Tuesday, November 25, 2014

         FEAST and FAMINE 

                 Thanksgiving November 2014 

Native American resistance leader Metacomet

Here's a thought: This Thanksgiving, you might want to give thanks that you weren't/aren't a victim of the white rampage through the Americas that began in the 15th century and resulted in the vast torture, death and exploitation of the indigenous peoples.

                           By Rafael Martínez Alequín

As we approach Thanksgiving 2014,  Your Free Press takes this opportunity to wish all its readers a happy Thanksgiving. It is a cliché, but true nonetheless, that our attention is too much diverted by turkey and mythology when it should be focused on gratitude It is human to react react with thanks when life goes well, just as it is natural to curse one's fate when tribulation strikes. 

Godly men and women turn into atheist, at least temporarily, after watching thousands of children starve. Lottery winners and late-inning home-run hitters attribute their good luck to the personal intervention of the "Good Lord." 

It is easy to focus on what we lack, especially in these days of lowered expectations. We don't have, and probably never will have, the prosperity that seems to be our parents' and our own birthright back in the 1950s and '60s. It takes two incomes to buy what one use to provide. Even so, we live as only a very small percentage of the human race has ever been privileged to live. Royalty has gotten by as paupers by comparison. Yet, most of humanity does not live in such plenty. Million in this country and elsewhere do not have enough to eat. Others live under daily threat of death from their governments or from the forces of a foreign government because of  the political opinions they hold or are suspected of holding.

Some here in America do not suffer these deprivations. Although we now know, all of us are under surveillance. Also, we would be naive if we didn't recognize that all too many of us are ill-nourished or  subject to racial and political harassment, and worse. Across this country, hundreds of thousands are homeless, thanks to the policies of both local and federal governments.  Surely we ought to give some  thought to the ill-housed and homeless, to the hungry and the  brutalized, even those of us who can reflect on our own good luck. What joy can there be that some few have prosperity if oneself or a neighbor down the block, or in Brooklyn or in Haiti or in Central and South America or Afghanistan, Bangladesh, West Africa with the Ebola virus killing thousands of people, or Guantanamo, is deprived of the basic necessities or tortured for her or his political beliefs?

We can turn away from all of this, just as we eventually must turn away from the television when one too many emaciated Africans or mutilated Mexicans have been put before us. Portraits of happy Pilgrims sitting down to dinner with their happy Indian brothers and sisters seem more appropriate to the season. How much guilt can we expected to bear? Is it our fault we were born into a dominant culture? Must we always be reflecting on the sins of our ancestors and elected officials?
Of course, the answer is no. Life would not be bearable if we had to wear mental hairshirts all the time. Life is to be lived, enjoyed, reveled in. This is a lesson we can learn from the saints, both religious and secular: Those who do the most good seem to enjoy themselves the most. Enjoy not just the virtue they practice but all the other good things of life—food, love, intellect, companionship—the entire range of possibility open to human experience. They show us that we have nothing to fear from our own compassion. It does not diminish but enlarges our life. How much greater our joy could be, then, if on Thanksgiving Day, or any other time, we can say that we have tasted the full of life, the joys of our own mind and flesh as well as the happiness and pain of others. That, surely, would be something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

SNL Skit Updating ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Is Hilarious, Totally Wrong

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"SNL Skit Updating ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Is Hilarious, Totally Wrong"
The opening sketch of this week’s Saturday Night Live is an update of the famous ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ song explaining how a bill becomes a law. The sketch, which is a send up of Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, is very well done in many ways. It captures the ethos of the original cartoon and Jay Pharoah’s Obama impersonation keeps getting better. It features performances from two of the strongest members of this year’s cast, Bobby Moynihan and Kenan Thompson. As comedy, it works. It’s funny.

As political commentary, however, it couldn’t be more wrong about how today’s Congress works, particularly as it relates to immigration reform. Let’s review:

“BILL: Well first I go to the House, and they vote on me. But then I need from the Senate a majority.

Actually, the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill in June 2013. The House has spent the last 17 months refusing to consider or vote on the Senate bill or any other substantial legislation on immigration reform.

 CREDIT: Youtube

 “BILL: And if I pass the legislative test, then I wind up on the President’s desk… BOY: President Obama what’s the big idea? That bill was trying to become a law.”

