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takingsidesEvery year the Latino immigrant community is rallied by Voces de la Frontera to join in the march to celebrate May Day-the so called workers day parade.

But what most Latino immigrants do not know is that their participation in these marches give communities outside of the Latino immigrant community the impression that Latino immigrants are either communists or sympathize with communism.

Voces de la Frontera will tell Latino immigrants that May Day is really about celebrating the achievements of unions and commemorating an event which occurred in Chicago 124 years ago.  That event known as the “Hay market Massacre.”

It started with a demonstration for an eight-hour day at a McCormick reaper plant on Chicago’s Southwest side on May 3, 1886.  Several of the demonstrators were killed, and workers planned a massive rally in Haymarket Square on the city’s west side.  Most of the crowd left the rally when Chicago police suddenly showed up. At that moment, someone stepped out of an alley threw a bomb into the crowd.

There was a massive explosion and a flurry of gunfire.

When the melee had subsided, at least seven policemen and four of the demonstrators were dead. About 60 more police were wounded.   Eight men were eventually charged with inciting what was referred to as the “Haymarket Riot.” On August 20, 1886, seven of the eight defendants received death sentences.  This is what Latino immigrants are told in order to be part of this yearly May Day march.

But in reality, on May Day, Communist nations around the world each year marks the first of May by waving red banners in the streets chanting the communist slogan: “Workers of the world unite”. The creed of the communist revolution.

Russia is now in a full blown effort to reclaim its Soviet era pride. The actions Russia is involved in today, in the country of Ukraine, clearly illustrates the resolve of the Russian leadership to return to an era of Soviet led world communism. This May Day the Red Square will display a communist celebration unseen since the fall of the Soviet Union.   And you wonder why the Republicans and Obama are not willing to stop deportations and move to implement comprehensive immigration reform?  Stop supporting these communist May Day marches and maybe they’ll be more sensitive to Latino immigrant calls for immigrant reform I say.

takingsidesThe illusion that nothing would happen in Ukraine until the end of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games was dismantled by the bloody battlefield of central Kiev.

The face-off between pro-Western European forces and activists backed by Moscow who is accused of deliberately allowing the situation in Ukraine to worsen, appears to have now reached a point of no-return.

The situation in the capital city, Kiev, as well as in several outlying regions of Ukraine, is now highly unstable and increasingly perilous.

Ukraine is a former Soviet Republic with a population of 45 million, backed by a strong military background, trained for combat.

The leaders are divided over what course of action to follow, and are beginning to lose their grip on what is turning into a chaos.

Last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, an ethnically diverse region of Ukrainians, Crimean Tartars, and, yes, Russians who make up less than 60% of the population. They lived together peacefully. Ukraine is the target of Putin’s dream to resurrect the Soviet Union. Statues of Stalin have gone up under his reign, and a main subway station in Moscow was named after the communist leader..

All Russian media now is controlled by the government—just like in Soviet times. In March, the Kremlin put Chinese government-like restrictions on the Internet, and cracked down on the few remaining independent news outlets and bloggers left in Russia.The Guardian news paper revealed that the Kremlin has a paid network of bloggers and commenters, “…as much as 600,000 roubles ($16,700) for leaving hundreds of comments about Putin.”

The ultraconservatives in Russia want full annexation of Ukraine, Georgia, and other sore spots for Russia. There will be showy sanctions on both sides for a while, but billionaire companies hate for economies to tank for a long time, especially when there’s a ton of money to be made.

And that’s the bottom line. Because there is money to be made there, forces on both sides will continue to rattle sabers until one side backs off.

takingsidesLast week I received a large number of emails and inbox messages to my Facebook account, some accusing me of writing about Cesar E. Chavez in a negative way, others thanking me for telling the truth and reminding people of the reality that was part of the life of Cesar E. Chavez.

To revisit what I wrote last week, a few days after the passage of the optional Cesar E. Chavez holiday at the City of Milwaukee Common Council, I thought to address a common response to my article that I wrote about Cesar Chavez and his use of the term “wetback”, and his stand and support for the “wet lines” against undocumented workers early in the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement in the 1960s.

A common response to my column, “The Real Cesar E. Chavez” went something like this: “I think his life more than makes up for his early use of the word wetback and his stand against undocumented workers”.

Sounds reasonable. I get it. Chavez changed. Clearly Chavez work advanced justice for farm workers, and in the process he helped to keep America’s food safe and keep the agri-economy going strong.

So the argument can be made that his change of heart over the years regarding undocumented immigrants deserves our support of him. But allow me to flip the script here.

Believe it or not, there are Mexican sons and daughters of Mexican immigrants in our community who have disdain for Chavez because of his past words and political actions against their undocumented mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles. To them, Chavez was a segregationist. He wanted undocumented workers segregated from legally documented workers and he wanted the federal government to deport undocumented workers in the early days of the UFW campaign.

Let me present to you that  there are sons and daughters of Black Americans who have disdain for the late former United States Senator Strom Thurmond, who in the 1940s, 1950s and 60s, was a leading segregationist and presidential candidate running on the platform of pro-segregation.

Now I’m not equating Chavez to  Thurmond, I’m merely pointing that injustice of any kind is injustice.

In the case of Storm Thurmond, many have come to his defense saying that he was a changed man and that with time passing his life’s work has shown him to be remorseful for his past. But in an article published in the New York Times: “In Lott’s Life, Long Shadows of Segregation” by David M. Halbfinger in December 2002, Mr. Halbfinger writes that Thurmond never renounced his actions as morally wrong.

