Ohio prisons help foodbanks...teabaggers complain

Posted by J.D. On Monday, November 30, 2009 0 comments
I recently read a story involving Ohio prisons raising crops for The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. I have read many a commentary decrying the use of prison labor to make money for the state and/or prison wardens. But this is different. This is prisoners helping those in need.

Inmates harvested 106,734 pounds of winter wheat, corn and other crops this fall from state prison farms and donated it to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks, according to prison officials.

The offenders harvested the food between August and October at four of Ohio’s prisons. And 100 acres of winter wheat had been planted specifically for the food bank donation.

The food was valued at roughly $23,500.

The article goes on to quote Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Terry Collins speaking of the positive work this program has done both for the foodbank and for giving the prisoners an opportunity to give back to the community.

At a time when there is a 21% increase in demand for emergency food assistance, I found this to be a good story.

Then I read the comments.

The very first comment calls the story "ridiculous" and finds a way to shoehorn in some teabagger complains about burdens on the taxpayer.

And then someone else commented....

More bullshit math from teabaggers. As if it could take "millions of taxpayer money to grow 23.k worth of food". How poorly planned and operated would a farm have to be to turn millions into a harvest of mere thousands?

But don't let math or logic jump in the way.

Thankfully, at this point someone affiliated with the foodbank stepped in.

No taxpayer money was used at all. None. This was a program operated between the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks wherein the Ohio Foodbanks purchased the seeds and supplies.

But here are two teabaggers, mere days before Thanksgiving, bitching about potentially paying a small amount that would have gone to helping those with less.

No, teabaggers. This didn't cost you a dime.

You are, however, possibly lacking souls. You might want to look into that.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, November 29, 2009 2 comments
The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. - G. K. Chesterton

Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved. - Aristotle

As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality. - George Washington

Liberalism seems to be related to the distance people are from the problem. - Whitney Young

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. - William Gladstone

Liberalism, above all, means emancipation - emancipation from one's fears, his inadequacies, from prejudice, from discrimination, from poverty. - Hubert Humphrey

GOP purity test

Posted by J.D. On 0 comments
Recently, RNC Committeeman Jim Bopp, Jr. has authored a 10 point "Purity Test" entitled "Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates" which has been emailed to Republican National Committee members.

Ironically, The Nation has illustrated how Reagan himself would fail the test.

Furthermore, ThinkProgress has provided a fascinating look at how at least 40 current GOP lawmakers fail a principle of the "Purity Test".

The ten are as follows:

(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill
(2) Market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
(3) Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) Workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check
(5) Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat
(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
(9) Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
(10) The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

My only observation about the "Purity Test" is this:

(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill

(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

How the hell is retaining a federal law which does an end run around the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution supporting "smaller government"?

Republicans have been, and continue to be, more than happy to use the might of the evil Federal government to bypass state medicinal marijuana laws to continue prosecuting people for drug violations.

Here is a graphic which illustrates how much potential money is lost by the further prohibition of marijuana care of sloshspot.com:

States rights, my ass.

If the hypocrisy of the GOP isn't obvious to you by now...you may be an idiot.

Grayson pushes for 55 vote filibuster killer

Posted by J.D. On Saturday, November 28, 2009 0 comments
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has started a campaign to get Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to weaken the filibuster. The website, stopsenatestalling.com has a petition and a letter to Reid which outlines Grayson's reasoning.

...The Senate argues this is a result of their different procedures. The House requires a majority vote to pass legislation, while the Senate supposedly requires a supermajority of 60. But this rule of legislative procedure apparently only applies to Democratic initiatives that help ordinary people. Throughout the administration of President George W. Bush, the Senate passed much of its key legislation by majority vote:

* The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 passed 54-44
* The Energy Policy Act of 2003 passed 57-40
* The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 passed 51-49
* The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 passed 54-44
* The FY2006 budget resolution and Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 passed 52-47
* The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act passed 55-45
* The FY2007 budget resolution passed 51-49

...The filibuster should apply to the initiatives of both parties or to neither. Why should launching wars, and cutting taxes for the rich, require only 51 votes while saving lives requires 60?

Since the Democrats regained control of the Senate, Republicans have abused the filibuster rule like never before. Until 1970, no session of Congress had more than ten votes on cloture to end a filibuster. Until 2007, the record was 58. But since Democrats regained control of the Senate, filibusters have skyrocketed. The last session had a new record of 112...

As Ezra Klein of The Washington Post writes, only recently has the filibuster been used to demand a 60-vote requirement on all controversial legislation.

In a letter from Mike Manatos, Senate liason to then-President Lyndon Johnson, to Johnson campaign director Larry O'Brien, Manatos outlines the votes needed for Medicare.

Of the 49 votes cast on behalf of Medicare (Gore amendment) on September 2, 1964, we lost two supporters in the last election -- Senators Keating and Salinger.

However, we picked up five new supporters -- Senators Bass, Harris, Kennedy (Robt.), Montoya, and Tydings.

We also had three supporters who missed the vote this year -- Senators Bayh, Hartke, and Kennedy (Ted).

Thus if all our supporters are present and voting we would win by a vote of 55 to 45.

Of course, if we could persuade Senator Russell (who is on the brink) to support Medicare this year our margin should be even greater.

I have written before about the alliances built to fight Medicare back in the 1960's...and yet Manatos was writing of passing it with a vote of 55 to 45. That is something that could never happen today.

Since the 1960's, filibusters have been increasingly used by the minority party to roadblock the majority party.

According to research by UCLA political scientist Barbara Sinclair, there was an average of one filibuster per Congress during the 1950s. That number has grown steadily since and spiked in 2007 and 2008 (the 110th Congress), when there were 52 filibusters. More broadly, according to Sinclair, while 8 percent of major legislation in the 1960s was subject to "extended-debate-related problems" like filibusters, 70 percent of major bills were so targeted during the 110th Congress.

Read that again: from 8 percent--pretty infrequently--to 70 percent, or rule of the day. (These data come from Sinclair and from her chapter in CQ Press's Congress Reconsidered.)

And yet as Grayson notes, filibuster wasn't used to block Bush on much of the administration's key legislation. But the Republicans are doing now to kill any progress Obama might be able to make. And make no mistake, that is expressly their goal.

Early in his Presidency, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and Rick Santorum all declared their wish for Obama to fail. Long before the offensive anti-Obama Psalm 109:8 movement raised its ugly head, Ted Nugent prayed for Obama to fail.

I could argue that this kind of gamesmanship will continue indefinitely as long as our country is held under the stranglehold of the two party system. Voting third party is seen as throwing a vote away and the two parties work together to control political debate. That being said, I actually agree with Rep. Alan Grayson that the threshold should be lowered to 55 votes.

This is a new and disgusting era in politics where each side will do whatever it takes to gain and maintain power. The juvenile infighting and use of congressional loopholes to slow legislation to a crawl (or kill it entirely) without ever getting a fair vote on a bill will end all progress for the foreseeable future.

While many right-wingers might be just fine with that...remember, one day this move will be used on you. One day you will have the majority and the minority will be able to force you to a dead stop. That isn't how congress is supposed to work. It is supposed to work for the people...not for two teams of adults to act like spoiled children regardless of the damage it does to the country.

