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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Beyond Evil

In Education, History, Philosophy on April 26, 2012 at 17:26

picasso Guernica from http://www.abcgallery.com

Evil, like race, is a social construct that does not exist in the natural world. Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court said in 1964 about obscenity that he can’t define it, but he knows it when he sees it. That is true for many people when they are asked to define evil. They don’t know what it is exactly, but they know it when they see it.

Evil is a self-defining term, “The evil man inflicts injury on himself; he would not do so, however, if he knew that evil is evil.” from Beyond Good and Evil by Frederich Nietzsche (section 190).   Ah, the tautological pleasures of evil. Evil exists by the very existence of the word evil.

The term evil is used to bring down those that stand out from the herd, “The lofty independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, and even the cogent reason, are felt to be dangers, everything that elevates the individual above the herd, and is a source of fear to the neighbour, is henceforth called EVIL…” (Ibid: section 201).

During humanity’s history, those that stand apart, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, (the church hated astronomers), Darwin, Marx, union members, atheists, homosexuals and other outliers have been labeled “evil”. Being labeled evil can justify your murder. Thus, jihadists can kill Americans, for they are part of the “evil empire”, the U.S. can kill Muslims who belong to the “axis of evil”, people can kill doctors for they are evil, and so forth. Evil is a label preserved for those that disagree with convention, the powerful or are different. In modern times, evil is a term frequently exploited by dogmatists and ideologues.

“Against such a “possibility,” against such a “should be,” however, this morality defends itself with all its strength, it says obstinately and inexorably “I am morality itself and nothing else is morality!”” (Ibid: section 202)  Thus, we can see the use of the term evil as a way to validate a particular religion or morality. Evil is what one should not do, and thus those who act opposed to these evil actions are moral. So, if homosexuality is evil, those that are married to the opposite sex are moral.

As the web page for the Christian group New Advent states, “Thus evil, from the point of view of human welfare, is what ought not to exist.”  If they are evil, they shouldn’t exist, so we are justified in killing them. So people who think others are evil and “ought not to exist” can call for their murder, as Ted Nugent recently did when speaking about President Obama.

The subjective nature of the term evil makes it useless, a word with no concrete meaning. As the Christian Heretic site says, “The problem is, there is actually no such thing as evil because “evil” is really nothing more than an English word we use to label an action or experience which we perceive in a negative way.”  In fact, the belief in evil is a superstition akin to belief in God, astrology or the Loch Ness Monster.

Nietzsche turns this back on the accusers, “According to slave-morality, therefore, the “evil” man arouses fear; according to master-morality, it is precisely the “good” man who arouses fear and seeks to arouse it, while the bad man is regarded as the despicable being.” (Nietzsche: section 260) The supposed “good” and “moral” use fear of others to manipulate us.  By defining our morality for us, religious and political leaders control us through fear, and thus they continue to gain the most from the labor and resources of this nation. While we are out fighting the evil in each other, plutocrats are writing new legislation to take away our rights, jail us and further rig the economy for themselves at the expense of the people.

The Church and mid-evil theocracies used God and fear to control the masses, and the state learned this technique and uses it today. If the U.S. had been less “moral” and less religious, and instead been more rational and scientific, we wouldn’t have been so easily manipulated to go to war with Iraq after Bush’s “axis of evil” speech. If we understood that the term “evil” was being used to get us to attack unsuspecting humans thousands of miles away (who had nothing to do with 9/11) and that the term meant nothing, we may have thought twice about accepting the war with Iraq.

Thus, the “good” person harms society by labeling those he fears as “evil”, and in doing so, they promote the very thing they rail against: anger, hatred, judgement and violence.

If I ask you to show me evil, you can’t. You would show me a picture of Charles Manson, or Pol Pot, or some other person most people consider evil. But it is not that they are evil in and of themselves, they are only “evil” because of their actions. So why not just call them “mass murderers” or “genocidal maniacs” and leave it at that? Evil is an adjective that lacks meaning separate from actions. Evil is a shorthand for so many possible actions that it has no meaning.

That “Evil” can be used to describe something unpleasant is not evidence that evil exists as a universal constant, nor the base for an argument for moral absolutes.” Herodotus 

The term evil allows us to avoid disturbing questions regarding the development of men like Stalin and Hitler by stating, “They are just evil”. In the book, For Your Own Good, noted German psychiatrist and author Alice Miller argues that it was the strict child rearing practices in early 1900s Germany that produced not only a compliant populous ready to obey a dictator after WWI, but these practices also created tyrants like Hitler that would recreate the oppressive experiences of childhood for the Germans. If Hitler had been born elsewhere at a different time, he certainly would not have become evil.

“It is too simple to blame evil people for horrifying acts of terror,” says psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer. “In a scientific worldview, however, there is no such thing as good and evil as supernatural forces operating outside the realm of the known laws of nature and of human behaviour.”

Americans are particularly succeptable to the term evil and react to it without asking why something is evil or if it is evil at all. Evil is a catchall phrase and whenever someone calls a person, issue, policy, or anything evil, you should question this persons logic and argument. Better yet, turn the page and read something else.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Lies the Media Tells about Cuba

In Current Events, History on April 11, 2012 at 20:27

The mainstream media and right-wing commentators are skilled at taking one ignorant statement by one individual and using it to promote their political ideology ad nauseum. And the right doesn’t care if they have to mislead, lie, and rewrite history to do it. In this case it was the comments by Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins, who when asked in a Time Magazine interview what he thought of Fidel Castro said, “I love Fidel Castro” and “I respect him.”

While Mr. Guillen’s remarks are unfortunate and surprising, this article will focus on the lies about Cuba that followed the manager’s misguided choice of words.

