Sunday, June 26, 2011

Exorbitant political races

The news is reporting that President Obama was in NYC this week at fundraisers ranging from a gig at Sister Act on Broadway - $100 to a $1200 a plate dinner to a $35,000 a plate dinner. What gives? The President made the last Presidential election the most expensive ever and with the likes of Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, we stand to see those figures repeated, if not surpassed.

There are many fine senators, mayors and governors who would make outstanding presidents of the USA but for their humble bank accounts. I should state that most senators are independently wealthy and continue to make vats of monies with their insider and back door deals once they make it to the senate I should say.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are both billionaires and while they are both Republicans and devout Mormons, my money is on Huntsman because his father, the billionaire Jon Huntsman sr. insisted that his children not receive their respective inheritances until they reached the age of 40 - old enough to have graduated college (in most cases, that is - my regular readers know that I am in my 40's and completing my Bachelor's degree) - and have established themselves professionally and personally and politically.

I would like to see races in the USA run like they are run in Britain - both parties get equal time on television - neither party pays for the air time - and the season is relatively short - about a month in 2010.

Were I ruler of the free world, I could get a lot done. It is time for campaign finance reform - in fact, it is long overdue.

Victory for gays in New York

A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to seek out a GLBT activist in NYC - I wanted to do something - anything - to help forward the case for gay marriage.

I was sent to a call center operated by the SEIU - a union outfit - in order to call registered Democrats to ask them to reach out to their senators and encourage them to vote on the gay marriage initiative currently before them.

As is typical for NYers, I received many gruff, short and mostly offended responses - that was a private matter and I had no business asking them whether they supported gay marriage. Every now and again - say every ten phone calls, I found someone who was not only willing to support the initiative, but would also call their senator asking them to vote yes.

On one such evening during my few weeks on the phones, the room went quiet and we were asked to get off the phones and wrap up our calls quickly. I was amazed to look up and see Ms. Chelsea Clinton appear wearing an equality tee shirt. She spoke eloquently and intelligently - just as her parents - on the issue of gay marriage. Indeed, her father, Bill had spoken out in favor of gay marriage that very day. Chelsea spoke of her own marriage last year and spoke movingly about how she could not comprehend being married to her best friend.

They said it couldn't be done and I am not aware of all the deals made with religious organizations, protecting them from having to perform - gasp - same sex marriages - in the late hours of Friday evening, the news came to my mobile phone via text sent by the HRC. I did not get the news until Saturday - as fate would have it, I had stayed in the city until late on Friday having drinks with a couple of friends. Had I known that the vote was going to come at eleven p.m., I would have left the Financial District and taken the subway to the Village where a massive celebration was underway.

NY is now the 6th state in the union to offer gay marriage. Some with whom I have spoken have shared that while they oppose gay marriage, they believe that gays should have rights in the form of civil unions.

That is like saying slaves could jump the broom while remaining property of their masters - since when are we a nation of second class citizens? This is America where we are guaranteed "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is it not?

Brown v Board, Jim Crow, Loving v Virginia - are you recognizing a trend here? Some 51% of adults polled nationally according to CNN, are in support of gay marriage.

Change is coming - this is a civil rights issue - gays are not all asking to be married in churches - they simply want the same rights that you and I have as straight people.

I welcome the change!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The case for Jon Huntsman

I had the privilege to live in the great state of Utah for 7 1/2 years. During some of that time, I was fortunate to live in the parochial district and neighborhood of Jon Huntsman, two term governor of Utah.

Jon Huntsman is a compassionate conservative, fiscally prudent, supporter of civil unions which he championed while governor. He is also fully cognizant of the fact that Utah is essentially a theocracy, given that some 70% of residents are members of the Mormon faith. Jon Huntsman teamed up with an unlikely ally - Rocky Anderson - the former mayor of Salt Lake in order to overhaul the archaic and restrictive liquor laws which were in sore need of a revisit since their inception. Jon Huntsman realized that the constrictive laws were costing business revenue and tourist revenue to the state as many would not come and visit given that in order to get an alcoholic beverage (hard liquor), one had to become a "member" of a private club with a fee ranging from $5 to as high as $25 for a year. One could get a friend or club member to sponsor them, but that was easier said than done. That this staunch Republican and Governor could collaborate with a staunch ACLU Democrat and mayor in order to right such an aggregious wrong is testament to the governor's ability to cross party lines for the good of his state and its people.

Jon Huntsman supported civil unions - again, not an easy thing to do, given his staunch and devout Mormon faith. Salt Lake City has a surprisingly large gay community thankfully. Gay pride, the Pride Center, Equality Utah are all part of what makes the community so wonderfully vibrant. Jon gets that while he might differ with gay marriage based on his religion, he should not and does not usurp his beliefs on others. Whilst living in Utah I campaigned against a ballot initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman - Amendment 3 - unfortunately the amendment passed - this in a state where polygamy - that is, marriage between one man and several women - was what the state was founded on and is practiced to this day in some enclaves.

Jon Huntsman's economic development vision made Utah number one in the nation for economy and job creation - mostly through private corporations and small business - tax incentives are how he accomplished this - his vision is remarkable and broad.

I love that he has spent time living in another country - China of all places - our ally and foe economically and militarily speaking - he knows that there is a significant trade deficit between the two countries and the disparity between what China takes in versus what they ship out is growing exponentially.

He might have come late to the party but in this former political appointee's opinion, he is the best candidate the GOP has put forth thus far - yes, even better than flip-flopper Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moving day again

I always dread these days.

My dear son, Kyle, now 23 is ready to spend his 24th birthday and 3rd birthday incarcerated in a state prison in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I had been instant messaging with another son enquiring of Kyle's whereabouts as I had not received a letter from him in well over a month - not a regular occurrence - Kyle has apparently become adept at circumventing the prison system and barters for stamps when he runs out of envelopes to send letters home.

During this instant message communique, I learned that Kyle had indeed been transferred to his third prison facility in as many years.

Given that I am prone to anxiety in such situations, I called the facility the next day in order to set my mind at ease. I wondered why a simple email or postcard informing family members of transfers was not sent from such facilities? It would do much to alleviate the stress, worry and anxiety for family members when loved ones are summarily transferred, often sans much notice to the prisoner - have prisoners really forsaken all rights? Can they not be afforded the decency of a phone call or postcard to inform family members of transfers?

Kyle is fine - he called me to let me know as much last week. He is adjusting to life living close to Minnesota - their news, different rules for a prison facility - it is a step in the right direction - he is more than 1/2 way through his sentence and this is a lesser security facility, albeit built on a swamp with lots of "creatures" wildlife, bugs and the like, he indicated.

I shall worry for my son until he comes home where I can see his beautiful face, his big brown eyes full of wisdom and expression

Yes, I am fully cognizant of the fact that he erred in judgement - greatly so - so much so that he is now a convicted felon serving a harsh sentence in a state facility but I love him nonetheless. He is a fine young man who is wasting his years languishing when he should be working or in college.

He will be fine and I am learning to not worry as much as I used to - moving day will continue to be a difficult time for me, mostly because Kyle has inherited my anxiety and does not transition well.

And so it goes.

Where is that prison reform that Obama spoke of?