|December 11, 2014||A Wrong Righted||6 comments|
|November 26, 2014||Ferguson "white" wash||10 comments|
|November 06, 2014||From the Desk of Joe Ricketts||3 comments|
|October 27, 2014||GOP policies hiding on ballot||2 comments|
|September 23, 2014||Home of the brave?||3 comments|
|September 17, 2014||Let’s keep Satan out of public schools||1 comments|
|September 09, 2014||Gov. Ultrasound shakes hands with the devil||6 comments|
|August 25, 2014||Perry to taste Texas justice||10 comments|
|August 05, 2014||GOP bury House Benghazi report||13 comments|
|July 21, 2014||Denial’s not a river in Egypt||5 comments|
It takes courage for any politician to stand up to public pressure, and that's especially true in a small town.
This is why people of good will in Kennesaw should be very proud of our city government. At Wednesday evening's work session, the four council members who initially voted to deny a group of Muslims a permit for a storefront worship center indicated their intention to change their votes when the council meets again on Monday for its regular session.
There were plenty of pragmatic reasons to reverse their decision, but it really doesn't matter why they decided to change their minds. It only matters that they did and each of them, Leonard Church, Tim Killingworth, Jim Sebastian and Debra Williams righted what could have been a gross injustice. They all should be commended.
Along with Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh, they stood up for the Constitution and the rule of law. The First Amendment and its guarantee to worship as you wish covers everyone in America - or it covers no one at all.
Opponents of the Muslim prayer center and their apologists can't have it both ways.
Most of the anti-Muslim commentary in the MDJ reflects a complete misunderstanding of Islam and its 1.6 billion followers around the world. Opponents have tarred the small Kennesaw Muslim community with the terrorist brush, unfairly casting our neighbors and their families as, at best, complacent with terrorism and, at worst, complicit.
A common local refrain is "I haven't seen anything from Muslims condemning terrorism" coming from people who haven't bothered to look. Search the Internet and you will find condemnation of Islamic terrorism from virtually every major and minor Muslim organization in the U.S. and around the world.
What about Israel?! screech some.
What about Israel? What does Israel have to do with a Muslim prayer center on Jiles Road? What does Israel have to do with the First Amendment rights of Muslims?
One chronic Muslim-basher absurdly opined, "We cannot really know what is in the hearts of the Muslims who want to put their mosque in a strip mall in Kennesaw." I would have loved to know what was in the heart of Eric Rudolph before he embarked on his murderous bombing rampage.
Their application was "faulty," said an MDJ opinion writer because it misstated the distance to other Muslim places of worship in Cobb County. This is a laughably specious excuse for denying the permit. There are Christian places of worship everywhere you look in Kennesaw, including a storefront Pentecostal church approved by the council 5-0 last summer.
All this nonsense doesn't matter. The Kennesaw city council did the right thing.
In the city council chamber above the dais is the city seal of Kennesaw which proudly declares "Freedom First."
Exactly. I'm proud to live in this town.
It's an article of faith in legal circles that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich.
So it was amazing Officer Darren Wilson was spared criminal charges after he pumped six bullets into the unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer.
Or maybe it isn't amazing. After all, Ferguson law enforcement essentially investigated itself, presenting evidence to a grand jury made up of seven white people and three African-Americans. We will never know how that grand jury voted on the five possible charges Wilson could have faced but I'm pretty sure I know how it went down.
Watching the Oscar Pistorius trial that took place in South Africa this year, I commented to my wife how there are two systems of justice there, one for well to do, well connected whites and one for less fortunate blacks.
It's the same here, sadly, where justice is supposed to be blind.
For example, wealthy, white, 16-year old Ethan Couch was driving drunk a couple of years ago. At 70 miles-per-hour in a 40 mile-an-hour zone, Couch struck and killed four people with his pick up truck. When police arrived, they said Couch was combative. They didn't shoot him, however.
After pleading guilty, Couch wasn't sent to prison for 25 years as the prosecutor demanded. No, Couch was sentenced by a Texas judge to probation because she agreed with his expensive defense attorneys that this unfortunate child of the 1 percent had been pampered too much by his parents.
Mike Brown was less-privileged than Ethan Couch. He was a black teen behaving badly when he allegedly took some cigars from a convenience store. Brown and his buddy were confronted by the adult, Darren Wilson, who didn't see kids. He just saw black faces in a black neighborhood and his trigger finger started to itch. Wilson never got out of his car and my guess is he began the conversation with some sort of warm and friendly comment like, "Get the f--- out of the street n-------s..."
