Saturday, September 29, 2012

No, I will not sit down and shut up!


Last night, a religious commenter on a thread on Facebook made the following statement in response to my comments about the Pledge of Allegiance:
“You know what, get over it. If you don't like the way something looks, don't look at it, if you don't like what someone is saying, don't listen. Just because a handful of people "may" get offended, don't ruin it for everyone else.“
In other words, sit down and shut up.

You know what?  No.  I will not shut up. Atheists have been shutting up for centuries just to save their lives, their jobs and often the lives of their families as well.  Christians have burned us at the stake, thrown us out of our jobs, refused to rent to us, and so badly demonized us that most Americans still won’t vote for an atheist running for public office.

Today, the latest polls showed us (the non-religious) as being as many as 15% of the population.  That is in an atmosphere of intolerance and intimidation, where most atheists won’t admit it, still in fear of losing jobs, friends and family.  I’d bet that the official figures are half the reality.  But even if they aren’t, we are, in numbers, greater than the muslim, jewish, hindu or buddhists - combined!

In recent years, we’ve gotten tired of sitting down and shutting up.  With these numbers, we are beginning to stand up and be counted, and that is what scares people like the commenter last night.  So, I’ve got news for her:
“Once social change begins it cannot be reversed.  You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read.  You can not humiliate the person who feels pride.  You can not oppress the people who are not afraid any more.”  Cesar Ch├ívez
Atheists are not as afraid as we used to be.  We are learning to support one another.  We are getting the word out that there are others like us who can and will help and support other atheists to stand up for their rights.

Those rights are all we want.  The right to be ourselves without having to pretend to be something we aren’t, just to keep our jobs.  The right to get involved in the political process and have our views listened to and discussed, even if not completely accepted.  We want the rest of the country to begin following the law and stop pushing their religion on us with our own tax money.

We are not trying to prevent you from having the same rights.  You’ve just been abusing those rights and laws by doing things which are blatantly illegal and unconstitutional.  All we want you to do is to stop the illegal stuff and accept that your rights aren’t above and superior to the rest of us.

So, read this comment again:
“You know what, get over it. If you don't like the way something looks, don't look at it, if you don't like what someone is saying, don't listen.”
Lady, listen to your own words, and pay heed to them, or in other words, “physician, heal thyself”.  You are living in a multi-cultural world.   

They used to call the US a melting pot, but it is really more like a vegetable soup.  While each ingredient adds its own unique flavor to the soup, it still retains its own character while absorbing some of the flavors of the other ingredients.  Tolerance is a necessary and useful skill in a multi-cultural society.

So, get used to it, we atheists are here to stay (we’re finally coming out of the closet), and we are not going to be quiet anymore.  

I am not sorry to change the flavor of our soup.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Will Anybody Care? Hell, no.

The National Park Service has removed a Buddhist display from the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico.  It has cited First Amendment concerns in the removal.

 A New Mexico radio station has reported the removal on its website, and you've got to go see the comments to believe it.  One commenter even had to question whether Buddhism was even a religion...

Here's what KUNM of Albuquerque had to say:
The National Park Service said Monday that park service will remove the ten-foot structure containing Buddhist relics  from the park this week after getting an opinion from the Department of Interior's solicitor general. The solicitor general ruled last month that keeping the Buddhist stupa violates the Constitution on established religion.
Now, I just want to know - how long will it be before christians in the local community stand up and oppose this move and protest in front of the local National Park Service Headquarters?  When will the first lawsuit get filed by a local christian group on behalf of these poor "oppressed" Buddhists?

Yeah, I didn't think so, either.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

Government officials and crime

Interesting article about that TSA Officer who was caught by ABC News stealing an iPad purposely left behind at an airport.

As many of you know, I am a government employee.  Have been now for over thirty-eight years, as of today, as a matter of fact.  Over the years, I've seen story after story about misbehaving government employees.  Federal, State and local, there is simply a breed of person who cannot avoid taking advantage of a position of power or opportunity.

Politicians are a favorite target of our outrage, but others are just as susceptible.  TSA officers, like the man today, are up front and center, because of the public's anger and outrage at TSA policies and procedures at airports.  But there are others.  Inspectors of various stripes and types often have golden opportunities to demand bribes, as do police officers, parole officers and, hey, judges do it too!

As I've said before, don't take this wrong.  I am not trying to paint all of us with that same broad brush.  Personally, I've never seen such corruption occur.  I've never been exposed to it, nor had an opportunity to report something like it, either.  But I know it happens.  I've cleaned out the occasional office of a coworker who disappeared suddenly more than once.  I've delivered at least one CPU to the Office of Criminal Investigations.  It happens.

But what burns me up is when they get off.  Many don't.  A lot get fired, lose their pensions and I have no idea what they'd do for a job after that!

But especially the higher ups, and often the cops, get off.  There's a good ole' boy network in these places that protects them from the worst of it.

And it burns me up.

I am a firm believer that there oughta be a law (remember that comic strip?) that adds a premium to the sentence of any public servant who is convicted of a crime.  Lesser in scope if committed on private time, but escalating depending on severity as it happens on public time or in the course of performing their regular duties.  An addition to the regular sentence - just like we do for the use of handguns in the commission of a crime.

I believe that because I believe in public service.  I believe that performing a job for the government is serving my fellow Americans.  It is participating in the conduct of that agreement we all have in the existence of the constitution.  It is doing my part to support and defend that constitution.

But breaking the law is a violation of the oath I took when I accepted this job.  I cannot be expected to support and defend a concept if I violate the concept's most basic principles!  And for doing that, there should be a separate and harsh punishment.

Throw the book at the bastards.



Ann Coulter

Man, did you guys see Ann Coulter on The View today?

Now I'll say to start out that appearing there took a lot of guts.  I'm sure that even if it didn't look like it, she must have had a bulletproof vest on, because what she was saying got those ladies so riled up, she had to be seconds away from having something bad happen to her!  The director had to be on the ball on that one...

But damn, I don't blame any of them, every word that came out of her mouth was designed to antagonize, and all of them were not just false, but meant to be.  Right wing dog whistles.

I've gotta say, though, it was probably worth it, The View gets a lot of attention, and getting them to promote her book was probably worth some big bucks.

Political pandering pays...



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time for another rant!

Ok, sometimes this just ticks me off.

