Parade Season

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day; green shamrocks and leprechauns are blossoming everywhere. I dread it.

I grew up Irish Catholic, and New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held out as the premier event of the year. But it’s a horror show, really: a raucous crowd moving slowly toward St. Patrick’s Cathedral—newly sand-blasted and shining like heavenly light—presided over by a rotund patriarch who will condemn a girl to hell with no chance of forgiveness if she has an abortion, even after being raped, but readily forgives the man who raped her if he confesses and says a few Hail Mary’s. It all lost its glimmer for me a long time ago.

ROTC cadets march in uniform, mothers’ dear sons, a belief in invincibility propelling them to brass buttons and jaunty hats, as if we were back in Prussia 200 years ago and World War II and Viet Nam and Iraq had never happened, despite the casualties limping and wheeling along in the next regiment. Men in kilts play bagpipes. No snakes anywhere. I guess St. Patrick did his job.

The parade-goers—more carpe-diem types than the marchers—are cheering, midst bar-hopping with green plastic, 32 oz. cups, screaming and singing Clancy Brothers and Tommy Mackem pub tunes (which mostly seem to end in young Irishmen taking a stand for the auld sod and being killed by Englishmen) till finally limping and vomiting into the dawn. Chicago, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, New Orleans…the disease spreads.  More drunken revelers and irritating leprechauns. Is alcoholism really a defining genetic trait, one to celebrate? Does anyone find leprechauns enjoyable?

St. Patrick’s Day segues into Passover and Easter, women in outlandish hats taking the places of the marching ROTC cadets and vomiting 20-somethings on the Avenue. Matzah on paper doilies at the grocery. Baskets of green plastic grass laced with oddly-hued jelly beans and chocolate eggs and bunnies everywhere else. All topped off by lamb cake.

So the dancing druids of my Celtic, 20X great-grandparents celebrating the equinox have morphed into green beer, parades, and treats like pink marshmallow bunnies that will puff up like magic in a microwave. These festivities far overshadow the last Christian remnants of the ancient solar holiday—crosses of blessed palm fronds, groaning church organs and strange men in medieval robes blessing the congregation–or so I presume, since I gave it all up years ago. “I’ve lost my faith,” I explain to an elderly aunt, the last of her generation. “That I lived to see the day,” she tsk tsks, shaking her head.

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September 11, 2001

 

