Chuck Hagel Confirmed as Secretary of State

Chuck Hagel was finally confirmed as Defense Secretary today. He was confirmed by a 58-41 vote.

All the voting Democrats voted for former Sen.  Hagel.  The only non vote was N.J. Sen. Lautenberg.  The 89 year old New Jersey Democratic Senator was at home sick.  All 41 of the votes against the Hagel nomination were Republican.  But there were a few defectors. They were the Senior Senator from Mississippi, Thad Cochran; First term Nebraska Senator, Mike Johanns; Five term Senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby; and most curiously given his abrasive questioning during the confirmation process,  The junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

I for one am happy that Chuck finally got through.  It was a very tight vote, at least as far as votes for confirmation of a defense secretary is concerned. The tightest vote in recent history from what I have read.  It was not exactly a fait accompli that he would pass, as the Republican opposition to his nomination was fierce.

There was the insane “The democrats are worried about Hagel” false flag attack, supposedly put together by concerned democrats that after scrutiny completely disappeared.  As I recall it was a right wing group that funded that attack.  Then there was the infamous “Friends of Hamas” giggle-fest that the sleaze-bags over at Breitbart put out, despite the fact that no such organization exists.

Then there was the fun from propagandist Ted Cruz.  Ted read a story from Reuters.  That story said that an official in the Iranian government hoped that the next defense secretary would be more interested in peace and less interested in warmongering. Ted turned that into something completely other. Ted turned that into a nominee for the biggest lie of 2013 ; His claim that Iran was “cheering” the Hagel nomination.

Then there was the plain crazy crap he came up with during the Senate Armed Services committee nomination process when Ted said that he wasn’t sure that former Sen. Hagel had taken money under the table for speeches from radical groups.  People are still trying to figure out what the hell that fat glib fraud Cruz was talking about.

And do I have to speak at all about Sen. McCain’s bitching and moaning at the Conformation hearings? No?  Good.  McCain is an asshole, and the less I write about him the better. Attention of any kind only eggs the stupid bastard on.

On top of that there are the right wing outside pressure groups that tried to paint now Sec. Hagel as being weak on Iran and not being friendly enough with Israel, that he was not a good enough friend of Israel because he was soft on Iran.

Now his record does show that he has in past voted both for and against sanctions on Iran.  That does not make him soft on Iran.  That makes him smart.  His reasoning for voting against sanctions when he did vote against them was that the sanctions simply won’t do anything.

Tell me, in hindsight, how much was Iran weakened by sanctions?  How much? Not very, they are getting closer to being nuclear capable, and their work on nuclear capabilities continues unabated, despite those sanctions. The sanctions worked well, didn’t they?

Seems Sec. Hagel was right.

And now he has to try to work on negotiations with Iran to talk them off of the nuclear cliff.

Good Luck, Secretary Hagel.

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No Real Shot for the Assault Weapons Ban

Don’t expect any realistically workable assault weapons ban legislation to get off of the floor of the Senate anytime soon.  There is simply, despite the clarion call by the bulk of the American people for sensible legislation in this area, not enough support from the Senate Democrats in order to pull that off.  Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, and several other Senate Democrats are in the process of starting up their 2014 re-election campaigns, and as we all know in the age of the perpetual campaign that is an important element.  And since a number of them live in red states, their votes simply cannot be counted on to be there to vote for the assault weapons ban.

There is much more to the Democratic Senators not backing the assault weapons ban than the perpetual election cycle. Some of these people genuinely dislike the thought of an assault weapons ban.  A few examples would be Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor.

Mark Pryor gets a D from the NRA, but a closer look at his stances reveals a man who is pro-gun in a great many ways, from voting to prohibit lawsuits against gun manufacturers to voting yes on prohibiting aid to organizations and entities that require the registration of , or taxes guns owned by American citizens. I cannot find any real serious attempt on Sen. Pryor’s part to in any way vote against the gun lobby in any way whatsoever.

