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The Republican Party is still insisting that the middle-class has a clear pathway to success.  They claim that hard work will lift you up from poverty and move you into the middle-class.  Once there, more hard work will lift you even higher and allow you to be successful and become rich.

They are not telling you the truth.  As a matter of fact, they have done everything in their power to make sure that the middle-class goes away, and we end up with the very rich and the very poor.  That is precisely why they haven’t voted on a “jobs creating” bill in over six years.  They don’t want you to have a way to get to the top.

Their policies are despicable at best.  They are all in favor of letting student rates soar, making it impossible for less than the wealthy to attend college.  They are all in favor of cutting taxes on the wealthy while slashing social safety nets like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Welfare and Food Stamps.  They are against raising the minimum wage.  In fact, they would rather eliminate the minimum wage all together.  They are against equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

So, on Saturday, when the White House announced that the President will be seeking a tax increase on the very wealthy in order to help pay for a middle-class tax cut, and possibly make community college tuition free, the Republicans had a fit.  Marco Rubio said:  “Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful. … It would also be counter-productive.”

Remember, Republicans always say that increasing taxes on the wealthy will cost jobs.  They have always been wrong on this matter, but they keep trumpeting the lie.  That is what “It would also be counter-productive” represents.  It is a veiled threat that jobs will be lost.

He also said:  “I’m all for reforming our higher education system.  In the 21st century, to have the skills you need for a middle-class job, you need higher education of some form or fashion. It may not be a four-year degree. The problem is he just wants to pour that additional money into the broken, existing system.”  The only thing that is broken in the existing system, is that the average person cannot afford to attend these schools.

The wages for the middle-class has stagnated for the last forty years!  The middle-class struggles did not start with the last great recession in 2008.  They have been struggling for years beginning with Nixon who went after the unions.  Once “right-to-work” laws were passed in several states, wages stagnated.  Since companies did not have to bargain with their workers anymore for raises, they all but dried up.

Today, it is becoming more and more difficult to find meaningful work.  Especially if you are looking for full-time employment.  Just take a look at job sites.  The vast majority of jobs available are at or just above minimum wage.  They are also “part-time” jobs.  It seems that companies would rather fill up on part-time employees rather than full-time.  Of course that is because it just about eliminates overtime and thus cuts wages.  It is also nearly impossible to move from a part-time job to “moving up to the middle-class through hard work” as Republicans say.

So, when Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT says:“We’re not just one good tax increase away from prosperity in this nation,”  he’s right.  We are several pay raises for everyone except the top 1% from prosperity in this nation.

In all honesty, the economy is getting better.  Confidence is beginning to rise quickly.  The real problem is that the middle-class and the working-poor are still working for wages that were set in the 1970s.  While the top 1 percent reap all of the rewards of the new upswing in the economy.   Remember, demand drives an economy, not supply.  If people are not making enough money to create demand, there can be no prosperity.

The President rightly pointed out that the tax rates he is asking for are no higher than they were under St. Reagan.  But, Republicans don’t want the 1 percent to be taxed at all.  They are still calling for a “flat tax” code.  They claim that is the fairest way to tax.  Unfortunately, all of the flat taxes they have introduced will cut the top 1 percent’s taxes by tens of thousands of dollars while the taxes for the middle-class and working-poor will increase by thousands of dollars.

Lowering the taxes on the wealthy and raising taxes on the rest of us is their idea of a “fair” tax code.  Remember, the Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, et.al., all pay a smaller percentage of their income to taxes than their Personal Assistants do.  Would you please explain to me how that is “fair?”

The time for a wreath laying at the grave of the middle-class is getting closer.  When Nixon laid the wreath at the grave of the unions, the middle-class went on life-support.  Ever since then, the Republicans have been trying to pull the plug on that life-support.  Republicans believe they are the American Aristocracy.  You can’t laud it over a middle-class that is thriving, so you have to get rid of it.

If anyone tells you the Feudal System is dead, just take a look at Republican Policies and you will discover it is alive and kicking in America.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is simply no way to treat our oldest and first ally. President Obama should have stood with France in person, defending Western values in the struggle against terrorism and showing support for the victims of this despicable act of terror. Skipping this rally will be remembered as a new low in American diplomacy.” Rick Perry

Ever since the President decided not to attend the anti-terrorist march in France, the conservatives have been having kittens.  According to these conservatives, we have basically snubbed our closest ally.  We have shunned them in their time of need.  We have abandoned them at the very moment they need us the most.

