Category: Lefty on the Left

October 4, 2011 Eli Johnson

While there is a major event that is woefully under-covered going on in New York City, there was a comment on BBC that may be slightly more terrifying than people could possibly imagine – that there are those on Wall Street who believe that another recession is a good thing.

September 21, 2011 Eli Johnson

According to Michael Brown it may not be okay to be gay

With all the media attention that it has gotten, it is not a mystery that LGBT bullying in schools is still a problem.  According to Michael L. Brown, it may just be that being gay is part of the problem.

Brown is the host of the radio program “Line of Fire.”  His most recent major publication was, “A Queer Thing Happened to America,” where he talks about how the LGBT community has had a negative impact on America.

In 2009, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released a study that was the culmination of 10 years of research.  It was called The 2009 National School Climate Study.  The study came to the conclusion that 9 out of 10 LGBT students are physically or verbally harassed at school.

The whole concept of bullying and where it can end really came to a head in the case of a student named Lawrence King.  In February, 2008, this 15 year old student was shot and killed in cold blood in the computer lab of his school.  Another student named Brandon McInerney shot him with a pistol and point-blank range in the back of the head.

This event is critical in understanding the problem of gay bullying because of how it turned out.  The defense attorney made the case that McInerney went into a “dissociative state.”  This defense worked, and a mistrial was declared because the jury couldn’t make up their minds if it was 1st-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.  The fact that we are asking that question is just pathetic.

McInerney had been bullying King for some time.  King responded to this bullying by flirting with him.  This led him to attempt to get his friends to gang up and beat King, but they declined.  So McInerney took it upon himself to get a gun and hunt him down.

This was another case where the defense decided to blame the fact that the victim was gay for why he got killed.  The defense is not alone in this, either.

“But there are others who are complicit in Larry’s terribly tragic death, and rather than point the finger at a “homophobic” society, they should point it at themselves. I’m speaking of course of gay activists, who have made Larry into a martyr for the cause of gay activism when, in reality, he was more a victim of gay activism,” Michael Brown wrote in a column for American Family News Network.

He says later, “After all, it is gay activists who constantly remind us that LGBT kids are bullied and even beaten up at school.  They tell us how dangerous the school environment is for kids who identify as LGBT, and yet at the same time, they praise kids like Larry for coming out at 10.”

Another strange point is that Brown believes that children should be told that their sexuality is somehow false.

“And is it possible that Larry could have benefited from ongoing counseling about his sexuality? Yet gay activists adamantly oppose any form of counseling that does not affirm homosexuality.”

Should students be told that their sexuality is somehow wrong?  That is a bad way to be?

“They even want more Gay Straight Alliances in our middle schools, where pre-teens can declare their gay identity to their peers and faculty advisors without their parents’ knowledge…If our schools really are so “homophobic” and dangerous, why not encourage these kids to keep their sexual orientation to themselves until they’re in a safer environment?”

That is, by far, the most egregious of all his statements.  The idea that a person has to get parental permission to have a sexual identity, and that Brown can openly attack them with pride is just plain sick.

“You know, it takes some real effort to miss the point this badly.  Is this how we address harassment and bullying in schools now – by making the victims responsible for concealing themselves?  And letting the violence prevail unchallenged?” said Zinnia Jones, an equal rights vlogger.

This matters today because the fact is that the LGBT community is still a target.  Instances like Lawrence King are going to happen again.  The real question becomes – how much longer is the LGBT community going to have to suffer the lack of acceptance?

But they don’t have to change, and it shouldn’t be expected that they change.  Brown’s method is oppression, nothing less.  That is not, and has never been, the right way to go.  Openness, acceptance, and teaching that being gay is okay are proven to work.  Somebody might want to let Brown know.

Jump: LGBT

Tease: LGBT Youth Michael Brown Bullying

Deck: LGBT youth’s murder believe by Michael L. Brown to be the fault of gay activists.

Pull Quote:

The idea that a person has to get parental permission to have a sexual identity, and that Brown can openly attack them with pride is just plain sick.

Byline: Eli Johnson

 

September 13, 2011 Eli Johnson

Back in 1937, an ambitious man by the name of Harry Anslinger came to Congress with an idea: make marijuana illegal. He got a lot of help from a journalist named William Hearst who wanted to make pot illegal, because hemp was in danger of replacing timber as the primary material for making paper. These two began the long and ultimately ridiculous battle against what is probably the safest drug in the world.

“Marijuana is by far the most profitable of all the illegal narcotics. Cocaine, Methamphetamine, it blows them away,” said Rick Adams, a former IRS agent who did cases linked to pot.

He’s got a very good point.

To date, this drug is the one that is the most debated.

Perhaps the situation with cannabis and the government can be best described by a vlogger called ‘Grappling Ignorance.’

“When they miss the free-throws, the cheap shots, the gimmies that are right there for them, because they are too busy arguing over which Party is the best for either or any of them to actually accomplish some genuine progress.”

