Did you ever stop to think why the United States has more people locked up in prison than any country in the world?
Today, I’d like to discuss an invisible crisis.
Chances are, this crisis affects you in some way. Chances are, about one in 4 people out there may have some form if it. Chances are, a far greater number actually know someone whose life is affected.
It’s responsible for much of our nation’s crime. It’s squandered immeasurable resources, both human and financial. It causes unfathomable heartache and immense suffering for tens of millions of people, not just those who are afflicted, but among family and friends forced to bear most of the heaviest burdens. Moreover, it’s peculiarly inhumane how it’s currently managed as public policy as well as how its perceived by society as a whole.
I’m talking about mental illness.
Am I the only one who’s sick of all the “people props?”
You know, actual living and breathing human beings fortunate enough to grace the front rows of the congressional seating gallery at every State of the Union address. They might as well be wax mannequins posed in the display window at Macy’s.
The people props are always the same, and last night was no exception. There’s the brave soldier, the teacher, sometimes a police officer or a fireman. Then, just to kick the pants of the political opposition, there’s usally some wax dummy wheeled in for a few seconds of camera time who’s elleged to be the personal beneficiary of the President’s agenda. “So and so lost her health coverage, but thanks to me and what I did, she can now get a liver transplant.”
Dear Mr. President:
Today is your fifth State of the Union address. Imagine that. It’s been five years since you first took office.
I’ll be watching you on television this evening along with tens of millions of other Americans, all with continuing hope and trust you will succeed as our leader.
But I confess that my hope and trust in you is waning. It’s waning badly, Mr. President. Allow me to explain why.
Your five years in office have been a mix of successes and failures. It’s that way with all Presidents. I know your job is difficult. Incredibly difficult. It’s made far worse by those who not just oppose you politically, but are threatened by what they fear you represent. Many powerful people in this country who dare to call themselves patriotic are working actively against you. They lie about you and misrepresent your record. They call you names like “Socialist,” when they have no idea what the word actually means. If they only knew that nine of the top ten nations in the world ranked by living standards are social democracies with things like nationalized health care, perhaps they would call you something different. Sadly, tens of millions hope you will fail. They want the country to fail. They’d rather see the country suffer than to have you succeed. I’m not one of those people, Mr. President. But I’m still worried. Because, you see, I think you pay way too much attention to them.
(1919 – 2014)
An extraordinary man.
A wonderful life.
A powerful message.
An unwavering commitment.
It’s 1:03 am PST.
I was just about to turn in for the night and go to bed when I saw the sad news that Pete Seeger had passed away. He was 94.
Wow, what a life.
Please do yourself a favor, where ever you are. No matter what your political beliefs. No matter whether or not you know this man’s name or not, or understood what songs he sang or what he stood for.
We owe him a moment of our time today, and I beg you to give it to him. Take a few minutes to learn something about him, or listen to one of his songs (Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Turn, Turn, Turn, We Shall Overcome, to name a few), or watch a video on YouTube and learn more about the things he believed in.
I can’t imagine a man who lived as full a life as Pete Seeger. I can’t envision a greater joy than giving and sharing his soul, as he did for nearly a century. I can’t fathom that on the very night after the evening that was to honor music, one of the pioneers of American music and spirit is no longer with us.
This land is your land, Pete Seeger. This land is my land, too.
Thanks to you and your music, this land was made for you and me. [See Footnote]
Congressman Frank Wolf (Photo Credit — UPI)
Writer’s Note: This is the first in a new series called “Worst Person in the Universe.” It’s a bastard ripoff of Larry Flynt’s “Asshole of the Month” column which used to appear in Hustler, and Kieth Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” television segment on MSNBC. This month’s playmate is Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, of Virginia.
Frank Wolf is the worst person in the universe.
Rep. Wolf is a longtime Republican congressman from Virginia. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives way back in 1980, riding the cozy coattails of Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory. Since then, Rep. Wolf has been as faithful as a potted planet, deeply rooted to every corporate-funded, neoconservative, right-wing cause. Like a slice of cold stale pizza, he’s one of the final leftovers of the late Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” a witch-hunting political movement of Bible-thumpers who once professed to know what’s good for us all, and was dedicated to transforming America into a modern theocracy named “Jesusville.”
Today, Rep. Wolf represents one of the wealthiest congressional districts in the nation, which are the Northern Virginia counties on the western outskirts of Washington, D.C., out near Dulles Airport and the pastures of wonderland beyond. His constituents are far wealthier and more conservative than average, even by Virginia standards. Yet many of Wolf supporters earn their living and made their considerable fortunes from close connections to the federal government, conceding an obvious paradoxical hypocrisy to their core belief in “limited government.” Amend that to “limited government that benefits us.”