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I have often scoffed at Bill O’Reilly.  Actually, that is not hard to do.  It seems every time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out of it.  But, I must confess, I am beginning to have pity on the self-anointed prophet.  I am not a doctor, so I cannot say for sure what is going on in his poor little brain.  But, whatever it is, he definitely needs help.

He had a conversation with Carl Rove on his show Wednesday night.  As I watched the clip, I was stunned that even Carl Rove seemed somewhat bemused by what O’Reilly was saying.  O’Reilly was actually calling for the U.S. to build a “Berlin Wall” on the southern border.  He didn’t actually call it a Berlin Wall, he called it an East German Fence.  He apparently knew that using the words Berlin Wall may have caused pace makers in his viewers to stop working.

He went on to say “I was there and I was there for it coming down — the wall coming down in Berlin — and I was actually there on the scene,” “Nobody could get through that fence, all right? Nobody. It was a formidable obstacle.”  He further justified his claim by saying that the Israelis have built a similar fence to “keep out terrorists”.  Then he said  “We haven’t done that … That’s mistake number one.”  He then suggested that we need to put the National Guard at the border to “stop the madness” there.

Okay, let’s look at the East German Fence that O’Reilly seems to love so much.  First, the Berlin Wall was built not to keep people out, but to keep its citizens in.  It wasn’t so formidable that people weren’t able to escape East Berlin.  Actually, thousands of people managed to get past the Wall in order to gain freedom in West Germany.

Secondly, it was a formidable fence especially when you consider that there were “watch towers” positioned all along it with armed guards stationed there with orders to “shoot to kill” anyone trying to get over the wall.  Even so, there were still people who tried to get over or under the wall with that threat hanging over them.

Maybe in O’Reilly’s warped brain this is where the National Guard comes in.  I wonder if he is suggesting that we build our own version of the wall, place watch towers on it with armed National Guard members in them with orders to shoot to kill anyone trying to come over the fence into the U.S.  Here is an arm-chair patriot who has railed against Communism right up to today, advocating that we emulate the East Germans and build a “formidable” fence on our border.

As I said, I am not a doctor.  But, it seems to me that poor Bill has lost his mind!  Maybe Bill is suffering from dementia.  Maybe he has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Maybe he has just lost it altogether.   I think it is time for Bill to seek medical help for whatever is ailing him.

As a veteran, it is absolutely appalling to me that anyone in the country would suggest we emulate the ruthless East German government and build a new Berlin Wall.  Even I didn’t think Bill was that stupid.  There must be a medical reason.

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Republican War Mongers are beating the war drums again.  They want us to redeploy to Iraq.  A group calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are making headway in the country.  There is a growing fear there that their next move will be against Baghdad.  Of course, according to the war wing of the Republican Party, this whole mess is the President’s fault.  They are decrying the fact that President Obama pulled our forces out of Iraq.

What they fail to mention in all of this hoopla is that the President did try to get Iraq to sign a mutual defense agreement which would have kept some troops in Iraq for just such cases.  The Iraqi government refused to sign the treaty.  They wanted all U.S. troops out of the country.  Part of the reason was because they wanted to continue to keep the separation between the various sects alive.  They are now facing the consequences of that policy.

They didn’t want to share power.  They didn’t want to even recognize the other side of these conflicts.  Now, their policies have risen up an bitten them in the face.  As a result, McCain is running his mouth about how we should “bomb Iraq” all over again.  His bromance partner Lindsey Graham is saying we should put troops back on the ground there.

Once again, all of the dire consequences of an illegal war is jumping up against us again.  We should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.  We should never have totally eliminated the Iraqi Army as we did.  The problems facing Iraq are multiple.  There has always been sectarian fighting in the country.  As a matter of fact, if the western powers had taken these sectarian differences into account when they “formed the boundaries” of the country, it is possible that none of this would have happened in the first place.  But, oil played the major role in determining the boundaries of Iraq and many other mid-eastern states that were formed after WWI.

To make matters worse, as least here at home, the news talk shows are rolling out the same war-mongers who started the mess in the first place.  They are asking the liars for advice on how we should react.  David Gregory invited Paul Wolfowitz on Meet the Press last Sunday to ask just that advice.

Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care.  In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003, everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.”

Of course, Mr. Wolfowitz was justly rewarded by Bush for his wrongness.  He nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.  So, after everything he has touched in the last decade has turned into an international disaster, David Gregory thinks he is the right person to ask advice on the Iraq mess that he initially helped to create.

He isn’t alone in this bizarre phenomenon either.  L. Paul Brenner, the former special envoy to Iraq, who also was the architect of dismantling the Iraqi Army post-invasion, argued for military intervention in an op-ed granted by the Wall Street Journal.  “Of course Americans are reluctant to re-engage in Iraq.  Yet it is President Obama’s unhappy duty to educate them about the risks to our interests posed by the unfolding drama in Iraq.”

