the easy black and white narratives to comfort us.  Our politicians have adopted this language of the grotesque to soothe our confused little brains.

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Filed under American Politics, Culture and Society, Media

GOP Jobs Double Speak: aka, “how to fuck the workers”

The Republicans speak of caring for workers.  Many workers believe that somehow the Republicans have their interests at heart.  But check this out:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), along with Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), are asking the White House to drop its demand to include an extension of the trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program as part of a package that would also include bills implementing long-stalled trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

What is the TAA?  Not just an acronym:

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program is a federal program that provides a path for employment growth and opportunity through aid to US workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. The TAA program seeks to provide these trade-affected workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become reemployed. The program benefits and services that are available to individual workers are administered by the states through agreements between the Secretary of Labor and each state Governor. Program eligibility, technical assistance, and oversight are provided by the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance.

The wholesale betrayal of the American worker in the name of job creation by the treacherous GOP leadership.  Get the trade deal for business, do it quick but don’t give anything to displaced workers.  The whores of the Senate, the GOP, at work.


Filed under American Politics

The Loneliness of An American Lefty

As an American citizen with left leaning politics I am trapped in a small box.  I have no real political choices.  I have no chance.  Between the American Taliban and the pragmatists, we have shut down the voice of a legitimate American left. Yes, we still have Bernie Sanders, but where are the other voices?  Buried down in the layers of the noise machine.  The 200 Tea Partyers get first page New York Times coverage and the thousands who fight to protect the safety net, get little notice.

  • I can vote for a Neo-Liberal free market centrist, Barack Obama;
  • Not vote; or
  • Vote for a marginal third party, or an independent candidate who emerges.

In truth, these are not choices.   In a Parliamentary system, I would be a member of a party that mirrored my political leanings.  I would vote along my party line and the winner, would have to probably enter a coalition with my party, the lefty party of my choice.  In the American political system, I am held captive.  I could choose a Green Party, or a Socialist Party  in German,  Greece, Italy, or France.  Cripes, Egypt will have more political parties in this election round.  In the end, yes the muddy middle wins and Neo-libearal (corporatist) economics prevail.

Vote for the Democratic candidate, or the American Taliban will be elected.  Your rights, actually your daughter’s rights at this time in life, the social safety net, the environmental policies, the human rights, in sum all your core values will be abolished by the fanatics.  So, unless I capitulate to the corporatist Neo Liberal economic policies and centrist social policies, of the incumbent, I will have to shoulder the responsibility  for the catastrophe. People still blame the Nader voters in 2000 for the Gore loss.  How democratic of you.

The political blackmail barrage will start:

  • It’s about the supreme court.
  • Save Social Security.
  • The last drips and drabs of environmental policy.

In truth, I will get a mediocre Supreme Court, Obama will most likely overhaul Social Security to satisfy the big donors that will help him raise the 1 Billion, all the money will be spent to woo the “Independent” voters, the great bipolar middle, the right will get a chunk of Congress, and the left, will still be on the sidelines diddling with lofty notions of “reason”, “pragmatism”,  “the excellent is the enemy of the good”, drone, drone and drone.

The left, by throwing its early support behind Obama, gave him a tremendous win.  In the process, it failed to create a left base, or voice.  In that respect, the right-wing, from the margins, was somehow better at patching together a voice via the Tea Party.  We can laugh all we want, but they got their distorted populist message out and ours, the real populist message, languished on the inter webs in meek voices.

Representative Democracies need multiple viable political parties.  This two-party system is killing our democracy.  It is merging all the voices into the status quo.  Without parties that offer real political agendas, we get this mish-mash of delirium and confusion.  Meanwhile, the guys who fund all the candidates, the corporatist, get all the access.

Workers have power via unions.  Voters have power via parties, voter blocks.  We, of the American left, were put in the dunce corner and told to be good citizens.  Our pragmatism and reason limits us to the role of saps.

Let me introduce myself:  I am Stella, an American lefty.  I could never be a card carrying lefty.  I always have to apologize and compromise.  Just once, let me vote my politics.


Filed under American Politics

Austerity Double Standard

Greece was bad.  Consecutive Greek governments spent way beyond their means, we are told.  Greece was scolded and put in the corner by the prudent and thrifty leadership of the EU.   It was the public employees, yes.  It was the graft, yes.  It was the corruption, yes.  It was the culture, maybe.  It was that they are not as wise as the Europeans, define wisdom.  The list is endless.

