Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Mouse Among Men

There is an elderly man who spends his days bullying others. He considers it his duty to make sure you hear all about how everyone in the world is doing everything wrong. He’ll remember your conversation differently than how it actually took place and turn to his bully pulpit to tell the rest of the world about it. He takes to the internet to scorn you, mock you, and defame you. He’s the first to scorn, the last to respect and unforgiving of perceived trespasses. He’ll threaten, mock and malign and then cry foul when you object because he knows the U.S. Constitution better than you do and would like to remind you that he has a right to free speech.

He spends his days ranting about things he is indignant about. He’s a member of a political party he hates. He’s a resident of a community he doesn’t want to be part of. As a senior, he thinks he’s entitled to special dispensation that others aren’t. He hates so much - the people, the weather and the culture….nothing is like where he came from or how he thinks it should be. He is miserable and lonely and has decided that the reason no one spends time with him is because they are all too stupid to recognize him for the class act he is or they just don’t have any respect for seniors.

He tells you how he’s lost all respect for his community, his party, and his people; that his values and theirs are not the same, that the people within don’t fight the good fight like they ought to. He likes to complain about the people and tell you how everyone around him is morally bankrupt, that no one cares about him or his issues.

He’s so nasty and hateful, he’s probably right. No one wants to be around him.

He carries proof of their ineptitude and depleted moral character in his mind, relishing the telling of every detail to listeners not yet conscious of the fact that he’s just temporarily relieving himself. It is the element of attack that excites him. Every detail falls like the most exquisite of silks, giving him yet another chance to feel important, to be one of the beautiful, smart, knowing people; to feel alive. He relishes the telling of these tales like a newlywed couple reaching for one another on their wedding night. He is hungry. He is insatiable. He is relentless.

Saddled with many concerns, he is quick to tell you what they are and to criticize those in the trenches for their failure to address them properly. It seems irrelevant to him that he himself does nothing to address those concerns. He is oblivious to the fact that the people he faults with not solving the problems are not the ones actually empowered to do so. He screams about how incompetent everyone around him is – yet his only contribution to solving the most important issues of the day is to criticize those who are actually trying to do something about it.

When not complaining about them he’s complaining about what they supposedly did to him. There is no one not out to get him. When they object to his characterizations of them, they’re all conspiring together to silence him. When he threatens them with violence, they are unable to take a joke. When he can’t get what he wants from them they make up lies about him to cover their own inadequacy. But when they threaten him with retaliation, he whimpers and begs for compassion. He is a bully with a big mouth and a mouse of a real man.

Ironically enough, despite being fed up with ___________ (insert noun du jour here), he won’t leave it nor tolerate anyone else criticizing it. To do so would give up his reason for living. Assuming personal responsibility for his behavior would mean having to face the fact that he alone is responsible for his unhappiness in the world.

The man is old and frail. How sad to be near the end of one’s life without anything of substance or meaning in it. How tragic to spend one’s last days on earth recycling yesterday’s pain. How pitiful to have no one wanting to share a life with you. How perverse to take pleasure in wounding others.

What a waste of a life.

Long ago we gave him latitude because we thought he was mentally ill. He corrected us several times, even proving he was capable of altering his behavior. What he proved is that he’s not sick, he’s just a jerk.

Some say he’s a harmless old man, just ignore him. Others say he doesn’t mean half of what he says. Maybe. But bullying is never harmless. If it were, there wouldn’t be the tremendous effort we’ve seen over the last decade to make the public aware of bullying’s damaging effects, things like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. The effort to educate the public about bullying has causes numerous state and federal laws to be enacted against such behavior.

In the waning days of his life he gets nastier and nastier. His accusations become wilder and he claims more and more “proof” of other’s distaste for him.

But he’s wrong. The real proof will be in the lack of mourners at his funeral.

Then he'll prove to us just how right he was.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Purpose Of It All

"Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." ~ Aristotle

Today you pen furious notes about how dissatisfied you are with the process. You will post those notes to your internet space to ensure that your opinion is the one that is heard and/or the one that is heard the loudest. I will keep my objections to myself and continue the work that “we” do.