Of course others are howling at the moon over this crisis too.  All of the former Bush associates are running their mouths.  All are calling for more bombing, more troops on the ground, and more war.  The thing that really bothers me in all of this, is why are these idiots still being called on to voice their opinion?  These are the very same people, that should have been tried for war crimes.  They did after all invade a sovereign nation on false pretenses.  That is what is commonly called “waging a war of aggression”.  Yet, the mainstream media keep trotting them out like they are experts in foreign policy.

Maybe something needs to be done.  Maybe Iraq needs help in this mess.  But, rather than a knee-jerk reaction of sending in troops to spill blood again, let’s at least have some grown-up discussions about all of the options this time.  We need to figure out the best way to handle this because we are also winding down in Afghanistan.  What we do in Iraq will foretell what will happen in Afghanistan if it too falls into disarray when we leave.

Unfortunately, the right-wing war-mongers won’t shut up.  Their simple philosophy is to start an armed conflict.  If it turns into chaos later, that is just another reason for more armed conflict.  But, don’t look for any of them or their sons and daughters to be involved on the ground.  That task falls to “others” not the elite.  I still hear then presidential candidate McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”  His tune has only changed at the end so now he sings “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq.”  What the hell, it is only one letter off.

 

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I am not sure whether Sean Hannity has gone completely off his rocker, or if he thinks backing law breakers and calling them heroes is a great ratings stunt.  Since conservatives have always billed themselves as “law and order” people, it has to be one or the other.  There is no other explanation for his behavior recently.

The first example could almost be explained away by his zeal against anything having to do with the Federal Government.  We all remember how he tried to make Cliven Bundy a national hero standing up to government overreach.  To follow his logic on that case, all you had to do was forget that Cliven Bundy was a freeloader making profits off of the taxpayers.  But, his rants on air almost seemingly to dare someone to take a shot during the “standoff”, was bizarre even for him.

It seemed like he was itching to have someone get shot so he would have a bigger story.  Especially if that shot came from a Federal Agent.  Then he could rage on this for at least a year and raise his ratings.  Maybe that is what happens when you are beat in the ratings by Rachael Maddow and demoted by your boss to the 10PM time slot.  Plus, you have to backtrack from your present hero, Cliven Bundy, when he proves himself to be nothing but a racist.

But, his latest hero is even more disturbing than the racist Cliven Bundy.  His new hero?  Minnesota homeowner Byron Smith.  Smith was convicted on April 29 of two counts of murder for shooting two teenagers who broke into his house.  The defense tried to use the “castle doctrine” as defense for his crime.  The jury didn’t buy it.  Maybe this is the reason:

On April 29, Minnesota resident Byron Smith was convicted on two counts each of premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17. Brady and Kifer were killed on Thanksgiving Day 2012 after breaking into Smith’s home. 

While homeowners have broad latitude in defending their residences from intruders, a jury believed that Smith went too far. Prosecutors compared Smith’s actions on Thanksgiving Day to the setting up of a deer stand. After spotting a neighbor he believed had previously burglarized his house, Smith moved his car to make his home seem unoccupied and then waited in his basement “with a book, energy bars, a bottle of water and two guns.” 

Smith also set up an audio recording which captured what transpired. After breaking a window, Brady came down the basement stairs and was shot two times. Smith was then heard saying, “You’re dead,” before firing a third shot into his face. He then put Brady’s body on a tarp and moved him to another room. 

Moments later, Smith wounded and then killed Kifer execution-style with a shot under her chin.

On his show, Hannity dismissed the murder convictions, claiming with exasperation, “They broke into the guy’s house.”   One of his guests put up a mild objection while another claimed, “The guy should get a medal of freedom for what he did.” Geraldo Rivera objected to the execution style coup de grâce but admitted that he would have shot them too, after which Hannity happily exclaimed, “You’re becoming a right-winger!” And then they all shared a hearty laugh about the whole thing. 

In Montana Markus Kaarma opened fire with a shotgun into his darkened garage in Missoula, Montana, early on Sunday, killing 17-year-old Diren Dede of Hamburg.  Again the defense say they will use Montana’s “castle doctrine” as a defense.  Kaarma, a 29-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter, told police that while watching on a video monitor he had seen a male in his garage.

Throughout the years, there have been hundreds of self-defense arguments for killing an intruder.  Even before the so-called “stand your ground” laws, it was possible to legally kill someone breaking into your house.  In both of these cases, the victims were in fact, either committing a crime of breaking and entering, or trespassing.

But, there has been one factor in all of these laws that specifically says that you must believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger of great physical harm or death before using deadly force.  The jury in Minnesota found that Smith pre-planned his murders.  Neither he nor his defense even discussed whether or not the teenagers he killed were armed.  They simply broke into his house after he made it appear no one was home.

