Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adult Version Of "Super Powers"

Exposing The Republican Lie About Immigration

If you listen to the congressional Republicans, you might believe that we are still experiencing a flood of undocumented immigrants into this country -- more than ever before. They claim that President Obama is soft on immigration, and that is causing a new horde of immigrants crossing our southern border.

That is a lie. I have, in the past, shown you proof that President Obama's administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other administration (including those of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan). Now the Pew Research Center shows us that the size of the undocumented immigrant population is not growing in this country. The chart above shows the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force. Note that it grew through most of the Bush administration, but has leveled off and not grown at all during any part of the Obama administration.

And the same is true of the undocumented immigrant population as a whole. In fact, it has slightly decreased. In 2009, there were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. That has dropped now to 11.2 million. And there is no reason to believe the new executive order issued by the president will affect this at all -- since it applies only to those who are already in this country.

And finally, we have the chart below. It shows the number of K-12 students in U.S. schools has also leveled off, and is in fact, lower now than during the Bush administration.

The upshot of all this is that the Republicans have been lying, and that is shown by the facts. There is no horde of new immigrants flooding into this country because of President Obama's policies. They are just trying to scare voters into supporting their own hard-hearted policies. Don't let them fool you into believing their nonsense.


Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Democrats Move To Appease Wall Street & Corporations

Senate Democrats have announced that Mark Warner of Virginia has been added to their leadership team -- as a policy development advisor. This is disappointing. Warner is a "centrist", with close ties to the business community. In other words, he is a "blue dog" that has sold out to Wall Street and the giant corporations.

When Elizabeth Warren was added to the leadership team last week, I had hoped that senate Democrats were finally coming to their senses, and were finally going to return to a policy of helping ordinary Americans. Warren's appointment seemed to give some balance to a leadership that was already slanted toward Wall Street.

But this appointment (of Warner) dashes that hope. It is a clear signal to Wall Street that they are still firmly in their camp -- that the Warren appointment was just to throw a bone to progressives (who have not been happy lately), and not a real desire to change.

I view the Warner appointment as a step backward for the Democratic Party -- and with his input into policy, we can be pretty sure no real progressive policies will be pursued.

(The caricature above of Warner is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Season Is Upon Us

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Opportunity, Like Wealth & Income, Is Not Equal In U.S.

(The cartoon image above is from Mother Jones.)

It's a common refrain among right-wingers that the inequality of wealth and income doesn't really matter in the United States, because there is the equal opportunity for all citizens to become rich. That sounds good, but it is not true. Opportunity is not equal -- with the rich having much more opportunity than anyone else (even if a poor person struggles hard and gets an excellent education). Here is how Matt O'Brien describes the economic reality in this country for The Washington Post:

America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.
That's because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on "enrichment activities" for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.
But, of course, it's not just a matter of dollars and cents. It's also a matter of letters and words. Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child's formative early years. That's why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardonexplains, "rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students," and they're staying that way.
It's an educational arms race that's leaving many kids far, far behind.
It's depressing, but not nearly so much as this:
Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference, which is underway.
Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.
What's going on? Well, it's all about glass floors and glass ceilings. Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don't need a high school diploma to get ahead. It's an extreme example of what economists call "opportunity hoarding." That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children's favor.
But even if they didn't, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead. That's, in part, because they're targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects. And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they're more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.
It's not quite a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game where rich kids get better educations, yet still get ahead even if they don't—but it's close enough. And if it keeps up, the American Dream will be just that.

Media Priority

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

Action Is Needed - Not Words

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Corporations (Are Not People)

No One Got A Mandate From Voters In 2014 Election

Republican officials are wanting to act like the voters gave them a mandate to implement their extremist policies (since they now have control over both houses of Congress). But that is simply not true. They benefitted from having the more energized voters in an election in which an embarrassingly small percentage of voters bothered to vote. And the reason few went to the polls is because, as the charts above show, most Americans are disgusted with Congress and both political parties. Note that the huge disapproval of both parties is about the same (well within the survey's margin of error).

No one got any kind of mandate, and if the Republicans try to act like they did, they could easily be spanked hard by the voters in 2016 (when much larger numbers of Independents and Democrats will be voting, due to the presidential election). The truth is the voters are disgusted with Congress in general, and they want the two parties to finally compromise to get the country and the economy going again. And any failure at real compromise is going to be viewed very dimly by voters.

