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Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Outbreak of an Old but Deadly Flu Killer - a Strain of Swine Flu May Cause Renewed Pandemic Response

These news stories about swine flu should never be taken lightly. It's another startling example of how this changing virus continues to threaten human life. 

When health officials can't find the source of the flu, as jumping person to person, the risk of the virus jumping from animal to human is very suspect. While American lawmakers are embroiled in a "sequester" political power struggle, the resources needed to combat the threat of another pandemic could be blindsided by wasteful Congressional bickering.  

This report from NBC Nightly News is very current as of March 31, 2013- and it bears close monitoring by World Health experts:

2 in China first known deaths from H7N9 bird flu


BEIJING (China) — Two Shanghai men have died from a lesser-known type of bird flu in the first known human deaths from the strain, and Chinese authorities said Sunday that it wasn't clear how they were infected, but that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

A third person, a woman in the nearby province of Anhui, also contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu and was in critical condition, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission said in a report on its website.

There was no sign that any of the three, who were infected over the past two months, had contracted the disease from each other, and no sign of infection in the 88 people who had closest contact with them, the medical agency said.

H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans. The overwhelming majority of human deaths from bird flu have been caused by the more virulent H5N1, which decimated poultry stocks across Asia in 2003.

The World Health Organization is "closely monitoring the situation" in China, regional agency spokesman Timothy O'Leary said in Manila.

"There is apparently no evidence of human-to-human transmission, and transmission of the virus appears to be inefficient, therefore the risk to public health would appear to be low," O'Leary said.

One of the two men from Shanghai, who was 87, became ill on Feb. 19 and died on Feb 27. The other man, 27, became ill on Feb. 27 and died on March 4, the Chinese health commission said. A 35-year-old woman in the Anhui city of Chuzhou became ill on March 9 and is being treated.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted tests and confirmed Saturday that all three cases were H7N9, the health commission said.

Scientists have been closely monitoring the H5N1 strain of the virus, fearing that it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases have been connected to contact with infected birds.

Our US Congress must stop bickering about how to prioritize sequester cuts, but, instead, works together, to improve the human condition!  

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

President Obama Gets High Marks During Mid East Visit: Did American Mainstream Media Miss This? I Think So.....


Where was the American press?  Thank you Frida Ghitis.

A CNN Twitter post shed light on the extraordinary reception President Obama received during his recent Mid East diplomacy. Although the President's visit was given second tier coverage (in my opinion), this CNN.com news story should have received many more headlines.

So, I'm posting the entire coverage from CNN in my blog:

In Mideast, Obama knocks it out of the park
By Frida Ghitis, Special to CNN
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Mon March 25, 2013
 
"...He made a persuasive case that the U.S.-Israel alliance is, in his words, 'eternal, it is forever'."

Editor's note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television." Follow her on Twitter: @FridaGColumns

Amman, Jordan (CNN) -- They're bringing down the American flags in Jordan and Israel and putting them back into storage after they got slammed in a sudden sandstorm during the last part of President Barack Obama's visit. Perhaps it was nature's way of keeping Obama from feeling he had gained the upper hand in this famously unpredictable region. Sandstorm or not, the president had reason to feel good about his trip. After deliberately lowering expectations about what he might achieve on the trip, Obama knocked it out of the park.  

He even managed to take the skeptics by surprise, helping broker the restoration of relations between Israel and Turkey.

Bolstering friends, strengthening alliances and sending everyone in the Middle East a clear picture of America's vision and priorities for the region -- this was the common thread in everything the president did in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

He made a persuasive case that the U.S.-Israel alliance is,
in his words, "eternal, it is forever." He spoke passionately and effectivelyin favor of Palestinian statehood and the need to restart the peace process. He made it clear the United States will not tolerate a nuclear Iran but prefers to prevent it through diplomacy. He reiterated his call for an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and showed his strong support for Jordan's King Abdullah, a moderate king who says he is trying to democratize his country without the need for bloodshed.

As Obama returns to Washington, not everyone is happy about what they heard. But, if power is the ability to influence the behavior of others and the course of events, then he managed to make America a bit more powerful after a mere three days in this turbulent region.

In a visit filled with poignancy, symbolism and, yes, substance, one of the most dramatic and unexpected moments came minutes before Air Force One departed Israel for Jordan. As the milky white sky gave signs of trying to clear, Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped inside a trailer on the tarmac and made a historic call to Turkey's prime minister.

When the call was over, Israel and Turkey had restored diplomatic relations. After an acrimonious three-year dispute over a botched and lethal 2010 Israeli raid on a Turkish-flagged flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade, Netanyahu apologized.

The reconciliation was not all Obama's doing, but he gave the final push that allowed two pivotal Washington allies to work out their differences at a time when events in Syria and Iran demand the United States and its friends work closely together.Opinion: Obama goes over Netanyahu's head to the Israeli people
A major objective of the trip was to convince Israel and its enemies that the United States is committed to Israel's survival. The goal is fundamental to regional stability, because as long as anyone has any doubts, those who advocate destroying Israel will continue pursuing the objective and gaining followers while making Israelis more hesitant to take risks for peace.  From the moment he landed, Obama alluded to 3,000 years of Jewish history on the land. He told Israelis -- in Hebrew, lest they miss it -- "Atem lo levad," "You are not alone." "You are not alone." He talked about Israeli tourists recently murdered in Bulgaria, about threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, about chemical weapons from Syria. And then he made an impassioned call for Israelis to take the perspective of Palestinians, for the sake not only of their own security but also of justice. Israelis cheered.
 
It was a masterly performance.
By spending time in the West Bank, Obama raised the profile of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas relative to that of his rival Hamas. And when he declared that those who seek Israel's destruction "might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above," his words threw a punch against Hamas and Hezbollah, whose stated objective he was labeling a hopeless cause.
 
When he arrived in Jordan, America's most reliable Arab ally, he widened the lens to the growing crisis in Syria, which is spilling over, sending more than 400,000 refugees to a country practically devoid of natural resources. He pledged an additional $200 million to King Abdullah for the sustenance of the refugees still fleeing Syria by the thousands every day.

