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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present


Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

February 20, 2017

Bridging the Divide Between Working Class Whites and Minority Communities

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 20, 2017



Every day since Donald Trump became President, I have been worried about the latest actions coming from the Trump White House. From his executive orders banning immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries, to the gag rule imposed on the EPA and the Department of Agriculture from making public their scientific findings, to the attempts to de-legitimize the press, I've gotten more and more worried about the tone that the Trump administration is setting. I called a few friends and asked their advice. A good friend gave me advice that really helped me. He said to view politics as a marathon and not a sprint. If you get worked up at everything that comes out daily from the Trump White House, you'll get burnt out. He suggested to focus on only a few issues and to take breaks every so often from politics just to stay sane.

I've tried to do that. It hasn't always been successful, but I try. Over the next four years I have two personal goals when it comes to politics. I want to oppose Donald Trump's policies without demonizing Trump's supporters. And I want to support efforts to bridge the divide between working class white communities and minority communities that have been the source of so much national strife.

At one time liberal Democrats like the Kennedys, Paul Wellstone, Jesse Jackson, Hubert Humphrey, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman drew strong support from both working class white communities and minority communities. These liberal Democrats held together this coalition by enacting policies that benefited both communities. Among the liberal policies that helped benefited these communities were Social Security, the G.I. Bill, the Minimum Wage, the Wagner Act, Medicare, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Meals on Wheels program. One of the challenges of today's progressives is to heal the breach between minorities and those working class whites who threw their support to Donald Trump.

Read More Here ...

February 5, 2017

Groups Condemning Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 5, 2017


There has been a lot of news lately comparing U.S. President Donald Trump to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. They have many personal qualities in common: both tend to be bullying in their public pronouncements and in their dealings with the press; they tend to simplify issues; they are very critical of dissent and name call anyone who disagrees with their policies.

There are differences between the two men. Duterte has had 20 years of experience as mayor of Davao with dealing with government bureaucracy while Trump has no government experience. Duterte's policies are more left wing, while Trump's policies draw from ideas from the right wing.

Since my political views tend to lean towards the left, I support some of Duterte's efforts at agrarian reform, expanding social programs for the poor and in reigning in the power of mining companies that have been the source of much human rights abuses in the Mindanao area of the Philippines. For instance, I support the The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) decision to close 23 mining operations in several areas in the country that are near watersheds.

But I cannot support Duterte's support of extrajudicial killings in his war against drugs in the Philippines. So far over 7,000 people have been killed by either the police or vigilante groups for only being suspected of a crime. These victims had no opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law. They had no way of seeing the evidence against them.

Many groups have spoken out against the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

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January 22, 2017

A Women's Day March in San Jose California - January 21, 2017

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 22, 2017

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, my niece and I participated in the Women's Day March in San Jose, California. I had never been to a political march that was so large. We wandered around and really enjoyed reading all the signs and talking to the people.

One of the things that filled me with the most joy was seeing people speak out for the rights of all groups who feel vulnerable or afraid. I saw Muslim women with signs supporting LGBT rights and immigrant rights. LGBTQ people holding signs supporting immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter. Women's rights activists speaking out for environmental issues and religious tolerance. And so on and so on. I firmly believe that a person should not just fight for the rights of your particular group, but you should fight for the rights of all people. I'm glad there are other people who agree.

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January 20, 2017

Riding the Celebration Train for Martin Luther King Jr Day

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 20, 2017

On Monday January 16, 2017, my niece and I rode the Celebration Train from San Jose to San Francisco to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day and to commemorate the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. My niece has expressed a strong interest in social justice activism, so I thought this could be a good chance for her to experience her first march.

It was kind of a civil rights weekend for us. The previous night we watched the movie "Hidden Figures" and it got us in the mood for the march.

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January 19, 2017

An Immigrants Rights Rally in San Jose, California

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 19, 2017

On Saturday January 14, 2017, I went to an immigrants rights rally in San Jose, California. I was debating whether to go or not, as I'm still recovering from a flu that I've had for about a week and a half. San Jose's City Hall is only a 15 minute drive, though, and my brother and niece wanted to go. So I took my camera and went.

