Sunday, June 24, 2012

On turning Sixty

A few thought on turning 60 years old.

I'm not quite sure what to think of this. After all, 60 years is a significant span of time for a human being, although not all that long in the grand scheme of things.

Since it is the tradition to grant wishes and give gifts on one's birthday, I was thinking about what I would like as the ideal gift. At first, of course, I thought of trivial things: a Classic Corvette, an all expenses vacation, even an autographed collection of Stephen King or William Carlos Williams. But these are things, and in the grand scheme of things (no pun intended), end up as dust collectors and clutter in an already cluttered life.

And lets face it, at 60, your life is cluttered, whether you like it or not. My little “office” at home is a narrow room, about eight feet wide by twenty feet long, and it is very difficult to maneuver in . There are three cabinets of VHS tapes, six bookshelves filled with books and other assorted things (which I rarely use), a weight bench with weights and several dumbbells and barbells, a folding table filled with all sorts of books, magazines, and other tools of the trade, a desk which I am sitting at as I type on the computer, a chair, an exercise ball, a space heater, a CD holder, another table, three guitars, a banjo, a mandolin, two wastepaper baskets, and several items out of sight I have neglected to mention, I am sure. All of this contained in 160 square feet. I think you will agree, this is the definition of cluttered.

As to feeling 60, I am not sure what that means. After all, I woke up this morning like I woke up yesterday. A little stiffer, perhaps. I have accepted that as a part of life, seeing as various injuries and bad habits of my youth have taken their toll. I won't dwell upon them all here, but suffice it to say I have dared to challenge myself from time to time, and not always in the smartest of fashions. [I think back now and am reminded of the famous last words of the American Redneck....'Hey, Ya'll, Watch This!']

I would love to say I have succeeded at every endeavor, but that is not the case. I have had my ups and downs, my successes and my failures. I have completed an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts, and have all the credits needed for a Bachelors Degree, but cannot seem to master a foreign language with enough skill to fill that requirement, which frustrates me to no end. The requirement, that is. I see no need to master another language when my native tongue is spoken around the world. Furthermore, since I never intended to work outside the United States, I just don't see the point. But the universities and other institutions of higher learning seem to think this is important, so I continue to write poetry and prose sans the benefit of an acknowledged degree. C'est la vie. так это жизнь. E` così la vita.

But back to the birthday wish. I believe if I could make one wish come true today, I would wish for all the peoples of the world to believe in themselves, in their inherent goodness, in their ability to reach beyond their petty differences and realize they have been laboring under the flawed misconception they are destined to forever be at odds with one another.

As a Christian, I understand where part of this comes from. The concept of original sin pervades our thinking like a universal solvent, creeping in to every thought, every plan, every notion. We accept without question our nature is flawed, and by extension believe every other person is the same. Since we believe we are all flawed, we therefore believe that people, when given the opportunity, will always sink to the lowest level, and are, therefore, innately untrustworthy. When we think of each other like this, we are presuming the nature of humanity cannot rise above this flaw.

Now this is not exclusive to Christians. I use them here as an example because I know the people who read this are probably Christians and want them to understand where I am coming from. No matter what culture you hail from, this basic precept exists in one form or another. And it is the greatest impediment to our rising to the next level of human development. We can be one planet, one people, one race, if we are willing to trust one another.

As the Bard would say, “Aye, there's the rub.”. Trust is probably the hardest emotion to earn, and the hardest state to attain. We are raised by our parents not to trust, and some would argue with good cause, for there are predators and deviants among us, evil men and women intent on satisfying their own needs above the needs of others. But what we fail to teach our children is these are the exceptions to the rule, not the norm. We teach women in our society particularly to distrust other women, a practice going back in time to competition for mates. And while we teach our sons teamwork, we also teach them to consider other men as adversaries. I could give you many other examples, some more extreme and distasteful, but the point is we teach our children not to trust.

And our leaders, be they Presidents, monarchs, employers, or clergy, use this to maintain their power over us. Now you would think they would want us to trust, to share, to be at peace with one another, but nothing is further from the truth. For a society which trusts is a society which listens to each other, a society which bonds together to cry against injustice, especially when it is injustice carried out in the name of the people. If we were to learn to trust one another, we would be the ones in power, and the leaders would be forced to surrender their power back to the people. And power is a drug once taken which cannot easily be surrendered. So the leaders allow the public to be terrified by the media, even so far as to staging events and circumstances to drive fear into the people and a wedge between factions, making them fear one another. And when you fear, you cannot trust.

Twenty years ago, this wish could not have been made, at least with an expectation of fulfillment. Twenty years ago, the internet was nothing more than bulletin boards and emails. Twenty years ago, there was little chance of hearing all the facts of any matter without the media slanting the information in one direction or another. Twenty years ago, we did not have this marvelous tool called the internet. Twenty years ago, we could not speak across oceans and continents to learn about other people and their desires, their aspirations, their dreams. Twenty years ago, communication required risk, confrontation, encounters. None of that is true today.

Utopia is not my goal, and in my opinion, will never be achieved. But hunger, poverty, disease, homelessness, depression, and all the ills of mankind caused by greed, corruption, and injustice are solvable. All you need is trust.

Frederick Smith
© June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A commentary in poetry

“United we stand, divided we fall”

The ancient truth of Aesop stands, an axiom unchallenged.
When we unite, no power on earth we cannot overcome.
Our rulers know this. They understand the power of the masses.
And so conspire to set us one against the other, dividing into classes,

exploiting every negative to keep us separate.
Relying on our ignorance, our apathy, our hate.
The saddest testament is how we live, and what we say,
continuing the lies they thrust upon us every day.

We've learned this canticle of  propaganda all too well.
So tell, me, brother, sister, is it time for us to swell
into a single mass and cry together, “NO! NO MORE!”
“We've had it with your petty lies, your avarice and war,

your struggles to protect the rich and keep the poor contained,
your greed in keeping everything within your rich domain.
Your politics and trickery replaced the chains of old,
we're tired of waiting patiently for what will never come.”

Think carefully, my brethren, before you stand with me,
for greed and avarice will not go quietly.
They'll use their laws and armies to attempt to keep us down.
They'll call us communists and claim we are the ones,

the real culprits of the cause of all your loss and pain.
They'll whittle at the least of us til nothing else remains.
Unless you really want this world to change, don't stand at all,
go back in to your closet, go spray paint on your wall,

do nothing, and hope someday your children will be wise,
not following the path that you have set before their eyes,
but rising to the knowledge that we are of one race,
and understanding being human is not about a place,

a sea, a book, traditions, or how we think of God,
but a universal kinship, a vast genetic bond.
We are HUMAN, we are one, we are united in our blood,
inherent in our strength is our desire to be one.

So, tell me, brother, sister, can you offer up your lives,
to realize a dream where people everywhere survive
in harmony and unity, without the chains of old?
Are you willing to be brave? Are you willing to be bold?

Are you willing to be tolerant, and can you understand,
the differences among us are the power to be grand?
The colors of the rainbow exist within our hearts.
Are you willing to embrace them, give love a fresh, new start?

I would not have you answer me from lurching gut reaction,
but having thought this through, discussing with each faction,
if we are willing as a race to put away the past
and bring the new millennium of peace to Earth at last.

I've little more to say on this, my sermon's at an end.
If nothing else, I hope that you are thinking now, my friend.
I'll add one final epigram, these words you should recall,
“united we will surely stand, divided we will fall.”

Frederick Smith
© June 23, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Universal Franchise

"We are all born in a terribly unfair world." I don't care who you are, when you hear this statement, you will nod your head in agreement. That saying is a generally accepted axiom [def: a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits. (For those who need it, no offense to those who don't.)] But does it need to be true?

I think many people who accept this accept Social Darwinism as well. Yes, there will always be the smarter, stronger, wiser or more savvy among us, but are they any more deserving of a decent, fear free life than any of us? Should anyone be denied Life, Liberty, or the Pursuit of Happiness because they are above or below average?

 According to our Declaration of Independence, everyone is entitled to these things. It shouldn't make a difference if you are brilliant or mentally challenged, if you are wealthy or poor. Your life should be of the highest quality, free of challenges to your survival, free to pursue your desires. You should not have to "earn" happiness or life. You should be able to pursue whatever you like as long as it does not interfere with the rights of another.

 This is not socialism, communism, or any other "ism" on the books. This is the statement of the Declaration of Independence, sometimes known as the Universal Franchise. We have an obligation to level the playing field to afford opportunity to all, not just the lucky ones, not just the 1%.

