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I find it telling that the one measure in the sequestration package that Representative Woodall seems to object to is the one humane provision that makes fiscal sense: releasing detained Hispanic immigrants who shouldn't have been detained in the first place. The folks who are being released were detained for manufactured "crimes" such as not having a drivers license or minor traffic offenses. But let's be honest: they were really detained because of the color of the skin and their place of birth.
I also find it ironic that Rep. Woodall, who bills himself as a champion of liberty, supports a program under which Hispanics are stopped at police checkpoints in our communities, seized, and sent to privately operated detention centers in the middle of nowhere, where they are accorded fewer fights than a common criminal, including no right to a lawyer. Is this really America?
Congressman Woodall also presents himself as a great champion of family values. I wonder how he squares that with a policy whose main effect is to systematically separate children from parents and husbands from wives -- sometimes for months, sometimes for years, sometimes forever.
Congressman Woodall trumpets his Christian faith, and I have no doubt that it is sincere. But the immigration policies he supports run counter to explicit Biblical injunctions to welcome the stranger among us, and indeed violate the principles of every major religion.
Representative Woodall is a great supporter of economic growth, yet his immigration policy damages Gwinnett's economy by driving out a population that contributes far more in sales, income, property, and social security taxes than it receives in services, and that is home to some of the most dynamic young business entrepreneurs.
I am sure that Rep. Woodall's misguided immigration policy is a product of ignorance, not bad intentions. Immigration is a complex problem, and, as Rev. Martin Luther King noted: "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking . . . Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
Ignorance is excusable up to the point where it begins needlessly destroying innocent people's lives. Then it becomes unacceptable, even criminal.
I urge Congressman Woodall to rethink his immigration policy. While a vocal minority of your constituents may support it, the majority do not, and we are getting sick and tired of the same old rhetoric and the same old bankrupt policy. Instead of making us safer, the policy undermines our safety by making the Hispanic community distrust the police and by diverting police resources from combating real crimes. It hurts Gwinnett economically, taints our county's image, and endangers our liberties. Most importantly, it is flat-out morally wrong, and diminishes all of us.
At the end of the day, the only one who profits from this policy is the private prison industry -- the rest of us are all losers. It's time for a change.
"No, governor, charities and religious bodies are obligated to help the weak and poor. State and federal governments have no such obligation. To claim they do empowers bureaucrats and politicians who are having a difficult enough time fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities. It also undermines the work ethic."
Wow. This statement reads like it comes out of a Dickens novel. I guess we should just go back to sending poor people to the workhouse. It's an especially chilling sentiment to express in the middle of an economic downturn, when millions of Americans are out of work and millions more are struggling to make ends meet despite working one or more jobs.
Hopefully it is not necessary to state in 2013 that an uncoordinated patchwork of assistance from "charities and religious bodies" is not substitute for governmental aid to the needy. Most civilized societies these days recognize that, if nothing else, governments have an obligation to prevent their citizens form going hungry.
I want to thank Mr. Thomas to have the honesty to state the Republicans' philosophy in its purest form, with no sugar coating or hypocrisy. He has the guts to say in public what Romney only confided to his high-rolling donors, before retracting the statement and then repeating it after the election: that anyone going through hard times who accepts government assistance in any form is a no-good loafer -- a "taker." At least now we know where they stand. This explains the Republican Congressional delegation's embrace of the sequester -- after all, it only cuts government services to "takers" who don't deserve these services in the first place.
Please, sir, may I have another bowl of soup?
So Congressman Woodall is unhappy about the sequester. Why do I get the feeling that this is a case of crocodile tears? If he really cared about the impact of these spending cuts on this constituents, why didn't he raise a finger to stop them?
The idea that these cuts will "re-energize" the economy is ludicrous. Cutting spending in the midst of a recession is economic malpractice, and is close to clinical insanity. Only someone who is completely blinded by right-wing anti-government ideology could fail to see this. The other alternative is that Congressman Woodall actually wants to economy to fail so that he can blame it on President Obama. Either way, it doesn't paint a very pretty picture.
