The illegal transport of legal immigrants

Imagine you approached a bunch of American citizens down on their luck and promised them that if they came with you, you’d take them somewhere they could get jobs and assistance. You then shove them on a plane and send them off without making any plans whatsoever as to what happens to them when they get there. Oh, and you also lie to them about where they are going.

cartoon by Steve Breen

To reiterate: You committed a fraud by lying to these people, and you committed the crime of “unlawful restraint” by transporting people against their will (since they only agreed based on your lies).

Now if you say, “that’s different, these people that DeSantis sent to Martha’s Vineyard were immigrants,” then you clearly don’t know your Constitution. (I mean, no one has ever accused DeSantis of having the slightest bit of knowledge of the Constitution, of course.)

If you’re in America, you have rights. The 14th Amendment guarantees these rights to “people,” not just citizens. Even tourists get these rights. Hell, even illegal immigrants get these rights.

And these people were here legally. They are refugees, most of whom are escaping from a terrible regime in Venezuela. You know — Venezuela. That place Republicans incorrectly use as an example of socialism gone mad (when it’s really because of a dictator gone mad). You’d think conservatives would at least be consistent in that regard, and welcome them.

Refugees are allowed to come here, and once here, they have certain rights. Among those rights are not to be lied to and treated like cattle, and then shipped hundreds of miles away from the place where technically they are supposed to report to in order to take care of all their paperwork for entry.

The evil conservatives who cite the Bible while ignoring 90% of what it preaches just assumed Massachusetts residents would treat these refugees as terrible as they had, but of course, the exact opposite happened. The locals embraced the refugees, fed them, found shelter for them, and are working to help them get the assistance they need. You know, all the things Jesus said to do with immigrants.

You’ll never hear about that on right-wing talk shows, however. After all, if there is one thing modern conservatives are known for, it’s simply ignoring facts when they contradict their already-held viewpoint.

Republicans want to destroy democracy and how Democrats can keep it

by Guest Blogger David Gerrold

On January 6th, in Donald Trump’s fevered imagination, he intended to lead an armed mob into the halls of Congress and declare himself the winner of the 2020 election. That armed mob would not have hesitated to use their guns on anyone they perceived as an enemy.

Fortunately, it didn’t happen that way, but there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that there was significant planning for that coup attempt.

Had Trump made it to the Capitol, I suspect his reign would have been very short. The members of our military have taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Thwarting the certification of an election is sedition.

Would the military have fallen in line behind Trump? I don’t think so. Well … I hope not.

Meanwhile … Donald Trump is now suggesting that he will run again in 2024. That’s not a hint, that’s a threat.

A shadow government has already been formed, ready to take possession of the national machinery on January 20th. Around the country, various state legislatures controlled by Republicans are taking steps to guarantee that their states will choose Republican electors in 2024 so that regardless of the popular vote in those states, they can return Donald Trump to our White House.

This nation is at a cusp.

If the Republicans regain control of the House and Senate, it stops all attempts to preserve the mechanics of our democracy.

If, however, enough Americans are alarmed by the actions of the Supreme Court, it is possible that there could be enough of a blue turnout in November to protect the Democratic majority in both houses.

We will know in November if we still have a democracy.

If not … well, I know several people who are justifiably predicting that this nation is headed toward violence. The unholy alliance of evangelicals, fascists, and corporate oligarchs, has created the greatest threat to the United States since the slaveholders’ rebellion.

The USA has been targeted by a carefully calculated long game designed by fascists. Their goal to suspend the Constitution and replace the federal government with their own home-grown Reich.

I suspect that they will fail. But this nightmare will not be defeated easily. If the Jan 6th Commission cannot stop the seditious movement in this country, violence will be inevitable. There are too many veterans in this country who took their oath seriously.

There are many ways to bring down a government. The women of Iceland demonstrated that a few years ago, when 90% of them went on strike, hitting the streets, and shutting down the government.

Can we shut down a fascist coup in the United States?

I don’t know.

But there are several things we must accomplish in the next few years to stop the possibility:

1) Campaign finance reform. End Citizens’ United.

2) End the electoral college. One person, one vote. Period. Everybody who reaches the age of 18 is eligible to vote. Automatically.

3) Oversight on the Supreme Court. I’m not sure how this can best be accomplished, but there are several possibilities. Term limits for one. And having one Justice for each of the thirteen districts. Both of those would be a good start. A third option — the Senate has 90 days to approve or disapprove an appointment. Failing to give the appointee a hearing, he/she automatically gains the seat. (There is nothing in law that says the Senate must approve an appointee.)