Really, the fact that this issue is still on the table is kind of strange. The war over this is still going strong. The best example of this was Proposition 19, in California. Everybody was certain that it would pass. Names like Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher were shouting out for people to vote. But, like with every other time this issue has been on the table, those against it were easily rallied to the polls.

So, what are the arguments for keeping it illegal? Some of the ads against Prop. 19 were very inspired. The “slippery slope” argument was one of the biggest. The idea is that if you smoke pot, you are then going to go immediately to smoking crack or doing heroin. This is absolutely false. Most people who would love to smoke pot have no inclination to go a step up.

The next argument is that marijuana is unsafe. This is a very interesting argument to debunk. The main ingredient of pot is a compound called Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This compound has been studied to death. Something that was found is that a person cannot become physically addicted to it in the way that one can with cigarettes, prescription drugs or alcohol.

Another fact about THC is that it is almost impossible for a person to overdose. Now, for a long time, it was believed that it was impossible, but recent studies have come out with the knowledge that it is theoretically possible. However, in order to actually kill a person, one would have to harvest THC in its raw form and actually inject it into their veins. Or, if not to shoot, a person would have to smoke thousands of joints, and all very quickly, which is impossible. So, the fact is that the danger argument is ridiculous.

There is also the argument that children will be able to get it. This is garbage because it could be sold in stores and carded just like alcohol and cigarettes. Some will argue that those things get into the hands of kids anyway, but that isn’t the sellers’ problem. In those instances, it is a problem of the law.

But then there are just the fun arguments. One ad against Prop. 19 said that street signs would have to be changed for the stoners. Another was that it would hurt workers, and people who have driving jobs. Cenk Uyger debunked this one.

“The current law says that you cannot drink and drive, you also cannot be on marijuana and drive. That law will not be changed,” he said on a web broadcast of The Young Turks.

The fact is that there is no good argument against it, and there are plenty of good arguments for it. Look back at how this began – those who are against logging, here is a good source for paper.

The sales of marijuana have been roughly estimated at $10 to $120 billion annually. That is a really huge number. This is money that our government does not have access to through taxes and sales.

“You can imagine when they repealed Prohibition the kind of industry that came up around alcohol, not just alcohol itself,” said William Panzer, the author of Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California.

Part of the reason that Prohibition was ended was to bring money into the economy after the Great Depression, and here is another area that we have a metric ton of money floating around that is not helping a government that really could use some revenue right now.

It seems that America learned nothing from Prohibition. We didn’t learn that making pot illegal is going to stop nothing. Making any drug illegal is not going to stop people from using it. Really, we should advocate more than legalizing pot. We should legalize everything. But one step at a time, right?

August 23, 2011 Eli Johnson

It has recently come up in the world of journalism that using social and political “vloggers” from YouTube as sources may not be completely kosher. This is an interesting thing to think about, because when one looks at how connected the world has become there is very little reason for not using it as a source.

August 9, 2011 Eli Johnson

Well, in the 11th hour, congress passed a bill designed to take from the middle class and give to the wealthy. It has proven, once again, that President Obama cannot govern, and that corporations have a complete stranglehold on this country.

Everybody who has a modicum of political sense knew the debt ceiling debates were nothing more than political theater.  It has all happened before with the Bush Tax Cuts extension.

The debt ceiling deal is pretty simple.  There will be $1 trillion in immediate cuts, with an additional $1.5 trillion to be done by the “Super Congress.”  One should almost feel bad for these 12 saps.

There will be three members from each party in each house of Congress which will comprise it.  These 12 people will be the scapegoats for the rest of Congress.

The thing that makes this so pathetic is that they can’t even suggest doing anything useful, like raising taxes.  That was another part of the deal – no tax increases whatsoever.

But raising taxes is essential for the welfare of the middle class. A simple solution is to let the Bush Tax Cuts expire on all brackets, since the middle class would hardly notice the increase.  Only the rich would feel the significant increase. This is justified: the rich have the lowest taxes that they have had in almost 80 years.

Another thing America must do is slash the military budget.  America’s military budget is bigger than the top ten nations combined.  In 2008 we spent over $600 billion in two meaningless wars.

The final way, and this is a controversial one, legalize drugs. Prohibition was ended largely because the country needed money. There are hundreds of billions of dollars this nation could be taxing and regulating.  One would think it’s a no-brainer.

But this country won’t do any of those things.  As the debt deal showed, this nation has been working to help the rich for a very long time.

“The Democrats are failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there’s political hay to be made moving to the right. They’re doing it because they do not represent any actual voters,” said Matt Taibbi, a respected political blogger, wrote in an article for Rolling Stone.

The fact is that the current way of doing things is only there to benefit those who have the money, and who have no intention of spending it to help the economy.  This is something the kamikaze Tea Party seems to not understand.

When the rich don’t spend, and the middle class can’t spend, the only thing left to throw money into the agape jaws of Wall Street is the government.  And if we tell the government they can’t do that anymore, this country’s economy may slip back into an even worse recession.

Keith Olbermann had a brilliant perspective on this issue in his latest “Special Comment.”

“Where is the outrage to come from? From you!” he said.  The people need to be outraged.  From Alaska to Florida, all people need to be outraged.”

