John Kasich must be asking himself why God hates him so much. If he were just losing to Cruz or Rubio, two men he is head and shoulders above in experience and intellect, he might think The Almighty was only mildly miffed at him. But NO! He’s losing by miles to the most poorly mannered politician in the history of U.S. politics. And that includes Andrew Jackson, a tawdry trashy man who allowed ruffians and floozies to desecrate the White House.

John Kasich, a self proclaimed nice Christian guy, has got to be asking himself what in heaven’s name he could have done to deserve the wrath of his Heavenly Father. And if he’s praying to the Prince of Peace to intercede with his holy papa, why aren’t his poll numbers changing? How could Jesus have turned his back?

Well, if Kasich doesn’t know what he did to irritate the Lord who loved the poor, I’ve got a pretty good idea. That’s right, the man who professes to love the guy who fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes, eliminated food stamps for half a million hungry Americans. Way to go, Kasich! Damned your mortal soul, you did! At least while you stroll the earth. Look at it this way, if you have humiliating poll numbers against a racist side show barker maybe you’ll get a “time served” reprieve when you get to the pearly gates and St. Peter will let you walk right in: no purgatory, no limbo, even though you made life hell for so many on earth.

It was 20 years ago. Then Representative John Kasich toiled away on the Contract for America – more aptly nick-named the Contract ON America. He and another joker from Ohio rewrote the book on food assistance. What people call food stamps became the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and it helped poor people eat. It also helped farmers sell food. That’s why it’s part of the agriculture department and not some public welfare agency like Health and Human Services.

Now, the big beneficiary of food assistance are major power retailers and large chain grocers: like Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart’s employees get paid so poorly their incomes are subsidized with nutrition assistance and Wal*Mart, in turn, cleans up at the registers when these same employees and their customers go shopping at one of the thousands of Supercenters.

So you’d think Wal*Mart would be angry at Kasich, too. But they’re not. And that’s because unlike Jesus, Governor Kasich is still making offerings to Wal*Mart. For instance, he’s made it virtually impossible to form a union in Ohio, and that’s mighty fine in Wal*Mart’s mind.

But Kasich just keeps doing more and more things that make God unhappy. Diverting money from women’s health is another doozie. Let’s not forget, Jesus really loved his mom and wouldn’t have wanted her dying of cervical cancer.

But timing is everything. And it shouldn’t be lost on Kasich that literally every day he’s plastered in the polls, every day he’s the smartest guy on the stage and no one notices, is a day that another impoverished unemployed American gets a letter stating that their SNAP benefit is ending. In 17 states right now (the ones that didn’t already do it willingly – like Ohio – because they have cruel governors) because of Kasich’s welfare reform and the 20-year-old federal mandate that kicked into effect on January 1st, our nation’s poorest individuals will lose their electronic loaves and fishes.

And like any evildoer, he’s proud of it. Yep, Kasich took full credit on the last Republican debate. He reminded his FOX News audience that while Bill Clinton likes to take credit for their draconian welfare reform, it was all him.

Well, Governor Kasich, your fellow Americans might have forgotten, but clearly, God remembers.

 

 

 

“Sarah’s back.” That’s the big headline this week. When I read that she endorsed Trump my response was swift and simple, “Welp, the clown car’s full.”

But really, c’mon, it’s not news. Palin endorsing Trump is like fleas endorsing a dog. Of course her last dog was a war hero, a U.S. Military Veteran. This guy’s just a typical mutt with the mange. I know what you’re thinking, that’s not just a low blow childish analogy; a canine skin disease could explain his hair.

Sadly, the real headline this week came fast and furious on the heels of the former governor, former V.P. Candidate, still lousy mother’s announcement for Trump. Palin’s son, Track, arrested for beating up his girlfriend.

What would a good mother have done? I’m going to buy Mrs. Palin a hat that reads WWGMD. I suppose I’ll have to send the answers tacked inside. Maybe I’ll just save the postage and write it here.

Dear Mrs. Palin,

I’d thought of writing to you while you were running for vice president and offering you tips, but decided against it. I knew you wouldn’t win and I didn’t want to waste your time or mine. But now you’ve proven once again what a horrible mom you are and I feel I must at least try.

I admit, I was horrified when you accepted the offer to run with John McCain. You, an abstinence-only candidate, joined the ticket, thereby agreeing to throw you’re pregnant unwed daughter to the democrats and the hungry media to devour. I thought – at the time – no one could be that stupid, you just had to be an awe-inspiringly selfish, self –serving, bad mom.

Honestly, over the past eight years, you made me rethink that opinion. After all, you are colossally stupid. Don’t take my word for it. Just think back on the time you admitted that your dad drove your brother to Canada for healthcare because it was so much better there – just as you were fighting against a Canadian style system here.

