Thursday, October 27, 2016


My Norway audience has disappeared as suddenly as it emerged.  For about 2 years, I have been receiving more "hits" from people in Norway than all other countries combined, including the United States.  Had the trend continued, in another year or so, views from Norway would have exceeded views from America for the life of my blog.  However, beginning about 2 weeks ago, those page views stopped.  For now, thanks to those who checked into my posts from Norway these past few years.  Feel free to stop by again.

As we near the end of this tortuously long, painful to the ear and soul, presidential election, there is a hint of anarchy in the air.  Of course, this anarchy was not just created by the emergence of Donald Trump.  Survivalists have long been a staple of the American belief in individualism.  One might even say that people leaving the relative safety of established society to find new homes and forge new ways of life, led to the founding of America via those who left Europe for the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries, continued through the westward expansion of our country by the pioneers of the 19th century, and then accentuated by the mass migrations to America in the early 20th century.

One might say without much debate, that America represents the ideal that anyone can create a new identity, a new reality for themselves and their family.  Yet, even with that ideal, there are those who reject societal norms and seek their freedom in ways outside the standards that most of us consider the essence of America.  The American Dream of a nice house with a picket fence, a loving spouse and two adorable children, a job for life followed by one's golden years surrounded by family and friends, is not everyone's dream.

The election of the first African American President, along with the continued influence of government on the lives of Americans, especially in the areas of gun control, immigration and health care, galvanized many survivalists to move from a "leave me alone" attitude to one more akin to "we must reclaim our freedoms".  Ironically, many of the early survivalists were consider environmental nuts who eschewed modern progress in favor of a life in tune with nature.  They fought to keep meadows from becoming malls, and to keep the natural beauty of America's landscape from being pulverized in the name of profit and consumerism.  Now, it seems that those who prefer to live apart from society, form militias, stock up on guns as well as water, and seem almost giddy with the idea that the breakdown of society is coming.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  

It is a favorite quote of those who advocate anarchy in the name of true freedom, the words of Thomas Jefferson.  Of course, like most quotes from our founders, Jefferson's words are not always analyzed in the context of when he said them, and about what event.  Whether you fall on the side that Jefferson was advocating a little rebellion now and again to keep our leaders focused on their true job as public servants, or believe that Jefferson understood questioning our leaders but that armed insurrection against the government was treason, and that the founders' creation of the three branches of government to provide checks and balances was the best way to provide leadership that remained true to the spirit of the American experiment in democracy, the tree of liberty grows in many ways and requires many forms of nourishment.

Vigilantism is easy to glorify when we see the righteous defeat evil in movies.  Everything is black and white there, we know from the start who is the good guy and who is not.  And, even though the actions of the vigilante more often than not falls outside the law, we celebrate their victory over the forces of evil knowing that had the law be able to prosecute the offenders, they would have done so with justice befitting the crimes.  Of course, we only like it when its perspective matches our own.

But, while vigilantism is local in its effect, anarchy penetrates society as a whole.  Anarchy sets neighbor against neighbor, family against family.  Even to this day, defenders of the South in their rebellion against the government of the United States thought their treason a defense against an intrusive government trampling the rights of those in the South.  You see it in the Confederate flag waving in some state capitals to this day.

I see people with "support the police" signs on their lawns.  Do they not realize that the police, local, state and federal, will be the force called to suppress armed rebellions?  That those very same men and women will be the targets in the cross hairs of the guns when anarchy rules the day?  Will they then be supported of the police or will they be the ones aiming the guns?

Anarchy is an ugly response to unhappiness with the leaders of a country which elects its public servants through open elections.  We are not a third world country where military coups occur every generation.  We are not a country governed by a strong armed dictator who kills his opponents.  We are not a country with predetermined elections where everyone votes for the same person.

Anarchy can bring an economic collapse, disruptions of the monetary system as well as the distribution of food and medicine.  Anarchy will not bring the changes we need to improve our democracy, but more likely bring a consolidation of power for those already in place, marshal law, and a crackdown on anyone who questions the government let alone has stockpiles of guns and ammunition.  Anarchy will expose America to foreign intrusions, economic as well as military.

Our democracy is certainly in trouble.  Too much influence is wielded by those with the money to buy favors and alter laws and policies.  While many voters have demonstrated great passion during this election cycle, too many others are complacent about their right to vote, and will choose not to make a choice, informed or otherwise, claiming their vote doesn't matter.

