Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another UVP LTE response to Muslim hate

Not as portrayed
THURSDAY, SEPT. 22, 2011
To the Editor:
Please allow me to comment on Robin Sunbeam’s letter to the editor posted 9/2/11 titled “Hating Muslims doesn’t help.” I would first like to tell readers who I am and how we conduct Ukiah Valley Patriot meetings. I am the “MC” Ms. Sunbeam refers to in her letter, although I am more correctly called a facilitator.
The purpose of the Ukiah Valley Patriots is to inform and educate the public, empowering people to make better decisions in electing our city, state, and federal leaders. I conduct meetings in an open and orderly manner. We start every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag followed by a short prayer (not unlike the prayer that opens each session of Congress). I allow everyone in attendance to speak their mind as long as it is done in a respectful manner and time permits.
Contrary to information presented by the mainstream media, we are not an extension of the Republican Party, although some of our members are Republicans. We welcome people of all parties who share our core values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.
The speaker at our last meeting has been studying Islam for over 40 years and boasts knowing the Qur’an better than most Muslims. He does not hate Muslims nor does he promote hatred of Muslims; his fears for our country drive him to research and present facts most of us would never discover on our own. Everything presented at the meeting was either taken from Muslim documents, web sites, or straight out of the Qur’an; he even quoted the book and line number so if anyone so desired, they could find a Qur’an and verify the truth for themselves (Qur’ans have been translated into English and can be found online).
After our meeting, I approached Ms. Sunbeam to ask her why she continues to come to our meetings when she does not appear to share our values and in fact has written many falsehoods about us in the UDJ. I asked her if her purpose for coming to our meetings was to ‘try and find dirt on us.’ It didn’t occur to me at the time that Ms. Sunbeam would construe this as a guilt reaction as our group has never tried to hide anything. It seemed clear to me that her purpose for being there was to try to discredit us with the lies she writes to the newspaper in order to eventually destroy our message and influence. She has stated in a previous letter to the editor that her progressive organization can only draw seven people whereas the patriot group generally has 30 or more in attendance. Does she think that heckling our group is going to help her cause in any way?
Neither our ‘chaplain’ nor our ‘prayer man’ ever said anything that would indicate hatred of Muslims or wishing revenge against them. They were merely showing kindness to Ms. Sunbeam and trying to answer any questions she may have had regarding our group or our values. I’m sure they were not expecting what they got in return.
Duane Grilli

The UVP response to my Letter to the Editor UDJ 4/27/11

Not dupes


To the Editor:

The Ukiah Valley Patriots sponsored a 12-week course on the U.S. Constitution this winter, from January 18 to April 5, using the Constitution and The Federalist [Papers] as texts. Ron Cannon was our instructor and class attendance varied from 39 to a hard core of 20 participants. Some of us were frankly amazed at the willingness of so many to grapple with a not so easy to read 18th Century Founding American text: it was a group of mostly middle aged to elderly Americans, many of them with jobs and families to support who took time out from their busy lives to take a class for no credits other than to have a better understanding of their country’s founding documents. Many interesting and stimulating discussions ensued and despite a recent disparaging Letter to the Editor from Robin Sunbeam (March 7, 2011, “Feeling Powerless”) there was a lot less spin in that class than there generally is from our so-called Mainstream Media.

Although a majority of the participants were either tea party members or conservatives, several progressives also participated and always felt welcome to contribute their point of view. To say the least, they were always cordial but never shy about expressing their differences of opinion. One can only hope that one day American institutions of “higher learning” could be as respectful of diverging points of view.

