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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

The far right is still howling about the attack on Charlie Hebdo and that “free speech” is at the heart of the matter.  They are arguing that the President did not go to Paris for their march because he “hates free speech.”  They argue that blasphemous cartoons and art are a form of “free speech.”  They also forget about all of their cries for “censorship” against art they deemed to be blasphemous towards Christianity like “Black Jesus” and “Dung Virgin Mary”.  But, we shall leave that for another time.

But, is “free speech” especially as defined by the French really at the heart of the matter?  France has a problem that they don’t like to talk about.  They surrendered to Nazi Germany during WWII.  As a result, they were collaborators in the Holocaust.  After the war, they had to do something to make sure they were on the right side.  As a result, they passed laws that made it illegal to deny the holocaust and/or make anti-Semitic comments.

As we discuss these laws deeper, you have to wonder if we had similar laws concerning “free speech” would people like Rep. Steve King, Sen. Ted Cruz, David Duke, all of the KKK, all of the Aryan Nation, and many others be in jail right now?  As you will see, they have all used “hate speech” and/or “incited violence” according to French Law.

These laws have been in existence for years.  They limit the “hate” speech that is allowed in French society.  Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, they have started enforcing these laws harshly.  As a matter of fact, in November they added harsh penalties for anyone invoking or supporting violence.  They added prison sentences up to seven years for backing terrorism.

But, what does “backing terrorism” really mean?  Well, the French are answering that question.  Since the attack, up to 100 people are under investigation for “backing terrorism.”  One is a 28-year-old man of French-Tunisian background who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was found guilty of shouting support for the attackers as he passed a police station in Bourgoin-Jalieu on Sunday.

Another, a 34-year-old man who on Saturday hit a car while drunk, injured the other driver and subsequently praised the acts of the gunmen when the police detained him was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.   This is after, on Wednesday, the Minister of Justice told Prosecutors to fight and prosecute “words or acts of hatred” with “utmost vigor.”

That utmost vigor has resulted in several people being arrested, charged, tried, and sentenced to prison in as little as three days!  The anti-terrorism law that is being used has some very harsh provisions.  It targets “hate speech” and is more severe if the words are posted on the internet.  If the offense is spoken, the law allows a sentence of five years and a fine of almost $90,000. If it is on the Internet, it allows sentencing up to seven years and a fine of nearly $120,000.

But, what is spoken “hate speech?”  Well, it is clear that the accused did not have to threaten actual violence to run afoul of the law.  According to the actions of Mr. Cabut, the prosecutor who brought the case of the man who shouted as he passed a police station: “They killed Charlie and I had a good laugh. In the past they killed Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed Merah and many brothers. If I didn’t have a father or mother, I would train in Syria,” that is enough.

But Mr. Cabut also says that there were limits as to how far prosecutors would go.   He is sure that no one would be prosecuted for refusing to stand during a moment of silence.  Maybe not prosecuted, but maybe suspended or fired.  Thursday a parking attendant in Paris was suspended by the police prefecture for refusing to observe a silent tribute to the victims.  It must be pointed out here, that to date, no one who has called for violence against Muslims in France has been arrested or prosecuted for their “hate” crime under these laws.

As you can see, “free speech” in France is not the same as “free speech” in America.  If it were, thousands of people would be in prison for invoking violence and/or using hate speech.  Under these laws, the simple act of speaking at a white supremacist group might have landed Mr. Scalise in prison under these “free speech” laws.  Instead he is the number three person in power in the House of Representatives.

I know that conservatives and the Cult don’t care about the obvious double-standards and hypocrisy.  Just remember, when they cry about the attack on Charlie Hebdo being an attack on “free speech”, they don’t mean “real free speech.”  That is why no conservative in this country is complaining about all of these arrests of people “exercising free speech.”  Conservatives, I am sure would love to have similar laws, with a few tweaks of course, in this country.

Other European countries have similar laws.  The laws themselves infringe upon what we in America consider “free speech.”  Let’s be honest, if you are going to have laws that restrict “hate speech” you cannot allow the type of cartoons that Charlie Hebdo prints.  Many people around the world, not just Muslims since they also attack other religions, would consider those cartoons as “hate speech.”

