Americans want progress, not gridlock, in Washington

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. . . truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.

GERALD FORD, remarks to House Committee on the Judiciary, Nov. 15, 1973

Now that the mid-terms are over, we know that, starting in January, we will have a Democratic majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate.  This means that unless our political parties work together, absolutely nothing will get done.  Based on their recent record, gridlock is likely.

Americans seem just as polarized as Congress.  So would we rather see nothing done than to compromise? Continue reading

Gun control should be a little less insane

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unknown author

When it comes to gun control, is America insane?  We are shocked at another mass shooting.  Why do we expect anything different?  Nothing has changed.

In a poll taken earlier this year, most Americans expressed support for stricter gun regulations. [1] That poll included National Rifle Association members.[2]  But that support varied by gun control measure.[3]  For example, the majority of NRA members supported comprehensive background checks of gun purchasers.  But only 1/3 of NRA members support a national firearm registry or a firearms-purchase database because these measures could be used to track American’s activities.[4] Continue reading

Changes in immigration policy may result in the deportation of American citizens

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In his State of the Union address in January, President Trump outlined his new immigration program, which included a merit-based component:

It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.[1]

But just six months later, he told House Republicans that they should quit wasting their time on it.[2]  Even now, no merit-based policies have been issued.[3]  What is more, highly skilled immigrants have found it more difficult to get or renew an H-1B visa, and the Administration is ending other visa programs.[4]

So few immigrants are being permitted to stay in this country based on merit.  And few or no immigrants may be entering the U.S., regardless of merit, where other visa programs have ended.  What more could be done to curb immigration?

Our answer came just a few days ago.  President Trump announced that he will issue an executive order that will end birthright citizenship.[5]  That right grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States.  Continue reading

Our free press is threatened from within

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“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Thomas Jefferson

From the press, we hear about what the leaders of our country are doing, how crime is solved, and what is happening in our community and around the world.  We also learn about injustices that need to be remedied and corruption that needs to be stopped.  In response to those articles, we can demand that individuals be prosecuted, laws enacted, or changes made.

Now imagine this country without a free press.  “We the people” will only be told what those in power want us to hear.  The stories we read online or see on television may or may not be true.  But we will never know one from the other.  What is worse, we may not even hear what is happening.  Injustice will be left unremedied and corruption unchecked.  In short, we will no longer be citizens of a democracy but subjects of an autocracy. Continue reading

Proposed regulatory changes threaten women’s right to effective contraception

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Officials in the Office of Population Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have proposed changes under Title X, a program that provides grants to public or nonprofit entities providing family planning methods and services to low-income persons.[1]  These changes require recipients to provide information to patients about only unreliable methods of contraception.  It also permits recipient to keep information secret about more effective contraception methods and a constitutionally protected right.  The net result is likely higher taxes to pay for more people living in poverty. Continue reading

Let the Mudsorting Begin!

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“Political civility is not about being polite to each other.  It’s about reclaiming the power of ‘We the People’ to come together, debate the common good and call American democracy back to its highest values amid our differences.”

– Parker Palmer

Democrats are debating how they should respond to Republicans.  Michelle Obama, former first lady, said in 2016, “When they go low, we go high.”[1]  Recently, former Attorney General Eric Holder countered, “When they go low, we kick ’em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.”[2]  Hillary Clinton said, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”[3]

Is incivility a bad thing?  Some argue that incivility does lasting damage to our democracy, resulting in decent people refusing to run while attracting “toxic ideologues who are there simply to benefit themselves.[4]  It can also “reduce trust in government, belief in institutional legitimacy and media credibility while further polarizing citizens politically.”[5]  But others say that incivility can also “open up political debate” as well as “get people to pay attention, get involved and offer their own perspectives. [6] Continue reading

Don’t Just Show Up – Vote Informed!

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“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.  The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our duty does not stop at showing up at the ballot box.  We should not vote without knowing what we are voting on.  We must arm ourselves with knowledge.  Otherwise, we might as well pin the choices on a dartboard and heave a dart at them.  It is just as meaningful as a vote without information.  And by that, I do not mean the “information” gained from watching commercials on television.  Get real ammunition – the facts.  And get those facts from reliable sources.  Reliable means objective sources, not sources that typically side with one party or the other, like Fox News or CNN.[1]  You need facts, not spin. Continue reading