Archive for March, 2011
Americans Cannot Pass Citizenship Tests, But Are Critical Of Immigrants Who CAN Pass Citizenship Tests!
Many Americans are quick to be nativists, to believe that America should only be for Americans, meaning that we should not allow immigrants into our country, as they, supposedly, cannot be Americanized.
But while many Americans have these prejudiced, often racist, attitudes, many Americans cannot pass a basic citizenship test that immigrants MUST pass to become citizens!
Quick to judge others, these bigots are not informed enough about their own country, but seem to think it is perfectly alright to be ignorant, simply by the fact that they were born in this country!
Imagine if we were to say that if you do not know the history and government of the country in which you were born, that you should lose your citizenship rights, as a basic part of citizenship should be to have an intelligent understanding of the heritage and traditions of your homeland!
Before any citizen should be judging immigrants, better to look in the mirror and improve oneself! And doing so would also improve ability to vote intelligently and understand the issues that government must deal with every day, rather than simply being ignorant and apathetic, as if they are birthrights!
Newsweek and The Daily Beast polled 1,000 Americans on ten random questions from the 100 that make up the list of questions of the US Citizenship test given to immigrants applying for citizenship.
38 percent failed to gain even six correct out of the random ten questions!
29 percent could not name Joe Biden as Vice President of the United States!
73 percent did not understand the concept of the Cold War as a half century conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union!
44 percent did not know that the first ten amendments to the Constitution are the Bill of Rights, our basic civil liberties that very few nations possess!
Six percent did not know that July 4 is Independence Day, absolutely unbelievable!
The knowledge of international affairs is absolutely abysmal, but realize that many Republicans act as if the United States is so wonderful and special that it cannot learn anything from “old Europe” or any other parts of the world!
What causes this tragedy about lack of knowledge of the government and history of America? Among the crucial factors are a very inequitable and inadequate education system; and the extreme inequities of wealth, with the top 400 households having more money than the bottom 60 percent combined!
We have a small percentage of Americans who are very tuned in and understand government and history, while a very large number of Americans have no clue at all! This is a danger to American democracy, as education enlightens us, and ignorance breeds further ignorance!
Florida Governor Rick Scott cares not at all what anyone thinks of him, and will not stop his attempt to destroy any sense of decency in state government!
Rick Scott is obscene to the core, as he is now promoting the destruction of education and health care in the name of privatization!
He cares not a whit about disabled people, about poor people, about state workers, about children, about honest and accountable government!
Media inquiries about the details of his blind trust while he is Governor have gone unanswered, as he feels he has no need to explain ANYTHING about his financial affairs, despite his involvement in Medicare scams in the 1990s, paying a record fine and avoiding prison time, as a result!
Not only is he obnoxious, obscene, and arrogant, but his past record of corruption in business is now starting to show up by his executive order mandating that all state employees be required to have drug tests on a random basis every three months, and also his demand that welfare recipients be so tested quarterly, and that they pay the cost out of their welfare payments!
This whole idea of mandatory drug testing is an invasion of privacy, and an extremely expensive proposition, and since he has already demanded that welfare recipients pay for their testing, it may be he will expect state employees to do the same, although at the moment that is unclear.
But the corruption shows up with the news from the Palm Beach Post that Scott’s wife has control over his blind trust, and that she has a link to a drug testing firm, with the indication that it is that company which would do the drug testing!
So Scott, through his wife, could benefit from kickbacks and profits from the drug testing!
Is that NOT a conflict of interest, and pure corruption? But does Scott care to react to or defend such revelations? This man seems invulnerable to any critics and just goes about his business of doing whatever the hell he wants, and tells his critics to go somewhere!
Is Florida’s Governor becoming a fascist dictator, who skirts the law and is immune to criticism? Is our state legislature going to lie down and act dead, simply because he, like their majority, is a Republican?
When are we going to see the end of this nightmare against the people’s interests, and the end of the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the extremely wealthy?
When are Floridians going to rise up and say, NO MORE to this arrogant, abusive man who thinks he is above the law? WHEN, OH WHEN?
And when are we going to see a similar outrage to throw out Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Chris Christie in New Jersey, and the newest outrage, Paul LePage in Maine?
When will the American people take away power from the BULLY GOVERNORS, and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?
The 30th Anniversary Of The Attempted Assassination Of Ronald Reagan: A Time To Reconsider Stronger Gun Control Laws!
