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A Way To Fix the Immigation System (that no one will ever do.)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 24, 2014

In the 1996 movie “Phenomenon”, John Travolta’s character couldn’t figure out for the life of him how a wild rabbit kept finding its way into his garden despite building a fence around it. Suspecting the rabbit was burrowing beneath the fence, he kept burying it deeper & deeper only to discover each morning that his plants were still being eaten. Upon becoming a genius, his character figured out that the rabbit must have been living in the garden all along and burying the fence deeper had only trapped him inside. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge established the “U.S. Border Patrol” in response to two new laws: 1) Prohibition and the need to stop people from smuggling alcohol into the country, and 2) the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 that, for the first time, set limits on the number of people that may immigrate to the U.S.. That meant closing our borders. (No, I’m NOT advocating tearing down the border fence.) But just with Travolta’s rabbit, we prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from willingly leaving the country because of just how secure we’ve made our borders. Illegal immigration is a problem of our own creation and there is a sensible and rational solution on how to fix it… and for that very reason (“it’s sensible and rational“)… no one will ever do it: allow free travel across the border through a series of highly secure checkpoints. (Take a handful of sand and squeeze it. The tighter you squeeze, the more sand runs out. That’s what repeatedly tightening our border security is doing today.)

Many people are unaware that the United States only issues a limited number of visas to other countries each year, which people in those countries can then apply for to enter the U.S. legally. Because there is a limited number of visas, the application process can make them far too expensive for the average impoverished Mexican farm-worker to afford, and the visas these countries are given are snatched up quickly by the rich & powerful in those countries. So it angers me tremendously when I hear Teabagger morons like Canadian-born, son of a Cuban-national, Senator Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz wonder aloud, “Why don’t they go through the process to come here legally?” Because, pinhead, when you’re broke & powerless, your chances of obtaining a legal visa are slightly lower then your chances of winning the lottery.

Since not everyone enters the country on foot across our Southern or Northern borders, we can’t do away with the visa system entirely, but when so much of the American economy actually DEPENDS on immigrant workers, it doesn’t make sense to turn them into criminals once they are here. As radio host Thom Hartmann says on his radio show on a near daily basis: “We don’t have an illegal immigrant problem in this country, we have an illegal EMPLOYER problem.” Thom advocates that if we start throwing some of these criminal employers in jail instead of the workers, maybe they won’t be so quick to offer the jobs that lure them here. That’s certainly true, but with the negative side effect of dramatically reducing the workforce, resulting in artificial shortages that drive prices up.

Many who are here in this country illegally would like nothing more than to go home and see their families, but because of our “rabbit-proof fence”, they know if they leave, it’ll be incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to get back. So the stay, trapped in the U.S., living underground, hiding in the shadows in constant fear of deportation.

The solution is painfully simple: establish a series of high-security border-crossing checkpoints and allow free travel across them. Border-patrol agents can check travelers for all forms of contraband, from drugs to guns, even human smuggling. Border-police will still patrol the fence for drug smugglers, gun-runners, even terrorists, but they won’t have to waste precious time & resources chasing/repelling/deporting construction workers, farmers & maids. Once they are here, they can return home whenever they like without fear of not being able to return. In fact, some people may actually choose to return home to their native country every night after work or on the weekends rather than remain in the U.S. permanently.

President Obama’s controversial move last week to suspend deportation of undocumented parents of American-born children or workers that have been living honest fruitful lives here for years, would be rendered moot.

Another positive resulting from allowing free-travel across the border is a dramatic reduction in “worker abuse”. No more will criminal employers be able to wield the threat of “deportation” over their undocumented workers heads, allowing them to get away with appalling abuses like dangerous working/living conditions, excessively long hours and criminally low wages… which is one more reason you’ll never see this happen. Because empowering workers, possibly even allowing them to unionize, goes against everything Corporate America (and by proxy, the GOP) stands for.

They can now call the police when they are victimized or witness a crime. And (costly) prison space won’t be wasted incarcerating peaceful “law-abiding” immigrants (no longer here “illegally” because they crossed through a legal checkpoint) and can be reserved for the truly criminal.

People who are not American citizens are already not entitled to the benefits of citizenship. They still won’t be able to apply for Food Stamps, get Social Security or qualify for “ObamaCare” subsidies. They WILL however be able to file a 1040 and pay taxes without worry of revealing their presence to the government.

I can’t help but think of the experiment in many states to legalize marijuana. Not only are these states saving millions by not policing/prosecuting/incarcerating many petty drug offenses, but they are actually PROFITING from all the new tax revenue. A double-boost to their economies. Likewise, revising the immigration system this way would save the government Billions wasted policing/prosecuting/incarcerating the vast majority of poor otherwise-honest immigrants, and instead actually PROFITING from the added tax revenue.

Nope. Makes too much sense, and D.C. is where Common Sense & Good Ideas go to die.
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Immigration Reform, National Security, Racism, Seems Obvious to Me November 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Where Are the Anti-Police State Cliven Bundy Supporters on Behalf of Michael Brown?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 18, 2014

Last April, Federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLS) arrived at the home of Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher that has been grazing his cattle on public land for the last 20 years without reimbursing the government for upkeep of that land, to evict his cattle from said public land and demand he pay the $1 million dollars in back-owed grazing fees. This sparked a face-off between redneck anti-government armed militia “Freedom Riders” and federal law enforcement. Bundy supporters decried the “jack-booted” thuggary of Federal law enforcement and declared that THIS was “exactly why we have a Second Amendment!” (no, it’s not.) Four months later, an over-militarized police force in up-armored land-mine resistant vehicles with machine-gun turrets on top, launched teargas grenades and fired rubber bullets into crowds of protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, and the same people who vilified the authorities for attempting to force Bundy to comply with the law, are stunningly silent when it comes to defending the mostly black protesters being confronted by a paramilitary police force as they attempt to express their First Amendment right to publicly protest.

One can’t help but wonder what Bundy supporters’ reaction would be if hoards of armed black protestors were training their weapons on Federal law enforcement officers. Where are the militia teanuts rushing to the defense of black protesters in opposition to the heavy-handed police tactics being employed in Ferguson, Missouri? How is the almost-hyperbolic militaristic response to a public protest not a “call to arms” for every anti-government militia group in the country?

Rancher Bundy acknowledged that he was in defiance of the law and thumbing his nose at Federal Law enforcement, stating clearly that he simply “did not recognize the authority” of the Federal Government over him. He went to court numerous times to defend his right to use public land without paying for its upkeep, and lost every time. And when the BLS came knocking on his door, demanding he pay nearly a million dollars in 20 years worth of back-owed grazing fees, armed militia groups from neighboring states rushed to his defense, railing against the “Police-State” federal government’s “jack-booted thugs” persecuting a poor innocent cattle rancher. Yes, poor, innocent, admitted criminal, government welfare moocher Cliven Bundy. When those same supporters showed up with guns and trained them on police officers, the BLS wisely just backed off and said, “You’re not worth it.” Fox “news” gave the “Bundy Standoff” wall-to-wall coverage, sending camera crews to cast protestors in the most sympathetic light (until Bundy started talking about “the Neg’ras”.)
 