The case in Montana is a bit different.  But, I cannot see where Mr. Kaarma can justify using deadly force just because he saw a male in his garage.  He didn’t try to stop the teenager, he simply pulled out his shotgun and killed him by firing into a “dark garage”.  It will be up to the courts to decide if he could reasonably argue that he felt “a threat of great bodily harm or death”.

I am not against gun ownership, nor am I against self-defense.  However, I am against using these “stand our ground” and “castle doctrine” laws to simply give license to anyone to shoot someone just because of a crime.  Gun ownership demands responsibility.  It is not a license to just shoot someone without justification.

I am sure that Mr. Hannity will soon try to start up the bandwagon calling Mr. Kaamar a hero too.  After all, the teenager was in his garage.  What he was doing there, we will never know because he was shot dead, not held until the police arrived.   There is a definite flaw in any law that allows someone to shoot first and ask questions later.

It is time we rethink these laws.  It is time we come up with better definitions for when and when not we can shoot an intruder.  I do understand that sometimes it may necessary to use such force.  There are some very bad people out there.  But these laws are making it too easy for people to shoot first.  Is that the society we are becoming?

 

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Every non-democratic political activism group has had their propaganda machine.  Hitler had his.  Castro had his.  Hussein had his.  Lenin had his.  Putin has his.  Propaganda machines are necessary in order to convince people you are correct in your views.  When used properly, as in the examples above, they can bring about the type of change non-democratic political activism wants.  Mainly that they gain total control of a country.

The whole premise of propaganda machines is to spread rumors, lies, hate, and then tell everyone you have the solutions to everyone’s woes.  You make some other group or the current political system the fault of all of the problems in the world.  You victimize people who look and think like you to gain their support.  You don’t even have to be specific about what you will do to “fix” things, all you have to do is make sure someone else is to blame.

Roger Ailes over at Fox News appears to be taking pride in the fact that his “news” station has become that propaganda machine.  He has even stopped pretending that Fox News is “fair and balanced” in recent comments.   We all know that Fox News has lied about the ACA.  They have run untrue stories about welfare and food stamps.  They have tried their best to make sure that “white” people feel victimized because the demographics of the country are changing.  They villainize minorities and women.  Things they don’t believe in become “agendas” like the “gay agenda”, the “black agenda” the “illegal agenda”, etc.  They are following the propaganda machine rule book to a tee.

They have now landed on a new hero.  Cliven Bundy!  Here is a rancher in Nevada who has stolen from the American People for over 20 years to make a profit for himself.  When the government tried to stop him, he and his militia buddies showed up on government land, not his land, armed to the teeth and threatened the federal officials with bodily harm.  Fox News hopped on the story faster than you could blink.  Especially Sean Hannity!  According to Mr. Hannity, Cliven Bundy is an American Hero who deserves better.  Even though he owes the government over 1 million dollars in grazing fees and fines for illegally grazing on land he does not own.

Sean Hannity said that the BLM’s action lacked proportionality.  He claims that federal officials should not have shown up on Mr. Bundy’s land with guns to round-up the cattle.  Problem number one is that the officials never went onto Mr. Bundy’s land.  They only rounded up cattle on government land.  There were no guns pointed until Mr. Bundy and the rest of his wacko buddies showed up with their guns.  Plus, if you have ever seen a foreclosure or other re-possession by court order, you will note that the people who show up are law enforcement officials who carry guns.  So this argument is a lie.

He also asked “What is wrong with Bundy’s cows cutting some grass for free?”  Well for one thing, Mr. Bundy does not own the grass.  For another, he has been offered to let his “cows cut the grass” but would need to pay a fee like all the other ranchers who use public land for grazing.  Secondly, Mr. Bundy is using federal grass to “feed” his cows for free.  Making his profits higher because he isn’t paying to feed them.  If nothing else, that is putting the other ranchers in the area at a competitive disadvantage.  Stealing is stealing.  Stealing by the way is a crime.  Seems Mr. Hannity thinks it is okay for a rancher to steal from the government, but not okay for the government to help the poor.  I have an idea, why doesn’t Mr. Hannity tell Mr. Bundy on air that Mr. Bundy can bring his cattle to Mr. Hannity’s property to “cut the grass for free”!

Cliven Bundy could easily be called a thief, he could be called a felon, he could be called a welfare rancher.  All things that Fox News claims that the poor are because they are poor.  If violence breaks out in poor areas of a city, it is because “those people” don’t understand right from wrong.  It is their “culture” of violence.  But a white man who has been stealing from the government for 20 years is a hero.  How does that happen?

