Take a closer look: Sanders is no dove

Bernie is no dove. While his vote against the 2003 invasion of Iraq is held up as “proof” of bernie the bomber2his “judgment” and his anti-war credibility, his record is far more mixed.

Iraq: He did support the March 21, 2003, resolution stating, “Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the nation to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.” As Ron Jacobs wrote about a week later, “…when history looks back on Bernie’s vote for this resolution, they will see that he cast his lot with the GOP hawks, and not the Democrats and others who voted against the bill…”

Prior to that, Sanders voted twice in favor of invading Iraq. In 1998, he voted to remove Hussein from power and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime. Later that same year, Sanders also backed a resolution that gave the green light to Operation Desert Fox, a four-day long bombing campaign striking 100 targets with more than 300 bombing sorties and 350 ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. When Sanders has been confronted about these votes, he has casually dismissed them as being “almost unanimous.” In fact, 38 members of Congress voted “no” – Bernie was not among them.

Clinton has admitted that her Iraq war vote was a mistake. Bernie, however, has never apologized for his two votes endorsing the overthrow of Saddam.

In 2015, Bernie came out in favor of airstrikes against ISIS.

Sanders supports arming the Kurdish forces in Iraq.

Afghanistan: Sanders supported the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan; supported keeping our troops in Afghanistan.

Drones: Sanders intends to retain Obama’s drone program if elected.

Syria: Sanders supports an expanded US role in the Syrian civil war.

Kosovo: Sanders supported the 1999 bombing, a stance which caused one of his staffers to resign in protest and ask a set of rhetorical questions, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support? Where does that limit lie? And when that limit has been reached, what action will you take? My answers led to my resignation.” When antiwar activists occupied Sanders’ office over it, he had them arrested. The following week Sanders held a town hall meeting, during Q&A, Sanders yelled at two of the audience’s most vocal opponents to his position and told them to leave if they didn’t like what he had to say.” Critics from Vermont occupied Sanders’ Burlington office in protest, even dubbing him “Bernie the Bomber” in local newspaper columns.

Lebanon: In 2006, Sanders voted for House Resolution 921, which gave full support to Israel’s murderous war on Lebanon.

Libya:  In 2011, Sanders co-sponsored a Senate resolution calling for regime change.

Israel: In 2014, Sanders didn’t object to having his name included — by unanimous consent — in S.498, which backed Israel’s brutal, summer-long military assault against Gaza.

Somalia: In 1993, Sanders voted in favor of S J Res 45 “Authorization for Use of US Armed Forces in Somalia.”

Following the 9/11 attacks, Sanders voted in favor of H J Res 64 “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” which allowed President Bush to use military violence against anyone involved with 9/11 and any nation that harbors these individuals.

Military waste: Sanders has championed the $1.2 trillion F-35 fighter that’s considered to be one of the bigger boondoggles in Pentagon history. He persuaded Lockheed Martin to place a research center in Burlington, VT, according to Newsweek, and managed to get 18 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets stationed at the city’s airport for the Vermont National Guard.

In 1985, protesters massed at the General Electric plant in Burlington, VT, to object to the plant’s manufacturing of machine guns to fight socialists in Central America. Mayor Sanders had them arrested.

In 1995, he voted against a measure which would have prohibited local police acquisition of military hardware like tanks and armored vehicles.

The point is not whether these votes were right or wrong, but whether this voting record indicates Sanders is the anti-war hero his campaign wants us to see him as. Be aware.

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No, wearing blackface is not OK

Here’s the short of it:  Wearing blackface is not OK.  Don’blackface2t do it.

Here, if you need it, is the long of it:

It hurts people.  When you wear blackface, you are mocking and dehumanizing other people. You are dismissing their feelings as unimportant. In a none-too-subtle way, you are rewriting history so that the only things that are wrong are the things you say are wrong, and that’s one of the ways we perpetuate bigotry in people and racism in our culture.

It has an ugly origin and history.  Blackface is part of our nation’s history of making black people seem less than human.  Making black people seem less than human was – and still is – a big part of how we morally and legally justified – and still justify – denying them full citizenship, enslaving them, beating them, whipping them, raping them, buying and selling them, segregating them, fearing them, hating them, lynching them, denying them the right and ability to vote, denying them health care, denying them adequate education, denying them job opportunities, imprisoning them en masse, and shooting them in cold blood.

Blackface and systematic repression are so closely linked that the term “Jim Crow” — the system of rigid anti-black laws in force between the end of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement — is derived from an 1832 blackface minstrel song.

It’s not funny.   Claiming that it’s all in fun, it’s a prank, it’s “just a youthful indiscretion” of people who don’t know better, or that it’s part of your creative license* does not make it acceptable.  And if humor is your aim, you should know that mocking, dehumanizing and insulting people in a way that perpetuates part of our ugly past just isn’t funny.  (*It is impossible to be ironic while being racist, so the irony is lost.)

If you think it is funny, ask yourself “why?”  Why do I think it’s funny to do something that hurts others?  Why do I think it is funny to traffic in stereotypes that support personal and institutional violence, racism and hundreds of years of gross injustice?  Why do I derive pleasure from this?  Am I that much of a jerk?

Your intentions are irrelevant.  “But I’m not a racist,” you say, “so it’s OK.”   Not “feeling” racist when you’re wearing blackface does not change the way it makes other people (of all races) feel, the way it reinforces stereotypes, or the way it perpetuates the degrading idea that it’s OK to mock black people for being black.

Thanks to social media, the effects of your wearing blackface are not limited to the people who are in physical proximity to you. The whole world gets the message you’re sending.

So, if you don’t mean it “in a racist way,” ask yourself:  What do I mean by it?   Am I hurting others with it?  Do I care?  That the symbolism of blackface is incendiary, insensitive and racist is an incontrovertible fact.  If I don’t care, am I that big of an ass?

“Oh, quit being so sensitive.”  No, you quit being so privileged.  You don’t get to decide what wounds others. You don’t get to dictate how painful a stereotype is or should be.

The mostly unrecognized half of racism is called white privilege, and when you set yourself up as the final arbiter of what can and cannot hurt non-white people, you’re exercising that privilege.  When you feel free to disparage, to demonize, to ridicule, and to engage in racially hurtful practices, you’re exercising that privilege. When you assert the ability to blame others for being overly sensitive, for “playing the race card,” or for making a the proverbial mountain of a molehill, you are engaging in the white privilege that has long been codified in our culture, our law and our institutions.