I know that this election is different.  I've been watching elections since the Kennedy win in 1960.  There's always been an unspoken, but mostly observed agreement in politics, at least in the twentieth century, and that was that we are all Americans, and it is acknowledged that we all have America's best interests at heart.  Different approaches, different ideas, different pathways, yes, but always there was the agreement that, at the end of the day, we could all go out and have a beer together.

Not anymore.  You hear people, often on both sides, but mostly on the right, carrying on about how the other guys are out to destroy America.  The attitude that goes with that statement is poison, hatred.  The right wing uses such dog whistle phrases as marxist, socialist, foreigner, unAmerican and all sorts of things which hint at Obama's race to excite their base and it gets downright nasty.

As the campaign move on and gets closer and closer to election day, the polls have been slowly moving towards a trend - one which shows Obama in the lead in most if not all of the swing States.  Some more, some less, but it seems to be a trend.  The right wing now has this new meme, that pollsters have been sampling more Democrats, so "of course" they'll be biased towards Democrats.  Geez, if you don't like the polls, you can just drown 'em out, right?  It fits the other trends in Republican tactics where reality just doesn't seem to be on the list anywhere.  What they're not telling you is that Fox News - that darling of the right wing - agrees with these polls!

Now at some point, somebody out there, maybe that "anonymous" which used to object so much to my  posts, will point out that I've posted things here which accuse some Conservatives of being "un-American" and out to "destroy America".

Yep and you'll see 'em again, too, because there's proof.  Hell, they're even saying it!  I don't have to make things up, all I've got to do it quote them and link to their statements, which I've done more than once.

The difference is, when some bonehead on Facebook accuses Obama of being out to destroy America,  he's never able to actually tell you how.  He can't prove that Obama is a foreigner, or a socialist, or a muslim, or an atheist (yes, they've accused him of all of those - at the same time, no less), but they are convinced that if they can just convince the country of these things, he'll be impeached and thrown out of office and all of his socialist laws (that started out as right wing ideas) would get overturned as being signed by an illegal President, thus are illegal.

All of this is simply due to the right wing being unable to see that their ideas are being roundly rejected by America.  We don't like making abortion illegal, we like the idea of gay marriage, we like contraception, we don't want women to be restricted from needed health care, we don't want them to be kept barefoot and pregnant, we want them to be able to have full and fulfilling careers of just about anything they want to be! We don't want others' religion to be forced down our throats, we don't want ours to be forced on anybody else, either.  We believe in helping others through a government safety net which is designed to help people in trouble get through that trouble, we want every American to have access to health care, even if they can't afford their own insurance - and we don't want that health care to be solely 911!

We want the right wing to stop being bigoted, to stop being mean, to stop being a bunch of lying, nasty bullies that will call anybody who disagrees with them unAmerican or a socialist.  (We want them to go to school and learn what those things really are!)

Get it?  Stop being fools who have been snookered and dog whistled into supporting a Party that only cares about the rich and can't wait to throw all you poor Conservatives (especially those who are on welfare) out on the street so they can reduce their taxes to zero.

The least you can do is just start being civil again.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apologies or Regrets? Weakness or Strength?


Today, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were hosted on The View in a wonderful interview.  I mean, not even Elizabeth was able to spoil it with her twisted little right wing question.  I’ve seen them both there several times, but this is the first time they’ve both been on simultaneously.  Each time, they’ve been warm, likable, and feel as honest as one can be.  You can hardly keep from liking them when its over, especially when they’re talking about the kids!

So, they’re there, and each of the ladies of The View are taking turns asking questions.  The subject turns to the Middle East and the recent ugliness there sparked by the anti-muslim film.  The President gave a good answer, but while he spoke, it sparked something I’d like to talk about.

He mentioned the protests this past week supporting the US and telling the militias to get out of town.  Now, those protests have been the subject of a lot of right wing political talk on Facebook since they happened, almost always saying something like, “Go, Libyans!  Throw the bums out!” and such.

Good sentiments, and yes, I’d like to see more of that - regular people getting mad at the extremists and telling them to bug off.  But I’ve got news for the right wing, and they’re not going to like it.

You know all those regular Libyans who marched last week?  Do you know why?  Because the terrorists killed a man they respected.  Yes, he was an American Ambassador, but that wasn’t why.

They respected him because he helped them.  He stood by them in a time of terrible strife and hardship, representing this country, but doing it in a way that showed he cared.  He didn’t do it just because it was US policy.  He did it because he cared for them as people, and because they needed our help.  Not because it was over a larger policy thing or because of overall American interests.   He did what he did because he gave a damn about them, and they could clearly see that from his actions and his words.

And they loved him for that.

The part the right wing won’t like is that this is Obama’s policy.  He has shown this by making those speeches the right thinks were apologies.  He has told the people of these countries that we respect them as a people, and we respect their culture and regret instances where we seem to show otherwise.

Contrary to what the right thinks, expressing regrets like that isn’t a weakness. It shows strength, and it shows respect.  A weak country, like Iraq under Hussein, can’t apologize, because then it does sound weak.  A small country like that needs to show strength to protect itself from its enemies. A warlord like Hussein cannot show any weakness or his political enemies will eat him alive.

A big country like the US not only shows respect by expressing regrets, but shows strength as well, because doing what, in a small country, would be weakness, a big one shows it isn’t afraid of weakness.  It shows our confidence in our own power and ability to defend our interests that we can express regrets or even an outright apology when someone who works for us (like the military) makes a mistake that insults another country.  Such a gesture goes a long way in mending fences and showing others that we respect them and want to be friendly.

It is fine (and necessary) at times to be seen as strong and forceful when one’s core interests are under attack or being threatened.  To do otherwise would be to invite further attack and eventually, defeat.  But one also cannot be seen as too strong or overbearing.  Forgoing the opportunities to show respect or regret over mistakes is not only terrible diplomacy, but is seen as being arrogant and aloof.

That’s why we employ professional diplomats.  So they can advise us of how to act towards other countries in accordance with their culture and social mores to avoid insult or to show respect.

By showing the people of these countries that we respect them and their culture, and by providing support and assistance when it is needed most, we gain friends in a part of the world where we desperately need them.  The message that Bush tried to send, that we are not at war with Islam, is an important one.  In spite of the attempts of extremists (of both religions) to make this conflict a religious one, the kind of policy that Obama has  followed has borne fruit, proven by the supportive protests in Libya this week.

