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Political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship
Updated: 12 hours 51 min ago

President Obama responds to Trump’s cowardly act on DACA

Tue, 2017-09-05 15:35

President Obama in his very deliberative manner skewered Donald Trump's cowardly act of rescinding DACA and admonished Congress to solve the problem. The former President made it clear that Trump's DACA revocation was a political decision, not a legal one.

Following is the text of President Obama's Facebook post.

President Obama's response to Trump DACA revocatiom

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

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Pastor’s ‘forced’ resignation illustrates evil within Evangelical Church (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-09-05 12:49

Pastor Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate  Civil War General Robert E. Lee, resigned from the Bethany United Church of Christ after an appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards. His church placed him on notice for making a racial justice statement.

What did this good pastor do that raised the ire of a sect within his congregation even as his words is one the Church must make if it stands with Jesus? The pastor said the following on the MTV awards show.

https://twitter.com/MTV/status/902004297184886784

“My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence in Charlottesville. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin.

Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”

Pastor Lee wrote an op-ed in AuburnSeminary.org in which he said the following.

My presence at the church as a descendent of Robert E. Lee and an outspoken opponent of White Supremacy had already attracted attention, but with my appearance on MTV the media’s focus on my church reached an all time high. A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’ s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work.

I want to stress that there were many in the congregation who supported my right to free speech, yet were uncomfortable with the attention the church was receiving. The church’s reaction was deeply hurtful to me.

I want it to be clear that I feel a deep love for this congregation, and gratitude that they were willing to hire me as my first church out of seminary. I believe with all my heart that God did good work in my life there. That being said, when the church wanted to vote on my tenure, I tendered my resignation

The pastor wrote the following in his resignation.

“I regret that speaking out has caused concern and pain to my church. For this is I offer my heartfelt apology. I understand that my views could be considered to be controversial. I never sought this sort of attention. But, I do believe in God’s role in calling out for positive social change for the good of all.

We are all called by God to speak out against hate and evil in all its many forms. There are so many good things going on with this congregation and I do not want my fight to detract from the mission. If the recent media attention causes concern with my church, I reluctantly offer my resignation.”

It should give Evangelical Christians pause when a pastor cannot hold onto his church because he stands for the principles of Jesus Christ. The Evangelical Church is so intertwined with a deranged form of politics that it has indoctrinated its followers into making evil doings vogue.

The following comments on the pastor in the Winston-Salem Journal indicate the degree of hate afforded the pastors from those who purport to be Christian is probative.

This comment is shocking.

Sandy Johnson: I was born and raised in Statesville....and all I have to say is.....there is no way you are a christian! You can not call people horrible names! It seems anybody that wants to protect our country is a racist, or white supremacist. Have you ever really looked at those who believe in God and Country? There are plenty of brown, black, white, and a mixture of all the above that are on the side of good. You were not in Charlottesville, and you don't know what happened there. We know one man drove a car into a crowd, and killed a woman. ONE MAN! We have seen the people that you are speaking up for...and they are violent, miserable people. They attack innocent children who's only crime is attending a Trump rally. They call for the death of white children, of Trump, and anyone that dares to have a different opinion than their own. It's a sin to use your postition to name-call and judge. I'll take Rev. Franklin Graham's observation of these situations over yours every day of the week! How long do you think they had to look to find a Robert Lee that identifies with the Antifa, is a minister (LOL, you have 12 member of your church) and is as dumb as you are? The chance that you are related to Robert E Lee is about as remote as me being related to Lyndon Johnson!

And this condescending one says much about the psyche of these people.

Janis Moore : You sir are not a Christian pastor. Instead of appearing on television maybe you should spend some time ministering in the community around the church where you are "pastor." Last week an individual drove down Bethany Church Road and shot at folks standing in a front yard. You have how many faithful members? Maybe if you spent more time around the church that number would increase.

One hopes Pastor Lee keeps on his journey. In the long run he will win. He is a millennial and we need those in the clergy speaking out as well.

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President Trump rescinds DACA mostly on false pretenses that are obvious (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:43

The lack of empathy and evil of the Trump administration continues as Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Donald Trump launches Jeff Sessions to revoke DACA

Attorney General Jeff Sessions used nativists reasons cloaked in a false constitutional argument to rescind DACA in a cowardly manner.

The Huffington Post reports the following.

WASHINGTON ― The Trump administration is officially terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in six months and punting the matter to Congress, putting nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation if the president and members of the House and Senate can’t make a deal to protect them.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump sent out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce his policy decision. Sessions has opposed the DACA program since its inception under President Barack Obama in 2012, and as a senator, he helped block legislative efforts to help so-called “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children. DACA protections, which last for two years and allow Dreamers to work legally, won’t end immediately. Current DACA recipients whose permits expire by March 5 can apply to renew them until Oct. 5. Individuals who do not currently have DACA protections cannot receive permits unless they applied to the program before Sept. 5.

Dreamers whose permits expire on March 6 or later will begin to lose their protections and work permits as soon as they expire, putting them at risk of deportation. Losing DACA protections would put Dreamers at risk of being sent away from the country they’ve lived in since they were children. Although administration officials have said their focus is on deporting criminals, they have also made clear that no undocumented immigrant is safe from being detained or forced out of the country. That includes Dreamers, some of whom have already been locked up.

Sessions seemed elated in his announcements. In fact, he cloaked the entire speech with a xenophobic tinge. He lied claiming that dreamers take away jobs from young Americans. He also implied that they take more than they give when it is a known fact that they are a net positive on Social Security.

It is up to Republicans in Congress now to decide if they are ready to destroy their party. It is unlikely that Congress will act which will help flip Congress in 2018 if Democrats run smart campaigns.

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Why CEOs are turning on Donald Trump

Tue, 2017-09-05 01:20

Trump isn’t just alienating Republican senators. He’s also pissing off the executives of America’s biggest corporations, who happen to have a lot of influence over Republican members of Congress because they pay the costs of their campaigns.

Trump’s unwillingness to strongly condemn the neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists in Charlottesville caused business leaders to stampede off his advisory councils.

Now Trump’s cruel plan to end DACA, the Obama-era program that allows unauthorized immigrants who arrived in America as children to remain here, is mobilizing CEOs to make the program permanent.

A business coalition founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is lining up corporate leaders in at least 15 states to pressure members of Congress.

Meanwhile, a who’s-who of more than 400 executives have signed a petition urging Trump and Congress to protect the “dreamers.” They include CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, Ikea and Kaiser Permanente.

“We’re also calling on Congress to finally pass the Dream Act or another permanent, legislative solution that Dreamers deserve,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post last week. “These young people represent the future of our country and our economy.”

CEOs are not moral leaders of American society. They’re taking action because Trump’s hatefulness is bad for business.

Customers and investors reacted so badly to Charlottesville that the CEOs had to distance themselves from Trump.

Now they’re responding to Trump’s plan to end DACA because they know that Dreamers are good for the American economy.

Dreamers aren’t taking jobs away from native-born Americans. Their purchases are creating more jobs.

Plus many of them are unusually ambitious, and their drive is already adding to the economy. Their parents, who had to be ambitious in order to get into America, seem to have passed on to their kids a particularly strong work ethic.

Dreamers have been among my best students at Berkeley. In recent years I’ve had many tearful sessions with them, discussing whether they should try for graduate or professional schools when their futures are so uncertain.

Still, more than 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies now count Dreamers among their employees, according to FWD.us, which organized the recent petition.

Brad Smith, Microsoft president, wrote in a blog post that at least 27 of Microsoft’s employees are Dreamers — including software engineers, finance professionals and retail associates. Ending the program, he said, would be a “step backwards for our entire nation.”

On Sunday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted, “250 of my Apple coworkers are #Dreamers. I stand with them.”

Trump doesn’t worry about moving the nation backwards. He’s been at it for more than seven months.

The good news is he’s becoming more isolated than ever – abandoned not just by a growing number of elected Republicans but also by CEOs.

It’s not that they object to the hatefulness and divisiveness Trump has been sowing. What’s been moving them to action is they don’t like the effects of the hatefulness on business.

It really doesn’t matter how the CEOs come to see the light. What matters is they’re pushing Trump into an ever darker hole.

