Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lame duck Congress 2010 comes to a close

In these final weeks of 2010, the lame duck session of the 111th Congress has been anything but lame. Finally running Congress like it's a race, Democrats are working at an accelerated pace to pass legislation before the clock and their majority in the House of Representatives ends. From defense spending bills to the extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits, the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to the approval of the nuclear arms reduction START Treaty, medical care and reimbursement for 9/11 responders to the DREAM Act, all this tireless and often thankless work on behalf of the American people is being done by Democrats and Independents in the House and Senate while Republicans cry about working during the holidays.

In an historic victory for civil rights, President Barack Obama today signed law repealing the discriminatory military policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' With the President's signature, the repeal, having passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Saturday, will finally allow openly gay men and women to enlist and serve in the United States armed forces.

The ending of DADT, comes at a critical time for President Obama who had pledged to repeal the nearly two-decade long policy during his campaign, but who in recent months has been taking enormous criticism from the liberal base of his party for failing to keep his other campaign promises, namely the ending of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans.

Last week, President Obama signed into law the controversial bipartisan compromise to temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts in exchange for the extension of benefits to the unemployed. In the end the president decided it was far more important to secure tax breaks for the middle class and unemployment benefits for nearly 2 million people than to continue fighting the Republicans over unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthy. Nevertheless, Democrats, liberals, and progressives considered this an capitulation to the enemy.

On Saturday, a pathway to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants known as the DREAM Act, failed to gather enough votes for approval in the Senate. The bill would have allowed undocumented children who had entered this country before the age of 15 and have earned a high school diploma or G.E.D. to be eligible for a green card after a 10-year waiting period and the completion of two years in college or in the military. Then to be eligible to apply for citizenship, they would have been required to wait another period of 6 years.

Not quite the 'amnesty' that many Republicans claim it to be, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was originally introduced by Republican Senator from Utah Orrin Hatch in 2001 and supported in the past by numerous Republicans including Senator John McCain of Arizona, but was voted down in the current lame duck Senate by the majority of Republicans, including Senators Hatch and McCain, who have in recent years taken anti-immigration stances including supporting Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB 1070 that requires local law enforcement to ask people who 'look like they are undocumented' for citizenship papers.

Republicans have been determined to stall and block legislation these past two years and haven't let up in the lame duck session of Congress. Still, despite Republican obstruction, unprecedented threats of filibuster, and heated standoffs, President Obama and Democrats can claim major victories.

Today there is news that Senators have reached a deal on a bill that would provide $4.2 billion for the medical treatment and compensation of first responders on 9/11. The Zadroga bill, named after James Zadroga, a New York City Police Detective who died in 2006 of respiratory disease contracted from his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, had been blocked repeatedly by Republicans in the Senate, but has now passed thanks in large part to Democratic Senators from New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Finally, the Senate today by a vote of 71 to 26 has ratified the START treaty. The ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev last April to reduce nuclear warheads by 30 percent and secure loose nuclear material is being heralded as a foreign policy success for President Obama, but more importantly, a huge step at limiting weapons to terrorists and providing for national security.

With votes left on circuit court judges, last speeches to be made, and well wishes left to those retiring or otherwise not returning next month, this year's final hours of the 111th Congress comes to a close. On January 3, 2011, the new Congress will be sworn in. Led by John Boehner, Republicans will have the majority in the House of Representatives; while in the Senate, Mitch McConnell will continue to lead the Republicans as the minority party. If this frantic, hard-fought lame duck session of Congress was a hint at what's to come, then Democrats are just warming up for a fight next year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For a Liberal, these are strange days indeed

It's not as if these days weren't predicted; expected, even. After the mid-term elections in November gave the Republicans a majority in the House and an even better bargaining position in the Senate this January, it was obvious that President Obama would have to compromise on his positions to insure that Republicans didn't hold up Congress and shut down government until they got their way. What wasn't so obvious was that Republicans were willing to hold the middle-class hostage until their demands for tax cuts for the wealthy were met.

Three weeks ago House Republicans blocked a bill that would have extended unemployment insurance benefits expiring at the end of November and since then they have blocked the bill each time it's been brought up for a vote. Their reason? The Republican party made it clear that they would block all legislation in the lame-duck session until the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, set to expire at the end of the year, were extended.

Last week, Republicans in the Senate were successful in also blocking a Democratic plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to the middle-class. The middle-class tax cuts had been passed by the Democrats in the House just a few days before, prompting Republican Rep. John Boehner to call the vote to extend tax cuts to the middle-class and not to the wealthiest of Americans, 'chicken crap.'

Republicans have not only made good on their promise in blocking the extension of tax cuts for the middle-class: essentially raising taxes on 98 percent of Americans next month and blocking the extension of unemployment benefits: leaving up to two million out-of-work people without help by the end of the year, Republicans have also succeeded in holding up other legislation including the new START treaty, the Dream Act, and the Defense Authorization bill which in addition to outlining military funding includes the effective repeal of the discriminatory policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

Obviously, the Dream Act and the repeal of DADT are not causes championed by most Republicans. Even though these measures would strengthen our military and finally plant the flag declaring this country's claim to the moral high ground, most Republicans are sure to stand in the way of these bills passing because, frankly, most Republicans don't really seem to like gays or brown people. But that Republicans would decide to hold up the new START treaty, an agreement with Russia to reduce and control nuclear arms, in order to scare Democrats into voting for upper-class tax cuts should tell you right away that if the G.O.P. is willing to undermine national security for the sake of fattening rich people's wallets, they'll do just about anything.

Republican obstructionist and bullying tactics have forced President Obama to choose his battles. With time running out on the middle-class and the unemployed, the President has decided to negotiate with Rep. John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell and propose a plan of extending unemployment benefits for thirteen months in exchange for twenty-four more months of Bush tax cuts, plus a two percent payroll tax reduction, plus an estate tax reduction, plus a tax exemption for inherited income up to $5 million dollars.       

In all, as most Democrats and the liberal and progressive base have pointed out in various ways including an eight and a half hour filibuster-esque speech by Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, this deal between President Obama and the G.O.P. is not exactly a fair or reasonable trade.

The left objects to the plan's over-generous concessions for the wealthy and are angry with the President for breaking his pledge to eliminate tax cuts for the rich, while the right objects to the expense of unemployment benefits, but both the Democrats and the Republicans agree that the plan means a huge, unaffordable increase in the national debt.

The tax deal, estimated to cost $858 billion dollars, is $71 billion more than the heavily criticized 2009 stimulus and at a time when many in Washington had expected to roll up their sleeves and get to work at reducing the deficit, President Obama and Republican leaders are now urging Congress to pass this package under the threat that not passing it will further damage the fragile economy.

President Obama has put himself in the position of negotiator-in-chief between the two political parties: a place he believed he could work to bring red state and blue state America together. But after two years of extending his hand to the Republican party, it seems President Obama has yet to notice that Republicans, at the very least, want nothing to do with him; at most, are eager to smack his hand away and spit in his eye. Republicans consider him an obstacle: avoid if possible, go over if necessary, remove eventually. If President Obama has a strategy in play; that he believes it's best to keep his enemies closer, he's not letting on. If he is willing to fight the Republicans or big business or Wall Street, he isn't showing it. And because of this, President Obama stands to lose the faith and support of his base.

But when facing a hostage crisis, what would his base expect the president to do?

Yes, Republicans are better than Democrats at standing their ground even if Republican's ground will be proven in time to be on the wrong side of history and yes, their base loves them for it. Some may see President Obama's unfavorable compromise with Republicans as capitulation to the enemy and a sign of weakness, but it is important to remember that showing empathy is not cowardice. Choosing to save those in distress rather than fighting the bad guy does not make the good guy weak. And yes, it is possible that, rather than always fighting, compromise with the opposition can lead to cooperation. It may not be sweet and it may not be easy, but being the good guy rarely is. All you can do is stay tough and live to fight another day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

House Democrats pass Middle-class tax cuts while Republicans cry fowl

I wrote in my last post how Republicans in Congress were making a mistake in favoring the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the 2 percent of Americans who make over $200,000 ($250,000 for families) instead of extending Unemployment Benefits. Now that Republicans have succeeded in blocking that extension, leaving 2 million Americans this holiday season without those benefits by the end of the year, they are free to again focus on their highest priority: giving more money to the wealthy.