White people deciding that objecting to blackface – with its origin in, echo of, and perpetuation of one of our most vile national sins – is being “overly sensitive” is as absurd as it is ugly.

Political correctness.  Pointing out racism is not an attempt to limit your political speech, shield others from criticism, or make you feel bad.  It’s done to better our society and ourselves.  If using good manners and avoiding doing and saying things that we know hurt other people is too much of a constraint on your political expression, you’d do well to re-examine your politics.

Halloween isn’t an excuse t0 reveal your inner bigot.  Our society equates being white with “normal,” so non-white people are seen as foreign, weird, frightening, and beneath respect. In short, we still have a lot of bigotry built into our culture.

In addition to blackface, at Halloween, there’s “ghetto fab,” the terrorist in brown face and wearing a ghutra and iqal, the geisha with white powder and slanted eyes, the red-faced and feather-wearing Native American, the a Mexican mariachi suit or donkey costume, and more – each an affront to basic human decency and an expression of the ugliest part of our national soul done for the sake of cheap laughs and Facebook likes from our bigoted or ignorant friends.

And that’s not OK.

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Dear Donald Trump, define “English”


Donald Trump says Jeb Bush “…should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.”  Bush, talking to reporters about Trump’s polices, quipped “El hombre no es conservador,” which translates to, “This man is not a conservative.”

Well, Ol’ Donny’s kinda got me askert, cuz I ain’t sure what counts as English. English gits at least half of its common words from non-Anglo-Saxon stock, and I don’t want to give up half my vocabulary (it’s jes fair-ta-middlin anywho). ‘Sides, I don’t know which half I have to drop down the ol’ Wisconsin two-holer.

“Shampoo” comes from India, “chaparral” from the Basques, “ketchup” from China, “potato” from Haiti, “sofa” from Arabia, “boondocks” from the Tagalog language of the Philippines, “poppycock” from Dutch (it means “soft dung”), “chowder” from French and “bankrupt” from Italian. Even our beloved dollar derives its name from the name of a German silver mine, donchaknow hey.

We borrowed more than 500 words from the Spanish settlers of this hemisphere, many of which were adopted from Amerindian languages, and many of which were Mexican inventions. These, I presume, will all be outlawed, which is kinda weird, because Spanish was here before America was here. Spanish explorers and settlers have been here since the 16th Century, present in areas of 42 future states. It will get a little impractical, too, because the US has the second highest number of Spanish-speaking residents (roughly 51 million) in the world (second to Mexico).

If Donny won’t let us speak Spanish, does this mean I can’t order a taco at a rodeo, where I’m watching a macho buckaroo wearing chaps ride a mustang bronco in the corral?  Or how about relaxing in the breeze by an arroyo down in the canyon?  Bad enough that I won’t be able to say “Let’s go to the cafeteria and get a barbeque sandwich, but I won’t be able to warn you when either a mosquito or an alligator is about to bite you, or when a tornado is headed your way. We won’t be able to rumba in the plaza or tango on the patio.  Ay dios mio!

And what about words that we borrowed from other languages and have since been abandoned by their languages of origin? The French no longer use nom deplume, double entendre, panache, bon viveur or RSVP (repondez s’il vous plait). Does that mean these words are now ours? Finders keepers, losers weepers?

There will be a couple-two-tree places in need of re-naming.  Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah will all have to give up their Spanish names.

Then there are those nouns in need of new adjectival forms, because the forms now in use are not English: town and urban, sun and solar, water and aquatic, house and domestic, moon and lunar, mouth and oral, eyes and ocular, fingers and digital, and, of course, book and literary.

Some words aren’t English, but didn’t come to us from other languages. They’re accidents. We hear words wrong, then use them wrong. “Cater corner” was misheard so that it became “catty-corner,” and then made cute by “kitty-corner.” “Sparrow-grass” was misheard as “asparagus.” “Buttonhold” was misheard as “buttonhole.” English or not?

Pea, cherry, grovel, sidle, greed, beg and difficult are all accidents of bad grammar, created by false analogy or back-formation. Pease (as in “pease porridge hot”) and cherries were mistakenly thought to signify plurals, and we back-formed errant singular forms. Criminey.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are at least 350 words in English that owe their existence to typographical errors or other misrenderings. What about these accidents? Official language or not?

And when we say we want English to be the only language, whose English do we mean? British English or American English? Being older, isn’t the British version more “really” English? And if we go with American English, which version do we use? Is it a drinking fountain or a bubbler? Is it soda or is it pop? Is “regular” coffee white, as in Boston and New York, or black, as in everywhere else? Are you a “torist” on a “tore” as in California, or a “tourist” on a “tour” as in the other 49 states? Americans have 79 names for dragon flies, 130 for oak trees and 176 for the dust balls under the bed. (Of course, some words deserve to die, such as the medical term that begins “methianylglutaminyl” and finishes 1,913 letters later as “alynalalanylthreonilarginylserase.” She’s a humdinger, you betcha.)

And if we decide our official language is American English from Wisconsin (uff dah to dat), is it today’s language or our language from 50 years ago? Or 100? In the 1300s, “aweful” meant  inspiring wonder.  In the 1900s, “bimbo” meant an inconsequential man, in the 1920s it meant a woman of loose morals, and now it means a stupid woman. “Nice” comes from a Latin word meaning “ignorant,” but by the 14th Century the meaning changed to foolish or silly, evolved to wantonness, extravagance, cowardice and sloth, and then to simply shy. It didn’t take on a positive meaning until the 18th Century.

And what about tomorrow’s language? On average, we add 3,000 to 4,000 words per year to English, so it’ll be different then from what we speak today, aina-hey?

Believe you me, if there is one thing that is truly multicultural about our culture, one aspect of our lives that is a valid melting pot, it’s our language. And because language is not static, but a living, evolving, adapting organism, the melting continues today, as it will tomorrow and the day after.