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You call yourself Christians but you are against everything Christ stands for

Mon, 2017-09-04 11:41

My good friend Cody Pogue came out swinging against those people, who with their vote, are in the process of destroying many families throughout our country.

This friend is going through the stages of grief over an administration planning on DACA repeal but realizes activism over blind anger is the solution. The process he displayed as he came to a personal resolution is revealing. One can learn from it. Anger is virtually always the initial response to well-meaning people's reaction to codified hate.

Cody was volunteering alongside DACA recipients on the Hurricane Harvey recovery. His original post reads.

I was volunteering this morning when I ran into some of my friends who are part of the DACA program also volunteering. They are doing so much good for our community, yet Donald Trump is expected to announce that he will end the DACA program and try to have them deported because, although they grew up in America, pledge allegiance to our flag, attend church in our neighborhoods, and volunteer in our communities, they were not born here.

It's a shame that such an evil man has the power to do so much harm to such good people for absolutely no reason. He has never volunteered his time for his community like they are doing, yet he thinks he is better than them purely because of luck of birth. It's a shame such an evil person can have so much power in this great country. Losing the election by four million votes may have made him the president, but it didn't make him a decent human being like those students who were volunteering early this morning. They will always be better than him in every way.

Then Cody heard about the reported Trump decision on DACA. His immediate reaction was that of the activist that he is. He posted the following.

I don't ask for favors very often, but a quick favor. Yesterday Donald Trump announced that he is going to announce Tuesday whether he will repeal DACA, a program that gives young people who were born in another country but grew up in the United States (who came forward and have no criminal record) a chance at a normal life. Many Republicans have told me "I want to shut down the border and deport the people who came here as adults, especially the criminals, but those who were brought here as children should be able to stay." Here is your chance. In Texas, please contact these officials and leave a message telling them that you support DACA and that you want dreamers to get a fair shot at life just like the rest of us.

Ken Paxton (Attorney General of Texas): 5124652100
The White House: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Texas Senator Ted Cruz: (202) 224-5922
Texas Senator John Cornyn: 202-224-2934

You can also contact your congressman http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

It doesn't take much time and all you have to do is leave a message, not even talk to someone. If you are a Republican and support DACA, it holds extra weight to tell them that you are a Republican so they know you actually care about this issue and are not just acting in a partisan manner. Please help with this. If this is repealed, we will be pushing these young people into the shadows. They will no longer be able to hold a job or drive a car or do any of the other things we can do. They did not choose this. They were brought here when they were young. They grew up pledging allegiance to our flag, going to our churches, and many even volunteered or rescued people during Harvey. They are our friends and neighbors and they are valuable people in our community. Please do your part just like I have already done and encourage your friends to as well.

As the decision sunk in, Cody got angry and lashed out with two angry posts. The first post said,

Shame on you if you voted for Donald Trump. Shame on you. You destroy lives for no reason and it's wrong. You call yourself Christians but you are against everything Christ stands for. Go ahead and unfriend me now because you lost all of my respect.

Cody, a History/Government professor and also attended divinity school. His post lashing out used scripture.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." -Matthew 23:27. A message for the "Christians" Who voted for Donald Trump.

A few hour later, Cody came to an important realization. His final post of the thread said,

A secret to politics I figured out years ago is that we have to fight for what we love instead of against what we hate. It's nothing more than a change of mental focus, but if I am fighting for what I love, I see my goal and I do whatever it takes to make that goal become a reality. Defeat is not an option. If I'm fighting against what I hate, I lose sight of my goal and quickly end up just expressing anger and calling people names, which accomplishes nothing and probably does more harm than good. There are lots of issues I care about, but protecting dreamers is probably the issue I care about most. When I saw the report that Trump had decided to end daca last night, I lost it. I regret that that happened, not because anything I said was wrong. It was totally how I feel. But it did nothing to help dreamers. The goal of protecting them is all that matters.

So Trump isn't announcing anything until Tuesday. Rumor is that he has already made up his mind, but he has known to be fickle. Furthermore, even if he sticks with it, we have 6 months to convince Congress to do something before the rules change. Finally, if DACA actually is repealed, it will be devastating, but we as a community will have to come together and support our brothers and sisters and protect them in less political ways. Hope is never lost. We have to fight hard and fight smart, with our eyes on the goal. We will win because we refused to give up. #daca #dreamers #community #family #yeswecan

Cody Pogue's Facebook thread is more than informative. It shows the stages many go through when fighting for human rights for all. It is easy to lash out at those that are either evil, gullible or grossly ill-informed. It is important to resolve in one's mind as Cody did in his own words that positive activism that ultimately yields positive results is much more effective than anger at those that are promoting evil.

 

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White Progressives: Are you our friends? Are you our allies? Really? Then …

Mon, 2017-09-04 03:28

I've always thought that the core of racism would end with my generation because it was too ashamed to pass it on overtly with a more enlightened new generation who lives integrated with everyone else. But Donald Trump used the best tactic that would always supersede shame. White Progressives in the know are the key. Are you a friend and ally? Really? Then ...

It will take White Progressives to neutralize what Donald Trump and his white supremacist ilk have unleashed on this country. No one is naive. Racism, institutionalized and others remain. But the arc to mitigation was well underway. The problem is that race is but a social construct designed to divide so that a select few need not worry about the masses recognizing the pilfer effected on them by the plutocracy they control.

There are many white people, black people, Latino people, and everyone else doing just good enough to be comfortable till their next crisis. For decades our societal designed pecking order meant that in the aggregate white people were the ones who were the last to feel the economic pain of downturns and they were the first to recover.

From a simple mathematical absolute reality, it was inevitable that more and more white people would get absorbed into the same pains felt by the 'others.' You see if the personal economies of the wealthy few grow faster than those of the masses, it means more people are fighting for a smaller portion of the pie. Eventually, the racial, social construct begins to fail. Why?  Because even more white people are absorbed into the same realities of the 'other,' systemic poverty and an ever lowering of their class status.

Chris Rock made a statement that some took offense to a few years ago that made sense then but is a bit more complex now.

"None of ya would change places with me!" Chris Rock said. "And I'm rich! That's how good it is to be white!"

What changed? Whiteness to many meant a surety that if they worked hard enough and secured the right breaks from the 'right people' that America was a real meritocracy for the chosen 'white people' that guaranteed them access to success over the 'other.' So then, why would anyone take on the known burden of being the 'other' in which not even wealth guarantees equal access to justice or a care free existence?

Reality forced many white people to see beyond the American dream. They don't see their ascent into success progressively. In fact, in the aggregate, they have gone from stagnation to decline. Hell, their mortality rates are moving in the direction of the 'other.' This is not at all unexpected. Again, remember race is a social construct and an imaginary construct at that. Humans behave the same and have equivalent outcomes and proclivities under similar conditions.

White people are at a fork in the road. They can scapegoat the 'other' for their difficulties. Alternatively, they can dig deep and realize that in the aggregate it is a few in their own racial, social construct that is screwing them. That latter realization would have them join the 'others' and fight those who have really pilfered us all.

But education is the key. Specifically, the education of white men who Donald Trump and his ilk have targeted for the same old indoctrination that preaches that the 'others' are the reason for their pain. And that indoctrination creates the victimhood mentality that is passed down to the next generation.

I wrote an article titled "Should we coddle angry white men or tell them the truth?" that I cross posted to the front page of the country's most progressive site, Dailykos.com. The comments were much more positive than I expected. In fact, it led me to write this post after receiving one shocking yet not unexpected comment. DROzone wrote the following.

Today, we had a BBQ at my house. My childhood best friend was there with her sister’s kids. Her brother-in-law is a NYC firefighter.

Their seven year old son was sitting with his grandmother when he said he wanted to play with one of my godson’s toys. (My Godson is my cousin’s kid, my cousin is biracial, but physically black). When his grandmother told him to ask my godson’s mother for permission, he told her “No, I don’t like people with brown skin.” He said it twice. When his grandmother corrected him, he said “they look like poop because they are poop”

When his grandmother got even more angry, he said “daddy told me”

Lest we think that future generations will end racism.

There are two things I got out of that message. One is more obvious than the other.

The first is that I am tired of my white and 'other' northern brothers and sisters playing the moral superiority card over my southern brothers and sisters. Racism is the same all over the darn country. I postulate that the South may be a bit more honest because they are more open in displaying their hate for the 'other' if even with a smile.