While you stand screaming about the judgments made by those who did the work, demanding that you get what you want when you want it and exactly the way that you want it, I am reviewing the documents “we” crafted to see what is the best way I can help you.

While you were opining about how people are stupid and lazy and unwilling to get involved in the process, I answered the call for volunteers. By the way, I did not see your name on that list.

While you spend most of your time raging against the machine, I continue to try to improve it. I do this for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that you rage even louder when your commitment to the machine is called into question.

While you hurdle insult after insult and insist your perspective of things is the only correct one, I am quietly researching “our” methods and polling “our” people to see what merit is in your concern. I strive to be of open heart, to listen to what you have to say, and consider your position before responding to your vitriol.

While you are “expressing your right to free speech” I am sloshing through the muck and debris you left in my path to ensure that “we” all have such rights.

There is a saying that believing one’s version of the truth doesn’t make it the actual truth.

There is a saying that 1% of the people do the work and the other 99% complain about how they did it.

There is a saying that every experience presents us with a unique opportunity to choose how we will respond. I choose to believe that you don’t realize how caustic and damaging your behavior is.

There is a saying that every wound we experience in adulthood is really just the reopening of an original familial wound. We give ourselves permission to be re-wounded when we decide to love/trust someone new.

You were family.

That is over now.

There is a saying that no one comes into our lives without a purpose. I don’t know why I was put in your life but I’ve come to believe that you were put in mine to show me that which I never want to be.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Former Liberal Supporters of Obama Should Come Back to the Fold

As President Obama's 49th birthday approaches, I'm thinking about his presidency, the nastiness of politics, the increase in threats against a sitting U.S. President, and the widening divide across the country. I'm thinking about all the work that went into getting him elected and all the wounds this country has felt ever since.

Oh sure, Obama's a great orator. He says all the right things and he's not hard to look at, either. But for me, there's gotta be more to hold my interest - and my loyalty. I've gotta have substance and I believe with all my heart that there's plenty of that in Barack Obama.

Yes, I know. Some people think that supporters of President Obama drank the kool-aid and can't see the forest for the trees. This one's for them: President Obama has actually made decisions I disagreed with! I don't like FISA, the Patriot Act, Tim Geithner, Rahm Emanuel, or the way he "lets" the most egregious of Republican insults go by without a word. There are things he hasn't done that I don't like either: Guantanamo's not closed, our service men and women are not yet home from Iraq, we haven't repealed DADT, he didn't comment on the Gulf oil spill until the damage was horrendous, and he didn't fight for health care reform the way I wanted him to.

For the Republicans and Tea Baggers who don't like President Obama, I get it. At least for some of you, I get it. I get it that you don't think we should pay for more social programs, that people should take care of their own instead of depending upon the government. I get it that you believe business is the heart and soul of this country, and that you're worried our constitutional freedoms are being eroded. I know you believe we just want to take more and more of your hard-earned money to pay for the dead-beat who is too lazy to work and the illegal alien delivering her child in our hospitals. I don't share your perspective but I respect you and your beliefs.

For the Republicans and Tea Baggers who are too lazy to do their own homework, who don't know much of what it going on with our government and choose to let FAUX News keep you updated on what's going on instead - shame on you. If you actually believe a single word that comes out of the mouths of the Becks and the Limbaughs, the Angles, and the Bachmanns, or the Queen-T herself, Sara Palin - shame on you. Shame on you for succumbing to their fear techniques and buying their lies. Shame on you for allowing your own prejudices to be so easily manipulated. Shame on you for hiding your puritanical, racist, evangelical, elitist values behind the cloak of "freedom." You're the first on the protest line, carrying the biggest bullhorn, dressed in the most outlandish of Uncle Sam attire, demanding we tell the truth about what our commie-pinko-fascist-socialist agenda is really all about but you don't even have the balls to tell the truth about why you stand where you stand.