No, the attack on Charlie Hebdo was an act of terrorism.  The cartoons may have been used as the excuse, but terrorism knows no religion, race, or ethnicity.  It is simply acts of violence against society by evil people who want to control us.  That is the point that is lost on conservatives, and why incidents like this will continue.  George W. Bush proved that when you don’t recognize the real enemy, you fight the wrong wars.  Conservatives still don’t recognize the real enemy!

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I know it is only 2015.  But, the primaries are just one year away.  Why is that so important now?  Because states that have already passed voter suppression laws need to be fought beginning right now!  We need to be sure that everyone who is eligible to vote, can do so.

Most of the states with these voter suppression laws have several things in their favor.  Mostly the cost of getting that Photo ID.  Some states claim that they will issue the Photo ID for free.  But the documents they require cost money.  Plus, many of these same states don’t have offices to issue these “free” Photo ID in every community.  Meaning that some people will need to travel far distances just to get their ID.

I have an idea that may help damper these voter suppression laws if not beat them completely.  However, I do not have the name recognition, nor the funds to try to start up something that will be required.  I hope someone out there knows someone devoted enough to at least consider my plan, with whatever variations they deem proper.

First it must be a bipartisan non-profit organization.  That means someone with the right name recognition is needed to raise funds.  It will also need fund-raisers who have worked in the non-profit business before.  Once the non-profit organization is up and running, it would work something like this.

In every state that requires a photo-ID to vote, volunteers would be recruited to assist those who need help.  The funds would come from the non-profit to help pay for things like birth certificates, gas, mileage, etc.

Advertising would be run in each state to let people know that they can get help in getting their Photo-ID to vote.  They would be directed to either go online to the non-profit’s website, or given an 800 number to call or a local number to a volunteer.

The volunteers would take the calls with a checklist of questions to determine how much help would be needed. (It must be noted that party affiliation cannot be asked .  Otherwise Republicans will accuse the non-profit of trying to rig the vote.)  If the person requesting help is poor, elderly, or simply cannot pay to get a needed birth certificate or other documents they may need, the organization would put up the money including the cost of the photo-ID, if necessary.  Once the birth certificate, or any other documents needed have been received, the volunteer would transport that person, if necessary, to the office to get their ID.

Again if necessary, the volunteer would then take that person to the voter registration place so they can register to vote.  In this way, the volunteer would be there to help that person through the entire process and ensure they get the documentation they need to vote.

Volunteers would be paid for any paperwork expenses, gas, mileage, etc.  The organization could start them out with a grant to get started.  Then each volunteer would submit expense documents so the initial money could be reimbursed thus ensuring a continuation of services.

Obviously, there will have to be training for the volunteers.  With today’s technology that is not as difficult as most may think.  With online meeting places, volunteers could receive their training without leaving home.  Volunteers could by anyone.  They may be college students, or retired people, of anyone with time to dedicate to this import mission.

I know that the voter suppression laws are bad for the country and should be overturned by the courts.  But, with a conservative Supreme Court, that is most unlikely.  So, as in the 60s, we need to mobilize to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote, wants to vote, does vote.

The clock is ticking, though.  Hopefully, someone will see this opportunity and start the ball rolling soon.  This plan is one way to help beat the Republicans at their own game.  It will also help to keep them from stealing future elections.  But, it needs to start soon.  Otherwise, the Republicans will keep suppressing the vote wherever they can.

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We are two weeks into the new congress.  Before it all started, Mitch McConnell went on TV and basically told the nation that the Republicans, now in control of both houses would prove that “adding a Republican President won’t be so scary.”  He actually made some overtures that the new congress might actually be willing to work with the President.

So, two weeks in and what do we have?  A very scary start to the new session.  The House has already passed new rules and laws that threaten Social Security, the economy and national security.  What a beginning!

On the very fist day of session, the House passed a rules change that prohibits Social Security Administration from transferring money between Social Security and Social Security Disability.  Social Security Disability is in trouble.  If they aren’t allowed to transfer money when necessary, those receiving Social Security Disability will see a 20% reduction in their payments!