We have an obligation to ensure every American has a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and access to education to improve their life beyond simple survival. We have an obligation to allow everyone to compete if they wish, and to allow those who do not to survive as human beings.

 We have no right to ostracize, to discriminate, to eschew or cast out any person who desires the basic necessities of life. We can only do so when such an individual threatens the safety of their neighbors or this nation with attempts to destroy what we know to be right; that all people on this planet deserve to be treated as human beings as long as they are willing to respect the rights of others.

 This is why the upcoming election is so important, my friends. The incumbents, Democrat and Republican alike, are bent on retaining the current system of "checks and balances" in our economy and in our society, those same checks and balances which sustain welfare, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and all the inequality of this nation which has been created by this endless stream of career politicians to maintain their control of the United States while appearing to fight for the people.

 We must eliminate Career Politicians from our nation. We must elect people who are willing to serve this nation and then return to the private sector to allow for others to contribute. We must eliminate the machine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How important is this election?

If you have to ask, you're not paying attention!

This coming November, you may think you will only be electing a President. but you're wrong. believe it or not, you will be making a dramatic and profound statement to the electorate.
You will be saying you care!

   I hate to use this word, because people mistake it for something its not. when you say the word "REVOLUTION", people immediately think of guns and battles and people dying. REVOLUTION is simply a means to change, an uprising of an oppressed group of people against injustice. But it doesn't have to be bloody or fatal. It simply has to be effective.
   WE NEED A REVOLUTION in this country, a revolution to remind people THEY, not the government, are in charge! We need to quit listening to the constant media disinformation that continues to set black against white, citizen against immigrant, homosexuals against heterosexuals, Christians against Muslims, anyone against anyone in order to keep us distracted from the real issue. The HAVES are trying selfishly to keep the HAVE NOTS from getting any of what they have.

   Why? Because they are just as frightened as the rest of us. Because they see the world changing and we, human beings, hate change. Oh, I am sure there are a few of them who are evil and greedy and just don't want to see anyone else with their "hard earned" profits. (They do seem to forget their profits were earned on the backs of the "common" folks, don't they?) But the majority of the 1% are the same as the rest of us. They want to protect what they have, and try to give their children a better life. They want their children to live a better life than we did.

   Somewhere along the line they bought into a lie, a profound and invasive lie which permeates our society and threatens to destroy this nation, a nation built on the premise that people, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, are fundamentally the same. The lie? They're out to get you, to steal from you, to destroy what you believe, to take what is yours. The lie? If we allow them to be different, they will destroy what we have! The lie? If they do not believe as I believe, they are the enemy!

   We are all Americans! AMERICANS! Our color is not important, our heritage is not important, our faith is not important. Not when it comes to preserving a nation which allows these things to be important to all of us. If I am to call myself an American, then I must place the needs of this nation above my own. This is the Responsibility that accompanies the Rights I have as a Citizen. I can assert my rights to worship and speak and defend myself and enjoy the simple pleasures of my life as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others! In other words, as long as I accept the Responsibility to ensure those Rights are protected. That is the price I pay for being an American, for living in a nation where I am free to choose, free to consider, and free to vote!

   That last one is the important one. We hear accusations fly back and forth on the television, on the radio, and now on the internet. Every election we are bombarded with claims from both Democrats and Republicans who vehemently accuse the other side of being to blame for our nation's woes. Elections are no longer about placing leaders in office, but have come down to "lesser of two evils" philosophy we have been sold by the media, by the 1%, and by the politicians. An old saying goes "The greatest trick of the devil is convincing the world he doesn't exist." In this case,the greatest lie ever sold to the American people is their vote does not matter.


I am calling for a revolution!

I'm not asking for blood in the streets or armed rebellion. What I am calling for will take more courage than any assault in any conflict in history! What I am calling for is the revision of the Congress and the Senate and the States by electing leaders, not politicians, to office. What I am calling for is the American People to care!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Seems we are National again...and never for the right reasons.

Just got this juicy little tidbit from

It seems Peoria has hit the national spotlight again, and as usual, not for anything we did right.
As pastors and teachers, Catholic bishops are supposed to lead their flock in sharing the love of God with our neighbors. So why did a Catholic bishop in Peoria, Illinois, just use his Sunday homily to compare President Obama to Hitler and Stalin?
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria launched a vicious tirade against politicians who disagree with the bishops' views on health care reform, culminating in the outrageous claim that "Barack Obama seems intent on following a similar path" to Hitler and Stalin, who "would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open."
This kind of hateful and incendiary rhetoric is inappropriate coming from anyone—but it's simply outrageous coming from a religious leader in a position of public trust. Bishop Jenky needs to hear immediately that reasonable people are appalled by his remarks.

Now of course, wants you to sign a petition, which is a reasonable request if you are so inclined. They're easy to find, and if you would like to sign it, please do. But I actually have another point to make here, and I hope you will bear with me.

Over a year ago, when C. J. Summers was publishing the Peoria Chronicle on a regular basis, I submitted a Guest Editorial concerning some actions by the Peoria City Council. C. J. returned it to me because I referenced Nazi's in the article, along with a lengthy sermon on why he would not publish an article with a reference to the Nazi's because of a journalism rule which states the reference is overused and inaccurate. All well and good, I edited the article and it ran. So case closed, right? Wrong!

C.J., if you are so outraged and incensed about using the Nazi party as the inaccurate descriptor of actions and persons, where is your outrage now? You were so careful to research your latest article on the highway versus rail fiasco, an argument that has little to no merit since people do not ride trains, yet when a Catholic Bishop runs amok with a statement as offensive as this, you are silent. I would think, since I know you are not in danger of excommunication, you would be all over this shameful event, imploring the good readers to speak out against such an unreasonable and unwarranted attack on the President of the United States. Especially when what Bishop Jenky is really asking for is government sanctions of religious beliefs.

If the Catholic Church had any say in it, Roe V. Wade would be thrown out, abortions would be illegal, as would any form of contraceptive, and we would be back to the days of women being second class citizens. As a Christian, I abhor the act of abortion, but it is not my body, nor is it my decision. Perhaps the day will come when people arrive at the conclusion to practice safe and responsible sex, but until such a day comes, abortion and birth control are necessary evils. Most of us reasonable people figured out that letting religious institutions dictate the way government operates is a bad idea back in the 1700's. I'm sure you've heard of some of those events, like the American Revolution, the French Revolution, etc., etc.

C.J., I'm disappointed to say the least. You rant and rave about government decisions, yet when a local church official makes a statement that is both incendiary and flagrantly inaccurate...well, I guess that's what you call journalistic discretion. You decide to publish what you want people to hear.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guest editorial with a little family pride

Jack Smith III

"By raising the taxes on the rich business owners, instead of taking so much of the profits as income, they will be forced to reinvest in there companies. When they do that, it will mean higher pay for their employees, better work environments, more jobs because they will expand. Which means fewer people on welfare and unemployment. Oh, and by the way, the government will also be getting more tax money from the middle class: (1) because of higher wages; and (2) because there will be more of us. The business owners would be making even more money because they will be selling more. So everyone wins when the rich are forced to share!!!!!"

Don't you love it when your nephew makes you proud? The logic here is undeniable, and this scenario would work exactly the way he said it will. To add to his logic, I give you one more fact. If the business owners put more of their profits into reinvestment instead of taking it as income, you guessed it, they pay less tax. Damn, talk about a win-win situation.

We need to pay attention to this next election, folks, if we are ever going to get this country back in the right direction. Just Saying!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Second Amendment and You - Why should you care?

I've been thinking about this lately and wondering just how many people actively think about their right to bear arms.

I know at least a few of you do, judging from comments made on my blog and other sources, but I'm kind of concerned that most of us "sane" (for lack of a better term) individuals don't seem to be on the same page here. One comment about passing concealed carry laws and allowing 17 year old black males to "defend themselves" against overzealous white vigilantes has me particularly concerned.

For the benefit of the uninformed who were cheated out of a decent education in high school, here is the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now, by the wording of that amendment, the reason for people to have firearms is to protect themselves from aggression. Since a militia is defined as civilians trained as soldiers but not part of the regular army, this would pretty much cover just about anyone who isn't wearing a uniform. And since the 14th Amendment has stated that all people in this nation are to be regarded as equals (I know, saying it doesn't make it so, but that is another can of worms we can discuss later), then why would we need to pass extra laws to state teenage black males should have special consideration to keep and bear arms?

The first part of this Amendment is the part I'd like to focus on for a moment, if you will bear with me. Specifically the word "militia", and further the part about being trained. Obviously training would include the mechanics of the weapon, how to aim it, how to load it, how to clean it...etc. But since the definition included above says "civilians trained as soldiers", is this really the training we are discussing?

