Phil Robertson and freedom of speech.

Well folks, we find ourselves in the middle of another free speech controversy. This one hits home with the conservative base because it involves Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Phil recently said the following:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

This quote from a GQ interview prompted the shows network, A&E, to suspend Robertson indefinitely, and they released the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

So that’s how we got ourselves into another national debate over free speech. So we need to look at this from a few different angles. I’d like to take a look at the legality of it first, then dive into some comparable cases.

We must first understand that the first amendment guarantees free speech, but it does so only in regards to prosecution from the government. It is vital to understand that free speech is not protected when it comes to private employers. Now, one may argue that free speech SHOULD be protected against retaliation from private employers, and that’s fine. But if you are going to argue that the Phil Robertson case is protected under the constitutional free speech amendment, you are wrong. So speaking from a legal standpoint, what has hall end to Robertson, as as happened to many others from his level of fame all the way down to someone mopping floors at a Taco Bell, is completely legal.

Now lets delve into the mind of a right winger on this issue. The conservatives in this country are up in arms over this development and are screaming on all of the social media sites that Robertson’s comments are him simply exercising his free speech and should, therefore, not be suspended or ultimately fired. They have one part correct…he was exercising his right to free speech, and has every right to do so in this great country. Where the first layer of their hypocrisy comes shining through is the fact that they claim that corporation are people, yet do not have their own right to free speech. If corporations are people, then do they not also have the right to exercise their free speech and terminate such an employee? Secondly, for a crowd that touts free market as much as they do, I would think they would understand that A&E has determined that such public talk from an extremely well known star of theirs could hurt their brand, and thus, effect the bottom line. Terminating Robertson is a free market solution to strengthening the bottom line of the company, should A&E determine it to be so. But lets be honest, this isn’t about the companies bottom line nor about the ludicrous claim that “corporations are people too”….this is about religion. This is about the Christian Right feeling they are under attack in this country, and this is one of their heroes being attacked. So on the grounds of religious free speech, they stand on the mountain top screaming about injustice for Phil. This leads us to our next layer of conservative hypocrisy, and that’s their stance on free speech in the private workplace when that speech differs from theirs. Before we get into these examples, lets set the record straight…I don’t condone what these people said. as a matter of fact, I’m one of those who says that your freedom if speech doesn’t cover you at work and if your employer feels your public comments have hurt their company or brand in any way, they absolutely have the right to punish you for it. What we are doing here is pointing out the hypocritical right for saying Robertson shouldn’t be fired for his free speech while advocating for, or not defending the cases I’m about to list. Some examples for you…

MARTIN BASHIR:
Bashir was an MSNBC host that said that Sarah Palin should try having someone shit in her mouth in regards to recent remarks she made in regards to slavery. Bashir was wrong, and MSNBC has every right to punish him for it (although he allegedly ‘resigned’ and wasn’t technically fired), but where are the right wing defenders of free speech to protect him? Where was his target, Sarah Palin, on this issue? Well here’s what she said after accepting his apology: “those with that platform, with a microphone, a camera in their face, they have to have some more responsibility taken”. Hmm….so no defense of Bashir’s free speech? Why? Could it be because it doesn’t jive with the rights ideals?

DENNIS MILLER:
Dennis Miller, a conservative radio host and comedian, recently spoke to a small business owner who called in to his show. That business owner was complaining that he may have to let some people go due to obamacare, and he was frustrated because he is loyal to all his employees. Miller responded by telling the business owner how to go about picking those employees that should be let go.
“Go look around your parking lot. Fire anybody with an Obama/Biden number sticker in the parking lot. It’s the right thing to do. They a patriots. They will understand”.
Now I regularly listen to The Dennis Miller show and I can personally tell you that not one conservative….NOT ONE called in to say that was the wrong course of action. That such actions would be violating someone’s free speech. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. Caller after caller dialed in to support such moves stating that if they supported Obama, they deserve to be the first on the chopping block. Now if an employer feels that is the best course of action for his company, he has every right to do so in my opinion, but where are the right wing defenders of free speech in this instance? Nowhere to be found.

MSU PROFESSOR WILLIAM PENN:
William Penn, a professor at Michigan State University, was recorded saying
“This country still is full of closet racists. What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina? Voter suppression. It’s about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic. Why would Republicans want to do it? Because Republicans are not a majority in this country anymore. They are a bunch of dead white people. Or dying white people.”
This statement elicited immediate calls for his termination by Glenn Beck’s website, TheBlaze. The conservative watchdog group, Campus Reform, said the university should fire Penn immediately. Now i feel if the university felt his comments hurt the university in any way, they should absolutely get rid if him, but doesn’t Penn deserve the same level of conservative shielding against a violation of his fort amendment rights? Not according to conservatives he doesn’t.

GLENN BECK’S STAFF:
Glenn Beck, after returning from his 2012 holiday break, declared, live on air, that he would fire any employee who said Barack Obamas name in 2013. Yes…..you can be fired for literally saying the Presidents name. Now if he wants to run his company in such a dickish manner, it is his right, but where are the right wing crusaders of free speech here? Silent as usual.

ALEC BALDWIN:
Alec Baldwin has a history of saying really stupid things, and in one such instances a group of 25 conservative groups called on Capital One to fire Baldwin. Breitbart, Fox News, New York Daily News, The Washington Examiner, The Drudge Report, The San Francisco Gate, Gateway Pundit, Lucianne, Seattle PI, Mr. Conservative, Newsmax, MSN and even 3 Newspapers in New Zealand all called for his termination. Now i think Baldwin is a massive chump and an asshole of epic proportions and wouldn’t hire him if i could, but once again…where are the conservative free speech warriors to defend his freedom of speech in the workplace?