Americans are still hostages, and they don’t even know it.  There needs to be outrage.  Is there?

 

July 26, 2011 Eli Johnson

As everybody already knows, every homeless person has a freshly pressed suit in their cart. At least, that is what the mayor of Anchorage, Dan Sullivan, seems to believe. However, homelessness in Alaska is not that simple.

July 12, 2011 Eli Johnson

When one reads cases like the shooting in Miami Beach and the soldiers in Afghanistan who killed civilians, it can often be more interesting to observe the reactions of those who should have taken responsibility rather than what happens to those who committed the crimes, especially in law enforcement.

The TSA recently forced the daughter of a 95-year-old leukemia patient to remove her adult diaper for a pat-down search. The daughter, Jean Weber, burst into tears while her mother remained stoic.

When the complaint was filed by Weber, the TSA originally denied the event had happened. However, another quote from a TSA statement that came up later was even more enlightening.

“We have reviewed the circumstances involved in this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to

Eli Johnson

procedure.”

The new pat-downs and full-body scans of the TSA have been a point of controversy in this country. Everybody has a different opinion. But when the TSA goes this far, somebody needs to make an apology. But they don’t. What’s more interesting, they make a statement that pretty much says, “Whatever, public, we can do what we want.”

Then there was a case in Houston, Texas where a young man named Chad Holley was running from the cops. He was cornered by police and lied on the ground with his hands behind his head. That’s the part where cops put the cuffs on him and put him into the vehicle, right? Not this time. Four cops start beating this kid mercilessly. For roughly 30 seconds, they beat and kick him while he is on the ground in surrender.

This is clearly an abuse of power. Therefore, it is naturally expected that those involved would get charged with assault. The four cops were given misdemeanor charges of official oppression.

In Rochester, New York, there was another tragic example of the police overstepping their authority. A woman named Emily Good was standing on her front lawn watching and taping the police, is arrested under the charge of obstructing a governmental administration.

Good had a legal right to tape the cops, and she was arrested. The charges were dropped. After such a pointless and degrading spectacle, the proper response is to apologize. But that isn’t what happened.

“Mrs. Good’s message, that has gone out to the public, is that you have a right to interfere and question the actions of a police officer, is irresponsible a danger to the officers, the individuals the officers are dealing with, any bystanders,” said Mike Mazzeo, President of the Police Locus Club, in Rochester.

So his message is that people shouldn’t be allowed to question authority? That people shouldn’t be allowed or able to challenge the law if they want to? Good’s response to this was even better.

“If we don’t have a right to question police officers, then we are living in a police state,” she said during an interview on CNN.

She is absolutely right. The fact that the modern position of authority is pretty much “don’t tread on me” says something. It says that the law is becoming above the law. It says that those in positions of authority are starting to believe that they are immune from consequences.

Lately, a pretty decent number of cops are starting to sound a lot like Jack Nicholson’s character, Col. Nathan Jessup, from A Few Good Men.

“I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who sleeps under the blanket of the freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you said thank you, and went on your way,” he said during one of the most famous monologues in American film.

Good is absolutely right. The people have a right and should exercise the right as often as possible to question authority and to doubt the official story. People should be very critical of what they are hearing on from police chiefs and union spokespersons.

During the case of the American soldiers who were killing civilians in Afghanistan, the military tried to handle the whole thing internally. When a German magazine got a hold of the photos depicting the soldiers involved posing with the mutilated corpses, the military had a predictable reaction.

They used the same tired line that the cops used in Rochester, that it would put their people in danger. But sometimes that has to happen. Sometimes the law needs to be held accountable. If the legal system won’t hold them accountable, what will?

The question if the public is in danger from the law is very accurate, but perhaps a better question is – can we trust the law at all? When it is so easy for those who keep it to break and the repercussions from them breaking it are so mild, is it trustworthy?

June 28, 2011 Eli Johnson
Eli Johnson

Every so often you hear of an event that actually should disturb people a great deal more than it does.  The sad fact here is that these events are becoming kind of common, and there is a greater question that society as a whole needs to be asked, but isn’t.

Two cases will be presented here, and people can make their own judgments about this key question – who is watching those who we have protecting us?  Many don’t ask themselves that question, and perhaps they should.

On May 30, there was a shooting in Miami Beach.  This isn’t exactly an uncommon phenomenon.  However, this shooting was kind of different.  It was captured on film by Narces Benoit.  He captured it on his cell phone.

On his phone he captured at least nine police officers shooting at a man in his parked car.  The evidence points to the man they were shooting at, Raymond Herisse, did not shoot back.  One witness reports that the cops fired until their guns were empty.

With nine cops shooting a standard police issue Glock 22 that has a 15 round magazine, that is roughly 135 bullets that they put into this man’s car, and also into four bystanders.  But it didn’t end there.

The police noticed Benoit filming, along with a news photographer and several bystanders.  They rushed over and took Benoit’s phone, then smashed it, along with the photographer’s camera and the phones of the other bystanders.  They handcuffed Benoit and his girlfriend, Ericka Davis and took them to the station.