But now, your son is in big trouble and he clearly needs his mom. Track needs tough love, counseling, and someone to believe that deep down inside he’s a good man who can get over this and put it all behind him. Track needs someone to teach him humility, patience, and the ability to offer a sincere apology for his actions.

Yeah, I agree, Mrs. Palin, that’s not going to be you. No, you’re the person in his life who will take this horrible incident and attempt to use it for political gain. Let me type that again: You – Sarah Palin – are using your son’s alleged violent misconduct for political gain.

Sarah Palin, I don’t care what kind of a politician you are; you’re a horrible mother.

If you needed to be so self-absorbed as to make your son’s tragic behavior public fodder, perhaps you could have done it by giving a shout out to every soldier with PTSD. Perhaps you could have called on a wounded national soul to examine the plight of our returning military veterans. I work in a homeless shelter and we have several such folks who need a real advocate.

Lastly Mrs. Palin, you want to know the most ironic part of this whole week’s news stories? You endorsed Donald Trump, a man who denigrated the sacrifices your former running mate made as a prisoner of war. Within hours of standing up for Trump, you proved you’re just like him, by using your son’s military service as a political barb. I feel sorry for John McCain and Track Palin: a sailor and a soldier who needed a whole lot more loyalty from a woman they – no doubt – hoped they could trust. 

Sincerely,

Pat LaMarche

Mom and Former VP Candidate

I’ve probably met 5000 homeless people. Actually, I’ve probably met way more than 5000, but it’s difficult to count. Don’t believe me? Just ask the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; they get their count off by millions every year.  But me knowing thousands of homeless people isn’t really surprising; I’ve worked with people experiencing homelessness for years.

In fact, when I ran for Vice President of the United States, after volunteering to help the homeless for a decade or more, I stayed in homeless shelters all across the country. Since then I’ve done a number of cross-country stints with my dear friend and national advocate Diane Nilan. And then there are all those people each of us meets every day just living our lives in the United States. These folks don’t admit to anyone that they are homeless. My guess – a very educated guess – is that 2% of the population of these United States has no home. That’s one out of fifty, in the world’s wealthiest country, that lacks one of life’s most integral necessities. 

Now I’m not just writing this to get you to wonder – the next time you’re at a fast food joint or power retailer – if the person waiting on you has a safe warm place to lay their head. No, I’m telling you this because will all my experience for all these years, I’d never met someone who took a bus to a homeless shelter from another part of the country, until now.

You know, it’s honestly one of those urban legends: Groups or organizations or municipalities load a bunch of homeless people onto a bus and send them somewhere they’ve never been before, just to get rid of them. Nope, most folks in power don’t want to spend even that much money on a homeless person, when they could much more easily ignore them or simply criminalize poverty and drive them further underground.

Of course, I’m not counting people who got a bus ticket to go home. Nah, I’ve seen a lot of that. Most recently, in the autumn of 2014, I was in Williston, North Dakota – where the oil boom draws would be workers searching for living wage jobs but property prices have driven record numbers of these migrants into homelessness. In Williston I spoke with Kristin Oxendahl of The Salvation Army who explained that her largest budget item is bus tickets to send folks home.

Yeah, no. I’m talking about a person or persons who got loaded onto a bus and sent somewhere they’ve never been, where no one they know lives, just so they are no longer a bother to the community where they used to live.

Like I said, I’d never met anyone like that until this week: Thanksgiving week, to be exact. This guy walked into my shelter after the church he belonged to in Sacramento, California bought him a bus ticket to Carlisle, Pennsylvania because "there's a lot of jobs. There's alot farm labor and warehouses."

Has he found work? No. Perhaps his severe mental illness is part of the problem. Or maybe the mental illness that plagues his country is really to blame. You’d have to be some sort of sick SOB to send a mentally ill man clear across the country – to a town where he knows nobody – looking for work. You’d have to be the same sort of crazy “I got mine” character that would deny sanctuary to people who face torture and death in their own country.

And you'd have to be a really derranged freak to build your presidential campaign on such seflishness and ignorance.

So you see, it ain’t just the Syrians we hate. Basically, we hate everybody.

This past week's FOX primetime debate showcased 10 well-fed stuffed suits bloviating about their talents. A defensive Donald Trump insisted that America's angry because of political correctness. Using this to justify his history of churlish commentary about women, he and the rest of the onstage boys club ratcheted up their attack on a woman's right to govern her own body.

And while several of the candidates' parents are immigrants - Ted Cruz himself was born in another country - they fanned the flames of Trumps recent xenophobic rants. They feigned that it's about undocumented workers, but it's not. If they really wanted to stop shortcut migration, they'd go after the employers not the employees.

