How Has Racism Plagued The Obama Administration? Let Me Count The Ways:

I have conservative friends who deny that President Obama has been treated any differently than previous presidents. Setting aside the prolonged fishing expedition to find dirt on the Clintons and the natural reaction to a stolen election and the lies told by the Bush administration to justify its invasion of Iraq, (yes, I proudly wore an “Impeach Bush” button) let’s look at the conservative response to the nation’s first African-American president.

Even before he was nominated, Obama was beset by claims that he was not an American citizen. For the first time in US history, the political opposition demanded to see a presidential candidate’s birth certificate.

On the day of his inauguration, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, GOP leaders met to formulate a strategy to make him fail. At so-called Tea Party rallies, protestors carried racist images of Obama. They also showed up at presidential speeches armed with loaded guns and threatened to “exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.” At the same time, rednecks all over the South dug out their Confederate battle flags, planting them in their yards, on their houses and flying them in the back of their pickup trucks. Many covered their vehicles with stickers that read “NObama,” “One Big Ass Mistake America” and more blatantly racist slogans.

The Secret Service saw a dramatic increase in threats on the President’s life. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted a dramatic rise in hate groups. At the same time, rightwing radio hosts and the NRA claimed that Obama was “coming for your guns,” which, in turn, dramatically increased gun sales.

When Obama prepared a video to encourage students to work hard and stay in school (something that other presidents have routinely done), conservatives howled, claiming that Obama was going to “indoctrinate” their children. They also ridiculed the First Lady for encouraging students to move for fitness and to make more nutritious choices for meals.

When Obama first addressed a joint session of Congress, a racist congressman openly shouted “You Lie.” In another joint session, conservative Supreme Court justices visibly shook their heads in disgust at the President’s justifiable criticism of the Citizens United ruling. (At least in my long lifetime, such displays of disrespect for the president have never previously occurred.)

In the Senate, the GOP blocked the President’s initiatives with a record number of threatened filibusters. Republicans also blocked a record number of administrative appointments and a record number of nominees for federal courts. And Obama’s most recent nominee to the Supreme Court has been waiting for a vote for a record length of time as a result of the GOP attitude that, with nearly a year left in office, Obama was to be considered a “lame duck.”

There have been a record number of conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama, including the lunacy surrounding the military exercise known as Jade Helm. There have been claims that he would declare martial law or, worse, declare Sharia law. Conservatives have claimed that he is a secret Muslim at the same time they have accused him of following a radical Christian pastor. They blamed him for the national debt, for shipping jobs overseas, for abandoning Iraq (even though our departure was negotiated by the Bush administration) and the creation of ISIS.

They accused him of coddling terrorists; of selling out Israel by negotiating an end to Iran’s nuclear program; of bowing to foreign leaders; of “selling out” to the communist Castro regime by normalizing relations with Cuba. They accused him of failing to secure our borders despite a record number of arrests and deportations. And, for the first time in US history, the GOP Congress invited a world leader (Netanyahu) to speak to a joint session without following protocol and going through the executive branch and the State Department.

Conservatives have circulated false emails and social media memes that falsely claim that Obama ordered crosses removed from military cemeteries, banned prayer at the military academies, and worse. They have compared the Obamas to gorillas. They have boldly stated that the First Lady is transgender and called for the Obama’s beautiful daughters to be raped.

At the same time, conservatives have not given Obama any credit for the good things he has done. They would have you believe that he only got Osama bin Laden based on previous efforts by the Bush administration. They have not credited him for trying to nominate a record number of members of the opposing party to his cabinet. They have not credited him for saving the US auto industry. They have not credited him for arresting the precipitous slide of our economy or for policies that have caused the stock markets to soar to record highs. They have not credited him for cutting the national deficit faster than any previous president. They have not credited him for preventing health insurance companies from exempting people for pre-existing conditions. And, instead of congratulating him for making health care available to millions of Americans, they have voted to repeal “Obamacare” dozens of times.

They have called President Obama the “food stamp” president, the “Imperial” president, the anti-gun president, a socialist, a fascist, and a n***er. They have blamed him for the gang violence in Chicago and violence against the police. They even blame him for the shootings of unarmed black men by police.

Finally, in a stunning show of hypocrisy, they actually have the chutzpah to blame him for increasing racism in the US! And the presumptive GOP presidential nominee who should never again be named is running on the slogan “Make American Great Again” – a dog whistle call to racists that may as well say “Make America White Again.”