When I was in the military, and when I was a reserve and military police officer in the San Diego area, I received the training mentioned above for a variety of weapons. I learned to aim properly, care for and clean the weapons, and how to secure them when they are not in use. But I also learned the rights and responsibility of using a firearm.

You see, in order to have a firearm, it is not enough to simply know how to use it, but much more important to know WHEN to use it, and when not to. Simply thinking you might be threatened or being afraid is not enough. You need to justify the use of "deadly force" before you use it.

Deadly force is generally defined as physical force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. In order for deadly force to be justified there must be an immediate, otherwise unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm to yourself or other innocents. Deadly force is that force which could reasonably be expected to cause death or grave bodily harm.
The use of force is generally illegal unless it fits within the strict requirements of one of the four legal justifications. They are: self-defense, defense of a third person, crime prevention, and law enforcement. Each of these areas has specific requirements that must be met to avoid criminal liability. You may only use the amount of force that is reasonable and necessary in the situation.. This is judged by what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances. In a self-defense situation, it is only when the aggressor uses or attempts to use deadly force that you have the right to respond with deadly force.

Without getting into specifics, this would appear to mean that the individual holding the firearm in any given situation is burdened with a tremendous responsibility to be sure the situation warrants the use of deadly force. But this also begs the question: "Is it reasonable to assume that a person acting under duress in any of the situations mentioned above is capable of responsible, dispassionate action?".

Since we employ people to cover the areas of Crime Prevention and Law Enforcement, and there are already procedures to hold them accountable for their use of deadly force (i.e., laws, civilian review boards, internal affairs protocols, etc.), let's concentrate on the use of deadly force in the first two circumstances: Self Defense and Defense of a Third Person.

Self Defense has several legal definitions, depending on the state or country you live in, but I think we can reasonably agree in this discussion we are talking about defending ourselves from someone who is intent on doing us physical harm. One example I can think of is a man or woman who is concerned about a number of muggings and robberies occurring in an area who arms him or herself with a firearm to avoid being injured. If the person in question is attacked, and the attacks which have occurred prior to this instance have resulted in serious bodily injury or death, does that person then have the right to use deadly force?

You might think the answer is yes, but what if the criminal flees as soon as he sees the gun? Is the person being attacked still entitled to use that deadly force? Since the use of deadly force is for self defense, and since the threat of bodily harm no longer exists, would that shooting be justified?

I could go on and on with examples, and we could argue all sorts of variables, but I think the point to be made here is it takes responsible ownership of a firearm to fully comply with the intent of the law.

So back to the idea of arming 17 year old persons and sending them into the street under the protection of concealed carry laws. Personally, I think that is a horrendous idea, sort of like the mayor of Detroit several years back who wanted to arm young men and send them out in the streets. Or the mayor of the small town in Texas who made it mandatory for citizens to be armed. Firearms are not toys, and they should not be handed out indiscriminately. But the firearms themselves are not the problem.

Firearms are tools, mechanisms which in the right hands can provide food, stave off danger, and defend against violence. But it is ultimately the individual who is holding the firearm who is held accountable for their actions. To issue a license to an untrained, uneducated person is to invite chaos and murder. At 17, most of us have tempers which are fueled by knee jerk reactions to supposed insults, real or imagined. We often lack the emotional discipline to restrain ourselves, which is probably the greatest reason I can think of to restrict concealed carry laws to those individuals who have successfully passed a rights and responsibilities course.

By the way, this is the primary reason I am a member of the NRA. This organization is adamant in their belief that firearms should be available to persons who understand the responsibility of ownership and use.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On the Trayvon Martin incident

"I think the issue is: if there wan't an outcry in the social media world, WE would never have know anything about this. To say we don't know YET, is absurd. If it wasn't forced we wouldn't know anything in the first place. Our justice system is a joke as it stands, so that the prosecutors 'said' they didn't have a case of a black kid being murdered, doesn't prove anything. All those things need to be brought to a jury, altho that doesn't necessarily mean justice either. The stereotypes don't do anything to help this case, either in the media or the courtroom, for Trayvon or Zimmerman. The fact that there were crimes committed in the area and this kid was wearing a hoodie (in 75 degree RAINY weather) have no correlation with each other. And the idea of drugs has 'just' been thrown into the mix. Why is Trayvon's body undergoing a toxicology test and Zimmerman never was tested for anything? Additionally, I think a fatal gunshot wound is assault injury enough. You mentioned the video - do you see any wounds on Zimmerman? Questions? Yes, that need to be addressed in a court of law."

(This is just one comment typical of the many I have read in several discussion groups across the web. - FS)

I have been following this for a few days now. Several points have been made that are valid, others not so much.

The facts:

(1) An armed vigilante reported a suspicious person in his neighborhood while acting as an agent for the police and was instructed not to follow the suspect.
(2) Said vigilante disobeyed orders and followed and confronted the unarmed suspect.
(3)The suspect was shot and there was no justifiable reason that has been given to shoot him.
(4) The objective of the police at this point is to attempt to cover their asses by backing the vigilante in order to save their neighborhood watch program.
(5) If they pull this off, their message is is open season on young black men if they happen to be in the wrong neighborhood.

The attempts to vilify the victim by characterizing him as a drug dealer only show how racist and vile these accusations have become. Even if Trayvon was a drug dealer, he was an unarmed black man who was committing no crime. Since the agent for the authorities disobeyed orders, I would think they would have thrown his ass to the wolves long ago and cut their losses, but because the victim is young and black, and they fear young black men with any power over their own lives, they are attempting to justify this shooting. It is disgusting, it is reprehensible, and the killer must be brought to justice. To think that any other factor than racist hate is the issue here is absurd. Trayvon deserves Justice. His family deserves Justice, and unless Justice is served, this nation deserves what happens.

Friday, March 23, 2012

And the sad part is, they think they have won!

18th Congressional District
Updated 12:08 a.m. March 21, 2012 100% of precincts reporting Source: Associated Press
Democratic -------------Votes ---Pct.
Steve Waterworth--------10,180---69.6%
Matthew Woodmancy--------4,447---30.4%

Three days ago, Steve Waterworth, a spoiler candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party who originally had no intentions of running for the 18th Congressional District, received 69.9% of the votes, while Matthew Woodmancy received 30.4%.

Congratulations Mr. Waterworth, and congratulations to the 18th district incumbent, Aaron Schock, for now having an opponent he knows he can defeat without hardly breaking a sweat. The Democratic party in Illinois has once again guaranteed two more years of Republican representation. Guess they were worried about upsetting CAT and ADM if, God Forbid, a Democrat ever gets into office here.

All sarcasm and disdain aside, my hat is off to the Woodmancy campaign and Mr. Woodmancy for claiming a victory! Yes, that's right, a


This entire campaign has been run on a shoestring budget, and it has gotten ZERO help from the Democratic party, not one red cent from anyone except the few blue collar people who wanted to see a politician who is not owned in Washington D.C.

Matthew Woodmancy is being gracious and looking toward 2014. He knows it will be another uphill battle, but he also knows the people who believe in what he wants to accomplish will continue to support him. If you haven't read Matt's platform, it is still available on the Woodmancy for Congress FB page.

In my opinion, the only people that won in this primary are the people who are happy with being screwed by the Republicans. Which means almost all of us lost.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Parade - the Spirit of Unity?

You know, I get a little sick of partisan politics, but one thing makes me sicker...exclusion from any group by deliberate act of omission. Since the beginning of this process, Billy Halstead, Elaine Hopkins, and the Peoria County Democrats have deliberately and systematically avoided and omitted Matthew Woodmancy, a registered Democrat and a candidate for 18th Congressional District on Tuesday's ballot. Matt has been shunned by the Democrats because of his criminal background, but also because he is not another "cookie cutter" Democrat.
Some people might say that is reasonable, given the fact that Matt has freely admitted he has made mistakes in the past and is trying to get past them. But the fact of the matter is this is the same old crap we all faced in High School. The COOL KIDS make the rules, and shun anyone who doesn't want to play their game.
As a matter of fact, the Democrats were so worried about Matt being the only Democratic candidate on the ballot they actually sought out Steve Waterworth to go on the ballot as a spoiler to Matt. Steve revealed to Matthew at the debate in Macomb that he was not actually thinking of running until Elaine Hopkins encouraged him to run. Steve is a great guy, but let's face it, he has no chance of winning the election. He has tried twice before and failed.
Matthew has had to fight an uphill battle this entire campaign. The Democratic party has made it clear that not only will they not support Woodmancy, but no one else better support him either. Think of what an embarrassment it would be for them to have to acknowledge that a Gay Man from a poor background who has made a couple (and it is a couple) poor decisions in his life might actually have a chance of running for office. Worse than that, how about a Democrat who refuses to "kow-tow" to the party line, who refuses to take corporate or PAC donations, and thinks for himself?
Today, the Democrats will have several good candidates in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Peoria. Dave Koehler and Cheri Bustos I know to be honest and reputable people with the best interests of their constituents at heart. The people of the 18th Congressional District also have a candidate who meets these high moral principals. His name is Matthew Woodmancy, and he will be in Block 11 of the Parade. When you see his banner coming down the street, show him the respect and courtesy he deserves. He is out their on his dime, not the party's. And he is running for Congress to serve you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A note from Matthew Woodmancy

I often communicate with Matt about various things, since I am part of his campaign staff. But today I received an email I thought I would share with you.