We all know that these people are really living high on the hog with their average $1,130 per month check.  Therefore, the Republicans seem to think they can afford their “haircut” as they like to call reductions in benefits.  Even Rand Paul has gotten into the act.  The other day he claimed that Social Security Disability is riddled with fraud because most people who draw benefits are suffering from nothing more serious than anxiety or back pain.

“The thing is that all of these programs, there’s always somebody who’s deserving, everybody in this room knows somebody who’s gaming the system. I tell people that if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check,” Paul said. “Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everyone over 40 has a back pain.”

Bryce Covert at Think Progress gives a very good explanation of the program:

The disability insurance program, which is part of Social Security, has come under scrutiny after two media reports last year that focused on rising enrollment and implied that it was at least partly due to fraud. But the reality is different: fraud in disability programs is estimated to amount to less than 1 percent and is extremely rare, as the agency’s watchdog has found.  Its inaccurate payments rate is also less than 1 percent, compared to about 8 percent for Medicaid and Medicare.

The benefits are also very hard to come by. Fewer than four in ten applications are approved even after all stages of appeal. Medical evidence from multiple medical professionals is required in most cases to determine eligibility, which means showing that an applicant suffers from a “severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last 12 months or result in death.” The severity of the disabilities of those who get benefits is underscored by the fact that one in five men and nearly one in six women die within five years of being approved.

In order to get Social Security Disability, it can take years.  I know, we looked into applying for it for my wife.  She suffers from Spinal Stenosis.  Since her job requires her to stand for eight or more hours per day, she has been in constant pain.  She has had two back surgeries.  Although she is feeling somewhat better, she is still suffering from severe back pains to the point she has trouble walking.  In the end, we decided that she will simply retire at the end of this month.    We would need to lay out a lot of money in order to meet the “multiple medical professional” evidence she would need.

The second bill passed will delay parts of the Dodd-Frank Bill.  What the house wants to do is let large banks continue to use “taxpayer protected” monies in risky investments.  The law states that banks must offload “collateralized loan obligations” — risky packages of corporate debt that are sliced off for sale to investors. Similar collections of risky mortgages were at the heart of the 2008 meltdown, and federal regulators have been warning about the corporate debt market overheating.  The big banks own the majority of these risky corporate debts.

Under the law, they have until 2017 to complete this offload.  The bill passed by the house would push that date back to 2019.  There are 10 other pieces of legislation packaged in this bill as well, all chipping away at the Dodd-Frank protections.  As a result, the Republicans are pushing us back to the days that led up to the 2008 economic crash!  Just as the economy is really beginning to gain steam.

The third law passed yesterday.  This is the Department of Homeland Security budget.  There are two items that will surely cause a veto if it reaches the President’s desk.  First, it overthrows the President’s executive action that allows up to 5 million immigrants to not face deportation.  But, that wasn’t good enough for the Republican crazies.  For good measure, they are also pulling the rug out from under DACA which allows immigrants brought to this country illegally by their parents when they were children from being deported.

The Republican crazies are willing to shut down the Department of Homeland Security because they don’t like immigrants!  You can put it in different perspectives if you like, but that is the real gist of the situation.  The ultra-conservatives are the people pushing for this bill.  Unlike the rest of the Republican Party, they seem to think that some illegal immigrants are a far greater threat to America than those Jihadists and other Terrorists.  Why else would you be willing to shut down the one Cabinet Post that is most responsible for our Homeland Security?

In a mere two weeks, the Republican controlled congress, mostly the House for now, has placed Social Security in jeopardy, our economy in jeopardy and our homeland security in jeopardy.  I don’t know about you, but all of these actions seem very Anti-American to me.  I mean, are they really trying to crash the country and its economy down?  Something is definitely wrong with all of these actions in the House.

So, Mr. McConnell.  If this is your idea of showing the American People that adding a Republican President to a Republican controlled Congress “isn’t too scary,” I would hate to see your definition of “scary.”  I have always been an optimist, and I can’t speak for everyone else, but you are sure scaring the hell out of me!