Max Baucus a number of years ago voted for loosening gun licensing restrictions at gun shows, and has stated that he is for repealing federal restrictions on the purchase  and possession of guns.  Jon Tester has much the same record as his two compatriots, and on top of that voted to ban gun restrictions in Washington DC.

On top of these three senators, there are the several other democrats in the Senate who are similar in their voting records.  Which points as far as I can see it to a large Democratic roadblock to any assault weapons ban.

Everywhere I have looked on the Internet, and I have looked in a great number of places, I cannot find a single article that points to any realistic possibility of there even being a Democratic majority in the Senate.  And if there is no possibility there, then there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of there being enough votes to get past the now obligatory cloture vote that the senate now has to go through.

From this vantage point, and frankly from any realistic vantage point in the story of the assault weapons ban, there is only one salient point to drive home;  it is done.  It cannot pass.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.  But sadly, the NRA has won another round against people who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace.  It is sad to think that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been overridden by lobbyists working for gun manufacturers.

Sad but true.

(Minor edit,  2/24/13 11:30 pm edt)

Guantanamo, DADT, and John Kyl, That Whiny Bastard

I try to read news stories that are perhaps somewhat out of the mainstream, as far afield as possible, while still being important and relevant.  The first one up involves a senate vote about Guantanamo Bay.  You’d be surprised that something this big from that powerful and influential a force in the body politick could fly under the radar, but it has.  I watched the news and heard nothing on it.  Watched all the news commentary shows, and heard nothing on it. 

According to the AFP story, the Senate will begin considering a bill blocking civilian trials for any of the 173 terror suspects still held in Guantanamo bay.  The bill wil also feature language halting the closure of said base.  According to Attorney General Eric Holder, there is no precedent for Congress to intrude in the prosecution of any particular individuals. 

So, if military tribunals are so much better than civilian ones,  what about the case of Binyam Mohammad?  Jabran Al Qahtani?  The resignations from Guantanamo due to ethical considerations of Maj. John Carr, Maj Robert Preston, and the 5 other prosecutors who walked away due to ethical considerations?  What about the cases of torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, and other weak-kneed vindictive bullshit that masquerades as justice?  This is a legacy we want to add to?

Seriously?

With the way things were run there, with the things that were allowed to occur, do you think you’ll see more of your alleged justice?  What you want has a different name in the real world.  Vengeance is it’s name.  The real deal is this.  Osama Bin Laden is still free, and still alive.  This is a poor substitute for vengeance against our real enemy, against people who are not the man you want dead.  How does this bring us closer to catching him? How does doing this bring us closer to real justice?  The courts have been successful at prosecuting the real criminals who took part in harming our nation and it’s people, more successful than military tribunals.

To ignore that reality is to ignore justice, real justice. That is something you do at your peril.

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Viddy of the day:  From the fine folks at Fora.tv, a short clip of a long talk about Guantanamo Bay, from January of this year.  To watch the entire talk, click here.

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I like to walk about amidst the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty.

George Santayana, soliloquies In England and Later soliloquies

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DADT looks to be going the way of the dodo, and that’s a good thing.  It’s not like there are no gays in the military, If there weren’t, there would have been no need for the legislation to begin with.  Some numbnuts general said some crap, bout it’d harm soldiers in the field.  Bullshit.  Saying it would harm soldiers is just plain dumb.  There are Gay soldiers already there on the battlefield.  Flying missions, on the ground,  in foxholes with other soldiers, in Helicopters, in all sorts of places. 

Saying your own men, who are already there will harm your men is a patently ridiculous statement.

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Apparently Republicans hate working.  John Kyl says that all this…  legislation that the Democrats are trying to pass is an assault on Christmas

Whiny Bastard

He’s bitching.  Please.

