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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas Season has officially begun.  Being of sound mind and body, I decided not to partake in the madness of Black Friday.  As a matter of fact, I make it a point to stay away from any shopping area during the Thanksgiving weekend.  If the right-wing news media wants to show rioting, they just need to show up at places like Wal-Mart and film the raucous behavior of the shoppers.

Now that the madness of Black Friday weekend is over as well, most of us will settle back into our lives.   We will begin to make our “wish lists” for gifts we hope to get.  And, we will eventually head to the malls and do our shopping, if we don’t shop online.  Again, personally I prefer to shop in local stores rather than online.  I try to purchase from local stores and only go to national stores when I can’t find what I want at local merchants.  I prefer spending my money in my community, where I hope it will stay.

As we move along during this festive season, the right-wing will begin its obnoxious rantings about how Christmas is under attack.  The Self-Anointed Prophet Bill O’Reilly and his cronies will begin their “War on Christmas” in earnest.  We will hear how it is offensive to wish someone Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  Even though Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated at this time of year.

O’Reilly will pontificate about the true meaning of Christmas and how the left is trying to do away with Christmas and with Christianity itself.  He will wail about how you can no longer have the government pay to put up religious scenes on public property.  He will cry about how other religious groups can put up displays next to Christmas displays in parks as long as they pay for them.  You see, it is all a conspiracy created by the President to make America a heathen country with no religion, or worse yet, a Muslim country.

The Conservative Christian Cult will join in the chorus of complaints.  They will wail about how LGBT groups are making it difficult for “normal” people to celebrate Christmas.   They will tell us that allowing LGBT people to raise children is an aberration that is killing religion and Christmas in the country.

The right-wing of the Republican Party will have their own versions of how those “others” are killing our family values and our traditions.  Christmas will be high on their list of things that those “others” are trying to eliminate.  We will hear time and again how the U.S. was “founded using Christian Principles” by our Founding Fathers.

All the time, these people will be wailing against everyone who is not what they consider to be a “real Christian” but rather a “Christian In Name Only”.    The right will be wailing against everyone who is not in their camp.  They will scream about anything they feel is a slap to their beliefs.

The questions we should ask ourselves though is what are these people actually trying to get done with their “War on Christmas?”  Are they really afraid that Christmas is going away?  Are they really afraid that Christianity is going away?  What are they really afraid will happen?

We will be able to answer those questions simply by looking at what they have and are trying to pass as legislation.   They have passed, and are still trying to pass, legislation that would allow you to discriminate against anyone you wish simply on religious grounds.  They passed legislation, and took a fight to SCOTUS to keep “religious companies” from having to include birth control in their medical plans.

They have been passing legislation with the sole intent of making abortion illegal.  They are telling everyone that if a woman gets raped, she must have “invited” the rape by her actions.  They have fought legislation that increases the penalties for domestic abuse and child abuse.  They have, and will continue to introduce legislation that will force their religious beliefs on the rest of society.  They call this “freedom of religion” all the while denying others their religious freedom.

What these people are actually doing is making the divide in our country even bigger.  They are preaching to the older generation (unfortunately, my generation) about how life used to be and how things are changing.  As a result, their quiet little lives are under attack by all of those “others” who are out to get them.  The problem is that the older generation is falling for their gimmick.  They all seem to have forgotten about the changes we fought for in the 60s.  They fell into their own little world and basically checked out of society.  They lost their dreams and their Christianity.  Yes, hippies were mostly Christian.

As a result, the very people who fought for social change in the past, are now the ones afraid of change in the future.  The Cult and the far right-wing wackos are taking advantage of this amnesia to take over the country and form their little theocracy.

Our country was founded to be a secular nation.  “The government shall endorse no religion” is very prominent in the First Amendment.  Freedom of Religion means we all have the right to live our lives believing in any religion we choose.  Or, to live our lives NOT believing in any religion at all.  And, with no fear that the government will interfere with those rights.

Which brings us back to the celebration of Christmas by Christians.  If the Cult and their lackeys on the far right are against religious beliefs they do not agree with, are they really Christians?  If they believe that discriminating against someone they consider to be “sinful” is legal, don’t they go against Christian teachings?  If they believe that their wealth is the result of god favoring them, doesn’t that go against Jesus saying “give up all you have and follow me?”  If they are against the social safety nets that help the most needy in our society, doesn’t that put them at odds with “whatever you do to the least of you, you do to me?”

