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Oregon Town Hall: Pot In 2015

What will be the social and health consequences of pot on children?  We ban smoking cigarettes in public spaces. what about pot?  


Sign petition to stop Keystone XL Pipeline


Trust in government is 'dead, Jim'


“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937


A Just Peace


SIP contract online




Middle East friendship chart


Corporations enriching shareholders


- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry


Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks



"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  





  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:


  • Jim Hightower:

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 

Hard Times in Oregon: 


The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   




    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People


    Connecting the dots between homelessness, hunger & health care disparities in Oregon and Washington County: 


•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.


•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

Heath Care Disparities: 

•    Adults in Oregon without insurance represent 22.3% of the state’s population compared to 19.7% of the nation.  In Washington County approximately 

A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  


"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison


"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx



































RAD Lines

Obamacare another good week


 Explore Intel emissions


#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace


"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941


Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms


Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel


Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 


Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw



From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now

The Daily Kos

Blue Oregon


"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 


    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   



     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams


"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  


“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 


"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals


"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  


"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)


"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln


Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 


“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift


" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor







































A firefighter walks past the burning Little Ceasars restaurant in Ferguson Missouri, USA, 24 November 2014. According to St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, the Grand jury decided that Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. (EPA/TANNEN MAURY)



     I watched tonight's CNN coverage of the events in Ferguson, Missouri with great sadness.  I've never sat on a grand jury but in listening to the DA's presentation of the "facts" given to the members of the grand jury it seems to me there was "probable cause" to move ahead with a trial of officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown.  

     The conflicting testimony from eye-witnesses illustrates what we know that such reports are unreliable.  This is why we have trials to allow a jury to decide the truth.  

     It appears that Michael Brown was not without culpability but how walking out of a convenience store not having paid for a pack of cigarilloes should lead to the death of a young man headed to college and burning of buildings in a suburb of St. Louis plays like a Greek tragedy. 

     Since he called for back up why didn't officer Wilson not wait for backup to show up instead of confronting Brown and his friend by himself? 

     Such events for somebody of my age, 72 - brings back troubling memories of the long hot summer's of '67/68, the Watts Riots and all too many cases where young African-American men are "profiled" by police daily in the US as possible felons just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

     I wonder if we've learned anything over the years! 

     The events tonight sadly underscore the "great perception divide" between African-Americans and White Americans when it comes responding to such events as we found out during the trial of OJ Simpson.  What the nation requires is an honest conversation about race in the US and it must begin with Barack Obama...   

     - This conversation must also address the issue of "white" privilege especially those whites who live economically secure lives when others live marginalized lives. 

     - Would officer Wilson have reacted to Michael Brown in a confrontational way had Brown been "white?"  Sadly, race and class matter in America.  

     Reverend Chuck Currie, a former student of mine - speaks eloquently of how we need to approach these tragic events.  I take some comfort in that the Justice Department is carrying on a parallel investigation of the events surrounding Michael Brown's shooting although I felt President Obama's comments tonight were tepid at best.   

A Message from our University Chaplain

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

     The grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has issued a controversial decision. How we respond will help determine whether or not Michael Brown’s death carries meaning.

     We plan to hold a community forum at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 25) in Old College Hall on the Forest Grove Campus to discuss the decision. All students, staff and faculty are welcome. Various faculty members and staff will be on hand to facilitate the discussion.

     Because grand jury proceedings are secret, we do not know what evidence was considered; but through media leaks, we do know the evidence was conflicted. There is some wisdom in approaching the grand jury decision with a level of humility.

     Still, step back from the particulars of this one case and it becomes easier to see why there is so much distrust of the justice system from African-Americans, other people of color and allies. African-Americans are arrested and incarcerated at rates grossly disproportional to their numbers or to crimes committed, according to studies conducted by the National Institute of Justice, a federal agency.

     This is rightfully a cause for protest and anger. When Michael Brown was first killed, the National Council of Churches released a statement expressing the belief that, “A peaceful, healthy society requires trust and positive relationships between citizens and law enforcement. That can best occur in circumstances in which deep-seated social problems such as racism and inequality are being addressed.”

     Local religious leaders in the St. Louis area, representing various faith traditions, said this week:

     "We do not seek to demonize police officers, but rather challenge and hold accountable a system of policing and criminal justice that stigmatizes black and brown people. We support and defend the rights of all, no matter their rhetoric or level of anger, to participate in non-violent protest.

     For this reason you will see us and hear from us in the days and weeks ahead… While we yearn for justice to be served in this case, we also believe that God's purposes transcend this moment, and call all of us to work for systemic justice and healing in our community."

