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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present

Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

November 21, 2015

More Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals Supporting LGBT Rights

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 21, 2015

Recently, there has been a controversy where a Christian public official named Kim Davis went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who wanted to get married. For weeks I would open up my Facebook page and found many of my gay and lesbian friends offering their opinions of Kim Davis and the homophobia in many conservative Christian churches. This Kim Davis episode reminds me a lot of the 1950s and 1960s, when segregationist Southerners resisted the Supreme Court ruling Brown versus the Board of Education, which ruled that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional.

Kim Davis and her supporters give the impression that all Christians are against marriage equality. In reality, a growing number of Christians in all denominations are supporting LGBT rights and marriage equality. As more Christians know an LGBT friend, coworker, or family member, they are much more likely to support LGBT rights.

Read More Here ...

Illegal Immigrants and Lower Crime

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 21, 2015

These past few months Donald Trump has been capturing the headlines with his comments about most illegal immigrants coming from Mexico being violent criminals. While it is true that violent criminals have crossed the border to cause trouble, various studies have shown that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes or be behind bars than the native-born American population. I fully sympathize with those families who have suffered from violent crime. I think violent criminals should be imprisoned. But the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not violent criminals and should not be punished for stereotypes that Donald Trump is perpetuating.

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November 19, 2015

"Black Lives Matter" and the Reconciliation of the Police and the Black Community

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 19, 2015

In the past few years, the tragic deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers have led the grassroots movement, Black Lives Matter. This movement has highlighted many of the economic and societal problems that still exist as hurdles for many African Americans to gain true equality in this country. One of the big issues that the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted is the tense relationship between police and minority communities in many areas in this country. There are areas, however, where police and local communities are working together to try to improve police/minority relationships.

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The National Women's Equality Day Rally in San Jose, California

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 19, 2015

On Saturday, August 30, 2015, I went to the first Women's Equality Day rally in San Jose, California. It was a fun time. I walked around and took photos and talked to various people about why they were there and how they hope women continue their fight for equal rights in all spheres of society. Many of them talk about how women's rights are intertwined with economic inequality issues, immigrant rights, African American rights and LGBT rights. A few emphasized that the fight for women's equality is liberating for men as well as women: men don't have to be trapped in traditional gender roles, and can be much more empathetic husbands and fathers.

There was an inspirational and informative talk by various women speakers in the early morning. Then at around 10 a.m. the group marched around downtown San Jose chanting and holding signs. When they passed by the Cathedral, the rally organizers asked the marchers to stay silent to respect the mass that was taking place that moment. Several cars honked their horns in support of women's rights. I was very inspired during the march.

November 16, 2015

The Illusive and Illusory Nature of Peace

Posted by Diane Wahto on November 16, 2015

Living by pacifist values in a time of perpetual war, in a time when innocent people are slaughtered mindlessly by those who seem to have only evil on their minds is almost impossible. Impressed by the example of Gandhi and the anti-nuke activists in Britain, I declared myself a pacifist when I was 17. Born at the start of WWII and a teenager when the Korean War was waged, I had lived through war for much of my life. I believed war was wrong.

Then came the ‘60s and Vietnam. I demonstrated against that war when I returned to college to finish a bachelor’s degree. Eventually, the war was ended, thanks to Pres. Nixon, who implemented a draft lottery, thus making sure that all men could be called up, not just the poor and minority men. I was sure, after the resounding defeat in that misguided “police action,” and after the human cost and the cost in dollars to America, that surely no one would think to start a war based on shaky grounds again.

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August 8, 2015

Under Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, State Senator Virgil Smith could be found Not Guilty

Posted by Isaac Robinson on August 8, 2015

Under Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, State Senator Virgil Smith could be found Not Guilty
How would you respond to a home invasion at 1 am? How would you protect those in your home?

Under former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, Michigan State Senator Virgil Smith will be found not guilty if a jury concludes Senator Smith reasonably believed the use of force was necessary to defend himself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual. Senator Smith alleges an assault and home invasion by his ex-wife in the middle of the night on Detroit’s eastside on his property. Under Michigan law, he can assert the stand your ground defense.