Representative Woodall is certainly entitled to his extreme anti-government viewpoint. But why make a career in government if you believe it is the root of all evil? And why serve in Congress in the first place if you have no interest in constructive policymaking and no appetite for actually grappling with complex policy issues? If all Congressman Woodall is interested in doing is obstructing governmental action and pontificating, he belongs in a right-wing think tank, not in Congress.
However, because Representative Woodall is in Congress, his abstract, Ivory Tower ideology, which led to the sequester spending cuts, will now have concrete, painful consequences for many of his constituents. He has moved from symbolism and posturing to destructive policy. Perhaps he realizes this and is becoming nervous, which would explain why he is trying to backpeddle. I encourage all Representative Woodall's constituents to monitor the impact that the sequester has in Gwinnett closely and to hold Representative Woodall accountable.
Dude, please, let's get a grip. The folks who are being released from detention should never have been there in the first place. Their "crimes" consist of minor traffic violations like broken tail lights, and, in many cases, not even that -- just being pulled over at a checkpoint and not having a license. What a colossal waste of taxpayers' money, not to mention a gross violation of civil liberties. The last time I checked, America was supposed to be the land of freedom, not a police state.
Should we really be waking up at night in a cold sweat because our Hispanic neighbors won't be so terrorized that they are afraid to drive to church or to the market? To me, that would be a good thing! Forcing a whole population to live in a state of constant fear is neither human nor good public policy. In any case, it's about time we freed up our police to focus on serious crimes.
It's pretty chilling to hear our Sheriff take credit for having scared Hispanics into leaving Gwinnett. Those are our neighbors he's talking about! And they are also the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, who will now take their talents somewhere else. I personally don't think that ethnic cleansing is something to be proud of.
The whole crackdown on immigrants is a scam. It is a draconian solution in search of a problem. The only beneficiary is the private prison industry. The losers are the rest of us -- not only our Hispanic brothers and sisters, who are seeing their families systematically separated and destroyed, but all Gwinnett residents, as we see our tax dollars squandered, our economy damaged, and our liberties and humanity diminished by this wasteful, cruel, ill-conceived policy.
If we're really serious about improving the economy and saving taxpayers' money, we should start by firing the do-nothing GOP Congress, including our delegation from Georgia. They apparently believe that government has no legitimate function between deporting and executing people, and they clearly have no appetite for the actual work of government, especially when it involves actually researching and thinking about complex policy issues. They would rather posture and mouth platitudes. I suggest that they find new jobs on the evangelical circuit, which would be a much better fit for them. This would allow them to lecture women about morality without getting their party in trouble, and without taxpayers having to foot the bill. The Tea Party and the rest of the GOP Congressional representatives are certainly entitled to their extreme anti-government ideology, but why make a career in government if you are convinced that it is the root of all evil?
It's also important to recognize that the vulnerable Americans who are going to be hurt by the sequestration cuts to social programs are victims of former President George W. Bush's failed policies. President Bush didn't have the honesty or guts to raise taxes to pay for his war of choice in Iraq. Instead, he ran up the deficit, and no one in the GOP showed the slightest concern. It's interesting that the GOP only discovered their deep concern about the president when a Democrat was elected president -- this despite the fact that any economist would tell you that an economic recession is the worst possible time to decide to start addressing a deficit. Just as with Iraq, the GOP has taken its eye off the ball -- it is focusing on debt reduction when it should be focusing on job creation and economic recovery.
At the very least, I would expect the anti-government GOP ideologues in the House to step up and volunteer to take pay cuts as a sign that they are willing to share in the sacrifices that other Americans will have to make because of their shortsighted policies. However, given that they are all happy to accept their state-of-the-art Congressional health insurance despite their tirades against "takers" and Obamacare, I'm not holding my breath.
Here we go again. This is the kind of statement that makes Gwinnett a national laughingstock. Let me get this straight. The solution to gun violence is . . . even more guns? Didn't someone once say that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, and expect a different result? Folks, if the key to public safety and happiness was an ample supply of guns, Americans would be living in Nirvana. We have among the weakest gun laws and the most guns per capita of any country in the world. Somehow, though, we don't seem to be very safe.