At the station, they interrogated him for the video.  He had the SIM card hidden in his mouth, claiming that the video had been destroyed with his phone.  Benoit was a brave man, for exposing some unbelievable police brutality.

The man being shot at, Herisse, had run over a cop earlier that day, but instead of taking him to jail, these cops kill him in cold blood.  Since the evidence points to Herisse not shooting back, that is the only thing it could have been.

“This isn’t a question of police trying to secure evidence. It’s a question of police trying to destroy evidence of what they had done…” said John DeLeon of the ACLU.  Police brutality and abuse of power is very common in Miami.

What makes this story interesting is that the Chief, Carlos Noreiga, claimed to have heard nothing about police brutality until Benoit gave the film to the media.  If that’s true, then who is watching out for the people?

Over in Afghanistan, a military unit, Bravo Company, had some guys who had a thought – what would it be like to kill some Afghani civilians?  They deemed them “savages,” and apparently were very keen to the idea.

And that is exactly what they did.  Four Afghani civilians were brutally murdered and mutilated by members of Bravo Company.  Had it not been for them getting busted, there would have been more killings.

What brought what Rolling Stone magazine named “The Kill Team” down was the same thing that brought down the cops in Miami Beach – trying to shut people up.  One of the men in the unit, Pfc. Justin Stoner, had had enough.  When Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs heard about that, he knew this couldn’t stand.

“We need to address the situation with Stoner.  Snitches get stitches,” he reportedly said to a gathering of those who had been involved.  With that in mind, Gibbs and six other men descended on Stoner’s room and beat him brutally.

They later came back and told him that if he didn’t keep his mouth shut, there would be severe consequences.  They subsequently threw down two severed fingers on the floor, emphasizing that that would be his fate, or worse.

Everything came apart after that.  Photographs from their exploits reached a German newspaper, and then alerted the entire world to what the Kill Team had done.  It was a good thing that they did.  The world needed to know that this was going.  It doesn’t matter that it made America look bad, because what was being done cannot be explained away.

The only reason that the video of the shooting of Herisse survived was because Benoit had the SIM card in his mouth when the cops handcuffed him and interrogated him and his girlfriend.  That man has more guts than most any of us could ever claim to have.

And the only reason the Kill Team was busted was because an army doctor was treating Stoner for the beating and could tell something was up.  She appealed to his decency and got him to talk to army investigators.

A rather compelling YouTuber by the name of Terroja Kincaid had an idea for people we have who are supposed to be looking after us in his video Death Penalty for Abusive Cops?

“I think we should pass a law that if you wanna become a cop, you sign your life away.  You sign an agreement that stipulates that if you abuse your power in these ways, to this extreme degree, you forfeit your life.”

This idea also goes with the soldiers as well. That brings this to the most important question – who is watching those who we charge to protect human life, both here in America and abroad?

Police brutality is way too common in this country.  WikiLeaks has brought to light how rampant military power abuse is.  So the question is – if there isn’t somebody watching them, are we safe?

Deck: Instances of abuse of power spark the question, are Americans safe?

Jump: Abuse

Tease: cops, soldiers, abusive of power

Pull Quote:

They later came back and told him that if he didn’t keep his mouth shut, there would be severe consequences.

June 14, 2011 Eli Johnson

It’s always something in this country. If it isn’t Michele Bachmann playing Mad Libs with “American values,” then it’s Sarah Palinplaying Cranium with American history- and doing it poorly.

Last week, Palin was visiting the Old North Church in Boston while she was on her tour around America. She says the purpose of her tour is to raise awareness about the rich history that this country has.

May 31, 2011 Eli Johnson

Recently, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Mn) was issued a challenge by high school sophomore Amy Myers, to a debate on the United States’ Constitution, history, and civics. Myers was met promptly with silence from the Congresswoman and her staff, and for good reason too- Bachmann wouldn’t stand a chance again the well-informed teen. In a letter…

April 19, 2011 Eli Johnson

Fox News announced recently that Glenn Beck’s time on Fox News is coming to an end. This is good news for advocates of free thought. It is the end of the television career of a man who has passed himself off as being so absurdly mad, that reality doesn’t matter anymore.

It only seemed to be a matter of time before this announcement came out. Beck has a long history of making completely insane comments on his show. Lawrence O’Donnell put it best.

“Do you ever get the feeling that Glenn Beck’s job is to be a smokescreen for Bill O’Reilly? Beck is busy saying so many utterly insane things that get him so much attention that it’s easy to miss O’Reilly’s lower-voltage lies,” he said during one of the “Rewrite” sequences on his show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

Beck has a long and not-particularly pretty history for saying things that are insulting, untrue, and so over-the-top that even his sponsors have backed off quickly.

He began his career on Fox News in January 2009. It quickly became clear that he is a rather ‘opinionated’ individual, and that most of his opinions are completely crazy.

“But I’ll tell you this- whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent,” he said on his radio show on March 14, 2011, talking about the tsunami in Japan. Yes, a horrible disaster is a message. It’s kind of shameless, no?