Perhaps the politicians can save us. Maybe they could set up a vigilante to make sure our language stays nice and vanilla.  Oops, vigilante and vanilla are Spanish words.  Sorry. Perhaps they could form a caucus and come up with a slogan to help us know which words to use and which to avoid. Of course, they couldn’t tell us about it, because “caucus” is an Algonquin Indian word and “slogan” is Gaelic. And that just wouldn’t be English.

So, Don, maybe you could help us out, so’s we know what we can and can’t say:  Please, define “English” for us.

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Was there a contest to see who could cram the most old and moldy lies into a single Facebook post?

This painfully stupid viral email from 14 years 10639661_10203070249861837_6660267097677000014_nago is now gaining a lot of traction on Facebook as a post by a dentist named Howard Farran.  It draws cheers from people who apparently skipped out of high school civics class.  If the authors had remained even half awake in school, they’d know what a pile of manure this really is.  Below, you’ll find a list of “reforms,” each followed by the facts that reveal how uninformed the “reform” is.  Can we finally just kill this garbage and be done with it?

Warren Buffett, “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

The above paragraph is, indeed, something Buffett said.  The rest of this silly meme has nothing to do with Warren Buffet.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

Three months and eight days to ratify the 26th Amendment — my how short a time!  Or not.

First, if you’re going to create a false impression to support your assertion, at least get correct the facts that are easy to Google .  You said seven amendments to the constitution took a year or less to gain ratification. Wrong.  Nine amendments took under a year: 11 (340 days), 12 (189), 13 (309), 15 (342), 17 (330), 20 (327), 21 (288), 23 (285), 26 (100).

Second, you’re using the short ratification time to make your readers think amending the US Constitution can be quick and easy because “the people demanded it!” Creating a false impression –as you do here– is just a kinder way of saying “lying.”  Prior to the states being asked to ratify the 26th amendment, there was a legislative effort that spanned 29 years. I’ll pause while you read that again — 29 years!

Rep. Jennings Randolph (D-WV) introduced the first federal legislation to lower the voting age in 1942 — and he would introduce it 11 more times.  In 1969, there were 60 resolutions introduced in Congress to lower the voting age, but none passed.

The three-decades-long debate over lowering the voting age began during World War II.  “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became the slogan, and in 1943 Georgia became the first state to lower its voting age to 18 for state and local elections.  

Also, claiming that short ratification times reveal great public support not only overlooks the long legislative history of some amendments, it lies about public support for others.  The 11th (340 days) limits Supreme Court jurisdiction, the 12th (189 days) reworks the presidential selection process, the 20th (327 days) which sets the dates for the beginning of congressional and presidential terms, the 23rd (285 days) which grants Washington D.C. electoral votes — are you really telling us “the people demanded” these amendments? I doubt “the people” even heard about and understood them, much less demanded them. And you do realize, that “the people” don’t vote on amendments, state legislatures do — right?

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

No, Buffett isn’t.   Buffett didn’t write this. More importantly, every single “reform” listed is based on something far removed from the truth.  That is to say, it’s a list of lies, overt and implied.  The “reforms” are so divorced from reality that we might as well have said “Let’s pass a law that all members of Congress must stop riding unicorns while wearing pink tutus and singing ‘I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK’ at the top of their lungs.”

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

  1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

There is no such thing as “tenure” in Congress. And denying members of Congress pensions when they retire only makes it far more likely that only the independently wealthy will run for office — because regular folks cannot absorb that loss to their future income. Do we really want more millionaires in Congress? No thanks.

  1. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

Members of Congress DO pay into Social Security just like the rest of us — have been for more than a quarter-century!  If you were a member of Congress who retired before the law changed in 1984, you had the option of staying on the old CSRS — and the youngest you could be now is 92, since you had to be 62 to retire and the law changed 30 years ago. Gotta wonder how many — if any — former members of Congress are still alive and 92 or older. Gotta wonder, too, what you think you’d be achieving by forcing a handful (at most) of guys in their 90s to switch to Social Security.

  1. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

Members of Congress already DO contribute to their pension funds, “just like the rest of us.”

Before we go too far into this nonsense, let’s ask, “What do you mean by ‘the rest of us’?”  Few Americans buy retirement plans entirely out of their own pockets. In fact, just under half of all Americans worked in 2009 for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan. Among those who worked full time for the entire year, 54% actually participated in an employer-sponsored plan. About 12% are self-employed, and so may be in a position to buy a retirement plan for themselves. But 27% had incomes of under $10,000 that year, too little to be putting much if anything away for retirement.

4,  Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

Congress does NOT vote itself pay raises. Pay is set by law through a complex set of calculations — has been for many years — and they can only vote to DENY themselves raises, which they have done about half the time since the law took effect many years ago.

During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service, but the majority of Founding Fathers decided otherwise.

  1. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

Which “system”? Most Americans are covered either by employer-sponsored health insurance or by various government-sponsored programs, such as Medicare for those age 65 and over or Medicaid for lower-income persons.

Members of Congress are covered by private insurance under the same system that covers all 8 million federal workers. It’s not free, and it’s not a “single-payer” system where the government acts as the one and only health insurance company. (And, no, Congress is not “exempt” from Obamacare.)

As President Bush’s chief of personnel Kay Coles James said in 2003, while lecturing at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “the FEHB program is not centralized, government-run health care.” It has drawn praise both from conservatives and liberals, including President Obama, who held it up as a model for his own health care proposals.

  1. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

Congress ALREADY is mandated to follow all laws, just like the rest of us — with one exception that was created by the Founders in Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution. This section of the Constitution exists to protect the separation of powers and ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its own authority to influence votes in Congress.  (The authors of the Constitution didn’t want any president to try what King Charles I of England had done in 1642 — sending troops to arrest his critics in Parliament.)  Please note that this does not exempt members of Congress from prosecution for commission of a crime. Furthermore, it does not apply when Congress is not in session. Otherwise, the laws of our nation and state and local governments are equally applicable to members of Congress as all other Americans.

  1. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their terms), then go home and back to work.

This “reform” is utter nonsense because it does not refer to anything in real life. The only contracts Congress (the Senate, specifically) deals with on behalf of the American people are called “treaties,” and it takes a two-thirds majority to ratify a treaty. (See Article 2 Section 2 of the US Constitution) The babble about citizen legislators is also entirely without meaning — either in regard to real life or in regard to treaties.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.

