Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wealth and Income Inequality - Bernie Sanders' Views

"Today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little because much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals.

The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.

America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.  
The reality is that since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. That is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. That is unacceptable and that has got to change."

That's how Bernie Sanders starts to outline his views on wealth and income inequality.  I'm firmly behind Bernie for President and hope you'll at least consider his views, even if you disagree.  Here's his whole outline on the issue from his website, which I agree with 110%.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

From Tim Cook's op-ed piece in the Washington Post on Sunday

There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.

America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.

I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.

Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Legal discrimination in Indiana? I'm not sure.

My initial reaction to the Indian Religious Freedom Restoration Act is "religious freedom needs to be restored???"  OK, well, I suppose many different groups feel that they are persecuted, so let's push the limit of non-separation of church and state even more.  So, my knee jerk reaction is "crap, I don't want to support Indian in any way at all, so now I have to stop drinking Three Floyds beer.  Crap I wish Three Floyds would move to Illinois!"

I have to join many others in saying that I won't knowingly support any business in Indiana, because I don't see a difference between a sign at a place of business that says "Colored people not served" and a sign stating "Gay persons not served".  The world is changing, and serving a gay person will not result in you being refused access to Heaven.

From From New York magazine

Did Indiana Just Legalize LGBT Discrimination? Governor Pence Can’t Say
By Margaret Hartmann  Follow @marghartmann

Immediately after Indiana governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last week, the new law was bashed by everyone from Miley Cyrus to Hillary Clinton for making it easier for businesses to refuse to serve gay customers by claiming religious freedom. Over the weekend hundreds protested the law at the Indiana statehouse, Angie's List froze a $40 million expansion in the state, and Apple CEO Tim Cook denounced the "very dangerous" law in a Washington Post op-ed.

With furor over the law growing, Pence appeared on ABC's This Week, saying he was "determined to clarify" the law and "correct the gross mischaracterization" that's been spread by "many in the media." Then he failed to do so in a spectacular fashion. Host George Stephanopoulos repeatedly asked the key question — "if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?" — but each time Pence refused to give a yes or no answer.

Instead, he repeatedly said that the law is based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and President Obama supported a similar law when he was an Illinois state senator (which PolitiFact rated only "half true"). Noting that many people feel their religious liberty is being infringed upon following the implementation of Obamacare and the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision (which religious employers actually won), Pence said the purpose of the legislation "is very simply to empower individuals when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional First Amendment freedom of religion."

Pence also said he'd be open to adding a section to the bill that "reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is," but confusingly also insisted "we're not going to change the law." And when Stephanopoulos asked Pence if he thinks "it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?" outside the context of the law that just passed, he still couldn't give a clear yes or no. (Pence answered, "Come on. Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination!" and pointed out that they're really nice, which probably means "no.")

A large part of the reason Pence had a hard time clarifying what the law means in practice is because no one's really sure. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act says "a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless there's a "compelling governmental interest" or it's "the least restrictive means of furthering" that interest. There's no specific mention of sexual orientation, but opponents didn't make up that interpretation. Eric Miller of Advance America, one of the key lobbyists behind the bill, said on his website that the law will ensure:

  • Christian bakers, florists, and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage! 
  • A Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • A church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!

Plus, Indiana conservatives began pressing for the law after they lost their fight to block marriage equality in the state a year ago.

Courts will decide whether the law actually bolsters the case of business owners who refuse to serve gay people and lesbians, and legal experts are divided on how they'll rule. As the Indianapolis Star explains, while about a dozen cities in Indiana have laws that specifically protect gay people and lesbians, there are no LGBT protections in statewide nondiscrimination laws. (And Pence says he will not push to make gay people and lesbians a protected class.) The paper says it's "difficult to find an analogous case" from another state to predict what would happen if someone discriminated against an LGBT individual for religious reasons in Indiana.

So, while it wouldn't have improved Pence's Sunday show performance, the most correct answer to Stephanopoulos's questions is probably "maybe."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Villa Nova Pizza in Stickney, IL

I was looking up Villa Nova's hours on Google, since I'm not used to ordering from them on a weeknight, and was moved to scribble something about Villa Nova pizza here.

Tomorrow is my son Daniel's birthday, and we're having a small family gathering at my mother-in-law's home to celebrate.  The typical birthday celebration there means pizza, cake and ice cream.  Here's what I have to say in my Villa Nova Pizza review on Google:

"This is my favorite pizza place.  The pizza has a very thin, almost flaky crust that has great flavor and stays very crispy around the outside of the pizza.  They cut it into squares "tavern" style.  When you order Villa Nova pizza with a group of people, make sure to call dibs on a 'corner' - one of the four triangular pieces.  On other pizzas it's the part that no one wants....on a Villa Nova pizza, people try to get them first - the crust is that good!  Their sausage is excellent.

Eating in there is a very minimalist experience, and just not for me.  My favorite is take out just as it's coming out of the oven, and getting it home while it's still piping hot."

Check 'em out.  I'm fairly certain you will not be disappointed.

Villa Nova Pizza's website

Villa Nova on Yelp!