And that is just a recent example. Beck has a long history of saying some pretty unpleasant things. He also has a history of saying things that are just plain dumb.

“It would have to burn a hole through the Earth. Does that even sound reasonable? Nothing like that has even happened at the worst nuclear in history- Chernobyl. And experts verify, not going to happen, it’s impossible, it’s a movie,” he said in a rant on his show misrepresenting the China Syndrome, which is a real thing, as well as a title of a movie. Guess that Beck didn’t hear about that with all of his fact-checking.

Now, it has been brought up that Beck may just be acting. Stephen Colbert did a rather nice hit with this angle on his show, The Colbert Report. He made a comparison between his level of “seriousness” and Glenn Beck’s.

“It’s like looking into a mirror, after you’ve done a ton of Coke off of it,” he joked on his show on October 8, 2009. There are some eerie comparisons to be made between Beck and Colbert, to which Colbert is perfectly suited.

However, Beck’s sponsors didn’t believe that he was just full of it, or making jokes. In July, 2009, Color of Change, an African-American political advocacy group, organized a boycott against him. They succeeded in getting 36 major companies, including Wal-Mart and Sprint, along with companies like AT&T and Procter & Gamble, who were not advertisers on his show to begin with, but who had ended up there, to join them.

The boycott didn’t even remotely affect Beck and his ego.

“…And I will use American ingenuity and my ingenuity to pull myself up, and I will find another way to get this message out, on a platform that will be a thousand times more powerful,” he said on his show after the boycott began.

This guy has this really hyper-inflated ego that seems to never be fed enough. He does rally after rally. He even did one up here in Anchorage on 9/11. It seems that no occasion is taboo for him to use to his advantage.

Beck also had a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2010; on the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. had done his rally 47 years earlier. He made an impassioned speech about how America needed to come back to God, and why President Obama and the Democrats were the enemy.

“Something that is beyond man is happening,” he yelled out into the crowd, “America today begins to turn back to God.” Apparently, this nation’s problems are that simple to solve, because that was basically the moral of his whole speech.

However, no matter whether he is serious or not, there are times when Beck says things that are so heartless, he leaves some listeners in disbelief.

On April 11, 2011, he went on a tirade, attacking Lawrence O’Donnell for an emotional outburst that he had on his show. After all the crocodile tears that Beck has shed, he decided to go after somebody else for showing genuine emotion. Of course, O’Donnell admits that losing control of his emotions was not the most professional thing to do, but it was real.

O’Donnell had broken up on the last line of a letter from a woman who depended on Planned Parenthood for her health services, like breast examinations. It has escaped Republicans notice how Planned Parenthood does more than abortions. Abortions only count for three percent of their total business.

“Stop just a second- hookers? Who? Who depends on Planned Parenthood? I have to have- I’ve got 400 abortions that I have to have. I have to have these children aborted, I’m depending on Planned Parenthood,” Beck said on his radio show.

He continued to listen to the clip of O’Donnell losing control of his emotions, and then started laughing maniacally at this. Apparently, a woman who is expressing genuine concern for her health future is a joke to him.

So, what lies in the future for Beck? I think Keith Olbermann said it best on his web broadcast.

“But frankly, Beck had decided that Fox has been making way too much money off him that he should have been keeping for himself,” he said, and rightly so. Beck apparently believes that he will aspire to Oprah Winfrey’s game, and have his own network or something like that. Yeah, right.

An empire is dying on Fox News, and it is about time. Glenn Beck is a stain on all that is decent in America, and it’s time for him to go into the shadows, and to be forgotten by history.

April 12, 2011 Eli Johnson

@font-face { font-family: “Calibri”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Apparently, it is pretty common knowledge that there has been a sizeable paradigm shift in the hate-crime community in this country.  The shift has been from the black community to the LGBT community.

Gwen Ifill wrote a compelling book about the rise of black politicians in this country.  She pointed out that while President Obama is the greatest example of breakthrough politicians for the African-American community, he is hardly alone.

This doesn’t mean that the war against racial bigotry in this country is over.  Far from it, but it is a step in the right direction.  Race relations in this country have completely changed from the days of the Jim Crow, though the battle isn’t over yet.

However, while race relations have changed, the prejudices of people have shifted.  The number of hate-crimes against the LGBT community has been on the rise over the last couple of years.

The number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation has been on the rise since 2006.  What makes this problem interesting is that in some states, committing a hate crime against a member of the LGBT community isn’t regarded as a hate crime at all.  The state of Alaska is among them.

It’s interesting how in this state, a person can come right out and say that they assaulted a person because they were gay and it isn’t recognized as a hate crime.  As of 2009, 30 states recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as a hate crime.  These numbers are just plain sad.

How hard is it to recognize a crime against a person because of who they love as a hate crime?  There is a bit of hypocrisy on the part of the current GOP about this topic.  There was a piece of legislation in 2009 that Rep. John Boehner (R-Oh) objected to making it a federal crime to assault a person based on sexual orientation.

“All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstances.  The Democrats’ ‘thought crimes’ legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance,” said Boehner.