Hate crimes rising

Posted by J.D. On Friday, November 27, 2009 0 comments
Recently, hate crimes have risen to their highest levels since 2001. 2001, you might recall, was notable in the annals of hate crimes for all the anti-Islamic violence that followed 9/11. In 2008, hate crimes grew 2% over the previous year.

Racial violence and ant-LGBT violence rose along with virtually every other category. Notably, anti-Islamic violence actually dropped. That being said, the highest jump among major categories was violence based on the religion of the victim, a rise of 9 percent in 2008 over the previous year.

Following close behind religiously motivated hate crimes were racially motivated attacks against African-American targets, which rose more that 8 percent in 2008 -- the year that saw the first African-American in history secure a major party nomination, and then win the general election to become the first black president. The rise in anti-black crimes -- from 2,658 in 2007 to 2,876 in 2008 -- contrasts with a decline in attacks against whites, from 749 in 2007 down to 716 in 2008.

As has been the case for several years, racially motivated attacks account for about half of all bias crimes (51.3 percent) and religiously motivated attacks were next at 19.5 percent, followed by crimes linked to sexual orientation, at 16.7 percent of all attacks. The FBI said 11.5 percent of hate crimes (894) were motivated by ethnicity or national origin, with about two-thirds of those against Hispanic targets. That overall number was down significantly from 2007, when 1,007 such crimes were investigated.

Unfortunately, the perpetrators aren't just ignorant adults. Last week, an incident in a Florida middle school hearkens back to an uglier time in history.

District Spokesman Joe Landon said a student told the dean of students at dismissal that she was kicked because it was “kick a Jew day.”

The next day the principal addressed the entire student body about the incident. The principal asked anyone with information to come forward and report what they knew.

As a result, the district determined that 10 students should be punished. The students received a one day, in-school suspension.

This ugly and abhorrent trend has been growing for some time.

Back in January I noted the rise of racism as Obama neared the presidency and more recently the vicious attacks against the Obama family.

But it goes deeper than that. For some time, those of us on the left have warned that right wing hate rhetoric has consequences. Unfortunately, we are seeing that hate take root and culminate in almost across the board rises in hate crimes.

This isn't how Americans are supposed to act. Let us not allow America to denigrate to a rabidly hate-filled country filled with groups that would rather do each other harm than sit in the same room together. America is supposed to be about diversity and progress. Not hate and violence.

Ayn Rand Institute councils "rational selfishness"

Posted by J.D. On 1 comments
To celebrate Thanksgiving, the Editorial Board of The Christian Science Monitor ran an commentary entitled "What's best on the Thanksgiving menu? Giving, of course."

...By the time Abraham Lincoln declared it an annual holiday in 1863, Thanksgiving Day had evolved to become an ongoing measure of the American character for generosity, or acts of humble giving to others out of a gratitude for the goodness of God.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the crusading magazine editor of the early 19th century who championed the holiday, left no doubt of its purpose: "Let us each see to it that on this one day there shall be no family or individual, within the compass of our means to help, who shall not have some portion prepared, and some reason to join in the general Thanksgiving."...

But ironically, the same day that article ran, The Christian Science Monitor ran another commentary. This second commentary was written by Debi Ghate. Ghate is the vice president of academic programs at the Ayn Rand Institute.

What should we really be celebrating on Thanksgiving?

Ayn Rand described Thanksgiving as "a typically American holiday" whose "essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers' holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production." She was right....

...This country was mostly uninhabited and wild when our European forefathers began to develop the land and then build spectacular cities, shaping what has become the wealthiest nation in the world. It's in the American spirit to overcome challenges, create great achievements, and enjoy prosperity....

...So, on Thanksgiving, we should thank ourselves and the other producers who make the good life possible...

Yep. The vice president of academic programs at the Ayn Rand Institute believes that we should all be patting ourselves on the back. Why? Because America is fucking awesome! That's why!

Of course, she is dead wrong. Had Squanto not taught the Pilgrims how to hunt and grow corn (altruism in action right there), there wouldn't have been a harvest for the Pilgrims to celebrate. To claim that it is "a producers' holiday" is to overlook the means of production and the knowledge that was freely given to the Pilgrims.

Of course, those who pay homage at the altar of Capitalism quite often make this mistake. You see, it isn't the common man who created the wealth that the richest 5% enjoy...it is the awesome genius of that 5%. The richest 5% had the foresight and kindness to allow the common man to toil to enrich them.

It gets better.

But morally, each one of us should reach for the sky. Electricity, profits, and pie can only be truly earned through individual production – giving each of us the right to savor their consumption. Every decision, from which career to pursue to whom to call a friend, should be guided by what will best advance an individual's rational goals, interests, and, ultimately, an individual's life. We should take pride in being rationally selfish.

Yeah....morally we should all be selfish. And somehow Ghate sees no contradiction here.

Of course, the Ayn Rand Institute is named after someone who literally wrote a book entitled The Virtue of Selfishness so this is kind of par for the course.

I have written before of my thoughts on Capitalism and greed is not a virtue. Neither is selfishness. There is nothing moral about greed.

Contrary to Ghate's view of the early Thanksgiving ceremonies, the article by the Monitor Editorial Board claims:

Still, the American desire to commit good deeds for strangers, most often expressed during the end-of-year holidays, was planted long ago, first by the Pilgrims but even more so by the Puritans. In his 1630 "Model of Christian Charity" sermon, John Winthrop told his flock heading for the Massachusetts wilderness that they must create a new society, one in which everyone should follow this: "If thy brother be in want and thou [can] help him, thou needst not make doubt of what thou shouldst do."

That is pretty much the exact opposite of a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production for which Ghate claims the holiday should stand.

While Ghate claims:

It's a time to selfishly and proudly say: "I earned this."

I would counter there is never an appropriate time to selfishly and proudly pat yourself on the back and ignore the plight of others. Never.

While Debi Ghate and others of her ilk spend the holidays feeling smugly assured of their own superiority, it is exactly that selfish mindset that has destroyed our economy. Financial institutions wanted more. They felt entitled to it, but as Ghate claims all individuals are.

And then everything fell apart. But rather than see the problem accurately for what it is, Ghate would council that you simply spend your days being "rationally selfish".

McCain feels that Palin gets vicious treatment

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, November 26, 2009 1 comments
With Sarah Palin's new book in the news, people are commenting on her. As with all people who thrust themselves into the limelight, some comments are flattering and some less so.

Palin's former running mate, John McCain, has recently stated that he has never seen such animosity towards a person as what he has seen towards Palin.

“I’m entertained and sometimes a little angry when I see this constant, vicious attacks by people on the left,” McCain said of Palin during an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren.

“’I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years that I’ve been in politics,” McCain continued, “the viciousness and the personalization of the attacks on Sarah Palin.”

Really? More vicious than the joke McCain himself told about Chelsea Clinton?

More vicious than the following comment left by readers of this article?

Note that the comments has five stars after receiving eight votes.

By why stop there? How about declarations of treason?