Public Lands: A Matter Of “Me” Versus “We”.

For the past several decades, the anti-government neo-confederates (otherwise known as the Tea Party) have howled about a so-called “federal land grab.” They claim that federal ownership of any property is unconstitutional.

In fact, they have it backwards.

Their attempts to force the federal government to give public lands to the states and private enterprise is the real land grab. That’s because, from our country’s very beginning, most of the land has been considered property of the federal government until Congress chooses to dispose of it. That principle was codified in 1870 at the Congress of Confederation, which called upon all states to relinquish claims to territories outside their boundaries to federal control so that they might be administered for the common benefit of the new nation. The principle was confirmed in 1789 as Article 4, Section 3 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting territory or other property belonging to the United States.”

Federal lands included those taken from Native Americans, as well as those acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase, from Britain in the Red River Valley of the North, from Spain in Florida, from Mexico in the Texas Annexation, from Mexico in the American Southwest, from Britain in the Oregon Territories, from Mexico in the Gadsen Purchase and from Russia in the Alaska Purchase.

In other words, the federal government once owned all of the land outside of the original colonies.

Over the decades, Congress has chosen to give some of the lands to cities, counties and states in the form of parks or land trusts intended to be used or sold for public good. It retained forest lands and lands deemed critical for watersheds or those unsuitable for traditional farming. And it voted to save other lands for posterity.

For example, in 1864, Congress named Yosemite Valley as the first federally-owned land to be set aside for preservation and public use. In 1872, it set aside portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho Territories for the world’s first National Park – Yellowstone. In 1906, Congress passed the Antiquities Act which allows the President of the United States to preserve and protect “prehistoric, historic, and scientifically significant sites on public lands” through the creation of national monuments, leading President Roosevelt to create the first national monuments at Devils Tower in Wyoming, El Morro in New Mexico, and Montezuma Castle and Petrified Forest in Arizona.

The federal lands, national parks and national monuments are not the result of federal land grabs.

They are the result of Congress maintaining control of public lands for the people it represents – all of the people. As a result, the people of the United States have millions of acres to use for recreational purposes, such as hiking, hunting, fishing and camping. In addition, the people own millions of acres that can be leased for commercial purposes that benefit the public…for transportation, for cattle grazing, for mining, for timber production, and for oil and gas production. These leases generate revenues that reduce taxes.

So, if federal ownership and management of lands is constitutional and, if it benefits the public, why would the so-called “Freedom Caucus” and other right wingers object?

In a word, greed.

They want the federal government to place all lands under state control, so the Republican-controlled western states and southern states can sell the lands for commercial development. They want to give mining companies (most of them foreign-owned) the freedom to extract uranium from the Grand Canyon, making the Colorado River radioactive in the process. They want to let private hotels, restaurant chains, tour companies and amusement parks set up shop inside National Parks. They want to let lumber companies, once again, clear-cut our old-growth public forests under the guise of “fire prevention.” They want to let home-builders sell homes on the rim of the Grand Canyon to the highest bidder.

Now that would be a real land grab.

SCOTUS Nomination Is Emblematic Of Obama Presidency.

In 2008, Barack Obama ran for president on a platform of change and hope – hope that he could end division and bring people together. He probably should have known better. After all, the Republican Party had long based their election campaigns on fear and division.

So it was no surprise when it became known that, after the election of President Obama, Senator Mitch McConnell rallied congressional Republicans to oppose every one of Obama’s initiatives with the intent of making Obama a one-term president.

It didn’t matter that, for the first time in decades, Obama nominated members of the opposition party to his cabinet. It didn’t matter that, instead of pursuing charges against those in the Bush administration who had collapsed the economy and led our nation into a misguided war, Obama chose to look forward, instead. It didn’t matter that, in order to make healthcare affordable for millions more Americans, President Obama chose to promote a Republican idea (now known as Obamacare). It didn’t matter that, despite Democratic majorities in the House and in the Senate, President Obama chose moderation over partisanship.

He was rewarded by Republicans who used the filibuster to block any and every one of Obama’s initiatives. They blocked dozens of judicial appointments. They blocked his promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. They tried to block his budgets. They tried to block his healthcare bill. They even tried to block his stimulus bill which was intended to put millions of Americans back to work.

