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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

With the advent of the FOX News Network, and I do use the term ‘News” loosely, there has been a lot of talk about how things have gone from bad to worse.  Especially considering that FOX has a tendency to cleanse things to their liking to prove their point.  This is hardly new information.  And, FOX is not the first of the so-called “conservative” networks on TV and Radio that are guilty of this.

It is not unheard of that both sides are trying to cherry pick the points they want to expose.  It is very easy to take a quote, pick out the parts you like or dislike, and make those small points out to be major problems.  When this type of reporting is done, that leads to misinformation rather than informing the public.  I admit that both sides are guilty of such practices.  However, the length that FOX goes in this is remarkable considering that they not only cherry pick the points they want to make, they then demonize anyone who points out that is what they are doing.

But, FOX is not the leader in this either.  Limbaugh has been lying to his listeners since Reagan did away with the policy of allowing opposing views on any news point.  It used to be that if Limbaugh said something that another group disagreed with, his network was required by law to air an opposing view on the same topic.  Reagan did away with that law, and the lying moved to new heights.

Throughout the past elections, there has been talk about the public being uninformed.  There is a lot of talk about low informed people going to the polls and basically voting against their own interests.  An example are white poor people who continuously vote for politicians who want to take away the very social safety nets these poor people depend upon.  They vote for these politicians against their own interests because the politicians tell them that their plight is the fault of those “other” people.  And, that is what the poor white people want to hear.

This leads us to the mess in Ferguson, MO.  As I have written before, I am opposed to the violence that has occurred there.  Looting and rioting is not the answer to the shooting and killing of a black man who was unarmed.  However, the nice people at FOX seem, at least to me, to want this incident to continue.  It is my opinion that they are helping to foster the atmosphere that usually leads to trouble.

Many of the FOX “reporters” and pundits are making statements like the victim may have deserved to be killed.  They are leaning towards their opinion that the police can never act badly and that the shooting was justified.  Instead of reporting on the facts of the case, they are more interested in reporting that the New Black Panther Party has a couple of their members there.  As if that makes everything the police have done and are doing justified.

When the Ferguson Police released a security video showing a man who looks like the victim robbing a store of a box of cigars, FOX went on the rampage basically saying “see, he isn’t innocent.”  It was much later that the Ferguson police stated that the officer involved in the shooting was unaware that Brown may have been a suspect in the robbery. FOX did not back off though.  They are still saying that the shooting may have been justified.

They keep bringing up the fact that Al Sharpton is in the area.  They keep bringing up that people like Louis Farrakhan have made comments against the shooting.  They keep bringing up that the New Black Panthers have people there.  They even go so far as saying that the reporters who were arrested in a McDonalds deserved to be arrested.  Their argument is that they did not “obey” the police order quickly enough or that videoing them in the restaurant provoked the police.  For a network that claims to be a “News” network, that is a remarkable thing to say.

This is a perfect example of how so-called news reporters can lie and mislead the viewers into believing something based on totally unrelated information.  Rather that reporting the facts, they look for side stories that show the victim is the one to be blamed.  They are actually using the defense too often used by rapists and their lawyers.  The victim wanted or deserved what happened to them.

However, when the “offended” person is white, they call them patriots.  Remember Cliven Bundy?  Here is a freeloader who owes the government about a million dollars for illegally grazing his cattle on government land, and FOX called him a patriot.  Worse, the man in the picture lying flat on the ground of an overpass behind concrete barriers pointing a high-powered rifle at Federal Agents, they call a patriot.  The difference in these cases is that in the second, the government was acting on court orders.  Yet, the criminal was a patriot.  In the first case, a young black man was shot and killed by a white officer.  That makes the victim not a patriot, but a criminal who deserved what he got.

When people hear lies enough, they begin to believe them.  When people already believe that Brown was guilty of something, then the lies are even easier to swallow.  FOX news plays to the hate and bigotry that already exists.  I won’t go so far as to say they make things up, but they do emphasize the points to justify the bigoted beliefs that the victim was wrong.

It used to be that “fair and balanced” meant that all sides of a story would be explored.  That the truth, no matter what it turned out to be was the primary focus of news reporting.  That meant that all sides of a story had to be reported.  FOX News has perverted that phrase of “fair and balanced.”  They have made it to be whatever they deem to be fair, and balanced has nothing to do with reporting the news.

I don’t agree that most Americans are low informed.  I do believe that they are misinformed on purpose for political points.  That is not reporting, it is propaganda.

 

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We have seen the picture way too many times.  It has permeated our society for generations and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  I am talking about what is going on in Ferguson, MO.  On Saturday, a young black man was shot and killed by a white police officer.  The reason the officer shot Michael Brown is still unclear.  But, one thing is clear, it is being handled extremely poorly by the Ferguson Police Chief.

The police officer, who is yet to be identified, claims that when he attempted to exit his squad car, Brown pushed the door back on him.  He then claims that Brown attached him through the window and tried to get his gun.  There was a gun shot inside the car.  Brown was shot 35 feet away from the car, meaning the officer got out of the car before opening fire again.

On the other hand, a witness, who was with Brown at the time it happened gives a completely different story.  He claims that the officer tried to exit the car next to the two teens.  The door hit them both and ricocheted closed again.  According to the witness, the officer then grabbed Brown by the neck through the window.  After a shot rang out, Brown and his friend started running.  The officer reportedly shot Brown who then turned around with his hands in the air and said “I am unarmed”.  The officer then shot him several times killing him.

