Category Archives: immigrants

Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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Lugenpresse…Testing the Waters

At a Trump campaign rally in Ohio two of the Trump supporters called out to the journalist filming that rally that he was “lugenpresse”.  A term used by the Nazis to condemn any newspaper or journalist that did not toe the party line . Especially newspapers owned by Jews. The epithet aimed at any newspaper that criticized the Nazi Party. Or failed to bow down to the Fuhrer. “Lying press”.

On Sunday Kellyanne Conway did her weekly news “alternative fact” show, this time in an interview with Chris Wallace.  While not using the term, she echoed the sentiments of the “lugenpresse” when she wondered aloud why many members of the press had not been fired.  Why? For their coverage of Donald Trump.

She wondered why these members of the press were not dismissed by their bosses. Why they continued to appear on talk shows and give their opinions. Why are they not being silenced?

One of the first things the Nazis did when they gained control of Germany was to intimidate and suppress the free press. I say “gained control” because the Nazis never won the popular vote in a free election. They were always a minority party. Hitler was able to get only 32% of the vote for president in the last free election in Germany, with massive support from the rural  areas.

Once the Nazis did gain power they were quick to use it to suppress any opposition. Key to that was the free press. Communist newspapers. Jewish-owned newspapers. Independent newspapers were quickly brought under the control of the new regime. By intimidation.

The “lugenpresse” were any newspapers or journalists who dared contradict the Nazi facts. The Nazi “alternative facts”. Control of the media was seen as crucial to ultimate control of the nation.The opposition, no  matter how slight, must be silenced. Real news must not be reported. Facts must not be reported. An “alternative ” reality must be established with Goebbels deciding what is acceptable. The idea that the press must be the mouthpiece of the government  was the goal. And , for the most part, it was.

Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon are testing the waters. Attacking the press. Calling for the removal of those who dare criticize. Calling for a ban on people of the Muslim faith based on an idea that Muslims are all terrorists and all alike. Mr Trump calling into question the actual photographic evidence of the crowd size at his inauguration.  An attempt to bully the leader of Mexico into paying for a wall that Trump wants to build.  The first “press conference” with Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s spokesman, was an attack on the press. And the attack ended with Spicer walking off refusing to answer questions. The message was clear. We will control the press. We cannot allow any contradictions or criticisms.

An all out attack on the facts, evidence and common sense. An “alternative” reality compete with “alternative  facts”

They are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Can they bully the press into silence? Can they bully our neighbor into compliance? Can they bully the American people into subservience? Can they bully the GOP controlled Congress into silence?

I think not. (Well, maybe they CAN bully Congress). The USA in 2017 is not Germany in 1933. The US citizens in 2017 are not going to sit back while Muslims are treated harshly and Mexicans are stereotyped and the free press is under attack. And the press is not going to roll over to an alternative reality.

The Trump folks are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Those waters will get hot very quickly.

(Note: The most thorough set of books on the Nazi rise to power is the trilogy by Richard J Evans. The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power and The Third Reich at War)

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Trump’s Great Wall

Mr Trump was adamant. He was going to build a WALL. A concrete, brick solid WALL across the entire 1900 mile border with Mexico. His minions chanted : Build the Wall! Build the Wall!.

Of course, people with common sense said, “No”. The border crosses desert, mountain and river. Areas where building a wall would not only be prohibitively expensive, but impractical. And, we already have walls and fences covering much of the border where it is appropriate and feasible. Certainly extending some fencing and increasing border security was reasonable. But not a 1,900 mile solid wall.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump insisted that the border was porous. Rapists and criminals were streaming across the “open border”. Only his 20 or 40 or 90 foot high wall would stop the deluge of criminals pouring in from Mexico. Hillary Clinton, he said, wanted those borders “open” so all those rapists could easily force their way across the border. Of course, Clinton actually voted FOR the 700 mile border security fence in 2006, as did Obama. A sensible, bi-partisan approach to a real  problem. But we won’t let facts get in the way.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-presidential-debate-fact-check/2016/10/did-clinton-once-want-to-build-a-wall-too-230026

And the $25,000,000,000 price tag for his wall? No problem. Mexico would simply pay for it. He would somehow force Mexico, one of the poorer nations in the world, to fund a massive wall that he wanted. And they would do it for free. According to his campaign website Mexico would be “forced” to pay at least $5-10,000,000,000 for the wall on day one of his administration. Trump assured us.