So, when the Cult ramps up their rhetoric about the “War on Christmas” and the “War on Christianity” remember it is they who are the real attackers of both.  They are the ones who claim to be Christians but defy all of the Christian teachings.  Sorry, but the Cult is anything but Christian.  They are anything but Americans, either.  Their real Christmas Wish is to have enough power to make America a white, Cult country where everyone else is a second-class citizen.  In their power-hungry, crazy thinking, that is celebrating the real meaning of Christmas!  After all “Peace On Earth” and “Goodwill Towards All” are just left-wing words against the real spirit of Christmas.

 

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According to the stories, Native Americans helped the first white settlers of America.  They taught the white settlers how to farm in America and introduced them to American products to help with their crop output.  Thus, the first harvest dinner, we now call Thanksgiving, the settlers invited the Native Americans to help celebrate.

Somehow after that first dinner, things went downhill between the white settlers and the Native Americans.  In the next two hundred years, white America waged what can only be described as a war of genocide against the Native Americans.

If we read our history, the first real transgression was the forced evacuation of Native Americans from their homelands in the East to Oklahoma Territory.  This was the narrative behind the “Trail of Tears” that Native Americans were forced to undertake.  Then, there were the “Indian Wars” against tribes that resisted whites taking their hunting grounds and land away from them.

Yet here we are over a hundred years removed, and Native Americans are still being held back both economically and socially.  There are a lot of reasons, but the main factor is the reservations or “tribal lands” that the majority of Native Americans still live on.

We have placed Native Americans in economic limbo by law.  Tribal lands are held in trust by the federal government, so tribes are unable to levy property taxes, and imposing income taxes is rarely feasible. Thus, unlike states and cities, reservations have a hard time funding basic government services.

Because of the federal title to most tribal lands, banks cannot use the same foreclosure policies they can elsewhere which dissuades them from offering mortgage lending on reservations.  Only about 1.5% of reservation Native Americans who have sufficient income to qualify for a mortgage have one.  Resulting in depriving them of the main engine for economic growth among the middle class.

A 1978 Supreme Court ruling said that tribes are legally barred from prosecuting non-Natives for crimes committed on reservations. This has helped produce crime rates, including the rape of Indian women—most often by whites, much higher than other ethnic groups—and rates of child sexual abuse that run as high as two and a half times the rates they do elsewhere.

The 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act tried fixing some of this, beginning to restore sentencing authority to tribal courts. But, as usual with Republican supported bills it did nothing to fund its implementation. According to the Act, in order to prosecute non-members, a tribal court must establish a detention facility and an experienced judiciary, and must provide public defender services. A truly functioning public defender’s office costs about $350,000 per year. Add in the other costs and you’re looking at upwards of a million dollars annually.  Since tribes can’t levy most taxes, this becomes a significant hurdle in complying with the Act.

The 2013 Violence Against Women Act went further, recognizing tribal criminal authority over non-Natives for the first time since 1978 for domestic violence.  It did not include crimes of child sex abuse, nor most other crimes.  It only is applied to reservations that can meet the Tribal Law and Order Act and other standards. To date, none of the reservations have met these standards.  When you consider that more than half of reservation residents are now non-Native, this presents a real problem.  The vast number of Congress who voted against this Act did so because they did not believe that non-Natives should be prosecuted in Tribal Courts.

There are also jurisdictional conflicts that impair prosecutions even of Indians by their own tribes. If an Indian batters his wife, for example, the tribe usually cannot compel the off-reservation hospital doctors who treated her injuries to testify, nor the white friend who witnessed the battery. If the man moves to a town just off the reservation, he can’t even be arrested by tribal police (unless cross-deputized—yet another complication).

All of these problems may want you to ask why the Federal Government doesn’t do more to provide judicial services on the reservations?  That would be a fair question since the Federal Government holds title to most reservation land.  But, you also have to remember that most budget-strapped U.S. attorneys rarely see political or career benefit in prosecuting crimes like rape or assault on sparsely populated reservations hundreds of miles from their offices.  As a result, more that half of all major crimes reported on the reservations go unprosecuted.

Because these flaws exist, the effect has been turning reservations into havens for non-Native sexual predators and other criminals. For example, mid-level non-Native drug dealers who aren’t large enough to attract federal prosecution can operate with relative impunity on many reservations, because neither tribal nor state law enforcement has authority to touch them.

These problems were not created by Native Americans.  They were created by the catch-22 that we have created, in which we deny them the ability to provide economic opportunity and justice, while failing to provide it ourselves.  When the allies won World War II, they worked to provide the losers with economic growth and opportunity.  We have failed to do the same for Native Americans even hundreds of years after the wars were over.

But, as the arguments against the Violence Against Women Act shows, there is still a lot of prejudice against Native Americans.  Why would anyone argue against Tribal Courts having the authority to prosecute non-Natives for rape or domestic violence against Native Women?  The only reasonable explanation is that these members of Congress have a bias against Native Americans.