Protesters in Ferguson, MO defying police
Black protestors in Ferguson, MO

 

Protesters at Bundy Ranch in Nevada defying police
Bundy supporter Eric Parker from central Idaho
Militiaman in support of Cliven Bundy Militiaman blows war horn in Call to Arms Bundy supporters in defiance of Authorities

 

Let’s be clear about one thing: Those of us who defended the government against Bundy are NOT “hypocrites” for now criticizing the governments response to protesters regarding the shooting-death of an unarmed black teen (who was in the process of surrendering to authorities after already being shot twice, then shot three to six more times til he was dead) last week. Bundy was already in defiance of the law and there was no question of his guilt when federal authorities arrived to fine… not arrest… Mr. Bundy.

Despite a video released after-the-fact that appears to show Brown committing petty theft (taking a handful of cigars from a local convenience store), the officer who shot the unarmed Brown twice when he grabbed Brown through the window of his police car, then fired 3-6 more shots killing him as Brown attempted to surrender, did not know about the robbery when he confronted Brown. And regardless, YOU DON’T SHOOT AN UNARMED MAN EVEN ONCE (let alone EIGHT TIMES) while they are in the process of surrendering.

The always excellent Media Matters also noticed the hypocrisy of Fox radio host and frequent Fox “news” contributor Laura Ingraham, who chastised the Media for inflaming the situation in Ferguson, saying that their presence there was only making the situation worse as protesters were “playing to the cameras”, likening them to “a lynch mob”. But four months ago, Ingraham struck a very different tune as she appeared repeatedly on Fox to describe the pro-Bundy armed militia protesters as “engaging in an act of civil disobedience”, chastising the federal government for its “ridiculously disproportionate response.”

Quite honestly, when I started work on this op/ed and Googled “Cliven Bundy” “Michael Brown”, I expected to see… at the very least… a half dozen other sites questioning the stunningly different reactions towards the use of military-style police force against protesters… one white, armed to the teeth, defending a man in flagrant violation of the law threatening the use of violence against a very menacing-looking police force… the other black, unarmed (alleged reports of “Molotov-cocktails” being thrown at police have never been substantiated), teargassed and shot with rubber bullets by local police in military vehicles wearing camouflage (in the city?) in full riot gear. I didn’t. Not one single news story remarking on the disconnect, and not even a handful of stories on the web (perhaps three) commenting on the obvious hypocrisy. But I expect that number to grow quickly.

I also expect to see the NRA out there any day now defending the black protestors’ right to take up arms against local authorities.

NOT.

UPDATE: Almost on cue: Fox defends Ferguson police response as “What needed to happen”.

So predictable.

 



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Filed in Crime, Guns & Violence, Politics, Racism, Right-Wing Hypocrisy August 18th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 15 comments | Add/View

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If Obama’s “Talk of Amnesty” is “Luring” Immigrants, Why Aren’t More of Them From Mexico?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

I kept wishing someone would say (while shaking their head slowly), “Have you no shame, Senator Cruz?” The reincarnation of anti-Communist witch-hunter Senator Joe McCarthy went on “Meet the Press” yesterday and was given free network airtime to repeat the asinine GOP claim that it is President Obama’s “talk of amnesty” that is drawing this flood of refugee children to the U.S. Border (I should note that Cruz… son of a “refugee” himself, refuses to call these kids “refugees”, because that would be admitting they are fleeing something deadly.) It has become a ubiquitous GOP Talking point that it is President Obama’s “sudden” talk about pursuing a “path to citizenship” for the children of undocumented immigrants that is responsible for the recent flood of immigrant children from Southern Central America. It’s nonsense of course. And I keep waiting in vain for one of these vapid “Sunday show” hosts to challenge the claim, but they never do because either they don’t think there is anything wrong with their “logic” or they actually agree with the claim.

Two big flaws in their argument:

  1. While the flood of refugee children appears to be sudden & recent, President Obama’s talk of “a pathway to citizenship” for the children of immigrants is not.
  2.  

  3. If talk of “Amnesty” is what’s drawing them here, why aren’t an increasing number of them coming from Mexico?

Let’s start with Myth #1: The idea that President Obama has only recently started talking about “a pathway to citizenship”. Certainly discussion of “immigration reform” increased recently after House Republicans… after saying they would finally take up the issue of immigration reform after 14 months of giving it lip service… suddenly found a new excuse not to take up the issue: they “couldn’t trust Obama to uphold the law” after he suddenly “unilaterally” decided to extend the “ObamaCare Deadline” for thousands of small businesses (something the GOP actually wanted). But Obama has been talking about “a pathway to citizenship” ever since he was Candidate Obama in 2007:

When [Mr.] Obama was asked whether or not he would allow undocumented immigrants to work in the US [during] the Dec. 4, 2007 Democratic Debate on NPR, he said:
 
“No, no, no, no. I think that, if they’re illegal, then they should not be able to work in this country. That is part of the principle of comprehensive reform.”
 
“But I also want to give them a pathway so that they can earn citizenship, earn a legal status, start learning English, pay a significant fine, go to the back of the line, but they can then stay here and they can have the ability to enforce a minimum wage that they’re paid, make sure the worker safety laws are available, make sure that they can join a union.”

Democrats have been futility trying to shame Republicans (how do you shame people with no shame?) into taking up Immigration Reform ever since Mitt Romney and the GOP took a shellacking among Hispanic voters in 2012. On November 8, 2012… just two days after the election… Speaker Boehner declared that “immigration reform” would be “a priority” for the GOP in 2013 (to be fair, he didn’t say how high a priority it would be) adding: “This issue has been around far too long” and “[a] comprehensive approach is long overdue“.

Flash forward more than a year later and the first time it looks like they’ll actually take up the matter in Congress, they miraculously find an excuse not too.

As pointed out in last weeks’ column, this “sudden” surge in immigration actually started back in 2011. The spike in illegal immigration is by no means “sudden”. It just seems that way since Republicans (cynically) started making it an issue (in order to avoid taking up immigration reform once again, citing the need to stem this “sudden” surge in refugee children first before they’ll take up the issue.) It’s a bit like refusing to go to an AA Meeting until you get your drinking under control first.

#2) The idea that it is President Obama’s talk of “Amnesty” that is drawing them here: If the (false) promise of “citizenship for children” is what’s enticing people South of the Border to come to the U.S., how come 74 percent of the increase is coming from the “Northern Triangle” region South of Mexico? Yes, in sheer numbers, more of the refugee children are coming from Mexico. But it’s a much larger country. The “sudden surge” (over 700%) is coming from the equatorial nations. Are Mexicans suddenly not interested in “easy American Citizenship” so that when they (supposedly) hear President Obama talk about “Amnesty” for immigrant kids, they now yawn and say, “Not interested”? Yet other children are willing to make the 1,000 mile trek, risking life & limb upon hearing that same promise? Does that make sense to anyone… anyone SANE or not hosting a Sunday talkshow I mean.

I wonder just how eager these bastards would be to send these children back to almost certain death if they had to take them there themselves and look them in the eye as they leave them there and drive away?
 