Hell, I ain't no brain surgeon (I used to believe it was improper to use ain't in public discourse, but after Ted Cruz used it in the debate, I figure it's ok to employ poor grammar now) but even the brain surgeon on stage - Ben Carson - couldn't come out against torture, even though empirical science shows it doesn't work. So, it would appear that between woman bashing, foreigner hating, and counterintuitive waterboarding, the real winner of the first presidential debate was the selfish, ugly, angry American.  Come out, come out where ever you are. Dust off your drooling chin; it's cool to be cruel in America.

Only one guy on stage veered away from the knuckle dragging pack long enough to voice some sort of compassion for the people in the country he'd like to lead. Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke a word or two about elevating the standards for those not doing so well. Of course he didn't mention that back home, under his administration, food stamp recipients must be employed to eat. Yep, in Ohio, if you're under 50 and single there's a work requirement for the federal food program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Of course even Kasich's not completely heartless. In 16 of Ohio's 88 counties, they've waved the employment requirement, because the unemployment rate is so dang high. 

I work with some of the poorest, least employable people in America. They aren't tough to employ because they're rotten people. They're unemployable because they don't have regular access to transportation, communication, or shelter. And, they aren't even counted in that unemployment rate. They've fallen off the radar, and try as they may, they can't get back on it without help. And in Kasich's Ohio, they can't get food either.

I suppose if all those lies about poor people moving to the communities with the best benefits were true, all the destitute hungry people in Ohio would have relocated to the food stamp friendly 16 counties by now. But they haven't.

Last week I drove a 73-year-old man to an appeal hearing. It's my job to advocate for the folks who stay at our shelter. And when a hearing is scheduled for an elderly gentleman that's 25 miles away from where he lives, it only makes sense that he's going to need a ride. He could have had a phone hearing, but he's got a number of disabilities, and he gets confused. 

This old fella's never had a car. He's gone to all 48 states on his bicycle. He loves maps. He collects them, although that hasn't always worked so well because he's been homeless so much and he loses his stuff. His favorite maps are the old ones that gas stations used to give away. 

A kid born with special needs in the 1940's didn't have too many options. His dad had survived the Bataan Death March but died in a factory explosion back home when this old fella was still a young teen. His mom loved him very much, but she had other children who needed her too. He began to drift.

I filed the request for medical assistance and food stamps back in February. He'd gotten the food stamp card, but he told me that often it doesn't work. We walked into the hearing and sat across from an administrative judge and a woman representing the county. 

The county said that the old fella didn't qualify for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) - what used to be welfare before President Clinton's welfare reform - because he didn't have young children, he wasn't pregnant, and as an elderly person he wasn't blind. Only blind old people can get cash assistance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Oh, and because of his social security benefit, he made too much money anyway. In Pennsylvania you can't get welfare if you make $250 - or more - a month. 

The woman from the county asked him when he started receiving social security. He couldn't remember but it was about 40 years ago, since his seizures got so bad that he kept waking up in a hospital. 

Which brought us to our other question. In April he'd been approved for medical assistance to pay what Medicare didn't pay. But he had a lot of bills from before then. The woman from the county said she could pay back to December and to send her the bills. She didn't know why he hadn't gotten a letter telling him that.

As for his food stamp card not working: the woman from the county said that sometimes cashiers don't tell a person that they've tried to spend too much money. They just tell them that the card won't work. He said it's embarrassing to leave all his food on the conveyer belt. She said to ask the cashier to tell him how much he needs to remove from the total so that he can afford some of the food. You could see the dread in his face, having to beg a clerk for help after he or she clearly hadn't offered any. 

The woman from the county told him that he could just "check his balance on line" before he went shopping and add his purchases up as he went through the store. Well-meaning as that advice was, it was pretty out of touch. 

Mean clerks and elderly going hungry. Poverty and Medicare co-pays. Information on-line and inadequate housing. It's an ugly dysfunctional reality, perpetuated by ugly angry Americans, and now they have a bevy of blowhards begging to be their commander-in-chief.

 

No, I’m not referring to the recent Maine Senate amendment to LD 652 that allows persons over 21 – or 18, if they are active duty military or veterans – to hide a handgun on their person without a permit. I’m talking about the recent Facebook post by the Bangor Police Department admonishing the use of a sharpie to ask for help.

I might remind Maine lawmakers that veterans are killing themselves in record numbers right now. In 2012, a veteran died by suicide every 80 minutes. By 2013, it was every 65 minutes. And the rate is still climbing. Sure, plenty of our nation’s bravest individuals end their lives with guns, but surprisingly, none seem to have done it with a sharpie. And yet, sharpies are the weapon some law enforcement officials want used more wisely.