Why do I believe that? Because that's the attitude toward blacks that permeates the Ferguson P.D. It was on display last summer when snarling Ferguson cops in full battle regalia pointed their loaded automatic weapons at peaceful black protesters and journalists. So toxic and potentially deadly was that situation that Missouri state police had to take over before the out-of-control Ferguson cops killed somebody else.
Check out YouTube. Such behavior is not uncommon when white cops and black people get together and the police don't know somebody is video recording their actions.
Had Brown's face been white and this taken place in a white neighborhood, would things have turned out differently? Probably. Perhaps the officer would have pulled over to the curb, gotten out of the car with a smile on his face and engaged the kids in a polite dialogue about not behaving badly: "Hey fellas, come on over here a second, I need to talk to you..."
If he felt threatened by the white kids, maybe Wilson would have gone for his Taser instead of his gun. If he had to fire his gun, perhaps he aims at a leg, not the head.
But whatever happened - and we really only have Wilson's testimony - the black kid was summarily shot dead by the white cop who now says he did the right thing and his conscious is clear.
I don't believe Wilson. If he indeed has a conscience, I doubt a day will go by for the rest of his life when he doesn't think about Mike Brown and what he might have done differently that hot afternoon in Ferguson.
Dear Cobb County Voters,
I want to thank you for electing my candidate David Perdue to the U.S. Senate. We thought it was gonna be close, but my advertising campaign seemed to do the trick!
Davey-boy (that's my pet name for him) came in with a lot of baggage, sending thousands of American jobs to China, Mexico and what-not, and squirreling his millions away in overseas tax havens. I almost soiled myself when he said he was "proud" of putting his workers on unemployment and food stamps, but it turns out y'all didn't care!
See I know most Cobb County folks are middle and working class white folks and that Obama's policies benefit you even if you don't know it; things like equal pay for equal work for women, healthcare, raising the minimum wage, taxing extremely wealthy people like me and so forth.
So we had to figure out a way to convince you to vote against your own best economic interests. It was as simple as black and white.
You saw that TV ad I ran, the one where we lied about Obama's record. But what put it over-the-top was the picture of the president and Michelle Nunn side-by-side. Now, just to make sure, I had my ad agency photo shop Obama's face, making it blacker than it really is and Michelle's face a lot whiter so y'all wouldn't miss the monochromatic difference between the two.
See, we figured out what really counts down in Dixie.
Now Davey-boy is in the Senate and I'm gonna make sure Mitch McConnell appoints him to the Senate Banking Committee so he can start tearing down all those pesky financial regulations the Democrats enacted to keep my bank and securities firm from ripping off people like you the way we used to back when W was in office. God, I miss those days!
So, again, thank you kindly Cobb County voters. You lived up to your reputation!
An MDJ columnist posted last week that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were "hiding" on the November 4 ballot.
The columnist, of course, is ascribing the conservative modus operandi to progressives, as if what progressives are talking about can't be spoken of in plain English.
In fact, U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue is the one who can't really tell you what economic policies he supports because if he did, in plain English, you'd never vote for him. Know this: Perdue promised Republicans on Capitol Hill he'd be a "team player" if elected. If you depend on Social Security or Medicare, be afraid. Be very afraid.
That's why Perdue has out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers and Joe Ricketts backing him up with dark money spent on viscously dishonest smear ads against Michelle Nunn and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter.
A vote for Michelle Nunn is a vote for protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare; a vote for increasing the minimum wage; a vote for equal pay for equal work; a vote for early childhood education; a vote for protecting the environment; a vote for making sure the middle class (of which I am sure that columnist is a member) shares in the economic prosperity currently being enjoyed by corporations and the wealthiest Americans; a vote for corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share; a vote for protecting the reproductive rights of women.
Most important, a vote for Michelle Nunn is a vote against more government shut downs, which is why more than 50 of Georgia's most influential businesspeople support her.
The columnist got this right when she quoted Obama: “I’m not on the ballot this fall, but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.”
She laughably suggests Harry Reid is the obstructionist, not Republicans like John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz and all the rest standing in the way of passing the president's agenda, the one on which he was elected twice, the one that polls show most Americans support.
Ask them if they like or dislike Obamacare and most say they dislike it. Then ask if they support the Affordable Care Act's specific provisions and the responses are resoundingly positive.
"(I)t is quite peculiar that the Obamacare rates for the upcoming year will not be available until just after the election. It is relevant to note that such rates were available Oct. 1 last year," writes the columnist.
