Uncommon Sense

August 6, 2019

Make America Hate Again

Donald Trump has encouraged certain collective hatreds in this country, but he didn’t invent them. I think there are two interconnect streams of influence in the rise of hate in this country.

The Republican Party (Before Trump)
If you look back at the Republican Party over the past 50 years or so (and their enablers, e.g. conservative intellectuals, etc.), you will find that they have been mining pools of the country’s hate the whole time. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the South became much less Democrat and far more Republican. It wasn’t that the Democrats didn’t have their own racists (look up the Dixiecrats, if you need an example) but politicians down South voted with their feet and the GOP embraced them with open arms. Reagan’s “Southern Strategy” is another example and there are many, many more.

In addition, Republicans launched a propaganda campaign against the “liberal media” sowing distrust in people’s information sources and then embraced their own biased media in the form of Rush Limbaugh on the radio and Fox “News” on TV (should have been named Faux News). This wasn’t possible until the act requiring balance when using the public airwaves was repealed, under Reagan (of course). The whole campaign was a smear campaign because evaluations of the media showed no such glaring bias, but when it appears that when “facts have a clear liberal bias” is used as a criterion, I can see how they arrived at their conclusion.

Then another propaganda program was advanced by the same crew to turn “liberal” into an epithet, which it is today. This is why the term “progressive” was resurrected, after having fallen into disuse, as a replacement for liberal. Anyone calling themselves a progressive today would have called themselves a liberal thirty years ago.

The Republican Party selling its soul to Trump became easier because of the practice they got in selling it for “winning.”

The Internet
Enabling hate to grow, as if in an incubator, was caused by the ability of people to publish anonymously on the Internet. The incredible growth of that medium (being used to create this post, right now!) has short circuited the social approbation of public displays of hatred and prejudice. Where we used to shame those who said such things in polite company, now they are blared at high volume on the Internet by anonymous speakers and no shaming conduit is available.

And the Collateral Damage . . .
What is being lost is the absolutely required continual promotion of public virtue. The Grand American Experiment in ruling ourselves (instead of letting the rich elites continue to lord it over us) requires each and every one of us to balance our individual interests with our collective interests. Each citizen needs to think about our collective welfare simultaneously with his individual welfare and strike a balance between the two. This needs to be explained to each generation and promoted and reinforced continuously. We are losing this battle as the wealthy elites promote individualism over collectivism. In fact they are executing a propaganda campaign besmirching collectivism as I write this. They, of course, go to extremes by arguing that “big government” wants to make all of the decisions, therefore collectivism bad, very bad! These people, who are all in favor of more and more spending on the military make arguments like “its your money, the government (aka “us” collectively) shouldn’t be confiscating it (in taxes).” They do indeed want it both ways and seem to have no shame in arguing this way.

As our civic virtue goes, so goes the republic.

June 22, 2017

Bad Polling Leads to …

Note I have been very busy lately, so haven’t been posting much. Should be back to normal soon. Steve

I am a regular reader of Religion Dispatches, which I recommend to you. In today’s article, “GOP ‘Stealthcare’ Bill Reveals Catholic Bishops’ Priorities,” the topic is, of course, the GOP healthcare bill. (I didn’t say “new” healthcare bill because there hasn’t been an “old” healthcare bill since Medicare.) Foregoing a discussion of the main topic as we still do not know what is in that bill, I was struck by this section:

“A new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows just how successful the effort to forge the church’s opposition to reproductive and LGBT rights into a new political wedge issue to motivate right-leaning religious voters has been. According to the poll, which probed the political divide between urban and rural voters:

“Nearly 6 in 10 people in rural areas say Christian values are under attack, compared with just over half of suburbanites and fewer than half of urbanites. When personal politics is taken into account, the divide among rural residents is even larger: 78 percent of rural Republicans say Christian values are under attack, while 45 percent of rural Democrats do.

“This particular divide, and this widespread sense of Christian persecution, is relatively recent. As Julie Ingersoll noted here on RD, while evangelical leaders had tried to gin up a sense of Christian persecution going back to the mid-1990s, as late as 2005, “the argument that Christians were a minority in need of protection was not persuasive in the broader religious right.” But a “little over a decade later, conservative Christians across the country … now see themselves as targeted by powerful elites, one step away from imprisoning and executing people for their faith.”