Once again, lets be clear, whether I support the overall political views of anyone listed above, each and every one of them deserved punishment for their public comments, if so deemed by their place of employment. In a recent conversation I had with a good friend, I was asked if my frequent public declarations of atheism and my decrying of any form of organized religion would be acceptable terms of termination from anyone I would be employed with who held differing views. My response is, yes. Absolutely. If an employer of mine felt that having my name be associated with their business, and then seeing me make comments they deemed would be viewed as their companies condoning such actions, would absolutely be within their rights to terminate me. We have, unfortunately, twisted the first amendment into some catch-all basket of verbal freedom in which we are completely protected. Such is not the case. People can, and will, get fired for publican views that differ from an employers.

So before you stand on the side of unfettered free speech in the private workplace, make sure you are ready to defend all free speech. If not, then it’s time to understand that every time a conservative calls for a company to fire a spokesperson or else they will boycott, or every time a radio personality calls for a liberal TV host to be fired because they didn’t like what they said, you are doing exactly what you decry about Phil Robertson’s case.

Trayvon Martin and the state of race in our society.

The case involving the death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida certainly has sparked a great deal of debate. This debate has seen sides being taken on one of the most fundamental issues we have ever faced….race. Since the incident, millions of people have been discussing race all across the world, culminating in two addresses to the masses outlining differing views on the subject. One was from President Obama just after the verdict and another was from FOX News host Bill O’Reilly. Normally I wouldn’t put O’Reilly in the same category as the President, and I do not pretend to do so here, but the fact remains that his talking points memo has quite a few people on the opposite side of President Obama saying that O’Reilly was spot on. Since O’Reily is widely viewed by many on the right as a “facts guy”, lets check the facts.

O’Reilly begins his talking points by saying that we cannot implement effective policies by “dwelling on sins of the past”. If you watch the clip, O’Reilly says this in response to President Obama saying that many African-American men have experienced being followed when they shop or heard doors lock when they cross the street and saying that sets of experiences like that inform how the African-American community interprets what happened in Florida. Right off the bat, O’Reilly is off base by calling this “sins of the past”. The President wasn’t talking about slavery, or firehoses being turned on marchers…he was talking about the millions of little things that happen everyday in America as I type this. These aren’t in the past. These are happening right now.

O’Reilly goes on to say that Zimmerman did profile Martin, but not because of skin color, but because he “was a stranger to Zimmerman” and because he “was dressed in clothing sometimes used by extreme criminals”. There is a lot to cover here. First, are we really to the point in our society when anyone who is a stranger to you is to be deemed suspicious and followed? Really? I’m sorry but that’s not the kind of society that can exist in a civilized manner and show respect for others. There are billions of people on the planet. There are a lot of people who are strangers to you. If you are suspicious of all of them, you need help. Next we have this continuing dialogue about what Trayvon was wearing…clothing “sometimes used by extreme criminals”. Oh, you mean a suit and tie? Because some of the most extreme criminals I know wear a suit and tie and destroy entire communities with the push of a button. No….that’s not what you meant? Then maybe you meant jeans and a button down shirt like John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer? No….not jeans and a shirt either, huh? I got it….maybe he meant white men in robes and hoods. After all, no choice of outfit screams “criminal” more than that of the Klan, no? Wrong again? I now….it was a priests robe. Zimmerman was afraid someone was about to become one of the thousands of victims of rape. no? Well I must know what Trayvon was wearing. Lets see…”a grey hoodie, with either jeans or sweatpants and white gym shoes.” Shit…you know who dresses like that? My twelve year old daughter and almost everyone of her friends. Wait…..the two guys who work for me, ages nineteen and twenty, also dress like that. Son if a bitch….my wife dresses like that when she goes grocery shopping. Can you not see the absolute ignorance in saying that a hoodie with jeans and gym shoes are clothing “sometimes used by extreme criminals”? Go on twitter some time and look at the pictures of people under the age of twenty five and tell me how many of them DON’T wear the exact same clothing. It’s ludicrous. So why is Bill O’Reilly saying this? Well, he says it was wrong for Zimmerman to profile Martin, but the culture that we have in America lends itself to profiling because “young black Americans are so often involved in crime.” Wait….I thought O’Reilly said it had nothing to do with the color of Martins skin. Here are Bill’s exact words in regards to that. “Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily the color of his skin…there is no evidence of that.” We’ll, I think O’Reily disagrees with himself because he clearly says that we have a tendency to profile young black men because they are so often involved in crime, but says Zimmerman didn’t profile Martin based on his skin color. so was it really strictly a hoodie and jeans that set Zimmerman off? Which is it Bill? Was he profiled for being black at a time when black men are so highly involved in crime or was he profiled for wearing what millions of young Americans wear every day? See folks, what we have here is O’Reilly, and those who listen to him, wanting to have it both ways. They want to say that Zimmerman wasn’t profiling Martin because he was black, but then saying that it was ok for Zimmerman to profile Martin because he is a black man and black men commit a lot of crime. It is talking out of both sides of ones mouth.