After sitting down with Republican leaders in what was called the 'Slurpee Summit,' President Obama met House Minority Leader, John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell in agreement that they must work to meet 'common ground.' President Obama addressed the media after the meeting promising to work with the Republicans, conceding that perhaps he hasn't been as forthcoming in efforts to reach out and work with them in the past.
That all sounds nice and consolatory for people at home, but is the President serious? Democrats will likely reach out to Republicans in the spirit of compromise, as they have done, but as for the direction and tone of the Republican party, you can expect business as usual. The Republicans have already proclaimed that they not willing to compromise on anything.

Less then a day after that meeting, where it was agreed that both parties would work together to seek 'common ground,' Republicans have dug in their heels and announced that they will block all legislation in the lame-duck session of Congress including the START Treaty, the Dream Act, and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Democratic leaders in the House carried through on their plan to hold a vote Thursday on extending just the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle-class. The measure is mostly a symbolic one; the bill passed the House, but will likely die in the Senate as Democrats do not have the sixty-vote supermajority, but Democrats want it to be on record that they support tax cuts for 98 percent of working Americans, while Republicans loyalty is to the very wealthy.

John Boehner, incoming Speaker of the House, called the Democrats plan for the vote a "chicken crap" political game. Attempting to spin the vote as a sign that Democrats are playing class warfare, Boehner and other Republicans are denying their part in the war on the middle-class. Still, the vote changes nothing. The debate over the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts is far from over. The 2001 tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to extend all or part of them.

The White House is still in negotiations with the Republican leaders who are holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage, and many Democrats are asking themselves whether President Obama intends to abandon his pledge of ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich as a good faith gesture to the Republican party in hopes that Republicans will be more open to working on items in the lame-duck session including extending unemployment benefits.

Does President Obama somehow think he can score political brownie points by working with the party that openly seeks his failure and removal from office? Instead of standing up for his own base and staying committed to his campaign pledges, is the President willing to aid and abet the Republicans in their efforts to destroy the middle-class and hand this country over to millionaires and billionaires in exchange for John Boehner’s and Mitch McConnell’s word that they will be open to compromise in the future?

President Obama, sir, it’s not worth it. Their word is worthless.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

After successfully rescuing the economy from tumbling off a cliff into another Great Depression and overseeing ten straight months of private sector job growth equaling more jobs gained than in the entire eight years under George W. Bush, President Obama and Congressional Democrats still can't get any respect. The Right, Republicans and Tea Partiers, are all too happy to blame the President and his allies for their part in the Stimulus plans and 'bailouts' of the auto industry, banks, and Wall Street even if in the end they saved jobs, made profits, and boosted spending.

Even though government efforts like the Stimulus saved and created 1.4 to 3.6 million jobs last quarter, the Gross Domestic Product increased 1.7 percent, and the economy grew by an annual 2.5 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office; even though consumer spending grew 2.8 percent last quarter, the most in nearly four years, the Right will be quick to point out that 'spending money to make money' with the Stimulus and TARP raised our deficit. And even though the pace of job loss has slowed considerably over the last two years and unemployment rates have fallen in 23 states this last month, the Right will be just as quick to point out the national unemployment rate remains arguably high above 9 percent.

The state of the economy is improving under President Obama, but it's just not improving quickly enough for some and the efforts to improve it are constantly criticized by the Right. Despite positive growth in private sector jobs and the GDP, the Right continues to denounce the Bush and Obama TARP and the Stimulus Acts meant to revive the economy as spending bills that 'tax our children and grandchildren' apparently believing it would have been better for their children and grandchildren to be in a Great Depression. The Right contrarily rails against government loans to banks, auto makers, and Wall Street calling them 'bailouts' at the same time rails against government intervention in business in the form of regulation at the same time demands government accountability for job creation.

A rough economy and high unemployment always spells doom for the party in power. Two years of a Democratic President during tough times, even if things are steadily improving, means the Republicans will benefit from a beleaguered nation. Therein lies the rub. It's actually in the Republicans best interest to see the economy, and the nation, suffer.

The outsourcing of American jobs to other countries is damaging our economy yet Senate Republicans, along with a few Democrats including Connecticut's Lieberman and Virginia's Warner, voted to block a bill that would end tax incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas. Tax breaks, regarded by Republicans to be the best way to stimulate economic growth, was voted down by Republicans in the Senate when Democrats proposed a bill that would grant tax breaks and free up lending to small businesses.  Consumer spending on household goods accounts for roughly two-thirds of our economy and unemployment benefits puts money in the hands of people who will spend it, yet House Republicans blocked the extension of unemployment benefits.

Instead of backing any Democratic effort to boost the economy, even if they have done so in the past, Republicans are focused on one plan: the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. While President Obama and Democrats support extending middle class tax cuts to individuals making less than $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers), Republicans want all the Bush tax cuts extended including those to the wealthiest 3 percent of Americans who without the tax cut would only see their taxes go up at most, 4.6 percent. Although the Right raises objections to increasing the deficit with Stimulus plans, government loans, and unemployment benefit extensions, they are fired up to add $700 billion more in debt to finance tax cuts for the rich that have proved disastrous to our economy in the decade since President Bush enacted them.

Favoring the Bush tax cuts over the extension of unemployment benefits makes no economic sense even to John McCain's former economic adviser, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. According to Zandi's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee for every dollar spent on making the Bush tax cuts permanent there is an $.32  increase in the GDP whereas for every dollar spent to extend unemployment benefits there is an $1.61 increase in the GDP. In other words, according to Zandi, a dollar spent on unemployment compensation gets five times more "Bang for the Buck" to the GDP than a tax cut for the rich.
Republicans and Tea Party Republicans who ran in this year's elections on the slogan: 'it's the economy, stupid,' now find themselves having to state their positions on the economy in ways that often sound confusing, contradictory, and plain stupid.

In spite of positive growth in the economy, the strange backlash against the policies responsible for that growth, put in place by the President and the Congressional Democrats, favored the Right in the elections. If the dominant thought in the minds of voters was, 'where are the jobs?' then the thought in the minds of President Obama and Democrats must have been, 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' and Republicans are happy to have it both ways.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If Only Obama Was Just A Little More Like Bush

Yes, it would seem that Obama squandered these two years, but a lot as gotten done and things have gotten somewhat better. While most people can express disappointment in the President: the Right that never would have accepted him - those that think the economy could be easily turned around, those that believe the lies in the media, and those that scoff at his accomplishments; while the Left who haven't gotten what they voted for - wanted Bush and Co. prosecuted for war crimes, wanted the wars to end immediately, wanted more from Health Care Reform, wanted tougher Wall Street Reform, wanted an end to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," wanted an end to Bush's tax cuts for the ridiculously wealthy, etc.

Unfortunately, the economy and the wars aren't easily solved problems and the Republicans never had any intention of working with Obama on legislation that could have made him popular. The President was so full of 'Hope' that he fooled himself into thinking he could work with Republicans in a bi-partisan way. Republicans spent two years playing politics, holding up bills in congress, 'compromising' by weakening the bills that did pass, and spent billions of dollars from corporate interests on attacks from Fox News/ conservative radio, and phony grassroots movements like the Tea Party to rile up the ignorant.

Most people pay little attention to politics (or news, in general) and most elections are about voting the bums in power out (mostly what 2008 was about as well). Republicans didn't win the House because they have better ideas - they just want to go back to Bush policies. Democrats lost because the disenchanted left stayed home and the voters who did turn out thought Democrats didn't do enough to fix the mess Bush left because Obama and the Democrats failed to properly communicate that the lack of progress over these last two years is due to the Republicans who think it is a bigger priority to play party politics for the sake of elections rather than focusing on solutions that this country in crisis urgently needs.

The election won't change much in Washington though. Republicans will only have slightly more power in January, so the next two years will likely be more of the same - gridlock stalling progress, while more vocal nonsense about repealing bills and impeachment. The difference now is, with Republicans controlling the House, if they disappointment their base (aka Tea Party) or if they don't make good on lowering debt or creating jobs, they'll be the bums thrown out in 2012.

If the country was actually excited to vote for the Republicans, they would have won more than just the House of Representatives in this year's election. So how can Republicans somehow think they have a mandate and have the gall to demand Obama lean further to the right than the disappointingly right-of-center he has been this whole time? While Republicans openly claim their major goal is for Obama to be a one-term president and call for 'no compromise' in extending Bush's tax cuts or undoing Social Security and reform after reform, Obama continues to play the nice guy at risk of losing his base by saying he is willing to work with the people who want to run him out of office, and in some cases, out of the country or up a tree branch.

The one good thing I can say about Dubya is that he at least maintained his base by standing firm for what he believed in (even though he was usually wrong). Obama's fault is that he is trying to make all the people happy all of the time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Keith Olbermann: Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

As Keith Olbermann would say, "Now for a quick comment..."