Opinion: The empathy president
 
Standing with the Jordanian king, with the knowledge that Israel and Turkey had healed their rift, Obama projected an air of confidence and achievement, even if events in Syria seem to spin out of control; even as King Abdullah warned the West has become naïve about the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest winner so far in the so-called Arab Spring.

This was Obama's first visit to an Arab country since 2009. Back then, Egypt was America's strongest Arab friend. Today, the Middle East is undergoing a violent and unpredictable transformation.

During barely 72 hours in the region, Obama reasserted a measure of influence. He laid out America's vision and gave a vote of confidence to America's friends. It was a subdued but visible show of U.S. influence and power in a time and a place of unexpected sandstorms and ferocious revolutions, where no man, no nation, has full control over the course of history.  Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Kudos and Blessings to Sister Simone Campbell - Nuns on the Bus: Commentary from National Catholic Reporter

March 25, 2103


Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus) gives a lesson in compassion to Congressman Paul Ryan.  She deserves a private Papal audience, along with church support.  I would like to see Congressman Paul Ryan, who is a Roman Catholic, respond to this commentary by withdrawing the austerity budget he submitted to the US Congress.  Although Congressman Ryan creates a myth about our government somehow being unable to afford to pay people earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare and Veterans benefits, the fact is, middle class Americans can't afford to pay Congressman Paul Ryan.  He must be replaced.  Following is National Catholic Reporter Commentary from Sister Simone from the March 25, 2013 National Catholic Reporter:

http://ncronline.org/node/48416

"Last year, some of my sisters and I became known as the Nuns on the Bus. Together, we journeyed through many parts of America to raise awareness of the plight of working poor families and the threat Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget posed to them and to our country as a whole. Last week, Rep. Ryan unveiled his new Republican budget. It is a budget that rewards wealth instead of work; one that reflects the worst of Ayn Rand as it undermines the best of America. It will take from working poor families to spend more on the wealthy, and it won't even reduce the national debt.

Paul Ryan hasn't called me recently for advice on his budget, but the one piece of advice I wish he would take would be to remember that his budget is not about numbers; it is about people. It is not about charts but about God's children.

I wish he could have been with us on our bus journey when we met Billy and his wife in Milwaukee. They are two of the more than 20 million working Americans who earn so little that they still live in poverty. Both Billy and his wife work, but they make so little that they qualify for and use food stamps to help put meals on the table for themselves and their children.

Reading about Billy isn't the same as meeting him. He's not a name, not a number -- he is a young man working his hardest to support his family. But Paul Ryan has said Billy and his family shouldn't get food stamps because Billy is working.

Think about that for a second. Because he works, we should deny Billy's children a decent meal at the end of the day? Paul Ryan and others will say we can't afford these "handouts" to people like Billy. But when we invest in food stamps to make sure Billy and his family don't go hungry, we aren't just investing in Billy's family. We're investing in Billy's employer by ensuring it has a productive employee. We're investing in future employers by ensuring Billy's children have enough to eat, knowing the significant correlation between childhood hunger and poor performance at school and work later in life. We're investing in consumers because better work leads to lower prices.

In short, when we invest in workers like Billy, we not only invest in one of God's children but also in America. That concept of the common good is central to Catholic social teaching and is something Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan have never seemed to understand.

Paul Ryan sees government programs as evil. I see children sleeping in cars, pregnant women without health care, and the elderly unable to pay for their medication as the real evils. Yet that is the reality for far too many Americans, and Paul Ryan's budget would make it so for even more.

Paul Ryan and many Republican colleagues argue that we should cut government programs because churches should provide these services, an argument not based in reality. The need is simply too great. Bread for the World released a study last year showing that every house of worship in this country would have to raise an additional $50,000 in revenue each year just to be able to fill the void the Ryan budget would create -- $50,000 from each church, synagogue and mosque in America. That's a huge new tax Paul Ryan would place on all our churches, a burden many could not afford.

Ryan also completely ignores the fact that churches and faith groups like Catholic Charities depend heavily on government programs like food stamps to support their work and provide the services that help so many of America's struggling families. There is a powerful public-private partnership between our churches and government that fuels America's safety net. Without government, that safety net will fail and more children will go hungry in this wealthy nation. That is immoral.

As a nation, we must address both the suffering and its causes. Pope Benedict, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, said we must work toward a society where each worker can earn enough to support his or her family. If we raised workers' wages instead of CEO bonuses, there wouldn't be as many working parents in need of food stamps. But Paul Ryan and his congressional allies are also fighting to prevent the minimum wage from being tied to the cost of living. Meanwhile, they champion more tax cuts on the bonuses CEOs get when the workers who create their wealth are laid off.

So I wish Paul Ryan would take my advice and think of families like Billy's who would be devastated by his budget. But perhaps if he won't listen to me, he will listen to the prophet Isaiah, whose words to his government leaders thousands of years ago feel especially apt for our Congress today: 'If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday'."

[Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, since 2004, is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. She is also a leader of the Nuns on the Bus campaign.]

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Sister Simone: Paul Ryan's budget undermines the best of America

Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus) gives a lesson in compassion to Congressman Paul Ryan.  She deserves a private Papal audience, along with church support.  I would like to see Congressman Paul Ryan, who is a Roman Catholic, respond to this commentary by withdrawing the austerity budget he submitted to the US Congress.  Although Congressman Ryan creates a myth about our government somehow being unable to afford to pay people earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare and Veterans benefits, the fact is, middle class Americans can't afford to pay Congressman Paul Ryan.  He must be replaced.  Following is National Catholic Reporter Commentary from Sister Simone from the March 25, 2013 National Catholic Reporter:

http://ncronline.org/node/48416

"Last year, some of my sisters and I became known as the Nuns on the Bus. Together, we journeyed through many parts of America to raise awareness of the plight of working poor families and the threat Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget posed to them and to our country as a whole. Last week, Rep. Ryan unveiled his new Republican budget. It is a budget that rewards wealth instead of work; one that reflects the worst of Ayn Rand as it undermines the best of America. It will take from working poor families to spend more on the wealthy, and it won't even reduce the national debt.