Then Mexican president Nieto said: “Nope. Not going to happen.” He met with Trump and told him point blank. Then, after Mr Trump was elected the Mexican foreign minister, Massieu, reiterated that Mexico would not give the US any money to build a wall.

One of Trump’s main supporters during the election, Brandon Judd is the head of the Border Patrol Union. He supported Trump and his wall. In an NPR interview on November 17, 2016 Mr Judd seemed to be hedging his “wall” bet. He claims he has been advising Mr. Trump about border issues.

Now, Mr Judd says, Trump did not really mean a “wall”, just a border security system. Like we have now, except expanded. (Kind of like Senators Obama and Clinton voted for when they were in the Senate.) Walls already exist, said Judd. But a wall all the way across the border …uh…nope..

“…JUDD: The wall is going to be absolutely effective in certain locations. We do not need a wall along the entire 2,000 miles of border. And what I really appreciate about President-elect Trump is he understands that he doesn’t know everything. And every single time that I’ve sat down and spoken with him, we’ve talked about a wall. We’ve talked about whether it needs to be the full 2,000 miles of the Southwest border or if we just need it in strategic locations. And he’s been willing to listen and that’s very refreshing….”

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/17/502402360/border-patrol-agents-union-confers-with-trump-on-securing-the-border

So, we don’t really need a wall after all.  Just enhanced security. Like Clinton voted for in 2006 in the Border Security Fence Act? That 700 mile fence in strategic locations that has helped reduce illegal immigration?

But Trump wants a brick and concrete and mortar wall, right?

Again, the Judd interview:

“…JUDD: Well, we do want walls in certain locations. We do want a very effective wall. We’re not talking about a brick-and-mortar wall. If you build just a brick-and-mortar wall, they’re going to come up and they’re going to break that wall down. And then it’s going to be very, very hard to patch that type wall. You have to build something that is going to be very difficult to defeat….”

So, we shall see. Will Trump really try to build a massive wall,  as his supporters wanted. Remember the “Build the Wall” chant ? Second only to the “Lock Her Up” chants at the Trump rallies?

Of course, Trump HAS built wall before. In Scotland. When he took revenge on the Scots who lived on the land of their ancestors next to his newly built “golf resort”. When these Scots publicly opposed this boondoggle Trump responded by building a wall across their land,  effectively blocking their view of the ocean they had enjoyed for years. And he sent them the bill for the wall.  They never paid. But he did successfully destroy their ocean view. He taught them a lesson.

And in the past Trump has headed many building projects. And failed to pay his contractors.

So, maybe that is his plan. He will hire contractors to build a wall and simply NOT PAY FOR IT !  Or not build a wall as he promised? Or do nothing but simply TWEET that he has accomplished something?   Meanwhile, we haven’t heard much lately about the Great Wall of Trump. Time will tell.

 

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All Mouth, No Ears

I had someone who called himself “Joe Citizen” respond to my post about Hillary Clinton and why I am voting for her. Despite the fact that his post had some factual errors I found the most interesting part his final 3 sentences. They read:

“Reply or don’t reply. I don’t care. I’m not going to read it anyway.”

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/i-wont-vote-for-a-woman-potus/

This got me to thinking about the very nature of political discourse over the last 8 years. Not limited to the extreme right wing, but certainly manifesting itself there with alarming regularity. The attitude is one succinctly noted by “Joe Citizen”. It boils down to this.

I will talk. But I will not listen. I will state untruths and errors, but I will not accept facts , evidence or data. Mouth open. Ears closed.

We see this in the multiple investigations of Hillary Clinton. Every one has come up empty. All 9 Benghazi committees (8 run solely by the GOP) found no evidence of wrongdoing. No matter. Ears Closed. Regarding Clinton’s use of emails, the FBI found no wrongdoing (carelessness, yes) and stated so on page 57 of the latest released report. Ears closed.

There are just some people who will not open their minds to evidence or facts. They will not let evidence interfere with their preconceived notions or stereotypes. Like the little boy in the back seat of the car cupping his hands over his ears and whining “I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you” to Mom and Dad.

