Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do you follow the recipe or do you freelance your own concoction?

There seems to be two camps — two schools of thought about making things in life.  there is the recreate the exact formula that has been used before to perfection. Not a bad idea.  Many great recipes are worth following down to the very pinch of salt required right after braising the lamb.  On the other hand there are those who will whip up a gourmet meal with little more in from of them than a TV and a glass of wine. Everything comes from their heads. All creative— all made up on the spot.

Neither camp is all right or all wrong. But it tells a lot about one's view of life. Which are you. Forget the kitchen. Think about how you move through the world on your daily walk. What is your life? Is it a series of forks in the road you negotiate by formula? Or is it one creative moment after the next with trial by fire at every turn?

I have creative friends whose lives are prescribed by a set of rules they follow closely as if by law. Others I know live life from one moment to the next as if there were no laws of nature at all. I even have scientist and engineer friends who live on the edge in their personal life, while taking extraordinary steps to stay with the plan in their work.

Think about your life and how you live it.during the new year, regardless of which side you find yourself, venture to the other side for a few hours each day. the change will do you good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tis the season...

It is that time of year again. Time to wrap gifts, drink eggnog and pretend we love our neighbors as ourselves.  But let's be truthful...a lot of the love, joy and wonder of this Christmas season has been lost due to the factions that fight constantly and bicker about very subject that comes up.

A few of my friends are angry over a man killing his stepdaughter as she entered the house.  (They, of course see this as more gun violence.)  Still others are aghast that A&E fired some duck caller guy for being a stupid, ignorant racists and homophobe. There are those who live around me who wish the Obama's dead. Others want them anointed for life as rulers of America.  We try not to have these groups over at the same time, especially if alcohol is being served.

Friends of mine in Utah support gay rights and the rights of LGBT to marry as they see fit.  Others we know in that wonderfully snowy state think it is the beginning of the end.

My vegan friends still think I am going to hell for eating the curds and whey, as well as the Whataburger and medium rare Ruth's Chris steak. My Ford friends won't speak to my Chevy friends and neither of those two groups will even acknowledge that my wife and I drive cars made by the Third Reich. (Heaven forbid if they knew I used to work for a car company from the land of the rising sun!)

But hey, it's Christmas.  A holiday designed to sell a great deal of retail merchandise to celebrate the birth of a man who preached giving your coat and alms to the poor.

Giving to the poor is a great idea.  But there are friends of mine on the right that think any handout is an act of communism. So you see, there is no pleasing anyone at this season. Which is why I am giving all my conservative friends a special gift this season. I am donating to Planned Parenthood in their names.

God bless you one and all.  And may you have a great holiday filled with beautifully wrapped gifts, loads of eggnog (splashed liberally with good Kentucky Bourbon) and relatives out the wazoo.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Open Letter to the White House.

Mr. President, it is time that the spying on Americans stop.

How’s that for being straight forward?  No more wishy-washy news conferences. No more subtle innuendos about what might be or could be done.  Just stop the spying. Period. Now.

You dropped the ball on Guantanamo, do not drop this ball.  Your support for Obamacare comes from a broad base, but a lot of it comes from progressives like me.  And I for one am fed up with the NSA and their tactics: even more, their lies and denials, which we know to be misleading and not factual.  The government of the United States is conducting surveillance on a broad scale against its citizens.  And that is unconstitutional.

So, Mr. President, bring it to a screeching halt.  Now.

Everyday our freedom of privacy is eroded.  Everyday the new right wing Supreme Court gives corporations and power brokers more and more control of our lives and it goes on unabated.  The men in black robes could care less about the freedoms of Americans. They only care about the rich and the powerful.  We need someone who will stand up for the citizens of the United States. We need a champion for the constitution. And we were hopping that would be you, Mr. Obama. You can do something about the NSA. You can shut it down. You can make a difference.

Stop the spying.  Today.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Freedom of speech is between you and the government, not you and an employer.

This is a reprint from an earlier Facebook posting I did, but I thought it needed more circulation for a wider audience.