Wandering through the crowd, I met some Filipino American activists who I knew. I introduced them to my brother and niece and we talked about immigrant issues, especially those pertaining to Filipinos and the DACA program.

Read More Here ...

January 8, 2017

Democrats Voting in Assembly District 24 in California

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 8, 2017

On Saturday January 7, 2017, I went to Los Altos to vote for the delegates for District 24. When I came, though, I found out that since I moved from Sunnyvale to Santa Clara, I no longer live in District 24. I didn't mind going though. I brought my camera and took photos of the voting and got to talk to friends and fellow Democrats. I want to do anything I can to support the Democratic Party.

I was surprised at how many people were waiting in line to vote. Many Democrats are energized to get involved after the results of November's elections.

Read More Here ...

January 2, 2017

Frank Capra, Sid Buchman and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 2, 2017

As the new year begins and a Trump presidency comes closer to becoming a reality, I couldn't help but think of the climactic scene from one of my favorite Frank Capra movies "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". Frank Capra was one of the great filmmakers of the 1930s and early 1940s.

Frank Capra was a conservative Republican. But during the 1930s he was an open minded man who collaborated with more liberal screenwriters to produce his many classic movies. Robert Riskin, the screenwriter of It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, You Can't Take It With You and Meet John Due, was for instance a New Deal liberal. Sid Buchman, the screenwriter of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, was an American communist. So Capra's films were a mixture of both progressive and conservative values.

Read More Here ...

A New Year's Day Mass at the Santa Clara University Mission Church

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 2, 2017

On New Year's Day, my brother and his family wanted to attend a mass at the Mission Church in Santa Clara University before they took the long drive home. Since I live a 20 minute walk from the university, I decided to join them.

This was the first mass I attended in the Mission Church. I must've seemed like a tourist to the parishioners, because I kept looking at the murals and sculptures all around the church. During the service, they said a prayer for immigrants and refugees and that warmed my heart.

Read More Here ...

December 31, 2016

Looking at the New Year

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 31, 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, it's a good time to reflect. On a personal level, the year has had it's good moments and it's had it's bad moments. The good moments outnumber the bad and I have several fond memories with friends and family during the past year. Next year I'm going to try to paint more and to work on a few children's book ideas that I hope to submit to publishers.

As a liberal Democrat, the political scene hasn't been so great. I'm dreading the upcoming Trump presidency. But for the sake of this country, I'm hoping that I am wrong about my pessimism of Trump's administration. In the meanwhile, there are two areas that I will be most focused on politically in 2017.

Read More Here ...

December 26, 2016

TAX Reform

Posted by Ken Poland on December 26, 2016


Tax Reform ?
By Ken Poland
Opinion | December 26, 2016
Taxes is certainly on most everyone's mind, this time of year. Everyone seems to have a little difference of opinion on just how to 'reform' taxes. The issues vary by geography, financial position, priority of public needs, etc etc. Local, state, and national taxes must be included in the formulas and who benefits, who pays, and how it affects society is a very important part of the debate.

How much government do you want? What is the function of that government? Who will benefit from each function? Who will contribute to the tax and how will it be equitable in relation to benefits?

We are a diverse society and no single answer is appropriate for all. We have extreme wealth, extreme poverty. There is extreme differences in education, health, age, and culture (race & sexual identity).

The one thing we all have in common is 'humanity'. All humans deserve respect and compassion from their fellow sojourners in life. Government cannot force respect or compassion. Government cannot force responsibility on any individual. Governmant can reward actions that show respect and compassion. Government can reward those who take responsibility.

We tend to think we live in a "democracy". Do we? True democracy allows absolute control by majority, regardless of how it treats the minority. No society has ever been sustained by this kind of government. Rebellion erupts and coalitions form. Dictatorships have tried to surpress rebellions but when the inequities are severe enough rebellion occurs. Survival is an instinct and majority rule cannot take that instinct away. Survival is the core basis on which human relationships are formed. Family, community, and country are all vehicles by which we hope to insure our survival. Majority or dictatorial rule will eventually destroy any of those relationships if minority needs are not met.