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It has become as inevitable as the sun rising in the east.  Ever since the atrocious attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris the other day, there has been a lot of hand wringing, especially by the conservatives in the U.S.  As you expect, they are even claiming that it was a lapse in intelligence by American Intelligence Agencies that allowed the attack in Paris.  They are clamoring that the NSA needs even more power to snoop on everyone.

The right is arguing that this is a first step by the Islamic Terrorists and we can expect similar attacks in our own country.  The Canadian Senator even said that the murders were “a reminder of the global threat we face.” Then on Facebook he said that they should be considered “an attack on us all.”  I will admit that Fundamentalist Islam Terrorist attacks are something we need to be concerned about.  The attack on Charlie Hebdo was atrocious, it was vicious, it was criminal.

However, the problem with fundamentalist terrorism is that it is not confined to Islam.  As I have written before, fundamentalist terrorism is all around us and comes from all corners of religious beliefs.  Something that has seemingly been lost because of the Charlie Hebdo attack, is that right here in America there was a bombing at a NAACP Office in Colorado Springs, CO.  No one was killed or injured in the attack, but it happened.  There were three White Supremacists arrested in Georgia for planning a terrorist attack in this country.

The right is saying nothing about either of these cases.  Yesterday, the FBI released a sketch of the suspect at the Colorado Springs attack.  I checked on Fox News website today, and there is nothing about the attack or the sketch.  There are a bunch of stories about the Paris attack though.

Yes, I know that the Paris attack resulted in the deaths of 12 people, plus the deaths of three of the four suspects in the attacks.  But, right here at home we have a terrorist attack against the country’s oldest civil rights group and the conservative’s propaganda machine doesn’t even run a copy of the sketch to help catch the terrorist.

As I wrote the other day, terrorism is a scourge of humanity.  The attack in Paris was because the magazine ran what many believe to be offensive cartoons.  Yes, Charlie Hebdo has a right in a democratic society to run such cartoons, and it is extremely criminal to attack them for that reason.  The attack was carried out apparently by radical fundamentalist Muslims.

In Colorado Springs, a civil rights group was attacked.  The sketch shows a bald white man in sunglasses as the suspect in the crime.  In Georgia, three white supremacists were arrested for planning a terrorist attack.  Why are they similar to the Paris attacks?  Because white supremacists claim that the Bible says whites and “others” need to be segregated.  Some may consider this a lame argument, but it is just as fundamental to white supremacist beliefs as similar attacks are to radical Muslims.

I would think that the right would be up-in-arms about a terrorist attack in Colorado Springs.  Know what else is there?  The U.S. Air Force Academy!  Who can say if these white supremacists won’t target it next!  The Academy is integrated, so it would seem to fair game for white supremacists as well.

If we are going to conduct a war on terrorism, we need to conduct that war against all terrorism.  We cannot just pick an enemy because of religious differences.  We need to work hard to erase all terrorism, regardless of who is using it.  That includes white radical fundamentalist Christians as well as radical fundamentalist Muslims.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “the West” must respond to the massacre by ceasing to “appease leaders of Muslim organizations in our societies.”  If that is true, then we must soon hear from someone like Glenn Beck that we should cease to “appease leaders of Christian organizations in our societies” as well.  When the terrorist is a white Christian, one can take a long nap during the silence of Conservative Christian Leaders speaking up against that attack.  Even if they do speak up against such an attack, they usually follow it up with some sort of rationalization for it.  Like the “left caused the attack” by their policies.

We have had several cases of domestic terrorism carried out.  There have been abortion clinics bombed, abortion doctors murdered, the Federal Building attack in Oklahoma City, and others too numerous to name.  Terrorism does not know color or religion.  All colors and all religions are just as guilty as any other.

Terrorism is terrorism.  I don’t care who the terrorists are.  If we are to really understand terrorism, we need to stop letting our politicians scare the shit out of us when a terrorist attack is carried out by a Muslim.  We must ask them why that is more evil than a white Christian carrying out a terrorist attack on our shores.  Shouldn’t we be just as afraid of them as the Muslims?