The lies about Cuba and Castro range from the mild, “everyone in Miami hates Castro”, to the ridiculous, “Castro is Hitler”, a statement I heard on local radio show. Here is some other misinformation that the media often promotes when discussing Cuba and Castro:

1. Everyone in Miami hates Castro. Actually, many third generation Cubans just want the U.S. to have better relations with Cuba and end the U.S. embargo. They don’t care about Castro the way their parents do, for they are Americans now.

While support of the embargo is common among Cuban Americans in Florida, it is not universal. About forty-three percent of U.S. born cubans are against the Cuban embargo, and about 60% of those arriving between 1990-2000 from Cuba oppose it.

Perhaps the newer Cuban arrivals are against the embargo because they have seen the negative impact it has on the health and lives of the people of Cuba while the U.S. born and older Cubans did not live through the U.S. embargo and see its damaging effects.

2. Castro has hurt every Cuban, everywhere. In fact, under Castro, education levels went up in Cuba and they created one of the most cost efficient and in some ways effective health care systems in the world. Cuba has a near 100% literacy rate,   comparable with the United States. And while the U.S. ranks 37th on the WHO healh care rankings and Cuba ranks 39th, the U.S. spends about 2.5 times what Cuba spends per capita on health care and has a similar life expectancy.

“”Cuba’s achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. [Cuba] demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities – health, education, and literacy.””
— Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, April 11, 2000

And no, that doesn’t excuse Fidel Castro of his human rights abuses against some, but the facts give a clearer picture of Cuba.

3. Castro and socialism ruined the Cuban economy. After 50 years of the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, it’s hard to lay the blame for Cuba’s poverty entirely on Castro’s economic policies. Moreover, “In her last report to the Human Rights Council, the Personal Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Cuba described the effects of the embargo on the economic, social and cultural rights of the Cuban people as “disastrous”.33

4. The Embargo will bring regime change in Cuba. Can we really believe this after 50 years?

“No one familiar with US practices in the region or elsewhere can possibly believe that the goal of intensive US terror operations against Cuba and harsh economic warfare was intended to “bring democracy to the Cuban people.” That is just propaganda, unusually vulgar in this case.”

5. Castro is Hitler. This was a ridiculous comment I heard on talk radio in Tucson. And yes, Castro has violated the rights of many of his people.  But there was only one Hitler, and this lazy hyperbole is used by those who lack the talent to be more nuanced.

6. Castro overthrew a democratic Cuban government. Actually, Castro overthrew the dictator Batista who five years earlier had overthrown the democratically elected Carlos Prio in a military coup.

“The Batista dictatorship was overthrown in January 1959 by Castro’s guerrilla forces. In March, the National Security Council (NSC) considered means to institute regime change. In May, the CIA began to arm guerrillas inside Cuba. “During the Winter of 1959-1960, there was a significant increase in CIA-supervised bombing and incendiary raids piloted by exiled Cubans” based in the US. We need not tarry on what the US or its clients would do under such circumstances. Cuba, however, did not respond with violent actions within the United States for revenge or deterrence.”

6. Things were better for Cubans before the revolution. Cubans lived under the oppressive dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who imprisoned hundreds of dissidents and turned Cuba into a playground for mafia bosses and sugar companies that profited off of near slave Cuban labor.

Batista was a tool for the Cuban and U.S. bourgeoisie and increased the suffering of the poor under his brief dictatorship. Castro helped many poor at the beginning of his regime by nationalizing the property of the wealthy, land and American businesses, to fund his social programs. The wealthy classes in America didn’t like that and went after Castro.  We will never know if his economic socialization program would have succeeded; the U.S. embargo of food, tools, hardware, manufacturing equipment and other tools of industry made Cuban economic advancement impossible.

7. Cubans in Miami and Florida are a monolithic group that share the same ideology. They vary in opinion by age, gender and geography.

9. All Cuban refugees are political refugees. Nope, many have been economic refugees.

“Jorge Ferragut, a Cuban immigrant who founded Casa Cuba, an agency that assists Cuban immigrants arriving in Texas, said in a 2008 article that many Cuban immigrants of the first decade of the 21st century left due to economic instead of political issues.”

“In contrast with the Cuban exiles of the 1960s and the 1970s who left the island for political reasons, the last two waves left mostly for economic reasons.” So when you hear right-wing pundits screaming about all the bloody bodies in the water of those that suffered under the tyranny of Castro, remember that many of those bodies were economic refugees that may have stayed in Cuba were it not for the U.S. embargo. Also remember that many of the recent Cuban immigrants came to Miami and Florida on a plane.

10. All Cubans are conservative. Cubans, just like Mexicans, Chinese, Poles, Irish, Germans, African Americans, are not just one ideology or another. A 2006 Pew Research poll reports that 28% of Cuban considered themselves Republican, and 20% considered themselves Democratic. That’s hardly a monolithic right-wing block of Cuban voters we see in the mainstream media.

The main point is to educate yourself and not buy into the conservative, mainstream media misinformation about Cuba, Castro, and Miami. One should always question the media portrayal of issues, and Cuba is not an exception.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

After Iran, We Go After The Dangerous French

In Current Events, History, Humor on March 2, 2012 at 20:16

the_french_poodle-from-www-nationstates-net.jpg

Note: I have updated this article and am re-posting it in the hope that people will listen this time!

Dear Patriots,

Now that the plans for the invasion of Iran have been finalized in our Republican Congress, with Hillary Clinton adding her amped-up rhetoric,  the State Department has hired me to come up with the next benefactor of U.S. Democracy. I have decided on the perfect location for our troops: France. This time, we will be ready to invade at the least provocation. And the French like to be provocative, so it won’t take long. We will call this war, “Operation French Fried Freedom.”

With a grant from the Center for Real Atomic Power (C.R.A.P.), a division of TexCoInc LLC, I have written promotional material and talking points for our return to the beaches of Normandy.  This time we will be liberating the French– from themselves! There are many reasons we should invade the brie eaters:

1.   The French are uncooperative. They weren’t willing to invade Iraq with the coalition of the willing in 2003. They don’t even have the same time as us; when it’s morning in America (8 AM in D.C.) it’s afternoon in Paris, France (2 PM). How dare they!

