Time To Extinguish Liberty’s Torch?

The European response – especially that of the Germans – to mass migration from the Middle East and Southwest Asia stands in stark contrast to the immigration policies of the US. What makes this all the more remarkable is that Germany had relatively little to do with events that led to the crisis. On the other hand, the refugee crisis is almost certainly a direct result of US misadventures in the Middle East – most notably the Bush-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the US has steadfastly refused to help those who were dislocated as a result of our meddling. Likewise, many of our so-called allies in the region have refused to help.

This is not the first time we have turned our backs on those fleeing violence and poverty caused by our actions.

Just last summer, we saw thousands of women and children flood our southern border seeking refuge from the violence and poverty in Honduras and El Salvador – violence for which we bear much of the responsibility. And how did we greet the dispossessed? We herded them into makeshift prisons. Conservatives confronted their buses screaming obscenities and making it abundantly clear that they were not welcome here. If they had no families or relatives in the US, we sent them home to certain poverty and almost certain death.

This is how America welcomes immigrants today.

Where we once welcomed the tired, the poor, the streaming masses yearning to breathe free, we now turn them away. We vilify them and blame them for all of our nation’s ills. We treat them as something less than human. We call them names, order them to speak American, then hire them for all the jobs we consider too distasteful to do ourselves. We underpay them and cheat them. And we applaud people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio for arresting them.

This is America today. A political atmosphere driven by the “We’ve got ours. You can’t have yours” crowd; by the Trumps, the Palins, the McCains and the Cheneys. An America dominated by the loudest, most angry and most heavily armed; where a feeble and compliant press reports only the most sensational statements made by a group of boorish loud-mouths who have little compassion for the poor and disadvantaged. They may claim to be religious, but their only religion is money. And they refuse to share it.

Instead of seeing those who have suffered only because they were born in the wrong place and time, these arrogant buffoons see only “takers” – people they believe only come here to suckle off of the government teats.

Based on all of this, maybe it’s time to send Lady Liberty packing. Maybe we should send her back to Europe where she came from; a place where she will likely feel more at home.

What Does Your Party Stand For?

These days, it’s popular to say that there is no real difference between the political parties; that they are both in the pockets of large corporations. While it is true that, following recent Supreme Court decisions, both parties rely on the wealthy for campaign donations, there are sizeable differences in what the two parties stand for.

Based on its actions of the past 50 years, here’s what the Republican Party stands for: Large corporations, increased corporate welfare, increased mining, increased oil production, increased deforestation, increased corporate farming, increased corporate fishing, off-shoring of jobs and corporate profits, unfettered financial markets, tax cuts for corporations, tax cuts for the wealthy, privatization of Social Security, elimination of Medicaid and Medicare, elimination of Obamacare, more defense spending, more wars, more militarization of police, more guns (except at GOP events), the end of legal abortions, reduced access to contraception, elimination of the minimum wage, elimination of food stamps for the needy, elimination of estate taxes, elimination of labor unions, elimination of defined benefit pensions (except for corporate executives), elimination of family leave (except for corporate executives), elimination of the EPA, elimination of the FDA, elimination of the Dept. of Labor, elimination of the Dept. of Education, elimination of free public education, deportation of all undocumented immigrants, discrimination against women, discrimination against college students, discrimination against people of color, discrimination against gays, discrimination against non-Christians, a new Constitution based on the Ten Commandments, and limited voting rights based on color, age and income.

Here’s what the Democratic Party stands for: Virtually everything the Republican Party is against.

I truly wish all of this was an exaggeration. But, in fact, all of these policies have been supported by one or more of the GOP presidential candidates either by words or action.

A Voter’s Guide To The GOP Debate.

Now that the defacto head of the Republican Party, Roger Ailes of Fox News Channel, has announced the participants in the first GOP presidential debate, here are a few things you should know about the candidates:

Donald Trump – You already know he’s rich (he tells everyone at every opportunity) and that he’s a bully and blowhard. But did you know that, despite inheriting a fortune from his father, he has filed for bankruptcy protection four times? Or that, on multiple occasions, it has been reported that he has ties to the Mob? Or that Trump was the target of a 1979 bribery investigation? Or that virtually every statement he has made during his presidential campaign has been a lie? To learn more, watch the documentary at TrumpTheMovie.com.