Another five star rating after receiving multiple votes.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the recent news of an offensive photoshopped picture of First Lady Michelle Obama. The blatantly racist photo grafts the features of an ape onto Michelle Obama's face. In an article about that image the following comments were made:

Sadly, all of those hateful comments received five star ratings, too.

Vicious racism towards the Obama family isn't new. Back in January I gave examples of this behavior.

Of course, various declarations of treason aren't new either. I have written about those previously, too.

In an article about the use of Psalm 109:8 to threaten Obama, AOL ran a poll asking if it was offensive....and 51% believe it isn't offensive.

51% of people polled claiming that using a bible verse to threaten the President is not offensive. Wouldn't that count as pretty vicious?

How about these two comments from that same AOL article?

Yep. Two more five star ratings.

Speaking of the threatening prayer that 51% of AOL readers didn't find offensive, there were these two comments in an article about Obama's visit to Asia:

How about the following comment from an article about an SNL sketch which not only threatens Obama, but makes an overt threat to every Democrat:

That one has a five star rating after 80 votes. That seems kinda vicious. And 80 people agreed with it...which is really scary.

How about the following comment from this article which wasn't even a political or news site:

Would that count as vicious, Mr. McCain? Personally, I think racism is vicious. Maybe we differ on that. I think hating the President because of the color of his skin and/or because of his political affiliation is pretty vicious. I think racist attacks against the President's wife are pretty darn vicious. Far more so than teasing an ex-governor for being completely ineffective during her campaign for Vice President.

An example:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

When the candidate for Vice President has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is and instead rambles semi-coherently about terrorists and freedom...yeah...someone is probably going to make fun of her.

Which is a very different thing than calling the First Lady an ape. Very different than praying for the death of the sitting President. Very different than calling for armed revolt against the President.

But McCain thinks that he has never seen anything as vicious as the treatment Sarah Palin has received. Not in all his years in politics.

Cuomo says UHO is a scam

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, November 25, 2009 0 comments
For years, while walking the streets in New York City one might see tables manned by people in red aprons collecting money for the homeless. The organization is called United Homeless Organization.

And according to New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo the organization is a fraud.

"UHO exploits the good intentions of people who thought that their charitable donations were helping to fund services for the homeless," Cuomo said in a statement posted on his Web site. "Instead, their donations go directly to UHO's principals and workers, who abused the organization's tax-exempt status to line their own pockets."...

...The organization charges its workers a $15 fee for use of the tables, aprons, water jugs and brochures. The workers then pocket all the money solicited during their "shift," the lawsuit says....

...As many as 50 tables are set up throughout the city seven days a week, with two shifts on weekdays and one on weekends, according to the lawsuit. Based on those numbers, Riley and Walker could have been making roughly $9,000 a week or $100,000 untaxed dollars every year.

Who pockets the money for the $15 table fee? The organization. Who is the organization? Two people.

The organization's board consists of founder and president, Stephen Riley, who runs the organization from his home in the Bronx, and its director, Myra Walker. Nobody else.

What is exceptionally sad about all this, to me at least, is that the estimates are $9,000 a week. Every week regular folks gave what they could spare and it totaled $9,000 a week.

$9,000 a week every week...that didn't help any homeless people.

The city's Department of Homeless Services' last estimate of New York's homeless population, released Nov. 20, put the total at nearly 38,000 people.

38,000 people. $9,000 a week.

$9,000 a week that should have been going to those 38,000 people...and wasn't.

And with the news of Cuomo's lawsuit against UHO, people might now feel less secure about donating to worthy causes. When criminal unethical people do things like this, it can spread fear that any charity you could donate to might, in fact, be less than legitimate.

$9,000 a week never made it to the homeless people it was ostensibly meant to help. How much more will not make it now? How many more people won't drop money in a bucket because of the unethical and illegal acts of Riley and Walker?

With unemployment and homelessness rising, it is incredibly disheartening to read about stuff like this.

But there are many, many valid charities that do help others. Please don't let the actions of scam artists like Riley and Walker dissuade you from helping others.


Rhode Island governor vetoes equality

Posted by J.D. On 0 comments
Earlier this month in Rhode Island, a bill was put in front of Governor Donald Carcieri. The bill was designed to add "domestic partners" to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements if the deceased person left no pre-arranged funeral contract.

Governor Carcieri vetoed the bill.

In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: "This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.

"If the General Assembly believes it would like to address the issue of domestic partnerships, it should place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the state of Rhode Island decide."...

...Carcieri cited at least two other reasons for his veto.

As written, he said the bill would allow the decisions of a "partner" of a year to take precedence over "traditional family members," and he believes a "one year time period is not a sufficient duration to establish a serious bond between two individuals...[relative to] sensitive personal traditions and issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human remains."

Of course, his reasoning is bullshit. Two heterosexuals can meet and two months later get married. Then one month later, the husband can die. Apparently, Carcieri has no problem with a wife who knew her husband for a grand total of three months to make decisions pertaining to "sensitive personal traditions and issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human remains."

The truth is more in line with what he said earlier: he worries about the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage. It has nothing at all to do with how long a couple has or hasn't been together. He just doesn't want those damn queers making decisions for each other.

In his reasoning, Carcieri claimed that the people should decide by a vote. But he doesn't always want the people to vote.

Something else he vetoed that same day was a bill that would require a special election be held when a U.S. senator dies or leaves office in mid-term. Currently, the governor has the power to appoint an replacement senator. And he continues to wield that power now that he has vetoed a bill that would have put that decision in the hands of the people.

Carcieri doesn't care about giving the people a voice. He cares about putting forth his own right wing agenda.

A month earlier in October, Carcieri was the keynote speaker at a banquet for the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI). What does the MFI believe?

MFI does not consider homosexual behavior to be merely an alternate lifestyle or sexual "preference"; it is an unhealthy practice and destructive to individuals, families and society. Our compassion for those plagued by same-sex attraction compels us to support the healing of those who wish to change their behavior. MFI strongly opposes any efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all attempts to equate homosexuality with benign characteristics such as skin color, or the "gay rights" movement with the civil rights movement.

That banquet? It was a fundraising banquet. Carcieri was helping raise money for an institute that claims homosexuality is destructive to individuals.

Now...do you honestly believe he vetoed that bill because he feared "one year time period is not a sufficient duration to establish a serious bond between two individuals" or is it far more likely it was to do with his concern about "the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage"?

The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. David Segal and in the Senate by Sen. Rhoda Perry. The bill also had a face: Mark S. Goldberg.

...the legislation was an outgrowth of the wrenching tale that Mark S. Goldberg told lawmakers about his months-long battle last fall to persuade state authorities to release to him the body of his partner of 17 years, Ron Hanby, for cremation.

"I felt as if I was treated not as a second-class citizen, but as a noncitizen,” Goldberg told the Senate Judiciary Committee last winter, because “we were not legally married or blood relatives."

17 years. Goldberg and his partner were together for 17 years. And Carcieri doesn't believe that Goldberg should be able to make arrangements for his partner. Because Carcieri defends "traditional marriage" (or "opposite marriage" if you are a Miss USA contestant).

Describing himself as “genuinely upset” by Carcieri’s actions, the House sponsor, Rep. David Segal, D-Providence, said: “I think the man is heartless … [this] doesn’t change the definition of the word ‘marriage.’”