2.   We musts take over their nuclear power generating capacity.  They export $3 billion dollars worth of nuclear energy every year. While we never invade a country because of our energy needs, in this case, we would make an exception.

3.   France not only has WMDs such as nuclear weapons, they also have Weapons of Gay Creation, or WGCs. These gay bombs would turn the target population gay upon impact, and thus, ruin the will to fight of the enemy forces. The United States and Arab nations are especially vulnerable to such a gay attack while the French troops would be immune to its affects. We must stop this WGC creating nation before they launch their missiles at us.

4.   Food of Mass Corpulence or FMCs. The French have been trying to kill us with their fatty foods and cheeses for years. We must invade and force them to cook reduced fat meals.

5.   The French are arrogant and think they’re better than everyone. Ha! In the U.S. we know we are number one and better than the French at everything, except for that stinky soccer. Moreover, we are not arrogant about being better than everyone like the French are, we just know it. Our invasion will wipe those smug smiles off their faces.

6.   They are not as Christian as we are. France is full of atheists like Michel Onfray who want to destroy our way of life. If they don’t like God in France, we will have to kill them to show them how Christian we are.

7.   The French kowtow to Muslims who have Mosques in France and plan prayer meetings. The French just don’t arrest them enough or burn enough Qurans. Allowing Muslims free speech and religion is un-American.

8.   Their president, Nicolas Sarkozy, mocks our manhood and the sanctity of marriage by marrying a former supermodel and current singer, Carla Bruni.

9.   Their government run medical system threatens our way of life by successfully treating their citizens.

10. The French have more sex than other people.  And as we have learned from our Republican leaders, sex is bad and requires, I hate to say, contraception! Moreover, they offer contraception to women with their universal HEALTH CARE! If we invade them, they will stop bragging about sex and have more to worry about.

11. They have lost the last big wars they were in, so it will be no problem invading them. Really, take it from me, I know these things. Like other great Republicans such as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, I have never been to war or in the military, and that best positions me, from a distance, to make decisions about sending other people’s children overseas to die.

12. We must make the world safe for Hollywood movies by invading France and eliminating their film industry. We will start by destroying all copies of French New Wave “classics” such as Jules et Jim and eliminate all traces of Godard’s Breathless. The Richard Gere version was better and more American anyway.

13. The French poodle is obviously a weaponized dog of terror.

We could easily reconvene the “coalition of the willing” we had in Iraq and for Iran and add new members. We can count on England once more. They are still fuming over the Norman (French) invasion of England in 1066 and could occupy the beaches of Normandy after the invasion as payback. Of course the United States would control the airport and the green zone around Paris.

Please join me in supporting the surge into France during Romney’s first term after we declare “mission accomplished” in Iran. With you, and help from C.R.A.P., we can get it done.

If you disagree, remember, the reasons for invading France are as truthful and logical as the reasons for invading Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran.

Yours,
Tex Shelters

The Problem is Limited Access, not Affirmative Action

In Current Events, Economics, Education, History on February 29, 2012 at 22:07

itshisfault from-talk-onevietnam-org.jpg

Abigail Noel Fisher was too poor a student to be admitted into the University of Texas as one of the top 10% of all high school graduates who are automatically eligible for entrance into the state system. After the first 10% of high school graduates are admitted, students have to compete for the remaining seats. However, Ms. Fisher still didn’t make the cut. Instead of taking up the American tradition of going to community college, she took up the American tradition of suing those she feels aggrieved by, the University of Texas at Austin. The suit accuses the university of racial bias against Ms. Fisher, and if she wins, it could reduce higher education opportunities for minorities in the United States.

The University of Texas has a very limited race preferences, and it is only one of several factors for entrance which includes a review of two essays, high school transcripts, SAT scores, a resume including extracurricular and community activities, and so forth. Only in the area of community activities is the question of race considered. Yet this mediocre student wants to blame the system instead of looking at her own application that kept her out of UT.

President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925 on March 6, 1961 that called for “affirmative action” to ensure employment and educational opportunities for people of all races.  “The intent of this executive order was to affirm the government’s commitment to equal opportunity for all qualified persons, and to take positive action to strengthen efforts to realize true equal opportunity for all.” Lyndon Johnson added Executive Order 11246 to help enforce “affirmative action” in employment and to add women to the order.

Proponents of  affirmative action say it is one remedy to address the imbalance in educational opportunities for minorities and the poor in our nation. Opponents feel affirmative action takes scholarships and educational opportunities away from more deserving students who happen to be white. Both the discrimination and “reverse” discrimination arguments for and against affirmative action policies miss the fundamental problem with higher education in our nation: limited resources, limited funding, and high costs.

State governments limit access to schooling because of lack of funds and their funding priorities. Most states cut their budgets for higher education in the last two years, “…all but nine states experienced one-year declines from their 2010-11 totals. The 41 states that cut their spending did so by widely varying proportions, from as little as 1 percent (in Indiana and North Carolina) to as much as 41 percent (New Hampshire), with a full third seeing double-digit drops.” According to the Center for the Study of Education Policy, “Overall, spending declined by some $6 billion, or nearly 8 percent, over the past year,…” 

Cost is more important than the issue of what race you are in when applying to the university. The cost for higher education has increased at  twice the rate of medical costs since 1978. Since 2000, tuition costs have doubled.  The cost of higher education makes it harder for poorer students to attend and thus reduces their chance to increase their incomes with an advanced degree.

And the poorest families have it the worst:
Among the poorest families — those with incomes in the lowest 20 percent — the net cost of a year at a public university was 55 percent of median income, up from 39 percent in 1999-2000. At community colleges, long seen as a safety net, that cost was 49 percent of the poorest families’ median income last year, up from 40 percent in 1999-2000. 

