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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

Day 165. 

The latest yelling about a war on free speech” comes after the University of California at Berkeley cancelled Ann Coulter’s speech for what they say are “safety concerns”.  We must remember that there is a group of anarchists that have caused violence during speeches at Berkeley before.  Maybe, the university is right, maybe it is wrong.

The question really isn’t about why the speech was cancelled, but whether or not it is another “battle” in the war on free speech.  I guess that depends upon our definition of free speech.  Which makes us look at just what free speech is.

We have seen lots of cases where this so-called war on free speech could be used by both sides.  But, it is the fringes on both sides that use the free speech argument the most.  In just the past year or so, we have seen many people blasted for their opinions on different issues.  We could call those attacks as a war on free speech.

There was a big problem when Milo Yianapolis tried to give a speech at Berkeley.  We also saw and heard all kinds of attacks against Kapernick just because he chose to kneel for the national anthem as a protest in favor of Black Lives Matter.

Those attacks are still going strong, and many conservatives are very happy that he seems to be having a problem landing on new team.  Couldn’t we call that a war on free speech?

Free speech is one of our fundamental rights a citizens.  The speech we use is not limited to “correct” speech.  I have written before that even hate groups like the KKK or the American Nazi Party have a right to hold rallies.  That is what free speech is all about.

Even still, there are limits to our free speech rights.  We do not have a right to cause disturbances or riots from our speech.  We do not have a right to cause public safety concerns with our speech.  For example, we cannot simply yell “fire” in a crowded theater just for fun and claim free speech.

We are even seeing this play out in the courts right now.  Three protesters at trump rallies are suing the trump campaign, their supporters, and trump himself for inciting violence at his rallies.  Even one of the accused trump supporters has said that he was encouraged by trump to attack the protesters.

The odd thing is trump isn’t really arguing against the claim of inciting violence, he is arguing that he cannot be sued because he is president.  You may argue that protesters do not belong at a political rally.  But, if that is the case, what about your free speech argument?

In 1968, I attended to protest at a rally for George Wallace in Chicago.  During that campaign, Wallace took great joy at protesters disrupting his rally because it put his name in the headlines.  He ran into a problem in Chicago that time.  Whenever he used his hate speech towards the protesters, they sarcastically cheered his hate.  As a result, no one was “thrown out” and there were no “violence” headlines at the rally the next day.  Needless to say, Wallace kept getting angrier and angrier as the night went along.

We are hearing that people like Bill O’Reilly are victims of liberal attacks just because he is a conservative and liberals are trying to shut up conservatives.  The argument goes that sponsors were bullied to pull their ads from his show by liberal extortionists.  They claim that liberals just wanted to stop a conservative from expressing his views.

That argument is bogus.  O’Reilly thought that his position allowed him to abuse and harass women.  He thought he could get away with it because he was “famous” and that meant he could do whatever he wanted.  Just like beloved leader bragged about in that Hollywood Access tape during the campaign.

Then you have the Kapernick argument.  If you are claiming that O’Reilly shouldn’t have been fired because he is a conservative, then Kapernick should be left alone too.  If you wrote a letter or complained openly about his protest, than you are doing to him exactly what you complain liberals are doing to O’Reilly.  You are trying to silence his political views.

Conservatives have tried to paint the Black Lives Matter movement to anti-American activities.  Even calling them “terrorists” on Fox News more than once.  Where is the cry about waging a war on free speech?

The biggest problem we have with our right to free speech is the speech itself.  In the 1960s protesters were met with violence.  Many times they were attacked by police just because they were protesting.  That was really the case in the Civil Rights movement.  But, the anti-war protests against the Vietnam war faced similar attacks.  As Mayor Richard J. Daily famously said on television: “The police are not there to cause the violence, they are there to preserve the violence”.

That sentiment still goes a long way today.  When violence breaks out over a conservative speech, the rioters are trying to “suppress conservative views”.  When violence breaks out when a liberal speaks, then the liberals are just a bunch of anti-Americans trying to cause trouble.  Yes, the same can be said in both directions, but today it mostly comes from the right.

In order to have a proper discussion and/or debate over issues, we need free speech.  We need to hear both sides of the argument and then decide which direction the nation should go.  However, we also need to have rational debate.

Ann Coulter is not better than any other right-wing fringe wacko.  The pundits try to place her more in the main stream, but her speech and her writings are anything but mainstream.  She has never had a good word about anyone who isn’t white, Christian, and conservative.  She is a white supremacist nationalist who hates anyone who is not white and wants to keep any non-white out of the country.  That is not mainstream.

Still, she is entitled to her opinions.  However, others have a right to their opinions, and if they decide to show up and peacefully demonstrate against her then they are exercising their right to free speech.  Yet, that isn’t how her supporters see the world.  They see the world as she can say whatever she wants, and no one can protest against her.

In our history, we had the fringe wackos on the left do the same thing.  There have been times when they argued they were right and everyone was wrong and therefore any protest against them should not be allowed.  Today, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

Before you take sides in this so-called war on free speech, remember it works both ways.  You may feel like the victim today, but the other side was the victim before.  The only answer is for each side to understand that hate speech of any kind is not really political speech.  It is hate speech pure and simple.

Both sides have a right to say what they want.  I am not advocating for a ban on any form of speech.  However, if anyone is wanting to give a speech, they should expect blowback from those who disagree.   If you are not willing to accept that blowback, then you shouldn’t be giving a speech in the first place.

You should also be careful of what you say.  Yelling from the podium words like “get ’em out of here” or “I will pay for your lawyers” can and should be considered incitement to violence.  That is what the suit against trump’s campaign is all about.

We have a right to free speech.  We also have a responsibility to control our free speech.  You cannot have it both ways.  If you claim your side has a right to free speech, you cannot deny free speech to the other side.  If you agree that you can protest against a speaker, then you cannot argue the other side doesn’t have the right to protest against your speaker.

For example, when something like the resistance movement protests against your leader, you cannot simply call them “paid protesters” to dismiss them.  Neither can you reject someone’s right to give a speech, even if you disagree with the content.