“I am going to weigh in on this duck dynasty fiasco sweeping the political discussions across our nation. There are two huge points that one needs to take into consideration when looking at Phil’s remarks.

One: In the free enterprise system of capitalism, if you work for a company you do not have freedom of speech in all cases. They can fire you for things you say, write and even repeat. It happens all the time. A&E has the right to let go anyone for any reason that they believe speaks against the basic values to which the network adheres.

On the other hand, point two is that Phil has the right in America to say whatever is on his mind. He is free to espouse his OPINIONS when asked a question by a reporter. You and I my not agree with him. (I know I don’t.) but he is guaranteed under the constitution the right to say whatever is on his mind, short of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. He can make as big a fool of himself as he wishes. Our constitution guarantees him that freedom.

However, A&E is a private concern that answers to a board of directors and stock holders and has a network standards practice and if it felt that an employee violated what A&E stood for, then they could fire (and did) fire him. Think this is wrong? Imagine a spokesman for the Billy Graham Crusade saying publically that he thinks Jesus was just a neat guy and probably not the savior in his opinion. How long do you think that guy would be getting a check signed by Franklin Graham? Not long, I can tell you. That would be the prerogative of the mission group. They haven’t said that their member couldn’t feel that way, nor even speak that way; but they don’t have to support such views. The same is true for A&E.

I don’t like what Phil said. But he has the right to say it. But A&E doesn’t have the responsibility to be a sounding board for those ideas. And that is where they drew the line.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

A good friend of mine penned an excellent argument regarding the loss of our freedoms and the erosion of privacy in America.  For the Friday Blog, I share those thoughts with you. As Michael said to me, “It is time we all start speaking up.”

An essay by Michael Evans

The NSA communication collection programs are not only a violation of every American's right to privacy, they are also putting Americans and the country at risk.

People like (Edward) Snowdon are not the problem. Snowdon's motivation was to inform Americans that the NSA was acting illegally (which is certainly true as the NSA programs have not withstood the light of day). The real risk is from the people in the NSA, who may have been placed there, that will use their access to collect information to use against America, to promote their own agendas or their self-interests. They will stay silent collecting information for themselves or their masters and using it for illegal gains or to threaten and control. They are therefore the real danger America faces due to these NSA programs.

Think of the trove of secrets (J. Edgar) Hoover held and used to threaten American Presidents. Hoover's information was nothing compared to what is available in the NSA data banks and the potential for sabotage, gain or blackmail is only greater. I do not want to live in a police state to be "safe". Like atomic weapons, the genie is likely out of the box, but stop government sanctioned spying on USA citizens and make it explicitly illegal, so when we send an email or make any type of phone call Americans know that their government is not spying on them.

How can any program be so secret that it is illegal to inform ‘We the People’ of the illegal activities? This is certainly a Bush and now Obama Catch 22 program. Snowdon is a whistle blower not a traitor. A traitor betrays the people of the nation, a whistle blower exposes the excesses or over reach of government. There is a difference and it should not be up to the people exposed to pass judgment on him.

Michael Evans
Dallas, Texas

Here is the body of the 4th amendment:  Read it and understand your rights.  They are yours. Not the NSA’s. Not the governments. Yours.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So the next time you think this is just a lot media hot air, remember, the NSA is listening, collecting and storing your data.  And it is against the law of the United States of America for them to do so.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A nice letter about "Letters"

Thanks to my old So Cal buddy, Robby Gore, for sending me this nice review. It was in Dylan Leach’s blog review.  Posted just after the book came out, probably forwarded to him by my friends at LULU, who have worked tirelessly on my behalf.

“I discovered John Crawley a few short years ago with his novel, Stuff.  I found it to be a rewarding book (albeit a short one) and was one of the first self-published works I reviewed. (At that time it raised eyebrows from my editors, as well as colleagues.) His later works, including The Myth Makers and Fishing Lessons intrigued me, in that he moved from voice to voice and from genre to genre with great ease and aplomb; then along comes Letters from Paris, his latest, and I believe his web site said, 13th book. I have not read them all, but I do think it must be his best.

