Archive for May, 2013

The Summer of Ignorance

Friday, May 31st, 2013

In wing-nut land, it is starting to look like a summer of ignorance as the witch hunt to get President Obama heats up. Sound familiar? Remember 1998? The same insanity drove the Republicans to get Bill Clinton. It was the first time that the administration in power won seats in the mid-term election. Recently, even Newt Gingrich, the lead wing-nut of the 90’s warned Republicans of over reach in their blood lust for Obama. The extremists with pitch forks are amassing to take arms against the evil Obama.

Currently, the arms of choice – ricin laced letters – are being sent to the enemies of the neo-cons. One must wonder how far these idiots will go to fulfill their illusions of hatred for President Obama and anyone who disagrees with them. Ricin is the poison of choice of wing-nuts because it is a reasonably accessible agent for people who aren’t very sophisticated. Any disturbed individual can manufacture very poor-quality ricin in their home.

It is curious to note that the NRA has targeted President Obama and Major Bloomberg as enemies of freedom and threats to the constitution because they threaten gun sales. It appears that some NRA supporters have taken these words to heart.

NRA driven paranoia seems to be sending some NRA supporters over the edge. In the flurry of recent ricin letters, one interesting fact seems to serve as a link between the letters. Misspelled words, poor grammar and the blood lust for guns are the main characteristics that dominates the letters. Another link appears to be the region from where the letters are generated – the south.

The violent rhetoric of these extremists pose a serious threat to our democracy. In the past, Americans would talk over differences to forge solutions to disagreements. This is no longer the case with conservative extremists; as hatred drives the issues and beliefs of the Obama haters. Smoke screen issues like gun control, abortion and racial hatred stimulate and lubricate the right ring rhetoric machine.

It is interesting to watch the “do nothing” congress salivate over Benghazi, wiretapping of the press to stop national security leaks and IRS political profiling of the teabaggers. Eight months ago congress investigated Benghazi and found nothing, yet, now, they bring the issue back up, in the search of the Holy Grail to get the evil Obama. The wiretapping of the press is another dead issue being used to get Obama. Is anyone really surprised that a FOX commentator would collaborate with folks who have no problem with jeopardizing national security? And it is absolutely hilarious to watch the party who created and defends profiling – scream over teabaggers being profiled.

It is even more laughable to realize that the call for an independent counsel will undoubtedly expose those teabaggers who are illegally seeking 501(c) (4) tax exemption. The purpose of these exemptions is for non-political organizations. Teabaggers across the nation have been caught seeking this illegal tax subsidy provided by 501(c) (4) status while they are obviously political – providing funding and open support for right wing candidates. They are in reality seeking to use a cloak of secrecy to violate the law.

Progressives can only smile while they think – bring on the Independent Counsel.

Tennessee Republicans Continue War on the Poor

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

You don’t have to wait long to observe an act of ignorance from Tennessee Republicans. Tennessee continues to hold the attention of the nation in the art of ignorance and wing-nut legislation. Whether it’s on a state or national stage, leave it to Tennessee Republicans to generate the most outrageous statements or legislation.

Recently, this was once again the case during a bitter debate over the Farm Bill, which also funds food stamps, in the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., quoted the Book of Matthew as he noted his opposition to the cuts which would affect the poor.

“[Jesus] says how you treat the least among us, the least of our brothers, that’s how you treat him,” Vargas, noted that Jesus specifically mentions the importance of feeding the hungry.

In a shocking rebuttal – Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who supports cuts to the program, had his own special Bible verse from the Book of Thessalonians to respond to Vargas: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.

Vargas used morality to give an example of how Jesus directs us to respond to the poor, referencing America’s long time devotion to help those in need. Sadly, local “village” idiot, Stephen Fincher, followed with a quote by Paul. Obviously, Stephen Fincher does not realize that the red words are the words of the Lord and what Jesus says always takes precedence over any person’s opinion.

Stephen Fincher suffers from a gross misunderstanding of Christianity. He’s also opposed to giving people money from the government while he has no problem taking it for himself.

Fincher’s $70,000 farm subsidy haul in 2012 dwarfs the average 2012 SNAP benefit in Tennessee of $1,586.40, and it is nearly double of Tennessee’s median household income. After voting to cut SNAP by more than $20 billion, Fincher joined his colleagues to support a proposal to expand crop insurance subsidies by $9 billion over the next 10 years.