The oddity to me is that Berkeley is known as the birthplace of free speech from the 1960s.  That same birthplace cannot tamp down on conservative views either.  Free speech must be allowed so anyone can express their views.  Yes, public safety must be taken into consideration.  We do not need violence just because some is giving a speech.

The point is that there really is no “war on free speech”.  There is simply a politicization about what free speech is all about.  That is the real problem we face today.  Free speech actually shows us where our problems lie.  It puts on full display the evils and the corruptions that we face as a nation.

The discrimination problems we face today are the same as we faced 100 years ago.  They are bases on race, sex, national origin, color and sexual orientation.  Immigrants are hated, especially if they are immigrants of color or non-Christian religion.  It is the same as it was throughout our history.

Instead of stopping these speeches, we should simply show up and peacefully protest against the views we disagree with.  We should let our voices be known as well.  That is the best way to stop the spread of hate and the formation of an authoritarian government.  When free speech is controlled by the government, we all lose.

Free speech can be controlled in many ways.  Not allowing a speech to take place is one form of controlling it.  Another way is to label the protesters as anti-American.

Protests are a form of free speech.  Marches are a form of free speech.  And, yes, hate is also a form of free speech.  In order for our democracy to survive in troubling times, we need to fight hate speech, but not with violence or trying to silence it.  We need it to be heard so we know how to fight it.

Throughout hour history, hate has eventually lost in the fight for our nation’s soul.  There is no reason why we should expect it to win this time either.  Unless we go off the rails and try to silence dissent.  Fight hate with love and we will win.  Fight hate with hate, and we all lose.

 

 

 

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Day 161. 

Before I get started on this article, I need to be totally honest to my audience.  I absolutely hate Bill O’Reilly and I am glad he finally got what he deserved.  But, I did not hate O’Reilly because he called himself a conservative.  I hated him because quite frankly in my opinion he is a lying, obnoxious pig!

When Roger Ailes started Fox News, one of the first people he hired was Bill O’Reilly.  Yes, he was the number one cable news personality, but it was not because he was good.  It was because he was full of hate towards anyone not named Bill O’Reilly and his audience loved that about him.

Not once during his tenure at Fox did O’Reilly conduct an “interview” with anyone.  He set them up to be attacked, shouted at, and called names on air.  That is what his audience loved about him.  His open meanness.

When his “guest” was capable to fight back and was very willing to fight back, O’Reilly would end the interview and threaten the guest with security if they didn’t leave “my set”.  He would continuously lie to his audience, and when he was caught in his lie he basically said “so what”.

His “talking points” segment was designed to spew hate out on the airways.  He never had a kind word for minorities, women, gays, or anyone not named Bill O’Reilly.  There was only one point of view in his warped mind, and that was his point of view.

Unfortunately, his behavior did not end on air.  He took his misogynist views behind the cameras.  He has been accused at least seven times of sexual harassment.  He settled at least five times for a total of $13 million.  And, still he claims that all of the accusations were unfounded.

Bill O’Reilly is the perfect example of how “power corrupts absolutely”.  He really believes that he is bigger than life and that nothing he does is wrong.  If Bill O’Reilly says his behavior is proper, then we are all to believe that it is proper, even when we know it is not proper.

When Brian Williams got in trouble at NBC for telling lies about being under attack in Iraq, O’Reilly was the first to call for his ouster.  Yet, O’Reilly has a history of lying while reporting.  For example, he claimed to have covered the Falklands War but never left Buenos Aires.  He never left Buenos Aires because the Argentines would not allow any reporters near the war zone.

Yet there he was night after night explaining the battles he never witnessed like he was there actually witnessing them.  Then there is the time when he claimed that one of his “close friends” committed suicide in Florida.  I cannot remember the man’s name, but O’Reilly claimed at the time “I was about to knock on his front door when he committed suicide”.

The problem with that story, according to his coworkers at the CBS station in Dallas where he was working at the time, O’Reilly was actually in Dallas at the time of the suicide.  Then there is the indisputable proof that he wasn’t there.  He wasn’t mentioned in the police report of the suicide.  If he had been “just about to knock on the door” he would have been interviewed by the police.  No mention of his highness.

So, as you can imagine, I am shedding no tears over the ouster of the bigoted, hate-filled man who told lies so easily he actually believed them.  As I said, the man is a pig and should never have been on air.

But, if you think this is going to change the culture at Fox News, I am afraid you are sorely mistaken.  That is what everyone said when Ailes was forced out over similar behavior.  Just look at who Fox tapped to replace the pig.  Another pig Tucker Carlson.  It was Carlson who declared that all of the sexual harassment accusations at Fox were a result of a “liberal assault” on the network.

Tucker Carlson is just as hateful of women as Ailes and O’Reilly are.  And, he is willing to openly wear his hate for women on his sleeve.  If you have the stomach for it, just watch Fox News for one 24 hour period.  Every show they attack women, minorities, gays, immigrants, Muslims, and liberals.

The entire network makes its money off of unproven accusations about the Clintons or Obamas.  They don’t care about the truth, they only care about ratings.  That is why the ouster of O’Reilly was so surprising to many people.

As long as Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News Network, the culture of the network will not change.  Rupert Murdoch was fighting against letting O’Reilly go right up to the end.  His two sons wanted O’Reilly gone but Murdoch wanted to keep his ratings star.

Reports claim that Murdoch only changed his mind when his wife backed his sons and said O’Reilly had to go.  Now that he is free of Murdoch, I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Reilly attacks Murdoch’s wife and blames her for his ouster.  Because O’Reilly doesn’t believe he can do any wrong so some “woman” must be behind his ouster.

This sickening episode is just another example of how Fox News treats their women personalities and behind the scenes workers.  If you look closely at how this network operates, you would think that you are watching an episode of “Ad Men” instead of how a company should behave in the 21st century.

The reason this has not hit home with most conservatives is because they also believe that women are property.  They believe that women are to be subjected to men and they should either only say what their man wants them to or keep quiet.  Conservatives believe that women are only on this planet for the man’s sexual pleasure.  That has been on full display at Fox News ever since it first polluted the airways 20 years ago.