The Ferguson Chief claims the officer was treated at the hospital with a “swollen face”.  He doesn’t say how exactly the officer got that swollen face.  But, he implies that it was because Brown attacked the officer.  By the way, the only thing the two boys were doing wrong?  They were walking in the street rather than the sidewalk.

Even if the officer’s claim about being attacked is true, that does not justify lethal action by the officer.  You cannot shoot someone several times simply because he bruised your face.  Especially when that person was unarmed, as alleged by his friend.  In my view, that simply means the officer was wrong in his actions and should be punished.

That brings us to what has happened since.  The residents of Ferguson started rioting.  I oppose violence in all cases and the residents are wrong to riot over the incident.  However, the Brown family, Al  Sharpton and others have criticized the rioting and looting and asked for “peaceful protests”.  The last few nights, the residents have tried to use peaceful protest.

However, the Ferguson Police Department, equipped with all sorts of militarized equipment have met them head on.  Tear gas has been fired at the protesters.  According to one news report on scene, the tear gas was fired just 15 seconds after the police gave an order to move on.  That hardly seems like enough time for everyone to even get the news from the police.

News reporters have been arrested.  Even news camera trucks were ordered out of the area before the tear gas was fired on the crowd.  That brings back memories of the riots in Chicago in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention.  Rather than sitting down with the protesters, especially the family and try to work something out that would help clear the way for an independent investigation into the incident, the Ferguson Police has decided to basically go to war with its residents.

Referring back to the Chicago Convention Riots, Mayor Richard J. Daily said on national television that “the police are not there to cause the riot.  They are there to preserve the riot”.  I was there, I lived there, and I can say that the police did an excellent job of “preserving” the riot.  What we are witnessing in Ferguson is no different.  Except the Chicago Police were not equipped with military equipment like the small town of Ferguson Police are.

There are calls for the people to “trust the authorities” to get to the bottom of this.  How can we trust the authorities when they are the ones who seem to have caused the problem in the first place?  All across the country police departments are getting more and more militarized.  SWAT teams attack people’s homes without warning.  All too often they attack the wrong house and hundreds of people are being injured during these attacks.  Even infants like the one injured by a flash grenade that was thrown into the crib.

This is more than a black/white issue.  This is what happens when any media, conservative or liberal, tries to pedal that one group is better than another.  It is what happens when old white men decide that their power base is in jeopardy and they start demonizing races of people.

This case is another example of the American Tragedy played out before the cameras.  There was no reason I can see why this teen was shot and killed by a police officer.  There is no reason to use this case as an excuse to riot and loot a community either.  The only problem is that far too often, oppressed people believe that when no one listens, the only recourse if violence.  Violence may get people’s attention, but it will also lead to more deaths.  There have been more deaths in Ferguson as a result of the riots.

There is a cry of “no justice, no peace”.  But, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. proved that no peace doesn’t mean violence.  Non-violent protest is also a form of “no peace”.   The Ferguson Police Chief claims the officer involved “is hurt” over the incident.  Maybe, but not as hurt as his victim.  The Attorney General said that the Federal Government will investigate this incident.  Hopefully, the truth will come out, and this officer will be punished for any offense he committed.

But, until we end the era of intolerance perpetrated by the loud mouthpieces mostly on the right, we will have more Ferguson’s in our future.  If we don’t stop demonizing people simply because they are different from us, how can expect anything less?

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School’s out for the summer!  Our wonderful Congress has taken their usual August recess.  That is a normal thing this time of year.  These politicians will go back to their districts and hold town hall meetings and espouse their wonderful achievements.  Problem is, they don’t have any wonderful achievements to espouse.

The previous two Congresses were the least productive in modern history.  The current Congress is on track to even beat those two in futility.  I know it is hard to believe, but that is the fact.  Congress has left town in a rush to get “reelected” to their meaningless position.  There was a time when holding public office was an honorable endeavor held by people who wanted to make the country better.  The current crop of legislators are anything but honorable.

As the children take their usual recess, huge problems still face this country.  We still have a mess on the border.  There are still thousands of undocumented children waiting for their “cases to be heard” as the 2008 law says they must.  What has Congress done about this humanitarian problem?  Nothing!  Yes, the House passed a bill, but they added so many inhumane elements to it that it will never get through the Senate.  That is once the Senate comes back in September.

Some of these elements do not even include anything to do with the humanitarian problem at the border.  They deal with things that are best covered in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  But since the House has no intention of even talking about comprehensive immigration reform, they tack on objectionable amendments to laws just so those laws can be killed.

There are still millions of people working 40 hour work weeks for below poverty pay.  There is still an attack on any religious beliefs that to not follow the “white” Christian beliefs.  There is still no immigration reform.  There is still no national marriage equality.  There are still voter suppression laws on the books in several states.  There are still millions of people without health care because Republican states refuse to expand Medicaid.  There are still way too many people out of work.  Our infrastructure is still falling down around our ears.

They did manage to pass a bill that will allow the VA help our veterans better.  But, as usual, they have nothing in it that will address the over 1 million homeless veterans.  Nothing that will address the fact that millions of veterans need food stamps just to survive, which the Republicans want to cut even deeper.  They have basically put a band-aide on a gaping wound our veterans suffer from every day.  They authorized about half of the money the VA really needs.  They say they will address the rest in the “normal budget process”.  Which means the VA won’t get any additional money they need because the Republicans will insist on cutting other safety nets to “pay” for any additional money for the VA.