I set out on this journey 14 months ago, and in that time I have been attacked and threatened. I have had my very motivations questioned. I have been called a “radical faggot” and been told I am unfit to hold office. I have had people threaten to kill me, and yet I do not regret my choice to try to serve this country which I still believe to be the last best hope for mankind.

I knew this was going to be an uphill battle, I knew this was going to be hard if not impossible, and yet I continued. The things in life that are worth doing, the truly important things, are the most difficult. Perhaps it would have been easier for me to accept that I have done too much damage to my reputation to my own life to achieve the highest of American goals.

To me there is no higher goal than to serve this country. If I managed to motivate just one person, if I made it possible for just one person to see that they can rise above their situation and can overcome the odds, then I feel I have accomplished something good.

Now ordinarily, I would keep this to myself, but in case anyone out there is wondering why they should vote for Matthew A. Woodmancy next Tuesday, perhaps this is really all that needs to be said. When it all comes down to the "bottom line", Matt is running for office for the right reasons. He isn't in anyone's pocket, refuses big money contributions, and isn't looking for PAC money in exchange for favors down the line. He is in this to represent the interests of the 18th Congressional District in Illinois. He is in this to represent you."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How close to Skynet are we?

So maybe I have been a little close to the whole Terminator thing lately. I did reviews of all four Terminator movies in the last week, which has my mind focused on science fiction themes like Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and I, Robot (2004), films where the machines take over from their human creators. You have to admit, it is a scary subject and one that makes you wonder why we would build such powerful machines.

So you can understand why I am more than just a little concerned when I read this article, "11 Incredible Weapons That Only America Has" in Business Insider. While most of these weapons still require human intervention, at least four of the eleven are hinted at as being autonomously operated. In other words, the machine is capable of being given a set of instructions and carrying them out without further communication. We now have Programmable Killing Machines.

There are some who say this is not possible, since machines have no ambition. And I grant you ambition is a human quality, not a machine imperative. But not everyone is convinced the danger is minimal.

In the article Robots: Possible Take Over of the World, both sides are given equal weight. Several links are provided at the bottom of the page to give readers some additional reference materials. And as always, I want to do the same. This article is simply a "thinking out loud" blog to give you a chance to respond to the idea, if you like. Me, I'm still waiting for the facts to trickle down, but in a world where we are within 5 years of self-driven cars and carry computers around in the form of smart phones, one thing is clear. We are dependent on our machines.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Matthew Woodmancy for Congress - 18th District, Illinois

I've known Matthew for about 14 months now, ever since we first met with a few other people at his house to watch the State of the Union in 2011. The first thing that impressed me was his honesty. We were talking about his candidacy for the 18th Congressional District in Illinois, and he was brutally honest about his background and circumstances. He knew it was an uphill battle, that he would be getting a lot of heat from the press, and he would have practically no financial support. As we talked about the issues, I found his knowledge impressive, and still do. He spends a great deal of time reading news articles and staying abreast of decisions and other political items that affect the 18th Congressional District, as well as the nation.

That alone is impressive, seeing as he also has had a year of misfortune with the health of his family. His mother, a cancer survivor, required an additional surgery last month, and his grandmother's health has also seen a decline. He manages to provide care for both of them while holding down a full time job and trying to manage his campaign with a minimum staff of volunteers.

Matthew A. Woodmancy is a local man with a background in the 18th district and a passion to serve the people of this nation. His platform speaks for itself, so I'll let it.

Matthew Aaron Woodmancy

Born January 25, 1984 in Pekin, Illinois. Attended Normal Community High School. Currently attending Kaplan University On-line completing a Bachelor of Political Science. Assistant Manager for Gumby's Pizza in Normal, IL. Resides in Pekin, IL.

Matt stands with the Veterans of this nation in seeking fair and equal treatment for all men and women who have offered the ultimate sacrifice to defend our way of life. The medical care and responsibility for wounded service members is a sacred duty that we as Americans cannot turn away from. Educational benefits, rehabilitation services, low or no interest home loans, and other special programs are the least we can provide for these valiant Americans who have stepped forward to serve.

Matt's dedication and commitment to making our nation a better place to live comes from his own real life experiences. Raised by a single mother, Matt grew up in Central Illinois. He has experienced first-hand the inequities of the system, and is dedicated to changing the laws and programs of this country to protect the middle class Americans, the very people who make this nation what it is.

Matt is a man who constantly stays abreast of the issues and in touch with his constituency. He works full time, attends to family health issues and mortgage, and still finds time to review the news, both local and national, to keep up with the latest news and concerns of his community and the nation.

While a registered candidate for the Democratic Party, Matt is a man who thinks for himself. He does not “toe” the party line. He takes into consideration what is right for the nation and what the people of his district want him to do.

Matthew A. Woodmancy stands for Union Workers, Veteran's Rights, and a return to Balanced budgets and Basic Services for the American People at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Economy: We need to increase state participation in retraining displaced workers, and reduce the bailouts to corporations who have overextended themselves through reckless actions. Mortgage bailouts for homeowners should be available to first mortgages only, not second, third or even fourth mortgages that clearly demonstrate the kind of reckless disregard for sound financial judgment. At the state level, every state should pass and implement a balanced budget amendment that prevents the state from building excess deficits.

Gay Rights: Society is changing. The Federal Government, however, refuses to recognize same sex marriages and civil unions. The 14th amendment formally protects a person's civil and political rights from being abridged or denied by any state. It is time that we, as a nation, accept the diversity of every American, and their right to participate in a free society as equals. We have continued to fight this battle since the days of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and we can no longer tolerate discrimination in any form in our society.

Racism and Hate Crimes: I abhor discrimination in all forms, be it gay bashing, racism, gender bias, segregation, or ethnic profiling. This includes discrimination for all groups in all forms. Since Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we have fallen short of the dream and some have continued to teach our children to hate one another based on our prejudices. We cannot legislate this shameful legacy away, but we can commit ourselves to the legacy of the popular entertainer who told us “The times they are a-changin'” and we must change with them. Hate does not begin with others, but in the heart of every individual. If we are to stop these heinous and reprehensible actions, we must learn to begin within ourselves.

Welfare reform: We cannot afford a permanent underclass who rely solely on the Federal and State governments for support. Welfare was never intended to be a permanent life style, but a safety net for those who stumble and fall while striving to reach the American dream. We have always been a people who help others in times of need, and we will continue to help those in need, who by no fault of their own, rely on Social Security and other safety nets. This goal is worthy of a great people and a great Nation. But those who continue to abuse the Welfare system have violated our trust and compassion, and this can no longer be tolerated. Vocational training, along with drug and alcohol treatment should be provided. It is in the best interest of America to help those in need to find jobs to support their families and allow them to pay back into the system. They however must live up to the standards of this Great Society they depend on for assistance. Stricter enforcement of the rules regarding the use of welfare and assistance monies must provide more accountability to the American people for this use of the taxpayer's funds.

Immigration: While this will always be the land of opportunity, we need to change the way we think about immigration. We are partly to blame for the current immigration problem, with the high costs we charge for those wishing to come into this country, a cost so high many who long for the American dream see no other way to come in but illegally. Even before the founding of the United States, people from all over the world came here with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They wanted a better life and they wanted it here. We should not ask those coming here now to give us the shirt off their backs to try and achieve that same dream. If they are willing to meet the challenges of citizenship, then we as a country must help them achieve the American dream that we all reach and work for. America is the hope of millions, those who wish to live here, who follow our laws and are willing to do the hard work needed to become citizens of the greatest nation in the history of the globe should not be turned away at the nations front door because of unfairly high cost of entry. If they are, some will break in through a window or unguarded back door. The responsibility of the Federal government is to enforce the laws it sets for immigration. However, the Federal Government is either unwilling or unable to enforce its own laws. Their duty, therefore, belongs to the states to defend themselves from the high cost of illegal immigration. Their freedom to do so should not, must not be infringed by those in Washington. We must ensure that the United States of America is still and will forever be the last best hope for those who are willing to work for it.

