A July 4 with some sadness to it

Editor’s note: The Fourth of July is a time to come together and celebrate our nation’s Independence. We are a melting pot of diversity.

Nowadays, however, our nation is in a precarious place. More and more, we are showing signs of intolerance.

Examples abound: A tea party sign, “Bend over for Change,” that appeared in the Grass Valley July 4 parade two years ago, a growing element of Islamophobes, or certain anti-immigration laws that are being passed in some southern and western states.

“If you thought the do-it-yourself anti-immigrant schemes couldn’t get any more repellent, you were wrong,” The New York Times is reporting.

“New laws in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina are following — and in some ways outdoing — Arizona’s attempt to engineer the mass expulsion of the undocumented, no matter the damage to the Constitution, public safety, local economies and immigrant families.”

“The laws vary in their details but share a common strategy: to make it impossible for people without papers to live without fear.

“They give new powers to local police untrained in immigration law. They force businesses to purge work forces and schools to check students’ immigration status.

“And they greatly increase the danger of unreasonable searches, false arrests, racial profiling and other abuses, not just against immigrants, but anyone who may look like some officer’s idea of an illegal immigrant.

“Civil rights organizations are suing or threatening to sue to block these noxious state laws. So far federal courts have enjoined parts of bad local laws in Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Indiana. President Obama’s Department of Justice has sued Arizona but not the other states. It needs to fight harder.”

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

52 thoughts on “A July 4 with some sadness to it”

  1. The fools in both States are finding they created a nightmare. Georgia, where I grew up and worked summers in those fields, in addition to no workers and food literally rotting in the fields, are getting mass protests for their idiotic laws. Farmers in Georgia suddenly are raising hell right along side of them “liberSls.”.

    Serves them right (no pun intended)’ Well, perhaps a bit.

  2. Two Hundred Thirty Five years ago Thomas Jefferson penned a document for removing thirteen colonies from the tyranny of an oppressive government. I believe we have gained so much what the founders wanted but in recent years have fallen back from those original visions. The laws mentioned above and atmosphere of fear that has gripped many in our nation are the very way our civil liberties are stripped, our treasury emptied, and a nation that becomes apathetic to the plight of those in need. These acts are products of us removing ourselves from our communities and allowing our imaginations run wild with the fear of the other and how these others are the causes to our problems.

    Lets celebrate in hopes we will find the passion and energy to carry on what our founders fought for and what they gave future generations, a Declaration of Independence followed by the single greatest governing document in history called the US Constitution.


  3. I was a boy when my father, who would have been 78 today, traveled the country preparing to write his doctoral dissertation. We were on a historians budget, so it was camping for our family of five; Cape Cod, Marblehead, Providence, a week at the Long Island Barrens, somewhere between Trenton and Philly, then a month at the Delmarva peninsula, along with sundry other locales.

    But all along the way there were landmarks of note: the Adams home in Quincy, the Peabody, William Lloyd Garrison’s home, Gettysburg–the scene of our national tragedy and redemption, the Frederick Douglas’ house in the Anacostia neighborhood of the District of Columbia.

    Thus when I read this quote, embedded in the Times editorial, I am reminded of what it really means to be an American:

    “That means they can make warrantless arrests for assumed civil immigration violations, a stunning abuse of power.”

    Progressives, liberals, moderates, and pragmatists are under siege today by a body of thought that wants to seize our country and re-make it in the image of a false history, false God’s of commerce, and fantastical definition of liberty. They constitute a dangerous elite intent on power of the rich over the poor, the privileged over the dispossessed, the powerful over the weak.

    This quote reminds me that the very same people who mouth witless fealty to the principles of our founding are actively attempting to destroy the very thing that makes us exceptional. Many of them don’t even realize that they are being used by the elite to consolidate their power and rob our nation of its peoples bounty.

    We are a nation founded on the populism of revolution, liberty of the individual, equal opportunity, and the power of the people over elites. We are not a nation founded on fear.