Jeb Bush – You know that he is the son of George HW Bush and the brother of George W Bush. But do you know that it is well-documented that he actively subverted our democratic process by helping to steal the 2000 presidential election in Florida? Did you know that he has the same neo-con foreign policy advisors as his brother – the ones who led us into an unnecessary and unjustifiable war in Iraq? Did you know that the job growth he claims as governor of Florida came almost exclusively from the housing bubble? And that, when the bubble burst, the median income for Floridians declined by $5,700 – double that of the nation as a whole? Or that 200,000 fewer Florida families own their homes than in 2005?

Scott Walker – The only presidential candidate currently under indictment. John Dean, general counsel for the Nixon administration has said of Walker, “I find him more Nixonian than even Richard Nixon himself…a conservative without a conscience.” After Walker was elected, he has shown himself to be the ultimate bully and dictator. In addition to stripping state employee unions of collective bargaining rights, he led the gerrymandering of legislative districts, stacked the state’s Supreme Court then rewrote campaign finance laws and tried to narrow the open records law.

And what about Wisconsin’s economy under Walker? Thanks to GOP-style tax cuts, the state’s spending exceeds revenue, the state’s GDP ratio has dropped to -9.9 percent and the state’s federal spending to revenue ratio has nearly doubled. Wisconsin now receives $1.59 for each $1.00 it contributes in taxes.

Mike Huckabee – Once a fairly moderate governor, Huckabee seems to have gone nuts. Maybe it’s because you have to be batcrap crazy to win in the GOP. Maybe he spent too much time on Fox News Channel. Or maybe he’s been hearing too many voices. He calls evolution a theory (By the same standard, gravity is just a theory), not an established fact. He doesn’t believe in gay marriage, contraception, abortion or transgender rights. He wants to change the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards. He thinks it would be great if Americans were forced at gunpoint, if necessary, to listen to every message from David Barton (evangelist and author). And he is delusional enough to believe that most of our Founding Fathers were clergymen. (Yeah, that’s why they called for separation of Church and State.)

Marco Rubio – The GOP’s great Latino hope, Rubio has long claimed to be a refugee of Castro’s Cuba. Only the records show that his family left Cuba more than two years before the Cuban Revolution. He doesn’t believe man has contributed to climate change. He doesn’t believe in the minimum wage, abortion or employer coverage of contraception. He does, however, support comprehensive immigration reform. And though he receives a handsome salary as a US Senator, he moonlights as a university teacher, causing him to miss 99 Senate votes in 4 years – 8.3 percent!

Ben Carson – He’s smart and a celebrated surgeon, but when it comes to politics, he’s a wacko as they come. He supports a flat tax (he calls it a “proportional tax” in reference to the biblical tithe) which would destroy the poor and the middle class. He is stridently anti-gay rights, believing homosexuality is a choice and he likens gay marriage to pedophilia and bestiality. He said the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened to this nation since slavery.” His answer to Obamacare is creating a health savings account for every American at birth. Apparently, when the money in the account has run out (and for many it will), you die.

Rand Paul – Anti-government, anti-tax, anti-abortion, anti-gun control and pro-states’ rights. He believes the primary Constitutional function of the federal government is national defense. ‘Nuff said.

Ted Cruz – Mr. filibuster and Tea Party darling. Cruz’s only real accomplishments prior to the Senate were to strengthen the NRA, help prepare testimony for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and help steal the 2000 election for George W Bush. In the Senate, about all he has done is to shut down the government, sponsor bills to repeal Obamacare and lie. Of the 50 statements fact-checked by Politifact Texas, 35 have been rated mostly false, false or pants on fire false.

Chris Christie – A bully who showed his true colors with Bridgegate, the conspiracy to punish a mayor who did not support his re-election. He also sold out his constituents by allowing Exxon Mobil to pay less than 3 percent of the cost to clean up the environmental contamination at two sites. And, under Christie’s leadership, New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded nine times in five years.

John Kasich – Literally, one of only three GOP candidates (the others, Jim Gilmore and George Pataki, were not included in the debate) who has a history of success and working across the aisle. Of course, that means he doesn’t stand a chance of getting the GOP nomination.

So there you have it. That’s the list of leading GOP presidential candidates. Proceed with caution.

Far From A Cancer On The Conservative Movement, Trump Represents It.