So my point here is this, if all one has to do is show by positive work that their habits and beliefs have changed over the course of time, without having to express remorse or renounce their past mistakes, then shouldn’t all those who have made mistakes be forgiven and allowed to move forward without having to be condemned for their past injustice?

Thurmond never gave a formal apology and never publicly renounced his segregationist actions. Conversely, there is nothing that notes Chavez renouncing or formally apologizing to the undocumented immigrants that his early work was morally wrong.

Chavez did work to include the undocumented and expressed support for the immigrant community later in the late 1980s. Strom Thurmond did change and supported integration of Blacks, but he to never expressed remorse or made a formal apology for his past work to the Black community.

I’m not knocking on Chavez, I’m merely pointing out that those who want to revise history achieve nothing. To ignore history is to create an injustice that contributes to the ignorance of the community.

There will be some who’ll say that my comparing Strom Thurmond and Cesar Chavez is ignorant on my part.

But I ask you. Why is it that Cesar E. Chavez can change his position on immigration and not be labeled an anti-immigrant, yet Strom Thurmond, who later in his political career changed his views on segregation and accepted integration, is still labeled a racist today?

This is why we continue to be divided as Americans.

takingsidesAs everyone gets ready to celebrate the release of the movie “Cesar E. Chavez”, people need to realize that with his good work he also has given anti-migrant forces good ammunition to turn the migrant worker issue upside down.

In the past, Chavez routinely used the term “Wetback” and “illegals”.  I have yet to hear of an instance when MLK used the N-word when speaking about the civil rights movement.  You can see his use of the term “WETBACK” on the utube address: http://youtu.be/lQ9jIXHhFJI.

In truth, the United Farm Workers, founded by Chavez in 1962, was virulently anti-immigrant. Chavez led his union to campaign for the deportation of undocumented workers and, at times, even green card holders became targets.

Now I’m not knocking on Cesar E. Chavez, but I’m not one to allow history to be revised and the community to be hoodwinked by propaganda being promoted by ignorant opportunists who just want truth dismissed in order to disguise injustice with “positive” things. These self-promoters only hurt the cause of history and justice when they hide the truth. They are hypocrites if they refuse to acknowledge the legacy that is plainly in front of them regarding the REAL side of Cesar E. Chavez and his stand on immigrant workers–especially the undocumented.

In fact, over the last couple of decades, the bigots that promote right wing hatred of immigrants have used Chavez’s anti-immigration history in their efforts to trample on immigrant rights and tarnish the immigrant rights movement.

But this article is not to be used to attack Chaves, this article is to promote the need for a critical analysis of the past that can inform our current and future leaders and alert them to the fact that hiding the truth does not bode well for our community and building courageous leaders not afraid to expose the truth.

Stop Being Led by the Opportunists and Politically Inept – Know the Legacy of Cesar Chavez.

The problem with politically inept people is that more often than not, they promote themselves as leaders and practice martini politics in order to hide the fact that they are politically incompetent, uneducated and use social causes to advance their self-promoting pretentious agenda, while revising history in order to achieve for themselves praise and a pat on the head.

In 1979, Chavez testified before Congress twice to demand an INS crackdown on undocumented workers. In an article in US News & World the report states that “Chavez sees no conflict between his demand for a crackdown on the strikebreakers and his union’s support of amnesty for illegal aliens. He says the union still favors amnesty for illegal residents who have built roots in this country, but seeks a strong enforcement program to stop employers from bringing workers over the border to break strikes.”

Read the facts here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/03/reinventing-cesar-chavez/

Is it wrong to recognize his work? Of course not. But to elevate Chavez to an almost saint who walked the earth in Jesus like fashion, well, that insults the immigrant community who do not see Chavez in the same light as those pompous wanna-be activists promoting his movie around the country. Many of these self-promoting activists run away from a just cause at the first sight of controversy in order to avoid being labeled a troublemaker, radical or loose cannon. They suck the dignity out of truth and poison justice with their pretentious and pompous activism.

There are people who run away from the truth because it gets in the way of their self-gratification agenda. There are people who embrace the truth despite the fact that more often than not, it will isolate and marginalize them.

Which one are you?

Viva La Raza!

takingsidesState Representative JoCasta Zamarripa seemed shocked and awed by the fact that her attempt to have Assembly Bill 783 (AB 783), legislation to recognize March 31st as Cesar E. Chavez state optional holiday in Wisconsin, did not pass because, as Zamarripa points out, not one Republican voted for the bill.

SHOCKING?

Among those Republicans voting against the bill is State Representative Jessie Rodriguez, the Hispanic lawmaker from the Franklin, South Milwaukee and Oak Creek area of Milwaukee County.

So her vote destroyed the idea that the GOP acted entirely racist against Latinos because that would mean that Rodriquez vote was racist against Latinos.

So what gives?

Could the fact that not one Republican voted for the Cesar Chavez holiday bill mean that lawmakers on the GOP side of the Assembly simply voted against the bill to send Zamarripa a message? Is the GOP assembly indicating to Zamarripa that anything she tries to advance in the Assembly is going to be defeated because she has burned bridges among even moderate Republicans?