But I digress. Ahem.

The Tea Baggers and the Republicans have one plan and one plan only: block everything this administration tries to accomplish and then run for re-election on the platform that the Democrats haven't done anything. I'm actually grateful to them for being clear and consistent in their agenda.

It's my friends on the other side, the liberals and the progressives who I wish I could shake by the shoulders, pull a Cher in Moonstruck and say, "Snap out of it!!!!" Disenchanted liberals and progressives are leaving the flock and starting other, more progressive organizations. Independents are swearing to vote Republican. Libertarians and Green Party members want to vote out every incumbent out and start over with a clean slate.

The restlessness is palpable. What is happening here?

To my leftie friends, remember the early days of this presidency? Remember all the criticism Obama got for taking on too much, doing too many things? Remember how we gave each other high fives because Obama was so ON it? Now some of you are complaining that he hasn't done anything since he's been in office. Yet, the fact is, Obama has already accomplished more in his 18 months in office than Bush did in 8 years. That's not opinion, that's fact, one that can easily be verified with a simple Google inquiry.

Let's not forget the conditions Obama stepped into when he assumed office. The country on the brink of financial collapse. Soaring unemployment rates. Engaged in two wars. An auto industry that was failing. A racial divide as large as any we've seen since the '60s. And yet, the moment he was in office, he began working on all those problems PLUS the myriad of issues he promised during the campaign. On his first full day in office, he signed executive orders mandating the closure of Guantánamo Bay prison camp in one year, prohibiting extreme interrogation practices and revisiting military tribunals for suspected terrorists. On his next day of office, he signed the Lily Ledbetter bill into law giving equal rights to women and people of color. In his 2nd week of office, Obama signed into law the stimulus bill that gave 95% of Americans a tax break, and money to all states for unemployment and repairs to roads, bridges, schools, etc. What followed in his first 100 days of office are marked by the boldest intervention of government into the affairs of business since the Truman era.

There is NOTHING the President can do to make this entire country happy. Can anyone? You know that old saying, "you can't please everyone." Never were words more true than in Obama's case.

Those leftie friends of mine who gave up, who claim Obama is just more of Dubbya, are now on to bigger dreams. They're building new grassroots organizations, recruiting from the old grassroots organizations, and trying to whip up the same level of anger and frustration as our Republican friends. It doesn't look good on us and it smells funny, too. We can't compete. If there's one thing the Republicans are really, really good at, it's united fury. They don't have a platform, they don't have any ideas, and they don't have any good candidates, but lordy, lordy, they've got anger. And it wraps them up in one great big hate-fest snuggie. They're willing to use tactics we won't, and they know that about us, which is another reason we suck in the united fury department.

The Republicans don't do that. They just say "no" and get home in time for dinner.

But that's not stopping the disenchanted among us from trying it anyway. We've got our tried and true Democratic Party organizations. We've got Organizing for America. Now there's Change.org, Serve.gov, Volunteer Nation, the Coffee Party, Democracy Now, Democracy for America, Moveon.org, Courage Campaign, and countless others. Unless it's a special interest group (education, disability, LGBT, etc), why must we choose one over the other? Why can't we work together?

We fail to see that our factions are duplications rather than inventions which will come back to bite us at ballot time (can you say Nadar, Perot, or Kucinich?). We're so busy nitpicking with each other, analyzing this or that, intellectualizing a comment here, a comment there, and dissecting the president's every step, that we've compartmentalized ourselves to the point where we're in danger of becoming a moot point. We're not just angry with the Republicans or the President - we're angry with each other, evidenced by the amount of time we spend arguing about what the priorities are and how we should be going about dealing with them. We are passionaate people who live by the creed of "you're wrong and I'm right."

If you're one of those people who just can't accept less than perfect, or you're not happy until someone else is unhappy, shame on you, too.

WE'RE our own worst enemy.

This continued, systematic effort to dilute our greatest resource - the US in this grassroots movement - will be the death of us.