These charts were made from a Quinnipiac University Poll done between November 18th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,623 registered voters, with a 2.4 point margin of error.


That same survey queried respondents in each political party about their choices for their party's presidential nomination in 2016. The charts below show those results -- with the GOP charts showing both with and without Romney, and the Democratic charts showing results both with and without Clinton. (Margin of error is 3.7 points for Republicans and 4 points for Democrats.)

Tolerant ?

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at

Your Ancestors Were "Legal"? - Probably Not

(This image of Ellis Island in 1924 is from

It's a fairly common refrain, especially from xenophobic right-wingers, to say that yes, their ancestors were immigrants, but they were "legal" immigrants. That is a rather ludicrous claim, since they most likely got no permission to enter this country at all. That's because, for much of our history, there was no "legal" or "illegal" immigration. Anyone who wanted to come just came. It was not until the 1920's that any limit was set on immigration at all (with the exception of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act). Here is a quick run-down of our immigration history from Associate Professor Ben Railton of Fitchburg State University from

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow.

The 1892 opening of Ellis Island didn’t change these fundamental realities. Ellis arrivals had to wait in line and answer a list of questions, and could be quarantined if they had a communicable disease or were visibly insane. But if they weren’t in those aforementioned few illegal categories, they still weren’t affected by any law, made no choice of how to immigrate. Moreover, many arrivals during this period came not through Ellis but across the borders, which were unpatrolled and open.

Only with the 1920s Quota Acts did Congress establish national immigration laws encompassing most arrivals. But those acts were overtly discriminatory, extending the Exclusion Act’s principles by categorizing arrivals by nationality and drastically limiting certain groups; South Carolina Senator Ellison Smith put it bluntly: “It seems to me the point as to this measure is that the time has arrived when we should shut the door.” Since immigrants had no control over their nationality, it’s difficult to argue that post-1920s arrivals “chose” to immigrate legally or illegally. And since the borders remained largely open and there were multiple entry points, it’s hard to say that any individual arrival was under the quota and thus legal or illegal.

The 1965 Immigration Act ended national quotas, instituting preferences based on less overtly discriminatory categories such as family connections and educational/professional training. Subsequent laws (such as the 1986 IRCA) further adjusted national policy. But as the ubiquitous “my ancestors” phrase proves, current immigration debates aren’t just about present policies—they’re always informed by ideas about history, and specifically about legal and illegal immigration in our past. So it’s vitally important that we begin to use those terms accurately—to recognize that for so many of us, our ancestors were neither legal nor illegal immigrants. That they came in the same way contemporary undocumented immigrants do: by crossing a border.

Rioting Or Shopping ?

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

The New Colonialism

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fracking Is Corporate Terrorism

A Majority Of Americans Support Obamacare Subsidies

The Republicans are still determined to destroy President Obama's legacy legislation -- the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare). The have tried repeatedly to repeal it, but they know that is hopeless. Even if they could get such a bill through Congress, it would quickly be vetoed by President Obama -- and even in the Republican-dominated 114th Congress, they would not be able to muster enough votes to override a presidential veto,

So they have taken their battle against Obamacare to the courts. They lost the first big battle when the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare was constitutional (with the exception that states could not be denied funds if they didn't expand Medicare). Now they are trying a different approach. They claim that the law, as written, only provides subsidies for those buying insurance through a state insurance exchange -- but does not allow subsidies to be provided through the federal insurance exchange.

And they have been able to get an appeals court to go along with that ridiculous view. Now the case has been accepted by the Supreme Court, who will make the final decision on subsidies. If the Supreme Court accepts the Republican argument, then millions of Americans will lose their health insurance -- because without the government subsidy, they will no longer be able to afford to pay for that insurance.

That would be bad enough for the Republicans, as it could cost them a lot of votes from angry Americans who lost their insurance. But as the chart above shows, a majority of all Americans support that part of Obamacare that provides subsidies to help lower income Americans buy insurance. In fact, only two groups oppose those subsidies -- Republicans (who don't think everyone deserves health insurance) and the rich (who have plenty enough money to buy their own insurance).

