Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Recently it has been the continued bashing of president Obama over the thousands of children pouring over the border from Mexico, central, Latin American countries, attributed to everything from a lackadaisical attitude on border security to passing of portions of the dream act confusing illegals into thinking, if their children make it here, they will be taken care of, even going so far as to say the president toured said region encouraging leaders to send their children here. Though there is no concrete proof of that, and while the crisis at the border is indeed real, does the politicizing of it only add to the white noise of D.C. scandals with far less meaning? For example house speaker John Boehner vowing to sue Obama citing misuse of executive order echoing fellow tea party members, republicans who exclaim regularly we did not elect a monarch in chief, often referring to him as dictator in chief or king Obama. First it was the outrage centering on the administration not doing enough to bring Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl home; next it was how they went about retrieving Bergdahl and getting him home, building up the 5 guys released in prisoner exchange as some huge threat, congressional members clamoring they weren’t informed despite it being the same deal that fell apart 2 years ago and Bergdahl’s apparent failing health spurring the need for haste over red tape. And when the dust had begun to settle a little too much on the dubious POW, they used it as an excuse to once again open the worn out Benghazi discussion that just this spring got a special committee owning to the White House allegedly “just not telling the truth.”  Not taking aim at the president, no problem anyone is fair game; the IRS scandal having ceased to be about unfairly targeted conservative, assumed conservative groups seeking tax exempt status devolving into Lois Lerner’s “missing” e-mails, shouts about appallingly poor performance ranging from maleficence to incompetence to potential conspiracy. Because apparently government servers don’t crash and hard drives don’t implode; plenty of graduate students, doctorial theses, and their own technical experts would soundly disagree, if Capitol Hill bothered to ask them. This, this is what passes for governance in the 113 congress; more than moving from crisis to crisis, drumming up absolute nonsense to  occupy your time superseding anything your constituency locally, nationally sent you to Washington to achieve.

Syria becoming the humanitarian crisis of the decade, Iraq where we invested thousands of American lives, thousands more wounded warriors, trillions of dollars dissolving into chaos, at home economy still sluggish, infrastructure falling apart, roads and bridges becoming too dangerous to traverse; under those conditions by all means let’s focus our undivided attention on the fact select persons working for the IRS nationally decided to extraordinarily scrutinize republican groups filing for a tax exemption, investigation still ongoing beyond a year later. Independent of the 501c4 status attempting to be used for political campaigning, tabloid level political attack ads, a clever way to avoid transparency required under any other distinction in disclosing your donors vs. social welfare projects, neighborhood beautification projects, programs, fun activities for disadvantaged kids exc. it was originally meant aid in facilitating. The former a direct consequence of the Citizens United decision very uncomplicatedly explaining the heightened examination, the lengthy wait times to obtain approval of the sudden influx of not for profits filing. In the beginning criticism surrounding the IRS was the targeting of a singular political group, one individual ideology; then as time went on evidence showed democratic, progressive groups were singled out too, just not with as great a frequency. Still the bull’s-eye isn’t on portions of tax law needing to change in the wake of Citizens United, isn’t on bringing to justice people who unequivocally had an ax to grind and used their office to do it, who violated law denying qualifying social welfare non-profits, but on scapegoating Lois Lerner into stepping down, less due to actual suspicion of mismanagement, events transpiring on her watch implying it would have been whoever occupied her position, rather because of missing e-mails linked to a server crash, hard drive failure insinuating they were part of an active cover up meant to hide her actions. Squawking she herself didn’t follow procedure, law in backing up, printing off apparently every scrap of paper pertaining to her office; one can guess ignoring entire corporations going paperless to stop killing trees providing us breathable air. Yet when put on the spot accusers cannot name exact laws she broke, pinpoint specific instances of wrongdoing, when asked what their “smoking gun” was, again they couldn’t name it. Completely absent, a larger look at what is, quite frankly, welcome to the computer age; surpassing Chinese hacking perpetrated against the U.S., the threat posed by hacking groups here like Anonymous, in the age post net neutrality where high traffic sites like Netflix are being boosted to faster cyberspace lanes and blaming their lagging technology on slow, substandard internet service providers, where we’ve given computers control over our electrical grids, power plants, water and sewage treatment plants, Paul Ryan gets to throw a temper tantrum about lost e-mails, really?