If we can show the people of the middle east that we support them and not the dictators who have oppressed them for so long, we have a chance to salvage something from the past sixty years and the wreckage of Bush’s misguided war, perhaps laying the groundwork for a future Islam which is more Enlightened than today.

It certainly can't hurt.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Go read this wonderful blog post!

I just read the most wonderful post, written on Freethought blogs by Naima Washington, entitled, "Taskmasters for the Gods: On Religious Terrorism".

Naima is on the board at the Washington Area Secular Humanist group, called locally WASH.  She is a real asset, as you will see when you follow that link and read her post.  I highly recommend it!



The Twilight Zone, or maybe Monty Python

No, it can't be real.  There's no way that we could be living in a real world.  I feel like this campaign has gone to sleep and woken up in the Twilight Zone.

Could Rand Paul could be so out of touch that he truly thinks that Romney's campaign "has it in the bag"?

“You know, I think — I’m in the minority here, but I think the election is over,” said Paul, who was on to promote his new book “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds.”
“I think that Romney has already won,” Paul continued. “The people really are tired of the debt. They’re tired of irresponsible leadership. I think they’re tired of having 23 million people out of work. So, I think you’ll find — and this is my prediction, and of course, I could be wrong. I am fallible.”
 Yes.  Yes, you are fallible, and you are wrong.  Every polling organization says that essentially, Romney has lost.  It's all over but counting the ballots.

Unless, of course, the Republican voter suppression machine is really going to be as successful as he thinks.

But...

Airplane windows open?  From a man who probably has more miles in an airplane than I had zits as a teenager?  Really?  Is it possible that a man who is an acknowledged bishop of a church with millions of members could be so stupid?  So uninformed?  So unaware of the realities of the way our planet is formed that he doesn't know that exposure to air at the cruising altitude of a jet aircraft could kill him in three to five minutes due to a lack of oxygen?  Really?

Maybe instead of the Twilight Zone, this is a bad remake of a Monty Python movie...I keep expecting to see him around every corner these days.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Monuments to freedom, reminders of power and privilege


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit two places I’d always wanted to see - the homes of both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Both are the mansions of their day, and reflect the men who lived in them, their lifestyle and the age in which they were born and lived.  They are monuments to freedom, but they are also reminders of power and privilege.

While Madison is billed, with his wife, Dolly, as the most powerful couple of their day, Jefferson was, going by the size and elaborateness of his estate, the wealthier man.  He also spent half of his adult life serving his country, mostly away from his property.  Madison was a small man, unhealthy and sickly, so he didn’t travel well.  He never left the US and spent as much time as his service to the US allowed at his home, Montpelier.

George Washington also spent a lot of time away form home, and begrudged every minute, according to his many friends and associates, attested to in his many letters noting that unhappiness.  But he had much the larger estate and a much more self-sufficient one than the other two, apparently.  Plus, it was closer to Washington.

What did these three men have in common, apart from their obvious fame as Founders of this great country?

Money, inherited social station and the power that came with it, and land.  All three were powerful and wealthy landowners, influential in their local colonies and throughout the thirteen as time went on.  This was, as it turns out, a powerful reason why the colonies got into strife with England.  The various actions England took hurt the pocketbooks of the more powerful and wealthy of the movers and shakers in the thirteen colonies, and together, they eventually got together and decided to do something about it.  It never hurt that much of England’s activities in this regard hurt a lot of the common folk too, as their support was crucial to the eventual success of the Revolution, but I’d wager that if folks like Jefferson and Washington hadn’t felt that pain too, it might have never gone anywhere.

Why?  Plain and simple, power.  Jefferson, Washington and Madison represent the elite of the colonies, men who manipulated the strings of power in their local legislatures.  Other people listened to them, because they were the landed aristocracy.

Don’t forget, this was still a feudal system.  All of the land in the colonies was ceded to them by land grants from the King.  You didn’t own your property, the King did and you just kind of rented it from him.  Of course, there was a complex form of sublease and outright purchase of grants, but in the end, the king was the Big Kahuna.  (Remember, it’s good to be the king!)

Slavery was accepted as a common thing, and a natural part of life.  The economy depended in part on this low cost labor, and the elaborate lifestyle of the wealthy was not possible without that forced labor.

Yes, that included the men who, in our Declaration of Independence, declared that all men are, and of right ought to be, free and independent from the oppression of the landed aristocracy of Europe!  Jefferson owned, in his lifetime, over 600 slaves.  Madison owned around 200, and Washington around the six hundred figure, some his, some his wife’s and some leased from a neighbor.

At least these three, and probably others, expressed misgivings about being beholden to a system which allowed them to enslave others, and only Washington successfully ended up freeing his, albeit after his death.  Both Jefferson and Madison’s families had to sell slaves to hold onto the property, and all of them left huge debts which eventually required their estates to be sold to satisfy.  But none of them could find it in themselves to sacrifice their own personal lifestyle to apply their high principles to their own circumstances.

The framework of the society they were born into and raised to rule was a feudal one, and brutal in the extreme by modern standards.  There was no health insurance, few doctors, almost no hospitals at all, and if you went broke, you were on the streets overnight.  Debtor’s prisons were legal and full of the unfortunate. Slaves were fed and cared for at a minimum level, as cheaply as possible, and even free men were paid little for their honest labor.

Materials were expensive, though.  Much of the cost of almost anything was due to material cost.  Transportation was slow and subject to banditry and piracy, necessitating the additional cost of armed protection at times.  Production methods were primitive, meaning slow and difficult in many ways.   There was no mass production, everything was produced one at a time, by craftsmen, limiting the numbers which could  be produced.  Go back to your Economics classes - fewer goods meant higher prices!

These were the conditions existing in the thirteen colonies in the late 1700’s.  Life was hard, short and brutal.  Disease was often fatal, as medicine was primitive.  Political power was wielded by a landed aristocracy which inherited that power and wealth by blood.  It was maintained by brute force - dissent was brutally eliminated.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

Busy this weekend!

Tonight is the monthly discussion group. Third Friday of every month, my house. A good time is to be had by all.

Tomorrow - My Birthday! 60 years old - I'll be eligible for senior discounts! Yay!

Also tomorrow, in honor of Chris Rodda's new book, "Debunking David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies", the wife and I will be taking a day trip to Monticello, Jefferson's home in Virginia! If you have a chance, click that link, it has all the places where you can purchase a copy. I recommend it - she is a great author, and has very effectively debunked the second of his lies. The rest will follow in additional books.