The Republicans need to be careful about opposing things that a majority of Americans support. They didn't win this last election because most Americans support their extremist ideas, but because most Americans didn't bother to vote (as is usual for a mid-term election). A lot more people will vote in 2016, and if the Republicans continue putting forth policies supported only by a minority of voters, they could be in for a rude awakening.

The chart above was made from a YouGov Poll done between November 15th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults (with about a 4 point margin of error).

Inevitable ?

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

President Obama Stops Huge New Tax Giveaway To Rich

The congressional Republicans thought for a while they might not even have to wait for the new Congress to give the rich and the corporations a huge tax giveaway. It involved some temporary tax breaks that will soon expire.

The Republicans wanted to make those temporary tax breaks for the rich a permanent thing -- a move that would have added about $450 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade (which I'm sure they would have tried to cover by cutting programs that help ordinary Americans). And it looked like they might be able to do it, because they had talked some "blue dogs" (many of them defeated in the last election) into voting with them.

But their joy was short-lived. President Obama made it clear that if such a ridiculous tax break for the rich bill was actually passed, he would veto it without delay -- and there are enough real Democrats in the House and Senate to prevent an override of his veto.

I'm starting to like this tough new President Obama a lot. He issued an executive order on immigration when it became clear the Republicans would allow no reform. Now he has stopped a huge new tax giveaway to the rich. And next week, his EPA is set to issue new rules on greenhouse gases. He seems to have made up his mind that he is not going to be pushed around by the Republican Congress.

The Republicans thought after the last election that they now had the numbers to force the president to bend to their will. It looks like they may well have been wrong about that.

(The caricature of the tough new president above is by DonkeyHotey.)

Thankful Only Lasts A Day

Political Cartoon is by Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star.

No Honeymoon Period For Republican Leaders

One would have expected after the huge victory they had in this latest election, that Republican leaders would be able to bask in the approval of their own party's base -- at least until the 114th Congress gets down to business next January. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

During only the second week after the election (from November 10th to November 17th), the approval of the Republican congressional leadership has dropped significantly. The approval rating during those seven days for John Boehner has dropped 12 points (while disapproval rose by 10 points). And the numbers for Mitch McConnell were even worse, with approval dropping by 14 points (and disapproval climbing by 12 points).

These numbers are from YouGov Polls taken between November 8th and 10th and between November 15th and 17th (of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of about 4 points). Note that the shifts in approval and disapproval far exceed the polls' margin of error.

The same is not true for Democrats (see chart below). The approval and disapproval numbers for Democratic leaders by their own base has remained pretty steady.

The Trap

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

It's Not An Isolated Incident

Many whites in this country (especially those who are right-wing Republicans) want to think the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson was an isolated incident, and is something that happens only rarely in the United States. They are wrong. Sadly, it has become a fairly common occurrence -- with a black man being killed almost daily. I present for your consideration part of this article by Adam Hudson for (and urge you to read the whole thing):

Police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extrajudicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012, according to a recent study. This means a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. The report notes that it's possible that the real number could be much higher. 

The report, entitled "Operation Ghetto Storm," was conducted by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an antiracist grassroots activist organization. The organization has chapters in Atlanta, Detroit, Fort Worth-Dallas, Jackson, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. It has a history of organizing campaigns against police brutality and state repression in black and brown communities. Their study's sources included police and media reports along with other publicly available information. Last year, the organization published a similar study showing that a black person is killed by security forces every 36 hours. However, this study did not tell the whole story, as it only looked at shootings from January to June 2012. Their latest study is an update of this. 