Contrary to Rick Perry’s assessment of Donald Trump, The Donald embodies everything that’s wrong with today’s Republican Party. He’s loud, arrogant, abusive, mean-spirited, greedy, narcissistic and an unapologetic bully. He’s a friend of soulless multinational corporations and an enemy of the environment. He’s opposed to immigration, yet he happily hires immigrants for menial, low-paying jobs.

Trump is the ultimate representative of the GOP’s “I’ve got mine, you can’t have yours” mentality.

He places corporate interests above those of consumers. He despises regulations – anything that may stand in the way of his insatiable greed. He demands a strong military, yet he refused to serve, receiving 5 student deferments and a medical disability (he had a bone spur in one of his feet – he can’t remember which). Of course, that bone spur never stopped him from participating in college athletics.

Despite his claims of having earned everything he owns, Trump was born on third base and brags that he hit a triple. He inherited most of his wealth, yet accuses anyone who is impoverished of not working hard enough. He complains of high tax rates and complicated tax codes, yet he pays none.

The only reason the other GOP candidates are upset with Trump is not because they disagree with his politics. It’s that he’s willing to say what they all believe.

Moreover, Trump’s popularity with Republicans has exposed the fallacy that the mainstream media are liberal. The faux journalists are fawning all over him. I’m not just referring to the loudmouths who fill airtime on the Faux News Channel. I’m talking about those who call themselves journalists at every level – from national and international networks all the way down to local TV stations and newspapers.

And why wouldn’t a “reporter” more interested in personal advancement than real journalism cover Trump? Trump is good for ratings. He’s good for the infotainment masquerading as news.

So get used to seeing and hearing about Trump 24/7. He’ll be the focus of the Republican presidential race until real reporters (if any still exist) ask him to articulate real solutions for the nation’s problems. And until people begin to picture a clown in the White House and the impacts of his antics on the nation and the world.

No One More Deserving Of Contempt.

On Thursday, January 15, a United States District Court Judge called for a contempt of court proceeding against Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “nation’s toughest sheriff.” It’s a development for which I have only one question: What took so long?

The oh-so-tough Sheriff Joe has a long history of deeds that are deserving of contempt. The courts have found him guilty of racially-profiling Latinos, costing the county tens of millions in unnecessary court costs and court judgments. By my admittedly incomplete accounting, Arpaio has, thus far, cost Maricopa County taxpayers at least $81.125 million in legal fees and settlements. And that doesn’t even include the tens of millions of county funds he has misspent on a variety of law enforcement toys and other unapproved items.

In addition, Arpaio’s office failed to investigate sexual assaults in a predominantly Latino area of the county. He has profited from his own political action committee. And, according to the American Friends Service Committee, his Tent City jail, which was ballyhooed as a way to save the county money, costs more per prisoner than any other prison in the state. This despite the fact that it has no heat, no air conditioning and its only bathrooms are portable latrines located next to a dump. (Of course, that is a perfect image for a prison that has one of the highest recidivism rates in the nation. Like our trash, the prisoners are dumped in the desert, surrounded by razor wire, covered with fabric and largely forgotten.)

In reality, the terrorists housed in Gitmo have better facilities. Indeed, an Amnesty International report that found that Tent City is not an “adequate or humane alternative to housing inmates…”

Despite his excesses and failings, for unexplainable reasons Joe is still admired by those who would otherwise demand accountability and fiscal restraint from their elected officials. That’s because Joe is a master of fear-mongering. Over the years, he has scared enough Maricopa County residents into voting for him that he has been elected to six terms by portraying all Latinos as drug-running, human-trafficking, murdering criminals who have crossed our borders illegally and are taking our jobs. He has also successfully pandered to his right wing base by devoting time to try to prove that President Obama is not a US citizen.

So are these the reasons why Arpaio is now facing contempt charges? No, Joe is facing contempt for simply failing to follow court orders. In other words, the get-tough sheriff who claims to pursue any and all lawbreakers is himself accused of ignoring the legal system.

If there is any justice, the highly-contemptible Sheriff Joe will be found guilty and assigned to his own Tent City where he can enjoy the odors coming from its portable toilets, which are frankly less disagreeable than the stench of corruption coming from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and his political friends.

The Difference Between The Facts And The Truth.

Since President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration, various news organizations have been crawling all over each other to “fact-check” the president’s statements. Predictably, they found a number of things that were at odds with the “facts.”