Not content with legislative obstruction, Republicans created the Tea Party, which challenged President Obama’s legitimacy. They portrayed him as the Joker…as the anti-Christ. They called him un-American. They called him a Muslim from Kenya. They rallied behind racist images of the president. They openly carried guns to their protest rallies and threatened to exercise their “Second Amendment rights” against the President.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that, when the most rightwing ideological Supreme Court justice died, McConnell and his Republican caucus in the Senate vowed to block any Obama nomination to the Supreme Court. They claimed that, even though President Obama has nearly a year left in office, that he is a lame-duck president. They would have you believe that his current term is for only 3 years, instead of 4.

Likewise, it is no surprise that President Obama nominated a moderate to the Supreme Court vacancy – a judge who is respected by members of both parties. After all, contrary to Republican accusations, such moderation is emblematic of the entire Obama presidency. Indeed, Obama has exemplified moderation in everything he has done. That’s why he will be remembered as one of the nation’s greatest presidents. And it’s why history will remember McConnell and the rest of the Republicans in Congress as the worst ever – a Congress that did nothing but further contribute to political hatred and divisiveness.

Beware The Politics Of Self-Righteous Zealotry.

For many years, we’ve heard network pundits talk about a “war on Christianity” and call for the US to officially become a Christian nation. Such talk would have made our Founding Fathers cringe. After all, many of them had settled in the US, like some of my ancestors did, as the result of religious persecution in Europe. Our earliest European settlers were Puritans, Huguenots, Quakers, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Jews and others who had fled their homes in search of religious freedom.

Yet, some of the original colonies themselves began imposing their religious views on others, claiming that a particular denomination was the official religion of the colony and taxing all citizens to support that denomination. It was as a result of such discrimination that those who wrote the US Constitution included the wording that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Nevertheless, preying on our citizens’ fear of radical Islamic terrorism, many of our political candidates continue to call for the US to be named a Christian nation. One wants to prohibit certain immigrants based on their religion. Others want to “return our nation to its Christian values.”

That may be good politics. But it is dangerous policy. After all, almost every atrocity in the world has been committed in the name of righteousness – crimes committed as the result of zealotry for an ideology based on the ends justifying the means.

Such atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity, Islam, Judaism…even Buddhism. But the problem doesn’t just lie with religion. Out of the same kind of self-righteous zealotry, they have also been committed in the name of communism, fascism and capitalism. Almost always, such crimes are not considered crimes by those committing them – the true believers believe that they are doing the right thing for their religion, their nation or their children. Such was the case when the Bush administration zealously decided to impose democracy in Iraq resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands (some say hundreds of thousands) Iraqis.

There have been examples of other destructive examples of self-righteous zealotry in the US. The KKK murdered blacks under the cross of Christianity. Senator Joe McCarthy accused, investigated, blacklisted and imprisoned many who failed to demonstrate that they were not communists or communist sympathizers (it’s always difficult to prove a negative). The same mentality led to the John Birch Society which believed both the Soviet Union and the US were led by a cabal of internationalists, bankers and corrupt politicians. Its leader even accused President Eisenhower of being a communist. The same rightwing conservatives wrapped themselves in the cloak of Christianity to draw greater distinctions between righteous Americans and the godless communists. To distinguish themselves from communism, they pushed through legislation replacing the original national motto “E Pluribus Unum” – from many one – with “In God We Trust.” They added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. And congressional members of The Fellowship, aka The Family, instituted the National Prayer Breakfast at the capitol, a quasi-governmental Christian event that has been held every year since 1953.

Much of the conservative-based zealotry was driven underground after Edward R. Murrow focused attention on the abuses of McCarthyism and after William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater shunned the John Birch Society. But the ideology never went away. As a result, we are now seeing conservatives again using religion to divide. The movement again raised its ugly head with the “Moral Majority” of the 70s and 80s. About the same time, the GOP’s “southern strategy” reached out to racist southern Democrats who were outraged by the Civil Rights Act. GOP politicians also latched onto the issues of abortion and the so-called “sanctity of marriage” to embolden the “righteous” and further divide us. And they claim that any attempt to prevent the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion – the placement of Christian symbols and the institution of mandatory Christian prayers in public schools and government meetings – is a “war on Christianity.” You can hear such accusations at any GOP presidential debate, at most GOP rallies and on GOP media such as Fox News Channel.

Now you may wonder, what harm could come from institutionalizing Christian values in our government? The answer lies in history – the history of Christian Protestants and others being persecuted and driven out of their homes by Catholic Christians. That’s not to say that Catholicism is any worse, or better, than other religions. It’s just that one person’s religious values can easily become another person’s religious persecution.