CREDIT: Youtube
In the sketch, once the bill reaches Obama’s desk, he pushes the bill down the steps. But this is the opposite of what actually happened. Obama was desperate to see an immigration bill — of virtually any type — cross his desk. In May 2013, he reached a tentative deal with a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, which would have been substantially more conservative than the Senate bill. It was ultimately rejected by Republican House leadership.

“BILL: Don’t you have to go through Congress at some point? EXECUTIVE ORDER: Oh that’s adorable, you still think that’s how government works.”

CREDIT: Youtube
The implication here is that presidents before Obama didn’t use executive action for major policy areas. In fact, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan both used executive orders to protect undocumented immigrants. In 1989, Bush’s order protected about 40% of the undocumented population, roughly the same percentage as Obama’s order.

“BILL: Look at the midterm elections, people clearly don’t want this.”

CREDIT: Youtube
Actually, the majority of people who voted in the midterms said the opposite. According to a national election poll, “57 percent of midterm voters say most illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.” Less than 40% favored deportation, which the president’s order protects some undocumented immigrants against.
Of course, as a parody, the SNL skit isn’t required to be fully fact checked. But that’s not how it’s being treated in the media or among politicians. BuzzFeed’s article on the sketch is entitled: “This “Schoolhouse Rock” Sketch On “SNL” Shows Just How Messed Up Our Government Is.” And Ted Cruz is already citing it in television appearances.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Her Family Valued

Can the public accept that a beleaguered public figure might in reality resign for her family?

On Wednesday, after the announcement and a news conference in which the mayor called the news media’s fixation “repulsive,” The Post kept at it, reminding readers that it had spent at least part of the summer fruitlessly pursuing rumors that Mr. Sharpton was the biological father of Ms. Noerdlinger’s son.

Republicans Accuse Obama of Treating Immigrants Like Humans

(photo: file)
(photo: file)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
21 November 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

n a sharp Republican rebuke to President Obama’s proposed actions on immigration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President, on Thursday night, of “flagrantly treating immigrants like human beings, in clear defiance of the wishes of Congress.”
McConnell was brutal in his assessment of the President’s speech on immigration, blasting him for “eliminating the fear of deportation, which is the great engine of the American economy.”
“Fear is what keeps immigrants working so hard and so fast and so cheap,” McConnell said. “Remove the fear of deportation, and what will immigrants become? Lazy Americans.”
In a dire warning to the President, McConnell said, “If Mr. Obama thinks that, with the stroke of a pen, he can destroy the work ethic of millions of terrified immigrants, he’s in for the fight of his life.”
He added that Obama’s comments about deporting felons were “deeply offensive” to political donors.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Top News

Some Republicans Fear Alienating Hispanic Voters

Republicans say their party has the greater challenge — as the White House is betting — in framing their opposition in a way that does not antagonize Latinos and other minority groups.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed the so-called “amnesty” law passed by Congress that granted legal status to three million undocumented immigrants. Credit Ron Edmunds/Associated Press

Action Has Precedent, but May Also Set One

The president’s use of executive powers to confer a quasi-legal status on millions of immigrants is broader than similar initiatives by some Republican presidents.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New York Today: Plastic Bag Talk

Thursday: Weighing in on a 10-cent plastic bag fee, a warmer day, and a silent performance group.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ray Jose, 24, a Filipino whose parents brought him to this country when he was 9, and his father, Ramon Jose. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

A Reprieve That May Not Extend to Parents

Parents of youths already granted a reprieve under a deferred action program could be excluded from the executive order planned by President Obama.

For One Staten Island Campaign, a Special Prosecutor Instead of an Auditor

Criminal charges are being brought over expenditures and filings that are routinely corrected or penalized through audits by the Campaign Finance Board.

The case would be sublimely weird even without the participation of the special prosecutor, Roger Bennet Adler, a past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association. A judge found that in an earlier stint as a special prosecutor, in a different election law case, Mr. Adler had brought in slanted witnesses and permitted hearsay only when it hurt the defendant. He also, the judge ruled, tried to use a witness’s silence against him.
“The cumulative weight of the errors and improprieties cannot be ignored,” the judge, Gloria Goldstein, wrote in dismissing the charges against Porfirio Placencia, who had been accused of filing a false instrument.