     In 2006, I helped lead the memorial service for James Chasse, a Portland man suffering from mental illness, who was brutally killed by members of the Portland Police Bureau. James was white but his death, plus a series of deaths that followed of African-Americans in Portland by Portland Police, led to a U.S. Department of Justice review of the Portland Police Bureau that has mandated reforms. A similar process is now underway in Ferguson that has the potential of bringing real change to Ferguson and the nation.

     If you feel called to speak out, do so with a spirit of love in your heart even if you feel hurt and angry. We must be about the work of building a better world. There is an ongoing need for Oregonians to address racism just as much as there is a need for those in Missouri to address racism.

     If you feel called to protest, act with non-violence because violence only perpetuates violence. We can break the cycle and create that “newer world” so long sought.

     Offer your prayers, hopes and actions in the pursuit of justice that unites all people.

In Peace,
Rev. Chuck Currie
Director, Center for Peace and Spirituality
University Chaplain
Pacific University



     EDITOR'S NOTE:  The unOregonian's main political junkie Jeff Mapes interviewed Gov. Kitz producing a "puff" piece on the upcoming 4th term. 

     There is nothing new here just a rehash of the same old spin from Kitz.  It's safe to say, Mapes didn't push too hard - then again the unOregonian is not Willamette Week!

     Here's my own deep dive via "deconstruction" of this interview plus the Mapes interview with video:     


     JM:  Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber sat down with The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes on Friday to talk about a variety of issues leading up to the beginning of his fourth term.

     Newly re-elected Gov. John Kitzhaber has something that any politician would envy: a growing economy that he says will allow him to propose a budget next month to significantly increase spending on education. 

     RAD:  Oregon has a growing economy where the gap between the metro area and the "other" Oregon continues to increase as does the gap between affluent Oregonians and the working poor.  And this has been happening since the mid 1980s which is related in part to the timber economy disappearing in Oregon.  

     The governor acknowledges the income gap in the video but his belief that the Oregon Business Conference has an understanding of poverty is ludicrous.  As a social service advocate since 1991 I've NEVER seen corporate Oregon step up to the plate to end poverty in Oregon - their position is "no new taxes."   

     JF:  But the Democratic governor acknowledged in an interview with The Oregonian on Friday that the revelations that dogged him and first lady Cylvia Hayes during the campaign continue to cast a shadow on his governorship.

     "I think I have to prove myself on a number of fronts with Oregonians," he said, "and I'm anxious to roll up my sleeves and get started."

     RAD:  Having dropped the ball on the CRC, CoverOregon and the scandal of Cylvia-gate plus giveaways to Nike and Intel, the governor will have to do more than "role up his sleeves" to regain the moral authority to govern.  The denizens of the Puzzle Palace will be watching....  

     JM:  In a wide-ranging interview in the state's economic development offices in downtown Portland, Kitzhaber talked about everything from his relationship with Hayes to his latest plans for revamping the state's tax system.


      JM:  "We're still engaged and we still intend to get married, but we haven't set a date," said Kitzhaber.

     The governor said he had to plunge into his next budget proposal to the Legislature right after the election and hasn't had time to talk in-depth with Hayes about the revelations that came up during the campaign – particularly involving her 1990s marriage-for-money with an Ethiopian immigrant and time living on a planned marijuana farm in Washington.

     RAD:  To claim they haven't had time to talk "in-depth" is simply not credible.  They are engaged and one assumes they see each other regularly - don't they live together?  It just mirrors more of a "cover-up" than an honest answer to the question. 

     JM:  "Cylvia and I are going to take some time off Thanksgiving week and kind of get off and sort things out," he said. "I need a little time to process everything that happened...Obviously, some of those were revelations to me, and it's not going to ruin our relationship. But I think there's a little processing we have to do."

     RAD:  Kitz has had several months to "process" what happened.  How long does it take a person to get it that his fiance used his office for personal gain - a public issue and wasn't honest about her life before Kitz - a private issue which impacts Kitz's image. 

     JM:  Kitzhaber said he still doesn't know what kind of role, if any, Hayes will play in his administration. First, he said, he wants to find out how the Oregon Government Ethics Commission deals with two complaints filed against Kitzhaber and Hayes questioning whether she improperly used state resources to benefit her private work.

     RAD:  Everyone in Salem knows Hayes played a big role on human services issues.  She was the go-to person on a wide range of social services issues from homelessness to the human services reorganization process. She played a prominent role in the OBC poverty discussion!  

     But she is such damaged goods now - there is no way she can play such a role in the 4th term.  She simply wouldn't be credible.  