This work is rich in language, plot and structure.  It flows like a real history and captures a time and a spirited group of people with imagination and grace, although I do wish more time could have been spent with other members of the Lost Generation than just John dos Passos. From the first page to the last, this narrative takes us into the life of a woman who looks at our world in such pure, unabashed honesty as to make me blush with embarrassment at my own social nearsightedness.

I am not going to get into the review of the main character, Clare de Fontroy and her travails at this time, What I wish to address is the level of writing that self-publishing is reaching.  Just find a copy of one of Crawley’s books and you can see that the art form is in excellent hands— even without the aid of a big publishing house (although LULU Press has become one of the largest forces in books today).  The novel is solid and it has a real chance to find and grow a substantial audience.  What intrigues me is that a book of this quality (Letters from Paris) may go unread by millions, when it deserves every eyeball it can get, glued to the riveting story of the remarkable heroine of the story. She is a wonderful model for us all, as is the book crafted around her: a job very well done by this author from the States.”

Letters from Paris. A must read.

Dylan Leach

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peekaboo...guess who's watching you?

Yesterday a Federal District Judge in Washington ruled that the NSA
Secret surveillance program may be unconstitutional— violating the 4th amendment‑ the one which protects our privacy from undue search and seizures. I couldn’t agree more.

This got me to thinking about the other side who claims it is necessary to fight the “war on terrorism.”  How are people’s conversations to and from lovers, family members and friends any of the government’s business.  The judge called it down right “Orwellian.” He’s right.  The war on terrorism is not like World War II or Vietnam or any other war with specific sides and battle lines.  It is a murky, dark police action against a force that hides and springs to life when we least expect it. I get it.  The same was true with the forces we opposed during the war on drugs days. But even in those days we still had to go to a court of law and show “probably cause” to get search warrants and wire tapping permission before the police could snoop in the dark.  But now, with the secret courts and the behind the scenes workings of the NSA, CIA and other initialized government bodies, we can be spied on at anytime in almost any situation.

Probably cause is not owning a cell phone. Probably cause is not texting.  Probably cause is not communicating with family and friends.  Probable cause is real and should be shown to a court in the open for the proper paperwork to spy on the country’s citizens.

Many condemned Edward Snowden as a traitor for revealing the workings of the NSA.  Not me.  I think he is a national hero. We need more like him.  Patriots who will take a stand and say that this type of action is wrong and it goes against what our constitution sets forth as the law of the land.

If we are the land of the free, we should have our government act like it. It should be held accountable for our freedoms, not just defending them with a standing army, but propping them up with courts and jurisdictions that can survive the light of day. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The beginning of the end.

This blog today is for Longhorn fans.  Sorry all you other sports nuts.  But here goes.

Mack Brown resigned the other night and although it doesn't take affect until after the Alamo Bowl game against Oregon, the die was cast many months ago. Some say when Texas lost Will Muschamp to Florida the beginning started there. I don't think so.  I think it happened in the Rose Bowl National Championship game between Alabama and Texas.

Here's my point of view. McCoy was out at QB.  Garrett Gilbert, a freshman was in.  The clock was winding down at half with the Longhorns trialing 17 to 6.  Not insurmountable, but certainly worthy of getting back to the dressing rooms and discussing their strategy for defeating the Crimson Tide.

With just seconds to play in the first half, Texas calls time out.  What?  Why?  Let the clock run out and get to the dressing rooms and regroup.  You are still in this game.  Why call time out?

Next play...the infamous shovel pass interception by 'Bama. Suddenly, game over. Emotions drained.  It was a stupid mistake by a coaching staff that never recovered.  Not that night. Not the nest year or the year after that or this year either.

That shovel pass interception and the time out that lead up to it was the bonehead beginning of the end for Mack Brown at UT. Texas has not recruited at nationally ranked first round QB since.  God love David Ash and Chase McCoy, but nope.  Texas even passed on Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston, the kid from Florida State who just won this year's Heisman. Texas has been recruiting A- to B+ players for the last few years.  Stars who once sought to wear the orange and white are now going elsewhere to more exciting philosophies. Brown’s return to the ground game is good, but it doesn’t win championships anymore nor does it win the hearts and minds of young men with dreams of playing big time on Sunday.
And it all started with a stupid time out and an even dumber shovel pass call. Many blamed Gilbert.  Not me.  It was all Mack’s doing.  I love the guy.  He is a great man, but his career became unhinged after those two acts in Pasadena.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What does the future hold for bigotry?

