Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fred? Is that you?

A few months ago, a friend of ours gave us a couple of Cuban lizards to help with pest control in our garden.  A male and a female.   We released them on the deck and they began doing the nasty right off the bat because in no time, we saw lots of little bitty lizards.


They looked pretty freaky.  Prehistoric, even.  So ancient that we called one "Fred" and the other "Wilma."  Couldn't really tell which was which, but we figured a Flintstones name was appropriate.

 
We hadn't seen any of the klan in a good while, and just a few days ago as I was cleaning up the deck a bit, I found what you see above: a dessicated (frozen?) lizard.  Can't tell if it's actually Fred or Wilma or one of their offspring.  Poor thing probably froze to death in one of the many freezes we had this year.



It gives my wife the willies, what with the missing eyeballs.  

Apple boycotts FOX

Now HERE is a good example of corporate responsibility.  Don't just pull your ads from Glenn Beck, take them off the WHOLE network, because they're ALL a bunch of liars.  Makes me proud to own Macs.

Apple boycotts Fox News because of Glenn Beck


A two-week old report by the Washington Post is only now gaining traction in the tech section. It appears that Apple has boycotted Fox News based on Glenn Beck and his ludicrous statements, including calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a "cancer."


"More than 200 companies have joined a boycott of Beck's program, making it difficult for Fox to sell ads," the Washington Post reports. "The time has instead been sold to smaller firms offering such products as Kaopectate, Carbonite, 1-800-PetMeds and Goldline International. A handful of advertisers, such as Apple, have abandoned Fox altogether. Network executives say they believe they could charge higher rates if the host were more widely acceptable to advertisers."

Given that Fox has the largest cable news viewership in the US, Apple's decision to boycott them was no small decision, especially with the impending launch of the iPad. Then again, Apple doesn't have a problem garnering media attention; it'll probably still penetrate a majority of the mindshare market without running a single iPad ad.

Bravo!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

AIDS Walk

A couple of weekends ago the wife and I joined the AIDS Walk Houston, a 5k hike to raise money and awareness.  


Before the walk began, the whole Sam Houston Park, adjacent to downtown, was totally packed with people.  I never heard an official estimate on crowd size, but my guess is we had at least 15,000 people out walking.  All ages, all sizes, all colors and all shapes.  
 


My company was one of the sponsors, so I joined their "team" and set a pledge goal of $250, the minimum. With less than a week from signing up to the actual walk, my co-workers pledged $410 and my wife got $805 in pledges from her co-workers.   A total of $1215; not bad for only six days. In total, over $615,000 was raised, which will benefit some 16 local agencies.

The walk route was west along Allen Parkway.  Slow traffic, keep right.


It was quite a colorful crowd, right down to Precious, the purple poodle pup.
 

The weather was simply outstanding: a perfect spring day, and the turnout was huge.  Lots of young'uns showed up, and all of them texting.
 


Ils sont partis!



 
Frankly, I don't know what I was thinking.  About all you can say is that I wasn't thinking. 

I have a recent history of multiple Morton's Neuromas - neuropathy - in my feet.  It's basically a pinched nerve in the foot, and it can be excrutiating.  

 
It's not so bad when sitting, but when I'm walking?  Watch out!  


 
Hey, WTF, let's do a 5k!  It's not really that far.  Only ... just over three MILES!



It's the wife's and my internet self-portrait.  I'm the one on the right, and yeah, she has a funny-shaped head.



I started out ok (thanks to some mild painkillers), but about halfway in, my dogs began howling.  Towards the last 1k, when I could see the "Finish" line in the distance, they were SCREAMING!  The sun broke out from behind a cloud and it got a little hot.  Foot pain, hot temperature....not a great combination.  I limped across the Finish line and sat down as quickly as possible.    
  


I figured though, oh, grow up, you have a little foot pain...people with AIDS and HIV can have it a whole lot worse than I do.   Indeed.

But I don't think I'll be doing another 5k anytime soon.

How are we doing on AIDS?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hell No You Can't!

To A Skylark

Time for a poem.  This one is by Percy Bysshe Shelley.



(You can find :33 of a skylark vocalizations here.)

To a Skylark
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
 
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
 
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
 
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of Heaven
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight:
 
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see - we feel that it is there.
 
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud.
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.
 
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
 
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:
 
Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:
 
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:
 
Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves.
 
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.
 
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
 
Chorus hymeneal
Or triumphal chaunt
Matched with thine, would be all
But an empty vaunt -
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
 
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
 
Whith thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
 
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
 
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
 
Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
 
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
 
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now!
 