I find such polling to be destructive as it asks people questions like “Do you feel Christian values are under attack?” without defining what Christian values are. According to Wikipedia, “The term Christian values historically refers to the values derived from the teachings of Jesus and taught by Christians throughout the history of the religion.” What comes to my mind are: give away your possessions and follow Jesus (Renunciation of Worldly Goods), the poor will always be among us, so the need our help, turn the other cheek (Renunciation of Violence), love your enemies (Unconditional Love), along with a few other things.

If you were to ask U.S. citizens if they should give away their wealth and sell their worldly goods, what do you think their answer would be? And couldn’t taxing the rich be seen as a way to help the rich get into Heaven? Didn’t Jesus say a rich man had about as much chance of getting into Heaven as … well, you know?

And, if the poll takers were thinking about one thing as being paramount: belief in a Protestant Christian god (not the Jewish one, not the Muslim one, not the Indian or Asian ones), I can see how they might think that their religion is “under attack.” Atheists are bold nowadays, are we not?

But I recall that in the 1960’s, my high school and college years, some wags did a poll in an interesting way. They tried to get people to sign a petition. The petition, word for word, was the Bill of Rights, Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution. But the typeface was one clearly made by a computer, using no “old timey” script as a give away. They struggled to find anyone willing to sign their petition! Hey, details matter in polls.

More recently, polls have shown that approval rates for Obamacare were much lower than approval rates of the main features of Obamacare, that is if asked “Should pre-existing medical conditions allow insurance companies to raise the price of your insurance or to refuse to insure you?” The answer was a resounding “no.” Obamacare? Boo, hiss!

The religion issue of Christians feeling persecuted is relatively recent as was pointed out in the article and mainly made up out of whole cloth by conservative radio talk show hosts and the like of Fox (sic) News. Since people in rural areas get larger doses of this propaganda, it likely has a greater effect.

If the poll questions were to ask things like “Should we collectively do more for the poor and less unfortunate?” the answer would likely be a high percent yeses. If it were phrased as “Should the government do more for the poor and less unfortunate?” I suspect the answer would be more to the “no” end of the spectrum. This is because our “governments” have been characterized as something other than “we collectively” by conservative propaganda (something evil, bwa ha ha).

How you phrase these questions determines to a large extent how people answer them.

February 13, 2017

Mr. Bannon’s War

Apparently Steve Bannon, Breitbart News jefe and current Senior Advisor to the President is concerned with the coming war … with Islam. Mr. Bannon feels that Western Civilization (of which we are the peak) is almost prostrate before the ideological assault of Islam. (All of our Christian values are being abandoned; I mean, when is the last time a heretic was burned at the stake?) So, we need to gird our loins and get prepared for this religious apocalypse.

It is clear that Islam is in the same position Christianity was 1500 or so years ago, the religion of the oppressed. Now that Christianity is the religion of the oppressors, though, it is ripe for conquest. So, I do think Mr. Bannon has a point, but I think the war is ideological and he apparently wants to solve the problem militarily. Well, I offer up Afghanistan and Iraq and Somalia and ask “How’s that going for you, Steve?”

If we left the Middle East to those living there, how effectively would you think they would be in combating us? Are you afraid of an Islamic State invasion any time soon? Do you see pickup trucks with really high snorkels waving ISIS flags, coming out of the water on Florida beaches?

Please realize that This Administration is one of distraction. All of our current problems are based in the simple fact that the monied interests in this country have subsumed all of our government agencies. It is they who are running the show and we no longer have anything approximating a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” … certainly not for the people. Our government is currently being run for the plutocrats. Ordinary people need not apply.

One of the surest ways to distract people from concentrating on internal affairs is to point to foreign affairs and wars are really exciting, newsworthy, and profitable even with “enemies” half way around the world.

December 26, 2016

The Conservative Playbook: Blame Others for What You Are Doing

Conservatives have repurposed the term “fake news” to continue their effort to undermine any opposition to their own chosen narratives. A column by Jeremy W. Peters in today’s N.Y. Times (Wielding Claims of ‘Fake News,’ Conservatives Take Aim at Mainstream Media) addresses this now typical play from the conservative’s playbook.

One quote tells you everything you need to know:
Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. ‘The fake news is the everyday news’ in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. ‘They just make it up.’

Instead of fake news being politically directed disinformation, as has been the case up to this point, that is fake news is political propaganda, the conservatives are morphing this term into another cudgel to undermine the news media, so that there can be no credible opposition to conservative lies fictions narratives.fauxnews_450

Not all conservatives have bought in on this effort as indicated by this quote from the article:
‘Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it’s gone too far,’ said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. ‘Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don’t see how you reverse it.’

