Further Disintegration Of Our National Media.

Nancy Grace’s recent interview with a father whose child had been reported missing was, in a word, disgraceful. By choosing to tell the father on-air that his child had been found demonstrated a lust for sensationalism and insensitivity that defies any journalistic standards. Worse, she first announced to the father that the child had been found not specifying that the child was alive. After what I’m sure seemed like an eternity to the father she then included the fact that the child is alive.

Upon learning of the child’s discovery, Grace should have cut to commercial and informed the father off the air. Instead, she went for the “big moment” – the sensational shot of the father’s on-air reaction…likely hoping that the father would confess to some sort of wrong-doing. Of course, anything is possible. It’s possible that the father conspired with his 12-year-old child to gain national attention. But it’s doubtful. After all, the police had already searched the house multiple times…at least once with dogs.

In any event, Grace should have shown much more integrity, compassion and professionalism in a sensitive situation. One can only hope that HLN and its viewers express their disgust for Grace’s behavior. But given Grace’s past history as the “Murder Trial Queen,” we shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, the network seems to have disintegrated from Headline News into a network focused on gossip, sensationalism and prurient interest led by pseudo-journalists like Nancy Grace.

Grace is unlikely to ever change her tactics, but it would be justice if, one day, her family was the subject of a news story and she received similar treatment by another uncaring, callous “reporter.”

Another School Shooting…Yawn.

The recent Oregon school shooting was the 74th shooting on or near school property since the slaughter of six and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary. Several other school attacks have been discovered before the individuals could carry out their plans. Nevertheless, these shootings are happening at a rate of more than one a week. And when you consider that most schools are not in session for 3 months of the year, the frequency is greater than that. And if you consider gun violence outside of schools, things are much worse. More than 3,000 children die from gun violence every year. In fact, a child or teen is a victim of gun violence every 30 minutes.

But it seems that few care. Accepting gun violence is just part of living in America…the land of free and the home of the guns.

Since the wacko Second Amendment absolutists staged a coup which transformed the Nitwit…er…National Rifle Association from a benign club devoted to hunting and marksmanship into a mouthpiece for gun manufacturers, the NRA has not only succeeded in making more guns available. It has made more lethal guns available. It has helped market guns to children as young as five-years-old. It has fomented fear that the government is coming for your guns. It has pushed laws making it legal to carry guns in every state. And it has lobbied conservative Republicans and cowardly Democrats to block any legislation aimed at sensible gun control.

As a result, you can now see dimwitted bullies openly carrying guns in restaurants, convenience stores, shopping malls, sports stadiums and bars. And those are just the guns that are visible. There are many more concealed in waistbands, pockets, boots, purses and cars. For what purpose? Apparently it makes the mentally weak feel more powerful. It seems that guns are like sports cars…the speed of the car and firepower of the gun are in inverse relationship with the size of the penis.

Contrary to NRA beliefs, the presence of guns is not a deterrent to violence. In fact, easy access to guns is more likely to escalate confrontations. And guns are definitely more likely to end them. To see how useful guns are for self-defense, you need look no farther than the recent Las Vegas shooting in which a good guy with a gun was shot and killed because he was unprepapared to deal with a violent and fluid situation. (A gun does you no good if you don’t see the person who is about to shoot you.) For further evidence, consider the death of a priest in Phoenix, Arizona. He was shot and killed by a burglar using a gun owned by a fellow priest!

Two-thirds of homicides in the US are committed with guns…11,078 in 2010. More than half of all suicides are committed with guns…19,392 in 2010. More than 10,000 children are killed or injured by guns each year. Indeed, a five-year-old Kentucky boy just shot and killed his two-year-old sister with a child-sized, but no less deadly, Crickett rifle given him by his parents.

Had enough?

Apparently not, because unless the shooting incidents result in dozens of deaths, the media offers little coverage, few people take notice and even fewer demand solutions from their congressional representatives. It seems that most Republicans and many Democrats are more concerned about potential attacks from al-Qaeda and ISIS than from domestic terrorists. Yet as many children are killed in the US by guns each year than there were victims of 9/11. And our Congress does nothing to stop it. Yes, our 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms in order to maintain a well-regulated militia. But guns in the hands of five-year-olds, the mentally ill and anti-government “patriots?” What about the preamble to our Constitution which promises to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…?” Does the right to threaten and shoot outweigh our rights to tranquility and general welfare? I submit that the reverse is true.

