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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why is she involved in politics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sometimes I have joked that it seems like the whole world has taken a “stupid pill”.  I know, it is probably wrong of me to criticize people for their beliefs, which I try not to do.  However, when people start acting “stupid”, I think it is fair to point out their mistakes.  That isn’t criticizing their beliefs, it is calling them out for their errors.

We have a myriad of problems facing our country today.  Yet, there are some people who simply want to whitewash them.  They seem to long for the “good ole days” or “glory days”.  They seem to not want to face reality.  That is “stupid” no matter what your political slant may be.  If we do not face our problems, we are doomed to live in mediocrity at best.  Maybe that is what these people want.

Yes, I am referring to the “conservative movement” on the other side of the political spectrum.  It isn’t hard to see why they refuse to look reality in the eye and make changes that are needed.  By definition, conservatism is stuck in the past.  That is what conservatism is all about, and what is wrong with it.  It wants to return to the “glory days” they remember.  Problem is when you look back on the “glory days”, they weren’t always so glorious.

I realize that I have a slanted view of the world.  In my youth, I was actually called a “radical”.  My son now calls me slightly left of center.  It just goes to show how much the scale can move over time.  Or, rather how much the definitions of words can change over time.  And, that is the real problem today.  That is what is at the heart of the stagnation in Washington and all across the country.  That and the fact that conservatives live in a fantasy world that can be called “stupid”.

The real irony in all of this is that the “glory days” these conservatives claim they want to return to were actually anything but conservative.  They were times when America was reaching for the stars both figuratively and literally.  They were times of innovation.  They were times of creative thought.  They were times of change for the better.

In those days, the labor movement was strong.  Approximately 40% of the workforce belonged to a union.  The middle-class was thriving and most people were happy, more or less.  It was also the times of the Civil Rights Movement and the start of the Woman’s Movement.  It was when President Kennedy said we should put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth before the end of the decade.  And, we did.

They were also very troubling times.  We were suffering through the Vietnam war.  Young people were rebelling against the establishment.  African-Americans gained most civil rights but at a dear price.  There was a lot of backlash against the Woman’s Movement.  There were protests in the streets.  A President was assassinated.  Another President resigned from office in disgrace.

We went through very rough economic times starting with the oil embargo.  We witnessed long lines at the gas station.  People began to think that the future could not possibly be better than the past.  Yes, those were the so-called “glory days” that conservatives claim they want to return to.

The problem they face is that they don’t want to return to the good aspects of those times.  They don’t want to return to the times of innovation and creative thought.  They don’t want to return to the times when we fought for civil rights of everyone.  They don’t want to return to a thriving middle-class or to unions.  They, apparently want to return to their “good ole days” of Jim Crowe.  They would rather see corporations hiring thugs to bust unions than allow the working class a fair wage for their labor.

They claim that they want to return to the Reagan Years.  They are still hawking the discredited theory that lowing taxes on the rich “trickles down” to the masses.  They are still hawking the theory that unions are the root cause of economic problems.  They are still hawking the old ideas that whites are superior to other races but with much “softer” language.  They are still hawking the adage that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

Their “base”, led by the Conservative Christian Cult, denies climate change, or at least that man is contributing to it.  They deny evolution. Hell, they deny science.  They deny creative thought.  They prefer to raise a generation that “listens to what they are told” instead of formulating their own ideas.  They are against civil rights.  They are against women’s rights.  They are against gay rights.  They want to live in a world where everyone does exactly what they “tell” them to do.  If you go against their ideals, you are un-American.

Yes, the far right thinks that we should not be able to think for ourselves.  They are led by the Canadian Senator Ted Cruz, the faux Libertarian Rand Paul, and the Xenophobic Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and the Heritage Foundation.  These are their heroes.  These are the people who want to fundamentally take away civil rights.  Who want to stop education in its tracks and raise a “stupid” generation.  Why else would they defund public education as they have if that was not their goal?

They are the people who say they are fighting for “liberty” and then vote to take away those “liberties” from anyone who is different from them.  They are the ones who say they want a “bigger tent” and accept minorities yet continue to stall immigration reform and pass voter suppression laws.  These “small government” people want to dictate what a woman can choose or not choose when it comes to their health decisions.  Instead of relying on the woman’s decision after consultation with her doctor, they want the state to determine the course of action she is allowed.  Of course they justify all of this by claiming they are doing “god’s will”.

