Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good Environmental News! Take that, Koch Brothers!

NB: Hopefully this is the last posting in this tiny type that Blogspot considers "normal". From now on the type will be bigger.

Here's a double Valentine for each of us and a mud-pie in the face of each of the two Koch brothers, that dastardly pair that are trying to buy our country politically so that they can further pollute the world and our atmosphere with their oil.

One of the punches in their collective face comes from President Obama, who has just ordered the EPA to adopt emission controls for trucks so as to lower the amount of carbon being put into the atmosphere. He's already had the EPA adopt tough controls on autos, such to go into effect this year. With no help from Congress he's still keeping up the fight against global warming.

The second punch comes from a billionaire Democrat. Yep, a "billionaire Democrat".  Apparently the Republicans don't have a monopoly on money men.    This one is Tom Steyer, a big-time hedge fund manager from  -  where else?  -  Silicon Valley.  Being located in Silicon Valley means he at least has brains enough to believe in science and therefore be alarmed by global warming.

But unlike most alarmed Democrats, he wants to do something about it instead of just shrieking. He's putting together a $100 million campaign fund, half of it being his own money and half from other richies to campaign against candidates who refuse to do anything about global warming.  He's also going to be running educational ads just to drive some sense into the heads of Americans presently bewildered by all the climate-change denial the GOP scoops out. 

He's a go-get-'em guy. With $11 million of his own money he helped Terry McAuliffe win the governorship of Virginia.  Some Democrats turn up their noses at Steyer because he's using the loopholes in campaign financing that were created by the hated Citizens United decision.  Hey, Democrats!  Get real!  We're facing an apocalypse, and the niceties of campaign spending cannot shackle Democratic efforts while the GOP goes wild in destroying the planet.

If any Democrats are truly disturbed by Steyer's use of big money, why don't they start an on-line funding drive to get a million people to each donate $100 for the same campaigning that Steyer has targeted. Heaven knows, far more than Steyer's $100 million is needed this year if we are to save the Senate from a GOP takeover and have a chance at recovering the House. To date the GOP and its associates, such as the Koch brothers, are swamping the Democrats in terms of fund-raising.

Will Steyer's money balance things? No. More is needed. But at least one Democrat is doing the right thing. Thanks, Mr. Steyer, for trying to save the world for my grandchildren.

And thanks, President Obama, for doing yet one more thing to make life better for all of us.

How little thanks you get, Mr. President. For that, I am so sorry. But here there's at least one person who is truly grateful. Keep it up, Mr. President. Don't get discouraged, sir, because so few seem to notice how much you do. I know you don't do it for gratitude but because it's the right thing to do. But I still want to say thank you.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Day Massacre: House GOP Shoots Self in Both Feet!

{ The following post was up for about 20 minutes when the GOP in the House suddenly announced it would vote a "clean bill" to raise the debt ceiling.  No demands of any kind. Goldernit, the GOP ain't any fun any more.  At least I was prescient enough to start out originally with "I can't believe this".  It was indeed just to good to be true!}

I can't believe this! Never has any major political party done something so hilarious.  Or so stupid.  Or so helpful to their despised rivals.  At least not since the GOP convention in 2012 featured Clint Eastwood talking to a chair.

It's the GOP again, of course. The GOP House members  have lined themselves up against the wall of a garage and shot themselves, each in both feet.  Happy Valentine's Day to the Democrats and any Americans who have a sense of humor and can follow the GOP's amazing script.  It's like something Kramer would plot on "Seinfeld".

Okay, this is how it works.  The debt ceiling is up for action again.  There wasn't going to be any bargaining this time, just as Obama refused to bargain last time.  And the GOP sure can't shut down the government again. So one would think the GOP would just quietly do its job and vote to raise the ceiling and thus pay the bills it has ALREADY incurred.

But no.

The GOP can't just do its job like a bunch of grown-ups.  It has to extract some kind of bribe as it has tried to do before.  It has to swagger. Last time the price was supposed to be the killing of Obamacare.  Well, that didn't happen, as you will recall.  So it's pointless to try that again.  Therefore what trophy can they require in order to look like hot stuff and tough guys to their voters back home?