Special interest groups like unions, LGBT networks and immigrant rights organizations will applaud Zamarripa for trying, but for the rest of the community, the community that has no job, and therefore could not use the optional holiday Zamarripa failed to get passed, her legislation leaves them still unemployed.

If passing Chavez optional holiday is that important for Zamarripa to challenge the GOP on, why does she not press for legislation that would create economic growth in her district and those surrounding the 8th Assembly District? I mean, did she honestly believe that the GOP would support her legislation?

Honestly! Did Zamarripa really think the GOP was going to pass this bill? Or did she use the honor and name of Cesar E. Chavez to stir anti-Republican sentiment in the community in order to fuel political capital for herself?

There’s a saying that goes: “There’s a time and place for mucking around”.

Zamarripa instead of fighting that fight that promotes job creation and economic growth prefers to muck around and introduce legislation that everyone with half a brain knows is not going to pass.

The GOP is not working with Zamarripa because she has attacked and burned bridges with Republican lawmakers. They could careless about her holiday bill especially at a time when jobs are needed so families can feed their children and pay bills and taxes.

Is Chavez recognition deserving? Sure it is. But there is a time and place for that to happen. Choosing when to fight a political battle requires some common sense. The Assembly battlefield is held by the GOP. Taking on the GOP with job growth and economic development legislation makes more sense than asking for a holiday.

Zamarripa mucks around with legislation that does not help the unemployed, but it makes those who are employed, living on Lake Drive and doing well feel good.

Meanwhile, there are workers living on south Scott street looking for jobs and families living on south 10th street wondering how their bills are going to be paid this month. What is being done about this?

That’s right! It’s not for Zamarripa to create jobs, that is what Governor Walker is supposed to do.

Zamarripa! We live in a time where feel good laws must give way to laws that create employment. So it is not a surprise your bill failed in a GOP dominated assembly seeking to create jobs to save the governor.

Zamarripa…Stop playing politricks! And start thinking about the unemployed in the 8th Assembly District. Right now, there is more of a need to create jobs. We can have holidays later when more people are working.

takingsidesRussia’s aggressive move to occupy Crimea, in the southern peninsula of the Ukraine, land that is part of the Ukraine, will most certainly lead to a return to limited “Cold War” style economic pressures from Europe and the United States.

That withstanding, Europe and the United States need to resolve to the notion that Russia sees the Ukraine as part of Russia and not a foreign country.

Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea.

Nevertheless, Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations with Europe and the United States.

It is important for the Ukrainian people to be free and that they be allowed to create any government they wish to create that will represent the Ukrainian people.

Giving the people of the Ukraine this freedom will establish the idea in the region that Ukraine is an independent nation that is cooperating with the West, but maintains close relationship with Russia in order to avoid upsetting the delicate political balance between the two countries that exist today.

As Russia continues to entrench its military forces in the Crimea, Russian leaders have to be aware that separating the Crimea from the rest of the Ukraine is not a practical way of dealing with the current political upheaval now engulfing the country.

Russia needs to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and Ukraine should recognize that the majority of the Crimean people seek autonomy. The majority of the people of Crimea are of Russian decent, and it appears they have no problem becoming part of the Russian Federation.

The war of words between the United States and Russia needs to be toned down. Sanctions against Russia will only exacerbate the situation and increase tensions between the West and Russia.

Such tensions do nothing to help find civilized resolve for the matter at hand.

No country, no people of any country in the world should live under threat of war and destruction.

Europe and the United States should back off from the hostility that is the Crimea and focus instead on building a stable Ukraine capable of working with the West, and maintaining its close historical relationship with Russia.

Doing this will increase closer ties with the government of Kiev, Ukraine and would ease tensions between the West and Russia.

Some will argue that doing this will only make America look weak and that Putin will have once again checkmated Obama. Such rhetoric is simply elementary and does not take into consideration the benefits of this diplomatic comprise for the people living in the region.

takingsidesSome argue that we are engaged in conflict around the world to defend liberty. To promote the idea of a free society ruled in a democratic manner fueled by free market capitalism. The reality is that only a small inside group knows why we are engaged in conflicts around the world and what these conflicts are really all about. Modern war is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the many.

Now, before I continue, I will say that I believe in defense, and I believe we have every right to defend ourselves from tyranny foreign and domestic. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we fight.

The trouble we are experiencing today in America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here for the very rich and powerful, they get restless and decide they must go overseas to get 90 to 100 percent. This has been happening over the past five decades and it is advancing faster the pace today. The flag follows the dollar and the American armed forces follow the flag.

I believe that there are only two things we should defend. One is the defense of our homes/country and the other is the Constitution/Bill of Rights of the United States.

Why does our government continue to avoid telling our armies that we’ve been engaging in war for the past 50 years to protect the investments of corporations and investment bankers.

America is ruled by individuals who identify the “boogie man”, the enemies of America, we have “muscle men”, usually the American poor and middle classes who are sent to destroy our enemies, and we have “strategist” smart people who plan war preparations, working along side Wall Street Predatory-Capitalist who have no loyalty to the United States, seeking new markets using our military to open avenues of access protected by taxpayer bought missiles and tax funded armies.

Marine Corp Major General Smedley Darlington Butler once wrote: “I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism”.

He went on to say, “looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents”.

Now, I know that there are many of you out there who are suffering from mental faculties that are in suspended animation. This is typical with those who believe politics is a waste of time and who ignore the growing concerns about our economic well being and public infrastructure related issues that need to be addressed.