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Filed in fake scandals, Immigration Reform, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Racism, Seems Obvious to Me July 21st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Maybe Howard Dean Was Right on Affirmative Action?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 28, 2014

On January 15, 2003, President Bush stopped by the University of Michigan while campaigning for re-election. UMich had recently implemented new state restrictions on the use of race when deciding just who they’d admit enrollment to, and he condemned Affirmative Action measures as “a quota system”. Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean later condemned President Bush’s remarks for injecting race into the campaign. And while Dean made the case for Affirmative Action himself (weakly), his Democratic rivals pounced on the front-runner, pointing to a 1995 comment of his suggesting affirmative action should be based “not on race, but on class.” Dean went on to defend his 1995 remark by suggesting it’s time to consider economic based Affirmative Action where poor students who excel despite difficult circumstances, be they black or white, receive preference over wealthier students that grew up with all the advantages of being rich, be they black or white. And it does make sense that a wealthy minority probably doesn’t need a leg up as much as a poor white student. Dean was wrong of course a decade ago, but considering the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding Michigan’s anti-Affirmative Action law, might it not be a good idea today now that there is the very real danger of “race-based” Affirmative Action being abolished across the country?

President Bush went on to add in that 2003 speech that, “Our Constitution makes it clear that people of all races must be treated equally under the law.” Of course, if I may state the obvious, a university is not a court of law, and despite what the Constitution says now (because for 150+ years, “3/5ths” was the measure of a black man), it rarely works out that way. Minorities just aren’t treated equally in our society. That’s a fact. Whether “Affirmative Action” helps level the playing field may be up for debate, but there is no question that simply being a minority is an instant disadvantage in our society.

Last week, this fact was made startlingly clear, first with the racist remarks by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy questioning whether “the nig’ras” were better off as slaves than they are “dependent on the government” (said the man dependent on government land to feed his cattle rather than pay for it himself). Then again, less than a week later with the comments of LA Clippers owner Don Sterling, who chastised his young girlfriend (?) for posting photos of herself posing with black athletes on her Facebook page, demanding she not bring “black people” with her to basketball games, and patting himself on the back for being the benefactor of so many black men. (Though to be fair, the 80 year old Sterling was not openly hostile towards “blacks”, blaming societal norms for his discomfort, whereas Bundy was just plain ol’ Deep South shit-for-brains ignorant.)

So in the same week that we have Bundy and Sterling demonstrating that race is still very much an issue in this country, our Conservative-leaning Supreme Court brands racism a thing of the past, and that any effort to counter that racism is, in itself, “racist”. See how that works?

Two weeks ago on Fox “news” Sunday (yes, I watch it every week. The things I do for you people)… the same week token black Moderate Juan Williams was not there… quite by coincidence I’m sure… Brit Hume (or was it George Will?) decided to accuse President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder of “making everything about race” and in effect accusing them of reverse racism. Of course, neither Obama nor Holder “make every issue about race”… at least, not to the degree Conservatives on Fox do… but it casts a spotlight on the fact that we just can’t talk about race anymore without some Right Wing idiot accusing you of racism for doing so.

And that brings us back to Howard Dean. Ten years ago, GOP racism was still mostly underground, and being caught making racists remarks was cause for embarrassment and a public outcry for an apology. Today, GOPundits like Rush Limbaugh proudly wear their racism like a badge of honor, singing “Barack the Magic Negro” live on the air and then defending doing so, while the Supreme Court undoes wide swaths of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act” (which was created specifically to empower the 1964 Civil Rights Act). I dare say Deep South Republicans of 2014 haven’t been so comfortable being openly racist since they were Deep South Democrats in 1952.

With the Supreme Court last week declaring Michigan’s anti-Affirmative Action law to be “Constitutional”, the obvious next question is whether other states might follow suit? Could this be the beginning of the end for Affirmative Action?

An Affirmative Action based on income would still disproportionately benefit minorities without carrying the stigma of “skin color” being attached to a student’s achievements. It would also deny racists one more ignorant talking point of how they are the truly oppressed ones, and how “Mr. Black” only got where he is because of race (everyone remembers the deplorable Jesse Helms “Hands” ad that helped him win reelection in 1990). If the choice is between “Affirmative Action for the poor” vs no Affirmative Action at all, I think a lot of people might suddenly become very comfortable with Dean’s idea. Howard Dean was right, just a little ahead of his time (again.)
 



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Filed in General, Racism, Seems Obvious to Me April 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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You can always find another lunch counter, er, baker, florist

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 3, 2014

I‘m fairly convinced by this point that Conservatives just don’t listen to themselves when they speak. How else do you explain Fox’s George Will or ABC guest pundit Rich Lowrey decrying yesterday the veto of Arizona’s noxious “(bigotry in the name of) Religious Freedom Act”, saying, “Hey, if a baker or florist refuses to cater your gay wedding, there are plenty of other bakers & florists. Just find one who will.” I’m certain there were plenty of other lunch counters those young black men could have patronized in 1960 as well. In fact, no one told those young men in Greensboro they couldn’t eat in that particular Woolworth’s. The establishment was perfectly happy to serve them in a booth, just not up front at the lunch counter where Farmer John might have to rub elbows with some Darkie. And Sen. Rand Paul was abundantly clear when he stated he believed the Federal government had no right to tell private establishments (like Woolworth’s) that they couldn’t discriminate based solely on skin color. And now, 54 years later, we are once again having the same fight with “Social Conservatives” (Democrats back then, Republicans today) that honesty believe that bigots should be allowed to oppress a group of people they hate if they claim it’s “in the name of God.”

I’m about as Done with people using “God” as an excuse to justify every hateful thing imaginable, as one can be. The greatest evil ever inflicted upon the world has to be “organized religion”… with a few notable exceptions like the late Mother Theressa and the current Pope Francis… but then, they are just “individuals”, while the church they represent doesn’t exactly have the best record… from protecting child-molesting priests, to codifying women’s subservience to men, and even this Pope still regards homosexuality a “sin”, so there’s that. When you look at just about every war in the Middle East, Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill (that was walked back to just “lifetime imprisonment”), on through to the Religious Right in this country fomenting hate towards every “Other” you can name: “Illegal Aliens” (that, by no coincidence, just happen to be Mexicans, not Canadians or Europeans), the (lazy, shiftless) Poor (begging for food stamps), “Thugs” (the new “N-word”), Women that use birth control… even their proclaimed “love” of Israel is a façade for their true motivation… ensuring that the “Armageddon” prophecy of an end-of-the-world conflict between Christian’s & Jews takes place… and they all call The Republican Party home.

And now it’s Teh Gays. “Law’s telling me I must treat you like a human being is a violation of my Religious right to be a bigot!”

I believe it all started when God kicked Adam & Eve out of The Garden of Eden because they didn’t comport with God’s idea of morality (the “serpent” that “enticed” Eve was Adam’s penis. The “forbidden fruit of knowledge” was “lust” and the discovery of “sex for pleasure”. That’s the version they don’t teach you in Bible class.)

Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t another “Garden” down the road that they could have patronized instead. So apparently being a judgmental bigot is next to Godliness.

During the Civil Rights struggle, bigots used religion to justify their bigotry back then as well. “The Almighty separated the races by putting them on different continents” they proclaimed in defense of segregation. Except that’s not true. China and Russia are on the same continent, yet those races couldn’t be more different. “Europe” is labeled a “continent” despite being (for the most part) physically connected to the same land mass as “Asia”. And European “Whites” were not native to North America, so arguably, bigots of European decent continuing to live in the United States were in violation of God’s desire to separate the races by continent. Oops!