Paul Ryan hasn't called me recently for advice on his budget, but the one piece of advice I wish he would take would be to remember that his budget is not about numbers; it is about people. It is not about charts but about God's children.

I wish he could have been with us on our bus journey when we met Billy and his wife in Milwaukee. They are two of the more than 20 million working Americans who earn so little that they still live in poverty. Both Billy and his wife work, but they make so little that they qualify for and use food stamps to help put meals on the table for themselves and their children.

Reading about Billy isn't the same as meeting him. He's not a name, not a number -- he is a young man working his hardest to support his family. But Paul Ryan has said Billy and his family shouldn't get food stamps because Billy is working.

Think about that for a second. Because he works, we should deny Billy's children a decent meal at the end of the day? Paul Ryan and others will say we can't afford these "handouts" to people like Billy. But when we invest in food stamps to make sure Billy and his family don't go hungry, we aren't just investing in Billy's family. We're investing in Billy's employer by ensuring it has a productive employee. We're investing in future employers by ensuring Billy's children have enough to eat, knowing the significant correlation between childhood hunger and poor performance at school and work later in life. We're investing in consumers because better work leads to lower prices.

In short, when we invest in workers like Billy, we not only invest in one of God's children but also in America. That concept of the common good is central to Catholic social teaching and is something Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan have never seemed to understand.

Paul Ryan sees government programs as evil. I see children sleeping in cars, pregnant women without health care, and the elderly unable to pay for their medication as the real evils. Yet that is the reality for far too many Americans, and Paul Ryan's budget would make it so for even more.

Paul Ryan and many Republican colleagues argue that we should cut government programs because churches should provide these services, an argument not based in reality. The need is simply too great. Bread for the World released a study last year showing that every house of worship in this country would have to raise an additional $50,000 in revenue each year just to be able to fill the void the Ryan budget would create -- $50,000 from each church, synagogue and mosque in America. That's a huge new tax Paul Ryan would place on all our churches, a burden many could not afford.

Ryan also completely ignores the fact that churches and faith groups like Catholic Charities depend heavily on government programs like food stamps to support their work and provide the services that help so many of America's struggling families. There is a powerful public-private partnership between our churches and government that fuels America's safety net. Without government, that safety net will fail and more children will go hungry in this wealthy nation. That is immoral.

As a nation, we must address both the suffering and its causes. Pope Benedict, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, said we must work toward a society where each worker can earn enough to support his or her family. If we raised workers' wages instead of CEO bonuses, there wouldn't be as many working parents in need of food stamps. But Paul Ryan and his congressional allies are also fighting to prevent the minimum wage from being tied to the cost of living. Meanwhile, they champion more tax cuts on the bonuses CEOs get when the workers who create their wealth are laid off.

So I wish Paul Ryan would take my advice and think of families like Billy's who would be devastated by his budget. But perhaps if he won't listen to me, he will listen to the prophet Isaiah, whose words to his government leaders thousands of years ago feel especially apt for our Congress today: 'If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday'."

[Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, since 2004, is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. She is also a leader of the Nuns on the Bus campaign.]

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

National Rifle Association and Mental Health Funding

It's hard to believe Wayne Lapierre, leader of the National Rifle Association (NRA), is asking Congress to fund mental health programs, rather than pass universal background checks for gun purchases.  But, maybe Lapierre is on to something.  Is it possible for Congress to dedicate all revenue received through gun registration to support mental health programs?

Indeed, Lapierre was feisty on Sunday's Meet the Press (March 24) when he stood firmly in support of the National Rifle Association and in opposition to New York City Mayor Bloomberg about gun regulations going through Congress to prevent more public massacres of innocent people.

Although Lapierre wasted a lot of host David Gregory's air time
circumventing the questions he was asked, he referred at least three times to mentally ill people as a population that should be subjected to background checks before gun purchases.  Here are three quotes from today's transcript:

"We're working on a bill right now that will hopefully at least get the records of those adjudicated medically incompetent and dangerous into the check system that applies on dealers. Most of the states still do not even do that. We need to see if we can get that done. We're looking to get better enforcement of the federal gun laws," said Lapierre, who went on to say....

" And we're right that the mental health system needs to be fixed. The civil commitment laws are in a mess. Every police officer knows that.... We can't even-- as I said before, I've been working for 20 years to get those adjudicated mentally incompetent and dangerous into the national instant check system; we're still trying to get that done," he added, and then, again....

"I hope we end up signing something (legislation) that updates the system and gets those mentally incompetent and adjudicated into the system," he said
.
Okay Lapierre, it's high time the National Rifle Association either puts up or shuts up.  While the NRA pushes back on all sensible efforts to prevent the growing and dangerous trauma of gun violence in America, the very least you and your membership can do is to call for more funding for mental health programs, clinics, counseling and treatment.  In fact, how terrific would it be if the NRA used its influence to obtain more money for mental health services. Why not also put up funds from your own resources, as a match for state, federal and private grants, to provide quality mental health services to more people?

Clearly, Lapierre uses the mentally ill as a scapegoat group for the gun violence in America, rather than admit that zero deaths would occur if no guns were available.

Since the NRA lives in total denial about the obvious correlation between guns and deaths due to gun violence, the very least the organization could do is to provide support and money for more quality care for the "mentally incompetent", who are scapegoated as the cause of thousands of preventable deaths a year.

It makes sense for Congress to pass a universal background check law and to use the revenue received through the regulation, presumably a fee paid by gun owners, to fund mental health programs. 


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Saturday, March 23, 2013

War and Republicans

Two American Republican presidents are responsible for the senseless loss of American military lives, plus countless civilian deaths due to the wars in Viet Nam and Iraq.

