Republicans Do Not Support Our Troops

Originally posted at Cagle.

This week, Republicans in the Senate successfully showed their collective contempt for our men and women in uniform and in the process they made our military weaker and our country less safe.

Led by John McCain -- the upper chamber's cranky uncle -- Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the ban on gay men and lesbians openly serving in the military.

If McCain's comments after the repeal effort failed are any indication, members of the Grand Old tea Party fail to grasp the finer details of the policy or how it has been implemented. Worse still, they are defiant in their ignorance.

There's more...

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.

That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.

Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.

I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.

This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.

Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 

All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?

The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.

The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.

Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.

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Repeal and Replace This

Last night I ventured into Laura Ingraham’s No Spin Zone. Confined to the house by inclement weather, I chose to contribute indirectly to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal’s News Corp. dividends and directly to Bill O’Reilly’s Olympian ego. In the race to the bottom that is cable news, Laura Ingraham’s monotonous Reaganite pabulum trumps msnbc, which is unwatchable, as well as that other thing which barely warrants mentioning.

I witnessed a truly interesting exchange between the aforementioned Ms. Ingraham and Rep. Eric Cantor, who gets to be majority leader after the bloodbath of November. The broad issue was ObamaCare but the main focus was what Ingraham perceived to be Eric Cantor’s squishiness on Republican plans to “repeal and replace” the unpopular reform law.

LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: …You've now got to correct the record because Politico is reporting that Eric Cantor, if he's the House majority leader come -- come November, that you're going to push for a more modest approach to Obamacare, meaning defund it, not repeal it. Did Politico get it wrong?

REP. ERIC CANTOR: Laura, I'll tell you one thing: As you and I have known each other for several years and as many of my constituents are, I'm a big fan of yours. So I got several calls from constituents over the last day or so saying, "What's Laura Ingraham talking about that Eric Cantor is not for a repeal of Obamacare?" Of course I'm for a repeal of Obamacare.

As you know, Laura, I'm the Republican whip in the House, and the duty of the Republican whip was to marshal as many votes as we could against Obamacare to make sure it didn't become law. And in the end, we didn't have one Republican vote that voted for it. Unfortunately, the bill passed. So we are faced with a situation where, hopefully, this November, a conservative majority will regain position in the House. And we're going to do everything we can to repeal the bill, to delay the bill, to defund the bill, to do all of the above. I mean, these things go hand in hand, Laura.

Whenever I wade into the land of Rupert Murdoch and Glenn Beck, I’m always careful to have plenty of aspirin and a barf bag on deck. The latter very nearly came into use after watching Mr. Cantor kiss the ring of hot reactionary blonde Laura Ingraham like the dickless establishmentarian he is. But however nauseating the display may have been, there are important insights to be gleaned here.

Rather than reaping a fortuitous repeat of 1994, conservatives are exactly where progressives were in ’06. In many respects ObamaCare is to them what the war in Iraq was to us. The mainstream public’s rather late aversion to the intractable chaos and bloodshed of the Iraq adventure vindicated grassroots progressives. It was a swift reversal of fortune that came right on time after the nightmarish re-election of President Bush. Unsatisfied with handing Democrats a decent majority in the House and a slim one in the Senate, the American people marched ahead and put a charismatic “change agent” in the White House two years thereafter. And yet the war(s) go on.

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You Know You Might Be a Tea Partier If…

NOT KNOWING YOUR VAGINA FROM A HOLE IN THE HEAD - A perfect demonstration of what happens when you don't believe in funding schools.