They claim to be “fighting for what the American People want”, yet they continuously vote against bills that the vast majority of the American People want passed.  Their solution to fair pay is not to raise the Federal Minimum Wage, but to eliminate it.  They want to deny millions of Americans proper health insurance.  They are quick to blame the victim in cases of rape and incest.

In essence, what these people are doing is taking their daily dose of “stupid pills”.  In and by itself, that doesn’t bother me too much.  What does bother me is that they want the rest of America to take “stupid pills” with them.  Unfortunately, the far right and their allies the Conservative Christian Cult have renewed their prescriptions.  Maybe it is time to see them for what they really are.  Stupid!

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Paul Ryan keeps talking about the “root causes” of poverty.  He likes to say that there are “generations” of men who “don’t even think about getting a job or having a work ethic”.  According to Mr. Ryan, his heart goes out to poor people.  He proves just how much his heart goes out with his budget!  Things that will really help the poor.  Cutting food stamps.  Cutting Medicaid.  Cutting Pell Grants.  And, giving the multi-millionaires a tax cut averaging $200,000.

Mr. Ryan wants to help the poor.  He even says that his budget is based on his Catholic Teachings.  I must have gone to a different Catholic school system than he did because the Catholic Teaching, especially on social issues, that I learned are totally opposite of what he has been preaching.  We were taught that helping the poor was a social responsibility.

If Mr. Ryan really wants to get to the “root causes” of poverty there are some things that he can do.  He can actually write, or pass already existing legislation that will help the poor.  And, I am not talking about “government handouts” either.  There are lots of things that can help eliminate poverty in this country.  Yes, they will cost money as everything does and take time, but the return on investment will be tremendous.  These initiatives would create better prepared people to enter the workforce, ensure fair pay, and increase revenue to the government by billions of dollars every year.  Unfortunately, it will take guts and conviction to get them passed.  I am not sure Mr. Ryan has neither the guts nor the conviction necessary to do the work.

Here is what I believe needs to be done to eliminate the “root causes” of poverty, in no particular order:

1.  Stop Privatizing Public Schools and Create Solid Pubic Education For All!  This is one of the main root causes of poverty.  We will never have a chance to eliminate or significantly reduce poverty while public education is so dysfunctional.  When I say it is dysfunctional, I am not referring to the millions of hard-working dedicated public school teachers either.  I am referring to the “local control” of public education.

It has been argued for generations that public education “needs local control”.  I have always asked why?  Since our children will be working in a “global economy”, local control is not the answer for what they will need to succeed.  Local control of public education is what got us into this mess we call public education.

Some groups want to introduce “religion” into science classes, while others don’t.  The worst thing about “local control” is that public education is dependent upon local property taxes.  Now, that may seem fair on one hand, but wealthy areas will pay more property taxes than less wealthy and rural areas.  As a result, a two-tiered system of public education becomes a reality.  Wealthy areas have new schools.  They pay their teachers better.  They are better equipped to help their students succeed.  There is nothing wrong with that.  However, poorer and rural areas don’t get the same funding as the wealthy areas.  As a result, they have older and outdated schools.  They pay their teachers less.  They even have a hard time supplying the necessary equipment to properly educate their students.

The Republican plan for this is to privatize schools.  The have called for vouchers for years.  The stated goal it to “allow parents to choose the school their child attends”.  That is a fallacy of the worst kind.  Every student isn’t “allowed” to attend the school of their choice.  There are restrictions on admittance.  Most of these “charter or private voucher schools” won’t take special needs children.  Many limit the number of minorities they take.  Many are religious schools so if you don’t belong to “their church” you cannot get in or you have to pay far more tuition than others.  Meaning the “voucher” you get won’t pay the entire cost of tuition so you won’t be able to afford to send you children there.

Worst, it leaves the most vulnerable children to rely on less funded public education.  With public money going to these “vouchers”, there isn’t enough money left in the school budget to educate the left out children.  As a result, we not only get a two-tiered school system, we get a three-tiered system.  Since it is the most vulnerable children left in the third tier, poverty is going to be ever on-going.

The only real solution is to standardize education across the nation.  That will mean taking control of public education away from “local control” and placing it in the hand of professional educators.  Yes, it means that the Department of Education will have more of a say in how our children will be educated.  I am not overly happy with “core standards” as they are, especially since teachers performance are based mostly on test results.  But, we do need to ensure that all children get basic foundational education in areas like reading, arithmetic, writing, history, science, and yes, the arts.

The best way to formulate new ideas is to teach children to think!  Children will not be able to properly think unless they are given the foundations of a good education.  All of my life I have heard that “education is the great equalizer”.  That wasn’t true while I was growing up, and this tiered education system is making things worse.  Every child is not getting the education that could be their “great equalizer”.