Did the shots fired into the car stop the alleged assault and home invasion by his ex-wife? Did he fear his ex-wife would attack his guest? Did his actions defend his guest? If I was his lawyer, I would say yes to those 3 questions. And I would commend Smith for shooting at the car and for not using deadly force on the person committing an assault on his property.

What would you do if your home was being invaded at 1 am on your property?

And let’s not forget the view of Detroit’s Chief of Police James Craig. Craig made national headlines when he said firearms should be used to defend our property in a NRA interview.

Please read over the MLIVE article “Standing your ground in Michigan: A look at the law, efforts to change it, and why they won't succeed,” written by Tim Martin to get a refresher on Michigan’s Stand Your Ground Law. It also includes a pic of Governor Granholm in a hooded sweatshirt.

Also, Check out “Stand Your Ground: Michigan Act Similar To Florida Law Used in Trayvon Martin Case Provokes Repeal Effort” a piece from the The Huffington Post written by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.

I’m not so sure about the Insanity Defense, but if Zimmerman can walk under the circumstances surrounding the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, Smith can definitely be acquitted for shooting at a car while being assaulted in the middle of the night on his own property. I would argue Smith showed restraint and his actions were reasonable to protect his guest. I would argue that Smith shooting at the car helped him take control of a situation and his actions saved his guest from possible harm.

Act 309 of 2006

780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.
Sec. 2.
(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:
(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.
(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.
(2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.

History: 2006, Act 309, Eff. Oct. 1, 2006

© 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan

Attorney Isaac Robinson is a criminal defense Attorney in Detroit, Michigan, licensed in Michigan for ten years. Robinson is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. NU Law presented Robinson with the Wigmore Key Award at his law school graduation. Robinson is an advocate for human rights. His cell 313-739-5093

July 20, 2015

Learning from History

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 20, 2015

Groups will have a bias against certain issues because of their history. African Americans, for instance, tend to be less responsive to libertarian criticisms of the power of the federal government because many Southerners once used states rights arguments to support segregation laws. Filipinos and other minorities are less responsive of the Christian Rights' arguments about protecting the sanctity of traditional marriages against same sex marriages because those same arguments were once used against interracial marriages. Certain Americans are wary of the NSA collecting our private emails and phone calls because in times past, Nixon's Administration and Hoover's FBI wiretapped ordinary citizens who disagreed with them and created enemies lists to blacklist and harass them.

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July 15, 2015

Jasper and the Conservative

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 15, 2015

Over the years, I've met some conservatives who are really nice and decent people. And I've met some conservatives who are really intolerant and crazy. The same is true with liberals, of course. But since I'm liberal, most of my bad experiences have been with conservatives, especially Christian conservatives. I do have close conservative friends and family members whom I respect and care about. In those relationships, it's mutually agreed that our friendship is more important than our political differences.

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Great blog Diane

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 15, 2015

DIane, this is a great blog. It takes special character and empathy not to be influenced by the prejudices of the community around you. I hope more parents get involved in the lives of their children, so that these things don't keep taking people by surprise.

June 23, 2015

For Everyone’s Sake, All Lives Should Count

Posted by Diane Wahto on June 23, 2015

That 21-year old Dylann Roof, the man who shot nine people in the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a hate-driven man with an unjustified superiority complex cannot be denied. Yet, when I first saw him on the news as he was being taken to jail, I thought he was still a child. He looks unformed, as teenagers often look before they gain the maturity of adulthood. However, within that youthful countenance lives an age-old evil that is rekindled with every new generation and every new set of victims.

Since I’m not a psychologist, I can’t say what impels a person like Roof to go so far off the rails of humanity. I do know that he is not alone in his desire to obliterate those who are not like him. Roof hates Jews, Latinos, and Asians, but his greatest enmity is directed toward black people, people he grew up with, attended school with, and partied with on occasion.

Read More Here ...