These killings come on top of other forms of oppression black people face. Mass incarceration of nonwhites is one of them. While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation's population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though African-Americans use or sell drugs about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites. Most offenders are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.
"Operation Ghetto Storm" explains why such killings occur so often. Current practices of institutional racism have roots in the enslavement of black Africans, whose labor was exploited to build the American capitalist economy, and the genocide of Native Americans. The report points out that in order to maintain the systems of racism, colonialism, and capitalist exploitation, the United States maintains a network of "repressive enforcement structures." These structures include the police, FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, Secret Service, prisons, and private security companies, along with mass surveillance and mass incarceration.
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is not the only group challenging police violence against African-Americans. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has been challenging the policy of stop-and-frisk in New York City, in which police officers randomly stop and search individuals for weapons or contraband. African-American and Latino men are disproportionately stopped and harassed by police officers. Most of those stopped (close to 90%) are innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Stop Mass Incarceration alsoorganizes against the War on Drugs and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
Along with the rate of extrajudicial killings, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report contains other important findings. Of the 313 killed, 124 (40%) were between 22 and 31 years old, 57 (18%) were between 18 and 21 years old, 54 (17%) were between 32 and 41 years old, 32 (10%) were 42 to 51 years old, 25 (8%) were children younger than 18 years old, 18 (6%) were older than 52, and 3 (1%) were of unknown ages.
A significant portion of those killed, 68 people or 22%, suffered from mental health issues and/or were self-medicated. The study says that "[m]any of them might be alive today if community members trained and committed to humane crisis intervention and mental health treatment had been called, rather than the police."
43% of the shootings occurred after an incident of racial profiling. This means police saw a person who looked or behaved "suspiciously" largely because of their skin color and attempted to detain the suspect before killing them. Other times, the shootings occurred during a criminal investigation (24%), after 9-1-1 calls from "emotionally disturbed loved ones" (19%) or because of domestic violence (7%), or innocent people were killed for no reason (7%).
Most of the people killed were not armed. According to the report, 136 people or 44%, had no weapon at all the time they were killed by police officers. Another 27% were deaths in which police claimed the suspect had a gun but there was no corroboration to prove this. In addition, 6 people (2%) were alleged to have possessed knives or similar tools. Those who did, in fact, possess guns or knives were 20% (62 people) and 7% (23 people) of the study, respectively.
The report digs into how police justify their shootings. Most police officers, security guards, or vigilantes who extrajudicially killed black people, about 47% (146 of 313), claimed they "felt threatened", "feared for their life", or "were forced to shoot to protect themselves or others". George Zimmerman, the armed self-appointed neighborhood watchman who killed Trayvon Martin last year, claimed exactly this to justify shooting Martin. Other justifications include suspects fleeing (14%), allegedly driving cars toward officers, allegedly reaching for waistbands or lunging, or allegedly pointing a gun at an officer. Only 13% or 42 people fired a weapon "before or during the officer's arrival".
Police recruitment, training, policies, and overall racism within society conditions police (and many other people) to assume black people are violent to begin with. This leads to police overacting in situations involving African-American suspects. It also explains why so many police claimed the black suspect "looked suspicious" or "thought they had a gun." Johannes Mehserle, the white BART police officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in January 2009, claimed Grant had a gun, even though Grant was subdued to the ground by other officers.
Of the 313 killings, the report found that 275 of them or 88% were cases of excessive force. Only 8% were not considered excessive as they involved cases were suspects shot at, wounded, or killed a police and/or others. Additionally, 4% were situations were the facts surrounding the killing were "unclear or sparsely reported". The vast majority of the time, police officers, security guards, or armed vigilantes who extrajudicially kill black people escape accountability.


Political Cartoon is by Keith Knight at

How To Prevent Abortion

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

(This image is from

I wish all of my readers a very happy and safe Thanksgiving Day -- full of family, friends, fun, food, and football.

Amnesty Alert!

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Americans Are Divided By Race, Age, And Politics

In the past few days, it has become apparent that this is very much a divided country. After the no-bill decision by the St. Louis County Grand Jury (thanks to a one-sided view presented to them by a biased prosecutor), we now know that the police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager while he was trying to surrender will not be punished at all. Many in this country think that's just fine, while many others (including me) consider it a miscarriage of justice. What cannot be denied is the broad split that exists in the United States.

The charts above show this split. They were made from a YouGov Poll done between November 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults (with a margin of error of about 4 points). While the survey was taken a few days before the Grand Jury decision was announced, it shows clearly the divide that exists in America.

Whites, older citizens, and Republicans are convinced that the shooting was justified -- and that it was just an isolated incident. Minorities, younger citizens, and Democrats tend to believe the officer should be punished -- and that this incident is indicative of a broader pattern of police abuse of minorities (especially black citizens).

I have heard a lot of talk about how this country needs to come together, but I see little chance of that happening. Blacks cannot move toward the white attitude, because that would be a denial of the unfair treatment they receive daily in this country from the police (and the courts). And whites won't move closer to the black attitude, because most of them don't suffer the same kind of justice system inequities that blacks do (and tend to believe everyone is treated as they are).