Maybe, just maybe it is because Mr. Bundy shares Mr. Ailes and Mr. Hannity’s view of the world and the problem they see of changing demographics in the country.  Mr. Bundy told a group of people who went to his house to talk to him, including a reporter from the New York Times:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.”  Bundy told of driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he continued. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

“Never learned how to pick cotton,” really?  He uses this to justify his theft, and Fox News want to make him a hero?  To date, Mr. Hannity has said nothing about the welfare rancher’s racist comments.  I doubt he will.  That may take the mask off of his hero.  Propaganda machines don’t work that way.  Keeping the mask on is the important thing in their rule book.

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For years, the Republican Party has made the phrase about the “makers and takers” their political platform.  They always cite people on food stamps, welfare, WIC, Medicaid and the working poor at the “takers”.  Then, they turn around and tell everyone that the “makers” are those who are paying those poverty level wages.

We have discussed several times the fact that major corporations in this country pay little or no taxes.  They receive millions of dollars in subsidies from the government.  The very infrastructure they depend on is funded by tax dollars they don’t pay. And the list goes on and on.  However, the right-wing has found itself a new hero to fall back on.  Our friends over at the Foreign Owned Xenophobic news network even calls him a hero.  When in fact, he has been stealing from the Federal Government and American Taxpayers for 20 years and should be put in jail!

Of course I am talking about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.  Mr. Bundy is a rancher in Nevada with a somewhat sizable herd of cattle.  Problem is his land is not big enough to maintain his herd.  Therefore, Mr. Bundy uses Public Owned Land to allow his cattle to graze on.  The Bureau of Land Management allows ranchers to utilize public land for grazing as long as the rancher pays a grazing fee.  Seems everyone in the area pays the grazing fee except Mr. Bundy.

He claims the government does not have the right to charge him the fees.  He says he does not “recognize” the governments right to the fees or even owning the land.  As a result, Mr. Bundy has NOT paid his grazing fees for 20 years.  He currently owes the Federal Government approximately $1.1 million dollars in back fees.

The government has tried to deal with Mr. Bundy in court and administratively to no avail.  Recently, they received a court order that allowed them to confiscate Mr. Bundy’s herd and sell it off to settle his debt.  Of course, Mr. Bundy started the bullshit of screaming how the government is overreaching and that he is just a “patriot” trying to make a living.  Naturally, other wackos, mostly from out-of-state showed up last Saturday, armed to the teeth, to “take back Mr. Bundy’s herd”.

After a very tense standoff, the BLM backed down and allowed Mr. Bundy to remove his cattle.  They didn’t want to get into a shooting match with the well-armed militia nuts who showed up.  The showdown is far from over. The BLM says it will “continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” though Bundy still doesn’t recognize federal authority over the federal lands that he continues to use in violation of a court order. The federal judge who issued that decision says Bundy’s claims “are without merit.”

That order from October 2013 says Bundy owes $200 per day per head for every day he fails to move his cattle. That amounts to roughly $640 million in damages owed to the federal government for illegally grazing his cattle.  Can anyone say felony?

This is the face of the right-wing’s “makers”!  A rancher who decides which laws he will follow, and which he won’t.  He makes money off of selling cattle that he feeds illegally on public lands stealing from the American People.  Their mouthpiece, FOX news, calls Mr. Bundy a “patriot and hero”.  I call Mr. Bundy a common criminal!

Mr. Bundy even backs up his claim by stating that his ancestors have been working the land since the 1800s.  Okay, but what about those Native American Tribes who worked the land and lived there for hundreds of years before Mr. Bundy’s ancestors ever saw the land?  Oh yeah, they aren’t white are they.  Guess in Mr. Bundy’s mind that means they don’t count!

There has always been conflict between ranchers in “sagebrush country” and the government.  There probably will always be conflict.  But showing up and threatening to shoot the wranglers who were hired to carry out a court order is not patriotism, it is anarchy!  So why should the right and their mouthpiece FOX news support such behavior?  Because it stirs up the hatred that they want.  The party of “pure evil” I wrote about yesterday wants anarchy.  That is their whole game plan to seize power.

The next time you hear one of the Republicans talk about the “makers”, you should picture Mr. Bundy.  This “maker” is a thief and “taker”.  That is what the Republicans support.  All the while they talk about gutting social safety nets, they want to allow thieves like Mr. Bundy to continue stealing from the public and calls him a hero.

It all falls in line with their true motto:  “Steal from the poor and give it to the rich”!  Bet that would look good on a bumper sticker!

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I guess it is time I ended my silence on the NSA situation.  The whole problem with a democracy is that everyone considers their privacy as paramount to continuing democracy.  I agree with that.  The other problem is that everyone wants the government to ensure that we are protected and our security is upheld.  I also agree with that.  But in todays modern, global world that is where the conundrum comes into play.  Just what is the government allowed to do and not do.

As you know, this all came about because Edward Snowden leaked information from the NSA about its collection of emails, phone lists, text messages, etc.  Although I was never involved in Intelligence Gathering, I did live in the “secrecy world” for several years.  Maybe I have a different point of view than others because of that.  That is also why I am not going to beatify Mr. Snowden or his actions, yet.  I need more information as to why a contractor should decide to steal and then leak this information and offer it to other nations in order to gain asylum.  That is to say, I am not convinced about his motives.