In a recent Facebook post, a Bangor Police Department blogger commented, “Sharpies can also be used to manipulate the feelings of others.” This no doubt must reference the fact that one may uncap a sharpie, find a piece of cardboard and write an evocative sentence or phrase. While James Madison couldn’t possibly have known that sharpies might one day become a popular writing instrument, he surely believed that all writing implements be employed when exercising one’s free speech. Perhaps if Sharpies had existed in the late 18th century, Madison would have used one when he wrote the Bill of Rights!

The Bangor Police post elaborated on their perceived need to curtail sharpie use in the Queen City, “We are having big problem with panhandling in some parts of Bangor.”

Here’s where more folks get to exercise their freedoms. When someone asks for money, individuals have the option to decide whether or not they want to give said money. Unlike a parking ticket for dallying too long on a public street, a panhandler’s demand for cash can – in fact – be ignored. The person who is approached can even yell, “No, I don’t want to give you my hard-earned money.” While a rude way to respond, it is effective. Mind you, this free speech retort will only work with panhandlers. I have tried it when I’ve gotten a parking ticket and it does no good at all.

Bangor’s finest’s post further admonished, “The folks writing the signs are not always truthful and they are using the power of the written word and the sad face to get you to donate money to their cause.”

The comment didn’t read, “Some of the folks writing the signs are not always truthful.” It read, “the” folks. Well, “the” police are not always truthful either. Take Mark Fuhrman for example. Or Sheriff Joe Arpaio, or that case down in Eliot, Maine in 2012 where a police officer named Kevin Cady testified in York County Superior Court that he gave his chief, Theodor Short, documents proving his cops falsified patrol reports. Chief Short denied ever getting it. They’re both police officers and one of them is clearly lying.

So panhandlers tell lies and police officers tell lies. So do breakfast cereal manufacturers, beauty consultants, and fitness companies. And when corporations tell lies on TV and radio, they do so with the consent of the American people. After all, they’re our airwaves. So, Oil of Olay can fib to get your money, but some poor slob down on his luck better not?

You want to know who else lies? Every person who claims to know people panhandling that have sports cars or make more money than a local CEO.


Here’s the truth about poverty? Bangor has more than her fair share of poor people. In 2013, 16% of Bangor residents lived in poverty. That’s one and a half times the rest of the state. Poverty makes a person desperate. Panhandling is a desperate act. It’s dehumanizing, humiliating, and exhausting: But so is going hungry or losing your home.

When folks resort to making signs and begging for help, they’re using their only weapon. And the Bangor Police would like it concealed.

This Monday, I’ll be in Bangor panhandling. Meet me out in front of the Bangor Police Department’s expensive new building. Bring me some money. Maybe we’ll get enough to buy a sports car and then we’ll give it all to charity.

 

Certain religious groups and political leaders would like women to think that their disrespect and disdain for the choices women make is because those pretty little things just don’t understand the awesome power they were imbued with by their creator.

Didn’t “The Almighty” mess that one up?

Letting those dunderheaded women hold the keys to reproduction even though their ditzy decision-making capabilities – or incapabilities, rather – would lead them and all of humankind to disaster.

Forgive me if you’re one of those people who prefers to use mankind as a noun to describe our species ­– not too surprisingly – we’re not much alike on politically correct terminology. Yeah, I’m the kind of person who wishes folks a happy holiday as well.

Anyway, think about it: the creators loaded women with the offspring bearing payload mechanisms and then allowed them to think for themselves.  God was clearly off his rocker when he thought up that scheme. Ever since creation, the men that the Lord created have been trying to think for the women he or she created as well. Could God really have been that stupid? Seems as though man’s deity and man himself have a communication breakdown.

Well, this past week, during the latest episode in staged congressional politics, certain republican members of congress really stepped in it by trying to limit a woman’s right to choose. And by choose, I don’t mean choose what she orders for dinner, I mean choose what she does with the baby chamber the heavenly father entrusted to her care.

Yeah turns out the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” couldn’t get the support of – you guessed it – republican women. And why should it. The bill essentially says that women will knowingly terminate babies as a form of sadistic murder. Wow, certainly not something the creator would have had in mind. In the Old Testament men inflict painful death well after the baby’s born. Read the book people, God knows how this is done.

Anyway, I’m not talking about all that. I’m not talking about some man-created higher power giving women a uterus all the while completely forgetting to give her the wisdom to know what is her best decision when it comes to that uterus. No, I’m talking about a completely different female body part.

I’m talking about her head.

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about Mrs. Obama’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia. Rose Marie wanted to know what I thought about the fact that the United States’ First Lady didn’t cover her head.

Like a fool, I blurted out my first reaction. I said, “Well, it’s her head, isn’t it?”

Rose Marie agreed. But it seems many others, many men, do not.