Percy Bysshe Shelley
(c.1820)
Original Text: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1820).
First Publication Date: 1820.

Friday wrap

What a week...It IS hard to keep up sometimes.  Actually, it's impossible.  You have to pick your spots and apply yourself.


It's time for the Care2 Causes Friday wrap – and what a week it's been! President Obama's historic health care victory continues to be at the forefront of everyone's minds of course – whether they laud it and applaud it, or revile it and want to repeal it.  We have it all covered, and to make it easy for you, we have put it all in one place, so check it out and keep coming back as the story continues to evolve. We'll be sure to have the latest for you.

So grab your morning cup of joe, and let's get started with highlights from this week's health care reform posts. Then, when you're ready for your second cup, we'll move on to the rest of the week's favorites, and of which there was definitely no shortage!

They called Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) a "f****t."  They called Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) the infamous "n-word." It's getting ugly and only promises to get more so. As if it wasn't bad enough beforehand, Ann Pietrangelo points out in her post, What Do Meathead and Archie Have to do with Health Care Reform?, what a spectacle we're now putting on for the world in the days after the health care bill was signed into law.

Ann also gives us two posts with broad views of the history of the bill, complete with video, that puts it all in context for us.  And she blogs about how anti-reform protesters had the audacity to bully a peaceful demonstrator with Parkinson's Disease (they have since apologized).

Scott Pasch tells us what's in the health reform bill for you right away but how both the Republican, and the Tea Parties are doubling down to oppose it. Scott also blogs about two new polls comparing how the world view of conservative "Hatriots" in both the Republican Party and the Tea Party stand up to reality. Can there be two truths? Let numbers speak for themselves.

For another angle, read Ann Bibby's post about how the health care bill is a victory for student loans and Pell grants (really). Ann blogs about how the Obama administration was able to tie big changes in the way student loans are obtained and repaid to the health care bill.

Finally, Jessica Pieklo summarizes the legal challenges lining up against the health care bill. "When we examine the impact and the importance of these legal challenges, it is fair to place them in their social, historical context as part of a larger movement fighting against economic, racial, and social justice," Jessica points out.

Got that second cup of coffee in hand? It's time to move along to our other channels… First let's go from Capitol Hill and Health Care, to Animal Welfare… It may seem an odd transition, but it's been a stressful week, so maybe it's not as oxymoronic as at first glance.

How's this for stress? Heather Moore analyzes a MeatingPlace.com article suggesting that stressed-out animals make "high-quality" hot dogs. Read her reasoning behind why pigs belong neither in blankets, nor in buns.

More on the food–related front: Angel Flinn looks at the recent trend in do it yourself butchery, and questions whether DIY is a fad that's been intentionally engineered by the animal industry.

And fast food giant, Subway, comes out from under to make a decision that sits well with animal rights activists. As Nicole Nuss blogs, the company is promising to phase in the use of cage-free eggs, as well as give purchasing preferences to pork and poultry suppliers who opt for more humane methods of animal housing and slaughter.

If you have, or love, children and pets, Alicia Graef's post about antifreeze and coolant poisoning is an absolute must read. At the end of her blog Alicia asks us to take action and support legislation requiring manufacturers to add bittering agents to these now sweet-tasting products, and avoid thousands of poisonings annually.

As Sharon Seltzer blogs, this year's American Greyhound Track Owners convention had its lowest attendance in history. More than half of the tracks in the U.S. have closed because of lack of business. Greyhound racing in America is coming to the end of an era.

Animals take a stand on the Women's Rights channel this week as Tracy Viselli asks us to listen to the bunnies, and tell the Food and Drug Administration to end restrictions on emergency contraception. Tracy and the bunnies ask us to take action and tell the FDA to act now.

Is it time for Facebook to create a submissions screening process? Ximena Ramirez asks that question this week when she discovers Facebook groups continue to poke fun at rape. When is enough, enough?

So when is enough, enough, really? Over on our Civil Rights channel, Steve Williams writes A Tale of Two Proms. It's a story he has been following closely, about Constance McMillen, whose school chose to cancel prom rather than allow her to bring a female date. Read Steve's blog for the latest on the court's decision about the case, as well as a story about a Georgia student in a similar situation.

Are zero tolerance policies in school going overboard? Take a look at Judy Molland's Education channel post about twin nine year olds in Tennessee who were suspended from school because the part in their identical haircuts was deemed "ganglike." You be the judge.

Our Environment channel was overflowing with water stories this week. Monday was World Water Day, and as Beth Buczynski blogs, "water quality" was the theme. "Too bad no one told municipal governments around America, who have allowed the widespread use of a common weed killer to contaminate public water supplies," Beth notes.