Okay, if that’s true, then surely Boehner is against all hate crime legislation based on the same merits.  CBS News believes that to be the case, and sent him an email inquiring to that end.  Kevin Smith, Boehner’s spokesman at the time, sent them an email back.

He said that Boehner, “supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics,” he said.

Interesting, so Boehner believes that sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic, which is defined as a characteristic that does not change, but religion is.  The massive logical holes in that argument are astounding.  This truly does inspire awe and wonder.

According to The Pew Forum, roughly half of all American adults change their religious affiliation at least once in their lives.  The conclusion of the psychological and scientific community, on the other hand, says that sexual orientation is something that people are born with.

When faced with this argument, Smith tried a different tactic to justify Boehner’s opposition.

He said that the bill, “could eventually invite the prosecution of Americans for their thoughts and religious beliefs, basic provinces protected by the First Amendment.”  This is another pathetic argument.

There are no laws against hate speech in this country.  There are laws against hate crimes, however.  Nobody is being prosecuted for being a jerk, just for committing crimes against another person for the sole reason of their sexual orientation.

There was a lecture at the college, a few months back by John Corvino, a philosophy professor at Wayne State University, about the morality of homosexuality.  He talked about how people tend to want to believe that the war against the LGBT community is over, and the LGBT community won.

Corvino pointed out that it isn’t over.  It is at a very strange place right now due to the torn perception.  But the rise in hate crimes based on sexual orientation says something.  And the lack of laws against it also says something.

It says that this government doesn’t care.  What’s more is that the war against it is entirely based on personal bias.  Does anybody remember the local battle against ordinance 64?  That was a clear demonstration of how bigotry works.

Mayor Sullivan didn’t veto it for any good reason.  He did it because he could, because he wanted to.  He said from the beginning that that was what he was going to do.

Bill Maher said it best about the whole gay rights issue.

“This is just legislating taste, and there’s nothing that bothers me more than that, and it’s what we do all the time in this country,” and he’s absolutely right.

The fact is that the hate crimes against the LGBT community are wrong.  The fact that the law hasn’t caught up with this fact is even worse.  This country is supposed to be showing the world how a civilized society operates, and yet we deliberately turn a blind eye to an entire community of people.

The treatment of one group of people has gotten a lot better, and that is great, but the battle for equal rights isn’t over.  And there are too many people like John Boehner and Dan Sullivan who will just legislate taste, and not do what’s right.

April 5, 2011 Eli Johnson

Last week, there was a Candidate Forum at the Student Union here at UAA.  It was a chance for the students and the citizens of Anchorage to be able to meet their municipal candidates, and to think about who they want to have representing them. There is a concerning issue about municipal elections- the fact…

March 29, 2011 Eli Johnson

In the country of Libya, as story has been unfolding, it is the tale of a tyrant, and those who stand against him. It has become a story now of a group of nations who have risen to defend the rebels, and to stand against this tyrant. It has caused some friction on all sides of the American political landscape- left, right, and center.

The story began in a completely different country. It began in Egypt, and their peaceful revolution. After their success, nearby nations decided that they would try and duplicate this strategy. Tunisia is a success story. Yemen is looking to be another success story, but anything could happen. There are protests going on in Syria. But the nation that is getting the most attention right now is Libya.

Much like Egypt, it all began with the people being fed-up with their dictator, this one named Muammar Qaddafi. The people of Libya decided to rally together and begin a series of peaceful protests. The first Libyan protests were held on Feb. 15, and right off the bat, the protests were met with violence.

Following the events unfolding was tough at the beginning. The only video footage that was coming out of Libya was from “civilian reporters.” The video footage was obscure, and what was coming out of Qaddafi’s mouth was strange.

“All my people love me. They would die to protect me,” he said when speaking to various news organizations, laughing off the international pressure that he should step down.

After a while, Qaddafi decided that he had had enough of the protests, and things got ugly. First, he cut off communications and media access. When the military got involved, Qaddafi called in mercenaries and was reported to be using human shields.

By the end of February, Qaddafi had lost control of most of his country to the rebels. On March 6, he began a counter-offensive. As of March 22, Qaddafi is reported to have control of 13 of Libya’s 22 districts, seven are under the control of the rebels, and two are being contested.

On March 19, the UN began their campaign to aid the rebels with military support. To date, it has only been air strikes. Not a single ground troop has been committed to this action. The UN coalition has been conducting a campaign of bombing of strategic targets for almost a week.

President Obama has categorically ruled out the possibility of a ground invasion, which is a very good thing. However, the complete response to the United State’s involvement in Libya’s rebellion has been rather interesting, from the left, right, and center.

Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga) first blamed Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. He then went on to chastise the President for making a no-fly zone over most of Libya. To explain his flip-flopping he issued a strange tweet.

[email protected] given choice use allies not americans- after obama march 3 says qaddafi has to go make sure he goes- obama changed the choice.”

Now, it is hard to understand what people are talking about in 140 characters, but the end result is always the same with Republicans- it’s Obama’s fault.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) wrote to Obama, telling him that he was against military action in Libya. He wrote a lengthy statement, which outlined his reasons. His chief argument is that Americans can call military actions whatever they like, but war is still war.