The reason we’re writing this letter is to counter certain misrepresentations in Ms. Sunbeam’s letter about both the Constitution Class and the tea party movement. First of all, although Ms. Sunbeam did attend one tea party meeting, ostensibly to check us out, she never attended a single Constitution Class meeting. Therefore, she has no evidence whatsoever to conclude that “[t]hey are teaching a class on the Constitution that spins it into a charter for free enterprise rather than a charter to protect individual and collective rights.” We might add that while the Bill of Rights was added to protect individual rights, there was very little in the Constitution to promote free enterprise or collective rights, unless by that term, Ms. Sunbeam means State’s Rights. The Constitution was mainly a founding document to increase the power of the central government after the Articles of Confederation had failed to produce a viable national government, according to the logic of the Founders. But the Constitution also limited and dispersed power in a tripartite Federalist system; or in other words, it was a document that limited the power of a central government to ride rough shod over the rights of individual Americans and the several states. Of course, it was a far from perfect document, but with seventeen Amendments since the original Bill of Rights, it has withstood the test of time.

As to Ms. Sunbeam’s misrepresentations of the tea party movement: it appears that she gets all of her information from far left blogs or news programs. There has been a concerted effort on the part of the left to portray the tea party as a bunch of wild eyed radicals or “extremists,” as the recent gaffe made by Senator Schumer makes abundantly clear, when in reality they are mostly like our local tea party group of middle and working class Americans. While Ms. Sunbeam claims that tea party participants “eat up the twisted lies being told to them by the Koch-trained liars,” most members of the tea party have never heard of the Koch Brothers and certainly aren’t trained by them (the last I heard, the Koch’s were funding the libertarian Cato Institute). It may be disconcerting to Ms. Sunbeam that the tea party is not a monolithic organization that can be summed up in talking point catch phrases like “trained by the Koch brothers” or “neocon fascists.” (I’ve generally assumed that when people run out of coherent arguments they resort to name-calling, misrepresentations, and distortions.) No, the tea party is not even one organization, but rather a loose consortium of grass roots organizations made up mostly of middle and working class Americans. One thing we share in common is a love for our country as well as a generally shared belief that our country has gone off the rails under the leadership of both political parties, as well as the business and media elites that think they know what's best for us while they bankrupt the country. Quite frankly, if that’s the best they can do, we’d be better off without them.

While numerous Republican operatives and perennial candidates have jumped aboard the tea party bandwagon, the tea party is not the Republican Party. Even so, it has been a leftist tactic to conflate the tea party with the Republican Party, one day blaming the tea party “extremists” for forcing the Republicans into holding the line on the debt limit, while on the next day, blaming the tea party for all the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush Administration. The truth of the matter is that the Republican Party establishment is not all that thrilled about the challenges from the tea party as anyone who keeps track of current events is sure to know. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have been feckless and fiscally irresponsible, but the fact of the matter is, there has been a lot more willingness on the part of disgruntled conservatives and libertarians to tackle the problem of deficit spending and our monstrous national debt, which made it tactically more feasible for the tea party to challenge the status quo in the Republican primaries, rather than the Democratic majority in 2010. As an example of why this is so, just look at the current budget battles in Congress. The tea party movement has pressured Boehner into proposing $61 billion in cuts from a budget of $3.7 trillion: That comes out to about 1.6 percent, not enough to make much of a dent, but about double what the Congressional Democrats are proposing, and as for Obama’s “tough cuts,” one would need a microscope to find them. When will the political leadership in this country finally become serious about dealing with our debt and budget woes? Before the nation goes bankrupt and the dollar is worthless, or are they waiting for an even bigger crash than 2008? Finally, we might add, most tea party members did not favor bail outs for the Wall Street scoundrels that got us into the current financial mess, unlike the political establishments for both major parties, so one might ask, who really is beholden to those Ms. Sunbeam calls the “filthy rich”?

P.S. Ms. Sunbeam finally attended the last Constitution Class meeting. We think she enjoyed the intellectual give and take, and hopefully, she now has a more accurate perspective about the class, and the fact that we’re not all a bunch of “Koch-trained” dupes, whatever that means.