Donald Trump implies that most or almost all Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals.The fact is that there are approximately 74,000 inmates in prison who are not US citizens.(And not all of these would be Mexican illegals) There are an estimated 11,000,000 illegal Mexican immigrants. Do the math. There is no evidence  to back up Donald’s claims. No matter. Ears closed.

Donald Trump claims that most blacks live in dire poverty when the actual statistics show that 75% of African-Americans are above the poverty level  in income. Not a great statistic. But a major improvement since the 1970s, when the numbers were hovering around 50%. No matter. Ears closed.

The “Hate Hillary” advocates have been crying over and over and over that Clinton or Obama or both issued a “stand down” order and prevented the US military from saving lives in Benghazi. 9 committees have said that is blatantly false. 8 GOP run committees found no evidence of any “stand down” order. No matter. Ears closed.

And the examples could go on and on and on. Obama born in Kenya. Global warming a plot by Al Gore. Bill Clinton responsible for 9/11. Saddam had WMDs. Hillary Clinton on Death’s Door. Obama created ISIS. Blacks hate cops. Etc.

It is one thing to have honest differences of opinion. And to have differing interpretations of events and actions. It is quite another to refuse to consider evidence and facts. Too much of the rhetoric from what used to be the radical fringe and is now personified in the Trump campaign is just plain false. But those who hold those views refuse to consider any evidence to the contrary.Ears closed.

I imagine these same folks were among the those who shook their heads in disbelief as Columbus sailed westward to find the route to the Indies. They were sure he was going to sail off the edge of the Earth. Of course, the educated “elites”  knew  (as did the ancient Greeks) the the world was round and not flat. But that knowledge would not interfere with the preconceived notions of the uneducated. Ears closed.

There are two methods for analyzing data and coming to conclusions. You can have your preset notions and stereotypes in place. And search and search only for the bits and pieces that support your preconceived ideas. Take quotes out of context. Take a line here and a line there from a report. Or in some cases, like Trump’s claim that hundreds of Muslims in New Jersey were rejoicing at 9/11, just make stuff up. You can ignore any and all evidence that forces you to reconsider your world view. Ears closed.

Or. You can have a point of view and seek to find all relevant data. To see if it fits. And then change your point of view as new evidence dictates . In other words, you can use evidence to develop a point of view. That is the scientific approach. Analyze new information and see how it fits. Adjust. Ears open. Mind open.

So, “Joe Citizen” and folks with his point of view don’t need facts. They don’t need evidence. They don’t accept anything that might contradict their stereotypes and prejudices.  ” I am not going to read it anyway”. And there are a lot of them. Which is why Donald Trump is the nominee for the GOP.

He is the perfect example:All Mouth. No Ears.

 

 

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Hiding Under the Bed

I have been reading a lot of history lately. The biography of John Adams. The biography of Alexander Hamilton. The story of the b-17 bombing of the Nazis during WW2.

Americans of the distant and recent past put their lives on the line. Whether they were right or wrong can be debated. Was Vietnam worth it? Was Afghanistan necessary? Was Iraq a proper response to 9/11?

Whatever your political philosophy it seems as though Americans have always stood up and faced whatever “evil” they needed to face. Even if some of that “evil” may be imaginary.

Until recently.

Over the last few years we have seen a new American emerge. This is the American of the political right wing. Just as American as you or I.  But Americans who have redefined what it means to be a “patriot” or a “citizen”

These Americans, unlike their forefathers, live in a state of constant fear. They are constantly horrified. Perpetually frightened.

They reject  the liberal FDR who, when faced with the most devastating economic disaster the US had ever known, responded by telling Americans, in his first inaugural address. “The only thing we have to fear is  fear itself”. A statement FDR repeated in 1941 in response to the Nazi menace.

They reject the words of another liberal president, JFK, who pronounced, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”.

We might even try Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the GOP, who said, ” Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

Well. Not so.

Today, the entire right wing seems to be hiding under their beds, teeth chattering. To hear some of these new Americans talk you would think we are a nation of cry babies and cowards.

What are they afraid of?

Gays.

Transgender people using bathrooms.

Gays getting married.

People who want to take away their guns.

People without guns.

Women who want to control their own bodies.

Blacks.

Blacks voting.

Old people voting.

Anyone voting.

The government.

Muslims.

Foreigners.

Mexicans.

Atheists.

Teachers.

Gays in the military.

Black Lives Matter.

Communists .