No, this is NOT how you fix Congress. This silly list of ignorant errors has been floating around the Internet for more than 14 years now. It’s as goofy now as it was then.

By the way, if you visit Howard Farran’s Facebook page, you will see that he’s never posted anything even remotely like this.

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Muslims in America, the inconvenient truth

muslimPaul Revere is alive! He rides the airwaves, newsprint and Internet this time, awakening us to a new danger invading our homeland, a new enemy coming to destroy our nation:  Muslims!  The trouble is, our modern would-be midnight riders are terribly, miserably, ridiculously wrong.

They’re coming to conquer us!

“In Islam, a mosque means ‘We have conquered this country,'” one man told CNN affiliate WTVF. “And where are they? They’re in the center of Tennessee. They’re going to say, ‘We have conquered Tennessee.'”

Never mind: “Islam” is a religion, not a language.  Never mind:  In Arabic, the language in which the Koran was written, “mosque” means “a place of prostration” (a submissive position before God, usually for prayer), not “we have conquered this country.”

They’re coming to conquer us!

In the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer. They are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

They’re coming but — uh…. they’re really… slow?

“The Islamic center has been here since the early ’80s, 12 years in this location. There’s nothing different now except it’s going to be a little bigger.”

Oh. Never mind.

They’re coming and they’re evil and wicked and attacking us!

“…Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.”

Never mind: In 2007, President Bush said Islam is a great religion that preaches peace and prays to the same God of other faiths.

Ahead of hosting an iftar celebration at the White House, President Bush said the Islamic religion “is a great religion that preaches peace,” and that Americans are free “to worship any way they see fit….” stating his own belief that the global community, regardless of individual faiths, “prays to the same God.”

They’re coming with Nukes!

…the U.S. is peppered with compounds at which Islam fundamentalists are training terrorists for jihad. …Islamic extremists are hoarding nuclear materials with plans to simultaneously attack at least seven major American cities in what would result in a stateside Hiroshima.

…Islamic terrorist groups have at least 500 underground bunkers and caches of weapons. I thought there were only 14 jihad training compounds throughout the States. Now I know there are more than 40…. There could be as many as 200…

They’re coming and they’re scary black guys with big muscles and scary costumes!

… robust and muscular African-Americans in full Islamic garb…

They’re coming and they’re the #1 problem facing America!

Americans need to seriously consider how Islam and its supremacy dogmatic philosophy is to be handled least we revert into 7th Century Old World barbarism. A good first step would be to think about Islam as a political and social system first and foremost, that is exactly opposite from our own social and political values, and one whose advance needs to be stopped. Considering the birth-rate of American infidels, to give total freedom of Islam to grow here in America is the same as generating our own death-wish, demise, and all the values we hold dear.

They’re coming and they’ve got the Devil on their side!

“These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it’s motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with.  The goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, is world domination”

They’re coming and the president and his buddies are helping them destroy America!

We can see, in the concrete, the left’s coalition with the Islamic Supremacists and how it is undermining American sovereignty and our national self interest — as is meticulously documented in my book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America. It’s hard for Americans to understand how to fight a shadowy enemy you can’t see.

… a Machiavellian backroom power grab and the takedown of American sovereignty ….

They’re coming to kill us!

…there need be a line drawn somewhere in kissing moslem ass.

The line is here.

They wish to kill us, all of us. Or enslave or convert.

They’re coming and they’re really violent!

Two years ago, several men broke into the Islamic Center of Columbia, about 30 miles southwest of Murfreesboro, and torched it with molotov cocktails, stealing a stereo system and painting swastikas and “White Power” on the front of the building.

Oh… wait.  That was somebody else.  (ahem) Never mind.

They’re coming and they’re really scary people!

Islam is a political system of global domination… 30%… ARE terrorists…. There’s 35 training camps across the United States of America….  We know we’ve got a huge terrorist network here in Tennessee.  The Nashville Islamic Center appears to be the mother ship…

They’re coming and it’s a holy war!

Parsley says there is a war and he wants bigger war, as America can only “fulfill its divine purpose” by seeing to it that Islam, “this false religion, is destroyed.” Though he spells out no specific strategy, he writes things like, “We find now we have no choice. The time has come” to destroy “this anti-Christ religion,” inspired by demons who spoke to Allah.

They’re coming and we’d better stop them!

…be afraid, be very afraid and maybe we all can stop the American Jihad before another attack happens from the practitioners of the ‘Religion of Peace’.

They’re coming and they’re self-contradictory (both commie and fascist?)!

“If we don’t stop covering up what Islam is … Islam is a violent — I was going to say religion, but it’s not a religion, it’s a political system, it’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination,” Robertson said. “You’re dealing with not a religion, you’re dealing with a political system, and I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such as we would members of the communist party, members of some fascist group.”

They’re coming and they’ve declared war on us!

You have join forces with the other side…again and that side is bent on destroying our republican form of government replacing it with a theocracy and your helping the Jihadists accomplish their goals. That once again makes you one seditious progressive bastard without a thought of true patriotic duty.

You fail to see that Islam establishes Sharia Law as it’s judicial system which establishes Islam as the official state religion, that my seditious progressive foe goes against our First Amendment establishment clause and that makes Islam unconstitutional….

Your failure to recognize this makes you worse than an ‘idiot’, it makes you an Islamic Appeaser and traitor since Islam has declared WAR on the U.S. and other non-submitting nations….

Oh dear me, such terrible trouble we’re in!  The Others are coming!  The Others are coming!  The strange, foreign anti-you-and-me Others are coming!  Or not.

Here are a few inconvenient facts that destroy this know-nothing narrative:

Fact: Muslims “invaded” what is now the USA about 250 years before there was a USA.

Fact: The first of three “Americans” to cross the continent in the early 1500s was a Muslim.

Fact: American Muslim history is longer than most might think, extending back to the day that the first slave ship landed on Virginia’s coast in 1619.

Fact: The very first country to recognize the newly formed USA as a sovereign nation was an Islamic nation.

Fact: The longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history — 223 years — is with an Islamic nation.

Fact: The oldest U.S. diplomatic property is in an Islamic nation.

Fact: The only building on foreign soil that is now a US National Historic Landmark is in an Islamic nation.

Fact: At least two states — Arizona and New Mexico — owe their beginnings to a Muslim.