Today, March 30, thirty years ago, after only ten weeks in office, President Ronald Reagan was subjected to an assassination attempt by John Hinckley.
Reagan was seriously wounded, and without the wonders of modern medicine, would have died after what would have been the second shortest term of a President in American history, only surpassed by William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia from cold weather conditions on Inauguration Day, exactly one month after he became President in 1841.
Reagan is also the only President ever shot who would recover from his wounds, although former President Theodore Roosevelt, shot while campaigning for election as a Progressive in 1912 after his time in office, also recovered from his wounds.
Reagan’s shooting demonstrated the chaos and anarchy that can happen for a period of time after such a tragic event, with no one really sure who was in charge in the moments after the assassination, due to Vice President George H W Bush traveling overseas at the time, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig claiming he was in charge, when actually Speaker of the House Thomas (Tip) O’Neill technically was next in line, but Bush able to act from afar, not having to be present in the nation to be in charge.
Press Secretary James Brady suffered much greater wounds than Reagan, who fully recovered, although some wonder if he suffered mental damage that led to his later Alzheimers diagnosis after leaving the Presidency. But Brady suffered major brain damage, was paralyzed and forced to spend his life in a wheelchair, and even today, speaks in a distorted manner. But his wife, Sarah, is a true example of a loyal wife, who has stuck through thick and thin with her husband, an example of true love!
The Brady Bill for gun control finally resulted in the Clinton Administration, but was not renewed ten years later during the Bush Administration, and we have seen the dangers of lack of gun control, with the recent attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in January.
We need President Obama to speak up on this issue in a much more forceful manner, and of course, we know that the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party will fight any attempt at gun control, but this is a moral cause, and the memory today of how we almost lost our 40th President thirty years ago today should sustain us in this fight!
Here we are only two and a half months into the terms of Republican Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, and Rick Snyder of Michigan.
All have declared war on labor unions, public workers, education and health care, and have conducted themselves in a dictatorial manner, not giving a damn about public opinion!
But now there is evidence that, if the elections were held now in these states, after people realize what these demagogues represent, all four would LOSE!
The good news, but belatedly, is that Rick Scott in Florida, who just barely won the race for Governor over Alex Sink by one percentage point, 50,000 votes, the smallest margin in Florida history, after spending $73 million of his own fortune to buy the job, now has had a EIGHTEEN point swing in public support, so that Sink would now win by SEVENTEEN points!
This poll result is a clarion call for a RECALL vote bill to pass, and if the Governor vetoes it, he should be IMPEACHED by his own party, as it is obvious that the people of Florida are totally disgusted with the “hoodlum and thug” attitudes of this Medicare scam felon “bully”, who should be removed from office by one constitutional method or another, as he is going to take Florida down with him into another scandal or disaster similar to his illegal activities as a medical industry executive a decade ago! This man belongs in prison, not in the Governorship of the 4th largest state!
And similar action needs to be taken against Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Snyder!
The Changed Image Of Japanese In America From A Century Ago! Is This The Future For Muslims And Latinos In America?
When one considers the horrible mistreatment delivered on Japanese in America in the first half of the 20th century, and how much things have changed, as witnessed after the recent Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant disaster, one has hope that maybe some day, the same change in treatment for Muslims and Latinos in America will be witnessed!
A century ago, newspapers regularly referred to Japanese Americans as “Japs”, particularly the papers published by William Randolph Hearst. California witnessed the segregation of Japanese American school children in San Francisco, until Theodore Roosevelt intervened and asked for the end of the policy because it was affecting US-Japanese relations. The California legislature later passed a law barring ownership of property in California by people of Japanese ancestry. The Japanese were depicted in popular culture, such as cartoons and movies,as inherently inferior, and as an “alien” race which could never be integrated into American society. And, of course, tragically, during World War II, about 110,000 Japanese Americans were interned in prison camps in seven states, while their military age young men were fighting in a segregated unit in Europe, winning more medals and honors than any unit of World War II in any theater of the war! When they were released in 1945, they were offered no apology or compensation, although it finally became accomplished for the 50,000 survivors under President Ronald Reagan in 1988!
But now, there is tremendous sympathy for the Japanese, and admiration at their courage and strength in difficult circumstances. Japanese Americans are now treated with dignity and respect by most Americans, and we do not hear any more racist or “alien” denunciations. We, as a society, tend to respect the contributions and accomplishments of Japanese Americans and regard them as “achievers”. We do not complain about their religion of Shintoism, or say they are unable to be assimilated. We salute them and praise them profusely, and prejudicial feelings are extremely rare. We have recovered from our hate of everything Japanese, due to their attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Now Japanese Americans are seen as truly Americans!