The second is that entitling socially constructed white America with the victimization card removed the shame of having one's offspring see their parents as racists. Why, because Donald Trump and his ilk have given them the justification for their racism and xenophobia even if they are false ones.

And this is where white Progressives must decide if they are really friends and allies of the 'others.' Because of the racial polarization in the country, you, white Progressives, are holding a valuable card. You are the bridge to sanity if you choose to live and work to instantiate the ideals you stand for and support. You are the ones who can use the tools of familiarity, peer pressure, and moral indignation with those indoctrinated by Trump and his ilk. Your whiteness gives you access and at least a hearing. The 'others'' barriers to getting access let alone a hearing in the psyche of the indoctrinated is sometimes an insurmountable task.

White Progressives who are friends and allies but not fully engaged, here is the 'then' that is missing in the title of this article. You must first enlighten White Progressives that continue to live in a privilege unrecognized to themselves.

Second, you must get off of your morally superior horse and engage those indoctrinated in a manner that relates to the realities as they see it to plant the seeds to bend their thinking over time. It is a difficult task. But we must consider it a long haul. Fail at it and the country will fail.

There is not another Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela in the making. The 'others' of today believe that the rise of Trump, his ilk, and white nationalism are failures of past approaches that the 'others' took. They are not going to negotiate equal access to success. They are not going to negotiate equal access to justice. They will make life uncomfortable in the country as their perceived oppression increases. Are you up to the task to mitigate the potential turmoil?

Please leave your comments below. Please enlighten others.

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Ali Velshi destroys Conservative spox on benefits of DACA immigrants (VIDEO)

Sun, 2017-09-03 15:33

Ali Velshi once again did it. He destroyed another completely dishonest Conservative as they tried to justify Donald Trump's evil xenophobic anti-immigrant stance.

Ali Velshi once again shows journalism with passion and facts

Ali Velshi destroys Conservative spox on benefits of DACA immigrants (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/48kgO8diiE

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) September 3, 2017

It is clear that the Conservative spokeswoman had no clue she would face the likes of Ali Velshi who decimated her xenophobia cloaked in righteousness.

Carrie Sheffield attempted to lay out her flawed reasons for not wanting to support DACA. She said that there is a legal question to what President Obama did. More over she attempted to group all DACA immigrants with those at large. Joy-Ann Reid did not allow her to get away with the conflation.

Later Sheffield would attempt to make the immigrant issue one of economic displacement of the less educated Americans, African Americans, and others. She finally made a mistake to claim that Canada was more deliberative and restrictive.

Ali Velshi was ready for a reply, and he did so with passion. After all, Ali Velshi is a double immigrant, first from Kenya, and then from Canada. Velshi told Sheffield in no uncertain terms that she should never discuss Canada and immigration given that she does not know what she is talking about with regards to Canada's immigration. He then continued to eviscerate her claims.

Ali Velshi that Canada allows refugees in at a much larger percentage than America. He then destroyed her arguments about technology companies wanting cheap labor by pointing out that Google, Apple, and others pay in the high five figures and six figures. Velshi then decimated her xenophobic anti-immigrant rationale as and said that the United States has a negative worker replacement rate and as such must have immigrants. He also pointed out that these immigrants are now known and represent the best in America.

Velshi said ending DACA would be a bad thing, period.

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What do Democrats stand for? And what about Republicans? (VIDEO)

Sun, 2017-09-03 11:30

This morning I read Robert Reich's blog post titled "What do Democrats stand for?" that made me think. Everyone tends to know the Democratic ethos whether or not Democratic politicians abide by it or not. Do we know the Republican ethos?

Reich points out something that is very important.

Democrats can’t just be anti-Trump or move to the middle. To be successful Democrats must address the forces that created Trump: The toxic combination of widening inequality and racism.  The richest one percent now own more than the bottom 90 percent. Corporations and the rich are running our politics.

The resulting economic stresses have made many people vulnerable to Trump’s politics of hate and bigotry.  If Democrats stand for one thing, it must be overcoming this unprecedented economic imbalance and creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent, to take back our economy and politics.

Notice how Reich did not forget that it is impossible to drop identity politics because it is a part of the reason behind economic disparities among different "identities." It does not make the message any less encompassing in support of ALL those aggrieved by our current economic and social systems.

Robert Reich explains how Democrats must move forward

Reich enumerated what Democrats must stand for to win the votes of Americans.

  • Public investments in world-class schools and infrastructure for all.
  • Free public universities and first-class technical training for all
  • Single-payer Medicare-for-All
  • Higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for this
  • Using antitrust to break up powerful monopolies on Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Agriculture
  • Getting big money out of our politics.

Ironically, the spirit and much of the letter of the Democratic Platform already codifies these principles. Will Progressives force Democrats to live by their platform?

When one reads the Republican Platform, it is hard to identify how one transfers the words into action that supports the poor and middle-class.  Their concentration on retooled supply-side economics, a proven failure, speaks volume. Their environmental stance with meaningless words shows they believe in rhetoric over reality. The social stances on healthcare, criminal justice, education are at best malpractice and at worse criminal if with beautiful wording.

The reality is that it is not about Republican vs Democrats. It is about right versus wrong, humane versus inhumane.

 

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These activists predicted Houston flooding catastrophe. Will politicians listen now? (VIDEO)

Sun, 2017-09-03 01:14

Several years ago, a group of Houston environmental activists held an event to highlight concerns about the failure of politicians to address what exactly occurred in Houston, a flooding catastrophe. Will the politicians get serious now?

Houston's devastating flood did not come without warning. Until politicians take environmental activists seriously, the pain will persist. I saw Jim Blackburn interviewed by Rachel Maddow a few days ago. The exchange upset me because it should not have taken the Houston flood to give this man air time for a major problem in the country's fourth largest city. A disabled Houston cripples the nation.

I soon remembered an interview I did with Jim Blackburn, Donna Hackemack Bryant, Christina Walsh, three environmental activists and politically aware Houstonians a few years ago. They have been warning about the potential for a failure of many of Houston's flood control infrastructure because of development, lacking acknowledgment of the effects of climate change, and political malpractice. Their words speak for themselves.

They predicted Houston's catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey

Donna Hackemack Bryant referenced  Dr. Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. Following is an interview I did with him on climate change.

Dr. Andrew Dessler Interviewed

Here is Dr. Dessler's presentation on climate change that is worth a listen.

Sessions Including Questions & Answers

Climate change is an important topic. It is coming home to roost. There will be many events similar to Houston's that will afflict many Americans in different parts of the country. We must get the message out. Please share.

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What Trump and His Team Have Wrecked So Far

Sat, 2017-09-02 11:01

August 31, 2017

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Donald Trump and his administration are rolling back a number of regulations and initiatives — as well as cutting offices, budgets and staff — and we're following it in our "While He Was Tweeting" series. As coverage of Trump's Twitter feed crowds out these stories, here's a look at some of what the Trump administration has been up to so far. Our team has not been able to cover everything, but we're doing our best, and we appreciate your input. Be sure to let us know what you think on the BillMoyers.com Facebook page.

Dismantling post-Great Recession Financial Crisis Protections

The Trump administration is looking to dismantle many of the protections put into place after the 2008 financial crisis, including the Dodd-Frank reforms and the Elizabeth Warren-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement

In June, Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. In doing so, the US joined Syria and Nicaragua as the only two countries not participating in the agreement.

Slashing Jobs at the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), headed by fossil fuel ally Scott Pruitt, plans to cut over 1,200 jobs by September. And in a blow to the integrity of the science used by government agencies, the EPA dismissed nearly all of the members of its Board of Scientific Counselors.

The administration also closed the Office of International Climate and Technology, which worked on clean energy projects with other countries.

Delaying Protection from Pollutants

The EPA proposed delaying for two years an Obama-era rule that would have cracked down on pollutants from drilling operations that contribute to climate change and endanger people’s health.

Letting Women and Girls Down

President Trump reportedly plans to let the White House Council on Women and Girls go dark citing budget cuts and redundancies. The office, established to monitor policy changes and collaborate with women's groups, is untenanted while the administration considers its future status, according to Politico.

The administration also announced this week that they will scrap a rule aimed at preventing pay discrimination.