After all, the attack at the NAACP office in Colorado Springs was apparently carried out by a citizen of THIS country.  I am thinking that citizens of Colorado Springs would consider this attack much more dangerous to us than the attack in Paris.  Innocent bystanders could have been killed by this bombing right here at home.  Where is the outrage?

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Ever since the 2008 election when Barak Obama won in basically a landslide, the Republicans have gone on-air to say they want to be an “inclusive” party.  They have been trying to reach out to African-Americans, Gays, Latinos, and Women.  So, let’s take a look at their policies and behaviors.

They still refuse to recognize same-sex marriage.  Not because it is right to deny people individual rights, but because they just don’t like the idea of two people of the same-sex getting married and being legally recognized as being married.  Their argument, even though more expansive, boils down to the simple fact they want to determine which people are allowed the same civil rights as they get.  Since their only argument is based on religious beliefs, they claim that allowing same-sex marriage is infringing on their right to freedom of religion.  Of course they are right.  That is if you consider hate and civil rights discrimination against certain groups of people is part of freedom of religion.

The courts have stepped in and determined that same-sex marriage should be legal.  They have said over-and-over that not allowing and recognizing same-sex marriage is an infringement on the civil rights of gay people.  Now about 36 states allow same-sex marriage.  Still, the Republican Platform says that they consider marriage is to be defined as “marriage between one man and one woman.”  Hardly a platform to “include” gays in their party.

It also appears that their idea of “including” Latinos is to shut down the southern border so no more Latinos can become American Citizens.  They have refused to act on any meaningful Immigration Reform and their only answer to date has been to “secure our border with Mexico.”  They want to put up a Berlin styled “wall” all along the southern border.  I can only guess that they also want guard posts along the fence to keep those pesky Latinos from crossing.

They argue that the “open southern” border is a haven for terrorists to enter the country.  Funny thing though, almost all of the terrorists who have “entered” the country have come from Canada.  Why aren’t they calling for a wall along the Canadian border?  Simple answer.  Canada is mostly white.

When it comes to “including” women into their party, they have a wide array of great legislation that helps them as well.  They don’t believe that companies should be forced to include birth control in their health insurance.  They want to shut down all abortion clinics in the country.  They want to adopt a “Personhood Amendment” to the constitution to ensure abortion will be outlawed forever.

They want to keep lower pay for women doing the same work as their male counterparts simply because they are women.  The fought tooth and nail against the Violence Against Women Act.  They want to basically legislate the idea that women are to be subordinate to men.

I left African-American issues for last for a reason.  We all know about their attacks on the African-American community, which they refuse to call African-American.  They prefer the title of Blacks.  They have gone after welfare recipients.  In several states legislation has been either introduced or passed that says if you want your welfare check, you must pass a drug test.  At the national level, they have slashed the budgets for WIC, Food Stamps and Welfare.  On the state level, they have refused to expand Medicaid.

In some very controversial cases, they say that unarmed black men who are killed by police officers “had it coming” because they were obviously breaking the law.  They have claimed that Michael Brown was “not unarmed because he was a huge fellow.”  And, of course, stealing some cigarillos is a crime worth shooting an unarmed man over.

Then, just before Christmas, a story broke about their new Whip in the House of Representatives.  The party leadership has tabbed Steve Scalise of Louisiana to be the Majority Whip in the House.  Lamar White, Jr. broke the story that in 2002 Mr. Scalise gave a speech at a conference of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO).

EURO is a white supremacist group led and founded by non other than the infamous David Duke.  If you aren’t old enough to remember, David Duke is a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Louisiana and ran for political office, including the Governorship based on a white supremacist platform.

When the story broke, Mr. Scalise said he had given a speech at the EURO conference and said “it was a mistake” that he did so.  He argued that he had a very small staff, that he was giving speeches against a tax bill in Louisiana that he gave to hundreds of groups, and that he did not know that EURO was a white supremacist group.  The lamest part of his “apology” was that he couldn’t look up the group himself on Google because it didn’t exist back then.  Problem is that Google started in 1998.  Four years before 2002.  Yahoo also had a search engine that was even older.