    On this 4th of July remember and act on the principle that all of us own this country, we are all a part of its success or failure, none of us has a right to dominate the others, and none has a monopoly on our founding principles.

    On 4th of July look a Tea Party Patriot in the eye and say. “I am an American. I am a patriot. I stand for liberty and I own my country”.

  4. I wish the Native Americans had had some good lawyers back in 1492.

    But, we are all here now, one big happy family.

    Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

  5. Jeff,

    Bit of a downer for the 4th don’t you think?

    But if we are going to list the sins of our nation, which I do believe is important to do as long as we are willing to repent of them, you cannot ignore the fact that we now loose a third of our children to the violence of abortion, we are engaged in violent empire building in dozens of nations around the world and have completely debased our money by violating just about every basic law of economics possible in Washington DC.

    Fortunately we can repent and return to the basic principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence so I would commend a reflective reading of it to everyone on this day when we celebrate our nation’s independence.


  6. You want to talk downers Stoos what Arpaio is doing to f#$& up America’s favorite pastime next week may give us all something to “reflect” on…especially the sponsors of all-star baseball in Arizona… What an idiot. Kate

  7. One of the coolest sights from&around today’s parade in GV was the black & Muslim family walking in front of me afterward; the womenfolk dressed to the nines, the little girl holding up her American flag.

    Made me proud of this country we got.

  8. When I took work in a European hotel as a young vagabond years ago, the local constabulary confiscated my passport for the duration of my employment. I worried for a while that I would not get my passport back. I had never heard of a government holding someone’s documents “hostage” but it was standard procedure with guest workers in Switzerland. I had assumed I could just get a job anywhere without a bunch of paperwork. They even took me to get a chest x-ray since I was working in the “food service industry” (chef de pot washer). But it all worked out and I got my passport back and was on my way again four months later (after gaining 20 lbs.).

    I don’t have a problem with everyone having proper identification, especially in this age of ID theft.

    When times are tough and jobs or opportunities are scarce, fearful folks start to look for groups upon which to focus their anger and frustration. There is a theory that our long running marijuana prohibition has its roots in scheme by local Texas officials to target Mexican laborers who were competing for jobs there. They “profiled” the immigrants and found that they smoked pot since they could not afford booze prices. By making pot illegal they could harass, arrest, and deport Mexicans without causing too much inconvenience within the, whiskey drinking, Texas population.

    As the pot prohibition seems to be sunsetting, I propose we put all those idled drug enforcement personnel to work at a new, giant border crossing processing center, an Ellis Island on the Rio Grande, fingerprinting, iris scanning, and DNA testing all the would be immigrants so we can all keep our papers in order.

    1. Brad,
      My wife had the same experience in Verbier, Switzerland. We used to do the same thing in the US until big business became to influential in our federal government. Now neither party wants to enforce laws on powerful lobbying groups so the use immigrants as scapegoats.

      Once again it was Reagan who started this trend. The blanket amnesty to 3 million undocumented/ illegal immigrants along with his normal union busting policies. If you throw in the policy of Not enforcing Sherman Anti-Trust Laws into the mix you have a severely weakened and diluted work force accompanied by a merger/ acquisition explosion creating ownership to a small few in every major industry creating the lobbying nightmare we have today.

      Reagan the worst President of the 20th Century.

      1. Ben,

        Again you want more of the very thing that causes the lobbying: Lots of government decisions. Why should the government make the determinations about who competes with who and how well they do? If they violate contracts or commit fraud, then yes that is what we have the power of the sword for, but business decisions should be left to businesses.

        Again, show me where you have a monopoly that is not a creature of government?

        Get the government out of business and most of the lobbyist would suddenly be unemployed.