Though it is true that the US has long been predominately Christian, it has never been a Christian nation, and it never should be. When we hear politicians like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and others call for special treatment of those who believe in one religion over another, or over those who believe in no religion at all, we should all be mindful that our Founding Fathers created our Constitution and our government to end tyranny, including tyranny by the majority.

To learn how a government led by a self-righteous authoritarian like Trump might look like, I encourage you to read Thom Hartmann’s excellent essay for AlterNet.org.

Why We Should Be Even More Afraid Of Cruz And Rubio Than Donald Trump.

By now, most people know that Donald Trump is an insensitive, bigoted blowhard who would endanger all Americans and many others throughout the world. Yet despite his lack of policies, his grandiose promises, his angry rhetoric and threats, his refusal to denounce the endorsement by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, and his willingness to engage in genital-measuring contests, in my opinion, he is not as great a threat as Cruz and Rubio.

Why? It’s readily apparent what the Donald is. But Trump has so dominated the media coverage that few people have examined the goals of Cruz and Rubio.

Let’s begin with Cruz. He’s an avowed Christian who approaches both politics and religion with the same evangelical zeal. In fact, he seems to happily conflate the two. If his religion was in the mold of the Christ he claims to follow – a healer who was accepting of others, who cared for the less fortunate and who promoted love and peace above all else – that might not be such a problem. But the Christianity that Cruz worships is xenophobic, misogynistic, angry, hateful and judgmental. Worse yet, Cruz wants to make his Christianity the official religion of our nation. Never mind that his position stands in stark contrast with the Constitution, Cruz claims to understand the true intentions of the Founding Fathers.

On the issues of abortion, education, environment, gun control, access to health care, immigration reform, LGBT rights, Social Security and tax reform, Cruz’s positions are not just to the right of the majority of American citizens. His positions are to the far, far right of most rightwing conservatives. In other words, Cruz represents the ideology of a tiny minority of wacko Americans. Further, he listens to virtually no one – not the majority of Americans; not the majority of his constituents; not even the majority of the Senate GOP caucus.

Cruz doesn’t even seem to care about the nation’s well-being – as evidenced by his almost single-handedly shutting down the federal government. He simply does what he wants (or what he claims God wants), all the while invoking religion with the evangelical speaking style of his father. That’s why he has been called the most hated man in Washington. And, if he became president, he would likely become the most hated man on the planet.

Rubio, on the other hand, presents a very different danger.

If elected representatives were held to the same standards as school children, Rubio would have been placed in a detention center for truancy long ago. He has the worst attendance record in Congress. Unlike Cruz, Rubiobot does and says what his wealthy contributors want him to. That’s why he continues to repeat the same lines over and over as if he has been pre-programmed by his contributors, Glenn Beck and George W. Bush’s foreign policy advisers. In fact, he has. Is it any wonder, then, that Rubio has threatened to invade half the nations in the Middle East and beyond?

Like Cruz and Trump, Rubio’s policy positions are way to the right of the majority of Americans. A Rubio presidency would be no less disastrous than that of Cruz’s or Trump’s. In fact, if you long for the “good old days” of a Bush presidency based on unjustifiable wars, unaffordable tax cuts and skyrocketing deficits, you have found your candidate in Rubio.

Such is the current state of the GOP.

Trump Is Only A Symptom Of A More Serious Condition.

The success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign should come as no surprise to anyone. It has been in the making since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the George H.W. Bush administration. That seemingly innocuous decision meant that US broadcast media no longer had to operate in the public interest. No longer held accountable to broadcast the truth, the radio airwaves were quickly dominated by rightwing conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Within a few years, more than 90 percent of talk radio was devoted to angry, hateful radio hosts telling the public that the government was too big, taxes were too high and liberals were wasting your money. These people treated politics as entertainment – the more hateful and bombastic they became, the higher their ratings.

Seizing on the opportunity that hate radio created, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created a cable TV version called Fox News Channel. Scarcely trying to disguise its partisanship, Fox became a vocal and very angry arm of the Republican National Committee. Ailes handed out Republican talking points at the beginning of each day, and the on-air hosts repeated them verbatim. Most of the network guests were Republicans, and if Democrats dared to appear on the network in order to correct the record, they were angrily shouted down…a tactic epitomized by a program host who lost custody of his children after grabbing his wife by the throat and dragging her down the stairs.

