Proud member of the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Etowah County Detention Center, another black eye coming to Alabama

Just a heads up - another black eye is headed Alabama's way. It seems that Alabama's only ICE detention center is excess prison space ICE rent's from Etowah County, Alabama. From an article titled:
Immigrant Detainees Languish in Notorious Etowah County Detention Center.

Here's how it starts:
The Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, houses immigration detainees along with county inmates. The facility, which on any given day houses over 300 immigrants, is notorious for poor conditions. It is hours away from any immigration court or international airport , despite only housing people who have final orders of removal from the United States. Many of the detainees have been held here for months, if not years.

Etowah should be closed for two reasons. First, the facility is inappropriate for civil detention. It is a high security jail designed to hold dangerous criminals serving their jail sentences, not for civil offenders awaiting removal from the United States. Second, many of the detainees held at this facility cannot be removed from the United States, despite having been ordered removed, since they are victims of torture or persecution, or because the U.S. does not have an extradition agreement with the home country. The federal government should not ask taxpayers to foot the bill for this inhumane and unnecessary detention.
And things go downhill from there. Turns out that there was some talk of closing the ICE Facility in Etowah County last year and:
In 2010, after years of controversy around Etowah’s dreadful conditions, the Obama administration promised to move toward a more civil form of detention by building newer, better facilities located closer to detainees’ homes and families, to legal service providers and to good medical care. As a result, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) was set to terminate its contract with the facility and stop detaining immigrants there.

Realizing that the loss of the only ICE contract in Alabama would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and $5.2 million in revenue for the county, local officials went to Washington, D.C., and lobbied federal lawmakers to renew the contract. Federal officials succumbed to this pressure, and in April 2011, ICE renewed its contract with Etowah, to hold up to 325 immigrants there.
Now this report isn't from some bunch of Commie loving Democrats that nobody will ever hear from again - this is an International Group that routinely talks about some of the worst things that happens to Women Worldwide. I know that doesn't carry much water for the Republicans in the Alabama State Legislature, those Legislators hatred of civil rights for non-white folks is well know, but for the rest of the Word reports like this aren't so good.

But as they say it gets worse:
Due to the remote location of the facility, detainees do not have access to free or low-cost attorneys who can guide them through the complex requirements they must meet in order to be released after six months. Moreover, detainees cannot even be removed directly from this facility because it is not near an international airport. Although the government is ostensibly in the process of trying to deport all of the detainees held there, each detainee will need to be transferred to another facility before actually being removed from the United States.

By holding detainees in Etowah, the U.S. government is creating a purgatory-type of situation for the detainees. Officials are not releasing them using alternatives to detention programs, but they can’t effectuate their removal either. The detainees are languishing in a legal no-man’s land at taxpayer expense. The U.S. government seems to be explicitly using Etowah as a facility to hold immigrants it knows it will not be able to remove quickly, if at all, from the United States and with the full knowledge and expectation they will eventually be released, to be reunified with family here in the U.S.
So, what's the take home here? Certainly Alabama likes undocumenteds when they are in prison and profitable but when they are out minding their own business and making a living - well they ain't so welcome. I'm surprised some enterprising Republican hasn't come up with the idea of forcing these poor undocumented folks in Etowah County's Detention Center to do farm labor for free in a "work release" program. Now that really would be the best of both worlds for the Republican Legislators - a new form of legal slavery and as a side benefit they could even talk about their "darkies" once again!

Note: this was cross posted on the blog Left in Alabama.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The sin of inhospitality & Alabama's new anti-immigrant law.

When I grew up in Alabama I was taught about the sin of inhospitality and remember discussing Matthew 25, this section seems especially relevant:
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Somebody please tell me that at least 1 Democrat had the huevos to stand up in the Alabama State Legislature and read at least part of that to the devils before they passed this bill! From my reading of the Bible those that voted for this hateful, mean spirited law have much to explain one of these days. I cannot ignore this statement from Jesus:
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
If those beautiful Hispanic children don't fit into the category of "the least of these" nothing ever will.