The whole weekend news cycle was wasted on the Friday announcement that Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's flagship Countdown, was suspended 'indefinitely' for his personal political contributions. Network chief-executive, Phil (not Peter) Griffin, suspended Olbermann when he discovered (by reading a story containing completely not secret information) that Olbermann contributed $2,400 to each of three Democratic candidates running in this year's election.

According to first published reports, Griffin suspended Olbermann because MSNBC is apparently supposed to be viewed as impartial and a network personality 'jeopardizes objectivity' by contributing to political campaigns. Actually, that turned out to not be so important since it was clear that other on-air personalities at MSNBC, namely Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan, had donated to campaigns in the past. The 'real' reason then appeared to be that Olbermann was suspended for failing to 'ask for permission' before donating. Countdown went on the air Friday night with fill-in host, Thomas Roberts (who is bound to get his own show now) after normal fill-in, Chris Hayes from The Nation (also show host bound), was first announced to appear then apparently declined.

By Saturday, others in the media stood up for Olbermann and dozens of online and Facebook petitions popped up. Liberals and progressives rallied together to protest in outrage. Then some time was spent by pundits and bloggers to point out that Fox News is a Republican political tool and money-making machine and question why MSNBC couldn't be the same for Democrats. This is where the merger of Comcast and NBC comes in.

Back in July, Olbermann 'tweeted' an answer to a question regarding MSNBC's direction after the merger saying, "Yeah, they want to go more liberal." But after Olbermann's suspension, rumors started flying that Comcast's conservative leaning executives weren't happy with that position after all. It seemed that Griffin and the other suits must have been confused about which network they were running because it's no secret which side Olbermann leans and MSNBC's prime time is built around him with Maddow and O'Donnell, who both got shows thanks to stints filling in on Countdown. In fact, MSNBC even changed it's slogan to "Lean Forward" as they meant to embrace their position as the alternative to Fox News.

By Sunday, the reasoning for Olbermann's suspension changed to: 'Olbermann refused to apologize on-air for contributing to campaigns without asking for his boss's permission,' which just sounded like the big-bad corporate conservatives demanding the voice of the people to kneel before Zod. The bigger picture was that MSNBC sought to make a point that, unlike Fox News who is a corrupt political wing of the GOP, MSNBC is not and will not be a political tool for the Democratic party.

Monday morning's news that Keith Olbermann 'indefinite' suspension lasted all of two unpaid days and his return to Tuesday's Countdown is being called the 'shortest suspension ever,' but what if anything can be made from this? Any individual (or now, corporation) can donate to political campaigns and Olbermann's contributions were made privately without suggesting his audience do the same. In a statement, Olbermann explains: "I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level." He also insists that he was not aware of the clause requiring him to seek pre-approval.

I understand rules are rules, but this 'offense of ethics' reasoning is ridiculous, especially if others on MSNBC, though, more blatantly on Fox News, are guilty of the same and go unpunished. The 'impartiality in journalism' line just doesn't carry much weight. While I agree this whole episode can stand to make a point that no one at Fox News has integrity or credibility, what difference does that make? We already know what Fox News is and the Fox News audience, who gladly takes their propaganda as gospel, can't be swayed by reason, fact, or ethics.

Maybe pundits and bloggers will now say that Keith Olbermann got a slap on the wrist, but what did he really do that was so wrong? Maybe some will even make comparisons to the firings of Rick Sanchez and Juan Williams, but that's nothing close to what has happened in this case. Olbermann's personal contributions to political campaigns cannot be compared to the Sanchez or Williams episodes because they were fired for their big mouthed bigoted views. Keith Olbermann is simply getting slammed by the conservative head honchos in corporate for literally putting his money where his mouth is, standing his ground on the side of right, and refusing to apologize. If only other liberals were as proud as he.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Morning After: Election Night Hangover

As I spent last night trying not to simultaneously cry and vomit having been both emotionally and physically drained of hope, I thought I should write a comment on the midterm elections. With my hands literally shaking, I started to write a long, rambling admonishment of the American voters who were stupid enough to fall for Republican bullshit - you know, how ‘Obama raised taxes’ when he factually lowered them, how the ‘Stimulus is a failure’ when it has factually helped, and how ‘Health Care Reform is a disaster’ when it factually will lower the deficit, provide health care to million who don’t have it, and, like everything else these last two years, is only less than perfect thanks to compromising with Republicans who made it their goal to sabotage everything President Obama worked on. But even though I enjoy ranting about how ignorant people are the bane of this country, I just can’t get that mad at people who are too scared and angry to think straight.

For us sane, sober Americans, election results may be a tad depressing, but they aren't much of a surprise. The bad news - the House is controlled by the Republicans with orange jackass, John Boehner, as speaker. The good news - most of the Tea Party candidates lost. Also, it shouldn’t come as a shock that states like Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, etc. went Red. Sure there may have been an upset or two; that’s how these midterm elections usually go, but it could have been worse. So, sing it with me - "Always look on the bright side of life!"

As far as the morning after explanations: Whack-jobs like Mike Huckabee want to make statements like, “Obama overreached with his far left agenda and America is letting him know it”, but Mike Huckabee and others think anything close to center is too far left for them. Seriously, Huckster? Far left agenda? You think extending unemployment benefits and using Stimulus money to create jobs and cut taxes is far left? You mean Wall Street Reform isn’t popular with most Americans? Hell, Health Care Reform, according to polls, isn’t far left enough! These Republicans and those in their Tea Party base can pat themselves on the back Wednesday morning, but they didn’t win because they have better ideas than the President or the Democrats. They won because they did nothing and fooled already right-leaning ignoramuses into thinking the country is in decline because of the ‘Far Left Agenda.’

Hello, Mike Huckabee, if you’re listening... Evolution is fact, Climate Change is real, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or god, and the reason the country is in decline is because two years of minimal progress thanks to Republicans dragging their heels is not enough time to undo eight years of Republican policy throwing this country into a rapid downward spiral! We are still spinning, only now we’re just slowing down and slightly tilting upward. But if that’s not good enough for you and your friends, please come up with better ideas to fix this country than the one you have about going back to doing everything the same before you broke it instead of criticizing the way we’ve been working to fix it.

Yes, things aren't great around here. Yes, things might even get worse. But are the Republicans going to do anything to make things better? What have they done in the last thirty years to make life better for the average American? Who started the wars? Who let corporations send jobs overseas? Who gave tax cuts to the wealthy and proved Trickle-Down economics a failure then who gave tax cuts to the wealthy even though Trickle-Down economics was already proved a failure? Who bailed out Wall Street? Who opposed putting regulations on Wall Street? Who opposed putting regulations on anything? I could go on and on!

I get it, the economy is bad and people are frustrated. And sure, it’s easy to believe that if the party in power isn’t making the change quick enough, maybe the other party put in power will. But really? The Republican party that started this mess to begin with is going to get us out of it? Why would anyone believe that? Was it the nonsense they spew on Fox News that made people think that? Was it the political ads paid for by corporate money? Do you really think, given their history, the Republicans are going to do anything to help the average American? The Republican party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporations. They vote for what’s best for Big Business, Big Oil, and Big Insurance. For chrissakes, our new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, handed out bribes from Big Tobacco to Congressman on the floor of the House of Representatives!

Face it folks, the corporations mean to own this country and the Republicans are just working to make it easier for them. If you don’t think that is true, you’re not paying attention. Look around. Think about it. Where do you work? Where do you buy your groceries? Got any credit cards? Got any loans? What do you watch on TV? What do you read? Who do you think pays for those political ads you see? Who do you think funds political campaigns? Who do you think convinces politicians to vote certain ways? Yes, maybe YOU do. Maybe. Maybe you wrote a check for $10, $20, maybe even $100, but that's chump-change. Yeah, maybe you can't trust any politician, but why elect politicians you already know can't be trusted? If you thought, 'hell, maybe in the last two years Republicans learned their lesson,' you'd be a fool. If you thought, 'maybe if I vote for the Republicans this time that will mean Democrats will work harder in Congress,' you'd be a fool. If you voted for a Republican because you thought he or she was ‘just like you,’ then you'd either be crazy and irresponsible too, or you'd be a damn fool. Because what we do know about Republicans is that they can't be trusted to do what's in our best interest. We do know that the Republicans plan is to sell our country to the Corporations. We do know that it is in their interest to keep the middle class down in order to exploit us for the benefit of the Corporations. Why do you think they talk about wanting to do away with labor unions, privatize social security, outlaw unemployment benefits, outlaw the minimum wage? Why do they align themselves with the Corporate funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their efforts to outsource jobs, end financial regulation, lobby to allow Big Business to avoid paying tax, pollute the environment, and discriminate against and exploit workers. Do you think it's fair that Corporations can avoid paying taxes in America? How do you feel about the Republicans apologizing to BP over the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico? What do you think of Dead Peasant Insurance? Recently the big fuss was over whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce took FOREIGN Corporate money to pay for political campaign ads or donations to candidates but the real story should have been about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was allowing ANY Corporation to buy Democracy.