One beautiful September morning, as I was driving to work, crossing the Hudson River on the Tappanzee Bridge, I caught sight of the Twin Towers off to the south, shining in the sunlight. I should be down there at that seminar, I thought to myself.
In August, I had signed up for a breakfast seminar scheduled for this morning in New York City, touted as, “How to Manage your Investment Portfolio: an Update for Busy Community Bankers.” Among my many responsibilities as chief financial officer at Provident Bank, one was to manage the bank’s investments. This seminar sounded like a perfect review. I called and reserved a spot and taped the postcard invitation onto the side of my computer screen as a reminder: 8 AM, September 11, 2001, World Trade Center, Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top floor of one of the towers.
Three weeks went by, and my workload piled up. One of my best people quit for another job that did not require so much overtime. The HR department was slow to find a replacement, and I was working till 8 or 9 o’clock most evenings. The date for the seminar approached. I would have to get up by 5 AM to catch a train into the city for a breakfast meeting. Then I’d have to come back to my office and catch up on mounds of work. The seminar looked less and less appealing. I called to cancel, tossing the invitation into my wastebasket.
As I drove into work that day, I thought sorry I’m missing it, but I just can’t be two places at the same time. A few minutes later, crowded into the break room with a crowd of staff and coworkers, I stood in front of a TV, watching the towers collapse. About sixty of us huddled around the white Formica tables and turquoise plastic chairs, in a room that generally held about a dozen people. Many of us knew people who worked in those buildings. Marissa, my accounting clerk, ran from the room crying, “My sister!”
Suddenly panicked, I rushed to my desk and called my daughters, worried until I could hear their voices. Loretta was safe. She worked evenings, and was still in bed in her apartment in Queens. “Huh? What are you talking about?” She flipped on her TV.
A tide of co-workers ran to their desks, the same thoughts in their minds. The circuits jammed; I didn’t get through to my older daughter, who lived and worked in Manhattan, for nearly an hour. Many of us didn’t reach loved ones till much later in the day. All day long, we’d wander in and out of that break room, watching the endless loop of planes crashing into the second tower and each tower, in turn, pancaking into rubble.
When I returned home across the bridge that evening, a pillar of smoke rose from the south. Over the next few weeks, I mourned with all Americans the senseless tragedies of that day.
But as time has passed, and as I’ve tried to comprehend what had happened that sunny morning, I keep remembering the TV news clips that showed Afghan people, many of them women, whooping with a high decibel trill and dancing in the streets with glee. They had almost gotten me, I kept thinking. What had I ever done to them? What had any of the people in those buildings done to them? Aside from the violence of the terrorists that day, though, I kept thinking about what life was like for those women of the Middle East.
Afghan cities had been almost as modern as Istanbul only a few decades before. Afghan women had gone to school and become doctors and teachers and accountants. Before the revolution in Iran and the decades of civil war in Afghanistan, many women in those countries had even stopped wearing the traditional headscarf. Now they were shrouded from head to toe in black shapeless robes. Swept up in a tide of Islamic fundamentalist reform, they were forbidden to leave their homes without a brother or husband to look after them. They were not allowed to work, even if widowed. They could be stoned to death for even the suspicion of adultery or anything that would “dishonor” the men of their family. And as wars have raged through Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, as well as Africa, women have continued to bear the brunt of the suffering, often kidnapped and raped with impunity by Taliban and ISIS extremists.
How did their society devolve so precipitously? Why did it devolve in this way? It seemed they had chosen to make women the scapegoats for all the problems the people of their society faced. As the months have gone by, the question in my mind has changed to, is it happening here? TV and newspaper pundits debate how best to protect our U. S. cities from further terrorism; I ponder how we might protect U. S. women from fundamentalist slavery.
Women in the West have come a long way since the Civil Rights Legislation of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Could we lose the rights we’ve gained over the past fifty years? And might fundamentalist religion be behind the loss? Might it already be behind some of our problems?
Although women today make up 46.3% of the U. S. labor force, and 50.6% of management, professional and related occupations, we make up only 15.4% of Fortune 500 corporate officers. And we make up only 6.7% of the top earners at those companies. For many years we’ve made up a large percentage of the recipients of MBA and LLD degrees. It’s been over fifty years since the enactment of equal employment legislation. Still, women hold only about 14.8% of Fortune 500 company board seats, and often it is one lonely woman working with eight or ten men, where she is pressured to fit in, unable to truly express herself. Of the companies that make up the top 1,000 U. S. companies, only 22 have a female CEO.
Even more distressing, however, is the rise of violence toward women. Rape is epidemic. Yet our society elected an admitted sexual molester. Achievements in women’s civil rights, such as the right to control when or if to become pregnant, are threatened. Insurance policies cover Viagra—an unimportant extra, but many do not cover women’s birth control—often a necessity. The right-leaning Supreme Court–many of its members influenced by conservative religious beliefs–is poised to reverse Roe v. Wade.
There are many lessons to be learned from the violence and suffering on and after September 11, 2001. Of course a primary lesson is an awareness of the need to protect ourselves from violent terrorists.  I have learned how fragile women’s rights are. With knowledge comes power. Studying history can help us make better choices, hopefully to protect the rights women have gained in the past century and to further women’s road to equality.

 

Trump, Fundamentalism and Women’s Rights

We now have two new executive orders that blatantly challenge the concept of the separation of church and state. As written, one will allow a broad category of people—primarily business owners and employers—to discriminate, under the guise of religion, against LGBT people or women who want or have used reproductive health services, such as abortion or some forms of contraception. The other negates the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from playing a role in politics, under threat of losing their tax exempt status. Taken together, they are obviously using Federal law to support one form of religion —fundamentalist Christians—over others who hold different beliefs. This has to be stopped. At the very least, if churches (and I include in that term the temples and synagogues of the various sects of the Abrahamic religions) may now participate in the electoral and political arena, it is time, to eliminate the right to deduct donations to religious institutions from taxable income. Churches’ tax advantaged status must be rescinded.