To further point out the gravity of their act please consider Matthew 18:
5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

8Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
I am sick over this. May the families that flee Alabama move to a better, kinder place. With their children they bring hope to where ever they go. May they do as Mark 6:11 suggests and "shake off the dust under" their feet as they cross the State Line to leave the evil that attacked them in Alabama. Let Alabama stew in its own hate - it has sealed its own fate.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

All I wanted to hear from Obama tonight

LBJ knew the game was up - sad that Obama can't see it too -

Save the part at the end about North Vietnam Obama could make exactly the same speech today.

What glorious words:
"I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President"
Now if Obama would just say them! Finally Obama would bring hope to the masses!

Monday, August 22, 2011

OFA Watch - A page out of their training manual at ThePeoplesView.Net

Ever since Obama For America's (OFA's) New Mexico Director Ray Sandoval email bomblet hit the press I have been curious about the blog where he got the explosive material that fueled the explosion. Its name is "The Peoples's View".

My first impressions of that blog convinced me it would make folks at Daily Kos blush. There is NO admission or even suggestion that Obama was anything other than simple perfection and those that criticized him in the Democratic Party were "Lefty Firebaggers" and quite frankly nuts. Since then I have checked on the blog to see how things were cooking and find it simultaneously fascinating & depressing - a perfect example of people convinced they alone know the truth while living in a intellectual bubble of their own making. If you haven't spent some time looking at "The Peoples View" you may find it interesting - certainly for me encountering a place where the participants completely and totally embraced Obama's every thought and utterance without question or hesitation was stunning. This is "tribalism" to the finest degree. On "The Peoples View" Party loyalty clearly trumps Policy.

A new post appeared on the site Sunday called A Left Wing Hierarchy and it's amazing! It reads like a page out of OFA's training manual. It seeks to categorize us lefties and provide the loyal troops with some guidance about how to sort one type from the other and how to deal with each. It ultimately ends each discussion about a particular type with a coldly clinical statement about the prospects of getting specimens of that type to support/vote for Obama so the supporter can make cost/benefit decisions on the fly. Ultimately the post ends with a discussion about dealing with difficult individuals and how the "internecine bickering" has to end and that we are coming to a time "when we will be asked to start working in earnest for the President’s re-election".

Since I really believe this post reveals much about the OFA mindset it needs to be preserved so I quote it in its entirety:
A Left Wing Hierarchy
Posted by Tien at 9:33 AM

My focus in politics is electoral, not ideological or issue related. The time I devote to politics focuses on elections, voter education and messaging. Since President Obama first started campaigning for the office, volumes have been written about the people who oppose him from the Left. What is rarely explored is what chance, if any, is there to ‘change the minds’ of his Left Wing non-supporters about anything concerning politics. What are the best ways to cope with these people in an electoral environment? I’ve developed a rating system for the categories of non-supporters that I have thus far identified. With this rating system I hope to help people, either online or in the real world, interact with or at the very least emotionally cope with different levels of opposition.

The Narcissist

In brief the Narcissist suffers from a pathological need for attention; hypersensitivity to insults and criticism; an over-inflated sense of self-importance; unrealistic expectations and a preoccupation with success and power. It’s been fairly well established which particular ‘activists’ who claim the Far Left as their territory fit this description. These people live for the fight. Everything they do and say with regard to politics is about opposition. The more driven among them have developed strategies for making money from this opposition. These people have no allegiance to either Party. Their allegiance is to themselves and feeding the never-ending necessity for attention and staying relevant. They go wherever there is an opening. Their belief system is composed entirely of being against whatever “The President” believes in.

* Prospect for convincing them to support the current President: Non-existent.
* Strategy for coping with their behavior: Never make it personal. Always focus on what they do, not what they say or who they are.

The best way to undermine Narcissists is to ignore them and deprive them of the attention they crave. However, I’ve come to realize that very few people are actually capable of employing the tactic of responding in this fashion. The Narcissist counts on people ‘reacting’ to everything they say, and most people, particularly online, oblige them. That gives the Narcissist unearned power, but there it is. Trying to change their minds is an exercise in futility. Trying to correct their willful ignorance and misinformation campaigns is at best like skeet shooting. Sport. Calling them names only makes them dig in more and play the victim as performance art for their supporters. Focusing on what they do IS effective. And by effective, I mean undermining their ability to con their followers. Showing how a Narcissist uses his or her money, or fails to provide health benefits to their employees or gives support to the Republicans in some fashion builds a body of evidence that creates a credibility gap that can be used over and over to peel away their followers.