While tuition is going up, assistance to students entering universities is going down as is state spending for higher education. This year’s cuts to pell grants will also make it harder for students to attend university, affecting up to 100,000 students.

Sarah Volstad, Director of Legislative Affairs for Student Senate, stated, “It’s definitely not like it was…Ten years ago, the state grants were plentiful … tuition was much lower.”

The federal government’s priorities focus on security, war and tax cuts. Instead of addressing the ever increasing inequity in resource distribution in our nation between the top and lower quintiles, we fight over scraps.

If higher education was available and affordable to all who qualify, and there were more scholarships available, the fight over affirmative action would end for all but the most racist in our society, those who don’t want minorities or the poor to be educated no matter the availability.

No amount of affirmative action will fix the problem of access and costs and an economic system of inequity in our nation that limits access to higher education. If we want to end the debate over affirmative action, we need to make schools more affordable and accessible to all.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Ethnic Studies Banned for Telling Truth

In Current Events, Education, History on January 2, 2012 at 17:51

 No Mexicans from tucsoncitizen.com

The legislative ban on ethnic studies classes in Arizona high schools was upheld in Administrative court in Phoenix, AZ in December by judge Lewis D. Kowal of the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings. More accurately, the ban on Mexican-American studies in Tucson has been upheld. We can add Judge Kowal to the names of John Huppenthal and Tom Horne, who pushed this bill through the Republican dominated state legislature, as well as Joe Arpaio and others, who want to shut up Mexicans.

These white men are concerned that teaching Mexican, Chicano, and other children about Mexican-American history and ethnic studies would create a classroom environment that “demonizes white people as oppressors of Hispanics.”  This claim is ridiculous; one or two classes of ethnic studies can’t make up for 10 years of teaching the history of European Americans in the United States. Here is the language in the law addressing the concerns of Huppenthal, Horne and anti-ethnic studies groups.

The four activities identified by the bill that warrant fund withholding include classes that:

1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group
4. Advocate for ethnic solidarity  

Ethnic studies has nothing to do with promoting government overthrow, and there are already laws against treason. This point is a ridiculous, fear mongering tactic. Moreover, the point of ethnic studies is to focus on one particular ethnic group. Hasn’t American history focused primarily on White Europeans for years? People who don’t want an educated populous fight against a diversity of knowledge. And what’s so scary about ethnic solidarity? It’s only scary if you are insecure and know that minorities working together means you will no longer be able to bully them, harass them with impunity and you, as a soon to be white minority, may no longer be elected to office.

And how about point number two, the idea that ethnic studies promotes resentment. Do our state officials not know that there is already resentment against White Europeans for the treatment of Mexican Americans?  And yes, there are historical reasons for this resentment.  Do people actually believe that banning the study of Mexican-Americn history will alleviate resentment minority students feel toward a White, Eurocentric school system? And more to the point, don’t the anti-ethnic studies groups understand that teenagers have more to be concerned with than historical oppression. There’s grades, work, family, relationships and dozens of other issues students are facing and one ethnic studies class won’t create groups of revolutionary Mexicans. Once again, right-wingers overreact and create a bigger problem for themselves.

Here are a few facts that might lead to resentment:

Mexico controlled the land that is now Arizona for almost four decades until the United States, mostly white folks of Protestant faith, moved into Texas, and through guile and the gun, cajoled Mexico into a war with the United States (1846-48). Half of Mexico was ceded to the victorious United States, mainly the lands north of the Rio Grande. This U.S. victory led to oppression of many Mexican-Americans, the kind of oppression Judge Kowal wants us to ignore.

Thousands of Mexican citizens lost their land after the war due to the difference between land ownership laws, manipulation by white judges (again with the white judges) and through violence. “Two generations later, most Mexicans living in the U.S. no longer held title to their lands and found their cultural way of life increasingly under attack as U.S. white supremacy came to predominate.  In California, as land transferred from Mexican to Euro-American hands, a very racially-motivated Workingman’s Party dominated the call for a Constitutional Convention.  In 1879, that new Constitution not only made Chinese immigration illegal (the primary cause of the Party), but it also destroyed the legal protections Mexicans once enjoyed, rights promised to them in the 1848 Treaty. ”  

So, promising Mexican nationals U.S. citizenship and title to land they owned before the war and then later taking the land doesn’t constitute sufficient “oppression” of Mexicans by whites, thus we shouldn’t teach our students this history. It’s not oppression, it’s just inconvenient facts that some Whites want to hide from us.

What about segregation of Mexicans and white Europeans in the Southwest akin to black segregation in the South? Does that count? White men in power like Horne, Huppenthal, Kowak and others want to hide this history of discrimination behind a wall of reverse discrimination nonsense. Are they afraid that when Latinos become a plurality or majority in this state that they will go after the whites? Don’t worry guys, class will still keep us separate after the Mexican reconquista. Or will it?

Then there is the legal exploitation and not so legal abuse of workers of Mexican descent.  These workers get paid subpar wages, some live in company like towns on farms in squalid conditions, many work more dangerous jobs, they have no rights as workers, get no insurance, and don’t benefit from their contributions to Social Security. We complain about “illegal” workers from Mexico, but we target the victims of this labor situation, the Mexican workers. Seldom do we go after companies that benefit form this illegal labor, and seldom do we realize how our economy benefits from this cheap supply of labor.

Mexican workers have been used in the United States ever since the United States won the war over Mexico. First, there was a rush to fill the labor needed to build the railway from the United States to Mexico. Thousands of Mexican workers filled that labor gap. Mexican labor was utilized to fill the farm jobs left vacant when the United States government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. In times of war, predominantly WWI and WWII, Mexican labor was brought to work in the fields as U.S. soldiers went off to war. Then when the Mexicans had been used to fill our needs, they were blamed for job loses and legal steps were made to exclude them. The Bracero Program passed in 1942 brought more than 4 million Mexican workers for the growing agriculture industry in the West, main California, and for the war effort.