The following is startling Viet Nam War information, recently reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), subsequently broadcast by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and now an article in the March 29, 2013, "The Week":

"Nixonian guile:  Newly declassified tapes of President Lyndon B. Johnson's White House telephone conversations confirm that Richard Nixon sabotaged Vietnam peace talks in October 1968 in order to strengthen his own presidential campaign.  In the recordings, Defense Secretary Clark Clifford tells Johnson that the FBI overheard a Nixon campaign adviser persuading the South Vietnamese government to withdraw from peace talks, promising them a better deal if they wait until Nixon is elected.  Hanoi was offering major concessions at the time, and a settlement would have allowed Johnson to stop bombing North Vietnam.  Knowing that this would derail his campaign, Nixon intervened.  Johnson accused Nixon of 'treason' but said nothing publicly for fear of revealing that the FBI was bugging South Vietnamese government figures. Nixon went on to escalate the war - at the expense of 22,000 more American lives---before signing a peace accord in 1973."  

To date, the names of 58, 272 Americans killed in the Viet Nam war are carved in the black granite of the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington DC.  This astounding number doesn't include the many thousands of Vietnamese casualties.

Fast forward 30 years to President George Bush II, who created a false premise for the American invasion of Iraq.  Americans were led to believe the shock and awe massive military invasion of Iraq was in response to the war on terrorism, retaliation for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US and because the dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring "weapons of mass destruction" (WOMD).  None of these premises were true, but we invaded Iraq, anyway.  Ten years post the invasion, Americans have lost at least 4,800 military in the Iraq war, plus tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives, as a result of ethnic violence.  

The above information is not opinion, but fact. Two Republican presidents put the hubris of politics ahead of peace and the well being of the American people.  Thousands of Americans are dead today because of Nixon's interference in the Viet Nam peace negotiation and President Bush lying about the WOMD in Iraq.

Of course, President Nixon and President Johnson are both dead.
Although President Bush is still alive, it's unlikely he will be held accountable for starting an illegal war.

Nevertheless, these two horrible war incidents will, justifiably, deter Americans from entering into any more wars without having specific and credible evidence of our national security being at risk.

But there are scary threats.  When it comes to WOMD, I don't know how much more evidence Americans need about North Korea, a nation practicing to attack either Japan or US military bases in Guam.  Likewise, Iran is obviously developing nuclear technology for the purpose of creating a frightening atomic bomb.  Although these threats put our national security at risk, it will be hard to defend against them without specific and highly credible evidence of an imminent attack.

Republican lies and sabotage about Viet Nam and the Iraq wars have created a terrible mistrust among Americans.  The illegal actions by Nixon and Bush II may put us in in even more dangerous situations, if any imminent threat is finally  acted upon by our enemies in Korea or Iran.  

Therefore, President Nixon and President Bush probably created severe American national security problems, by lying.  

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Iraq War is an Illegal War - Outcome of all this is that terrorist Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan

Hubris is an MSNBC documentary for the ages. Clearly, this expose shows how the Bush 2 Administration created the Iraq War with no evidence of aggression.

Americans continue to unravel the convoluted circumstances that led our nation into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but the tragic facts are really quite simple:

1.  President George Bush II ordered the American invasion of Iraq without evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
2.  Americans engaged in a war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, after our nation had already defeated the terrorist group once - they resurrected when the US was snarled in Iraq.
3.  Both wars were the response to the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001.
4.  The perpetrator of this heinous 9-11  attack was Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, who was eventually found and killed in Pakistan on May 1, 2012.  
5.  Both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the very least, were a complete wast of money and lives lost.
6.  America now suffers the consequences of waging two unnecessary and wasteful wars. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are suffering from lack of sufficient funding, health care is at risk of loosing reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid and Veterans benefits are constantly being threatened.  

Nevertheless, even given the preponderance of evidence as presented in the Hubris documentary, Republicans continue to defend the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Rather than admit to the mistakes of the Bush administration, including Vice President Richard Cheney, they continue to obstruct wealth sharing initiatives (aka taxes) to pay for the illegal wars for the purpose of protecting middle class earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare, Veteran's Benefits and anti poverty programs.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stupid Sequester: Vote Extending Government Should Eliminate the Sequester

Congress received undue media coverage today because of a vote to extend government funding to support operations for the next 6 months.  This bi partisan vote was a "no brainer" compromise. It was accomplished because obstructing government funding was self defeating for Republicans and Democrats, alike.

This vote was an abdication of fiscal responsibility, in my opinion.  In other words, if Congress can vote to fund, or de-fund, extend or cut, then the dastardly fiscal sequester could also be eliminated.

Republicans are, clearly, continuing to undermine the 2012 election results, by using economic bully tactics to push their "cut government" agenda. They're carrying on like this, in spite of President Obama's victory.  They're stubborness won't recall their "s-s" vote, aka "stupid sequester".

Although everyone publicly acknowledges the stupidity of the self imposed budget cutting sequestration, the fact is, the same Congress that imposed this dire act can, likewise, repeal it (just like they voted, today, to extend the funding of government).   

Politicians apparently need a simple check list to figure out  why a recall of the "s-s" is a "no brainer".

1.  Will the sequestration cuts eliminate our nation's debt?  
     Yes or no.

2.  Does the sequestration law do anything - anything at all, to create American jobs?  Yes or no.

3.  Is the sequestration law popular with Americans?  Yes or no

4.  Will sequestration cuts to America's border security put  Homeland Security at risk? Yes or no.
     (a) Will security personnel be furloughed? Yes or no 
     (b)  Will immigration courts have a longer back log of petitioners, forcing refugees, asylum seekers and non-residents to remain in America, without documentation, for longer wait times? Yes or no. 
     
5.  Can any politician provide even one reason why the sequestration law is necessary?  Yes or no

Therefore, does it make any sense, whatsoever, to continue the sequestration, especially when one vote of Congress can have it repealed   Yes or no.

Dear blog readers:  All the Republicans who perpetrate this unnecessary and unpopular sequestration, by obstructing a Congressional vote to repeal it, should, themselves, be recalled - permanently.  

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Syrian People - Desperate Victims of Iraq and Afghanastan

People in Syria are engulfed in a tragic civil war while their horrible circumstances are the collateral damage of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If American had never entered these two wars, we'd be in a much better position to help the suffering Syrian people.