Long long ago… way back in 2012… I remember Republican idiots having a conniption over “Sharia Law” and their (mistaken) belief that some Federal judges were allowing Muslims to violate Federal Law on the grounds that the Federal law violated their religious rights. This was just another example of “our Muz’lum prez’dent” slowly-but-surely allowing Islam to overtake the American judicial system.

And now, just one short year later, those very same people are rushing to the defense of “Sharia Law” and Muslim’s right to ignore Federal law based on their religious beliefs. I know, right? Whoda’thunkit?

If you’re looking for “consistency” from the Religious Right… what is WRONG with you? Have you been asleep these past two decades? You should know better by now. My advice to them: stop using religion to justify your bigotry. This fight has been fought before. Been there, done that. And when you say stupid things like, “Just find another wedding photographer”, ask your self, “Why should they have to?”
 



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Filed in fake scandals, General, Racism, Religion March 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Today’s GOP Putting King’s Dream Back to Sleep

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 26, 2013

Fifty years ago this Wednesday, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his rousing “I Have a Dream” speech (text) to a crowd of 250,000 (give or take 50K) mostly (but not exclusively) black supporters. King spoke of “Negros” not being seen as equals “in the eyes of the law”. He spoke of economic injustice that restricts “basic mobility […] from a smaller ghetto to a larger one”, and that Negros “cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote”. If you’re a Republican, you’d probably point to the fact that this country elected a black man… not once but twice… to the Presidency (no thanks to them), and we therefore may now pass some of the most discriminatory voting regulations since The Voting Rights Act became law in 1965. (It’s an awful lot like when Republican politicians attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Stimulus projects they tried to kill, touting how great they will be for the community.) How many Conservatives argued “If only Trayvon Martin had had a gun?” Fox “news” Sunday yesterday continued their clueless positing of just why “President Obama and Al Sharpton” were not “speaking out” in response to the “Thrill Kill” murder of an Australian tourist by three f-ed up teenagers… one of whom was white, the same way they spoke out following the murder of Trayvon Martin (uh, maybe because no one is out there DEFENDING the teenage murderers, and the fact the victim wasn’t targeted for his race, Jackasses?) But it’s not just that Republicans seem clueless on matters of race today, but that ever since the election of our first black president, they suddenly feel they have Carte Blanc to be openly & unashamedly racist. “It’s okay” to say openly racists things now because “the election of a black president proves we’re not racists.” So suddenly, we can roll back voting rights, question the birthplace of the president to label him an “other”, even openly disrespect him during his first address before a joint session of Congress (Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst in 2009) all because America is “no longer a racist country.” Got that?

Last week, the New York Times printed the results of their “racial equality” poll where they asked people across the racial spectrum what they thought of race-relations today. They also included a number of statistical facts as a basis for comparison. Fewer than “one in three” black Americans felt we have made “a lot” of progress towards racial equality since King gave his historic speech in 1963. Forty-five years later (since 1967), the average three-member black family earns just 59 percent of what the average three-member white family earns (ibid)… not because they are paid less for doing the same job (though I’m sure there’s some of that going on as well), but mostly due to the average black worker working at lower paying jobs than most whites. 50 years ago, a black man was 5 times as likely to go to prison than a white man. Today, that ratio is SIX-to-one (ibid). Why? Because we now have a justice system that’s tilted heavily in favor of the rich, and (as noted above), if you’re poor in this country, you’re nearly twice as likely to be black.

The Conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, citing the apparent lack of need for it in the age of Obama. And within hours, we already had Southern states clamoring to pass an avalanche of voter suppression laws that would have been illegal literally minutes before.

It seems to me (and probably you as well) that only recently (since the 2008 presidential campaign) that closet-racists that used to keep their true feelings hidden suddenly feel that they can now say & do openly racist things and not fear any backlash because so many of their neighbors are saying it too. But don’t you DARE call them “racists”! They’ll point to the black Tea Party member giving a speech before a sea of white faces. They’ll point to all the black NRA members (the ones that don’t look “Gangsta”) they are “friends” with (yet whose home they’ve never visited nor shared a beer with.)

How white do you have to be to wonder aloud if a “fist bump” might be “a Terrorist fist jab?” because the first people you’ve ever seen do it happened to be black? I’m a 40-something white guy and even *I* had seen (and performed) a “fist bump” before. That remark was just downright embarrassing.

What I don’t understand is: why do they still act like there’s something WRONG with being called a racist? Accusing a racist of being a “racist” is still an open invitation to a punch in the mouth. Why? They certainly don’t have to worry about offending their friends, and a growing number of them are saying & doing things in public without a scintilla of shame or even self-awareness that we didn’t hear with such regularity even a decade ago. Rush Limbaugh sings “Barack, the magic negro” on his radio show and his fans leaped to his defense, arguing that the song wasn’t racist (if racists could recognize racism, they wouldn’t be racists). Donald Trump, who made a second career of questioning President Obama’s legitimacy because he believed Obama’s “birth certificate” was faked to cover up the “fact” he was born in another country and was therefore ineligible to be president, has been uncharacteristically quiet following the announcement that Ted “Jose McCarthy” Cruz, whom appears to be eying a run at the presidency in 2016, was ADMITTEDLY born in Canada. Cruz’s response? His mother was born in America so therefore he’s an American citizen too (unlike President Obama, whose mother was born in the distant nation of Kansas.) And when Birther opponents of Obama are asked about the inconsistency of supporting Cruz, hilarity ensues their rationalization is that “Canada isn’t foreign”.

“Who us? Racists? Just because we prefer Paula Dean over Martin Luther King (73% to 59%)? What kind of N-word lovin’ question is that to ask?”
 

BTW: If you used to enjoy following my real-time highlights during the “Sunday Morning Roundup” over on Crooks & Liars before they attacked me and stripped me of my editorial privileges because I didn’t “volunteer enough” during my mothers’ illness to be so presumptive as to ask for some common courtesy, I’ve resumed my duties on my Facebook page every Sunday morning. Be sure to drop on by and “friend” me.

 



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Filed in General, Partisanship, Politics, Racism, voting August 26th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Florida Codifies that Your Stalker Can Legally Murder You If Threatened

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 15, 2013

Last Saturday night, the Florida jury in the George Zimmerman murder trial declared that if you defend yourself against an armed stalker to the point where your stalker fears bodily injury, he can kill you “in self defense”. It doesn’t even matter if that fear is justified or not. All they have to do is claim they feared for their life, and anything they do after that is justified. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more asinine ruling in my life. Think about it. If Trayvon Martin had been an attractive white girl that was being followed by a man with a gun, and she took it upon herself to kick his ass, at which point he shoots & kills her in the name of “self defense”, is there any question Zimmerman would be sitting in a concrete room with striped sunlight right about now? What is even more troublesome is that the Florida ruling has just provided criminals with an added incentive to kill their victims to ensure that only one side of the story (theirs) is ever heard. The most mind-boggling thing in all this is just how many people see this completely differently; that Zimmerman’s claim of “self defense” was justified and that he never should of even been arrested in the first place.