Socialists.

Libtards.

Did I mention gays?

Perhaps we need to get these grown men out from under the beds. Be gentle with them. Pat them on their heads. Hold their hands. Tell them it will all be okay. Nobody is going to hurt them. No gays are going to attack them. No one is taking away their guns. Heat up some cocoa and give them a cookie.

The poor darlings are frightened out of their (half)wits.

Perhaps Plato said it best over 2,000 years ago.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”.

 

 

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Keep America(ns) Safe

Keep America Safe.

Protect us from the  (fill in the blank)… Muslims…Mexicans…terrorists…refugees…Syrians…

But never fill in the blank with “Other Americans”.

We hear this from candidates all the time. America is a dangerous place…for some. But not from Muslim terrorists or jihadists. The biggest threat to human life comes from our  fellow citizens. With guns. All kinds of guns. Easily obtained.

Forget about the few “mass killings” At churches . Or schools. They are simply a spike in the graph. The every day, under reported killing of people in the USA is the biggest tragedy not covered by the media. Or candidates.

Keep America Safe.

For some reason keeping Americans safe from other Americans is a very low priority, especially for the two GOP candidates. I give you Matthew 7:3 ” Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but ignore the log in your own?”. It is easier to point the finger at “the other” than admit to our own societal  and governmental failures.

Fact: On 9/11 a small group of  Muslim extremists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, flew planes into building that killed almost 3,000 Americans. The US government retaliated with a massive attack on Afghanistan and later Iraq. Americans wanted revenge and wanted to make sure that we would be safe. Keep America Safe became the mantra. Ever since then our legal institutions and domestic priorities  have taken second place to our military desires. Keep America Safe. 3,000 innocents killed.

Fact: Since 2002 over 200,000 American citizens have been murdered. (Not including suicides or accidents, which almost doubles the figures) Not by Muslim terrorists. Not by ISIS. Not by hordes of Mexicans or Guatemalans.  By fellow citizens. By other Americans with guns. 200,000 citizens murdered. . And this is not seen as a crisis worth talking about. By any of the candidates.

Fact: Since 2002 over 17,000,000 Americans have been victims of violent crimes. Murders, assaults, rapes. 17,000,000 Americans . That is  MORE THAN the entire population of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia and Nebraska COMBINED. 17,000,000. And not a peep from the candidates.

Source:  http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Not worth mentioning.

These Keep America Safe politicians don’t seem to equate America with Americans. To them “America” is simply a land mass with a border, not millions of people. A geographic entity. Uninhabited? Children living in inner cities? Not Americans. The homeless? Not Americans. Battered spouses? Not Americans.

Perhaps someday a moderator in one of the debates will ask these candidates why they outline no plans to keep “Americans” safe. Wouldn’t that be a good question to ask?

———————————–

Related information from the websites of the 4 major candidates. The 2 Democrats do touch on the issue of gun violence. The GOP candidates simply ignore it.

The Ted Cruz website (https://www.tedcruz.org/issues/) talks about defending our borders. and securing the borders. He wants to install a missile system on the borders of Russia and wage war on..well, just about everybody. (http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Ted_Cruz_War_+_Peace.htm )

The Donald Trump website (https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions ) talks about building a wall to keep out Mexicans.  And he wants 30,000 US troops to defeat ISIS. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/11/politics/donald-trump-30000-troops-isis/ )

Hillary Clinton is a little more nuanced in her views of keeping America safe. She wants a combination of military, economic and political actions.  War as a resort. But not the first resort. (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/national-security/). And she has some specifics regarding  domestic gun violence. (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/gun-violence-prevention/)

Bernie Sanders seems to agree with President Obama’s current policies on ISIS and terror, in general. ( http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-isis/ )       Sanders stand on gun control is a little more complicated. He is for it, but does not go as far as Clinton. (http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-gun-policy/ )

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The Smuggler

It was dark and chilly near midnight on the Texas-Mexico border. I had a tip that a smuggler was going to cross that night and I wanted to meet up with him. Do an interview.

(In order to maintain confidentiality all the names in this report have been changed. My name is Joe Urban but I call myself Luke. The smugglers name was Jorge Maria Hernandez Moctezuma Gonzalez. I will call him Jose).

