22 Feb

Will Tribalism Trump Citizenship? By Louise Annarino,2-22-2013

 

My Mother’s side of the family is planning our first ever family reunion. That this is happening during a time when I amwrestiliung with the differences between being part of a tribe or being a citizen of a nation indicates the synchronicity which operates throughout the multiverse. What does it mean to be part of a tribe? What does it mean to be a citizen?

 

My first struggle for identity was between two tribes: my Father’s and my Mother’s. Was I Sicilian like Dad; or,Napolitan like Mom? “Half and half” Mom explained. In our house we referrred to two other larger tribes: our paisans (which included Siciliani,Calabrese, and Napolitani etc.) or “the Americans”.

 

The American tribe seemed stranger to me than the paisan tribe, and trying to fit into that tribe was quite confusing. For example, when visiting Americani one had to wait one’s turn to speak,slowing down conversation, but creating time for reflection. Portion sizes wer miniscule. I once had dinner at a scholl chum and each person was allotted 1/2 a pork chop. I was starving when I got home and dug out the cold lasagna,because of course we always had left-overs in our over-stuffed fridge. But, my friend’s family had money to attend the symphony,go to the art museum and attend ballet. Mom could sing an aria as well as Maria Callas, or a pop ballad as well as Frank,and we danced around the kitchen together every day. She had won a jitterbug contest at radio City Music Hall at age 16 and music and dance filled our home.

 

I did not like the sound of English.Italian was much more musical and passionate in its delivery,using hand movements to extend and deepen meaning.English seemed drab. When I asked my Mother to teach English and speak it more often so I could understand the adult conversations of my older extended family better she offered my first instruction in the difference between tribalism and citizenship when she stated, “You are an American now. You will speak English and learn to be an American. I will not tach you Italian.It will not help you become an accepted American;it will only hold you back.”

 

When I responded that maybe I did want to be an American she strongly set me straight. “It is Ameerica which protects us and gives us a chance to have a decent life, and to live in peace and prosperity. As a woman particularly, I should be greatful to be an American. It is not so easy to be an Italian woman,” she explained. We are lucky to be Americans and living in the best country on earth. Italy was the “old country”;America is our country now. At Thanksgiving, Mom cooked turkey with all the trimmings, plus antipasto, lasagna and garlic bread. At Christmas and Easter we ate ham plus ravioli. Tribally, we were both Sicilian and Napolitan,both Italian and American. As citizens we were all-American.

 

When I listen to fundamentalist,tea-party,NRA furor I hear tribalism trumping citizenship. When I read about the Taliban, AlQuaeda in the Magreb and other such groups I see tribalism trumping citizenship.Tribalism is a threat to peace, and must be kept in check. The Soviet Union was an horrific and failed effort to reduce tribalism. The United States of America is the wondrous and best example of a successful effort to reduce tribalism. How do we do so? Through our Bill of Rights which covers every single citizen,even though we are still trying to make that a reality in fact. We end tribalism through citizenship. The nation becomes larger and more meaningful to a citizen whose rights and freedoms are protected and preserved, than his allegiance to a tribe, especially one which tramples upon human rights and fails to protect the human rights of every member of the tribe. This is why the Soviet-Union failed, why Al Queade will fail, why any tribe seeking to assert its authority over a nation instead of under a nation is doomed to fail.

 

Which brings me to immigration reform. We must never approve an immigration policy which focuses on controlling tribes and creating an underclass through work visas, or one which allows women to be denied full freedom. The centerpiece of any sound immigration policy must be a path to citizenship. Do we really want to allow various tribes to live within our borders without citizenship? Do we understand that this would endanger our democracy?