You know the problems of gun violence. You know the solutions. You simply need to care enough to speak up. Until you do, the NRA will continue to control our laws, and the shootings will continue to happen.

How To Make White People Roll Their Eyes.

Bring up the subject of reparations for the descendants of slaves and for Native Americans as Ta-Nehisi Coates recently did in the May edition of The Atlantic and most white people will roll their eyes and sputter, “But that was generations ago! I didn’t have anything to do with slavery or genocide.” Such a response is certainly understandable for Americans of European descent. But it fails to recognize the fact that our nation was built on slavery or that African-Americans and Native Americans have been fighting an uphill battle for generations.

Indeed, those minorities are still being denied the opportunity for economic equality.

Just 3-5 generations removed from the end of the American Civil War and the end of the Indian Wars, entire populations of African-Americans and Native Americans are suffering from our nation’s past sins. If you think reparations are unfair for those who were not directly involved in the crimes, imagine what the victims of those crimes feel! If nothing else, modern America needs to have a sincere and objective discussion of the lasting impacts of slavery and Jim Crow. To think that, after 200 years of slavery and 100 years of discrimination, we could pass the Civil Rights Act and everything would suddenly be okay is absolutely ludicrous.

Consider the fact that, when the slaves were freed following the Civil War, most had no education, no savings, few possessions and no place to go. It’s true that General Sherman issued Special Field Orders No. 15 which called for former slaves to be given 40 acres and a mule. But those orders were quickly suspended. It’s true that the Freedmen’s Bureau collected 800,000 to 900,000 acres of land with the intention of redistributing it to former slaves, but most of that land was eventually returned to the former slave-owners.

In an attempt to help the former slaves, many were given guaranteed contracts for field labor on the plantations which they previously worked. Others were contracted as sharecroppers to farm the land. However, it was the white landowners who determined how the shares would be distributed, resulting in a new form of slavery. Despite all of this, some African-Americans were eventually able to purchase land. By 1910, more than 15 million acres of farm land were owned by African-Americans. But as a result of the Great Depression, predatory practices of whites, and other circumstances, the number of landowners rapidly declined. By 1997, just 2 million acres were owned by blacks. Of course, the number of white farmers declined, too. But not nearly as fast as blacks.

Those African-Americans who chose not to work the fields following the Civil War moved north to large cities in hopes of finding work – mostly as low-paid, unskilled laborers. But they were often taken advantage of by their new employers. As they struggled, the white factory owners thrived. So, too, did the banks and property owners. They were often victimized by white slumlords. And their schools were underfunded, perpetuating the problem for new generations. Many African-Americans were denied the right to vote, either by law or by tricks, and most faced overwhelming discrimination, especially in the South.

Perhaps the most crushing blow came after World War II during which African-Americans and Native Americans fought alongside whites. When the soldiers returned home, they rightfully expected their fortunes to change. But they soon found themselves back in the same circumstances; in neighborhoods that were “red-lined,” meaning that the residents of the area were not eligible for loans from banks. Of course, con artists and predatory lenders were there to take up the slack with contract mortgages that allowed the lender to take the homes with all of the accumulated equity if only one payment was late or missed. This made it nearly impossible for minorities to acquire wealth.

Of course, most white people are quick to point to our African-American president as evidence of racial equality. But the sad fact is we have used and abused our laws to prevent most African-Americans from attaining equality. There are as many African-Americans held in prisons today as there were slaves at the beginning of the Civil War. Studies show that our nation is as segregated today as it was before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further, many African-Americans are still being taken advantage of by unscrupulous businesses. For example, prior to 2008 blacks were targeted by sub-prime lenders and when the mortgage industry imploded, blacks were disproportionately affected by foreclosure. They were also affected more by the Great Recession. Their unemployment rates are higher. And to prevent them from influencing elections, Republicans have recently passed voter ID laws designed to suppress the minority vote. In addition, they are further reducing the number of polling places and cutting back on voting hours in black neighborhoods despite the fact that, in 2012, many black voters were forced to stand in line for six hours or more in order to vote.