Get this!  This is the price they announced Monday:  They are demanding restoration of a cut in veterans benefits that they  -   these exact same Republicans  -   JUST ENACTED.  "Give us back that cut we just made, you dirty so-and-sos!  How dare you withhold the funding we just required be withheld!"  Man, what is scarier than that!

So of course the GOP is going to get this as their "price".  Not because they are so scary but because the Democrats want the restoration of that benefit even MORE than the GOP does!  And so do the veterans, a key voting group,  And so does much of the public because our veterans get treated badly enough as it is.

And, oh boy, does Sen. Harry Reid want the House to restore that cut!  He's jumping up and down with delight all over the Senate chamber.  He's already appointed four Democratic Senators to carry parallel restoration legislation in the Senate.  Each of the four is up for re-election in a state which tends to be red.  These four spearheading a benefit for veterans will go down nicely in those four states, thus helping the Democrats to hold the seats this year the party needs to keep its majority.

The best sit-coms are on C-Span?

All you Republicans, line up against that garage wall.  And take your shoes off!

The rest of you, pass the chocolates!

Happy, hilarious St. Valentine's Day to all!  And a Happy Debt Ceiling Day too!

{But too bad for the vets not getting their cut reversed.  Hope they remember that on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.}

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wile E. Coyote Is Now Iraq Terrorist

I know we shouldn't laugh at 22 people getting blown up, but sometimes we haven't any choice.  Today's NY Times is reporting that a terrorist instructor in Iraq mistakenly used a loaded suicide belt to teach a class of wanna-be young terrorists the tricks of the trade.  The lesson they actually learned was "Kaboom!" and "Adios, Charlie!".  Or more accurately, "Adios, Wile E.!"

Wile E. the Terrorist Instructor not only took 22 of his "pupils" with him (yes, the NY Times actually calls them "pupils"), but he also gravely injured 15 others and sent 8 fleeing into the arms of arrest by the authorities who rushed to the scene.   To paraphrase a famous line in "Fiddler on the Roof", "With your help our whole movement is being destroyed."

It's a silly scene in a horrible way.  But the hard truth is that these terrorist recruiters and instructors are really very destructive of their own young people.  And not just when they goof up like this.  After all, they are recruiting and instructing in the name of suicide.  All their "pupils" are doomed to die by the demented syllabus these instructors in death have espoused.  Most of these pupils are young.  They are someone's sons or brothers. I have spent many years as a teacher of boys these ages.  I love these misguided boys.

When are the Islamic people going to say, "That's it." Even if they have no feelings for the young who are being led so dreadfully astray, surely they must care about their own friends and neighbors who are so often the collateral damage of terrorism.  Has anyone besides me noticed, with the exception of Boston, that the explosions are now almost always in Muslim countries, not in the hated West?  Has this terror war shifted almost completely to Sunni v. Shiite?

And should we in the West care?  After all, lots of people say, "Let them kill each other off.  They've been fighting for a thousand years."  So should we care?  Yes, I think we should.  Just as Jews believe that he who saves one life saves the world, the opposite is arguably true. i.e.  he who takes one life, diminishes all.  Also keep in mind that where violence runs rampant, dictator types look really good.  And didn't we just get rid of a lot of dictators.

Okay, you say, caring is one thing.  Do all the caring you want to.  But doing something about Muslim v. Muslim is another.  After all, you point out, what can the West do?  Stop the flow of weapons?  We can't even do that in our own neighborhoods.

Maybe we can't do anything.  Maybe it has to be Islam which finally says that enough is enough.  After all, Northern Ireland is now entering its fourteenth year of non-violence after three hundred years of Celtic Catholic Irish and Celtic Protestant Ulster Scots blowing each other up.  And they stopped this killing of Celtic cousins only after the two communities said that it was time to stop, that vengeance was no longer sweet. They stopped after two little boys died in the fire that destroyed their home after it was bombed because one of the parents was a Catholic and one was a Protestant.  The boys are called "the Little Martyrs".  The peace in Northern Ireland was written in their blood.