Mexican labor today is also utilized in poultry and pig farms and all sorts of back breaking work. This kind of labor exploitation can easily be labeled “oppression”, and I am sure that ruling white men would be against labor history as well as Mexican-American studies, because labor history discusses oppression of workers by the ruling classes.

Dr. Amster of Prescott College, writing at Truthdig explains their motivation, “There’s a word for what Arizona is attempting to do here: ethnocide.”

Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote in his landmark essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” following the teachings of St. Augustine, that “an unjust law is no law at all.” King further reminds us, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” calling upon us to recognize the interlinked nature of destinies and, indeed, the inherent solidarity of our struggles, and further counsels that in this effort “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

None of the excuses for banning Mexican American studies in Tucson holds up to the reality in the classroom. In Fact, an independent audit of the program found the program didn’t violate the criteria laid out in the law.

No observable evidence exists that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department promotes resentment towards a race or class of people. The auditors observed the opposite, as students are taught to be accepting of multiple ethnicities of people. MASD teachers are teaching Cesar Chavez alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, all as peaceful protesters who sacrificed for people and ideas they believed in. Additionally, all ethnicities are welcomed into the program and these very students of multiple backgrounds are being inspired and taught in the same manner as Mexican American students. All evidence points to peace as the essence for program teachings. Resentment does not exist in the context of these courses.”

So, fearful people who brought you the war on drugs and the Iraq war are now spreading their paranoia to education to keep information of uncomfortable facts, discrimination against Latinos, from our children. If the truth sets you free, the superintendent and many in the state legislature in Arizona want to imprison our minds.

For more information on defending ethnic studies, visit http://saveethnicstudies.org/meet_us.shtml

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Happy New Year, World, from Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson

In Current Events, Economics, History, Occupy Movement on December 29, 2011 at 23:30

Occupy the World from flyingnorth.net

To: The World and all its residents
From: Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson, speaking for himself and not the movement
Re: Current Conditions and prospects

Dear World:

Happy New Year, World. I know we have had a rough year and not treated you well. I hope you forgive humanity and realize that many of us see some of what you are going through and want to help. I also want to acknowledge that “New Year” is a human construct and that the world has a different concept of time, living eternally in the moment and constantly in forever.

Sorry about the global warming world. I know you try to accommodate humanity, but at this rate, I wouldn’t blame you if you threw us all off for our continued burning of your forests, coal and oil fields. And sorry about the BP oil spill in the gulf, world. I only wish that the corporations that caused the spill weren’t getting so little punishment and that we would use that disaster to change our energy policy.

We are worried about your 1.4 billion that live in extreme poverty despite your bounty. It’s not your fault, world, but we have created a system that allows such suffering and depravity. The one percent hoard more than they need, and most of us have been accomplices to this plunder.

We occupiers and others are disturbed that the United States leads the way in incarcerating its people, and that the world far too often sees prison as an answer to social problems. I know that’s not what you want us to do with your resources.

We are upset about the continued war economy that puts money into weapons and their manufacturers, weapons that are created for the sole purpose of killing. Sorry world. We occupiers do want to end wars and the use of these weapons that protect the wealth of the 1%. We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to end this endless war.

We are upset about all the foreclosures on homes, especially those that could be saved with some creative refinancing. Bankers are very good at finding creative ways to make money, hide their lack of liquidity, create credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and other financial instruments to make money off the hard earned work of others. But neither the banks nor the government have been willing to work creatively to help people from losing their homes. And the efforts that have been made are inadequate to meet the needs of homeowners. This is not what the world needs.

We are upset by CEOs that make millions even when their companies lose money. The world would be a better place without these greedy people.

We are upset about the Washington, DC revolving door in which Congress members can get jobs making millions at Wall Street firms as Washington insiders and use their Congressional contacts to help their new companies get contracts, tax cuts, reduced regulation, and other benefits. We are upset by Congress selling our democracy to the highest donor for a few dollars and thus sell out everyone’s future. They are no better than dictators who rob their national treasuries. Moreover, we are upset that Congress can in essence practice insider trading, further selling out our democracy.

World, we are upset that many in Congress would rather cut programs that help Americans in a time of need than work with the president to create jobs.

We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to help create positive change. So please dear world, help us educate the populous about the greedy few who want to ruin the planet for all of us and for far too long have not been challenged.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Tex Shelters’s Pet Peeves of the 2011

In Current Events, Economics, History, Humor, Occupy Movement on December 28, 2011 at 19:36

 

from petliferadio.com

I ordered these for editorial reasons; they are not ranked. The list is not all inclusive, but they are issues I have experience with and might amuse you. So on with the winners!

Google
Google has slowly crept into almost every aspect of the blogosphere and internet. Soon, you will have to log-in to Google to take a shit in your own home.

The use of the term “pro-life” and “pro-abortion”
People who use the term pro-life to define themselves are usually just pro-fetus. Many of them don’t care if a woman dies as long as the fetus is protected and are the same people who support cuts to education, school lunch programs, immunizations, pell grants, ADFC, and other programs that aid children. And, the forced-birth crowd is often for the death penalty and against health care. So much for “pro-life”. Moreover, nobody is “pro-abortion.” No one is lining up to have an abortion as if they were lining up for Jay-Z tickets. The idea that anyone is pro-abortion is just a lie that ignores the reality of choice in the United States.

Certainly, this could be a pet peeve any year, but the forced-birthers are endangering the lives of half the population to a higher degree than ever by challenging legal and safe medical procedures.  And, the way the argument is framed is part of the reason they get away with it.