All of the Abrahamic religions—which include the religions most Americans are familiar with, from Baptists to Catholics and from Hasidic Judaism to Islam—have exerted a negative influence on women’s efforts to achieve economic and social equality for centuries. This effort starts with the teaching that women are somehow more liable for the woes of humankind because of a fairy tale about Eve and an apple (and very little about the fact that Adam was more than happy to go along with the apple idea.) It continues through generations of religious teachings (written by men) that portray women as somehow unclean, because we shed our bloody uterine lining—evidence of our ability to procreate—once a month. And it continues now in fundamentalist organizations assigning all responsibility for pregnancy and childbirth—the result of the sex act—to women, while ignoring the responsibility of men, who certainly play a serious role in that result. Women have had little voice in the development and spread of that canon; I call it condemnation without representation. Women now are “allowed” by some reform-minded church and rabbinical elders to participate as ministers and rabbis, but only in certain sects; in others, women are treated more like the women in The Handmaid’s Tale, little more than walking incubators.

It is not just their attitude toward procreation which is at issue. Religious institutions do not have to comply with many anti-discriminatory employment laws. Many churches are locked into the keep-women-at-home-barefoot-and-pregnant thinking prevalent in the 1950’s. A friend of mine who was working for a Catholic Diocese a couple of years ago discovered that a man who was doing the same job as she was doing was payed about $10,000 per year more than she was paid. She complained, but was told they would not equalize their pay, justifying the differential because “he had a family to support.” (So did she, by the way.) If churches had to comply with the same rules as any other organization, this sort of thing would not be allowed. Yet government regulations, like the EEO, excuse them from complying with employment laws meant to protect women and minorities, simply because they are a religious organization. The ability of women to compete in the economic arena will be greatly hampered if the only way women can control when and if they will have children is by abstaining from sexual intercourse entirely.

On top of the two Trump executive orders, the implementation of Trumpcare—the new healthcare-tax-break-scheme—would allow states to choose if they want to drop the requirement to cover any of the ten essential coverages that were delineated by Obamacare. In states controlled by fundamentalist Christians, they will no doubt drop the requirement that insurance packages cover family planning and maternity care, making this a three point plan to ban women from the workplace.  Many states will leave out coverage for preexisting conditions, also, something that is a worry for moderate Republicans. But the GOP is creating a high risk pool subsidy to help out with this issue. No one is talking about covering women’s special health care needs with subsidies.

In recent decades the United States has used the tax code to reinforce social ideals like caring for the sick and needy and to discourage discriminatory practices, by allowing people to deduct donations to churches and certain religious organizations, for example, and by withholding Federal aid to segregated schools. If religious organizations were denied favorable tax status for discriminating against women, they might just find a way to accommodate the evolution of their attitudes toward women. (They might give a second look to the Gnostic gosples, for example, where the role of the priestly class was given less importance and that of female disciples was described more fully.) That was the strength of Title IX, the legislation that opened the doors of business schools and professional schools to women and helped me get a start in business. If schools didn’t comply, they lost federal funding. They suddenly found ways to accommodate women in graduate professional programs and sports. But the two Trump executive orders and the disregard for women made obvious by the new Trumpcare package, are moving our society backwards. The GOP will use tax subsidies for almost any other scheme going, but not if it involves women and their sinful bodies.

All-male synods pronouncing on women’s gynecological health issues, radio personalities calling sexually active women whores and sluts, blaming the victims of rape, politicians advocating against birth control… When we think of religious discrimination, many of us used to think of women in Saudi Arabia or Iran, unable to drive cars and trapped in burkhas. The products of our Judeo-Christian culture and Islam are different only in degree, not in kind; both characterize women, and the sex act itself, as something unclean, and assign a stigma to women that permeates our secular lives. And our tax code and these new Trump executive orders in effect say that’s just fine.