But aside from the fact that most of the modern wars our military has been engaging in have given Wall Street a steady rise in the market, and have done nothing to curb terrorism, the American veteran who did do his duty, ready to die for his country, is being tossed under the bus.

The payback for the service veterans of America: Congress votes against veterans by not extending/expanding health benefits and education.

takingsidesThis week roughly 28,000 pages of emails and other documents that were collected during the investigation of Kelly Rindfleisch, who served as former Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s deputy chief of staff in 2010 and who was convicted in 2012 of misconduct in office, a felony, for doing campaign work for Republican lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis on government time, was released to the public.

The records were released by a state appeals court after the Associated Press and other media organizations pressed for them to be made public.

So far the documents have become a political shmorgishborg for Walker’s enemies to use against the governor.

One particular email highlighted yet another racist incident in which Walker’s former county chief of staff Tom Nardelli forwarded a racist email that read, “Say it isn’t so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don’t tell me I’m a Democrat.”

Yes, this came from an individual who was Walker’s Chief of Staff in Milwaukee County government – a position of power. I wonder how many times Nardelli refused to support an issue because the advocate was “black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend?”

Here are some other nuggets that have come out of the documents so far:

•As Milwaukee county executive in 2010 Walker ordered a top aide to organize a daily conference call with a combination of state and campaign aides.

• Rindfleisch and other top Walker officials in the county executive officeused personal laptop computers for campaign business on government time. They also set up a clandestine wireless router with those computers.

• After a Walker staffer quit for admitting to pseudonymously posting 70 comments on Wisconsin Journal Sentinelstories and blog posts in October 2010 the documents show that Walker told one of his top aides “We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day etc.”

• Walker aides were stressed after theydiscovered that an employee in the Behavioral Health Division had a “checkered past” as a thong model. The aides notified Walker and moved to have her released from the position. Because the employee’s name was not included in the email exchange it’s not clear what happened to her.

For his part, Governor Scott Walker stated in an interview with WISN 12 News:  “These people are naysayers who want things bad to happen in Wisconsin, so they are going to be circling again today,” Walker said. “It’s exactly what’s wrong with the political process that they’re hoping for something bad to happen in Wisconsin. It’s not. They’re going to do what they’ve done in the past which is over-hype things. And politically they’re going to be disappointed.”

My guess is that there will be nothing that will put Governor Walker in a criminal light, but I’m pretty sure that as these documents continue to be reviewed, this is going to be very embarrassing and clearly a bad pill for any presidential ambitions for Walker.

takingsidesMark Belling • Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Tuesday, Mark Belling admitted on his radio show that he was a child speaking on a mic. To further prove his childlike mental state of mind, Mark Belling went on a childlike tantrum complaining about the fact that I spoke at the Ronald Reagan celebration organized by the Milwaukee County Republican Party.

If you don’t know Mark Belling, allow me to remind you of the attack on the Latino community in 2004 by this bigot when he slurred our community saying that the Latino community was populated by “WETBACKS”.

I was one of the organizers who went after Belling and helped organize protests, calls and e-mails to the Federal Communications Commission and put pressure on Belling’s advertisers to pull their ads from the Mark Belling radio show.

The organizing forced Clear Channel Communications, the San Antonio owner of WISN, to suspend Belling from his highly-rated afternoon talk radio show. The suspension came despite initial reaction from WISN management to stand behind Belling and two Belling apologies for the slur.

Now I was invited to give a toast to former president Ronald Reagan at the event organized by the Milwaukee County Republican Party Chairman, David Karst.

I spoke for a few minutes as U.S. Senator Ron Johnson; Governor Scott Walker; Congressman Paul Ryan; Congressman Sennsenbrener and Republican National Committee Chairman Rince Priebus, in addition to a very large conservative audience, listened to what I had to say about my former Commander-in-Chief.

I accepted David Karst’s invitation to say a few words because I do respect and appreciated the leadership of Ronald Reagan. I also wanted to help break the perception that Belling would like people to believe that we, Latinos are not real Americans because we do not look or act like Mark Belling.

On Tuesday of this week, Mark Belling launched into a childlike rant of lies and misinformation about me and Esperanza Unida on his radio show. In the end, he had to come clean that his misrepresentation of facts is in part his personal feelings towards me for almost getting him fired after he called our community “WETBACKS”.

Belling like a little boy said over the radio “Miranda tried to get me fired”. Unfortunately, that did not happen because Clear Channel, Mark Belling’s employer, was about to cut a deal with some Hispanic leaders, who today enjoy the benefits from that deal to keep Mark Belling on the radio.

Mark Belling is a bigot and that will never change. Yes. I tried to get him fired for his elementary racist attack against our community, but in the end his boss found a few Hispanic leaders who pocketed the little silver and gold and other goodies that allowed this bigot to remain on the radio.

Mark Belling is the example for why the GOP will have a tough time reaching a large part of the Latino electorate. His message is without question racist and his child mind is clearly evident by his hate-filled words coming from his forked-tongue mouth.

Mark Belling, my love for my country is stronger than yours will ever be. As I’m looking to bring Americans together, you want Americans to war against each other. Your personal hatred of me is my badge of honor.