Congress
Congress ignores the needs of the people to pander to the 1%. Republicans in Congress spent much of 2010 talking about the deficit and trying to find ways to cut social spending, thus increase unemployment during a recession. In the first half of this year, Republicans spent much of the year still focused on cuts until Occupy Wall Street gathered steam and media attention and helped change the debate from deficits to equity, jobs, and bank criminality. As Republicans took charge of the agenda after winning a majority in the House, Democrats either cheerfully joined in or passively sat by. Let’s hope Congress listens to the people and their needs in 2012.

People who write about the Occupy Movement but have never been to a camp or read the literature provided by various movements
Would you trust a movie reviewer who never saw the movie they are writing about? Then why trust “journalists” who write about the Occupy Movement but have never visited a camp? These critics talk about something they haven’t even experienced, first or secondhand. This also goes for many members of the general public as well who buy into the lies about the movement. One of the most misguided comments I heard was “people only go to Occupy Wall Street to hook up.” Yes, that’s where I would go for a date too, cause all that talk about a widening income gap, buying on margin, and increasing poverty and homelessness gets the ladies and gentlemen hot!

Obampologists 
Anyone who refuses to look at conservative decisions and policies made by President Obama and then turns around and blames those who criticize Obama for his decisions are Obampoligists™. They criitcize anyone who disagrees with Obama on one policy area or another as misguided fools who don’t realize that a Republican would be worse than a Obama. Sorry folks, we know Obama would be better than the current crop of Republican candidates, but he’s not better than say, Reagan. Being better than a Republican doesn’t make you a good president any more than being a better singer than William Shatner means you should win a grammy.

People who write unsupported statements online as if they are facts and don’t provide links or evidence for what they are saying
If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least back up your comments with facts or links or posts or something. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time. That also goes for positive but unsubstantiated claims as well.

The idea that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme
People who think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme know little about either. Let me make it simple: In Ponzi scheme, you put money into an investment and the money actually goes into the pockets of the schemer and you receive a portion of what you invest as “dividends” with promises that you will reap more later if only you invested more. Social Security taxes, on the other hand, are put into a low yield trust for later use and the money you put in is what you are guaranteed later. And unlike a Ponzi scheme, people are getting their money from the Social Security Trust Fund.


Ron Paul supporters
Ron Paul is apparently the best thing since sliced bread for his supporters. But he is a racist who has a few things correct. He wants to end the minimal wage, get rid of a woman’s right to choose, he wants to privatize education, and opposes the separation of church and state among other things.

Sure, I don’t like other Republican (or Democratic) candidates, but the blind allegiance people have to Paul is the real version of the fantasy Obama-messiah complex. However, no one goes anybody go around calling out the followers of the Paulist religion. No, that would be heresy.  People prattle on and on again and again about how Ron Paul is the answer to our problems. If he is the answer, what is the question? Paul is only the answer because the other Republican candidates have no credibility on any issue, and at least Paul can stand by his long held anti-war and fiscally conservative stances in the past. His positions on many issues are well thought out compared to the other GOP candidates. But hey, even I look tan next to an albino.

The use of the term Nazi
Republicans have called President Obama nearly everything, including “Nazi”. The IRS, Occupy Wall Street, all government, Democrats and Republicans have all been called Nazi this year. The Nazis were a one off historical organization and nothing will ever be like the Nazis. If you need a term, although I wouldn’t use this one without reason, use “fascist.”

Promoting the misuse of the term “Nazi” distorts history and promotes ignorance, as is exemplified when a fourteen year old boy was beaten by bullies in a suburban Denver school as they called him “Nazi” for being German and “Fag” for liking musical theater.    This is disturbing in many ways, and sidesteps the fact that Nazis killed homosexuals by the thousands in WWII.  But history seldom trumps racism and homophobia. Even Democrats joined the chorus of people misusing the label “Nazi” as Rep. Cohen (an ironically Jewish sir name), compared Republican tactics against health care to Nazi tactics. 

People who don’t read my online articles
No, seriously, thanks to my dozens of readers and I wish you all a happy New Year. Please post your own pet peeves below or link this to other social media sites with a click of your mouse.

 

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Rush Limbaugh says BP Oil Spill a “Non-story”

In Economics, History on December 21, 2011 at 19:19

Dead birds, no big deal from griffyclan007.wordpress.com

On Rush Limbaugh’s show of December 19th, he stated that the BP Oil spill, the AP top story of 2010, “Ended up being a non-story”, and that few people remember it. We could spend years refuting all the misinformation and outright lies Mr. Limbaugh spews on his show, but I thought this a good opportunity to remember one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in U.S. history.

What Rush says about the BP/Deep Water Horizon story shows his contempt for reality. The importance of a story politically and historically often has little to do with how its remembered. Second, one of the reasons it is not remembered is that news outlets such as Fox, Clear Channel, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and the even the supposedly “liberal” counterpoint to Fox News, MSNBC, have done little reporting on this story since the BP/Deep Water Horizon Oil spill of 2010 stopped gushing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The BP media blackout during the disaster also reduced its coverage.

Limbaugh infers that if we don’t remember a story, it’s not important. How many people under the age of thirty can tell you about Watergate or the Cuban Missile Crisis? If we don’t remember, than it’s not important, right? I am sure few Americans can tell you about the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks, but does that mean it’s not important?  The Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians in a country the size of Maryland in 1915-16, but because we don’t remember it, it’s a “non-story” according to Rush. And what about the cracking of secret German codes in WWII that hastened the end of the war?   I guess that was a non-story too. Using Rush’s criteria, if he doesn’t report on it, it doesn’t matter.

Furthermore, it is the mass media that influences to a large extent what stories we remember and discuss. You might recall that only three short months ago, Occupy Wall Street began. For the first few weeks, there was nothing in the front sections of the New York Times about the occupation. Thus, the movement didn’t exist. Now, phrases like “occupy” and “99%” are part of our national discourse. You can bet if the movement disappeared tomorrow, our collective amnesia would set in and people like Rush will say, “The Occupy Movement was a non-story.”