Now we start getting hard data from O’Reilly. He says that young black men commit homicides at a rate ten times higher than whites and Hispanics combined. He then correlates this with the left blaming guns, poor education and lack of jobs and says “rarely do they define the problem accurately.” So tell us Bill, what is the problem, according to you? Well, luckily, he fills us in. He says “The reason the is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, 73% of all black babies are born out of wedlock.” He goes on to say “That drives poverty and the lack of involved fathers leaves young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised.” First, the notion that because the father isn’t involved, that the child is automatically “unsupervised” is a slap in the face to single mothers everywhere who are doing a damn fine job of keeping their kids in line and making sure they grow up with respect and honor. But single parenthood isn’t just a black issue. Even in places where black populations have declined, single parent households have increased. In South Carolina, where the black share of the population fell by 2 percent, single parenthood rose by 5 percent. In Kentucky and Louisiana, where the black population was constant, single parenthood increased 6 percentage points. So the problem surely isn’t single mothers. So, once again, what is O’Reilly driving at? Well, he says that without structure (once again, assuming single parents cannot provide structure) young black men turn away from education and gravitate towards drugs and gangs. It’s a personal decision. He has one thing right…it is a choice to get involved in drugs and gangs. Nobody is forced to make that decision. But he goes on to say that the entertainment industry glorifies this behavior by promoting a “Gangsta culture.” This, is by far, the dumbest thing Bill said during this talking points memo. The entertainment industry also promotes vampires, zombies, mob bosses, serial killers, alien robots that transform into trucks and many many other things, but we don’t say that alien robots are running amuck in the streets of our inner cities….because its ridiculous. The blaming of movies and music for violence in culture is something people have been trying to do for generations and it just doesn’t correlate. And if we are going to say that the entertainment industry is to be blamed for violence in society, then someone has to tell me what entertainment industry was around during the inquisition….the crusades…the dark ages….ancient Egypt…and so on. See, violence has been a part of society for eons before the entertainment industry came around. Now back to the notion that the left doesn’t address the real problem but rather blame guns, poor education and lack of jobs. Mr. O’Reilly, those ARE the problems. Lack of jobs: there is no doubt that a severe lack of jobs in the poorest, inner city communities exists. The jobs simply aren’t there. This is a contributing factor to why people take to dealing drugs, because its one of the few jobs they can get. Poor education: well, without a decent education, the very few jobs that are out there aren’t going to be coming your way. Guns: when the black community is overrun with guns, guns become the culture. So how can you say that these aren’t the problems and then point your finger at the entertainment industry and single mothers? That, I’m sorry to say, is simply insanity.

Now we get to the part where O’Reilly speaks about drugs. He is correct that addiction can lead to a life of crime in order to support said addiction. But what Mr. O’Reilly, and many on the right fail to point out are the statistics that show the systematically racism and profiling that leaves an entire category of people a few steps behind in their chances in life when it comes to the non-addictive drug of marijuana, which is rapidly become legal across the country, When you look at the statistics for marijuana usage between whites and blacks, they are almost identical. But when you look at the incarceration rates for possession of marijuana, the numbers get a little more lopsided. With an overall marijuana incarceration rate that has doubled since 1991, at last national count whites were arrested at 195 per 100,000 while blacks are at 598 per 100,000 for possession of marijuana. In general, youths age15 to 24 made up over half of all possession arrests. What this is is quite simply racial profiling. Despite the fact that young white men are using marijuana at the same pace as young black men, young black men are getting arrested for it far more often. What is the residual effect of this? Those young black men are now starting off with not only a stigma about them based on their skin color, but now have an arrest record to go with it. Two strikes. Why doesn’t anyone on the right mention this? Why doesn’t O’Reilly point out these stats? Because it would ruin the narrative. They only want to look at the end result of starting out with two strikes, but never address how those two strikes got on them to begin with. You know…..exactly what O’Reilly blamed Obama, Jackson, Sharpton and the congressional black Caucas for not doing. You cannot take an entire group of young men and give them two strikes so early in life, on top of the fact that many already come from poor homes, and expect them to rival their counterparts in society. It doesn’t work that way folks. Never has. The same thing can be said for all of us. We start out in a disadvantage to the children of people like Bill Gates or Prince William. The chances of us reaching that level in life are extremely low. So are we making bad personal decisions that keep us in our station in life? No. The fact is that there are various stations in life and everyone from those stations has to overcome things to get to the next station, and the stats say that very few do.

So what is Bill O’Reillys answer to these problems?
1. Actively discourage pregnancies out of wedlock.
2. To impose strict discipline in the public schools, including mandatory school uniforms
3. Impose a zero tolerance policy and mandatory minimums for gun and drug crimes, and impose serious jail time for these offenders.
4. Challenge the entertainment industry to stop peddling garbage.
Ok…..
1. What would you do, Bill…impose a Chinese-like child policy? I don’t see you talking about helping these people, but rather telling them what to do. I got news for ya……PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN OUT OF WEDLOCK IN ALL RACES! I don’t see white children born out of wedlock being talked about as having the same disadvantages as black children that are. No….just focus in those black unwed mothers. Don’t you see this is profiling DURING and address about how the right doesn’t profile?
2. While I’m all for imposing some strict discipline in the schools, mandatory school uniforms are not an answer to anything. This is an argument that circles back tithe jeans and hoodie garbage. How a person dresses does not tell you who they are. Are you trying to tell me if Trayvin was wearing a school uniform, Zimmerman wouldn’t have given him a second look? Please. Sell that elsewhere. But the real issue withO’Reillys statement is that the political party he supports has done everything in their power, include openly advocating for the complete dismantling of the public school system, to hurt schools…not help them. So if you want to come on the air and talk about politicians who aren’t doing enough for the schools, your argument starts and stops with three letters Bill….GOP. You guys actually had a man in the lead last election cycle that had, as part of his platform, to completely abolish the department of education. But yeah….the obamas and sharptons and Jackson’s are the ones turning their backs on these issues.
3. Mandatory minimums are not a solution. Mandatory minimums are how you end up with an otherwise law abiding, productive member of society, getting a prison term for possession of a personal amount of marijuana. You try and get a job with a record. It’s not easy Bill.