Living in a deep read state like Texas, I’ve had my share of encounters with Zimmerman Defenders. One thing I’ve noticed among ALL of them (without exception) is that, to them, the Zimmerman Case has nothing to do with Zimmerman or the crime itself, it’s all about the Second Amendment and their own right to shoot and kill anyone they feel threatened by… which is a dangerous thing when you consider that they’re all paranoid gun-nuts that think blacks, immigrants, alQaeda and Uncle Sam (in no particular order) are all out to get them. It should come as no surprise that the SAME people defending Zimmerman’s right to shoot & kill an unarmed young black kid that he took upon himself to pursue, are the SAME people that believe THEY could of taken out the Colorado movie theater shooter if only THEY had been there with their gun (in a fire fight with a man dressed in full body armor, firing a semi automatic rifle in a darkened theater filled with teargas and people running around fleeing for their lives.) To say these people don’t live in the Reality-Based Community is an understatement.

In order to conclude Zimmerman “did nothing wrong”, you must totally disregard how the two men came in contact with one another in the first place (another shocker from the same people that think the Second Amendment begins with “dot dot dot”). Because if Zimmerman had not been looking out his window that night (or had just stayed home and not taken it upon himself to pursue Martin), Trayvon simply would have walked home uneventfully with his purchases from the convenience store and lived to see another day. Zimmerman put himself “in harms way” by following someone he had profiled as “up to no good”. So concerned was he that the person he was pursuing might be dangerous that he brought along a loaded weapon. Upon confronting Martin, he didn’t identify himself as from “the neighborhood watch”. Likewise, Trayvon was living in that neighborhood, so in fact, Zimmerman’s job was to protect Trayvon. He didn’t ask him, “Where are you going?” or “Let me walk you home so you’ll be safe out here at night”… something I’d betcha $1000 he would have done if Trayvon has been an attractive white girl. No, George only saw a “suspicious” black male supposedly “looking in windows” (the defense never produced a single witness to substantiate that claim) that he was determined to “detain” until the cops arrived.

“They always get away.”

One of my first thoughts upon learning of the verdict yesterday was the Rodney King Trial and how the assault of King was actually caught ON TAPE and yet the jury STILL acquitted the people that assaulted him. There too, the prosecution played the “dangerous black man” card, suggesting the FIVE armed police officers surrounding King (only four were tried IIRC) were justified in feeling threatened by the severely injured, unarmed black man they had just beaten to a bloody pulp. No one ever claimed King, with a lengthy arrest record, was a choir boy, but there was NO justification for beating the crap out of him rather than simply handcuffing King and throwing him in the back of a squad car.

The Defense’s case looked like it had been ripped from the pages of a “lynching” trial in the 1930’s, showing carefully selected B&W photos of a frightening looking black man to the all female, mostly white, jury, suggesting that the victim was someone white women needed protecting from and the world is now a safer place without Trayvon in it.

I learned yesterday that I hate ABC’s “Dan Abrams”, who was brought on to both “ThisWeek” and the World News Tonight as an “expert”, declaring that “the only thing that mattered was whether or not Zimmerman reasonably feared for his life as the moment he pulled the trigger”. Bullshit. PURSUERS CAN NOT CLAIM SELF DEFENSE. Period. End of story. As I noted two weeks ago, the two men should never have come in contact with one another in the first place. Zimmerman had NO justification for leaving the safety of his home that night to pursue Martin. He’s not a cop and it wasn’t his job to “detain” people he deemed suspicious. Hell, the “neighborhood watch” didn’t even permit watchers to carry firearms. This was a wannabee cop that called 911 so many times (sometimes 2-3 times a night) that he was on a first name basis with the operator (note the number of times Zimmerman called to report a “suspicious black male”). His job was to report “suspicious” activity to the police and let them handle it, NOT take matters into his own hands and try to detain a suspect at gunpoint.

“They always get away.”

So ANY discussion of what happened after he left the safety of his home is irrelevant. At that point, he had knowingly placed himself (and Trayvon) in harms way.

The act of pursuing makes you the instigator. The Florida verdict sets a very bad precedent. It declares that ANYONE… including Stalkers, Rapists, thugs of any kind… can now pursue someone, and should that person try to defend themselves, their attacker can kill them and claim they “feared for their life”. I nearly said, “as long as they don’t attack first…”, but that doesn’t matter either, because now the Stalker has an incentive to kill their victim to ensure they can’t challenge their side of the story in a court of law. “I didn’t touch her! She just walked up and attacked ME for no reason! And fearing for my life, I shot & killed her. Those cuts & bruises on her are from when SHE attacked ME, not because I attacked her.” Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet that is EXACTLY the defense George Zimmerman used to justify killing Trayvon Martin.

I find it interesting that the all-female six-member jury is in hiding tonight and have refused to speak to the Press. Do you think maybe they’re afraid some nut with a gun might walk up to them in the middle of the night and shoot them? I can’t imagine why.
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Guns & Violence, Racism, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity July 15th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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BREAKING NEWS: Zimmerman found Not Guilty. Nation Mourns.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Sunday, July 14, 2013

“Insane” is the only word that comes to mind. Last night the 6-member jury in the George Zimmerman trial, all women, one black (correction: Hispanic), three five of them mothers themselves, actually decided that George Zimmerman, a man with a gun, could legally stalk an unarmed kid, pursue that kid even after being told not to, instigate a confrontation, shoot and kill the person he was stalking, and then be found Not Guilty.

Only in America. Add your comments below. More details later.
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Guns & Violence, Racism, Right-Wing Insanity July 14th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 17 comments | Add/View

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A Market Plunge/Rally, Trayvon, DOMA, Voting Rights and Paula Deen. The Heat is On.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 1, 2013

So much has happened these past couple of weeks, I could have spent hours discussing each one: We saw a series of triple-digit plunges in the DOW in just a few days caused by what? GOOD news on the economy. (WTF?) The “Zimmerman Trial” finally got underway… with a Knock-Knock Joke. The Supreme Court declared Same-Sex Marriage legal in states where it is already legal, but left the door open for state-bans where it isn’t… essentially GUARANTEEING an inevitable return to the Supreme Court when a married couple from one state moves to a state where their marriage is not recognized. And while the Supreme Court was extending marriage rights to gay couples, it was taking Voting Rights away from millions of minorities, essentially declaring that racism in the South was dead the same week people excused famed Southern TV Chef Paula Deen for using “The N-Word” because… “she’s from The South and that’s just how they are.” (I wish I could say I was surprised Justice Thomas would vote against the Voting Rights Act, but he’s always been an OREO… and yes, that is meant to be as offensive as it sounds.) And to cap it all off, the nation closed out the first week of Summer with a record-breaking heatwave, with my hometown of Houston hitting a stifling 107′ at 5:00 in the freaking evening (most years the temperature here peaks around 101′ the first week of August.)

Let’s take them one at a time:

First, the Stock Market: I used to write about The DJIA (“DOW Jones Industrial Average”) frequently  during  the  Bush  Presidency. Plunges of 250 points or more became commonplace, culminating with a total collapse of Wall Street and the financial industry Bush’s final year in office. There were no extraordinary one-day gains to balance out the declines, and just about every plunge could be tied to a stupid decision made by The GOP and/or The Bush Administration (the skyrocketing price of oil as a result of invading Iraq; deregulating the financial ratings industry that led to Trillions in bad investments being labeled: “AAA”; and cutting deregulated mortgage interest rates to zero resulting in a wildly over-valued market bubble balanced on the point of a pin).