Now, the use of chemical weapons is reported in the Syrian conflagrations, creating more support for nations to respond to a growing humanitarian crises.  Americans could have helped the desperate Syrian people, if our government weren't embroiled in failed wars on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, the war in Iraq was predicated on a false premise, because the threat of Saddam Hussein harboring Weapons of Mass Destruction didn't exist. Nevertheless, the cost to Americans was staggering.  

Casualties in Iraq
http://antiwar.com/casualties/

The Human Cost of Occupation
Edited by Margaret Griffis :: Contact
 
American Military Casualties in Iraq
Date
Total
In Combat
American Deaths 
Since war began (3/19/03):44883532
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list)
4347
3424
Since Handover (6/29/04):36272899
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09):256128
Since Operation New Dawn:6639
American WoundedOfficialEstimated
Total Wounded:32021Over 100000
Page last updated 03/5/13 11:08 am EDT

Afghanistan has, likewise, cost American lives lost and trillions in money wasted.  This war was waged in a desolate nation for the purpose of destroying the militant Al Qaeda Islamists, but it's turning out to be as big a failure as the War in Iraq.  Of course, the Afghan war had a somewhat national security purpose; but the reasoning for continuing to keep American troops in harms has become more elusive as Afghanistan appears completely infiltrated by enemies of the US and the national government.  It's just a matter of time before President Karazi and his Afghan government are toppled as tensions are mounting in this regard. When this coup inevitably happens, we'll see all the time, money, lives and resources poured by Americans into this wild mountainous country will be as wasted as soot in a fire place.  

But Syrians are suffering because Americans simply can't afford the political or fiscal capital to help them to defend themselves. Syrian victims are, tragically, the extended collateral damage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  

Obviously, we can't turn the clock backwards to re-create the decisions that put America into two expensive and failed wars.  Iraq could well fall apart into ethnic factions something like the European Balkans.  Afghanistan might become an anarchist government and an Al Qaeda haven. 

Syria, on the other hand, could conceivably be an American ally in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the potential for this alliance is dwindling by the hour, especially as chemical weapons may infect the people's hearts and minds.

America's invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, has been a failure that's now impacting millions of victims who cannot help themselves. These victims include Iraq civilians, American families who lost loved ones in the wars and, now, helpless Syrians who can't help themselves in the face of chemical weapons.

Americans can't ignore the wrong mindedness of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We could have killed Osama Bin Laden without invading Iraq, because, as it turned out, the terrorist hid in Pakistan - not in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, we may be politically paralyzed to help the Syrians, even if we, somehow, can right our past wrongs.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Notable Deaths - 2,268 of them since December 14, 2012


Unfortunately, Democrats caved on the assault weapon ban. 
(see comment from a North Carolina reader at the end of blog)

In spite of gun 2,268 deaths since the Sandy Hook tragedy, on December 14, 2012, the Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Reid, have removed the assault weapon ban language from legislation, proposed for debate in April.  The decision to drop this provision indicates the Republicans would have defeated the bill with an assault weapons ban included.

Reid guessed that the measure, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had support from fewer than 40 senators, far less than the 60 votes needed for passage

The assault weapons ban will still get a vote. It will be voted on as a standalone measure as an amendment to the base gun control bill. But stripping it off the base bill leaves it vulnerable and decreases the chance of it passing, as it will not receive the same support that it could have if it was bundled with the other less controversial measures.



On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members in a preventable mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut Before driving to the school, Lanza had shot and killed his mother Nancy at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived at the besieged Sandy Hook School, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

This murderous rampage caused spontaneous national outpourings of grief and calls for gun control legislation.  Nevertheless, although another 158 children have died in gun violence since December 14th, among the 2, 268 who lost their lives since then, while Democrats caved on an assault weapons ban.

All of the 2,268 gun related deaths and those murdered at Sandy Hook, have been totally preventable deaths.  If this number of people had died of an infectious disease, we'd be screaming at President Obama to provide more money for prevention programs.  Incredulously, the thousands of gun related deaths are totally preventable when guns were removed from the fatal situations;  but, nothing is being done to prevent more of these violent deaths.  Democrats caved while guns, like bacteria, are proliferating in numbers, like germs in a warm bath.  

When Republicans stand against assault weapons regulation, they are obviously not acting on what is right.  Rather, they're reacting to fear of loosing their next re-election due to the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyists.  They fear these paid lobbyists more than they fear for the safety of their constituents.  

Republicans should do what's right and what the nation's police chiefs, our military generals and city mayors have supported.  These respected individuals are vetted, elected, educated and support an assault weapons ban.  Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for caving to the National Rifle Association.  On the other hand, Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for caving on the assault weapons language in the Senate's proposed gun regulations.  

Our entire Congress should do what's right and vote to support an assault weapons ban to protect Americans and our children from the preventable deaths caused by gun violence.

Gail from North Carolina writes Julie, I'm glad to see the focus of your blog today. I was so disappointed this was left off the table. I understand the Democrats' reasoning (sort of), but am disappointed they "caved" once again. It seems like such a no-brainer to me to vote in favor of placing a ban on assault weapons. I'm sure the NRA is smiling today.  Gail


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Monday, March 18, 2013

Cordial Photograph - President Christina and Pope Francis Show Mutual Repect

 
Francis Meets Argentine Leader After Frosty Ties
 By RACHEL DONADIO
 
Another running start day for Pope Francis  as he welcomed his country's president!  Let's hope the positive body language  pictured in this photograph sticks.  Of course, the two will not agree on the President's positions opposing strict Church doctrines. Nevertheless, Argentina's President's respectful presentation to the Pope, and his response, is the right way to launch the Pope as the world's preeminent religious leader.
VATICAN CITY — A day ahead of his formal installation, Pope Francis met privately on Monday with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of his native Argentina,

with whom he had clashed over social issues such as Argentina’s legalizing gay marriage. 
 
They met for 15 minutes of private conversation before having lunch together, the Vatican said. It did not issue a statement, but in a news conference later in Rome, Mrs. Kirchner said she found the Pope, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, “calm, confident and at peace, tranquil.  I could also say that he is occupied and concerned about the immense task not only to govern Vatican City State, but to change things that he knows need to change,” she added.
 