Mr. O’Reilly had a very few things he was correct about in his memo. But more importantly, what it did was fire up the right. It has empowered the right to continue the narrative of the Zimmerman case not being about an underlying issue of race inequality in America by calling the people who have lived it personally the racists. All of a sudden the victims of racism are the racists. This is the most backwards argument against racism I have ever heard. These people not only have lived it, but have tried to help rectify the situation by helping schools and by trying to keep guns out of the communities but have met resistance by republicans who want to take away from schools and let anyone by a gun. You simply cannot do everything in your power to stifle the help, and then yell about the fact that help isn’t there. Running ads telling people not to get pregnant, making kids wear khakis and collared shirts and no longer making certain kinds of movies does nothing. You have to get into these communities and get hands on. You know….like a community organizer would. You sit in the luxury of Long Island and accuse some of walking away, but the ones you accuse you also tear down for working within these communities during their lives instead of making millions and running from them. Remember the ’08 campaign? How many times did Obama get called a “community organizer” as if it were a bad thing? Every goddamn day on Mr. O’reillys station. Now they are saying he hasn’t spent enough time in the community.

So what are the REAL solutions? Well, start by not defunding schools so education is there for the kids that need it. Start by not cutting back on school meals for poor kids so they can fuel their bodies and minds for the lessons they are about to learn. Continue by funding after school programs to keep kids engaged after that bell rings. Give them something to be a part of and help them make better decision in life…don’t just put it in an ad. Stop profiling young black men so they don’t end up with that early police record. This isn’t helping these communities, yet Bill says more jail time is the answer. Take the necessary steps to keep guns up of the community. This is extremely difficult when neighboring communities are so lax with people getting their hand on guns, but keep up that fight, damn it. Do not let the NRA continue to tear down the work that has been done. You want to incentivize companies to build? Do it in these cities. Lets get some jobs in communities that have none. You want people to be able to have a job they can live off of? Then stop attacking and tearing apart the fabric of unions. The unions help protect employees from working like slaves for sub-living wages. But the biggest solution of all…..one that I personally have had to come to realize over the course of many years is this…we need to stop looking at people who are different than us as lesser than us. Until we can treat each other equally, there will be no equality. There are good and bad in every race and creed. Not all Mexicans are illegal aliens. Not all Italians are mobsters. Not all Irish are drunks. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And the biggest lesson for me….not all religious people are extremists. Just like not all people are racists. And this brings us back to the Zimmerman case. See, it’s not right to see a black man walking down the street and start following him. I’m sorry, but it isn’t right. Flip the script for a minute. Would you think it was right for a black man, with a gun, to follow a white man who was walking in Harlem at night? The white man is doing nothing but walking down the street, just as Trayvon was doing. All of a sudden we don’t like that scenario, huh? An armed black man following a white man through the streets at night. Puts things into a whole different perspective all of a sudden. So had Trayvon Martin not been profiled because he was black to begin with, he would still be alive today…and that is the most fundamental part of that entire case. Trayvon Martin died because he was black…period.

So, to those who loved the O’Reilly memo, I say he was dead wrong. And much like he wishes the President was watching, I hope he is reading, because we DO have serious issues that need to be dealt with and I, for one, don’t want to keep having this discussion after incidents like this.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.
Bob Marley

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
John Lennon

Published in: on July 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Obama is not killing Americans within The United States.

The latest conspiracy theory concerning President Obama has reared its head in the form of a letter from Eric Holder, Attorney General, to Rand Paul, Tea Party Senator from Kentucky. Senator Paul asked the administration whether “the President had the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen, on US soil, and without a trial.” This is an attempt by Senator Paul to catch the administration in a sound bite that he can use to make it seem as if President Obama is continuing his attempt to become a dictator by randomly killing Us citizens as he sees fit.

First, let’s examine Eric Holder’s response. It is as follows:
” As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of dong so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located within our country who pose a threat to the United State and our interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the audited State for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such forces necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7th, 1941 and September 11th, 2001.”

Nowhere in Eric Holder’s comments does he mention the killing of US citizens, but rather specifically points out the use of force to defend against terrorists. Nowhere in Eric Holder’s comments does it mention using military force against anyone in the Inited States randomly, but rather outlines actual examples of circumstances where it would be considered, and those examples are the Pearl Harbor attack and the 9/11 attacks. The only person who uses terms like “on US citizens” is, in fact, Senator Paul. The circumstances and possibilities that Eric Holder cite as examples of when the President may consider such actions are not only completely valid circumstances, but historically, it has taken less than that for a President to authorize the military to use force against its own citizens in the past. Case in point: the LA riots of 1992, also known as the “Rodney King Riots”.