As a result, I do not expect any “cultural change” at Fox News.  I expect that there will be fake moves to show how the culture is changing, but behind their closed doors, nothing will change.  The women Fox News puts on the air are nothing but window dressing and “eye candy” for their viewers.  That explains why Kelly and Gretchen Carlson left and why the current women on air at Fox have remained so silent about this mess.

For all of those wackos who believe that the O’Reilly ouster was some kind of “liberal assault on conservatives to keep them quiet” I say grow up.  O’Reilly was let go not because of some liberal assault on him.  He wasn’t let go because of his obnoxious behavior towards women.  He was let go because he was starting to cost Murdoch money by losing over 80 advertisers.  This ouster was more about money than ethics.

You cannot fire someone over ethics if your whole business is unethical.  Which is exactly what Fox News is.  So, the only way to actually be fired at Fox News is to lose them money.  Money is really the only thing Murdoch listens to.  So, I don’t expect anything to change over there.

One more pig has been slaughtered at the Fox News Sty.  But, the rest remain.  They will continue to plug the sewer so it will continue to flow into the streets.  Here is hoping that O’Reilly has finally been shut up.  Fox News has enough hate-mongers still on the air.  As one of his biggest supporters Sarah Palin once said, “if you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.”  And, O’Reilly is definitely a pig!

 

 

 

 

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Day 153. 

We are at the end of month three of our beloved leaders presidency.  I am not one of those who think the first 100 days tells us anything, normally, but at this stage, I think it is time to reflect on just what our beloved leader means when he says “great”.

In the first three months, our beloved leader has accomplished absolutely nothing.  He failed in his attempt to “repeal and replace” the ACA with the House’s rotten Americans Without Health Care Act.  He twice tried to enact a Muslim Ban using Executive Orders and was blocked by the courts both times.

We keep hearing about all of the wonderful things he has done, so let’s look at what he has actually accomplished.  He has managed to raise the mortgage insurance rates for first time home buyers by $500 per year.

He has allowed coal companies to use rivers and streams for the dumping grounds for their toxic waste.  He has given the greenlight to a foreign company to build a pipeline across the middle of our country using foreign steel.  And, he is also allowing that foreign company to use U.S. Eminent Domain to steal land from the people who own it to build their pipeline.

He has ignored the environment case and the treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux to allow that pipeline to cross under a lake that provides drinking water to the reservations, and dumps into the Missouri River that provides drinking water to about 17 million other residents in three states.

He has started mass deportations of people who are undocumented immigrants.  He stayed quiet when his Secretary of Homeland Security announced they “might separate children from their families” when they are caught at the border.  He has allowed people under the protection of DACA to be rounded up with other undocumented immigrants.

He has refused to allow Syrian children and their families to seek asylum in our country, but then turned around and made a worthless attack on Syria because he saw those videos of “beautiful babies” being killed by the Syrian Regime.  He loves those “beautiful babies” so much he is willing to attack a sovereign country, but he hates them so much he won’t let them get away from the war and gain entry to our country.

His head of the EPA has given the greenlight to Dow Chemical to continue to sell and farmers to use a pesticide that has been proven to affect the brain development of children and the unborn that Republicans love so much.  The original ban was for “food crops” but his administration thinks that is too much to ask to protect our children.

His proposed budget will cut the State Department by over 30 percent.  It will cut the EPA by over 30 percent and he has placed a gag order on anyone at EPA from even talking about climate change science.  It will cut NOAA by at least 25 percent.  That isn’t too important, except that is the agency that provides the National Weather Service with information that helps get out weather warnings to the people.

He is cutting satellite time for the National Weather Service.  He wants to eliminate all of the Coast Guard’s funding for new equipment.  The Coast Guard only saves lives, protects our ports, helps with drug interdiction, helps with people trafficking, helps enforce and clean up after oil spills in our oceans, rivers, and lakes, and a lot more.  So, they aren’t that important.

It is going to cut out the National Broadcasting Corporation so you won’t find Sesame Street. They say you can now watch it on HBO, but they fail to tell you that you have to “subscribe” to HBO and poor people can’t afford that just to get children’s educational programming.  But what the hell, education is overrated according to beloved leader.

He has allowed ISP companies to sell your personal data to anyone without your permission or giving you any compensation.  He is about to eliminate net neutrality so those same ISP companies can charge you more for using their “fast lane” on your computer.  If you fail to pay the higher rates, you will be placed in the slow lane and have to wait longer to download your information.

His administration is embroiled in a counter espionage investigation being conducted by the FBI because it appears that at least some of his advisors were cooperating with Russia in their hack of our elections.  It was revealed that Carter Page was the target of a FISA warrant because the FBI believed that he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent.  The warrant was issued back in June or July while he was working for the trump campaign.

Paul Manafort has made the headlines again because at least $1.2 million form the so-called black ledger of the former Putin ally who was president did go to his consulting firm after he denied anything like has happened.

Both Republicans and Democrats who have viewed those classified documents that had Nunes all a tizzy said there is nothing in them that say anyone in the Obama administration, including Susan Rice did anything unusual or wrong.

The Immigration Advisor, Sebastian Gorka, has ties to an ultra-right wing party in Hungary that the State Department still labels as a collaborator with the Nazis during World War II.  He claims not to be a racist or belong to the organization, but he proudly wore the medal of the Order of Vitez to the presidential inaugural ball!  He claims he has not sworn allegiance to the Order of Vitez, but the Order say he has.  Yet, he still has his job with a president who has a daughter who is Jewish.

Our beloved leader has not created a single job since he took office.  He has done nothing to improve the lot of the working class.  He reuses to raise the minimum wage.  He has repealed worker protection orders on equal pay and sexual abuse for women working for companies under government contract.

He declared this as Women’s Abuse month, then went on to praise Bill O’Reilly for “being such a nice guy” even after the new blow up about his sexual abuse of women on his show and at Fox News.  Someone ought to tell our beloved leader that Women’s Abuse month is not a period of time to praise those who abuse women.  But, what do you expect from a man who brags how he can sexually abuse women and get away with it because he is famous.