But during the Obama Administration, I’ve written very little regarding the Stock Market. Primarily, because fluctuations in the DOW of less than 200 points have very little to do with the health of the general economy, and because every series of declines over the past four years have been brief, followed soon after by upswings that more than made up for the losses.

The DOW, at its lowest point following the Bush Presidency and the Financial Collapse, barely a month after Obama took office, bottomed out at 6,443.27 on March 6, 2009. Last month, the DOW closed at a record high of just over 15,400… that’s an increase of almost 240 percent in just four years. If President Obama is a “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.

So what caused last week’s momentary 800-point drop in the DJIA over 3 days a few weeks ago? Believe it or not, “good” news from the Federal Reserve that the economy is recovering so well that it may be able to halt “quantitative easing” (IE: “Stimulus”)… pumping $85 Billion dollars a month into the economy. On that news, the price of Gold and Treasury Bonds plunged because Gold & Bonds are where you put your money when the economy is bad. Fears that the Fed would stop pumping money into the economy brought about fears that they might also raise interest rates to keep the economy from growing too fast. But quickly, cooler heads prevailed as news of a healthy economy might actually be a good thing, and the DOW is already back up near the 15K mark.

Oh, and the S&P 500 saw its best six months since the heights of the Clinton Bull Rally in 1998.

Next is the “Zimmerman” trial over the murder of Travon Martin. As you already know, Zimmerman’s lawyer opened with a Knock-Knock joke, but that’s probably not the most damaging thing he did to his clients’ case last week. He is NOT using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his client’s defense, and with good reason. As Zimmerman’s lawyer himself pointed out, “Travon Martin was not unarmed that night”, pointing out that Martin “didn’t have a gun or a knife that night”; his weapon was “the concrete sidewalk”. So basically, he just admitted Trayvon was “standing his ground using the sidewalk as his only weapon”. Had he of used a gun, he might have shot & killed his stalker… who was armed with a gun himself and confronted Martin with it in the middle of the night… at which point Martin would have been arrested and thrown in jail for murdering Zimmerman. Trial not included.

The moment Zimmerman… who is not a police officer… left his mother’s basement with a gun to play “rent-a-cop” in the middle of the night the moment he saw a black kid walk past his window, he himself was responsible for anything that happened. And we know WHY he left his home to pursue Martin: Because “they always get away”, he is heard saying on the 911 tape after the operator asked him if he was following Martin and told him “We don’t need you to do that.” But a young black guy… for whom there was NO reason to suspect had done anything other than walk through the neighborhood at night… was “about to get away”. After doing what? There were no alarms going off. No one shouting, “I’ve just been robbed!” I find it hard to believe even Zimmerman could mistake a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles for handfuls of stolen property. So why exactly was Zimmerman following him? Why did he think it necessary to “call the police” and detain Martin himself until they arrived?

Think about it? Why was Zimmerman following Martin?

Zimmerman… armed with a gun and was stalking Martin in the dead of night, then confronted Martin. Probably even pulled his gun on him and ordered him to stop. At some point, they came in close enough contact to grab one another and fight. Unarmed, Martin used the only weapon within reach: the concrete… as Zimmerman’s own lawyer pointed out. Now in a struggle he himself provoked without regard for the consequences (what if Martin HAD been an armed robber? Was it wise for Zimmerman to put himself in harms way?), he pulled out his gun and killed the man he himslf provoked a confrontation with.

The fact that anyone in this insane country even thinks Zimmerman has a leg to stand on here, justifying the need for a trial, highlights just how screwed up our gun-crazy culture has become in this country.

Next, we saw the Supreme Court rule of Marriage Equality. While the High Court’s narrow 5/4 ruling is seen as a victory for the Gay Rights movement, the ruling basically threw the decision back to the states.

Now here is where it gets clear as mud: The Supreme Court basically ruled that a state law establishing Marriage Equality is just as valid as a state law BANNING Marriage Equality. So basically, the highest court in the land that rules on the National efficacy of a law, has declared that something can be both legal AND illegal at the same time depending upon where you live. Why do I get the feeling this isn’t over?

The Supreme Court also decided to strike down key parts of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act”, calling it “outdated” because “times have changed”. No word on their updated ruling on The Second Amendment.

And finally, a record heatwave was parked over most of the Southern United States last week, tying & breaking records across the U.S.. But don’t worry, Global Warming is still a hoax and we’ll be seeing snow in July any minute now.

Any minute now.

I said, “any minute now.”

Hello? Snow? Where are you? Hey, I’d settle for a cool breeze right about now.

(Oh, and an update on Mom. If you read last weeks post, things are not going well and my mother had had a bit of a setback, unconscious in the ICU, I’ve been visiting her hospital bed every day now and hoping for things to improve. As such, I haven’t been as on top of the news as much as I might otherwise have been, and posting may become a bit erratic in the common weeks. Hopefully, Mom’s recovery will be swift and full. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, Global Warming, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Politics, Racism, Rants, Unconstitutional July 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

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Republicans Desire for Us the Worst of Every Society

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 1, 2013

GOP 'logic'.Just a short hit & run on this holiday weekend folks. Have you ever noticed how Republicans seem to look at some of the most deplorable aspects of any society and say, “Hey! I like that!” I first noticed this after 9/11, when after we were attacked by religious zealots stationed in a middle-Eastern theocracy, Conservatives started “admiring” (for lack of a better word) the strict religious teaching methods of Madrassas, and the “dedication” of the very people they raged against. Don’t believe me? Check out the movie “Jesus Camp” where parents sent their young children to be “God Warriors” for Christ. President Bush famously referred to the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan as “a crusade”. The anachronism of the Pro-“Life” Holy-Roller Party also being the Pro-gun, Pro-war, Pro-Death penalty Party is never lost on me. But lately, it seems to go beyond that.

Here’s something to think about: What do “Austerity” and “The Black Plague” have in common? In the mid 1300’s (yes, I promise to keep this short), a deadly disease swept through Europe killing millions. This was centuries before anyone knew of the existence of bacteria or viruses. “Illness” was either a punishment from God or inflicted by “Evil”. One of the ways people dealt with The Plague was to kill stray cats by the hundreds because cats were considered “minions of the Devil” or Hosts for witches that would then go about making people ill. The irony is that The Plague was actually being spread by fleas on rats, which the cats might have killed and kept the spread of the disease under control.

So, what does that have to do with “Austerity”, you ask? Right now in Europe, The UK is in danger of having their credit-rating downgraded again (last February, The UK’s credit rating was downgraded from “AAA” to “AA1″ because their economy isn’t growing like it should. Why? Austerity! While President Obama passed a “Stimulus Package” of spending to stimulate growth in this country, the Brits went the other way and imposed economic austerity, deep spending cuts and raising taxes on the Poor. Now there is talk of a possible second downgrade barely six weeks after the first one, and the answer from Brittan’s ruling Conservative Party? Stay the course. More austerity. Once again, Europeans have decided that the “cure” for their ills is to do the very thing that… not only didn’t make things better, but in fact are almost guaranteed to make things worse.