What those news organizations fail to recognize is that the facts don’t necessarily represent the truth. So I’ll do their job for them. The truth is that illegal immigration, and the resulting influx of undocumented workers, has been a large problem for many years. As a result, President Obama has overseen the greatest expansion of border security in history in addition to an unprecedented growth in deportations. In addition to the “fence,” we now have 21,000 border patrol agents. We have at least one agent for every half mile of the border. Combined with slow job growth (as opposed to a slow economy), that has resulted in a net loss of illegal immigrants.

The fact is that many immigrants have crossed our southern border. The truth is that 40 percent of undocumented immigrants entered the US legally through our airports, bus stations, and seaports and they have overstayed their visas. Building a bigger fence and stationing more agents at the border will do nothing to stop these immigrants.

The fact is that an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants work in the US. The truth is that these workers do not take American jobs. They do the work that very few Americans will. For example, despite advertising for American workers to pick his fruit, a fruit grower in Georgia could not find a single American to do what undocumented workers will.

The fact is drugs are still being smuggled into our country illegally. The truth is that most of them are being smuggled into the US on airplanes, in freight cars, in boats. Few are being brought in by human mules.

The fact is that some criminals cross our borders illegally…drug smugglers, human smugglers and gang members. The truth is that these people represent a very small percentage of illegal immigrants.

The fact is that we pay to educate the children of illegal immigrants. The truth is that these children grow up to contribute far more to our society than their education costs. It is also true that illegal immigrants cannot receive food stamps and welfare benefits. Neither can they vote.

The fact is that many immigrants came across the southern border in search of a better life. The truth is that these immigrants had little choice. Many came to the US as refugees in the 1980’s when the Reagan administration was supporting dictators and death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua. (Remember Iran-Contra?) Many were small farmers who were put out of business by our large corporate farms that dumped low-priced corn into Mexico and Central America as a consequence of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement).

The fact is that thousands of children recently crossed our southern border. The truth is that few tried to sneak across the border. Most simply turned themselves into Border Patrol officers seeking asylum from the violence in Honduras and El Salvador.

The fact is that our border security has greatly limited the number of illegal crossings. The truth is that is has also greatly limited the billions of dollars in trade between Mexico and the US. 6 million US jobs depend on exports to Mexico and the US receives nearly $9 billion per year in tourism from Mexico. Yet despite being on the border, thanks to SB1070, Arizona ranks 21st in exports to Mexico behind Wisconsin and Minnesota!

The fact is that millions of undocumented workers are employed in the US. The truth is that most of these workers pay federal and state income taxes, sales taxes and licensing fees. They also contribute approximately $7 billion per year in payroll deductions to Social Security and Medicare even though they will never benefit from these programs.

The fact is that we need comprehensive immigration reform. The truth is that Republican politicians have used the issue of immigration to promote racism and fear in order to be elected.

The fact is that President Obama acted alone in an attempt to solve the immigration crisis. The truth is that the US House of Representatives had more than 500 days to vote on the Senate’s bi-partisan comprehensive immigration bill, but Speaker Boehner refused to bring it to a vote. Republicans also refused to negotiate the issue with Democrats. The president was left with no other option than to act by Executive Order.

An Informed Voting Public?

Our Founding Fathers created a democracy based on informed voters carefully selecting a representative government. The reality is that, after nearly 240 years, we have neither an informed public nor a representative government. The most recent election is a case in point.

After six years of Teapublican obstruction, the approval rating of Congress was lower than the approval of cockroaches. So what did our “informed” voters do? They re-elected the vast majority of the incumbents and gave extra seats to members of the party that was responsible for the obstruction. Our national political pundits explained this phenomenon as the result of a low voter turnout and massive spending of “dark money” to elect candidates who would repay their benefactors with fewer regulations and more tax cuts. I explained that it was the result of the failure of the Democratic Party to promote its record of pulling our economy out of perhaps the biggest hole in history, making affordable health care available to most Americans, improving our nation’s standing throughout the world, expanding consumer protections and attempting to expand civil rights to all segments of our population.

There’s a better explanation.