When even a minor shooting happens in Canada or the UK, it's huge news for months. When a mass shooting happens in the U.S., it's quickly forgotten or eclipsed by an even worse shooting. It takes the massacre of kindergarten students to catch our attention and give us pause.
I hate to break it to you, but if you are planning to use guns to stave off a government tyranny, you're out of luck. That might have worked 200 years ago, but even if you're armed to the teeth with assault weapons, you won't hold out long against bombers and tanks. Not only that, the successful movements to overthrow dictatorships recently have been nonviolent. Look at what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Or look at what happened right here in Georgia in recent memory. A group of brave African American and white freedom fighters took on one of the most brutal tyrannies in history -- JIm Crow -- and won. And they did so nonviolently. The guns were all on the other side.
Another fallacy is that only criminals use guns to commit crimes, and that law-abiding citizens only use guns to defend themselves against strangers who have invaded their homes. In the real world, many gun-related homicides are committed by law-abiding citizens against spouses or friends in a moment of rage, madness, or intoxication. If a gun hadn't been handy, the homicide wouldn't have happened. Not to mention that guns are the method of choice for men who commit suicide. In fact, having a gun in the home probably makes us less safe, not more so. We could test whether this was true if the NRA hadn't successful suppressed scientific studies on this topic so that they can spout their junk science unchallenged. Makes you wonder what they're so afraid of, if the facts are really on their side.
I hate to break it to you, but if our good sheriff's vision comes true, Gwinnett won't look like a 1950s sitcom rerun where we're all happily armed and magically safe. It will look like Somalia -- a no-holds-barred free-for-all where the guys with the biggest guns win. That's not democracy -- it's anarchy. And it's not much of a future to look forward to.
OK, enough of this nonsense. The solution to gun violence isn't more guns! Only the gun manufacturers and the NRA profits from that approach.
Let me get this straight. The NRA's much vaunted "reasonable concession" to the gun violence crisis is to have taxpayers pay to place armed guards in kindergardens to protect us from the mess that they have created. Thanks a lot, guys.
We saw how well this approach worked during the recent incident at the Empire State building. Trained policeman shot a slew of innocent bystanders before they finally managed to down the shooter. And, despite all the guns in circulation, no one ever seems to be able to cite an instance where a mass shooting was thwarted in this way.
The Connecticut shooting also debunks the NRA's old chestnut that "if guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns." The fallacy here is that there is a clear-cut, stable, readily apparent distinction between law-abiding citizens and crooks. The mom of the Connecticut shooter was a NRA poster child: she obtained her weapons legally and taught her son how to use them safely. She never expected him to turn her guns on herself and her students. But that's the way it is in real life: law-abiding citizens can turn violent in a moment of anger, intoxication, or madness. If they have a gun at hand, the results can be deadly.
As for the NRA's claim that "guns don't kill people, people do," they are right. But guns sure make it a heck of a lot easier for whackos to kill a lot of people a lost faster. I would rather take my chances against a nutcase with a knife than a nutcase with an assault rifle any day of the week.
Finally, I wish the gun worshippers would stop whining about their precious rights for long enough to spare a thought for the rest of us. What about our right to be free from constant fear? I don't like guns, and I don't want them in my home. I don't think it's reasonable for the NRA to create a society where we have to live in fear if we venture out in public without being armed to the teeth. I find it unacceptable that we can't send our kids to the mall or the movies or their classrooms without being afraid that they will be gunned down. A civilized society doesn't allow that to happen. In other words, you don't have the right to stick your gun culture down my throat.
Gun worship is idolatry. It is elevating firearms over human life. And by letting it continue, we are guaranteeing that the massacres will continue, with each one worse than the last. Have we really sunk so low that we consider this acceptable? Do we really love guns more than our children?
And ask yourself this: if the NRA really have the facts on their side, why did they have to get their lackeys in Congress to ban the CDC from tracking statistics on gun violence -- the only topic that CDC is prohibited by law from studying? What are they so afraid of?