The prejudice is shown again in the fight against the Washington Football Team changing its name.  Sorry, but I will never understand how using a racial slur for the name of a sports franchise can be interpreted in any way as “respecting” Native Americans as the owner claims.

We have had civil rights fights since our country was founded.  African-Americans and Latino Americans are almost always at the forefront of these fights, and that should be.  But, one “race” we seem to always forget about are the Native Americans.

These problems will not go away anytime soon.  When political parties use the “us v. them” meme for political gains, minorities are always “them”.  And, since Native Americans are rarely even thought about by white America, they suffer the most in the shadows of society.  That is not just a shame, it is criminal.

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On the eve of Thanksgiving, are we witnessing the Requiem For American Democracy?  I do not ask this question flippantly either.  It is something that we need to answer this holiday season, or we will certainly face the real possibility of our freedoms and liberties going the way of the dodo bird.

Two days ago, in Ferguson, MO. the county prosecutor made his announcement that Officer Darren Wilson would not face any charges for the shooting death of Michael Brown.  This announcement, unfortunately, was totally anticipated by anyone who has been watching the tragedy playing out for nearly four months.

The also anticipated rioting happened within hours of the announcement.  Depending on what network you watch, these riots are either the result of a few “outsiders” who went to Ferguson to cause trouble, or it is the result of an entire race of people who do not believe in law and order.  I think you can guess which networks are saying what without even turning on the TV.

The riots in Ferguson are deplorable.  I have always believed that protests are the only way that ordinary people have to get their voices heard.  However, I have always deplored violence.  Violence, as they say, begets violence.  Additionally, in such circumstances, it is extremely hard to determine who is actually causing the violence.  For example, on the first night, I was watching and saw the police firing smoke bombs at protesters.  I don’t know why they were firing smoke bombs either.  It appeared that the protesters at that point were peaceful.

As the confrontation continued, violence became more of the norm and the situation escalated out of hand.  That is the problem with rioting.  You don’t know how it all starts.  Plus, you don’t know which tactics are helping or hurting the situation.  As Mayor Richard J. Dailey said during the 1968 Convention Riots in Chicago: “The police are not there to cause the riots.  They are there to preserve the riots.”

But, it isn’t the rioting in Ferguson that makes me ask the question.  There have been riots before, and I believe there will probably be riots in the future.  What makes me ask the question, is the way the county prosecutor handled it from the beginning.  A Grand Jury hearing is NOT a trial.  It is only used to keep control of the prosecutorial process.  In a Grand Jury, they are supposed to look at evidence to see if there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime.

In normal Grand Jury hearings, the whole process is controlled by the prosecutor.  The prosecutor is using the Grand Jury to support his belief that a crime was committed and that there should be a public trial of the case.  Defendants, or the accused, are usually not present, and do not testify at the hearing.  Again, this is not a trial.  It is a secret hearing to protect the Jurors and allow them to make a fair judgement of whether or not there is sufficient evidence to press charges.

Unfortunately, in this case, the Grand Jury hearing was not a Grand Jury hearing.  It was basically a “secret trial” of the accused.  And, that is very troubling to me.  If you don’t believe it was a “secret trial” just listen to the noise from those who supported Wilson.  They are calling this decision an acquittal.  How can it be an acquittal if there was no trial?

The prosecutor said that he would release all of the transcripts of the hearing to prove his point.  I find that extremely dubious at best.  Let’s face facts.  Whenever a person reads anything, they add their personal biases in their readings.  Plus, you do not hear the voice inflections of the person testifying or the person asking the questions.  Verbal testimony at trials is critical because we can hear those inflections and see the body language of the people involved.

Those inflections and body language often allows us a visual to help determine if the person is telling the truth.  It also allows us to determine if the question is a “softball” intended to help the witness or a “hardball” intended to poke holes in their testimony.  Nor, are we able to tell which witnesses were treated as “friendly” or “hostile” which can make a lot of difference as well.  Simply reading the transcript will not give us those “signals” of truth or fabrication.

I know, for example, that anyone reading this article, will determine whether or not they agree with me based on their biases.  If someone is prone to “lean left” there is a real possibility they will agree with me.  If the reader is more prone to “lean right” I doubt this article will sway them.  And, that is fair enough.

As a result, we are still faced with the fact that this was a “secret trial” which the prosecutor did not want to go public.  Which makes me wonder why the prosecutor did not want to take the trial public.  I once lived in the area near Ferguson for three years.  I had a few police officers as friends.  Most were honest hard-working officers in the true pursuit of protecting the public.  Others were simply driven by their power over certain “classes” of people.  I suppose that is true everywhere.