This past Sunday, Fareed Zakaria, on his CNN show Global Public Square, featured an Ipsos MORI international study that measured the political ignorance in 14 western nations. The study asked respondents from those nations about various issues ranging from unemployment to immigration. While Italy ranked number one as the least informed citizenry, voters in the US ranked a close second. For example, when asked about unemployment in the US, our respondents guessed that the figure was 32 percent when the real number is less than 6 percent nationwide. When asked about the number of recent immigrants in our country, Americans guessed that they make up 32 percent of our population, when the real number is about 13 percent. Asked about the number of Muslims in our country, Americans guessed that Muslims comprise 15 percent of our population, when the real figure is 1 percent.

The large number of poorly informed voters explains why voters continue to vote against their own self-interests; why poor people vote for officials who give large tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations; why they vote for officials who refuse to raise the minimum wage; why women vote for officials who refuse to demand equal pay for equal work; why the retired and near-retired vote for representatives who want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare.

Of course, we also have to ask ourselves why so many Americans are so poorly informed. The answer can be summed up in two words: schools and media.

Many of our schools no longer teach civics. As a result, many of our young people have never read the Constitution. They don’t even know how our government works. In addition, many of our nation’s textbooks are edited and approved by Texas conservatives so that they more resemble Christian and military propaganda than American history or science. For instance, we are still teaching children that Christopher Columbus discovered America when historians agree that he didn’t. And many of our schools are forced to teach “creationism” as an alternative to evolution, even though evolution is a fact as established as the theory of gravity.

Further, our so-called news media have placed an emphasis on entertainment and sensationalism to drive ratings at the expense of real news and information. As a result, we all know about the latest murder trial or the marital status of celebrities. But we don’t know the beliefs and agendas of the candidates on our ballots. Neither do we know world events that will ultimately affect us. We don’t even know that the US has been fighting wars for all but 13 years of our nation’s history. And we don’t know that our own actions led to most of them. Worse yet, we don’t know that our nation is no longer a democracy. Numerous political scientists and economists have proven that, by definition, it has become an oligarchy. (Of course, our poorly educated public likely doesn’t even know what an oligarchy is.)

The point of all this is to say that, if you don’t like our government, it’s not entirely the fault of those who were elected. It’s not necessarily the fault of one political party or our political system. The fault is our own, because we voted the scoundrels into office without ever bothering to ask what they will do. We’re only interested in which tribe they belong to – red or blue.

Delusional Democrats.

The midterm electoral ass-kicking should be a wake-up call for Democrats. Yet, in the hours following the debacle, all I’ve seen and heard are the same old lame excuses. “Democrats only turn out for presidential elections.” “Our candidates were swamped by a tsunami of dark money.” “It’s the result of Obama’s unfavorable numbers.” “With the growing number of minorities, it’s inevitable that Democrats will win in the future.” And, my favorite, “We don’t belong to an organized political party. We’re Democrats.”

Although I hate it, that last excuse is more true than I’d like to admit. The Party is disorganized. It has no real leadership. It fails to communicate what it stands for, other than getting elected. Its messaging is pathetic. And its consultants are a joke!

More important, the Party and many of its candidates are gutless. Even though they had real accomplishments to promote – accomplishments that are popular with voters – they seemed afraid to stand up for them lest they be criticized by Teapublicans and their comments featured in a Teapublican attack ad. For example, during this election cycle, few Democratic candidates were willing to take credit for the Affordable Care Act that gave millions access to health insurance for the first time. Few would stand up for environmental issues. Few stood against climate change. Few would stand up for labor unions. Few would stand up for universal background checks for gun purchases. Few took credit for voting for the 2009 economic stimulus that kept the nation from sliding into the Great Depression II. Few stood behind Democratic economic policies that have the stock markets at historic highs and unemployment numbers at their lowest level in more than a decade. Few would take credit for getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Few would stand behind their Democratic president. And one even refused to acknowledge whether or not she voted for a Democrat for president!

To make matters worse, Democratic consultants begged the president not to take a stand on immigration reform in order to help red state Democrats who were almost certainly doomed to lose anyway. But that advice did have an effect. It cost several blue state Democrats their seats and it may have cost the Party the support of Latinos in the future. Yet their worst advice was to tell candidates to run away from the president and the Party’s accomplishments. Their only real strategy seemed to be, “a Republican said something stupid, send us money.” (I, for one, will not send the Democratic Party another dime until it gets its house in order and miraculously grows a spine.)

In truth, the Democratic candidates who took the advice of their Party got what they deserved.