War on drugs: We must take a hard look at the “war on drugs”. The United States imprisons a higher percentage of our citizens than Iran or North Korea, surely not the kind of company we want to keep. We are funding both sides: our Federal and State governments combat the importation and distribution of drugs, while our citizens continue to buy drugs. Both sides spend literally billions of dollars every year. We will never win the war on drugs this way. While we can surely all agree that cocaine, crack, LSD, Heroin, and Ecstasy are more deadly and dangerous than Marijuana, Marijuana is considered by the Federal Government to be more dangerous. I do not believe, nor does the scientific community believe, it is as addictive or dangerous. While not a complete solution, decriminalization of Marijuana might be the new weapon in this war. By softening our stance on Marijuana , we can not only reduce the cost the tax payers pay on incarceration, but we can deal a deadly blow to the dealers and growers bottom line. The money saved can be used to not only provide treatment and education of the dangers of drug use, but also on public schools, the real front lines in this war. When our schools are underfunded, and kids fall behind and fall between the cracks, they become easy prey for the dealers and gangs. Education is our silver bullet, for with it we can defeat the monster known as drug abuse and ultimately win the war on drugs.

On Education: We need a National Education Standard that will be enforced across all fifty states in all schools in all areas. With this, the Federal government should require all states who have allocated their education budget to the profits of the gaming industry to return to a base portion of income taxes that will not be allocated to the general fund. Our schools have been gutted by the gluttony of politicians who have reallocated those tax dollars to needless programs to benefit special interests and corporate donors at the expense of the children of this great nation. A voucher system will only add to the disparity of education available to children in poorer areas, while the rich will benefit as they always do. We need to level the playing field by raising the bar so that all children in this great nation have equal opportunities to reach their full potential. Stopgap measures such as district consolidations would not be necessary if sufficient funds existed to hire teachers, supply books, and provide the basic services required to ensure our children have a solid fundamental education. We need to work with the teacher unions. The teachers are, after all, the ones in the classroom every day.

The Justice System: Our Criminal Justice system is also of great concern. “We currently incarcerate people based not on the seriousness of their crime, but on their ability to retain adequate legal services. We charge some minors as sex offenders, when their actions do not merit a permanent criminal record. We have taken the raising of children out of the hands of the parents and are creating an atmosphere where the state allows the parents to abdicate their responsibility. This will not correct the crime, but it will eventually erode the American family. Only crimes of violence such as murder, rape, and assault should warrant the consideration of adult charges against a child.

On the 2nd Amendment and Concealed Carry: The Right to bear arms is one of the most basic freedoms of the American People. It was important enough that the framers of the constitution placed it only second to Freedom of Speech. Without this right we are at the mercy of criminals and despots who would take our rights, and possibly our lives, without a second thought. We have little to fear from a law abiding citizen with a concealed handgun, as long as that citizen behaves in a responsible manner. Concealed Carry is not a permit to act irresponsibly, but to protect assets and persons from those who do not respect the law. In all 48 states where Concealed Carry is permitted, a person is required to attend rights and responsibility training and to certify they are trained in the operation and proper use of a firearm.

While I do support the use of private firearms for the purpose of hunting and personal protection, I strongly oppose the availability or private ownership of assault weapons. Handguns are intended for personal defense, rifles and shotguns are tools for hunting when used properly, but assault weapons are tools of war, intended for only one purpose: to kill. No hunter can reasonably assert he needs automatic fire or armor piercing ammunition to accomplish his goal. While military and police agencies can make strong arguments for using such weapons, the average citizen cannot.

On a Woman's Right to Choose: I believe in the sanctity of human life, and believe that abortion, while sometimes a medical necessity, is certainly not an alternative to birth control, abstinence, or safe sex. While I am not advocating a return to back room abortions where women were often placed at unnecessary risk, I believe we must provide parental notification, not consent, when the woman in question is 16 years old or younger. While the decision for the woman is her own, her parents will provide her medical care and should be aware of any operation or procedure which might affect her health and well being.

Term Limits: I have signed the U. S. Term Limits Group pledge. I strongly believe career politicians end up serving only themselves and their own career interests. Passing an Amendment to the Constitution to enact term limits would put an end to career politicians, and by doing so, return us to a citizen government, where the voice of the many and the few is heard. The U. S. Term Limits group proposes a limit of three terms to the House of Representatives and two terms to the Senate. Even if this amendment fails to pass, I will bar myself from serving more than three terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate.

Social Security Reform: In order to preserve the Social Security System, we must remove the earnings cap of $106,800.00 and apply a flat rate of 6.2% on all wages or earnings for all Americans. Employer contributions will continue to be 6.2%, but would cap at $200,000.00. If we level the playing field in this manner, we shift the burden of Social Security on all Americans, preserve the ability of employers to create jobs and pay decent living wages, and protect our senior citizens and disabled from poverty.

So there you have it, the reasons to vote for Matthew Woodmancy on March 20th. No matter who you vote for, I hope you will vote.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Congress is not Big Enough?

I saw What's wrong with Congress? It's not big enough on the news feed and could not believe my eyes. Having read the story, I only have one thing to say: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FRIGGIN' MIND?"

With all the problems we have in Washington today, we do not need a bigger House of Representatives. What we do need is a House of Representatives with members who cannot be bought. Granted, that in itself is a tall order, given the state of the economy and the failure of the system to keep track of their members. But you can minimize the opportunity to "buy" a Congressman by imposing one simple rule: Term Limits!"

First of all, Term Limits ensures the Representatives are chosen from currently active people in their community. And for the House of Representatives, this is what you need. People who are in touch with the wants and needs of their communities, not staid, old rich guys who have become rubber stamp bureaucrats. You want men and women who have an agenda based on the needs of the voters in their community, not corporate powers and special interest groups.

Secondly, it is far easier to catch someone taking a bribe or being paid off in the early part of their tenure than after they have been in office for five or six years. A good example is Aaron Schock, the current Representative in the 18th district in Illinois. When he first took office in 2008 (like any good fraternity boy, he was a legacy from his predecessor, the current Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood), he was from a well to do area, and became the fair haired boy of the district. Today, this junior House member boasts a Campaign War Chest in excess of $3,000,000.00, has an estate close to the river, and is the consistent favorite of Caterpillar, Inc. and other corporate entities in his district. It is obvious by looking at his voting record that he is the property of the rich, a tool designed and honed for the purpose of maintaining their lifestyle at the expense of the "middle class", a group that is quickly disappearing from American Society. Without Term Limits, he will continue to serve his constituents, since he represents the money, and the money will always find a way to keep their boy in office.

Yes, I am aware that we also need to change campaign funding so there is a chance for a real representative to be elected instead of purchased, but we need to focus on one battle at a time to win the war. The beauty of Term Limits is they can be used to elect representatives who would actually vote to regulate campaign financing and contributions instead of simply giving you lip service.

We need Term Limits on ALL elected officials to ensure our nation has the kind of government intended by the framers, a Citizen Government! Three terms in the House of Representatives, Two terms in the Senate! This is what the Term Limits Amendment folks are asking for. Six years as a Representative, Twelve years as a Senator(which I believe is excessive, but let's go with this one for the moment), and not only the Federal government, but the States as well.

Passing Term Limits on the elected officials is the first step in retaking the government from the greedy and corporate entities who want to return the USA to a "company town" of have's and have not's. Term Limits are the first step in returning America to all Americans!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony and the Invisible Children

Have you ever wanted to change the world? Thanks to the efforts of Invisible Children, you have that opportunity today!

The video takes about 30 minutes of your time and tells you the ongoing tales of a man named Joseph Kony, the leader of the L.R.A. It tells you about a power hungry warlord who kidnaps children from their homes and forces them to either fight in his army or be killed. It tells you about children who are made to kill their own parents, children who are abducted for use as sex slaves, children who are deprived of any hope at a normal life. And it has been happening for more than 26 years.

The film is awesome, but even more awesome is the power behind the film. It isn't the filmmaker, the government, or some great wealthy corporation. Its YOU! YOU have the power to change the world, simply by working with the thousands of Facebook members worldwide to bring this man to justice.