Are you kidding me? The people having a problem here are the exact same people who were angry at the President for bowing when he met Japanese dignitaries. But that sort of hypocrisy means nothing to me.

What does mean something to me is the fact that Michelle Obama – arguably the most powerful woman in the world – doesn’t have the right to say what she does with her own head.

The message here for ordinary powerless women, you ain’t got a prayer of governing your own uterus.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/world/africa/obama-urges-world-powers-to-bolster-ebola-response.html

Scattered sound and static as House Chaplain finishes Morning Prayer

Unidentified Congressman: “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I can’t find my health insurance card and I need to get more Viagra. Mr. Speaker, can you get me a replacement card?”

Murmers

Unidentified responder although it sounds just like the Speaker Boehner even though he’s out of breath, admittedly not a good sign for a man just two heart beats from the presidency. Clearly running into the House Chamber after skipping the prayer entirely has winded the man: “Representative Sanford, it was my understanding that since you lost your last health card hiking the Appalachian trail (Speaker Boehner now begins winking one eye rapidly in the direction of the Congressman to whom he is speaking) that you would not be able to get another card unless you paid a $5 deposit. Please see my office about that before this day ends.”

Following this interchange, a bright orange man ascends to the podium at the center of the room to address the august body assembled before him.

It is now confirmed that Speaker Boehner is the prior man in the video. The speaker begins talking. “I’m going to ask that C-Span and the other members of the media leave the room for an hour or so. Who’s got room on their expense account? Will someone with some money on their account pay for the media to go down to Busboys and Poets and have a few drinks? And pay for the democrats to go too if you can.  What? Nobody’s got a few bucks left on their accounts. We allocated $573.9 million for our personal expense accounts last term and no one has any money left. C’mon fellas. Sheesh, I knew we were gonna miss Ron Paul, he never spent his $1,353,205.13 on nuthin’. We could always count on him at times like these.”

Groan goes up from the crowd in unison

Secretary Boehner continues, “You know, the Senate still has Bernie Sanders, so they still have left over money for emergencies like these. Maybe if we let D.C. be a state they’ll send someone honest to the House.”

The room erupts in laughter.

But the press, knowing when they are not welcome and long since having donated their spleens to the centers for disease control after the president urged more money for Ebola research picks up their apple products and heads for the door.

Once every last would be Helen Thomas has left the room, Secretary Boehner turns to his colleagues and says, “Well boys.”

A shout goes up from a corner of the room, “Hey, some of us are women.”

Secretary Boehner ignores this – of course – if there were actually women in the room Rush Limbaugh would have informed him so that he could consult the female members of congress on reproductive health issues. Obviously this high voiced man was merely making a very bad joke.

Secretary Boehner un-phased goes on, “Remember when times were good and 43 was here. Remember the really good old days when we’d grab A.G. Ashcroft and old Condi – wait Condi was a girl right? – we’d grab Ash-baby and Condi and head to the white house and hold hands in the oval office and talk to God.”

“Well, my friends, it’s time to do it again.”

A shout from the Crowd (it was becoming a crowd, as the assembled Congresspersons moved down the isle to be closer to their orange leader): “43’s back? Condi’s back?” The person shouting sounded so… what was it… happy! Then he apparently remembered the stash of heterosexual porn under his desk and asked in what instantly became a frightened tone, “Ashcroft’s back?”

Surely if Ashcroft had put a drapery on a statue, he’d have disapproved of this month’s issue of “Guns and Gonads”… that particular Congressman’s favorite magazine.

***Video is interrupted by an NSA surveillance authenticator who asks, “How did you know these things the Congressman was thinking?” A note was then attached to the file which mentioned that once God joined the conversation, which was shortly following the morning’s pedantic and patronizing prayer, NSA could read thoughts at the same time the deity himself began to do so. It was as though the higher power wanted a witness***

With the press absent, Speaker Boehner began to lose his compose, “No you imbecile, they aren’t back, I’m just trying to remind you of when we would hang out together and,” pausing ever so slightly even tearfully, “we’d talk to God.”

Relief is an insufficient word to describe the feeling that rushed through the minds and hearts of many assembled in supplication before the Speaker.

Speaker Boehner took a deep breath and explained, “I just want to talk to God about this Syria thing. I think we all need to sit together and ask him what to do.”

Many murmured in affirmation. A few women in the room wondered what they were doing there but they, like the men, went along. Christianity, after all, is a big vote getter no matter what part of the U.S. you hail from… and if they could actually get in on this God thing, well, that might be worth 4 or 5 points in the next Rasmussen Poll.

Secretary Boehner reached under the podium and pulled out his ladybug pillow pet. He place it on the floor and kneeled on its plush pink underbelly.  Many of the congresspersons silently wished they’d thought to bring their pillow pets as well. Michele Bachmann would have especially impressed with her custom-made corn dog pillow pet.