So yesterday I wrote of tolerance.  And apparently it was on President Obama’s mind when he spoke to the United Nations.  And yet, the right gets so exercised because of one sentence he uttered.  The future does not belong to practicing Christians.” He goes on to add nor does it belong to the intolerance of any other religious group. The true meaning of his speech is that on this tiny rock, we’ve got to start learning to get along together.  I may not believe everything the Christians, Jews, Islamics and Buddhists say and think, but they are my neighbors and I must allow them their beliefs.

Without this kind of tolerance and open mindless we will be nothing more than herds of scavenging animals in the post apocalyptic period. My way of the highway attitude has to disappear. The belligerent I am right and you are wrong is a deadly sin for all of mankind to suffer.

It is time for earth to bury the hatred, the ignorance and the bigotry. It is time for us to become one again.  Humans.

Way to go Mr. President. Tell it like it is.  The future doesn’t belong to any one sect.  It belongs to free-thinking people, who recognize that for us to survive as a species we must live as a village.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm back

I've been away from the keyboard for a few months, getting my new novel, Letters from Paris, is shape for publishing (It is out now, so go buy a copy and enjoy.)

While I have been away, I've been watching our wonderful world and marveling at some things. There are a lot of religious people in the world who feel as though they are personally being persecuted by the media and by society in general. Many are Christians. Many more are Islamic. A few are Jewish and even a few more are sun-worshiping surfers, but we'll skip them for the moment.

What each of these groups have in common is the belief that theirs is the only way and the only god and the only wisdom on Earth.  Key word, as you have noticed is only. And they think the world is out to get them. Out to silence their TRUTHS from being uttered. Much the same can be said for the two political parties in Washington. Or is it really three parties…I feel the Tea Party is moving so far to the extreme right, it is leaving the rest of the Republican gaggle behind.

The real message in the dysfunction of religion and the dysfunction in politics is to think that you have the only way to god and truth and to a balanced budget.  There are many ways to achieve nirvana, both in spiritual needs and in running a government. No one group of people...have all the answers all the time.

So in this season of brotherly love and corporate greed, let’s try and remember that we all have points of view.  No matter whom we choose to shake hands with and no matter what direction we kneel to pray. None of us are right all the time. And believe me, none of us are out to suffocate your religious beliefs…no matter how pedestrian they seem.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Middle East is a no-win situation for us.

Try and follow this for a moment.

We are going to bomb Assad in Syria. He is fighting the Islamic Brotherhood.  The Islamic Brotherhood is against the regime in Egypt. We support the regime in Egypt, even after the unlawful coupe by the army. Hamas (whom we opposed in Palestine by withdrawing support after a fair and open election) is siding with the Islamic Brotherhood, except in Syria where it sides with Assad.  Al Qaeda, whom we have chased and fought all over the Middle East is at war with the regime in Damascus, but if we bomb the regime in Damascus we will be aiding Al Qaeda. The Gulf States support the Islamic Brotherhood, and are generally against the embattled Assad but refused to take up arms against him; however Turkey is against the Islamic Brotherhood but is also against Assad. Turkey is a strategic ally of the U.S.

And so it goes.  It is more convoluted than a plate of spaghetti. And you want us to get involved with a civil war that is none of our business.  None. We have nothing whatsoever to gain from this action. In fact, we lose at every turn.

It is time for America to quit trying to police the world. Yes there are bad people in it that do terrible things, but we have all manner of needs at home that require our focus and our funds all for our future.  We gain nothing by expending lives, dollars and time in this conflict and chasing every dark shadow that moves overseas.

