Tag Archives: Tea Party

Columbus Day Questions


On this Columbus Day, let’s consider the discrepancy between how newcomers are celebrated in our history but ostracized in our society.

By Sara Joseph

Many of us will never forget that famous elementary school rhyme: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two / Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” At the time, it’s not likely that we would have sensed any looming controversy behind those grade school lessons. With Columbus Day just around the corner, however, it’s worth asking whether affection for the holiday is really a serious case of misguided nostalgia.

Columbus Day celebrates the “discovery” of the Americas. But it’s clear that the continent had already been inhabited by well-established indigenous communities.

The people who already lived in the region welcomed the first European immigrants with curiosity and open hearts and minds. But it soon became clear that the explorers sent by European royalty had come to dominate, defeat, and destroy.

On October 12, 1492, Columbus wrote of the native people he encountered: “They should be good servants…they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.”

Columbus is credited with forging the first links between American and European civilizations. But whether the manner in which these cultures collided merits commemoration as a federal holiday is doubtful at best.

Throughout most of the Americas, schoolchildren don’t remember Columbus Day with cutesy images of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. In fact, it’s often called by an entirely different name: Dia de la Raza (Latin American Heritage Day). This is a way to recognize indigenous roots in the Americas. It also serves as a tribute to the lives and civilizations lost in the name of slavery and European expansion — beginning with Columbus’ arrival in 1492.

Today, Latin American and Caribbean schoolchildren that migrate to the United States are unlikely to receive a hero’s welcome. In fact, they are often forced to live in the shadows as their parents struggle to survive. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann recently went so far as to mock Rick Perry’s statement that anyone with a “heart” would want to protect the rights of immigrant children to an education — even if they were brought to the United States “through no fault of their own.”

Migration across what’s now the U.S.-Mexican border has existed for centuries. The reality is that this history was marked by periodic shared interest in promoting immigration. But as economic and anti-narcotic policies initiated by Washington have increased pressure on Latin American people to migrate, immigration has become a hot-button issue for people across the political spectrum.

To many, the flow of immigration seems daunting. Bachmann recently proposed a solution: “Build a barrier, a fence, a wall…every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch will be covered on that southern border.”

But spending billions on border militarization hasn’t stopped undocumented migration. In fact, one of the only notable outcomes of beefing up the border has been more death, danger, and lives lost in the desert.

Ideally, every October we would celebrate the coming together of the cultures of the Americas. Sadly, the legacy of cultural domination and separation continues with border militarization as a tenet of our foreign policy.

According to President Barack Obama, it is Columbus’ “intrepid character and spirit of possibility that has come to define America, and is the reason countless families still journey to our shores.”

To whom is Obama referring if not the immigrants who come to the United States for a chance to support their families? On this Columbus Day, let’s consider the discrepancy between how newcomers are celebrated in our history but ostracized in our society — and what we can learn from a modern analysis of Columbus’ story.

For a quick read about the people native to my own part of this country, go HERE.

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With Poverty on the Rise, this is no Time to Slash the Safety Net


The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Karen DolanBy Karen Dolan

The increasingly extreme conservative ideology pervading Congress and the tea party is infused with a dogmatic creed of rugged individualism, used to justify policies that benefit only the super-rich and large corporations, while hurting — even killing — the rest of us.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) points out, living with economic hardship in this country means an early death. Rugged individualism works for those individuals lucky enough to be born with silver spoons in their mouths. For those unlucky enough to be born with a steel shovel in their hands…well, data shows they’ll die about 6.5 years before their silver-spoon peers do.

(martnpro / Flickr) Poverty, which the government defines as a family of four eking by on less than $22,113 a year, is soaring, and American children are suffering the most. In the world’s wealthiest nation, the Census Bureau recently revealed that more than a quarter of our children aged 0-5 are poor. The number of people young and old in poverty grew by 2.6 million, up from 43.6 million to 46.2 million. The poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1993, and the number of people in poverty is the greatest since records began 52 years ago.

Meanwhile, as the poor get poorer, the middle class is shrinking.

Fortunately, our social safety net has kept millions more American children and adults out of poverty. Since the Great Recession began, government programs such as unemployment insurance, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit have played a critical role in keeping the poverty rate from rising even more dramatically.

In 2010, 3.9 million Americans, including 1.7 million children, were lifted out of poverty because of food stamps, while 3.2 million Americans were kept out of poverty by unemployment insurance benefits. Social Security provided a safety net from poverty to 20.3 million of us.

Purveyors of right-wing nonsense about government spending impoverishing our children and the middle class miss the big picture. Although those lacking health insurance increased from 49 million in 2009 to 50 million in 2010, and employment-based health coverage continued to decline, children were protected from this downward trend because Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covered them. Additionally, President Barack Obama’s health care reform act, so much maligned by the right wing, enabled the number of insured 18-24 year-olds to actually rise by half a million last year.

What’s needed is more public investment, not less.

Obama’s American Jobs Act is a good start. It shows that the White House recognizes that we need public money invested in jobs that won’t just employ people, but will also fix our crumbling infrastructure. However, his calls for Congress to approve new so-called “free-trade” agreements with an anti-job track record is counter-productive.

Plus, we need a much larger-scale public effort to directly create green jobs that will quickly employ people, provide good wages and benefits, and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. If we were to bring home the billions of dollars now being spent in devastating and costly wars overseas, we could actually pay for the significant investments that must be made at home.