Gutting Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

The Trump administration is completely defunding the nationwide Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, cutting $213 million in assistance that supports roughly 1.2 million teenagers across the country.

Also, the administration recently removed a 2014 report on sexual violence from the White House website entitled “Rape And Sexual Assault: Renewed Call To Action.”

Relaxing Media Ownership Rules

President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is clearing the way for a merger between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media, two television companies that together own hundreds of local news stations. Just months ago the move would have been illegal.

Cutting Infrastructure Jobs

The Obama-era Local Labor Hiring Preference Pilot Program aimed to help urban and rural workers find good-paying industrial and infrastructure jobs in their home areas. The program had already led to the creation of "thousands of new, high-wage transportation and construction jobs in some of the nation’s most depressed local labor markets." It's been disbanded.

Killing Initiative on Infrastructure Designed for Climate Change

Trump and his team overturned an Obama-era rule requiring that infrastructure projects be designed to withstand the consequences of climate change. He has also proposed cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as a number of programs at agencies involved in disaster relief. Though Harvey appears to have initiated a walk-back on some of those particular changes.

Halting Rules on Predatory Lenders and For-Profit Colleges

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos halted two rules developed under Obama designed to protect college students from predatory lending and dubious for-profit colleges.

Quashing Regulations for a Dangerous Job

The Trump administration rolled back sleep and safety regulations for truck drivers, who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

The administration is also pushing to abandon new federal health monitoring for the use of the toxic metal beryllium in the maritime and construction industry.

Bringing Back Civil Forfeiture (AKA We Can Take Your Money)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought back civil asset forfeiture, which allows police to take away your assets even if you haven't been convicted of a crime. Former Attorney General Eric Holder had shut down the program in 2015.

Ending Funds to Fight White Supremacy and Hate

The Department of Homeland Security revoked a $400,000 grant made in the waning days of the Obama administration to Life After Hate, which was founded by ex-supremacists to convert those currently embroiled in hate.

Closing Global War Crimes Office — and Cybersecurity Office Too

The Trump administration has plans to close the Office of Global Criminal Justice, which is tasked with supporting international prosecutions for perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Also, the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues is shutting down and will be incorporated into the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. The State Department cites redundancies and budget cuts as the reason for the reported change (That is a common refrain in the wrecking ball series).

Cutting Funds for Aids/HIV Prevention

Trump hopes to cut $186 million in the CDC’s funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and support services. Six HIV experts on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, quit via a Newsweek op-ed, stating that Trump "simply does not care" and has "no strategy" for addressing the epidemic.

Slashing Refugee Admissions

In the face of the growing refugee crisis President Trump drastically lowered the number of refugees accepted into America to 50,000 this year, a milestone that was reached in July.

Reducing Funds for Health Programs Abroad

Trump signed an executive order to block financial aid for health programs abroad, including those related to AIDS, malaria and child health, that counsel about abortion. The move will restrict nearly $9 billion in foreign health assistance.

Limiting Protection of Beautiful Public Spaces

Before he left office President Obama designated a number of new National Monuments under the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act. A number of those monuments are facing rollback under the Trump administration. Thus far, none have been eliminated but several are already facing size reductions and usage changes.

If You Still Want More

You can peruse our full "While He Was Tweeting" series but we also recommend some additional places that are keeping a close eye on all the changes afoot. The Washington Post maintains a great graphic explainer of Obama-era rollbacks. For a catalog from abroad try The BBC's "Trump Tracker" and The Guardian's excellent compilation of Trump's effect on the environment. And, The Sunlight Foundation is keeping track of suspected conflicts of interest within the administration.

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MSNBC cut off reporter as he tells climate change and oil industry truth? (VIDEO)

Sat, 2017-09-02 10:45

One cannot help but notice that anytime this reporter brings up climate change and the negligence of the oil industry that something happens where he gets cut off.

Reporter cut off when informing about climate change and oil industry complicity

MSNBC cut off reporter as he tells climate change and oil industry truth? (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/bRWkxCLIWd

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) September 2, 2017

MSNBC seemed to cut off reporter Shihab Rattamsi any time he begins revealing truths about the oil industry, climate change, and politicians. Many people do not think it is copacetic to get into the politics of a disaster as it is occurring. That may be true for those people immediately affected by the catastrophe because their immediate goal is survival and a quick return to some semblance of comfort.

The reality, however, is it is imperative that national networks give the rest of the country the full context of the disaster including causality when there is irrefutable evidence at the time of the event. The human psyche absorbs information best when there is an immediate relationship between words, theory, and an event in real time.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas extremely hard. It was a flooding event of biblical proportions. It was not just another hurricane.

Reporter Shihab Rattamsi used his national TV airtime wisely to connect the storm, climate change, the lack of investment in infrastructure, greed, political malfeasance, and oil industry lying. It was not easy as it seemed MSNBC producers attempted to put boulders on his path to change the narrative in real time. Ali Velshi, a straight up journalist, appeared to give Rattansi more latitude than his producers would allow. The producers were not entirely effective as Rattansi got many points across.

Specifically,

  • Even though the Golden Triangle region of Texas is awash in money, politicians have not invested in infrastructure, read they refuse to tax the oil companies relative to their impact on the area and more.
  • The oil industry was covering up what they knew about climate change.
  • The connection between climate change and the oil industry is clear.
  • Oil and gas companies release many toxins in the environment and politicians allow them to get away with it.
  • ProPublica pointed out that Hurricane Harvey type events are exactly the events one can expect going forward.

One hopes more reporters use their time as wisely as did Shihab Rattamsi. Yes, they may be cut off or even banned from national live TV access. But they would be doing their job. Climate change is not up for debate. It is a matter of survival, and all Americans must act as if those who are trying to dismiss it, are holding a gun to their heads and react accordingly.

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Reality of Evangelicals ‘Trump vs Obama’ hypocrisy exposed clearly

Sat, 2017-09-02 02:27

Obama was attacked day in and day out by the Right and the Evangelicals during his entire presidency. Eight months into the Trump presidency, it is clear comparisons are there to be made both between Trump and Evangelicals' hypocritical new stances.

Evangelical are twisting themselves into pretzels to justify their devotion to Donald Trump, a travesty to Christianity. Craig Hardegree Facebook post encapsulates the Evangelicals' hypocrisy and the lack of a moral compass in their support for Trump. Following is the post. It may be a productive exercise for your Trump supporting friends to read and discuss.

Craig Hardegree on Trump, Obama, the Right, and Evangelicals

Around this time last year, President Obama visited flooded areas of Louisiana. At the time of his visit, 13 deaths had already occurred; 7 trillion gallons of rain had already dropped; 24 inches of rainfall had already been measured; $15 billion in damages had already been estimated.

Evangelicals lambasted President Obama for not visiting sooner.

Yesterday, Trump visited a dry airport near the flooded areas of Texas. At the time of his visit, 16 deaths had already occurred; 11 trillion gallons of rain had already dropped; 49 inches of rainfall had already been measured; $50 billion in damages had already been estimated.

Trump didn’t hug a neck, kiss a cheek, wipe a tear. He didn’t encounter water falling from the sky or puddling upon the earth. He didn’t mention the loss of a police officer or the drowning of a family of six.

And evangelicals offered no criticism of Trump.

Because they are hypocrites.

Because they treated President Obama in the manner we would have expected racists to treat him.

In 2012, in anticipation of President Obama’s quick response to Hurricane Sandy, Trump tweeted:
“Not only giving out money, but Obama will be seen today standing in water and rain like he is a real President --- don't fall for it.” ~ October 30, 2012

“Obama is now standing in a puddle acting like a President--give me a break.” ~ October 31, 2012

Damned if he got to New Jersey too fast and actually got his feet wet; damned if he waited until water receded in Louisiana, as the governor asked him to do.

Same thing happened with regard to Libya after the “seeds of democracy” planted by Bush blossomed into harvest on President Obama’s watch.

Evangelicals excoriated President Obama for not immediately jumping in to protect the people of Libya from slaughter by Gaddafi. After getting other countries to go first with their troops and money, President Obama led from behind with air strikes. Then evangelicals eviscerated President Obama for getting involved in Libya.

Damned if he didn’t; damned if he did.

When Syria blossomed, President Obama asked Congress to pass a resolution telling him what action they wanted him to take.