But, in the past, conservatives have gotten into line quickly with any promising disinformation campaign and since so much has already been invested in this effort, including an entire news network (Faux Fox News), I expect there to be unity shortly … and another pillar of democracy continues to crumble under the onslaught of the conservatives at the behest of their paymasters.

November 22, 2016

Getting Some Perspective on Being Middle Class

In the last 35 years or so, the wages of middle class people have been basically stagnant. So, for a third of the last 100 years, while worker productivity and the cost of living have continued rising, the ability of middle class jobs to support a middle class lifestyle have not. The result is what we have now: a whole bunch of Americans kinda sorta hanging on to what they got.

If you go back a 100 years or so, you can get some perspective on how this came about. You will see that it is the same people who grossly inflated the cost of living in the U.S. who are currently suppressing the ability of U.S. citizens to afford a middle class life. In the 1910’s and 1920’s the vast majority of Americans did not take out a mortgage to buy their homes. There weren’t that many people who were buying their own homes, for one, and those who did often saved up the money or got it from relatives or borrowed from relatives. There was no large mortgage banking industry.

Then the Great Depression hit and home ownership got even farther from the grasp of the middle class. It was only after World War 2 that a series of factors combined to have home mortgages become a viable mechanism to acquire a domicile for those in the middle class. About a million working age American men lost their lives in the war and those who did come back wanted to resume a “normal” life as soon as was possible. Because of the manpower loss due to the war and the expanding economy, work was easy to get. There was a burgeoning industrial capacity that was turning from war material back to consumer goods and a sense of “we are all in this together,” that lead to a great deal of prosperity. Men and still some women had jobs and disposable income, so all kinds of things were made for this new market, including the development of housing developments (Levittown, etc.). The U.S. Government got in the business of helping to finance home purchases (although with built-in racist limitations for people of color) and with sureties being offered by the government, so too did a great many private lenders. So, through the rest of the 40’s and then the 50’s and 60’s, the middle class of this country boomed and the number of us in the middle class owning our own homes steadily rose.

Interestingly, during the Reagan years in California and during his presidency, things took a down turn. (You know, those family values of Republicans kicked in.) In order to support the kind of life middle class people were learning to enjoy, families had to see both Mom and Dad working. The influx of money into the family from working women helped maintain the new middle class lifestyle but also launched a housing price boom. Thanks to Elizabeth Warren’s academic research, it was discovered that when women started contributing more and more to the family’s income, they also had more say where it went and it was increasingly going for houses in “better” areas, the “better” being in school districts with good schools.

Housing prices increased rapidly, first in California and then throughout the U.S. Housing consumed more and more of the family budget, often costing up to 50% of family disposable income. Government supported these price increases by making interest payments tax deductible, which seemed like a good thing for home buyers but actually just inflated prices (“You can afford this more expensive house because of the large tax deduction you will get on the interest payments!” Remember that?) Rapidly escalating home prices lead to rapidly escalating property taxes because the rates were set “before” and the “assessed value” kept rocketing upward when each house changed hands. In California, a bellwether state, a tax payer revolt lead to a state-wide proposition that put severe limits on property taxes. Other states did something similar. These limits shifted responsibility for many services that were formerly based upon property values, like education, from those local sources of income onto other sources, often based in statewide government. This resulted in less local control and a greater tax burden on the state which doesn’t collect taxes based upon property but upon sales and income, more regressive taxes.

It was President Reagan who made sure that the wealthier citizens paid much less of those federal taxes and shifted the tax burden, especially through payroll taxes, off of the well to do and onto the middle class.

Then the federal government released the shackles of the banking industry and all kinds of high jinks take place. The final culmination is in the collapse of the housing mortgage industry in 2007-2008 based upon the ability of banks to bundle very sketchy mortgages into highly rated derivative securities, so anything went, at least until everything went up in smoke.

So, the banks got bailed out, their shareholders got bailed out, Wall Street got a minor slap on the wrist and homeowners, well they were told to suck it up and take their medicine.

So, where does this leave the middle class?

Well, with the wage suppressing activities of anti-union, anti-worker conservatives, helped by neo-liberal assholes who should have known better (when your goals align with blood sucking capitalists, you no longer have the right to call yourself a liberal, “neo” or otherwise), we have a middle class in name only. Most of us work longer hours for less compensation, have fewer government services available and less hope for the future and our children’s futures since 1950. (“You don’t need a retirement program. When you sell your house, you will have plenty to live on in your golden years.” They could have asked us to turn around and bend over because they had something to shove up our assess, but their sense of propriety didn’t allow for that.)

