DeSantis and Abbott Should be Charged With Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is both a crime against humanity and a crime in the United States. At the same time, it is not against the law to ask for asylum in this nation. Immigration has been the backbone of this country since its founding. And yet, there are some who want to restrict who can enter the US.

Over the last few weeks, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have been using tax dollars to ship South American migrants to blue states. Not knowing where they were going, they were expecting that jobs were waiting for them when they reached their final destination. Instead, the locations they arrived in (New York City for the migrants sent from Texas and Martha’s Vineyard for the migrants sent from Florida), the local officials were not aware or prepared for the new arrivals. As of this past weekend, NYC is looking at the possibility of taking legal action against Abbott.

This goes back to what we all know. Serious reform of our immigration policy is necessary. The most recent change was a decade ago with DACA. While DACA was a huge step forward, it does not solve the overall issue. The problem is made worse by our current political climate, which has at best led to mostly partisan legislation and at worst, created a deadlock that cannot be overcome.

I think the answer to the question should be yes. They have broken the law and like anyone who has been accused of a crime, should have their day in court. But only time will tell if this comes to pass.

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P.S.: A woman who was among the over 10,000 migrants bused from Texas to New York killed herself on Monday. Abbott has blood on his hands.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible Book Review

The core of any democracy is not just the right to vote. It is that every voice and every vote is counted, regardless of the specific details of the person who stepped into the ballot box.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible, by Texas Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was published just a few weeks ago.

O’Rourke does more than advocate for the idea that without voting rights, our nation would crumble. He tells the story of Dr. Lawrence Aaron Nixon. Dr. Nixon was the son of a formerly enslaved man and an early civil rights activist. Weaving throughout the history of the state (and his experience speaking to voters), he shares the narratives of others who have also stood up for free and fair elections.

I enjoyed this book. With his usual eloquence, openness, and direct nature, he is challenging the reader to stand up for this nation and our future. While having an eye for what might come, O’Rourke is looking to the past and lessons learned from the mistakes of our forebears.

Every once in a while, there comes a book that is so essential that it becomes a required read for every American and everyone who believes in democratic values. This book is one of them. Speaking from the heart, he reminds the reader that there is still time to avoid the precipice ahead. That is if we heed the warning signs.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also argue that it is one of the best books of the year.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible is available wherever books are sold.

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Dispatches From the Right: Kari Lake on Feminism, Louisiana Woman Denied Abortion, and Texas Mother Rips Book Bans

The nature of the American democracy is made up of two different political parties who at the end of the day, can hopefully come to a compromise. These days “hopefully” is wishful thinking and “compromise” is a dirty word, depending on who you speak to.

Last week, Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake made the following statement:

“Women are not equal to men. We don’t want to be equal to them”.

I have a problem with this statement. If women are not equal to men, then we are inferior. Therefore Ms. Lake hasn’t got a chance in you know where to win her election. The person who becomes Arizona’s next Governor will automatically be a male. This type of thinking drives me insane. The women take advantage of feminist achievements when it suits them, but they also bash it when it suits them. They can’t have it both ways. We are equal to our male counterparts, or we are meant to be barefoot and pregnant without any rights.

Last week, in Louisiana, Nancy Davis was denied an abortion. As of when the news hit the press, she was 15 weeks pregnant and told that her fetus was nonviable. Due to the draconian and far too vague anti-abortion law, she will have to travel out of state to have the procedure. I can only imagine that being told that the fetus is nonviable is hard enough. The last thing I would wish on anyone in that position is to be told that they have to carry a pregnancy to term because of legislation crafted by non-medical professionals who may be forcing their religious beliefs on others.

And finally, in Texas, Adrienne Quinn Martin stood in front of her local school board and basically told them to shove their book-banning ideas where the sun doesn’t shine.

My favorite part of her speech is as follows:

“Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination,” she told the room as she looked various board members and attendees directly in the eye.

“I implore the board to put an end to attempts to appease these extremists. Focus on retaining staff, providing excellent public education and a safe and welcoming learning space for all students. The speakers speaking about what great Christians they are? Great. Go tell your pastor. Our schools are not your church.

Am I a taxpayer whose taxes help to fund public schools? Yes. But I am not a parent or a teacher. Nor do I have a degree in education. Therefore, I will let those who interact with students on a constant basis make the decisions that are best for our children’s education.

This is the state of our political system these days. We have two choices: let the extremists on the right change this nation or fight for everything we hold dear.

Look Both Ways Movie Review

We never know how our decisions will impact the path we take in life. The only thing we can do is make lemonade with the lemons we have been given.