I keep remembering Obama's words during the campaign, when he said that he would always listen to us, and that we needed to change Washington so that our voices could be heard. He said we might not always like what he had to say, but he would always tell us the truth. I keep hearing the word "us".

Not "me", not "you", not "them" - but "US". That means each and every one of us - and Obama IS changing Washington by finding ways to best represent the majority's interest by way of the greater good.

Yes, I could choose to focus my energies on what hasn't been done. Or I can focus them on what has been accomplished and continue to press forward in that vein. I still believe that Obama is a good man who wants to do right by and for his country. I believe that he will tell us the truth when we ask him a question. And I believe that there are some decisions he will make that we will never make sense out of because we won't have (nor should we) all the information he has. But I haven't had a single second of regret over working to get him elected. I haven't even questioned it - not once. Not only was the alternative too hideous to contemplate, but he was and still remains, the clear and obvious choice to lead our country into its next defining period.

So join up with whatever cause you like. But please ask yourself whether your support of that organization is truly going to champion the issues who want to see brought to the forefront, whether they will elect the person who want to see in office, and whether they have enough clout / money / volunteers / know-how to make it happen this November. If they don't, what are you doing there?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Arizona's Got A Big Problem - Itself

No one need speak English to understand that Arizona's recent slate of legislation was their way of coming out. They opened up that closet door and now proudly strut their hatred of anyone who doesn't look, speak, or act just like them. Within a few short weeks, Arizona began demanding proof of U.S. residency, banning ethnic studies, throwing teachers with accents out of English classrooms, and spending exorbitant amounts of money and time conducting immigration stings. It seems pretty clear that Arizona has made up its mind to become a homogeneous haven for white, non-Hispanic people.

Arizona claims the passage of anti-immigrant law (SB 1070) was not racially motivated. The first clue that something is wrong is the evaluation of the law's architects. The language was crafted by a lawyer named Kris Koboch who acts as counsel for the
Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007. SPLC's Mark Potok had this to say about FAIR:
FAIR is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes annual listings of such organizations. Among the reasons are its acceptance of $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials that funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics. FAIR has hired as key officials men who also joined white supremacist groups. It has board members who write regularly for hate publications. It promotes racist conspiracy theories about Latino immigrants. It has produced television programming featuring white nationalists.
Mr. Koboch is a birther who is listed on SPLC's profiles of 20 Anti-Immigrant Leaders. He's also currently running for Secretary of State in Kansas.

God help Kansas.

Next in line comes Arizona Republican State Senator Russell Pearce. He's the guy who introduced the legislation. He's described by Change.Org as someone who has "
made it his personal mission" to institute state policies attacking undocumented immigrants. A decades-long veteran of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, Pearce has repeatedly attempted to coerce local law enforcement to get more involved in federal immigration policy.

Pearce is also an associate of J.T. Ready, a well-known neo nazi and advocate for "white pride." Here's a picture of the two of them together at a neo nazi rally in Nebraska.

....and a picture of Mr. Ready participating in a neo-nazi rally in Minnesota.....

And again at a rally where Ready lauds Pearce for the statesman he is by supporting white-pride perspective....

Then there's that incident in 2006 when Pearce sent out an email to his supporters promoting a white supremacist publication called "Who Rules America." It criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, for portraying "any racially conscious White Person" as a bigot, and for promoting the silly idea that the Holocaust actually took place. He got called on the carpet for it and apologized. Apologized for sending it out. Not for believing those things or for seeing the incredible inappropriateness of being an avowed racist while holding an office that requires him to protect the interests of ALL the people he represents.

Take a look at the last three months of legislation sponsored by Pearce:

February 2010 - April 16, 2010 - Passage of SB 1011 via SB 1108 which requires colleges and universities to allow faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus. This required an amendment to the state's constitution.

February 18, 2010 - Passage of SB 1102, allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons without permits anywhere except for those locations prohibited by law.