Taking Sides with Robert Miranda”on AM radio 1460-WJTI this Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:00am to 10:00am. Join host Robert Miranda and “Diversity Television Network” founder Troy Shaw; DJ TB featuring local musical talent. Topics: After speaking a few words at the Ronald Reagan day event hosted by the Milwaukee County Republican Party, radio hosts Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling have been on a rampage because Robert Miranda spoke at the event. Tune in for Miranda’s response.

robertDuring State of the Union speech president Obama said: “…if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in
the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when
people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and
create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.” The President’s inclusion of immigration as a matter of economic necessity reinforces resolve to redefine how we think about immigration reform. Immigrants create jobs as consumers and entrepreneurs and spend their wages in U.S. businesses—buying food, clothes, appliances, cars, etc. This builds our economy as businesses respond to the
presence of these new workers and consumers by investing in new restaurants,
stores, and production facilities. Also immigrants are 30 percent
more likely than the native-born to start their own business. The end
result is more jobs for more workers. America’s immigration system is broken.
Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the
country. The president said that “Together we can build a fair, effective and
common sense immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation
of laws and a nation of immigrants.” Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), the fifth highestranking Republican in House GOP leadership, told Breitbart News that
he thinks the president is more interested in politics over policy. “The concern is
we’re not convinced yet that the president’s really a willing party to work on policy,” Lankford said. “He seems to work very hard on the politics of immigration but not
the actual policy of it. There’s a real belief within a lot of Republicans
that whatever we pass he’s not going to enforce. He made that clear even
with statements tonight that he’ll go around Congress to do this. There’s
this sense of what if we pass stronger enforcement, everyone agreed to
it and the president just ignored it? He seems to have that pattern. That
doesn’t help us in the immigration process. In one moment he’s saying we
should do it and in another he’s undercutting the hopes of it.” Wisconsin Congressman
Paul Ryan states that, “Immigration legislation must include a fair and reasonable way
to address the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. We need to invite people out of the shadows and give them a way to get right with the law, without letting them cut in line in front of others who have come to our country illegally. This includes finding a way forward for the “DREAMers” – unauthorized
immigrants that came to the United States as children through no fault of their own, grew up in our country, and are now seeking to pursue an advanced degree in America or enlist in our military. It is not reasonable to expect the deportation of 11 million
undocumented immigrants. Instead, we need an immigration plan that is realistic and works to the benefit of all Americans.” The time to reform immigration has come.
The question once again becomes, is there political will to make it so.

takingsidesNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is considered Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He’s backed by some of the ruthless and suspect figures in New Jersey politics. Among other supporters Gov. Christie has hedge fund managers and corporate executives and billionaires like the Koch brothers.
However, Gov. Christie’s supporters have to be sweating it out now that the brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, is proving to be in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 reelection. During his re-election Governor Christie was pitched to the public as a regular guy, someone who speaks bluntly and candidly, someone you would want to have a beer with. But this is public relations crap. He is and has long been a hatchet man for corporate firms and big banks. But even though Governor Christie is wounded, he’s not down. Chris Christie will most likely emerge scathed from this mess, but he’ll continue as governor. He’s apologized for the actions of his staff. Some Democrats insist that he should resign precisely because he didn’t know what was going on. This is hypocritical on their part; it’s like blaming President Obama for the NSA scandal.
As for his presidential bid, some Republicans claim Chris Christie isn’t really one of them. Some pundits are claiming, even as scandal erupts around him, that he’s a “different kind of Republican.”Christie is said to be “heartless, smug, bullying embodiment” of a thug politician. He and his staff reflect a world in which other people are nothing more than rubes to be manipulated and exploited, whether they’re trying to escape the trap of long-term unemployment or Fort Lee during the morning rush hour.
And that’s coming from political hacks in his own party. In truth, the Fort Lee scandal happened because Mr. Christie (or his aides) weren’t content with winning re-election. He wanted to make sure that he was seen as the Don in his state.
Christie’s large public entourage always includes a videographer who captures the governor’s frequent public humiliation of those–public school teachers are his favorite targets for ridicule–who have the audacity to question his judgment. These exchanges are immediately edited and uploaded to YouTube to show how tough he is and that as the Don, no one can touch him.
The visceral need by Christie to ridicule and threaten anyone who does not bow before him, his dark lust for revenge, his greed, gluttony and hedonism, his need to surround himself with large, fawning entourages and his obsequiousness to corporate power are characteristics corporate titans embrace and understand. Which stands to reason why so many in his party are now after him. The emperor has no pants, shirt, socks or suit. He is now vulnerable to the same Donlike politicians lining up to run for president representing his party. A presidential dream Christie can forget about.