Of course, going this route creates several problems.  The biggest is funding.  Since public education is currently funded through property taxes, we will need to have some other way to pay for it.  Maybe we need to have a special tax for education.  Taking part of the current property tax and moving it into a different pot may be the answer.  That is something for people much smarter than me to figure out.  But, I can think of no better way to ensure that public education is equal for everyone.  Schools need to be remodeled or rebuilt.  Teacher pay needs to be reexamined.  Text books need to be standard in all areas of education.

I know this may get me in trouble with conservatives, but religion needs to be taken out of public education.  Religion is a personal matter between you and your god.  It has nothing to do with giving our children a good education.  Religion has crept back into public schools mainly because of “local control”.  While a majority in one area may want it in schools, it is wrong to force it on those who don’t.  Public education needs to be secular.  If you want your children to have a religious background, it is your responsibility to give it to them.  Not the teachers in public school.

2.  Affordable College Education.  Today the average student graduates from college with a debt of anywhere between $30,000 and over $100,000.  That is ridiculous!  I know that college costs a lot of money.  It was expensive even when I went to college years ago.  Especially when you compared it to the cost of living then and now.

State Universities and Community Colleges are again tied to State budgets.  Some state universities costs less than others, for in-state students because the State provides good funding to them.  Other state universities costs more simply because the State Legislature won’t give them the money they need to keep costs down.  Community colleges usually fall at the bottom of the food chain.

Let’s face facts.  Something needs to be done about the growing costs of college education.  One of the main things that helps keep student debt down is the Pell Grants.  But, Mr. Ryan wants to cut Pell Grants by $125 billion.  That will either eliminate people from getting a college education, or make their debt significantly higher.  Both results are not good.

I suggest that Mr. Ryan bring together college administrators, professional educators, budge experts, and anyone else he can think of to sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan that may reduce the cost of a college education.  We need to make college available to anyone who wants to attend.

Bringing down the cost of college education without reducing the effectiveness of that education is not going to be easy.  But, if we don’t do something, our grandchildren will be faced with either insurmountable debt upon graduating or will choose not to attend college at all.  Sorry, but money should not be the deciding factor in getting a college education.

3.  Bring Trade Schools Back To Public Education.  When I was attending high school, most public schools had what was referred to as “shop”.  These classes were for those students who were not looking to get a college education, but wanted to learn a trade that would provide good paying jobs.  These classes have mostly disappeared from public education.

Today, we have “private” trade schools that teach these same trades as once were taught in public schools.  Now, maybe having professionals teaching their trade is a good idea, but the cost of these “trade schools” is almost as high as getting a four-year degree!  By “privatizing” trade schools, we have again eliminated the “most vulnerable” from attending.  The cost is simply too high.

Additionally, I cannot find anything that says they must meet any particular “standards”.  Even colleges must be “accredited” in order for their grades to be transferable or be recognized by most major companies.  I may be missing it, but I cannot find any such “accreditation” for these trade schools.

Rather than rely on all of these private schools without accreditation, we could bring “shop” back to the high school level, and offer this “trade education” in our community colleges.  If there are people willing to teach at a “trade school” we should be able to recruit them to teach the same thing at our schools.  It worked before, it should work again.

By bringing back this type of education, we will be training students who don’t want to go to college.  That will provide them with a “trade” they can get a good paying job in.

4.  Create an Atmosphere for Job Creation not Job Exportation.  It is far too easy for a company to move their operations overseas.  As we discussed earlier, there are even tax deductions that make it even more appealing to move a factory overseas than to keep it in the U.S.  Republicans have always said that taxes are the reason companies move overseas.  The companies say it is because of wages.  Both may have valid points, but each standing on their own have no merit at all.

One of the biggest expenditures that companies face in running a factory is energy costs.  Reliance on oil or coal based electricity or other energy sources has driven the cost of powering a factory sky-high.  Instead of offering more tax incentives to the oil companies, we need to offer more incentives to renewable energy.

Wind is free.  Solar is free.  We need to harness these energies, as well as a myriad of other free sources, to rebuild our power grid.  That will help reduce the costs of energy for our companies as well as our households.  If we could drive down the cost of energy by even 40%, companies would be able to keep wages at a livable rate, and still make more profits.  That should help stop the exporting of jobs overseas.  When companies have a choice of high energy costs coupled with labor costs, they will seek the lowest labor costs.  If on the other hand they get a big reduction in energy costs that are not available overseas, they will be more inclined to stay put.