Fact: Thousands of Muslims were among the slaves in the American colonies, one of whom was Broteer (renamed Venture by his owner) who escaped with an Irish indentured servant named Heddy, but was recaptured when he turned Heddy in for stealing food (the theft violated Venture’s moral standards).  The Muslim colonial slave best known to modern Americans is Kunta Kinte. He fought to hold on to his Islamic heritage, scratching Arabic phrases in the dirt and praying daily.

Fact: Muslims fought in the American Revolutionary War, rising to the ranks of officers and gaining notice for their heroic participation.  They also fought in every American war since, from the War of 1812 to the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.  In fact, you’ll find the graves of fallen Muslim soldiers and Muslim veterans in military cemeteries across the country.

Fact: In 1776, John Adams published “Thoughts on Government,” in which he praises the Islamic prophet Mahomet (Mohammed) as a “sober inquirer after truth.”

Fact: In 1788, in the North Carolina ratifying convention, those opposed the new US Constitution stated their fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president was a reason for their anti-Constitution position.

Fact: In 1785, George Washington stated a willingness to hire “Mahometans,” as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were “good workmen.”

Fact: In 1796, President John Adams signed a treaty declaring the United States had no “character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen”

Fact: In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he “did not disapprove” of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Fact: While president, Jefferson participated in an iftar with the Muslim ambassador of Tunisia in 1809.

Fact: In his autobiography, Jefferson also wrote:

Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and MAHOMETAN, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.” (emphasis added)

Fact: The new United States signed peace treaties with Algeria in 1795, Tripoli in 1796, Tunis in 1797, and Muscat (Oman) in 1833 — all Islamic nations.

Fact: The Treaty of Tripole of 1797 reads, part:

Article 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Fact: In 1786,  Jefferson’s long and bitterly debated statute for religious freedom finally passed the Virginia legislature. In Jefferson’s words, there was now “freedom for the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindu and infidel of every denomination.” The bill guaranteed, in Jefferson’s own words, “that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever.” It guaranteed, too, that no one should suffer in any way for his “religious opinions or belief.” When the First Amendment to the Constitution went into effect in 1791, Jefferson’s principle of separation of church and state became part of the supreme law of the land.

Fact: In 1807, Yarrow Mamout, a Muslim slave, was set free in Washington DC, and later became one of the first shareholders of the second chartered bank in America, the Columbia Bank.

Fact: In 1832, the Village of Mahomet, Ill., was planned. Originally named Middletown, it became Mahomet during the 1840s.

Fact: In 1833, the US entered a treaty of friendship with what is now Oman — a relationship that has continued to today.

Fact: 1846 Elkader, Iowa, at the time a village in the Missouri territory was named after the Emir of Algeria Abd el-Kader.

Fact: In the 1850s, Mahomet, Texas, was founded

Fact: In 1856,  the United States cavalry hired a Muslim, Hajji Ali, to experiment with raising camels in Arizona.  He became a local folk hero in Quartzsite, Ariz., where he died in 1903. He was known as “Hi Jolly”, his tombstone is a stone built pyramid with a camel on top of it.

Fact: In 1861, Muhammad Ali ibn Said arrived in Detroit where taught school before, in 1863, he enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts colored regiment and became a Civil War hero.

Fact: In, 1875, a wave of Muslim immigrants arrived, mainly from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.

Fact: in 1880, in what appears to be a forefather of the Falwell-Robertson-Graham-Parsley-Etc. Gang, a minister named O.C. McCulloch wrote, “The Tribe of Ishmael: A Study in Social Degradation in favor of castrating the men and separating the children and women.”  (Yes, you read that correctly — a Christian American proposes castrating Muslim men and separating Muslim mothers and their children.)

Fact: In 1889,  Edward W. Blyden, noted scholar and social activist, traveled throughout the eastern and southern states, proclaiming Islam.

Fact:  In 1893, another wave of Muslim immigrants arrive, this time from the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, etc.

Fact: In 1897-98 a monthly magazine called the “Ishmaelite” was published by and for Muslims living in Cincinnati.

Fact:  Between 1899 and 1914, another wave –more than 86,000 — of Muslims arrived from Syria.

Fact: In 1907, the first compulsory sterilization law in the world, a draconian eugenics law, was enacted in Indiana against Muslims.  (Yes, you read that correctly, too — a law passed to force Muslims to be sterilized.)

Fact: In 1913,  the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) was established in Newark, NJ.

Fact: In 1915,  Muslims built a mosque in Maine and established an Islamic association.

Fact: In 1919, Muslims built a mosque in Connecticut.

Fact:  In 1920, the Red Crescent, a Muslim charity modeled after the International Red Cross, was established in Detroit.

Fact: In 1926, the Universal Islamic Society was established in Detroit.

Fact: In 1926,  Muslims built a mosque in Brooklyn, which is still in use.

Fact: In 1928, the Islamic Propagation Center of America was founded in Brooklyn.

Fact:   In 1930,  Muslims established a mosque in Pittsburg. The organization that will become the Nation of Islam was begun.

Fact: In 1935, a mosque was built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it is still in use today.  Worshippers there had used a rented building for 15 years prior.

Fact: In 1955, the State Street mosque in New York City was established — it is still in use today.

Fact: In 1962, the newspaper “Muhammad Speaks” was begun.  It grew to be the largest minority weekly publication in the US, and at its peak reached more than 800,000 readers.  Cassius Clay converted to Islam and took the name Muhammad Ali.  Korean War veteran Clarence Jowars founded Allah’s Nation of the Five Percenters in Harlem.

Fact: In 1965, U.S. laws changed to allow Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Arabs from the professional classes (i.e., doctors and engineers) to immigrate.

Fact: In 1990, Dr. Shirin Tahir-Kheli became the first Muslim ambassador to the United Nations for the US.

Fact: In 1991, Charles Bilal of Kountze, Texas, became the first Muslim mayor of a US city.

Fact: In 1996, Denver International Airport became the first airport in the US to open a mosque.

Fact: The White House has held an annual Eid celebration, Eid al-Fitr, since 1996.

Fact: In 1997, the Muslim symbol of a crescent moon and a star is displayed for the first time along with the national Christmas tree and the Jewish menorah on White House grounds.