Have you ever wanted to change the world?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The final sunset is too far ahead - The Peoria Smith Review

The final sunset is too far ahead - The Peoria Smith Review

The Politics of Reason

It would seem the Democratic Party of the 18th Congressional District has given up on the people of the 18th. Why else would they continue to tout a candidate who has no chance of winning?

The Democratic party has all but given up on the 18th, since it is in the lower half of Illinois, and that area has classically been represented by Republicans. The odds are slim indeed that a Democrat will be elected, no matter which candidate is successful on March 20th. But does that mean the party should promote a candidate who has absolutely no voter appeal, a candidate who was not going to run, but was convinced to run by a local blogger and retired journalist who simply cannot stand the thought of a gay man in office?

That may seem like a bold statement, but its the only reason I can think of for this vehement and constant attack on Matt Woodmancy. Steve Waterworth is a nice guy, a fair guy, and a man who served his nation in both the Air Force and the Air National Guard. But he's been presented to the voters twice now, once in 2006 and once in 2008, and he has fallen far short of the mark on both occasions.

Matthew Woodmancy has a criminal record for a foolish act and is paying his fines and has moved on with his life. He is ready to serve, ready to listen to his constituency, and ready to support real changes to the government. He wants to see Term Limits on all Senate and Congressional members to stem the rising tide of career politicians, another term for pawns of the corporations.

Woodmancy's commitment to family and family values is impressive. He cares for his mother and his grandmother while working full time as a manager at a Normal, Illinois Pizzeria. Like many of us, he is in financial straits, so his campaign is being funded on a shoestring, yet he refuses to accept corporate or PAC money, relying instead on the small donations of supporters. He understands that most of us distrust big money, as does he, and wants to stand firm to take politics out of the hands of the rich and corporate contributors.

Woodmancy fully supports the “Buffett Rule” and believes the richest ten percent of this nation need to pay their fair share of the tax burden that is classically passed on to the quickly disappearing Middle Class. He extends this rule to include Social Security earning, which are currently capped at $108.600.00. While employers would pay their 6.2% up to a maximum of $120,000.00, wage earners would pay 6.2% on all of their earnings with not limit. This last change would put the Social Security system in the black in a matter of five to ten years!

Steve Waterworth does not support Term Limits, nor does he fully endorse the Buffett Rule. His preoccupation with Foreign Trade deficits is admirable, but will do nothing to secure immediate relief for the citizens of the 18th Congressional district, or the nation as a whole. And most importantly, he is a candidate who has twice proven ineffective against Republican opponents.

If we are going to run a Democrat in the 18th, shouldn't we consider a candidate who might have a chance of winning?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An interesting development in the Primary

The Debate in Macomb was an interesting comparison of Waterworth and Woodmancy. If you missed the debate, you can listen to it here, on Elaine Hopkin's blog.

The two candidates varied little in their stances, but there were a couple of points that seemed important. One was the topic of Term Limits, which Woodmancy supports and Waterworth opposes. Woodmancy believes that Term Limits would be the first step in returning this nation to a Citizen Government and eliminate Career Politicians. Waterworth believes that having fresh congressmen in office every three terms would make them more susceptible to "big money" influences. Another would be the trade deficit, which both agree is a topic to be tackled, but Waterworth seems to think this would be the way to turn the economy around, while Woodmancy believes the way to tackled the trade deficit is to educate the public on buying choices and therefore reduce the influx of foreign goods.

Both candidates appear to support President Obama in most topics concerning the rebuilding of infrastructure and the saving of Social Security and other "entitlement" programs. However, one statement by Mr. Waterworth concerning President Obama's health care program "Its the Christian thing to do." tends to concern me. While I am a Christian and support Christian morality, our political system needs to be a non-partisan, non-dogmatic affair. I would rather Mr. Waterworth support these programs because they are the right ones to support.

But one thing was missing, and perhaps that is the main point. Twice before Steve Waterworth has run for this office, and twice before he has lost. What I was looking for is the answer to the question, "What makes you electable this time?" It is a question I have asked several times without a decent response. Matthew Woodmancy is an underdog on many levels, to be sure. But Matt is a young person who admits to his past mistakes, is atoning for those mistakes, and has shown himself to be knowledgeable on the issues that appear to be important in this election.

To top it off, I understand that someone has begun a "Robo-call" campaign against Woodmancy. These automated calls emphasize his past, and do not address the issues of the campaign. In short, Woodmancy has become such a threat to Waterworth that whoever is supporting Waterworth (and I do not believe this has come from the candidate himself) is so convinced that he is unelectable that they are willing to shell out hard cash to smear Woodmancy and emphasize his past to the voters. That is mud-slinging, the worst kind of politics. And I would be loathe to support a candidate who uses these sorts of tactics, either by consent or ignorance.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thoughts on America

BREATHES there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, 'This is my own, my native land!' - Sir Walter Scott. 1771–1832

This is the question that fills my heart
as I look about at America. Are we
so fragmented, so different, so apart
from one another we cannot see

our crossroads are upon us? Our epiphany
must come today, or, should we turn away,
our legacy will be no more than history,
forgotten legends of a better, brighter day.

No hero comes to save us. Our choices pave our way,
and in them, we must choose to lay aside
the past of hate and fear and unrepentant sway,
of teachings long ago decried,

as foolish walls, built to repress and hide
the truth. We are the same. We live. We love.
We grow old and die. We ask our children to abide
our sins, forgive our debts, and above

all pray they will be better than we are.
Our legacy is all we have to give,
What will it be? Shall there remain a shining star
of freedom, peace, prosperity, or will we give

a legacy of apathy and indifference,
of pain and suffering, of rusted hopes
and dreams fallen in the mire of impotence?
The time is now, the scope

of what we choose will haunt the days to come.
Shall we choose to submit ... or overcome.

Frederick E. Smith
Copyright 2012 - All rights reserved

Monday, February 27, 2012

Greed is not Good

Greed is not Good

I was thinking about the Gordon Gecko line out of the movie Wall Street, you know the scene where he is standing in a room full of stockholders trying to convince them his plan for the corporation is better than management's. He blasts the company for losing money, blasts them for having too big an overhead and no real stake in the company, then tells everyone how much they stand to make if they vote for his proposal.”Greed, for lack of a better word, is Good!”

Greed is not good, since it goes hand in hand with power. Remember the “golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules”? More properly, an old saying is still true today. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." An article on today confirms the theory. People who have more money tend to be less aware of people who do not. They are more likely to disobey the law, be rude to others, and disregard the rights of others in favor of their own self-interests.

So how do we deal with that? After all, they have the money, and that means they can afford lawyers we cannot to twist the law in their favor and buy off whoever they can't manipulate.

There is a way to make things right, but it involves getting off your ass and voting for candidates who are willing to change the government back to a Citizen Government. President Obama and the Buffett rule are one example of making things right. If we eliminate the tax breaks and the loopholes for the rich, we can start putting money back into programs to educate poorer Americans, maintain our Social Security system and Medicare/Medicaid system, and eliminate Career Politicians who are only interested in lining their own pockets instead of representing the people of their districts.

If you are reading this, and you are saying to yourself something along the nature of “Bullshit! We will never change the system, and the rich will always win, so I am not going to vote.”, Congratulations! You have just voted to maintain the status quo, to watch your Social Security benefits and Medicare/Medicaid entitlements dwindle down to nothing, and allow the corrupt and uncaring incumbents the opportunity to continue to screw you over. If you do not vote, you are voting for the rich. They do not want you to vote. They do not want you to care. They do not want you to believe.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is Decency really that uncommon?

For those of you on Facebook, I've been having a little debate with a man who seems to think he is entitled to be judge, jury, and executioner for a woman who was arrested for DUI and several other offenses after running into the One World Cafe at the corner of University and Main a couple of nights ago. Somehow, he doesn't seem to understand that prejudging that woman is wrong. Yes, she was arrested for DUI, and yes, she drove a car into a building near the college. But what he doesn't seem to get is our ability to judge based solely on the account of the media is limited, at best. If fact, Decent people do not judge others without ALL the facts

So we are all on the same page, this is one definition of Decency found on the web. (There are many others, but basically they all contain the same information.)

de·cen·cy n. pl. de·cen·cies
1. The state or quality of being decent; propriety.
2. Conformity to prevailing standards of propriety or modesty.
3. decencies
a. Social or moral proprieties.
b. Surroundings or services deemed necessary for an acceptable standard of living.