takingsidesLast week Zamarripa stated on WITI television that since Illinois and Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage, she pledges to push for its passage in Wisconsin, but Gov. Scott Walker says not under his watch.
For Zamarripa to state that she is going to make same-sex marriage her top priority in the legislature for 2014 reeks of special interest politics.
If the electorate of the 8th Assembly District mandated for Zamarripa to make same-sex marriage her top priority, that’s one thing, but if she is going to pledge to make same-sex marriage her number one issue to pass at the legislature  (because of the lobbying efforts and campaign contributions to her from groups advocating for same-sex marriage), then Zamarripa is just another politician selling herself to special interest groups paying her way to fame and glory.
The 8th Assembly District is in the Milwaukee Metropolitan community. Her district sits in the heart of the City of Milwaukee. She represents a part of the city which in the whole is experiencing high unemployment, hyper segregation and is now recognized as the 10th most dangerous city to live in the United States. Zamarripa pledges to push this agenda as her number one issue in Madison, where the Governor has taken a stand against it and the Assembly controlled by the Republican Party is not for it, yet Zamarripa is perfectly willing and happy to represent the 8th Assembly District as pushing an issue that is dead on arrival.
In the meantime, rather than be a voice that deals with the issues that affect all families, gay or straight, the electorate of the 8th Assembly District becomes expendable because of her personal quest to please her special interest funding sources. Although this may be a worthy issue, jobs are down, crime is up and people are hurting. It makes no sense to push forward with an issue the Governor and the majority of Republicans stand against unless she is doing it simply for the payola and fame.
Advocating for an agenda because the majority of your constituents demand that you do is one thing, but leading a political agenda because it stimulates people towards contributing money to your campaign for reelection is self-serving and typical of a hack politician.

takingsidesThe Republican party recently got Salvadoran immigrant Jessie Rodriquez elected to represent the 21st Assembly District of Wisconsin, making her the second Latina to be elected to the State Assembly and the first GOP Hispanic elected to state government. So you would think that she would be able to join the Black and Latino Caucus in the Wisconsin legislature.
WRONG.

Apparently, a discussion on whether or not the Latina State Representative Rodriquez Faces Discrimination?
legislator should be invited as a member of the bipartisan BLACK and LATINO CAUCUS has to take place. But this is not the insult. The insult is the fact that the BLACK and LATINO CAUCUS chairman, democrat Mandela Barnes is moving to invite 73 year old Caucasian male Fred Kessler, into the BLACK and LATINO CAUCUS, Jessie Rodriguez requires some kind of internal vetting process. Is it because she’s Republican and that makes her not Hispanic enough to be part of the BLACK and LATINO CAUCUS?
So the chairman of the BLACK and LATINO CAUCUS, Democrat Mandela Barnes wants to hold discussions on whether or not to invite Representative Rodriquez, yet he has no problem inviting liberal whites to be part of Black and Latino Caucus.
Mandela Barnes has to be perfectly aware of the fact that the black community he represents is in dire straights, yet his solution is to bring YT into the kitchen to be guest executive chef to watch over the black chefs in order to make sure that black chefs are running the kitchen right? Is that what I’m understanding here? So Mandela’s theory is to invite the fox into the black hen house so that the fox can help the black hens focus on keeping all the other hens in the barn yard safe? In the words of and in my Samuel L. Jackson voice: “kneegrow please!” Between having that fox inside the black hen house and Colonel Sanders harvesting outside, black hens ain’t got much of a chance at survival under Mandela’s leadership. So why even have a Black Caucus at all? If identity politics is obsolete, then why even have such caucuses? The identity of the caucus is Black. That’s why it’s called the Black Caucus. So if Mandela Barnes agrees that we live in a color blind society, then why argue lack of Black or Hispanic representation in private or public venues of economic and political importance? I’m just going to be blunt. Those whites who control Black elected officials in this community understand perfectly well that if the black community prospers and becomes economically strong, the voting trend would eventually move towards being more conservative. Black families, like other families, are going to want to keep more of thier wages in thier pockets rather than having them taken by increasing federal, state and local taxes. if prosperity grows in the black community this would weaken politically the white liberal establishment that controls city politics and open the door to more conservative agendas focused on economic growth and prosperity, rather than socialist economic political theories that allow poverty to sustain itself in the black community. More economic growth in the black community means more political independence for black elected leaders.9

takingsidesPhil Robertson, the star of “Duck Dynasty”, a semi-reality television series, was suspended for remarks he made in an interview with GQ magazine. The people defending him say he was just expressing his views as a sincere Christian pointing out the sins of homosexuality.

The people defending Robertson say that the condemnation of Robertson therefore amounts to condemnation of views that are part of Christian doctrine. Mind you, these are the same doctrines Pope Francis seemed to brush aside

when he spoke out about homosexuality in which he stated he was not here to judge Gays.

But there are Christians who believe that their faith require them to condemn homosexual acts.

Well, who are Robertson’s defenders? And if you’re defending Robertson for saying what he said about homosexuality, here’s what you’re defending also about him:

Robertson thinks black Americans were treated just fine in the Jim Crow-era South, and that they were happy there. “ I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Robertson thinks the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because they didn’t believe in Jesus. “A ll you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

Robertson hates gay people. Robertson in 2010: “ Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

This last one is key. My inbox is full of “love the sinner, hate the sin” defenses of Robertson’s 2013 remarks. But Robertson doesn’t love gay people. He thinks they’re, well, “full of murder.”

As a side note, it’s remarkable how often these things come as a package. Robertson’s sincere Christian doctrinal view about the sinfulness of homosexuality comes packaged with animus toward gays and retrograde views about blacks and non-Christians. Is social conservatism primarily fueled by the need to preserve the privileges and political beliefs of white Christian bigots, rather than base its faith on sincere religious convictions?

Is it any wonder why many people not part of the support Robertson base keep getting the sense that conservatives and Republicans just don’t care for them. The “Duck Dynasty” episode, with Ted Cruz and others rushing out to defend Robertson’s honor, is just another example of why the GOP is losing ground.

takingsidesLast week, a courageous humanitarian gave compelling and heart wrenching testimony of the insidious actions being conducted upon the people of Honduras, by their government and Chief Executive Officers of multinational corporations working in partnership with the Honduran government.