Will this happen in the future when,hopefully, we will not constantly remember September 11, 2001 as something to be blamed on all Muslims? Will this occur that we stop being so paranoid about illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and consider Latinos to be good Americans as well?
The hope is that this change in attitude will come soon, and that politicians will stop exploiting the issue for their own advantage, much like they did before World War II regarding the Japanese!
An unbelievable assault on education iand the teaching profession is underway in many states controlled by Republican Governors and legislatures.
It is well known that New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin are among the leaders on this assault, but we must now add to the list the Sunshine State, Florida!
Easily the most backward of the states mentioned when it comes to financing and educational results, the Republican legislature and Governor Rick Scott, who was unknown a year ago other than for Medicare fraud, have declared war on education funding and on the teaching profession at all levels!
The legislature has decided to blame the educators for the fact of poor test results in the public schools, and their aim ultimately is to destroy the public schools and promote privatizing of education, including spending inadequate taxpayer money on charter schools, which have so far failed to produce any better results with children.
The reality is that the only way to improve education is the promotion of family responsibility in the education of their offspring. The old saying is that “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!” Ultimately, no matter how good a teacher, if the students do not do their homework and take school seriously, the test results on standardized tests cannot magically be good!
But instead, what the Florida legislature and Governor Scott are doing is to cut over $3 billion in funding, while lowering taxes on property owners and corporations, and to hold the teachers totally responsible for good results on testing without any funding to back it up!
Public school teachers are seeing tenure destroyed, losing all the security that teachers had, which helped to make up for the poor salaries. They are being required to take a pay cut to pay for their retirement and health care, and seeing sick leave taken away from them unless they use it, so they cannot get payouts when retired if they avoid using sick leave. The DROP system, in effect since 1998, whereby they and all state employees could save their first five years of retirement money while continuing to work, therefore gaining a lump sum when they finally retire, is being ended for new applicants by June 30, 2011. Everyone will be on one year contracts with no guarantees of keeping their jobs.
Administrators will be able to use nepotism; favoritism; pettiness and personal vendetta; cronyism; age discrimination; racial discrimination; eliminating more expensive employees for younger, less expensive ones; and the ability to dismiss any teacher without just cause! If parents complain about a teacher, the easiest thing is to dismiss them, making teacher retention political, a total disgrace in the profession of education!
And the same treatment is also being dished out to college professors at the state universities and community colleges, showing total lack of respect for scholars and teachers with Masters degrees and Ph. Ds, who already do not make the salaries of lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, but educate all of them, put in years of effort to accomplish their advanced degrees, and now are being treated like “interchangeable parts”, who are to be treated as if they are just ordinary civil servants despite them having the most educational accomplishments of all state employees!
Professors with tenure will now be dismissed without just cause because they have a mouth and speak up on political issues or challenge administrators and their policies! If enough students complain that a professor is too tough on grading standards, that could make him or her a liability in the minds of college administrators, many who went into adminini8stration because they cannot teach anywhere as effectively as many professors! Academic freedom is under attack, and it is certain that many top notch professors at the state universities will leave because of the tremendous decline in work conditions!
Why would any young person wish to sacrifice years of study to become a public school teacher, or even more, a college professor, when there is little respect and dignity paid to him or her for dedicating his or her life to educating our younger generation?
People forget that the truth is those who CAN teach, and those who CAN’T administer teachers! No one has ever been able to show that administrators are anywhere as brainy and intelligent as the people they supervise! Remember the Peter Principle, that says people rise to the level of their INCOMPETENCY!
And now, even more outrageous, is that the Florida Retirement System participants, all of them, including not only teachers and professors, but also police officers, fire fighters, librarians, social workers, nurses, prison guards, and everyone else is to discover that the state legislature is about to declare that once one retires from the Florida Retirement System, they are NEVER to be welcomed back as part time employees in retirement, despite their years of knowledge, experience, expertise, and talents! This is totally insane, and is discrimination against the elderly who wish to work, and will be told they are not welcome back in any capacity!
Regarding teaching, it will create a shortage of substitute teachers at the public school level, and a tremendous shortcoming of adjunct professors at the college and university level, since the only adjuncts available in the long run will be those who are young and new at teaching on the college level, and who are unable to find full time teaching positions! The colleges NEED adjuncts to keep costs down, and if they must hire more full time instructors, it will cost far more than hiring part time professors who are retired and wish to work in their profession beyond their full time jobs!