A few days ago a teacher and one 8-year-old child were shot and killed in the school by the teacher’s estranged husband.  Not a peep out of the administration about this incident.  Why?  Because it did not involve a Muslim.  And, because it was committed by a man who apparently “abused” his wife when married.

Yesterday our lovely and stupid Attorney General announced a crackdown on every single person trying to cross the border “illegally”.  It even includes prosecuting people for “harboring” illegal immigrants.  It further appears that if a man comes across the border with his wife and children, he will face “harboring” charges for bringing his family with him.

Finally, beloved leader’s propaganda minister tripped all over himself with a horrible comparison between the chemical attack in Syria and Hitler.  Saying “even Hitler didn’t use chemicals against his own people”.  Then he called the concentration camps “holocaust centers”, like they were a nice place to go to be relocated.

Now, to be fair to Spicer, he actually did apologize.  He didn’t use the standard trump line of “if I offended anybody” he actually said he made a stupid mistake.  But, that doesn’t take away from the stupidity to begin with.  If you are going to be the Press Secretary, don’t you think you should know at least basic history?

It is also understandable that there has been no comment from the White House either.  Stephen Bannon, Gorka, and a lot of other “key” employees of trump are known to be white supremacists.  So the culture of such comments is not all that unusual for this administration.

What we have discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg.  There has been a host of other outrageous things that the administration has either done or is going to try to do.  For example, the proposed tax reform plan includes eliminating the Social Security Tax from your pay checks.  Sounds nice, but without that tax, how will Social Security be funded?  It will be at the mercy of Paul Ryan the Republicans who want to kill Social Security completely.

So, we must ask beloved leader one question.  What exactly do you mean by “Make America Great Again?  So far, you haven’t done anything that could remotely be any indication of making America great.  All you have done is lie to the American people and take just about every weekend off to go play golf at Mar A Lago on our dime.  At the rate you are going, you will have played more rounds of golf in one year than President Obama did in eight years.

It is very clear that when beloved leader says he is going to Make America Great Again” he isn’t talking about making it great for you and me.  He is talking about making it great for himself and the 1 percenters.

I guess it is possible that things will change.  But with trump, I find that possibility very unlikely.  And, we are only at the end of three months.  Seems like thirty years.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 140. 

With all of the crap going on in Washington and trumps gang of thieves, I promised that I would keep track of other things that the Republicans are doing to you without you even knowing it.

The first thing they did today was to rollback an Obama Rule that said states could not keep money from groups that provided health care even if that group provided legal abortions.  Today, they rolled that back so states can now defund Planned Parenthood just because they offer abortions to those who can afford it.

I say those that can afford it, because none of the federal funding they receive are used for abortions.  That would be illegal.  Either the woman pays for the abortion, or they use donations they receive from private people and/or organizations to fund abortions.

Now, several states are expected to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funds.  That means lots of poor women will lose their health care since Planned Parenthood is the only place they can go to.  Especially in rural areas of many states.  And most of these states are trump supporters.  So, trump’s promise not to touch Medicaid is just as false as any other promise he has made.  You know that trump will sign the bill because he sent Mike Pence down to Capital Hill to cast the tie-breaking vote.

This isn’t going to hurt anyone right away because once states pass their laws, you know there will be legal challenges that will drag out for probably years.  But, the very idea that trump wants to defund Planned Parenthood shows he doesn’t give a shit about his own supporters.  Many rural areas of the country, mostly trump strongholds, only have Planned Parenthood to do cancer screenings, issuing out birth control, and many other women’s health care.  So women in these areas are the ones that will be hurt the most.

But if you really want to see the real heartless bastards that run the Republican party you need to look at the states.  That is on full display in Iowa.  There have been several counties and some local towns/cities that decided the poverty pay rate of $7.25 wasn’t enough for people to live on.  So, they decided on their own to raise the minimum wages in their jurisdictions.  Those raises were slated to go up incrementally from $7.25 to as much as $10.10.

Some of these jurisdictions had the pay raises already in effect.  Others were to begin this year beginning in April.  But, the Republicans who now control both houses of their legislature and the Governor’s office, said no more.

They passed a law that not only tells local jurisdictions that they do not have the right to raise the minimum wages for their citizens, they actually rolled back all of the pay raises immediately.  Meaning if you live and work in one of these counties and had already seen raises, you would go back to $7.25.

As many as 85,000 Iowans will be denied the pay raises they were either expecting or already received.  Eighty-four percent of these people are 20 years of age or older.  Sixty percent work full-time.  More than half are women.  Thirty-one percent are trying to raise families.  And, thirty-three percent are 40 years old or older.

Seeing the momentum going against keeping the minimum wage at $7.25, business lobbyists following the Koch Brothers American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) decided to go over the heads of local jurisdictions.  They went to the Iowa State Legislature to get this heartless bill passed.

This is the first time in history that a state actually rolled back wages for those who already had received them.  But, they won’t be the last.  Missouri is looking to do the same thing.  Other states have passed laws that stopped cities and counties from raising the minimum wage.  They have passed laws that kept cities from passing laws that favor LGBT rights like here in the Soviet Socialist State of North Carolina.

You have probably read that the state repealed HB2, the bathroom law.  But, don’t believe it.  Under the compromise bill that did pass, the state kept the right to pass LGBT rights laws to itself and is still keeping local jurisdictions from weighing in on their own.  I am still calling for everyone to boycott the state from vacations, conventions, etc.  I am still calling on the NCAA to see this as a simple trick to get them to keep NCAA basketball tournament games in the state and stay out of North Carolina.  This bill is a trick, it does not totally repeal the sad bill our Politburo passed to begin with.

Don’t you find is funny that all of the states that are passing laws like these are all Republican controlled states?  Isn’t it funny that when their hero trump kept telling their citizens he will make things great for them, the first thing they do is roll back minimum raises and hurt the very people trump claims he will help rise up?

I am not surprised.  We are talking about trump and today’s Republican Party.  These people do not care about the working people.  They only care about the rich like the Koch Brothers.  They only care about getting more money from people like Koch to stay in power.

