We Should Not Be Surprised

I’ve said before that my main objection to the Tea Party-backed Republican candidates is that they encourage and depend on voters’ fear and anger. This is inherently dangerous and promotes a mob mentality that was displayed recently when a Rand Paul supporter stomped on the head of a female protester.

We should not be surprised when we consider these two headlines:
Oct. 10: Public anger boosted Rand Paul to victory
Oct. 26: Rand Paul supporter stomps on woman's head

Candidates who encourage divisiveness and anger do not deserve your vote!

Republicans Urge Hispanics Not to Vote

Here is further proof that the Republican Party has lost its soul:

Republicans in Nevada ran an ad in Spanish urging people NOT to vote. I thought the civil rights movement ended such organized efforts to prevent citizens in a minority group from voting.

If you value your freedom, you will vote AGAINST the Republicans!

Prejudice is the Enemy of Democracy

Prejudice and racism are the enemies of democracy and freedom. We can never work together to solve our country’s problems if we are divided along racial, religious, or cultural lines. This is why I was concerned to see that in Europe, anti-Muslim sentiment and support for far-right extremist groups are spreading.

Anti-Muslim prejudice also exists in our own country, as evidenced by the opposition earlier this year to the construction of mosques in New York and other U.S. cities. More recently, Republicans Jake Knotts and Josh Mandell have been criticized for making bigoted statements about Muslims.  

Racism has reared its ugly head several times within the Tea Party movement, although to be fair most Tea Party organizers have tried to keep their movement focused on fiscal issues. The racists may not speak for everyone in the movement, but they are a threat to those who truly seek reform, as are the right-wing conservatives that have hijacked the Tea Party in an effort to return Republicans to power.

But conservatives are not the only ones guilty of prejudice. California Representative Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat, recently made the statement that that Vietnamese people were trying to seize power from "us" (Hispanics).

As long as we think in terms of “us versus them,” our country cannot live up to the ideals expressed by visionaries like Jefferson, Lincoln, and King. If we value our freedom, we must be vigilant and stand against those who would exploit fear and prejudice for political gain.

This Is Mainstream?

Candidates backed by the Tea Party are hailed by some conservatives as outsiders who will bring reform to Washington – regular folks who are in touch with mainstream America. But the things these candidates say and do are way outside the mainstream.

Of course, high on the list is Carl Palodino, the Tea Party-backed candidate for governor of New York, who does not deny sending racist and pornographic e-mails. In a display of hypocrisy that is noteworthy even for a politician, he recently said homosexual are a bad influence on children.

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul voiced disapproval of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because he said businesses should have been allowed to deny service to blacks without fear of federal interference. And in Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle has said doesn't believe the Constitution requires the separation of church and state.

In the not-evil-but weird category, we have Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio who dresses like a Nazi for war reenactments. I support his right to dress how he likes, but I would call this a questionable lifestyle choice.

Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party Senate candidate for the Senate in Delaware, has made more crazy statements than I care to list (take your pick from “evolution is a myth,” dabbling in witchcraft, school shootings happening “every week,” etc.), but her actions speak louder than her words: she is being investigated for using campaign funds for personal living expenses. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Election-2010/From-the-Wires/2010/0921/Christine-O-Donnell-OK-to-use-20-000-in-campaign-funds-to-pay-her-rent

These candidates seem more like the lunatic fringe than the mainstream.

Both Parties Exploiting Fear, Prejudice in Ads

Immigration reform – or more accurately, the lack thereof – is a hot topic for this coming election.

I’m concerned about the current crop of campaign ads that prey on people’s fears and prejudices. Republicans David Vitter and Sharon Angle recently caught the attention or the national media by using the same stock photo of tough-looking Hispanics in their ads. Vitter’s in particular has been denounced by local Hispanic groups as racist.

In my home state of Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger Bill White are running ads promising to get tough on immigration. Neither candidate’s ads (at least the ones aired so far) are overtly racist, but both candidates are subtly playing on the fear and anxiety of the white majority.

Regardless of your views on immigration, we should all speak out against racism in any form. I will not vote for any candidate who plays on fear and prejudice.

Coverage of the Vitter Controversey:

Sometimes the Government Gets it Right

Tea Party supporters are very outspoken in their distrust of what they perceive as an overreaching government. I can sympathize; we have to be vigilant in protecting our rights. The idea of limited government also appeals to the American ideal of rugged individualism.

However, many Tea Partiers seem to embrace an extreme view that government should have almost no role in our lives. Unfortunately, this view has no basis in fact, and it ignores some historic achievements. Here are a few of the more obvious examples:

·         During the 1930s, government programs like the TVA and REA brought electricity to rural areas where it was not feasible for private companies to provide service.

·         When President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, creating the interstate highway system, he committed taxpayer money to build an infrastructure that continues to sustain American businesses.

·         And, of course, the human race’s greatest technological achievement—the moon landings—was accomplished by NASA, a huge government bureaucracy, in partnership with numerous private contractors. The taxpayer dollars spent to develop the technology for the space program led to innovations like the integrated circuit that made American companies the global leaders in the computer industry in the following decades.

FDR’s vision of bringing electricity to farming communities while creating jobs faced strong opposition in Congress, just as today President Obama’s green energy initiatives are being opposed. Conservative politicians and Tea Party activists criticize Obama’s stimulus spending, much of which went to maintain or expand our interstate highways. Obama has cut the NASA budget, but he has increased investments in medical science and in green energy, which many experts say will be the text economic boom.

Our government is at its best when it is investing in our future. Don’t take my word for it; here’s what the experts say:

“… the electrification of rural America means more than comfort and convenience. It means profit to farmer, to utility, to appliance manufacturer.” Morris L. Cooke (Head of the REA in the1930s)

“Its[the interstate Highway System’s] impact on the American economy - the jobs it would produce in manufacturing and construction, the rural areas it would open up - was beyond calculation.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Without the NASA funding, the technology landscape would probably be far different than it is now. There would [still] be computers, but they'd be so large and expensive that they would only be used for a handful of specialized applications.” – Dan Olds, Gabriel Consulting Group

“[A] green revolution is imminent that promises to pull the global economy out of today's deepening recession at about 2015, leading to a new wave of sustainable economic growth.” – WE Halal, George Washington University

Why I’m a Fan of Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” is an outspoken critic of right-wing Republicans and an outspoken supporter of President Obama. He loves to show video clips of Republican politicians contradicting themselves. However, he’s no lapdog for the Democrats For example, he blasted a Florida Democrat for running misleading ads calling his opponent “Taliban Dan.”  

When have Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck ever criticized a Republican for running misleading ads? Stewart is not afraid to hold Democrats’ feet to the fire, and that is why I’m a huge fan of his. If you agree, I hope you can attend Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity on the Mall in DC on Oct. 30.

War is Hell

I was saddened but not shocked to see the news article about U.S. soldiers accused of murdering civilians and posing with the bodies in Afghanistan (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=11779689). This doesn’t excuse these soldiers’ actions (if the allegations are true), but we have to remember that these are young people under a tremendous strain.
Unfortunately, in addition to the tragic loss of life, one act like this undoes thousands of hours spent by our troops trying to build trust with the Afghan people.
Is it time to rethink President Obama’s surge policy and get our troops out of Afghanistan sooner? This isn't a rhetorical question; I honestly don't know the answer.