By allowing the county prosecutor to hold his “secret trial” the Judicial System has another chink in its armor of being “equal” for all.  History also shows that “secret trials” are the beginning of the end of the democratic process.  By denying the family of the real victim in this case to have an open and public trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the shooter, the system has failed again.

It may have turned out that Darren Wilson would have been found not-guilty of any charges brought against him.  It is also possible that he would have been found guilty.  We shall never know because the county prosecutor did not want the real truth to come out in the open.  He wanted to control the narrative and the justice system in defense of a police officer.  This same prosecutor has taken four other similar cases of police officers shooting unarmed civilians to the Grand Jury.  In all of those cases, not one single charge against a police officer was handed down.

As we sit around the table this Thanksgiving we should be asking the real question.  Does this case signal a Requiem For American Democracy?  Some call this case justice.  Most call this case a charade.  If we continue to allow prosecutors to hold “secret trials” we will never know the truth.  “Secret trials” could be the real beginning of the end for our democratic way of life.

 

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The last twelve months have exposed a lot of problems in our society.  I am not talking about our political problems either.  In the last twelve months, we have seen certain people in our society get away with just about everything including vehicular homicide.

A drunk rich kid driving under the influence was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of someone.  His lawyer argued that he was suffering from a made-up infection called “affluenza” and was therefore not responsible for his actions.  The judge actually fell for this nonsense and he is spending no jail time for killing a human being while he was driving drunk.

At the end of last year when a football player (the star quarterback of the team) at a university had been accused of raping a student nothing was done about it.  Reports even stated that local police told the woman that her life would be hell if she went ahead with the charges because of whom she was accusing.

Then there was a rash of NFL players who were accused of domestic violence.  One of the players pled “no contest” to child abuse charges in order to avoid a trial that might have put him in jail.  The NFL announced that he would be suspended for the remainder the season.  He announced that he would immediately appeal the suspension since he has missed all of the season so far.  But, he has been paid for his time off.

A star NBA player was recently accused of child abuse but Florida decided not to do anything even though the doctor who examined the child stated that there was bruising on the child because he was beaten with the buckle end of a belt.  The player’s lawyer immediately accused the players estranged spouse of “making it all up” because of a very ugly custody battle.  In the meantime, the state of Georgia has announced it will look into the matter.

A New Jersey High School suspended the entire football season over allegations of abuse by some players on others.  Normally, this is called hazing.  But, the hazing went way beyond the lines of decency and some of the players are now facing criminal charges.  Yet, many in the community say the High School went too far, not the players.

Recently two more football players (both starters on the same team as the rape accusation) were reportedly involved in a traffic accident.  The accident resulted in the totaling of both vehicles involved, and reports indicate the accident was the fault of the football player.  Reportedly the player was driving on a suspended license and fled the scene on foot.  Instead of being charged with “hit and run” he was simply given two tickets and was never tested or even asked if he had used drugs or alcohol.

Bill Cosby has been accused by 14 women of being a serial rapist.  All of the women accused him of drugging them and raping them.  The first accusation came out about 20 years ago.  Again, nothing was done.  In one case, Mr. Cosby settled out of court so nothing else came of it.

The one thing all of these cases have in common is that the accused is a “personality” in public life.  Most of them are sports stars and one is a TV/Movie star.  In all cases, the victims involved are the ones who are being questioned about their “honesty”.  In the Cosby case, even Whoopi Goldberg said she has a lot of questions for the accuser.  Why doesn’t she have a lot of questions for Cosby instead?

In rape cases, victim blaming is a simple game that the accused plays all of the time.  Now, as we see, victim blaming is something that goes even beyond rape.  It has infected our justice system to a point where victims are becoming more and more afraid to come out with their story.

Or, in some cases we see where law enforcement is willing to turn a blind eye to the behavior just because the person being accused is some sort of celebrity.  You will probably tell me that this type of thing has been going on for years.  That may be true.  But, isn’t it time for it to stop?

Quite frankly, I never read the “entertainment” section of newspapers.  I really don’t care about the lives of celebrities.  I don’t care how rich people, movie stars, sports stars, or any other celebrity lives.  They can afford to live however they want.  But, I do care when they are involved in criminal activity and get away with it simply because they are celebrities.

I get even more irritated when people defend their behavior and put blame on the victims.  Or try to brush it off as “boys will be boys” stupidity.  The over-militarization of our police forces is a real problem that has led to tragedy across the nation.  However, the complicity of law enforcement in helping these celebrities get away with crimes is even more troublesome.