Now, what you will hear quite a. It of is that President Obama is a socialist dictator who just wants unmilitary power and is doing whatever he wants to get that power, including ignoring the constitution. Lets examine this notion. The Posse Comitatus act, which is the law that limits the power of the federal government from using federal military personnel from to enact state laws, was passed in 1878. The original act referred largely to the United States Army. The Air Force was added in 1956 and the Navy and Marine Corps have been included as a regulation of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard is not included. On September 26, 2096, President Bush urged Congress to consider revising federal laws so that the US armed force scoular restore public order and enforce laws in the aftermath of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other condition. That last part…..”or other condition”….is pretty vague, don’t you think? You will never hear a Reublican say that President Bush wanting such powers as a socialistic, dictator-like move. No, no…..with President Bush it was just good policy. Well, the changes President Bush wanted were proposed in John Warner National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law in October 2096 by…..wait for it….President Bush. It provided that:
“The President may employ the armed forces… to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition… the President determines that… domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order… or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such… a condition… so hinders the execution of the laws… that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law… or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”
In 2011, President Obama signed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 into law. Section 1031, clause “b”, article 2 defines a ‘covered person’, i.e., someone possibly subject to martial law, as the following: “A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” Now which one sounds like a President trying to grab more power and which one sounds like a President trying to limit, and further elaborate on, the power the President has to do these things?

See, as I mentioned before, this is an attempt by Senator Paul to get a red-meat sound bite that he can’t grow at the overtly hostile base of there Republican party to further advance the delusional notion that President Obama isn’t an American. That he hates the Constitution. That he wants unlimited power. It simply isn’t true. The fact is that exceptions have been made in the last for the use of our military within our borders, and that it has in fact been the republicans, not the democrats, who have pushed for more power, while the democrats have acted to limit that power. This is yet another example of the political right in this country being co-opted by far right wing extremists and ideologues. Do your own homework. Do not listen to the powers that be, and you will find the truth.

Published in: on March 6, 2013 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Just a few thoughts.

When I was a young boy, before I knew what politicians were, Jimmy Carter was President. This is when I was very young, so I really didn’t know much of what was going on. About the only thing I really remember about Carter is that he spoke like some of my relatives down south.

Then when I started to become more aware, and while I was in my formidable years, Ronald Reagan was President. He was charismatic. He was photogenic. He was Presidential. While I didn’t really know about policy, I knew he looked and talked like a man who was getting the job done. He took a bullet and kept going. His wife was a strong woman that seemed to be everywhere, but they still reminded my generation of our grandparents.

Then I hit my twenties, and Bill Clinton got elected. This is when policy, and how what happens in Washington effects the rest of us, came to my attention. While Bill was in office, everyone did well. Sure we were involved in conflicts around the globes, as we always are, but we had peace. People seemed to be working and doing well. It’s when I began to lay the early groundwork in my landscape career, and I didn’t fare too bad. This was another President who was charismatic, but in many different ways than Reagan. He was young. He was hip. He played the saxophone for crying out loud. Women flocked to him. Hell, many women in my family to this day see him on tv and swoon just a bit. Slick Willy…..a hell of a President to have at the helm in your twenties. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, or maybe it happened during the fun-loving decade of my twenties, but everyone seemed happier and the world was just a better place during the Clinton years.

During my thirties, I was raising a very young family, beginning to move up in my career and i was watching the country fall apart. George W. Bush was President, and there was a very different feel. Two towers fell in New York. An historic and significant building in the government was hit. And all of a sudden, we have amassed our armies at the border of a country in the Middle East. Just as the name “Vietnam” was for my parents,the word “Iraq” was about to be written into our history of war. We were already occupying anther nation, and we were now waging war on two nations. Servicemen and women were sent away, and then kept getting sent back because the war never seemed to have an end. Back home, things were looking worse and worse. The government had gone from a six year run of balanced budgets to not being able to balance the budget in any year. The government took a record surplus and rapidly turned it into a deficit. We took a private market that had the confidence to add twenty two million new jobs in eight years, and made it the most stagnant we had seen in years. Then, it happened. The market crashed. Homes literally got stopped in mid-construction, never to be finished. Builders were going out of business everyday. The unemployment numbers skyrocketed and we all looked at each other wondering who was next. At the height of this free-fall we were shedding seven hundred thousand jobs a month. That is staggering. Three quarters of a million people every month were going home to have a discussion with their spouses about what they were going to do know that they didn’t have enough money coming in. We had come a long way from the happy, prosperous and peaceful times of Bill Clinton. This was dubbya’s America. You may have enjoyed those times, but I surely didn’t. Under Bush’s two terms, this households income became dead stagnant. Raises were something that couldn’t even be discussed. Bonuses ceased. More of the cost of health insurance was transferred onto us. Employer 401k contributions were no more. Less money was coming in and more money was going out. More and more people we knew were getting let go every day. Renee and I had just decided where we wanted to lay down roots and we bought a home, then wondered if we were going to be next to get cut and we would lose that home. America under Bush wasn’t the America our parents had known, and t was the America I wanted to leave for my kids.

So here we are, reeling from the Bush years, and we are all wondering how to put it back together again. Our choices were John McCain and Barrack Obama. One wanted to continue to wage war, while one said it is time for America’s longest war to end. One insisted the current economic policies, those that got us into such desperate times, were the right ones, while one said that the proof was in the ruins Bush left behind to proclaim those policies as failed. One picked a religious zealot with zero knowledge of the world beyond her blackberry as his successor should something happen to him while the other picked a seasoned statesman of the people. One scared the shit out of me while the other was spot on with his ideas. Enter President Obama. You want to talk about the right man at the right time,,,,well this is the definition in person. Under the first term of Obamas Presidency we have seen the blood letting stop, and begin to reverse itself. The stock market has doubled, private sector jobs have been added every month, wars are coming to an end and hope has been restored. I now have three children and a small business, so believe me when I tell you, the future has never been more important to me, and I rest easy at night knowing that people who share my values are in positions to fight for a future that is better for my kids,

What will we see from the White House in the next decade? Nobody knows. But I do know this….I would like to see our current trajectory continue.