Rep. Segal is telling the truth. This bill wouldn't have even remotely changed the definition of marriage. But Carcieri and his ilk worry about some phantom "incremental erosion" of all they hold dear and as such will do anything to disenfranchise anyone who they oppose.

Palinheads speak!

Posted by J.D. On Tuesday, November 24, 2009 2 comments
The guys at New Left Media decided to interview people waiting in line to meet Sarah Palin at a booksigning event.

The Palin supporters were asked questions like what they believe Palin stands for and what is happening in America. Much akin to the deer in headlights look that Palin showed Charles Gibson when it became abundantly clear that she had no idea how to answer his questions, these Palinheads grow increasingly uncomfortable when they are pressed about actual issues.

Aimai over at No More Mister Nice Blog has an amazing summary of the contents.

...If you watch the video lots of people were prepared with a first sound bite "she stands for America!" "She makes me proud to be a woman!" That was like the moment in Palin's interviews when she knew she'd handled the softball questions well. But as the interviewer didn't end the interview but instead asked for more detail the interviewee begins to get nervous. They have to explain some things that they had taken for granted. The very question seems to challenge them. As they start to talk more, and find themselves giving an impromptu lecture to this helpful student they find that they don't have the faintest idea what to offer to back up their gut feeling. Some of them become puzzled, others apologetic, others excitable....

At first, I found some of the ignorance on display absolutely stunning and at times mildly amusing. Then I read the following:

On November 20, 2009, at a Borders bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, Sarah Palin held a book signing event in support of “Going Rogue”.

Shit. I live in Ohio. These people live around me.

I'm going to go cry now.

Chase community giving on facebook

Posted by J.D. On 0 comments
If you happen to be on Facebook please check out the Chase Community Giving page.

Chase is giving away $5 million to various charities and this is your opportunity to help choose which charities receive monetary gifts.

Visit the Chase Community Giving home page or click the "Charity Search" tab to explore the thousands of charities involved with this $5 million initiative. If you know exactly which charity you want to support, search for it by name. If you'd prefer to discover charities in your area, search by zip code. You may not see the charity you're looking for if it hasn't received any votes.

Chase Community Giving

If your local charity isn't included, simply fill out the form here and include all the relevant information. If it meets the inclusion criteria, it will be up within a couple of days.

Right wing craziness growing

Posted by J.D. On Monday, November 23, 2009 0 comments
Since President Obama first won, well before he was even sworn into office, hate and racism have reared their ugly heads against him.

The far right-wing has done everything they can think of to discredit Obama's win.

First, there were the "birthers". Back in March, Ben Smith writing for Politico outlined this movement.

Out of the gaze of the mainstream and even the conservative media is a flourishing culture of advocates, theorists and lawyers, all devoted to proving that Barack Obama isn't eligible to be president of the United States. Viewed as irrelevant by the White House, and as embarrassing by much of the Republican Party, the subculture still thrives from the conservative website WorldNetDaily, which claims that some 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding more information on Obama's birth, to Cullman, Alabama, where Sen. Richard Shelby took a question on the subject at a town hall meeting last week.

These "birthers" have even flooded courts with various frivolous lawsuits attempting to prove that Obama can't possibly be a valid President. Recently, a state appeals court of Indiana ruled against one birther group.

In the Indiana case, Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana, the birthers argued a different thing: that a "natural-born citizen" could not have a foreign parent. And in 1961, Obama's father, a Kenyan, was a subject of the British Empire.

The Constitution doesn't say what a natural-born citizen is. The Indiana court dug into the history of U.S. and English common law, and produced the following distinction. There are two kinds of citizens: naturalized, who become citizens after they are born; and natural-born, who are citizens at birth.

All citizens at birth are natural-born. That is the rule used by the Indiana court. By U.S. law, you can be born in Uzbekistan and if you have one American parent who had been American and lived in the United States for a minimum period of time before you were born, you are American.

The Indiana ruling had a footnote. Obama is not the first U.S. president who had a noncitizen parent. "Chester A. Arthur, the twenty-first U.S. President, was born of a mother who was a United States citizen and a father who was an Irish citizen."

A car dealership in Wheat Ridge, Colorado (Wolf Automotive) recently erected a billboard which asks "President or Jihad?" and demands to see a birth certificate. It further reminds citizens to "Remember Ft. Hood" as if President Obama had anything at all to do with that tragedy.

With the birther fury still wild but gaining little to no traction, they have recently shifted to claiming that Obama didn't win the election...he stole it.

The new national poll from Public Policy Polling (D) has an astonishing number about paranoia among the GOP base: Republicans do not think President Obama actually won the 2008 election -- instead, ACORN stole it.

This number goes a long way towards explaining the anger of the Tea Party crowd. They not only think Obama's agenda is against America, but they don't think he was actually the choice of the American people at all!

Claiming that he wasn't a natural citizen didn't fly...so they are now claiming that the notorious ACORN stole it on his behalf. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence that ACORN is some superpowerful shadowy organization that has the ability to swing elections for the Democratic party. And if they could and did...please explain why Democrats didn't carry every election in this last election cycle.

There is no evidence of voter fraud from ACORN. True, some employees of ACORN inflated their registration numbers but that has nothing at all to do with the actual election.

Elections have been tampered with, however...just not by ACORN. Back in 2004, there were numerous instances of disenfranchised voters and outright illegal activity.

...A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations...

...The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.

Of course, you don't hear a peep from teabaggers about 2004. Nor will you hear them bemoaning the theft of the Presidency in 2000 when Bush carried Florida with a little help from his friends in that state.

Xavier Suarez, ousted as Miami Mayor in 1998 in a notorious case of absentee ballot fraud: 1) was elected to the Executive Committee of the Miami-Dade GOP party last September; and 2) admitted that he "helped fill out absentee ballot forms" for this past November 7 election

Disproportionately effected in the recount shenanigans were black voters, 90% of whom voted for Al Gore.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights approved a report Friday that suggests blacks disproportionately had their ballots discounted in Florida's elections, leading to widespread violations of the Voting Rights Act.

The panel accepted investigators' findings by a 6-2 vote, with both members appointed by Republicans voting no.

But these patriots who want what is right for American don't seem to care about vote irregularities when a Republican wins. Only when it is Barack Obama.

With the crazy anti-Obama conspiracy theories comes the violent rhetoric that often fires up from the extreme right wing.

In Missouri, the Lafayette County Republicans are celebrating a new billboard:

Yes. It literally instructs citizens to "Prepare for War" should they fail to "Vote out incumbents".

This should be no surprise, though. I have previously written of right-wing calls for treasonous actions against the President.

In an even more stomach churning action, right wing activists are using the Bible to attempt to spread their hate: Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8.

That prayer is nothing benign. It is a call to invoke God's wrath upon your enemies.

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Recall that Pat Robertson has stated of Islam:

...not a religion, it's a political system, a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world

And yet these people who rail against Islam are advocating the same things they accuse Muslims of doing...overthrowing a government they disagree with.