But why would political consultants care if their advice is awful, anyway? Most will still be around for the next election, even if their candidates aren’t. And they will still be able to cash their rather substantial checks.

In my (hopefully temporary) home state of Arizona, the consultants advised Democratic candidates to base their campaigns on support for public education, including increased funding. But most Arizona voters don’t seem to care about public education. Many are too old to care and others simply don’t vote. As a result, every Democrat running for statewide office lost. Indeed, the voters showed how they really feel about education by rejecting numerous school bonds and apparently electing a Teapublican with absolutely no background or understanding of education to the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Her platform consisted of a single plank…stopping Common Core, the program created by Republican and Democratic governors that sets standards for schools across the nation. (It’s just as well, Arizona schools are so under-funded, few of the state schools could meet those standards anyway.)

And, rather than turning the state purple as the Party hoped, the far-right-wing Arizona voters passed yet another “sovereignty” bill designed to raise a collective middle finger to the federal government. The bill will encourage our very right-wing state government to challenge the federal government on any federal law with which our nincompoop-driven legislature disagrees. The result will be millions of Arizona taxpayer funds spent on lawsuits against the federal government that sends $1.50 to Arizona in federal spending for every $1.00 the state contributes in federal taxes.

Clearly, in this election, few Democrats went to the polls. Why would they? The Party gave them few reasons to vote. In hopes of attracting more women and more Latino voters, the Party essentially abandoned its core voters…its base. After all, if the Democratic Party won’t stand up for its own president and its own accomplishments, how can we trust that its candidates will stand up for us?

How Teapublicans Cheat. Let Me Count The Ways.

1 – Lies: People tend to think that all politicians lie. To some degree, that’s true. In order to make a point that can be used as a 20-second sound bite in the news, most politicians stretch the truth or take things out of context. But a recent study shows that Republicans lie much more than Democrats. And many of their lies have absolutely no basis in reality. By comparison, Democrats are more likely to simply stretch the truth than blatantly lie.

2 – Fear: Every election cycle Teapublicans raise issues intended to generate fear. In 2010, it was “death panels,” “dangerous criminals” crossing our southern border, our “out of control” national debt and ACORN. In 2012, it was again brown people entering our country illegally in addition to “Benghazi,” “Obamacare,” “bankrupt” Social Security and Medicare, election fraud, and the “takers” who make too little to pay income taxes. In 2014, it’s immigration, ISIS and Ebola. Be afraid…very afraid…and remember only Teapublicans can save you!

3 – Divisiveness: Teapublicans delight in turning different groups against one another. The “job creators” versus the “takers;” corporations versus environmentalists; the rich versus the poor; whites versus African-Americans and Latinos; pro-life versus pro-choice; men versus women; Christians versus Muslims; the old versus the young; the uneducated versus the educated; rural versus urban…the list is very long.

4 – Religion: Teapublicans have co-opted Christianity for political gain. Beginning with the anti-abortion movement, they have fomented paranoia (particularly in the South) that Christianity is under attack. They have led the devout and the gullible to believe that religious freedom only pertains to Christians. And contrary to Christ’s teachings, they are intolerant of others, especially the weak and the poor.

5 – Gerrymandering: In the early half of the 20th century, Democrats changed legislative and congressional districts to make it easier for their candidates to be elected. But as Republicans were elected in southern states, beginning in the 1970s, they took the art of gerrymandering to extremes. In states with Republican-controlled legislatures, they’ve created district maps that look like a Rorschach test. Areas with a preponderance of Democratic voters have been so divided they can no longer elect candidates representing their own views.

6 – Voter Suppression: In an increasing number of states, Jim Crow is back. In 2000, Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush ordered his Secretary of State to purge voter lists of felons. If a John Smith was a felon, all those named John Smith in the state were purged from the voting rolls. As a result, more than 10,000 voters in Democratic districts were denied the right to vote. In 2014, Teapublican-controlled legislatures have implemented strict voter ID laws intended to suppress the votes of minorities, college students and the elderly. In Texas alone, it’s estimated that 600,000 voters will be denied their constitutional right.

7 – Intimidation & Dirty Tricks: If Nixon and his campaign staff perfected political dirty tricks, the rest of his party must have been taking notes. For example, in many minority districts, the number of polling locations have been reduced and early voting times cut, making it more difficult to vote. Since 2004, some minorities have had to stand in line for up to nine hours to vote. In some areas, armed white Teapublican bullies calling themselves “poll watchers” have challenged minority voters with the intent to prevent them from voting .

