Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanks for Nothing, Thanks for everything

the famous Norman Rockwell painting from 1942, one of the 'four freedoms' series
The week of Thanksgiving, Time magazine published 17 essays on thankfulness.

I was especially struck by the contrast between two of those essays; one from John Boehner, Speaker of the House, an old, corrupt political hack who among other faults, handed out tobacco lobby payoff checks to conservative members of Congress on the floor of the House; the other from Cory Booker, newest member of the Senate from New Jersey, a liberal activist politician.

Congress has been widely reported as having high disapproval ratings, and has done nothing of value, and quite a bit that is harmful, notably the shutdown this fall.  Under Speaker Boehner's leadership, if only symbolically, the conservative majority has attempted to repeal health care insurance for 48 million suffering people who are at risk, and has attempted to deprive the poorest of our citizens of even the most minimal amounts of food.  Conservatives have endorsed, supported and funded every possible effort to engage in voter suppression and other unfair and unfavorable treatment of the most vulnerable among us, while falling all over themselves to hand out subsidies to the rich, to special interests and to corporations.

The contrast of the expressed concerns of Cory Booker could not be more stark.  Read, and weep for our nation under the oppression of the radical right.  The right does not honor our traditional freedom; the Republican congress have done everything they possibly can to give welfare to corporations, preference to the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.  The members of the right have accomplished NOTHING that is praiseworthy or worthwhile except under the greatest duress imposed on them.

This applies to the hypocrites on the right who are part of the Minnesota delegation to Congress.  SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!  Their hypocrisy, ineptitude, corruption, and bigotry should obstruct their throats from indulging in this holiday feast, and from speaking out to further harm the majority of citizens of this country.  Decency should obstruct their voices the way they obstruct the function of democracy.

Here are the comparative excerpts, John Boehner's "I've got mine, the heck with you if you don't" and Cory Booker's "we have a problem of inequity and poverty":

from Time Magazine's collection of essays on Thanksgiving, this one from Speaker of the House John Boehner:
Before I go, I’ll stop in the Capitol Rotunda and look at Robert Weir’s painting depicting the “Embarkation of the Pilgrims.” In this scene, on the deck of the ship Speedwell, the Pilgrims kneel in prayer around a Geneva Bible, appealing for safe passage from the Old World. “God with us” is written on the ship’s sail, and in the distance, you can see a rainbow signaling the promise of a better life.

What a humbling sight. After all, these are the settlers who celebrated the First Thanksgiving and observed that “by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

Here we are, nearly 400 years later, still assembling for the feast and bowing our heads. Even in times not easily given to repose or reflection, we pause to give thanks for God’s grace. As we do, we ought to keep in our hearts all those whose sacrifices have kept this chain unbroken. Because of them, we are free to prosper and moved to show charity for those in need.

Thanksgiving is one of the permanent things. It is always with us, as is the mission of seeking a more perfect union. That I, the son of a bartender, have been given the chance to contribute to this work in the city that Washington built is something for which I am forever thankful.

I pray all Americans are able to enjoy the Lord’s blessings this holiday in good health and happiness.

John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, is speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

From the same collection of essays on Thanksgiving, this one from Cory Booker, newly elected senator, former mayor of Newark, NJ.

A 2013 Brookings Institution study showed upward social mobility – defined by the ability of a child born into a lower socioeconomic class to climb into a higher one – is decreasing. What is even more frustrating is that America, the land of opportunity, is no longer leading in social mobility. We are being outdone by other nations – countries such as Britain, Denmark and Canada, and more than a dozen others – in the ability of poor children to rise into the middle class.

This painful reality is compounded by the fact that a recent UNICEF study ranked the U.S. close to the bottom among wealthy countries in the percentage of children living in poverty.

The takeaway? Aspects of what we believe central to the American Dream are becoming easier to find elsewhere. This is unacceptable.

So on this Thanksgiving – my first without my father – I am thankful for him.

Even more, I am so thankful for the nation that enabled and empowered his success and the successes of so many other children of his generation. I am thankful that my dad grew up in a country where so many understood that the justice, well being and prosperity of their children is dependent upon the justice, well being and prosperity of all children.

If I am to respect my father’s memory, I, like all adults, must clearly recognize the urgency of our time and the interdependence of our fates. We must assume a deeper responsibility or we will lose the best of America. We cannot afford to wait for our government to act upon this problem, which it must do. We must understand that it will be the increased engagement, love and service of our citizenry that will save this nation’s soul.

And thus, my Thanksgiving prayer, to paraphrase Langston Hughes, is for “America to be America again,” that we may be the nation where even the poorest child, born under the most difficult conditions, is able to rise to achieve her dreams in a country that truly nurtures the unlimited potential of all its citizens.

Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, N.J., was elected to the U.S. Senate in October.

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