We are fortunate to have had some wise fellows who got together and devised a set of quide lines to allow the colonists an opportunity to form a government with just the right amount of restrictions and authority to create an environment that would meet the needs of humanity, as they perceived those needs to be. Was the first plan successful? Not really! They discovered there had to be some give and take (compromise & cooperation). The next try, a few years later, has been astonishingly successful. Was it perfect and sufficient in all matters? No! But, they were wise enough to provide means by which challenges could be made and amendments and corrections could be made. They did not establish a pure democracy. But, instead devised a republic based on democratic principles that protected the rights of a minority. Those minorities included race, religion, gender, economic position, etc. They were a little ambivalent about race, gender and economics. But, they specifically denied any religious favor, advantage or dis-advantage. Slaves (most of them negro), women, and non property owners were not given equal rights and privileges in society. The original constitution was not actually validated until after the first ten amendments were adopted. Since then, many amendments have been adopted and some recinded. Legislatures have adopted new laws, re-written laws, and recinded laws. Administrations have administered and enforced laws. The Judicial Branch has ruled on constitutional and administrative authority. The system works! And, I, for one, think we are indeed the greatest nation and will remain so. That is, if we each avail ourselves the opportunity and responsibility of debating all issues and voting our conscience.

Back to the tax issue! Taxes must be levied equitably in terms of ability to generate the revenue for payment. They must be distributed equitably in terms of individual needs and societal needs. The tax base must be broad and sustainable. We don't all agree on priority or the order of priority on these matters. However, taxes should not be used to attempt to equalize wealth or remove individual responsibility for self.

Taxes (all sources), service charges, and licensce & registration fees are all means of providing funds to operate society. It is mine and your moral and ethical duty to participate and honor that duty.


Click here to see this author's archives and biography

December 10, 2016

Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte and Autocratic Tendencies

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 10, 2016

A few days ago a friend sent me a link to an article describing how President-elect Donald Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's prosecution of his drug war and invited Duterte to the White House. Duterte has in turn praised Trump and said that he may not pivot the Philippines away from the United States after all, as he said he would a few weeks ago. I'm not really a fan of either leader. When I read of some of the things that they've said, I feel like I've entered some surreal world where traditional norms of civility and decorum no longer apply.

Duterte is left wing, while Trump is more right wing, but both share a similar leadership style: lashing out at critics; a contentious relationship with the press; and an admiration for autocrat Vladmir Putin. I think Duterte's use of extrajudicial killings is terrible. While some of Duterte's policies are beneficial to the poor and reign in the power of mining companies that have been the source of much human rights abuses in the Mindanao region, it's impossible to look past Duterte's support of extrajudicial killings. If I could vote in the Philippines, I wouldn't have voted for Duterte.

Both Duterte and Trump display autocratic detentencies. I read that the best approach to both men is to focus on their policies and not so much their personalities. Support those issues we agree on and oppose vigorously those issues in which we disagree. And keep a vigilant eye if they try to chip away at the civil liberties of those opposed to them.

Read More Here ...

December 2, 2016

Loving America in the Time of Trump

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 2, 2016

What does it mean to be an American in the Presidency of Donald Trump? These past few weeks have been anxious times for me, but I've been reading articles advising liberal Democrats how we can still fight for our values within the institutions of the democratic republic that our Founding Fathers built for us. I still love this country, in spite of its flaws. I will continue to speak out and fight for the causes I believe in. Immigrant rights. Defending Muslim Americans from scapegoating. Supporting Black Lives Matter. Fighting for LGBT rights and marriage equality. Helping the poor and marginalized.

If there is any common ground with Trump and the Republican Congress, I'll support those issues. I just don't see that much common ground though. America has had troubled times in the past. I hope to gain inspiration from Americans who spoke out during troubled times: Martin Luther King Jr., Dalton Trumbo, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Eugene Debs, Muriel Rukeyser, and many more. These Americans kept fighting for America to live up to its highest values when it was easy to lose faith in America.