As usual, Lincoln said it best:
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that all men are created equal'. We now practically read itall men are created equal, except African Americans'. When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read `all men are created equal, except African Americans and foreigners and Catholics'. When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
all men are created equal'. We now practically read it
If you want to understand why Romney lost, you need look no further than his infamous "47%" comments. First he made the comments in a private talk with fat cat donors -- a setting where you would expect a candidate to say what he really believes. Then, after a long delay, Romney claimed that he didn't "really" mean the comments -- as if a five-minute riff could somehow be written off as a slip of the tongue. Then, after he lost the election, when he had nothing to lose, he essentially repeated the 47% comments, only with an even more bitter and divisive edge.
So there you have Romney in a nutshell -- flipflopping on where he stands, telling each audience what he thinks they want to hear, and flatly denying inconvenient past statements. Part of the reason that President Obama flubbed the first debate was that he was incredulous at the blatant lies that Romney was telling -- for example, that Romney's health care plan wouldn't turn away people with pre-existing conditions.
As if this isn't bad enough, when Romney speaks candidly, as to his donors or after the election, the sentiments he expresses aren't pretty. They reflect the contemptuous, patronizing attitude that he displayed throughout the campaign. Having been lionized by his tight Mormon inner circle his entire life, Mitt felt that he was so self-evidently superior that the only explanation for his defeat must be that people wanted "stuff." Romney simply couldn't accept that voters sized him up and found him wanting.
Yes, Mitt, you're right, we voted for Obama and against you because we wanted stuff. Stuff like respect for our intelligence. Stuff like openness to diversity. Stuff like a refusal to pander to our worst prejudices. Stuff like a president who wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and who actually has a clue about ordinary people's lives. Is that too much to ask for?
Thanks for the parting shot 47% reprise, Mitt -- just when I was starting to feel sorry for you, it reminded me how grateful I should be that you didn't make it to the White House.
Three Republican myths:
Myth #1: Governor Romney is committed to working with the Democrats in Congress.
Reality: President Obama has bent over backward to try to work with Republicans. He has appealed to them to act responsibly and help him fix the economy. He has received zero cooperation. In fact, from Day One of the Obama Administration, top Republicans were openly stating that they wanted to see Obama fail -- this in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. If the Democrats had behaved this way, Ann Coulter would have accused them of treason. The GOP's dirty little secret is that Republican Congressmen deliberately sabotaged any legislation that would have improved economic conditions because they were afraid this would help President Obama get re-elected.
Myth #2: The Republicans care deeply about reducing the deficit.
Reality: Where was this heartfelt concern when President Bush was turning the Clinton surplus into a mammoth deficit. Governor Romney and the other deficit hawks didn't raise a peep at the time. And why suddenly become fixated on the deficit when the economy is teetering on the verge of a depression -- the time when the top priority should be increasing employment, not reducing the deficit? Could it be because deficit mania provides a handy excuse for Republicans in Congress to block efforts to create jobs -- efforts that, again, could help get President Obama re-elected.
The bottom line is that Republicans don't care about the deficit -- they just don't like government. If the deficit didn't exist, they would need to create -- and, indeed, under W, they did. Only a pathologically anti-government party could actually argue that the bank crisis and the housing crisis were somehow caused by too MUCH government regulation, rather than too LITTLE.
Myth #3: Governor Romney stands for all Americans.
Even by Republican standards, the Romney campaign is Wonder-bread white. Take a look at the guy's rallies -- his campaign doesn't seem to be able to even drum up a few token African Americans or Hispanics. And it's hardly a wonder. After all, Governor Romney has suggested that we make life so miserable for Hispanic immigrants that they "self-deport." Instead of addressing the concerns of African Americans to win their votes, Governor Romney's supporters have chosen to try to scare off blacks from voting by posting ominous billboards in African American neighborhoods in Ohio warning of dire penalties for voter fraud and by shutting down weekend voting in African American neighborhoods. And let's not forget that Governor Romney's religion didn't allow African Americans to be priests until the late 1970s, and continues to treat women as second-class citizens. Mitt would like us to think that we will all be invited to a 1950s-style family reunion if he gets elected, but there will be a lot of folks who don't get invitations.
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