If you think that his argument may be correct because he wasn’t “tech savvy,” Mr. Scalise has a degree in computer programming.  Yet he claims to have no knowledge of search engines in 2002!  I don’t know about you, but to me that either makes him a really lousy computer programmer or a really bad liar.

He also claims that he was actively campaigning against a tax bill in Louisiana.  That bill was called the Stelly Plan.   The Stelly Plan was, essentially, a proposal to lower sales taxes on electricity, gas, water and home food consumption and replace that lost revenue by closing loopholes on individuals making more than $80,000 a year who double-count their federal and state income tax exemptions.

Here is the problem with his statement about campaigning against the Stelly Plan.  He gave his speech to EURO in mid-May.  The bills that made up the Stelly Plan didn’t even go to committee until May 28.  At least 10 days after his speech at EURO.  I could find no record in Louisiana papers that indicated that Mr. Scalise or anyone else was on a campaign to defeat the bills until at least August.  There seems to be a conflict between Mr. Scalise’s statement and the facts about the Stelly Plan fight.

Mr. Scalise says he doesn’t know David Duke.  But, he does know what David Duke stands for.  In 1999, he reportedly told news outlets that he agreed with a lot of David Duke’s conservative positions but that David Duke was basically unelectable and that was the basic reason he opposed him.  He further went on to say that he was “David Duke without all the baggage.”  Note that he opposed David Duke not because of his racist views, but because he was unelectable.  I find it difficult to believe that a man who claims to be “David Duke without the baggage” is not inherently a racist, too.  Otherwise comparing yourself to a known racist should be political suicide.

Since the story broke the Republican Leadership including John Boehner has stood by their appointment of Mr. Scalise to the position of Whip.  The odd fact in all of this, is the former Whip was Jewish.  He was the only Jewish member of Congress in a leadership role.  Now, Mr. Boehner and the Republican Party seem to think that it is okay for them to appoint a person who speaks to racist anti-Jewish organizations to replace him.

To my mind, Mr. Scalise is hiding something.  There is no way that he could not have known what EURO was.  Hell, even a minor league baseball team for the Chicago Cubs changed their hotels when they discovered that the EURO conference was being held there.  Are you telling me that a minor league baseball team knows what EURO is and a State Representative of Louisiana doesn’t?  It just doesn’t wash.

So, there you have it.  We have the Republican Party who wants to be “inclusive” to minority groups, yet they continuously disregard the needs of those very groups.  To add salt to the wound, they now want to keep someone, who seriously appears to be a racist, and/or a very bad liar to the position of Whip.  Remember, one of the primary jobs of the Whip is to raise money for campaigns.

It will be very interesting how many mainstream Republican donors will welcome Mr. Scalise into their offices to give them a speech as to why they should contribute to the Republican Party.  As a matter of fact, that is the main reason some Republicans are calling for Mr. Scalise to be removed from the post.  Not because he gave a speech to a racist organization, and then apparently lied as to why he did, but because it might interfere with raising money.

I don’t think anything more can show exactly what is important to the Republican Party.  It obviously isn’t about being “inclusive” it is all about raising money.  What can say more about their true feelings about African-Americans, Latinos, Gays, and Women?  Just remember, once they “take care” of these groups, you may be next.  GOP has been scarred so badly that it should now be referred to as the Grand Oligarch Party.

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Ever since 9/11, we have become a society of hero-worship.  It started with the New York Fire Department and those who lost their lives in the attack.  It then soon followed that the New York Police Department were also heroes for their response to the attack as well.  Finally, it moved to military personnel who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are now in the grip of extraordinary violence both against the civilian population and the police.  Several unarmed men, mostly black, have been killed by police officers.  There have also been several murders of police officers as well.  Both of these situations are appalling.  Let’s be honest.  Police should not have to kill unarmed people in making an arrest, and no one should target police officers simply because they are police officers.

On the other hand, every time a suspect is killed by a police officer it does not mean the police officer used excessive force.  Likewise, every time a police officer is killed in the line of duty, it is not because he was targeted by someone out for revenge.  And that is what lies at the heart of our current dilemma.