Fact: In 1998, a United Nations report on “Civil and Political Rights, including Freedom of Expression” in the US sharply criticised the attitude of the American media, noting “very harmful activity by the media in general and the popular press in particular, which consists in putting out a distorted and indeed hate-filled message treating Muslims as extremists and terrorists”, adding that “efforts to combat the ignorance and intolerance purveyed by the media, above all through preventive measures in the field of education, should be given priority.”

Fact: The Pentagon has been hosting a Ramadan meal for more than 20 years.

Fact: In 2001, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the backlash of violence against Muslim Americans, recognized the Islamic faith “as one of the great religions of the world.”

Fact: Muslim Americans died in the towers on 9/11,

Fact: Muslim Americans rushed to the site as first responders to try and help, including a paramedic/ambulance driver/police cadet who died heroically trying to rescue victims at the Twin Towers.

Fact: FBI agent Ali Soufan came within inches of unraveling the 9/11 plot, failing largely due to the CIA’s failure to share its data hoard.

Fact: Between 10,000 and 20,000 American Muslims wear the uniforms of the American military and fight and die for this country.

Fact: There are more than 1,200 mosques in the United States.

Fact: Although most Americans identify Islam primarily with Arabs, two thirds of Arab Americans are Christian.

Fact: Muslim Americans are the most racially diverse religious group surveyed in the United States.

Fact: Muslim Americans face more prejudice in US than do people of other religions.

More than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) admit to feeling at least “a little” prejudice toward Muslims — more than twice the number who say the same about Christians (18%), Jews (15%) and Buddhists (14%).

Fact: Muslim Americans tend to be political centrists.

39% of young Muslim Americans describe their views as moderate, 28% say they are either liberal or very liberal, while 20% consider themselves politically conservative or very conservative.

Fact: Barack Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim, but if he were of the latter faith, more than half of all Americans would have no idea what that affiliation meant beyond stereotypes, a new study found.  Like nearly all social groups, Muslim Americans are a diverse group, both politically and socially.

Overall, Muslim Americans are, well, American. They have similar levels of career and educational attainment as the general American public; their political beliefs are just as varied as the general public; and their typical level of religious devotion is on par with that of many other religious groups, the research shows.

Fact: In the US, there are more than 500 names of places, villages, streets, towns, cities, lakes, rivers, etc., derived from words or places in Muslim nations.

Fact: Like the Bible, the Koran is open to interpretation, up to a point, and does not condone murder.

“Those terrorists (of 9/11) must be reading a completely different Koran than the rest of us,” said Marine Corps Capt. Aisha Bakkar-Poe…. She said her co-workers have been asking her about Islam since the attacks in New York and Washington. “The question I get most often is, ‘Who is this Allah guy,'” she said. “And how could these fanatics make these attacks.

“I try to answer their questions and explain that Islam does not believe in killing innocent men, women and children.”

Army Capt. Arneshuia Balial, a nurse instructor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a Muslim, said the terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam was “like a knife through my heart — that people would practice Al-Islam, but do deeds like what they’ve done. It’s not true faith. Some people twist religion to the way they think.”

Fact: Cordoba House, named for the city in Spanish Andalucia where Muslims, Jews and Christians once co-existed for centuries in an extraordinary flourishing of culture and science.

Fact: Newt Gingrich is lying about the meaning of Cordoba, Spain, the building of a mosque and of the NY Cordoba House:

It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex. […I]n fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest.  It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way.

Newt’s been a Catholic for just a little more than a year, now, but I would have expected some priest might already have introduced him to The Catholic Encyclopedia.  Here’s what the church’s encyclopedia (in the public domain and searchable online) says about Cordoba:

In 786 the Arab caliph, Abd-er Rahman I, began the construction of the great mosque of Cordova, now the cathedral, and compelled many Christians to take part in the preparation of the site and foundations. Though they suffered many vexations, the Christians continued to enjoy freedom of worship, and this tolerant attitude of the ameers seduced not a few Christians from their original allegiance. Both Christians and Arabs co-operated at this time to make Cordova a flourishing city, the elegant refinement of which was unequalled in Europe. (emphasis added)

And this about the rulers who expanded the mosque there:

In 962 Abd-er Rahman III was succeeded by his son Al-Hakim. Owing to the peace which the Christians of Cordova then enjoyed […] the citizens of Cordova, Arabs, Christians, and Jews, enjoyed so high a degree of literary culture that the city was known as the New Athens. From all quarters came students eager to drink at its founts of knowledge. Among the men afterwards famous who studied at Cordova were the scholarly monk Gerbert, destined to sit on the Chair of Peter as Sylvester II (999-1003), the Jewish rabbis Moses and Maimonides†, and the famous Spanish-Arabian commentator on Aristotle, Averroes. (emphasis added)

Contrary to Newt’s fib, to be legitimate in Muslim eyes during the time when the Great Mosque was being expanded, it was important that rulers stress a peaceful succession of Islam from the other religions in the area.  A caliph was expected to have arrived at harmony with the Christians and Jews under his authority.  Rather than Newt’s asserted “(symbol of) their victory,” the mosque has been held up by Muslim historians a symbol of peaceful coexistence with Christians.

I’m thinking Newt owes a “hail Mary” or two, but I’m hoping that his penance will be a vow silence.

“Cordoba House,” then, is the perfect symbolic name for a community center created by Muslims in one of the largest and most famous cities, known for its large Jewish population, in a Christian-majority nation.  Newt wants us to believe that “Cordoba” is a dog whistle word to tell Muslims to secretly and smugly snicker at their “conquest.”  As noted, Newt’s own church says newt is lying.  Instead, the name is obviously a reference to — perhaps an invocation of — the spirit of a place and time in which the Big Three Abrahamic religions lived and studied together in peace, elegance and splendor.

There is no escaping the fact that, today, Islamic extremism is a very real problem (as is a number of forms of extremism, religious and otherwise). But there is also no escaping that there are more than a billion Muslims who are not part of that problem, a billion Muslims who are good people trying to live, love, provide for their families and live in peace.  And there is no escaping that millions of Muslims have always been part of America, have helped build America, and have sacrificed to defend America.  There is no escaping that I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

How deep, how painful, is our shame — whether born of ignorance of history or of knowing bigotry — that so many Americans would stand in opposition to such a symbol.  How deep, how painful, is our shame — whether born of ignorance of our own history or of knowing bigotry — that so many Americans would hold and express such prejudice against our our fellow Americans, our fellow patriots.  What, then, shall be our penance?