Rick Perry is not the only one who is jumping on the bandwagon either.  We are hearing from all of those wacky conservatives about how important it should have been for the President to go to France for the march.  He should have walked arm-in-arm with the French President, German Chancellor, et.al.

According to conservatives, France is and always has been our closest ally and we should show more respect towards them.  After all, they have stood by us when we needed them.  They have always gone to war with us against the terrorists.

How quickly they forget.  Or, more appropriately, how quickly they deliberately change their minds for political gain.  Remember “Freedom Fries” or the House cafeteria “Freedom Toast?”  Remember when conservatives considered France as the worst European Country?  All because France declined to participate in the “partnership of the willing” in the Iraq Invasion during George W. Bush’s presidency.

How about when John Kerry ran for President against Bush.  Because Kerry spoke French, he was also labeled as “looking French” by his opponents.  Maybe you remember this 2004 New York Times report:

But perhaps the surest indication that the looming political season will be ugly has come from repeated Republican suggestions that Kerry “looks French.”

Not only that: the senator is said to betray a dubious fondness for things French, even the language. A recent comment from Commerce Secretary Don Evans that the Massachusetts Democrat is “of a different political stripe and looks French” was only the latest of several jibes, mainly from conservative talk-show hosts and columnists, that have included allusions to “Monsieur Kerry” and “Jean Chéri.”

For some months now, the Republican House majority leader, Tom DeLay, has been opening speeches to supporters with an occasional routine. He says hi, then adds: “Or, as John Kerry might say, ‘Bonjour.’”

The remark “always brings the house down,” said DeLay’s spokesman, Stuart Roy, who added that its purpose was to highlight “Mr. Kerry’s lack of support for the war on terror and the way he seems to be in agreement with the arguments of the French.”

Of course, that even minded Congressman Randy Webber of Texas just had to make the obvious comparison between the President and Hitler in a tweet.  In his tweet, since deleted, he said even Hitler knew the importance of going to Paris.  Yesterday, he apologized for the tweet.  Not that the comparison wasn’t apt, but because it may have offended some people whose votes they need.

“I need to first apologize to all those offended by my tweet. It was not my intention to trivialize the Holocaust nor to compare the President to Adolf Hitler. The mention of Hitler was meant to represent the face of evil that still exists in the world today. I now realize that the use of Hitler invokes pain and emotional trauma for those affected by the atrocities of the Holocaust and victims of anti-Semitism and hate,” Weber said.

According to that dove Lindsey Graham, the attack was “America’s Fault” and no one else.  He said:

“I fear our intelligence capabilities, those designed to prevent such an attack from taking place on our shores, are quickly eroding. I believe our national security infrastructure designed to prevent these types of attacks from occurring is under siege.”

So Lindsey Graham seems to think this was not merely an attack on Charlie Hebdo, it was an attack against our intelligence infrastructure.  He later explained on Hugh Hewitt’s show:

Here’s what I take from Paris. We should reevaluate our Defense policies on several fronts…We’re in a religious war. These are not terrorists. They’re radical Islamists who are trying to replace our way of life with their way of life. Their way of life is motivated by religious teachings that require me and you to be killed, or enslaved, or converted. The President of the United States tip-toes around the threats we face, and he is trying to diminish the religious aspect of this war. Why? I don’t know. And he is not engaging the enemy in an aggressive fashion, which makes it more likely we’ll get attacked. What he’s doing is pretending to want to destroy ISIL when in fact, he’s trying to get out of office without having to commit American ground forces to do the job as part of a team in the region, because he made a campaign promise. His campaign promises, Hugh, are getting a lot of people killed!

Of course no one is mentioning that the President is currently bombing the hell out of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.  Nor are they talking about his seeking an AUMF for that war with no timetable, geographical limitations or ban on the use of ground troops.  All of that is obviously just “liberal” wussiness.

Finally, the Canadian Senator couldn’t be left behind either.  He was up with a Time op-ed that said:

“The absence is symbolic of the lack of American leadership on the world stage, and it is dangerous. The attack on Paris, just like previous assaults on Israel and other allies, is an attack on our shared values. And, we are stronger when we stand together, as French President François Hollande said, for “liberty, equality, and fraternity.”