YouTube as opposed to being up front with users about their switch from Adobe Flash to HTLM5 and providing the latter as a permanent setting option similar to video quality, ability to play selections with annotations on or off, adjust to desired screen size taking a page from Netflix and blaming ISP’s, popular blogging site Word Press willing to whitelist sites for sharing/embedding polls, slide shows, twitter feeds, music audio, images and video for highly used sites like Hulu, YouTube and Vimeo, Dailymotion but leaving off national news sites like NBC, ABC and CBS news, CNN, HLN, MSNBC or Fox News claiming it’s for security reasons, though what is more secure about Dailymotion, YouTube over basic national news remains a mystery and a continued headache for people using Word Press to create say, a local online newspaper; bottom line is, none of this stuff was/is ever as secure as we think it is. Hard drives today, in 2014, continue to resemble a small, fragile record player, servers are infamous for fatal errors and ISP’s responsible for huge swaths of service outage while we obliviously place increasing demands on the internet, on data storage required for various activities shopping to filing retirement benefit claims, entities, the IRS far from being the first, pushing people toward the digital over the paper versions of any and all the above; meaning no you can’t keep things on a hard drive, no you can’t keep things on a server as indefinitely, as easily as we mythically seem to believe because they are not, nor have the ever been indestructible, as sturdily constructed and electronically guarded as Fort Knox. Hinting at exactly what the conversation should be how we can make it that way, not why items disappeared on devices so incapable of keeping them in the first place. Lost amongst the shenanigans is, the enormousbureaucracy president Obama’s administration is touted as creating, giving more things to more people, hardly veiled assertions the government can’t manage the task, is it is actually finding more ways for people to obtain things for themselves being less dependent on government. Equal pay for equal work alone would cut the poverty rate of the nation’s children in half; their parents less dependent on food stamps, government daycare subsides, housing assistance. Addressing student loan debt crisis means young people making greater contributions to the economy, society, less chance they will end up on welfare and can get off their parents couches, eliminating sexual orientation, gender identity discrimination in the workplace assures more people can get, keep jobs, Obama care, even the expansion of Medicaid, the contraception mandate means more people get all inclusive healthcare including prevention, keeping costs down. Perhaps, maybe just maybe if congress poured the millions of dollars it planned to use in suing the president over his implementation of executive order into help for returning service members we wouldn’t have a crumbling VA, if they spent the millions of dollars they used to stream roll Lois Lerner into hiring/training IRS workers they could find tax evaders, aid honest Americans attempting to pay their taxes and adequately handle 501c4 applications; just a thought.