We have seen way too many times when law enforcement has turned a blind eye to celebrity misbehavior.  The victims have been hurt.  In some cases people have died.  Yet, they seem to get away with whatever they have been accused of doing.

With this kind of reaction whenever someone with a public name gets in trouble we have to ask ourselves just how balanced our justice system really is.  In some states if you are caught with a bag of marijuana you get at least 10 years in jail.  If you are a college football player who flees from the scene of an accident, you get “well that’s okay”.

If you are a star running back in the NFL and beat your then fiancé you get paid 5 million dollars to sit out a season and then cry foul when an actual suspension comes down for your behavior.  And, you get the union to back you up on the matter.

If you are a star quarterback on a college football team and get accused of rape, the police tell the victim that she will go through hell if she continues with the complaint.  Then, when there is a scheduled hearing to determine if you broke university conduct policy, you get the hearing put off until after the football season so you can continue to play.

If you are a star comedian who is accused of being a serial rapist over the last 20 years by as many as 14 women, your friends “have questions for the accuser” instead of you.  Forget the large number of women accusing you, they must all be liars.

I don’t know if everyone who has been involved in these cases are guilty or not.  I am not making an assumption of guilt.  I am questioning how these cases have been handled.  These cases show clearly that our judicial system may indeed be broken.  In most of them it clearly shows a lack of interest by law enforcement to fully investigate cases involving “celebrities”.

Cynics have claimed for years that guilt and innocence is determined more by how much money you have rather than the actual facts of the case.  When we continuously see these kinds of behavior towards celebrities, maybe the cynics are correct.  As a result maybe the Statue of Justice should not be blind folded and holding a scale, maybe she should have one eye open looking at the bag of money she is holding.

But then, we are all to blame for this mess.  If we continue to believe the accused simply because they are celebrities, nothing will change for the better.

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In the past six years, we have seen President Obama called everything from being a socialist, communist, fascist, and lawless.  The opposing side has continuously said they are only trying to pass legislation that the American People want.  Although they refuse to pass Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Raise the Minimum Wage, or Immigration Reform which are all supported by over 70 percent of the American People.

The favorite name calling of the right-wing is communist.  I have been called a communist more times than I care to count.  If I had a dollar for every time I was called a communist, my retirement would be a lot more comfortable than it is.  So, I thought I might take a look at who are the real communists in America today.

The first thing you must consider is what is the definition of a communist.  Everyone, especially those of us who lived through the cold war look at communism as the form of government in the Soviet Union and China.  That is what we were taught was communism.  But is that really communism?

Karl Marx wrote the book on communism.  However, in his view of a communist world, there are no governments.  He wrote about a utopian society where governments were no longer needed.  He based his view on the concept that people are naturally good and therefore society would naturally look after the less fortunate, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.  No government was necessary for these actions, people would just embrace that it was the right thing to do.

I know that is an oversimplification of his writings, but I do believe that is the gist of his book.  What Marx failed to take into account is the opposite of good, which is evil.  For, you cannot have good without evil.  Natural law says there is an opposite to every trait.  That is what makes us human.  As a result, the communism espoused by Marx is a fantasy with no real possibility of actually coming true.  Still, that doesn’t mean that any steps we take in that direction is not a good step.

But, now we get the heart of the matter.  The Soviet Union was the first country to embrace communism.  But, in realty, the use of the word was just as much a fantasy as Marx’s world view.  Basically, communism was hijacked by Lenin who had no intention of creating a utopian society.  He only used the term to gain support for his own version of a dictatorship.

If it hadn’t been for WWI the Leninist form of communism may not have happened.  The Germans sent Lenin to Russia from exile, and gave him millions to start a revolution so they could get Russia out of the war and fight on just one front.  It worked, and Lenin soon pulled Russia out of the war.

Lenin’s form of communism was no better than any other form of dictatorial government.  Yes, he took property away from some of the rich but he didn’t give it to the peasants, he formed collective farms that the peasants were forced to work.  He also maintained the industrialists and their positions to run his now government seized industries.  As a result, the average Russian did not gain significantly in economic status.  There was never an intention to let the average Russian people grow economically.

After WWII, Mao followed Lenin’s philosophy and was able to overthrow the government of China.  There too, a dictatorship under the guise of communism was formed.  It was no more communist than Lenin’s Russia, but what the hell, it worked in Russia so it would work in China.  The funny thing is that the Chinese and the Russians never really liked each other.  Dictators never really do like each other.  At some point one of them will try to take over the other.