So, now that the conservatives have something to yell about, France is suddenly our biggest ally.  We snubbed them by not having the President there during the rally.  It was not only a snub, it was “dangerous” for him not to be there.  Very suddenly, France has gone from “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” to our best ally that the President has just thumbed his nose at.

And how did our oldest ally take all of this?  A spokesperson for French President Francois Hollande said that the French government was not offended by the president’s absence. “President Obama supported France in their common struggle against terrorism,” the spokeswoman said, calling Obama’s visit to the French Embassy to sign a condolence book “a rather exceptional gesture.” She said that Obama’s actions since last week’s attacks have been “very important” to Hollande.  Maybe the conservatives think they are just being overly nice.

This is the kind of idiocy that comes to the forefront when politics, not governing, is the only thing that matters.  Anything to get a headline is fair game.  Even changing sides when it comes to an ally you have hated and ridiculed for over 10 years so you can pick on the other side.

I wonder if the conservatives will remember all of this next month.  That is when they will have to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security for the full year.  You know, the agency most responsible for protecting us from these terrorists?  So far, that funding doesn’t look good.

In recent years, we have seen whistle-blowers being arrested for disclosing classified information to the press.  We have also seen cases of people “outing” an active CIA Operative, “outing” the name of the leader of the Bin Laden attack, and allowing classified emails to be viewed by a “close friend”.  What is the difference in all of the cases?  The whistle-blowers were all arrested.  The others were not!

When Dick Cheney was Vice President, he arranged to have the name of an active CIA Operative “outed” in a political attack on her husband.  Since then, the Director of the CIA Leon Penatta outed the name of the SEAL team leader who led the Bin Laden attack at an awards ceremony attended by the director of the film “Zero Dark Thirty”.

Director of the CIA David Petraeus gave his lover and biographer, Paula Broadwell, access to his CIA email account and other highly classified information, some of which was found on her computer.  Director of the CIA John Brennan is widely believed to have outed a Saudi double agent inside the Yemen branch of al-Qaeda by leaking that the CIA foiled a plot to build a new, more advanced underwear bomb to blow up a U.S. airliner.

Then there is the case of Snowden.  Snowden wasn’t arrested yet, but he was forced into exile.  When he went to Russia, his passport was revoked which meant he couldn’t leave Russia for Latin America.  If he comes back to the U.S. you can be sure he will be arrested.

All of these people should have been arrested under the Espionage Act.  I am not defending the Espionage Act since I believe it is a bad law.  The Espionage Act is a one-sided, heavy-handed law that is supposed to protect us from spies.  To be frank, it is a cold war remnant that needs to be modified.  But, as long as it remains in effect, it must be used against anyone who unlawfully discloses classified information.

Which brings us to Gen. David Petraeus.  On Friday, it was leaked that the Justice Department and the FBI concluded their investigation into Gen. Petraeus, and are recommending he be prosecuted for leaking classified information.  It is my guess that Mr. Holder will not go forth with a prosecution of Gen. Petraeus.  On the Sunday talk shows, he cast serious doubts about the possibility of imminent prosecution.

Even members of Congress are rallying behind the General.  Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, “We can’t afford to have his voice silenced or curtailed by the shadow of a long-running, unresolved investigation marked by leaks from anonymous sources.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said, “This man has suffered enough. . . He made a mistake. He lost his job because of it. I mean, how much do you want to punish somebody?”

Even if we were to consider their pleas, why aren’t they saying the same thing about former NSA senior executive Thomas A. Drake.  Drake tried to reveal wasteful, abusive and unlawful surveillance programs without revealing any classified material.  Yet he was investigated for over four years, had his security clearance suspended and lost his job, and endured baseless, anonymous smears leaked by the government.

Turns out Mr. Drake was exonerated.  After it was all over, neither Congress nor the Department of Justice even apologized to him for his anguish forced on him by this witch-hunt.  Nor, did anyone try to get his security clearance back so he could go back to working in his chosen profession.

It is this double-standard that is really at stake in the Petraeus case.  Is the Attorney General going to look the other way again because it involves someone other than a low-level person?  Are we going to make another sham of the Espionage Law simply because Gen. Petraeus “has suffered enough already?”