One area that stayed under the radar was the military spending.  Here is a sweet little picture of the Greek military spending:

Greece’s serious financial troubles are going to affect their military spending. The highest in the European Union and second in NATO only to the United States, the Greeks spend 2.8% of their GDP on defense, compared to an average 1.7% in the other European NATO countries. Defense personnel account for 2.9% of the active population against an average 1.1% in other NATO member states.

One little graph from the Economist jumped at me today.  It seems the scolders were right at the table gorging with the guilty Greeks.  Look, Greece is Germany‘s number one customer.  France‘s number three.  Now that we put Greece on an austerity program, reigned in the pensioners, the universities, the hospitals and the sick, maybe we should see how the superior elders of the EU add to the problem.  Just maybe.

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Filed under Culture and Society, Media

“Personhood”, the Reframing Of Pro-Life

Regroup and rename. It’s simple. The strategy of fighting the Roe vs. Wade was not going to happen via the courts. The anti-abortion foes have taken the battle to the states and the state legislatures.

In their own words, you can see how they see the battle shaping:

  • Personhood Net: Pro-Life and Pro-Human Policy for the 21st Century.  They list their accomplishments, the initiatives in the various states.  Of course they use the issues such as eugenics, rights of the disabled etc, to conflate the real agenda.  Repealing women’s choice.
  • Personhood USA, is the other site that lists and encourages the support for the initiatives in the various state.

The initiatives are on a wide national scope.  Only simpletons would think this is anything else but taking away women’s rights.  They will keep trying, they will fail at times, but they will keep pushing.  A particularly egrigious South Dakota bill, was shelved for later consideration.

Coming to a legislature near you.  Be aware and be prepared.

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Filed under American Politics

Celebrating The Egyptian Revolution

In the past 18 days, I have followed the struggle of the Egyptian people.  My interest is beyond the casual observer.  I was born and raised in Egypt, although I am Greek/Lebanese, ethnically, my family felt  Egyptian, first.  I watched a peaceful, non-violent struggle against the old order of tyranny, patriarchy and darkness.  A struggle for a democratic and  just society.  A society that respects the human rights of every Egyptian.   I watched as Mubarak and Suleiman used every trick in the repertoire to break down the spirit of the Egyptian people: brute force,  fear, then divisiveness,  paternalism.  None worked .  The game book failed.  The Egyptian people wrote their own playbook.  It was time to remove the tyrants who replaced the old foreign colonials.

The Egyptian people through a non -violent, home-bred “balady”, no charismatic leader and non sectarian revolution, toppled the regime.  Desperate voices from the outside  kept asking Egyptians:  “Who do you want” ” Who are the leaders of the revolution?”.  One after one the Egyptian people kept saying:  “We will see when we start the process of Democracy.”  “When we have parties; when we have free press.”  “We will see when we have a legitimate electoral process, constitution and we have choices.”

The idea of Egyptians having choices has alarmed many  in the world:   “What if they make the wrong choices?”   This is where the hypocritical talk about enlightenment and democratic ideals fails.  How dare you ask such questions?  How dare you deserve an opinion?   It is the choice of the Egyptian people.  I heard an ex-American administration official giving advice on how we should influence the process for outcomes that are beneficial to American interests.  No, thank you.

Authoritarian states are not stable.

I hear rumblings from the American right, that if not for the Bush Iraq war and occupation may have incited the people of Egypt towards Democracy.  This type of thinking is on par with the Mubarak delusional thinking.   Iraq was just another part of authoritarianism.  Treating nations like children.  A policy steeped in violence, force and brutality.  Egypt was the polar opposite of what Iraq was and is in every form.

For now, the Egyptian people and the world need to celebrate the spirit and the strength of  the Egyptians and the Tunisians.

Who is next journalists  ask?  The answer is simple, the people of the various nations get to decide who is next.  Can the world really handle self- determination?

Just as the wall of fear fell in Egypt, I saw as many people around the world, and here in America particularly, realized the human face of the Islamic/Arabic enemy they have been slowly trained to fear.  18 days of seeing real Egyptian men, women and children.  Listening to Egyptian voices beyond the caricatures that we were fed for years, broke down the fear of the  demonized “Arabic Street”.  For the first time, we went beyond the simplistic binaries that separate us and Americans got a chance to feel the humanity of the other.  Now, how do we go to the next stage?   People got to hear the human aspirations of the Egyptian people and gosh darn it, they are not so foreign, or scary.  They are the same human desires and struggles.

Imagine how hard it will be for politicians to fool us if we break down the years of demonizing other human beings?   It’s not easy to choose to oppress and kill people if you see the humanity you share.

This song is by a wonderful young Egyptian singer, Hamza Namira.

( I found the videos via 3arabawy)


Filed under American Politics, Culture and Society, Media, Middle East