“The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. War from the air is still war,” he wrote in his statement. Kucinich even went so far as to talk about proposing impeachment of the President.

Kucinich does make a good point in the fact that this act was taken without Congress passing a motion to declare war. He is also correct in that dropping bombs from the air is no less an act of war than having troops on the ground.

The real problem is that this government already has involved its military far too much in the Middle East. Something that never seems to come up in Congress is cutting the defense spending of this country.

For the year 2012, the military has a projected budget of between $881 billion. The budget requested for this fiscal year stands at $895 billion. For the year of 2010, it was $855 billion. This is a lot of money, a metric ton of money.

The United States accounts for 60% of the entire world’s defensive budget. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, we spend $9 billion a month continuing our efforts in Iraq. The cost of continuing the war in Afghanistan is going to be $10 billion a month.

During a time when everybody is talking about tightening the nation’s belt and spending less, it’s interesting that the most bloated budget in this country, and arguably the entire planet, is not even being brought up. Congress constantly votes to feed more money into it, while they debate cutting the funding for things that matter, like NPR.

The sad fact is that this new military engagement is going to cost money. It is money that currently this government doesn’t have. How many programs could be saved by cutting the defense budget? All over this country, there are talks about cutting from social programs that help people, but not a word about cutting military spending. Apparently, that is too much to ask.

This nation is getting involved in another war, one that we weren’t asked to come into anyway. It sounds heartless, to just say that this country shouldn’t help people who need it, but this country can’t afford it.

What’s more, it sets a very dangerous precedent- the precedent that if your country is in trouble- America the savior will ride in and save you. Ironically enough, this is a reputation that our country simply cannot afford right now. There just isn’t the money available.

Unless the plan is to cut the budget to all those pesky programs that help the poor, that is.

 

March 22, 2011 Eli Johnson

Right now, at this very moment, there are groups of people in the state of Wisconsin who are in an uproar.  They are angry about the actions of their government.  Their actions could not only decide the fate of their bargaining rights, but the existence of their unions entirely. There has been a lot of…

March 1, 2011 Eli Johnson

There seems to be a new go-to rhetoric in this country- that we should be able to kill those we don’t agree with. This is seriously frightening, and simply not right.  What’s worse is that this may actually have an impact on real policy, and get real people killed.

Bill Maher was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a few weeks back.  This was after the incident with Gabrielle Giffords.  He was talking about his ideas about gun-legislation, and the fact that nobody seems to talk about it anymore.

“The go-to rhetoric for them seems is- ‘wouldn’t it be fun to kill the people who don’t agree with us,’” he said, talking about the point the Right-wing of this nation has now.

He does indeed have a point.

Of course, this is not exactly a new trend of thoughts with the Tea Party candidates that violence is the answer if their demands are not met.  Former Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle most famously got the ball rolling last year.  She spoke often about “2nd Amendment remedies” as a legitimate way to settle political differences.

Then there was Rep. Allan West’s (R-Fl) aide, Joyce Kaufman.  She had an often quoted line that actually did make a lot of liberals speak out.  They rightly did so, but it is the meaning of the thing she said, and whether or not she was serious that matters.

“If ballots don’t work, bullets will,” she said during a rally with fire in her belly.

It struck a lot of people as a very unpleasant thing to say, and more than one blogger and political commentator talked about it.  Yet this dialogue is all over the conservative landscape.

FOX News has been littered with death as an acceptable concept for dealing with those you disagree with for a long time.  Glenn Beck had a skit in August of 2009 on his show where he sadistically had a person, with a mask of Nancy Pelosi on, drink poisoned wine.  He sounded very delighted during the skit.

“Drink it now, drink it!” he said, looking so amused with himself.

Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly suggested killing be a measured response for the United States.  He referenced using a UAV Drone to kill the WikiLeaks Founder, Julian Assange.

“You know, that’s what I’d like to see- a little drone hit Julian Assange,” he said.

“Whoever leaked all those State Department documents to the WikiLeaks website is a traitor, and should be executed or put in prison for life,” he said, talking about the release of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

At least he said there was a choice, right?

These are respected figures among the community that they represent.  They are supposed to be people who are the adults, saying that killing other people should be a reasonable response for a personal disagreement.

To a more recent example- there was a suggestion by Jeffery Cox a Deputy General for the state of Indiana to the government of Wisconsin on how to deal with the protests there.

In a Tweet he said, “Use live ammunition RT @MotherJones Sources in Madison say riot police have been ordered to clear protestors from capitol and 2 am #wiunion.”

Interesting. So, we have an American government official suggesting that live ammunition be used on American citizens who are exercising their 1st Amendment right to peacefully assemble.

Now, the use of violent rhetoric is one thing.  It’s childish, immature, pathetic, and in poor taste, but there is a more serious side to this.  There are signs that this may not just be rhetoric.  There are signs that people are actually trying to legalize killing in this country to settle issues.