April 16, 2010 - Passage of SB 1108, allowing any American citizen who is not a felon to carry a concealed weapon anywhere within the state of Arizona except in those places already prohibited by law. Limits concealed weapons in bars to those with Arizona permits.

April 23, 2010 - Passage of SB 1070, law enforcement to determine the residency status of anyone the have reasonable suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally.

April 30, 2010 - Arizona State Board of Education removes teachers with accents from classrooms.

May 7, 2010 - Passage of SB 1018, that allows for the continued use of controversial speed cameras on city roadways, which many contend violate civil liberties and are merely for revenue.

May 11, 2010 - Passage of HB 2281, prohibiting courses on ethnic studies in schools.

May 11, 2010 - Passage of HB 2629, originally introduced by then Rep. Russell Pearce in 2008, which allows residents to draw their weapons and/or use deadly force without attempted to retreat first in situations where they consider their personal safety at risk. Also prohibts the collection of serial numbers or personal information about gun owners.

May 14, 2010 - Introduction of SB 1097, a bill that would compel teachers and administrators to determine the legal status of students and their families before allowing them to enroll in school.

Rachel Maddow did a short piece on Koboch and Pearce. It's boggles the mind that their association is going on right in front of us and few people are even blinking.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Then there's the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America." Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County has been cheerfully ignoring the rights of citizens, his staff, and the undocumented for many years. Not content to stop there, he also ignores direct instruction from the federal government to stop conducting immigration stings, saying they have no authority to tell him how to do his job.

Sheriff Joe's inhumane treatment of others, including those that resulted in death, is
well-documented. As a result, Maricopa County has paid out more than $43 million in lawsuits for abuse and neglect at the hands of the Sheriff's office. In 2009, Arpaio stated on national television that he considered it "an honor" to be compared to the KKK. So it shouldn't be surprising that charges of civil rights violations continue to be reported to this day or that Arpaio is under investigation for alleged abuse of power on a number of occasions. When asked for examples constituting "reasonable suspicion" for demanding to see someone's proof of residency, Arpaio replied that one of them was speaking Spanish.

No matter how much the folks in Arizona claim this bill isn't racially based, the facts say otherwise. This legislation is lambasted by labor and civil rights organizations all across the country and crafted by folks who invest money and time into "white pride." Arizona has made anyone with dark eyes, brown skin, or speaking a language other than English suspect.

Pearce and Koboch and Arpaio have ulterior motives alright, and it's to make sure they get to go about the business of ethnic cleansing with as little resistance as possible.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why The Arizona Boycott Is Fair

The passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 has the country on edge. Regardless of which side folks are on, emotions are running high. There are those who feel a state boycott is appropriate. Others believe Arizona had little choice but do what it did in light of an unresponsive federal government.

You'll find me on the side supporting the boycott.

Boycotts are standard tools of political protest.
Are innocent residents being unfairly punished as a result? Well, that depends upon whether they're really innocent or not. Just because the bill was not a ballot issue doesn't mean the people of Arizona were powerless.

Where were the voices of outrage while the state legislature was hearing the bill? Where were the protests like the ones that occurred after Gov.Brewer signed the bill into law? If people didn't like what was being considered, why weren't there concerted efforts to get members of the state legislature to listen to the people and vote the will of their constituents?

Where were the businesses in all this consideration? Those so inclined to do so were still hiring illegals. Other businesses were not making a whole lot of noise telling them to stop, or reminding them of the effects it would have on everyone.

Some people claim they were on the firing line, doing everything they could to create a different outcome. In that case, you have my sympathy and my apology. I apologize for any harm you may experience as a result of a situation you did not create. And you have my sympathy for living in a state where the majority is made up of blockheads.

Whether the reason residents didn't stand up to SB 1070 was because of complacency or actual support for the bill matters little now because the outcome is still the same: there is a new law in place that was put there by either tacit approval of the bill or abject failure to try and stop it.