4) End the fucking filibuster. I can understand why some Democratic senators might not want to establish this precedent. So a Senator can only filibuster as long as he/she can stand and talk.

5) No one can hold office as either Senator or Representative or President without passing the same citizenship test that all immigrants must pass before nationalization.

……

Ten-time Hugo and Nebula award nominee DAVID GERROLD is also a recipient of the Skylark Award for Excellence in Imaginative Fiction, the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Horror, and the Forrest J. Ackerman lifetime achievement award. He was the Guest of Honor at the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention. Gerrold’s prolific output includes teleplays, film scripts, stage plays, comic books, more than 50 novels and anthologies, and hundreds of articles, columns, and short stories. He has worked on a dozen different TV series, including Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, and Sliders. He is the author of Star Trek’s most popular episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” His most famous novel is The Man Who Folded Himself. His semi-autobiographical tale of his son’s adoption, The Martian Child, won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and was the basis for the 2007 movie starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet. His latest story can be found in Three Time Travelers Walk Into… (edited by Michael A. Ventrella). His web page is www.gerrold.com

The three types of Republicans

Republicans these days fall into three categories:


1. Rich people who only care about their taxes being low and pretty much nothing else.

2. Conservatives who may hate group #3 below but still see the GOP as better than Democrats who want to do things like give people health care and free college. These people are spooked by the word “socialism” even though most of them have no idea what it really means. They’re 99.99% white and are worried about losing their power and privilege.

3. Absolute loonies who supported Trump and believe in QAnon and every ridiculous conspiracy theory out there. I’m including the religious fundamentalists in this group, who sincerely believe that anyone who doesn’t agree with their views are agents of the Devil and must be fought.

All laws are tyranny!

Refuse to bow to tyranny!

The government wants to force us to get vaccinated and wear masks! It’s the very definition of tyranny!

Even though that was the case when George Washington ordered people to get vaccinated during a pandemic in his time, and even though masks were required during the 1918 Flu Epidemic, and even though children have always been required by law to be vaccinated for every other major disease, this time it’s really tyranny! Because we said so, that’s why!

No more laws telling us what we have to do! Freedom!!!!

No more laws telling us we can’t smoke in no smoking zones! Screw everyone else’s health! They should look out for themselves and not restrict my freedom — screw their freedom to be free from disease.

And traffic lights? Who is the government to tell me I can’t drive through the intersection whenever I want? Other people need to care for themselves and look out for me — I have no responsibilities to anyone else!

And why can’t I hire children to work in my factory if they want to? For that matter, why are there any laws at all? If I want to murder someone, it’s their responsibility to look out for me!

Tyranny, I tells ya!

There goes the Robert E. Lee

I grew up in Richmond and went to college at VCU in the heart of the city. At one point, we had an apartment near the Virginia Museum and I’d ride my bike down Monument Avenue to go to class each day. (Suddenly I’m remembering having to ride home in a sudden downpour, hoping the books in my backpack didn’t get too wet.)

Anyway, even then, my friends and I knew those statues to traitors should not be there. We called Monument Avenue “the Avenue of Losers” (and I even worked that into my novel BLOODSUCKERS: A VAMPIRE RUNS FOR PRESIDENT which begins in Richmond).

So I’m glad to see that they’re finally removing the statues to the traitors, which were only erected by confederate sympathizers and racists during the Jim Crow days. You know — losers.

You want to idolize an evil man who owned other people and was willing to kill fellow Americans for the right to continue to do so? Fine, put the statue on your own property. This property — this avenue — belongs to us. We are refusing to use our money to support your evil on our property.

We should not be spending taxpayer money honoring people who rebelled and declared treason against that same government that now pays for the statues.

“It’s not honoring, it’s history” claim people who literally think that is a good argument. I don’t think it’s worth wasting my time explaining to these morons that we don’t honor bad history, and we don’t need statues to learn about history. (Somehow, we’ve managed to learn about World War II without a single statue of Hitler anywhere.)

So yeah, good riddance. Proud of my old hometown.

Texas Democrats and their Lack of Options

Republicans in Texas (like in many other states) are doing everything they can to make the most basic right in a democracy harder, because Republicans know that the only way they can win is by cheating.

The Democrats in Texas have left the state to prevent the Republicans from having a quorum to enact these laws.

Some people are saying this is unfair and that the Democrats should “do the job they were elected to do.”

Well, they are. They’re protecting the rights of voters, just like they’re supposed to do.