I took my cat out of the animal hospital(his butt exploded, anal gland abscess burst, poor dude) walked 2 miles to the store, bought a 30 pound bag of littler he needed, special litter that won’t get in his open wound, carried it home, in my arms (no car) all the way back (THAT was a hella workout, biceps are sore).  Came home.   Cleaned out the cats litter boxes, tossed the old litter, put in the new litter. Looked for work, sent out 7 more resumes(that actually took a few hours, dammit). Gave the cat his medicine, cleaned his wound, brought him food.  Cleaned up around the house, made dinner.  Ran 9.7 miles. Worked out.

With the exception of that 2 mile walk for the litter and the walk from the Animal hospital, much of this is a regular routine.

I think I did more than he did. 

John Kyl: Whiny little shit.

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That’s it from here, America.  12 notes tomorrow.

Filib*llsh*t!

You come here to tell us lies, but we don’t want to hear them. If we told you more, you would have paid no attention. That is all I have to say.

Sitting Bull

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I will NOT pass any bills until I GET MY BLANKIE!

Republicans are threatening to shut down congress, block everything, until they get what they want on the bitch Bush tax cuts.  Democrats almost immediately countered with an offer of a deal.  Better to offer them a boot in the ass I say.  They paralyze the nation with their bluff and bluster, and the Democrats want to make deals.  I understand why, but I call them weak, they are responding to weakness with weakness.  They have weapons at their disposal and don’t use them, or not in public enough a way.  They should simply offer every bill pending. 

Everything.   

Show America exactly what obstructionism does, what it really means.  When things start to close down, and still nothing gets done, despite the best efforts of the Democrats to play the game above board, then and only then will the Republicans see what they have wrought, and feel the wrath of the American public.

Only by making the shameful actions of the Republicans the main focus of their energy in this general manner will they gain any ground.  I like the jobs package stratagem that Begich, McCaskill and Schumer have put together, but I don’t know that it is nearly enough.  Ya gotta throw everything, including the kitchen sink at’em, dammit.

Jeff Merkley, senator from Oregon has very much the right idea.  Alter the rules of the game, change the filibuster, make it so that the party filibustering has to be there, in force, and constantly in order to maintain it.  This would put a quick end to obstructionism, and either force the other side to negotiate, or capitulate. Force both sides to man up, because right now, neither one is showing much in the way of … intestinal fortitude, and could use a real set of cojones.

Filibuster everything?  Sounds like Filibullshit to me!  God damn cry baby Republicans, can’t work with America, so they resort to shutting the place down.  Punk ass bitches, the lot of them.

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What are the American ideals? They are the development of the individual for his own and the common good; the development of the individual through liberty, and the attainment of the common good through democracy and social justice.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

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Viddy of the day:  Sen. Franken from several months ago, talking about the perversion of the filibuster.  He’s probably flipping his lid over the current filibuster on everything that the senate has on it’s agenda.  And this time it’s about a lot more than a few nominees that have been forced to ride the pine and wait until the Republicants get their heads out of their asses,

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Just a short one today, America.  It’s been a busy tiring day, I’m gonna go hang out relax with my wife.  Have a g’night.

Don’t Privatize Social Security

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Social security.  Sharron Angle wants to phase it out, or rework it, and follow the “Chilean model”.  Can’t tell rightly, she changes her mind an awful lot about social security and whether it should be privatized or not.  First yes, because the system is broken, then no because she looked at things and decided that the system works (how nice of her to approve) and now she’s back to liking privatization.

Rand Paul has a plan that would balance the budget! It would involve cutting Social Security, defense and pentagon spending.  How will it he do it? I have no idea!  Want to know why? Because he doesn’t know either! When asked about how he would deal with the Department of Education for example, he said “Send it back to the states” What does that mean exactly?  I could not tell you! When he was asked about title I, which helps local districts educate disadvantaged children he said, and I quote:    

“I’ve never thought about it. I don’t know my position on that.”

Gotta love that thought process, that depth of readiness he exhibits when faced with spending issues.  After all, if he is going to balance the budget, shouldn’t he know what he’s balancing?  That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Ken Buck claims that Social security will Bankrupt the country in the next two decades, and therefor he wants to get rid of it.  He’s said that the private sector runs programs like that much better.