Speaking of wars our nation has managed to get itself into, for whatever reason, god forbid we make a constituted effort to return a POW from 5 years in captivity; if all the accusations against him are remotely close to the truth, god forbid he be physically eligible to, sane enough, mentally well enough to stand trial, to answer the charges against him, to be punished for his wrongdoings. However there is something particularly crass, especially craven about labeling Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, a traitor, lining up disgruntled members of his unit on conservative media to badmouth him, fueling headlines he declared Jihad while in captivity years before, attacking his family because we have never seen horrors of war unhinge a soldier; except we have, Vietnam anyone? The blatant smear campaign utterly appalling taking into account the absolute hypocritical reversal of position on this young man, republicans originally sending out tweets, other social media well wishes, welcome homes, expressing gratitude until they got the party line message they weren’t supposed to be happy about his release, his return because congress wasn’t re-notified on a deal they approved 2 years before, negotiations broken off by the Taliban, not the U.S., i.e. once we discovered who they wanted released in possible exchange. Truth notwithstanding, suddenly these 5 people who were Gitmo nobodies on the day they arrived, at the opening, a few months after the opening, of Gitmo classified prisoners of regular war, enemy combatants vs. terrorists, vs. multiple famous names, also housed at Gitmo, implicated in plots to down U.S. planes, blow up U.S. buildings, landmarks, were a looming threat to America because they had been traded back to a neutral country for one of ours. Forget if it was reasonably safe to release them 2 years prior, shouldn’t it be more so now considering where we are in the war, to say nothing of now who’s out of the loop seeing as they have spent 10-12 years in their own POW captivity, think the landscape might have changed? Nevertheless here comes Bill O’Reilly, emphatically and repeatedly calling Bergdahl’s father a Muslim and Al Qaeda sympathizer because he grew a beard, long hair in honor, commemoration of his child held captive by terrorists; if the former two descriptions are indicators of dangerous Islamic extremists, someone should round up the adult members of the Duck Dynasty family immediately. Additional “evidence,” he learned to speak Pashto in order to communicate with his son, who after 5 years in a hole hearing nothing but a foreign language is struggling to speak English. Something else he was denigrated for by the far right directly pondering was he worth it; others balking you don’t forget you native tongue, solidifying in their minds the idea he is a Muslim convert, Taliban supporter.  Except perhaps you do learn a bit of their language when it means you can tell your captors you’re hungry, cold, sick and get them to do things like throw you a blanket; perhaps you do learn their language, somewhat forgetting your own, when it means you can ask them what they want, odds are they forced you to learn. Because we’ve never seen that, except we have; the same train of thought applying to the assertion he declared Jihad in captivity, cohesion not at all a possibility, we have a name for that too. It’s call Stockholm Syndrome where kidnapees identify with their captors, a type of emotional survival, but since we’re talking about terrorists, a new type of insurgency, new type of warfare than the US is used to seeing, used to fighting all our pervious understanding about the psychological after effects of wars go out the proverbial window. Also to be clear, in the Arabic phrase Robert Bergdahl uttered in front of the Whitehouse there was precisely zero mention of ala, nor any kind of sanctifying of the Whitehouse for Muslims; political pundits and citizens alike seem to be confusing what Mr. Bergdahl said with the Muslim call to prayer’s most recognizable words Allāhu Akbar. The “shit eating grin” purportedly worn by President Obama couldn’t be chalked up to genuine happiness a solider was returned home, couldn’t have been pride at having this young man’s father in the Rose Garden, perfunctory, exaggerated practice smiles for the press; oh heck no, it simply feeds the Obama is a Muslim doing for “his kind” rhetoric. Saddest of all politicians, the public having rendered a verdict in the court of opinion before we know Bergdahl’s side of the story; you see he isn’t physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically ready to be interrogated, questioned as to what the hell happened, is/was not yet ready to be reunited with family, another conservative red flag, but undergoing standard military reintegration processes for POWs.  And worse, political operatives dead set on believing in another popular conspiracy theory use this to bring back the Benghazi frenzy.


Ah yes the Benghazi investigation, no not into the tragedy that took Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens’ life along with 3 other Americans, not into how it all happened, how it can be prevented in the future, how we can spare innocent American blood that was concentrated on rebuilding a nation sans terrorism, sans dictatorship, sowing the seeds of democracy and freedom in their place; unfortunately we mean the rabbit hole better known as the insatiable quest by ultra-right wingers to discover who gave Susan Rice her talking points, to beat up on former secretary of state Hilary Clinton for fabricated claims of incompetence. Why, because she is their chief political opponent, come the 2016 presidential race, with a public popularity rating far higher than former republican golden boy Chris Christie after the divulging of bridge gate; never mind she has made no definitive decision about whether she will run and 2016 is still 2 whole years away. Detracting of course from the one glaringly known fact, though a request for further support in Libya didn’t make it onto the then sectary of states’ desk, get put in front of her eyes, it did come up for debate in the appropriate congressional committee to which they said no, denied additional guards, troops, diplomats, security forces be dispatched to the area. Then want to scream the CIA and other top agencies, officials knew this wasn’t about a YouTube video, wasn’t a spontaneous eruption of violence regardless of Ms. Rice running around all the morning shows saying so according to Whitehouse e-mails released in response to a lawsuit; the end of that sentence reading, but said so anyway deliberately deceiving fellow agencies, the American public, to what, cover their own mistakes? Because we have never withheld information from the public in the interest of national security, public safety even in the post-Watergate era like was done with press and Iraqi war targets, a “misinformation campaign” that was established to throw off the scent of terrorists, help catch those who killed 4 American citizens. Who is truly guilty of throwing up a smoke screen to cover their own behind when the whole situation might have been prevented had congressional members listened when more help was asked for? In light of all those facts, instead of reauthorizing the highway trust fund, background checks for gun buys, the republican spin cycle stubbornly clings to a non-conspiracy, asking for 300 million dollars to further investigate Benghazi.

