Archives for March 2013

Resurrection…and why what you say should match what you do.

Today, Easter Sunday, is the day when many around the world celebrate resurrection, the miraculous return to life of Jesus Christ. Whether or not one is a believer, the story is interesting and presents many lessons from which we can learn about the power of change and belief. Like many people, I enjoy finding a lesson in stories; learning from events in others’ lives fosters growth and development.… [Read more]

Keep Religion in Schools

I’m a HUGE supporter of the separation of church and state. Huge.

But as a public school teacher, that doesn’t mean I can’t teach about religion. It just means I can’t tell my students that one or any religion is the RIGHT religion.

As a high school American literature teacher, it is absolutely impossible for me to teach any of the books in my curriculum without my students having some working knowledge of the Bible.… [Read more]

When will we be paid?

This week’s “Say It In Song” pick feels appropriate in light of recent news about the continued battle for fairness for workers. Though “When Will We Be Paid, by the Staple Singers, was released shortly after the Civil Rights Movement, the lyrics are just as applicable today – especially when taken in the context of the ongoing fight for workers’ rights.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: Will The New Pope Stick to His Vow of Poverty?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

A bunch of us nuns were chewing the fat on a Tuesday recently and taking bets on who could give up what and, well, things got a little heated and things were said by some sisters to other sisters (honestly, I can’t even tell us apart anymore), but, anyway, a lot of rosaries were thrown in spirited emphasis, and that yielded up some bruised feelings as well as a bunch of crucifix-shaped forehead dents, so anyway, anyway, we did a convent huddle and decided that we would abide by whatever advice you give us to keep the peace.… [Read more]

Thanks, Environmental Protection Agency!

Today, the Environmental Defense Fund relayed some information that should make all of us breathe a little easier:

The EPA has just announced historic new standards to reduce soot, smog and other dangerous pollution that spews from the tailpipes of our cars and trucks.

With every breath, these standards will deliver cleaner, healthier air to the lungs of millions of Americans, producing billions of dollars of public health benefits every year.[Read more]

Fairness and Equality

The other day, I listened to a priest talk about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. As he spoke, I started to think about what it really means to be a Christian and a human being in America today.

By no means am I a religious person, but the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth has always been one of my guiding lights.… [Read more]

Paid Sick Leave: Approved.

A few days ago, the issue of earned sick days for workers was in the news. Its was noted that, for example, more than a million residents of New York who do not have paid sick days and that suffering an illness means losing out on a pay check at best and a job at worst. … [Read more]

The Preventable Tragedy of Jessica Upshaw

When the news wires revealed that a Mississippi Republican state representative apparently shot herself to death Sunday, the hurried rush to look for possible scandal was tempered with the restraint passed on to current day scribes by journalists before us,

I am a political columnist. That means I’m one of the writers inhabiting the great Washington swamp chronicling the food chain in action. … [Read more]

Common (Core Educational Standards) for a Reason

I’m really not sure how much the non-teacher public know about the Common Core State Standards Initiative that has been brewing over the past few years and has gone into effect this school year.

The idea behind the Common Core is that instead of every state making up their own public school standards and benchmarks for grades K-12 and then giving their own state test to check on the progress of those standards, all the states will have the same…ahem…COMMON…set of standards for each grade level.… [Read more]

The Myth of “Traditional” Marriage — Part One

Our culture and our time blind us all to some extent—some more than others, yet no one is exempt. Often we assume that the ways things are now and in this particular culture is how humans have always behaved throughout the globe. Many speak as if humans always organized within and understood the concept of centralized nation-states, that capitalism was always the dominant economic societal structure, that marriage was always a romantic relationship between a consenting adult male and a consenting adult woman.… [Read more]

Outrage du Jour: Gay Marriage or Gun Control today?

Let’s face it; the past few months have been bad for conservatives and Republicans.  After a fairly good shellacking in the Presidential and Senatorial elections last November, which many pundits didn’t even see coming, Republicans have good reason to be retrospective. The recent election postmortem by the Republican National Committee underscores the sober reality that the Republican band is damaged from excessively rounding “an ideological cul-de-sac.” This has led the GOP’s to lose influence among many, including minorities, women, young adults, and the gay community (while still doing well in the “old white guy” demographic). … [Read more]

Domestic Violence + Call 911 = Victim Gets Arrested?

These days, violence is a frequent topic of discussion in the news. Recently, more often than not the issue is gun control, stop-and-frisk policies or even police training tactics gone horribly awry. What these subjects have in common is that they take into consideration the rights and background of the targets and the accused.

Not long ago, New York City’s police department announced that they will run criminal background checks on those who report instances of domestic violence.… [Read more]

Return of the Joker Jedi: The Bachmann Chronicles

Last year was particularly hard on the fortunes of Tea Party doyenne Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)  After a flop at seeking the Party of No nod for President, and Bachmann’s months of proudly proclaiming her childhood Iowa roots, voters in her 6th Congressional District in Minnesota noticed their Congresswoman was off politicking for the White House, playing Tea Party ideologue, and AWOL from her constituents. … [Read more]

It’s an ‘Obamanation’…Or so the fear goes.

abomination [əˌbɒmɪˈneɪʃən]

noun 1. a person or thing that is disgusting 2. an action that is vicious, vile, etc. 3. intense loathing

It’s clear that many on the right view President Obama as an abomination worthy of disdain — but is it possible that what the electorate is witnessing is their fear that the extremist ideology touted by the right continues to lose support?… [Read more]

Fixing Food Stamps

Part of the fallout from our current recession has been the growth of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), neé ‘Food Stamps,” participation throughout the nation. This Federal program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food & Nutrition Service and the states, provides non-cash food assistance to households in impoverished financial distress.

Republican conservatives regularly use SNAP as a poster child for lambasting ‘welfare’.… [Read more]

No More Trouble

The inimitable Bob Marley said it best: “We don’t need trouble, what we need is love.” This week’s “Say It In Song” pick feels appropriate in light of recent news about chemical weapons in Syria and threats from North Korea directed towards military bases. At least there was some talk of peace this week, even it was purely symbolic.… [Read more]

Dear Mrs. Vera: What’s the difference between Costco & Wal*Mart?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Can you please tell me the difference between Costco and Wal*Mart?  I can never decide where to shop.

Regards, Walton Brotman Anaheim, Azuza, California… [Read more]

LGBT Rights and the Supreme Court

Much progress towards full LGBT rights was achieved last year; marriage equality was won in several states, bringing the total to nine (Maryland, Iowa, Maine, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia). Additionally, a hate crimes law was enacted, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ended and, for the first time ever, a sitting President stated his full support for marriage equality and instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was enacted in 1996.… [Read more]

No Gun Control = Blood on Their Hands

On December 14, 2012, 26 lives were lost in one of the most horrendous acts of terrorism America has had to endure. The terrorist was not of a different nationality, nor did he speak with a foreign accent or have a ‘different sounding’ name, he was a home-grown, middle-class suburban white kid. He did not strap on a bomb and blow himself up or detonate a truck bomb.… [Read more]

Earned Sick Days for Workers – Will the idea catch on?

Legacies. If or when elected officials think about how their constituents will remember them once they’re out of office, what thoughts cross their minds? Do they think about how they could have left their jurisdictions better than they found them? Do they give thought to how they could have reached back a little bit more to help those who were most in need of their support?… [Read more]