Obviously, the United States is far from a post-racist society. In fact, we seem to be trending backwards as evidenced by the rapid growth of white supremicist hate groups and voter suppression laws.

Despite all of this, I don’t believe the US Congress will ever agree to any form of reparations for African-Americans and Native Americans. Nevertheless, I think we should try to find some way to make things right. An objective discussion in a court of public opinion regarding the fallout of slavery, the Indian Wars, and the consequences of our nation’s actions is long overdue. Giving victims the opportunity to enumerate the costs, to express their feelings and to discuss the problems they face could be extremely healthy for everyone.

And it would be highly educational for most whites.

Advice From A War Criminal.

From The Department Of Who The Hell Cares, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and his unpleasant daughter, Liz (I assume that’s short for Lizard) recently announced that they have formed a Political Action Committee to “restore America.” Restore America to what? To a craven bully that interferes with other governments; that robs resources from third world countries while giving nothing in return; that encourages large agribusiness to dump excess products in other nations thus bankrupting small farmers and throwing them into abject poverty?

Or does The Dick merely want to start another war in order to direct more taxpayer billions to his former company and political allies at Halliburton? Does The Dick want to resume his position as Torturer-In-Chief to cause others to fear him? Does he still believe that we can use our military might and status as the world’s only superpower to force the rest of the world to kneel at his feet and pay tribute to our multinational corporations? Does he still want to extract money and resources from the poor to feed the insatiable appetites of his wealthy friends?

Yes, as part of the Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations,The Dick has done all of that and more.

In an op-ed, The Dick and his disagreeable daughter wrote, “Rarely has a US president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” to which White House Press Secretary Jay Carney rightfully replied, “Which president is he talking about?” The only president that meets that description is the one who lived in the White House while The Dick was running our nation to ruin.

Let’s review: First, Cheney and Bush stole the 2000 election through a combination of Jeb Bush denying voting rights to tens of thousands in Democratic-dominated Florida counties, by counting nearly 10,000 unsigned absentee ballots, by bullying election officials, and by appealing to a Republican-laden Supreme Court. Cheney and Bush ignored more than 40 warnings of a pending terrorist attack in the US by al-Qaeda. They then invaded an oil-rich country under false pretenses, ordering numerous atrocities. They stole our privacy. They awarded so many billions in no-bid contracts to Halliburton for rebuilding Iraq that they “misplaced” roughly $80 billion. They ignored outright gambling by our largest financial institutions costing ordinary Americans their homes and trillions of dollars. They then bailed out those same financial institutions in order that they might continue their ritual of handing out six and seven-figure bonuses. Finally, Cheney and Bush were convicted as war criminals in abstentia by an international court.

Now that is a failed presidency!

Did I mention that the Cheney/Bush fiasco included leaving the Middle East in complete turmoil giving Sunni and Shiite Muslims the opportunity to resume their near 1,400-year war over who is the rightful successor to Muhammad? Now The Dick and his spawn want the US to send troops to Iraq to intercede. They’re not worried about the lives of our soldiers, the lives of Iraqis, our national debt or our national reputation. They’re only worried about oil.

Here’s an idea. If The Dick feels so strongly about immersing our nation in another war or occupation, let him crank up his mechanical heart and enter the fray with his shotgun and his oily buddies. Give them military training and draft their children for the fight. After all, The Dick has already proven that he is dangerous to his friends with a shotgun in his hands. Imagine what he can do against his enemies. Anyway, he and his fellow executives of Big Oil are the only ones who stand to profit from another misadventure in Iraq.

Ugly Voices From The Past.

Since the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) jihadists invaded Iraq, the media outlets who failed to ask the tough questions in 2002 and 2003 have paraded Bush administration neocons and their apologists from one “news” program to another. In recent days, we’ve heard the warmongering duo of Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John McCain, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Iraq Administrator Paul Bremer, chicken hawk Bill Kristol, former Secretary of State Condosleezza Rice, and GOP presidential wannabe Mitt Romney all tell us that President Obama has frittered away all of our hard fought gains in Iraq…that Iraq will soon become a testing ground for more 9/11s.