     JM: The commission staff is expected to present its preliminary findings to the commission in January, and commissioners could decide to authorize a full-fledged investigation that could take another six months, Kitzhaber said.

     "It's not optimal from a personal standpoint" if the investigation drags on, Kitzhaber said, "but I don't think it's going to interfere with the work" as governor.

     At the same time, Kitzhaber insisted he's not trying to stall journalists and other organizations that have filed a raft of public records requests seeking documents related to Hayes and her activities.

     RAD:  The more this "great unknown" bleeds into the 2015 session, the more compromised the governor will be.  It will force the legislature to take the lead.  Even with a super majority of 18-12 in the Senate and 35-25 in the House, only the governor can chart a path.  The more distracted he is by "Cylvia-gate" the less time he will have to do his job. 

     JM:  "The problem is volume," said Kitzhaber, arguing that his office has had 80 records requests and no more staff budgeted than before to handle them. "We will get them all out," he said, insisting that he is a "strong supporter of our public disclosure laws."

     RAD:  And we all believe in the Tooth Fairy...  


     JM:  Kitzhaber has talked about revamping the state's tax code ever since before he began his first term as governor back in 1995.

     But he said there's particular urgency in getting legislators and key interest groups to come up with a plan to present to voters in 2016.

     Early this year, Kitzhaber persuaded union and conservative business interests to  back off taking dueling initiatives to the ballot.

Kitzhaber on timber, marijuana and Monica Wehby
Kitzhaber also weighed in on these issues:
MARIJUANA: An opponent of the legalization measure, Kitzhaber said he intends to weigh in on legislation he expects the Legislature to pass tweaking provisions of the initiative.
In particular, Kitzhaber said he wants to look at whether the state needs to find better ways to detect and prosecute drivers under the influence of marijuana.
TIMBER: Kitzhaber said he supports Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden's efforts to pass a bill that would boost timber harvests in federal forests in western Oregon.
But he said the Democratic senator should put in stronger provisions to ensure those harvests actually occur.
MONICA WEHBY: Kitzhaber said he hoped to find an unpaid commission role in state government for Wehby, the pediatric neurosurgeon who ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
Wehby called Kitzhaber after the election and mentioned the vacancy at the helm of the Oregon Health Authority, the governor said.
-- Jeff Mapes

     A union-backed group threatened to seek measures raising taxes on high-income-earners and on big corporations. Activists critical of the unions were working on a measure that would allow public employees to opt out of paying union dues.

     Unless he gets an agreement next year, Kitzhaber said, "what we are going to see in 2016 is a series of divisive measures."

     RAD:  What does "unless" mean?  One assume this work is being done now behind the scenes with the interested parties.  Kitz has had 4 years to bring the groups together. 

     In the past 3 terms he's simply "kicked the can" on tax reform.

JM"  Kitzhaber has long supported a sales tax but has said for months that polling shows it is not politically viable.

     RAD:  What does polling have to do with exercising leadership.  Tom McCall didn't take a poll to save Oregon's beaches, do Senate Bill 100 and pass the bottle bill.  Vic Atiyeh didn't need pollsters to tell him what to do in the recession of the '80s.  

     JM:  Instead, he said Friday, he's focused on several smaller changes. They include easing income taxes on poorer Oregonians who are just beginning to climb out of poverty and downsizing the state's "kicker" tax rebates so they don't cut so deeply into increases in state revenues. For businesses, he said, he's interested in providing some kind of tax cut for capital gains.

     RAD:  The governor is in effect playing "small ball" here.  Why not get rid of the corporate and personal kickers?  Why not deal with Measure 5, 11, 47 and 50 which are the cause of our budget problems?  But no the guv is going for the low hanging fruit. 


     JM:  At his victory party on election night, Kitzhaber said "we have some healing to do" after a difficult campaign.

     Since then, he said, he's reached out to Republican legislative leaders and has started calling incoming legislators to introduce himself.

     More important, Kitzhaber said, he's put together a budget that allows him to "accelerate" investments in education, including financing all-day kindergarten, literacy programs and vocational education as well as science and math-oriented fields.

     RAD:  How is Kitz going to pay for these "investments" when he's given away the farm to Nike and Intel, when he's grown the SIP program for big box firms and when he has used Connect Oregon to subsidize general aviation air which uses leaded gas?  

     JM:  "We're in a really good place," said Kitzhaber, adding that savings from revamping health care spending on the poor, pensions for public employees and on public safety will free up billions of dollars over the next decade – if the overall economy doesn't take a dive.