BP and their executives tried to enforce a media blackout on the Deep Water Horizon spill. “In fact BP has hired security guards and someone has even instructed the military to prevent media access to the workers and oil spill cleanup operations.” They wanted to block the beaches and protect them from dangerous cameras that would film the tragedy and interfere with their media spin campaign about BP being good corporate citizens. They also prevented clean up workers from talking to the media. They denied this interference despite damning evidence from a local news outlet. The airspace above the oil spill was also shut off to traffic and media outlets.

First, BP said they were keeping the public away from the beach for safety reasons. However, they weren’t willing pay for the acoustic switch, a remote shut off valve that would have cost only $500,000. It would cost $560 million to replace the Deep Water Horizon oil rig. So much for public safety. Later, after keeping people off the beaches because they were oh so concerned about safety, they said they were closing off the area due to vandalism.

So, if this was a non-story, it’s because of censorship and the news cycle that won’t report things such as shut off valves, corporate culpability, and the need for regulation. Corporations own the mass media and a larger and larger portion of the Internet, and they don’t want to air their dirty laundry. Thus, they have mouthpieces like Mr. Limbaugh diminish ecological disasters and the economic catastrophe caused by the BP oil spill. This discourse fits right into the mind set of Limbaugh’s audience that small government is good government and liberals and environmentalists want to attack hard working oil companies like BP.

So let’s remember the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster of 2010. On April 20, 2010, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig exploded and spewed an estimated 200 millions gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of marine animals died and the economy of the gulf coast was in ruins. The well wasn’t capped and controlled until September, 2010. BP estimates the likely cost of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill to be $40bn. That’s a 80,000 times more costly than the $500,000 acoustic switch that BP failed to install. But when you put profit above the environment or the livelihood of people, and you can write off such losses on your taxes, what’s the big deal. As Rush would say, it’s a “non-story.”

What Rush and the corporate elite don’t want us to know is that it was operational short cuts taken by BP and Halliburton that lead to the oil disaster. Rush and the CEO of BP will never admit that not only were the regulations that could have prevented the disaster not followed, more regulation for deep water drilling rigs like the Deep Water Horizon is the only way to reduce the potential for future Gulf oil spill disasters.

And what is also lost in the conversation is that more offshore oil drilling in the United States won’t affect the cost of gas to the consumer. More drilling could damage our oceans for hundreds and thousand of years if we have more BP sized spills in the future. However, the mainstream media and Congress don’t want to upset their corporate benefactors, so policies that could prevent future oil disasters and lead to larger investment in sustainable energy are not part of the discussion.

By calling it a non-story, Rush encourages millions of his listeners to ignore the dangers of our energy policy because as Mr. Limbaugh wants you to believe, it doesn’t matter.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Trespass and Occupy

In Current Events, Economics, History on November 15, 2011 at 05:23

Bonus Army Attacked 1936 tekwala-com.jpg

Occupy Oakland Routed 2011 from CBS News

One of the strategies that Occupy Wall Street has used to bring media and political attention to their movement is civil disobedience, namely, through trespass. Trespassing has been used by movements throughout the history of the United States and today it takes on even further significance through permanent trespass called “occupation”. One strategy authorities have used to counter these social movements, as they have the Occupy Movement, has been the use of trespass laws to squelch dissent.

During the depression of the 1890s, Jacob Coxey, an Ohio businessman, led a group of unemployed to D.C. to demand jobs. People marched from all over America, but only about 500 made it to the capital to encamp. However, before Coxey could make his speech, he was arrested for trespass. One statement from the 1892 Progressive Conference seems eerily familiar:

…we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box…. The people are demoralized;… public opinion silenced…. homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages… The fruits of the toils of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind…. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes: ­ tramps and millionaires. (link)

Those words, uttered over 100 years ago, mirror the economic troubles we are faced with today: record foreclosures, long term unemployment and a widening income gap. The work of millions is stolen for the fortunes of a few.

During the Great Depression, there was another group of trespassers that got the ire of the government, the Bonus Army. In 1924, Congress voted to pay $3.5 billion to veterans of WWI. Congress decided to pay the bonuses over 20 years. However, during the Great Depression, many of the veterans were having difficulty finding work and decided that they needed their WWI bonuses right away. So in 1932, about 10,000 vets marched on Washington, D.C. to ask for their bonuses up front. A bill to pay the veterans was passed in the House on a vote of 209-176. However, the Senate voted it down, 62-18 before it could get to President Hoover who had promised to veto it.

Army Chief of Staff MacArthur was convinced that the march was a communist conspiracy to undermine the government of the United States, and that “the movement was actually far deeper and more dangerous than an effort to secure funds from a nearly depleted federal treasury.” But that was simply not the case.

The government’s response to the occupation of the Anacostia Flats across the Anacostia River from the Capital was to send in the military, under the direction of Douglas MacArthur, and evict the veterans. The demand for their pay was too much for many. Without firing a bullet, but with ample use of tear gas, MacArthur proudly removed the desperate veterans who were asking only for the wages promised them.

Just like the Occupy Movements have been called communist and socialist  by the right, the Bonus Army was called communist by Army Chief of Staff MacArthur:

Army Chief of Staff MacArthur was convinced that the march was a communist conspiracy to undermine the government of the United States, and that “the movement was actually far deeper and more dangerous than an effort to secure funds from a nearly depleted federal treasury.” But that was simply not the case. (link)

In the Flint autoworkers strike of 1936-7, the workers surprised management and took over the Fisher Body Plant on Dec. 30, 1936, trespassing on private property. And they called on the people of Detroit to occupy public space to show their support.

“The union called for supporters to gather at Cadillac Square in Detroit as a show of strength. The overflowing crowd of 150,000 supporters surprised even the union sympathizers and gave the union the self-confidence they needed to show its power and solidarity over its management “oppressors.” Other union workers joined in sympathy strikes, closing plants in other states.”