You see, the Republicans have a plan. They’ll tell you that they have a plan to get people back to work and get this economy headed in the right direction, but don’t be fooled. They and their Corporate pals have figured out how to make this economy work for them. All they needed to do was continue making decisions to sink the economy, put people out of work and in debt, fool everyone into blaming the immigrants for taking American jobs, the unemployed for being lazy, and Democrats and labor unions for regulations, so that the working class will fight against their own best interests and keep the Republicans in power. Then when working class Americans are desperate enough to take any work the corporations will shift jobs back to America, from places like China and Mexico whose workers are demanding higher pay, and be able to pay less than minimum wage, extend the 40 hour work week, reduce vacation time, and not provide benefits like health care or retirement funds all thanks to Republicans in Congress. All the while, Republicans will have worked to remove the safety nets of unemployment coverage, health coverage, disability coverage, and social security ensuring that the American worker of tomorrow will be treated to the same life as the undocumented migrant worker of today. As Rush Limbaugh said, “Some people are just born to be slaves.”

I understand, America. You‘re too busy to stay informed. Too busy ignoring the news because you find the economy and the wars a bummer. Too busy worrying about buying shit you don’t need and driving cars that get lousy gas mileage. Too busy eating fast food and watching nugget porn on your iphones. You have short attention spans and even shorter patience. You think President Obama should have fixed everything in 20 months. Fine, whatever. But seriously? Are you that stupid to let Republicans take back the reins of this crippled horse we call America and steer it back down the gulch we suffered two years to climb out of? Really? You mean these last two years were all for nothing? Well, thanks a lot, you dumbshit assholes. Thanks for electing the people who bent us over for eight long years under Bush/ Cheney! Thanks for electing the people who played party politics and stood in the way of progress rather than work with our President to bring the change we wanted! Thanks for electing crazy people with extremist views just because you think the real politicians in Washington aren't doing enough. Thanks for not paying attention to the news or researching the candidates you either voted for or couldn’t be bothered to vote for! Thanks for opening up two more years of partisan gridlock in Congress. You thought nothing got better these last two years? Just wait until the Republicans spend all their time trying to impeach our President over some bullshit like he's not a natural born citizen. Seriously? What were you thinking, America? I can only hope that two more years of Republicans selling this country out will finally wake this nation up and by 2012 we will return President Obama and the Democratic party to Washington to work on behalf of the American people! I just hope that we can survive those two years.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dangerous Territory

The Republicans are not even in power yet, but this is what we have to look forward to - Intimidation - Threats of Government halts and takeover - Being detained by militia members for being a journalist and asking questions - Getting wrestled to the ground and having your head stomped on for protesting - A whole media outlet spewing racism, homophobic, and Islamophobic hate-speech. A political party that declares it's number one goal is to defeat the President rather than work with him to make America a better place for all Americans during this time of war and economic hardship. This is not the America I want. Why would anyone want that kind of America?

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, has embraced the sentiment of Rush Limbaugh's hope that President Obama fails. In an interview with Major Garrett (former Fox News White House Correspondent who thought it was a better career move to be in print/ web journalism than work for Fox News), McConnell says: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Really? Nothing more important to work on, Mitch? How's those wars coming, pal? The economy in good shape, buddy?

Two years of this nonsense from the Republicans! And on top of that, lying to the American people - fooling them into thinking that it's President Obama and the Democrats in Congress that aren't fixing this country. Republicans have voted largely in lock step against the President and against the best interests of all of us by living up to their moniker as the Party-of-No!

But what gets people upset? Juan Williams gets fired from NPR? Who gives a damn? Juan Williams should have known better. All people in the media should know better, especially in the last few months. Helen Thomas found out you can't talk bad about Jews when she got fired for saying they "should get the hell out of Palestine." Rick Sanchez got fired from CNN because he had a bug up his ass from Jon Stewart making fun of him and went on the radio and said: "I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they -- the people in this country who are Jewish -- are an oppressed minority? Yeah." So why shouldn't people in the media be held liable if they make inappropriate comments about other religious groups? This is what Juan Williams, who worked for NPR and Fox News at the time, said on Bill O'Reilly's show:

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Is this a free speech issue? No! Juan Williams can say what he wants to say but, like everyone else, he represents the company he works for. He made the mistake of thinking that since Fox News was paying him to be on O'Reilly's show, what he had to say didn't matter to NPR. Maybe he does feel the way he feels, but he shouldn't have said it, especially if it was just pandering to Bill O'Reilly and his audience. The real question I have is why Juan Williams feels that way? Perhaps he's been watching Bill O'Reilly's Anti-Muslim network and listening to other Islamophobic hate-speech that's been popular lately. Why would he get nervous?

It's not even an issue that what Juan Williams said was politically incorrect, because it's just incorrect. What does, "identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims" even mean? Their "garb?" Is it their style of dress? Are they carrying the Koran? Because the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Times Square bomber didn't look all that different from anyone else. In fact, they made sure that they blended right in. So, I would think that if Juan Williams did see a person who did 'look Muslim,' my guess is that he should safe, and likely that Muslim would fear Juan Williams just as much. What Juan Williams said was wrong, but lucky for him, it turns out Fox News doesn't feel the same way about Islamophobia that NPR does.

NPR takes a stand and fires Williams and then Fox News hands him a $2 million contract to represent Fox News. Of course, Williams and others take the opportunity to slam NPR. Williams telling the Baltimore Sun: "...there's an emotional disconnect, because the way it feels to me is like I just got fired and I'm not even sure what I did wrong." Well sure, how could you feel like you've done something wrong if, on top of being an ignorant bigot, you are rewarded $2 million? Williams goes on in the interview to proclaim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Fox News is not racist: "Just consider the idea that Fox allows me the opportunity to sit in for Bill O’Reilly on their No. 1 show. That’s the franchise. That’s the moneymaker. If that show falls in the toilet, it’s bad for the whole lineup. And yet Fox allows a black guy with a Hispanic name to sit in the big chair and host the show." You mean like how it says a lot about the Republican party that they choose Sarah Palin to run for Vice President in 2008! Really? Fox News is not racist?

Does Juan Williams watch Fox News? Or is there that same disconnect where he doesn't think that what they do is wrong? Like his pal, Bill O'Reilly? Bill O'Reilly didn't just say something once to upset the ladies at The View. When he said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11," this was his typical Islamophobic hate-speech that he spews nightly on The Factor. Nearly every night, O'Reilly discusses what he calls 'The Muslim Problem,' where is fond of throwing out zingers like, "the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries," "we can't kill all the Muslims, so we want to win as many hearts and minds of good, moderate Muslims as we can," and his claim that the media "doesn’t target Muslims because they might get their house blown up.”

It's not just Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, either. The next day Brian Kilmeade on the program Fox and Friends defended O'Reilly's statement on The View by saying, "They were outraged that someone was saying that there was a reason there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9/11. It wasn’t just one person, it was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims." Yeah, just like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Except NOT all Muslims are terrorists and NOT all terrorists are Muslim while not all racists work for Fox News, but...

Those at Fox News should be held accountable for its part in this wave of Islamophobia hitting the nation. They should be held accountable for filling the heads of troubled Americans, sick and afraid due to economic and social conditions, with this disgusting bigotry. They should be admonished for the network's deplorable, incendiary rhetoric and cowardly behavior by practicing hate-speech and then claiming innocence when those who in the audience turn that hate-speech into hate-crimes. Besides pushing an Anti-Muslim agenda, Bill O'Reilly has blood on his hands over the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a reproductive services provider who performed abortions, whom O'Reilly had spent years enflaming his Anti-Choice audience by referring to Dr. Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer." While Bill O'Reilly didn't actually pull the trigger, he certainly did all he could to help ensure it. In July, Byron Williams, an unemployed ex-felon and big fan of Glenn Beck, was influenced to arm himself and drive to the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, two groups Beck constantly attacks on his radio and television program. After his car was pulled over by police for swerving, it was then that the 45-year-old burst from his car, bullet-proof vest on and guns a blazing, beginning an action movie-like shootout with California police. Later in an interview, Byron Williams told Media Matters that he was influenced to violence by the rantings of Glenn Beck and Mike Savage and that his intention was to "start a revolution."