You know you might be a tea partier if you:

  • Go ballistic at being called a “tea bagger” while holding a sign that says, “Tea bag Obama before he tea bags you.”
  • Protest socialized medicine while carrying a Medicare card in your pocket.
  • Think the entire US Constitution should be repealed…except for the Second Amendment.
  • Believe only those to the ideological right of Genghis Khan are “mainstream Americans”.
  • Can never remember the difference between socialism and fascism.
  • Know that Barack Obama is probably a legal resident of Kenya, but highly suspect he may actually be an illegal alien…from the planet Nebulon 4.
  • Keep trying to tell people that members of the party are nice, normal, level-headed people…while standing atop a box full of oranges stolen from a migrant farm worker, waving an automatic weapon over your head, and starting your speech by yelling, “IT’S TIME TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!”
  • Find that facts and rational thought give you headaches.
  • Think the country will get along  just fine if we abolish all taxes while criticizing Democrats for their handling of the economy.
  • Are foursquare in favor of good schools and good roads, just not raising money to build them.
  • See democracy as one-party rule…and neither party is the Democrats or Republicans.
  • Think Ronald Reagan was, “The Great Communicator” despite the fact he couldn’t complete a speech without Nancy standing behind him screaming the speech into his ear trumpet.
  • Believe that the biggest problem with Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, is that they breathe.
  • Believe Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, and Joseph McCarthy were far too liberal for your tastes.
  • Wrap yourself in the flag and festooned every inch of your clothing in American flag pins while advocating armed resistance to the government and/or secession from the Union.
  • Don’t seem to be bothered by an extension of unemplyment benifits if you are unemployed, but change your positiohn when you find a job.
  • Are excited about the prospect of taking America boldly forward…into the 18th Century.
  • Think Sarah Palin  should be the next President, but unfortunately wears high-heeled shoes.
  • Think Glenn Beck is, “so down to Earth.”

  • Think reporters should only ask questions you want to answer…under penalty of death.
  • Criticize politicians for being against something before they were for it while lionizing John McCain.
  • Read an article about BP ignoring hundreds of safety regulations and conclude the problem is too many regulations.
  • Believe that allowing lobbyists to write legislation will lead to a cost savings big enough to offset the Bush tax cuts…not that you have to pay for them or anything.
  • Believe that the possibility of having to share a shower with a soldier who may or not be gay will lead to the entire US Armed Forces deserting their posts to take their showers at the local fitness club…without considering gay men who exercise.
  • Dress exclusively in tri-cornered hats and “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirts.
  • Can no longer remember if the stars go on the top or the bottom when you fly the US flag.
  • Protest “taxation without representation”…in front of the office of your Congressman.
  • Think the Gulf Oil Disaster was actually a plot headed up by Barrack Obama.
  • Immediately change your position on an issue after finding out a liberal agreed with you.
  • Decry partisanship while wearing a T-Shirt that says, “NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!”
  • Think the answer to illegal immigration is to, “jail ‘em all and let God sort it out”.
  • Think John Boehner has a really great tan.
  • Don’t see the irony when Bobby Jindal thinks we should profile Hispanics and jail them all immediately if they don’t have a Green Card on them.
  • Think that building a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero is a greater affront than attacking the WTC in the first place.
  • Don’t know what Sharia law is, but you’re in favor of expelling all Muslims from the US.
  • Think Fred Phillips is generally correct on his ideas, he just comes on a little strong.
  • Think Pat Robertson was right in claiming God sent hurricane Andrew to teach all them Palm Beach Nancy Boys a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about decent behavior.
  • Attend a 1000-person rally against being called racist when there are only three black people in the crowd…all of whom “pass” if need be.
  • Refer to Sarah Palin as, “The Grizzly Whisperer”.
  • You yell about health care reform bringing “death panels” while not noticing we already have them…the insurance companies call the “managed care boards”.
  • Think Sean Hannity is, “going soft”.
  • Decry frivolous lawsuits while cheering Orly Taitz as she files dozens of suits challenging Obama’s citizenship.
  • Think anyone with more that a semester at the local community college is a member of the intellectual elite.
  • You are a “regular” Republican in Tea Partiers’ clothing.
  • Carry a handgun into church to listen to the sermon…God is a God of Peace.
  • Have no sense of irony.
  • Are a Texan or Arizonan.
  • Prefer Astroturf over natural grass.
  • Don’t get that last joke.
  • Think the funniest thing you’ve ever heard is Jeff Foxworthy doing his You Might Be a Redneck If…bit.