As women like me have fought to move upward on the business front, it is disconcerting to note that most men around us—whether at school, a party, or at work—carry with them a little piece of the negative messages about women that they have learned from the pulpit, now buried deep in their subconscious. Our religious institutions are not just not leading the call for gender equity; they are actually reinforcing it.And now the GOP would allow these arcane institutions to freely preach in favor of political candidates who think like they do. This fundamentalist stance toward women contradicts the core messages of fairness and justice found in the Old Testament as well as those of equality and love that prophets like the Buddha and Jesus preached. Yet now it will send its misogynist tentacles out to further infect the secular world.

For women to achieve true equality in this world, churches need another reformation. How liberating it would be if our religions—instead of being focused on arcane gender stereotypes, demonizing women’s sexuality and threatening punishment in an afterlife—highlighted instead our nurturing each other through the comings and goings through this world. And how exhilarating if our government would follow through on the separation of church and state that our founders called for, and leave religious beliefs or non-beliefs out of the equation.

Palm Sunday at the Cloisters

In the Merode room, the Virgin Mary
kneels in voluminous red robes.
She’s reading, still unaware
of Gabriels’s news. Nearby, Jesus
rides a donkey through the late
Gothic Hall. Hail, King of the Jews.

Against a wall, three kings
hold out their royal offerings.
There’s a happy Mary and baby or two,
a huge tapestry from Burgos, and St.
Michael vanquishes a hideous devil.
Sun streams in through high windows.

In the Cuxa cloister, yellow daffodils
and blue hyacinths burst into bloom
in newly warmed soil, sheltered
from late winter’s cold winds
in this medieval square of earth.
Near the walkway, a potted orange tree,
its leaves a deep waxy green, preens.

And in the Fuentidueña chapel,
the high notes of counter tenors
soar as a choir sings
Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa

Annunciation, nativity,
Madonna and child, king triumphant,
Pietà. How fast it goes!
Just when we were rejoicing,
Oh, my poor sweet boy, Mary cries.

The Lost Commandments

BREAKING NEWS – BREAKING NEWS

A spokesperson has confirmed that archeologists have discovered a fragment of writings that are almost certainly an early version of the Ten Commandments, long considered the cornerstone of the Abrahamic religious tradition’s emphasis on justice and fairness.  The scriptures, like the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, were discovered hidden in a large sealed jar which had been buried just outside a site on the Sinai Peninsula. The site was being excavated as part of a new phase of  an Israeli settlement expansion.

It has long been known that the earliest segments of the Old Testament were handed down through oral tradition for hundreds of years before being committed to writing.  There are several stories in Genesis that are presented twice, in two very different ways. For example, when Yahweh created humans, in one case Genesis states “male and female he created them.” Shortly after those verses, another version of the creation of humans states that God created Adam, and when Adam got lonely, God took a rib from Adam’s side and from it created a woman to keep Adam company.  The number of animals included on Noah’s ark also differed between two tellings. In one, pairs of every kind of animal were taken on board; in another, only seven pairs of animals.  It is believed that these and other contradictory tellings are the result of the inclusion of different oral traditions at the time the Hebrews were committing their history to writing.

And now archeologists confirm that a competing version of the ten commandments has recently been found. (please read all the way to the end)

This is (in abridged form) the text of Exodus 20, verses 1-17

“I am the Lord your God, You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother,13 “You shall not murder.14 “You shall not commit adultery.15 “You shall not steal.16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Baltimore Chatechism, the foundation of every Catholic school child’s education, reads as follows:

  1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  3. Remember thou keep holy the Lords Day.
  4. Honor thy father and thy mother.
  5. Thou shall not kill.
  6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. Thou shalt not steal.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods.

THE NEW DISCOVERY

And this, in abridged form, is the text of the ten commands of the Lord according to the newly discovered scrolls.

  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, nor shall you misuse My name
  2. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  3. Honor your father and your mother.
  4. Men, look after your wife and children, and treat them with kindness, for they are dear to the Lord.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not rape, nor shall you take advantage of young children in a sexual manner.
  7. You shall not commit adultery, nor shall you fantasize about or stalk a woman who is not interested in you.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. For even the coveting is anathema to the Lord your God.

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When I was a child, I had always noticed that the last two Catholic commandments were kind of repetitive.  And I wondered why adultery and coveting your neighbor’s wife were listed separately, as well.  But I am amazed and fortified to learn of these two lost commandments.