 

This is a real danger. Tribalism is a threat to those outside the tribe,and often to those within the tribe. The only reason America has been able to peaceably self-govern and overcome the tidal wave of tribes,with all their differences, is through offering full citizenship to those willing to pledge allegiance to our constitution and to our Bill of Rights, which often flies in the face of the tribe’s belief system. For example,The Violence Against Women Act is being opposed by Republicans in part because it affords protection against violence for immigrant women. Do we understand the tribalism which perpetrates such violence, under a veil or not? Do we understand the tribalism among some Republicans which would deny a human right to a woman outside the American tribe? Tribalism is a threat both from tribal Americans and tribal immigrants.

 

Citizenship carries rights and privileges, but it also demands allegiance to an enlightened set of priciples laid out in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We can’t haev one without the other.Those who would zealously guard such principles, must also demand such alegiance.However, if they do not offer the rights of citizenship, they cannot demand allegiance to America. For over 200 years we have not invited tribes to settle here;we have invited citizens to settle here. That has kept us safe.That has kept us free.

 

We cannot understand the importance of immigration policy unless we understand the difference between tribalism and citizenship.

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NO TED STRICKLAND NOR AFRICAN AMERICANS,By Louise Annarino,1-10-2012

10 Jan

NO TED STRICKLAND NOR AFRICAN AMERICANS,By Louise Annarino,1-10-2012.

new site information

4 Jan

L.Annarino is now blogging at http://annarinowrites.wordpress.com/. All content from this site is archived at annarino writes. The new site contains political commentary, commentary on various topics, and poetry.

NOT ENVIOUS JUST HUNGRY,By Louise Annarino,December 27, 2012

28 Dec

NOT ENVIOUS JUST HUNGRY,by Louise Annarino, december 27.2012

 

On January 20, 2012 I wrote the following commentary.Sadly, near a year later, failure to address the issues I discussed are driving the country over a fiscal cliff, created by Republican intransigence and refusal to raise taxes. We may also be about to go over a social justice cliff with far worse consequences for this nation.

 

“Let them eat cake !” Marie Antoinette purportedly responded when told of bread riots in the streets of Paris; failing to heed the warning that her 1% lifestyle would not sit well with the 99% who were hungry, jobless and hopeless. Americans are hungry, jobless and homeless; but, thanks to the safety net of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and food stamps they are not quite so hopeless nor desperate as those who overthrew the French monarchy. Everyone should be grateful we have a “food stamp president” !

 

Politicians used to understand that the social contract between the rich and poor was an essential cog in the economic engine of the country; and, the very thing which would allow citizens to amass wealth, without the threat of harm to the nation or themselves. Republicans and Democrats alike passed into law programs to create and protect a strong middle class. It was understood and agreed upon that the American dream was not built on envy, but on the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

 

The latest crop of Republican congresspersons seem to have forgotten this. The top 1% of investment earners (one cannot honestly call them wage earners) would have 99% of us wage earners believe that reminding them of this social contract is un-American, anti-capitalist, and irreligious.

 

Now, Republican congressional leaders undermine the Golden Rule, claiming, as men who are right with God, that anyone who oppose their economic and social order policies, must be wrong;and,not only are they wrong but they are evil, which carries the weight of immorality. Asking that the Golden Rule be applied to economic policy does not make the 99ers immoral, unpatriotic socialists, un-American, nor envious.

 

Years ago, before labor laws, civil rights laws, and a system of public education for all children created a middle class, the working class had to be satisfied with crumbs from the table. Labor unions, civil rights activists, and public education created a place at the table for workers. But now, Governors like John Kasich (R-OH) tell us we are envious when we ask for a menu, question why no food is being served to us, or ask how they arranged to have nearly all the food piled on their plates as it disappeared from our own.  They say we are envious. No, we are simply hungry, hungry for justice.

 

Today, I suggest it is not a budget deficit which will destroy this country; but, a social justice deficit. President Obama and Democratic leaders are right to insist on continued stimulus spending and safety net protection, and increased taxes on the top 1-2% ; any further efforts to compromise us into starvation will do more harm than good. Productivity, not hoarding seeds, is what puts food on the table.