The new Netflix movie, Look Both Ways, follows Natalie (Lilli Reinhart). On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie sleeps with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez). At a party a few days later, she takes several pregnancy tests. The narrative then diverges into two separate stories: one in which she is pregnant, and another in which she is not pregnant.

In the scenario in which Natalie is pregnant, she stays in Texas. Co-parenting with Gabe, she does the best she can to raise their daughter and gives up her dreams in the process. In the scenario in which she is not pregnant, Natalie moves to Los Angeles with her best Cara (Aisha Dee). Working at her ideal job under Lucy (Nia Long), she starts dating Jake (David Corenswet).

This film is a sweet romantic comedy about accepting yourself and what life has thrown at you. Natalie is certainly a character that is relatable on multiple levels. She knows what she wants, but she also knows that she has to live in the real world.

What made it stand out is that Natalie lives in the real world, not some rom-com fantasy that is so fantastic that it is impossible to believe that it’s real.

Do I recommend it? Yes

Look Both Ways is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Republicans Got Owned: Beto O’Rourke and Dick Cheney

Politics is more than the creation of a series of laws. The impact of such legislation has consequences that go far beyond the room that it is passed and signed in.

Over the past few weeks, the Republicans got owned twice.

The first instance came earlier this week. During a campaign event, Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was speaking about the need for gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde in the spring. One person laughed and O’Rourke went off on him. The crowd cheered in response.

This is the type of leadership we need. We need someone who cares more about saving lives than padding their pockets or kissing the asses of their 1% donors.

Meanwhile, last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney released an ad supporting his daughter Liz while warning that he who shall not be named is dangerous. The reaction from MeidasTouch contributor Texas Paul is absolutely on the spot.

These days, the former VP is one of the OGs of the right. Back in the day, his nickname on the left was Darth Vader due to his less than moral actions. I can’t say that his reputation has taken a 180. But given what is going on in this country at the moment, his warning should not be taken lightly.

We still have time to save our nation and our future. The question is, will we do so, or let everything we know and love turn into a dumpster fire?

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Republicans and the Hypocrisy of Small Government

Every political movement, big and small, has a core ideal that governments their policies and legislation.

If we are to believe the current Republican party, they are governed by the idea of small government. As per Thomas Jefferson, it is as follows:

[A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

On paper, it doesn’t sound hypocritical at all. It comes off as fairly reasonable. The powers that be should not be interfering in the day-to-day life of the average person on the street. But the reality is another story entirely.

When they are called out for their duplicity, they claim “free speech“. What about my right to free speech? Why is it they are allowed to speak their truths, but if I do it, I am labeled a radical lefty snowflake?

If they want to live in a right-wing, sexist, and racist Christian theocracy, that is their choice and their decision. As we say in Judaism “Zolst leben un zein gezunt!” (Yiddish for you should live and be well!). but do not impose your beliefs on me and expect me to quietly give in.

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Let’s Talk About the Real Baby Killers (Hint: It’s Not Pro-Choice Activists)

We all know that children are our most precious resource. Without the next generation, our future is non-existent. As we all know, 19 of those precious resources were taken from us earlier on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.

Those who are pro-life and against Roe V. Wade argue that abortion is nothing more than the killing of babies. I would argue the opposite. Republicans who are vocally against gun control laws are the real baby killers.

In the three days since the murders, Texas leadership has placed the blame on every issue except one: the fact that the gunman was able to easily get access to a firearm. The only one of them to speak the truth is Beto O’Rourke. When he dared to confront public officials, he was booted out of the room and called all sorts of names.

Courtesy of Facebook.

What I find completely ironic and sad is that while Governor Greg Abbott placed at the feet of responsibility among other things, mental health, he authorized cutting millions of dollars of mental health aid from the state budget.

When I think of both of these topics entwined together, I think of the younger generation who has been traumatized by these events. Not just the kids who are hearing about this on the news or from adults, but the ones who were there. The scars of hearing and/or watching their classmates and teachers being killed will likely create scars that will stay with the survivors for decades.

I remember that right after Columbine happened, there were some who condemned the band, Marilyn Manson, for the killings. I’ve never had even an iota of interest in their music. The problem is that instead of looking inward to understand what led to the tragedy, the accused were outside actors who in reality, had nothing to do with the problem.

It’s been three days and my heart still hurts. The only silver lining is that this may be the figurative fire that finally forces us to codify legislation, both at the national and state level that stops this kind of event. The question is if our lawmakers have the balls and the backbone to do so.

P.S. The husband of one of the teachers who tried to save her students died from a heart attack, unable to deal with the grief. I can only imagine what their kids are going through, having lost both of their parents.