Speaker Boehner spoke directly to God now, “Heavenly Father, please tell us what to do about this Syria thing.”

Just then, lightening struck the empty chair of Congressman Mike Michaud. God used Michaud’s chair for effect. He knew that this intrepid defender of peace who never once voted to fund the Iraq war was off in Maine chasing rats out of the state house.

Speaker Boehner cowered in fear, “Father have we pissed you off… err… I mean displeased you.” Boehner instantly assumed that the good lord had struck Michaud’s chair because the lord loved war, especially holy ones.

Suddenly the NSA microphones were filled with feed back and static. After about 4 minutes the signal cleared and a voice not unlike the recently deceased Joan Rivers tweeked the ears of everyone assembled, “Why are you talking to me in English? If I’ve told you petty humans once, I’ve told you a thousand times, I don’t speak English. I have to sit here with a translator every time.”

Boehner cowered but held strong. “Lord, we know, but the very best language is English and it’s how we prove that America is great, so could you please speak English, it’s really what’s best for the party. And while you’re at it, could you sound a little more like a man?”

Crack! Another lightening bolt. God/Joan Rivers replied, “Look, you haven’t improved one tiny bit since the alien craft put their blood in your water ­– you’ve all seen Prometheus, right – Noomi, I love her.” Although God Rivers made it sound like she was saying ‘Hur.’

Boehner, sensing he was losing the adoration of his congressional underlings pressed on with impressive courage, “God, look just tell us, should we be bombing Syria. Should we give that anti-Christ in the White House what he wants on this?”

God replied, “anti-who?”

Boehner jumped to his feet. He took his podium mic and shoved it into the speaker as feedback filled the ears of his congressional buddies. When he took the mic away and silence returned, his colleagues stared at him waiting for instruction and advice.

Boehner slapped his hands back and forth with an ‘I’m done with that’ motion and said, “You heard him fellas.”

A lone voice from the back, “Hey, some of us are girls.”

Boehner ignored the technicality, “God told us quite clearly, we have a chance to bomb some folks and the presidents all for it. Who are we to argue?”

And with that the saintly U.S. Congress that prays at the beginning of each day decided to let the president they hate kill some people they’ve never met.

Religileaks transcripts for other great moments in time are available by emailing them. But they don’t supply the address, just think about them, they’ll contact you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got an idea. Let’s do away with kings and kingdoms once and for all.  It’s tough enough being a serf now-a-days without having to look across the moat to the castle dwellers and see them bickering amongst themselves like they have any real problem other than finding a few more peasants to fleece.

You know how nobility works. It doesn’t matter your nationality or hometown, when you hang with people, you make damned sure it’s others just like you.  Take pre-twentieth century royalty.  One minute you’ve got a single Queen of England –born to rule the peeps of England – but she marries a Dutch Prince and he becomes king.  Why?  Because he’s got the same elevated status she does. It doesn’t matter that he’s not English, doesn’t even speak English.  Okay, maybe he did speak English, but it wasn’t his first language.  Same goes for just about every royal house in Western Europe after Louis XIV. For centuries they spoke French – even in Russian Courts – because the Sun King’s excesses set the royalty bar. And Louis’ fat cat, blue blood peers wanted to be just like him.

Now I usually write about poverty, and in a way I still am. All you have to do to see a few modern day peasants is drive through an inner city and look at a basketball court.  They’re usually surrounded by chain link fencing, but the real peasant class is behind barbed wire or razor wire as well.  That’s how you know the enclosure isn’t there to keep the balls from going in the street – it’s there to keep the peasants inside – see razor wire’s hell on a basketball and on a peasant.

And if the message of these basketball cages isn’t loud and clear enough, a June 2013, Forbes Magazine article points out that 23 Philadelphia schools are closing due to a $300 million shortfall while the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections prepares to build a $400 million prison. Yeah, you don’t have to be a Count to do that math.  And why put razor wire around the school yards when you can just send the former students to prison?

Did you know that’s where counts came from? Kings needed help keeping their court straight so they extended noble ties out into the community. The often elevated the station of others they “saw fit” with knighthood or other noble title. In the case of the dude who kept the King’s math straight – for taxes, bounty, royal expenditures, and stuff – he became the Count.

Now the peasants all had to believe these upper crusts were the real deal. So the royalty of old said that God gave them their power.  Oh well, stop right there! God and a few swords – don’t forget the guys who got knighted.

So as we stand and stare at the razor wire around the basketball court, which modern day kings need to go? Well, they don’t call it court for nothing.  Let’s start with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Listen to this sordid tale of royalty picking at each other’s belly button lint in their exalted station while a whole bunch of real basketball players – like the 8-year-old kids from Philly – lose their game.