The one piece of legislation the House is very proud of is the one authorizing the Speaker to sue the President.  That is one bill that every Republican in Congress could get behind.  Wasting millions of tax dollars on suing the President as a political stunt is something they are very proud of doing.

It has been often said that allowing the inmates to run the asylum is a bad idea.  Yet, Mr. Boehner has allowed just that to happen.  The inmates in the GOP are now running the asylum.  Thanks in large part to Mr. Boehner’s inability to actually “lead”.  As a result, a “junior Senator from Texas” has become the de facto Speaker of the House.  Way to stand up to the inmates, Mr. Boehner!

If it was just the inmates in Washington that were running the asylum, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.  But, the inmates are running the asylum in many of the states as well.

The party that says it wants “government out of our lives” are very willing to put government into our lives if it will force everyone to think as they do.  They want “government in of the lives” of the poor by killing social safety nets and making sure they can’t vote because they believe the poor are just not smart enough to trust to vote Republican.  They want “government in the lives” of women and their reproductive choices because they don’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions.  They want “government in the lives” of LGBT community because they must make sure they don’t have equal rights as the rest of the “normal” world as they see it.  They want “government in science” so they can foster the myth of creationism as the “real” science simply because it doesn’t interfere with profit-making for their big donors.   They want “government in the lives” of the working poor by saying that a Federal Minimum Wage is “hurting” their chances to move ahead.  They want “government in children’s lives” by making sure they don’t learn anything while allowing for profit school companies to make millions in profits without having to actually teach anything viable.

In a time when the country faces many challenges, we are stuck with school children who cannot make decisions.  We are stuck with a group  whose only real concern is hate for anything that doesn’t look or think like they do.  We are stuck with the inmates running the asylum.  I have always been an optimist when it comes to the future of our country.  I must admit, that with the current crop of school children in Congress, my optimism is shaky.

There is one bright side.  With school out for the summer, they can’t pass anymore bills that harm the country.  But, then, they don’t pass bills at all, so maybe that is a good thing too.

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As we move deeper into the sixth year of President Obama’s administration, stalemate is still the issue.  Many people claim that this stalemate is due to the right wing’s obsession with just hating the President.  They are partly right.  However, the biggest reason we have been mired in this stalemate is a lack of leadership.

Both in and out of the military, I was an instructor.  I even taught Leadership and Management courses.  One of the tools I used to help show the different types of leadership skills was the movie “12 O’clock High”.  If I were still teaching this course, I would put together a clip of John Boehner’s flip-flopping as a prime example of what happens when there is no leadership.

Speaker Boehner has allowed a minority of his own party to kill every single piece of meaningful legislation he has dared to offer.  He has allowed “outsiders” to run roughshod over his caucus which has basically “scared the living shit” out of normally reasonable thinking men and women.  His lack of courage to stand up to these misfits has led to the stalemate we have had to endure.

For example, John Boehner and Eric Cantor were prepared to introduce a continuing resolution to fund the government through December. It included a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act, but was structured in a way that would have allowed Senate Democrats to strip that provision, pass the rest of the bill, and send it to the White House. Ted Cruz and his emissaries warned the House conservatives of the ploy, support collapsed, and the bill was pulled.  After that, Boehner was forced to go along with conservatives’ plan to hold a firm defund-Obamacare line, and a government shutdown ensued.

Earlier this year the House Republican leadership introduced its “principles” as an opening volley in the chamber’s comprehensive immigration reform debate. Boehner introduced the principles at a retreat in late January, and initially, the plan had some support among House Republicans.  But then, Cruz stepped in, again.

House Republicans who supported the “principles” of immigration reform floated by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, late last month grumbled Tuesday that the plan was dead on arrival because Cruz blasted it as “amnesty,” spurring a blizzard of negative phone calls to House Republicans.

“After that it was ‘We’ll get back to you on immigration reform,’ ” said one Republican congressman who declined to be identified. [...]

Finally, A House working group led by Rep. Kay Granger unveiled its legislation to address the border crisis, with only a week-and-a-half left to get something done before Congress adjourns for the August recess. The bill only allots $1.5 billion in spending to address the issue — well below President Obama’s asking price and Senate Democrats’ $2.7 billion proposal — not great, but at least it is a starting point.

But the great Canadian Senator wasn’t pleased with this.  He actually held a confab with House conservative members a full hour before this legislation was even unveiled.  He was “urging House Republicans to reject legislation addressing the border crisis, arguing that passing a bill through the lower chamber would play into the hands of Senate Democrats.”   Since that intellectual thinker Rep. Steve King agrees with the Canadian Senator, this bill will likely die before it comes to a vote as well.

Why is this happening so often?  For one, Mr. Boehner doesn’t have the courage to tell the Canadian Senator to stay the hell out of House business.  If he is opposed to something the House is passing, he will have his opportunity to kill it in the Senate.  Mr. Boehner seems happy to allow Cruz to act as the de facto Speaker of the House.

One of the things that makes a leader is the ability to make a decision!  Mr. Boehner has shown time-and-again that he lacks that ability.  This is because Mr. Boehner wants to be “liked” by his caucus.  A leader is not going to be “liked” by everyone.  A leader needs the courage to step on some toes once in a while.  That is part of the job of being a leader.  That courage is something that Mr. Boehner is sorely lacking.