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Let’s talk about guns.

Let me start this article by saying that I believe in a person’s right to own a gun in order to protect oneself and their families. There are guns in my own home. I also believe in ones right to carry a gun. Having said that, I also believe there has to be limits and reasonable restrictions.

THE 2ND AMENDMENT.
Whenever there is a conversation about gun control in this country, the first argument the pro-gun side uses is the 2nd amendment. Well, I contest that this argument is an invalid one. The 2nd amendment is an amendment that specifically calls out its purpose….to maintain a strong militia to defend our countries freedom. Nowhere in there does it say anything about just being able to own a gun for owing a guns sake. In addition, it was written at a time when if an invasion happened, all citizens would be called upon to defend the nation because we didn’t have a military like we do now. It was also written when the kinds of guns that are capable of causing the massive devastation we have now didn’t exist. The deadliest weapon of the age was a musket for crying out loud. We need to start looking at our founding documents with some reasonable understanding of the time in which they were written. We can’t just take these words as a strict, rigid basis for everything we do. Remember, when these documents were written, women were not allowed to vote and black people were property. Context people…..context.

CONCEALED CARRY.
As I mentioned above, I support concealed carry…..but not in an absolute sense. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, many have come out and said things like “If the teachers were allowed to carry weapons at school, this could have been prevented.” or “We need to start putting armed guards at our schools.”. I couldn’t disagree more. A school is a place a gun should never be. I believe this not only for the safety of our children, but also because in a culture that is so terribly in love with guns to begin with, the last thing we should be dong is exposing children to guns at an even earlier age, and with daily regularity. Perhaps if we start teaching our children that guns are not toys, not a part of the majority of America’s everyday life and that they have a place, we could start changing a culture that is inherently violent and loves guns so much that we have calendars of children the age of the Connecticut victims holding various types of weaponry. While concealed carry can be a law that can have positive benefits, this is not the case for every single aspect of our lives. The wild west is over people. We live in a modern age and need to think about our laws in that sense.

ASSAULT WEAPONS.
The mayor of my town recently asked me to define what an assault weapon is when I posted that I think we need an assault weapons ban. I don’t know the exact definition. In my own opinion, it’s like the old definition of porn….I can’t define it but I know it when I see it. The rifle used to kill the children at Sandy Hook is an example of that. What is the real purpose of such a weapon? This is not a hunting weapon. It isn’t needed for self defense. It is a killing machine….period. It has no place in our society outside of law enforcement and the military. This goes for any weapon that allows an operator to fire hundreds and hundreds of devastating rounds in a very short period of time. Here is where the most extreme will lose their minds, because we do have an extreme fringe in this country that believes our currently elected leadership will try to overrun the country and we will all need to form a civilian militia in order to defend the American way from it’s own leaders. This is insanity personified. This is not happening and needs to stop being used as an excuse to have hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. And the people who make a very good living selling this fear and paranoia on the airwaves need to take a long, hard look at the morality of their life’s work. We have a problem people. Assault weapons need to be done away with. This isn’t a discussion anymore. This is clearly evident.

BACKGROUND CHECKS.
This is a no-brainer. Of course we need background checks. Diligent, through background checks. If you have a history of mental illness….you should not be allowed to have any gun. If you have a history of violent crimes….you should not be allowed to have any guns. You should not be able to walk in to a gun show and buy anything without proper background checks. This is base line logic here folks. I don’t want to hear about the government compiling a data base of gun owners to know who to target. Once again…..cookoo. We have to get real people…..we need to know who has guns. The same folks that are more often than not against background checks are ironically the same people that want means testing for Medicare and social Security, or want poor people to submit to drug testing for government assistance…..but we are un-American if we say we want to know if a gun owner has a history of beating his wife. Have we lost our minds? We are better than that folks. Way better. I’ve heard many people say that we have declined as a society because we have taken god out of it. Well I submit that we have declined in society because we have taken logic out of it. We have let extreme fringe nutjobs control the discussion, and ultimately, the policy as well, without applying logic to it to see of it made sense. What we are currently doing doesn’t make sense.

Every time something Ike Sandy Hook happens, we say “this isn’t the time for this discussion”. Well, do you wait until your kids second bad report card to see of it improves before you talk with them, or do you deal with it in real time…..as it happens? Do you wait until an employee fouls up again and again before dealing with the problem, or do you nip it in the bud? Do you wait to see if your child’s illness clears up on its own when they come to you feverish and vomiting, or do you call a doctor and deal with it? This IS the time. Are we going to have a society led by logic and reason, or fringe ideology? Are we gong to have a society that constantly has to pay respects to the innocent lives lost so often, or are we going to be a society that sees those lives live out to their fullest? Are we going to be a society that continues to accept the same excuses and arguments for the same insane behavior, or are we finally going to be a society that says enough, and realizes that we ourselves have the power to change this? I write this article as a father of three children, ages 11, 8 and 1. I was sick to my stomach seeing the events unfold in Connecticut. I am also disgusted that we have decayed our society so much that the same childhood freedoms that my generation enjoyed are not enjoyed by my children. For the love of everything that you hold dear, let’s fix this now.

Published in: on December 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Are Things Better Than They Were Four Years Ago?

The big question leading up to every Presidential election is “Are things better than they were four years ago?” The Republicans would have you think that things are vastly worse than they were when Obama took office. Well, that’s why we have these pesky little things called facts, and we all know how much Republicans hate facts. Let’s break down how things are now compared to four years ago.