The government set wages that were a bit higher than before the revolution, but not significantly higher.  Yet, the bureaucrats and industry leaders lived in luxury.  If you want to talk about income inequality at its worse, you just need to look at Russia under Lenin’s communist regime.

Under Lenin and then Stalin, the dictatorial regime masquerading as communism became even stronger.  Purges of political opponents made sure these people stayed in power.  All the while they were consolidating their power, they were dictating policy that affected the people of Russia.

There was a lot of talk about redistributing wealth in these communist countries.  But what really happened was that the wealth was redistributed to the government bureaucrats and industrialists not the people.  Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, there sure were a lot of suddenly rich multi-millionaires in Russia.  Where did they suddenly get their wealth?

So, what does all of this have to do with America?  Since the right-wing does not want to let go of the cold war, we continuously hear about communists trying to bring down our country.  And, there are a lot of similarities going on in our country right now.

Under Leninist communism, industries received large government subsidies to maintain productivity.  Yes, they were supposedly “government-owned”, but the money still came from the government.  In our country today, many companies receive large government subsidies as well.  Companies like oil and gas companies and chemical companies receive large government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

Other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other minimum wage employers receive billions of dollars in government subsidies in the form of government safety nets for their employees.  Things like food stamps and WIC and health care subsidies for their employees so they don’t have to pay a livable wage.

In Lenin’s Russia, industrialists and government bureaucrats paid little or no taxes.  Today, politicians are still trying to keep taxes very low for the rich and corporations.  One in four corporations in America today do not pay any corporate taxes.  Yet, many of them still receive government subsidies on top of not paying taxes.

Lenin’s Russia forced the people to practice a religion known as the state.  The state was the only thing that mattered.  Although they did not directly outlaw people from practicing their religion, it was very strongly discouraged.  Today we have people who are attempting to force everyone to believe in one form of religion.  If you disagree with them, they complain that you are waging war on their beliefs.

In these communist regimes, the state dictated every aspect of a normal life.  They forced people to follow a strict living style whether they believed in it or not.  Today, we have similar people trying to force a particular living style on everyone else.  They even have introduced legislation in some states that would make it legal to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.

As in all dictatorships, the number one goal of women was to have babies.  It is necessary to keep the population growing so more “workers” or “soldiers” are available to help the state.  We have similar beliefs running rampant today in our country.  Everything from denying equal pay for equal work to outlawing abortion and birth control are all aimed at keeping women in their place and having babies.

Non-Russian minorities were hugely discriminated against in the Soviet Union.  These minorities did not enjoy the same “rights” as Russians.  The Soviet Union was Russia’s empire after all.  Today we see civil rights under attack again in America.  Voter Suppression Laws and attempts to codify discrimination are just a couple of examples.

So, when you look at the name calling, especially the communist tagline, who are the real communists in American politics?  Is it the people who want to ensure equal treatment for our citizens or people who want to suppress the vote to minorities?

Is it the people who want to ensure equal protection under the law for everyone regardless of beliefs, or those who want to dictate which lifestyles are acceptable and be able to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with their dictates?

Is it the people who want fair and equal pay for their labors, or those who fight against a livable wage and equal pay for equal work regardless of the sex of the worker?  Is it those who want to see everyone with health care, or those who believe that if you are poor you don’t deserve any health care and if you die, you die?

Is it the people who want to decrease the huge income inequality to help grow our economy, or those who want to make that inequality even bigger so the rich get richer at the expense of the labor force?  Is it the people who think that the poor, disabled and elderly should be protected by social safety nets, or those who believe they should be cut loose while increasing subsidies to large corporations?

If you want to see who could reasonably be called a communist based on the cold war definition of communism, you just have to look at the platforms of the two political parties.  I know whom I believe are the communists, you will have to make up your own mind.

 

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The mid-terms have ended and the Republicans have gained control of the Senate.  That was expected by all the pundits.  Even I believed they would win the Senate, although I had hoped Democrats would do better.  In just about every mid-term election, the party in the White House has basically lost the election.  Including Saint Reagan.

The right-wing is crowing just as we expected they would.  The main headline on their website at Fox News is “GOP Handed Control Of Senate In Rebuke Of Obama Policies”.  Other right-wing media are crowing that “Americans have taken back America”.  They have a month and a half to crow about what Fox is calling “the landslide as a complete rejection of Obama”.

So what happened yesterday?  Basically, the Republicans picked up about six or seven seats in the Senate the majority of which were in Red States that they expect to win.  They did pick up a few seats in what is usually classified as “purple” states.  That was what gave them the majority.  As usual, Louisiana will have a runoff to determine that seat.