Um, there are no "Obamacare rates." The government doesn't sell health insurance. There are insurance rates which may or may not go up or down in 2015. This has been the case for the nearly 30 years I have purchased group health insurance for my employees. Call an insurance agent, ask for a quote for health insurance and you'll get one.
"A growing number of Americans have recently become outraged at Obama’s lack of significant action on Ebola, ISIS and our dangerous border situation," she claims.
As I wrote last week, the Ebola scare is driven by hysterical right wing media and dishonest GOP candidates. Only the most ignorant, gullible people believe Ebola poses any significant health risk to Americans.
Meantime, the U.S.-led air campaign has blown ISIS off the front page. And there is no "dangerous border situation," another Fox News-pushed canard. What does that phrase even mean?
"It may be tough for some Americans to vote for anyone other than a Democrat, even while they secretly question and disapprove of the direction of this country and policies of this administration. But this administration no longer represents Grandma’s Democrat party," opines the writer.
Bull feathers. Every Democrat I know backs Obama's policies and his successes. She goes on to quote a small potatoes "liberal" radio talker named Bob Just, who nobody has ever heard of except conservatives because Just is on Fox News all the time bashing Democrats.
Then there's this: "...please do not enable (Obama's) agenda and failed policies with your vote."
Failed? Let's see here: 10 million jobs recovered from the disastrous Bush recession, record Dow Jones closings, Osama bin Laden dead, General Motors alive, 20 million Americans now have healthcare coverage, and much more, and all of it accomplished without a lick of Republican help...in fact, at every turn, Republicans deliberately tried to make sure none of this happened.
Unless you are independently wealthy, a vote for David Perdue is a vote against your own best economic interests.
Turn on the news and prepare to be terrified.
Wildfires, crime, floods, Ebola, kidnappings, beheadings, Americans are fed a steady diet of fear-invoking images every night of the week, the more lurid, the more sensational, the more threatening, the better.
It doesn't matter what network or local TV station you watch, fear sells and keeping the viewers hand off the TV remote is the name of the game.
In the golden age of television news, anchors and reporters presented just the news, bad or good. Watch Walter Cronkite announcing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to see what I mean. I saw this 50 years ago when I was just 10 and it's still etched indelibly in my memory.
No rapid response panel. No reporters offering their vapid personal opinions. No grizzled former Secret Service agent talking about what may or may not have happened in Dallas. Just Walter Cronkite telling Americans their beloved young president was dead and then fighting to check his personal emotions in what seemed like an eternity of silence.
That was real broadcast journalism.
In the years since, network and local television news departments have come under increasing pressure by the advertising departments who answer to Wall Street investors. Cronkite never saw one of these "Mad Men" in his office. His news division was insulated from revenue and profit pressures by television visionary, CBS Network CEO Bill Paley.
Today, advertising suits invade newsrooms all the time trying to influence what airs. They want more viewers because more viewers equal more dollars.
If you watch a lot of TV news, as I do, it's no accident you're in a perpetual state of apprehension if not outright fear. You make sure the doors are locked. You check the kids tucked in their beds one extra time. You look over your shoulder as you walk up Peachtree Street to the Fox Theater.
Fear sells. But there's a price we must pay for all that terror.
We mistrust our neighbors. We buy lots of guns and dead bolts. We over-medicate. We live in a constant state of paranoia.
Guess who's figured this out? ISIS. As Bill Maher pointed out recently using a vulgar but nonetheless amusing expression, America is doing exactly what ISIS wants.
We're terrified so we've already begun the process of losing to ISIS.
When GIs in the Pacific listened to Tokyo Rose, they enjoyed the popular tunes she played but laughed at her dire predictions of an American defeat as they gazed out over the endless armadas heading to Japan. Remember, these were men of courage who stormed the beaches of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. Some lady on the radio wasn't going to scare them.
In England, American soldiers and their allies from the U.K., Canada, France, Poland, and Holland listened to William Joyce's (Lord Haw Haw) broadcasts from Berlin. He told them their defeat at the hands of Hitler's Aryan super race was inevitable. Shortly thereafter, The Greatest Generation blasted the Germans out of Normandy and pushed them back to Berlin. Some traitor wasn't going to stop them with talk.
By the way, Tokyo Rose ended up in prison and the British hanged Joyce.
So I wonder where the home of the brave went. When did we Americans, proud citizens of the greatest, most militarily powerful nation mankind has ever known, start quaking in our boots over some guys dressed in black pajamas who murder their helpless victims in the back of beyond?
