Mexico army crosses the border–ten years ago

Stephen R. Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat who served in Mexico from 2004 to 2006, teaches at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

In a scene that would have given Donald Trump heart palpitations, 200 flag-waving Mexican troops breached the U.S. border outside Laredo, Tex., 10 years ago and advanced unopposed up Interstate 35 to San Antonio.

It was the first time a Mexican army had marched on San Antonio since 1836 when Gen. Santa Ana massacred besieged Texas independence fighters at the Alamo.

This time, however, the Mexican soldiers were on a relief mission to feed tens of thousands of homeless and hungry Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Setting up camp at a former Air Force base outside San Antonio, they distributed potable water, medical supplies and 7,000 hot meals a day for the next three weeks.

If this doesn’t sound like the Mexico you’ve been hearing about lately — the one that has been ripping America off, the one that sends rapists and criminals across the border — you might want to consider this little-known gesture of humanity from our abused southern neighbor as you think about Katrina 10 years later.

Perhaps Donald Trump wants to include this act of human kindness in his diatribe against Mexicans.

Further reading


McAuliffe pisses off Republicans

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has rankled some Virginia Republicans by repeatedly calling for greater gun control after Wednesday’s deadly shootings in Southwest Virginia.

“Clearly that gentleman should not have owned a gun,” McAuliffe said of Vester L. Flanagan II, who killed a two-person news crew on live television early Wednesday. “That’s plain and simple. That was a tragedy. Now I have no idea if any new gun laws would have changed that, we don’t know, but my job as governor is to do everything I humanly possibly can do to make our communities safe.”

Several Republican legislators took to Twitter to blast McAuliffe for what one called his “shameless politicization of tragedy” — particularly because closing the gun show loophole, a gun control measure McAuliffe mentioned, wouldn’t have kept the gun out of Flanagan’s hands.

“I thought it was extremely unfortunate that while the family is still in shock at this news and while a manhunt is still actively underway, that the governor saw fit to try to advance his legislative agenda,” said Deputy House Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). “The even more unfortunate thing is that the agenda that the governor cited apparently has nothing to do with the facts of this tragic case. . . . If we’re going to try to fix problems that are the ills of our society, we should focus on things that are actually relevant to these tragedies.”

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Gun violence: Let’s cut the crap

There are weekly killings.  I don’t mean thug on thug violence.  That is another issue.  I am speaking of perfectly decent people, just going about their daily lives, being gunned down in cold blood.

As I watched the anchors on WDBJ grasp hands and have a tribute, then a moment of silence for their colleagues, it broke my heart.  It broke my heart to hear Allison’s father speak of his daughter.  These grandiose, senseless killings have to stop, regardless of what it takes.

After I watched the friends and family members of the slain, I listened to Donald Trump.  He advised us that we really have a broken mental health system and that guns aren’t the problem.  The Hell they aren’t!  The pro-gun community must start assuming some responsibility for something other than slogans and bumper sticker sound bites when these things happen.  They must start coming up with solutions to screen gun buyers to help ensure that psycho-paths don’t have their weapons of destruction.

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Gridlock: Study names DC as the worst commuter traffic in U.S

Washington, D.C., beat out commuting misery stalwarts Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York for the dubious honor of worst rush hour congestion in the country, a nationwide traffic study found.

Rush hour congestion adds 82 hours of suffering each year to the average commute around Washington, D.C., according to the study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute and Inrix, a Kirkland, Wash., company that analyzes travel data. Other cities plagued by gridlock include Los Angeles, where motorists spend an extra 80 hours commuting, San Francisco with its 78 hours of delays, and New York with 74 hours.

Overall, drivers lose nearly 7 billion hours each year to traffic congestion – an average of 42 hours per commuter – and waste 3 billion gallons of fuel, according to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard.

“I think it’s pretty clear people are frustrated,” Tim Lomax, a co-author of the report at the institute, told USA TODAY. “It’s not just the average time. It’s that you have to plan around 45 minutes for a trip that ought to take 15 or 20.”

The average delay has doubled since 1985, the study found. For cities with less than 500,000 people, delays have quadrupled, the study found. By 2020, average delays will grow to 47 hours and the total delay will climb to 8.3 billion hours, the study projected.


We didn’t need a study to tell us we were the worst but it sure is nice to have documentation.

Armed gunman slays TV reporter and cameraman on live TV near Roanoke

A television reporter and a videographer for CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Va., were shot and killed Wednesday morning as they were doing a live report. The incident was caught on camera and those at the station said they heard six to seven shots and then nothing as the camera fell.

The incident happened around 6:45 a.m. at Bridgewater Plaza — a shopping and entertainment center on Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County — where the two were interviewing a woman with a local chamber group. Few details were immediately known, said officials with the WDBJ7.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said a suspect has been identified and is believed to be a disgruntled employee of the TV station. Federal law enforcement officials are aiding in the search for the gunman.
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European immigration problems approach critical mass


European immigration problems make ours look like a walk in the park.  According to the Washington Post:

Thousands of refugees, most fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been snaking northward through the Balkans in recent days, confronting a Europe woefully unprepared to deal with them at every step.