Now that the Republicans have won control of both houses of congress, what do they plan to do?  Well, that depends upon whom you speak with.  Mitch McConnell last night talked about “working with the President on things we can agree on.”  While Ted Cruz talks about “pursuing every means possible to repeal Obamacare” and “investigating the President for his lawlessness”.  I am guessing that “lawlessness” is using Executive Authority far less than any of the previous four Presidents used it.  Those two quotes don’t sound like someone who is “willing to work with the President on things they agree on”.

That is going to be the problem with a Republican controlled congress.  There are two basic wings of the Republican Party right now.  One is an establishment wing, which by the way, worked diligently to keep the crazies from winning the primaries in many states, and the far right-wing side of the party that is only interested in power and not governing.

If you think the last several years of obstructionism was bad, wait until the civil war breaks out between these two wings of the Republican Party.  From what he said in his acceptance speech last night, I don’t think Mitch McConnell has been watching the train-wreck called the House Of Representatives.  Does he really believe that he will be able to rein in nut jobs like Ted Cruz where Boehner was unable to?  If he can, he will show that he is an even more masterful politician than I have given him credit as being.

So, where can McConnell find things that the President will agree with him on?  Well the first thing will be the Transpacific Protocol (TPP).  This is a trade agreement with most of the Asian countries we don’t already have a trade agreement with.  However, as with all past trade agreements, we can expect to lose between 500,000 and 1 million high paying factory jobs.  That is not meant as a scare tactic, it is just basic fact!  Look at other trade agreements like NAFTA.

With the TPP we will also see a lot more dumping of cheap foreign steel into our market.  We are already facing the possible collapse of our steel industry because of this dumping practice from Korea.  If the TPP goes through, it will probably collapse completely.  So, our military will have its equipment built using “foreign” steel.  Which by the way is illegal.  So, with a lot of “outsourcing” at stake, you can expect the Republican Senate to “fast track” the agreement.

They will probably find some common ground on reforming laws regulating the NSA.  That would actually be a good thing.  Of course, if another terrorist attack takes place in our country, the Republicans will quickly remove any reforms placed on intelligence gathering against our own citizens in the name of security.  So, this item is not necessarily something they will agree on.

That is about all I can think of where McConnell and the President may find common ground.  When it comes to the economy, taxes, education, the environment, regulations, and the social safety nets, there is no common ground to be found.  The Republicans will bring out their failed economic policies of giving the rich tax cuts, gutting corporate taxes, which 1 in 4 American companies already don’t pay, and eliminating Social Security and Medicare as we know it.  Their problem is that if they go after Social Security and Medicare, they will also be going up against the Tea Party which wants government programs eliminated, except for Social Security and Medicare.  Seems the majority of Tea Party people are already collecting them.

The military budget will be vastly increased.  This will be done in the name of security.  After all, we need the military to “fight wars in other countries so we don’t have to fight terrorism here” has been a Republican cry since 9/11.  Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration won’t see their budget dramatically increased.  Rather the Republicans will try to dismantle it.  They will use the same “voucher” scheme to privatize the VA and reduce veteran benefits as much as they can.  Even if it means these needy vets pay a lot out-of-pocket.

Of course other social safety nets will come under attack.  Food stamps, welfare, WIC, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance will see either reductions or attempts to eliminate them.  The minimum wage increase at the Federal Level is all but dead for now.  Many of these Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage altogether.  Even though strong red states voted to increase the minimum wage yesterday, and an increase will increase jobs and reduce dependence on the very same social safety nets the Republicans hate so much.

We will see the IRS, Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, and Department of Commerce under attack.  They will try to eliminate all of these departments because they are the ones that put too much “regulation” on businesses.  We will probably see legislation opening our National Parks up to oil and gas drilling.  We will also see the end of subsidies for “green” companies who are developing renewable energy to take us off of oil and gas completely.

There will be no confirmation hearings on any of the open court judges or cabinet positions.  If the President has appointed someone to a post, the Republicans will not approve them.  We haven’t had a Surgeon General for years because the Republicans won’t even allow a hearing on his appointment.  Not because he is unqualified, but because he wrote something the right-wing doesn’t like.  The Surgeon General is the position that helps coordinate agencies like the CDC and NIH in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola.

If a Supreme Court position should come open, we will have eight Supreme Court Justices for at least 3 years because the Republicans won’t approve a nomination by the President.  They will surely call him or her too “liberal”.  It is possible that if one of the “liberal” justice positions open, they won’t complain about the appointee too much since it won’t affect the 5-4 majority the conservatives already have.  But I wouldn’t count on that.