Until the Speaker is willing to step up and be a real leader in the House, we will continue to have this stalemate.  By refusing to do “what is right” regardless of political outcry, Mr. Boehner is no more than a shell in a suit.  That has allowed Cruz to become the de facto Speaker of the House.  Something he was NOT elected to be.

The Republican Party has a lot of problems as we know.  They can’t get out of their own way when it comes to diversity.  They can’t help but think the only way to win an election is to repress the vote.  They apparently hate women, blacks, Latinos, LGBT, and anyone who is not a White Evangelical Christian.  But, the real problem in the Republican Party is that its so-called “mainstream Republicans” lack leadership and courage.  As long as that persists, we will not see an end to the stalemate anytime soon.  And, We the People, will continue to suffer.

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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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We have known for a long time that the far right-wing of the Republican Party is nuts!  We have also known for a long time that the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party is more than happy to subjugate themselves to these nuts in order to get votes.  But, what is happening at the border between Mexico and the U.S. is a disgrace.

Right-wing nuts are lining up to “stop immigration” by keeping buses with illegal immigrants from getting to the shelters and holding areas where they will be processed according to the law.  We have grown adults holding signs that read things like “return to sender”.  At the same time, they are railing against the administration for not enforcing the law.  Well, actually, the administration is enforcing the law.  The law that was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican President named George W. Bush.

The unfortunate part of all of this is that it has gotten completely out of control.  Yesterday in Arizona, a State Representative, Adam Kwasman, who is also running for the U.S. Congress whipped up hatred by decrying that the yellow school bus carrying illegal immigrants was coming.  The shouting started.  He went on to say that “this is not compassion”.  “This is the abrogation of the rule of law.”  He even said to a reporter that “he saw the fear on those children’s faces.”

How nice, a man running for a seat in the U.S. Congress is congratulating himself for terrifying children.  But, there was one slight problem with this situation.  The school bus wasn’t carrying undocumented immigrants.  It was carrying a bunch of kids from a YMCA camp.   When he was informed about the YMCA kids not being undocumented immigrants, all he could muster was “they were sad too.”  No kidding, a group of adults scaring the holy shit out of children just might make them look sad, too.

These scenes are being played out in Arizona and California.  But, rather than fighting for the law to be enforced, these people actually want the administration to break the law and simply send them back without a hearing the law says they must get.  I cannot fathom how adults can be so afraid of children.  But, there you have it.  They are absolutely terrified of them.

Not to be outdone, Louie Gohmert showed his brilliance again.  Okay, so he showed just how stupid a former judge can be.  He claims that what is going on at the southern border is actually the “real war on women”.  According to Mr. Gohmert, “criminal aliens” were responsible for 2,993 homicides in the past six years — as well as 7,695 sexual assaults.   Okay, but what about the other tens of thousands of murder and sexual assaults that take place in this country every year by what can only be described as “criminal citizens”?

As a result of these numbers, Mr. Gohmert claims that the “real war on women” is being waged by criminal alien hordes.  Furthermore  he said:

“Our continued existence is at risk with what’s going on at the southern border.” He blasted the White House for “actually assist[ing] the criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals” by neglecting to adequately enforce America’s laws against illegal immigration.

In my opinion, though he left out the words “white women”, that was what he meant.

I want to remind everyone that immigration was handled differently in the past.  It was even “civil”.  Up through most of the 20th Century, immigrants were not given a green card.  My grandfather was an immigrant.  When he came to the U.S. he was not given a green card.  He went through Ellis Island like all the rest of the immigrants.

According to the law at the time, each year, he was required to “register as an alien” by January 31.  Since my grandfather never obtained citizenship, he had to register right up to his death.  I remember going to the post office every January to get his registration card.  I would fill it out for him, have him sign it, and mail it back.  I don’t know when green cards became the norm, but I do remember sending in his registration card through 1970 when he passed away.

Even still, we have adult people terrifying young children with their signs, yelling, and pure hate.  Why is this happening?  Why is this necessary?  It is only necessary to those un-American people on the far right who claim to be for liberty and freedom but don’t really want either.  It is only necessary for those who want to gain political points by snuggling up to these lunatics.  Let’s face some facts here, we are talking mostly about children.

Instead of reporting on the actions of these nuts, it is time to stop putting them on camera.  It is time to stop talking to stupid people and start talking about how to best handle the situation.  But that takes real adults.  People like Louie Gohmert and Adam Kwasman should not be confused with real adults.  Hate is on display at the southern border, and it is a disgrace to our country.

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Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Those are the words inscribed on the Statue Of Liberty.  We have lived by those words for a couple of hundred years.  Yes, there have been exceptions based on racism, but for the most part our immigration system has worked because of the belief in these words.

There was the time when it was illegal for Chinese Immigrants to enter the country.  We have had times when almost every immigrant group faced discrimination after they came here.  The Irish, Poles, Czechs, Italians, etc.  Every group has faced some kind of discrimination after immigrating to this country.

We are facing another example of mass immigration.  Problem is that there really isn’t an immigration system in place anymore.  Republicans in Congress has refused to allow a vote on any immigration reform plan.  They claim they are waiting for the President to “enforce” the laws.  That is a remarkable statement.  This President has deported more illegal immigrants than any President before him.  The Republicans want the current mass immigration problem at the border dealt with by “immediately deporting” all of those children.  Problem is that under George W. Bush, the law he had passed, says that cannot happen.  When especially dealing with children, we need to care for them, and they must be brought before a judge in order to determine if they are to be deported.