Until whites (and older people and Republicans) can see beyond their own limited experience with the police and courts, and recognize that blacks are treated differently (because of their race), nothing will be done to solve the serious racial problems that permeate our society. And sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

If Native Americans Had Been Teabaggers

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

Opposition To Obama's Immigration Order Is Not Huge

The chart above was made from a Hart Research Associates Poll done on November 19th and 20th of a random national sample of 800 likely voters, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

The chart above was made from a Quinnipiac University Poll done between November 18th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,623 registered voters, with a 2.4 point margin of error.

The chart above was made from a YouGov Poll done between November 20th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

I posted about the results of a Latino Decisions Poll, which showed that Hispanics overwhelmingly approve of President Obama using his executive order power to change immigration rules (letting millions of undocumented immigrants stay in this country). That showed the Republicans are in danger of alienating Hispanics with their opposition to the president's action, which would hurt them in 2016.

The only hope the GOP had was to create massive opposition to the president's action among the general public. And they have done their best to do that -- accusing him of violating the law and the Constitution by issuing the executive order, and threatening to defund immigration programs or shut down the government again or even try to impeach the president. But as these three polls show, their temper tantrum doesn't seem to have had the desired effect.

Only one of the polls, the Hart Research Poll, shows a majority in favor of the president's action. But even more important, is the fact that none of the polls have shown the Republicans have been able to get even a small majority of people to oppose what the president has done. And that means the Republicans do NOT have a mandate to take aggressive action to try and overturn what the president has done.

This probably won't stop the Republicans from trying to do something, especially the most rabid extremists among them, because their teabagger base will expect it. But it's not going to win them a lot of friends in the general public.

Dream / Nightmare

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

NAACP Reaction To The Grand Jury Failure To Act

Here is the message the NAACP sent to their supporters after the failure of the justice system in Ferguson, Missouri (and yes, I am an NAACP supporter):

We've just learned the grand jury convened to investigate the shooting death of Michael Brown has chosen not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

This is a devastating setback in our fight for justice. But the grand jury's decision does not mean a crime was not committed in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9. It does not mean we are done fighting for Michael Brown.

We are all filled with frustration, disbelief, and anger over this decision. That the officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man with his hands in the air remains free is appalling. Local officials in Ferguson utterly failed in their duties to conduct an open and transparent investigation.

The local prosecutor who oversaw the grand jury process has significant personal, family, and professional ties to the local police department—the same local police who were slow to talk to witnesses and eager to attack protesters and journalists.

We will not allow this to be another Sanford, Florida. We will not allow the justice system to let us down once more. Take action today, for Michael, and for all of our sons.

While the NAACP joins the community in standing for peaceful protest, we will hold law enforcement officials accountable and ask that they adhere to the rules of engagement agreed upon.

We stand united with the community and other activists groups, demanding that all police officers wear operable body cameras; police departments reflect the diversity of the community that they are serving; and that Congress passes the End Racial Profiling Act.

Sign our petition to the Department of Justice right now:

Thank you,

Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO

Reform ?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

End Prohibition

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We Are Losing The Class War

The "Rule Of Law" Requires Equal Application To All

On Monday night, President Obama spoke to the nation after it was learned that no charges would be filed in the murder of Michael Brown (an unarmed black teenager). I give the president credit for trying to calm the raw tensions about this affair, not only in Ferguson, but across the nation. But I wish he had been a little clearer and gone a little further regarding the injustices that occur far too often in this country. The president said:

"We are a nation built on the rule of law, and so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make."

That is true, but it is not the whole truth. We are a nation of laws (laws that are based on our Constitution), and this decision was the Grand Jury's to make. But it is not enough just to have the "rule of law". The Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution requires that the rule of law must be applied equally to all citizens -- and that just doesn't happen in the United States (at least not right now).

As much as people (especially those on the right) may want to deny or ignore it, the fact is that all American citizens are not treated equally in our system of justice. Not all, but far too many, police officers treat minorities differently than they treat whites. Blacks (and other minorities) are stopped more often, searched more often, arrested more often, mistreated more often, and even killed more often than whites are. It's not right, and it's unconstitutional, but it happens all across this country -- and that is a fact that only a fool or a liar can deny.