Jose was driving a small truck. As it pulled up to the border  a customs agent stopped him and they talked. Jose shook the agent’s hand . The agent looked into his hand, slipped it into his pocket and waved Jose through. A bribe. A time-honored border tradition.

I followed Jose and his truck through the night on the long drive north. Sometime near dawn he pulled off into a small town and stopped at Eat Em and Weep Cafe. I went in and found him sitting at a corner table. Well. The only table. I introduced myself.

Luke: Hello Jose, I am Luke. The guy doing the undercover story.

Jose: I thought I was supposed to meet some gringo named Joe. And my name is not Jose,  it is Jorge Maria Hernandez Moctezuma Gonzalez. What do you want to know?

Luke: Why do you smuggle?

Jose: Because I like to help people. People have needs and I try to make their lives a little better.  It is my way of giving a little back to the world. And it pays good.

Jose rocked back in his chair and stared at the spiders crawling across the ceiling. He had a faraway look in his eye. The awe-inspiring, starry-eyed look  of a philosopher. Or a sleep deprived trucker. He continued.

Jose: You see. I bring to you North Americanos a little joy. A product that makes your miserable lives a little happier. What is wrong with that? Don’t you have the right to be happy like us Mexicanos?

Jose continues: You may think that you can get the same thing from Colorado. You think the best stuff comes from Colorado? Maybe. But no. Colorado cannot supply the entire nation. The law of supply and demand. Capitalismo!

Jose continues: You are thinking about your own internal supply. But my stuff is pure. Better. No extra junk thrown in . The best in the world. Why take  chance on some local supplier when you can have the best? Why take a chance when you know that my stuff has never killed anyone. Guaranteed pure. Uncut.

Jose continues: And you deserve the best. So I will continue to make the dangerous journey to El Norte. I will slip past the border guards..what?..oh, you saw me give him a bribe. Well,  I will continue the dangerous journey and bribing the border guards. It is worth it to see the smiles on the gringos faces when the delivery arrives.

Luke: Are you worried that President Trump will build a wall and and finally put an end to your smuggling once and for all?

Jose: No worry. My uncle Antonio Juarez Moctezuma Gonzalez owns 4 bulldozers. He plans to start a new business smashing into the wall each night at different places. He has already incorporated as “The Holes in the Wall Gang”.  We are ready.

So there you have it. A law breaking smuggler who justifies his actions by claiming to be a “public servant”. Another smuggler defying US laws. A disgrace to all. But the story has a happy ending for law-abiding citizens.

I followed Jose for hundreds of miles north as he drove through Illinois, Indiana and into Michigan. Finally the roar caused by his lack of a muffler, the black cloud of oily smoke  and sparks generated by a right taillight dragging on the ground caught the trained eye of a Michigan State trooper. He was pulled over. Caught. Nabbed.

When the back door of his truck was lifted , there was the contraband in plain site. BUSTED. Cases and cases of the illegal product. It would never reach the lips of addicted Michiganders.

“Crystal” bottled water from Mexico. Cases of it. In sealed plastic bottles. Direct from the bottling plant. Stenciled across the back of each case: Destination: Flint, Michigan. The jig was up. The uncut, super clean water was found before it could be delivered .

The troopers threw  the cases on to the ground and smashed the contraband into bits, Elliot Ness-style. They slashed the bottles and watched as the liquid gushed out onto the pavement. The pure, clean, fresh water flowed onto the highway. The good stuff. Just before he got in his cruiser and drove away I noticed one of the Michigan State troopers slip a couple bottles into his jacket. I couldn’t blame him. I figured he must have had kids.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve Seen Enough

Against my better judgment I watched the January 14 “debate” of the GOP candidates. We really should not call  it a “debate”. More like a rant. Or series of rants. The moderators did not seem to know how to ask a question and the candidates obliged by not answering any. Still, it was instructive.

I learned, for example, that I have a higher tolerance for pain than I thought I did.

I also learned how wrong we liberals can be. I thought by now that the nastiness of Cruz and the ignorance of Trump would have disqualified them in the eyes of GOP voters. Seems that those are the traits most admired. Go figure.

Anyway, I am taking this opportunity to present a summary of the last performance as I see it. The candidates, from left to right on the stage.

Kasich. He stood. He shook his head. He looked sad and defeated. What am I doing on stage with these clowns?  He tried to talk about his accomplishments and ideas. No one cared. He shrugged. He’s done and he knows it. Born 20 years too late.