Most endured a perilous crossing to Greece aboard rafts and boats, some barely fit to sail. They traversed Greece, a nation paralyzed by economic crisis and too poor to handle a flow of people that in July hit a record high. At the border with Macedonia late last week, they trudged through a wall of riot police, who fought them back with tear gas before relenting. Now, the asylum-seekers, thousands a day, are racing into Hungary, which is rushing to complete a barbed-wire border fence by the end of the month to force them to seek other routes.

It is a long parade of misery unparalleled in Europe in recent years. But the continent has so far failed to agree how to respond. Amid a refugee crisis that by some measures is the worst since World War II, individual nations are being left to improvise their own measures. In Hungary, that is taking the form of 108 miles of barbed wire and fencing.

The crisis is shaking fundamental tenets of European life, including the principle of free movement between most of the nations of the European Union. It is fueling a surge of anti-migrant sentiment in the countries that are housing the bulk of the asylum-seekers, Germany and Sweden. And it is straining the weakest countries, such as Greece, that are on migration’s front lines.

“Unless we do something, we will become a lifeboat sinking under the weight of people holding on to it and drowning everybody, both those seeking help and those offering help,” said Janos Lazar, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, at a ceremony last week celebrating the founding of Hungary.

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Stock Market: Has the hemorrhaging stopped?

U.S. stocks rebounded Tuesday morning after a punishing day on the global markets, sailing away from China’s unslowing slide and renewing hopes of an averted meltdown.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 320 points, or 2 percent, shortly after the 9:30 a.m. opening bell, one day after raucous trading plunged the index of 30 blue-chip stocks to its lowest point in 18 months.

The Standard & Poor’s 500, a broader look at the market, jumped 2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite, an index dense with tech stocks, soared 3 percent.

The sharp start marked the first encouraging news after several days of chaotic trades, in which many large U.S. companies lost billions of dollars in market value amid a global sell-off.

The start, in which all 30 Dow stocks made big gains, could go a long way toward helping investors and workers with 401(k) retirement accounts regain some confidence in global trades.

Equities  really came out of the gate running this morning.  Things weren’t so good for China, even after lowering interest rates.

Compared to most places in Europe and Asia, our stock market is in pretty good shape.  Even with the correction, our indexes were down less than other regions around the world.

Let the bulls go back to running!  This seems like a good time to buy.

Ohio tries to draft bill outlawing abortion for Down’s Syndrome

Anti-abortion activists in Ohio want to bar women from getting abortions solely because they do not wish to have a baby with Down syndrome, rallying around a bill endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.

The Ohio House and Senate will likely pass the bill sometime this fall, according to the New York Times, because most of the state’s legislators oppose abortion and have been endorsed by the committee. However, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has not yet taken a position on the bill, so it is unclear if he will authorize it, though he has signed many other abortion restrictions into law.

Because women can undergo prenatal testing to see if their baby will be afflicted with certain diseases and disorders, between 50 and 85 percent of women who discover that their baby might have Down syndrome have chosen an abortion, according to a review of studies conducted between 1995 and 2011. But that number has declined over the years when compared to earlier studies conducted in the 1990s, the review notes.


Critics of the bill say that the ban would be difficult to enforce and likely violates the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which delineates that women can choose to get an abortion at any point until the fetus is viable. It also affects the definition of the right to choose an abortion as a private matter between the patient and her doctor.

“These legislative proposals interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and exploit complicated issues that can arise during pregnancy in the worst way,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Medical decisions should not be made in the Statehouse, they should be made in doctors’ offices based on sound medical science.”

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Ashley Madison: Big F*king Deal


Seriously, people.  Don’t we have anything better to do than sit around and gossip about who is sleeping with whom or who wants to sleep with whom or who wants to just sleep with anyone?  It was fun and now it’s time to move on, leaving this perceived hotbed of horniness behind.

Many of us have trawled and trolled through the extensive list of (mostly) men who for whatever reason, went on, a match maker for just about anyone.    I saw the names of about 20 local people I knew.  I have lived in the area a long time.  Some I didn’t care about one way or the other.  Other names made me sad because of the leap to judgement that seems to be the human condition when perceived wrong-doing is in question.  Some folks weather these things  better than others.

People have different reasons for going to sites like that.  They probably have different reasons for coming to my blog also.  It certainly doesn’t mean that they are having an affair or looking for love in all the wrong places.  It could just mean they are curious or bored.   We just don’t know.  Frankly, unless we are married to one of those people, it isn’t any of our business.