Said Karl Druski, the German leading the recovery effort, “In the oral tradition, counting the number of items or mandates in a story was an oft-used way to make sure you didn’t leave anything out in the retelling.  Once it had been settled that there were ten commands, it was important to repeat ten. What likely happened is someone realized he had noted only eight, couldn’t come up with the missing two, so made up the two lame ones at the end.  And for some reason, this is the version that survived to become part of the Hebrew Bible.

Sirena Glaston, a British researcher and paleoanthropologist disagrees with the opinion of Professor Druski.  “It is clear to me that whoever dropped these two commands was a man who did not want his sexual conduct controlled in this way.  Commandments 4 and 6, in particular, both tell men that they must treat women and children with respect, and they may not beat or abuse their wife and children in any way, but must take responsibility for their care. One segment, badly damaged by rodent activity, appears to tell men not to grab women’s pussies, but because two male anthropologists on the team disputed that interpretation, it was dropped from the official transcript.”  Archeologists and religious historians who agree with Professor Glaston hypothesize that to come up with ten commandments after dropping the two that men might find inconvenient, the author broke up the first and last commands, which were quite long, anyway, into two separate ones.

It will be some time before the religious historical community will be able to come to agreement on the veracity of this finding. But its existence will likely make a great impact on moral teaching around the globe.

*****

The newly discovered commandments:

Men, look after your wife and children, and treat them with kindness, for they are dear to the Lord.

You shall not rape, nor shall you take advantage of young children in a sexual manner.

 

author’s note:  If only this were true.  These commandments are needed, but sadly missing.

 

Women’s 21st Century Bill of Rights

The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches shared a concern about the new administration’s threats to humanistic freedoms achieved over recent decades. Now let us put together a clear definition of what we want to achieve in the coming weeks and months. I thought we might start with a statement of what we believe to be the freedoms that are in jeopardy. We can then move on to tangible ways to make improvements happen.

WBR 1: Congress shall make no law applying to all women the beliefs of any religion with respect to women’s reproductive duties or responsibilities. Anyone may freely exercise their belief thereof, but may not extend that belief to restrict or intimidate others. A woman’s reproductive health care is of concern to her and her doctor, only.

WBR 2: Congress will respect not just a man’s, but also a woman’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which encompasses:

a. Her right to breath clean air, drink clean water, and have access to food not tainted by poisonous chemicals. Environmental protection–especially regarding global warming concerns, the protection of pristine land from oil drilling and the encouragement of renewable energy development–will help to protect this right and must be followed.

b. Access to affordable post secondary education for herself and her family. All citizens will be better able to live a free and happy life if they can learn the skills needed to be a productive member of society, free of the onerous burden of college loans.

and

c. The right to decide if and when she wishes to give birth to a child. She cannot pursue a career or support herself with some comforts, nor participate in the human desire for sexual activity if unable to prevent the birth of a child.

WBR 3: Congress will do what it must do to bring down the cost of health care, remembering the value of all citizens, not just the fat cat CEOs of pharmaceutical companies. This will include positive change in the health care of people with serious and debilitating mental illnesses so that they and their family caretakers may freely participate in our society without endangering themselves or others.

WBR 4: Congress will enforce and strengthen existing non discrimination laws regarding the rights of women, minorities, and people whose expression of sexuality may differ from that of the lawmakers. They/we must be given every opportunity as a white man to succeed in the world. 80% is not enough. We need and we deserve to earn the same pay as male peers, to be given EQUAL (not almost equal) respect in the workplace and opportunities for advancement.

WBR 5: So as to enable female citizens to pursue their daily interests freely, Congress will enforce and strengthen laws regarding the privacy of a woman’s body. She/we deserves to be able to walk to and from work, attend social events, etc. without threat of sexual attack. To this end, Congress will ensure that rape and sexual assault laws are enforced and perpetrators punished in a manner commensurate with the severity of the crime.

WBR 6: So as to bring about these rights, Congress will pass legislation to bring about public funding of political campaigns, freeing politicians from the noxious and poisonous lobbyists who damage our democratic system through their control of our lawmakers.

 

Enough bashing planned parenthood: what about the real problems?