The obvious question is why on Earth would we ever want to listen to these nitwits again?

If you were paying attention in 2003, you may remember that Graham and McCain told us that there was no history of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites (Wrong). You may remember that Blair was little more than an obedient lapdog hoping to capitalize by pandering to the Bush administration. And you may remember that Rumsfeld said that we would be welcomed as liberators (Wrong) and the war would be over within a matter of days (Wrong again). Rumsfeld ignored the warnings of Gen. Eric Shinseki that we would need many times the number of troops to secure Iraq and pushed his “shock and awe” race to Baghdad without stopping to secure ammunition depots. (That ammunition was then used to create the lethal IEDs that haunted us for the remainder of our occupation.) Wolfowitz was the one who told us that a war in Iraq would pay for itself in oil. (Wrong!) Bush, Richard “The Dick” Cheney, Condosleezza, and Colin Powell assured us that Saddam was sitting on thousands of WMD. (Completely, provably wrong!) Bush announced “Mission Accomplished” more than four years before our combat role ended. Meanwhile, Kristol and his cronies cheered the war from the safety of their offices.

All of these people showed a knack for making impossibly stupid decisions that cost tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. Yet no one’s decisions led to more disaster than Bremer’s.

Bremer was the genius who, upon the conquest of Iraq, ordered the cleansing of all Baathists from their government positions. In other words, he fired all of the Iraqi military, administrators, government workers…even teachers…leaving a catastrophic void of expertise and creating an angry, displaced population set on payback. That decision alone led to the sustained chaos in Iraq that exists today. Moreover, Bremer’s stupidity gave the majority Shiites an opportunity to oppress the Sunnis and pushed the Iraqi government toward increased cooperation with Iran.

Now that ISIS is rolling through Iraqi cities, our incompetent media are once again turning to these people for more jewels of wisdom. Of course, the neocons have been quick to claim that the failures of Iraq were not their fault. The fault, they claim, lies at the feet of President Obama. “If only Obama hadn’t withdrawn our troops from Iraq, everything in the Middle East would be peachy keen,” they say. Yet it was Bush who destroyed Iraq. It was Bush who wasted hundreds of billions of dollars by awarding no-bid contracts to Cheney’s Halliburton and others to re-build Iraqi cities that are once again being destroyed. And it was Bush who agreed in 2008 to withdraw all of our troops. Not Obama.

McCain and Graham were livid that Obama refused to support the Syrian rebels. Yet, from the beginning, those Syrian rebels have included ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot formed as a response to our invasion of Iraq. ISIS is now financed by the Saudis and armed with American weapons that were provided by Congress and the CIA or captured from fleeing Iraqi troops – weapons that may eventually be aimed at us.

In other words, we are witnessing a sh*t storm that is the sole responsibility of the Bush administration. And there are no easy solutions to this mess. Our taxpayers have no appetite for placing troops on the ground or replaying the shock and awe bombing campaign. The ill-advised Iraq War has destabilized the entire Middle East and made it possible for the Islamic world to continue an ancient civil war. About all we can hope to do is to somehow minimize its effects on ourselves and others.

Listening to the neocons can only make matters worse.

Trading “Terrorists” For A “Deserter.”

The US, Israel and other countries have long said, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” But that’s not exactly true. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And there have been many exceptions to that rule. For example, Israel once exchanged more than a thousand “terrorists” for one of its soldiers. And, of course, there is the most recent exception in which the US exchanged five Taliban leaders for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

Where this case gets murky is the fact that the Taliban is considered a military enemy, not a terrorist organization. The US has recognized the role of the Afghan Taliban since the Clinton administration and has negotiated with the Taliban going back to the early days of the Bush administration. Officially, Taliban captives at Guantanamo are POWs. Not terrorists.

Further complicating the issue is that the Taliban prisoners had a “sell by date.” Once the US ceases the combat role of our military in Afghanistan beginning in 2015, the prisoners will have to be released under the Geneva Conventions anyway. If we were ever to get anything in return for the prisoners, we would have to do it this year. It’s clear that the administration engineered the best deal for Bergdahl’s return that it could get. The prisoners we exchanged will be monitored closely by the Qatar government and they will not be allowed to leave Qatar or participate in any military planning for one year. By that time, our combat role in Afghanistan will have ended.