     "I think you will see an acceleration of our progress," he said, toward meeting the state's   goal of getting at least four-year degrees for 40 percent of students, two-year degrees for 40 percent and a meaningful high-school degree for the remaining 20 percent.

     It's visible progress of this kind that will play the biggest role in helping rebuild his relationship with Oregonians, Kitzhaber said.

     RAD:  The key word here is "visible progress."  The PERS deal could get derailed in the courts like a similar deal did in Illinois last week. That would put the budget in chaos.  So far Obamacare is costing more because patients under it while having access to a physician are still going to the ER.  And the education gap grows.  Kitz's promises are "pie in the sky" projections.  More spin...  

     JM:  In some ways, he said, it's like when he was elected to a third term in 2010 with a razor-thin victory over Republican Chris Dudley.

     "I needed to prove myself" after that election, he said. "I didn't get a mandate in 2011. I didn't get a mandate this time."

     RAD:  Kitz won an historic 4th term, what more of a mandate does he need?  Leadership creates mandates not rolling thunder from heaven!  It's deja vu all over again....  








     One might have thought that abusive off the field behavior was a hallmark of Quack Attack U but revelations by the Oregonian's lead sports columnist of a gang-rape by OSU football players back in the '90s makes one wonder if there is a sickness in America's sports culture. 

    We are being flooded by stories of NFL football players being accused and sanctioned for abusive behavior towards women and even children.  The current Heisman Trophy winner FSU's QB Jamis Winston was accused of rape last year but Florida prosecutors looked the other way.  Remember the "Jail Blazers?"  

     Accusations of abusive behavior by Bill Cosby have added fuel to this fire.  Remember Slick Wille and the girl from Palatine Hill?  Closer to home the names of Bob Packwood and Neil Goldschmidt have brought shame to Oregon.  And Kitzhaber's bizarre relationship to Cylvia cost him votes.  At first fans hit the denial button, it can't be true!  Clearly it's not just jocks who act badly - who's next up for the Scarlet Letter?      

     When OSU's "good guy" Head coach Mike Riley is quoted that his players "made a bad choice" - one wonders does Riley really get it?  Since that comment came out OSU has been spinning like a top to get ahead of this story 16 years later.  Humm, sounds like PR 101...   

     The only thing that ties such disparate people is that each of them live is a privileged "celebrity" environment which seems to make them feel immune from the rules we regular folks have to live by.  The sports, political and entertainment cultures are "enablers" so it seems. 

     It illustrates the risks of creating icons out of persons who get center stage - like Oedipus they eventually succumb to hubris and there goes another cult hero.  That may be the problem - there is too much emphasis on fame, fortune and the cult of personality. 

     As my wife reminds me when I complain about my golf score - "it's only a game."  Maybe that's what we need to keep in perspective, it's only a game!  But fans invest so much personal emotional energy into their heroes it's hard to keep it in perspective.  

     Our icons also get invested in "group think" to the point of self-destruction - remember Tiger Woods?   Sports journalists like their counterparts in the world of political journalism love to play the "feeding frenzy" game of "gotcha" journalism which puts them on the front page!   

     But the public is the "great enabler" on the scene and/or via TV, social media et al.   Sometimes we need to hit the delete or turnoff button!          



Shaun Lawrence of Jamaica takes an oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on July 3, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty)

     I was listening to NPR’s “The Takeaway” program this morning (see link below).  One of the segments covered the upcoming speech tonight by President Obama outlining his executive order to grandfather in 5 million Latino immigrants whose children are US citizens.

     The last response was from a lady from Texas who predictably said – “send them home” the typical knee jerk reaction of those who oppose immigration reform unless we “seal the border” which comes down to erecting an Iron Curtain between Mexico and the US. 

     Border security has been stiffened in the years since 9/11.  The Obama administration has deported more people than any previous administration.  At a certain point this demand for more border security is absurd and morally reprehensible. 

     We need an “Emancipation Proclamation” on immigration reform which will allow the 12 million undocumented immigrants here to find a pathway to citizenship.  The party that does this will gain the undying support of the beneficiaries which is really why the GOP says “NO.” 

     All that has to be done is for the House GOP leadership to pass the Senate bill – it could be done tomorrow.  But John Boehner and Mitch McConnell would rather use this issue as the raw meat to appease their rightwingnut Tea Party "America First" base.   

     Let’s take a brief walk down history lane.  The Yankee settlers in the colonies didn’t like it when the Irish showed up on their doorsteps.  The Irish didn’t like it when the Italians came next.  And then there were the Poles, the Jews and a host of other immigrants from southern Europe. 