In another World Water day post, Nancy Roberts asks us to take action and sign the Care2 pledge to protect water quality. Nancy highlights a new report and video exposing how the American public has been manipulated into drinking bottled water. "Can we make the easy, green choice to switch to tap?" she asks.

Here's something about water you will definitely want to know: At nine out of ten natural gas wells in the U.S., gas is released from deep underground pockets by fracturing rocks with a high-pressure water, chemical, and sand solution. As Jennifer Mueller reports, the process, known as "fracking," is not regulated by the federal government and, in fact, is exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, in spite of suspicions in six states that it's responsible for groundwater contamination. Jennifer's blog prompts us to take action and urge our representatives to pass the Clean Water Protection Act.

For our Trailblazers channel, I took a look this week at Jamestown Properties, a German commercial real estate investment company based in Cologne and Atlanta that has plans to green almost its entire $4 billion portfolio of buildings, all of which are located in the U.S. Green architecture is an everyday reality in Europe, will other companies in the U.S. follow suit?

Finally this week, we leave you with two pieces for deep reflection, so grab that third cup of coffee and go:
Peaco Todd blogs about global warming, evolution, "Climategate", and the convergence of science and belief, and ponders this: "While we seem to revere the idea of science, too many of our citizens (and students) confuse the roles of science and belief, to potentially disastrous effect." Just be sure to catch the Mel Brooks YouTube link at the end of her post!

And Kristina Chew discusses The Oppression of Motherhood vis a vis a recently published book by French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), which asks if women today are not oppressed by motherhood. She singles out the economic crisis, the green movement and American feminism as culprit.

Time for that fourth cup of coffee, and for you to let us know what you think. We know you will. 

From all of us at Care2 Causes, have a great weekend.

There is a whole lot more here.

Robert Ingersoll

I'm still reading "The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll," a 12-volume collection of some of the best writing I have encountered.  This man was brilliant.  It's no wonder Ingersoll (1833-1899) isn't a household name, or that he is not treasured as a great American writer, dissecting religion as he does.  I cannot recommend these books highly enough.  Every freethinker should be familiar with his prose.

These volumes were first published in 1929.  They're not on the regular shelves of the Houston Public Library.  No, they place them in the out-of-print "Stacks" section, and they must be specially requested.  This guy was quite prolific. 

Here's a striking passage I just read from "Myth and Miracle."

"Whenever the spiritual have had power, art has died, learning has languished, science has been despised, liberty destroyed, the thinkers have been imprisoned, the intelligent and honest have been outcasts, and the brave have been murdered."

No shit.  Which reminds me, a lot of present-day Christians would like to see the U.S. be much less secular than it is and put under a religious persuasion, Jesus Christ-dominant, of course, as if that might produce a more-perfect union!

Anything but.  

Our Founding Fathers were quite right and bold to separate church and state as much as they did, and this nation would be wise to maintain and solidify that wall.  This is no time to backslide into barbarity, and that's what most religion is.

You want to see an example of a theocracy?  Look at modern-day Iran, or other Muslim-dominated governments.  A "Christian government" would not be much better.  Indeed, there have been religion-dominated governments throughout history, and the record is not pretty.  The sooner we can clean out the superstitious from our governments, the better we all will be.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The sky isn't falling!

All of this hyperbolic hyperventilating on the part of conservatives would be hilarious if they weren't so heavily armed.  And STUPID.

The sky isn’t falling

By Gene Lyons


LITTLE ROCK — I love the sound of Republicans whining in the morning. Boo hoo hoo.


The GOP lost the presidency and a big congressional election back in 2008. With the passage of President Obama’s health care bill, they’ve now lost the most significant domestic political battle since the 1960s, so naturally the light of freedom has been extinguished, the U.S. Constitution voided, capitalism doomed and the nation fallen into a dark totalitarian nightmare.

Party leaders are increasingly solemn, diminishingly serious. The GOP’s entertainment wing, its crack team of right-wing radio/TV melodramatists, has been thrown into a competitive frenzy.

For sheer entertainment value, this stuff is hard to top. Surely some dark beast shuffles toward Washington to be born. Rush Limbaugh predicts that the nation’s private insurance industry will be bankrupted. Oddly, insurance company stocks continue to rise.

A couple of weeks ago, Limbaugh even vowed to leave the U.S. and move to Costa Rica if health care reform passed. Evidently, nobody had told him that Costa Rica has a government-funded, single-payer health care system. He’s since recanted.