Of course, the president is once again being accused of being an imperialist and a lawless dictator for authorizing the deal without consulting Congress. Yes, Congress had passed a law requiring the president to seek permission for releasing prisoners from Guantanamo at least 30 days in advance. The law was pushed by conservatives in order to prevent President Obama from following through on his campaign promise of closing Gitmo (an internationally-despised prison on land claimed by the US in a country with which we have no formal relations). But that law is clearly unconstitutional. It violates the separation of powers and the president’s authority as Commander-In-Chief. While Congress has sole authority for declaring war, once we send our troops into battle, the president has final authority over any military decisions. That has been true since George Washington was president.

Then there is the controversy over the actions of Bergdahl. No one knows why then Private Bergdahl had walked away from his unit the night of his capture, but it wasn’t the first time he had done so. As a result, he was not guilty of desertion or treason. He was AWOL. A military investigation into the matter following his disappearance never mentioned desertion. In fact, the report raised many questions about the lack of discipline in his unit.

Further adding to the confusion are charges that the search for Bergdahl resulted in the deaths of six American soldiers. Those charges are in dispute. Once the evidence revealed that no one was killed as a direct result of the search, those making the claim changed their story to say that, had Bergdahl not disappeared, the soldiers killed would no longer have been in the area. Only the military command knows the truth and we’re unlikely to learn the facts until later.

So here’s the conundrum: Those who hate this president…who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome…are certain that our administration traded dangerous terrorists for a deserter. They not only believe that Bergdahl should have been left to rot in Taliban captivity. They believe that his parents are Taliban sympathizers and Muslims simply because Bergdahl’s father grew a long beard and learned the Pashto language in hopes of obtaining the release of his son. The Bergdahls have received death threats as a result. And the Bergdahls’ hometown has been forced to call off an event celebrating Bowe Bergdahl’s release.

So that’s what defines treason and patriotism in the minds of the far right these days?

If growing a long beard makes one a terrorist and a Taliban sympathizer, then why haven’t Phil Robertson and the entire cast of Duck Dynasty received death threats? Why haven’t the stars of Mountain Men been vilified? More to the point, why haven’t the very real terrorists who populate the Hells Angels, Mongols and other biker gangs not been labeled Muslims and Islamist fanatics?

In reality, the exchange of prisoners for Bergdahl was some necessary housekeeping in preparation for the end of combat in Afghanistan. The deal had been under consideration since 2011 and, for years, conservatives had been accusing the president of dragging his feet in attempts to free an American soldier. Indeed, there have been unconfirmed reports that 500,000 protest signs were found by sanitation workers next to dumpsters behind Republican National Committee headquarters. The signs read, “Impeach Obama For Leaving An American Behind In Afghanistan.”

Time To Rethink The Language Of Hate.

Following the murder of two Las Vegas cops and a “good guy with a gun,” it’s time to take a long look at those who are fomenting anti-government hate. The shooters, Jerad and Amanda Miller, had apparently been inspired by Cliven Bundy, as well as various militias and “patriot” groups. They believed the police officers to be Nazis and talked of a revolution against our government.

Far from being alone, the Millers are part of a growing segment of our population who have a perverse understanding of our Constitution, and who consider our government illegitimate. Since the election of President Obama, the non-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has noted a significant rise in such hate groups. A spokesman said that the SPLC’s Hatewatch had listed 139 hate groups in 2008, but over the last 5 years, the number has grown to more than a thousand.

Interestingly, these groups only seem to thrive during Democratic administrations.

The growth of hate groups is almost certainly the result of the constant anti-government, anti-Democrat hatred being spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and many others. It’s even worse these days with the impact of social media and the Tea Party. Even so-called “traditional” Republicans and “Christian” churches must be held responsible for their words. These people have questioned the legitimacy of a president twice elected with large majorities. Instead of respecting the results of the elections, they have implied that there was widespread voter fraud. They have demonized gays, lesbians, Latinos, African-Americans, the unemployed and the poor.