These are big people with guns and rockets and hatred. Let them take themselves out. It is not for us to save them. We can’t. Our track record proves it. Take for example Libya. We aided in the downfall of Libya’s’ strongman and what did it get us?  A massacre in Benghazi.

Our only true ally in the Middle East is Israel. If we attack Syria, we jeopardize Israel and her very, very fragile peace. ( some oil folks will say, wait…Saudi Arabia is an ally.  If you think they are, count the number of Saudi’s on the planes involved in 9-11 and tell me how devout the sandmen are to us. The oil-rich empire only cares for itself.

This is the time to put arms down and stay out of the fight.  It is not our fight. Let’s not make it our continued mistake in this war-torn region of the world.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ted should get his shot

Let me begin by saying I do not support Ted Cruz.  In fact I am against almost everything he stands for. that being said, I do believe, after reading the U.S. Constitution, that he has the legal right to run for the office of President.

Democrats should avoid doing the "birther" movement like the stupid GOP and Tea Partiers did against Obama. It will only backfire in their faces.

Let Ted run.

He will ruin his own chances and America will see what a fraud Texas has once again sent to Washington to represent us. I would love nothing more than a national shoot out between Perry and Cruz.  The comedians will have a field day and maybe American can see once and for all how stupid this extreme wing of the GOP has become.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When the votes stop counting

I am not a huge fan of the Islamic fundamentalist movement. Far from it. But in Egypt, I have to give them their dew. They were robbed. Their elected officials were deposed.

Democracy suffered a huge blow. Here's why.

A legally elected government was overthrown by the military because they didn’t like the way the president of Egypt was running things. Tough. I didn’t like George Bush, but we don’t over throw the government. Same is true for the right-wing nuts in America and their hatred toward Obama. But in Egypt, the army moved in and established "order."

What the army really did was to take the vote out of the hands of the people. Your ballot does not count. Only our bullets count.

That kind of thinking is not good for democratic rule.  Even if you hate the Islamic movement that was ruling Egypt, you have to give them their due because they were fairly elected by the majority of the people.

It is the dirty side of democracy. Sometimes the bad guys win.  And you have to work through it. In Egypt right now, is a good picture of what happens when radicals from the political extremes are allowed to rule a country. Ciaos.

Look at Egypt good, America. This is what happens when you let a vocal minority like the Tea Party obtain such huge power in your government.

Do we want this in our streets? I think not. We want order and control.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Peek Inside the GOP Tent

I have written several pieces on abortions over the years. There are times and places when an abortion is necessary and the Pro-Life side doesn’t recognize this. Listen to the claims of their ultimate goal as reported in today’s New York Times:  “Ms. Schmit-Albin (head of Pro life group) and other abortion opponents readily admit that a 20-week ban is a step toward their ultimate goal. 

“Our mission is to restore legal protection to unborn life from the moment of conception,” she said. “This is a marathon.” There it is. All or nothing. They want to control every second of the pre-natal life. Good luck women. These fanatics are out for your rights.

This all or nothing attitude shows the politicalizing of issues that the far right has chosen to take for our country. It is why Washington is at an impasse on almost every subject that comes along.  From healthcare to voters’ rights. And state legislatures are just as bad.

There comes a time when reason must prevail, but as long as ideological demagogues are allowed to ruin roughshod over their parties, then this type of corrosive behavior is going to take place. The new entrant into the race of Texas AG, Ken Paxton told a crowd in Plano yesterday that he wanted to send a message to Obama that “Texans would govern Texas.”  What Paxton was really saying is he wants white, upper-middle-class Texans who are to the right on the political spectrum to govern Texas. Why else would he and other GOP leaders be so against a court-ordered redistricting of the lines they drew?  And why would they stand to eliminate thousands of citizens from the voting lists? Because it will help them govern Texas their way.

The GOP can’t stand to watch history unfolding. They are losing power and losing the control of government (and society for that matter.) So they will try anything to claw their way back into power. They will stoop to any measure to cling to the last bits of holdings they can. 

But times are changing. The population is changing. The mostly white, suburban, upper middle class GOP is becoming a minority and fast. And as a minority, if they felt they were being infringed on they would go yelling and screaming to the Federal Government for protection. (That’s the same Federal Government they are trying to dismantle even as we speak.) That you can take to the bank.