Hypocrite Fincher took from the government $70,000 in farm subsidies. Yet he attempts to use the bible to justify not helping the poor with food stamps? This is simply a clear example of GOP brand of hypocrisy. They continue to give excessive tax breaks and subsidies to the rich and themselves but food stamps are too generous a gift to the poor, according to him. Fincher is another Republican dealing Tennesseans a losing hand.

Benghazi: A Political Circus

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

WASHINGTON — Nothing better for a do nothing congress than to create a scandal. Politicians love few things better than a diversion, to trip up their opponents, and mask the fact they have done nothing of substance in creating jobs or solving the nation’s problems. Republicans hope that last year’s fatal attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya will do exactly that to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front runner for the 2016 Presidential Election.

History suggests it might be a tough case. It is going to be hard to convince the public that the death of a four diplomats is “Watergate level” conspiracy after thousands were killed and injured in a war in Iraq based on Republican lies. There was no Republican outcry as a long parade of American flag draped caskets flowed into America over twelve years.

The issue is complicated, the next presidential election is more than three years away, and a number of reports and a majority of officials have disputed criticisms of Clinton’s role when she was secretary of state but the facts do not seem any interest to Republicans who are desperate to damage Democrats and Clinton.

Still, Republicans and conservative talk “wing-nuts” hosts are hammering away at Clinton’s and the Obama administration 8 month after this old news story broke and became history. Even though Congress looked at this issue months ago and found nothing. A daylong House Oversight Committee hearing last Wednesday starred three State Department officials invited by Republicans proved nothing but a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

Clinton, seen as the overwhelming early Democratic favorite for president in 2016, leading all Republican hopefuls by large margins, draws strong reviews for her four-year stint as secretary of state. The Republicans rail against Clinton and the Obama Administration’s handling of the tragedy but fail to acknowledge the fact that they have gutted funds to protect US embassies that left Benghazi with weak security.

US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. President Obama immediately acknowledged the attackers were well-equipped terrorists acting under plans and a major independent inquiry totally cleared Clinton of wrongdoing but Republicans refuse to face the reality that no scandal exists.

The lack of findings has incensed many Republican leaders and conservative news outlets, who falsely portray Benghazi as a simmering scandal about to erupt.

The three officials testifying Wednesday offered no new details or findings. Afterward, Republicans all but acknowledged they’re still seeking a knockout punch.

“This hearing is now over, but this investigation is not,” said Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the hard-charging Republican chairman of the House committee, as his committee found nothing new. He urged mythical “whistle-blowers” and “witnesses who have been afraid to come forward” to step up and “tell us your story, and we will make sure it gets public.”

Republicans hope public anger over the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath will hurt congressional Democrats in next year’s midterm elections and more importantly damage Hillary Clinton in 2016.

By late Wednesday, Democrats were laughing and Americans yawned.

“The unsubstantiated Republican allegations about Benghazi have disintegrated one by one,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the House committee’s top Democrat. “There’s no evidence of a conspiracy to withhold military assets for political reasons, no evidence of a cover-up.”

“The Republicans are pulling out the stops to manufacture a scandal, to redirect attention from their failed policies.

“It may not be a smoking gun or a warm slingshot,” Republican Rep. Doug Collins said in the hearing’s final hour. “But we have four dead Americans,” and his constituents “are looking for the truth.”

There are issues that need addressed related to Benghazi from preventing this from happening again but the mistake of making this issue political has probably resulted in a lost opportunity to address some weaknesses that could have been corrected.

The GOP War on Education: A Case Example

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Michigan – Do you really want to know what Republicans think of public education? You have to look no further than the school district Buena Vista, a small community adjacent to Saginaw, Michigan. This Tuesday, people were shocked when it saw its school district suddenly shut down indefinitely. The closure followed the announcement by the school board on Monday night that it could no longer make payroll and its 27 teachers were laid off and all their benefits were terminated. Many questions remain unanswered while children remain at home and residents remain in shock.