Yesterday, the President offered a meeting with the new leaders of the House and Senate.  All of the media will be on hand and talk about what was said and what can be done.  But, I am more interested in what will surely be a secret meeting between the Republican leadership and the Koch Brothers.  You don’t really think the Koch Brothers will just stay quiet now that hey spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this election do you?  That is where the real Republican Agenda will be set.

I don’t know what is going to be more excruciating to watch in the next couple of years.  The continued lack of governing from the Republicans or the potential civil war in their ranks.  There are already signs of turmoil since McConnell said he was willing to sit down with the President to work on things they can agree on.  The Canadian Senator was even hesitant yesterday when he was asked if he would support Mitch McConnell as the Majority Leader.  The right-wing of the Republican party doesn’t want to work with the President.  They want to impeach him.  Sorry, you can’t “work with” someone you absolutely hate.  So we can only hope that the President’s Veto Pen in handy and he is courageous enough to use it.

It has been said that you should be careful of what you wish for, because you may get it.  McConnell wished to be the Senate Majority Leader.  It appears he is going to get his wish.  After six months of having the title, he may rethink his wish.  If the right-wing rebels, like I think it will, he will be the face of failure!  And don’t think conservative pundits like Fox News or Limbaugh won’t be quick to point their fingers at him.

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As my readers know, I rarely tell people what to do.  I have offered suggestions on why it is important to vote this mid-term and what I envision would happen if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate.  There are several extremely close races that will determine the outcome of the elections, and the direction that ultra-conservatives will try to move the country.  Naturally, if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate, they will yell that it was a “mandate” against everything Obama.  If they don’t win the Senate, they will find something like “voter fraud” to express why they didn’t win.

Our free speech guaranties have made it very possible for us, as normal people, to either express happiness over our political outcomes, or to bitch about them.  It is our right to bitch about things.  We have worked hard to ensure that these rights exist.  Our service members have fought wars to ensure our right to bitch whenever we want.

The problem has become that too many people don’t bother to vote, and then bitch about the outcome.  They use the tired excuse of “they are all alike, so why bother.”  The last several elections have proven beyond reasonable doubt that “they are NOT all alike.”  There are vast differences between the two political parties.

Those differences and the policies that will surely come from the winner, will have a major impact on our country, our economy, and our people.  When I say our people, I mean YOU!  That is something that you really need to think about when you decide to vote or not tomorrow.  Mid-term elections are generally low turnout events.  People think that just because the President isn’t being determined, it really doesn’t matter as much.  But, it matters just as much as if the President was being decided.

The mid-terms this year will determine who runs Congress.  How Congress behaves and what laws they will try to impose on us is the big item that needs to be thought about.  The one item that I noticed is that this mid-term election has resulted in more money being spent on the races than any race in our history.  Over $4 Billion Dollars has been spent on this election.  Since about 75% of it has come from ultra-conservative groups and billionaires, they must see the importance of this mid-term election.

The winner will have an upper hand in determining everything from economics, education, environment, foreign policy, gender issues, heath, immigration, religious beliefs, and a host of other freedoms and policies.  At the State level, the elections will determine a host of things from abortion to voting rights, and everything in between.  That is why the ultra-conservatives are spending so much money on these elections.

So, it comes down to whether or not you vote.  You have the right to vote as they say.  But, more importantly, you have a DUTY to vote.  Throughout my life I have heard all the talk about how “freedom isn’t free” and that our service members “pay for our freedom”.  Well, the one thing that civilians in this country has a duty to perform is to VOTE!

Naturally, I prefer that people vote for progressive policies and candidates.  However, what is more important is that you actually vote.  Voting is a way to let our representatives know whether or not we agree with their policies.  Large turnouts can give one party a mandate to put into place their ideas.  On the other hand, a low turnout doesn’t give either party any kind of mandate.  It doesn’t even allow either party to realistically know if their policies are favored by the majority of the public.

Therefore, it is imperative that every registered voter cast a ballot.  The winner will say that the silence of the majority of voters is a backing of their ideas.  It is not.  The only way to show backing or opposition to ideas is to vote.  If you don’t vote, you lose your right to bitch.  You may still have that constitutional right to bitch, but in essence you have given up your right to bitch.  In order to be heard, you must exercise your duty and vote.  If you don’t, just shut up!

In past articles I laid out my opinions about why I have voted progressive.  I believe that is the only way to keep our freedoms and grow our economy and society.  I don’t care if you agree with me or not.  I only want you to go to the polls and vote.  If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about any future policies that you disagree with.

Everyone lately want to ‘Thank a Vet.”  If you really want to thank us veterans, GO TO THE POLLS AND VOTE!  That is really “thanking the vets”.  Otherwise, just shut up.

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