Many blacks and some whites trespassed in white only lunch counters in the South during the Civil Rights Movement and sit-ins, a popular form of protest in the 60s and 70s, were also utilized by free speech movements. The American Indian Movement occupied Alcatraz Island as a way to protest treatment by the United States government.

Times have changed, and the goals of the protesters are not so obvious today. The current Occupy Movement is not only a fight for a living wage, but for something grander. The economic forces we fight today are as powerful, but they are also more diffuse and harder to understand. The Coxey Army wanted jobs. The Bonus Army wanted the money promised them for their service during WWI. In the Fisher Body Plant in Flint strike of 1936, the workers wanted the eight hour day, a fair and living wage, and job security. Others trespassed for civil, political, social, racial and economic equality. Trespassing is one of the only ways disenfranchised groups of people can get the attention of non-responsive governments and massive corporate controlled media conglomerates.

By trespassing, we are saying that mega-corporate occupation of the power and wealth of this nation is illegitimate. We are here to take our power back and do our best to divest from an economic system that harms us and our fellow citizens. Wealth made through market manipulation, deregulation through legalized bribery of Congress and usury must end. Wealth made on the backs of workers, home owners, students, immigrants, and others who suffer hardships due to this economic usury must end. Wealth accumulation without regard to the economic well being of the people and the nation has to stop if we are ever going to have a sustainable economy that benefits everyone and not just the 1%. Until this happens, the cycle of boom and bust that only benefits those who can manipulate Wall Street and threaten economic collapse to extort bailouts will continue unabated.

Thus, we also fight to repeal Citizens United and tax Wall Street trade as well as making the top tax brackets pay their share in taxes for the services and infrastructure this nation creates for their companies to thrive, among others issues.

The standard counter-social movement strategies are being used to repel the occupy movement today, including labeling the groups communist (tired as that is) or Nazi and using trespass laws to cite, arrest and removal of occupiers.

One reason the brutality of the police in Oakland, Berkeley, Denver, Portland, Tulsa and elsewhere is so shocking is because the protesters have framed their struggle in counter to the excesses of the state and corporations, and the police, as corporate/state operatives, demonstrate these excesses.

If you like the status quo, I ask, why do you support the banks over the people? Do you like paying to bail out the banks thus leading to the lay off of teachers and other public servants? Do you like corporations that give multi-million dollar bonuses and pay zero taxes? Do you prefer corporations buying elections because you weren’t really using your vote anyway?

Think about what you are supporting before stereotyping and dismissing those that obviously care about people and the state of this country. Support an Occupation in your area.  And if you already support the Occupy Movement, spread the word.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Tex Shelters Salutes The Reagan Library

In History, Human Rights and the Constitution, Humor on October 6, 2011 at 19:31

Reagan with the Mujahideen from globalresearch.ca

Recently, the Republican party held a presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Ca. While the library is a wonderful living tribute to the Patriarch of our party, and many of the exhibits are worthy of this great man, it lacks what us modern conservatives loved most about him.

The Ronald Reagan library is a great place, with a panel from the Berlin Wall that Reagan pulled down, Air Force One and Reagan’s papers and oval office furniture. But it is missing some exhibits that would complete the collection. Here is what real modern Conservatives want to see to complete the Reagan library.

The Tomb of the Unknown Dead Central American Peasant. Reagan doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the deaths of Central American peasants at the hands of right-wing governments and death squads funded by the United States. We need to rectify this.

A special adjunct to the Tomb of the Unknown Dead Central American Peasant would be the Morning in America, nightmare for Nicaragua exhibit including photos of dead nuns and priest who got in the way of U.S. freedom seeking bullets and death squads.

The just say no exhibit of the war on drugs. The war on drugs was one of the greatest wars Reagan fought. The exhibit would feature syringes, cokes spoons, crack pipes, bongs and other drug paraphernalia that we assume millions of people didn’t use because of Reagan’s policies and Nancy Reagan saying “no”. The federal sentencing laws, the death penalty for drug king pins that put marijuana drug growers on death row, the return of minimum sentencing guidelines, and increase in the prison population are all highlights of Reagan’s war on drugs that you would have to be high to miss.

Freedom Fighter Display and Exhibit. Exhibits featuring photos, videos and the written testimony of freedom fighters who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Mujahideen. A video time line called “Mujahideen over the years” with be played every 30 minutes showing how they transformed themselves in the Taliban and started using the weapons the Reagan White House sold them against the Afghan people, our allies and our soldiers.

Reagan doesn’t get nearly enough credit for arming terrorists organizations in Afghanistan and creating the enormous profits our companies make fighting this U.S. armed fighters. President Reagan’s patriotic actions and active obsession with destroying the already collapsing Soviet Union at whatever costs helped Bin Laden gain power and eventually led to the attacks on 9/11.

We would add quotes that we find important that the Ronald Reagan Library exhibit left out. Of course they feature the famous, “Gorbachev, tear down this wall” and  “It’s morning in America.” And there’s also the advice he gives of a personal nature: “There’s nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.” and “Man’s yearning for freedom can be satisfied in only one way, freedom.”  We need to include more quotes to set the record straight on Reagan’s conservative credentials.

Like global warming deniers of today, Reagan went after the tree hugging hippies logic when he famously stated the hidden facts that, “trees cause more pollution than automobiles.”

President Reagan had a great influence on President George W. Bush and today’s Republican Congress when he said, “They say hard work never hurt anybody, but, I figure, why take the chance?”

And he gave sage advice to all politicians in American when he said, Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”

So won’t you please spread the knowledge of this great man that the library left out. The world needs to see a complete picture of our greatest president who was a former actor with a chimp and once married to Jane Wyman.

Link for more quotes:

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/06/06/1086460157435.html

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20040606/ai_n12895821/

Peace,
Tex Shelters

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