We're better than this.
The law of unintended consequences took over in Orange County, Florida after a judge there ruled that public schools permitting the distribution of Christian literature must also allow materials of any religious or atheist organization to be disseminated too.
Overzealous Christians in Orange County never counted on that. Their idea was to give kids only Christian materials because, as they continue to insist, America is a “Christian nation,” which it isn’t, as the students learn in American history classes.
The Founders wanted religious institutions and secular government to remain separate knowing that comingling of the two often led to “mischief,” as the author of the Constitution James Madison once said. He was right. If you want to see what happens when religion and government get together, look at
Thus, the United States of America has no “state” religion.
Of course the devil is in the details, which the Orange County Christian community failed to understand because now the Satanic Temple is in their public schools handing out “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities.”
I cannot imagine what those activities might include…connect-the-dots Beelzebub?
These well-meaning Christians unwittingly opened the gates of hell. While some kids might be reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the lunch room, others could be conducting a Black Mass on the play ground.
“I am quite certain that all of the children in these Florida schools are already aware of the Christian religion and it’s Bible,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told a reporter, “and this might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism. We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer.”
Back when I was in high school, I know I was very curious about whatever Satan was offering. In fact, I got suspended for a week after a moment of weakness.
But I repented and so should Christians in Orange County, Florida.
We have churches, synagogues and mosques for the practice of religion. Schools are for learning. Let’s keep it that way.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry got a good look at what's ahead after former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife Maureen were convicted on 20 federal corruption counts in a federal court last week.
Perry faces two felony charges after he attempted to use his office to remove the head of the Texas Public Integrity Unit for political purposes (see nearby blog).
Like McDonnell, Perry's arrogance got him into trouble. And like McDonnell, Perry may well learn how pride goeth before the fall.
Virginia law is loosey-goosey when it comes to showering the state's governor with gifts. Not so the federal statutes, which prohibit such largesse for government officials in exchange for official favors.
McDonnell carefully crafted an image for himself as a man of unwavering Christian integrity. It will be remembered he championed state sanctioned rape for Virginia women seeking an abortion. He wanted them to undergo a transvaginal probe before obtaining an abortion. Until abortion rights activists and civil libertarians loudly protested, it looked as though the GOP-led Virginia legislature would actually pass the bill.
Meantime, it seems Gov. and Mrs. McDonnell were living large and well beyond their means in Richmond, coming to rely too heavily on the financial assistance of a Virginia businessman. Federal prosecutors said the McDonnells took nearly $200,000 in gifts and loans in return for assisting the businessman in getting state approval for some kind of snake oil he wanted to sell.
There were $20,000 Fifth Avenue shopping excursions, private jets, Rolex watches, spendy vacations for the McDonnells and their kids, Ferraris, and on and on.
McDonnell could have coped a plea on one non-corruption count with no jail time. Instead, he chose a federal courtroom to clear his name, a strategy that seldom goes well.
Self-righteous guys like McDonnell are fond of proclaiming the sanctity of marriage, so the ex-governor's defense was puzzling. During the month-long trail, McDonnell's lawyers portrayed the ex-governor's wife of 38 years and the mother of his five children as a pathetic, grasping shrew whose insatiable greed brought down her pious husband.
Throwing Maureen under the bus didn't fly with the jury, which took only two days to convict the couple. Both now face long federal prison sentences. On his way our of the courtroom, a tearful, self-pitying McDonnell said he would put his trust in the Lord.
Of course the Lord loves the sinner but hates the sin, right Gov. Perry?
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets to prison in a couple of years, like all the other convicts in the state's penal system, he will continue to proclaim his innocence.
Clattering his tin drinking cup against the bars of his cell, Perry will scream his conviction was political pay back until burly guards mace him and then drag Perry down to solitary. After 30 days in the hole, a despondent Perry will be showering one morning when he meets a large fellow inmate with scary tattoos named Leonard who promises to look after the ex-governor in return for certain favors.
You don't think this will happen? I do.
You see, Travis County, Texas is essentially the city of Austin, the Lone Star State's overwhelmingly Democratic bastion. It's a great town with a vibrant intellectual and artistic community. It's also the state capitol where the governor conducts his business. A year or so ago, some of Perry's business attracted the attention of the Texas Public Integrity Unit, which oversees the conduct of public officials. The unit is under the supervision of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat.
Last year Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving, convicted and punished. She sought treatment and said she won't run for office again.
Seeing an opportunity to replace her, however, Perry demanded her resignation so he could appoint Lehmberg's replacement who would then call off the Public Integrity Unit's investigation into the Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute.