      2. John,
        Once again before the tax code was changed, anti-trust laws ignored, and merger/ acquisition promoted we did not have a lobby problem. For three decades we have had a “conservative” controlled government for the most part. In that time we have seen the rich become much richer, the middle class much poorer, unions lose their power, import tariffs dropped from ave 25% to 2%, workers watch their jobs leave the country, CEO pay go from 30/1 to 500/1, spending power actually go down of average Americans, and what you like to concentrate on a national debt that went from

        1791 to 1980 – $900billion Washington to Carter less than 500 lobbyist in DC

        1988 – $4trillion under Reagan

        1992 – $5.5trillion HW Bush

        2000 – $7trillion Clinton but left with balanced budget

        2008 – $12.5 trillion W Bush and gave Clinton balanced budget to the wealthy with tax breaks and left a projected $8trillion shortfall to Obama administration
        35,000 lobbyist in DC

        2012 – ?

        So John history isn’t on you side with this and you trying to spin it is a losing cause. I wish your ideology would put the country first and accept the minority role that it is good at and leave the governing for the people who believe government doesn’t have to be bad.

      3. Ben,

        I think history is actually on my side because of the very data that you have quoted: The more government spending has grown, and hence the number and power of the decisions they can make about our lives and businesses, the more the lobbyists hordes have grown. It should not even surprise you to see that those at the top know best how to take advantage of this unwise use of governmental power.

        Let me give you a simple example from right here in California: Agricultural folks would often come to Senator McClintock with requests to support bills that set up co-ops or trade deals for a certain part of the industry: The milk or raisin advertising campaigns would be examples you might be familiar with. They would expect Tom’s support because as a Republican he would be a BIG supporter of big business, just like you all think!

        The pitch was that they were good for the industry and that all farmers or dairymen would benefit. Of course they needed the force of government to set up the organization and establish the dues that would pay for the ads.

        When Senator McClintock explained that IF these boards benefited everyone they could just establish a voluntary group and that he would not be supporting their bill, they were NOT pleased. Of course they would get their bill passed because there were always PLENTY of Republican AND Democrat Senators that were happy to support the bill and invite the lobbyists to their next fundraiser so they could be properly thanked. ALWAYS done in two separate conversations so that no laws would be broken of course.

        Now multiply that by HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of examples around the country today and you can see why we have run-away spending and campaign contributions. ALL doing things that sound good to many folks, and all using government power in a way it should NOT be used.


    1. Ben, I was getting a little carried away with my Ellis Island idea and reference to war/cold war movie line, “are your ‘paperz’ in order?”.

      However, since immigrants are streaming in, right and left, across our borders anyway, why not just let them in and give them all a photo ID/guest worker visa so we can keep track of how many people are actually coming into the US, instead of leaving the poor folks at the mercy of the human traffickers?

      1. If we enforced the existing laws on employers and they stopped employing people who didn’t have the legal right to work in our country the immigration problem would go away. The problem is the major industries are controlled by a small few that have accumulated great amounts of capital to spend on lobbying and funding political parties. Neither party wants to disrupt this cash flow and perks of being courted by the lobbyists.

        The other major backdoor into America is the loose H1 visa laws allowing high education workers to be insourced from nations that have no fee’s for university and have a much lower standard of living. By doing this companies can undercut going wages by half in the more high tech sector of our economy. So we are competing with blue collar third world labor or bringing international competition into our country when there are plenty of Americans who would fill those positions.

        Basically we have an employer problem not a immigrant problem. Cause and Effect take the jobs away and the immigration problem doesn’t exist.

      2. Ben & Brad,

        Those of us who believe in real free-market capitalism and limited government have very few problems with free-trade and open borders.


      3. John,
        We know and I will tell you why.

        Free Trade allows transnational corporations to abandon the US worker and go to the lowest paid and worker safety standards nations on the planet, essentially forcing American workers to compete with $2 a day labor with no job safety standards.

        Open borders allows third world labor to come directly to the US undercutting the going wages of American workers. The bigger picture is they work in the shadows which means they have no recourse towards those who employ them as well. A powerless workforce who will work for pennies on the dollar.

        These ideals are anti American worker and pro-big business.

        John I will fight your vision for America until the day I move onto my next journey.