Juan Williams may not understand it yet, but others at Fox News know exactly what they are doing. Former Fox News employee, Major Garrett, now free to express his view without fear of recrimination said on MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough:

"For a certain amount of marketing points of view, Fox actually wants to keep that polarization. They can say look, we're different. We're dramatically different, you can see how we're different. And if you like that difference you better come over here and you better stay here. That is an embedded part of the marketing that surrounds what happens in the news division at Fox. It's been incredibly successful."

Tell the audience what they want to hear and they'll tune in. If need be, turn up the heat or raise the stakes. If things get out of hand, if someone should be incensed towards violence, then claim ignorance.

Fox News knows what its intent is and it's not reporting the news or truth or facts; it's about making money by pandering to an audience of Right-wingers who fall somewhere in the categories of racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, Homophobic, xenophobic, Anti-women's rights, anti-gun control, war mongering, oil thirsting, Evolution denying, climate change denying, militia joining, Christian extremists who fear and hate the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, the Jews, the Mexicans, the Commies, the Socialists, the IRS, the Doctors who perform abortions, the women who undergo abortions, the police, the government, the President, and, oh yeah, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. Do they realize that they are puppets to the corporations? No. Would they care if they did? Maybe. But I'm sure they would find a way to blame Obama.

I'm worried about the elections. I'm worried that the Republicans and the Tea Party crazies will take over government. I'm worried that the little progress we've made these last two years, thanks to Republican obstruction, will be halted and reversed. I'm worried that the Tea Party and Birther movements will waste valuable time in their bullshit attempts at Impeaching our President and demoralizing the American people. I even worried what will happen if the Republicans don't take over Congress. These are people that don't want to compromise. These are people that can't be reasoned with. With everyday that passes, everything I hear from the right makes me think less about them. The things they believe and the things they unabashedly say reminds me of that Department of Homeland Security Report on Rightwing Extremism and how when it came out in April 2009 the Right picked up the slogan "Proud To Be A Right-Wing Extremist" and put it on buttons, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. That DHS Report makes these important points:

"...rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment."

"The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers."

"The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."

"Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers."

"Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement."

"Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent."

"Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theories characterizing the U.S. Government’s role as either complicit in a foreign invasion or acquiescing as part of a “One World Government” plan inspired extremist members of the militia movement to target government and military facilities in past years."

So, when I hear Republicans and Tea Party Republicans talking about "Second Amendment Remedies" and keeping violence "on the table," I worry. When I hear the potential Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will be campaigning on the behalf of Rich Iott, Ohio Congressional candidate and Nazi reenactor, I worry. When people talk about overthrowing the government and our President, I worry. The elections this week will decide the future of this country and I worry. We are wading into dangerous territory here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Can We?: Election 2010

With elections less than two weeks away I wanted to write something about how the country was getting back on the right track nearly two years after George W. Bush left the White House. I wanted to raise points, toss out facts and figures; you know, the whole laundry list of why we all need to elect Democrats this year and why it was imperative that we not allow Republicans to take over government, especially not the Tea Party Republican Holy-Cuckoo-Asshats who are so far from the mainstream that it is frightening how their ideals, rhetoric, and lack of intelligence can be popular with any crowd in 2010. I was going to say how if the Republicans were back in charge we'd end up headed back onto the road to another Great Depression. How we'd be in Iran and North Korea faster than you can say, "You Betcha." How Wall Street, Big Business, and Big Oil would be let off their chains and really massacre us. I was going to say how things were getting better now that Barack Obama and the Democrats were in charge, maybe not as fast as some would like, but still, better. But I have to tell you, I'm not really in the mood.  The thing is (to bastardize the idiom), I realize that you can lead a person to water, but you have to teach him/ her to fish and most people just can't be bothered. It's hard and it's dirty and it requires time, patience, and understanding and most people just don't seem interested in that kind of shit anymore.

You see, I've ranted and I've raved. I've said it plenty of times in plenty of ways and the message can't get any louder or any clearer: George W. Bush And The Asshole Republicans Ran This Country Into A Hole! I am right. End of discussion. I get it, there are people who don't like Obama, fine. I'm sure they have a reason beside the ol' he's a Muslim, N-word, anti-American, blah, blah, take my gun away Hitler mustache nonsense. And there are people who are under the delusion that Democrats are responsible for taking 'their country away from them,' fire Pelosi/ Reid second amendment remedies whatever. You can't make all the people happy all the time. But me, I just call it like I see it. If I see bullshit, I call it out. If I see bigotry, I call it out. If I see stupidity, I call it out. And for this I have been criticized, vilified, and ostracized for my opinions, style, and bluntness. Well, at least I'm not being completely ignored. I know that writing a blog or posting on Facebook is nothing compared to real political action, but I wouldn't completely discredit it in the age of grass-roots, 'get out the vote' internet campaigning. It's not much, but I feel like I just have to do something and politics is what I'm interested in. These issues matter to me. The future of this country matters to me. It might not matter to some people and it's okay for people to have different interests. I, for one, don't give a shit about Farmville. So if you feel that you are not affected by politics, no point in reading on. This doesn't really concern you. Go back to whatever it is you were doing.

Now, I'm a down to Earth guy. My head is not in the clouds. I'm a healthy mix of skeptic and pessimist and realist. I can see that we have problems. The economy is not getting better fast enough. Jobs aren't returning. The war effort is a never-ending nightmare. There is growing anti-government sentiment. A lot of people are hurting and some are afraid that things will get worse because while they are looking for that metaphoric light at the end of the tunnel, they see those real bills piling up. And a lot of these people don't see our leaders addressing these concerns enough, partially because there is so much on the plate for President Obama and the members of Congress, but also because the news media has become more like the bogeyman than the messenger of truth; where agitators and extremists, as they've always done, have preyed upon people's fears and weaknesses by propping up scapegoats, whether it be Muslims or immigrants or gays or blacks, for political reasons, or worse, for ratings. So much for this false claim of a Liberal media when it's all about ratings and dollars and news outlets have figured out that you can misrepresent all you want as long as you get the viewers to tune in to shows like Glenn Beck where he makes millions by playing a cross between Father Coughlin and Lonesome Rhodes, spewing hate and lies by pandering to an adoring audience. So, back to my fish idiom again: People like Glenn Beck would be happy to feed you fish if you don't want to learn to do it on your own. All you have to do is tune in to his show, buy his books, and take him seriously. If that sounds easier to do than the work required to help yourself, then fine, you can enjoy your fish or Kool-Aid or soylent green or whatever else he decides to feed you, but it's just not for me. I can think and reason and draw my own conclusions and I choose to express them. Ready? O.K.!

So, I've been hearing a lot about how so many are disappointed in President Obama and the Democrats in Congress and how the Republicans are going to sweep the elections this year. After all, Democrats became the majority party in Congress in 2006 and Obama won the White House in 2008, so there should be double rainbows and gumdrops falling from the sky, right? Well then, at the very least, there should be a chicken in every pot, right? How about if everyone who wants a job, has a job? Okay, so that hasn't worked out either. Actually, there are a few things that haven't quite gone as well as we hoped and yes, that is sad and I can understand the frustration many Americans have with Obama and the Democrats, but I really have to ask: How the hell can Obama fix the country in only two years?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten years, you would have noticed that the problems we face now are thanks to the eight years of the Bush Presidency. Sure, Republicans will say that Democrats like to blame all the country's current problems on Bush, but really? Come on! The economy: Bush. The wars: Bush. The lack of regulation on...Wall Street: Bush. Banks: Bush. Oil drilling: Bush. Mining: Bush. Health Insurance costs up 300%: Bush. Our national debt: Billions for Bush's tax cuts for wealthiest top 2%... Billions for tax breaks to corporations to send jobs overseas... Billions to fund two unnecessary wars... While our infrastructure suffered; dams, bridges, and schools falling apart... While we lagged in education and technology because science wasn't considered important... Bush and the Republicans threw away the surplus left from the Clinton years and ran us into the ground and even since before Obama was sworn in as President, he has had to run around putting out the fires that Bush and his cronies started all the while getting bashed 24/7 by fear-mongering Fox News, crazies that think he's a foreign born Muslim Communist Socialist terrorist, weak-spined Democrats running in Red districts, Republicans in Congress who unite against him even if it means standing against their own policy in order to block every bill he favors, and an inpatient, uninvolved public who expected he could solve all these problems single-handedly as if political and social change was attainable as easy as ordering a latte.