The survival of our democracy is not dependent on denying the integrity of our elections, vigilantism or anarchy, but is certainly in critical need of an educated electorate who understands how our democracy works, how the huge diversity of ideas and solutions must be melded into a comprehensive package that does the most good for the most people, and how compromise works to advance the goals of all parties when each achieves a portion of their goals while acknowledging that the other side also needs to feel the same way, and has a legitimate right to do so.

Anarchy is bad for America, and therefore is not the option a true patriot would espouse.


Friday, October 21, 2016

The Last Debate (Hurrah)

So, I didn't actually watch the debate last night.  My wife and I are still watching every episode of Longmire on Netflix, (we are now in season 5), and then once she went to bed, I worked on a new story with the Cubs-Dodgers game in the background.  I did flash to the debate between innings at one point, at the exact time that the candidates were discussing the sexcapades.  I immediately turned back to the game.

Not to excuse the obviously distasteful behavior of both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, how big a correlation is there between morale character and the ability to lead?  Does philandering necessarily disqualify someone from being able to run a successful business or govern effectively?

Clearly, I would prefer a president who displays the best qualities of being a human.  But if we are to limit those we elect to people who never cheated or lied, the halls of Congress would be a great place to hear one's echo.  Also, even when someone does seem moral, married once, a few kids from that one marriage, no apparent infidelity, if his name is Barrack Obama, he is still disrespected by those who cannot accept a man of color in the White House.  When the same groups that have the words Family and Values in their title, support a thrice married man with 5 children from those 3 woman, yet routinely claim that our current president hates America and families, then it makes me wonder why we pretend to value morals in the first place.

I know that we can no longer expect our public servants to have private lives, but if we accept that every misstep and peccadillo of our elected officials should be known, and if we continue to watch alleged news outlets that reward extremism while suppressing civility, then we must also accept that no one will ever emerge unscathed from a presidential election campaign.  Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton triumphs in November, a large percentage of Americans will consider the winner to be the best of two very poor choices, not necessarily because they are such poor choices but because our political discourse has become so polarized that Jesus himself would be badmouthed if he were running for office.

The good news about the debates was that a record number of people watched.  But, it seems they watched, not so much to learn about and evaluate the policies of the two people vying for the most powerful and influential job in the world, but in the same way people roll down their windows as they pass the wreckage of a car crash on the interstate.

While, as I said above, I did not watch the last debate, I read some reviews of it, who made some good points, who "won", who stretched the truth, who seemed more "presidential".  Of course, depending on the source, both candidates made good points, both won, both lied and both seemed presidential!  But when I searched for some substance, some particulars about what each might try to accomplish, the results were sparse.

To be fair, had I been advising Hillary Clinton, I would have told her to be vague.  It seems pretty obvious that the more Donald Trump says, the more holes he digs.  At this point, I guess he really believes that by appealing to only one particular demographic group, white males, specifically older and less educated white males, he can win.  Perhaps if this was 1950, that would be true, but then again in 1950, racism, xenophobia and sexism were much more mainstream than now.

As I have said in a previous post, it behooves the electorate to research the platforms of the candidates respective party, as well as their individual web sites.  As they say, the devil is in the details, and that is where the voters can learn if they are voting for someone whose policies reflect their own priority list, someone whose party is aligned with the needs of themselves and their families.  Once done, that research will also help with the other election choices, those running for Congress, as well as those running to represent us in our state capitals.

I was not a fan of George H Bush.  I thought that he nailed it when he labelled Reagan's economic policies as voodoo economics, but lost much respect when he rode Reagan's tails to the White House. In the ensuing years, he had regained some of that respect through his work with the president who succeeded him, and his other humane activities.  Even more importantly, and in light of Donald Trump's refusal to say that he would respect the results of the election, today's release of the letter that Bush left for Clinton increases even more that level of respect.  He understood the need for a peaceful transfer of power, and put country ahead of party and personal ambition, both traits that Trump does not possess.

I am aghast at the comments that have been made by Donald Trump.  I understand that many people like his bluntness, his political incorrectness, his "truthfulness".  Diplomacy is not something I excel at either, so I understand his supporters who ignore some of his comments with the excuse that he is not a politician, not used to massaging his message.  But calling people fat pigs, making fun of the disabled, dissing prisoners of war, arguing with the parents of a soldier killed in action, bragging about how power and money allow him to do whatever he wants, are not words of political incorrectness, they are words of someone who has no empathy for others, has no connection with middle class Americans unless that connection is based on prejudice.