Like Pat Robertson, Frank Schaeffer was raised a Conservative Evangelical Christian. Schaeffer's father, Francis Schaeffer, was credited with inspiring the flowering of a Conservative Christian political movement in the 1970s and 80's. Frank, however, eventually turned his back on this movement stating:

In the mid 1980s I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how very anti-American they are, (the theme I explore in my book Crazy For God). They wanted America to fail in order to prove they were right about America's "moral decline."

Recently, on The Rachel Maddow Show Frank Schaeffer discussed how these far right-wing groups are coalescing into a phalanx of hate.

...I think that the situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of biblical language, language from the anti-abortion movement, for instance, death panels, and this sort of thing, and what it's coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler, as they have already called him, as something foreign to our shores -we're reminded of that, he was 'born in Kenya' - as Brown, as Black, above all, as not us. He is Sarah Palin's 'not a real American.'...

...Really, this is trawling for assassins. And this is serious business. It's un-American, it's unpatriotic, and it goes to show that the religious right, the Republican far-right, have coalesced into a group that truly wants American revolution, and if it turns out to be blood in the streets and death, so be it. This is not funny stuff any more. They cannot be dismissed as just crazies on the fringe. It only takes one....

...This is the American version of the Taliban. The Taliban quotes the Qu'ran, and al Qaeda quotes certain verses in the Qu'ran, in or out of context, calling for jihad, and bloody war, and the curse of Allah on infidels. This is the Old Testament, Biblical equivalent of calling for holy war. Now, most Americans'll just see the bumper sticker and smile and think that it's facetious. Unfortunately, there are 22 million Americans or so who call themselves super-conservative evangelicals. Of this, a small minority might be violent. But, the general atmosphere here is really getting heated....

The way these people are behaving...that isn't patriotic. That isn't what America is supposed to be about. We can't sit idly by and assume that because they are acting loony that they will not have any impact on the political dialogue. That clearly isn't true.

We initially took a hiatus with this blog because the hate rhetoric had gotten so fierce that it was disgusting and sad to read and write about politics. But then came the realization that if sane people do nothing, then the crazies win.

Recall the quote oft-attributed to Edmund Burke:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Ignoring them or belittling them will not make them go away. Neither should one fight violence with violence. Don't allow the crazies to set the ground rules. These people are a threat because they truly want to bring the whole system down and rebuild it in their own image. That is not what America is supposed to be. And they don't care. They want to rebuild their own Conservative Christian America. Immigrants, ethnic minorities, and gays need not apply. As Americans, we cannot allow that to happen.

Be active. Work towards achieving the country that American should be. Freedom and equality for all.

'Cause this right-wing crazy shit needs to stop.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, November 22, 2009 0 comments
"I remember being young in the 1960s... we had a great sense of the future, a great big hope. This is what is missing in the youth today. This being able to dream and to change the world. - Bernardo Bertolucci

It came home to me indelibly that I was never going to change anything in America by walking around carrying a sign. It was a great revelation. It saved me a lot of anxiety and a lot of wasted energy. - Peter Coyote

Change can take place only when liberal and radical pressures are both strong. Intelligent liberals have always recognized the debt they owe to radicals, whose existence permits liberals to push further than they would otherwise have dared, all the while posing as compromisers and mediators. Radicals, however, have been somewhat less sensible of their debt to liberals, partly because of the rather single-minded discipline radicals are almost forced to maintain, plagued as they always are by liberal backsliding and timidity on the one hand and various forms of self-destructiveness and romantic posing on the other.... Liberal reforms and radical change are thus complementary rather than antagonistic. Together they make it possible continually to test the limits of what can be done. Liberals never know whether the door is unlocked because they are afraid to try it. Radicals, on the other hand, miss many opportunities for small advances because they are unwilling to settle for so little. - Philip Slater

Civil disobedience, that’s not our problem. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem. - Howard Zinn

My generation's apathy. I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years. - Kurt Cobain

Let me just say: Peace to you, if you're willing to fight for it. - Fred Hampton

Sleeping Where I Fall: a review

Posted by J.D. On Saturday, November 21, 2009 0 comments
Peter Coyote is probably best known today for his film acting as well as his narration of various documentaries and nature programs. You might remember him as "keys" in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial or possibly from his narration of the program The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Over the years, Coyote has amassed over 100 film roles.

What is less widely known is that Peter Coyote led a full and interesting life well before he embarked on his cinematic career. As one of the founders of the Diggers (an anarchist group active in Haight-Ashbury), Coyote was an activist in the San Francisco counter-culture community during the mid-1960s. Sleeping Where I Fall is a memoir of those times. The book leaves off right before he started film acting...and I've been waiting ten years for the follow-up book.

The book explores how Peter Cohon (Coyote's birth name) left Englewood, New Jersey and arrived in San Francisco to become a stage actor. Once in San Francisco, Cohon discovered the San Francisco Mime Troupe, left-wing political street theater group, and began taking steps on the path that would alter his life forever.

Eventually changing his name to Peter Coyote, he partied with Janis Joplin, befriended various Hell's Angels, knew the Grateful Dead, and traveled across the nation with various friends and lived in communes all over the country. It is fascinating to see Coyotes perspective of these now legendary people. Rather than blind glorification (which often happens with legends) or a revisionist tearing down (which, sadly, also often happens with legends) we are given a personal eye view. Janis was a great friend. As was Grateful Dead manager Danny Rifkin. Coyote has less kind words for counter-cultural icon Abbie Hoffman.

While it is awe inspiring to think that one man from New Jersey came to know all these movers and shakers of the 1960's, like all lives, not everything was roses. Coyote lived at Olema ranch, Red House, and Black Bear Ranch at different points in life and he writes about the struggles at each commune as well as the joys.

The story isn't a defense of the counter-culture nor is it a condemnation of the counter-culture's faults. It is a very personal story about a man's spiritual search for truth, peace, and freedom.

I first read this book ten years ago when it was first published. I found it to be very inspiring and opened up new modes of thought for me. As I reread it now (ten years older, of course) I was surprised to discover that the book didn't have the joyful optimism that I had recalled.

While the communards found that they were rebelling without plan or concrete goal they were casually optimistic that everything would turn out for the best. In my early twenties, I overlooked the flaws in their modus operandi with the same youthful optimism. Now in my thirties, I more clearly see that while hope and optimism are necessary components to a joyful and productive life, devoid of planning and action they won't carry the day. Now the book reads a little more bittersweet.

There is also some sorrow in seeing how life ended up for so many of the original Diggers and their associates. While some found a balance in life and attained happiness and success, the fates of others run the gamut from disappointment to untimely death. Not that the book is sad. While it is in parts, it isn't sad as a whole. It is still inspiring in many ways.

The book began life as a short story entitle Carla's Story which was published in ZYZZYVA in 1992. After winning the Pushcart Prize for the story, Coyote decided to attempt to pen his memoirs. And I'm glad he did.

Some of the stories that make up Sleeping Where I Fall have been published by Peter Coyote in other venues. The Free-Fall Chronicles: Playing For Keeps tells of his meeting with another Digger pioneer who had a great deal of influence on Coyote, Emmet Grogan. Grogan himself wrote a memoir entitled Ringolevio...and as much fun as it was to read, I would be shocked if even 30% of it wasn't total bullshit. I am hard pressed to believe that Grogan was a Park Avenue burglar, was in cahoots with the mafia, worked with the IRA, and then pretty much single handedly created the Diggers. As Coyote later said of Grogan's book:

Oh, yeah, Emmett sauntered and we all walked.