And our courts are not much better. Thanks to lingering racism, and flaws in our court system (the main one being those who can afford a great lawyer and payment for their own tests get more justice than those who can't), our courts do not dispense equal justice to all. Whites are treated fairer than minorities, and the rich are treated fairer than the poor. Those are just undeniable facts.

Ferguson is not a lot different than many other cities. It is just the place where these inequalities were exposed for all to see. While it was the Grand Jury's decision on whether to indict the policeman who killed an unarmed teenager or not, it was incumbent on the prosecutor presenting the case to them to treat both the victim and the defendant just as he would in any other case -- but he did not do that.

While in other cases he presented only the information favoring the prosecution, in this case he presented information favoring the defense and put a defense spin on available evidence. In the proceedings, he acted like a defense attorney instead of a prosecutor -- and his later justification for getting the decision he wanted sounded more like a defense attorney's summation than a fair presentation of the facts. In short, Michael Brown was treated differently than other victims are treated -- and that is the problem. Different treatment means unequal treatment. I don't know if it's because he's a racist or just a police apologist, but the prosecutor failed to do his job in a fair and equal manner in this case.

A country based on a secular Constitution establishing a rule of law is a great idea -- but it is not enough. That rule of law must be applied equally to all citizens. If it isn't, then it starts to crumble -- and it can actually become an instrument of discrimination and tyranny. Our justice system is seriously flawed, from the police through the courts, and it must be fixed. If it isn't, then the rule of law just becomes a sick joke.

Justice ?

Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Republicans Are Driving Away Potential Hispanic Support

 For years now, there has been discussion about fixing our badly broken immigration system. Both Republicans and Democrats admit something must be done to fix our immigration laws, and in the past, some Republicans and Democrats have agreed on some broad outlines of a plan. But that was before the Republican leaders in Congress decided to oppose everything the president does (even to fix serious problems facing the nation). They have blocked efforts to fix the economy, stop job outsourcing, create new jobs, make the tax system fairer -- and yes, to fix our broken immigration system. They don't want the president to get credit for doing anything. But this could easily backfire on them when it comes to immigration.

The last time a Republican was elected president, George W. Bush got slightly more than 40% of the Hispanic vote. This is important because Hispanics are a growing portion of the voting population -- and the white percentage of the voting population shrinks with each presidential election. It may work for the GOP to just depend on the white vote in an off-year election (like 2010 and 2014), but that will no longer work in a presidential election (when all kinds of voters turn out in much larger numbers). In 2012, Mitt Romney got only about 23% of the Hispanic vote falling far short of what he needed.

A few national party leaders understand that they need to get their percentage of the Hispanic vote back over 40% (as far over as possible) to stand a chance of returning their candidate to the White House. But their pleas are falling on deaf ears. Their congressional officials are more afraid of the teabaggers in their home districts than electing a GOP president -- and those teabaggers don't want immigration reform.

After years of watching these Republicans please their teabagger constituents and block efforts at immigration reform, President Obama finally took unilateral action by issuing an executive order to prevent the deportation of many undocumented immigrants (especially those with family in this country). But the Republicans have gone basaltic over the president's action -- and they have threatened to sue the president, defund immigration programs, shut down the government, or even attempt to impeach the president.

While this GOP temper tantrum is music to the ears of teabaggers, it is certainly not what the growing population of Hispanic voters wants to hear. According to a new Latino Decisions Poll (taken between November 20th and 22nd of 405 randomly selected national registered to vote Hispanics, with a margin of error of 4.9 points), most Hispanics consider immigration reform to be a very important issue. Most of them blame the Republicans for blocking that reform, and a huge majority support the president's decision to act by executive order. And nearly three out of four would support the president taking further action by executive order if Congress fails to act on immigration reform. (see the charts above)

And this is not just a segment of the Hispanic population. As the two charts below show, Hispanics of all kinds support the president and oppose GOP efforts to block the president (even Hispanic Republicans). If the Republicans continue down their current path, they could do so poorly among Hispanics in 2016 that Romney's 23% would look like a large number.

Hispanics have shown in the past that they can vote in fairly substantial numbers for a Republican candidate. But they are not stupid. They know who is trying to help them and who is trying to hurt them (and the issues they hold dear) -- and if the Republicans continue to block immigration reform, they will pay a substantial price for that in 2016.