Neither Limbaugh nor Chicken Little had anything on FOX News’s Glenn Beck, who actually compared the bill’s passage to Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor! Not to be outdone, Mark Steyn, writing in the formerly respectable National Review, envisions “fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana and global Armageddon.”

According to Steyn, America’s “global military capacity” will need to be sacrificed to the ruinous expense of paying for Grandpa’s health insurance. Nuclear holocaust can only follow.

Conservative blogger Matthew Vadum tweets a different outcome: “Fascist House Democrats are preparing to euthanize America. It will not be quick or painless.”

So which is it, boys? Fire or ice? Make up your minds.

But wait, there’s hope. After the Republicans sweep into power in the November 2010 congressional elections, they’ll repeal this hateful law, restoring what the old Superman TV show called “truth, justice and the American way.”

Again, fellows, please decide. Which is it, the dark night of totalitarian rule or free elections? World War III or the 2012 Iowa caucuses?

Several things need saying. First, this latter-day GOP enthusiasm for governing by CNN poll stands the Constitution on its head. We determine who holds power in this country through biennial elections, not telephone surveys. Besides, where was all this solicitude for the randomly selected will of the people back when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton although polls showed that two-thirds of Americans opposed it?

Second, GOP paranoia over Democratic improvements to the nation’s social contract is nothing new. In 1935, Republican congressmen greeted Social Security by invoking the “lash of the dictator,” the “enslavement of workers” and similar nonsense.

In 1965, Ronald Reagan warned that unless Medicare was defeated, “you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.” Instead, he spent his sunset years as president making people forget he’d said anything so silly.

Third, Republicans won’t repeal “Obamacare,” either. They’ll get nowhere near the two-thirds Senate vote needed to override a presidential veto, and by 2012, imaginary horrors such as death panels, rationing and global Armageddon having failed to materialize, the presidential campaign willbe contested over different issues.

In time, suitably housebroken conservatives will imitate their brethren elsewhere in the civilized world in arguing that they can more efficiently manage the nation’s health insurance system.

Fourth, this column doesn’t predict elections, but there are many reasons to doubt that the enactment of Obamacare will lead to the triumphs that Republicans dream of come November.

Did you know that 13 percent of the 59 percent who opposed the Democrats’ bill in that famous CNN poll did so because it wasn’t liberal enough? Asked whom they trusted more to fix health care, Obama or congressional Republicans, respondents chose the White House 51-39.

It will be interesting to see how the numbers trend in the wake of a Democratic victory. Gallup daily tracking polls show Obama’s job approval up five points over the past week.

Finally, conservative thinkers such as David Frum and Bruce Bartlett have begun warning that Republicans are foolish to make themselves captive to the “hysterical accusations and pseudo information” of the party’s entertainment and tea-party wing.

“Talk radio,” Frum, a former George W. Bush speech writer, argues on his blog, “thrives on confrontation and recrimination” rather than governing.

Bartlett cites a survey of tea partiers at a recent Washington demonstration that shows most know nothing about the policies they so noisily abhor. Almost none realize, for example, that Obama’s jobs stimulus plan gave “90% of all taxpayers . . . a tax cut last year and almost 100% of those in the $50,000 income range.”

When people resort to racial epithets and sexual insults, it’s normally a sign that they’ve got nothing else to say.

You can find the original here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gardening Update

Aha!

I figured out how to upload pictures again, so that, when you click on the pictures in a post,  they will open in a new window, and you get a bigger picture too.  This will work, most times, with pictures that I have taken with my digital camera.  Other pics grabbed from the net should still open in a new window, but usually won't be as large.

Just bought a new camera, BTW, a Canon SD780IS.  It's very cool, and easy to use, especially considering it is another Canon, similar to, but better than, the most-previous camera I had.  That older camera recently vanished in the haze, e.g. I lost it.  Or it was stolen.  Perhaps some day I'll find it.  Good thing I had recently deleted most of the pictures!! 

What is extra-cool about the new camera is that, a month or so after I bought it, I noticed it selected as a "Product of the Year" in the digital camera category by MacWorld magazine.  That was very gratifying, considering that I had spent a fair amount of time researching the market and deciding upon that one.  

New cameras are really cheap these days, one of the few products that continues to drop in price.  Instead of looking and looking and looking for the old camera, I just bought a new one.  But suddenly, I could not upload pictures to the blog properly.  They wouldn't open into a new window.

Until I figured it out.   Now, it works again.  Go ahead and try it, with these recent pics from the garden.  (Yeah, yeah, I'll have to fix - and remove - the time stamp)

The blackberry bush is already flowering...