As years go by, we are all a little prone to remembering things brighter (or sometimes, darker) than they really were. Unlike Ringolevio, however, Sleeping Where I Fall reads as an accurate representation of the times (although I wasn't present, or even alive, for the events told in this book, my bullshit detector didn't wiggle at all while reading it). Coyote never paints himself as a saint and is quick to point out where he went astray. It is refreshing and honest.

If you are interested in reading about the American counter-culture of the sixties and seventies from a first person perspective by someone who truly was living the life espoused by the counter-culture...I cannot recommend this book enough.


Ohio student starts a charity

Posted by J.D. On Friday, November 20, 2009 0 comments
Too often, mainstream media as well as blog focus on the ills and evils of the world. It is a nice change of pace to see someone attempting to do something nice for others.

Breanna McGowan is a senior at Centerville High School (a small suburb outside of Dayton, OH) with plans to study nursing at Sinclair Community College after graduation. Recently, she volunteered with Projects Abroad. Projects Abroad is an organization which sends students to other countries to work with others and exchange knowledge about each others cultures. McGowan was sent to Ghana and what she discovered there made her want to get more involved and help others.

When Breanna McGowan arrived in Ghana last summer as a volunteer with “Projects Abroad,” she never anticipated that she would become so attached to the students at the orphanage that she visited daily.

After returning home, the 17-year-old asked her mother, Laura McGowan, to help her start a charity aimed at providing shoes, school supplies and information for Ghanian students interested in studying in colleges in the United States.

This noble girl saw need in the world and decided to try to help. While many simply turn a blind eye or mutter "there but for the grace of God..." and have a moment of thanks that their plight isn't as bad...Breanna McGowan decided to do something. To engage.

McGowan is raising money at school with the help of her teacher, Sharon England, and fellow students in the Business Medical Tech Prep program. McGowan also has obtained corporate backing from the owners of Bill’s Donuts in Centerville.

Breanna said she and her friend, Brittany Combs, plan to travel to the Ghanian orphanage next summer to deliver the shoes and school supplies.

On the Projects Abroad website, McGowan goes in more depth about her story and what she plans to do for others.

I came back with a goal. I want to make a tangible difference. Those children don't have very much materially and I didn't want to just come home with fantastic pictures, sleep in my cushy bed and forget. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change these kids’ lives more than just by spending some time with them for a couple of weeks. If they could be given more opportunities and resources to help them to be the best that they could be, what could that possibly do for their futures?

I decided to start an organisation called "All God's Children Got Shoes." This organisation will try to get new shoes and other supplies that the children need for each school year. So far my teachers, friends, acquaintances, and my church have joined me to help meet these goals. Additionally, we’d like to give the orphans in their last year of school information to help them possibly attend college in the US on student visas if they meet the requirements.

I am planning to go back to Ghana next summer. This time, I will take a friend along with me. She will get to meet my friends at the Outreach Orphanage and Evangelical International Mission and see for herself the beauty of Ghana and its people who have impacted my life forever.

I truly do believe that for every self-centered angry teabagger in the world, there are at least three Breanna McGowans. The problem is that too often people feel powerless to help others. But it isn't terribly difficult. Lend a hand when you see someone needs it. Listen when someone clearly needs to talk.

You can be more active in your community. If time doesn't permit, try opening your wallet to help others in need.

We have a sister blog entitled Give For Today which is a resource for finding charities and charitable organizations in your community, nationally, or internationally.

If you have the means, please think about following Breanna McGowan's example and helping others.


Brad Levenson wins again

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, November 19, 2009 0 comments
Back in February, deputy federal public defender Brad Levenson wanted his health insurance benefits extended to his husband of 16 years, Tony Sears. Judge Stephen Reinhardt for the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Levenson's favor.

But as it often the case in life, it wasn't so easy.

Levenson first tried getting his husband, Tony Sears, on his insurance plan three days after they got married in California in July 2008. When Levenson's application was denied, he brought a complaint to the 9th Circuit in its role as employer. In February, Reinhardt ruled in his favor.

But the Office of Personnel Management intervened and ordered Levenson's health insurer to cancel the coverage it already had extended to Sears, the judge said. Levenson went back and asked Reinhardt to order the public defender's office to either arrange separate coverage for Sears or pay him to do it.

The personnel office has been citing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act to defend its actions. Luckily for Levenson, Reinhardt disagrees.

"The denial of federal benefits to same-sex spouses cannot be justified simply by a distaste for or disapproval of same-sex marriage or a desire to deprive same-sex spouses of benefits available to other spouses," Reinhardt wrote.

Reinhardt was a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, California Advisory Committee from 1962 to 1974 and was its Vice Chairman from 1969 to 1974. He was appointed to his current position as a circuit judge by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.


2 Plus 2 Equals 4

Posted by Victoria On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 1 comments
Study: Uninsured Trauma Victims Face Sky-High Death Rate

I stand in shock and awe.

In 1986....Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. It mandated that hospitals and ambulance services provide care to anyone who needs emergency treatment, regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.

Somebody must have been wearing their pink sunglasses that day.

Such anecdotal evidence squares with another finding of Rosen's study: Even when everything else was equal, "uninsured patients received significantly fewer radiographic studies and were less likely to be admitted compared with insured patients with similar diagnoses."

This just in.......Rain....is Wet!

I'm not blaming the doctors themselves on this one. Let's face it it, in the big business of health care, they are peons like everyone else. Until this country grants everyone their rights to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" (which I assume you can't really do when you are dead from preventable/treatable causes), healthcare is going to remain a business, and health, a luxury.

More support for the repeal of DADT

Posted by J.D. On Tuesday, November 17, 2009 0 comments
Barack Obama campaigned on many issues. One of them was the repeal of the "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell" policy of the US military. After winning the election, it was even noted in The Obama-Biden Plan.

Last year I noted that already more than 100 retired generals and admirals have called for the repeal of DADT.

A few months later, in April, I wrote about a Quinnipiac University national poll that showed American voters supports the repeal of DADT 56% - 37%.

But still the administration has put it on the back burner.

Now VoteVets.org is reporting that three former military chaplains support the repeal of DADT.

Three former military chaplains today announced their support for a full repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and addressed implementation concerns in a Q&A released publicly by VoteVets.org.

In explaining how they addressed implementation issues, Charles D. Camp, Chaplain (Colonel), USA (Ret.), John F. Gundlach, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret.), and Jerry Rhyne, Chaplain (Colonel), USAF (Ret.) wrote, "In preparing these responses we were mindful of the primary mission of the Armed Forces to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We consulted with fellow Chaplains as well as veterans representing all the Services in all ranks and ratings from E-1 through O-8. We also spoke with numerous combat veterans including those who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Among the arguments the chaplains make is that during the first Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush issued a ‘stop loss' order, at which time no gay and lesbian troops were discharged, and it had no effect on morale, good order, or discipline, and a recently released essay in the 2009 Joint Forces Quarterly similarly found a repeal of the law would not affect morale.