But even if none of that was true, Donald Trump and the GOP establishment he pretends to be at odds with, reflect very little of what I believe in, and what I believe are solutions to the problems we face.

While both Trump and Clinton have benefited from the influence peddling that occurs in Washington, only Clinton will nominate a Supreme Court Justice who might overturn the Citizens United ruling.

While both candidates have said some nasty things about each other, only Trump talks of jailing his opponent should he win.

While both agree that we need immigration reform, Trump talks of deporting all illegal immigrants while Clinton supports a path to citizenship for those who have become productive members of our society.

While Trump bandies about words suggesting he would use nuclear weapons, likes war, and believes that killing and torturing the family members of our enemies is OK, Clinton understands that engaging with one'e enemies sometimes can lead to understanding one another, then perhaps, even a guarded tolerance.  

While Trump claims that the elite have forgotten the average American, only Clinton will fight for a woman's right to choose, equal pay for equal work, and marriage equality, and only Clinton understands that America was built on the strength of its melting pot heritage, that diversity in our population has helped make us the great country we are today.

While both candidates know that Americans need good paying jobs, Trump promises to bring back jobs from the past, as if that is possible, while Clinton looks forward to creating new jobs that coincide with the future of energy.

While Trump continues to call climate change a hoax, Clinton listens to the overwhelming scientific opinion, and will craft a response that will balance the need to reduce our carbon footprint with the least disruption for those who are employed by those industries that will need to be altered.

While both candidates are extremely wealthy, Trump's tax cuts will go overwhelmingly to those like him, while Clinton will increase the tax rates for the most wealthy.  Remember, it is Clinton who has paid her taxes, while Trump brags that he pays at little at he can.

Trump and the GOP have not expressed any interest in raising the minimum wage or addressing income inequality, while Clinton and the Dems will certainly introduce legislation that will attempt to rectify 30 years of middle class buying power stagnation.

The last debate is over.  Despite being completely turned off by this election cycle, by the polarization of the coverage, and by the dearth of real solutions being debated, I maintain faith that the American people will elect the first woman president in our history after electing, twice, the first
African American president in history.    


Monday, October 17, 2016

Me, For President

So, now that I have thrown my hat into the ring, I assume all restrictions on what I can say about my opponents are lifted.  Innuendo, half truths, gossip, even outright falsehoods are apparently OK.  The contestant ring that encompasses politics has always been this way, and this year's presidential election, while filled with the most personal attacks as any in recent times, does not necessarily corner the market in vitriolic political discourse.  The big difference however, is that social media provides an outlet for the entire range of nonsense to reach everyone, and be enhanced by anyone with a theory and a phone.

So, here are a few of my favorites.

The first is directed specifically to the evangelical community that is reluctant to acknowledge that they stand behind Donald Trump because he has indicated he would appoint a supreme court justice who would rule in their favor on the abortion and marriage equality issues, despite the fact that Trump has five children with three different wives.  Can you imagine their furor if President Obama boasted such stats?  Well, guess what?  I heard that The Donald has at least one, perhaps three illegitimate children, and has paid for no less than two abortions for the various women he "courted" during, and between his various marriages.

But wait, Hillary has her own secret, even more unsettling than her email problems.  For those of you who have wondered why she stood behind Bill despite his obvious extra-marital flings, it is well known that Clinton "favors" the ladies.  I have heard that some of Bill's partners were chosen by Hillary to satisfy her desires for some menage a trois action.

Of course, neither of these accusations is true, although where there is smoke, there is often fire so who knows?   Besides, truth is not a requirement in this election.

So, now that I have cast dispersions on the two main candidates, why should someone vote for me?

To begin, my platform is far less complicated than that of the major parties.  Not simple, because there are no simple answers which will solve our pressing problems, but far less convoluted.

First, any new law being proposed must address the needs of the middle class.  It was the middle class that blossomed after the second World War, that spurred economic growth, a higher standard of living, a boom in advanced education and degrees, and the idea that anyone who worked would have the opportunity to improve their life and the lives of their family.

So, in terms of taxes, the burden must be spread out more equally.  Tax rates do not need to be adjusted, but the use of tax deductions needs to be restricted by the creation of a tax rate floor for each tax bracket.  In the 35% bracket?  You can take tax deductions down to 20%, but no more.  In the 25% bracket, no lower that 10%.  In the 10% bracket, no less than 1%.  Everyone who works must participate, as both a patriotic duty and an understanding that it costs money to fund a military to protect us, to build and maintain our infrastructure, and to provide a safety net when circumstances outside our control occur.          