Christie. Buffoonery personified. His message was an attempt to out-buffoon Trump. Can’t be done. So, he came off as a small (I know, I know) replica of the master. He tried to insult  Obama by suggesting he would “kick his  rear end out of the White House” in the next election. Well, I guess. If he ever does rise in the polls his corrupt practices in in New Jersey will doom him anyway. There are people STILL homeless from Hurricane Sandy.

Rubio. 13 year old on speed. Besides looking like he should be home doing his homework (“Time to turn off the lights, Marcky”) instead of standing behind the podium all Rubio did was go bat shit crazy over Obama. A man obsessed. Obama Bad. Obama Bad.  Obama Bad. He even crossed over into Trumpland with his statement that Obama STILL wants to take away all our guns. ALL of them. Maybe when his voice changes he will run again. 2032?

Trump. The Donald. Same old Donald. “We need to figure this out” “We need to hire good people” “We need to make America great again”. ..”We need to kill the bad guys…””My Muslim friends..” “My Chinese friends..” ” I love the Japanese…” With friends like Donald, who needs….? The master of the Bleeding Obvious. The Master of saying NOTHING while pretending to say everything. I don’t want an old man who still  hasn’t figured it out.  A 68 year old body and a 16 year old mind. Singularly uncurious about the rest of the world.  BUT. He is the front runner.

Cruz. Every time I hear this guy speak I feel the urge to take a hot shower. With a good scrub brush. And plenty of soap. LAVA. He just oozes used car salesman… and not the good kind. Cruz is cynical and clever. I can appreciate that. Not once has he answered a question. Every question is an unfair attack on him and his superiority. The NY Times reports a fact. He attacks the NY Times. His minions are thrilled. The entire world is either good or evil. No  room for honest disagreements. No shades of gray. And underneath it all, we know he knows better. Not an ounce of integrity. Scary guy.

Carson. Carson answers all questions. Just not the ones asked. He also answers the ones in his head. The ones no one else hears. He reminds me of an old lady rocking in the corner half asleep. They nudge her awake. ” The Jews did it”. “Go back to sleep grandma. We’ll wake you for supper.” Carson just keeps showing up. Evidently his tactic is just to  stay alive long enough. It works for grandma. We keep feeding her. With this group, it just might work. Have to give him a solid “C” for creative use of the English language. Stringing together unrelated words,  phrases  and ideas into an incoherent mess.

Jeb. Still here. Like Kasich on the opposite side of the room Jeb actually attempts to discuss issues and ideas. He has not yet caught on. You can see the anxiety on his face as he tries to engage the others and the Fox moderators in some meaningful dialogue. Kind of like trying to explain to a group of three year olds that they should not shove spaghetti up their noses. You know your words are falling on deaf ears but there is nothing else you can do.  So you keep trying. And trying. And trying.

Finally, the most pathetic moderators yet. No incisive questions. No follow up. No stopping the candidates and making them explain themselves. A train wreck.

It is fairly apparent now that one of these bozos is going to be the standard bearer for the GOP. We can only hope that when they are confronted with Hillary or Bernie they will be exposed for the doofuses they are. We can only hope. At times like these I wish I were a Christian. At least then I could pray.

 

 

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A Modern Christmas Story

The line of ragged refugees trying to gain entry into the US winds around the corner. Men in robes and tattered clothes. Women wearing veils and hijabs. Little , wide -eyed children peering out from behind their mothers’ flowing dresses.

The Border Control agent barks .”Next”

A young bearded man, with wife and baby crouching behind, slowly approaches.

“Name”?

“Yusef”

The agent is filling in a form.

“Where are you coming from?”

“The Middle East. We have had to leave our home.”

Agent:” Why did you leave?”

Yusef: “They are killing us. The new government has taken our property and demands that we give up our homes and possessions. We fled from the violence. If we go back they will kill us. Don’t send us back”

Agent: “Do you have any documents?”

Yusef:”No. We had to flee quickly. We left everything behind except what we carry.”

Agent, writing : “How did you pay for the airline tickets?”

Yusef: “We had a little gold, but that is now gone.”

Agent:”How do you intend to support yourself? Do you have any skills?”

Yusef: “I  worked in construction. I can build  things. I work with tools.”