The American people voted in 2008 for a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Congress for a reason: because the Republicans were not working for the American People and a change was necessary. That change is still in progress, but Republicans have taken every opportunity to play party politics in order to slow it down or even halt it at times just to make President Obama and the Democrats look like failures come election time. And it's working. The Right has always had Public Relations down to an art and now this year more than ever, thanks to the conservative leaning Supreme Court's ruling in 'Citizen's United' granting corporations unlimited, anonymous spending into campaigns, the Republican party have used the media to fool the public into thinking that the Democrats are to blame for the nation's problems. Deception is their modus operandi. After 9/11, the Republicans used their tricks to instill fear and sway public opinion to start wars. Before the 2008 elections, they painted Obama as an Arab terrorist. Since being thrown from power, the Republicans have become so desperate that they will stop at nothing in order to regain control of Washington. They have done everything in their power to undermine the President at the sake destroying America. They have distorted the facts. They have stirred up controversy where there was none. They have riled up the public by stoking fear and prejudice. They have purposefully written bad legislation into bills under the guise of bi-partisan compromise to render them ineffective or unpopular. They have sold us out to Big Oil, Big Business, Big Insurance, and Wall Street. They have undermined democracy. And in doing all this they have dishonored those they claim to represent and the men and women who serve this nation at home and abroad.

What choice do we have in this election? If you think you're unhappy with the way Democrats have been handling things then ask if you really want things back to the way they were under Bush. Ask yourself where we'd be if our course wasn't reversed and this country did fall into that Great Depression we were headed for. What if Wall Street, Health Insurance companies and other Big Businesses had no regulations? What if banks and creditors continued their predatory lending practices. Sure unemployment is still high. Sure there are foreclosures still happening. But we're still here aren't we? And sure our deficit is high because of spending on things like TARP and the Stimulus, but these were emergency measures that gave working families and small businesses tax relief, saved jobs, and put people to work. They were not cure-alls, and the economy is still in rough shape, but at least now it's headed in the right direction. Consider what would have happened if those measures were not taken. Too many things have been ignored for too long and while there are those who believe that we should just stop and do nothing and hope these troubles pass as if it were a storm, we have to move forward and spur growth. Right now actually would be the best time to refocus on our crumbling infrastructure. For example, right now material costs are cheap and work on our roads and bridges, rail, and other transit would create jobs now as well as benefit us in the future and that goes for investment in clean, renewable energy as well. We should not squander this opportunity to retool our auto industry to build the electric and biofuel cars of the future. If the Republicans had their way, there would now be no American auto industry. There would be no investment in clean energy jobs.

Republicans would see to it that those jobs went overseas as they and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have spent the last ten years doing by removing regulations on corporations and demonizing labor unions. As they have overseen the near extinction of the manufacturing sector and the collapse of the middle-class, allowed Health Insurance companies to raise premiums and deny coverage, and allowed banks and lenders to take advantage of people on hard times and watch millions foreclose on their homes, Republicans stood by and let multinational corporations take over America in order to help their Corporate friends and line their own pockets. And then times being tough; people living in poverty and people now out of work collecting unemployment and barely scraping by, you have Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Orrin Hatch, Steve King, Ron Johnson, Sharron Angle, John Kyl, Andre Bauer, Dean Heller, Tom DeLay, and Carl Paladino among many, rubbing salt in the wounds by calling those unemployed people lazy, drug addicts who should be forced into work camps and taught personal hygiene. The relationship between the corporations and the Republican party have always been obvious, this year they are practically rubbing our noses in it. Millionaire CEO's running in this years elections in California, Nevada, and Connecticut are campaigning on their business credentials, apparently proud of their records. In California, Meg Whitman of Ebay, who so far has spent nearly $140 million dollars of her personal fortune not to mention millions in corporate contributions running for Governor yet somehow still calls herself a fiscal conservative, and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard are both guilty of downsizing and outsourcing American jobs for corporate gain and exploiting workers; though Connecticut candidate Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment takes the cake for the exploitation of workers as they annihilate themselves with steroids, injury, and pain-killers all for the amusement of a paying audience.

Tea Party Republican candidates this year are by far the worst candidates ever selected to run for political office. Out of the Tea Partiers running for Congressional seats, no other Tea Party candidates have gotten more attention than Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller, Ken Buck, and Rand Paul. I could fill pages with the idiocy displayed by this group including the usual stances on Gun Control and Reproductive Rights, but I'll limit myself here: Angle can't tell Latinos from Asians and has called for Second Amendment remedies to take out elected officials should they not do as we please. O'Donnell (who is not a witch, in case you cared) doesn't believe in masturbation because it's adultery, nor evolution because she's never seen a monkey evolve before her eyes. Joe Miller wants to get rid of the Board of Education, the Minimum Wage, Unemployment Benefits, and thinks East Germany was a good model for Border Security. Ken Buck thinks being gay is akin to alcoholism. Rand Paul believes it's ok for a restaurant owner to not serve black people if he's a racist and called President Obama un-American when the President criticized BP in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that if the Paris Hilton of Politics, Sarah Palin, can have a career in this field anyone can.

For all the talk about the Tea Party this year, how they claim to be real Americans with real American values though they are often exposed to be a crowd of anti-government, ignorant racists, the true story of the Tea Party is that the Tea Party didn't start as a grass-roots movement but rather a corporate funded Republican plan to protest Cap and Trade, Health Care and Wall Street Reform. Billionaire oilmen, brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, continue to pour cash into the Tea Party group 'Americans for Prosperity' and Republican Dick Armey and his Chamber of Commerce friends funnel corporate donations into the Tea Party group 'FreedomWorks' are only but just two examples of how corporate interests have figured out that it's cheaper and easier to trick people into lobbying for their causes than to pay real lobbyists. The most interesting part about the Tea Party is, that though it started out as a Republican project and was represented by the far-right-wing of the Republican party's base, the Tea Party has actually become Frankenstein's monster by attacking the establishment and pitting Tea Party Republicans against the 'Old' in the 'Grand Old Party.' Some Republicans have decided to latch on the Tea Party wave this year in order to maintain their slight relevance, such as Sarah 'John McCain, who?' Palin and Newt 'now with even more crazy' Gingrich, while others have fallen victim to the Tea Party, such as Charlie Crist now running as an Independent for Senator against Marco Rubio in Florida and Lisa Murkowski who lost in the Alaskan primary to Tea Party nut Joe Miller and now running as a 'write-in' candidate.

They say every election is the most important election. They say every election is different from the last and more critical now than ever before. I get it. But look around. Sure party politics is an old story; the same back and forth over the years, but this year really is different. In the past you could possibly side with the Republicans. After all, who doesn't want to be on the side of the group that calls itself fiscally conservative, anti-tax, and pro-military? Support the Troops! Go U.S.A. and all that. But the Republicans now are not the same Republicans you remember. For one, they are not all that fiscally conservative if under the eight years of the Bush Presidency they spent like drunken sailors and put us under a huge pile of debt. And saying you're anti-tax is fine, but don't let the super-duper wealthy throw a party on the tab of the middle-class. And supporting the troops doesn't mean you send them into battle unequipped to oust a dictator you put in place to begin with to secure oil or mineral rights and leave them there for a decade with no plan of them ever returning home. The problem is, these Republicans don't care. They do as they like and if you don't like it they will manipulate facts and have you blame someone else. While they idolize Ronald Reagan, Reagan would be rolling over in his grave. These Republicans today are not the Republicans of your parents generation or even your grandparents generation because the Republican party this year has been hijacked by the lunatic/ racist/ homophobic/ xenophobic/ Islamophobic/ classist/ corporate sponsored/ Christian extremists who do not understand our Constitution while they claim to live by it, nor support the troops though they'll gladly use them as props. They are running, hoping that we have amnesia and have forgotten what they did to this country; hoping to fool those who do remember that they will do things differently if we give them another chance. But why should we believe that they'd do anything differently than they've done this whole time? Why should we believe that they wouldn't just go back to the way things were under Dubya? Could we believe them if they said that they learned their lesson? Should we just elect Republicans, knowing full well what would happen if we do, just because we are a little unhappy with the way things are under the Democrats? You know the answer. America, it's time for a gut-check. Do we elect Democrats and stay on this rough, bumpy road to change or do we elect Republicans and head back into the ditch the Republicans left us in the last time they were behind the wheel?