So, by not immediately deporting these children, President Obama is following and “enforcing” the law.  If the President should “immediately deport” all of these children, he would not be enforcing existing laws as the Republicans want.  Besides that, if the border is so open, how come we are catching so many people crossing it?  If there was not sufficient enforcement at the border, surely these people would not be in custody right now.

We have faced other “mass immigrations” in the past.  No one will forget the mass immigration of the Irish due to the potato famine.  Even though they were treated harshly when they arrived, no one was calling to close the border to them.  More recently, I was in the Coast Guard when the Boat Lift from Cuba occurred under Reagan.  No one was calling for them to be sent back to Cuba.  We also had to deal with a mass immigration effort from Haiti.  There was the mass immigration from Cuba when Castro took power in 1959.  Hell, even Ted Cruz’s father, after fighting on the side of Castro, paid a bribe to get out of Cuba and into the U.S.

These mass immigration problems are not new.  The only thing new about them is that now we are facing a problem with “those people” instead of “the right people”.  The Irish were allowed in because they were European, but discriminated against mostly because they were Catholic.  The Cubans were looked upon as “victims of communism” so they got a free pass.  The new mass immigration, mostly children, aren’t given that same courtesy.  In the eyes of Republicans, they are simply looked upon as “law breakers” and must be deported immediately.

The self-proclaimed prophet, Bill O’Reilly, said on his show Tuesday, to prove the “difference” between other immigrants and the current immigrants, that his “immigrant ancestors” didn’t accept government assistance.  He fails to mention that at the time of his “immigrant ancestors” there were no government assistance programs.  If there had been, I bet they would have accepted them!

His guest on the show was Kristen Powers, a FOX News contributor and USA Today columnist.  She went after O’Reilly and said:  “We advertise to the world, give us your hungry, your poor, your tired.  But no, not according to Bill O’Reilly. According to Bill O’Reilly, let’s bundle up the children and send them back.”

O’Reilly then got mad, sarcastically telling Powers that she holds “the high moral ground” because she “want[s] an open-border situation that lets everybody in … You want an open-border, you want to accept them all … And I am a cruel barbarian.”  Finally, a comment from O’Reilly that I agree with.  Yes, Bill, you are a cruel barbarian!

This crisis is not what the Republicans want you to think.  They want you to believe this is not about people looking for a better life in the U.S. because their country is in total chaos.  They want you to think that these people just simply want to illegally cross into the U.S. because they will be able to live on government assistance.

That is total nonsense.  These people, especially the children, are trying to escape violence that threaten their very lives.  They come from countries that are fighting drug cartels, and other violent groups.  They are looking to live in peace and freedom.  But, what makes them “different” from the Cubans in the 1980s?  Cubans have a tendency to vote Republican.  Because of the Republican stand against immigration reform, these people, if granted citizenship in the future, tend to vote Democratic.  And, that is what this is all about.

President Obama has asked Congress for more money to deal with the problem.  He wants to increase the number of judges so these cases can be legally expedited, among other necessary things.  But, the Republican Party is already balking at the expenditure.  Why?  Because they want to force the President to do what they want.  Break the law!

I often find it amusing that the Republican Party has wrapped itself in the Conservative Christian Cult’s flag and consider themselves “god fearing, good Christians”.  All of their actions prove that they are just the opposite.  And, they wonder why more and more people are turning away from their “religion”.  Maybe rational people just can’t stomach belonging to a religion so steeped in hypocrisy.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Beautiful words we should all live by.  Too bad the Republican Party won’t!

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If you think that all of the so-called Voter Identification Laws being passed in most Red States are designed to prevent in-person voter fraud, you only need look at the North Carolina law to know differently.  In Winston-Salem, there is a hearing in Federal Court taking place where opponents of this law are seeking an injunction so this law cannot be enforced during the 2014 elections.  The law was challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and other groups, but the full trial won’t take place until 2015.

The Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) was passed and signed into law by Republican Governor Patrick McCrory.  It is the most restrictive voter law passed in the U.S. to date.  The amazing thing about this law, was that originally, it only covered Voter ID requirements.  It passed the State’s House in April of 2013.  But it languished in the State’s Senate until after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voter Rights Act on June 25 of 2013.

Immediately after the ruling, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R), the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, was quoted as saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  On July 23, 2013, House Bill 589 expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and included a number of other provisions, including reducing the days for early voting. The expanded bill passed both the House and Senate on July 25. McCrory signed the legislation into law on Aug. 12.

This bill expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and they had a full two days to “debate” the law.  There is no other way to put this, but there was no real debate on the bill.  It was a forgone conclusion that the bill would pass.  This bill was obviously waiting for the SCOTUS ruling.  Once SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republicans dusted off what they really wanted, and passed it.

Some other provisions that were included is the repeal of party block voting.  In other words, you cannot vote straight Democratic or Republican.  You must go down the list of every candidate and vote for each one individually.  That may not sound like a big deal, but a lot of people from parties actually do block vote.

Another deletion from the bill was the “Stand By Your Ad” clause.  This clause originally tried to make sure that ads were factual and truthful.  This new VIVA eliminated that clause from the law.  So, I guess now you can lie all you want in ads and don’t have to “Stand By Your Ad” anymore.

The Voter ID provisions, which do not take effect until 2016, lists certain photo IDs that are acceptable.  One ID that has been removed is College Student ID Cards.  So, if you attend North Carolina University, and do not have a driver’s license, you can no longer use your school’s ID to prove who you are.  I guess that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the law also closes down all of the on-campus polling places.  Students will have to leave their campus to vote.