Those of us in the middle class who were conned into investing our futures in houses and then who lost those houses have basically had to start over. (I sold my last house in 2007, one of the very few sold in my county in that year and was very lucky to get out with my skin intact.)

Since the conservatives and neo-liberals are now in charge, I do not expect better jobs, more affordable housing, less expensive education for our kids, less expensive medical care or much of any real benefit to flow toward the middle class. I see … distractions … many, many distractions in our future. Progress? Not very much, no.

May 28, 2014

Six Conundrums the Left Can’t Answer … Really?

Allen B. West, the deranged GOPer from Florida has posted the following:

Six Conundrums the Left Can’t Answer

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet almost half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet politicians (mostly progressive socialists) claim they want America to become more like those other countries.

These, he claims, are conundrums that the Left can’t answer.

I don’t know about the “Left” as there is not much of one remaining in the U.S., but I can answer them.

#1 America is capitalist and greedy … uh, yes. But the estimate that half of the population is subsidized is too low. It is much closer to 100%. Every corporation, they are people, too, you know, is on the take. They get tax breaks, etc. from their bought and paid for politicians, so every one working for a corporation is also being subsidized. (Consider just the benefits Wal-Mart’s employees get to support their substandard wages.) Then all of those people getting Medicare, all of those people getting Social Security, all of those people getting a tax deduction to buy their homes (the greedy takers), all of those taking education expense deductions, etc. It would be hard to find anyone in this country not getting a subsidy.

The problem here is the amount of the subsidies. The corporations get billions. The rich get millions. The poor get peanuts and bad mouthed at the same time.

#2 The only people claiming victimhood are Fox (sic) News commentators. I’m sorry, the poor don’t have mouthpieces, or blogs, or paid PR flaks to make their point. Where do you get this idea that the “poor think they are victims?” Oh, you just made it up? Well, I can prove that the poor have been victims. Just compare the wages of the poor, go on, use the minimum wage, and compare it to the pay of CEOs whose companies hire workers for minimum wage jobs. Anybody who thinks that corporations are not using an economic downturn to hold wages down or are virulently anti-union to keep their workers wages down isn’t playing with a full deck of cards.

#3 The poor have representatives? Really? All those K Street Lobbyists the poor hired are having an effect, eh? Are you effing crazy? Our elected officials serve only their wealthy donors. Study after study proves this. On what planet did you grow up that has poor with effective political representation? Has this ever been the case in human history? When the minimum wage law was enacted in the 1930s, there were two groups of workers excluded; do you know which those were? They were farm workers and servants, i.e. black people. Did you see all of the black people’s lobbyists swarming Washington, D.C. to get that fixed? No? Neither did I.

#4 The poor’s representatives run the government? You mean like in the House of Representatives in which the average personal wealth of members is over $1,000,000? Rich people are just lining up to represent the interests of poor people, . . . uh, not. This idea runs counter to your other idiotic idea that government is transferring wealth from ordinary folks (really rich people) to the poor (the shiftless and lazy, really, you know “dem folks”). If there were such massive transfers occurring, would the poor still be getting poorer? See #3 for more.

#5 Yeah, our poor have things people in other countries just dream about, people in countries like Chad and Bangladesh. Our poor are really living a life of luxury … as victims, too. The “socialist European” countries you sneer at have better health care outcomes for far less money spent, often to no cost to their citizens than do we. What kind of price to you put on your health? Is having a wide-screen TV or a pickup truck better? Is there a reason that black folks in this country live lives so much shorter than do others? Could it be they often can’t afford health care because they want to, you know, eat or stay warm? You would not get any of the citizens of those “socialist” countries willing to trade places and be “poor” in the U.S.

#6 Hell, even I want the U.S. to be more like those other countries. Countries that care about people and who provide support to citizens in the form of health care and child care. What is so effing special about “everybody is on their own?” Surveys of whether or not people are happy show Canadians are far happier than Americans. They have fewer worries. They have a banking system that didn’t melt down like ours did because they regulated greed out of their banking system, for example. And they have the dreaded “single payer” health care system (falsely maligned with made-up stores by the U.S. Right). I know the bubble that just opened in your head: if you think Canada’s so great, why don’t you go live there? Am I right? As if my wanting to live near my family and friends had no bearing nor does whether Canada wants people like me. Let me flip that around and say “if you think “everybody is on their own” is so great, like in Afghanistan or Somalia, why don’t you go live there?