The Republican Party is still telling the working people of America one thing.  They are saying “fuck you we are in power, sorry you were so stupid to actually believe us!  That’s your fault you lazy bunch of slackers”!

The Republican Party all across our land is showing that they are a bunch of heartless, mean-spirited, evil people who hate you and hate our country.  If you keep swallowing their bullshit, then they are right.  It is all your fault.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 140. 

I know that a lot of people may take exception to that question.  I also know that the knee-jerk reaction is “what the hell is he talking about?”  I hope both assumptions are correct, because it is time we have a real discussing about this issue.

I have been around for some time, and I have seen politicians come and go.  I saw the Civil Rights fights that led to the Civil Rights Bill.  I saw the conflicts that led to the Voting Rights Act.  I was part of the anti-war protests over the Vietnam War in the sixties.

I watched George Wallace bring his bigotry to the national debate with his independent run for the Presidency.  I watched as the old Dixiecrats all began to fade away the leave government either by retiring or dying.  I served under five different presidents with varying views of civil rights.  But, everyone of them loved America and American democracy in their own ways.  Even Richard Nixon.

Things were getting better.  Life was getting better for everyone.  Americans were beginning to feel good about themselves again.  Then, something happened and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that was.   In my view it started with Ronald Reagan.  It was Reagan who started coining the term “welfare queen”.

When Reagan was President, we had Iran Contra where his administration broke a real law by selling guns to Iran in order to raise money to fund the Contras in Central America which was breaking another law.

Several of Reagan’s people wound up in jail over the incident, but Reagan escaped untouched.  Then after Bill Clinton was elected, things got real nasty.  Clinton was actually impeached because he had sex with an intern in a consensual relationship.  What was his “impeachable” offense?  He lied about it, like every Republican who also got caught in affairs.

George W. Bush took us to war.  I didn’t have a problem with the war in Afghanistan since that was where the terrorists who committed the atrocious act of 9/11 were.  However, that wasn’t good enough for W.  He wanted to take out Iraq too.  As a result, it turns out he lied about getting us into the war.  He said over and over that Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction” and that was the justification for his war.

After the war, we found out that he did lie to us because Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  It was “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the President lied to the American people to start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The Republican Party began using lies as the only way to speak to the American People.  In the past, they used to wrap it up in “patriotic” language.  They would say things like “I am only dong what the American People want”.  or, “That is what the American People elected us to do”.

And they proved all of this was a big lie too.  When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, 70 percent of the American people wanted reasonable gun control laws.  The one they most wanted was a universal background check law.  The Republicans voted it down with “I am only doing what the American people want” lie.

We have started seeing more and more legal discrimination laws being passed, especially at the state level.  Republican state after Republican state are passing anti-abortion laws, voter restriction laws, anti-LGBT laws, and anti-local rule laws.

They have been trying their best to masquerade these laws as “liberty defense” bills.  For example, they claim that the anti-abortion laws are not intended for anything but “protecting woman’s health”.  Bullshit, they are intended to make safe and legal abortions unlawful.

They tell us that we need Photo IDs in order to vote.  Then they look at the types of photo IDs people have and the ones that are mostly used by non-whites or by the elderly or by young people, become not “authorized” as proper photo ids.  Then just to make sure no one can get around this, they shut down the government services, like Driver’s Licenses offices is areas that are primarily minority.  Making them drive or hitch a ride up to 250 miles to get the ID required to vote.

They pass laws they call “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” claiming that “Christians are being persecuted”.  They claim these laws are necessary because Christians cannot act like Christians anymore and everyone is “picking on us”.

But when you look at the laws, you discover the only purpose of them is to allow people to legally discriminate against any minority they want under the guise of “religious belief”.  They mainly targeted the LGBT community and tried to make it possible that a bakery could discriminate against a same-sex couple and not sell them a cake for their wedding.

Under this hateful behavior, they claim that if a baker must sell a cake to such people they would be “endorsing” the same-sex marriage.  BULLSHIT!  That is like saying that if you sell a cake to a member of the Chinese Embassy, you are endorsing Communism.  Or if you sell a cake to a member of the Iranian Government visiting America, you are endorsing the Iranian political agenda.

The only reason for these RFRA laws is simply to allow “government sponsored discrimination” against minorities.  Maybe they were only targeting the LGBT community, but every minority faces the same hate under these hateful laws.

Republicans claim they are the party that “wants government out of our lives”.  They claim to be the “small government” party.  Only their actions show otherwise.  When it comes to ensuring their pet projects get to see the light of day, they are more than willing to let government tell you what to do.

During the ongoing fight over the ACA, Republicans say they want the government out of the way and not get in the way of you and your doctor.  But, they are more than willing to tell doctors what they can and cannot do if a woman wants to talk about abortion or birth control.

Several Republican states passed laws “requiring” ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed.  Not because they were necessary for the woman’s health, but because they showed the fetus and they hoped that would change people’s minds.

They pass laws, like in Utah the other day, that are very dangerous to women’s health and even their lives.  They passed a law that says doctors “must inform women that after the first of two medications to perform an abortion is given, she can change her mind after the first medication was given and the abortion would be reversed”.  That is absolute nonsense and very dangerous to the health of the woman.

They pass laws like HB2 here in North Carolina.  This bill has several effects on our citizens.  First it mandates who is female and who is male.  It then says that you can only use a bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate.  It also says that local governments, like the city of Charlotte, does not have the power to modify this law in any way.

It does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected group under the Civil Rights laws.  It is still legal for a company to fire you simply because you are an LGBT person.  No other reason, just because you are gay.  But, Republicans say they are protecting “civil rights” of all of our citizens.

There is a push to reverse this horrible law, but the “compromise” they are announcing today is not very good and keeps in place the rule that local governments cannot pass their own laws or protecting LGBT from being fired just because they are gay.  The only reason this repeal is even being considered is because the Republicans are afraid the NCAA will lock them out of hosting any part of the tournament through 2022.  Since this law was passed by our Politburo the state has lost about $3.1 billion.