They have called Obama the “Imperial President” simply for acting on his campaign promises. They called him a Nazi, a Socialist and a Communist (it’s clear they don’t understand the definitions of any of those terms) for signing into law a version of Romneycare. They have celebrated mockumentaries created by James O’Keefe that purported to show progressive groups participating in illicit activities. They have invented conspiracies and scandals over events similar to those they supported or ignored during Republican administrations. They rant about the growth of government even though cutbacks at every level of government have acted as an anchor on our economy since the start of the Great Recession.

The hatemongers have generated such a large following that it now threatens to explode in a new wave of violence.

Rather than being outliers such as Timothy McVeigh, the hate-spewing extremists have taken over one of our two dominant political parties. The haters have members of Congress, presidential candidates, militias led by retired peace officers, Tea Party groups calling for Second Amendment remedies, a cable “news” network making up lies and supporting seditionists, churches screaming hate-filled tirades at minorities, and bullies openly carrying AK-47s, AR-15s and shotguns into restaurants and large retail stores.

Thankfully, the SPLC has finally convinced the Justice Department to reinstate its domestic terrorism unit that was disbanded following 9/11. After all, terrorism is no less lethal if it comes from within. In many ways, domestic terrorism is more destructive than that imposed on us by foreign groups. It makes us distrust and fear each other. Our political system was founded on the debate of ideas; of the party in power being challenged by the loyal opposition. But if we don’t de-escalate the rhetoric that inspires people like the Millers, this isn’t going to end well.

More Empty Rhetoric About Border Security

In recent weeks, a wave of immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have flooded the Texas border in order to escape political turmoil and extreme poverty in their home countries. The would-be immigrants include more than 48,000 children traveling on their own. With its Texas facilities overwhelmed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) transported thousands to facilities in Arizona. Of course, that led our finger-wagging governor and her Teapublican allies to blame President Obama. They claim that the Obama administration has ignored border security.

That makes for a sensational story, but it’s simply not true.

The budget for border security has grown from $7.9 billion in 2008 to nearly $13 billion in 2013. We spent $2.4 billion to build 670 miles of border fence and there are plans to build another 700 miles. Including lifetime maintenance, the total cost of the fence is likely to soar to more than $500 billion! In addition, a Republican amendment to the Senate immigration bill calls for an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents at a cost of $3.4 billion per year. The Obama administration has intercepted record numbers of immigrants – 414,397 in 2013. In fact, the enforcement measures and lack of job opportunities in the US resulted in zero net immigration in 2012.

It’s easy to complain if you’re a Teapublican trying to score political points, but you have to ask what more can we do to seal our borders? Shall we build a dome over the entire nation? Should we set up minefields and machine gun emplacements then deploy Sheriff Joe and his posse to mow down hopeful 12-year-olds? How much more money should we spend? How many more Border Patrol agents should we employ? Should we redeploy troops returning from Afghanistan to the wilds of Texas and Arizona? At what cost?

And what about the 40 percent of undocumented immigrants who enter the country legally and overstay their visas?

The most effective (and perhaps only) way to increase border security is to help end the political and financial insecurity in Central America. That’s certainly within our power. After all, much of the insecurity has been caused by our corporations and our meddling beginning with the Monroe Doctrine. We could also decrease the demand for illegal drugs in the US. Without the resources of drug cartels, there would be less drug trafficking and less human trafficking. Unfortunately, that’s not within the realm of possibility. We have waged a war on drugs for more than 30 years by locking up drug users and drug dealers. What next? Shall we execute them?

If Teapublicans are so critical of the situation, perhaps the President should assign responsibility for border security to the critics. Let Jan Brewer figure out how to stop the immigration without international incident; without lethal measures; without committing human rights violations; without imprisoning desperate people merely seeking a way to protect and feed their families. Or have the Teapublicans become so angry and mean that they simply don’t care about the consequences of such actions? Are they entirely lacking a conscience?

If so, we have bigger problems than illegal immigration.

Thoughts On The 70th Anniversary Of D-Day.