I was able to create an account just this morning with no money involved.  I wanted to see how easy it was.  Naturally, I didn’t use my real name.  I thought about doing an account on someone I didn’t like but then I thought that probably wasn’t decent behavior.   Oh and did I forget to include I wasn’t looking for an affair, I just wanted to see how easy it was to create an account.

The people who really end up getting hurt when these things hit the proverbial fan are the spouses and children.  They didn’t ask for any of this unwanted attention.  How many families have now been  opened up to ridicule, prying eyes and yes, blackmail.


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Birth right citizenship in question?

we the people

The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment to the Constitution states:


“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”


This amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868.   The amendment is nearly 150 years old.  However, when I turn on my TV it seems that every GOP candidate is calling “birthright citizenship” into question.

The only way I know to “undo” an amendment is to repeal it.  That process is lengthy and requires two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.   That’s not likely to happen.

What are these politicians thinking?  The Latino vote is about 11% of the electorate.  That’s a pretty big chunk.  Using words like “illegals” and “anchor babies” does nothing but demean a certain portion of the population.  The use of those terms certainly isn’t going to bring in any votes.

Deporting everyone who is undocumented might be a good election slogan but it is impossible.  What would these politicians do?  Use the military to round up 11` million people?  There would be caravans of thousands of buses.  The “Trail of Tears” would look like a Sunday school picnic.”

The GOP candidates needs to shut up about immigration and tend to matters that they can actually accomplish.  Right now their rhetoric is simply bullshit and bluster.


The death of Batman


The Batmobile pulled into a gas station Sunday night and, as usual, the children who spotted it gawked.

Lenny B. Robinson was used to that. The Maryland man, better known as the Route 29 Batman, had for years dressed as the Caped Crusader and driven his custom-made car to deliver moments of happiness and distraction to hundreds of sick children at area hospitals.

His costume stored in the Batmobile but his alter ego never entirely switched off, Robinson gave the kids at the gas station some superhero paraphernalia before driving off.

Minutes later, Robinson pulled over with engine trouble on an unlit stretch of Interstate 70 near Hagerstown, Md., police said. The people he had just met parked behind him, turning their emergency lights on.

His car was stopped in the median but still “partially in the fast lane” when he got out to check the engine, according to state police. Around 10:30 p.m., a Toyota Camry slammed into the Batmobile, propelling the steel-framed hunk of black metal into his body. Robinson, 51, died at the scene.

Life really isn’t fair.  How tragic that this kind, generous man has died.  RIP, Lenny B. Robinson…aka Batman.

Good for Charles Koch: Sentencing Reform

August 15, 2015 1:53 PM EDTWeldon Angelos was 25 when he was sentenced to 55 years in prison after selling marijuana to a police informant. His sons, now 16 and 18, look back on the childhood they missed without their father. But the boys and Weldon’s sister remain hopeful for an early release, as billionaire Charles Koch campaigns for clemency for Weldon.

It is totally absurd for anyone to spend 55 years in prison for selling marijuana.   It makes no sense.  Just the cost of incarceration makes this sentence stupid.   People just should not be spending their lives in jail for selling controlled substances.

I never thought I would be saying “Go Koch Brothers” but on this one, I sure am.  Sentencing reform needs to happen immediately.  In fact, sentencing reform should be a national issue for this upcoming presidential election.  We are wasting valuable resources when we send penny ante drug users to prison for decades.




Sheriff Joe, rejected again…Trump on the rise

On Friday, in Arpaio v. Obamathe U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio’s attempt to challenge the Obama administration’s immigration initiatives in federal court.  According to the court, Sheriff Arpaio lacks standing to challenge the measures. Judge Cornelia Pillard wrote the opinion for the court, joined by Judge Sri Srinivasan.  Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote a separate opinion concurring in the judgment.

The introduction to Judge Pillard’s opinion provides a nice summary of the court’s analysis.  It also seems to accept the Obama administration’s characterization of its immigration reforms as an exercise of enforcement discretion, suggesting that this panel would have rejected Sheriff Arpaio’s claims on the merits.


The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security facing what he perceives to be enormous practical obstacles to removing from the United States the eleven million people unlawfully present here, has sought to set enforcement priorities. He accordingly directed relevant agencies temporarily to defer low-priority removals of non-dangerous individuals so that the agencies can focus their resources on removing dangerous criminals and strengthening security at the border. People whose removal has been deferred are generally eligible to apply for authorization to work, and to reside in the United States for up to three years.

The opinion is long and interested readers should read the entire editorial in the Washington Post.  However, it basically says that Sheriff Joe doesn’t have standing.  Period.

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WWII: A data visualization

These numbers are simply amazing. Estimates suggest that over 60 million military and civilian lives were lost during this conflict that began September 1, 1939 and ended in August, 1945. The Soviet Union suffered the hugest losses. Comparisons are staggering.

Perhaps when the cable news just seems too depressing, it might be uplifting to see the progress we have made in the “peace department” since WWII.

Visit the Washington Post following this link to see the world map.