If for some reason, as an author or commenter, one feels compelled to respond to some printed or video misinformation in places other than where that information originated, do so without mentioning the source. Focus on the misinformation, not the personality of the individual who circulated the misinformation. By not crediting the source directly, it bleeds power (and links) away from it. Start your sentence this way: “I read (heard) some misinformation on a blog (TV or radio show) today that needs addressing.” Go straight to correcting the incorrect information and leave the personalities out of the message.

For those brave souls who believe it’s worthwhile to comment on the actual blogs where the misinformation and/or rumor was invented, do so politely and reasonably, bearing in mind that is how the President we’re defending would do it. Simply state the correct information and move on. Resist the temptation to defend the information. Defending is a losing strategy. Present accuracy for its own sake. The goal is educating the audience of the Narcissist, not the Narcissist.

The Anarchist

Anarchists and Narcissists have a symbiotic relationship. They both thrive on opposition and many of the Narcissist’s followers hail from the ranks the modern American Anarchists. The very nature of anarchy pretty much makes defining them impossible because there are almost as many variations of anarchy belief systems as there are people who subscribe to them. In general they fall into a few sub-groups who can be generalized as wanting to either seriously limit government or do away with government entirely. Anti-capitalism (anti-corporatist) seems to be more appealing to the Left; where profit motivated privatization characterizes the Right.

A friend once told me that Republicans don’t trust government and Democrats don’t trust corporations. I frequently encounter people spouting anti-corporation rhetoric in my neck of the woods. Bandying about words like corporatist and fascist is as common and accepted as talking about the weather. For this crowd corporations are governments and possess power that now exceed governments. Their opposition to our President, any President really, stems from the perception that the American government exists to protect corporations and to that end readily override the will of the people. If President Obama isn’t seen as actively working to disrupt corporations, then he is complicit in all that corporations do. He then is dismissed as being a corporatist and deserving of their lack of support.

* Prospect for convincing them to support the current President: Online: None. In the Real World: Marginal.
* Strategy for coping with their behavior: Engaging the Anarchist online can only result in defensive posturing. In the Real World what matters most is the ability to gauge the level of commitment to the anti-government stance. Theoretically the true anarchist is so against government that supporting any office holder is out of the question. Very few people, even the youthful vandals are that extreme. Even still, the amount of energy required to move someone who is hard-core anti-government into the supporter camp isn’t a wise investment. That energy can be better spent with swing voters. A time-saving tip: find out if the anti-government individual you’re trying to engage is even registered to vote. If not, move on.

The Elitist

At the core of an elitist’s mindset is ego. Self-described intellectuals for the most part who believe their evaluation of politics is superior to that of others around them. Elitists tend to concern themselves more with policy than electoral politics. I’m not as willing as some to write these people off because in more cases than a few, people who behave in an elitist fashion are often engaged in actual policy making. More than once I’ve seen, in the real world any way, that at times they are right. Their presentation lacks grace and can be characterized as condescending, which is off-putting to most people who don’t hail from their ranks. Unfortunately these people and people who pretend to be their peers frequently devolve into antagonistic adolescents once their fingers come into contact with a keyboard and a connection to the Internet. There is a strong parallel with computer geeks who look down on people who aren’t as good as they are with computers and code, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. They just lack social skills. Elitists tend to lack actual political skills. It is the ego and condescension that prevents them from identifying, and therefore communicating effectively, with regular people.