The only good thing that came from Mr. Snowden is that we now have a national debate about just how far the NSA should be allowed to go.  That is something that should have taken place when the Patriot Act took effect under Mr. Bush.  I am not blaming Bush, but there was no discussion as to what type of spying should take place then, and that has had a direct effect on what is going on today.

President Obama gave a speech offering several proposals to help clean up this situation.  Some will naturally say it doesn’t go far enough, while others will say it goes too far.  The one thing that seems to bother most Americans is the meta-data collection by the NSA.  The President said it should be held by a third-party, without specifying who that third-party is.  That can also be a problem.

Many of the reforms will need to be handled by Congress.  The President ordered the NSA and Attorney General Eric Holder to develop recommendations over the next 60 days as to how the program should be structured, and how meta-data should be stored. This window coincides with the late March deadline by which Congress must vote to re-authorize many intelligence practices anyway.

Since 9/11 we have had a series of problems with the Intelligence Community.  Again, some claim that they have gone too far.  Others claim they have not gone far enough.  Many even blamed them for the 9/11 attacks because they “should have known” something was going to happen.  The real problem with intelligence is that it is run by people.  People are flawed, and we can never be 100% certain of anything.

Rather than ranting and raving about what has happened, we need to take all of that into consideration and focus on what will happen in the future.  The reforms that are necessary in Intelligence Gathering will give us an opportunity to have a national debate on the subject.  That should give us an opportunity to mutually agree on a common method that the NSA and other Intelligence Gathering organizations must follow.

Senator Cruz offered his usual general statement that we “should only be going after the bad guys”.  How convenient for him to say.  But, how will we know just who the bad guys are if we aren’t allowed to find out?  That is what I mean by having a reasonable debate on the problems.  Headline grabbing nonsense like this cannot be part of the debate if we are to get the proper balance.

Benjamin Franklin once said “be careful of giving up freedoms in the name of security.  Otherwise, you will find that you have neither.”  Unfortunately, he lived in a time when global communications took several months, not seconds.  Even still, we must find a middle ground where our freedoms are protected and still allow our Intelligence Gathering organizations the tools necessary to keep us safe.  It will be difficult, but if we use common sense and level-headed thinking, it should be possible.

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Freedom of Speech is one of, if not the, most important civil rights we have in this country.  Recently, Phil Robertson of the reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” made some derogatory comments about the LGBT community.  Naturally, this caused an uproar.  As a result, and fearing lost revenues from advertisers, A&E suspended Mr. Robertson indefinitely from the show for his comments.

Immediately, the right pounced on the network.  Their biggest claim is that A&E was violating Mr. Robertson’s freedom of speech!  We heard this before.  Several years ago, Hank Williams, Jr. made derogatory comparisons between President Obama and Hitler.  ESPN who was using Mr. Williams for their Monday Night Football jingle soon let him go.  The condemnation of ESPN was just as quick and argued the same meme of violating Mr. Williams’ freedom of speech.

About a month ago, Martin Bashir on his show on MSNBC made some very repulsive comments about Sarah Palin.  He went on the air the next day and apologized.  After a short time off, mutually agreed to between him and MSNBC, he resigned from his show and it was removed from the air.  But, instead of the outrage about MSNBC violating his freedom of speech, the right blasted him for his comments.  The left, by the way, was silent about his exit.

I am not going to argue which side is correct or not.  I simply want to draw out some comparisons about the right to freedom of speech.  I have always believed that people have the right to say whatever they wish.  On the other hand, I believe that if what they say offend people, especially public figures, they face whatever music comes their way.

Mr. Robertson has a right to express his views on the LGBT community.  Mr. Williams has the right to say what he wants about the President.  Mr. Bashir has the right to say what he wants about Ms. Palin.  As we have seen in these three examples, there are and should be, consequences for their choice to say what they did.

The networks involved in these incidents are varied and similar.  A&E is an entertainment network that makes its money via sponsorships.  ESPN is a sports network who makes their money the same way.  MSNBC is a cable news network, some would say left leaning, who also makes their money via sponsorships.  Sponsors spend money on these networks because they are popular and have a substantial viewership.

Viewers and sponsors are the lifeblood of television networks.  Therefore, if someone associated with a network makes comments that cause problems with their viewers, and therefore, reduce sponsorship dollars, the network has the right to disassociate themselves with those individuals.  That is not violating the right of free speech.  That is exercising their business right to associate or not associate with anyone they choose.

In my opinion all three of these cases are reprehensible!  What these individuals said was totally their right to say.  But, as with all rights given to us by the Constitution, we all must be diligent about exercising those rights carefully.  They are all examples of what I would consider “recklessly exercising” their freedom of speech.  Any penalty they have paid is part of their choice to say what they did.  Is it really that much different from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater?