Fox News helped to create and promote the Tea Party, inflating the numbers of demonstrators while, at the same time, dismissing the racist rhetoric. The network took the side of those who brought guns to the demonstrations and threatened to “exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.” The network ramped up racist remarks surrounding the police killings of unarmed blacks – even that of a 12-year-old boy whose “crime” was playing with a toy gun. It supported virulent anti-government groups, such as those surrounding Cliven Bundy. And for more than 7 years, its program hosts have verbally attacked our president and celebrated the obstruction of his policies and court nominees.

Is it any wonder, then, that the same sort of hateful discourse has now permeated the Republican debates?

Donald Trump and his supporters have simply repeated what the rightwing media have been saying all along. They are immune to facts and the truth. They don’t care about policy discussions. Trump’s political movement is all about emotion – the emotions of anger and hate.

For its part, the Republican Party has reveled in the obstruction and destruction aimed at Democrats. Only now that it has become a very real possibility that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination and potentially destroy the “Grand Old Party;” only now that the polls have shown that either Democratic candidate could defeat Trump, has the Party establishment become concerned.

But Trump is not the only potential problem. The rhetoric and actions of the other Republican candidates are just as ugly and just as hateful. They all portray an America few people recognize. They all feed off of the anger created and promoted by the media. They all act as if the political campaign is little more than a made-for-TV reality show with all of the substance and thoughtfulness of Honey Boo-Boo. And though such candidates are good for network ratings, any of them would be disastrous for the future of our nation and the world, if for no other reason than the fact that none of them recognize the impending disaster otherwise known as climate change.

We can only hope that voters repudiate the hate. We should hope that the Republican nominee is defeated in a landslide. Elections should be about policies and leadership. Not about ratings.

Benghazi Selective Hearing Committee.

Were there breakdowns in security? Was there a cover-up? What led to the terrorist attack? What did the administration know? I’m not referring to Benghazi. I’m referring to the assassination of President Kennedy, the break-in at Watergate, the terrorist attack in Beirut, and the Iran-Contra scandal.

None of these tragedies were subjected to anything close to the same scrutiny as the terrorist attack on Benghazi.

The events in Benghazi have been the subject of 32 hearings, 50 briefings and 11 published reports over a period of 3 years. By comparison, the Warren Commission which investigated the assassination of a president lasted only 10 months!

And what have taxpayers learned for our investment of more than $4.7 million? Not much. We know that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email server for both personal and government business though her most important State Department communications were transmitted by cable and telephone. We discovered that there was a CIA facility near the consulate. We learned that the consulate’s security was inadequate. We know that, once the attacks began, the administration did everything in its power to rescue the ambassador and his staff.

More important, by watching the questioning of Clinton in front of the House Select Committee, we learned that the GOP partisanship knows no bounds. We saw that chairman Trey Gowdy gets angry at any suggestion of partisanship. We gathered further evidence of congressional dysfunction. And we learned from 2 GOP congressman and a former committee staffer that the committee met its goals by raising questions about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and causing a drop in her poll numbers.

The hearings did reveal something very comforting, however: That Clinton has the professionalism, charm and demeanor to be an excellent president!

The Attempted Destruction Of A Candidate.

Since she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for the office of president. And, of course, that has made her the prime target for Teapublican attacks. There is simply no other explanation for the continued investigation into the attack on our Benghazi consulate. In fact, few other incidents in US history have received such scrutiny. Not the attack on a Marine base in Lebanon during the Reagan administration. Not the sale of weapons to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal under Reagan. Not the attacks on 9/11 during the Bush administration. Not even the run-up to our invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.

For nearly 3 years, there has been a near constant drumbeat of rumors and accusations by Teapublicans over the Benghazi attack. Only Obamacare has been the subject of more Teapublican rants than Benghazi. We even have a select congressional committee on Benghazi. Yet, despite no evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary or anyone in the Obama administration, the “scandal” persists. Indeed, it has grown into “e-mailgate” over Clinton’s decision to use her own e-mail and her husband’s computer server, instead of the one provided for her by the State Department.

Was she trying to hide something? Did she illegally use her husband’s server to receive and send classified information? Could the server have been hacked? More to the point, was she trying to hide what really happened at Benghazi from Teapublican congressmen?

Multiple investigations have proven that the answer to all of those questions is an emphatic no!

Clinton provided all of her e-mails from the server regarding State Department business – more than 30,000 – which have been poured over by the FBI and still there is no evidence of wrongdoing. But the purported scandal will not go away. It continues to expand. Each and every day, the so-called “liberal” media publish yet another story of a new Teapublican allegation. Now the FBI has been given access to all of Clinton’s personal e-mails. Of course, this is exactly what Teapublicans have been fishing for.