President Obama is not perfect and he has made mistakes; he is only human. I myself feel, like many who voted for him and the other Democrats to run the Republicans out of power in 2008, that the President was overoptimistic in believing that he would find support from Republicans. Arriving in Washington, he hoped to work with the 'GOP' in the spirit of unity while it was clear that the Republican Party made it their mission to see that he fail, becoming the 'Party of No' - unwilling to work with or compromise on anything favored by the President on behalf of us. For nearly two years we witnessed the President waste his political capital and disenfranchise his base by appeasing the losers of the last election by vowing to work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship even if those losers are sore losers who wish for and work for his defeat. Recently, though, the President has seemed to wisen up to Republican contrariness and obstruction. In September during one speech he said regarding Republicans, "If I said the sky was blue, they'd say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no." It's about time he realized this and listened to his base rather than try to appeal to the haters. It's better late than never because the rest of us want him, no, need him to lead this country out of the deep dark hole that those who hope for his failure have dug for us all.

When we elected President Obama in 2008, did we really think that he was going to step right in and fix everything we didn't like overnight? Did we really think he was the messiah or Superman? Sure his campaign was positive and inspiring with that 'Hope/ Change' message, but we had to know that hope alone wasn't going to change anything. I knew before the election and I've said it before and I'll say it again - real change takes work, not just hope.  Change takes courage, faith, and discipline. Change requires sacrifice. Change requires taking risks. Change requires time. Now two years later we find ourselves at a crossroads. Some of us have made great sacrifices. Some of us are tired or scared. Some of us have lost faith along the way. But do we turn back now, knowing what that road leads to, or do we summon up the will for something better? Do we gather up our strength, our determination, our faith, our hope, and move forward to meet any challenge head on and succeed as America has always done in the past? Do we? Can we?

Never Forget: Sad State of Freedom in America (Repost from Sept. 2010)

September Eleventh is a day that Americans mark with reverence. It is not a holiday nor religious observance; it's not a day that is celebrated, but on this Saturday the eleventh of September we mark the ninth university of the 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people and forever changed this country and the world. This year, as every year since and assuredly every year following, we pay tribute to those who lost their lives in rural Pennsylvania, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and the World Trade Center, since known as Ground Zero, in lower Manhattan; as well as salute those who died in the efforts of saving the lives of others - the firefighters, the police, the EMT's, and rescue workers whose bravery and selfless heroism on that horrific day will be remembered forever. Time has past and will continue to pass, but we have not forgotten and we will never forget. Those lost will be remembered. Their sacrifice shall be honored.

In New York, Ground Zero has become to many a sort of sacred place. The scene of terror and devastation nine years ago today now sits representing not just a terrible reminder of that tragedy and the final resting place of so many who were taken from us, but it also represents a promise for a more peaceful, more hopeful future. The towers that once stood there may not be replaced, most likely could never be replaced, but as before and so too now, America will rebuild, stronger, better than ever before. This is the optimism that makes America great. The belief that tomorrow's dawn will be brighter. That a new day means a new beginning. Our country, through all of its trials and tribulations, through all its misdirections and redresses, has been and will continue to be the beacon of hope and liberty throughout the world.

Sadly, though there has always been some in this great nation who choose to focus on the negative and rally behind cynicism and divisiveness rather than compassion and commonality. Now is no different. Since the attacks in 2001, there has been a growing movement in this country to demonize and demoralize those of the Islamic faith and the latest contention: plans to build a place for Muslims to gather and worship in lower Manhattan, blocks from Ground Zero, has stirred up a deal of controversy. 

Protestors of the plan to build Park 51, an Islamic community center blocks from Ground Zero, say that its building close to the 9/11 terrorist attack is a sign of victory for Islam and/or that it is offensive to memory of the victims and to the victim's families. It is rather clear that they equate the Muslims in al Qaeda who attacked us with all Muslims. That belief is plain ignorant, downright stupid, possibly xenophobic, and borderline bigoted.

What many opponents to this so called 'Ground Zero Mosque' fail to remember, and what some politicians and media outlets do a disservice by not reminding us all, is that among those who died in the terrorist attacks there were American Muslims in those buildings and on those planes. There were American Muslims who were among the firefighters, the police, and the EMTs who responded and also perished.  And there are American Muslims today, nine years later, who are among the family members of those that died on 9/11 who have gone to this building, Park 51,to pray for over a year now before the start of this media circus, sparked by rightwing politicians, conservative talk show hosts, and hate groups. For a full year before anyone heard about it or had any vague opinion of how what happens in New York City affects their lives, American Muslims have gone to Park 51 without incident to pray and remember their lost loved ones in the same way as the other family members who lost loved ones on that horrific day. But now, thanks to a misinformed, irrational group of people riled  up on fear and hate by the likes of the rightwing propaganda machine known as Fox News and the talking heads in its employ, this plan to expand a place of prayer into a community center complete with basketball court and culinary school has turned into what fools think is a terrorist day camp right next door to sacred land.

Nine years ago our great nation was shaken to its core by an attack that we couldn't foresee because we couldn't believe was possible. We believed we were the nation all others adored and admired and should there have been enemies, surely, our leaders would have led us true for we too were the nation to respect and fear. But those leaders failed us and we did suffer a defeat the likes of which we have never before suffered and so it was only natural that we were left with feelings of deep unease. As a nation, we all pulled together, united we stood and we were embraced by the rest of the world in empathy, but it was short lived because when we looked to our leaders for leadership they instead gave us a narrative to focus our feelings of unease upon. Since 9/11 we were manipulated into believing Middle Easterners were a threat. Al Qaeda, Muslims, Arabs: all lumped together. We were manipulated into believing that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. It didn't, but that fit the narrative.

Thanks in large part to that narrative, created by the former administration and fostered by Fox News and racists such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, we have been witnesses these past few years to the rise of Islamophobia in America. Racial profiling at airports, stereotyping young Middle Eastern men as radicals and militants; we have taken our eyes off the true enemy and instead focused on our own people. When polls show that 1 out 5 Americans believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim when he really is a Christian, why does no one ask, first, how the public can be so misinformed and, second, what difference does it make?  Why, while this country slowly heals from the wounds suffered on that terrible day by a group of evil, hateful people known as al Qaeda, do some here find it necessary to fight their fellow countrymen with the courage of their ignorance in evil, hateful ways?

While two separate wars are waged in the lands of the Middle East, where thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims have died, we forget that there are American Muslims in our Armed Forces putting life and limb on the line every single day to protect the freedoms we all enjoy and believe in and value. And it too must be remembered that the point of the continuing conflict in the Middle East, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that our brave men and women over there are fighting repressive regimes to secure the blessings of liberty for the people of those countries. Those people being of the majority Muslim. It cannot be without pathetic irony that Americans would be willing to sacrifice our own to protect the freedom of Muslims in foreign nations while restricting the freedoms of Muslims at home.

The latest non-controversy and phony outrage on display over this mosque is just another drummed up, overly dramatic, overblown media event perpetrated by those that seek to divide us and capitalize on that division. This new crowd claiming to be the 'real Americans,' the Conservative Republican Libertarian Tea Party Christian anti-government rightwing militia devotees of con artists like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, sycophantically regurgitating nonsense and lies they've been force fed by these sideshow actors on TV and radio about the Founding Fathers or the Constitution and flying the Gadsden flags that say 'Don't Tread on Me,' are not patriots and they do not represent most Americans, they are simply confused and misguided people having fallen victim to these sociopaths who prey upon people's deepest, darkest prejudices in order to sell books and increase ratings; people who are not interested in democracy; not interested in freedom or the will of the people. They are only interested in power and money and they will lie and re-write history if it suits them.

That this group of people should claim the Founding Fathers as the heroes of their movement is bizarre and would be disturbing if it wasn't comical. It would seem that they have no interest in reality or history. They brandish books and pamphlets claiming that they say the things they believe deep in their hearts, but one would be led to believe by their words and actions that they have never taken the time to read any of them. To speak of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the Constitution with awe and than fall back on backwards, backwoods thinking is preposterous.

"Common Sense," Thomas Paine's celebrated work that gave voice to the American colonists seeking independence from Great Britain is today being heralded by Glenn Beck and his followers because they believe Paine felt as they do about big government when he wrote about ending tyranny, yet no one in this group seems to realize that Thomas Paine isn't one of them at all. In that famous work, on his criticism of the tyrannical monarchy of English rule over the American colonies in 1776, Paine wrote:

"Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one...For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest...Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with snow, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our will, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and or reason will say, it is right."

Furthermore, most fail to realize that Thomas Paine, not a Christian but a Deist like many of our Founding Fathers, was staunchly opposed to institutionalized religion, writing in "The Age of Reason," published in 1794:

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit...Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion...Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."  