We can fix a whole lot of problems with this kind of policy.  We can cut carbon emissions, slow down global warming, and cut energy costs all at the same time.  But, again it will need bold vision to make this happen.  It will require hard work, and a complete rebuild of our power grid.  But, the return on investment would be tremendous.

Besides, look at all of the good paying, long-lasting jobs rebuilding the power grid, and other areas of our infrastructure would create.  These jobs would increase tax revenue by the billions for several years reducing our budget deficit and national debt.

5.  Raise the Minimum Wage.  For Mr. Ryan to argue he “has compassion for the poor” and continue his fight against raising the minimum wage is a contradiction at best and totally hypocritical at worst.  What is wrong with making sure that people who work for a living actually make a living?  Why is it so terrible that everyone pay an extra 2 cents for that can of peas at Wal-Mart so its employees can afford to buy that can of peas without government assistance?

The arguments against raising the minimum wage have gone on for too many decades.  Every time they say it will kill jobs, it doesn’t.  According to the Republicans, everything will kill jobs.  Remember in 2012 when the fight was over killing the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy was hot?  The Republicans said that it would kill jobs if the tax cuts for the wealthy were allowed to end.  Now, over a year later, we continue non-stop, with private sector job growth.  Seems that raising taxes on the wealthy didn’t kill all those jobs.  Raising the minimum wage won’t either.  In fact, most economists argue that it will actually create more jobs.

When people have more money to spend, they spend it.  That increases demand for products and services, which in turn, creates more jobs to produce those products and services.  I thought the Republicans knew how capitalism is supposed to work?

There are a lot of other ideas that can work as well.  Like passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, and ENDA.  But, I believe that the five I listed above are the “root causes” of poverty.

I know that conservatives will argue that this will “cost too much”.  That is not a valid argument since costs are always balanced by return on investment.  Since I believe that the return on investment will far exceed the cost for these ideas, that should eliminate their arguments.

The real problem we face in implementing these plans is whether or not Mr. Ryan and his party are really interested in getting to the “root causes” of poverty.  If they are, they should jump on these ideas immediately.  But, I am afraid that Mr. Ryan and his party are NOT interested in getting to the “root cause” of poverty.  They want poverty to continue since it only affects who they call “them”.

It is time we need to hound them to come up with something better than merely cutting taxes for the wealthy.  We need to hound them to come up with real solutions to real problems.  We must let them know we are sick of their “talking points” and want things to change.  That is the best way to expose them for what they really are, the party of the rich only.  Then, we need to work harder to get them voted out of office in November.  Beginning with Mr. Ryan.

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First we get Cliven Bundy.  A free-loading rancher who wants to educate us about what he “knows about the negro.”  Then the very next week, we get Donald Sterling.  He is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.  He went on a racist rant with his girlfriend over her posting on her instagram pictures of her with black people.  Even Magic Johnson.

At first, the right-wing noise machine called Cliven Bundy a patriot and hero.  After his comments, they backtracked before they looked like an oil slick on a lake.  Now they consider Mr. Bundy a kook.  Mr. Sterling has been criticized by almost everyone, except the usual suspects like Fox News, Donald Trump, and the fat drug addict.  Fox is basically saying “what’s the big deal?”  Donald Trump says Mr. Sterling just fell into a trap set by his girlfriend and that exonerates him.  Of course the fat drug addict says that Mr. Sterling, a registered Republican, is being punished because he “didn’t donate enough to Obama.”  He didn’t mention anything about Mr. Sterling settling a lawsuit over his “slum-lord” business practices as evidence of his beliefs.

In everyone’s haste to shun, criticize, and punish these two people, the main point is being missed.  Prejudice is real, it is current, and it will never go away!  These people should be criticized and/or punished for their comments.  But, we cannot stop at just them.  We cannot simply tackle one episode after another.  We have to try to at least make people understand that prejudice is real and that we are all guilty of it at some point in our lives.  Only then can we hope to stop the stupidity of prejudice and at least harness so it doesn’t hurt other people.

The right-wing of the Republican Party has truly let the cat out of the bag when it comes to prejudice.  Their argument that it is their religious “right” to discriminate against anyone they choose is the first open blow to common sense.  Their budgets speaks for themselves.  As we have discussed in other articles, their budgets are truly “reverse Robin Hood” budgets that hurt the poor and reward the rich.