Be prepared for her private e-mails to be leaked to Teapublicans and then to the Press. Anything that can possibly be portrayed as negative, deceitful or unethical will show up in the media. And, if there happens to be one e-mail that can be construed as a “bombshell,” it will be released next summer during the peak of the presidential campaign.

We’ve seen this act before.

In 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president, there were numerous allegations and investigations into Whitewater, an ill-fated investment in which Republicans claimed that the Clintons had defrauded other investors, but, in fact, the Clintons lost money themselves. That “scandal” was followed by Troopergate, Fostergate, Billarygate and numerous other “gates.” All of them were simply fishing expeditions to find dirt on the Clintons. Only after expending 6-7 years and more than $70 million, did Republicans finally strike paydirt when Monica Lewinsky’s friend outed her relationship with Clinton leading to a congressionally-appointed Special Prosecutor who was freed to dig into every corner and crevice of the Clintons’ lives.

In fact, the Republican obsession had little to do with the Clintons themselves. Like the elephant that serves as the Republican logo, Republicans have long memories. They are still looking for payback over the threatened impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon. They first tried to pin a scandal on Jimmy Carter and settled for the Iran hostage crisis which was extended by Reagan’s treasonous agreement with the Iranians to hold the hostages until after the presidential elections. They tried to pin anything and everything on Bill Clinton. And they failed at painting Barack Obama as a radical Muslim Kenyan unqualified to hold the office.

Now they’ve turned their attention to Hillary.

Of course, the Teapublicans could not have any success with such manufactured scandals if not for a compliant, corrupt and lazy Press; a Press that is all too happy to fawn over every bombastic word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth; a Press that happily publishes accusations leveled at Hillary without any attempt to research the accusations and to put them into context.

For example, did you know that Hillary was not legally bound to use a government e-mail server? Did you know that the State Department’s server was hacked while Clinton’s remained secure? (It is, after all, a server shared with a former president of the United States.) Did you know that the previous two Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, also used private e-mail accounts while in office? And did you know that Karl Rove and the Bush administration funneled millions of e-mails regarding government business through a server owned by the Republican National Committee and, when asked to produce those e-mails, erased them?

Where was the outrage then? Where were the congressional investigations? Where was the Press?

No Religious Test.

Dr. Ben Carson’s recent statement that no Muslim should ever be allowed to become president of the US not only reveals his willingness as an evangelical Christian to discriminate against a significant portion of the US population. It also reveals his ignorance of the Constitution. To wit, Article VI states, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

If that statement is not clear enough, the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The author of this amendment, James Madison, believed it necessary since many of the original states had not only favored one denomination over another. Many of the states collected taxes from their citizens on behalf of their established religions. For example, Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia had established the Anglican church as their official religion. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire were Congregationalist. While Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island had no established religions. Moreover, each of the states were populated with citizens who practiced an array of other religions.

Further, many of the Founding Fathers declared no preferred religion. Some, like Thomas Jefferson were deists, meaning that they believed in a Creator, but did not believe in organized religion. Indeed, Jefferson had gone so far as to create his own version of the Bible, eliminating the Old Testament and all of the passages detailing the accounts of revelations from God. He chose to focus, instead, on the teachings of Jesus calling it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

Given all of this, it’s preposterous to believe that the Founders ever intended the US to be a Christian nation…or a nation favoring any religion.

Yet, today, right wing evangelicals would have us believe that the US was founded exclusively on Christian principles. When more educated people deny their claims, the evangelicals then cry that “Christianity is under attack” and “the only thing that will return the US to its former greatness is to reaffirm its Christian principles.”

Hogwash!

For one thing, as I’ve explained, the Founders expressly forbade any established religion or faith. Second, studies have shown that atheists are actually more moral than their Christian counterparts. Studies have also shown that, rather than Christians being under attack, atheists are the group most subject to discrimination.

If you doubt that, ask yourself if an avowed atheist or a Buddhist or a Taoist or a Hindu or a Muslim could ever be elected President of the United States. Ask yourself what would happen if an atheist refused to issue marriage licenses to Christians based on religious freedom in the same way Kim Davis has discriminated against same sex marriage. Note how all of our candidates fall over one another to show that one is more “Christian” than another. With all of the candidates’ declarations of God Bless America, the answer should be obvious.

Clearly, we have established a religious test for office contrary to the Constitution. And I think the Founding Fathers would be horrified.

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.