Stop making asinine claims you can’t support. They are not even original, but that is not surprising as I suspect you have no thoughts of your own.


April 29, 2014

Why is Canada’s Middle Class Doing Better than Ours?

The chattering class has been chewing over the bombshell revelation that regarding the economic strength of the middle class, we are longer No. 1. Canada is. According to The Guardian:

“Median after-tax income for a family of four in both Canada and the United States hit $75,000 in 2010 and as later income surveys show that Canadians have earned larger wage gains than their counterparts south of the border in the years since then, Canadian income now is ahead of that in the US. The gap is even wider further down the wealth ladder.”

Setting aside the irony that the conservative tongue waggers who have lauded the income and wealth inequality in this country are also shocked (Shocked!) that our middle class could no longer be No. 1, most of the comments are on Canada’s sensible use of collective action (Socialism! Socialism!). Canada has subsidized college fees, single payer health care, limitations on executive pay, rational control of the banks and financial and housing markets,etc. The fact that the taxes necessary to support all of those collective actions haven’t crushed ordinary Canadians further perplexes the conservative punditry. The fact that reasonable regulation of these industries resulted in there being no financial collapse in Canada as there was here (the Great Recession) also puzzles them. I mean those regulations aren’t supposed to work.

“Canadians are doing better with unions than we are doing without them.”

What most haven’t mentioned, and I wonder why, is the primary lever in moving middle class wages up: labor unions. In the 1960’s both Canada and the U.S. had about a third of its jobs as union jobs. Union wages are higher than nonunion wages and put upward pressure on the wages of nonunion employees as their bosses want to avoid unionization. The situation in Canada is unchanged, while the proportion of union jobs in this country has shrunk drastically. If you think this reduction in union jobs was an accident, think again. Now, if you are a regular Fox (sic) News viewer and think this is indicative of labor unions being rotten at their core, or some socialist plot, you have to stop smoking what you are smoking until your head clears. Canadians are doing better with unions than we are doing without them. Unless, of course, your definition of “better” has nothing to do with people in the middle and at the bottom of the economic spectrum.

April 25, 2014

Republicans Racist? Surely Not!

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:20 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

There are some making the argument that the Republican Party is not really the party of racism. They point to the facts that black people overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama and white people for Mitt Romney as being two sides of the same coin. They don’t seem to bother to compare the 90% Democrat voting of blacks for Barack Obama to the 90% Democrat voting of blacks for white presidential candidates much either.

Now, I am not one to say that Republicans are primarily motivated by racism, but I do believe it is a major thread of the Republican fabric of politics, that it is a significant motivation in Republican politics. Consider their voter suppression activities: they simultaneously disadvantage blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats. All three of which is just fine with the Republican rank and file. And look at the kind of criticism our first black President has garnered from the rabid right: Obama bin Laden, Obama as a monkey, Obama as a witch doctor, Obama as a non-citizen (When did we make blacks citizens anyway? I don’t believe in the federal government in any case.), Obama was born in Kenya, “You lie!,” etc.

None of these are racial, I am sure. (Sarcasm alert, sarcasm alert!)

Richard Nixon’s southern strategy coupled with Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts resulted in all of the racists in the South become Republicans (they used to be Democrats!). Yes, there are racists in the North. Yes, there are racists in the Democratic Party. But the vast majority of Southern racists took up residence in the Republican party and are still there. And the South is the regional bastion of the GOP.

If you want evidence as to whether this is true, all you need to look for are the usual dog whistle comments. Most recently we heard from Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in support of Cliven Bundy. When Bundy got lathered up and started on his favorite topic of “the Negro” both of those Senators denounced his comments, well actually their press secretaries did, in written statements, so there will be no video or audio record of the two Senators denunciations but their prior approval of Mr. Bundy’s antics will be widely available in those formats.

This is how the race card is played, without race being brought up. And Republicans, especially ambitious Republicans, better learn how to curry the favor of racists, even if they are not racists themselves, because a significant fraction of their base is.

Why All of the Lies on the Right?, Part 2

When I wrote the post “Why All of the Lies on the Right?” (Part 1) a couple of days ago I left an important bundle of lies out because it would have made that post way too long, namely those were the attacks of the right going back several decades on public education. I believe that free and public education (of the people, by the people, for the people) is a cornerstone of our democracy and if we lose it, we might well be doomed as a viable political entity, so this is a very important topic.