THE BALANCE OF POWER AND COMPETITIVE COMPROMISE,By Louise Annarino,12-27-2012

26 Dec

THE BALANCE OF POWER AND COMPETITIVE COMPROMISE,By Louise Annarino,December 26,2012

 

Politics has often been called the art of compromise. Too seldom do we admit politics is the art of exercising power. Congress cannot exercise the art of compromise when the balance of power is so uneven. Our focus at the moment is solely on the failure of congresspersons to compromise on several levels;between the president and Speaker of the House, within the House, within the Senate, within the Republican Party between Teapublicans and Republicans. We should instead focus on the lack of balance within our congressional districts. Until we right that balance, no compromise will be possible. Continuing the dialogue solely on the personal assessment of individual  character illustrated by a willingness or unwillingness to compromise hides the real problem.

 

In 2010 the Republican/Teapublican victories brought control of the legislature of many key states, in some cases a veto-proof majority. And, 2010 placed more states under the leadership of Republican governors and secretaries of state as well. The 2010 census allowed these states ,including Ohio, to redistrict an imbalance so severe that Ohio’s districts were gerrymandered to form safe seats for both parties. The inability to compromise is the affirmed in these gerrymandered districts. Secretaries of state redefined vote counts within districts,further assuring veto-proof legislatures.

 

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has no motivation to seek the middle when doing so will have no impact on his re-election in a general election. His seat is safe thanks to the recent redistricting legislation, and Ohio’s failure to overturn that legislation in the 2012 campaign. His threat comes from within his own party;and, not just for his chairmanship, but for his re-election. The threat would come as a primary challenge;one well-funded by the moneyed interests and super PACS supporting the Teapublicans. Tacking to center, seeking compromise, would encourage such an attack.How can he seek compromise?

 

We must organize around redistricting,and other legislative changes which upset the balance of power for both parties. For example, there is a well-financed effort by Teapublicans to demonize the electoral college,to eliminate it, or change how Ohio calculates electoral votes. Republicans are mounting a quiet effort to change our current system to one which favors the minority of Ohio voters. Now Republicans have more safe districts than Democrats do and they want to allow each district to cast electoral votes based on district wins, rather than casting all of Ohio’s electoral votes for the candidate who wins the majority of all Ohio votes, as is current law.

 

Republicans realize this could give them short-term gain.However, their control is not absolute and eternal. Should Democrats gain control, the Democratic Party could benefit just as unfairly. But, both parties should be more concerned about the good of the people; not the good of any party. It behooves both Democratic and Republican voters to insist that our legislators create more balance;not less. Those of us who believe in the platform and values of the Democratic Party should not fear such a balanced approach. Democratic candidates can compete with Republican candidates, and can win even in unsafe districts. How much better could we do in competitive districts? And, if John Boehner’s district were competitive, he might gain more political power through compromise than obstruction. That would be a win-win for both parties, and for the American people.

 

We have overlooked the importance of what happens at our local and district levels for too long. we have been trained to keep our eyes on the federal government,thus national elections, as the source of our failed compromise; when,in fact, competitive compromise begins within our own districts. We cannot sit back until the next presidential election, hoping to elect persons who promise to compromise. Everyone wants to compromise when it maintains their balance of power;but without such a balance, no one can afford to compromise. Not Mr. Boehner, despite his fine character and personal wishes…unless he is willing, and we are willing to watch his failed re-election as the price to be paid. Would that be a win for Ohio or the Teapublicans?

NRA ADVERTISES FOR GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS,GUNS,AND MORE GUNS,By Louise Annarino,December 21,2012

21 Dec

NRA ADVERTISES FOR GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS,GUNS,AND MORE GUNS, By Louise Annarino, December 21, 2012

 

Ohio was a primeval forest with river channels best suited to flat bottom boats as transport for those intrepid New Englanders who had survived a revolution against King George III of England, and headed into the wilderness which was home of several Native American Tribes whose confederation of tribes served as an example for the structure of the new government being established by the revolution’s leadership. These shopkeepers,farmers,students and laborers strapped the rifle issued them as citizen soldiers to use as protection, and to bring down game to feed their families.