May 24, 2015

The Leadership We Need

Posted by Diane Wahto on May 24, 2015

After watching Republican presidential candidates try to avoid an opinion on the second Iraq War, then watching the episodes dealing with the Vietnam War on PBA’s documentary series about the Vietnam War, I appreciate even more that Obama is indeed the leader we need right now. Given the quagmire of the Iraq War under George W. Bush’s leadership, Obama’s determination not to get the United States military involved in another war there heartened me.

I opposed both Iraq wars, the one under the elder Bush and the one the team of Bush-Cheney started in response to 9/11, with the claim that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Secretary of State Colin Powell put his credibility on the line by going to the U.N. and embellishing the truth about WMDs in Iraq. Because of his statements, Bush-Cheney sent Americans to Iraq to fight and die in a war that had no purpose.

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March 19, 2015

Social Media Activism

Posted by Diane Wahto on March 19, 2015

As a liberal, or now what is called a progressive, and as someone who does a little bit of social interaction online, I have found myself a member of many liberal-progressive Facebook and e-mail groups. I don’t do Twitter. I opened a Twitter account to help my writer daughter-in-law spread the news about her Young Adult book series. However, I closed it after too many people wanted me to follow them and it occurred to me that the constant tweeting would take up whatever time I had left over from checking on Facebook and my e-mail. Oh, and I don’t text either. How much non-face-to-face interaction with other people does a person need during one day? Every so often I have to check my bank account and write a poem or two. How in the world can I have time for that if I’m constantly checking Facebook notifications and Tweets of the hundreds of people who wanted me to follow them?

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March 8, 2015

Jasper and these Partisan Times

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 8, 2015

Even though I'm a liberal, I used to have quite a few conservative friends in my 20s and 30s. About the mid 1990s, though, something changed. Many of the conservatives that I've met since then have been less willing to respect differences of opinions, and I've gotten into some exasperating conflicts in the past decade or so. I still have some friends and family members who I care about who are conservative, and I think of them to remind me not to stereotype all conservatives as being a certain way. Here is a cartoon that I did for the February 18, 2015 Philippines Today on that subject.

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March 5, 2015

A Protest Rally Against Wage Theft by Crazy Buffett Restaurant in Sunnyvale

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 5, 2015

On March 4, 2015, the Santa Clara Wage Theft Coalition organized a rally to protest the practice of wage theft by Crazy Buffet restaurant in Sunnyvale, California. Crazy Buffet has a total of 21 judgements against it, totaling over $1 million, for not paying worker wages. In the last 2 years, the Labor Commissioner has issued citations totaling $1.6 million to the owners of Crazy Buffet.

Read More Here ...

February 14, 2015

More Music Reflecting the 1980s

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 14, 2015

I wrote a previous blog about socially conscious music from the 1980s, and thought I'd make another blog about some of my favorite music from that era. I remember it as being a very politically charged time, with many musicians and artists reacting against the conservative politics of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. On a personal level I thought Ronald Reagan was a very kind and gracious man. He was able to make friendships with people irregardless of political affiliation and he got along well with liberals like Tip O' Neill and Ted Kennedy. Reagan's politics however, did great damage to the poor and the blue-collar working class. Many people remember the Reagan economic recovery of the mid 1980s, but people forget that the Reagan recovery was fueled by those industries that benefitted from the increase in military spending that was part of Reagan's strategy to force the Soviet Union into an arms race that the Soviets couldn't afford. Reagan's economic policies were devastating especially to the inner city and the rural farming communities. Both communities had struggled from larger economic trends that started in the 1970s due to the transition to a more globalized economy, and Reagan's free market policies exacerbated the problems in the inner cities and the farming communities. Both the inner cities and the farm communities suffered from unemployment problems, poor schools, high crime and drug problems. Cocaine devastated the inner cities and the number of homeless people skyrocketed as funds for the federal safety net were cut. The gay community was also devastated by the AIDS crisis, as social conservatives demonized AIDS victims. Reagan's efforts to fund right wing governments in Latin America destabilized the area and led to a cycle of violence that spurred residents to try to escape and fueled an illegal immigration problem that we are still dealing with.