      4. Ben,

        I know we have very divergent views of where you are headed for eternity, but I believe that we share a common vision for the working families of our nation. So I am happy to continue the discussion on both fronts!

        To that end, consider the Bee story last week on the massive steel roadways being built in China for the new bay bridge: Those Chinese workers made $12 per hour and of course there are some minor shipping costs involved!

        Do you think we could have found some Californians willing to work for say $16 per hour on this project when we have an effective unemployment rate of about 20%? It was NOT the cost of labor that prevented this from happening, but all of the government regulations that have destroyed the steel industry and many others in our nation.

        This is why real conservatives need not fear free-trade nor open borders.


      5. Ben,

        And just one more question for everyone on those H1 folks:

        IF India can manage to educate all those folks in their poverty stricken nation, why can’t we do the same here in California with all the money that we spend on education?


      6. “Do you think we could have found some Californians willing to work for say $16 per hour on this project when we have an effective unemployment rate of about 20%? It was NOT the cost of labor that prevented this from happening, but all of the government regulations that have destroyed the steel industry and many others in our nation. ”

        You’ve got to be kidding? Did labor or government regulations tell the steel mills to dismantle their plants here, or did the CEO’s make that decision? Once the plants are gone, there is no way the steel could be produced here, even at minimum USA wages.

      7. Douglas,

        The government killed the steel industry just like they did the lumber industry here in Northern California.

        Sure it is tough to bring either back, but it can be done.


      8. John, I am not sure what you are getting at with these macho boasts like “real conservatives need not fear free-trade nor open borders”, and, “Those of us who believe in real free-market capitalism and limited government have very few problems with free-trade and open borders.” Are you pandering to your Illuminati brethren here?

      9. Cheap foreign labor, and better foreign autos did much to slow the steel industry. I suppose you would blame government for trying to protect the citizenry from the Black Fogs that plagued early industrialization efforts in England by enacting effective pollution controls on heavy industries.

      10. Brad,

        I don’t know the history on the black frog so it is hard to comment, but all of life in this fallen world is full of tough choices. Putting my wife and father-in-law in a car is much more dangerous than having them sitting at home. However, we take the more dangerous route every Sunday so we can go to church!


  9. John Stoos–putting aside your political views for a minute, please tell us your views on Christs and the Torah’s teachings about usury laws would you? Oh, and how this conforms to the GOP’s corporate, moneychanging and banking views? There is an ancient, religious debt term used by christians, jews and muslims called Day of Jubilee I’ve been seeing in my reading as well. Thank you Padre. Kate

    1. Kate,

      There have been large books written on this, but here are the basics:

      1) NO interest should be charged within a Jewish or Christian community for personal loans. We are not to take advantage of a brother or sister in need and we are to help if we have the means to help.

      2) Business or commercial loans and investments are allowed and even encouraged when you consider the various parables that Jesus told about those who increased their master’s wealth. It is here that government plays one of its most important roles and faces its greatest temptation: The government should have the force of law to keep people honest and prevent fraud: Make sure people tell the truth and keep their promises as your congressman likes to say. The temptation is to step in and say that certain decisions that might be made between two individuals are not wise. If I go down to the corner check-cashing outfit and get a 40% pay-day loan that is NOT wise, but it should not be illegal, as long as the truth is told.

      As far a modern banking, there is not much to like from a Biblical basis: We do not have sound money, you have fractional reserve spending that is not disclosed, FDIC insurance that is fraudulent, and they don’t EVER seem to be held accountable for the mistakes they make because “they are too big to fail,” and thus get bailed out by Republican and Democrats alike.

      Along with the jubilee you also have the principle of gleaning to help provide for the poor: Again our laws today actually prohibit such practices in most cases: Tons and tons of fruits and vegetables are plowed under each year because they cannot be sold or even given away.

      Keep up your reading…. There is much more!


  10. Kate,
    I can tell you the big two like usury or their financial masters like it. We need to repeal Marquette of 1978. Once again the US Supreme Court creating law from the bench, which isn’t a constitutional power given to the judiciary.