Prejudice is not limited to just race.  Yes, race has been the tinder box for civil rights for generations.  As a matter of fact, it has been a tinder box since before our country was founded.  Prejudice is bad all by itself.  But, when religious beliefs are used to justify prejudice, the problem becomes even more critical.

At the beginning, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”.  During the debate over this declaration, the southern states argued that did not include the blacks in slavery.  They called it their “peculiar institution”.  The declaration passed only after Jefferson agreed to take the paragraph about the evils of slavery out of the document.  He even vowed that he would free his slaves.  Though he never did.

Throughout our history, slavery and the segregation laws of the Jim Crowe court were backed up by “religious” beliefs.  It is very easy to discriminate against someone by race if the “bible tells us so”.  Unfortunately, those “religious beliefs” have held course ever since.  If we cannot discriminate via segregation laws, then we can discriminate via “religious beliefs”.

Since then, the same arguments have been used to discriminate against women, the LGBT community, immigrants, even other religions.  It has become the rallying cry for anyone who wishes to discriminate against someone else for whatever reason they choose.

In 2009 a group of Christian Conservatives led by convicted felon Charles Colson issued a manifesto called the Manhattan Declaration.  In it they wrote:

In recent decades a growing body of case law has paralleled the decline in respect for religious values in the media, the academy and political leadership, resulting in restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We view this as an ominous development, not only because of its threat to the individual liberty guaranteed to every person, regardless of his or her faith, but because the trend also threatens the common welfare and the culture of freedom on which our system of republican government is founded.

Restrictions on the freedom of conscience or the ability to hire people of one’s own faith or conscientious moral convictions for religious institutions, for example, undermines the viability of the intermediate structures of society, the essential buffer against the overweening authority of the state, resulting in the soft despotism Tocqueville so prophetically warned of. Disintegration of civil society is a prelude to tyranny.

The essence of the rest of their claim is:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

According to their manifesto, they can “pick and choose” the laws they wish to obey, and ignore those they do not agree with based on religious belief.  Did you notice that the death penalty was not included as an “anti-life act?”  Plus, I don’t know any “liberal” who would argue that a woman must undergo an abortion.  Churches should be forced to perform same-sex marriage.  Any one should be forcefully be euthanized. Or for that matter, any woman be forced to use birth control.  So, what are they really trying to say?

Today, we have states passing laws that allow private business to discriminate against the LGBT community based on their “religious belief”.  Another one just passed in Mississippi.  Fortunately, in Mississippi, business are fighting back putting up stickers in the window of the shops that they “don’t discriminate”.

The irony in all of this is that the Christian Right didn’t expect a group of Christian Clergy to challenge the same-sex marriage ban in North Carolina claiming that the law is an infringement of their “religious beliefs”.  They are not opposed to same-sex marriage and want to perform marriages for their members.  However, one little part of the North Carolina ban makes it a crime to perform same-sex marriages.  Yes, North Carolina in its infinite wisdom decided that if someone “marries” a same-sex couple they are guilty of a crime.

Just to show how much they really believe in “religious freedom” the North Carolina Values Coalition, who helped pass the law, did not step up to defend the religious freedom of these Christian Clergy. Quite the opposite, in fact. They attacked their religious belief:

It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs. These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.

So, you see, “religious freedom” only applies if you agree with the “religious beliefs” of those trying to set up legal discrimination.  Who are these people to use words like errant beliefs or revisionists that distort the teaching of scripture?  Those who want to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of society, that’s who.

Prejudice comes in many forms.  People of color are inferior.  Women are the root of all evil because Eve made Adam eat the apple.  Homosexuals are immoral sub-creatures who need to be kept away from polite society.  Christians fight Christians.  Muslims fight Muslims.  Jews fight Jews.  Hindus fight Hindus.  Buddhists fight Buddhists.  It doesn’t matter if the prejudice is born out of plain ignorance or if it is justified through religion.  Prejudice is prejudice.  It is evil.  And, we are all guilty of it.

Yes, the current right-wing nuts are the loudest offenders of good taste when it comes to prejudices.  But, everyone has prejudices.  The real difference is that those who are running their mouths don’t think before they speak.  They don’t think because they have been told by the right and their preachers, that it is okay.  After all, they are only speaking their “religious beliefs”.

Before we can really become an equal society, we all must learn to harness our prejudices.  We cannot play the “greater than thou” card when someone else spews their vile.  Nor, can we claim superiority over them.  Yes, offenders must be put in their place.  But, each time something like this happens, we all must look inside and work hard to harness our own prejudices.  Especially our religious prejudices.  That is the only way we can overcome it.

 

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