That is made tougher by the reduction in “early voting” days.  It also eliminates the Sunday before the election from the early voting period and ends early voting on the Saturday before the election at 1 PM.  Since that Sunday was traditionally the “Souls To The Polls” day, it makes it more difficult for churches to organize mass voting of their members on that day.  That was truly offensive to Republicans because most of these churches who participate in “souls to the polls” are predominantly African-American.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, military ID, Retired military ID, Veterans ID, or passport, you MUST have a state issued ID card in order to vote.  Most people say that is not all that difficult.  Except, North Carolina charges a fee to get a State Issued ID card.  Plus, most people will be required to provide a Birth Certificate to prove they are alive.  If you don’t have a copy of you Birth Certificate, that adds to the cost of the “fee” for getting and ID Card.

Plus, many people in North Carolina live in rural areas.  All small towns in these areas do not have offices who issue driver’s licenses or state IDs.  Many people need to travel anywhere between 30 and 60 miles to get to an office.  Doesn’t sound too bad, except, how is a person without a driver’s license supposed to get to one of these offices?  There isn’t any bus service in these areas.

Additionally, if you are over 70 you can use an expired driver’s license to vote, as long as it expired less than 30 days before the election day.  If it expired more than 30 days before the election, you cannot vote unless you get one of those State ID Cards.  Most people over 70 that I know, don’t even think about getting a State ID Card after they no longer drive.  And, before everyone says their family can take them, a lot of elderly people don’t have family living nearby.

A very disturbing portion of the VIVA to me, is that any registered voter can challenge another person’s right to vote.  For example, if I was at the polling place, and a neighbor I hate came in to vote, I could challenge his right to vote.  Once I made the challenge, he would be allowed to cast a “provisional” ballot.  I see this provision as nothing more than an intimidation factor.  The real scary part is that the law does not say registered voter in that precinct.  That opens the door for “operatives” to go around challenging other people’s right to vote.

Finally, they also eliminated “Same Day Registration”.  In North Carolina, you were able to go and register to vote, during the early voting period, and then immediately cast your ballot.  With the elimination of Same Day Registration, you now have to make two trips.  One to register and one to vote.

All of these provisions have one common goal.  They are intended to make it more difficult for the poor, young, and elderly to cast votes.  Why?  Because those are the groups that predominantly vote Democratic.  North Carolina Republicans are so afraid of losing their grip on power, they are willing to disenfranchise thousands of people who may vote against them.

For example, the reduction in early voting will affect up to 56% of North Carolina voters.  That is how many used early voting in the 2012 elections.   Blacks used early voting at a higher rate than whites, comprising a majority of those who voted absentee or early. According to Public Policy Polling, 78 percent of North Carolinians support the current early voting system and 75 percent have used it in the past.

In addition, over 155,000 voters registered to vote and voted on the same day during the early voting period in 2012.  Voters expressed their satisfaction and gratitude that North Carolina had a process that afforded citizens with more opportunities to register and vote, said a 2009 report from the state board of elections.

The law was passed in the name of “protecting the ballot box from voter fraud”.  I went through the court records since 2012 and I cannot find one single case of “voter fraud” being prosecuted.  In person Voter Fraud is becoming a thing of the past in the state and the country as a whole.  There is far more potential for voter fraud in absentee ballots than in-person voting.  Yet, these laws do not place the same restriction on absentee ballots.  I wonder if maybe that is because most absentee ballots are cast by white people.

It is estimated that it will take at least until the end of the week before the hearing in Winston-Salem wraps up.  No one knows how quickly the judge will rule on the injunction.  Of course, the whole nation is watching.  Especially since it comes on the heals of a Federal Judge striking down Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law as unconstitutional.

Once again, if you think this has to do with protecting the ballot box, all you have to do is listen to  Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  He knew this bill would never pass muster if had to be pre-cleared by Justice.

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  It is a day we celebrate our nation’s birth.  All across the nation we will hear the national anthem being sung and end with the words “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  Others will stand and say the pledge of allegiance.  It includes the words, “with liberty and justice for all”.

The right-wing will proudly stand tall and sing, or say these words loudly.  They will utter them with false conviction.  They will go on the podium and give speeches rallying their base to “fight for liberty”.  They will use hallow words like “we want to thank all of our men and women in uniform for their service”.  They will utter all sorts of patriotic slogans.  At the end of the day, all of these words and slogans will ring as hallow as they do today.

In Afghanistan our troops will be on patrol.  Fighting for our country.  In Iraq, newly arrived troops will be helping to train the Iraqi Army to fight the insurgents.  All around the world, our men and women in uniform will be working.  The far right neocons will use tomorrow to pump up their rhetoric about fighting terrorists.  They will use that argument to call for a re-invasion of Iraq.

Yet, tomorrow, there will still be millions of people out of work because our Congress won’t do anything to help them get jobs.  Tomorrow, millions more people will have their extended unemployment insurance run out and have no income and face losing everything they spent a lifetime working for.  Tomorrow, women will still be considered second class citizens, especially by the Conservative Christian Cult.  Tomorrow, minorities will still face voter suppression laws in several states.  Tomorrow, LBGT couples won’t be able to get married in most states.

At the birth of our nation, we had to live with the evil “institution” of slavery.  Even though Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”.  We continued slavery, because, well the slave owners didn’t consider their slaves as “men” or “people’ just as property.  It took a Civil War before this “institution” ended.