So, what are these lies? Here is a partial list:

1. Student achievement in American primary schools has recently declined.

2.  American college students’ performance has likewise declined.

3.  The intellectual abilities including abstract problem-solving skills of American young people have recently declined.

4.  Schools in the U.S. come in far behind the performance of some schools in other countries.

5.  The U.S. spends a lot more money on schools than other countries do.

6.  Investing in schools has not brought success; actually there is no relation between spending and performance.

“Why are these lies being repeated over and over such that many people now believe they are true?”

7.  Recent increases in school spending have been wasted on administration and raises for teachers.

8.  The productivity of American workers is deficient which reflects the inadequate training they receive in our public schools.

9.  The U.S. produces far too few scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to meet its needs (the so-called STEM crisis).

10.  Our teachers aren’t qualified and/or are incompetent.

11.  Our textbooks teach immorality.

12.  Private schools are inherently better than public schools\13. Private schools outperform public schools.

13. Poverty is not an excuse, good teachers can overcome the effects of student poverty.

… there’re more, but I think my point has been made. All of the above statements are false (yes, even the STEM crisis one). I won’t go into why or how they are false as these can be easily researched with simple Google searches. I call them lies because these have been used over and over by politicians on the right, even after they have been discredited by studies. If you, as a politician, are going to advocate education policy, you damned well better know the facts.

Why are these lies being repeated over and over such that many people now believe they are true?

“How can a chronically underfunded non-profit effort (even more so because of the Great Recession) be made better by extracting profits from that enterprise?”

Since the effort is politically motivated, we must follow the money. There are billions and billions of dollars to be made by private entities (charter schools, private schools, textbook companies, testing companies, etc.) replacing public ones. This has already begun in several states when the public coffers have been opened wide to the raiding of corporations to solve problems that do not exist. Many of these efforts have been made immune to labor laws and public accountability laws (meaning they don’t have to account for the money they spend). And I have yet to hear a viable answer to my question: how can a chronically underfunded non-profit effort (even more so because of the Great Recession) be made better by extracting profits from that enterprise?

So, in the morality of conservatives includes “lies are fine as long as money can be made off of them” and “undermining our democracy is okay as long as a profit is made in doing so.” Maybe it is not the textbooks that are undermining the morality of our students, maybe it is the Conservatives.

April 24, 2014

The Cliven Bundy Conundrum

If you haven’t been following the news or are from out-of-country, Mr. Cliven Bundy is a cattle rancher in our state of Nevada, who has been grazing his cattle on federal land for 20 years without paying the required “grazing fees.” He has been taken to court numerous times and each time he has lost. His defense is that he doesn’t believe in the existence of the federal government. (Really!) Most recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) showed up to confiscate his cattle but they were met with armed resistance, not only from the Bundy family but by hordes of right-wing militia toting guns. The BLM officers wisely backed down from a confrontation to pursue other efforts. Maybe this would be just another odd news note about an odd happening out in the wild West, but for some reason the “issue” got picked up by the right-wing media machine (Fox (sic) News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. but strangely not Glenn Beck). They made Mr. Bundy out to be some sort of patriot instead of the violent radical scofflaw he clearly is.

Clearly the conservative media have lost their minds because the law Mr. Bundy is flaunting was put in place by none other than the GOP saint, Ronald Reagan. Which makes it even stranger that U.S. Senators (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, etc.) got involved on Bundy’s behalf, one of whom referred to Mr. Bundy as a “patriot.”

Now, let me put this in perspective. Would the right-wing media gone to bat for a deadbeat scofflaw like Mr. Bundy, if he . . .
. . . were African American?
. . . were Hispanic?
. . . were a Muslim?
. . . were an Indian?
. . . were a woman?
Anybody? Really? It seems that the population of aggrieved white people is ever growing. (I grieve for my people.)

And the small community near Mr. Bundy’s ranch is now overrun by pickup trucks full of members of right-wing militia groups sporting loaded AK-47s. Would you want that in your community, Mr. Hannity?


My evil mind says that the BLM officers should fly over the federal land he is using illegally and shoot all of his cattle, then send him notice to remove the remains of his cattle which were trespassing on our land (yes, federal land is land owned by the people of the United States). But I rarely give in to my evil mind and why should those poor cattle have to pay with their lives for the bad judgment of one asshole not even of their species.

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