Both sides of the aisle must understand that our right of freedom of speech is a two-way street.  If comments offend others, is it really worth saying them?  Especially if you are a public figure.  I believe that all three of the networks involved in these incidents acted appropriately.  In essence they were exercising their right to fire anyone who brings discredit to their product.  That is within their rights.

Rather than yelling at the networks for doing what they believed was in their best interest, maybe we should examine what the individuals said and did to get them into this mess.  Maybe, it is time for public figures to consider what consequences their words will have on other people.  Maybe, that would be the start of becoming a more civilized nation again.

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Okay, I wasn’t going to get into this stupid argument about Santa Claus.  As you are aware, Megyn Kelly over at the Foreign Owned Xenophobic news network had a debate on what color Santa Claus really is.  It all started because of an article that says Santa Claus can be any race the beholder wishes.  But, no, Ms. “I know it is just another attack on Christmas” had to rebut that argument.  She even went so far as to say “Santa is just white”.  She even went on to say that “Jesus was white”.  Her guests all gushed their approval.

Then yesterday, the self-anointed prophet and false historian Bill O’Reilly told the world that Megyn is correct.  Santa is just white!  He further went on to say that anyone who disagrees with the Foreign Owned Xenophobic news network are just haters who do not understand what they are all about.  Problem is that we do understand what you are all about!  You are about division, hate, and self-gratification!

As you know, I do research and try to be somewhat factual here.  I really had no intention to get embroiled in this nonsense, but after the self-anointed prophet weighed in with his false history, I had to say something.

The first question is “where does Santa Claus come from?”  That is a good question.  Many cultures around the world have some form of Santa Claus.  But, most historians agree that Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas.  Saint Nicholas was the bishop of Myra and was credited with performing many miracles for sailors and children in the 4th century.  After his death he became the patron saint of both groups.  Pope Pious 1 dedicated January 6 as his feast day.  Around the same time, Pope Pious 1 also declared that Christmas would be celebrated on December 25.  The day to celebrate Christmas was open because no one really knew when Jesus was born.  Plus, there had been a long honored Pagan midwinter festival at this time of year and the Pope had hoped to “Christianize” these celebrations.

Eventually, Saint Nicholas feast day became associated with December 25.  It is said that children would place nuts, apples and sweets in stockings being dried by the fireplace to welcome him after the tradition of his visiting children became established.  After the reformation, Saint Nicholas became more unpopular in Protestant homes.  That is except in Holland where he was called Sinter Klaus.

As things go, Sinter Klaus was introduced into the U.S. by the Dutch in New Amsterdam, present day New York.  Over the years, Sinter Klaus migrated into what we now call Santa Claus.  There have been many renderings of him.  There was even a time when Santa Claus wore not only red and white costumes, but blue, green, and brown.  It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the now traditional red and white costume became permanent.

So, there you have a very, very brief history of Santa Claus.  As I said, Saint Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra.  Myra is in Turkey!  I know a lot of people from Turkey.  I met a lot of sailors from Turkey during my time in the Coast Guard.  Turkey is not a Caucasian nation.  It is middle eastern.  Their skin is darker than a Caucasians.  So, if Saint Nicholas is the origin of Santa Claus, and all the evidence points in that direction, then Megyn Kelly and the self-proclaimed prophet Bill O’Reilly, are wrong in pronouncing him as “just white”.  Prophet O’Reilly even stated on his show that Saint Nicholas was Turkish.  So, now middle-eastern people have suddenly become Caucasian according to the self-anointed prophet.

But the real question is why do these two imbeciles have to dredge up this racial stupidity at Christmas?  As the history of Santa Claus shows, each nationality or race has absorbed Saint Nicholas into their own cultures as they desired.  Heck, the part about the reindeer comes from Pagan culture!  That is what Christmas is about.  It is not about race or nationality, it is about the brotherhood of man!  It is about good will!  It is about loving thy neighbor!  That is something that these two morons fail to grasp!  But, are they really that biased and stupid? Or are they just trying to increase ratings with their “race baiting” rants?  In either case, As Father O’Malley would say, the baby Jesus is weeping because of their hate!

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For about 40 years we have seen culture wars break out around America. I use the term “culture” instead of “class” because it is more about perceived culture than class. It is true that class is the target, but only in terms of who are we to blame rather than what is actually at fault.

All across rural and exurban America, there are thousands upon thousands of what some call “angry white men”. These are people who have lost their farms, business, and jobs.  They have downward mobility and see the American Dream disappearing before their eyes. These are people who feel their “legacy” has been taken from them.  They see the government as the demon because they don’t believe it was sympathetic enough to “their” troubles.  And to some extent, they are right!