An emergency public meeting was held Tuesday night which drew a crowd of about 100 parents, teachers and students who expressed anger and mistrust toward the school and state officials implementing the surprise shutdown. A list of questions and answers were passed out to those in attendance but officials refused to answer any questions not on the list.

The story for the board is that Buena Vista School District was mistakenly provided more than $500,000 from the state of Michigan to run a juvenile detention education program that is closed, so the state is now withholding all of the district’s funding for the months of April, May and June and part of July in order to recover the expenditures.

Many important questions could not be answered like: “Will high school seniors be able to graduate this year?”, “Why did the board spend the money meant for [juvenile detention program] Wolverine Center when it no longer existed?”, “why are children paying the price for an error by the school board?”…

Parents have demanded to know what the money had been spent on, but after attending the Tuesday emergency meeting, one parent noted. “it is clear that state and local officials have been—and continue to be—working hand in glove.”

A May 1 posting on the Buena Vista school district website states that the district is “taking the first steps toward confirming a financial emergency under Michigan Public Act 436”, which is the Emergency Manager law rammed through state congress after voters defeated an almost identical measure in November 2012. This was not mentioned at the public meeting.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2012 budget cut $1 billion from education statewide, while providing $1.8 billion in tax cuts to businesses. It was also recently revealed that a secret panel in the Snyder administration has been working with technology company executives behind the back of the public on a plan to establish so-called “value schools” which would operate on $2,000 less per student than the current state minimum by replacing teachers with long-distance video-conferencing technology.

Buena Vista is an unincorporated community whose population was around 8,000 at the time of the 2010 census. Most of the residents and students are African American. More than a third of its children lived below the official poverty level.

Attacks on public education and teachers have become a target by the GOP. It seems to be open season on public education. Across the nation, in red states, education takes a beating as taxes are funneled to tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. The GOP war on education continues!

“Dumping” the Homeless in America

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

“Dumping” the homeless – is this the new American response to homelessness? The growing way we treat and look at those who are homeless in this country is disgraceful. There has been a lot of coverage about the Detroit Police Department “dumpling” the homeless in areas unfamiliar to them, all in an effort to clean up tourist areas.

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a Department of Justice complaint against the Detroit Police Department. The ACLU has been investigating these reports after receiving complaints by individuals who had experienced this practice.

The officers are approaching, handcuffing and picking up those who they perceive to be homeless, and taking them away in a van or police vehicle. Once in the vehicle, the officers drive to a remote area far away from the familiar surroundings the homeless person is accustomed to. The officers take any money they possess and leave the individual stranded. Without a means to pay for transportation, individuals have no choice but to walk several miles back to their original location, sometimes having to travel at night, during freezing temperatures and through unsafe neighborhoods.

This practice is shocking in how those who are expected to uphold and enforce the law treat those who are most vulnerable in our society.

In 2011, the Tennessee Legislation and Governor took a similar approach to homelessness after being humiliated by Occupy Nashville, when they made it illegal to pitch a tent on publicly owned land. This was simply an attempt to hide the homeless problem in Nashville, at the doors of the state capital. Similar laws are popping up across “red” parts of the country.

When it comes to the homeless, people have the homeless (Not In My Backyard) complex. Countless organizations are increasing as those without homes in our cities, states, and country increase. Some go out of our way during the holiday season to help these organizations so that they will have adequate food, clothing, and monetary resources to provide for those who have fallen on hard times but many of these organizations are falling under increasing difficultly to help those in need.

On the other hand, we do not want these individuals in our backyards/neighborhoods. Just several years ago, the sheriff of Unicoi County had the idea to have inmates have a community garden to help provide food for the area homeless. The response of the citizens of Unicoi County was shameful. There was such uproar over the idea, that every site suggested, drew an increasing outcry from citizens.

They looked at these individuals as being “dirty,” “lazy,” and “dangerous/menaces” to society. Our society increasingly demonizes those in need. We want the homeless to receive help… just somewhere else.

”Dumping the “homeless reveals a disturbing lack of compassion about a growing segment of our society. In 2012, the Housing and Urban Development Department reported that 636,782 individuals were homeless in the United States. These figures show that America has increasing problems with individuals and families becoming homeless.

Is this injustice becoming the “norm” in America in regards to how we address the issue of homelessness?