    Credit Cards are a perfect example of letting competition across state lines with something that should be a utility. A vast majority of credit card companies are based in Delaware and one of the Dakota’s because they have the least government restrictions. John will think this is a good thing but what it amounts to is the companies go to the states where they can exploit their costumers the most. Health Insurance would work the same exact way.

    1. Ben,

      And when the government stepped in to STOP all those bank abuses last year with high interest rates and fee, I lost my free checking account at Chase.

      Why is some bureaucrat in Washington better able to make these decisions than me and my local banker… Or national banker if he gives me a better deal?

      And AGAIN, all of this does is encourage all those lobbyists and campaign contributions that you hate.


      1. Did the CEO make the decision to kill the free checking account, or the government?

        All that happened is that the government prevented them from collecting dollars one way, and the CEO said, “well screw the customers, we’ll take it out of their hides another way,” including cancelling my free checking which went back to Great western and lived on through WAMU, no problems.

      2. Doug,

        That is actually what did happen, in a sense, which is why the government should get into the middle of the negotiations that I make with my bank so we can both get the best deal we think we can.


  11. John,
    Your local Chase bank has virtually no power over such policies. This is where you refuse to go John. Chase is one of about 4 banks that control a vast majority of commercial banking in the US. Bureaucrats in Washington DC are more accountable to the people then the bureaucrats at your beloved Chase. When was the last time you voted for management in Chase? I know you could go to one of the other 3 banks to do your banking and you don’t have that choice with our government. Those other three banks policies are about 99.8% the same policies, we need to use the Trust Laws against these near monopolies in every industry. Fun Fact- the big four commercial banks have accumulated assets that equal more than 66% of our GDP. If they were too big too fail before what would you call them now?

    I suggest you support a local bank or credit union and maybe then you could actually see someone with the power of structuring policy. It’s tough getting to those administrators in their gated communities and heavily secure business buildings. Go ahead and try and you’ll see how much they appreciate your business by calling another government agency called law enforcement to remove you from the premises.

    1. Ben,

      Again you miss the point about the impact of government decisions: Two years ago there were dozens of banks where you could sign up for a free checking account: They wanted lots of customers and they covered the cost of these account with fee on other services.

      Government said this was BAD so now you cannot find a local or national bank that will give you a free checking account because the government has taken away their means of paying for them.

      I suspect that by this time next year we will all be complaining about the lack of access or increased cost of using our debit cards because the government just put a ton of new restrictions on them as well. At the behest of big-business lobbyist of course, but you seem to like having them around to cause us no end of trouble:)


      1. All of my checking accounts are free. I think even our local Citizen’s bank still offers free checking accounts.

      2. Sharon,

        I suspect they are only free with an automatic deposit or a minimum balance. I am talking about a no-strings attached free checking account.

        It was a great little convenience to have, but they are no more thanks to all those do-gooders in Washington who know what I really need and want..


      3. You’d be wrong.
        Citizen’s Bank account, free, no minimum required.
        USAA all accounts free, no strings attached, anyone can join USAA. They have excellent insurance rates also.

      4. Sharon,

        So you are saying that if I am a AAA member, which I am, I can get a free account at Citizens? That is a good offer by them, but the point I am making is that in the not too distant past you could find more banks offering free accounts that not, and not even with some membership requirement.

  12. Credit card companies’ vagaries is really not what I was inquiring about Ben. Thank you for responding though. I do believe I was inquiring about a religious component in usury, financial, and banking found altogether void in corporate scheming, Norquist induced thuggery and bloodoathed depravity, hedge funds and credit default swaps, the housing ponzi scheme, and the tortured excuses offered for propping up 1% of the population while sacrificing the rest of the country’s survival and ability to thrive or exist. Yeah, that was it. Kate

    1. Ben,

      You know that President Reagan never said “greed is good.”