We taxpayers are paying $1 million per year per U.S. soldier deployed in Afghanistan. For that same money, we could bring that soldier home, employ her in a well-paying green job for $50,000 per year, and similarly employ 19 more unemployed Americans.

There’s a way out of this misery. The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Don’t drink the tea. Instead, fight for a way to end our unemployment crisis and for our children to be healthy and able to participate in a thriving future.

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. www.ips-dc.org

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JackieBaggers and The Freedom Hole


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Tea party Congress: “Power to the Corporations”


Wednesday, September 7, 2011 |  by Jim Hightower

Good grief – the genuine populist fury of grassroots tea partiers is now being perverted into anti-populism by the very tea party Republicans they elected to Congress.

Tea party House members have become the Koch brothers‘ plutocratic dream. They’ve voted to keep giving a $4-billion-a-year government subsidy to Big Oil, to privatize and slash Medicare, to let Wall Street banksters keep ripping off consumers and investors, and to put Social Security on the congressional killing floor. Is this what grassroots voters meant by “Power to the people?”

Take tea party Congressman Austin Scott. Only, you can’t – he’s already been taken by corporate lobbyists. This Georgia Republican won election last year by waging a full-throated campaign against foreign workers who enter the country illegally. Throw ’em all out, he ranted – those jobs belong to U.S. citizens. But, curiously, Scott did not applaud on July 29 when Legal Service lawyers won a case to stop a corporation in his district from illegally firing U.S. workers and replacing them with Mexican migrants.

Far from applauding, this tough-on-immigrants tea party stalwart abruptly shifted sides, favoring the corporation’s illegal hiring practices against his own constituents who’d been thrown out of their jobs. Indeed, only three days after Legal Services won its case against the corporation, Scott rose up on his hind legs and introduced H.R. 2774, a vindictive, one-sentence bill that says: “Be it enacted… in Congress assembled, that the Legal Services Corporation Act is repealed.”

Scott’s hypocrisy is as subtle as a hammer to the head: He professes to be for the people then tries to kill a program that helps poor people pursue justice against corporate elites. “Power to the Corporations” is his motto.

“How Rep. Austin Scott betrayed his Tea Party roots,”www.washingtonpost.com, August 9, 2011

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GOP Extremists


Are these people for real?

  • Rick Perry says Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and “monstrous lie.”
  • Michele Bachmann joked that God sent Hurricane Irene to warn against federal spending. Aren’t jokes supposed to be funny?
  • Eric Cantor says disaster relief must be offset with other spending cuts.

 I believe in Social Security, workers’ rights, and helping the middle class. Republicans pander to the far right daily with ludicrous statements and attacks on President Obama. These statements motivate Tea Party voters like nothing else. It’s not enough to criticize them – we need to fight back!

They’ll have outside help – Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers will make sure of that.  If we don’t all stand together now, they will gain an edge – and we saw in 2010 what happens when they do.

They’ve got their Big Oil benefactors. We’ve got half a million grassroots donors. Keep fighting on the ground, on the air and online.
Perry, Bachmann and Cantor don’t speak for me!

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The American Dream Movement


Former Obama Adviser Brews A Different Tea Party

From NPR’s All Things Considered

Van Jones (right) of the American Dream Movement, rallies with federal employees and progressive groups in front of the Capitol on Thursday, urging lawmakers to come to a fair deal on  the budget.

Van Jones was President Obama’s special adviser for “green” jobs when he was hit with a wave of criticism from conservative pundits about his past associations. The controversy forced him to leave his post in September 2009, but it wasn’t the last we’d hear of him.

That same conservative wave went on to make a major splash in Congress through the Tea Party. Jones decided to fight back, founding a group called the “American Dream Movement.”

Some people call Jones’ group a liberal version of the Tea Party. His inspiration, he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, is the silent majority of Americans who he believes oppose Tea Party platforms.

“Sixty to 70 percent of Americans agree that jobs are more important than this debt-ceiling debacle,” Jones says. “Sixty-seven percent of Americans agree that we should raise taxes on the wealthiest in a crisis like this. We aren’t being represented.”

Jones finds it ironic that those who see government as the problem refer to themselves as patriots.

“Everything the Tea Party says about America’s government is how terrible it is,” Jones tells Raz. “You can’t take a wrecking ball, paint it red, white and blue, call yourself a patriot, and then smash down every institution that made America great.”

While anger is usually more effective at mobilizing political movements, Jones says his group has been successful with a more optimistic message.

Referring to the first Tea Party gatherings in summer 2009, Jones says, “We had twice as many house meetings to start our movement as they did. They had 800, we had 1,600.”

Jones says his group now has 127,000 members.

The “American Dream Movement” has three major policy planks: Raise taxes on the wealthy to Clinton-era levels; responsibly draw down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and investing in public infrastructure to combat unemployment.

Jones says infrastructure projects can be financed in smart and efficient ways. But he’s aware of a challenge: “We’re not even focused on the smart ways to get Americans working because we’re chasing the Tea Party down the street.”

Join the American Dream Movement on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Rebuild-The-Dream

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True Patriotism (via WordCritical)


True Patriotism Just a brief exposure to an image of the American flag shifts voters, even Democrats, to Republican beliefs, attitudes and voting behavior even though most don't believe it will impact their politics, according to a new two-year study just published in the scholarly Psychological Science… For some reason, this comes as a surprise to a lot of people. Republicans have used patriotic symbolism for a long, long time, and their advertising strategy … Read More

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