Cross Posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Crusade Continues

by Catherine Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Though Arizona’s SB 1070 went into effect without its most controversial provisions, the legislation’s stated intent—attrition through enforcement—is nevertheless gaining traction among anti-immigrant legislators across the nation. In the wake of the law’s enactment, other states are coming out in support of Arizona, some developing policy modeled after SB 1070. Others even hope to alter the U.S. constitution to deny “birthright citizenship” to children of undocumented immigrants.

Arizona stands firm against injunction

After federal judge Susan Bolton blocked numerous elements of SB 1070, Arizona governor Jan Brewer wasted no time and swiftly filed an appeal against the injunction.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for his part, has assured the public that he intends to continue enforcing state and federal immigration laws through “crime sweeps” and immigration status checks. After Arizona’s 287(g) agreement expired last year, effectively stripping local law enforcement of the right to detain individuals on suspicion of their immigration status, Arpaio similarly refused to comply, brazenly maintaining his immigration enforcement campaign.

Jamilah King of ColorLines reports that on the day that SB 1070 went into effect, Arpaio and hundreds of deputies arrested 50 protesters before completing their 17th immigration raid. Those arrested included clergy, journalists, and attorneys. Local civil rights leader Salvador Reza – a particularly outspoken critic of Arpaio’s contentious enforcement tactics, was also taken into custody, as was former state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez.

No citizenship to “anchor babies”

Meanwhile, Arizona legislators are taking anti-immigrant sentiment to a new level and coming out in favor of potentially repealing the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

At the Washington Independent, Elise Foley reports that Arizona senators Jon Kyl and John McCain are the latest to join the radical faction of Republican Party politicians calling for congressional hearings to reconsider the amendment. McCain’s new position is particularly curious given his historical support of comprehensive immigration reform, and past advocacy of deportees’ American children.

McCain’s about-face may be prompted by the impending election and, in particular, the considerable popularity of his Republican opponent J. D. Hayworth, who is running on a firm anti-immigrant platform.

Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive argues that the Republican focus on birthright citizenship is a malicious attempt to visit the sins of the father onto the children. Rothschild also calls attention to the fact that a whopping 94 Republicans in the House support the extremist effort.

SB 1070 paves the way

Arizona has long been a testing ground for anti-immigrant measures in the U.S. and SB 1070 is no exception. Now that the new law has gained traction, other states are following suit.

At Talking Points Memo, Christina Bellantoni reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion stating that Virginia law enforcement, including state park personnel, have the same authority to investigate immigration status as Arizona police officers.

Written as an advisory letter to state Delegate Bob Marshall, the opinion has garnered intense opposition – in part because Virginia considers official opinions of the attorney general to be laws. Cuccinelli reinforced his opinion by filing an amicus brief to stand in solidarity with Arizona in its fight against the federal government.

He’s not alone, either. Going back to the Washington Independent Foley reports that three other attorney generals and nine states have filed amicus briefs in support of Arizona’s new immigration law.

Who profits when immigrants go to jail?

While SB 1070 is argued in the courts and debated in the media, Yana Kuchinoff at Truthout reminds us that 300,000 immigrants are languishing in detention centers under notoriously poor conditions. More than 100 deaths have been reported in immigration detention since 2003, sparking investigations by Human Rights Watch, Detention Watch, and even the Department of Homeland Security.

Moreover, private companies contracted to handle the rising number of detentions are making a fortune on the nation’s broken immigration system. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private immigration detainer in the country, has made record profits since 2003 by billing the federal government an estimated $11 million per month and cutting costs at the expense of detainees’ health and well-being. Telecommunications companies like EverCom are also profiting from detention, charging immigrants in detention as much as $17.34 for a 15-minute phone call.

The irony of our dysfunctional immigration system, Kuchinoff concludes, is that the people who end up spending the most time in detention, are those with the strongest claims for staying in the U.S.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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