Honduran journalist, Edgardo Castro was recently elected to the Honduran Congress. After winning the election Castro was forced to flee Honduras after receiving death threats. He left his country long enough to tell the story of the Honduran people’s struggle for life and liberty. He returned to Honduras this week.

The Associated Press reports that the elections recently held in Honduras included a “hotly contested presidential race…plagued by violence and poverty…with the major candidates disappearing from public view and the electoral count coming to a halt without final results or explanation.”

Why is this an important matter for our community to pay attention to?

It’s important because Honduras is a nation controlled by drug warlords/cartels, multi-national corporate hucksters and elected Honduran government shysters, all coordinating efforts to maximize profits on the backs of the country’s workforce, using intimidation and murder against the people who stand against them.

Many Americans are unaware of the social subjugation strangling the people of Honduras. The murders of those brave souls, willing to stand against the widespread corruption destroying the country’s stability, gounreported in America’s corporate controlled media.

During an interview I had with Mr. Castro, he stated that over 30,000 Hondurans have been killed and that over 300 Honduran journalists have lost their lives over the past three years standing in opposition to the current government of Honduras.

He said that the majority of the Honduran people live in abject poverty, cities are controlled by drug traffickers and the national government suppresses the people with hired thugs, while the military uses its resources to kill those opposing the government.

A representative of the Latin American Solidarity Committee (LASC) stated that “a lot of human rights workers and observers have contacted the Obama administration and LASC members have met with the American ambassador to Honduras (Amb. Kubiske).”

LASC representative, Babette Grunow, said LASC was given only platitudes. “They (US Government) have continued to arm the military, including the military police,” whom LASC Grunow states is controlled by a guy called El Tigre, who ran the Honduran death squads in the 1980′s.

Grunow of LASC states that, “Honduras is the murder capital of the world and has had more assassinations of journalists than any other country since the coup d’etat in 2009 that ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. Edgardo Castro began receiving threats after reporting on corruption and the threats increased after his election.”

Castro states that the November 24th elections are being disputed by his

LIBRE party and another party, the Anti-Corruption Party or PAC, who are challenging the elections as fraudulent.

LASC states that “both parties have presented extensive evidence of vote-buying, purchasing of credentials for election judges, manipulation of vote tally sheets, killings and intimidation of party members and other irregularities”.

Following this tragedy in Honduras is important. Calling our Congressmen and Congresswomen demanding they stop supporting the Honduran government’s actions against its people is our task. Let’s not let Castro’s visit fall on deaf ears.

At least one top Republican is invoking the bankruptcy of Detroit and the rescue of the auto industry to call for cuts to the benefits of military veterans.
“Forty-four cents of every dollar we spend goes to military personnel,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) told Politico. “You look at Detroit, you look at General Motors, you look at what happens when you build up these costs, but we aren’t doing anything about it in our [defense] bill this year.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates, however, that the Department of Defense received $155 billion — about a quarter of its budget — for personnel costs.
As the Baby Boomer generation begins to retire and the passion for cutting taxes has underfunded many obligations to retirees, cuts to public retirement benefits have become a passion for many Republicans. The first budget written by Paul Ryan privatized both Social Security and Medicare while slashing Medicaid, the program that pays for nursing home coverage for Americans who cannot afford it otherwise. Subsequent versions of the Ryan Budget maintained the cuts to Medicaid while revising his Medicare proposal to include a “public option” for retirees.
The mania to revise or eliminate pension benefits will likely heighten after a judge ruled that pension obligations can be erased in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy.
“This is nothing short of theft, as pensions are simply deferred wages, that is, money that workers could have taken as cash in their regular paychecks had they not opted to set it aside,” writes David Cay Johnston.
Also last week, the Illinois legislature approved a gradual reduction in pension benefits that will eventually reduce the state’s obligations by 43 percent after underfunding their commitments to state workers. This deal will cut cost-of-living increases and raise retirement ages for younger workers.
Public sector workers and retirees in Detroit, however, could see their pensions slashed and even eliminated, even though most do not qualify for Social Security. Employees of the auto industry have given up an estimated $7,000 to $30,000 in annual compensation since 2005, as part of compromises with employers and the government to keep the companies afloat.
After a decade of war, the promises made to those who served in the armed forces seemed sacrosanct. But this statement from a power broker like McKeon shows that military personnel may not be spared as Republicans in Congress seek to maintain the size of the military while also shrinking the deficit.
The president has proposed increasing the fees charged in the military Tricare health insurance program for non-active duty personnel to control the growth of costs. But the administration has not put forth any proposed reforms to military pensions.
Military pensions require no contribution from personnel, which make it the sort of “unfunded” liability the right-wing despises for workers, despite supporting a completely unfunded prescription-drug benefit to Medicare during the Bush administration.
Obama Shakes Hand With Raúl Castro
President Obama’s handshake with President Raúl Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela raised eyebrows and alarm with ultra right wing political pundits.
However it’s about time. Certainly, more than 50 years of ostracizing Cuban leaders has not taught the Castros any lessons and has not benefited the Cuban people.
If Nelson Mandela had chosen to retaliate against those who foisted apartheid upon South Africa, conditions in that country would not be as advanced as they are today.
Perhaps a handshake given in the spirit of Mr. Mandela’s legacy will initiate an opening with our geographically closest political opponent and will bring progress where more than 50 years of rejection has brought nothing.