Republicans claim that women’s health care is very important to them.  Yet, they have been on a mission to destroy women’s health issues in insurance.  They have been making it difficult for women to get coverage for birth control in their “standard” health care coverage.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood for decades.  They don’t like the idea that you can get an abortion at Planed Parenthood.  So, they are lying to the American people telling them that Planned Parenthood is using federal dollars to perform those abortions.  Only that is untrue and illegal.

They latched onto the phony “sting videos” that claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts” of fetus tissue after an abortion to “make money”.  The videos were proven to be heavily edited and fake.  That didn’t stop Republicans.  They insisted that Planed Parenthood be investigated.  So, many states did just that.

Problem came up.  After dozens of investigations, it was discovered the Planned Parenthood was not “selling baby parts” and they were doing absolutely nothing illegal.  The thing was someone was doing something illegal.  The people who made the videos.

In Texas, the City of Houston brought charges against them.  Felony charges.  Then just this week, California charged the makers of the video with 23 felony charges!  So, Republicans demanded investigations, but now that the only crimes found were by the people who made the videos, they are mysteriously silent.

Still, in the Americans Without Health Care Act that crashed and burned last week, one of the biggest things and most loved part of the bill by Republicans was the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Again, Republicans say, “that is what Americans sent us to do”.

Only 70 percent of the American People do not want the government to defund Planed Parenthood.  7 in 10 people know that the services that Planed Parenthood offer are only offered by them.  Poor women and poor working women get their health care from Planned Parenthood.  Including cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, birth control, and a whole host of other services.

Did you know for example that unwanted pregnancies and abortions, especially among teenaged women and poor women are at their lowest in decades?  Did you also know that these women get birth control form Planed Parenthood and if you remove those services, unwanted pregnancies will increase.  How can you care about women’s health when you want to allow more unwanted pregnancies rather than fewer.

When you look at the whole picture, you have to wonder why today’s Republicans hate America and American democracy so much?  What indoctrination did they go through in order to become so anti-American?

In 2016, it was shown that Russia interfered in our elections.  But, even with this very serious problem, Republicans don’t seem too interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.  They are definitely putting party ahead of country.  Why?

Well if you are a conservative, you claim they are following “conservative principles”.  But, Ayn Rand had no “conservative principles” she only had selfish principles and Ryan is a huge follower if her principles.

If you are a Conservative Christian you will claim they are “protecting” Christian values.  I don’t know any true “Christians” who believe we should abandon the weak and the poor and the sick.  So there are no Christian values in their laws.  Only hate.

If you are a “small government” Republican you will claim they are trying to get government off of our backs and let us live in freedom.  Only,the laws they are passing have nothing to do with individual freedom.  They onely increase discrimination on minorities and favor corporate profits.

These factions of the Republican party are kidding themselves.  Today’s Republican Party is interested in power, and not for the People of America.  They are interested in their power, and mostly in the power of the American Corporations.  They want an Oligarchy.

That is why it is so easy for them to lie and lie and lie.  It is the reason they won’t answer a direct question with a direct answer.  Our current Republican beloved leader claimed he would work for “the average American”.  But, so far, he has only worked for corporations and the Republicans love him for it.

Today’s Republican Party is interested in destroying our democracy.  They are interested in removing civil rights for the people.  They are interested in destroying the middle-class because they are a threat to the oligarchs.

Today’s Republican Party is more enthralled with the way Putin runs Russia than in keeping our country a free country under a great Constitution.  They see the Russian Oligarchs getting richer and richer at the detriment of every other Russian, and that is what today’s Republicans want in America.

Somewhere along the path of our nation, the Republican lost their way.  Somehow they emerged out of a forest, and we discovered they were a lot more greedy and power-hungry than before.  Hate, greed, and discrimination are the Party’s mantra and their religious creed.

Are these the reasons why today’s Republican party hates America and American Democracy so much?  Are they the reasons this Republican Party has passed more intrusive laws against average Americans than any other party in our history?  You don’t do that if you love you country.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 136. 

You can point to a lot of reasons that the American Without Health Care Act failed.  For one it was a really bad bill.  Secondly, the president can’t figure out that dealing with over 400 people in the House is not like threatening some other contractor that he fails to pay.  Third, Ryan is a lousy leader.

But most importantly, you can look at the Republican Party as the major fault.  And, I am talking about something that began years ago.  Things started becoming really partisan under Ronald Reagan.  But, once Barak Obama was elected President, things really went from bad to worse.

That fact that a black man could actually win an election and become President was too much for the wacko fringe of the Republican Party.  They started organizing under different banners, but the one that stuck out was the Tea party.  With huge money backers like the Koch Brothers, this movement gained momentum.

In 2010 the ultra-conservative nut jobs known as the Tea Party started pealing off seats in the House.  In 2010, the Republicans took control of the House and things started to get worse and worse.  Obstruction became the normal political practice of the Republican Party.  No matter what President Obama wanted, it would be voted down or simply ignored in the House.

This became the entire policy of the Republican Party.  After the Sandy Hook shooting and 70 percent of the country wanted universal back ground checks on gun purchases, the House said no.  When the Senate passed a bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill that was really good, the House put it in a drawer and it has remained there since.

These actions were not because any of the bills that reached them were bad, it was simply because the House made a concerted effort to declare that nothing that was supported by President Obama would see the light of day.  There would be no hearings, no discussions, and especially no votes.

The Republican Party simply rolled over and let the wackos take charge of their party.  They allowed the so-called Freedom Caucus run Boehner out of town.  They failed to fight back for the principles that the majority of Republicans in the country stood for.  Instead, they let the wacko fringe begin to dictate policy.

They could have stopped all of this simply by talking to the Democrats in the House in order to get things done that would move the country forward.  In the past, they were able to work with the Democrats and there were compromises in legislation that helped everyone.

However, the party stuck to a Reagan Era rule known as the Hastert Rule that said no bill could go to the floor of the House without the party ensuring passage without Democrat help.  That was a huge mistake.  As a result, the wacko Freedom Caucus found themselves with way too much power for their little number of members.  The Freedom Caucus has about 40 members in total.

