Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

Barack I am Your Father

President Obama has completely embraced his capitulation side at this point as is demonstrated by Paul Krugman’s recent salvo in the direction of the White House. AND my comment regarding PK’s pointed piece (See Below). Read the rest of this entry »

Back Off Westboro Baptist Church

Last year we had a group of visitors here in Burlington from Topeka, Kansas affiliated with Fred Phelps‘ Westboro Baptist Church. For those not familiar this group you may be familiar with some of their pleasant slogans such as “God Hates Fags”, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers”, “Thank God for 9/11”, “Thank God for IEDs”, “Fags are Beasts, “God Hates Jews”, “Fags Doom Nations”, etc, etc. The list is long and oh so thoughtful. When this group came to Burlington they brought with them their signs and their children to protest Vermont being “most ‘gay’ friendly spot in DOOMED america.” This was not the first time they visited little ol’ Vermont they came a couple of years earlier to spew nonsense during the funeral of a Richmond man killed in Iraq by one of those IEDs they like to scream about so much.

During their most recent visit the anti-Westboro contingent was large, persistent, and peaceful following them from Montpelier to Burlington and all around town just letting them know we didn’t agree with their tactics or the hateful rhetoric that came forth from their mouths and those of their children. BUT I don’t know one person involved in the Burlington section of the anti-Westboro crew that thought they didn’t have the right to say what they wanted wherever they wanted. As common defense of Howard Stern goes: If you don’t like him change the station?

Read the rest of this entry »

Footing The Bill

Anyone want to? Wanna really pay the price for war(s)? Nope!

How much would you pay for the life of one of this country’s active duty men or women? Below I discuss what our government has decided their worth (Hint: Its less than the cost of two movie tickets!). Read the rest of this entry »

Welch’s Haste Betrays Liberal Facade!

You would think that any group with a proven track record back to 1970 of fighting against discrimination and for affordable housing, quality education, and adequate social safety-nets for “…low- to moderate-income people across the United States” would be just the type of organization that our “liberal” congressman Peter Welch would go to the wall for regardless of the baseless attacks leveled at such an organization by the bigoted and racist right-wing of the Republican party? WRONG! ACORN is that organization and Mr. Welch decided to vote “Yes” on an amendment – last September 17th – to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which banned all federal funding to the Washington, DC based association of community organizers. This forced ACORN to end all field operations and close all field offices. This was a proud, vibrant, and relevant group with approximately 500,000 members branching out into foreclosure counseling at a time when minorities and the lower 25th percentile in the country were getting hammered by variable interest mortgages coming home to roost and declining real-estate valuations due to a variety of external and internal forces. They were influential in upping voter registration and turnout amongst minorities during the 2008 election to levels not seen before, which along with their political mobilization efforts were the reason folks like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh lashed out at them so frequently and with such vitriol.

Mr. Welch has always attempted to evince a genuine and holistic concern for the little guy regardless of color, religion, or political preference. This turns out to be nothing more than window dressing given his stance on ACORN. Why am I coming down so hard on Mr. Welch ex post facto? Well it is quite simple really he acted hastily and did not wait for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released June 14th, which vindicated ACORN of misusing the $40.4 million in federal grants it received and election fraud. Furthermore, he wasn’t even one of the 23 signatories to a letter requesting the GAO “…provide information on federal funding provided to ACORN and oversight of the use of this funding.” (Note: Neither Vermont Senators signed this letter either!) I have two questions for Congressman Welch: 1) Why vote before you have all the facts? and 2) Why not signed the aforementioned letter? I wonder what the harm is in having the GAO (Run the ever pragmatic and empirical Republican Douglas W. Elmendorf) do a little gumshoing in an effort to get all the facts in a row. When the facts change we are supposed to change our minds and clearly the facts with respect to ACORN have changed and I would hope that Congressman Welch would change his mind and work to overturn last September’s amendment to the HEA. After all this type of haste when in the hands of congress gives the imprimatur to really well thought out and implemented acts like The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a., The Bank Bailout) and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. Two great ideas that have served this country and the world oh so well! Oh yeah and one more thing the moneys ACORN received during fiscal years 2005 to 2009 amount to about 0.3% of The 2008 Bank Bailout, which begs one more question: Don’t Mr. Welch and the rest of congress have anything better to do than bully and subsequently shutdown an organization like ACORN? I thought we wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Orwell was right Ignorance Is Strength on Capitol Hill.

Beware Québécoise!

So it appears that Arizona successfully decoupled its laws from those of advanced society when Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into Law SB 1070 last Friday whose “…aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.” The criteria police officers will use rely on something the law calls “reasonable suspicion”, which is about as big an umbrella category is you will find anywhere. Anyone with dark skin (THAT MEANS YOU JOHN BOEHNER!) will be forced to carry with them wherever they go documentation speaking to the validity of their residence in the United States. I find it amazing that the very same folks that pushed this bill out of one side of their mouth are on the other side accusing Barack Obama of being a Fascist. This DoubleSpeak is right out of George Orwell’s opus “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and is the type of rhetoric that has slowly but steadily been percolating up from right-wing hate groups since President Obama’s election. It is even creeping – overtly and covertly – into national politics with Pat Bertroche (R) vying for the 3rd District Congressional primary seat in Iowa noting that “I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal?” That’s very True Pat why don’t we just make a minor incision in everyone with dark skin, implant a microchip, and send them on their merry way. That makes complete sense and it doesn’t sound prima facie like it violates anyone’s human rights!

This uptick dovetails into The Southern Poverty Law Center’s documentation of mushrooming phenomena in their latest report “Rage on the Right”, which quantified a 244% increase in the number of “Patriot’ groups, from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009. This came at the same time as racist hate groups rose from an all-time high of 926 to 932 in 2009 and “nativist extremist” groups – vigilante organizations that go beyond advocating strict immigration policy and actually confront or harass suspected immigrants – grew from 173 to 309 (+80%) between 2008 and 2009.

This type of trend does not speak well for border states writ large. If Vermonters think that this type of sentiment will not rear its ugly head here with respect to Canadians in general and Québécoise specifically we’re fooling ourselves. The recent legal battle between the Rainsville’s of Franklin County and The Department of Homeland Security is in my opinion the opening salvo in a nascent fortification and potentially militarization of our border with Québéc. Janet Napolitano & Co. feel it is imperative that we fortify a crossing that experiences 2.5 cars an hour or 21,900 per year. If you consider that the monies allotted to this project amount to $5 million that averages out to $228 per car or with respect to the Rainville’s about 4.9 acres we’re talking about $1.02 million per acre. Either way you cut it I am sure Governor Douglas or his successor could find markedly more important things to do with this “stimulus”. For anyone interested in reading more about the Rainville matter I would refer you to Secretary Napolitano’s letter to Senator Leahy on March 10 of this year.

Needless to say we are seeing a growing sense of paranoia and misguided attempts at securing 1,969 miles (3,169 km) of Mexican- and 5,525 miles (8,891 km) of Canada-US borderland. We should work hard here in Vermont to insure that the 90 mile border we share with Québéc never even faintly resembles what those in Arizona are trying to construct. After all it is not immigrants, illegal or otherwise, forcing US-based multinationals to outsource thousands of jobs under the guise of globalized capitalism. How about a little more job protectionism and a little less racism cloaked in pseudo-patriotism.