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
We were shedding 700,000 jobs each month. Yeah…remember that? 700,000 jobs each and every month disappearing. I remember thinking that its not a matter of if, but rather when I would lose my job.
NOW…..
The private sector has added 4.3 million private sector jobs. That is a 4% increase. Now some Teabaggers and other uninformed FOX News viewers will tell you that Obama is adding government jobs. Not true. Public sector employment is down 608.000 workers since January of 2009, a 2.7% decline. At the same point in Bush’s term, public sector employment was up 3.7%.

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
The DOW was at 7949.09 the day Obama took office. Down significantly from where it had been for years until Bush took over.
NOW…..
As of yesterday, the DOW was at 12943.36. It is up 4994.27 since Obama has taken office. That equates to not only more confidence in traders, but actual tangible differences for you such as gains in your 401k, not losses, as was happening at a dramatic rate under Bush.

FOUR YEARS AGO….
Americans could be denied medical coverage due to a pre-existing condition. And don’t be fooled by what that actually means. This isn’t just for the guy who smoked and drank his whole life and never did a thing to take care of himself and after he developed cancer suddenly wanted coverage. Its for people like my daughter. She had several urinary tract infections when she was a toddler. All is better now, but she can go her whole life not being sick, and having health insurance and if something major happens to her in her 60s and some insurance agent digs into her record and finds out that she didn’t state on her enrollment forms that she had urinary tract infections when she was two, she can be dropped and denied coverage.
NOW…..
Pre-existing conditions are a thing os the past. You don’t have to go broke and lose everything because you got sick.

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
Your child had to figure out health insurance on their own once they went away to college. Not an easy thing to do when you are trying to get an education and work a part-time job just to help pay the way.
NOW…..
Your child can stay on your plan while in school, helping millions of Americans retain coverage without adding to the massive debt college students graduate with.

FOUR YEASR AGO….
My income tax was higher than it is right now. Yes Republicans…..your income tax was higher under Bush. You can deny it all you want, but see, these are facts, and facts don’t lie.
NOW…..
I am paying a lower income tax, which means that I have more of the money I earn, which means I have more money to spend which I then spend in local store, which increases demand, which leads to stores needing to hire more people, which leads to a growing economy. Ok….take a minute to breath Teabaggers. I know your head is spinning because you don’t hear these facts on FOX News of out of Rush Limbaughs mouth. But these facts are true.

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
We were embroiled in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, with no end in sight.
NOW…..
we have ended one of those wars and set a time table to end the other. Do not get me wrong here, I am very disappointed that we aren’t out of both nations completely by now, but the fact that we got out of Iraq alone makes us better off now than four years ago. How many Americans lives won’t be lost due to this move? How many families will remain whole and not suffer the pain that so many have felt now that we aren’t fighting in Iraq? Yes, that alone makes us better off now than four years ago.

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
A hate crime committed based on gender, sexual orientation and disability were not illegal. Yes it is true conservatives….look it up.
NOW…..
Thanks to legislation passed, these acts are now a crime. How is that not better than four years ago?

FOUR YEARS AGO…..
If you were gay, and wanted to serve your country in the military, you had to do so in the closet.
NOW….
Thanks to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, anyone who wants to serve our country can do so openly and without fear of prosecution. Don’t listen to the Republicans on this. Having a military that includes everyone who wants to defend this nation strengthens our security, not weakens it as the right wingers will have you believe.

These are just some of the ways we are better off now than four years ago. Combine these facts, with many others not listed here, add the fact that millions of minority children have a political figure that inspires them to be more than what society tells them they will be and throw in the fact that Sarah Palin isn’t a possibility for an elected office in America, and we are extremely better off than we were four years ago. There is still a lot more improving to do, as is always the case when a Democrat takes over after a Republican. Bill Clinton took over a disaster of a mess after Reagan and Bush 1 brought this country down. He left Bush 2 a record surplus, 6 straight years of balanced budgets and an economy that added 22.3 millions new jobs under his watch. Then Bush turned record surpluses into record deficits, lost all of those jobs plus more and never balanced the budget once in two terms. So now Obama has to clean it up again, only it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. And if we go back to the same policies that ruined us, we will go back to what we were four years ago. I don’t want that, I know you don’t want that. Please….think about that when you step into the voting booth this November.

Published in: on July 20, 2012 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dont be lied to this election.

Well, once again we are bearing down on a Presidential election and the lies are rampant. Don’t be lied to this election. Know the truth, and use it to make an informed decision. Informed decision…..that is a Republicans worst nightmare. They need you to be misinformed, scared and worried so that you will vote for them. Well, let the Loud Landscaper enlighten you to some facts, which is another thing Republicans hate.

GOP Lie:
Obama will take away your guns.
Truth:
While in office, President Obama has introduced exactly ZERO gun control bills. He hasn’t pushed for gun control, given speeches about gun control nor fought for any form of gun control legislation of any kind.

GOP Lie:
Obama is a job killing President.
Truth:
Since President Obama has been in office, 3.4 million new private sector jobs have been created, and countless others have been saved. Hardly job killing considering that under the previous administration, Republican by the way, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. Not a year…..a MONTH.

GOP Lie:
Obama’s administration has made the recession worse.
Truth:
Since taking office, President Obama has seen the DOW rise 60%. The DOW doesn’t rise 60% if the policies are worsening the recession folks. It just doesn’t happen. Also, the GDP is up 3.2%. A year after taking office, when the budget was “his” and his initial policies had time to have an effect, the unemployment rate has started to fall and is now down from 10.1% to 8.5%.