And enticing shots of a Villa Nova sausage pizza.....yum!

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to cancel Comcast service online

Oh wait, you can't actually do that.  You have to call them.  Comcast TV and Internet is generally quite excellent, but if you need to do something that relates to giving Comcast LESS money, or there's a problem with your service?  They fucking SUCK.

Here's what came up when I entered the query "cancel service" on their "support" page.  Spectacular support I'd say.  Exceeds server limit indeed.

Bad Request

Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand.
Size of a request header field exceeds server limit.

Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) Server at Port 80

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lunching with Neil Steinberg

I had the honor today to lunch with Neil Steinberg, the Sun-Times columnist, writer, blogger and seemingly all-around decent person.  I was the lucky S.O.B. who correctly guessed his every-Saturday query "Where IS This?" on June 28th, when he decided to change up the prize from one of his posters or books to lunch with him.  Not many people read my mindless schlock here, but figured I'd give his blog a plug.  Thanks for lunch Neil, it was a pleasure meeting you, and you've solidified me as a reader of yours for life.

Every goddamn day - June 28th

No Longer 'Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor'

Posted: Updated: 
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"Give me your tired" and Republicans demand President Obama meet them at the border. Give me "your poor" and Republicans demand they be sent back immediately. Give me "your huddled masses" and Republicans demand there are not enough jobs for Americans already. Give me "yearning to breathe free" and Republicans demand President Obama be impeached because his policies have weakened border security and are too inviting. Give me "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore" and Republicans demand no thank you, they'll want to raise the minimum wage. Give me "send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me," and Republicans demand no immigration legislation, no pathways to citizenship, no back of the line. Give me "I lift my lamp beside the golden door," and Republicans demand to increase the National Guard and security cameras across the border with punishing signs "no longer give me yours."
Give me a surge of despairing women and children fleeing the misery of war and defying life-threatening odds and Republicans demand to purge them as welfare wannabes and maybe terrorists. Give me the dispiriting site of the crush of a humanitarian crisis at our border and Republicans demand to gag and curtain off Lady Liberty. Give me a president trying to dance in the middle and do right and Republicans demand recalcitrance. Give me hope and Republicans demand despair and fear. Give me a president that will not run for anything again and Republicans demand to poke a hole and drain his lame duck pond. Give me President Obama accusing Republicans of playing political theater and I give you President Obama playing political theater. Please, political elite class, no longer give me "your" inaction and divisive heartless sound bites.
This so-called "surge" of fifty thousand or so women and children are not in over-crowded refugee camps in Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Middle East. They are not trying to steal themselves into America. They are not a risk but are handing themselves over as victims displaced by war. Many are here to reconnect with their family already melted into the pot. There is no need for political finger-pointing to agitate one's political base over this crisis. Folks are already disgusted enough. This is happening at our border and although rare, this is not an unprecedented humanitarian border crisis for America.
Back in 1980, America managed another humanitarian border crisis. During the Mariel boat lift episode, well over 125,000 Cuban refugees that flooded Miami between a Fidel Castro and Cuban-American organized exodus were assimilated amongst the free and the brave. Many families were reunited for the first time. But crafty communist chameleon Fidel Castro slipped into the huddled masses many of Cuba's undesirables, their prisoners and mentally ill to free Cuba of this unwanted economic burden. Americans proudly lived up to Lady Liberty's ideal until discovery of Castro's ruse created such a political nightmare for President Carter that he had to turn off the "lamp at the golden door" to plug the dike to stop the leakage of "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore."
History also reminds us of "The Voyage of the Damned," where American's response was tragic, pathetic, and political. In 1939, the ship MS St. Louis carrying almost 1,000 huddled masses of "the wretched refuse" of German-Jews seeking asylum in the land of yearning to breathe free was turned away and had to return to a Europe being swallowed up by Nazism. Frantic anti-Semitism, especially from Southern Democrats, put pressure on President Roosevelt to lock the golden door.
Here is what needs to happen in our current crisis. Stop listening to wannabe-presidential-guy-in-2016 Texas Governor Rick Perry from ground zero trying to score points with some "constituency" as he explains this mess from his perspective, which sounds as though he must still be eating those painkillers that screwed up his shallow and foolish presidential run in 2012.
President Obama should go to the border "lifting the lamp beside the golden door." He should be photographed hugging the children and taking in the sorrowful sight of fleeing refugee children and mothers of war-torn Hispanic nations to remind the world that the man of drones and meta-data surveillance is compassionate and deserves his premature Nobel Peace Award. Why not hug the suffering, that's what politicians always do best.
As well, Senators and Congressmen throughout the land should be the first one on their block to go down to the border lifting up the lamp, hug the huddled masses and finally do some real work, spend time as relief volunteers, and while doing so, find commonality in their new found humanity to pass the best border and immigration reform legislation. They could even bring their bibles. No harm done. These are the images Americans need and deserve to see. No longer give me politics marketed in miserly, xenophobic, selfish, myopic, nihilistic and pettiness behavior. Pass the budget to pay the bills to keep the lamp lit to inspire our world.