We have made small strides in the true concepts of “with liberty and justice for all”.  But, today in 2014, we still have groups of people who are not “free” and do not gain “justice”.  These groups include minorities, women, immigrants and LGBT.  These groups have had their “rights’ trampled on by the far right forever.  All they want is to have equal protection under the law.  Isn’t that what “liberty” really means?

Under the sway of the Conservative Christian Cult, many states are passing very restrictive anti-abortion laws.  The Cult is even fighting against birth control.  I still find it amazing that “contraception” use by women is considered by the Cult as being only for “recreational use”, yet Viagra, and other ED medicines as well as vasectomies are considered for “pro-creation” purposes.  Therefore, these things are still covered under health insurance while many forms of birth control have just be banned by the Supreme Court.

We still have women making anywhere from 80% to as low as 70% of what men make doing the same job.  We have the Cult fighting against such things as violence against women laws, equal pay laws, and ENDA.  We have women all across the nation facing beatings from their husbands just because they are handy.  Women are still victims of rape and yet they are treated as the cause of the rape, not the victim.

The amazing thing is that the Cult is telling women that if they don’t want to get beat or raped, all they have to do is get married.  They claim that feminism is the root cause of all that is wrong with the world.  It is feminism that has caused the decline of the “traditional family”.  Never mind that men set up the “no-fault” divorce clause so they don’t have to pay as much alimony to their wives.  Never mind that it is men who skip out on child support payments.  Hell, there is a misogynist web site called The Red Pill that even offers tips on how to avoid child support payments.  But, no, according to the Cult, it is all the fault of women.

Approximately 40% of all workers in this country work for minimum wage.  That automatically makes anyone with a small family live in poverty.  The Cult and their Republican friends are fighting any move to raise the minimum wage.  They all seem to think that it is perfectly fine for “those people” to work 40 hours per week and live in poverty.  “Those people” don’t do anything meaningful, and should bow down and kiss their employer’s feet for allowing them the opportunity to work and still live in poverty.

Let’s face facts, the only “entitlements” being offered to people in this country are being offered to the super-rich and/or White Christian Men.  We live in a “Corporate Welfare State”.  They are the only people who can even come close to enjoying “liberty”.  That is not what our country is supposed to be.  That is not what I served to protect.  I served, and many others continue to fight for the country that offers “liberty and justice for all”.

While masses of people continue to struggle to survive.  While our Steel Industry faces bankruptcy because of illegal dumping of steel into the country by South Korea threatening over 580,000 jobs.  While our transportation funds, the ones that repair our transportation systems, runs out of money and threatens another 700,000 jobs.  While our military members continue to serve our country, many of them relying on food stamps to feed their families.  Members of the Cult and the Republican Party will give hallow patriotic speeches.

They will loudly use the words of “religious freedoms”, or “liberty from tyranny” or “take our country back”.  But, what they are really saying is if you are not a white male Christian, you have no right to say anything because they believe this is “their” country.  I have seen many political fights in my life.  But, I have never seen such a push to turn back the clock on minority, women, immigration, and LBGT rights like is going on now.  The Cult has all the answers.  It is in “traditional family” where the man is the head of the household and women stay at home.

This gem from Rafael Cruz, Sr., the father of that patriotic Canadian Senator, Ted Cruz says it all:

As God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children—to be the spiritual leader of your family—you’re acting as a priest. Now, unfortunately, unfortunately, in too many Christian homes, the role of the priest is assumed by the wife. Why? Because the man had abdicated his responsibility as priest to his family…So the wife has taken up that banner, but that’s not her responsibility. And if I’m stepping on toes, just say, ‘Ouch.’

He believes this philosophy of the man’s role of the priest so much, he has been divorced twice!  Sounds to me that he has abdicated his role, at least when it comes to his marriage vows of “until death do us part”.

No, as long as we have right-wing pundits calling women “sluts” because they favor birth control or abortion.  As long as these same right-wing pundits are praising right-wing militia groups as “patriots” and not the domestic terrorists they are.  As long as the right-wing opposes immigration reform.  As long as we allow this income inequality and war against the poor and women.  As long as we have powerful groups like the Cult and their financial backers like the Koch Brothers, we will continue to live in a fantasy and hallowly say the words “with liberty and justice for all”.

Until the rights of all people, not just the members of the Cult and their allies, are respected and these terrible laws that continue to harm women, minorities, LBGT, and immigrants are overthrown, we will not live in a country of “liberty and justice for all”.  And that is the true American Tragedy!

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David Brat won the primary election in Virginia that dethroned Eric Cantor.  The funny thing about his victory is that the Tea Party who at first disowned him because of his libertarian principles, now claim him as their own so they can claim “victory” over the “establishment”.  Yes, calling Eric Cantor the “establishment” is a very big stretch.

All of the pundits are chirping in with their reason why Cantor lost the primary.  Most agree that it was all because of immigration reform.  Brat called Cantor an amnesty champion.  He said that immigration reform is a bad idea because we already have too few jobs, and these others will take those jobs away from “real Americans”.  Say no more, he wins!

Others are claiming that Cantor just didn’t spend enough time in his district getting his supporters out to vote.  Cantor said he was in his district every week.  But the pundits claim one or two days a week wasn’t enough and he “lost touch” with his constituency.  That is why he lost.