But president Obama is setting himself up a monarch, a dictator, psychologically harboring an emperor complex because he dares do by executive order what the congress won’t do under their power, responsibility; even on things a collective majority of politicians, the American public agree like equal pay for equal work, raising the national minimum wage to name only two. So he has enacted these facets regarding those companies, corporations, entities holding federal contracts over which the government, and thus he as commander in chief of that government, has jurisdiction; saying you want a government contract, you must abide by the following rules, here is the new minimum wage striking a balance between meaningful pay and not disrupting our economy like other countries have with their minimum wages. Pay women and men the same money for doing the same job, not exemptions, no exceptions, you will no longer be able to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity; such is the reality of doing business. Rather than put forth legislation making student loans easier to pay back, crafting guidelines forcing colleges to keep their tuition charges in check fostering economic growth as students are better able to buy homes, cars, goods, take initiative in moving up the career ladder, going for that new job, owing to being in less debt, less worried about paying what is owed, just surviving congress sits idle on the issue. Counter to coming up with their own solution to utilize young immigrant talent packaged in young people brought here as toddlers, preadolescents for whom America is the only country they remember, essentially American in everything but documents, they refused to so much as vote on the dream act too busy calling it amnesty for people breaking the law; forget these were children brought here with no knowledge of their illegal status, no means by which to circumvent breaking that law, no real free will merely going where their parents did, the dream act, whether in its original form or the parts put into law by executive order, was never an automatic guarantee of citizenship, not even a pathway to same. Despite the largely republican misinformation campaign, it simply gave legal status to work in this country provided you were under a certain age, attending college, some type of secondary training or entered the military. Rather house republican’s move is to sue the president for doing something productive to run the country he has been put in charge of managing, for delays in the healthcare law meant to make things run smoother, solve problems vs. plowing ahead to the chicken little disaster they always bellowed Obama care was. Because they don’t have a healthcare plan, their immigration plan is go back to your home country and get in the back of a nonexistent line to come here; one of the things Jose Antonio Vargas and his film Undocumented does brilliantly is dispel common immigration myths that for illegals either like himself who one moment discover they aren‘t citizens and wish to become legal, no longer want to live in the shadows there isn’t a place you go, fill out forms, are given a hearing, pay your fines and a decision is made. Not so, there is no line, no forms, no way to do it right once you are here; in fact his mother can’t even come here to see her son, can’t get so much as a tourist visa. Why, she doesn’t hold a college degree and owns no property. Curiously even under the mocked “deporter in chief” does it necessarily mean get caught, get deported; the only thing the government did to him upon him going public is revoke his driving license. They don’t have a jobs plan; their economic package is to trash the president on how bad the economy is while leaving every jobs plan he, the senate come up with dead on arrival in the house, giving it the dreaded title stimulus so no one will vote in favor of it.                 

[vimeo 86569491 w=500 h=281]

Jose Antonio Vargas | How did you get here? from NextDayBetter on Vimeo.