They believed that if you were loyal to your employer, you would have job security.  You would obtain financial success.  You would be able to retire in comfort.  Their family farms would be handed down to the next generation.  Their family businesses would be handed down.  But, everything went wrong.  Instead of inheriting their “legacies” they watched as everything disappeared.  Their factories were closed and their jobs were sent overseas.  Their farms failed because of low commodity prices.  Their family business closed because customers dried up with the factory closures and large low paying national chains like WalMart opened and forced prices so low they couldn’t compete anymore.

They became angry.  The became disenfranchised.  They felt as if their masculinity was being challenged.  They became depressed.  In the 1990’s suicide was the cause of more deaths in rural America than accidents.  They felt hurt, lost, and abandoned.  Anger soon turned to hate.

These are people who love their country.  They fiercely believe in capitalism.  They are patriotic.  They are mostly Christians.  Most are veterans.  In a word, they are “us”.  I can empathize with them.  I grew up on the south side of Chicago and saw the mills and factories close down.  I saw how devastating it can be to lose your livelihood and pensions without prospects.  I can understand the anger.  Unlike them, I did not turn to the right and blame others.  I blamed the real culprits.  Corporate America who was only interested in profits and greed.  Politicians who made unions the culprits.

The Far Right has taken hold of this hate and began leading the culture war. They are very quick to point out who is to blame. It is the blacks, gays, immigrants, and women who are to blame.  And, since the Far Right is mostly white men themselves, they always use racial “code” words to rile up their constituency like using Urban Poor to mean blacks.    They have even come up with a fantasy called “The War on Christmas” in order to tap into these people’s religious beliefs.

The major problem is that these Far Right politicians are the real cause of what is making these “angry white men” angry in the first place! They are the ones who have made it easy to move jobs overseas, keep minimum wage so low it guarantees you live below poverty, passed “right-to-work” laws to eliminate unions and guaranty low wages for companies, made is easy for small business to go under due to low-paying “super marts” to crush their competition, cut education spending which could help build better futures for their families, and cut the safety nets that many of these “angry white men” needed to save their farms, businesses, and homes.

The Far Right, Radical Conservative Christian Groups, Race Supremacists Groups, and Right Wing news outlets have all joined together with billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Walton Family to drum up the culture wars.

It really wasn’t hard to get these people’s blood boiling either. As much as we like to believe that we live in a multi-racial nation, the prejudices of the past are very real in many parts of the country. Wherever one race of people are isolated from others, prejudices are easy to come by. It doesn’t excuse it, it just makes it easier to understand.

Then, when you have the likes of FOX News, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, etc., telling them they are the victims of the “takers” in the country, their anger grows. They fail to see that it is the policies of the Far Right that have put them in their predicament! They fail to see that it was the Far Right who pushed through “free trade agreements” which they blame for their job losses.

Instead they turn their anger outward to the Jews, Catholics, Muslims, and “inferior races”.  They are bolstered by the likes of Pat Buchanan who in his “A Brief for Whitey” after President Obama called for a national discussion on race wrote:  “It is the same old con, the same old shakedown. America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

From that quote, I am sure Pat thinks the blacks should kiss our feet in gratitude!  Rather, it is an obvious reference to the belief that we are ruled by minorities and that whites are the new “oppressed minority”.  That is exactly what these “angry white men” want to hear, because it is what they have come to believe.  They wonder why they are losing everything and seemingly everyone else is getting the gravy.  They need to hear it is not their fault, and the Far Right is quick to tell them it is definitely these “others” fault.

Rather than dismissing them, we need to embrace them and show them they are not alone.  It will take a lot of work and effort, but it is time to attempt to get these “angry white men” to realize that it is the Far Right and their minions who are the real cause of their plight.  They need to understand that it is people like the Koch Brothers, the Walton Family, Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation who are pushing for their demise.  Their plight is shared by millions of people in all walks of American life.  They need to discover it is not only them, but everyone in America who is suffering beneath the yoke of oppression from the Far Right.

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“The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things, of sailing ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.” This column is going to focus on one particular self-anointed king. No, I am not referring to the self-anointed savior, Ted Cruz, I am referring to Rush Limbaugh.

As anyone who wants to keep abreast with things going on in the world around us, I listen, read, or otherwise research all sides of politics. Yes, that includes stomach turning places like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck.  Remember, you cannot defeat the enemy if you don’t know what he is up to.

I think the difference is that unlike many of my progressive friends, I actually laugh out loud when listening to the bloviated Rush. Somehow I seem to realize that he doesn’t believe a single thing that comes out of his vulgar mouth. He is not interested in the country. He is not even interested in his listeners. He is only interested in two things: ratings and money!

Now, in case you didn’t notice, I did not write anything yesterday. I must admit the reason was because I was calming down from one of Rush’s latest rants. I will explain a little later what that was. But, I didn’t want to write anything when I was in such a state of anger.