It must be a huge relief for the People of Argentina to see their President Christina exercise such excellent political judgment in her presentation to Pope Francis in Rome.  Their sharp differences on some social issues should certainly not interfere with their mutual goals to improve people's lives.    

 

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Habemus Papam - A Photographer's Moment When the Pope Pays A Hotel Bill


Among history's rare moments, there are opportunities where a photographer or artist picks up a cultural change in a surreptitious image.  A photograph of Pope Francis I paying his hotel bill in Rome on March 13-14th, 2013, is that kind of completely candid moment. It's just one picture, but it conveys a cultural shift, symbolically signifying a turning of the page on hundreds of years of Vatican tradition and history.  Of course, hundreds of Cardinals of the church pay their own hotel bill, but when the few who are elected Pope are elevated to this esteemed and holy level, they usually delegate these often routine and administrative responsibilities to others.

Jorge Cardinal Mario Bergoglio of Argentina checked into his Rome hotel to attend the religious conclave to elect a new Pope to replace the resigned Pope Benedict XVI, but he checked out as Pope Francis I. He chose this particular name to draw attention to the image and messaging of St. Francis of Assisi, who rejected his family's upper middle class wealth to draw attention to service to the poor.

Argentinians appear to be in a state of near disbelief about their Cardinal's selection, by his peers, to become Pope Francis I.  Comeraderie with the poor is a noteworthy hallmark of the Pope's biography.

For more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide, he's Pope Francis. For Argentina's poorest citizens, crowded in "misery villages" throughout the capital, he's proudly known as one of their own, a true "slum pope."

Villa 21-24 is a slum so dangerous that most outsiders don't dare enter, but residents say Jorge Mario Bergoglio often showed up unannounced to share laughs and sips of mate, the traditional Argentine herbal tea shared by groups using a common straw.

People here recall how the Buenos Aires archbishop ditched a limousine and would arrive on a bus to their little chapel; how he sponsored marathons and carpentry classes, consoled single mothers and washed the feet of recovering drug addicts; how he became one of them.

"Four years ago, I was at my worst and I needed help. When the Mass started he knelt down and washed my feet. It hit me hard. It was such a beautiful experience," said Cristian Marcelo Reynoso, 27, a garbage collector trying to kick a cocaine addiction through the church's rehab program.

"When I saw the news on the TV, I began screaming with joy, and look, I'm still trembling," Reynoso said. "El Chabon (The Dude) is so humble. He's a fan of San Lorenzo (the soccer club), like me. You talk to him like a friend."

Long after he became a cardinal in 2001, this "prince of the church" wore a simple black T-shirt with a white collar. For many at the slum's Caacupe Virgin of the Miracles Church, it's nothing short of a miracle that their friend is the pope.

"He was always part of our slum," housewife Lidia Valdivieso, 41, said after praying while resting her palm on a statue of St. Expeditus, patron saint of urgent and impossible causes. Her 23-year-old son has cerebral palsy and is learning carpentry at the church's technical school.

"When I heard the news I couldn't believe it. Having a 'papa villero' (slum pope) is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us. I still remember him going on long walks through our muddy streets or talking to our children," Valdivieso said. 

......and, of course, by paying of his own hotel bill, Pope Francis I has set a new expectation for the Papacy. It's hard to imagine any future Pope going back to a tradition of expecting privilege. 

For now and the foreseeable future, Vatican officials will have a fundamentally different leader, a man who walks the walk of the people he leads.  His photograph, taken while paying his hotel bill, is as iconic as any religious image and marks the advent of a new, but not so new, era.  Pope Francis is leading us back to the humility and the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. 

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Conservative Political Action Conference - Stale, Moss Covered, Exclusive and Loosing Ground


....minority populations grew 30 percent while white population grew at 1 (one) percent....

Conservatives gathered in National Harbor, Maryland for their annual flock of look alikes called the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.  In so doing, they publicly pulled the scabs off of the painful wounds of their two past Presidential election losses. A speakers line up of mostly white males, Sarah Palin notwithstanding, mourned in a chorus of self analysis. But, rather than inspire, they spoke like astrologers who predict the future by telling us about the past. They seemed to explain how their stars weren't aligned with the changing demographics of the American voters. They retro-predicted how they should've been more aware of outreach efforts, they should've been more inclusive and open to diversity. But, they didn't inspire confidence that anything will change.  Their political "future" was, instead, a retro-analysis. Perhaps, they would've instilled more confidence about change if they had invited a conservative conclave of astrologers to speak. Unfortunately, they didn't even dare invite one of their own, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican with populist appeal.

Instead, the CPAC keynote speaker was Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who believes communists have infiltrated Harvard Law School.  

Linda Feldman writes in the Christian Science Monitor that the CPAC audience was largely youthful. There again, the CPAC audience wasn't representative of the electorate, who are, actually, "older" and ethnically diverse.

In fact, data from the 2010 census show the minority population in the United States increased over the last decade by 30 percent (Hispanics by 43 percent), while the white population grew 1 (one) percent. The dramatic difference in growth rates means communities of color accounted for 92 percent of the U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2010. The 2010 minority share of the population was 36 percent, up more than 5 percentage points from 2000.

Those figures suggest the share of minority voters were about 28 percent in 2012, up from 26 percent in 2008. 


Exit poll data, collected in the 2008 and 2010 elections, suggest minority voting is increasing more quickly than minority population growth. A Pew Research poll predicts the Hispanic voters will double by 2030.

Ronald Brownstein writes in the National Journal how the American electorate  is changing and won't go back to being white and middle class.

So, the CPAC convention left Americans with the following take-away messages:

1.  Republicans can't seem to change their conversation about being old, stale, white and exclusive.
2.  Republicans continue to lick the wounds of past losses rather than shine a light on how to attract young, diverse, vibrant, intelligent and inclusive voters.
3.  Republicans need an intelligent leader, someone who will convincingly embrace the changing face America's voters.