The GOP has fixed the game so that the only way they can do their job is by protesting. You know, the thing the Founding Fathers did a lot of. The thing that is protected by our very first Amendment. That thing.

“But the laws have a process that should be followed! They’re supposed to vote!” This argument has been used for generations to justify discrimination and bad laws. “Well, I’m sorry you don’t like the fact that blacks can’t vote, but the laws preventing them from voting were passed according to our rules.” Well, sure. But if the rules allow the majority to trample on the rights of the minority, what other option does the minority have?

The Texas Democrats are stuck using this as a means because the rules have been written by those in power to prevent any other means (in the same way the Filibuster is preventing the majority from accomplishing their goals in the US Senate).

Texas is, believe it or not, a purple state. Beto O’Rourke came this close to defeating Ted Cruz. Trump won it by only 1.3%. Republicans have gerrymandered the state in such a way that they control far more than 1.3% of the state house. They’ve used legal means to disenfranchise many voters, and now they’re trying it again.

Here’s a map. Notice how all the cities (which are heavily Democratic) have been divided in such a way that it is practically impossible for Democrats to win. Instead of having one big district in a city, it’s split so that the Democratic part of the city is overshadowed by the Republican rural areas adjacent to it. So. If we had a fair playing field, maybe one could argue that refusing to play is unfair. But the game is rigged, and the only way to fight it is to refuse to play.

Conservativism is, at its root, all about being selfish

Seriously, that’s what it’s all about. So much of conservative thought (and especially libertarian policy) is about being selfish.

I got mine, so who cares about you?

Programs and policies that benefit them are perfectly acceptable but if it helps anyone else, it’s a waste of government time and money.  Oh sure, they code their selfishness with the word “liberty” but when they talk about liberty they mean they want to do whatever they want and screw anyone else who may be hurt in the process.  “I should have the liberty to discriminate and take away everyone else’s liberty” is what a lot of their argument boils down to.

But let’s be honest here — it’s not just about them personally but their group.  “Our religion needs to have its religious laws forced upon everyone else, but your religion should be banned. Our immigrant forefathers are the core of this country but you immigrants are not welcome. Tax breaks for things we do are reasonable government expenditures but tax breaks for what you do are just plain theft from me.”

The history of progress in America has largely been the fight by liberals against conservatives who selfishly did not want to share what they had: their power, their wealth, their freedoms.

What is the common thread of all of these movements in America?:

  • Abolishing slavery
  • Giving women the right to vote
  • Abolishing child labor
  • Establishing a minimum wage
  • Worker’s rights
  • Civil rights
  • Environmental protection
  • Gay rights

Yes, that’s correct. Liberals supported all of this, and conservatives opposed them, because they didn’t benefit them and in fact, removed many of them from having the power they once held.

And we’re seeing that now. It’s not a coincidence that the conservatives are the ones now protesting quarantines and refusing to protect society in general. You can discuss all sorts of political reasons why that is, but it really boils down to selfishness.

(Note: This is very much a simplification of conservative thought and does not necessarily apply to all government policies such as foreign affairs and such. But it’s useful to remember when you read something about a conservative’s position. Quite often, you can boil it down to selfishness for themselves and people like them.)

EDIT:  I am currently deleting all the replies from people who clearly did not read this article but say “Oh yeah?  Well, a Republican abolished slavery” — when clearly the post talks about liberals and conservatives and not parties in the slightest.  Read some history, pay attention, and maybe read the comments below before making yourself look stupid in public.

Let’s give the Corona Virus the Chinese Food Treatment

by Guest Blogger Steve Vaughan

Our favorite Chinese restaurant is a five-minute drive from our house. For my money–which they get a lot of–it’s the best in town.

Whenever we order from–whether it’s dinner for eight adults or a snack for Alex and me–they give us the same delivery time, “45 minute.” And the food is always here in 30 minutes, tops. And the order is always correct and the food is always great. I’m pretty sure they know the delivery isn’t going to take 45 minutes, but they build in time to deal with complications. If the food gets here in 45 minutes, we’re satisfied.

That’s a smart way to run a business. It’s a smart way to run public policy too.

Unfortunately for us, our favorite restaurant is “closed until further notice.” I’m not sure why. It has a very tiny dining room. I’d think delivery and takeout makes up a big part of their business. I hope no one is ill.

So, when Alex and I wanted Chinese for dinner a couple of weeks ago, we had to try a new place. They were even closer to our house. With a decent size catapult they could literally have thrown the food to our porch.