But like so much of what they stand for, today’s GOP is run by hypocrites. They say one thing, but mean something entirely else.

They will tell you “we want abortions stopped at 20-weeks (even though the science they quote is faulty). But what they are really saying is we want it outlawed all together. (And, by the way, we don’t want to take care of the children that come into this world unwanted and in poverty either. That’s not our problem.”

That’s your GOP.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tired of Ted

Why does Senator Ted Cruz of Texas want to destroy the Affordable Health Care Act when all indications show that it is working and lowering the overall costs of medical attention in the United States, while at the same time making our health care infrastructure available to more and more people?

Why would a man who exposes to be such a fine Christian want to withhold heath care from children, expectant mothers, the poor the homeless and those without jobs? Why would he want to allow pre-existing conditions to disqualify a person from receiving medical insurance?

The reason is that Ted Cruz is all about politics. He doesn’t care for anyone else but Ted Cruz.  He is the perfect window dressing for the Tea Party movement.  Me, me, mine, mine.  Leave mine alone.

Ted Cruz is trying to make a national name for himself. Instead, he is making a mockery of the Texas electorate who sent him to Washington in the first place.  In a recent poll Americans were asked (without the name Obamacare being associated with it) if they supported health insurance for all people and universal coverage.  Over 80% (that’s 8 in 10 for those of you who went to DISD) favored that statement.  When told that was Obamacare the number dropped below 70%, but was still a majority of the polled.

Obama has been a divisive President thanks to the Republican PR machine.  But one thing is for sure, his Affordable Health Care Act makes sense for our country. If you hear a politician in Washington speak out against it, ask them how they like their own insurance.  Theirs is almost exactly the model for Obamacare.

Canadian-born Ted Cruz is a hypocrite. And not just on this subject, but on many things he stands for…or against. It is time this big mouth be sent home.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spirit Air…you should be grounded.

Yesterday my daughter’s boyfriend was faced with an armed robbery in Los Angeles. His attacker fled the scene and the police came and reviewed the incident on security cameras from a convenience store and from his hotel. While he was being interviewed by the LAPD, he missed his flight.

Upon returning to the hotel, Holiday Inn comped his evening and gave him a free meal as well as other coupons for their bar. (Which I am sure he used to calm his nerves. Way to go Holiday Inn.)

However, Spirit Airlines wasn’t such a good citizen. They told him since he missed his flight (no excuse that he was detained because of an armed robbery and was being interviewed by the police) he would have to fork over $250 more to change his ticket.

I'm not sure who the bigger robber is here in this story. they guy with the gun or the assholes with the jets.

It is this type of corporate BS that drives me up a wall.  Here a major hotel chain knows how to treat a guest, but this rinky-dink airline doesn’t have the sense to earn a bit of PR and help a guy who has faced the barrel of a pistol on the streets of LA. They are a low cost carrier. They are also a low life airline.

I would hope that if you have the choice of flying somewhere on spirit and some other carrier, that you will remember this story and choose the other carrier.

Spirit sucks.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Court got this one right…I’m sorry to say.

It hurts this old liberal to admit this, but…The United States Supreme Court did something yesterday that, in the long run, may be a smart move. It told Congress to redesign the Voting Rights Act according to new guidelines.

In a 5 to 4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the USSC ruled that Section 4, which establishes the formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to federal “preclearance” of changes in election laws, is unconstitutional. Congress will now have to decide which areas of the country still deserve additional federal scrutiny.  That says to Washington, you cannot discriminate in writing laws – even laws that try to end discrimination.

Imagine the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent laws drafted from its framework being addressed only to the former confederate states.  No one in an elected office would have voted for that; yet, we passed a law that allows the U.S. Justice Department to discriminate in their jurisdictional coverage of the VRA.

To be sure, in the short term there will be all kinds of fall out from this USSC ruling that will not be nice, or fair, or even logical. (The court doesn’t always make logical sense.) But if Congress can get its head screwed on straight, (THAT IS A BIG IF) it will realize that all 50 states should be brought under section 4 of the VRA. Then the discrepancies within the law, about which it was sued over, will disappear.