We recently planted two tomato plant seedlings  ... an unknown cherry tomato and a Valley Girl.  We just planted it, and we already don't know what it is!!
 

The red sails lettuce is going nuts, but it'd better hurry up, because the weather is getting warmer.  I wonder how it would do inside the house?



And, oh my goodness, the lemon tree is flowering already.  Can you just smell this incredible smell?  I guess "Smell-O-Vision" was just too much of a scientific hurdle.  So far....




...and that's enough for now.  We're still a long ways from producing all the food we need, but we're learning all the time.  (The real test: can we remember anything?)

Where's Jesus?

A Sunday school teacher is concerned that his students might be a little confused about Jesus, so he asks his class, "Where is Jesus today?"


Steven raises his hand and says, "He's in Heaven."

Mary answers, "He's in my heart."

Little Johnny waves his hand furiously and blurts out, "He's in our bathroom!"

The surprised teacher asks Little Johnny how he knows this.

"Well," Little Johnny says, "every morning, my father gets up, bangs on the bathroom door and yells 'Jesus Christ, are you still in there?!'"

Little Punk Staffers

I have to wonder how Boehner's staffers feel about the Boner's comment...Those staffers are taking advantage of those poor banking lobbyists! 

The Republican Party continues to sink into the muck. 

Rep. Barney Frank distributes ‘Little Punk Staffer’ buttons to Capitol Hill aides.

At an American Bankers Association summit last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) urged the bankers to fight financial reform. To make his point, he bashed people who work in Congress and called them “little punk staffers“:


“Don’t let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves,” Boehner said. “All of us are hearing from our friends and constituents on lack of credit, you can’t get a loan, the more your government takes and taxes, the more regulations you have to comply with the more cost you have there and less amount you are going to have available to loan to customers.”


White House National Economic Council Director Larry Summers fired back at Boehner, pointing out that the biggest problem in the financial system certainly isn’t that bankers do not have enough of a voice in the policy process. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) wrote Boehner a letter and called on him to apologize: “I am appalled that a Leader of the House, who must know what good work is done by our staffs, would take such an inaccurate cheap-shot at these people, for the purpose of ingratiating himself with bankers.” A House staffer told ThinkProgress today that Frank is now distributing “Little Punk Staffer” buttons to Hill aides, in a clear shot at Boehner’s insult.

Found this one here, and thanks to David.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Armageddon!

Herbert: No Class

If I had witty and pithy things to say about the issues of the day, I'd be in Bob Herbert's place.  And not here.  

It's safe to assume that I agree with the people's opinions that I re-print here, even if I don't make any comments before or after.  Thank goodness for people like Paul Krugman, Will Pitt, Joe Conason, Gene Lyons, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins (no, not the guy on Hogan's Heroes) and many more, who can consistently put into words what I may be thinking but can't quite vocalize.  I don't agree with everything they have to say, of course.  I don't agree with everything my wife has to say.  Most of it, though.

I hope it becomes obvious to many Republicans sooner than later (but better late than never) that this healthcare bill is actually a good thing (although it could be much, much better), and that their "leaders" have been lying to them and manipulating them with fear, and worse.  Lying over and over about so much.  They are really poisoning the waters.

And when you get past the lying, you're left with the obvious: todays Republicans are always in the corner of Big Business, and really don't give a shit about the little guy at all.  They laugh at the little guy that still supports them.  

Democrats, while far from perfect, still have at least a shred of caring for the less-powerful.    




An Absence of Class
by Bob Herbert
Some of the images from the run-up to Sunday’s landmark health care vote in the House of Representatives should be seared into the nation’s consciousness. We are so far, in so many ways, from being a class act.
 
Bob Herbert
 A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here. 

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

Glenn Beck of Fox News has called President Obama a “racist” and asserted that he “has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, has said of Mr. Obama’s economic policies: “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship. 

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.

If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests — a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.

With a freer hand, the Republicans would have done more damage. George W. Bush tried to undermine Social Security. John McCain was willing to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Oval Office and thought Phil Gramm would have made a crackerjack Treasury secretary. (For those who may not remember, Mr. Gramm was a deregulation zealot who told us during the presidential campaign that we were suffering from a “mental recession.”)

A party that promotes ignorance (“Just say no to global warming”) and provides a safe house for bigotry cannot serve the best interests of our country. Back in the 1960s, John Lewis risked his life and endured savage beatings to secure fundamental rights for black Americans while right-wing Republicans like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were lining up with segregationist Democrats to oppose landmark civil rights legislation.

Since then, the right-wingers have taken over the G.O.P. and Mr. Lewis, now a congressman, must still endure the garbage they have wrought. 

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