They promised the food in 30 minutes and got it there in 20, but part of the order was wrong and the rest was awful. To be fair the new place confounded my Egg Roll Test for Chinese restaurants. The egg rolls were good and Alex said his hot and sour soup was delicious. (Yes, my 12-year-old eats hotter food than I do. Don’t judge.)

But when we turned to our entrees the corner cutting was obvious. Alex had his usual, chicken fried rice and I felt like something simple and had shrimp fried rice.
Okay, first, fried rice is supposed to be fried. This was white rice with a few peas and carrots thrown in.

Second, the protein is supposed to be cooked in the rice, at least briefly. Here it had been tossed on top of the previously prepared rice. My entree had tiny pink baby shrimp of the kind I would expect to find garnishing a salad. They tasted okay, but were wrong for the dish.

About 30 seconds after he started his rice, Alex held out a piece of chicken on a fork and said, “Try this.” He was doing that thing where you can’t believe how bad something tastes until you get a second opinion. Although we teach Alex never to spit out food, I spit it into the kitchen trash can. I don’t know what they did to that chicken but they made it foul, not fowl.

And so this restaurant will never get another dollar from us, showing that cutting corners is a bad way to run a business. Or to create public policy. Particularly public health policy.
If you’re following along this far, you probably know where I’m going with this.

The majority of the nation’s governors–Democrats and Republicans alike–and all of our leading healthcare experts are running a good restaurant. They know, that in the biggest public health emergency in 100 years, there are potentially a lot of “unknown unknowns“ out there. So they are setting goals for ending social distancing that are data-driven, which take into account how much we have flattened the curve and the danger of new outbreaks if restrictions are relaxed too soon.

Unfortunately, they are competing with an unlicensed food truck parked on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The administration’s response to this crisis has been driven by everything but the data. By Trump’s arrogance and insecurity. By partisanship. By wishful thinking. And by an almost instinctive anti-intellectualism from the president and his supporters.

Some are saying they are willing to die to restart the economy. You can count me out of storming that hill.

Others, “Corona Virus Resisters,” are flouting state regulations and gathering in large groups. As long as they keep to themselves, great. They will shortly prove Darwin (who they probably don’t believe in) right. However, if they endanger other people, they should be arrested like anyone else who is a threat to public safety.

What the emergence of these groups show is that in the Age of Trump, stupidity is no longer a character trait–it’s an ideology.

These people are fools. Let us not suffer fools gladly.

And let us demand that US public health policy is run at least as well as a good Chinese restaurant.

Steve Vaughan is a reporter and writer residing in Richmond, Virginia. He holds a degree in Political Science from VCU and a masters in Wise Ass from the School of Life.

The problem with those who refuse to assimilate

The main problem in America today are those who refuse to assimilate into society — who insist on keeping their own culture and not becoming part of what makes America great.

These people just don’t understand that America has a specific culture, and when you’re here, you should accept that.

These white straight Christians refuse to acknowledge that we represent the best the world has to offer. That our diversity is our strength, and we were built by immigrants, including some who did not come here voluntarily.  They go on national television and complain that America isn’t great any more, which is their way of saying “white male straight Christians don’t get to do whatever we want any more.” They don’t understand the greatness that is America — that we welcome everyone and everyone can become an American.  And then their words encourage crazy people to go out on killing rampages.

Until these people learn to assimilate into American society, we’ll never achieve the American dream.

 

Why conservatives call Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez “stupid”

It’s a popular meme on the right — calling AOC “stupid” and making fun of her for that. Seriously, do a search and you’ll find a bunch.

Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez won a science fair in high school of the kind that usually gets won by people who go on to win Nobel prizes. The competition is the largest pre-college scientific research event in the world.

Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez-ISEF-2007-science-fair

Then she went to Boston University where she graduated cum laude with degrees in economics and international relations.

So how can they call her “stupid”?

Well, first, let’s remember that facts are meaningless to these people. These are the same people who deny evolution, claim climate change isn’t real, argue that trickle-down economics works, and think Trump is completely innocent. They deny reality all the time when it contradicts their already-held world view.

But mostly, they say that about anyone who believes in democratic socialism. They point to Venezuela (ignoring the fact that Venezuela’s problems are not because of socialism but because of corruption and a near-dictatorship) while they ignore basically every other advanced civilized democratic country in the world that has socialism (most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc.).

In other words, they are seriously arguing that a person who graduated with honors in economics and international relations — the two things that would undoubtedly qualify anyone as an expert in democratic socialism — is “stupid.”

Which is about as stupid as they can be.