This applies to businesses as well as people.  The last I checked, the business community is also protected by the military, uses our roads and bridges to transport goods, and receives assistance when the unforeseen results in bad debts or bankruptcy.  It is not a one way street, yet it appears that the influence the business community has on our tax laws belies the fact that businesses cannot exist with a work force, and that the American worker propels those businesses.

This does not mean that we don't need a thriving business community, or an environment that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship.  It means that there needs to be a cooperation between business and government to advance the middle class, period, because when the relationship between business and government becomes collusionary, then wealth stays in too few hands.  It is the middle class that drives the economy by purchasing the goods and services that business provides.  When the circle is broken and the middle class can no longer afford the products and services of the business community, various good intentioned but short term stimuli are employed which generally create bubbles, not unlike the bubble of the late 90's and the housing bubble of the early 2000's.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem, the belief that 6,8, 10% growth is necessary each and every year.  This expectation, driven by the creation of the corporation which knows no allegiance to any country, let alone the people of that country, is the impetus behind the boom/bust cycle that has dominated our economic strategy for the past 40 years.  Of course, it is natural to taste the fruits of a booming economy and want it to continue, but it is not natural for it to continue.  There cannot be exponential growth for an extended period of time without artificial stimuli.  And, ultimately, the boom or bust cycle only benefits the wealthy who can weather the bad times so as to come out even further ahead when the times improve again, as evidenced by the recovery of the past 6 years that has exacerbated income inequality.

There is a lot of frustration in America today with our political system.  But I believe it is born out of an economic frustration that hard work is no longer rewarded with the chance at attaining the American dream.  In accordance then with the bedrock belief in the necessity of a thriving middle class, I would encourage the business community, private and public, to provide a livable wage to all their employees, along with a basic healthcare insurance plan.  I would prefer this to be done on a voluntary basis, despite the fact that it has been made very clear by certain sectors of our business community that any law requiring health care insurance will be sidetracked by some of our larger corporate employers to gain an advantage over their competitors, again, in search of bigger dividends for their stockholders.  So, in the short run, I would encourage those businesses to provide wages and benefits that every American worker deserves, by requiring those employers who compensate their employees in a substandard way, to pay for the state and federal assistance these hard working Americans need to feed, clothe, and shelter their families.

I believe that at the end of the day, greed is the greatest threat to America today.  There are too many of us who seek wealth by any means necessary, even if it entails scamming our senior citizens with tales of family members in trouble or IRS investigations.  But more than that, the corporate mentality that emboldens good people to make decisions which send jobs to the lowest labor markets, destroying the American communities which had previously provided the labor for that company's growth and success.  This belief, that what is good for the corporation is good for America, is a poison that needs to be cleansed from our business model.  This is starkly illustrated when one examines the payroll distribution of many of our multinational behemoths which detail top end earners at 500+ times the salaries of those who do the meat and potatoes work of the organization.  For some of them, merely redistributing salaries can save the jobs they claim are important to them.

It is also greed, rampant in Hollywood as well as in sports, that lavishes 7 and 8 figure salaries on those at the top.  Again, I would prefer people voluntarily realizing that the tens of millions of dollars they are earning could be better distributed to improve our schools, take better care of our veterans, and spur investment in our infrastructure.  But short of that, perhaps a luxury tax on salaries above
$5 million per year, paid to help balance the underfunded pension funds and social security system might reduce the allure of obscene wealth.

The hard truth is that if America is less great than it used to be, it is because Americans are less great than previous generations.  For that reason, I would inculcate the next few generations into a mindset that values community building, and service to our communities, states and country.  But also that self reliance includes a sense of responsibility for others, not precludes it.

It is far too easy to blame others for our troubles, whether that other hails from foreign or domestic soil.  The hard truth is that it is not jobs, or a strong military, or a Wall, that will make America great, but a resurgence of spirituality in our political system, and each other.  Not religion which is used to create hatred and isolation, spirituality that results in treating others as family.  But it is not an easy goal to attain.  You won't hear it from the other candidates.  But if you listen, truly listen, you will see the truth of it everyday on the playground, and you will hear it from the mouths of the innocent who just want to play with their friend, regardless of her skin color, religion, or gender identity.