8 – Dark Money: The Supreme Court cases which ruled that money equals free speech and that corporations have the same rights as individuals were initiated by Teapublicans. Why? They knew that the conservative court would open the floodgates of political contributions from corporations and billionaires benefiting Teapublican candidates. They have created an enormous network of non-profits with which to launder money and funnel it to Teapublican campaigns. To make matters worse, the three Republicans on the Federal Election Commission have blocked any and all attempts to control it. As a result, dark money groups have been able to run ads for candidates and attack their opponents without fear of reprisal.

9 – Absentee Voter Fraud: Though it has been proven that in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent, fraudulent absentee ballots have long been an issue. In the 2000 presidential election, an estimated 10,000 unsigned absentee ballots were counted for Bush…more than enough to change the outcome of the election. Interestingly, the strict voter ID laws pushed by Teapublican legislatures do not cover absentee ballots. Wonder why?

10 – Dysfunctional Governance: Republican author P.J. O’Rourke famously said, “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.” That has certainly been the case since 2011. Republicans in the Senate have used the filibuster to bring Washington to a standstill. They have blocked every Democratic initiative while offering few of their own. And the Teapublican-controlled House has done little else than vote more than 50 times to repeal “Obamacare.” The result is to make Congress less popular than cockroaches. Yet they stand to benefit from their sabotage because they can count on uniformed voters to vote for change, not realizing who is responsible for the problem in the first place.

11 – Hate Radio: Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine, more than 92 percent of talk radio has been devoted to conservative hate. The constant drone of attacks against the government and Democrats has had the effect of hundreds of millions of dollars in political advertising promoting Teapublicans.

12 – Corporate Media: While the so-called “mainstream” media are not so blatantly political, they have contributed to the Teapublican cause by leading with crime and fear. They have blown the threat of Ebola out of proportion while ignoring issues that have a real impact on our citizens. Worse, they tell us what we want to know…which celebrity is screwing who…versus telling us what we need to know. The media’s willful ineptitude has played into the hands of Teapublican strategists by magnifying the issues of fear and divisiveness.

Yes, Democrats are guilty of some of the same things. But saying both parties do it is a false equivalency. Teapublicans have mastered the art of lying and cheating. Of course, they wouldn’t be so successful at it if not for Democratic incompetence. Though I believe that Democrats are generally better at governing, especially for ordinary working people, the party is woefully overmatched when it comes to marketing and communications. The party is so diverse that it has difficulty taking a stand on anything, except that they don’t like Teapublicans.

Worse, few Democratic candidates have the strength of conviction to stand up for what they’ve accomplished. One need only look at how Democratic incumbents have run away from their votes on “Obamacare,” the 2009 economic stimulus, and Dodd-Frank, despite the fact that these things were needed and highly successful.

Qurans At Our Border?

As part of election year fear-mongering, conservatives have once again tried to foment fear over our southern border. Some good ol’ boy cowboy-hat-wearing nitwit recently appeared on Fox Noise Channel to warn that “Muslim clothing and the Quran book” had been found at campsites near the border. In addition, right wing politicians have warned that ISIS could infiltrate from Mexico.

Yeah, right.

Not only have the FBI, Homeland Security and our counter-terrorism unit dismissed the claims, the accusations are obviously false on their own merits. What is “Muslim clothing?” Is it a cotton robe? A hijab? A burqa? The cowboy wouldn’t recognize one if he saw it. And about that Quran…to Muslims, it is a holy book. They would not desecrate it by leaving it on the ground unless they had died. That being the case, we have nothing to worry about. The bearer of the book is dead…either having collapsed from heat and dehydration or shot by some gun-toting, flag-waving “patriot.”

In reality, such fears about our southern border are the result of racism…fear that more of those brown people, whether they’re Muslim or Catholic will immigrate into the US. On the other hand, the only terrorists known to have successfully attacked our nation either came into the country across our more extensive border with Canada, entered our nation legally with student visas, or were born here (remember Timothy McVeigh?).

Fact is, we have more to fear from home-grown terrorists and the Faux News Channel’s attempts to divide us than we do from Muslim-clothing-wearing, Quran-carrying immigrants attempting to cross our southern border.