I was born on the second anniversary of D-Day and I was raised near Omaha. Maybe that’s why I have always been fascinated by those men who had the courage to step off a ship into the cold waters off Normandy and storm Omaha Beach. I didn’t know anyone who actually fought on Omaha Beach, but I knew several who were involved. My uncle was in charge of maintenance of the transport planes that helped supply our troops. Later, he was charged with supplying General Patton’s tanks on their race to Berlin. Indeed, after I saw the movie Patton, he asked if I remembered the scene in which Patton was chewing out a supply officer over the radio. ‘You know who was on the other end of that conversation?” he asked. “It was me.”

It was my uncle who introduced me to the horrors of war. When I was about 12, he brought a box of photos to a family gathering. While the women and girls were in the kitchen, he pulled out photos taken in the German death camps. He wanted me to know why his generation had fought and he wanted to make sure that the horrors of those camps were never forgotten.

Most of those who fought in World War II seldom talked about their experiences.

One of our neighbors was a member of the 82nd Airborne who parachuted into a small French town in the early morning hours of D-Day. I only remember him talking about his experience once while we were working together in the field. He said that, as he floated down, his unit took fire from the German troops below. He talked about how lucky he felt to avoid being wounded after discovering holes in his parachute upon landing. When I asked how he found the courage to jump into enemy fire, he replied, “My unit was full of ex-cons. During the preparations for D-Day, there was a beating or a knifing in my camp almost every night. By the time D-Day rolled around, I was more frightened of my own unit than I was of the Germans.”

As we commemorate D-Day, we should also pay tribute to the men who fought in all of the battles of World War II, like my dad’s cousins. One received an astounding seven battle stars after fighting in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and, finally, the Battle of the Bulge. Another fought in the Pacific Theater beginning with the Battle of Attu in the Aleutian Islands and ending with the Battle of Okinawa.

Of course, they most certainly were not alone. Millions of Americans, Australians, British, Canadians, Chinese, Filipinos, French, Indians, New Zealanders, Polish, Soviets and others fought and died in the war that some like to call “the good war.” I think my uncle, my relatives and my neighbors would have hated that moniker. They put themselves in harm’s way to save others. But they hated war…any war. For that reason, more than any other, they deserve to be called the “Greatest Generation.”

McCain Goes Maverick With The Truth Again!

Having worked with two US Senators on behalf of a friend who had been denied military benefits after being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, I know how responsive most senators are with regard to veterans’ issues. That’s why it is particularly puzzling that a senator, who is a veteran himself, would not know that the VA hospital located within sight of his office was falsifying wait times.

Did Sen. McCain not receive complaints from his constituents? I find that exceedingly difficult to believe, especially when it is alleged that 40 veterans died while waiting for appointments. Why did McCain not respond to a detailed letter from the doctor who became a whistleblower? One of his staff members acknowledged receipt of the letter, but McCain did nothing. Then, when the excrement hit the rotating air movement device, McCain demanded answers. He called for investigations. He demanded the resignation of General Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Given the circumstances and his almost certain knowledge of the problems, McCain should have offered his own resignation. That would have been more appropriate than the resignation of Shinseki.

Now McCain is outraged…OUTRAGED…over the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl. He says that these are “the five most dangerous people on the planet,” and that their release will almost certainly cause the deaths of more Americans. I remember no such outrage when the Bush administration released al-Qaeda members from Gitmo…30 percent of whom re-entered the fight against the US. What I do remember is that Teapublican senators and congressmen have long accused the Obama administration of dragging its collective feet in negotiating for Bergdahl’s release.

I also remember that the US paid a high price to have McCain and other prisoners of war released from Vietnam. And, as for allegations of Bergdahl’s desertion, we should all leave that up to our military leaders. But I do recall allegations that McCain was shot down over Vietnam as a result of disobeying his orders.

More and more, it seems that McCain has become an angry old man who has lost touch with reality. He once earned a reputation as a maverick for working across the aisle in order to serve his country. Now it seems that he is content to play along with the highly partisan leadership of the Republican Party. He has excelled at making immigrants scapegoats for our economic problems. He has embraced the anger and divisiveness of Tea Party politics. He is living up to his childhood nickname…McNasty. And when it comes to the truth…lets just say that, for McCain, it has become an increasingly long distance relationship.