And here in this country, Republicans who think “President Obama wants to turn America into Europe”, keep pushing European-style “austerity” in this country, demonizing Stimulus spending and thinking up ways to shift the tax burden from the Rich to the Poor.

Oh, but it gets better my friends.

Ever get the feeling many Republicans would like to see the return of “Jim Crow”? Ron and Rand Paul aren’t the only ones that think including “private businesses” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act” was a mistake. And now, we are… quite literally… hearing the same “separate but equal” arguments being made about “Same Sex Marriage”. “I’m comfortable with giving gay couples all the rights of ‘straight’ couples, from tax breaks to ‘hospital visitation rights’. Everything except the right to marry”, said GOP Spokesperson Ed Gillespi on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Adding that the GOP still supports an “anti-gay marriage amendment” to the Constitution. I’m still waiting for someone on that side to produce a convincing legal argument for why it is in the Federal governments’ interest to go to such lengths to prevent gays from marrying and the catastrophic consequences if they do, of such danger & magnitude that it demands amending the freaking Constitution.

Republicans do this amazing dance where they denounce the most obvious flaws in other societies, and then go right out and start advocating for us to emulate them.

Remember Gov. Romney’s “Razor-wired factory” story from his infamous “47%” video? He talked about how, in his “private-equity days”, he went to China to buy a factory and was stunned to see “razor wire” along the prison-like walls around the factory. When Romney inquired about it, he was told… and believed… that “the razor wire is there to keep people on the outside from getting IN, not the other way around.” He described the horrid sweat-shop conditions, even noting how some workers… once they got out for some national holiday or what have you… never returned, opening up spots for someone new. Now, if the jobs were so desirable, why would workers not return? Such a question clearly never crossed Mitt’s mind. Instead, he relates this anecdote to his $20,000 a plate guests as a GOOD thing, possibly even a model for work-conditions in America.

In China, underage workers are common-place. Children as young as 12 can be found working in factories. In this country, Newt Gingrich thinks they should be janitors. No OSHA in China or the third-world either. That’s just more “job-killing regulations!” No minimum wage. 12 hour workdays. Republican paradise.

There’s the “Free Marketeers” that want Government completely out of the way to let business do its thing. I believe it was radio’s “Sam Seeder” that first pointed out that the only purely “unregulated Free Market” economy on Earth is Somalia. “You want to see what an unregulated Free Market economy looks like? Move to Somalia!”, said Sam.

And of course, (yes, with “Godwin’s Law” in mind) Government run by & for the Corporations… also known as “Corporatism”… better known as “Fascism”… the worst of all possible societies which Republicans claim to despise and use as The Ultimate Parjorative in describing things they hate, is also something they seem quite eager to emulate. Think about it.
 



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Filed in Economy, General, Middle East, Politics, Racism, Religion, Right-wing Facism, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, War April 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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“Voter ID” Supporters: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The In August of 1965, President Johnson signed “The Voting Rights Act” into law. It was considered a continuation of his landmark “Civil Rights Act” signed the year before because it was obvious that simply “declaring” that minorities as “equal” to whites was meaningless so long as they could be discriminated against at the ballot box. Among the things made “illegal” by the Act were “poll taxes”, which were intended specifically to discourage poor… disproportionately black… people from voting. And now, 47 years later, Republicans claiming a need to “protect the integrity of the voting process”, have placed a series of obstacles and ID Requirements in the way that for all intents & purposes amount to an illegal “poll tax”… just what the 1965 law sought to end.

I actually read a Tweet from one angry Conservative months ago that exclaimed:

“If someone is too lazy to get to the DMV [for a free photo-ID], they don’t deserve to vote!”

I felt it necessary to point out that it is MUCH easier to “get to the DMV” IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DRIVERS LICENSE and a car. If you’re working for Minimum Wage, take public transportation to get to work, and can’t afford to take a day off to get to your “local” DMV and wait in line all day for a “free” Voter-ID just to do what you’ve already done for years without incident, suddenly it’s not quite so effortless (of course, with a 140-character Twitter limit, my actual response was closer to: “Dumbass!”)

One Pennsylvania blogger conducted a little experiment to see just how much it would cost the 18% of Philadelphia’s registered black voters that currently do not posses an “acceptable” Photo-ID to obtain one:

(And may I point out, you don’t need “a birth certificate” or prove citizenship to purchase a drivers license that allows you to vote, yet you need one to get a “free” Voter ID. You don’t even have to be a citizen to get a “drivers license”, so why do you need to prove “citizenship” for an equivalent government-issued photo ID?)

Minimum cost to obtain an ID if you are unemployed, have all necessary documentation and take public transportation: $4.00.
Cost if you need to obtain paperwork (in PA), take time off from work, and take public transportation: $49.12.
Cost for an unemployed/homeless person to vote: Priceless… literally. No bills? No W2? No ID. Number of homeless vets in this country: Approximately 75,000.

Of course, that upper-end cost could be MUCH higher if it takes you more than two hours away from work, make more than minimum wage, and/or need to take a cab because there is no bus stop near your home or the DMV (and double all that if you’re told you’re missing documentation and must make a second trip another day). But for some people, “time off from work” is not an option. I’ve worked temporary jobs where if you missed a day, you needent bother coming in tomorrow.

The solution to this nonsense is really quite simple: If the “Secure the Vote” crowd REALLY believes we need “Voter ID” and REALLY believe it’s not a burden to expect voters to jump through dozens of hoops just to get a “free” ID, then how about we pass a law promising “110% reimbursement” for any costs incurred obtaining a Voter ID? Cab/bus fare, time off from work, documentation, etc. They don’t want to pay people to go door-to-door distributing ID’s or send ID’s through the mail to people who apply by phone or online… which would be the ONLY ways to provide voters with an ID in a way that isn’t a burden (and not every person has a door to knock on, a mailbox to fill, or a phone to call from.) If they balk, it can ONLY be because they don’t want to reimburse anyone… an implicit acknowledgement that obtaining an ID isn’t “free” and may cost many people a lot of money… which makes it an illegal poll tax.

And just for fun…

Batman 1966: The Penguin sings his campaign song

…continuing from the earlier video found at this post: “Am I Supposed to be Impressed Both Ryan and Romney Paid Less Than 20% in Taxes?”

(As you may have noticed, M.R.S. is stepping up it’s reporting as we near election day, so be sure to check back often… or better yet, Register for instant email notification of updates! – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, Politics, Racism, Right-wing Facism, Taxes, voting September 26th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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My Own Examination Calls Into Question ABC’s “Enhanced” Zimmerman video showing injuries (with photos)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ABC News' enhanced photo of Zimmerman injuriesOn Monday, ABC News released “enhanced footage” (video available here) of the controversial “George Zimmerman arrest video”, now purporting to show “injuries” to the back of Zimmerman’s head that were not immediately evident in the original untouched video. Upon hearing the news, (on Huffington Post) the first thing I wanted was to see the photos… plural… not “photo” but “photoS”. So when I saw just ONE still shot taken from an entire video, I immediately questioned the resulting image.