The Florida legislature, more than two thirds Republican, and our outlaw felon Governor Rick Scott are involved in what can be considered criminal activity against the people of Florida, and the damage they have wrought and will continue to do will put Florida truly into the status of a third world nation!
The recent recall of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez is, in one way, encouraging because it means politicians can be held accountable to the people they serve.
But in another way, it is a very disturbing development, as the charge against Carlos Alvarez was led by a multi billionaire car dealer, Norman Braman, who used the power of his fortune to accomplish the goal he wished, the removal of the mayor.
How is that different than the Koch Brothers helping to put into office such people as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and using their money and influence to promote a political attack on labor unions, environmentalists, and others interested in promoting progressive goals?
Of course, conservatives would say that the billionaire George Soros is a major influence on MoveOn.org and is a dangerous threat to American values.
But what is the difference on the other side from Soros? At least, Soros promotes the advancement of progressive values.
But, honestly, the whole concept of billionaires having so much influence, on the left or on the right, over government in America in the 21st century is troubling, as in either case, the promotion of democracy is harmed by the wealthy participating in promoting their agenda.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to transform our system, where money talks in American politics! Plutocracy rules, rather than the voice of the people through democracy!
President Obama tonight gave a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, justifying American intervention in Libya as part of an international force to prevent a massacre of civilians in that civil war.
Obama called it a basic principle of the United States that we should oppose all violations of human rights when it involves the likelihood of mass murder by a deranged dictator who does not value human life, and is only too willing to conduct mass operations against civilians in large numbers.
This is a direct contradiction of what the United States did in the past: failure by Woodrow Wilson to intervene in the Armenian Massacre by Turkey in 1915 during World War I; failure by Franklin D. Roosevelt to step in during the mass Holocaust by Nazi Germany against Jews, gypsies, and others during World War II; refusal by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to intervene during the holocaust in Cambodia in the late 1970s; and failure by Bill Clinton to step in during the massacre that went on in Rwanda in 1994.
All of the above are seen as moral failures by the United States and the world, but this new doctrine, while admirable and principled, does bring up the issue of how the United States and NATO are supposed to afford the cost of constant interventions all over the world!
What if similar massacres are imminent in Syria, Iran, and other unfriendly nations in the Middle East? Why should not the United States step into the situation in the Sudan, the Ivory Coast, the Congo Republic, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and elsewhere?
Are we to be selective in where the US and NATO intervene? And what about the deaths in Bahrain, where the US Naval Command in the Middle East is situated, and in Yemen, where there are dangers of Al Qaeda influences that could affect world wide terrorism?
And how in the world are we to afford more defense and war spending long run, as we cut ruthlessly into education, health care, and other public services all over the country? How much longer can we tolerate the worsening of our every day lives and commit ourselves to reforming the world of its evils?
It is hard NOT to agree with the purposes of the Obama Doctrine in theory, but in practice, it seems impossible and a losing proposition politically for Barack Obama to seem to commit us to never ending intervention in the name of human rights and decency!
This is a torment for those of us who consider ourselves progressives and liberals, as even the best intentions cannot be fulfilled within the budget constraints the country faces in the short run and the long run!
John Stossel, who used to be on ABC News, and now works for the Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, has come to the conclusion that native Americans are a fortunate group, and has received more aid from the federal government than any other ethnic group!
What an amazing statement for Stossel to make, although he is noted for making whacky statements before now, which have no basis in fact!
How exactly have native Americans “benefited” from federal aid, when their land, their culture, their tribal government, were taken away from them, and citizenship only came in 1924, and only after Franklin D. Roosevelt became President were they allowed in 1934 to reclaim their tribal governments and culture, after 47 years of being “Americanized”?
Native Americans were killed in large numbers, and they lost their dignity and humanity to the US Military and to settlers, who thought the only good Indian was a dead Indian!
Native Americans remain the poorest ethnic group in the United States bar none, and their country was taken away from them without apologies, and with plenty of treaty breaking by the US government on a regular basis over the years!
So John Stossel shows no understanding of the disaster visited upon native Americans, and as usual, comes across as totally stupid and insensitive! But then again, he now works for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel, not ABC, where it is clear many of his colleagues had to be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads on a regular basis, by his total inability to see how off base he was!