Arizona and Alaska and Alabama will be covered the same as California, North Dakota and Minnesota. All of the country – every American will have the protection of the VRA covering their state’s handling of election on a free and open basis.

There is a lot of discord about the ruling right now, but if all of America can be covered by the new section 4, then all of America will be better for it. And in that way, the law itself will not discriminate, as it does now.

There are moves afoot in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin to subdue voter roles and purge certain elements of society from those roles. Those states ARE NOT covered by the VRA.  And that is wrong.

To those who are arguing against the ruling, I understand. Especially with the Citizen United ruling having preceded this one, it seems as if the court is favoring the GOP and big business more than the individual. But in the decision it is pointed out that the law itself violates the equality clause, because it does not treat every state equally.  You can’t get around that.  Sure the states like Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi would love to railroad blacks and Hispanics out of the voting booth. But the law has to be applied equally to all states. That is in our constitution. It is what the five justices found wrong with the rule of law they acted upon.

They did NOT strike down the Voting Rights Act. They simply said Section 4 had to meet the fair and balanced test of the equality of law that all constitutional questions are put up against.

I am all for the VRA.  Always have been.  But Congress has to make it stronger and more universal. The court has said so. And whether you like it or not, that is now the law of the land.

So if you want to bitch and moan, do so.  But if you want to make a difference, I would suggest you get busy and send people to Washington who can affect just and fair laws for everyone.

On another note:

I witnessed our lawmakers in special session in Austin last night and I can say if this is government of the people and for the people, America is in dangerous shape and equally dangerous hands.

I fear the divisions within our country will grow wider and wider, if underhanded business like the actions of the Texas Senate continue across this land. David Dewhurst is to be held responsible for the chaos, which ensued. That wasn’t leadership, that was despotism.

The whistle blower as hero.

The whistle blower, Edward Snowden, may turn out to be a huge jerk.  He may even soil his own name with something stupid, but what he did for us, as citizens of a “free democracy,” can’t be ignored.  For that, he is a hero in my book.

He had the courage to say, “…look at your government and what they are doing and what they are capable of doing and how they are doing it.  Your lawmakers have given the spooks free reign over your constitutionally-guaranteed rights.” The quotes are mine, made up of course, but that is his message to us.

How has this come to pass?

We have abdicated our rights and freedom in the name of security. We are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave, but rather we have become the scared, the meek and the shamefully cowardice nation. Perhaps we get what we deserve.

We are fighting a war on terrorism, we are told. And because of this war we must endure the loss of certain freedoms. The British did it against the IRA. Yet, their civil liberties were not reined in.  Does this mean the British are braver than Americans? No. It means their intelligent services aren’t as lazy as the NSA, CIA and FBI.  They didn’t have to depend on a secret court with hidden documents outside the light of due process and legitimate law to accomplish the tasks at hand.

It is easy to point the finger at this young man and yell, treason, traitor and even other pejoratives. It feels wholly American to do so. Almost patriotic. (Like the Patriot Act, it is misguided and misnamed.) Those actions and catcalls at Snowden mask the truth. He helped bring to light the fact that since Bush and Chaney (and now under Obama) we have a government who will do and can do anything it wishes in order to keep us safe.

And that, my fellow Americans makes me feel far less safe than anything the terrorists have yet done.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Justice for sale

Today’s Dallas Morning News carries two unrelated stories that I have woven together to prove a point. If you are white and rich in America, you get a different justice than if you are poor and black. Take the cases of Anthony Hill and Jeffery Skillling. The two couldn’t be more different

Hill, a 19-year old black kid, confessed to armed robbery in Dallas’ Lower Greenville section of town on Stain Patrick’s Day, while Skilling, the former CFO of one of America’s largest energy companies, has never confessed to having done anything wrong in the Enron debacle, which cost billions of dollars and wiped out entire life savings for thousands of Enron employees, not to mention investors, suppliers and others that suffered due to the fall out from this thug’s crimes.