Now, I am probably just flapping my jaws here, but being decent means I don't prejudge another's actions until all the FACTS are in. I wasn't the arresting officer, I wasn't on the scene, I wasn't in the car, and I wasn't a witness. To my knowledge, neither was the individual who is assuming the woman is guilty without all the facts beyond the media. And that is not only a mistake, it is Indecent.

Indecency is when you prejudge without all the facts. It is a lot like prejudice or discrimination. In this case, it is akin to being a vigilante, a person with no regard for the rule of law or the system of government under which we live. A person who, unwittingly or not, is advocating "Lynch Mob" mentality instead of letting the system do its job is a person who would be willing to set fire to a neighbor's house if they were caught dealing drugs. Granted, it is a tempting thing to do, but doing it make you an arsonist, and perhaps a murderer.

Indecency is a slippery slope, just like prejudice or discrimination. Once it is "okay" to prejudge some people and not others, once it is okay to obey some laws and not others, like say walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk, or walking across private property without the permission of the owner, the individual begins to think, "Well, its not really that important." Once the law is not important, the police become just another thing to keep you down. Once the law is not important, you begin to think society is not important. And the end result is what we have in many areas of the country today. People who respect nothing and continue to justify anything.

At the end of the movie "Bonfire of the Vanities", Morgan Freeman addresses an unruly courtroom and tells people that decency "is what your grandmother taught you. Its in your Bones!". I think he was addressing something I was taught by my parents many, many years ago. They used to call manners Common Decency. Perhaps it is uncommon now, but I would like to think it is still there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Citizen's Rights are not exclusive!

Yesterday, a bit more bark was whittled off the tree of intolerance that has grown in Washington, D.C. and in the United States. U. S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, a Bush appointee, handed down a decision ruling the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. He is the second U.S. District Court Judge to do so.

In 2010, U. S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro of Massachusetts made a similar ruling. Yesterday's ruling falls at the heels of a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court that California's Proposition 8, which makes illegal same sex marriage in California, is also unconstitutional. It seems the message of the Judiciary is clear. President Clinton was wrong. DOMA is wrong!

It also seems that people are starting to realize gay Americans are entitled to the same rights as all Americans. What is upsetting to me is why has it taken this long? We continue to nitpick and haggle over "Citizen's rights", when it is obvious. The Declaration of Independence did not equivocate, and neither should we.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created Equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...

Pretty plain, isn't it? The authors, when they penned this note to the British, they went through at least two drafts before they came to language they could all agree on. And while the political infighting led to a document less than satisfactory (slavery was shamefully allowed in the new nation, women were not allowed to vote or hold office, etc.), the principles remain the same. Are they Utopian in nature? Of course they are, and because they are people are likely to look at them and try to explain away the better parts to some weakness of character or undue sympathy. But the principles are what they are.

It is time we start that to realize to deny rights in this nation to anyone is to deny them to everyone. We can no longer afford the human failing of intolerance to continue to segregate us. We are at a critical time in our history, and we need the best and brightest of all of us, not the chosen few. We need men and women who are able to own up their mistakes and work forward to overcome the problems we have, just as they have overcome their own. We need men and women from all walks of life, from all groups represented in this great nation, to lead, to envision, and to overcome the greed and corruption of career politicians. We need vision, we need diversity, and above all, we need participation. The apathy of the American voter has led us to these circumstances. The involvement of people who care can change it. But only when we agree that every American citizen is endowed with those "unalienable rights!"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Repeating the same old thing is not news!

A story in the Pantagraph today seems to think it is cutting edge. In Fact, it is old news. Matt Woodmancy has a felony conviction in his past. The part they left out? He has since turned his life around and is currently seeking office as the US Congressional Representative for the 18th District of Illinois.

I am amazed the same people who want to talk about using the system and respecting the law never want to give the guys with obvious errors in their past the benefit of a doubt. Let me clue you in on something. Our system of justice says that once someone has paid their debt to society, the slate is wiped clean unless they continue to screw up. Officially, this is called recidivism. That's if the man or woman continues to screw up. If they don't, they are deemed fit to return to society.

As far as Matt goes, I can tell you a few things that may or may not surprise you. For one, he isn't owned by anyone. He has no great political favors outstanding, owes no one in politics, and is not beholding to any company, corporation, or PAC for any reason. For another, he went into his race knowing it would be an uphill battle, and is still standing there, with a clearly posted platform he has not backed off on since he started his campaign. Lastly, he is not only running for office and holding down a full time job, but also caring for his invalid grandmother and standing by his mother in her battle against cancer, a battle that recently included brain surgery.

If you want to talk about issues and answers, lets talk about issues and answers. If your only reason to print an article is to further defame someone, then not only are you pursuing the path of sensationalism and dirty politics, but you are obviously unable to cite any real objections to the man's qualifications or platform.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pancakes and Politics at State Farm.

Matthew A. Woodmancy (D) was one of two candidates for the 18th Congressional Seat who attended the State Farm Insurance "Pancakes and Politics" event at corporate south this morning. In addition to him and Steve Waterworth (D), there were many others running for Illinois Congressional seats. With the number of politicians in the room, there were at most 30 employees gathered to listen to a brief introduction and comments from each candidate.

Of particular note was Republican candidate Tom Pliura (R), running for the State Senate for the 51st District. Instead of the normal intro and bio, he instead began with a diatribe in favor of Term Limits and a return to Citizen Government. "I'm running because I am fed up!" It was refreshing because the remainder of the candidates had little to say about why they were running, although plenty to say about what needs to be fixed.

In fact, the catch words of "Fiscal Conservative" came up in almost every candidate's presentation. Dan Brady (R), the incumbent from the 88th District, spoke passionately instead of being accessible to his constituency. Keith Sommer (R), the Illinois House Incumbent from the 106th District, bemoaned the size of government, emphasized the need to fight Obamacare, and applauded State Farm for hiring veterans. Bill Mitchell (R), currently the incumbent for the 87th District, showed up in a sweater and blue jeans, claiming he had another event that would be outdoors and apologized for being dressed "down", then proceeded to tell us this upcoming election was one of the most important in decades. He claimed that Public Assistance programs have grown by 96% in the last 10 years, and left us with the question, can we afford it?

Three of the five candidates for the newly formed 106th district were also available. Tom Bennett (R), had no qualms about telling us he has recently been endorsed by the Illinois Farm Bureau, and is in favor of Concealed Carry. He wants to make Illinois more "Business Friendly" to keep the businesses we have and attract more. Richard Thomas (R), a Nurse and outspoken advocate for Fiscal Conservation, was at least entertaining. He has an excellent manner about him and a firm handshake. Brian Gabor (R) was the last of the three to speak, and is a solid proponent of smaller government and lower taxes. He also wants to make Illinois more business friendly.

You may have noticed with the exception of the two candidates for the 18th Congressional District, all of the other candidates were Republicans. Seems like sort of a stacked deck to me. Or, perhaps, the rumors are true and the Democrats have written off the 18th Congressional District. The incumbent, Aaron Schock, did not appear, although there was a placard for him at the atrium at corporate headquarters after the meeting.

Overall, the event was nice, but only a few individuals dropped by the breakfast, and just a few managed to drop by the atrium at corporate headquarters.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Thoughts on "Inside Job"

So I went to a screening of "Inside Job" last night, and was incensed by the content of the movie. Charles Ferguson who wrote, produced and directed the film, has created a film that should piss you off. If he is correct, the United States government is complicit with various firms of Wall Street in perpetrating the single largest financial fraud in history. Not only have the criminals escaped with their proceeds, something we passed laws to prevent racketeers from doing, but to date not one of these criminals has been punished, tried, or even indicted for their crimes.

There's a full synopsis on Wiki, just click the link above. I'm not going to bore you with the details here, but there is one item in particular that puzzles me. Obama claimed he would return fiscal responsibility to our government, that he would insist the wealthy pay their share of taxes, and the guilty would be punished.

Now that should mean he would clean house, starting with the Treasury and the Cabinet, don't you think? So why is Timothy Geithner Secretary of the Treasury? Why is Lawrence Summers the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council? Both of these men have questionable background in the events that surrounded the collapse of 2008. Both of these men figure prominently in "Inside Job".

I do have one important question for Mr. Ferguson. If your documentary is this important, if this information is so vital to the millions of Americans who need it, then why are you charging for it? If I know a bridge is out, and I see people heading for that bridge and say nothing unless I am paid for that information, what does that make me?

I am not questioning the validity of the information. But I do question the motives of anyone who wants to profit to do good.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Business of America is Equality, not Business.