Lehmberg refused to step down, so Perry used his executive authority to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Thus, says a special prosecutor, Perry committed two felonies, abuse of his official capacity and coercing a public servant. Evidence of Perry's crimes was presented to a grand jury and an indictment was returned.
A law and order guy, Perry likes to brag about the state's low tolerance for criminals and the stiff sentences handed down in Texas. If he is convicted, the would-be presidential candidate could be looking at up to 99 years in the joint on the abuse charge and an extra 10 for the coercion count.
In the famous word of Rick Perry: "Oops."
His conviction is likely for a couple of reasons. During his term as governor, two other county district attorneys were convicted of driving under the influence, both Republicans. There wasn't a peep from Gov. Perry in either case, so he clearly applied a politically-motivated double standard to Lehmberg. In addition, he will more than likely face a Travis County jury and as I say, there are a lot of Democrats in the Austin area.
"The bottom line is that Rick Perry saw Lehmberg’s drunk-driving charge as an opportunity to get rid of her and her active investigation into the cancer research fund scandal,” Ed Espinoza, director of Progress Texas, told a reporter. “Rick Perry chose to use the powers of his office to act as judge and jury.”
In public relations it is understood if you want to bury bad news you release it on Friday afternoon in August.
So it was the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee declassified its two-year-old investigation into the Benghazi tragedy last week, releasing its findings last Friday, August 1, at 3:30PM Eastern Time.
If you don't want people to know something, you could not pick a better date, day or time.
After all the overheated rhetoric and baseless charges made by wild eyed right wingers, the GOP wanted as few people as possible to know the facts. Here they are, as presented by Republican Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in a statement:
Rep. Mike Thompson, second-ranking Democrat on the committee, said the panel's findings "confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given."
Oh, you conservatives didn't hear about this?
That's because your favorite "fair and balanced" news source, Fox News, completely ignored the revelations. What choice did Fox have? The findings run counter to the network's ongoing narrative that the White House was complicit in the attacks.
The House Republicans' own report blows Fox's phony narrative out of the water, not that the facts ever matter to Obama haters.
Nevertheless, this development is unfortunate for the GOP, which was counting on another Benghazi show trial this fall to divert voter attention from its own miserable record over the last two years.
They still think if they scream Benghazi loudly enough, voters will forget the 113th Congress has done practically nothing.
Global warming is a hoax.
The earth is 6,000 years old, not 4.54 billion years old.
Guns don't kill people.
Darwinism is wrong. Creationism is right.
There is no economic recovery.
Denial is a big part of conservative playbook. When you’re losing the war of ideas as badly as conservatives are, when the facts fail to support your positions, what else is there to do but deny the evidence that you’re losing it?
So it goes when you write a progressive column for a newspaper published in an overwhelmingly conservative neighborhood.
Two readers, Daniel Joy and Matt Nash, published columns of their own refuting my recent piece in which I cited the latest data that demonstrably proves the economy is continuing to recover from the disastrous Bush recession of 2007-2008.
“In what must be the greatest political irony of all time,” writes Joy, “the Administration openly embraced what amounts to ‘trickle down’ policies to get the economy moving.”
The economy is recovering because the 3.5 million jobs lost during the last two years of the Bush administration have been recovered, plus another 3 million.
“(T)he bullets Foley uses don’t seem to hit very much when they are undermined by record employment,” says Nash.
That record was actually achieved by Republican President Herbert Hoover after the 1929 stock market crash. Mr. Nash probably means the extraordinarily high unemployment Bush left behind which has dropped precipitously under Obama with Republicans refusing to pass a jobs bill.
Consumer confidence is up. Economic indicators are positive. People are working and spending again. The economy is growing. The numbers don't lie.
But these two gentlemen say there is no economic recovery. The reports are wrong. The soaring Dow doesn’t actually reflect investor confidence. Obama is not a populist but is actually in league with the Koch brothers. Self-made billionaire Nick Hanauer, whom I noted is worried about income disparity, doesn’t know what he is talking about despite the facts that support his concerns.
As I noted in my on-line responses to Messers Joy and Nash, if there was a Republican in the White House and the current economic data was presented, conservatives would crow about nothing else.
But the recovery is taking place under a Democratic president and progressive policies with no help whatsoever from Republicans. So conservatives deny it.
And this is another conservative handicap. They steadfastly refuse to critically dissect what they believe or why they believe it.
In the face of immutable truths, they insist those truths are false.