Which means that citizens of Arizona bear responsibility for what has happened. Folks around the country were warning the state of a possible boycott weeks before the bill was signed into law. Even your own Rep. Grijalva was advocating for a boycott. So it sounds just a little disingenuous to hear residents cry foul over the same situation they did little to prevent and a consequence they were warned would occur.

Standing Up for What's Right

Last week, Arizona passed a law requiring law enforcement to determine the residency status of individuals they had "reasonable suspicion" of being in the U.S. illegally. Many people, myself included, were outraged and began boycotting the state as a result. Such a decision doesn't come without consequence.

To be fair, Arizona really does have a serious problem with illegal immigrants. There are a lot of them there; their presence has strained state resources, brought about an increase in crime, and given the Mexican drug cartel a stronger foothold in the U.S. Tired of waiting for the federal government to address the issue, the Arizona Senate crafted and passed their own bill to deal with the problem. But this bill isn't the right way to achieve their goal.

When the law goes into effect, local police officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect they are here illegally. Those who fail to produce documents could be arrested, jailed for up to six months, and fined $2,500. Of course, those who are found to be here illegally will be deported.

But what is sufficient documentation? Last week, two different truckers were stopped and detained until their wives could produce birth certificates for them. A driver's license and social security card were considered insufficient evidence. One waited for four hours in handcuffs. Turns out he really was born and raised here in the U.S.

Some say the law can only be enforced if an individual is stopped for some other observed offense. If that is true, it seems to be on paper only. Not waiting for the law to actually take effect, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix conducted an immigration sweep two days ago and said in a post-sweep interview that he considers the inability to speak English reasonable suspicion. But before that, he said exactly the opposite.

Others say the law is only enforcing the federal statute. Even if that is true (which I don't believe for a second), the state does not have authority to circumvent federal authority. (Hint: it says that right there in the U.S. Constitution: Article I - Section 1, Article I - Section 8, Article VI - Clause 2, the Fourth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment).

Either way, the law makes racial profiling legal. It not only allows it, it requires it, all the while thumbing its nose at the silly notion that the federal government has supreme authority over this issue. Folks can deny it all they want but the actions of law enforcement and the seeming tacit community's approval of same tell a very different story than what proponents of the new law claim.

While the bill was being considered in the state legislature, people from all over the country, including Arizona's own member of the House of Representatives, Raul Grijalva, warned of a nationwide boycott if they passed the bill. Now folks are all up in arms because people like me are actually following through. How dare we hurt innocent citizens? Don't we know the economy is already terrible in Arizona? It's not fair to make things worse. Or so they say. My thinking is this: if you supported the bill, you deserve to be boycotted. If you didn't support SB1070 but did nothing to prevent it, you lost your right to complain about the outcome.

But now that it's done, the country has quickly become divided. Hate mail, threats, and violence has increased against elected officials who oppose hate, threats, and violence. Personal attacks are no longer limited to elected officials or public community leaders. More and more, individuals are being targeted on websites, social media outlets, and in their communities. How do I know? Because I'm one of those targets.

All because I'm doing what I said I would do if they did what they did. I have been subjected to vile and hateful missives, promising to do all kinds of terrible things. I'm receiving threatening emails from people I've never heard of. Callers hang up when I answer the phone. And though I haven't been able to verify it, I'm told that my picture and my personal information have been posted on two Republican websites with the note that I am a target.

The racist, homophobic, misogynist, intolerant people among us are willing to use tactics we are not. We won't fight fire with more fire. They know that about us and get away with their garbage as a result.

We all know that racist, bigoted people have been subjecting minorities to all kinds of atrocities throughout time. The difference between those situations and this one is that Arizona is a legal entity of this country, bound by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and it made discrimination and racial profiling legal. This law says to all the world that we're done limiting discrimination to good ole boy circles and KKK cliques; we're done trying to keep it quiet. We're taking our hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance public and declaring to all the world that this piece of trash represents the new America.