Thomas Jefferson, also a strong critic of Christianity; so much so that he penned his own version of the Bible in an attempt to remove the mysticism of the religion and instead focus on Deist philosophy and the teachings of the man, Jesus Christ, was an outspoken, diehard advocate of separation of church and state and in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence which he famously penned there are no mentions of "endowed by their Creator," or "Supreme Judge of the world," or "Divine Providence." Jefferson makes one mention of any sort of god and it is to "nature's god," a common inference made by Deists at the time. These supposed references to god in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, phrases that people like Glenn Beck mistakenly parade on, were added by those at the time who lobbied for their inclusion in the document. Jefferson and his associates were likely the first to make the mistake of compromising with the lobbyists of the religious right. It should be noted here another very important edit to the original Declaration of Independence that had it not have been removed by the powerful influence of those representing the states of South Carolina and Georgia at the time, this country would have seen a far different version of history. Referring to further grievances with the King of Great Britain, Jefferson wrote:

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death, in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable commerce, determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die."

Thomas Jefferson, writing again in 1779 for a bill enacted in 1786 in the state of Virginia entitled The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom:

"...That, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right... Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters or religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

When our Founding Fathers gathered to create our nation's first constitution, The Articles of Confederation enacted in 1781, it was again their full intention to guarantee religious freedom to all under the law as stated in Article III:

"The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever."

James Madison, in a strong argument against state supported religion, writing in 1785's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" in opposition to a proposed bill establishing a provision for the teachers of Christian Religion:

"If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government how can its legal establishment be necessary to civil government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another."

Document after document, law after law, the principle of religious freedom has been advocated and upheld throughout the original colonies and all newly annexed land such as The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, concerning the government for the newly acquired territory northwest of the Ohio River, that states:

"No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory."

And finally, it is to the United States Constitution signed in to law in 1787, were it is written plain as day in the very first Amendment to it in our Bill of Rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." 

This is America and among the many liberties that we cherish here is the freedoms of religion and expression. America is not a Christian nation. That is not an opinion, it is fact. The founders of this republic held various religious beliefs and the history of immigration to these lands even before the formation of this nation included a large number who were escaping religious oppression and persecution. The founding documents that we hold dear in America do not mention the establishment of religion, Christian or otherwise, as its basis of law and governance. In fact, these documents explicitly define freedom of religious expression as a cornerstone principle of this uniquely great nation.

The 'War on Terrorism' that resulted from 9/11 is not a Christian vs. Muslim fight; it is not an American vs. Arab fight. It is a fight between those who stand for freedom and those that stand for the restrictions of freedoms in the name of religious fundamentalism. And religious fundamentalism comes in all varieties. Religion can easily be made to stand as the ultimate excuse for the evils men do. It has been made to do so in the past and it likely will in the future. But is it a case of one bad apple spoiling the bunch? That horrendous, often violent acts committed by people who claim to be of one faith using religion to justify evil makes all of that faith evil? If it was those claiming to be Muslims who murdered people on 9/11, should we really blame all Muslims and forbid them from building mosques? Should we also forbid the building of churches because hospitals and clinics have been bombed and doctors murdered by Christians who believed that they were doing God's work? It was after all an American Christian named Eric Rudolph who bombed several clinics and the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. It was also an American whose Christian faith and anti-government views that would have fit right in with those self-proclaimed 'Real Americans' in the Tea Party today that blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 people, nineteen of which were children under the age of six, yet no one protested the building of churches in Oklahoma City.

There are nearly 3 million American Muslims living in the United States today who revere 9/11 the same way as other Americans; who share American values and beliefs but who in recent years have been treated like outcasts because of what a few have done and find little opportunity for outreach and communication. There are nearly a million American Muslims and easily over a hundred mosques in New York City today despite these hateful, spiteful, misinformed Park 51 protesters who must also be oblivious to the fact that there is already a mosque in lower Manhattan that has stood there since the early seventies, before the World Trade Center was even built. If we hold them to their word, the founders of Park 51 seek to open interfaith dialogue, build bridges with the community through common goals, and forge strong relationships in an effort to spread understanding about the true nature of Islam - not the distorted, ugly form of al Qaeda's Fundamentalist Islam that too many believe to be the only Islam. And where better than the capital of the world, New York City? Where better than the place that, unfortunately stands for the worst of it? So, while a minority of people oppose the buildings of mosques or Islam or Muslims outright while claiming sensitivity, it must be asked: "Where is your sensitivity?" As for Ground Zero being a sacred, holy place I ask that you would consider why a place for people to go to play basketball, learn to cook, and yes, worship is any more offensive than the burger joints and strip clubs in the area now or perhaps more offensive, than a shopping mall built on Ground Zero as opposed to blocks from it, contained within the new Freedom Tower. It should be a question now as to why the founders of Park 51 would want anything to do with that area, now that the crazy viewers of Fox News flock there daily to abuse the Muslims going there along with the thousands upon thousands every year who make the pilgrimage to this tourist mecca. But that is their choice; part of the freedom that comes guaranteed in this country.

So what is the argument to be made now? It is not legal or moral issues. It is not sensitivity issues. What else can it be besides plain, 'they are not us' arguments? Well, to those who oppose this community center I ask that you ask yourselves: What kind of people are we to say that we stand for freedom but restrict it for such nonsensical reasons? What kind of people are we to say that we're proud to be American but don't consider other Americans 'American.' Are they not good enough? The wrong religion, maybe? The wrong sexual orientation, perhaps? Not quite the right color, even? In a land where all people from all lands have come and continue to come since its inception, how could anyone claim that there is any one right kind of American? Yes, some of us look different and talk different and think different and, yes, worship different, but we are all Americans and, may I add, human beings. Where does it come from that we have to be so judgmental? Why do we need to question other peoples motives? Why do we suspect each other and fear what's different? Why do we get angry at what we don't understand?

Rest assured to know that there are those who seek to capitalize on these divisions and use these feelings of unease, fear, and anger to their advantage. Politicians with the help of the media can sway public opinion like a sword and with that sword we have often times cut ourselves. With a little suggestion unease can lead to fear. A little rhetoric and fear can lead to anger. Turn up some vitriol and anger can lead to hate and there are those that can coax that hate into war and genocide. Have we forgotten history? You need not go back to post-World War I Germany for an example of a nation seeking a scapegoat in a minority group for its troubles.  Here in this country we too have the sorry history of the mistreatment of Jews and Catholics and Mormons and Irish and Italians and Chinese and Hispanics and Latinos and Homosexuals etcetera, etc. Do we forget the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II? The relocation of Native Americans? Do we forget slavery ever happened? Do we pretend there was no before and during the Civil Rights Movement?

Back in the 1950's, when schools and public utilities were segregated in the south, it was the popular opinion that blacks were inferior to whites. There was no logical or intellectual basis to this argument, just accustomed irrational thinking that when challenged by reason was met with hostility. When the decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas came out ending segregation in public schools, there was a backlash of white people against blacks and against the federal government. These people were furious.  They didn't exactly know why they were furious, it may have been the false fear that their way of life would be taken over by blacks or the government, or that they were no longer safe, whatever that means, but this group was not at ease and there were those agitators then who whipped up the public into fury and hate. Blind, dumb hate. Soon enough it was angry, violent people that made up the majority with the full backing of the popular opinion, the police, and the KKK. It is hard to look back on history to see similarities today and not be dismayed that we have not learned from our mistakes. We should remember what hate has done in our past. The beatings, rape, and murder. Children's heads bashed in. Hate did these things. Hate blew up homes and churches. Hate blew to pieces the bodies of four innocent little girls who were at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama one day in 1963 learning about forgiveness and love. And this was a church. White people blew up a church because black people prayed there? Was it not to the same god the black people prayed to as the white people? There was no respect for religion or god, just hate for the different people. So why today, do 'good Christians' say they stand up for their religion when really they just hate the different people? Why do they hate Muslims, Hispanics, Homosexuals?

These 'good Christians' who you'll find rallying over the building of mosques, immigration, and same sex marriage shouting and cursing and threatening violence are exactly the same hateful, ignorant type of people back then that screamed at children entering school, set fist and fire hose and dogs and billy clubs on people in the street, murdered men of god who preached of change through nonviolence, and others including those four little girls. So I ask that we think of them when there's an arson at a mosque.  Think of them when people are beaten and stabbed for being Muslim. Think of them when 'good Christians' take to burning the Koran. It makes absolutely no sense to me because they all believe in the same god and here in America we are free to practice whatever religion we choose and it is a choice; no one is born Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Agnostic or Atheist or what have you. Religion is not in the blood and it is not in DNA and neither is hate. So where does this blind, ugly, stupid hate come from?