Really? How many programs like Social security does the private sector run?  Money Markets? 401ks?  We all remember how well they held up during the height of the great recession, right?  We all remember that $550,000,000,000 run on the money markets during mid September 2008 that was only stopped when the government had to step in to stop it before it bankrupted the entire nation and destroyed the entire financial system.

Ya, these tea party neocons know how to run things, like their mouths.  Minds, not so much.

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Viddy of the day:  This is Jack Conway, the man running against Rand Paul for the Senate seat in Kentucky,  giving a speech(from which these are edited highlights)  in a place called Fancy Farm, a town in graves county Kentucky. Fancy Farm has an annual picnic which usually gets the biggest names in local Kentucky politics.  I’ve read enough about it where I really want to go see it myself, and not for the politics either.  The food sounds out of this world!

Again I put in this note, like yesterday: If you are viewing this through IE8, the video will not work.  To view the viddy please open this page in the latest version of firefox, or google chrome, or Opera.  All three work. (note, added 8/14, the actual issue is not IE as originally thought, it is an issue with flash.  If you have flash loaded properly, you should see the viddys just fine. Sorry for the mixup)

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Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well. In building toward this end we do not destroy ambition, nor do we seek to divide our wealth into equal shares on stated occasions. We continue to recognize the greater ability of some to earn more than others. But we do assert that the ambition of the individual to obtain for him and his a proper security, a reasonable leisure, and a decent living throughout life, is an ambition to be preferred to the appetite for great wealth and great power.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1935 State of the Union Address

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Ron Johnson, running for senate against Russ Feingold for the senate seat in Wisconsin says he wants to privatize Social security.

David W. Hendrick, running for the open seat in the third congressional district in Oregon, calls Social security a ponzi scheme, using the much ballyhooed phrase that the tea party neocons love to use.

It’s not just them.  David Vitter, The shithead senator who has a problem with women, wants to privatize Soc. Sec., as does former senator, and future senate hopeful Dan Coats,  and also Roy Blunt, who is running for Kit Bond’s senate seat in Missouri. 

There is an almost perverse ugliness to witnessing this.  That people would want to leave their life savings in someplace as unsafe as the stock market or some such similar vehicle seems absolutely insane to me.   There are people who had their life savings wiped out in 2008, in the same market that these people want YOU to trust enough to put your money in.  All the regulation on earth cannot stop the fluctuations that happen in the market, and to even propose it nowadays, when there is such market volatility, the ineptness here just boggles the mind.

The government isn’t going to go broke in the next two decades because of Social Security, as Senate hopeful “stupid f*ck” Buck in Colorado thinks.  It is NOT A ponzi scheme, and anyone dumb enough to say that probably isn’t smart enough to actually know what the differences between a ponzi scheme (a blatant attempt to rip people off, where only a few benefit), and Social Security ( a fairly stable program that helps millions while hurting no one, and everyone who partakes benefits) really are. 

There is nothing but a world of hurt awaiting us if we end up privatizing Social Security.  George Bush, the main proponent of this doctrine, could not, even with a majority in both the house and senate get this passed. Putting it through now would bankrupt my future,  my generations future, and every generation that comes after would suffer from the cyclical privations that would damage the life savings of every American through privatization. 

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That’s it from here, America.  Have a good night, I’ll write to you again tomorrow.

Conrad’s Candor

He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate; to marry, to give up the game, to drag this death weight about with him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he thought them into being.

Jean-Paul Sartre, L’âge de raison

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Viddy of the day:  This is a radio interview apparently, with Senator Kent Conrad and Mike Stark.  The senator makes quite the  deft argument for the middle class tax cuts and unemployment given the current economic situation.  He even talks here of keeping the Bush tax cuts for 2 more years, then getting rid of them.  I prefer letting them expire myself, not being the economic conservative that Sen. Conrad is.  I also read here that there was some kind of interview that Sen. Conrad did that skewed his views out of all proportion.  Good to see him de-breitbart himself, and get the truth out.