Frankly, I have no idea why President Obama is waiting. There is military support for repeal, popular civilian support, and now military chaplain support.

Especially when it looks like Obama plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. Wouldn't it behoove him to actually have a larger pool of citizens from which to recruit potential soldiers?

Maybe people need to make their voices louder.

Please think about taking a minute or two to contact President Obama via the White House website and let him know you urge him to repeal this bigoted military policy.

Teabaggers chant "Columbus go home!"

Posted by J.D. On 1 comments
This past weekend, a small rally was held at the state capitol in Minnesota. How small? Apparently, a mere forty-five anti-immigration activists were present. Gotta love those teabaggers.

Once you are through quaking in your boots that a group of people just shy of fifty in number were amassing in Minnesota, let's analyze some of their rhetoric, shall we?

A white man who looked to be in his late fifties gave an extended speech describing how, because of the National Organization for Women, hundreds of undocumented women make false claims of domestic abuse in US courts to get US residency. He added that seventy percent of domestic violence cases are caused by women, that some abusers "have good reasons" for what they do, and that courts never investigate domestic violence cases.

Seriously? Some abusers "have good reasons"? I wonder what would qualify as a "good reason" to think guy. Not doing the dishes? Failing to ensure that a warm meal is awaiting him the second he comes home from work? Wanting to vote?

This guy has issues with immigrants and women. Good luck with that, sir.

But it actually gets dumber.

"Can you imagine what it would be like if Mexico still ran this place?" said one rally attendee after explaining to a counter-demonstrator that white Europeans had brought ambition and bravery to a lax and cowardly land.

Yep. Apparently, all native people are giant cowards. And to think, the original settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts were such courageous people, they needed those cowardly natives to save their asses during winter. You know...that whole thanksgiving thing?

The First Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God and the Native Americans for helping the pilgrims survive the brutal winter.

I'm sure the ambitious and brave pilgrims didn't really need help from those cowardly natives. They just wanted them to feel better about themselves. You know, because the pilgrims were so kind and thoughtful like that.

The real highlight came from a man who called himself "a concerned citizen from Minneapolis" named Robert Erickson. He took his time at the podium to rip all those damn immigrants who stole this land and now occupy so much of the country that real Americans can't get jobs.

Erickson seized the opportunity to show the anti-immigrant teabaggers what idiotic hypocrites they really are...by lampooning the whole dog and pony show with a speech about the original settlers of America.

Damn European settlers.

The full text of his speech is below.

Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I’m really excited to be here. Its people like all of you, and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!

I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country and I want to see America be the best place it can be.

Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that’s tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!

In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. Its just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for American’s to find jobs. Well I’m fed up and its time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we’re not gonna take it any more!

We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that’s sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.

Its no secret that with an invasion of immigrants, comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren’t new problems though, they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.

I say its time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Lets send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! Its time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land! I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep, I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.
Thank you very much, and we’ll see you in the streets!

Columbus go home! Columbus go home! Columbus go home!

I really love how he actually got the crowd to chant "Columbus go home!".

But not everyone was fooled. Ruthie Hendrycks of the anti-immigrant group Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform took to twitter to show how crafty she was:

Our group was not duped! Jeffers and I knew he would make a fool of himself up there and we let him!

Um....mission accomplished? Sorta. But then again....not really at all.

Frankly, if you have to tweet about your suspicions two days after the event...you are probably full of shit.

Robert Erickson, whoever you are, I salute you. Well played, sir.


Below is a second video which shows how amazingly "not fooled" the people from Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform were. Sue Jeffers introduced Erickson with the following words:

Next up Robert Erickson who is a concerned citizen from Minneapolis who wants to hold his government accountable. Robert has spent a lot of time living around immigrants and has seen firsthand the effects they have on the local job market and the community. Please join me in welcoming Robert Erickson.

I don't know about Ruthie Hendrycks, but Sue Jeffers sure seemed to have been duped. Maybe Hendrycks is just more familiar with Swiftian satire than Jeffers.

This video is the best because you can see the minuscule amount of teabaggers in the audience. All forty-five patriots.

Robert Erickson...if you are ever in my neighborhood, Patriot Burgers and Freedom Fries are on me.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, November 15, 2009 0 comments
I know no class of my fellowmen, however just, enlightened, and humane, which can be wisely and safely trusted absolutely with the liberties of any other class. - Frederick Douglass

People who can't think of anything else but whether the person you love is indented or convex should be doomed not to think of anything else but that, and so miss the other ninety-five percent of life. - Robert Towne

Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? "Keep her," I replied...The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me. - Anna Quindlen

To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow. - William Faulkner

Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it. - Frances Wright

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself - Andy Warhol

Repubicans don't want you to have their health care

Posted by J.D. On Saturday, November 14, 2009 1 comments
The GOP pushed hard to get the Stupak Amendment added to the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Why? Because Republicans would be damned if they were about to let insurance cover abortion.

Unless, you know, it is their own insurance provider.

Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna, and two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

As of Thursday, the RNC’s plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”

Of course, the Republican National Committee is now scrambling to fix the problem.

Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO earlier Thursday that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

“The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said.

But that is not all. Remember all the fear mongering about "death panels"? How the Democrats would force older citizens to think about suicide?

Well, first off, that wasn't true.

What the bill actually provides for is voluntary Medicare-funded end-of-life counseling. In other words, if seniors choose to make advance decisions about the type of care and treatments they wish to receive at the end of their lives, Medicare will pay for them to sit down with their doctor and discuss their preferences. There is no requirement to attend regular sessions, and there is absolutely no provision encouraging euthanasia.

Of course, seniors who talk to their doctors about end-of-life care might well choose to discuss what types of life-saving treatment they wish to refuse. That choice has been federally guaranteed for almost 20 years. Doctor-assisted suicide, on the other hand, is legal in only three states, making it even more unlikely to be a major part of the federal health plan.

And second? The provider that the RNC uses, Cigna, provides that same end-of-life care.

But ThinkProgress has noticed that Cigna, the RNC’s health insurance provider, also urges beneficiaries to think about end-of-life services. Cigna’s website has a page called “Care at the End of Life,” which covers topics such as how to talk with “loved ones” about “end-of-life choices” and whether to stop life-prolonging treatment...


These guys have a health care plan that covers all the things that they are fighting to keep away from average Americans. I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

56% of Americans oppose troop increases

Posted by J.D. On Friday, November 13, 2009 0 comments
Back in December I wrote about the literal cost of war. In April, I updated those statistics: $947 billion by that point.

54% of your Federal taxes go to the military. How much is 54%? Roughly $1,449 billion.

I have repeatedly tried to point out that peace is cheap and war is expensive. Yet warmongers on the right have done a damn good job of convincing people to look elsewhere. While teabaggers line up to decry the cost of health care reform...none of them makes a peep about the $1449 billion that goes to the military.

According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, now 56 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops. But while the vast majority no longer supports the war in Afghanistan, many still seemed confused about what they believe Obama should or shouldn't do about the war.