And, at times, from me, Joe Pugnetti, candidate for president.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Issue with Women

A few weeks ago, I commented on the obvious disparity in how women are viewed in politics after reading a comment made by President Obama in regards to sexism in America.  It takes only a few strokes of the keyboard to find a plethora of evidence that the gender gap is alive and well in our country, in business as well as politics.  The simple fact that the defenders of the current GOP presidential nominee's past inappropriate actions, and recent derogatory statements about women, use evidence of womanizing by Bill Clinton to cast a poor light on Hillary Clinton illustrates this prejudice.  We have seen this movie before, blaming the victims of rape and spousal abuse with the tired phrase, boys will be boys. Was there ever a reciprocal situation where a male candidate was held to account for his wife's indiscretions?  Or more pointedly, a woman candidate accused of repeated condescending attitudes towards men being defended by claims that the male candidate was just as guilty due to the infidelity of his spouse?

In particular, the electorate of my home state of Pennsylvania has shown a remarkable hesitancy to elect women, especially at the state and national levels.  Fortunately, there is a organization that is addressing this problem, Emerge Pennsylvania.

Along with Emerge groups in 15 other states, EmergePennsylvania identifies, trains and supports women to run for elected office.  While in its infancy (the first Emerge state chapter dates only to 2002), this organization has proven to be effective, having helped elect hundreds of qualified women to date.  But there is still much work to do, most specifically in addressing the reasons why the American electorate is so hesitant to choose women candidates over their male counterparts.

In business, experience, or lack therof, is often touted as the prime reason which creates a ceiling for a woman's ascension to the corporate boardroom.  And, of course, like all Catch 22 situations, women can't get experience a the higher levels of politics, if they aren't elected in the first place.  That is why it is so critical to create a network of women, both as candidates and advisers, to establish a pathway, upon which women can take that first step.  Emerge Pennsylvania is such a pathway.  

(Important note, here.  Experience is clearly not the driving quality in politics today.  There is a real undercurrent of distrust for "career" politicians, hence the fact that the 2016 presidential election is still too close to call despite the obvious advantage one candidate has over the other in terms of public service.  What is truly odd here, is that in all other areas where we seek a professional for advice or service, whether it be a doctor, lawyer, or business owner, we eschew the novice for the expert.  No one wants an intern doing their brain surgery, or a first year lawyer defending them in a murder trial.  Still ironic is that lawyers have only slightly better reputations than politicians, yet we still seek experienced and seasoned ones when our legal rights are at stake, yet often elect the outsider in a political contest).

But I digress.

Perhaps the real issue is that part and parcel to a woman candidate is the belief that a woman will focus on "woman's" issues, and that these issues and less critical that a man's.  Just like we associate the concept of masculinity with war, and security, and economics, do we then dismiss women candidates because we associate her with concepts like compassion, empathy, tenderness, even weakness?  While a woman may be called a cold bitch if she is a taskmaster at work, she can still achieve a higher level of success compared to a man considered effeminate in work or politics.    

The strange and twisted task being attempted by Emerge Pennsylvania, is to convince women that a career in public service is worthwhile, even commendable, that the American electorate is eager for public servants they can trust, a real advantage for women, and our concept of the qualities we associate with women, yet harden them to the reality that despite our desire for elected officials to do the best for the most of us, we frequently bash those in office when we only disagree with one opinion, forgetting that our Congresswomen represent all the people in their respective district or state.  Whereas the concept of compromise, surely a word one might associate with a woman more so than a man, is necessary to move government forward, it is now used as a cudgel to classify the candidates as, for us, or for them.  The veil of secrecy that once protected our elected officials from revelations of their private lives has been firmly replaced by the notion that everything is fodder for the public's right to know, especially when that bit of information casts the candidates in a light less that complimentary.  Perhaps women are better suited for this challenge, having endured a HIStory filled with apples in Eden, prostitutes among the Apostles, and temptresses of all races and religions.

America is about as diverse a country as there is, perhaps ever was.  Diversity is our strength, yet we seem married to the idea that only white men can govern well, despite the ironic fact that we trust those we elect less than any other profession, and most of them are white men.   All things being equal then, I generally choose women candidates over men, in the hope that infusing the political system with people more concerned with compromise that conflict, will result in a government more attuned to the needs of all its citizens.

And I am grateful for the existence of organizations like Emerge Pennsylvania for their work to shed some light into the dark halls of back room deals and good old boy politics.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What is a Liberal

A slight gap in my posts recently.  Nora and I spent a week at the beach, just returning last Friday. Despite the rain, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  If retirement will be like that, Bring It On!!