In case anyone is wondering how idiots like Rush have been able to spill their vile onto the airwaves, you only need to go back to the wonderful Reagan Years. In 1987 the FCC repealed the “Fairness Doctrine”. The Fairness Doctrine had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast. The repeal meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views. Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, “Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 … and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination.” And the fun started in earnest!

His controversial comments has spanned the years, but his most outrageous ones really started in the 2000’s. One item that is not normally listed as a controversial comment is his continuous ranting about “family values” and how the breakdown of the family is ruining traditional American values. I really find it amusing that someone who has been married four times keeps talking about family values.

In 2006 he said that Michael J Fox had “exaggerated” the effects of his Parkinson’s Disease in a political TV ad advocating for funding for stem cell research. Limbaugh said that Fox in the ad had been “shameless” in “moving all around and shaking”, and Fox had not taken “his medication or he’s acting, one of the two”. Limbaugh later said he would apologize to Fox “bigley and hugely…if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act”.  Of course, he never did.

In 2007, he accused Iraq War Veterans who opposed the war as being “phony” soldiers. This is really rich coming from someone who never wore the uniform. As a matter of fact, he dropped out of college in the 1970s only after he was “free” from the draft when it was abolished. The only thing phony about the Iraq War was W.’s lies that got us into the war in the first place and Rush’s lies to help keep it going!

Then last year he went after a Georgetown University Law Center Student, Sandra Fluke. She gave a speech to congress advocating for  mandating contraceptives in insurance coverage. The great four-time married family value guy called her a “slut” and “prostitute” for her actions. He even went so far as to say she “should tape her sex acts so we could all watch”.  Even though several political figures, including surprisingly Republicans, expressed their disapproval, he continued making such statements over the next few days. That actually led to a lot of his local and national sponsors pulling their ads from the show. When that happened, he apologized on his show for some of his comments.  Never did specify which comments for which he was apologizing.

One of his many hyprocisies came to light on April 28, 2006 when a warrant was issued for his arrest on the charge of doctor shopping. Prosecutors explained that the charges were brought after they discovered he received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion. In 2009, after 3 years of prolonged discussion regarding a settlement, prosecutors agreed to drop the charge if Limbaugh paid $30,000 to defray the cost of the investigation, completed an 18-month therapy regimen with his physician, submitted to random drug testing, and gave up his right to own a firearm for eighteen months.

Before his addiction came out, he had condemned illegal drug use saying that “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country… And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”  Seems he really didn’t believe what he said or he would have “been sent up”.

To add to his hypocrisy, in June 2006, just two months after his arrest, Limbaugh was detained by drug enforcement agents at Palm Beach International Airport. Customs officials confiscated Viagra from Limbaugh’s luggage as he was returning from the Dominican Republic. The prescription was not in Limbaugh’s name. After he was released with no charges filed, Limbaugh joked about the incident on his radio show, claiming that he got the Viagra at the Clinton Library and was told they were blue M&M’s. He also stated that “I had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it.”

I don’t know about you, but I find it disturbing that a major political party uses a drug addict as their primary spokesperson.

Now we come to what angered me. A couple of days ago, my wife and I were watching some news shows and there was the spineless Rush ranting about the NFL and their monthly recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness during October. As you all know, many of the players wear something pink during the games to show their support to finding a cure.

There was Rush bloviating about how disgusting it was to see NFL players wearing pink for a whole month. He even went on to say this was an example of the “chickafication of America”.  Really??? Showing support for a deadly disease that has wrecked thousands of lives and families is simply the “chickafication of America”??

This is a disease that often strikes without warning. One day everything is fine, and the next there is a lump in a woman’s breast. Everything changes from that point on. The fear and anxiety are simply unbelievable. We went through this in 1985. We were the fortunate ones because the lump in my wife turned out to be benign. But we experienced what everyone in this situation does. It is no joking matter.

My mother and my sister-in-law are both breast cancer survivors! When I heard those “chickafication of America” words come out of that drug addicted, fat, ignorant asshole’s mouth, I hit the roof. How dare he trivialize such a devastating disease!

That is when I came to the realization that the King must go! I know that the FCC is more or less powerless to pull his license, which in my opinion it should. But we can do something about it. I am asking everyone who has gone through this, knows someone who has gone through this, or simply supports those who have gone through it to start an email and phone campaign to his sponsors. We need to boycott every sponsor of this arrogant defiler in order to get him off the air for good.

It is apparent that he has absolutely no use for anyone except himself. His on-air comments shows that he hates African-Americans, Latino Immigrants, Women, Clean Air, Gays and Lesbians, and of course Drug Addicts (excluding himself).  True Americans may disagree, but they do NOT hate simply because you are different. If you wish to join in this cause, there is a website called “stoprush.net” where you can get a list of sponsors, It even gives email addresses to use.  I know I’ll be there a lot sending emails to sponsors.  Will you join me?

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