Immigration is suddenly the fault of the president for which he should be impeached with dispatch, though the immigration system has been broken for years, officials across all spans of government turning their heads, knowing illegals were here, picking our vegetables, providing farmers a workforce to bring in crops Americans can’t physically accomplish, nor possess the expertise to be successful. Funny it’s when they came here showing promise in something other than produce picking and medial labor people, political operatives began to care, began the slander propaganda screaming illegals are taking our jobs, credited with unspeakable crimes from sexual abuse of children to fictitious beheadings on U.S. soil thanks to undocumented persons and Mexican drug cartels; [cough] Jan Brewer Republican governor of Arizona later chalked up to a brain freeze when she had exactly zero targeted  instances to highlight. Yet Hilary Clinton potentially has greater health problems than reported either because after 2 years she can’t remember who of Whitehouse staff doled out press talking points during the frenzy of an international crisis, or after being called to testify before another increasingly ridiculous congressional hearing on the subject, momentarily lost her cool daring shout the question at this point what did it really matter. Like we should implicitly support the impeach Obama over immigration crowd containing the wrong kind of political misfits Sara Palin, Michele Bachmann; one who doesn’t know enough basic history to know Paul Revere’s ride was to warn colonists the British were coming, but magically knows there are grounds for impeachment? The other who could perhaps be forgiven for the shot heard round the world was in New Hampshire gaffe, does seem to have a less prominent law degree and researched a book on the Christian roots of the constitution; don’t get too excited though, her comment about things being better in times of slavery owning to more two parent homes should tell you how much of that stuck or didn’t. Immigration for which there was a bill with bipartisan support passed by the senate, sent to the house; speaker John Boehner out right refuses to so much as bring to a vote, put it on the house floor for debate, see how many yeas or nays there actually are. Immigration, who has never made a mistake, who has never caught people up in limbo, who has functional efficient systems on every major international boarder available to people who want to enter the country legally, that seems to be the general consensus held by the American public; it also couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is they routinely make gargantuan mistakes once succeeding in departing a 14 year old runaway who gave a false Latino sounding name, so in 2011 she was deported to the country of Colombia, given a work card, eventually found by family after posts on Facebook. Or the man who thought for years he was an American citizen granted the status given all Cuban exiles in the 1960’s including a social security card, fought in Vietnam, went on to get a government job requiring citizenship and background checks and not until he wanted to take his wife on a cruise did he find out he wasn’t. Worse after gaining legal representation and that representation jumping through legal hoops citing among other things his clean criminal record and military service, which under United States law says, if you serve during a time of hostility, you can gain citizenship without first being a resident, they initially declared him ineligible and denied him citizenship until CBS news broke the story; then immigration officials said it was under review. Hardly an isolated incident, we can’t even process tourist visas from Asia; people who do qualify, want to come here, spend money see sites, buy souvenirs and go home owing to not being able, willing to find/train the staff to process the needed paperwork.       

And when they’re not gallivanting from one scandal to the next, hearing this, investigation that, special committee something else, when they’re not beating up on the president for attempting to govern by the will of the people in ways that fall under his purview while they have their thumbs firmly ensconced in their rear ends, the only substantive legislation they can come up with is numerous personhood bills banning abortion after 20 weeks, DOA when it comes within 20 feet of the American people. President Obama is overreaching but who was it who walked away from the grand bargain national debt solution; a widely unpopular, rightly pegged unnecessary and potentially devastating government shutdown and 50 plus unsuccessful repeal votes still hasn’t caused them to register Obama care is here to stay finding as better use of their time. To be clear, better use of your time doesn’t mean defunding the National Science Foundation because it doesn’t jive with your religious compunctions, blocking environmental legislation aimed at bettering the planet on the grounds you believe in creationism vs. evolution therefore science can’t be right about anything including climate change, supporting ranchers like Cliven Bundy because government has just gotten too darn big, until he proves himself a racist lunatic even by your own standards. Better use of your time doesn’t suggest you rally your congressional clique to defund the department of education calling it not ineffective, non-functional but rather unconstitutional really meaning you don’t wanna pay for it, happily footing the bill for 2 million in pastries; anyone else see the irony?  Nor does it imply you should gather your equally ill-informed, like minded welfare hawks hell bent on beating up on poor people to invent new forms of food stamp, welfare fraud cases from your buddies at Fox News’ own heads owing to a person who bought gum and a bag of chips at a convenience store and a women using what could reasonably be her husband’s, domestic partners card to buy household food items, simultaneously screaming we should rollback Johnson’s great society programs; one because we can’t afford it, two, because people should be able to pull yourself up by your boot straps and three, we have become a far too entitled society expecting government to take care of us, because we dare demand the social security we paid into, think stipends for the physically disabled and developmental delayed mentally ill is the humane, here’s a word you should like moral thing to do. So would recognizing boots no longer come with straps, employers are incredibly discriminating on activeness not merit and that everyone without a job isn’t lazy, but local leaders are too busy getting caught putting the moves on their female office staff, pushing through new voter ID laws because they can’t win elections any other legitimate way and scaling back sex ed. for children in junior high, high school to make young people even more ignorant about their bodies, continuing to deny them birth control, then blame them when they need welfare and food stamps to care for the child because to think anything else is too liberal, too progressive. And president Obama is the problem, sure.