Thursday, February 26, 2004

Separate but equal ...

The principal domestic social issue of the 20th Century, as far as I know, was the one which resulted in the same rights for all Americans. It was a simple proposition: The nation should not continue to allow one set of laws for some people and another set of laws for other people.

This was viewed as a race issue, but really it was a fundamental Constitutional issue.

The forces of good won in this matter, and these days, although the situation is not perfect, we have the same set of rules for everybody.
Now, the President wants to go back to two sets of laws.

For one group – so-called straight people – they could continue to be married by civil authorities, pay taxes, raise children, go to church if they choose and expect that their spouses will share in the fruit of their hard work and the entitlements afforded by their employers, their insurance companies, their health-care providers and the government.

The President doesn’t want homosexual couples to have these same benefits of being American citizens. A gay person can go to work, pay his or her taxes, raise children and go to church, but the person he/she chooses to love cannot expect to share spousal benefits.
One rule for heteros and another rule for homos.

It is like having a separate water fountain for "colored."

Why is this being proposed by the President of the United States? you might ask. Because such discrimination is part of the President’s belief system, seems to be the answer, and the belief of many who support him politically. Those supporters are usually lumped into a category called the Christian right, but there are probably other supporters who are neither right nor Christian.

The personal and economic tragedies resulting from of the President’s proposed Constitutional amendment – should it be approved by Congress and 38 of the state legislatures – would be many. But it would be sad in a very basic way, too.

We’ve seen on television recently the joy of thousands of same-sex couples in San Francisco who were married there. The legality of those unions is in doubt. I expect lots of those newly joined together in matrimony would have liked to have had more formal ceremonies, with white gowns, parents in attendance, strolls down the aisle and music playing.

I can imagine that Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States, would be proud to escort his daughter, Mary, down the aisle if she were allowed to marry her same-sex partner. But under the force of the proposed amendment to the Constitution, Cheney and his daughter will never have that pleasure.

Lots of dads are in the same boat.

I don’t know about you, but I thought the days of the clearly unequal doctrine of "separate but equal" were over.


Monday, February 23, 2004

Date of Loss: 16 April 1972 ...

REPORT: The first wave of air strikes began in the predawn hours of April 16, 1972, and achieved respectable success over the highest threat areas within North Vietnam.

Fifteen Navy A6As struck SAM sites in the Haiphong area and 20 Air Force F4s laid a chaff corridor to screen the B52s' entry into the threat zones.
With Air Force and Navy providing MIGCAP, SAM suppression, and ECM support, 17 B52s attacked the Haiphong Petroleum Products Storage area.

The second and third waves followed up with attacks on ten other targets in the Hanoi/Haiphong areas.

Enemy reaction to the strike penetrations was formidable, but largely ineffective. Even though more than 250 SAMs were launched and heavy anti-artillery fire was reported, only two TACAIR losses occurred.

Two Air Force personnel were missing as a result.

* * *

COMMENT: Neither of them was George W. Bush.
This date, April 16, 1972, was the last date for which Bush was paid for his service in the United States in the Texas Air National Guard.

Not long after, Bush was released from his Guard service seven months early.

* * *

REPORT (Continued): The F105G, flown by Capt. Alan P. Mateja, crashed in the Haiphong Harbor area. The weapons/systems officer on the aircraft was Capt. Orvin C. Jones, Jr.

The Air Force believed there was a possibility that Mateja and Jones escaped the crippled aircraft, and that they were declared Missing in Action.

* * *

George W. Bush also was missing.

* * *

When the war ended, 591 Americans were released from prisons in Hanoi.
Mateja and Jones were not among them.

Nor was Bush.

The Mateja and Jones aircraft apparently did not escape the attention of the many North Vietnamese soldiers defending the Haiphong Harbor on April 16, 1972.

Bush had a payday on this date.

He is now commander-in-chief of all U.S. military forces.

* * *

Two of the 58,169 names of dead people inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial wall in Washington D.C. are:

... kenmatthews@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Super What? ... If you’re like me, you probably thought the stupid business about Janet Jackson’s "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl would be over by now.
Not so. It goes on and on. I guess the people at the Federal Communications Commission like to watch it in re-runs.
I have to tell you, I was neither shocked nor surprised. In the halftime performance that included a variety of untalented people I never heard of, the Jackson moment was a logical culmination of all that went before.
I thought the whole long day of sex and violence got high marks for consistency.
Sex and violence is what we want in our Super Bowls and we got it.
The mayhem of 300-pound men smashing into each other with all the power they can muster came up to the high standards of violence we all love in a football game. I suppose some viewers were disappointed because nobody got killed, but the violence was at a sufficiently high level to satisfy me, I have to admit.
The sex that has been a part of football ever since I can remember – that is, cheerleaders in abbreviated costumes –- are routinely cut out of the TV football coverage for the most part. You have to pay for that. You have to buy a ticket and go to the field to see beautiful young women in minimal outfits jumping around cheerfully.
So the half-time performances – dreadful as they were – gave us TV Super Bowl viewers a little taste of the sexually oriented stuff we usually miss, but hanker for. Sex and violence are the mainstays of the entertainment business, take it from me.
Jackson, who is knocking on 40 years of age and is the sister of world-class oddity Michael Jackson, probably realized that she had to top all the other performing cuties if she was to retain star status. At least, that’s what I think and I bet other folks do, too.
And I’d wager that if you asked ten people which teams played football in the most-recent Super Bowl and which team won, about three of them could answer correctly.
But if you asked them who had a wardrobe malfunction, nine of them would know.
Those Jacksons are a smart bunch of people with a keen sense of public relations. They know that if a performer pulls our string too far, they can just go on TV and boo-hoo an apology and we’ll forget about it. Just as we forgot who played football in the Super Bowl.
... kenmatthews@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Confederacy of geezers …

We geezers are going to be more important than ever in the next national election in November. Observers have noted that in the last one, older folks in Palm Beach County may have gotten confused and voted for the wrong person on the famous "butterfly ballot."
But if we know what’s good for us now, we should be able to see that our Social Security income is in grave danger in this mortgaged nation.
The Administration that told us a couple of years ago that the federal deficit by 2004 would run about $14 billion now tells us that the deficit is really over $500 billion. They are thinking something’s got to give.
You can bet your boots the give will be Social Security payments to the elderly, the sick, the depressed and the deprived. And forget the promised prescription drug benefit to Medicare, the estimated cost of which, incidentally, went up about 30 percent last week. How are they going to do that with no money?
In simple terms, the government must have more income to meet the outgo or reduce the outgo. If the current bunch stays in the White House, it won’t be don’t long before the outgo gets cut and therein lies the problem if you are old or expect to be old.
On the other side – getting more money into the treasury – individual income taxes must be set at a fair rate for everybody with no concessions or breaks, corporate taxes must be paid in full and nobody should be allowed to avoid paying taxes by moving his corporate headquarters to a Bermuda mailbox. Loopholes must be plugged. Cheating must be stopped.
If you want my opinion, an administration that sees to it that everybody who owes taxes pays them will save Social Security and save lives.
The government accountants in Washington should remember: People don’t get too old to vote. There’s no upper age limit. As far as I know, a citizen can be as old as Methuselah or a stark-raving lunatic and still cannot be denied at the polling place. There’s no mental test to vote. No health test. Show up in your walker – and I hope you will – and you get a ballot if you’re properly registered.
So unless they make some new discriminatory laws, the aged and the dying, the nuts, the indigent, the unsavory and the ugly have the same legal standing as everybody else. There are lots of us and we will not be shortchanged by bean counters who can’t count.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?