We spent one lazy, rain-filled day watching a Netflix series called Longmire.  If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it by retelling any of the episodes.  As far as I can tell, the series started in 2012, and will begin its 6th season soon.  We watched all of season one and two, and have started season three since returning home.

I mention it, because the depiction of the American Indian is very intense, regardless of which side you might fall on in terms of how these people and their culture have been treated, and portrayed in history,  Of course, this is still a TV show, but based on my limited knowledge of the history of the American Indian, there appears to be a serious attempt to convey ugly truth, whether that truth reflects white men or red.

Longmire is the sheriff of a county that borders a reservation of Cheyenne.  Strangely, he is considered both the friend and enemy of Indians and White men, depending on the motives and perspective of the person in question.  For many on the reservation, his arrests of Indians who have broken white men laws makes him just another white authority figure.  For those he has defended against illegal or prejudiced practices against the Cheyenne, he is a friend.  In the community where he resides, he is held up as both a protector of white men against those Indians who stray from their place and improperly act within the white men's town, and a friend of the Indian when he sides with them against an oil or logging company which ignores Indian rights to improve their profits.

I would imagine that the Longmire character would not consider himself a liberal, despite his acts to defend those whose rights have been violated or abused, just a good sheriff who upholds the law regardless of skin color of victim or predator.  Yet one might say that defending the defenseless, standing firm for those run over by the wheels of profit or the prejudices of men, is a liberal trait.    

Along those lines, I recently sent an email to all my email contacts, asking them to send me a list of five words they would use to describe "liberal".  While my sample size is small and certainly unscientific, I was curious what words liberals and those who do not describe themselves as such might send my way.  Also, I knew from the start that my sampled respondents leaned to the liberal side of the aisle.  But that didn't matter much, as I was looking for a particular adjective, which I expected would only come from those who described themselves as liberal.

First, the results.

Of the 114 adjectives I was sent, I gauged each as positive or negative as much as possible, with the last column to include words that were neither or both.

Some of the positive words were;  accepting, broad minded, altruistic, compassion, diverse, empathy, fair, equality, inclusive, humanitarian, openness, optimistic, progressive, tolerant, visionary.

Some of the negative words were; angry, confiscatory, close minded, favoritism, hypocrite, intolerant, indulgent, loud, persuadable, spendthrift, welfare.

I considered words like activist, naive, rich, and scientific as neither.

Of the positive words, 6 people said progressive, 5 open mindedness. 4 tolerant, while 2 said intolerant.  There were many more positive words, even from those whom I do not consider liberal and who also returned some negative words.  In total, 15 returned all or mostly positive words, 4 returned all or mostly negative words, and 3 returned a mixture of positive and negative.

But no one said spiritual.

I consider Jesus Christ the greatest liberal in history, not withstanding the other great prophets and spiritually enlightened people who are the basis for religions other than Christianity.  He is the one I was taught about as the child of Catholic parents, and, despite my reading most of the great religious tomes and books which relate the lives of those whose teachings have been used to found the religions of the world, He is the one I most identify with as a guide for how to treat one another.

Consequently, as a liberal, and believer in a progressive political platform, I am in favor of marriage equality, tolerance for those with a different gender preference than I, or a different gender identity than their original physical traits indicate.  I believe in equal pay for equal work.  I believe that income equality is a huge problem today, and agree that there is a limit to how much money one should earn, referring to the parable of the rich man's chances of getting into heaven as surely as a camel can pass through the eye of a needle.  I think that violence begets violence, and believe it is contrary to Christ's teachings to spend $600 billion a year on weapons and warfare.  I believe that our planet is our home, and that one should not pollute the air and water of one's planet just as one would not pollute the air and water of one's personal home.  And I believe that avoiding paying one's share for the bounty and advantage that we all, as Americans, our graced with, not by our doing but merely by having won the birth lottery, may be good business, but is not patriotic, and certainly not the trait of a spiritual man.

And finally, for those that say, it is not the government's job to create and enforce such policies that reward spirituality over greed, I say refer to the first line of the Declaration of Independence, We, the People...  

In the end, we, the people of America, the people of planet Earth, are responsible for our fate and our future.  I believe that a liberal is a person who acknowledges that responsibility, and strives to create a social structure that encompasses fairness, tolerance, and above all, spirituality.