 

Some of the earliest skirmishes with the British soldiers stationed in the New World occurred when the king’s subjects raided the King’s arsenals to arm themselves. Discussions in the Virginia Assembly were deteriorating,and emissaries of American colonists sent to Parliament were failing to convince King George and Parliament to lower or eliminate taxes which had recently been imposed on British colonies.

 

The pre-revolution American colonists,as British citizens, understood that England’s war with France was costly, and Parliament needed to raise revenue to pay for the war. American colonists s were not opposed to taxes. But, they believed that those who were taxed should have a voice in Parliament. As colonists, they had no voice. There were those in Parliament who took up their cause, arguing colonials should be able to participate in Parliament.

 

While these political discussions went on in England, unrest grew within the colony. The King sent more troops to the American colony to “keep the peace” among the colonials. These troops had no military bases, so their leaders moved them into colonists’ homes, with or without the homeowner’s permission. Some colonials remained loyal to the King,while others became increasing hostile to being taxed with no right to vote,and housing British troops. tempers flared on both sides.

 

After the revolution,as the founders wrote a national constitution, they based it upon the Virginia Constitution, adding some amendments reflecting concerns of the various “states” ( a new term for areas which had been chartered by the King -the Carolinas, the Virginia Territory etc.).

 

The 1st.Amendment was free speech. People wanted a “voice” without fear of repercussion from government. This Amendment has been argued over in the courts and is restrained by reasonable guidelines. One cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theatre,for example.  Protesters, parades, commercial vendors etc. can be regulated as to time, place and manner so as not to disrupt the ordinary course of business. The CITIZENS UNITED CASE stretched the right to free speech by extending the legal fiction that corporations are people for campaign financing purposes, as they had been earlier characterized for business organization and legal remedy reasons.

 

The 2d. Amendment was freedom to bear arms. People wanted the freedom to arm themselves to defend their communities from an autocratic King who would quarter his troops in their homes,which as every British citizen knew, violated their belief that a “man’s house is his castle”. When the Revolution started in the American colonies, many armed themselves by raiding British arsenals. After the revolution, the Americans wanted the freedom to build their own arsenals. National Guard Armories exist within every small town as remnants of these arsenals. There was never any intent to amass personal armories. But, the soldiers of the revolution kept their guns, granted the freedom to do so by the 2d Amendment. Like the 1st. Amendment, the 2d. Amendment is also subject to reasonable constraints, regardless of gun industry refusal to acknowledge that fact.

 

NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre held a news conference a moment ago. He blamed the violent video games, their production companies and stockholders as partners and co-conspirators in violent acts. He described Americans as surrounded by deranged and evil persons, who cannot be understood nor contained to prevent the evil acts their “voices” propel them to commit.He denigrated those with mental health issues as demons, asserting that the “only way to  stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. He argued forcefully that we are all targets surrounded by great evildoers and we all must carry guns.

 

LaPierre’s suggestion? Arm teachers and principals with weapons and provide security guards at schools. He repeatedly referred to the president using Secret Service to protect himself, impliedly berating this president for protecting himself and failing to protect American children. Then, he reminded us that grants for school security were removed from the budget last year. His continued attacks against President Obama were beyond the pale. His real effort was to undermine the president’s comments and efforts to place restrictions on assault weapons.

 

He repeatedly asserted that many people are deranged and evil,calling for well-maintained data-bases on the mentally ill. This is the same man who opposes a data-base of gun owners. Scapegoating the mentally ill is not a solution to gun violence with assault weapons. Treating the mentally ill, and denying weapons to the mentally ill likely to harm themselves or others should be considered and discussed. Demonizing anyone serves no purpose other than to create fear among us, and justify violence by the “good guys”.