* Prospect for convincing them to support the current President: Online: Remote but not impossible; In the Real World: Achievable.
* Strategy for coping with their behavior: Basically the only effective way to engage an Elitist is to swallow your own ego and ‘become’ their student. This can’t be done in one encounter. Online an Elitist has a reputation to protect, so any challenge to their authority will be smacked down with malice. However the person who is willing to swallow any antipathy they might feel toward the Elitist’s arrogance can gain a foothold into their thought process by asking innocent questions. “I’ve been reading your comments about this topic. Could you please help me understand [insert specific] better?” When the Elitist elaborates, ask for specific examples (not proof). In time, once the Elitist thinks you’re listening, they relax their need to aggressively protect their stance. This is tricky to do in a comment section because other people can interject with insults and such, but with consistency and respect, things will improve. Once he or she relaxes, then you can gently offer your own examples of how you view the topic. Do so with NO expectation of success, but only the hope of guiding the conversation toward a softening of the Elitist’s stance. Keep the President out of the conversation; stay focused on the issue rather than the personalities and there is guarded hope that a softened Elitist might at some point be open to pulling the lever for the President. Of equal value is the idea that the Elitist will pull the lever for Democrats on the down ballot.

The Reactionary

These are the foot soldiers in the realm of Presidential opposition. Their opposition is a little softer than their rhetoric suggests because they have something entirely different at stake when they spout anti-Obama talking points. While the Narcissist has their entire personhood (and often livelihood) at stake, the Reactionary has at risk their place in the ‘society’ that is created for them by the actors higher up the food chain. It is the Narcissist, the Anarchist and the Elitist who create the blogs and generate the talking points upon which the Reactionary depends to help them fit in. Politics and Religion have an emotional context that rules the behavior and belief systems of pretty much everyone on the planet. The Reactionary has a heightened response to the deliberate emotional appeals from people trained to manipulate them. So far I’ve identified two specific triggers that make Reactionaries vulnerable to this handling: feelings of social inadequacy and the need for immediate gratification.

Reactionaries are not critical thinkers, but by the same token they’re also not the manipulators. They are followers, but followers with an agenda none-the-less. That agenda is fitting in with both the online and real world. Politics, like religion, is a topic that very few people study, so the door is wide open for anyone who sounds like they know what their talking about in any given conversation. Someone who can quote Bible verses sounds more authoritative than others who can’t. Talking points are the political equivalent of Bible verse. If they can be quoted verbatim from the source, then they become truth. The person who can quote them becomes an authority within their own circles. Whether it is the artificial social circle of an online blog or a real social circle, the Reactionary depends on easily repeated content to stay current and sound like they know what they are talking about. This is in part why they defend those above them in the hierarchy with such venom: to protect their source.

Within the world of politics Reactionaries are not results-oriented people. They are dependent upon their source for their fix that helps reinforce their constructed belief system. This is as true with the Left as it is with the Right. The biggest perceived danger to a Reactionary is someone who actually knows more about politics than they do.

* Prospect for convincing them to support the current President: Online: Remote but not impossible; In the Real World: Achievable.
* Strategy for coping with their behavior: Learn the talking points that they subscribe to. Generally if the action is sure to be politically disastrous to the President, then it is something that has been promoted by the ‘pundit’ class that Reactionaries use for reference. When you hear or read these talking points being repeated in conversation or online, then you know that you’re dealing with a Reactionary. Do not challenge their beliefs in public. It embarrasses them and makes them feel like they’ve been downgraded socially, which causes them to dig in more resolutely. These are the people who benefit from the use of the pivot. Once the stash of talking points is exhausted, they have nothing beyond irrationally defending these talking points. In a social gathering or a comment section, it is the audience who matters most. Guiding the conversation to more results oriented context helps give everyone, even the Reactionary, a chance to hear a different viewpoint in a non-combative environment. Down ticket support for Democrats in general isn’t as frowned upon by Reactionaries, so is to be encouraged in the absence of willingness to vote for the President.

Making the Shift

It’s been my experience that people who subscribe to the Left Wing anti-Obama talking points aren’t as likely to suffer from cognitive dissonance when they hear a rationally well-presented option to their belief. My personal observation is that this stems from the lack of religious ideology within liberal circles. Liberal belief systems tend not to be faith-based and are therefore more flexible.