Only, that number of people is just enough to kill any bill they don’t like.  If a bill is going to help anyone but rich people in the country, the Freedom Caucus simply says no, and the bill fails.  If the party reaches across the aisle, the Freedom Caucus starts complaining that they are RINOs and fires up the country’s fringe against the party.

This whole mess came to light this past week.  In their absolute hate for the Affordable Care Act, a bill one of their own wrote in the 1990s, they ran on the “promise to repeal and replace” the ACA.  They have had seven plus years to put together a plan that would replace the ACA.  Only, the Freedom Caucus wackos would not support anything but a repeal with no replacement.

Being too afraid of the caucus running to Fox News and complaining about how establishment Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that helps poor people, they simply sat on their hands and did nothing.  They complained and complained about the ACA.  They did everything they could to undermine the bill.  They did everything they could, except write a decent replacement bill.

Then came the election surprise of 2016 and donald trump became our president.  Here they were with control of both Houses of Congress and a Republican, well sort of a Republican, sitting in the White House.  Repealing and replacing the ACA was going to be a slam dunk.

Only they didn’t have anything to replace the ACA with.  They never even bothered to write a plan.  They showed their total incompetence when it comes to actually governing.  As a result, Republican leadership locked themselves in a closet and wrote a bill in secret.  Then a couple of weeks ago they held a Press Conference to show off their work.

The bill had some things that most Republicans loved.  They did away with the mandates in the ACA.  They cut way back on the subsidies intended to allow poor people, poor working people, and the elderly get health insurance which would have either thrown people off their health care or make it so expensive they would pay half of their income to keep it.  And, of course, they eliminated the taxes on the rich and corporations that paid for the ACA.  And, finally they were going to gut Medicaid.  Everything was smelling like roses for Ryan and his leadership team.

But, as usual when Republicans are in charge, something happened on the way to the Forum.  First, people found out that they were going to be severely hurt by the plan, especially trump supporters.  They would either lose their insurance or see their premiums go through the roof.  Then it was figured out that up to 24 million people would lose their health coverage mostly due to the gutting of Medicaid.

That was bad enough.  People started showing up at town hall meetings and blasting their Representatives for taking away their health care.  They demanded they vote against the bill.  But, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Freedom Caucus showed just what freedom they were interested in.  Freedom from poor people.  They dug in their heels for one reason only.  The tax credits that were in the bill to help people actually purchase health care coverage.  Forget that these tax credits were miserly compared to the subsidies, it was still something that the “little people” could use.  Their whole philosophy on health care is that it is a privilege not a right and if you can’t purchase it on your own, simply get sick and die.

Republican Moderates went into a tizzy as well.  They started realizing that the bill would surely mean they wouldn’t get reelected.  They started to realize that the old white people they counted on to keep office would be the big losers and that would certainly mean a loss in their next election.

Ryan and company were in trouble.  They started negotiating with the two different groups one by one.  They even relied on trump and his “great deal making” abilities to help them out.  Ryan and his cronies talked to the moderates, and trump would bring along the Freedom Caucus wackos.

The problem was every time Ryan made a promise to the moderates, the right-wing wackos dug their heels in deeper.  When they made promises to move even further right to appease the wackos, the moderates said no even louder.  In order show how things are done, trump sent his hitman, Steve Bannon to speak with the right-wing wackos.  Rather than speaking with them, Bannon threatened them.

A presidential threat of support or taking away support in the upcoming elections would usually work.  But, with trump’s approval rating at just 36 percent, the wackos were not afraid of him.  In the end, the Republicans had to pull the bill without even a vote.  The wackos claimed victory.  The president blamed the democrats who were never even asked to participate in the process.  Ryan said that “governing is hard, but we were really close”.  No shit!

I don’t care if you like Nancy Pelosi or not, but she had some good advice for Ryan and the president.  She said” You don’t pick a date for a vote and then try to ramp up support.  You get the support you need and then hold a vote.”  The one thing about her is that when she was the Speaker of the House, she knew how to get legislation passed.  Something Republicans apparently forgot how to do.

After the calamity of this loss for the Republicans, trump said that Ryan did all he could and he doesn’t blame him.  Only on Saturday, trump told his followers on twitter to watch a Fox News show that night.  The show was Judge Jeanine.

During the show, she directly went after Ryan and said he should step down immediately.  She went after Reince Priebus for having just as much blame as Ryan.  She claimed that trump had no blame in this disaster.  So much for trump backing Ryan.  Obviously, Judge Jeanine is backing the wacko fringe.

This is what happens when a political party puts party over country.  It happens when a party decides to complain and not rule.  It happens when they allow the fringe groups of the party take control.  In the name of obstruction and hate the Republican Party made a pact with the devil and they are now seeing just what that pact has done to its soul.

Instead of looking for ways to work with Democrats for the last eight years, they sold their soul to the wacko fringe groups in order to gain numbers to they could get power.  Now that they have power, they are being defeated by those very people they thought would make life beautiful.

The problems Republicans are facing in the House and Senate are of their own making.  The very fact that our president is trump, is all because Republicans sat quietly back and let the wackos into the mainstream.  They made a pact with the devil, and now they are paying the price for that pact.

This is not going to end with the Americans Without Health Care Act either.  The whole mess over climate change, the environment, education, the economy, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and a whole host of issues will meet the same fate if Republicans keep to partisan politics instead of governing.  The wackos are driving the policy of the party in these matters as well.

If the Republicans are really interested in moving the country forward and governing in a way that will help the average person on the street, they need to cast off of their fringe wackos and start to talk to the Democrats.  They will need to understand that compromise is the best solutions for the country.  They need to get over their hate and start to act like reasonable people wanting to do the best they can for the American People.

Until Ryan and his cronies in the party understand this simple fact of life, we will continue to be held hostage by the wacko so-called Freedom Caucus.  True Republicans with real policies for the country need to grow a spine and fight back against their own fringe groups.  In normal times, I might think this would be possible.  However, since the Republican party is more interested in power than they are in governing, I don’t expect anything reasonable to come from them.

It is a very simple fact.  Republicans will not be able to govern until they wipe out their opposition.  That opposition is not the Democrats, it is the wacko fringe of their own party.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the will or the courage to take them on.