They refused.

Because once their position was recorded by vote, they couldn’t change their position to the opposite of President Obama’s position.

They wanted to be able to damn him if he went east; damn him if he went west.

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon leaked oil into the gulf in 2010, conservatives castigated President Obama for not doing enough, naming the spill, “Obama’s Katrina.”

When President Obama had a meeting with the head of BP and impressed upon him the wisdom of paying a $20 billion dollar fine, House Republican Joe Barton openly apologized to the CEO for the “shakedown” of BP by President Obama and Rand Paul said President Obama’s criticism of the foreign company was “un-American.”

Damned if he didn’t do enough; damned if he did too much.

And now evangelicals have the unmitigated gall and ungodly audacity to claim current criticism of Trump is “unprecedented” and the worst any previous president has had to endure.

They’ve gone from acting ugly to claiming victimhood.

From holy haters to hypocritical whiners.

When President Obama was asked about Syria’s chemical weapons, he said that was a red line in the sand – if Bashar used chemical weapons on his people, there will be "consequences.”

And there were.

After the incident was confirmed, President Obama forced Bashar to allow international teams to come in and ship out all of Syria’s chemical weapons.

President Obama followed through.

On August 8, Trump said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The very next day, Kim Jong-un threatened the United States again, threatening to launch four missiles into Guam.

Trump did not meet the threat with “fire and fury.”

Yesterday, Jong-un launched a missile over Japan; Trump said the action was “threatening.”

Trump did not meet the threat with fire and fury.

In case Trump had failed to understand Jong-un was blatantly threatening the United States, last night Jong-un said the launch over Japan was a “meaningful prelude” to a strike to contain the American territory of Guam.

Trump did not meet the threat with fire and fury.

President Obama followed through on his “consequences” for Bashar crossing the red line.

Racist evangelicals, to this day, falsely say he didn’t.

Trump has not followed through on his “fire and fury” for Kim Jong-un making one more threat, even though Jong-un has humiliated Trump by slapping him in the face with three threats since.

And hypocritical evangelicals don’t care. Because their criticisms were never about substance. They were always about race.

Craig Hardegree could not be clearer. The Resistance must be persistent as we remind and educate.

(h/t DailyKos Leslie Salzillo)

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Arrest? No! Police assaults nurse when she refuses to draw blood illegally (VIDEO)

Fri, 2017-09-01 15:20

If anyone doubts that we are becoming a police state one simply needs to see how this nurse was arrested, read assaulted, for not breaking the law to draw a victim's blood.

This nurse's arrest proves that along with other incidents after incidents, we are not far from being a police state. The Deseret News reported the following.

Wubbels was working her shift as a charge nurse, or a liaison between patients and doctors and hospital managers, at University Hospital's Burn Unit when she was handcuffed in the middle of her work area, pulled outside and put into a police patrol car for about 20 minutes.

She was arrested after refusing to give Payne vials of blood that he needed for an investigation because she said he did not have a warrant or meet any of the mandatory criteria needed for taking blood.

One can only characterize this nurse's arrest as an assault perpetrated by a police officer.

Nurse arrested (assaulted) for following the law

Here is the short story. The police were chasing a vehicle in Cache County Utah when the car collided head on with a truck. The driver of the vehicle died. The corresponding fire left the truck driver with severe burns. The doctors placed the truck driver in a sedated/comatose state.

Salt Lake police sent Detective Jeff Payne to get vials of blood for the investigation. Nurse Alex Wubbel refused to draw blood from the unconscious patient, the truck driver in the head on collision from the police chase.

Nurse Wubbel told the detective that one of three criteria was needed to justify drawing blood legally.

  • Police must have an electronic warrant.
  • There must be patient consent.
  • The patient is under arrest.

"I am just doing what I am supposed to do," Nurse Wubbel said in the video.

"So I take it without those in place," the detective said." I am not going to get blood. Am I fair to surmise that?"

Wubbel's supervisor on speaker phone tells the detective it is a mistake to arrest her. Soon after, the frustrated detective assaulted the nurse.

"We are done here.," the detective said as he started the illegal arrest, the assault. "You are under arrest."

He then roughed up the nurse amidst her cries for help. Her coworkers could just watch in disbelief.

The police's job is to enforce the law. The detective requested that the nurse break the law then attempted to bully her to his will. This attack on people is not a new thing. Americans are just able to see it on camera in near real time.

Deseret News reported that,

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Thursday that Chief Mike Brown has seen the video and called it "very alarming." Payne is still on active duty with the department, but Shearer said he has been suspended from the blood draw program and an active internal investigation is underway.

This officer should be fired. He is a bully using his badge as his weapon. It is curious that the Salt Lake police was so eager to get a blood sample from the victim of their chase. Why? Could it be that they hope he was under the influence of something to share the blame?

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CAUGHT ON DASH CAM: Officer to woman during traffic stop: ‘We only kill black people’

Fri, 2017-09-01 12:05

Sometimes some statements even when said sarcastically ring truer than not. The police officer in an attempt to get this woman to follow his order stated that police officers only killed black people and she was not black.

This police officer verbalized a the virtual truth about cops and black people in an attempt to get a woman he stopped to comply. WSB-TV reported the following.

Exclusive dash-cam video obtained by Channel 2 Action News caught an officer’s interaction with a woman who said she was afraid to move her hands during a traffic stop. Cobb County police Chief Mike Register told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne that after Channel 2 Action News submitted an open-records request, he and his command staff looked at the video.

“Remember, we only kill black people. We only kill black people, right?” the Cobb County police officer can be heard saying on the video.

On Friday, they opened an internal investigation. Register said the officer heard on video is Lt. Greg Abbott. Register said Abbott has been assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

According to Register, the recording is part of a DUI stop. The woman said she was hesitant to put her hands down to pick up a cell phone because she didn’t want to get shot.

“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register said.

Suri Chadha Jimenez, who is representing the driver in the case, said he believes the officer was being sarcastic after the woman “gave him some lip.”

Police Officer: ‘We only kill black people.’

Should this officer lose his job? He should not lose his job for telling a partial truth. I think he wanted the woman to comply and believed that the prevailing assumptions by many that only blacks and people of color need fear the police led to his assertion.

However, this story should be a highlight of the reality of many. Moreover, most police officers know what the prevailing beliefs are about their engagement with people of color. They must address that. After all, they do get violent with people of color much quicker than they do with white people. That is a fact that unless accepted by all, nothing will change and the bodies of many people of color will remain police bullet targets.

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Hurricane Harvey Isn’t a “Natural” Disaster. Politics Created the Chaos

Thu, 2017-08-31 12:43

by 

Weather and climate don’t cause disasters—vulnerability does. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this means that the widespread discussion as to whether the Hurricane Harvey disaster was caused by climate change becomes a dangerous distraction.

The hurricane was born off the coast of South America in mid-August and then tracked through the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall in the U.S. on August 25. The storm surge and winds devastated coastal settlements, after which the storm stalled, dumping immense rainfall over Houston. At the time of writing, the confirmed death toll had just reached 14, and there are expectations that this will soon rise.

A disaster involving a hurricane cannot happen unless people, infrastructure, and communities are vulnerable to it. People become vulnerable if they end up lacking knowledge, wisdom, capabilities, social connections, support, or finances to deal with a standard environmental event such as a hurricane.

People become vulnerable if they end up lacking knowledge.

This can happen if lobbyists block tougher building codes, planning regulations, or enforcement procedures. Or if families can’t afford insurance or the cost of alternative accommodation if they evacuate. Or if limited hurricane experience induces a sense of apathy.

Often, people with disabilities rarely have their needs met when away from home. Fear of harassment or assault could stop others from entering a communal shelter. Legal or undocumented immigrants might not understand warnings and might fear the prospect of detention if they seek help.

These possible scenarios represent reasons why people in Texas might end up and remain in harm’s way. Anecdotes point to all these issues having played a part during Harvey, but only careful research in the months ahead will be able to confirm or refute them. It is, nevertheless, such vulnerability issues that cause the disaster. None relate to the hurricane’s physical characteristics.