Z”L

Sandy Hook Part II: At Least Eighteen Children and Two Adults Killed in an Elementary School in Texas

We all remember the horror of Sandy Hook in December of 2012. The young lives lost, the adults who tried to save their students, and the heartache that will never fade.

This morning was the sequel to that day. An eighteen-year-old gunman charged into an elementary school in Texas. Among the dead are at least eighteen children and two adults.

This is the third mass shooting to make national news in the last seven days. The third occurred in a church in Orange County in California. Five people were injured and one man was killed. Closer to home, a man was killed by a stranger carrying a gun on the Q train on Sunday in New York City. The accused was caught today. When did we become so desensitized that this unnecessary loss of life that it is nothing more than another headline?

I keep thinking that it is going to get to the point in which we have to wear bulletproof vests as part of our regular wardrobe and go through airport-style security to complete simple errands.

I blame the NRA. I blame the Republicans who are more concerned with their careers and lining their own pockets than doing what is right for the country. I blame all of our politicians who are too chicken shit to speak up and save lives. I blame Fox News and other right-wing media organizations who knowingly peddle lies. I blame those who are more concerned with the unborn than the current members of the young generation. I blame those who use mental health as an excuse instead of looking for real-world solutions and once more create a sense of shame around needing help.

We need rock-solid gun control laws now. We needed them in 2012 and we needed them after Columbine 23 years ago. I don’t know what it is going to take to get this legislation on the books. How many of our children will die before we do something about it?

If you have children, hug them and tell them that you love them. It may be the last time you say it to them.

The only thing I can think of right is to vote in November. Regardless of party or affiliation, if a candidate or incumbent does not support gun control, do not vote for them. Send the message that lives are more important than power.

May the memory of those murdered today be a blessing and finally be the impetus needed to get off our asses and fix this problem for good. Z”L.

P.S. I have no doubt that certain members of the press will use the fact that the allegation that the accused crossed the border illegally to once more further their own agenda.

P.P.S The fact that the shooting in the church in California is news to me tells me everything I need to know about where this nation is going.

Flashback Friday: Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000)

No one gets through life without a few bumps in the road. The only question is if it holds up back or makes us stronger.

The TV movie biopic, Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000), tells the story of the late singer and actor. Marvin Lee “Meat Loaf” Aday (W. Earl Brown) was born in Texas to a loving mother dying of cancer and a father who was far from parent of the year. As a young man, tormented by his father and peers due to his size and decided to strike out on his own.

Fate would lead him to an audition for a musical where he met future music partner Jim Steinman (Zachary Throne). Together, they would create Bat Out of Hell, which has become one of the best-selling and most respected albums of all time. But while Meat Loaf had incredible career success and a happy family life, his demons were not too far behind him.

As I recall, I enjoyed watching it. It reveals both the highs and the lows in a way that is entertaining without being too heavy, kitschy, or predictable. In telling Meat Loaf’s story, I would hope that members of the audience find the courage to overcome their own demons.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Republican Fuckery Part III: Will Hurd on Abortion, Frank Niceley on Hitler and the Homeless, Tucker Carlson’s Balls, and Paul Schroder

In an ideal world, we would all agree on everything. But we don’t live in an ideal world. However, that does not mean that in the halls of power, one party has to do all the work and the other can just complain all day.

Last Monday, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd was on The Brian Lehrer Show. When asked about abortion, he said the following:

I am pro-life and I think the time at which how many weeks into a birth you should limit. I think there is where Texas falls I am supportive of. I also think both sides of the argument should be looking and making sure, how do we prevent a young woman or any woman from having to get in this situation? I think working on the front end of this issue is where both sides of individuals can be working together.

While the Congressman has a right to his opinion and sounds more reasonable than many on the right, he is still seeing this issue in black and white instead of in color. An episode from the podcast The Experiment which originally premiered last December explains why we need to look at abortion from an honest perspective.

Meanwhile, also within the Lone State’s borders, there is a voice of reason: Paul Schroder. He spoke truth to power on Governor Greg Abbott‘s attempt to limit the number of trucks coming into the state. Instead of helping the country, they are once more hurting us. Thanks, Republicans.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley made the following statement:

“Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that got him into history books,” he said.

“So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead end. They can come out of this, these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he continued. “I support this bill.”

I think we can all agree that homelessness is a major problem that has been bandied around for decades without a reasonable resolution. But the choice of using a homicidal dictator who started a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people as an example was not a wise decision.

And finally, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has made his personal crusade the restoration of American masculinity. How you ask? Testicle tanning. I shit you not.

(Starts at 4:15.)

Just another day of Republican fuckery in the United States.

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