When will our presidential candidates start acting like presidential candidates? Religious extremists (of the evangelical Christian kind) have hijacked this presidential election season.  For some reason they have aimed their targets firmly on Planned Parenthood, and they will not be dissuaded from their quest to shut it down.

But why? Women’s modern reproductive healthcare has saved many, many women from needless suffering, and PP does a great job of bringing such care to poor people who might otherwise not get it.  Planned Parenthood’s birth control counseling and distribution of birth control devices has helped prevent many thousands of unwanted pregnancies.  And so it is also one of the best ways to reduce abortions.  And although the evangelicals hate it, abortion is matter between a woman and her doctor.  It is a difficult decision, whatever the situation, but it is a private matter, it is legal, and it has been judged to be constitutional. These people are endlessly chipping away at the availability of medical facilities that will perform safe, legal abortions.  Pretty soon, it will be difficult to even get plain old birth control. Are they that afraid of women being in control of their own bodies?  The evangelicals must comply with the rule of law, like everyone else.

The current fracas about “selling fetal body parts” is certainly disturbing – especially in the way the many hours of video were edited.  But the transfer of human tissue to scientists and transplant teams is a reality of modern medicine.  Most of us don’t like to think about, but the organs that are transplanted and studied in research centers have to come from somewhere.  Most people consider donation of such tissue to be in the best interests of society at large.  I am sure that in offices in every big medical center, certain people have the job of discussing who will pay for the harvesting and transportation of the hearts and kidneys and livers and fetal tissue that are the reality of such procedures.  But we don’t stop heart transplants and kidney transplants and corneal transplants.  We don’t send commando teams in to video the discussions about eyeballs and brains and hearts, nor take videos of medical teams putting dying people on life support until a transplant team is ready to harvest whatever organs are needed.  Nor should we do so in the case of fetal tissue donations. Enough already!!!

And while our Republican presidential candidates thump their chests about Planned Parenthood, they have little to say about the issues that most of us want our next president to be concerned with.  I, for one, want a president who will deal with the threat of ISIS and some of the other difficult things that require international coordination and long term planning. What will happen to the world we know if the Muslim Extremists destabilize Europe and most of the rest of the world? How can it be that a few thousand men with some machine guns in the desert have the entire Middle East on its knees and now Europe in an uproar? And why are we not paying more attention to it? When will all the “nice, ordinary” Muslims do something to stop these people?  I am afraid of these violent men who are terrorizing the Middle East, especially women, so brutally, and using their religion as an excuse.  We may consider that excuse bogus, but they are doing it. And I am also afraid of and for the throngs of dislocated people who are banging at the gates of Eastern Europe – hungry, without homes, who have no way to make a living in their own countries. It has been ever thus, that people from one place migrate to another is search of opportunity. But how will the developed countries of our world work together to find a course of action to deal with this? To help these people reclaim their own countries? And to maintain the rule of law to protect our lifestyle. Will we let it keep getting worse until full scale war is necessary?  How will our candidates lead us?

We have rising seas and threats of more damaging storms.  What do our presidential candidates propose to slow the process, and to protect citizens living in now dangerous areas?  Our roads and skies are overcrowded and highways and airports clogged.  We should be working on upgrading our highway and train systems to provide high speed land transportation between big cities like New York, Boston, and D.C, and Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.  Do any of the candidates have an approach to handling this?  People with serious mental illness are homeless and/or trapped in jails instead of getting the care they need.  Who will fix this? Our financial system will continue to be unstable as long as we allow the big banks to trade stocks and bonds and also be our means of transferring currency from one person or company to another.  Who, besides Bernie and Elizabeth, will reinstate or otherwise replace the protections of Glass-Stegal?  Or do any candidates have some other approach to stabilizing the financial markets?

We need lawmakers to deal with these issues. People running for office need to stop blathering on about the bible and women’s uteruses and creating roadblocks to women’s reproductive health. Step forward, Bush and Paul, Cruz and Trump, Fiorina, Kasich, Rubio and the rest of you. Stand up and be presidential.  Propose a coordinated effort to bring stability (both military and economic) and reason back to the world. Quit looking backwards.  Where is your forward vision for our world? And shut up about women’s reproductive issues.