I will be taking the D5100 with me, and will post the pics here and on Facebook, also in honor of her book!



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another American Icon Takes a Fall.

First, it was the Roman Catholic Church.  Then the scandal hit a respected University, Penn State.

It is about to be the Boy Scouts' turn?

According to the LA Times, it is!

First seen by this blogger on Dispatches from the Culture Wars by Ed Brayton, the LA Times published a story about a secret set of blacklisted names of past pedophiles who not only left the organization under very quiet circumstances, but were allowed to use bogus excuses to hide the real reasons from parents and the public, and many were never reported to the police.

The numbers of coverups are reported to be in the hundreds of cases.


A Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.
Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to leave citing bogus reasons such as business demands, "chronic brain dysfunction" and duties at a Shakespeare festival.
The details are contained in the organization's confidential "perversion files," a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts' lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.

Two decades of sexual abuse - 1600 cases.  And, after twenty years, we're only hearing about it now.  Why is it that religiously based organizations have such an aversion to reporting the sexual abuse of minors to police?  Can't they see that the reporting proves they are moral and trying to protect the kids under their charge and that hiding it - instead of preserving their reputation - eventually destroys that same reputation when the coverup is inevitably revealed?

I can understand the impulse to protect their organization, kids are the very reason they exist.  But instead of keeping the whole problem under wraps, reporting the abuse, setting guidelines for behavior and instituting protective measures to eliminate abusers are the very hallmark of an organization that cares and is determined to protect their charges.    Hiding it looks for all the world like they actually condone it!

This doesn't look good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Something cool, but hot!

This popped up on Youtube and made the ABC World News broadcast tonight:



I don't know about you, but if I were an ignorant barbarian without a science education, this would simply terrify me.  As it is, there is something primal and savage about it, and this kind of exemplifies the phrase "force of nature"!  It isn't big, but it is nasty looking!

Apparently, these occur in Australia occasionally, in their Outback, and usually last only a few minutes.  This one lasted for over forty minutes!

It is fascinating, isn't it?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Freedom of Speech a primer for non-Americans



Today, the muslim world is still roiled by the specter of a poorly made, bottom-of-the-barrel production movie said to insult the prophet Muhammed and the religion he founded, Islam.

This time, it was the leader of Hezbollah who warned the US of dire consequences if the government allowed the release of this movie, and others demanded that the US make a law forbidding the insulting of religion - specifically, presumably, Islam.

I know that I occasionally see hits to this blog from around the world.  Not many, but a journey begins with a single step.

The ABC World News, with Diane Sawyer tonight showed some footage, including a young woman in, I think, Egypt, being asked whether she believed people should have the right to free speech, to “say whatever they want”.

Her reply?  “Yes, but not about religion!”

I think that, overseas, among those who are not schooled in the finer points of American Constitutional law, there are some rather severe misunderstandings.

You see, we have this Constitution, which is the foundational document which governs all other law in this country.  It is the authority from which all lower laws draw their legitimacy.  All lower law must be governed by the Constitution, and if a law is passed by Congress or a State, County or local government, it is illegal and of no affect.

There are some 28 Amendments to this document so far.  The first Ten were passed within a few years of the original document being ratified and are known collectively as the Bill of Rights.

The very first one, the First amendment as it is so wisely known, goes like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These five subjects were so important in how they were viewed by the Founders that they were placed in a position of primacy - in the very first one, together.

Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of a right to petition the government

Together, they have been described by Jefferson and the rest as the cornerstones of democracy.  Without these rights, democracy cannot operate.

Lets take the ones not at issue here and get them out of the way.

The last three, freedom of the press, assembly and petition are important, but they are not the subject of our essay today.

Take the freedom of religion.  Often misunderstood and today widely twisted out of shape by the christian right wing, it is singularly the most important of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights.  It gives every person living in the United States, regardless of your status, citizen, green card resident, visitor and citizen of another country, illegal alien or a prisoner in an American jail, the right to worship according to the religion of your choice. and forbids the government from either interfering in that worship or favoring that worship.  It also has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to apply also to atheists who don’t worship at all, so that they are protected from being forced to worship that which they do not believe.

This is important to the current situation, and I’ll touch on that later.

Second is that freedom of speech thing.  You know, the part that let’s you say pretty much whatever is on your mind without interference from the government.  Notice how I italicized those last three words.  That is important.  It means that the government cannot censor your words, unless under very strictly prescribed circumstances.  

I am afraid that insulting religion isn’t one of those permitted circumstances.  the most famous example, crying “fire” in a crowded theater, simply means that you cannot say something which puts people in imminent danger.  That word “imminent” is the operative word.  Unless the danger you cause is imminent, the government cannot proscribe your words, and you are free to speak.

Now that film the muslims are so hyped up about, it is apparently a fair shocker to those who are adherents of Islam.  I also understand that even those who are atheists are shocked by it - by how outright bad it is!  Not the content, but the production, the acting and the poorly followed story line.  It is, in the words of one I read, simply one of the worst films ever made.

The producer is apparently an ex-Egyptian, an ex-muslim, who is doing this as his opinion of Islam, to show how bad the religion is.  Which, in reality, is why the clerics are so angry about it.

You see, this freedom thing?  It means he has the right to produce and release this film.  The government cannot stop it from being released.  The government has no ability to pass a law making insulting religion illegal.  It just can’t.  It’s that First Amendment thing, you see?  People have opinions, and we have the right in this country to express those opinions, and a political opinion is particularly protected, according to the Supreme Court of the US.

So, if you are a muslim, and you hate this film, congratulations.  Your country, over there, probably is glad to have you express that opinion.  It will gladly allow you to gather together with your fellow citizens and protest against the US all you like.

Just don’t try to gather together to express support for us, or you’ll find yourself in trouble.   That’s because we have freedom of speech and you don’t.

Just because you don’t like the content of the speech doesn’t give you the right to censor that speech.  That’s also what freedom of speech means - if everybody agrees with it, it doesn’t need protection, does it?  It is the unpopular speech that is in need of protection, and here, it has that protection.

Religion has a problem with speech.  Anywhere that religion has a strong enough hold of the law, speech is not free.  There are still countries which have laws doing just what you want - restricting speech against the State religion - in place.  And these are christian countries.  Fortunately, almost none of these laws are regularly enforced.