It will be up to the courts to decide if the law is actually unconstitutional. I think it's just another stellar example of GOP hypocrisy: Accuse Democrats of injecting too much government into the private sector when it suits you but consider a law like this to be completely appropriate and not at all intrusive when you want to put "those" people in their place.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Supporting Wall Street Reform

Today I had a letter to the editor published in both the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review Journal. The letter had to do with record earnings on Wall Street and my support for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Wall Street reform. Here is the letter:

"On Monday, Citigroup announced it raked in $4.4 billion in the first quarter of this year and its stock went up. Last week, JP Morgan and Bank of America reported it earned $3.3 billion and $3.2 billion, respectively, during the same time.

They’re back in the black after Americans bailed them out (of the worst national economic debacle we’ve seen in decades), but Nevadans aren’t so fortunate. While Wall Street rejoices, thousands of Nevadans like myself are still making hard choices between food or medicine, shelter or education.

I’m proud of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada for having the courage to hold Wall Street accountable for the mess it created and insisting on financial reform. If folks don’t get behind Reid and get this done, Wall Street will still be posting record profits next year and Nevada will still be in the dumps."

Oops. I forgot to include the part about Goldman Sachs, currently under federal investigation and being sued for fraud, also posting earnings of $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2010.

And let's not forget the bonuses.

Earlier this month,
Goldman Sachs paid $5 billion in bonuses to staff for just three months of work. THREE MONTHS.

Eric Daniels,
CEO of Lloyds, is up for 9.5 million in salary and bonuses this year.

And that's just a sample.

I think it's reasonable to assume that it's not too difficult for a bank to make money. Think about this: they get to borrow from the Federal Reserve a rate of zero and then lend that same money back to the Treasury at an interest rate of 3% through (bond purchases). But if they're not totally profitable, they can fool their customers into thinking they are because we don't require transparent accounting. And while the Obama administration set up programs to help Americans from losing their homes, the banks are not being very compliant and they're getting away with it because there is little if any oversight or enforcement.

Republicans like to tell us that lower taxes and less regulation on business is the key to national economic health and stability.They call it "Supply-side Economics". Others call it "Reaganomics," a term coined in the '80s to describe President Reagan's economic policies while he was in office. Still others call it the "Trickle-Down Effect", claiming that businesses able to put all its resources into their product without impediment will ultimately reward the consumer with lower prices and greater availability.

The problem with the trickle-down effect is twofold: 1) - It requires the poorest of the nation to carry the greatest burden while business and corporations (the richest among us) get all the breaks; and 2) - It doesn't work. Business rarely passes down the benefits, choosing to keep them for their own instead. This is one of the reasons why banks have such record profits.

Although Republicans promote this idea that if business is successful, they will share that success with the consumer, it's simply not true. They do not share the wealth.

Bring in the Tea Party. Patriots are outraged over any suggestion that would ask them to share the wealth. What's theirs is theirs, they worked hard for it, and they're not going to share it with you or me or anyone. A great many Republicans also subscribe to this philosophy, telling us that we've created a nation of people dependent upon government for their very survival. They want government to stop giving handouts to the weak, the lazy, and the illegals. Kick the bums out and make everyone else pay their own way. That's the American way - or so they say.

So it came as some surprise to me today when I saw that the Review Journal changed the title of my letter from "Why We Need Financial Reform" to "Share The Wealth." What a bunch of hooey. I never asked the banks to share anything. Instead, I'm asking them NOT to rip off their customers and NOT to give bonuses to the very same people who nearly bankrupted this country. Call me crazy but I think it's wrong to reward the people who brought us to our knees, who required us to go to China to get loans, and whose greed and fraud forced the very people they screwed to have to rescue them in the largest bank bailout in American history.

While it looks like the recession is turning around for the banks, you'll forgive me if I don't wait around for the infamous trickle-down effect to feel the benefit. I've never seen it work nor have I ever seen a bank willing to share it's good fortune with the common folk. Instead, what we need is meaningful financial reform, the kind the banks are opposed to, the kind that will keep them from screwing over their customers again and again. Without it, it's just business as usual, at the peril of the people.