We don't want any martyrs.  I don't even want that Wile E. Coyote of an instructor to be dead, though I despise him for leading the young not just astray but to their doom.  Unless we say that all human life is valuable, no one is safe.  But the people who are fighting have got to want peace and safety.  Sadly, the young Muslim martyrs seem to want something else, a blaze of glory and phony heroics.  It's discouraging, isn't it?

As the folk song says, "When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?"  You'll note that the question is stated twice.  Not a good sign.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Two Million of Us Are Missing! But Don't Blame Obama!

Originally this was to be titled "Two Million Americans Are Missing", but the problem is that these two million of our missing friends and neighbors aren't considered Americans. That's why they are missing.  They were pulled from their homes and from our streets in the middle of the night or in broad daylight and then deported because they are not officially citizens.  It doesn't count that they sure acted like real and significant Americans before they were grabbed.

In fact, these "illegals" are vitally important Americans, and we have to keep replacing them with new ones to work our meat packing plants, make up our hotel beds, scrub our hospital floors, pick our fruit, and pave our roads even when summer temperatures rival the heat of the melted asphalt they are spreading.  And they pay taxes and serve  -  and have even been killed  -  in our military.

In spite of their enormous contribution to this country, the only time they seemingly "count" for anything is when the media totals the deported ones in order to blame the "Obama administration" for deporting them.  This blame is almost as outrageous as the deportations.  Yes, federal workers are deporting these people but they are doing it, not under orders from Obama, but under orders from Congress.  Congress has enacted a statute MANDATING that a certain number of immigrants be arrested for deportation.  How many?  Thirty-four thousand per day must be detained for deportation!  It costs us $2 billion a year to grab them and imprison them for deportation.  Approximately $164 per  day per person to put each one into a privately run deportation jail.

Efforts keep being made in Congress to repeal the arrest/deportation quota, the only such quota in all law enforcement.  But Republicans keep blocking the repeal even though the recession caused an enormous drop in the crossing of our borders.  The borders have also become harder to penetrate.  Nevertheless, the GOP still screams about "lax enforcement" and refuses to cut the inhumane and horribly expensive quota.

What hypocrisy!  We keep snatching mothers from their children, grandparents from their homes, fathers from their families, all in the name of a game of enforcement, while at the same time eating our lettuce from the fields of Salinas, our garlic from the farms of Gilroy, and our tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, peaches, walnuts, almond, grapes, potatoes and many other foods from every state from Maine's potato fields to Florida's citrus groves to Washington's apple orchards.

These very GOP Congressmen who hate these "illegals" go to conventions and sleep on the sheets these hated ones have washed and ironed.  The hating Congressmen roof their homes and pave their drives with illegal immigrant labor.  Do you really believe Mitt Romney was the only Republican to have "Illegals" in his employ?

Take these GOP Congressmen out to the fields of California when the temperature is near 100 degrees in the summer sun.  Let them bend again and again to pick or weed or hoe.  Let the drinking water be a long way away.  Let the outhouse be as far.  Let there be no shade.  Let the wages be so low that there's little money for food.  Make them take their little children with them so that the children work too.  Then let those GOP Congressmen tell us, as they have always done, that these "illegals" are taking work away from "real Americans".   Let those GOP Congressmen continue to demand that the farm workers be deported, and then make those Congressmen take their places in the fields!

I've been in those fields.  I know those conditions.  In the 1970s we fought alongside Cesar Chavez and United Farm Workers to make things better.  Hopefully things have stayed better even though the union has been severely weakened by GOP state governors in the intervening 30 years.  More than likely the bad old conditions have returned. Working conditions for those who do our hardest work are always rotten because only the weak and desperate will take such hard work.

So get it straight, people!  It isn't Obama who is rounding up and deporting these folks who are our brothers and sisters and the ones who feed us.  It is the GOP Congressmen who keep in place a law REQUIRING a specific number of deportations.  If Obama or the immigration authorities under his command violate that law, Obama can be impeached for the crime of so doing.  That's the hard and simple truth.

It's a truth that the media just glide right by.


This posting is dedicated to the memory of Pete Seeger, who cared about the "illegals' just as he cared about everybody and who sang the beautiful, heartbreaking song, "Deportee", and to the memory of Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song and, like Peter, loved the people.