But in muslim countries, the reverse is true.  Even in mixed religion countries, such as India, there are very strong blasphemy laws.

This is the exact opposite of what the US’ first Amendment is and means.  It is a protection against the likelihood of the government coming after you for saying something unpopular.

It is why your rage against the United States government is misplaced.  What you don’t see is that to us, the American people, our government is us!  It isn’t an autocratic group ruling over us, enforcing its strictures against an unwilling populace.  The government is the people, passing laws that we want and agree with.

When you are angry about a film that insults your religion or your prophet, get angry with the people who produced it.  Understand that in this country, they have that right, and they have the right to insult, excoriate, criticize, denounce, lambast and to generally harangue any religion we wish - precisely because  the free expression of opinion is sacred to a fully functioning democracy.  Nothing is out of bounds or protected from insult.

You have, in short, no right to not be insulted.  You can be as outraged as you wish, but the counter to speech you find insulting or outrageous isn’t violence, it is more speech.

You see, there is this thing we call the Streisand Effect.  It is, in short the effect of attracting more attention to something you’d rather be ignored or forgotten.  By protesting and rioting against this film, instead of it being laughed at and forgotten as a bad production, it is getting way more attention that it ever would have otherwise.

Welcome to the Internet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The American Taliban


Is there an American Taliban?

Use the word “taliban”, and you generate images of headdress wearing muslim men with AK-47s attacking US soldiers, stoning women over minor offenses and beheading their enemies, including American journalists.  In short, muslim extremists, espousing a far right version of Islam very different from that followed by most muslims living in a more modern society.  Brutality, violence and intolerance are the watchwords.

They follow a version of Islam which insists women are basically, property.  They do not exist without the assistance of a man, even if that man is a child.  It prescribes the penalty of death by stoning for adultery - and defines rape as adultery!  Abortion is forbidden, even if the mother’s life is in danger.  In extreme areas, women cannot leave their homes without the accompaniment of a man - even if that “man” is a child!  They cannot drive, they cannot own property, they cannot vote, assuming that anybody in their country can anyway.

A woman cannot divorce, but a man can simply by saying the words “I divorce you” three times and throwing his ex out of his house.  He can walk around wearing only a breechcloth - women are forced to wear burkas, covered head to toe.  If a woman is found to be violating any of the above prescriptions, she can be beaten before being hauled before her husband or father, who would then be expected to have her stoned to death.

Apostasy is punishable by death.  Theft is punishable by amputation of a hand.  Insulting the Prophet Muhammed is punishable by death.  Insulting Islam is also.  Deliberately damaging a Koran is, too, under the rubric of “insulting” Islam.

These are all, to Americans, horribly barbaric punishments, harking back to ancient times, even before the alleged birth of christ.  To know that today, in the 21st century, people are subjected to these things is simply unthinkable, but they do happen.  There are videos online to prove it.

To suggest to a right wing believer that there is an American Taliban is to elicit objections, loudly made against such accusations, with the case being advanced that Americans do not kill people over religion.

Yeah, right.  I’ll prove that wrong.

In virtually thirty three States, Republican legislatures have advanced - and passed - laws that, in various ways, make abortion (if not illegal) extremely hard to get, if not downright impossible.  Many of these do this indirectly, since a direct law making it illegal is itself illegal according to Roe vs. Wade, and thus, these laws do not make any exceptions for the health of the mother or even in cases where her life itself may be in danger.  The long term result of these laws is inevitably death for any number of unfortunate women.

Republicans have made it a priority to reduce if not completely stop funding for Planned Parenthood, even for their gynecological health services almost guaranteeing that there will be poor women who will die due to a lack of proper health care.

Republicans have tried repeatedly to decimate government programs assisting women and children in funding not only health care, but food, clothing and shelter.  For some years now, medical science has shown that a lack of proper nutrition in various stages of life, including prenatal, during the formative years under five, during the teen years and during pregnancy are detrimental to a person’s health, development and future health in adulthood, up to and including shortening one’s life span.  Numerous ailments are linked to poor nutrition, and it is long established science that poor nutrition is instrumental in one having a compromised immune system, further reducing one’s chances of surviving illness.

All of these legislative initiatives are born out of the right wing, where religious extremism is alive and well.

I assert to you that there IS an American Taliban, and they are busy putting women in their place - back in or before the 19th century, if not ancient times, and their methods result in the long term torture and death of not just a few women at a time, but literally ALL of them, slowly, methodically and deliberately.

Which would you rather - a short, sharp attack or a long torturous road of insult, humiliation and oppression?  I assert here that the Islamic Taliban is much more merciful.  At least they kill one at a time, and relatively quickly.

The American Taliban likes it slow, torturous and painful.

False Argument Syndrome. In other words, what’s wrong with this Presidential campaign.


Remember a while back I offered some debate advice for Republicans?  In reality, they didn’t need it - they’re using it in the Presidential campaign!  Namely, the Gish Gallop.

You remember the Gish Gallop?  Where one throws so much garbage into a debate that your opponent has no time to respond to it all, so you can simply declare victory and walk away?

Well, this is the campaign version of that - a series of false arguments thrown out into the media, timed so that the media is forced to focus on the lies and your opponent is forced to respond to prevent them from becoming “true” through the omission of a counter-argument, preventing your opponent’s desired message from ever being given a decent chance to get aired.

This is a result of the fact that the Republicans’ first choice of campaign attacks - the economy - was preempted by the simple fact that the economy has gotten better - and few people are fooled by the Republicans’ attempts to keep that subject in the air.  It has, in short, fallen flat with a big, loud splat.

So have the attempts by Republicans at the State level to pass and enforce voter ID laws.  Most places have had them decimated by the courts.  So, all the Republicans have at this point is the old tried and true Gish Gallop, campaign style.

Romney has taken to it with a vengeance, not only proudly pronouncing the lies with a certainty borne of desperation, but doubling down on them when called out on it!  Well, don’t count on the old Gish Gallop this time, old chump.  People are getting wise to it, and don’t think for a moment that your buddies in the Republican Party are going to ignore your religious roots.

Romney is down at the polls in State after State, especially after making his series of gaffes during the recent embassy attacks.  I guess there really is a point where even the most ignorant finally wakes up and begins to dimly perceive the light in the tunnel as an oncoming train!