Our society is not perfect.  We have crazy people who look towards violence as “having fun” and not necessarily as a crime.  We have a love for guns.  We have a love for violent movies, games, and sports.  Football is the number one watched sports game in America.  No one can say it is not violent.

It is true that the number of police killed in the line of duty has decreased every year since the 1970s.  But, that does not mean that police officers can relax.  They are still in danger and need to watch out and protect themselves.  It is also time for things to change.

After the cases in Ferguson and New York City, demonstrations broke out all across America.  After the killing of two New York City Police Officers by a mentally ill person, the NYPD has basically touted themselves as “victims” and blame the Mayor and the demonstrators.  Of course that is pure politics and has nothing to do with reality.

There is one thing that really needs to end before we can have a meaningful discussion of this issue.  We need to stop our hero-worshiping of police and military personnel.  I served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.  I then worked another 20 years in a profession that had me working closely with police departments all across the country.  I have seen people at their best and at their worst.  I know what the military and police face every day.

However, that does not make us all worthy of being worshiped as a hero.  I actually get very flustered every time someone tells me “thank you for your service” because the reason I served was that I chose to do so.  Police officers are in the same boat as I was.  They serve because that is what they choose to do.  Those choices do not make us heroes!

I must admit that there are a lot military personnel and police officers who feel they deserve the hero-worship they have received.  I do not follow in that belief.  In my opinion, they have forgotten one true concept in all of this.  They “serve” the people.  The people do not “serve” them.  It is the members of the military and police who believe the people should “serve” them that is a root cause of these problems.  They are what I consider the “bad actors” in these organizations.   I also believe they are the minority in these organizations.  The problem is until the “good” majority speaks up, the minority will continue their behavior of abuse.

In case you are wondering why I include the military in this, it is because of the abuses some of them did to prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Those cases were well documented.  The difference was that many of those responsible were punished by the military.  The record of police being punished for their abuses is not as good as the military’s.

That brings us back to all of this hero-worship.  Since people tend to place these professions on some kind of pedestal, these members believe they are above the law.  That gives them license to do whatever they want and get away with it.  It can also lead to wackos to seek revenge using a gun.  Both are wrong, and both should be stopped.  But, until the hero-worship stops, it will be difficult, at best, to calm the situation.

As long as some police officers refuse to remember their own slogans of “to protect and to serve” they will continue to believe they are free to be the judge, jury, and in some cases executioner.  Police are there to protect us from bad guys who wish to do us harm.  The military is there to protect us from foreigners who wish to do us harm.  Both are honorable professions.  But, both the police and the military need to remember they are to “serve” the people of their communities and country.  The fact that they have chosen what most consider to be a dangerous profession does not give them any right to abuse their power.

Rather the opposite is expected.  We expect our police and military to conduct themselves in an honorable manner.  We expect them to execute their jobs, not unarmed people.  It is time for real dialogue to take place between the police and their communities.  Without that dialogue, nothing will change.  But we won’t have that dialogue as long as those who are in charge of things like the police unions target their bosses and the community they serve as the villains in all of this, as the New York Police Union does.

It is time for these union heads to understand they are to “serve” their communities.  Once that happens, maybe a dialogue can take place.  Maybe then, all people in all communities can receive the proper protection they deserve.  Police will always be ineffective if they don’t have the support of the community behind them.  If the community believes they are the target of police, they will never support them.  They must believe that the police are truly there to “protect and to serve” them.

 

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Next week the new Congress will take over.  Both the House and the Senate will be controlled by Republicans.  Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  Republicans in the past were at least willing to compromise and make the government work.  This batch of Republicans have proven over the last six years they are unwilling to compromise and/or govern.

Many people believe that is because they are only interested in “their way or the highway” philosophy.  They wrap themselves in the flag and religion and pretend that they have the will of the American People at heart.  Of course, their policies have proven that the last thing they have at heart is the will of the American People.

Republicans, especially the conservative wing of the party, have been embroiled in defending racism over the last several months.  Their arguments about deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York City have proven that they consider black men as criminals until proven innocent.  They have also shown that they believe the police are right just because they are police.