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No, America is not turning Right

As pundits, semi-journalists, politicians, and that hyper-opinionated guy posting on youruncle sam thinking Facebook page stumble through their painfully uninformed and shallow analyses of “what just happened” in the 104 midterm election — all coming to the conclusion that Americans are all becoming Republicans — let’s stop, take a breath, and look around.  Shall we?

When we look at polling data of American’s opinions on politicians, political parties, and political and social issues, we see that the trend is slowly, but steadily, shifting toward the Left.  Already, most Americans (meaning anything more than 50%) hold opinions on the issues that align with those on the Left.  And even on issues that still have a Right-leaning majority, the trend lines are heading Left.

Abortion:  63% support Roe v Wade, less than 30% oppose it, and that hasn’t really changed in 20 years.

Background checks on gun sales.  The nation is evenly split over tighter gun control in general, with 48% say it is more important to control gun ownership, and 49% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.  On the specific question of background checks, however, even most Americans who live in a household where they or someone else is an NRA member overwhelmingly favored the idea of making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to such checks. About three-quarters (74%) backed these expanded checks compared with 26% who opposed them.

Bush or Obama:  In the eyes of Americans, Obama is more honest that Bush (51% to 41%), more empathetic than Bush (54% to 31%), more effective than Bush (44% to 42%), a stronger leader than Bush (47% to 43%), and more worthy of their approval than Bush (41% in November 2014 to 33% in November 2006).  By the way, during the last 35 months (2.9 years) of his second term, Bush’s approval rating  (which bottomed out at 25%) rose above 40% only twice. Obama’s approval rating has never dipped below 40%. Bush’s high point was at 62%; Obama’s high point (so far) was at 78%.

Citizens United:  A landslide 80% of Americans oppose the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65% “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72% in favor of reinstating limits.  Meanwhile, a few weeks ago,Senate Republicans blocked a constitutional amendment meant to reverse the two recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign spending. Senate Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate on the measure, but fell short in the 54-42 party-line vote.

Climate change:  61% of us believe the Earth has been warming, and nearly half (48%) see it as a major threat.  Only 37% of Republicans believe in global warming, and only 21% of Pew’s “Steadfast Conservatives” do.  Even more of us (65%) favor Obama’s stricter limits on power plant emissions. 

Death penalty:  Support for the death penalty is at its lowest point in 40 years and has fallen sharply over the past 20 years. Since 1996, the margin between those who favor the death penalty and those who oppose it has narrowed from a 60-point gap (78% favor vs. 18% oppose) to an 18-point difference in 2013 (55% favor vs. 37% oppose.

Environmental protection:  Most Americans (58%) say that protecting the environment improves economic growth and creates new jobs, and just 17% think environmental protection hurts growth and jobs. When asked to choose directly which was more important—environmental protection or economic growth—we decisively favored protecting the environment 62% to 38% when there is a conflict between the two goals.

Equal pay:  Most Americans — 72% of women and 61% of men — agree that “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace.” Whatever estimate you use for the ratio of pay for women to men, doing the same work, it comes out that women make less (and it’s getting worse, not better) and that it’s undeniable that the gap is, indeed, linked to sex.  Recent cases have shown that women who ask for pay increases often don’t get them.  Worse, women who ask for raises are seen as demanding (men are not). Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have, four times,  unanimously blocked a bill to close the pay gap between men and women.

Evolution:  Most Americans (60%) say humans have evolved over time. Only 33% believe humans have always existed in this form.

Future:  Millennials are considerably more liberal than other generations: About four in ten are mostly (28%) or consistently (13%) liberal in their views, compared with 15% who are mostly (12%) or consistently (3%) conservative. Older generations are progressively more conservative.

Government spending:  Most Americans oppose cutting government spending on unemployment aid (65%), aid to needy in the US (71%), health care (72%), environmental protection (81%), scientific research (77%), Medicare (82%), natural disaster relief (84%), education (89%), Social Security (87%), and veterans’ benefits (91%).

Helping the poor:  Nearly seven in ten (69%) say it is more important to maintain current Social Security and Medicare benefits than to reduce the deficit, while 59% prioritize keeping current levels of spending for programs that help the poor and needy over deficit reduction.

Immigration reform:  Most Americans (52%) support Obama’s vow to enact immigration law changes by executive order if Congress will not act.

Income inequality:  A whopping 78% say income inequality is a big problem, while only 20% say it’s not.

Marijuana:  Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition. Most Americans (52%) say the drug should be made legal, compared with 45% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use.  Four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – and the District of Columbia have passed measures to legalize marijuana use, while an additional 14 states have  decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana possession. Including those five locations, nearly half of U.S. states (23 plus D.C.) allow medical marijuana. Most Americans (60%) say that the federal government should not enforce its marijuana laws in states that permit use.

Marriage equality:  Most Americans (54%) favor same-sex marriage.  Only 39% oppose it.

Military spending:  Most Americans (51%) say reducing the deficit is more important than keeping military spending at current levels.

Minimum wage increase.  An overwhelming 73% of us are in favor of raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Minimum wage increases have been on state ballots 15 times since 2002. They’ve passed every time.

Political party:  Most Americans (55%) hold an unfavorable view of the Republican Party. Only 37% have a favorable view of the GOP.  The nation is evenly split on its view of the Democratic Party, 47% unfavorable and 46% favorable. President Obama has a higher favorable rating than either party.   One remarkable shift is among Cuban Americans, a long-time GOP stronghold. Less than half (47%) of Cuban registered voters say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party—down from the 64% who said the same about the GOP a decade ago, according to 2013 survey data. Meanwhile, the share of Cubans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled from 22% to 44% over the same time period.

Priorities:  In every major poll, Americans rank the traditionally liberal concerns of the economy/jobs as the #1 issue, and health care as #2, while the conservative concerns with the federal budget deficit, President Obama, immigration, taxes, gun policies, and war barely register.  The Fax faux scandals (Benghazi, etc.) actually do fail to register.

Race relations:  A full 87% of us approve of marriage between whites and blacks. In 1958, it was just 4%.