Climate change

Yes, climate change can and does influence hurricanes. The ocean’s temperature—to a certain degree—drives hurricane intensity, especially the coastal flooding level and the amount of rainfall. If the Gulf of Mexico was warmer than usual, or if some atmospheric winds were weaker than usual, then part of Harvey’s strength might be attributable to human-caused climate change. Harvey stalling above Houston might also be linked to climate change’s effects due to changing wind patterns.

Climate change does not affect people’s vulnerabilities to the hurricane.

But climate change does not affect people’s vulnerabilities to the hurricane. Neither the climate nor the hurricane’s characteristics made Houston an industrial center of 2.3 million people (2017 estimate), an increase of 40 percent since 1990. They did not force Texans to build along the coast or in floodplains without adequate measures, as occurs around the U.S. They did not pave over green spaces, leading to reduced rainfall absorption. And they did not create the ingrained racism and desperate social inequities prevalent across the state.

In fact, storms striking Texas represented problems long before human-caused climate change appeared. One of the deadliest storms in U.S. history occurred in 1900, when a hurricane swept ashore over Galveston,killing more than 6,000 people—more than triple Hurricane Katrina’sdeath toll in 2005. We often do not know details about the strength of past hurricanes or the height of their floodwaters. But we do know that fewer people lived—and much less infrastructure lay—along the storms’ paths. Yet tragedies such as Galveston still manifested, irrespective of climate change.

These historical disasters—and more recent ones, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005—spurred the disaster prevention measures that saved many lives but which were not implemented fully in Texas. This left far too many people vulnerable and in danger.

“Turn Around, Don’t Drown”

The first mandatory evacuation notice in Texas for Harvey was issued about 36 hours before the hurricane’s landfall. The ability to forecast hurricane tracks and traits, to communicate the necessary responses, and to plan for masses of people moving have emerged from decades of dedicated science.

Thousands of lives were saved by scientists and government officials collaborating to serve those who were vulnerable.

Compared to the 1900 Galveston disaster, thousands of lives were saved by scientists and government officials collaborating to serve those who were vulnerable. Many structures withstood Harvey’s 200-plus km per hour wind gusts with debris because engineers and lawyers wrote building codes while the government enforced the regulations. The “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” message to stay out of floodwater comes from combining research and experience on flood physics andcommunication science.

But the news is not all good, especially since much of this lifesaving work is currently undergoing budget cuts.

And politics created further vulnerability. State and local leaders disagreed about evacuating Houston. Development in the city’s flood-prone areas had been encouraged to support the oil-fueled economy, increasing both the population living in floodplains and the paved surfaces, which augment run-off. As usual in disasters, poor and marginalized people seem to be bearing the brunt of the impacts, despite plenty of science showing the importance of social services for fostering self-help and for collectively avoiding disasters.

All this work prevents deaths during any hurricane, irrespective of climate change. Climate change might have augmented Harvey’s rainfall, storm surge, or wind. If not, Texas would still have implemented exactly the same measures to reduce the disaster’s effects. And Texas would still have had exactly the same political difficulties propping up the remaining vulnerability.

Disasters are not natural

Hurricane Harvey was an expected natural event, even if potentially modified or exacerbated by climate change. The Hurricane Harvey disaster was caused entirely by society creating and perpetuating vulnerability to these natural events.

Vulnerability is not natural.

Because vulnerability is not natural, many disaster researchers avoid the phrase “natural disaster.” Nor must hurricane disasters be our natural state of affairs, even though hurricanes have always happened. A hurricane need not become a disaster—society let a disaster happen.

To help those affected recover quickly, Texas needed improved pre-disaster mechanisms such as more widespread insurance coverage and more widely available social services targeted at the most needy. Society must permit affordable insurance, without bankrupting the companies. Society needs regulators to ensure that payouts are reasonable and prompt while identifying claimant fraud. Society requires sufficiently skilled and resourced authorities to support everyone affected in helping themselves, no matter their backgrounds or abilities.

Many in Texas vote for lower taxes, for less government intervention, against tackling systemic inequities, and against helping marginalized people help themselves. This choice actively creates the vulnerabilities that cause disasters. It is an ideological choice to vote for creating disaster vulnerability, and voters have the right to do so. The consequences are known based on decades of disaster science.

Blaming climate change, or even just the weather, for the hurricane disaster distracts from individuals’ and society’s responsibility for where we live, how we live, and how we support people who cannot help themselves. This vulnerability, not nature and not climate change, causes hurricane disasters.

This article was originally published by The Conversation. It has been edited for YES! Magazine. 

Producing in-depth, thoughtful journalism for a better world is expensive – but supporting us isn’t. If you value ad-free independent journalism, consider subscribing to YES! today.

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To This German Historian, the Implications of Trump’s Pardon of Sheriff Arpaio Are Ominous

Thu, 2017-08-31 12:17

Richard E. Frankel, Associate Professor of Modern German History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is the author of Bismarck's Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898 - 1945.

In August of 1932, in the town of Potempa, nine Nazi Stormtroopers murdered a supporter of the German Communist Party, kicking him to death in his own apartment as his family watched in horror. Six were convicted with five receiving the death penalty. After the verdict, Hitler sent them a telegram in which he declared to them his “boundless loyalty.” Shortly after he came to power in 1933, he pardoned the killers. While former Sheriff Joe Arpaio never kicked anyone to death, his pardon by President Trump raises disturbing parallels.

Upon gaining power, Hitler immediately pardoned allies who’d perpetrated ghastly crimes against those deemed enemies of the nation. What do we make of Trump’s pardon of a political ally, a man duly convicted of systemic deprivations of people’s constitutional rights—people Trump never considered part of his America? As a professor of modern German history, this administration seemingly provides such unpleasant reminders of Germany’s dark past on a regular basis. What can German history teach us about this latest episode?  How, for example, did the pardon of the Potempa killers help us better understand Hitler? What implications did it have for development of the Third Reich? And how does that knowledge help us better understand Trump and the danger that his pardon of Arpaio poses for the future of the United States?

Many Americans believe that our long-established legal institutions and traditions will withstand any attempt by Trump to undermine the rule of law. Ours, after all, is a government of laws, not people. But how much comfort should we really take in such traditions? Here, German history provides a frightening lesson. Germans, too, took great pride in the long-established tradition of the Rechtstaat—a state under the rule of law. Here, one may not agree with the law, but one could be confident that it would be applied consistently. What we see with Hitler is his determination to destroy that tradition as well as the remarkable ease and speed with which he was able to do just that.

On February 27, 1933, less than one month after Hitler became Chancellor, the Reichstag building erupted in flames. Blaming the Communists, Hitler suspended civil liberties and gave the police extraordinary powers to search and arrest. He then demanded death for suspected arsonist Heinz van der Lubbe. That arson was not a capital offense did not bother him in the least. After some early resistance, the Justice Ministry wrote the Lex van der Lubbe, retroactively allowing for the execution. Within months, the centuries-old Rechtstaat was giving way to a system in which the law and the will of the Führer were one.

When Hitler pardoned the Potempa killers and persuaded his Justice Ministry to compose the Lex van der Lubbe, he sent two clear messages. First, his pardon of the Potempa killers made clear the boundary of Hitler’s national community. Communists were excluded. The significance of the boundary that separates ‘us’ from ‘them’ is in the value that one places on the lives of those beyond that border. For some, their fate was of no concern. For others, say, Communists or Jews, killing them was, in fact, good.

With his demand for the Lex van der Lubbe, Hitler announced that in the Third Reich, the law would serve the needs of the national community. And it was for Hitler to determine what those needs were. Over time, actions within this lawless environment would radicalize such that torture, violence, and periodic murder grew more frequent and systematic until it rose to the level of genocide. Fortunately we’re not at that level yet, but at least with the German experience we have an example of where things can lead if left unchallenged. What should we take from that experience for our current situation?

What kind of person did the President first praise, and then ultimately pardon? Who is Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona? Here was a man who regularly practiced racial profiling in his obsessive search for undocumented Latinos, terrorizing an entire ethnic community. And when ordered by a federal court judge to stop the practice, he refused, and continued to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens. He brought back chain gangs. His guards tormented and beat inmates mercilessly, at times to the point of death. He also boasted about operating a “concentration camp”—a tent city he built, where inmates would experience the 110-degree-heat of the Arizona desert without air conditioning. And to sum up his attitude toward the law, he dismissed criticism as “civil rights crap.” For not one of these instances did Joe Arpaio ever apologize, or even indicate any sense of remorse.