Agent: “I see you wife is wearing a hijab. Are you Muslims?”

Yusef: ” Oh, no. She is just wearing the traditional veil. It means nothing.”

Agent: “Are you Christians? Do you  follow Christ?”

Yusef, looking  confused: ” No. We are simply refugees fleeing for our lives. Please help us.”

Agent, writing down something and looking concerned. “What is in those two boxes?”

Yusef: “Just some perfume and some medicines. It is all we have.”

The agent calls over some security who take the boxes and disappear into another room. “Sorry, those boxes will have to be destroyed. They had some odd looking substances in them.”

The agent looks at the young refugee family , down at his forms, and back up again. “You have no papers. You have no means of support. You CLAIM not to be Muslims, but you sure LOOK  like Muslims to me. You brought in some strange packages. And you claim your life is in danger but offer no  proof. ” He then takes out a big red stamp and loudly stamps the documents, hands them back to the young man and points him to the exit door.

“We will be putting you and your wife and child on the next plane back to the Middle East. Good luck. And Merry Christmas.”

The young man looks down at the document. The big red letters of the stamp are bold: ENTRY DENIED.

They cover the names of the applicants.

Yusef the Carpenter, wife Mary and baby Jesus.

 

 

 

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Happy Labor Day. Now Get back to Work.

Wages in the US are at a 40 year low when compared to investor profits.  And average workers today make less than workers 40 years ago adjusted for inflation. The capitalist revolution has largely succeeded. Convincing workers that they are indeed undeserving of a decent wage.

So, let’s celebrate Labor Day.

The labor of the slaves was responsible for the southern economy. Free labor, of people stolen from their homes in Africa,  was the driving force behind the plantation system that south fought so hard to maintain. It is hard to fail when you have free labor at your disposal. Easy to build a “good life” for the master and his household. So, the economy of the south was built on free labor. Happy labor Day

The labor of the “white slaves”, the indentured servants, was hardly different. Indentured labor was slavery of a different sort. English and Irish “peasants” or “criminals” stolen from their homeland. Some by force, others by the force of the English law. Taken to America where they labored for 7 or 11 or more years to pay off debts. And to pay for their own passage to slavery. Many died before their indenture was over. No recourse to the law. Happy Labor Day.

The labor of the Chinese came next. Railroad builders of the great transcontinental rail system. Stolen from their homes in China or “shanghaied” from the ports of China. Sold by their families into indenture. They built the railroads and for many the rail sidings were their graves. Mass graves when the work was done and they were no longer welcome. Happy Labor Day.

The labor movement of the early 20th century saw a massive number of workers seeking to unite. The US government called it treason. Any strikes for better wages were met with government and company violence. Workers were required to live and pay rent to their employer. To buy everything at the “company store” Were paid in scrip rather than dollars. Any organizer was labeled a “communist” or a “traitor”. Eugene Debs,when he became too powerful, found himself behind bars. Happy Labor Day.

The post -WW2 labor union boom. Wages increased. Working conditions became safer. benefits were seen as an integral part of the labor contract. And as union wages increased, the wages of non-union workers went up as well due to the upward pressure of job mobility. And corporations thrived . Millions were made. And workers could buy homes and save for the future. Then came the Reagan years and  the worker became evil. A parasite on the “job creators”. Mr Reagan’s first act (after ripping the solar panels from the White House roof) was to bust the traffic controllers union. The trend was set. Government was once more the enemy of labor. Union busting was the goal of government. Happy Labor Day.

The Mexican and Guatemalan and Honduran immigrant labor. Doing jobs no US citizen will do. For low wages. No benefits. No protection from the boss if he decides not to pay. Picking grapes. Washing dishes. Busing tables. Doing construction. Weeding lettuce. Cheap labor. And in return they are blamed for wanting to work. For doing jobs that US citizens refuse to do. they keep food cheap and profits high. Happy Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day. Remember the slaves, the Chinese, the white slaves, the wobblies, the unionists, the immigrant. All of whom have made America what it is. No matter how much “capital” is invested, nothing happens without labor. Nothing gets built. No one gets arrested. No computers are programmed. No one is taught. No garbage gets picked up. No potholes get filled. No electric lines get repaired. No one is cured. No packages are delivered. No food is grown.

Happy Labor Day. Now get back to work.

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