The true key to helping people soften their attitude regarding the President is respect. There is precious little of it online, but we are in a position to change that, and we have no better role model than the very President we support. Anyone who works with voters on a regular basis will happily remind us all, that people in the online communities that follow politics are potential voters. As someone who has knocked on some doors and spoken directly with voters in person, I can tell you that the only way to promote the President is by making ourselves people who show everyone respect, especially those who disagree with us. We need to ask ourselves this: if we knock on a stranger’s door would we call that person to their face a moron, or make a barnyard reference to their sexuality if that stranger told us they didn’t support the President? If we won’t disregard the feelings of a total stranger in real life, why do we do it online? Why are we willing to create the impression that people who support the President don’t listen, are rude, mean, treat people poorly, etc.? That kind of behavior alienates people and keeps them from giving support to the one person for whom we want to secure a vote.

At some point this internecine bickering has got to stop. They won’t stop it, so we must. We’re coming up the time when we will be asked to start working in earnest for the President’s re-election. Now is the time for us to begin the practice of treating our fellow voters how we ourselves wish to be treated.

This post says as much about the writer and the blog it appears on as anything else. The most glaring thing is that its author simply refuses to admit that our concerns about Obama are legitimate in any form or fashion. Even our simplest and most humble protestation appears to have fallen on deaf ears. "We" are either a "Narcissist", an "Anarchist", an "Elitist" or a "Reactionary" and once you have that classification in hand you simply follow the contained instructions and there you have it. "Our" concerns about Obama administration attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Middle Class are not real - just part of the pathology of whichever mental disease we are afflicted with.

As I read the post I am troubled by the recurring thought that this actually does reflect OFA's attitude about "us", that this is the bubble OFA lives in. I am also struck by the surreal mindset revealed by the post. It's as if they can flip a switch, approach people in the right way and some component of the "lefty firebagger" world will magically be converted back into Obama supporters. They simply do not understand how unlikely this is. They cannot see that Obama's reelection campaign is already over. He has already lost. Too much water has flowed under the bridge for everyone to kiss and make up. It's only a matter of which Republican will be the next President.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Proud member of the Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere!

Thanks to Ray Sandoval, Organizing for America's New Mexico director for heading off the deep end and finally giving us a label we can wear proudly. Things have gotten fairly amusing since his email hit Huffington Post last Wednesday containing some quips from The Peoples View. There is no need to recap the tedious series of events or even the content of his email - it can be found in the Huff Po post with more amplifying tidbits here and here. The entertainment continued over at the Daily Kos and with Keith Oberman when he named Sandavol on his nightly Worst Person in the World segment as the bronze metal winner for the day.

So, Mr Sandoval just doesn't like us at all - well I'm crushed! But what fascinates me is what this says about the Obama Campaign not the rants of a Campaign functionary.

Look, we know the Obamatrons hates us so no news there but the intensity of the attack is fascinating. Does this suggest that we are getting to them? Perhaps so but for Sandavol to be quoting from "The People's View", a blog that has long ago turned Obama into deity incapable of error and has proclaimed themselves his protector from those nasty progressives who question Obama's infallibility, is simply stunning.

It floors me that a State Director of OFA actually reads this stuff and doesn’t start crying or fall out of his chair laughing. If that blog reflects the mindset of the Obama Campaign it explains much. Certainly they live in the same sort of alternative reality as the Tea Party folks however they believe in the deity of Obama. It would make a great mini-series for the Dr Who show but frankly no one would believe that Politicians could be so deluded. It really suggests the bunker mentality that the Obama Campaign exists in. Does "The People's View" represent the real thinking of Obama and his Campaign? If so the prospects for his reelection are worse than even I thought.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cenk gets it while Fareed does not

I often watch Fareed Zakaria and his show Global Public Square on CNN. Usually he is the essence of reason. a man of good sense. However he has a blind spot about Obama and in the clip below Cenk from The Young Turks calls him out on it.

Please Fareed don't blow your brand over Obama, he simply ain't worth it. Don't trust DC logic on this issue. Once you leave the Beltway's mindset you will see that Obama did and does negotiate bad deals with the Republicans and that searching for a centrist position and capitulation are not the same thing. To get to the "middle" both sides have to strongly advocate for their positions then compromise, not one side hold firm and the other fold at the onset of negotiations as always happens in Obama's dealings with Republicans.