CPAC cannot survive as a conclave of political astrologers.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam: God Bless Pope Francis I


What does a Pope's name tell us? God Bless Pope Francis I for his special name selection. His Papal name change from Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Pope Francis I conveys a historical message, revealing an inner passion for spiritual leadership for the world's Christians, particularly the Roman and Eastern Rite Catholics.  Bergoglio is the first Jesuit, first Latin American, and first Francis to be pontiff. He was was considered a long shot for the job, after Pope Benedict XVI abdicated last month.

Those who contemplate the significance of Papal names wondered if Pope Francis was showing respect to two saints. One was a co-founder of the Jesuit order, St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), originally from Spain; or, the other, the popular patron of animals and the environment, St. Francis of Assisi (1182- 1226), who lived in Assisi, a beautiful town in the hills of Umbria, Italy.

Although the question of which Francis the Pope preferred was quickly cleared up, when the message came that the Pope claimed the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, in fact, it really doesn't matter.  Both saints have very impressive biographies.

St. Francis of Assisi is very familiar. Some claim he's the world's most popular saint.  He lived and died in the natural beauty of Umbria. His shrine in Assisi is composed of magnificent art by the Florence artist Giotto, and other well known artists. He found spiritual solace in the beauty around him, preferring spiritual wealth to the monetary inheritance of his upper middle class Umbrian family. The rejection of his family's wealth, as a way of life, gave him the reputation as a reformer.  

St. Francis Xavier was a visionary and missionary who blazed the way for the Jesuits to evangelize Asia. He traveled to very remote areas in Borneo, Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong. He died while waiting to evangelize in China.  His remains are interred in Goa, India, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The impressive legacies of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier raise challenges to the newly elected Pope Francis I, who has an expectation to be both a reformer and an evangelist.  First, Pope Francis must reform the Vatican culture of secrecy.  Of course, it's highly unlikely the new Pope will bring about sweeping Vatican transparency, but any progress is still "progress", in this regard.  Yet, the evangelical work of St. Francis Xavier seems to be a natural "fit" for Pope Francis, because he speaks five languages and his family are Italian immigrants to Argentina. In other words, although Pope Francis is Argentinian, he has a trans-global genealogy.  He seems energized by the opportunity to evangelize by preaching the Gospels and prayer.  

Unfortunately, for those who expect sweeping social reforms, Pope Francis seems unlikely to support the role of women in church leadership, clergy, or, especially, as ordained deacons. Probably, he will maintain the celibacy rule, not allowing Roman Catholic married men to become priests (although many Eastern Rite priests are already married).  But, maybe he'll surprise us and take on some of these needed reforms. Surely, however, he will have a virtually no tolerance policy for any clergy who are guilty of sexual abuse.

Yet, for the moment, Pope Francis presents himself as a humble, prayerful, compassionate and intelligent man. He seems acutely self aware of his potential to both reform and evangelize. He was immediately likable when he first greeted the thousands cheering in St. Peter's Square, where he stood on the Pope's balcony, with a cordial "Buonasera".

So, Habemus Papum!  (We have a Pope!)  

God Bless Pope Francis I.  As a Roman Catholic woman, I pray for him to live and reign in the light of wisdom paved by both of the saints who carried his chosen name.  

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Scott Prouty Describes Why He Made Public the Romney 47 Percent Video

Governor Mitt Romney certainly has a legacy of his own making in the video clip made by Scott Prouty, when his blatant disclosure cemented the fate of the 2012 election, turning the tide for President Obama's re-election. 

All the 2012 presidential election antics, the mega millions spent on dueling campaign ads and the hyped candidate debates, boiled down to the candid video tape recorded by Scott Prouty, a videographer, who captured Romney's marginalizing 47 percent comments.  Romney told his audience that he didn't expect to win the votes of 47 percent of Americans because they were people who, he said, had a sense of entitlement. In fact, the video revealed Romney's core beliefs, whereby Americans saw for themselves how "vulture capitalism" drove the candidate's values. 

Prouty, a Midwest native, took his Canon camera to the fundraiser, thinking Romney might pose for photos with the event staff. Instead, he captured Romney speaking about "the 47 percent who are not with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Now, Prouty is going public with how he was able to tape the remarks and why he's going public with the behind the scenes story.  Prouty tells Ed Shultz that he is going public with his story after seeing Romney blame the media for his loss to President Obama.  

When Prouty released the video, he was every bit as brave and ethical as the revelation of the Watergate information, disclosing the corruption of the President Nixon administration.  Unfortunately, Prouty didn't have the Woodward and Bernstein Washington Post behind him, when he released the video. Nonetheless, Prouty certainly deserves a Profile in Courage award.

Perhaps Prouty can use his courage to pursue ethics in journalism or for noble causes, whereby his sense of fair play can be applied to improve our human condition.  His actions were certainly a God send to the Obama campaign. He disclosed himself to be a rare human being who boldly exposed the hypocrisy of the Romney candidacy at a critical point in the campaign.  

Prouty's bold honesty prevented the nation from the experience of a right wing Romney presidency.  Moreover, Prouty's video is now Romney's unflattering legacy.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The New Yorker: The House of Pain - Will Eric Cantor Cure Republicans?


It's a tired idiom but, nonetheless, true that people of similar taste congregate in groups. "Birds of a feather flock together". So, what does one expect to hear from Congressman Paul Ryan when asked about his Republican conservative colleague, Congressman Eric Cantor?
"He's a fantastic Majority Leader," Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a close friend, said.  

Ryan Lizza writes in the March 4th, The New Yorker about how Congressman Cantor is among the young faces in the Republican party who must design a winning political strategy to overcome the 2012 election setbacks.  "Eric keeps the trains running on time very efficiently," said Ryan; "...we need to do a better job of broadening our appeal and showing that we have real ideas and solutions that make people's lives better," Ryan said.

It's impossible to understand how Ryan and Cantor, who are political bookends, can do a better job of showing how they have ideas and solutions to make people's lives better, when they don't.