Sexual orientation:  Most Americans (62%) say that society should accept homosexuality.  Even America’s churches are coming around to the liberal viewpoint.  Among young Catholics, the acceptance rate has risen to 85%.

Stem cell research:  A large majority (73%) support using stem cells for biomedical research.

Taxes:  Most Americans (57%) say their biggest beef with our tax system is that it does not force the wealthy to pay their fair share.

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These are the best of times (so far)

10308887_759480354082346_6802604517186171391_nThe world is going to Hell in a handbasket, right?  Things were so much better “back in the day”  — the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s, depending on when you were born — right? Just watch the TV news, read your email or glance at Facebook — it’s all terrible out there, right? Bull.

Setting aside the natural nostalgia we all have for when we and the people we love were younger, healthier and still alive, we can compare today with yesterday and make an honest assessment.  The short answer is:  Removing our emotions from the equation makes the present look a lot less sinister and the past a lot less innocent.  This is especially true when we consider life for women and minorities — who comprise the bulk of humanity.

While we still have problems and our journey toward social justice still has a way to go, the fact is we’ve come a very long way and our problems are look far less impossible to solve than they used to.  For most of our species, this is the best of times (so far).

Let us consider a few important data points.

We’re all living much longer.  Between 1950 and early 2011, global life expectancy jumped from 47 to 70.  More than a third of babies born today will live to be 100.  Our improved health is making us richer, too:  “In economic terms, the cost of poor health at the outset of the 20th century was an astounding 32 percent of global GDP. Today, it is down to about 11 percent, and by 2050 it will be half that.”

The president is black.  Yes, racial prejudice still exists, but earlier in my own lifetime men like Obama didn’t even have voting rights, and his presidency (elected twice) will have a profound and positive impact on America’s future.

The next president is likely a woman.  That, too, will make America’s future brighter than it was before.  That, too, shows incredible progress from where women were in this country just a short time ago.

Children are safer now than ever  “….child victimization rates in the United States have dropped dramatically over the last three decades and may be at their lowest point ever. Between 1970 (when detailed figures became available) and 2009 every category of child victimization has declined: child sexual abuse down 53 percent; physical abuse down 52 percent; aggravated assault down 69 percent; robbery down 62 percent; larceny down 54 percent. Bullying has dropped by a third in the last five years. And despite the horrors and headlines of stranger abduction … confirmed cases are so rare (perhaps 100 or so a year) that the odds of your child being kidnapped and murdered stand at about 1.5 million to one.”  Your children are three times more likely to be struck by lightning than abducted and killed by a stranger.

Worldwide poverty is declining:  721 million fewer people live in poverty today than in 1981.

Progress against HIV.  New HIV infections among children in the seven most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been reduced by 50%.

Statistics suggest that this may be the most peaceable time in our species’s existence.  The percent of people killed by war is 1/30th of what it was in the late 1940s.

The world is more democratic now than ever before.  Just 150 years ago, the United States and Belgium were the only democracies in the world. Today, about 60% of all countries are democratic.

The growing access to the Internet is both putting the amassed knowledge of humankind at our fingertips and instantly connecting us to people around the globe. (Bonus: Married couples who met online were slightly more likely to be happy and stay together than those who ran into each other the old-fashioned way.)

Women’s rights are advancing and making us richer.  “In 1900, only 15 percent of the global workforce was female. What is the loss from lower female workforce participation? Even taking into account that someone has to do unpaid housework and the increased costs of female education, the loss was at least 17 percent of global GDP in 1900. Today, with higher female participation and lower wage differentials, the loss is 7 percent—and projected to fall to 4 percent by 2050.”

The gun homicide rate in the U.S. has dropped 50% since 1993.

Infant mortality is in sharp decline worldwide.  From 1990 to 2011, the percentage of people who died before turning 5 years old fell by about half.

The education of women has grown speedily and women have overtaken men at all post-secondary degree levels.

The rate of strokes happening in the US is falling sharply.

Slavery is now against the law everywhere.

The rate of Alzheimer’s happening in the US is falling sharply  And dementia rates in Britons over 65 have dropped by 25% over past two decades.

The abortion rate among American women has declined to its lowest level in more than three decades.

Nationalism and colonialism have been in decline for decades. 

Violence against women is in decline.  “Since the 1994 Violence Against Women Act was passed, the rate of nonfatal intimate partner violence has declined by 54%. Over the same time span, the homicide rate for women has also declined by almost half.”

The number of uninsured in the US is dropping.

We are closer than we have ever been to eradicating polio.  Efforts by the Rotary Club, the World Health Organization, and many others have reduced polio by 99% worldwide since 1979.

The teen pregnancy rate a record in the US.

The persecution of LBGT people is shrinking dramatically as decriminalization, acceptance, and legal rights expand. Consider:  “Fifty years ago, every state criminalized homosexual sex, and even the American Civil Liberties Union did not object. The federal government would not hire people who were openly gay or permit them to serve in the military. Police routinely raided gay bars. Only a handful of gay-rights organizations existed, and their membership was sparse. Most Americans would have considered the idea of same-sex marriage facetious.”

Gene sequencing has helped researchers identify single genes that cause diseases and, in turn, has aided in creating better treatments.

We’re all safer.  Rates for murder, rape, robbery, and assault are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years.

Our high school graduation rate is higher than it’s been in 40 years.  Significant jumps in the percentages of black and Latino students graduating were an important factor in the improved nationwide graduation rate: with a graduation rate of 68%, and the gap between Latino and white students has been cut in half; Black students posted a graduation rate of 62%, which represents a 30% narrowing of the gap with white students.

The death penalty is fading away. “Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing. Now it is declining by almost every measure.”

Advances in stem cell research are opening fantastic new possibilities in medicine.

Corporal punishment of children is on the way out in a hurry.  “There has been a dramatic reduction in its use over the past two generations—an unprecedented change in a pattern that likely had been fixed for millennia. In the United States, for example, 94 percent of parents endorsed hitting kids in 1968, but only one-half approved by 1999. Similar decreases occurred in countries as diverse as Austria, Sweden, Kuwait, Germany, and New Zealand. (In Sweden, the drop preceded the law against hitting kids.)”

Smoke-free areas are spreading quickly and making us all more healthy.

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