There has been a recent piece of legislation in South Dakota.  It is House Bill 1171.  In it, it expands the concept of “justifiable homicide” to include abortion providers.

In this country, justifiable homicide means killing another human being without malice or criminal intent.  Some applications of this are in wartime deaths, capital punishment, self-defense, in the separation of conjoined twins where a weaker one must die to save the stronger, and in other countries, euthanasia for terminal patients.

But this isn’t that.  This concept is not only wrong, it is outright terrifying.  There is legitimate reason for people to be afraid of this kind of discussion.

In this country, the United States of America, we are actually proposing a bill that says that we can just kill somebody.  Whatever a person’s beliefs on abortion, how can anybody rationally justify this in their mind- killing another person just because they provide abortions?

And what if it doesn’t end there?  You get the ball rolling, based on personal bias, and where does it stop?  The point about violent rhetoric and violent legislation is the lack of respect for human life.

Where is the line?  That is the question.  Talking about violence against a person is one thing.  Actually proposing it is something completely different.  The point here is that we have people in this country who care so little about human life that joking about ending it seems appropriate.  Then we have those who are actively working to do so.

That is completely unacceptable.

February 22, 2011 Eli Johnson

There is an issue that has come up in this country, which honestly shouldn’t even be being talked about in this nation anymore.  There can be no question about the fact that bringing this subject to the debate table is cruel, heartless and is a service the government shouldn’t be able to withhold because of personal bias.

What should scare people is the fact that there are a lot of people who actually take a lot of what has been said recently about the reproductive rights of women and how they shouldn’t have any choice about their own bodies seriously.

This issue came to the table in a rather dramatic way.  It was first introduced with on January 20th of this year.  It came in the form of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J).  It is a rather complicated piece of legislation, so let’s take it apart piece by piece.

“This legislation is really about whether the role of America’s government is to continue to fund [abortion] despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans—even some of those who consider themselves pro-choice—strongly object to their taxpayer dollars paying for abortion,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).  It sounds so innocent, but the fact is that this legislation is actually a lot more cold-hearted.

The fact is that there is already a law preventing the federal government for paying for abortions.  It is called the Hyde Amendment.  This was an unfair Amendment to pass because it took out the provisions for low-income families in programs like Medicaid that covered abortions.

But there is a catch.  At first, the Hyde Amendment had no exception for cases of rape and incest.  However, this rightly got women’s advocates to come together and protest this. Their protests worked, and since 1976, there has been an exception in the Hyde Amendment in cases of rape and incest.

And this is where the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act comes back into place.  They originally wanted to remove this loophole altogether and it sounds cruel to even talk about.

The new rules stipulate that the exception to the Hyde Amendment is only in cases of “forcible rape.”  Take a moment and think about that- forcible rape.  The very phrase is demeaning to women who have been victims, because for women who are the victims of statutory or date rape, well, it’s tough luck.

Something very ugly is happening in the collective consciousness of this country.  Not only are these acts basically telling women that they shouldn’t even have the option, they are also saying that certain kinds of rape are not “forcible.”

If these kinds of rape are not “forcible,” are they any less wrong?  Is it any better for a woman to become pregnant with her rapists baby if he didn’t beat the stuffing out her?  Is it any better for a young girl to be told that she is carrying her father’s baby?  Where is the line that says that this kind of conversation is wrong?

Another idea that came to the table was the Protect Life Act.  It was brought up by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Rep. Dan Lipiniski (D-Ill.).  Under this law, not only would it make it almost impossible for women to get insurance coverage for abortion, but it also gives public hospitals the authority to refuse to provide emergency abortions to save the woman’s life.

Not only does this act fly in the face of the Hippocratic Oath, which stipulates that a doctor shall do no harm, but it is a genuine statement of hypocritical indecency.  This bill is not made to protect life, it is making a doctor have the authority to end it, to let another human being die, and with no guarantee that the fetus will live anyway!

It isn’t if just the bill passing that matters on this issue.  In fact, if the reaction of House and Senate Democrats is any indication, these provisions are going nowhere.  The real issue here in that this conversation is happening at all.

This kind of thinking is a disease.  It is a cancer of American society and all the progress that women have made to have full reproductive rights.  It is kind of ironic that the Tea Party says that they want a smaller government, but now they want the government to basically reign over all pregnancies.

Remember Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate in Nevada?  She was one of the Tea Party candidates who was in favor of granting government power over the lives of women.

She said that girls who didn’t have an abortion had, “made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.”

Christine O’Donnell, another Tea Party candidate said, “We must renew the commitment to respect all human life on which the Republican Party was founded.”

The fact that H.R.3 is not going to pass is inconsequential, because now the topic has come up.  Now it is apparently fair-game to talk about letting women in this country die, and not giving women who have suffered a horrible crime the right to choose.  It used to be that even if the Republicans were against abortion, they wouldn’t talk about taking away a woman’s choice for rape and incest cases.

Now, their case for why abortion is wrong is most faith-based, and it does have at least a modicum of a point.  A living creature is being terminated.  But the issue here is the fact that this government should really have no right to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.  It’s as simple as that.