And let’s face it, not one of these NBA royalty – like the Dutch king on the British throne – even comes from basketball.

Here’s the story: This unapologetic supremist named Donald Sterling owns the Clipper kingdom.  Problem with being a typical, arrogant, “the rules don’t apply to me” philandering, fat cat is that the peasants who watch your royal matches are – in part – the people you hate. And I would wager that they are in totality the people he hates, but he’s too much of a racist to know that they make peasants in his color.

So the other royals – as would happen from time to time when one king decided to annex another’s kingdom – have decided that Sterling needs to abdicate. Who will take over? How about the former king of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer! At least there’s a ball in his name if not in his past. Why should this rich dude own a basketball team? Well, because he’s royalty and rich is one of the rules of the sport.

What the NBA should do is give the Clipper kingdom to the public school children of Philly – or Chicago or some other endangered school district.  The basketball nobility has amassed enough wealth to save those schools.  And I don’t just mean the billion Sterling is suing for because they want to take his throne. By the way, that billion could save all 23 Philadelphia schools two and a half times over!  No, I mean the television stations with the beer and potato chip adds.  I mean the ridiculously expensive clothes made by the indescrbably poor sweatshop peasants around the world.

The basketball kingdoms combined have enough money to finance schools, take down the razor wire, and let the real game be played for the fun of it. Profits from the new NBA would only go to schools after the players get paid. So just like today, kids with tons of basketball talent would still have something to shoot for athletically.

Basketball is for athletes, would-be athletes, and backyard enthusiasts who want to work up a sweat shooting for three points from the foul line.  It’s not for an 80-year-old would-be Henry VIII hate-filled aristocrat, so desperate for one more sexual exploit that he mutters his obscene venom-filled comments into the ear of a woman who sees him for what he really is – a meal ticket who can easily lose his throne by exposing his royal foul lines – the ones he speaks.

Did you ever wish you could make a difference?  Of course you did. You even tried.  Didn’t you?  And you did make a difference, but you thought, “Gee, that’s only half what I’d hoped I could've accomplished.” 

Perhaps you’ve seen other people really grabbing the old bull-by-the-horns and thought, “How can I be that confident and work on an issue I care about?”

What if I told you there was a way to double your impact, and oh, more than that, have a one on one day spent at the elbow of an activist ready to show you her game plan, her strategy, her routine?  What if I told you that there’s a way to double your impact and then – just maybe – become an activist for a day?  You’d be delighted.  I know.  I’m delighted just telling you about it.

I’ve got this hero.  Her name is Diane Nilan.  For going on 9 years now, she’s traveled the United States documenting the lives of homeless children and their families.  She sold everything she had, her condo, her stuff, and she bought an RV and she makes a difference. 

She’s one of the architects of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act.  And she’s hell on wheels when a school department doesn’t obey that law.  Yep, not only did Diane do all she could to make sure kids went to school, but she helps enforce the law too.  When someone plays fast and loose with the rules, she makes a phone call and reminds them of the law that she helped to write.  If they’re a little hard of learning, she drives to their doorstep.  It’s quite a sight to see.  But if you'd like, here's your chance to see it... I'll get to that in a moment.

She’s made a number of awe-inspiring videos about the pandemic of family homelessness and you can check out the trailers on her website.  Of course there are some things – like the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act that are so important, that the video about that law is on her site for free.

Anyway, I’m far from the first person who has noticed her good heart and dogged determined nature when it comes to helping homeless kids.  And that’s how Diane won the Sister Clare Award. 

The University of Saint Francis doles out this award to women who have made a difference in their own lifetime.  Personally I don’t know a thing about Sister Clare except that she must’ve been amazing if she’s the kind of person Diane is.

But it’s even better than getting an award because you’ve spent nearly a decade sleepless over the plight of homeless kids.  It comes with a cash incentive of ten grand.  Yeah, you read that right, ten thousand dollars. 

If Diane and her not for profit Hear Us can raise ten grand, some Sister Clare fan is going to match it dollar for dollar.  Well, actually, they’ll match every dollar up to 10,000.  So you want to double your impact?  Send Hear Us a few bucks.  Send 10 it becomes 20, send 25 it becomes 50, send 50 it becomes 100.  You get the drift.

And what about spending a day with the amazing activist, doing what she does, becoming a part of the solution instead of justifiably paralyzed by the size of the problem?  Well, all you have to do is raise a thousand dollars.

(Heavens no!  We don’t expect anyone to have a thousand dollars of their own to give). 

But if you can raise a thousand – thereby effectively raising two thousand – Diane will drive to your part of the country, set up media and homeless events in your town, and take you along for the ride.  Plan a bake sale, activate your high school kids' civics club.