The tragedy of the shooting deaths of two New York City Police Officers really brought this to a head.  Conservatives are screaming that the protests over the deaths of unarmed men directly are responsible for the deaths of the police officers.  If there were no protests, they argue, then these officers would not have been shot.  We are supposed to rally around the police officers, but we are to say nothing about those others who were killed by police officers.  According to them, we are to blindly follow the instructions of police even if we believe the police are wrong.

This is something called legalism.  Legalism is a notion that we are supposed to blindly follow those in authority simply because they are in authority.  We are supposed to be a nation of laws, so if there is a law we must obey it no matter what the circumstances are.  If a police officer kills an unarmed man, we must assume that the police officer was acting according to the law simply because he is a police officer.

The first recorded case of Legalism rearing its ugly head was in the 3rd century B.C. in China.  Ch’in shih huang-ti was the first king who was able to unify the country.  Ch’in became the first emperor of China.  As a matter of fact, the country got its name from him.  It was what he did after gaining control that records the first case of legalism.

Under Ch’in, Confucian scholars were reportedly buried alive.  Teachings of individualism were contrary to the rule of law that Ch’in wanted to implement.  Under his rule, you were to blindly follow the law as written by Ch’in.  Failure to do so would result in extremely harsh punishment.

It was under Ch’in that the first recorded book burning took place as well.  It wasn’t enough to burry alive the Confucian scholars, he needed to get rid of their teachings as well.  It was through these actions that Ch’in was able to consolidate his empire.

Which brings us back to today.  If you have ever wondered why conservatives are arguing that climate change is a myth, you probably think it is because they are favoring the oil companies.  That is part of it.  But, if you look at the whole picture and their policies, you can see that it is far more reaching than that.

By arguing that 97 percent of scientists are wrong on climate change, they are trying to forge a narrative.  By arguing that women shouldn’t have the same civil rights as men in regards to health care and pay, they are forging a narrative.  By arguing that we citizens must blindly follow every order issued by a police officer, they are forging a narrative.  By arguing that gays and other minorities can’t have the same rights as everyone else because the “bible says-so” they are forging a narrative.

What the conservatives are really trying to do is set up an American form of legalism.  Their form of legalism is laws passed by their groups of favor and not the based on the American People’s wishes.  This is a very necessary part of their agenda.  You cannot take away civil rights from certain portions of the populace without legalism.  By making something illegal, you can justify it through legalism.  Just look at the Jim Crowe laws of our past.

As you can see from the stories of Ch’in, this is not something new in the history of man.  Legalism has been the backdrop of every authoritarian leader in history.  It may have started with Ch’in but it leads to Alexander, Caesar and all the way to Stalan, Hitler, Hussein, and every king or dictator that came before them.

That is what the conservatives really want.  With demographics changing and putting their movement on a death spiral, they need to install legalism to justify their discriminatory policies.  It is the only way they can maintain their political power.  But, as we have seen throughout history, legalism directly leads to authoritarianism.  Societies ruled by one leader making whatever laws they feel like.

Even ploys like trying to change how the Electoral College votes is part of this scheme.  Just because the majority of a state votes for a particular candidate, they don’t believe that candidate should get all of the votes from the Electoral College.  Under their scheme, the loser of a general election can actually become the winner.  But, they justify it through their legalism fantasy.

Their agenda is on full display for anyone who wishes to openly look at it.  Their “War on Christmas”, the bans on same-sex marriages, the battle to incorporate religious artifacts in courthouses, the fight against abortion and birth control are all indications of their true agenda.  They not only want to install legalism as a way of life in our country, they need to install a “Christian Legalism” on everyone else.  But, it must be a “Christian Legalism” based on their definition of Christianity, which is anything but Christian.

The next two years will be very interesting to be sure.  How Congress acts and how they try to impose their legalism will have a major impact on the country going forward.  If the conservatives win this battle, we may soon see legalism become a reality in the U.S.  That would mean authoritarianism won’t be far behind.

However, legalism cannot win if the people do not fall prey to the conservative ploy of creating fear.  They want you to be afraid of everyone who does not fall into their category of a “real American”.  The problem is that if the only people who pay attention in the next two years are the 34% who voted in the mid-term, legalism may have already won.

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