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I just finished reading an article, an interview of Sen. Kent Conrad and Ezra Klein of the Washington post.  T’was a most interesting article. Sen. Conrad really does have his head screwed on straight as far as economics is concerned, and about other stuff as well. The bit that caught my eye was at the end of the interview, where he was candid and frank in his assessment of certain members of the senate.  The claim is a simple one, the anti-deficit stand taken by some (not all, some) Republican members of the senate is not genuine, that they act the way they do because they want the President to fail.  Now, wanting the President to fail means wanting America to fail, and for what?

Political power.  And Sen. Conrad states it that clearly.

That is an impressive statement, it really is.  He isn’t trying to start a fight, he isn’t making political hay, it seems, the statement is a from the heart genuine assessment of the politics as it happens in the senate.

Nothing earth shattering as far as revelations go, but in an age of lies and sound bites, the level, honest truth sounds refreshing.  Put that together with his sensible statements about the economy, and what you get is an almost ideal Democrat, even if he leans a bit too far right for my liking on some issues.  Polished on policy points, mindful of the world around, smart enough to navigate it in a clear concise manner, strong enough to state precisely what needs to be said, without rancor .

Now it would be difficult to not be aware of that political power hunger on the part of some of the Republicans, putting power ahead of the good of the people.  He is after all around these people most days, works with them, knows them, their families as well one would guess, so a statement of this magnitude really deserves to be taken at face value.

And a good look at position changes, and outright lies told by those on the right in the senate over the last few years would probably give a good indication of which members of the Senate he is talking about.  And if he won’t out them, I will offer up a list.  I could be wrong, but I have seen these gentlemen in action for a long time, and they each have changed with the Election of a Democratic President.

DeMint, McCain, McConnell, Inhofe, Cornyn, Sessions, Kyl, Shelby. 

There is a reason each name is up there, and it is kindness to leave out the precise reasons, and also kind to leave some names off, to be honest.

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We are as much as we see. Faith is sight and knowledge. The hands only serve the eyes.

Henry David Thoreau, Journals

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Wednesday’s links:

Sen. Kent Conrad: ‘The immediate threat is not the debt, it’s weak aggregate demand’

Geithner blasts Bush policies for debt

Treasuries drop; Service sector data gives hope about economy

Hey! Did you see that?

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A short aside before I call it a night.  I am pleased so far with my job hunt, I’ve sent out feelers everywhere.  Sometimes it seems as though I’ve been on it forever, and that I will never make any progress,  but deep down, I know I will.  I have, for all the resumes I have sent in and all the phone calls I have made since the June 22nd layoff, gotten only one phone call returned.  From NYPIRG.  I don’t know what they might want me to do (I missed the phone call, and called them back and left a message, ain’t phone tag fun!), but whatever it is I can do it, but I keep thinking about money.  What if they only pay minimum wage? I have heard as much that some jobs there do.  Is it wrong to turn down work when working means making less than not working, especially since I am already in debt?

I don’t think I would do myself or my wife justice to take a job that pays less than unemployment, a job that in fact costs me money while taking resources I cannot afford to spend out of pocket. If I make $300+ a week staying home, and not have enough to pay all the bills, or close enough to that, should I further bankrupt myself and take less $100 less per week, and put myself and my wife further in debt?

Any work is good work, but not all work is equal to the circumstances workers find themselves in.

Dammit I just need a good job.  I’ll find one… just thinking out loud.

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G’night America.

Bill Of Rights? We Don’t Need No Stinking Bill Of Rights!

Actually we do, but listening to certain people talk around Washington, I wonder whether there are people around on the right who actually believe that.