Friday, September 14, 2012

My New Car!

Bought on the twelfth, pre-ordered to my specifications.  Nissan Altima Sedan 2.5 SL, Cayenne Red with Tan interior, loaded with their technology package.  Almost all the bells and whistles, just not the top-of-the-line stuff like the big engine or the bright white lights, etc.

Enjoy the photos!






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This will not make me popular.


Israel.  The Holy Land for three different religions.  Tourist destination for many, pilgrimage for many more - for literally centuries!  Located not far from Iraq, the birthplace of civilization, it is also the setting for the Final Battle between Good and Evil for all three as well.

Which takes us to our subject for today.

Apparently, President Obama declined a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the end of this month while “Bibi” is in the country for two and a half days.  The President’s staff said he doesn’t have time during that period.

Aaand the right wing is going bonkers over it.  How dare Obama refuse to meet Bibi?  I mean, geez, look, we’re on a first name basis!

Maybe because this is an election year and he’s going to be virtually running between the swing States trying to save his job?

Making time for meetings is a two way street, if Bibi wants to meet with Obama, obviously, there’s something he wants.  Perhaps he could extend his trip?  I’m sure there are plenty of Jewish (and Evangelical) supporters who would be glad to extend a welcoming hand to fill up his time should he need to add a couple of days or so to make it work, dontcha think?

Or maybe Obama already knows what he wants, and isn’t willing to give it to him, but doesn’t want to tell him face to face.  Diplomacy is sometimes like that.

We don’t have to give it to them, whatever it is, you know, in spite of the eagerness of the Evangelicals to roll over and play dead any time Bibi says to.

Here’s a quote of a comment on a thread on Facebook about this:

“Israel is God birthplace but most importantly Gods chosen land let's be very weary of our president that turns his back on them.”

Aside from the grammar, what’s wrong with this statement?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

National Preparedness Month


September is National Preparedness Month which is intended to increase public awareness of the importance of emergency preparedness.    Being prepared is easier than you may think and it can make a difference to our families and communities. 

To facilitate your preparedness, the FDA Office of Crisis Management suggests the following: 1. To learn how to  make a family plan, build an emergency kit, get involved in your community, sign up for emergency alerts, and much more visit: http://www.ready.gov/ 

2. Sign up for classes:

a. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/FindaCourse/Find-a-Course_UCM_303220_SubHomePage.jsp
b. http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class

3. Food and Drug Safety after a disaster

a. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm317232.htmb. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085200.htmc. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm077029.htm

The above was the gist of an email recently sent to all FDA employees, of a type which FDA encourages us to forward to friends and family in order to spread the word.  I have altered the content somewhat to remove some which was specific to employees and thus not terribly interesting to the rest of the world.

I urge you, though, to take action, especially if you are in a part of the US (or the rest of the world!) that is subject to natural forces which can abruptly create disaster conditions in human living areas.  This is especially important today, as the areas affected by large, powerful storms in the US is increasing, as the tornadoes in New York this weekend clearly show.

A natural disaster can happen to you!  Be prepared, you don't have to be a Boy Scout to do that!



Saturday, September 08, 2012

A plea, but first, a rant. Please read to the end!


This election is a watershed moment for a couple of reasons.

First, the difference between the two parties in principle and practice is, contrary to a lot of disaffected voters, as stark and obvious as it has ever been.  When you look at the stated goals of each, look between the lines and wash away the partisan politics, those goals are as far apart as one can imagine.

Second, the terrible nastiness of the election’s partisan conversation is an indication of a rising fear in the Republican Party’s ranks.  There is a battle going on for the soul of the Republican Party, and it isn’t pretty.

Look, I was a Republican for many years.  I voted for Reagan.  I voted for both Bushes and against Clinton.  But over the years, the tone of the Party changed.  It became obvious to me in the middle years of the second Bush when they were taking the tone that “if you aren’t with me, you are not only against me, but you aren’t American”, it made me very uncomfortable.

I’d always been pro-choice, and never liked the stance of a portion of the Republican party which was anti-abortion.  The extremists’ positions were not only uncomfortably inflexible, but the hatred they displayed towards even those in their own Party who were willing to compromise with the other side was more than disturbing. It was alarming!

Another part of the mix was religion.  I’d always been rather apathetic about that subject.  Just didn’t care.  Stopped going to church in my early thirties and stopped sending the girls to Sunday School too.  But I didn’t think much about it, it just wasn’t important.  So I was also apathetic about that “moral majority” thing, but went along with it because I didn’t see any harm.  I’d always lived around such folks and kind of took them and their attitudes for granted.  Kind of like living in the desert and not noticing the cactus - they’re always there, that’s where they grow and they’re just a part of nature.  Their spines aren’t a new thing, you’ve always known they were there and you just kind of thought anybody would know to stay away from them to not get hurt.

But the actions of the ultra-religious in acting to eliminate women’s rights to not only abortion but contraception and limiting access to medical care for women’s health issues was a shock- as if those cactus were suddenly shooting their spines at passers-by instead of just sitting there being a cactus!  Looking back a few years, I can see those cactus have been shooting spines for a while - it just hasn’t been terribly obvious to many of us.

The entire thing has come to a head - President Obama’s election in 2008 shocked the Republicans to the core.   Not only did he get elected by a virtual landslide, but he was (in their opinions) also black!  Preposterous!  Unthinkable!  There’s no way we can accept a black man in the White House, it has to be a mistake - hence the birth (ahem) of the birther movement!  “If we can just show he was never eligible, we can have him declared illegitimate and throw out all the leftie stuff he’s signed!”

Cooler heads at the top of the Party saw it clearer - the signs have been on the wall for some time, how the raw numbers of young people joining and voting Republican have been dropping for years, more and more young folks are not only leaving the christian faith - but are not even being taught about it in the first place.  The results of President Obama’s election in a landslide made them realize that if they didn’t take action, and soon, future electability for Republicans running on their current platform would be impossible.

So, the birth of the Tea Party.  Not a separate party, but as an ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans so they didn’t have to actually do the hard work of displacing an established Party in the infrastructure of the American election apparatus.  Easier to just take over.