      Greed and selfishness do play a role in real free-market decisions and they do accomplish what government planners are unable to do because of the fallen nature of mankind. IF your goal is to provide the best products at the best price, then the way to do that is to allow each individual to make his or her own choice about whether to object for sale is worth the price being asked for it.

      I would refer you again back to the famous piece “I Pencil” is you really want to discover how complex all of this is.


      1. Oh John, you’re still here. All done kissing Grover’s ring for today? He takes to a good ego stroking I hear. I’m busy watching FOX news waiting for them to report about the phone hacking of those murdered girls in England…Murdochs outfit did that…giving those families false hope that their children were still alive. I can’t imagine them reliving their tragedy again. Shame on News of the World. We should all be appalled and someone needs some prison time. Kate

      2. John,
        So, then are selfishness and greed good and necessary for the successful operation of capitalism? Are you endorsing selfishness and greed? I kind of doubt this, but you logic is leading you that way.

        BTW, I don’t think that Ben blamed President Reagan directly for the “greed as good” statement. Rather he blamed him for reinvigorating the “money trumps holy books” ethos which I think he adopted from President Coolidge’s assertion that “the business of America is business.”


      3. Tony,

        Greed and selfishness are both sins so they cannot be considered good.

        However, they are both part of the fall so until Jesus returns after His Kingdom has filled the earth you are forced to account for them in any civil order you might want to live under. The great debate that Ben and I are often engaged in really does come down to the question of whether they are better controlled by market forces or government forces.

        It turns out that both must play a role: Government has to be there to enforce honesty and justice and to protect private property: Otherwise, as Ben fears, all of the wealth would soon be in the hands of a few cheaters. The fact that this is happening today should tell us that government is NOT doing its proper job very well.

        The market, on the other hand, is the best means of controlling greed and selfishness in our everyday affairs. If you and I want to make an exchange, in most cases we are BOTH looking to get the best deal: The exception of course would be if one of us was being charitable in our action.

        If we are left alone then when we make the exchange we will both believe in the end that it is to our benefit or otherwise we would not make the exchange. As soon as we go with Ben’s model and have someone in the government deciding whether one of us it not getting to best end of the bargain, then you have LOTS and LOTS of big government over time.

        Since we are in the baseball season you can think about it this way: The Umpire is there to establish the strike-zone and call the balls and strikes. It is NOT his or her job to tell the pitcher what pitch he must use or what stance the batter should make at the plate.

        It sounds simplistic, but as with most things in life, that is where the real wisdom lies: Think about what would happen if this simple advise from one of my pastor friends was followed in the area of economics today, from the single individual all the way up to our nation: “Work hard and don’t spend more than you make!” Simple advise, but imagine what a profound impact it would have if we all followed it for a generation?


      4. John,
        In the end, I suspect that Ben, you, and I are differing only in matter of degrees, not so much underlying principles. We all agree that markets and government cannot exist without each other. It is rather a question of to what degree each is “necessary.” The word “necessary” though leaves us all a lot of wiggle room around which to debate, ponder, disagree, and discuss!

  13. Oh, that’s right. The ‘Grover Norquist as God’ religion is a relatively new and dark addition to the spiritual Canon. Pardon me for withholding my genuflection…or pleading my blood or oaths or whatever…Kate

  14. Kate,

    You are not being nice this morning: I was the one who posted the compromise suggested by President Clinton which I like and would encourage Republicans to support. I am sure Mr. Norquist will be opposed so why don’t you work on some of the Democrats and get them to call his bluff?


  15. You also failed to point out Clintons view in the same interview of the GOP’s weird obsession, bordering on religious fervor, for Mr. Norquist. Which he labeled “chilling”….I’m still nice…but very non-compromising and non-compliant in bowing down to the altar of Grover. Ever. Kate

  16. Brad,

    I may not be understand your comment properly on the trade issue, but my policy would be much different than the skull & bones crowd: I think you can write a free-trade agreement on the back of a napkin: They like ones that run thousands of pages.


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