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Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being “pushed to an extreme”; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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In normal times, the following would be a fairly innocuous statement:  I am for the 14th amendment.  It is after all part of the bill of rights. But these times are anything but normal.  So divisive are the politics of this day and age, that basic freedoms and simple concepts placed within the the bill of rights, are somehow deemed Un-American, or at the very least improper,  because of the power of the media to sway minds by making cases that would seem absurd in normal circumstances.  As if simply by making a case for questioning the Bill of Rights, it somehow validates the questioning, makes it plausible.

When Sens. John McCain and Jeff Sessions join a chorus of idiots in calling for hearings into whether we should get rid of even a portion, even a single sentence of the 14th amendment of OUR bill of rights, he sent a sign to all the freedom haters of America.  A sign that says, if we don’t like our freedoms, lets just have a hearing and see if it’s OK to get rid of the ones we don’t like. 

It’s really only one sentence they say, one little sentence.  We’ll change it so people who aren’t born here who have children here won’t be allowed citizenship, they say.  Do you want to know what a great many Americans say?

LEAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS ALONE.

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I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

Abraham Lincoln

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Viddy of the day:  Thom Hartmann talking about Immigration.

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Tuesday’s links:

United States Vs. Wong Kim Ark

Republicans want review of birthright citizenship

Whither the 14th amendment?

Forer effect 

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If you change one sentence of it, you can change another sentence, to deal with a pesky problem in the prevailing political winds in the future. And of such actions is oppression born.  Do we want those who come after us to think we, any of us, thought it fair, or good or right, to tear out freedoms from one of our most important documents, and the one that actually guarantees our freedoms, no less? Let’s look at the actual problem here.

Children being born on our shores, by mothers who are not citizens.  Illegal immigration is an issue, but you want to fight about this particular bit? Seriously?  Those infants are…what? A threat to our way of life? In what way? What are the grounds upon which you are actually going to alter the Bill of Rights? How deeply will you affect Illegal immigration by denying a child citizenship? I see no realistic effect on Illegal immigration.  Or do you think a few words will stop people from coming across the border when fear of death itself does little to stop them now?

Please.  George Bush’s tax cuts are more of an existential threat to the populace than Juan and Esmerelda’s baby(to pull two Spanish sounding names out at random) is.   Sens. Kyl, McCain, Graham and Sessions attack on the worthiness of the first sentence of the 14th amendment is seriously a much greater threat to our freedom than any Honduran trying to have a baby in Texas.  Or Arizona.  Or… wait… I see a pattern, and maybe just a little bit of funny.

These children are being born in red states to parents who would, when they become citizens in all likelihood vote democratic, remembering how they were treated by those self serving right wingers, and those children would in time do the same, just like generations of Latino immigrants have before.  These Republicans are trying to keep them out to keep their strongholds for future generations of Republicans, so they can stay Republican strongholds, by any means necessary. 

Ya know, they might vote for you more often if you were just nicer to them,  worked with them, and stopped calling them wetbacks and other epithets.  Srsly.

These right wingers really don’t have to go changing the Bill of Rights just to save their political hides, or score political points.  They could just try to pass proper immigration reform legislation, hell they might like to try proposing it.  T’would be nice.   But then again, they like kinda stupid crap. Proof?

Think about this, they created (out of thin air, flag burning never being a serious threat to America, ever)  the waste of space that was the flag burning amendment, trying to make it look like they’re patriotic while doing the bidding of their corporate masters(that is, perhaps, why most of them bear a passing resemblance to Quasimodo) and hold power through fear, and steal freedom in the name of profits.   Or the defense of marriage act, partly because they… well… because they’re scared of gay people.  Probably afraid they’ll catch it (that’s just how they think, the bozos) and become gay themselves, I guess.  Bunch of stinking Anti-American right wing homophobes.

Oh, and one other thing back on point.  Amending the constitution takes a super-majority in both houses and then ratification by 3/4 of the states. Do you seriously think, with the nation as bitterly divided on this subject as on any other, that any attempt to alter the 14th amendment will succeed with those requirements needing to be met? 

Not gonna happen.  Buenas noches, America.