Trust me, I’ve been with Diane Nilan on these trips of hers and I’ve had the time of my life.  Want more details?  Want fundraising ideas?  Reach out to me on Facebook.  I’ll help you.

 

Be an activist for a day and make a difference that could change a little child’s lifetime. 

 

homeless homework

I’m not homeless, but every now and then I take to the streets in some far-flung part of the United States and live in a fashion similar to the one lived by many people experiencing homelessness.  

Like many folks without a home, sometimes I travel alone, but I’m often with others.  Two weeks ago I shoved off on my latest trip with my dear friend, Diane Nilan.   Nilan’s an advocate for homeless kids and the executive director of Hear Us, a charity she started 9 years ago hoping to shed light on our nation’s greatest shame. 

I love Diane Nilan.  She’s selfless and that’s an amazing thing to watch.  She’s held body and soul together – living on the road in an RV all these years – for the same reasons the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask over your own face before you attempt to help somebody else. 

Nilan and I were in Birmingham, Alabama one time.  We were speaking with some folks who hoped to help 19 to 25 year olds find a safe place to stay, get some mentoring, education, food, healthcare and eventually self-sufficiency.  A young man spoke of being in a dank and nasty homeless shelter with a bunch of wizened tough guys.  His story was frightening and heartbreaking.  Nilan got up after this kid spoke and choked out these words, “We must be a very wealthy nation to throw away our children.” 

Those words stick with me all the time.  I do think it’s a testimony to our nation’s excessiveness that we spend a fortune on defense and then throw away the one commodity that we all agree would be worth the fight.

So when I get to travel with Nilan, I’m stoked.  Last week – as we began our journey northward – she brought me to meet the amazing folks at the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH).  Now these guys and gals have been my heroes for a very long time.  Pretty much since I first heard about them, I’ve used their data to explain the size and scope of our nation’s greatest domestic challenges. 

On my way out their door, I promised ICPH a blog post.  The blog post was going to be very similar to this one, but without the apology.  I never dreamed I’d need to apologize.  But as Nilan and I got further on our journey – as my mom would say – I got turned around.  I’m doubled up in Nilan’s motor home and while she kindly tries to make room for me, I don’t really have any place to keep my things.  My dirty laundry piles up, my toothbrush falls out of my bag and onto the floor just about every time I try to stow my things away, and I often forget to take my medicine. 

We spent our first few nights sleeping in a Wal*Mart parking lot.  It was cold and dark and we didn’t have access to a WiFi signal so at night we’d just go to sleep rather than stay awake and shiver.  From there we moved onto the parking lot in a convent, a friend’s driveway, and a university campus, and managed to get to all our speaking engagements, but we never did write very much. 

Finally, I remembered the blog post.  I asked Diane when it was due and she said that she couldn’t remember and we should write to Linda Bazerjain and ask.  That’s when I learned that my post was 4 days late. 

I felt awful.  It’s so unlikely to miss a deadline.  I’ve written for publication for decades – since 1985 – and really can’t remember missing a deadline before this.  And I have no excuse!  See, I’m not really homeless.   In a few days Nilan’s and my “Frost Bites” tour of the northeast will be over and I’ll go back to my writing table and chair. I’ll have my filing cabinet full of the writing triggers I collect along my journeys and the calendar open so I can see what my commitments are.  My dirty clothes will be in the hamper and my toothbrush in its holder.  My medicine will go back up over the kitchen sink and I’ll see it every morning when I get up to make coffee.  I’ll have my routine, my familiar surroundings back and hopefully Bazerjain and the other wonderful folks at ICPH will have forgiven me.  Perhaps they’ll even give me more chances to write for them. 

I often feel a twinge of guilt about these tours I take to “sample” homelessness because without losing my safety net, I’ll never really get what it’s like to be homeless.  But embarrassing moments like this one, when I realize I just couldn’t pull off what normally would have been a no-brainer, that’s when I get a real peek at what it’s like to share the disoriented, disheveled, demoralizing world of homelessness.  What if this writing commitment had been a job application, a housing assistance form, or – worse still – my homework? 

Nilan’s got a new film coming out soon.   We’ve shown clips of it when we speak to groups like the ones we met at Columbia University and Salem State University this week.  It shows 8 children and their mom living with grandparents in a small trailer that’s leaking water and heaven knows what other liquids onto the ground.  All the kids have rattling coughs and the cupboards are bare.  In one of the scenes, in the corner of the shot, one of the children is doing her homework. 

I’ve always been impressed by homeless kids who get their schoolwork done.   But this week – better than ever – I understand how herculean her efforts are. 

And she’s just one of the millions of children our wealthy nation is throwing away.