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November 21, 2016

When Democrats Should Work With Trump and When We Should Fight

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 21, 2016


For the past two weeks I've been reading various articles to try to figure out what to do now that Donald Trump is President. How do I oppose Trump within the bounds of our American democratic republic and while maintaining our American values? Many columnists gave thoughtful suggestions on how to proceed and that has helped me a lot. It's been especially helpful to listen to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders speak of our responsibility to work with Trump on areas of common ground, but to fight Trump when his administration tries to take away the rights of vulnerable groups like Muslim Americans, immigrants, LGBT Americans and women. I believe that the Republicans' practice of obstructing President Obama's every initiative in the past 8 years has been very destructive to our democratic republic and I don't want the Democrats to follow the same path if they don't have to. Bernie Sanders has done a good job of telling Democrats where we can work with Trump and telling us when we need to fight Trump.

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November 14, 2016

Waking Up To A Donald Trump Presidency

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 14, 2016



It's a week now since the shock of the presidential elections result last Tuesday. I've been deeply depressed about Donald Trump becoming President, but I congratulate those who are Trump supporters for being involved in this political process. I mourn with the Hillary supporters, as I supported Hillary too.

I'm sad and disappointed, but I still love America. If we love our country, we have to continue fighting for America to live up to its highest values especially during times when it's easy to lose faith in our country.

Now we have to defend our Muslim American friends from being scapegoated. We have to fight for our Hispanic friends and for those illegal immigrants from having their families torn apart. We have to fight for African Americans who are victims of racial profiling. We have to fight for our LGBT friends, as Trump has vowed to choose Supreme Court nominees that will overturn the ruling on Marriage Equality. We have to continue the fight for equal rights for women. We have to continue fighting for the poor and the marginalized.

That is our obligation as Americans.

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November 6, 2016

Phonebanking for Hillary

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 6, 2016



Thursday night I phone banked for Hillary for about 2 hours. It was fun. When Hillary's lead in the polls was growing, I was thinking I might skip phone banking for her this year. When the polls began to narrow this week, though, I got a bit scared.

It was an enjoyable experience. A few people hung up on me. But most people were very pleasant. I talked to a few women who were angry at Trump's sexist comments and were determined to vote against him. I talked to one lady who hates both Trump and Clinton and is voting for a third party.

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October 30, 2016

Supporting Hillary Clinton for President

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 30, 2016


I support Hillary for President. Of the two candidates who are running, Hillary's proposals on a variety of issues comes the closest to my political views. I'm a liberal and Hillary is basically a centrist, so we won't agree on everything. But I believe she has the toughness and the right skill set to deal with a Republican House of Representatives, right wing attacks, and the racial divisions that were exposed in this election cycle.

Read More Here ...

October 22, 2016

President Duterte, China, the United States and the Philippines

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 22, 2016

Yesterday morning I read news that Philippine President Duterte wants to cut economic and military ties to the U.S. and to strengthen ties with China and Russia. This adds to the worries that I have about President Duterte. I'm not against Duterte's efforts to open up markets for Philippine business and agriculture in China and Russia. Duterte just recently finished a trip to China where $24 billion worth of trade deals were agreed to between China and the Philippines, which is a good accomplishment.

Countries like Vietnam and Japan, however, have pursued greater economic trade with China and Russia while also pursuing trade with the United States. About 43% of Overseas Filipino Worker remittances comes from the United States. Trade between the Philippines and the United States total $16.491 billion. When Duterte says that the Philippines has to cut ties to the U.S. in order to pursue greater trade with China and Russia, it's a false choice that other countries don't have to make.

Here is an excerpt of an article by Paterno Esmaquel II for Rappler:

Trade between Manila and Washington amounts to $16.491 billion favoring the Philippines, according to a fact sheet provided by the DFA in September.

The US also continues to host 5,997,330 Filipinos as Duterte vows to cut military and economic ties with Washington...

...Duterte's economic planners, however, sought to clarify the President's statement.
"We will maintain relations with the West but we desire stronger integration with our neighbors," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement after Duterte's speech...

...Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario earlier called on the Duterte administration to count the economic cost of the country's shift in foreign policy.

"In foreign affairs, you try to get as many friends as possible. You don't get one friend at the expense of another friend," he explained. "Playing a zero-sum game is illogical and we should get away from this."

Read More Here ...

The Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 22, 2016

For the past week I've been recovering from watching the last Presidential debate. The tenor of the entire presidential campaign has me worried about the great divisions in this country and how it'll affect the health of the democratic republic. Then I was caught by surprise to see a video of Trump and Hillary together at a dinner laughing and making bad jokes. I had never heard of the Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner until a day or two ago, but I went on wikipedia to learn more about it. The Al Smith Memorial Foundation was founded by Francis Cardinal Spellman in 1946, to honor the memory of Alfred Emanuel Smith, New York's renowned Governor and patron of the "Little People". The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation serves neediest children of the Archdiocese of New York, regardless of race, creed, or color.

According to wikipedia:

The first dinner was in 1945, the year after Al Smith's death. It is generally the last event at which the two U.S. presidential candidates share a stage before the election. Apart from presidential candidates, keynote speakers have included Clare Boothe Luce, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, Tom Brokaw, Tony Blair, and many other prominent figures in government, business, the media, and entertainment.

Since 1960 (when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were speakers), it has been a stop for the two main presidential candidates during several U.S. election years. In 1976, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter spoke; in 1980, Carter and Ronald Reagan; in 1988, Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Al Gore and George W. Bush; in 2008, John McCain and Barack Obama; in 2012, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and in 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Since 1945, only two presidents have not spoken at the dinner: Harry Truman and Bill Clinton. Candidates have traditionally given humorous speeches poking fun at themselves and their opponents, making the event similar to a roast. The 2008 dinner raised $3.9 million.

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October 15, 2016

Civility and Political Discourse

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 15, 2016

When I watched the second Presidential debate, I couldn't believe the depths that Trump went to in attacking Hillary Clinton. Trump has based his entire presidential campaign focused on personal attacks with little policy specifics.

I think civility is an important component in the political discourse of this country. In a democratic republic, one of the challenges is to get people of different opinions and outlooks to get involved in the political process to find common ground and decide on political decisions. Dan Glickman wrote a wonderful post for the Huffington Post titled Civility No More: Where Are the Better Angels In Politics?. He wrote:

In 1860 as this nation stood on the brink of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln implored Americans and their political leaders to think of, “the better angels of our nature,” before committing totally to the dissolution of the Union.

To plea for civility during one of the most bitter and divisive periods of American history was an attempt to call on a cultural tenet of respect for those with whom you disagree. The value of civility was a necessary component of our culture at our founding because we are a union of different states, then led by people with different ideas of how a federal state should look, but all committed to the idea of the freedom of belief and expression. Such an entity created by people holding divergent views cannot exist without basic elements of civility and respect for your fellow politicians and citizens. We learned early on to disagree agreeably.

Today, things are different. We have witnessed a substantial erosion of civility in political discourse in contemporary politics. In my view, the end of civility in our political system is a true loss for every American, Republican and Democrat alike...

...The state of contemporary politics is one in which bombast is met with approval. Extreme viewpoints are greeted with appreciative nods by a disturbingly large segment of the American electorate, and so the incentive for political leaders to make such comments is significant. Of course, there have always been and will always be people in a free and democratic country such as this who hold views that are extreme or unpopular, and it is their right to do so. But in this country politicians weren’t always so easily able to accrue benefit from being egomaniacal, indecent, uncivil and frankly just plain rude.

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October 9, 2016

Liberals and the White Working Class

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 9, 2016

Much has been made in the media about the white working class who make up the majority of Donald Trump's electoral support. Trump has appealed to the fears of this group of Americans by stoking xenophobia, islamophobia and the worst forms of misogyny. This greatly worries me, as I see the divisions growing in the U.S. over race and class. Yet I have some hope as well. Watching the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns during the primaries, both are tapping into a tradition of liberal Democrats who reached out to both working class whites and minority communities to build bridges between the two communities and bring Americans together.

The eight hour work day, the forty hour work week, the minimum wage, Social Security, work safety standards, child labor laws, collective bargaining rights, and a whole host of laws protecting worker rights were championed in mainstream politics in the early twentieth century by progressive Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Robert LaFollette, and later in the twentieth century by liberal Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, the Kennedys, Jesse Jackson and Paul Wellstone.

These progressives saw that the government has an important role to play in helping its most vulnerable citizens weather the worst effects of a free market economy. I'm hoping that Hillary can look to these early examples to bring Americans together.

The Nation magazine has several articles about ways in which progressives can reach out to the white working class who are now supporting Donald Trump.

Read More Here ...

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