Here's my analysis about their "stupid" ideas (I just love Governor Jindal, for coming up with the use of that appropriate word):

1.  Cantor and Ryan aren't economists; they're politicians.  They believe cutting people's taxes makes everybody's lives better, without any proof whatsoever that this is true.  In fact, in countries like Singapore or Japan, the quality of life is excellent and people living there pay plenty of taxes.

2.  Cantor and Ryan are financially well off.  Their salaries alone are about $175,000 each, a year, paid by US tax payers.  Nevertheless, they believe in means testing Social Security for the rest of us, who worked very hard to earn our retirement, while receiving far less then their annual pay.  Every financial adviser I know includes the earned Social Security benefit in our retirement analysis.  Middle class people simply can't retire without knowing how much we're entitled to receive from our Social Security.  Means testing this benefit isn't fair to those of us who expect our benefit and it doesn't help future retirees, who currently pay into the program, to feel secure about retirement.  Means testing Social Security will likely delay many people from retiring, unless, of course, they're like Ryan and Cantor, who earn $175,000 annually. 

3.  Cantor and Ryan like each other's ideas. They apparently tell themselves how wonderful they are, but aren't open to compromise with people who disagree with them.  How can they "broaden their appeal", when they completely close down on opportunities to reach across the political aisle?  Their ideas are supported by right wing Tea-Party conservatives. Many of these activists live in denial about their immigrant origins, while they fight immigration reform. They largely believe government is the problem rather than the solution to America's problems, but they want border security, Medicare, highways to drive on and access to public tours of the White House.  Cantor and Ryan, and their flocks, can't broaden their Republican appeal, when they constantly bite the hand of government, that feeds them.

Eric Cantor's leadership role in the House should give him the opportunity to show statesmanship. Instead, his leadership contributes to the line-up of sour faced Congressional Republicans.  Although Cantor's leadership is painfully partisan, he won't let go of this dour personal affect, his entrenched right wing ideology or his flock of "think alike" friends.  

It's doubtful Cantor and Ryan can cure their Republican feather friends' pain. It's like trying to cure roosters from crowing.  Right wing Republicans are suffering from the pains of election losses, ideological and regional divisions, as Lizza describes.  

Obviously, however, Cantor and Ryan share an exclusive mutual admiration society; but, they have no right to inflict their brand of political pain on others, especially when their positions are loosing ground with immigrants and middle class people.

Hopefully, American voters will end the Cantor and Ryan political pain symposium and vote them, and their right wing colleagues, out of office in 2014.  





  


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Friday, March 08, 2013

Tea Party Activists - Try Volunteering

Americans at risk for experiencing the negative impact of the dire budget "sequester" cuts are facing job furlough's, reductions in income and loss of services at our national borders and airports. This is happening because Congressional Republicans won't compromise on revenues, aka "taxes".  

Ironically, sequestration — a congressional mandated act — is now one of the biggest threats to border security and a hindrance to our ongoing trade and commerce, says Rep. Pete Gallego, a Texas Democratic congressman.

Instead of trying to fix the sequester problem, Republicans are "shocked! shocked!" that cuts are putting border security at risk. 

Would these obstructionists volunteer to provide border security?

Unbelievably, Republicans would rather protect their rich friends getting richer, holding fast to tax loop holes, than save the jobs of middle class people working in public safety and security at our borders. This unnecessary sequester enjoys the rare bipartisan label of being plain "stupid". Nevertheless, right wingers in Texas and Arizona are screeching about loss of border personnel as a result of Republican obstructionists (like Eric Cantor and John Boehner) who won't compromise on revenue to make the sequester go away.

Congressman Pete Gallego calls the sequester a "manufactured monster" in a Dallas News OP-ED: 
Sequestration is a threat to border security and trade 
by Congressman Pete Gallego 03/06/2013

"This thing we now call “the sequester” is a manufactured monster. Approximately two years ago, the 112th Congress passed extreme across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. This budget measure was designed to be so drastic that it was supposed to force a bipartisan compromise on reducing the deficit. All sides seem to agree that the cuts were never meant to happen."

"As we now know, there was no compromise. Partisan gridlock got in the way of good public policy. On March 1, 2013, sequestration took effect. It threatens the future of Texas families and the economic prosperity of our state. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, sequestration would cut economic growth in 2013 by one-third. A report from the House Committee on Appropriations projected a loss of 2.14 million jobs, nearly half of which would come from small businesses."

"A 2012 George Mason University study estimated that Texas could lose almost 160,000 jobs. Data.... shows that in the area of defense, Texas would be among the hardest hit. Of particular importance to the 23rd Congressional District is the impact of the sequester on border security, trade, and commerce."

"Efforts and numerous studies over the years have been made to reduce border wait times and increase border security. Many jobs in Texas and much of our economy is inextricably linked to international trade. Trade with Mexico represents one of our biggest economic drivers and pumps billions to our economy."

Like a political conundrum, Congressman Gellego is a rare Texas Democrat who says he's elected because he uses good judgement. Wow! As a Democrat, he's able to get away with telling people the truth!  In other words, he's thoughtful rather than reactionary. He's a Democratic truth teller in a Republican world.

On the other hand, the Republicans in Texas and in Arizona are uselessly whining about the loss of border security, while doing nothing to fund, or even prioritize, this protection.

“People tend to trust my judgment because I call ’em as I see them," he says. "It’s not about cheerleading and it’s not about calling the other guy names. It’s about doing the right thing. That's how I have survived 22 years in a Republican district, and I expect it will help me represent the 23rd District for a long, long time.”

Thank you Congressman Gellego, for level headed leadership while telling Texans the truth about the impact of sequestration on border security.  

I suggest Congressman Gellego summon a call to action to Tea Party obstructionists, to volunteer on behalf of his constituents, to protect the Texas 23rd district with border security.  While these helpful good Samaritans are rallying to fill the need, I'd also respectfully suggest that Congressman Gellego travel to Arizona, paid by Governor Jan Brewer, to educate the right wing extremists in her state about how they, too, can be volunteers for border security.

Meanwhile, the US Congress should repeal the stupid sequester and allow the nation's economy to prosper, without people worrying about essential border and airport security, as well as their jobs.  

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