GOP Lie:
Obamas policies have led to a stranglehold on American businesses.
Truth:
Since taking office, Obama has watched corporations gain record profits. As a matter of fact, corporations are estimated to be sitting on record liquid capitol and have posted the largest profits in American history.

GOP Lie:
Obama is soft on the war on terror.
Truth:
Since taking office, Obama has actually added troops and resources to the war in Afghanistan, ordered the Somali pirates who kidnapped American citizens to be taken out and ordered the death of Osama bin Laden, a man who every conservative out there says was enemy number one and who our last Republican President openly stated he wasn’t worrying about anymore.

GOP Lie:
Obama greatly expanded the size of government.
Truth:
Government employment has declined 2.6% during the past three years. Doesn’t sound like an expansion to me.

You see, the GOP can’t run on record or values anymore so they must scare you into voting for them, and the best way they can do this is to lie to you about Obama. Don’t be sucked in by the lies. And remember, if they are willing to lie to you about this to get into office, what are they willing to lie to you about once in office?
OBAMA 2012!

Published in: on June 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A little socialism is a good thing.

When did the notion of Socialism become such a terrible idea in this country? Oh that’s right….when the Right Wing nut jobs decided to begin attempting to compare President Obama with Nazis. The truth is that Socialism is alive and well in this country, and has been for decades. The ironic part is that every Republican Teabagger Right Wing nut job that screams at the top of their lungs “SOCIALIST!” every time they see a picture of Obama utilizes Socialist programs everyday. They are just too blind with hate to see it.

Let’s start with the fire department. This is Socialism at it’s best. The fire department comes to the $90,000.00 home to put out a fire the same way it comes to the $790,000.00 to put out a fire. But perhaps these Teabaggers would like to forego their right to fire department services because its Socialism.

The police department is another Socialist programs. We all contribute to the general welfare pot so that the police are there to protect all of us. But, once again, perhaps these Teabagger nut jobs should just call a neighbor or family member to assist them when they are in need. We wouldn’t want them being part of a Socialist program.

And when these Teabagger Republicans get in their cars to drive to a Klan meeting…um, GOP rally, to yell and scream about the evils Socialist Obama, they drive on roads that were collectively paid for by all Americans. Wait…that sounds oddly like Socialism!

So now that we have seen Socialist programs that work and benefit all of us, let me ask this…why can’t we turn the healthcare system into a Socialist one? We have the greatest doctors in the world working in the worst healthcare system. Imagine what we could accomplish if we combine our superior doctors with the UK’s superior healthcare system! The possibilities are endless. We could literally change the entire nations mentality towards healthcare. We have all determined that it is nobody’s best interest to let someone’s house burn down and allow them to lose everything, no matter what their income level, so let’s do the same with healthcare. Also, let’s take the decisions out of the insurance companies and into our hands. Remember, we have a representative government. We decide who our elected officials are, so we will still make the healthcare decisions.

Now the Teabagger Republicans will tell you that this will lead us down a road towards European style Socialism, and it will “fundamentally transform America” and I say…YES! When it comes to healthcare, why not be like some of the European nations that are ahead of us on overall health, have lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy? What is wrong with that? We need a little fundamental transformation when it comes to our healthcare system. We have insurance companies looking at sick people as losses. We have people getting into the medical field to get rich rather than to help people. We have pharmaceutical companies making millions keeping us on drugs, most of which we must take to counteract the effects of the original drugs we need for our illnesses. We have an entire healthcare system that is designed to be reactive when it should be pro-active. Yes, we need a little Socialistic fundamental transformation when it comes to our healthcare system.

So don’t listen to Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McLipless or any of the other Teabagger Republicans when it comes to this issue. They have already tipped their hand. They are only interested in making sure Obama doesn’t get re-elected. They have no concern for you or the failing healthcare system. After all, the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies give them millions to perpetuate the lie.

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Super Bowl pick

Well, the Super Bowl is here. The greatest sporting event of the year, being held in the house that Peyton built, and that asshat, Brady, is playing in it. This is Tom Brady’s 5th Super Bowl appearance. Now let’s just put this into perspective….Super Bowl #1 for Brady was a joke. A bullshit rule that wasn’t even called right and an all time kicker got him to his first, and won him his first two, so let’s not put all that much stock into Mr. Brady’s Super Bowl resume. Nevertheless, this is his 5th. For Eli, this will be his 2nd…and what a 1st he had. Eli led his team to a come from behind victory over the cheating Patriots to end their quest for perfection. One of my favorite Super Bowls ever, right behind Peyton’s decisive victory over the Bears. Now Eli must defend big brothers turf….and he will. The Patriots defense isn’t enough to stop the Giants offense, and the Giants defense can get to Brady again, just as they did in their 1st Super Bowl meeting. My prediction, a close, low scoring game with Eli and the Giants coming out on top. And for Brady….a 2nd Super Bowl loss.

Published in: on February 3, 2012 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Conference Championship Weekend

We are down to the final four folks. Here is my breakdown of Championship Weekend.

Who I THINK will win:
Patriots:
They just don’t lose at home and that offense can put up some Nintendo-like numbers
Giants:
Eli just seems to find a way to get it done.

Who I would LIKE to win:
Ravens:
This is simple…..I HATE the Patriots and do not want to see them playing in a Super Bowl on the Colts field.
49ers:
I like Harbaugh. I like his defense. I’d like to see the brothers go head to head. I don’t want Eli to have one more ring than Peyton.

Well, there it is. I’m hoping for a 49ers/Ravens Super Bowl, but fear we will get a Patriots/Giants Super Bowl.

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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