The poll indicates that 52 percent think Obama should listen to the generals, with 48 percent saying the president should take other matters into account as well. But a troop buildup remains unpopular, with a separate question indicating that a majority opposes sending more troops.

Roughly one in five Americans opposes more troops, yet also thinks that Obama should pay attention to the U.S. military leaders in that country, Holland said. "That suggests that a lot of people who don't support a troop build-up are unaware of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for a bigger U.S. military presence there.

Much of this confusion probably stems from the hard work of the people responsible for these wars and their attacks on President Obama.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney notoriously accused President Obama of "dithering" on Afghanistan. Since that time, others on the right have latched onto the term.

In October, John Bolton penned an op-ed that ran in the Los Angeles Times entitled The danger of Obama's dithering.

John Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is a conservative think tank (yeah...I know...it seems like a paradox) and Bolton himself has been accused of misrepresenting information...or outright blocking information.

John R. Bolton -- who is seeking confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- often blocked then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and, on one occasion, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, from receiving information vital to U.S. strategies on Iran, according to current and former officials who have worked with Bolton.

Bolton also spearheaded the Bush administration's move to remove the US from the International Criminal Court. Ironically, the ICC is used to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. I wonder why that particular administration might not want to be under the jurisdiction of the ICC?

Both were major proponents of the two wars and it behooves them to make someone else take the fall for their failures: namely, President Obama.

The polls show that the vast majority of people no longer want to be a part of these wars. People need to stop listening to the self-serving "news" or Fox News and other right wing soapboxes. The people leading the charge against Obama's decisions on Afghanistan are the ones who put him in the situation by starting those wars.

AFA calls for Muslims out of the military

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, November 12, 2009 0 comments
Earlier I wrote of Pat Robertson declaring that we should treat Musilms like Communists and Fascists, but American Family Association is getting in on the ignorant hate, too.

In a blog entry penned by Bryan Fischer, AFA Director of Issues Analysis, the following was stated:

...It is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday's massacre is living proof. And yesterday's incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers.

Of course, most U.S. Muslims don't shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you're right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it's used, and we'll welcome you back with open arms.

This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.

And don't give us reassurances about the oaths that Muslim soldiers take to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Hasan took that oath, and it proved meaningless. In fact, the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to lie to you through his teeth, since lying to the infidel to advance the cause of Islam is commended, not just permitted, in the Koran.

It's time we all got over the nonsense that all cultures and religions are equally valid or worthy. They most certainly are not. While Christianity is a religion of peace, founded by the Prince of Peace, Islam is a religion of war and violence, founded by a man who routinely chopped the heads off his enemies, had sex with nine-year old girls, and made his wealth plundering merchant caravans....

I guess my retort would be the following:

Hey Mr. Fischer! Remember Timothy McVeigh? Yeah...he was that white terrorist who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. He was also in the U.S. Army. And he was raised a Christian.

Until you can give me a foolproof way to identify crazy Christian white boys from their moderates, no white Christian dudes should be able to serve. You know...for the safety of everyone else in the military. This isn't WhiteChristianophobia, it is WhiteChristian-realism.

Yeah...sucks when the shoe is on the other foot doesn't it?

The simple truth of the matter is that Nidal Malik Hasan, like Timothy McVeigh, had his own shit going on. He was a damaged man that took his anger out on others via violence. What Hasan did had as much to do with his being Muslim and McVeigh's actions had to do with him being raised Catholic....nothing at all.

One key difference between the two examples? Hasan begged repeatedly to leave the military. This is not the action of an evil jihadist who enlisted to be a sleeper agent. Hasan wanted TO LEAVE THE MILITARY. But they wouldn't release him. And then he snapped.

And that whole "Christianity is a religion of peace" thing? Sure...if we casually ignore Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, witch hunts and witch burnings, the actions of people like Scott P. Roeder, etc.

Oh...you don't think it is fair that all Christians should have to take responsibility for Scott Roeder? Then why in the hell should all Muslims have to take responsibility for Nidal Hasan?

Mr. Fischer, I am a Christian. And I don't want to be lumped in with people like Scott Roeder. Or you.

But by all means, Mr. Fischer, continue spewing your ignorant hate. The more you write shit like this, the less likely anyone will bother paying attention.

Chicago Wal-Mart bans gay couple

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2 comments
I have written about Wal-Mart in the past but this story is a new low.

Joe Paolucci and his partner Thomas Hitchcock were shopping at Wal-Mart with their two special-needs 11-year-old twin sons . Their sons were adopted from Romania. Paolucci claims that the Wal-Mart trip was to purchase groceries and reward the twins for good behavior.

Hitchcock bought groceries totaling some $200 and checked out at a counter operated by a cashier. Paolucci, meanwhile, went to a self-checkout lane to use scanning equipment he had operated before.

Later, he said, he returned to the shopping area to pick up additional items, including the lighters, which he scanned and placed in bags. He grabbed his receipt for the items, totaling some $60, and headed for the exit, as did Hitchcock and the boys.

Before they got outside, store employees stopped them.

"They asked if I had Bic lighters. I said, 'Yes,' and handed them over," Paolucci said. "Then they asked if I had a receipt. I said, 'Yes, you're holding it.' Then this group of Wal-Mart employees started forming around us."

Paolucci and Hitchcock said the employees were threatening and that one used a vulgarity. Their accusations frightened the boys, who began "crying, screaming and freaking out," they said.

At this point, the Wal-Mart employees attempted to maneuver the men into a "detention room" which the men refused. Paolucci claims that he and Hitchcock demanded that someone call the police. When the police arrived, things escalated.

When the police arrived, Paolucci was handcuffed and placed in a squad car. Hitchcock, too, was placed in a separate squad car albeit without being handcuffed. The boys were placed in the "detention room" with store employees.

Paolucci and Hitchcock estimated it was at least 45 minutes before officers told them they had reviewed the store's tapes and had determined that the lighters hadn't been shoplifted. The two said they expected an apology and were surprised once again when personnel from the store walked up to the squad cars with the twins and read from a statement that Paolucci and Hitchcock had been banned by the store chain for life. Rather than shoplifting, the reason they were given was "being uncooperative."

"Everything they asked us to do, we did. We cooperated 100 percent," Paolucci argued. "We objected only when they tried to get us to go into the detention room."

By the time they were read the statement, Paolucci and Hitchcock said, the twins had told them that the security staff had allegedly threatened them in the security room and had made disparaging remarks about Paolucci and Hitchcock's lifestyle. Paolucci and Hitchcock said they asked police to take statements from the boys but the officers refused, telling the couple they'd have to contact Child Protective Services.

So the police wouldn't help them...and Wal-Mart banned them.

The couple purchased frozen grocery items like pizza and ice cream which by this time had melted. Wal-Mart refused to replace those items.

But was there actually ever any theft?

As for the shoplifting accusation, a copy of the police report obtained by The Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act stated that video surveillance clearly showed Paolucci scanning both packages of lighters.

So Paolucci didn't actually steal anything.

But this is Wal-Mart we are talking about here. So later Paolucci and Hitchcock received a letter from a lawfirm representing Wal-Mart...and the letter demanded $158.40 to cover the "theft". The lighters that weren't stolen retail at $15.84.