The black kid gets 45 years for armed robbery.  Jeffery Skilling gets ten years commuted from his 28-year sentence. He will be eligible for parole in about 8 years.
As the Morning News reported:

 Ex-Enron worker Diana Peters, the only victim who spoke at the resentencing hearing, said afterward in a phone interview that Skilling should have to serve his entire original sentence.

"Jeffrey Skilling has never taken any responsibility for his actions," said the 63-year-old Peters, who lives in Huntsville, north of Houston. "He has no remorse for the end result of what happened."

During the hearing, prosecutor Patrick Stokes criticized Skilling for continuing "to cast himself as a victim" and said Skilling "is anything but a victim."

"Mr. Skilling was not only at the pinnacle of Enron, he was at the pinnacle of the fraud schemes," Stokes said.
Once the money from Skilling's assets is added, about $560 million in restitution will have been collected for victims of the Enron scandal, Stokes said.

Former Enron employee George Maddox said he still blames Skilling for his losing $1.3 million in retirement savings when Enron collapsed. Maddox worked for 30 years as a plant manager with the company.

"Long sentences are for no one but poor people," said Maddox, 79, who lives in the East Texas town of Van and is now supporting his 16-year-old grandson and himself mainly on Social Security income.

And just to make matters worse, the high court waded in to this case when it ruled ­– again according to the Morning News:

The U.S. Supreme Court said in 2010 that one of Skilling's convictions was flawed when it sharply curtailed the use of the "honest services" fraud law - a short addendum to the federal mail and wire fraud statute that makes it illegal to scheme to deprive investors of "the intangible right to honest services."

Honest services?  And your life savings are being stolen out from under you?  Is this court a sham or what?

Now to be fair and honest, the black kid did use a gun in his crime, which I think is low life and should be punishable by having your hands removed at the neck. But the true story is there are hundreds of young black and Hispanic men arrested every year in Texas for stealing a few dollars, who end up serving more time than Skilling will.


Because in Texas and in the U.S., justice can be bought. True, Skilling didn’t shoot anyone in his crime spree.  But he did use computers, accountants and lawyers as well as other complicit traders to pull off one of the largest crimes of the century and he hasn’t shown a tear of remorse. So while no armed robbery can be brought against him, he did rob, steel and injure thousands. And his team of very highly paid lawyers got him first 28 years and then with the help of costly legal appeals it has been knocked down to 14 with parole just around the corner.

Got money?  Get out of jail.  That is the U.S. justice system.  Oh yeah, it helps if you are white and wear a suit to work.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Half truths are still lies, Rep. Issa.

Representative Darrell Issa from California is a scum bag. Besides having a questionable reputation himself with many brushes with the law, he has led a witch hunt on the Obama administration from everything from Benghazi to the IRS scandal. Neither of which has he been able to produce one shred of evidence that there was a conspiracy involving the President.

Then yesterday, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, who has seen the same interview transcripts as Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), documenting the interviews investigators conducted with IRS officials in Cincinnati played his hand. Cummings was getting a little tired of Issa playing partisan games, releasing carefully edited, cherry-picked quotes from the transcripts in the hopes of keeping a "scandal" alive.

Indeed, Cummings has declared publicly, more than once, than if Issa didn't provide the public with all of the information -- rather than the portions Republicans found convenient -- than Cummings would feel compelled to make the disclosures himself.

And he did.

What did it show?  That Issa and his staff have been waging a war of propaganda against the Obama administration by deleting evidence that the public gets to hear. Selective truth is still a lie.  My mother taught me that when I was about five.

Issa has no business in congress. He is a scum bag and a liar. He wields power based on fear, falsehoods and  fanaticism. And now he has been caught at it.  This is a form of McCarthyism. ‘We can’t prove anything so we will insinuate and insinuate until damage is done’. The truth is, Issa is just like the majority of his party right now. They don’t care about truth and justice and America. They only care about their political way. They only care about power.

It is because of people like Representative Issa that the GOP will soon lose its power. For good. America is getting tired of scumbags.