So, the battle is on.  Colin Powell, a rising star in the Bush years, was tossed under the bus early on as a RINO (Republican in Name ONLY).  Others followed.  Some of that was understandable - with the obvious failure of the Bush economic policies, nobody in the Party wanted to be linked with those policies - even if their basic policies have never changed.  I can’t blame them, that is standard policy to dump a failed leader, one doesn’t want to follow one loss with another - and a guy whose policies have gotten you into trouble will definitely link your name to his failure.  I can’t and don’t blame the Republicans for that at all.

What I do blame them for is not dumping those bad policies.  This is a separate and distinct thing from their social policies - I’ll get to those in a minute.  In the past, parties who have failed have dropped failed policies - politicians are usually smart enough to see that handwriting on the wall.  In spite of modern cynical thinking, I don’t think voters are so stupid as to miss the obvious.

But, and this is a big one, those failed policies aren’t the only problem Republicans have in that vein.   (I said I’d get to the social policies, didn’t I?)

It has been obvious to most political watchers for a while that the anti-abortion efforts have been failing to garner wide-spread support, in fact, the margin of acceptance of abortion by Americans has been increasing by 1-2% per year over the last few years, and a clear majority of Americans have always accepted one form of legality for abortion or another since the early eighties.  One can argue and debate the details - and we have - but the number of Americans in favor of complete banning of that procedure are in a clear minority, and always have been.  Whenever that question has been put to the voters, it has lost.  Americans favor some form of legal abortion in very large numbers.

Which makes the current effort to ban contraceptives puzzling.  Contraceptives are even more popular than abortion.  It has been estimated (through polling, how else?) that 98% of American women have, at some point or another, used them to help plan their family structure.  This includes Catholic women, in almost the same proportion.  As a matter of fact, studies have shown that both abortion and contraceptives are more popular in Red States among the very religious than in the general population!

And yet, and yet, Republicans have not only doubled down on their anti-abortion efforts at the State level, but have tried to get the extreme amendment extending human rights to be effective at conception on the ballot in numerous States!  This amendment would ban most popular methods of contraceptives outright, and also abortion, by the way.  Even though it was rejected last November in Mississippi by a double digit margin, they still are trying.

More:



Friday, September 07, 2012

Debate advice for the right wing

Maybe this will come back to bite me in the backside someday, but here goes.

Right wingers, if you want to debate a leftie - especially an atheist/skeptic - on Facebook or in a comment section, try not to engage in using the tactic called the Gish Gallop.  That's designed for a VERBAL debate, and fails miserably in a written forum!

In case you don't know what the Gish Gallop is, here goes:

The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. 
The formal debating jargon term for this is spreading. You can hear some mindboggling examples here. It arose as a way to throw as much rubbish into five minutes as possible. In response, some debate judges now limit number of arguments as well as time. However, in places where debating judges aren't there to call bullshit on the practice, like the internet, such techniques are remarkably common.
 Related to that, if you truly cannot resist, try not to copy and paste your Galloping arguments from one of three dozen or more right wing web sites so your opponent can just Google your entire Gallop at one go.

Try composing your own arguments.  Yes, it takes time, but you leave no Google trail to follow.

In composing your own arguments, try using facts.  Google is your friend here.  Again, it takes time - any research does - but the results are startlingly effective - IF you've got the facts on your side.  If you don't, you might want to admit your opponent has a point, even if only to yourself!

Publicly, try to avoid such things as condescendingly coy little comments about your opponent's made up mind or his "rapier" wit - an ad hominem attack is a dead giveaway that you've run out of facts and/or logic.  Likewise, avoid talking to another person on the thread as if that opponent isn't there - it just makes you look snobbish and nasty, and again, as a form of ad hominem, adds nothing to your argument.

Last of all, once you get to the point where you've just run out of ways to confound your opponent because he/she keeps throwing pesky facts and logic at you which you have no answer for, try to avoid that condescending thing again as you flounce out of the forum.  Yes, I said "flounce", because blithely announcing that you've got better things to do is not only tacky, but is another dead giveaway that you've no more arguments and you are giving up.

Better for your reputation (especially on Facebook where your friends and family are probably watching) to simply make a statement about having enjoyed the discussion, thank your opponent for his/her attention and end on a graceful note.

Best for your reputation is the act of admitting you've no more arguments to make and that you'll think about the subject further.

Remember, attacking your opponent instead of his/her arguments is not only bad form, but widely considered an admission of failure.

Two more things.

First, avoid the common tactic of dismissing Wikipedia as a non-authoritative site.  Yes, schools don't accept it as a source, but that is to keep students from using ONLY Wikipedia as their source!  Wikipedia is very well sourced in many subjects, with links and footnotes galore, just like printed books.  If you do this, you look bad, since many people across the 'net use it for common lookup of answers to just about everything.

Second, just because one uses Google and gets one's information off of the web, doesn't mean it is automatically valid - or not valid.  As with any source, including books, one has to evaluate the source's author, it's own sources, methodology and such to check if it has any credibility.  One can also Google to see if the site has credibility with a wide audience or if it is dismissed as partisan or unduly biased.

In short, THINK.  Use your brain for what it was designed to do - devastating your prey.  Leaving your brain out of the debate is like bringing a knife to gun fight.



Thursday, September 06, 2012

"It takes a lotta brass..."

That was President Clinton's off the cuff remark about Ryan's criticism of Obama's 715 billion dollar reduction of Medicare - when his own budget was doing the same thing.

But I've got a different take on it.

The only problem is that I see a lack of brass, and this time about Obama's caving into the right wing criticism of the Democratic platform's lack of god-talk and leaving off the Jerusalem capital thingie the right wing loves so much and somehow has never gotten around to fulfilling.

By taking the action he did - and almost forcing the mayor running the podium at the time to declare victory when almost anybody watching could see there was nowhere near the two-thirds margin required - he both showed a lack of balls at all, much less big brass ones, and handed the Republicans even more video clips of Democrats "hating god" than their pipe dreams could ever wish for.

On the other hand, had he just simply ignored them, they'd have had no new video clips, no "hating god" moments to clutch their pearls over, and he would have shown the kind of moxie and leadership the Democrats surely hope he could display more of.  Win/win!

Instead, we've got kind of a "declare victory and hurriedly move on" moment, guaranteed to give the Republicans more to crow about.

Come on, Obama, they've got all the moments to crow over they need just lying their asses off, without you handing them something with meat on it.

The thing is, the Democrats have every reason to have left it just the way it was.  The platform already contained plenty of talk about "faith", something the godbots on the right just love to go on about, it just didn't use the specific word "god".  Skirting the edges of putting religion into the realm of government policy, for sure, but at least not over the top.