 

Lapierre announced  the creation of a new program, the National Model Schools Shield Program funded by NRA to provide armed guards at every school.  “We can’t wait. We can’t debate and pass legislation which will not work,”  was an indirect effort to undermine and supplant V.P. Joe  Biden’s efforts. He called for every teacher,administrator and state to ask for NRA help to protect its children, to arm its schools with good guys.

 

We cannot allow his one reasonable suggestion, provide more school security, to  stop all discussion about reasonable constraints over gun manufacture,sale,purchase and possession of assault weapons;background checks,waiting periods,registration and removal etc. This was not a news conference. This was an ad for an NRA effort to arm more persons, with no limits nor constraints. This was an effort to undermine President Obama, and anyone who calls for a reasonable review of current gun laws. The laws must be reviewed and changed for the common good and within reason. I doubt those first Americans would expect any less of us.

PUTTING A PRICE ON THE HEADS OF OUR CHILDREN,BY Louise Annarino,December 18,2012

18 Dec

PUTTING A PRICE ON THE HEADS OF OUR CHILDREN,By Louise Annarino, December 18, 2012

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What price do we put on the heads of our children? If there were not so much money involved, the U.S. could have regulated the gun industry long ago. Following the money we learn:

– “Net sales from continuing operations for the second quarter were a record $136.6  million, up 48.0% from the second quarter last year,” states a press release by Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation. While market drops for other industries it escalates for the gun industry. This is one business where uncertainty increases profit.

-As of 2011, there were approximately 5,400 licensed firearms manufacturers and 950 importers in the United States, The United States Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports. THis does not include miltary armament sales.

-Arms sales (agreements), by Supplier, 2003-2010 (in billions of constant 2010 U.S. dollars)

Supplier Total Sales in US Dollars (billions) Percent of total sales
United States 170.764 39%
Russia  81.059 18%
France  37.4 8%
United Kingdom  29.803 7%
China  15.272 3%
Germany  22.807 5%
Italy  15.134 3%
Other European  47.024 11%
Others  23.654 5%
Source: Richard F. Grimmett, CRS Report for Congress; Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010, September 22, 2011If you are viewing this table on another site, please see http://www.globalissues.org/article/74/the-arms-trade-is-big-business for further details and context.

-”Industrialized countries negotiate free trade and investment agreements with other countries, but exempt military spending from the liberalizing demands of the agreement. Since only the wealthy countries can afford to devote billions on military spending, they will always be able to give their corporations hidden subsidies through defence contracts, and maintain a technologically advanced industrial capacity.

“And so, in every international trade and investment agreement one will find a clause which exempts government programs and policies deemed vital for national security. Here is the loophole that allows the maintenance of corporate subsidies through virtually unlimited military spending.”— Stephen Staples, Confronting the Military-Corporate Complex, presented at the Hague Appeal for Peace, The Hague, May 12th 1999.

TAXES GENERATED IN THE UNITED STATES

TAX IMPACT                                  BUSINESS TAXES                                 EXCISE TAXES

Federal Taxes                                  $2,503,904,614                                     $487,998,107

State Taxes                                       $2,071,203,685

Total Taxes                                      $4,575,108,309                                     $487,998,107

Chart from (National Shooting Sports Foundation) NSSF website www.nssf.org/.

-in 2010, Dun and Bradsrteet listed 661 U.S. manufacturers of small firearms or parts. It is estimated these private companies generated approximately $1.2 billion per annum.

-Gun dealers foster political uncertainty to boost sales as illustrated by the following comment by Rick Gray, owner of Accuracy Gun Shop in Las Vegas: “Clinton was the best gun salesman the gun manufacturers ever had. Obama’s going to be right up there with him.”, International Herald Tribune; November 8, 2008. Fear-mongering of Democratic candidates, including the scary African-American president, creates political advantage for the Republican candidates and increases profits for gun manufacturers. Using race to divided the country only increases uncertainty and fear, driving up sales. Is it any wonder Republican- and some Democratic-congresspersons not only refuse to regulate gun and armament  manufacturing and sales; but,also support shadow corporate welfare within defense spending bills?