Mark Amagi, Redwood Valley
Lou and Betty Morgan, Ukiah
Dave and Kathy Lowe, Redwood Valley
Mike and Brenda Smith, Willits
Ron and Katherine Cannon, Ukiah
Duane and Deborah Grilli, Ukiah
Dave Olson, Philo

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What happened with my run for office?

Although the group that first tapped me to run for office, the Mendocino Women's Political Coalition, didn't endorse me, nor did my own political party, the Democrats, I garnered 25% of the vote.  And although I was still in debt the day of the election, by the end of the month, donations rolled in that paid all the campaign $8000 monetary expenses and enough left over for postage stamps for the thank you notes.  The final cost to me was in stress, a touch of PTSD, and the return of my childhood bruxism habit that I once again must train myself to quit!  My gain was in "political capital."  I'm not sure what that is or in which bank it is kept, but people look at me in a new way, now. 

I used to be a vocal citizen that the politicians pandered to by smiling, listening and nodding.  Now I see the politicians glance at me from the corner of their eye and start calculating, what's my next move? are they for or against?  The faces of ordinary people shine when they look at me.  I've developed some new friendships.  For sure, although I seem to know an astounding number of people all over the county, and in 3 counties, and I am sought after for radio interviews, I'm not sure I have a woman friend, someone I could be totally myself and disclose my inner secrets.  But through this social justice work, I am happy to say that I may now have several new female friends with whom I maintain a close relationship.  I used to be such a solitary rhino in the wild, and now people are massing up beside me.  I guess that may be part of the political capital.  I'm not sure....

Anyway, I didn't get the $100,000+/yr job as County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder.  If I had, I could have afforded all the dental transplants after I had ground my teeth down from the stress of the political office.  Instead, I have returned to being a plump old school nurse eking out a tiny impoverished living supporting myself and my adult son and feeling blessed each day that I have one more precious day of life to make this world a better place.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Udall "Democracy for All" amendment is a Red Herring

The "Democracy for All" (Udall) amendment is a Red Herring and I am surprised that Bernie Sanders is said to be promoting it. Even Bernie's "Saving American Democracy" Amendment proposal is far superior to this tiny bone. It fails to bar corporations or other artificial entities from having rights protected under the Constitution. And it returns us to a century of failed campaign regulation.  It uses the word "may" instead of "shall." 

In other words, this amendment proposal is getting LOTS of press because it fails to mandate a ban on corporate personhood rights while promoting the false hope that regulatory boards protect people over industry profits. Unfortunately, is is too often the opposite. 

Free Speech for People apologizes about supporting this bill saying that they are also promoting a separate bill to ban corporate rights.  Unfortunately, that bill has no momentum. 

I recommend when our California Senators debate the Udall bill this coming month, that they bring up the following issues:

1) The campaign finance regulations in Arizona will be VERY different than those in Vermont. 

2) Do regulations really work?  Industry insiders tend to be the "experts" staffing regulatory boards and they habitually regulate loopholes in favor of their industry rather than protect the People. 

3) Ultimately, as long as large donations can buy politicians, Democracy is an impossible sham.  When campaigns will be publicly financed and limited to just a couple of months with private money prohibited, then public servants will bend in favor of those that pay for their campaigns, the public.  This will hopefully be the next constitutional amendment to get all big money out of politics once and for all! 

4) Regulations didn't work for most of the 20th century, what makes you think an amendment will make failed regulations any better?  Do we have to wait for another century of failed regulations before elections are publicly financed?

5) The root cause of this perversity of Democracy is the implication by the Supreme Court in 1886 that fictional persons get the due process of law promised to "all persons" in the 14th Amendment.  Any amendment proposal that doesn't pluck out the root by clarifying the status of fictional persons under the Constitution will ultimately miss the mark.  The Udall Amendment bypasses this question by saying that artificial entities "may" be distinguished from natural persons...  Its failure to clearly mandate that the protection of constitutional rights are for natural persons only makes it a waste of political capital.