A lot of people are arguing that should be the case.  Unlike Mr. Drake who lost his job, Gen. Petraeus is making millions.  He has retained his security clearance.  He has been teaching at Harvard.  He is making speeches at lucrative fees.  He has been advising the White House on the Islamic State.  He is a partner in KKR, which is one of the biggest private-equity firms.  In other words, he is doing better than he was as the CIA Director.  I personally don’t see the “punishment” in his case so far.

You also have to take into consideration what he said when John Brennan pleaded guilty to confirming the identity of a CIA officer involved in renditions.  The General made a very self-righteous and, as it turn out, hypocritical statement.  He said: “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”

I lived under the Espionage Act for a long time, too.  In this sense, I do agree with Gen. Petraeus.  “Oaths do matter.”  However, unlike the General, I believe “oaths do matter” for everyone regardless of your rank.  That is why I believe it is important to formally charge and prosecute the General.

Yes, the Espionage Law needs to be reformed.  But, until it is, everyone must adhere to the oaths they take.  Otherwise, we are telling people in authority that they are above the law.  So General, I repeat your own words:  “oaths do matter.” As I am sure you told your own troops many times, man-up and suffer the consequences of your actions!

Fox News likes to claim that it offers “fair and balanced” news reporting.  Of course we all know that is total crap.  If you consider propaganda as “fair and balanced” they may have a point.  But, most people see propaganda for what it is.  And, it is not “fair and balanced.”

Since the attack on Charlie Hebdo last week, Fox News has done everything in its power to scare the hell out of the world.  They have looked for all sorts of nasty things to say about Muslims in general.  Despite the Christian Theocratic form of government they want for America, they continually harp on the idea that Muslims around the world are trying to put Sharia Law in place in every country.

They have even come up with a new twist on this whole mess.  They call it “no-go zones.”  No-go zones are areas in cities where non-Muslims will be attacked if they dare to tread.  That is because the areas in cities are “controlled” by Muslims who have instituted secret police and enforce Sharia Law on everyone.

To accentuate this point, Fox News on Sunday trotted out that infamous “Islamist Terrorist Expert”, Steve Emerson.  If you were to ask Mr. Emerson, he will tell you that he is “one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks.”  So, we should all listen to what he has to say on this subject.

According to Mr. Emerson, there are cities where Christians, Jews, even Hindus won’t go into.   “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones. There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”  I am sure that is news to the people of Birmingham.

Birmingham is the second largest city in England.  Just to show how much Mr. Emerson really knows, over 65% of the citizens of Birmingham claim to be either Christian or non-religious.  Yet Mr. Emerson seems to think that Birmingham is one of the European cities  “where Sharia courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.”

In reality, one in five people in Birmingham practice Islam.  I wonder how many Muslims in an area it takes for Mr. Emerson to consider too scary to visit.  He doesn’t think that the problem is just confined to Birmingham either.  Mr. Emerson said that parts of London are too scary, too.  “Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire,” he said.

Oops, there aren’t any of these instances that really exist.  There are no religious police and there aren’t any Muslim courts in these cities either.  Still, Jeanine Pirro, the host of the show, apparently believed what Emerson was saying, and it all seemed terrifying. “You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a caliphate within a particular country,” she said.

After the show, he was challenged by Raf Sanchez, from the British Newspaper The Telegraph.  As you can imagine, Emerson backtracked really fast.

 “I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error. And I am issuing an apology and correction on my website immediately for having made this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham.”

“There was no excuse for making this mistake and I owe an apology to every resident of Birmingham. I am not going to make any excuses. I made an inexcusable error. And I am obligated to openly acknowledge that mistake.”

If you noticed, he said he is issuing an apology and correction on his website immediately.  He even went so far as to say he would take out an AD in a Birmingham newspaper to apologize to the citizens.  He even offered to make a charitable contribution, apparently in an attempt to atone for his sins.  Since I do my research,  I went to his website this morning, and guess what?  No apology was found!

But, you will also note that he did not say that he would go on the air on Fox News to apologize and recant the statements he made.  I believe there are two reasons for this omission.  First, I don’t believe Fox News would allow him to recant his statements.  Secondly I don’t believe he is earnest in his apology and is still trying to fan the flames the fear of Fox News watchers against Islam.

That is Fox News version of “fair and balanced.”  Yet, the rest of the media won’t take it to task either.  Yesterday I wrote that Fox News is calling the negotiations with Dish to keep Fox News with the provider as censorship.  Let’s be honest.  Fox News is about as “fair and balanced” as the Spanish Inquisition was.

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