What message is Trump sending with his pardon of such a man? By pardoning someone who so brazenly and unapologetically violates peoples’ constitutional rights and ignores any judicial efforts to bring him in line, the President signals that the law is for him and those who think like him to determine. No court should be able to check that power. By pardoning a man who so mistreated certain populations in particular, he’s telling us that the law does not apply equally. Certainly Latinos receive a very frightening message that the President clearly does not feel the same concern for their well being as he does for other, whiter Americans within the boundaries of his ideal national community. To this German historian, the implications are ominous.

Where did such an approach to the law lead in Germany? Just one year after the Potempa pardons, during what became known as the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler had some 80 leading Stormtroopers and around 200 other people with whom he had various scores to settle arrested and shot without trial. Within days, Justice Minister Franz Gürtner, who’d already agreed to the Lex van der Lubbe the previous year, now approved a law that retroactively legalized the murders as an exceptional measure in defense of the state against treason.

Again, Joe Arpaio did not kick an innocent person to death like the Potempa killers did, though many people did die needlessly and agonizingly while in his custody. But in a healthy liberal, democratic society governed by the rule of law, should that really be the standard? Clearly Arpaio violated even the most basic standards of respect for the law and brought untold misery to thousands and thousands of people who had not been convicted of any crime. Potempa should not be the measure of what constitutes unacceptable behavior. We already have a clear example of our own in the behavior of Joe Arpaio and the approval of that behavior by President Trump. And that should be more than enough. Because once we reach the level of Potempa, it may well be too late to recover.

The post To This German Historian, the Implications of Trump’s Pardon of Sheriff Arpaio Are Ominous appeared first on EgbertoWillies.com.

Should we coddle angry white men or tell them the truth?

Wed, 2017-08-30 12:46

Much of today's talk is about angry white men who believe that they are getting the short end of the stick. But should we appease them or should we stop lying to them?

It is too easy to coddle newly aggrieved angry white men when the premise of their grievance is false and misleading. Once again a scholar wrote an article that gets much right but fails to provide the only advice that makes sense.

Steven M. Gillon, scholar-in-residence for History and Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma wrote an informative article titled "Why are so many white men so angry" that we must explore. The article was right on matter-of-fact history. It severely lacked perspective.

The gist of the article was to identify the genesis of angry white men's rage. Unfortunately, while he identified why they feel angry, the solution he offered was to coddle them.

I found this statement bewildering.

The past five decades have not been kind to the white, heterosexual men who made up the overwhelming majority of those who invaded Charlottesville and who support the white nationalist movement. Until the 1960s, white men sat unchallenged atop the United States’ cultural and economic pyramid. They did not have to compete against women or African Americans in the workplace, and they benefited from laws and customs that sustained their privileged position. They not only ruled the workplace, they dominated American politics and exercised virtually unchallenged power at home.

The author admits that white men did not need to compete with other groups in the aggregate. He even rightly called it a privilege. It is astounding that he did not also point out that said advantage was immoral and unfair.

The author made the rightful success of others getting an opportunity as "then their world exploded" which seems to justify their anger.

And then their world exploded. African Americans, unwilling to accept the legacy of Jim Crow, confronted the white power structure in the South. With the help of liberal allies, they pushed Congress to pass two major pieces of civil rights legislation that outlawed legal discrimination. Feminists, inspired by these successes, challenged laws that confined them to traditional roles in the private sphere. They smashed the notion that women could not be lawyers, doctors and corporate leaders, and they made clear they were not content to be subservient housewives. They were later joined by the LGBT community that demanded equal treatment while questioning traditional conceptions of gender and sexuality.

He would further make immigration another justification for angry white men. The author failed to realize that in effect this analysis makes angry white men seem racist. After all, what exactly is American culture?

After 1965, the vast majority of new immigrants came from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many whites view these immigrants as a threat to America’s “common culture” — a culture that white men created. From their perspective, instead of assimilating into the American culture, recent migrants have given rise to a new identity politics that celebrates cultural differences and rejects shared values.

Beginning in the 1960s, many white men perceived the changes wrought by the rights movements and increased immigration not as building a fairer, more diverse society and rectifying past wrongs, but as a direct assault on them and their values. In response, they mobilized in opposition to policies designed to promote diversity, from busing and affirmative action to bilingual education and gay rights. Grievance defined their targets. They fumed about companies and schools giving preference to less-qualified minorities in an effort to achieve greater diversity.

American culture and values have always been diverse. The only difference is that all other cultures and values that made this nation were forcefully suppressed, from the only real Americans (Native Americans) to all the other cultures that built the country, African, Chinese, Spanish, etc.

What is the author's solution?

But we also need to address the underlying conditions that fuel white male resentment. That means having a balanced discussion about immigration that appreciates the many contribution that immigrants make to our nation while establishing clear, fair-minded limits on how many people can enter the United States. It means dramatically increased federal spending on infrastructure and on education to provide meaningful jobs now and the hope of better jobs in the future. It means rethinking government policy that contributes to income inequality. It also requires having difficult conversations with white men about their misperceptions about themselves.

The same economic angst felt by angry white men is the economic anxiety felt by all Americans. That those angry white men are feeling the economic pain more in the aggregate now is not the fault of immigrants, gays, women, blacks, Latinos, or anyone else. It is the fault a Plutocracy that used all the phobias to stay in power. They have taken away the wealth of the others. Who do you think is next?

Angry white men should be enraged. But they must identify the real target. As long as society coddles them, they will throw their ire in the wrong direction, and they will never solve their problems. The real solution is to wake up. Understand the realities.

The concept of race is a social construct designed to divide as there is no inherent virtue or intellect to any hue. Sexism, xenophobia, and all the other prejudices create unwarranted fear. The only fear one should have is that of an ever expanding Plutocracy pilfering us all; the one that low balls your wages, the one that outsources your jobs, the one that hires slave labor, the one that continues to foment divisions between diverse cultures and peoples. Escape from that indoctrination, and we can all work together to take back this country from the band of thugs that continue to rip us off.

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Chris Christie calls out Texas Republicans as hypocrites on Hurricane Harvey stance (VIDEO)

Wed, 2017-08-30 01:46

Chris Christie was likely salivating as he knew that the Texas Republican delegation would be asking for relief for the Hurricane Harvey flooding catastrophe. He used his opportunity well.

Chris Christie did not mince his words as he correctly skewered the Republican Texas delegation for their hypocrisy on hurricane relief.

Chris Christie speaks the unfortunate truth

"The congressional members in Texas are hypocrites," Chris Christie said. "And I said back in 2012 they'd be proved to be hypocrites. When you're a state that has any kind-of coastal exposure like Texas does to the Gulf, you're gonna wind-up having some type of disaster that's gonna perform on the people of your state, then all of a sudden you're not going to want a conversation of all these philosophical niceties because people are suffering and dying."

Why did Chris Christie call the Texas Republican delegation hypocrites? Mother Jones reminds one why.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit this weekend, Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sent a letter to the president urging him to sign the major disaster declaration that had been requested by Gov. Greg Abbott, so the state could access key federal resources as swiftly as possible.

“Given the potential catastrophic impact that the Hurricane may have on Texas communities,” the senators wrote, “we strongly support this request and urge you to provide any and all emergency protective measures available by a major disaster declaration.”

The irony of this request was not lost on lawmakers from states that had been devastated by hurricane Sandy in 2012. At that time, Texas lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against recovery assistance for New York and New Jersey. When asked about that hypocrisy today on MSNBC, Cruz dodged the question. “There’s time for political sniping later,” he said. “I think our focus needs to be on this crisis and this disaster.”

It turns out that Chris Christie was right. What comes around goes around. While Chris Christie was right for calling out his fellow Republicans, he is not a stranger to this hypocrisy himself lest we forget Bridgegate or many other of his shenanigans.

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Houston catastrophic floods personal to me and should be to you

Tue, 2017-08-29 13:13

Most Americans are likely looking at the flooding catastrophe in the Houston Metropolitan Area as one, views a spectator sport. Don't. This type of event is a new reality that will affect us all at some time.

The Houston area flooding catastrophe is getting excellent coverage but remember these events are becoming routine in big, small, and rural cities. We must see this as a new paradigm, and we must forget the normalcy of our little and big government debate and start thinking more about community.