First, some background. In my former life as a computer engineer, I originally sought a “computer graphics” degree in college, later going on to do video editing and graphics design (I did the art for this site btw), so I know a thing or two about digital image manipulation. Despite what you see on TV programs like “CSI:”, turning a blurry ATM security-camera image into a sharp & in-focus picture so clear you can read the state motto on the license plate of a car parked across the street, borders on fantasy (though, when you have the budget of the DoD, I wouldn’t be surprised if the technology exists somewhere). On TV, they simply work in reverse, starting with a clear closeup photo, make it blurry, then pretend to clear it up to amazing in-focus quality. But that just doesn’t happen in real life. Techniques used to “improve” an image introduce all kinds of flaws (called “artifacts”) to the resulting image. Unlike “film”, digital images are made up of tiny dots. You’ve heard the term “Megapixels”? That refers to the number of “dots” in a picture. The more dots, the more detail. Video cameras are usually MUCH lower quality than your standard digital camera because they have to capture a lot of information repeatedly very quickly. Security cameras are the worst quality of all because high detail video requires a lot of storage space that most businesses would rather not pay for.

Unlike old “film” images where the quality of the enlargement was limited only by the skill of the photographer (and other factors not relevant here), the best any software can do to “enhance” a digital image is make an educated guess as to what the missing “in between” dots must be in order to recreate the image at a higher resolution. The more you “enhance” a photo, the more “guessing” the program must make, until eventually the “enhanced” image just can’t be made to look any better. Think about it. If you could “enlarge” any image to perfect clarity, you could count grains of sand on the moon by enhancing the image taken from a Barbie Digital Camera. Dream on.

The “Enhanced” Zimmerman footage:

First, keep in mind that… while I have access to some very good software… I can NOT 100% recreate images of the quality produced by “Forensic Protection” for ABC News. But I CAN explain to you why I have serious reservations regarding the results they produced. I leave it to you to decide whether those results are trustworthy.

ABC News released the original arrest video of George Zimmerman over the weekend. Immediately, everyone said the same thing: “Where are the injuries”? No broken nose. No blood on his shirt from either his nose nor blood splatter from shooting Martin “at close range” And the back of his head likewise shows no “gash” that Zimmerman’s friends were reporting as resulting from Martin supposedly “pounding Zimmerman’s head on the pavement”:

Still image showing no injuries
Original unmodified still showing no injuries (click to enlarge).

ABC News then released this “enhanced” image taken from the same video:
 

'Enhanced' image showing 'injury'
‘Enhanced’ image showing ‘injury’

“Discolorations” that appear to be signs of injury to the surface of Zimmerman’s skull are now apparent that were not visible before. On the back of his head there appears to be two areas of interest: a dark spot in the center of his head that looks like a gash (which I circled in the photo below), and a dark reddish area on the right that appears to be abrasions. I also circled the stenciled text on the back of the police car to point out the “halo” effect produced by their “enhancement”. Are these “real” injuries or simply “artifacts” introduced by the “refocusing” process?
 

'Enhanced' image showing 'injury' and artifacts.
‘Enhanced’ image showing ‘injury’ and artifacts.

I wanted to enlarge the image to get a better look at the wound, but the enlargement process itself introduces issues of its own. Using special professional enlargement software (that can make an image bigger without destroying the quality), I got this:
 

Enlargement of enhanced still
“Gash” in more detail (click to enlarge).

As you can see, the “dark spot” that looks like a gash on the back of Zimmerman’s head is actually the intersection where four bright Klieg lights in the ceiling are reflecting off Zimmerman’s skull.

That leaves the reddish abrasion. I have a problem with the fact the “abrasion” itself appears curved. Here’s why:


“UN-enhanced” photo of a cue ball with similar lighting:
 
Cue ball photo
“Enhanced” photo of a cue ball:
 
Enhanced cue ball photo

See the sharp contrast between the shades? To increase the detail of an image so that disparities stand out, the contrast is raised so that the shades between (for example) “pink” and “red” become more distinct. As you can see, this can make it appear like something is there that isn’t (remember, I’m not saying the injury ISN’T there, just pointing out that the results are highly questionable.)

I was seriously put off by the fact there weren’t more pictures of the “injured area” than just that one screen shot released by ABC; anything to show “movement” of the affected area as Zimmerman turned his head would add credence that the discolored area was actually ON Zimmerman and not just a flaw introduced by the “enhancement”. I scoured the Net for more “enhanced” photos other than that single still released by ABC News. There are none. The ABC News website has the video of the newscast touting the “enhancement” (see link at start of this op/ed), but it “jumps”, skipping the frames both immediately before and after so you can’t see if the “injured” area moves (notice how the scene jumps from an obscured shot to the highly “enhanced” still image):
 

ABC’s “Enhanced” video does not show injury in motion.

(Note: The most likely reason for the “jump” is because the still image is enhanced more than the complete video for maximum clarity. I myself could not “un-blur” the original video to the point where you could see four distinct light sources reflecting off Zimmerman’s head using the software I have available to me. Trust me, I tried for almost an hour.)

There are actually TWO separate arrest videos on YouTube. The unenhanced ABC footage and a second (supposedly) “raw” video taken from two different cameras with no annoying graphics in the way (though with huge chunks omitted). Going through both videos frame-by-frame, I “enhanced” several key frames, finding no evidence of injury (though note, even though my own software is not as high-quality as the high-dollar forensic software used by ABC, I believe my enhancements are “good enough” IMHO to raise serious doubts about the ABC still frame claiming to show injuries):
 

Unmodified
Unmodified frame from original video.

My enhancement
After my enhancement (click to zoom).

Several other images following my own “enhancement” (click to enlarge):
 

My own enhancement of same frame
My own enhancement of the same frame used in the ABC “enhancement”
(notice no border around car-text that I circled in ABC’s enhanced still).

 

Enhancement
Enhancement from “raw” video.

 

Reverse angle of officer inspecting head
Reverse angle shot of officer “supposedly” inspecting Zimmerman’s head for 1.7 seconds (from “raw” video).

Big question here: WHERE IS THAT OFFICER? A brief Google search for ANYTHING about the officer that “checked out the back of Zimmerman’s head” turns up nothing. Nada. Zilch. The original police report claims Zimmerman “was bleeding from the head and nose”, yet just 38 minutes later with no medical attention, there is no blood to be seen anywhere and his injuries are so faint it requires forensic video analysis to try and determine what (if anything) the police may have seen. Did he see a wound? There is no record of him making a statement on the subject. Sure would be nice if he made all this “speculation” and “video enhancement” unnecessary, huh?
 

Next room
Next room and a closer camera. Best shot closeup of Zimmerman’s head.
(why ABC didn’t use a still from this particular clip remains a mystery).

Of course, all this speculation would be totally unnecessary if the Sanford, FL police had actually TAKEN PHOTOS of both the crime scene and Zimmerman’s supposed injuries. The very fact that they did not makes me question whether they witnessed any injury at all.

Have you noticed the way all coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting fell off the radar literally overnight upon ABC’s release of an image supposedly showing injuries to Mr. Zimmerman consistent with his story? People now think they’ve seen evidence that makes it more difficult to defend the unarmed young man that was shot to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What if the conclusion as to what that ONE image actually shows was 100% totally wrong? Doesn’t matter. They got the story off the front page. I have to think that’s exactly what somebody wanted.



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Filed in General, Guns & Violence, myth busting, Racism April 4th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View