     They were all told “to go home.”  Some did but most didn’t.  This not so hidden xenophobia against “the other” reminds me of the German theologian, Martin Niemöller’s famous quote about how the Nazis “cleansed” Germany of the other. 

  When the Nazis came for the communists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a communist.

  When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.

  When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.

  When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.

  When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

     If we ethnically cleanse America of its newest immigrants – the inescapable logic is why stop there? 

     In the 1920s the Congress passed laws to restrict immigration from China and Japan even though those immigrants like later Latino immigrants were recruited to come “work but not stay” to help build the transcontinental railroad system and harvest food, respectively.  

     In the 1950s during the height of the Cold War we allowed Cubans, Hungarians and other “captive nations” folk to come to America.  Since then we’ve added new layers of immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, India and mainland China. 

     But let me return to the very beginning of this historical saga of immigration.  Who asked the Native Peoples of America to allow the first colonists to come to America?  All you descendents of the Mayflower – show me your passports, your visas, or working permits. 

     The fact is that all the "colonists" we WOPS - "without passports."  

     Sadly for the Native People they had no border security in place, no immigration laws – hell if we believe the mythology of the lst Thanksgiving they welcomed the earliest White settlers with open arms – yeah like Columbus found America.  Oops, the latter is not true.  

     And of course I’ve left for last the searing fact that the “other” immigrants – African-Americans – came here in slave ships to work as forced labor until the end of the Civil War and to have their freedom denied to them by Jim Crow laws until the Civil Rights movement changed the narrative. 

      America the Beautiful is “exceptional” because we are a diverse people, e pluribus unum – out of many one.  Out of this has grown our economic power, our political power and more importantly the power of the “American Dream” which MLK, Jr. framed so well on that long hot afternoon in 1963. 

     The “promissory” note Martin spoke of has been passed down to successive generations of immigrants memorialized by The Statue of Liberty, a gift to America by France.  We all know the words – the challenge is to live up to them.  That’s what President Obama is doing -

     “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

     Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

     On the eve of Christmas let’s remember the story.  There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn so the  baby Jesus was born in a stable. He was in effect an exile in his own land under Roman colonial rule.  Immigrants are exiles, is that the way we should treat them too?  



EDITOR'S NOTE:  These articles were highlighted by Our Oregon, a liberal advocacy group in Oregon.  They uncover who wins the hidden behind the scenes "money game" of US politics. 

     If we want to lower the impact of big money then TV and radio money for campaign ads must be heavily regulated which would go a long way in limiting the power of big money to control the results of elections. 

     "The Center for Public Integrity estimates that at least $24 million was spent on broadcast TV ads in Oregon in the last election cycle.

     No wonder one of the hoariest clichés in politics is that the real winners are the TV stations, just like the merchants who made the real gold-rush fortunes providing the shovels.  (And here is where you provide your own joke about what the candidates shoveled on TV).

     What the numbers tell you is that, for all of the new technology to communicate with voters, old-fashioned broadcast TV still vacuums up the biggest share of campaign dollars.  Campaigns see it as the best way to reach a mass audience, particularly less-knowledgeable voters open to persuasion."

      "Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.

     That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation’s 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give?   Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no.

     Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after."

A Case Study in influence peddling: 

     Campaign money translates into "access" and access enables the moneyed interests to shape the political agenda in Congress and legislatures.  Who gets elected to office matters big time. A good example of the power of "access" is the current battle over the Keystone Pipeline. 

     Over the past decade a Canadian oil consortium and the Canadian government set up a well moneyed lobbying "front" in DC.  So far Obama has been able to fend them off but the House voted last week to pass the legislation and the Senate is poised to do the same.  But they face a presidential veto they can't override.

     But this will not deter the "dirty" oil lobby since the GOP will have more votes in January.  But on substance this is an irrational issue because extracting shale oil is an environmental disaster in Canada and would simply ad to climate change, an issue Obama focused on last week in China. 

     Nobody needs this oil, it's price point is too high and it's slated for off shore use in China - when China is converting to alternative energy sources.  And the jobs that will be created are short term construction jobs not long term jobs.  The oil guzzling states of the Mississippi Delta need to instead protect their wetlands against the next Katrina!   

     An example the Canadian spin on Keystone was sent to me today by my "CC" -

     Here's the "key" part (pun intended) - it hinges on two words - crude vs. refined petroleum.     

     "Key players (who are?) in the project insist they won't ship Canadian crude abroad...   The same guarantee doesn't extend to finished petroleum products. Nobody's offering any promises — let alone hard projections — about what share of the oil that flows through Keystone XL might eventually wind up abroad after it's been refined." 

     Politics 101 - the devil is in the details and follow the money.  

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