This is Sweetstem pretty, the street that intersects my street, Longflower Lane.

I live in Kingwood, Texas. We are high enough that the rise of Lake Houston should have had no effect on our home or our neighborhood. Moreover, after enduring several Hurricanes and vicious Tropical Storms, we have always been just fine not even with any concern of being flooded. That changed with Hurricane Harvey. This Hurricane will be forever engrained in the minds of the Houston Metropolitan Area.

This is my street, Longflower Lane, a few houses down. Lake Houston has absorbed a few homes on the street already.

I am feeling impotent stuck on the West Coast with no way to get into Houston to do my part as my family is in the House watching the water rise in homes around them.  This reality is happening to hundreds of people in my neighborhood. It is like watching loved ones being savaged unable to do absolutely anything.

America, it is the time that we stop the shenanigans of our politics. Hurricanes and natural disasters do not affect those with different ideologies differently. I cannot tell you the number of calls, texts, emails, and otherwise from my friends, acquaintances, and readers, Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Right Wingers, Tea Partiers, that I have heard from today and throughout this ordeal. It created a sense of commonality that must exist going forward.

When this event is over, we must not allow the Plutocracy to use it as yet another means to pilfer us as we rebuild or to forget that these events are not entirely natural. We cannot allow them to fool the masses with ideologies not because they believe them, but because it is ultimately profitable. Let's use the Houston flooding catastrophe, Hurricane Harvey as a reset. The rebuilding effort will separate those who really care from those who simply see profit in further decimating the masses.

The Indivisible Houston Facebook Page is active with information as well as suggestions to help the people affected by the catastrophe in Houston. Also be sure to donate to the Red Cross directly to assist Houston. Many charlatans will attempt to profit from Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent damage.

Hurricane Harvey floods places that never flooded before

 

 

 

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Liberals Shouldn’t Let the Fight over Confederate Statues Dominate Public Debate

Mon, 2017-08-28 15:09

by John L. Godwin

Dr. John L. Godwin is the author of Black Wilmington and the North Carolina Way: Portrait of a Community in the Era of Civil Rights Protest (2000). He is currently writing a historical autobiography about growing up in the South and discovering history in the civil rights era.

On the question of what to do with Confederate monuments, I have to agree somewhat with the critics, including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who has called for their eventual removal. The Civil War statuary set in place in an age of racial segregation seems to occupy a position too prominent in public squares across the South. Historians have observed the sense in which they were the direct expression of the white supremacist movement that led to horrific lynchings, mob violence, and the enactment of the Jim Crow laws. Surely it would benefit the region to have a change of mind and a change of heart that might follow from a rearrangement of the public persona. I say this, however, with some reservations. Today we live in a fast moving pluralistic society of shopping malls, super jets, mass distributed newspapers, television, radio and the internet. And the public square has already been reconstructed and deconstructed in many respects that reflect our more complex world. Governor Cooper’s recommendation is largely based on recognition of the debacle in Charlottesville and the aftershock at Durham. Where protesters and vandals face off with Nazi thugs and loyalist defenders in violent confrontations, there is a clear need to protect the public safety.

But it seems to me that there is a clear fallacy that has been overlooked in the attempt to achieve social reform through cultural purification. The two connect only through the permeable nebulosity of the popular mind. Confederate flags, academic halls named after John C. Calhoun, and Confederate monuments function chiefly as cultural symbols. For some they are offensive and evoke racism—almost in the same way as Swastikas or the Third Reich banner. For others they have a different meaning. Much as I agree especially with those who reject the movement symbols employed by racists, I cannot bring myself to go the full route of the cultural iconoclasts. And the reasons are both a matter of priorities and of history. If we allow the demand for purification to distract us from what is really important in contemporary politics, we are making a mistake. Protestors should approach our politics more directly by focusing on the issues that are more than symbolic because of how they touch people’s lives. Invariably, those of us who grow up in the South viewing the monuments as symbolic of the heroic sacrifice of our ancestors in the Civil War, have to stop, back up, and rethink the experience of the region. Many people are unwilling to do this, and for that they are wrong. Like the Confederates, they want to ignore the experience of African Americans. Looking for a rationale by which to defend the existence of the monuments may perhaps be doomed to failure especially for this reason.

But I do think that in their capacity as historical markers or memorials, or as historical art, the Confederate statuary are not without value. They were set in place by a broad cultural consensus after the war that was more than mere racism, but involved the collective emotional experience that grew from the war—the sense of grief, suffering, sacrifice and honor to the departed who served and gave their lives. And this must be kept in mind. The Vietnam War was not exactly a glorious cause—but we have found a need to memorialize and to honor the soldiers who fought and gave their lives in that conflict. Monuments in this sense help us to connect with people and with human suffering, even the folly of war. In a similar way the Confederate monuments can only be justified by getting outside the usual frame of reference by looking at the collective experience of the great mass of Southern people and the wider tragedy of the Civil War. The Confederate monuments do not merely represent the Confederate cause any more than they represent the white supremacist views of those who typically erected them. From a wider cultural perspective, they represent the collective regional experience of the war, the patriotic devotion and valor of the tens of thousands of Southern whites—often from small farms or non-slaveholding stock, even the women, the widows and the young boys who fought or labored in the cause, or those who were merely deluded, who wrongly clung to the old Constitution and fought for “states rights” or other abstract notions.

As expressions of popular experience in a time of war, the South’s Confederate monuments have a limited value. Yet they ought to remind us of the collective suffering, delusion, and the heroism in a broader sense of those who fought or merely suffered through a tragic, needless and misguided conflict, enduring the horror, anguish and sacrifice of the war. In this regard they are different from the Confederate battle flag, for they involve the viewer in a narrative of war, evoking the region’s history in a richer and more complex way. Historical contextualists who view the monuments in terms of the limited assumptions of those who erected them ought to look beyond the demagogues and the racist ideologues and consider the wider social context. Some of the monuments rise to the level of art, others are merely markers that drift into decorative anonymity. I think that in social terms, there is also a very clear sense in which they represent the collective determination of Southern whites to say in effect, “we are here.” Having survived a horrible conflict, Southern whites as repatriated Americans needed to send that message. Clearly in the context of the time it was bound up with the racist assumptions that were commonly shared during that era—yet we should acknowledge the ways in which that message also transcended it. Fear that the stigma of slave ownership and Civil War treason would encumber them with a second class citizenship also drove many into a defensive posture that has lingered to this day.

Progressive minded Americans who want to advance the progressive causes of our time are making a mistake by forgetting all this. Southern whites understandably suffer from an inability to communicate it effectively, but they typically feel the issue more deeply than they are willing to admit. Having ancestors who wore the Confederate gray gives them much to think about, and their human limitations become obvious. Too often they avoid history and cling stubbornly to myths and distortions rather than attempt to examine it. The removal of Confederate monuments by itself will not provide a substitute for the effort that requires.

Those who would change the mind of the South should appeal to it directly, tell the story, speak to the issues and join in the demand for more and better history teaching. Meanwhile those who insist on attacking Confederate monuments as symbols of white supremacy and racism assume a limited view of them. Their struggle to produce a more culturally homogenized America in the end may only give rise to newer and more sinister symbols. While those who insist on defending monuments by resort to Swastikas, swinging clubs, bigotry, violent assaults or other racist associations—who insist that the monuments sustain their twisted notions of white supremacy—they are of course the real losers. Without a doubt, every racist brawl, every slogan tattooed or spray painted, and every vicious crime committed in defense of the Confederate monuments dooms them more surely to the margins of history.

Perhaps it is appropriate to remove Confederate monuments and get them out of public squares and in to parks and museums where they can be viewed and studied with objectivity and discretion. But if the process turns into a drawn out ordeal of confrontation, accusation and resistance as we have seen over the Confederate flag, I suspect that the process may have an unlooked for meaning. While the protracted conflict over cultural symbols goes on, we wake up to the realization that public dialogue on the real issues—the soundness of our elections, the effectiveness of our healthcare system, the justice of our economy, the impartiality of law enforcement, the protection of the natural environment or the education of our children—has suffered by neglect. And our world is sadly worse off—because we exhausted ourselves on cultural symbols while the human needs of our society went unmet.

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