Musicians in the 1980s were affected by all these things going on. They wrote songs to try to make sense of all these things and to express the anxieties and struggles that we were all going through at the time.

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February 11, 2015

Christians Fighting in Support of LGBT Rights

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 11, 2015

Recently the news has been dominated by the efforts of conservative Christians to push back against laws protecting LGBT rights. In Alabama, state judges have resisted a federal ruling to issue licenses for same sex marriages. Several conservative Christian business owners have refused services to gay and lesbian couples who are about to get married. The Kansas governor just rescinded his predecessors executive action issued in August 2007 by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the state government. This news masks a larger trend where Christians of all denominations are increasingly supporting LGBT rights and are increasingly supporting same-sex marriage. Many Catholics, Mormons, Evangelicals and other Christians are fighting within their churches to change attitudes and teachings regarding homosexuality and are working for reconciliation between the Church and the LGBT community. In much the same way that Christians during the civil rights movement in the 1960s fought to integrate churches and change racist church teachings, today's Christians are fighting the homophobia within their churches and denominations and are making the church live up to the Christian spirit.

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January 28, 2015

Some Music Reflecting the 1980s

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 28, 2015

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic, so I thought I'd post some songs from my youth. Most people think of the 1980s as being a greedy materialistic time, but I remember a lot of political activism at that time. It was the time of protests against nuclear weapons and apartheid, churches offering sanctuary to refugees of Central America, and an awareness of the struggles of poor communities in the inner cities and the farming communities. I did not think Reagan was a good President and am always surprised at how many people look fondly at his presidency. I thought he was personally a very kind and gracious man, but I've never liked Reagan's politics, and the passage of time hasn't changed my mind. Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis because it affected the gay community, he funded an illegal war in Central America that we're still feeling the effects of, and his economic policies devastated the working class and the poor. The musicians of the 1980s commented on our worries about the state of the nation and the state of the world. Here are just a sample of the many songs from the 1980s that talked about the politics of the times.

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January 21, 2015

The Black Comix Art Festival

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 21, 2015

After I attended the Freedom Train festivities in Yerba Buena Park, I went to the Metreon to attend the Black Comix Arts Festival. African American cartoonists gathered to sell their comic books and talk about their work. The previous day, my brother, niece and I went to the San Francisco Public Library to see cartoonist David Brown and listen to some conversations of black cartoonists. I enjoyed being a fly in the wall listening to these cartoonist talk about black issues that I had little knowledge of. The only time I spoke, I mentioned how Asian Americans and other minorities have benefitted from the opportunities that African Americans opened up during the civil rights movement.

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January 19, 2015

The Freedom Train 2015

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 19, 2015

On January 19, 2015, I went on what is announced as being the last Freedom Train to commemorate the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomey, Alabama, in 1965. It was a very festive atmosphere, as many families of all races joined in the Freedom Train and the march in San Francisco. It is a fitting tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and the many people who participated in the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.

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January 17, 2015

The Cartoonists Rights Network International

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 17, 2015

Last week's news about the deaths of 12 people of the Charlie Hebdo magazine has sent a shock wave in the political cartooning community. The death of the staff due to Charlie Hebdo's cartoons by Islamic extremists is an assault on the freedom of expression that is one of the foundations of a thriving democracy. Over the decades, political cartoonists all over the world have been frequently the first journalists targeted by extremists, thugs, and tyrants. Cartoonists Rights Network International exists to champion their cause, leading the fight to protect the free speech and human rights of political cartoonists around the globe. The Cartoonists Rights Network International works with a global network of over 600 cartoonists in over 50 countries to monitor threats and abuses against editorial cartoonists ranging from censorship, fines and penalties, to assault, imprisonment, disappearance, and execution. The group brings international pressure on the persecutors of cartoonists by mounting campaigns for their just treatment, among the public at large and within the diplomatic community; as well as reaching out to heads of state and ministries, and coordinating joint actions with other organizations that promote free expression.

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