Okay, so back in 1925, a guy named Calvin Coolidge is reported to have said, “The Business of America is Business.” But that is not the case. The actual statement was: "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." However, Coolidge goes on to say that, "Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence." So the 30th President of the United States is continuously misquoted by historians and the press, when the actual quote is available to anyone with a web browser. I wonder why that is?

The same is true of the often misquoted line from Timothy in the New Testament, “Money is the root of all evil.” In fact, the statement is : “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV.) I guess something gets stuck in our heads and we just keep repeating it. Or is it something else, something a bit more insidious?

Now, I'm not going to start some great conspiracy theory of the Illuminati or some other secret group that is dedicated to keeping the lower classes in their place. But you have to wonder why thoughts like these are constantly put in our heads. I mean if you take the misquotes as ideals of capitalism, then we must be out of our minds to continue as capitalists. Especially when you consider that money is power in our modern world. An accurate quote from Baron John Acton is:”Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” The baron was speaking of monarchies at when he said this, but the saying can be applied to wealth in this century. And the evidence is abundant.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is the latest step of the wealthy and privileged to exert their power in the form of Political Action Committees, or PACs, over the poor by claiming the right to act as private citizens under the First Amendment. This flawed decision means a corporation can spend as much money as it chooses to promote the candidate of their choice, regardless of the qualifications or political affiliation of the candidate. Wealthy individuals as well, although barred by Federal Election rules from making single massive contributions to a candidate, can now give without limitation to these PACs. At the very least, this places the candidates who do not favor corporate policies at a disadvantage, since they will not receive the same funding as the favored candidates. At worst, this allows the wealthy and the corporations to inevitably place a stranglehold on the U. S. Congress that will lead to the only benefits for the wealthy and nothing for the poor.

Am I being an alarmist? Hardly. If you look at the trends around the country to curtail the rights of workers and the middle class, you can see the signs. We now have 23 states with Right To Work laws, laws that prevent unions from building their funds to fight unfair management practices. The argument is that unions are no longer needed to defend workers because the NLRB and OSHA are government agencies with the purpose of protecting labor. But a closer examination of this argument shows these agencies are simply administrative and have no real power to intervene. Their recommendations end at congress, if the corporation is unwilling to accept them, and if the congress is filled with corporate elected representatives, I am sure you can imagine what will happen to those recommendations.

So the bottom line to all this? We need to elect men to office who are willing to re-balance the laws of this nation to level the field for all. In order to do this, three fundamental goals must be accomplished.

1. Term limits must be imposed on all members of congress. Career politicians are much more subject to corruption and are much harder to catch. They learn the “ins and outs” of accepting PAC and Special Interest money without being caught. They learn to deceive, and once they learn that, someone has something over their head. To quote the plaque on Colson's wall during the Nixon administation, “When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
2. The Citizen's United ruling must be overturned. Whether this be by an amendment to the Constitution specifically limiting the rights of the individual to mean the individual citizen, or by an attorney who is capable of arguing this through the Supreme Court, the idea of Corporate Personhood needs to be eliminated.
3. Eliminate the tax shelters and Social Security caps for the wealthy. It seems to me unconscionable those who have benefited most from living in a free nation by the labor of those who have provided their income are unwilling to contribute their fair share of revenues. Exercising our legal right to tax fairly, and eliminating caps on Social Security earnings for the individual will not significantly affect the lifestyle of the wealthy, but it will help this nation to provide vital services which are in danger of being cut to the millions of Americans who need them.

There are other issues to be addressed, but these three will level the field, and return us to what the founders intended … A Citizen Government!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gay Marriage and DOMA - it IS about equality

A few weeks ago, Matthew Woodmancy and I met with some college students at ISU who were part of the LGBT Support Group. When we got on the subject of Gay Marriage and DOMA, I was amazed that some of them were of the opinion it was not the same as the fight for civil rights in 1963, or the suffrage of women in the early 20th century. It frankly amazes me that anyone could see this as anything else.

When the founders of this nation first declared their independence, they did so with a declaration that proclaimed all men as being equal. We have since come to define "men" as meaning "mankind", and have spent a little over two centuries correcting the wrongs of the initial constitution, passing the 14th Amendment to prevent discrimination. And that amendment needs to be modified to include "sexual orientation".

It is a sad thing to even have this discussion in a free society. When will we realize that until everyone is equal, no one is equal. Representative Maureen Walsh of the Washington Legislature presents one of the clearest, most compelling arguments I have ever heard, and I hope you will listen carefully. DOMA needs to go away. The Federal Government needs to modify the 14th amendment to include "sexual orientation", and those of us who are fighting this on some sort of religious level need to keep your faith to yourself. You have the right to practice your faith in your home, you have the right to attend the church of your choice, but you do not have the right to impose your beliefs on others.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Citizen's United - The Not so Phantom Menace

Citizen's United – The not so Phantom Menace

A couple of weeks ago, I spent two hours in the cold at the corner of Main and Monroe outside the Federal Courthouse protesting the 2010 Citizen's United ruling that Corporations are Persons. The crowd was not very large, given the time of day and the temperatures, but that shouldn't have stopped the people who cared. Inference: not enough people cared. And that is not only a tragedy, it is a real catastrophe.

The decision of the Supreme Court made it possible for large corporations, like Caterpillar, ADM, John Deere, IBM, to seek protection under the First Amendment for Freedom Of Speech. That may not seem like a big deal, but this means Political Speech. Speech that includes promoting whichever candidate will act in their best interests. That's correct. Any large corporation or Political Action Committee (PAC's) can place as many ads on television, radio, internet, or any other media as they like and there is nothing we can do about it.

So if a candidate represents bailouts, tax breaks, and incentives for corporations, they now have a means to saturate the media with their image and their name. And we all know what happens in the ballot box. Most Americans are likely to vote for the name they are most familiar with. If you hear it over and over and over again, you are more likely to vote for that person simply by association.

This means the corporations who just ripped you off with their bailouts and mismanagement and bonuses to their executives, the very same people who have led this economy to the brink of economic ruin, are now able to insulate themselves by electing politicians who will owe them. Politicians elected by the media, not by the people.

And if you read my article about the passing of the Right to Work legislation in Indiana this week, you also know while corporations are getting stronger, unions are getting weaker. Much weaker. Union membership is down, union revenues are down, and unions are fast losing their clout for the workers of this nation.

Right now there is a movement to enact an amendment to the Constitution to eliminate Corporate Personhood. It is called Move to Amend, and it is one of two movements you need to be aware of. The second has to do with the root cause of our problems in Washington, D.C.: Career Politicians. The movement is called U. S. Term Limits , and they propose to place a limit of three terms on Congressmen and two terms on Senators.

Both groups are acting in the best interest of the citizens of this country to return the United States to a citizen government, a government Abraham Lincoln called of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not huge corporations. Not Career Politicians. The People, the 99% who have made themselves so vocal and visible this year. If you are a part of the 99%, you need to be involved. If you decide to do nothing, the results will be on you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"I'm from the government, I'm here to help you."

When the EVGC TIF commission was first formed, Mayor Jim Ardis assured us this was not a plan for Gentrification. Apparently he was either unaware of the plans of the Diocese, or he was just flat out lying.

Definition of GENTRIFICATION: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents (Miriam Webster)

In this case, the affluent people are OSF St. Francis and the Catholic Diocese. I often questioned the presence of two OSF members on the EVGC TIF commission, when every other entity involved had only one member. Since OSF is controlled by the Diocese, it seemed apparent the hospital/medical complex and the church had something up their sleeves. That sentiment was echoed many times by the Peoria Journal Star.

Once the EVGC TIF was in place, the next step was to remove the teeth of the Historical Preservation act by including the owner of the property in the provisions of the act. Without the owner's permission, no property can be declared to be a historical site unless the owner agrees to that designation. So if I am a large corporate entity and want to buy a block of property where some of the houses are being considered for historical preservation, say the home of Thomas Detweiller, I can do so without fear that some civic group is going to come in and ruin my plans or at least tie me up in a lawsuit.

The article in today's Journal Star shows us the beginning of their plan. Mr. William Ordaz, the president of the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation, laments “It's heritage resources that are gone.”

I have to disagree, Mr. Ordaz. Its much more than that. Its the beginning of the end for the near North Side and the East Bluff. Slowly but surely they will be swallowed up by the OSF machine for their purposes. Those of us who still own houses and live here will be forced out either by unreasonable tax assessments or simply by attrition, since most of us are in our 60's or above. And isn't it interesting that this was done with the blessing of the City Council, and in particular Mayor Jim Ardis?

Remember the three greatest lies in the world? One of them is:

“I'm from the government, I'm here to help you.”