Another grand theory is that his polling was flawed.  I wonder if Carl Rove did the polling for him.  According to one report, in early May his polls showed him with a 34% lead.  Oops!  He lost by almost 12% points.  As we know from 2012 this isn’t the first time Republican Polls were extremely flawed.

There are other reasons being discussed as well.  But, in my opinion, they are all wrong.  The real reason Brat won this primary is simply because he was better able to tap into the “fear and hate” that the right-wing is known for.  He was able to scare the shit out of those “base” Republicans who fear anything or anyone who is different than they are.  He was able to very effectively use the “us against them” argument.  That is why he won.

In terms of economic issues, Brat makes Eric Cantor look very liberal.  He wants to repeal the ACA, but replace it with absolutely nothing.  Not only does he want to repeal the ACA, he wants to do away with employer-based health care completely as well.  According to him, that will free up the problem of “pre-existing conditions” for everyone.  He doesn’t say how, he just says it.  Among his other highlights, he wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare.  His reason?  People take out more than they put in.

Of course Medicaid, Welfare, WIC, Unemployment Insurance, and the rest of the social safety net must be eliminated too.  He claims that the “corporate welfare” state must also end.  But, in order to do that we need to eliminate all income taxes and eliminate the IRS.  How he plans to fund the government, especially the military, he doesn’t say.  It cannot be through tariffs because he wants to do away with them too.  He claims that will lower prices.  He doesn’t mention it will also lower job prospects as well since more companies will move off-shore for cheaper labor costs.

And, naturally, every single regulation governing how business is to be transacted in America needs to hit the wastebin as well.  Forget that it was deregulation in the market that caused the 2008 crash.  Hell, he even says we don’t need to worry about climate change because “rich countries find a way to fix problems.”  How comforting.

Don’t forget about his pandering to the Conservative Christian Cult either.  In his victory speech, he said this victory was “a miracle granted by god.”  I doubt that god endorses fear and hate mongering, but they apparently think so.

Brat is not alone in his lunacy either.  The Republican Party is full of them.  And, they all work the same way.  They play on people’s fear and hate of those dreaded “others”.  Scott Esk, a Republican Candidate in Oklahoma for the State Legislature believes that it is well within the right of the state to “execute” homosexuals!  And, he hasn’t backed down from that position either.

An exchange on Esk’s Facebook page from last summer in which Esk was asked if he believed gay people should be executed, “presumably by stoning.” Esk responded: “I think we would be totally in the right to do it. That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

Not wanting to be overlooked for his homophobic stances, Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality to “alcoholism” in an interview with the Commonwealth Club of California, he was asked about his view of homosexuality being a disorder.  He responded with:

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry answered, reiterating a longtime favorite argument of the anti-LGBT right that sexual orientation is a choice.

“I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic,” Perry went on to say, “but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Maybe his next endeavor after leaving office at the end of the year will be to open the very first LGBTA Group.  He will undoubtedly run it like an AA meeting.

Then of course there are those wacky kids on the right who believe that woman’s suffrage has ended western civilization.  Even Ann Coulter thinks that women are “stupid” because they primarily vote Democratic.  Some other nice tidbits for you:

The first comes from David Barton.  He claims that the founding fathers had a reason not to give women the right to vote.  And, it had nothing to do with bigotry:

“The bigotry we’re told they held back then, they didn’t hold.  And what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together.  And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.

Since Barton claims the founding fathers were not bigoted, then I guess he believes it is okay to own slaves too.

Then there is Janis Lane, a Central Mississippi Tea Party President who said:

“There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how they can skewer a person.  The whole time I worked, I’d much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them.”

So why is she involved in politics?

Because women have the right to vote, I am active, because I want to make sure there is some sanity for women in the political world. It is up to the Christian rednecks and patriots to stand up for our country. Everyone has the right to vote now that’s 18 or over (who is) a legal citizen, and every person that’s 18 and over and a legal citizen should be active in local politics so they can make a change locally, make a change on the state level and make a change in Washington, D.C.”

I guess Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham don’t have the monopoly on Republican Women who hate women!

This is what the Tea Party movement is all about.  This is what the Conservative Christian Cult is all about.  They are synonymous and work together to spew this vile speech.  Eric Cantor was defeated yesterday.  The Tea Party is celebrating and planning their next big overthrow.  The Christian Conservatives are celebrating, especially since Brat also believes in the “morality of capitalism” and that it is very okay to get rich even at the expense of others.  Heck even some on the left are celebrating saying Cantor got what he deserved.

I am not celebrating over Cantor’s defeat.  I fear it is a bad omen of where a lot of people in this country stand.  The fear and hate that was tapped into by Brat is not just in Virginia.  It is all across the country.  What all of these nice “white people” forget about immigration reform is that this type of fear and hate is not new.  Today it is all about Hispanics.  Before it was all about the Poles, Irish, Germans, Hungarians, Swedes, etc.

It was the fear and hate towards those groups that basically stopped immigration in its tracks for decades in the 20th century.  Fear and hate is not the answer to move forward.  History has shown us far too many times that fear and hate are directly responsible for the rise of dictators around the world.  That is their rallying cry.  Us against Them!  It’s all Their fault!  These rants have echoed in all corners of the planet.  Unfortunately, it is becoming a louder paranoia in America.  We can only hope that reasonable people rise up and put down this paranoia.  Maybe then we can get back to work on fixing our problems instead of blaming others for them.

That is the true lesson from Eric Cantor’s defeat!

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