takingsidesState Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a democrat, says that she will decide in January whether to make a run for the Democratic Party nomination for governor in 2014.
Vinehout may be waiting to make that announcement in January, but she sure is sounding more and more like a candidate running in the Democratic race now.
“Democrats are never going to win by playing the game where the Republicans wrote the rules,” Vinehout said during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If we win, we’re going to have to turn politics as we know it upside down.”
The Democratic establishment wants Burke to sail into the race against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but that idea is being challenged by activists on the left who just do not see Burke, a former state commerce secretary, having the right qualities that relate to the common people.
Vinehout is making appearances at Democratic Party events and house parties and coffee shops making her case for why she wants to run.
“I have been getting around the state. I did 22 events in 15 days before deer hunting season” she said in the Journal Sentinel.
“Putting together a staff is one of those pieces of the puzzle that I need to bring together,” Vinehout continued. “Something I’ve spent a lot of time working on. I’m not ready to roll out my whole staff.” Run Kathleen, Run.
Is the Cold War
Returning?
Well, well, well, it looks like the Cold War is back on. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. navy’s capability in the Arctic is good reason for Russia to beef up its presence in the region in order to counter the threat of the United States.
Putin made it clear that a conflict between Russia and the United States was not inevitable, but his blunt remarks reflect a Stalinist reactionary stand aimed at demanding to know what U.S. intentions in the area are.
“Experts know quite well that it takes U.S. missiles 15 to 16 minutes to reach Moscow from the Barents Sea,” Putin said, referring to the part of the Arctic Ocean near Russia’s shore.
Putin described the Arctic region as essential for Russia’s economic and security interests.
“There is a huge amount of mineral resources there, including oil and gas,” he said. “It’s also very important for our defense capability.” Hmmm…the U.S. navy patrolling in an area rich in oil and gas?
Putin did say that Russia will cooperate with the United States and other countries, “I proceed from the assumption that we will never engage in a global conflict, particularly with a country like the United States,” he said. “Just opposite, we must develop cooperation and partnership, and we have every opportunity for that despite arguments. But the submarines are there, and they do carry missiles.”
And you thought the Cold War was over.

takingsidesThere will be a clear difference for Wisconsin voters in the coming 2014 elections, and clearly the sheer energy levels of the far Right and the progressive Left will determine the election.

The extreme Right know who they are: bulls. Their pathway to public recognition comes by defying the Republican Party leadership, the actions they took doing this gave them major media attention. The media attention they got helped these extremists advance their minority-supported goals of privileges for the few at the expense of the many.

Progressive Left activists, on the other hand, talk, talk, talk and talk. They talk til they’re blue in the face, and when they stop talking, they generally turn to their tired often out-of-touch Party leaders for leadership, ignoring the fact that these same tired out-of-touch party leaders rely on the same commercial interests for money as the extreme right.

Relying on the same commercial interests money is one reason the Progressive left is unable to move their political agenda swiftly and effectively.

Where is the progressive Left’s political energy in Congress behind raising the federal minimum wage? Thirty million workers are making less today than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation over these forty-five years, it would be $10.56 per hour instead of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. A few members of Congress have put their modest bills in the hopper, but not on the Table.

They can’t move this agenda more swiftly because many Progressives rely on the same commercial interests tied to forces that are working too stop the minimum wage movement.

Meanwhile, the far Right can focus their energies on their agenda, unworried that the progressive-Left activists are even going to seriously organize themselves on what should be a signature issue for them, because the far right knows many of these Progressives are not willing to give up the goodies given to them by the commercial special interests groups they are friends with.

It stands to reason that while over 70 percent of the American people support minimum wage increase, the Progressives seem to stall on the issue because of their ties to the money that is opposed to the increase in minimum wage.

The comfortable Democrats, with their secure Congressional seats, to aggressively champion the cause of thousands of workers picketing fast food chains, Walmart and federal contractors who pay low wages, while many of their CEOs make millions of dollars a year, is being undermined by these same democrats who work hard to sustain a comfort level in Congress which will secure for them a retirement package designed to keep them comfortable once they leave Congress.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, non-profit advocacy groups and social service associations for the poor, whose members lean heavily Democratic, want an increase in the minimum wage to meet the necessities of life, but find they’re cause floating on a boat without a stern or paddle.

The progressive Democrats actually outnumber the Tea Partiers in the Congress, but seldom use those numbers to achieve a progressive victory for fear of losing the goodies they are pocketing.

Great issues such as cracking down on corporate crime, ending tax havens for corporations and the rich, creating public works programs with good paying jobs, pulling back on the Empire abroad, and rejecting corporate welfare and bailouts cannot seem to arouse the Left in Congress because the Left in Congress likes being invited to martini parties on Wall Street.

And being at Wall Street parties is about fun, and no one has fun if your shunned by the majority of those rich CEOs at those parties because your leading an anti-CEO campaign.

There is a growing frustration among Left groups that their allies on Capitol Hill are continually defeatist and unwilling to shake the place up as the Tea Partiers have been doing. They fear such shake up will cause their financiers in the big business community to drop them like a hot potato.

Progressive words must never mask the absence of progressive action in Congress. The people deserve better than progressive sinecurists in Congress who are so smug that they increasingly do not return calls from civic leaders who press them to move out of their comfort zones and from words to deeds.