Additionally, this country has traditionally tried to take a position of mediator between the Palestinians and the Israelis - we've no place blatantly taking one side or the other, as doing so just kills any credibility we may have left over after the last debacle of peace talks.  If the right wing has any real desire to see peace to insure the survival of their beloved Israel, you'd think they'd just fall all over themselves trying to  to make it work.

But no, the right wing narrative is all about the Second Coming, and peace in the Middle East has no place in that scenario!

So, to mollify people who wouldn't vote for Obama if Satan himself were the Republican nominee, he had to screw around with things and hand the Republicans something to try to distract the country from his nomination speech tonight.

Smooth move, Exlax....



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Slim this week - DNC!!!

Posts are going to be a bit slim this week - we're keeping an eye on the DNC.  Michelle Obama was awesome last night, as were the two mayors who spoke.  Those two guys were excellent speakers, and Michelle had the crowd eating out of her hand!

Have you noticed how the right wing has gone simply batshit insane on Facebook lately?  They're repeating lies already debunked over and over, and seem to think people will still believe them!

As for the empty chair thing - I heard the perfect comeback on that today:

Clint Eastwood was the perfect metaphor for the modern Republican Party - an old white guy, angry and confused over how events have overtaken his worldview, talking to a nonexistent Obama only he can see...

Monday, September 03, 2012

More crazy - just outside the US this time...

I didn't write about this when it happened, I wasn't feeling so well, and there was plenty going on INside the US to occupy my attention.

Back around the 20th of August, a 12 year old Pakistani christian girl (with autism) was accused by a Pakistani Imam of carrying a bag to the trash which contained pages of the koran which had been burned.  She and her family had to be detained, both for her crime and for their protection, once the muslim mob got going.  Also, some 600 other christians in that area had to flee to avoid mob violence, not an unusual occurrence in muslim countries - especially in the poorer parts of town.

Well, knock me down and shiver me timbers, but look who is now in the lockup!  It seems that the Imam who originally brought the charges in the first place has now been accused of being the one who planted the pages in the girl’s bag in the first place as a means of achieving his apparently desired result of driving those poor Christians away from the area.

Now he is being charged with blasphemy, although I'd bring him up on charges of filing a false police report and perjury.

One of the biggest things I see is not only how he wasn't afraid of the wrath of Allah for burning pages of his holy book, but he was unafraid of being caught falsifying the charges against the girl.

Now, just exactly how many people in that mob who chased the other christians away are now going to even think about how they were used by this pig to achieve his secular aims, but, instead, are going to be outraged by his profaning of a koran?  Are any of them going to sit down and see how they were cynically used by this man?  Will they see their own small part in this tragedy, or simply turn away from the thought by the familiar outrage manufactured by the clerical class for political or cynical reasons that have nothing to do with religion?

Think about that.



Nightmare for the right wing!

Seven of them, actually.

Alternet has an article entitled, "7 Nightmare Scenarios for Right-Wingers If Obama Wins a Second Term".  In it, the author, Steven Rosenfeld, sets up seven different scenarios which he says the right wing sees as a nightmare, should Obama be re-elected.

1. Drastically Reduce U.S. Nuclear Weapons
2. Reorient the Military Toward Global Solutions
3. Move U.S. To Single-Payer Healthcare
4. Resurrect New Deal Programs That Actually Create Jobs
5. Make It Easier To Join Unions
6. Grant Immigration Amnesty
7. Break the Fossil Fuel Addiction

Oh, the horrors!

Wait a minute...these are nightmares for Republicans?  Since when?

Reagan tried to do # 1, he was the first President to do that - and in a small way, succeeded.

Bush was forced by circumstances to begin the process of # 2, because our military was, as of 9/11, oriented towards repelling a Soviet-style invasion or conflict in Europe and was poorly equipped and prepared to fight the kind of war we found ourselves involved in once we took Iraq.   Iraq will be, trust me, the last large scale military action the US military will be asked to perform moving forward.  All of our future opponents will be small scale enemies without regular military components.

The US is the only First World industrial power without a socialized medical system.  We spend more per capita on health care, with a worse outcome than some of our allies in Europe.  Need I say more?

I'm on the fence about #4.  I'm not convinced the Federal government needs to directly provide jobs at this point, but the States and local governments DO.

Joining unions?  Why not?  I think the last couple of years, showing how a lack of union strength has allowed the corporate powers to flex their financial strength is perfectly illustrative of the good sense of this, from a national security standpoint!

We don't just need amnesty, we need the creation of at least two new guest worker programs - one for local entry for daily workers living on one side of the border and working on our side - and one for all the other folks, allowing them to work here for five to ten years.  Doing both of these would virtually eliminate the problem of illegal immigrants, because people could then come here legally and work - monitored by the government - and paying taxes.  They would also be documented as legal residents, but as non-citizens, who could not then vote.  Again, this is a national security issue, and it is always better to prevent the law from being broken than to have to react to criminal activity after the fact.   A law so massively ignored that 20 million people are living here ignoring it is not an indication of massive criminal activity or poor enforcement, it is an indication of poorly written law.

As for # 7 - that statement stands alone and on its own.  This is not only necessary, it is vital.

So, why is this country - and any middle class or working class American - supporting a Party which finds these things to be even uncomfortable, much less a nightmare?  These are things which should define this country, according to the values I grew up learning in Texas, of all places.

One doesn't need a nuclear military in order to be safe, which is what having a military is all about, and realigning that military to be prepared for future issues it may be called upon to deal with is also how you have a strong military!

Having a strong and flexible healthcare system that ensures that all Americans have an equal chance to stay healthy is what being a compassionate country is also about, whether you are a christian or not - but being christian should make it even more important!  Not less.

Same with the others.  These things illustrate American values - a strong immigration system to welcome the next generation of American immigrants has always been a part of this country and its reasons for being successful, as has a strong union presence.

As for breaking the fossil fuel addiction - hasn't the US always been about new technology?  What's wrong with new clean technology?

 The only people with nightmares about that would be energy companies who have money to lose by moving away from those fuels, and if you can show me ONE such company which hasn't begun to invest in clean tech, I'll show you one which deserves to go bankrupt!

If these are Republican nightmares, then the Republican Party deserves to go bankrupt, too.