As a result of their cowardice, the shirts keep marching along!

 

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Day 132. 

There is a lot of talk about Neil Gorsuch’s performance at the hearing about is nomination.  A few of the Democrats have tried to hold his feet to the fire over some of his rulings, but the rest seem to be rolling over.  Even those who try to hold him accountable, don’t always ask the correct questions.

For me, there is one huge red flag flying over the Gorsuch camp.  This red flag is typical retorts from conservatives, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.  That one retort is simply that judges, even Supreme Court Justices, are merely rubber stamps for whatever a law says.

As an example, Sen. Durbin brought up a case about a truck driver whose case came before Gorsuch.  Here is a brief explanation of the case.  This truck driver was forced to pull his truck over because his breaks froze.  As a result, he could not drive the truck because it was considered an unsafe vehicle.

The driver’s dispatcher told him to move the truck, but he said he couldn’t because the brakes would not work properly because the brakes were frozen and couldn’t stop the tuck with the trailer properly.  The dispatcher told him to stay put until help arrived.  The truck, for reasons I don’t know, did not have any heat in the cab.  The temperature was about minus 14 degrees.

After waiting for sever hours without help arriving, the driver was near freezing to death.  He then got out, unhitched his trailer and drove the truck to a place to get it fixed and warm up.  The company fired the truck driver for “operating an unsafe vehicle”.

Seven different courts sided with the truck driver citing his safety and desire to stay alive.  Then the case got to Judge Gorsuch’s court.  He ruled in favor of the truck company and the driver lost his job.  According to Durbin, he is still without a job and seems to be blackballed from driving again.

During the hearing, Gorsuch said he “felt for the driver” but the law was the law.  The driver drove what was considered “an unsafe vehicle” and therefore he should have lost his job.  He even went so far as to tell Congress that if they don’t like the results they should change the law.  “I was merely adjudicating the law as it was written”.  However, judges do have the right, and the responsibility to say when a law is unjust and not adjudicate is as it is written.

In this case, the driver had two choices.  Take a chance and get the cab somewhere he could get it fixed and save his life, or simply sit still and freeze to death.  Gorsuch says that he should have sat still and froze to death.  This a very real case that proves that extenuating circumstances should have ruled the day and not just the letter of the law.  Gorsuch, once again placed the company’s interests in front of the person involved.

Gorsuch also said that the same-sex marriage situation is “settled law”.  But, he would not say the same thing about Roe v. Wade.  If you are wondering why, just look at his stance on the so-called “Freedom of Religion” laws he favors.  The ones that allow companies to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on “religious beliefs”.

If anyone would ask me, I would have suggested a few questions for Mr. Gorsuch that would not involve any cases of the past giving him an out.  But, they would let everyone know exactly where he would stand if these kinds of cases came before him at any level.

These questions would be something like this:  Do you believe that there are two different types of laws, one type being secular which rules civil society and one type being religious law that rules religious beliefs?  Do you believe that religious law should be considered when making secular law?  If, yes which religion’s or religious sect’s religious laws should be considered?  Do you believe that religious law should take precedence over secular law in civil matters?

Those questions would unmask anyone’s beliefs on issues like Roe v. Wade.  Let me explain.  I believe that civil society is ruled by secular law.  In a country like ours that offers freedom of religion, secular law must be the law of the land.

Religious law should never be considered when making secular law.  If you really believe in freedom of religion, then it would be impossible to say one religion’s laws should be considered and another’s religious laws should not.

Religious laws should never take precedence over secular law in a civil society that claims to be open and free.  If someone believes their religious laws take precedence over secular laws in civil society, you know where they stand on a myriad of issues.

The case of Roe v. Wade is a case of secular law v. religious law.  The entire case hinges on the definition of life and when it begins.  Religious law, especially with Catholics and Evangelicals, says that life begins at conception.  However, there are differences between religious life and secular life.

One could easily argue that life does not begin until the fetus is capable of surviving outside of the womb.  The arguments are purely based on different beliefs of secular law or religious law.  The pro-life group is based on the idea of life begins at conception.  The pro-choice group says otherwise.

If someone asked Gorsuch if religious law takes precedence over secular law, and he said yes, it would be a clear indication that he would override Roe v. Wade if it came before him.  I believe I already know that he does believe that religious law supersedes secular law with his stance in the Hobby Lobby case and his support of these “freedom of religion” laws that allow discrimination against groups based on religious beliefs.

That is not someone I would want on the Supreme Court.  But, since Democrats are not interested in getting to a person’s true feelings and beliefs, these types of questions are never asked.

Additionally, if you simply look at our own history, you will discover that conservatives always believe that religious law supersedes secular law.  You can see that in laws that banned intra-racial marriage, same-sex marriage, separate but equal laws, and many more.  All of those laws were justified by “religious beliefs”.  If a judge cannot interpret the law and declare it unconstitutional, we would still have those laws on the books.

That is why conservatives argument about “minimal justices” is totally wrong.  It is the responsibility of judges, especially on the Supreme Court to interpret laws for their constitutionality.  The Constitution is secular law, and NOT religious law.  The Constitution protects all minorities from bad laws passed by the majority.  If judges are simply rubber stamps for Congress, then we would still have slavery in this country.

I do not believe that Judge Gorsuch belongs on the Supreme Court.  His rubber stamp mentality, his willingness to let someone die just because he is too lazy to include extenuating circumstances in applying a law, and his apparent belief that religious law supersedes secular law, makes him unqualified to sit on the highest court of the land.

However, I don’t think that the Democrats are willing to go full-bore on rejecting him.  I am not convinced that they are willing to dig in too much on this nominee.  There are a lot of old people on the Supreme Court.  And, I don’t think they are willing to fight one nominee that might make it easier to get a more conservative wacko on the court with the next opening, which could be any day.

But, in my mind he doesn’t belong there.  He appears to me to be just another sleazy snake oil salesman in a fancy suite with a fancy haircut masquerading to be “mainstream”.  He isn’t mainstream.  He is a far right social conservative activist and his rulings have proven that to be the case.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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