Tag Archives: Chuck Schumer

An unbelievably horrible bi-partisan bill shows just the power of the Israel lobby. A sensational “Bohemian Rhapsody” singalong by 65,000 people. And a translator story that made me laugh

It’s pretty rare for my blood to boil on a Sunday night, especially in the summer after yet another terrific weekend spent with friends and family.

But then again, it should be pretty rare for a piece of legislation this stupid, this mind-numbingly awful, to get bipartisan support. And hardly anyone has been paying attention to it.

Let me direct your attention today to a new proposed law called S.720, the Israel Anti- Boycott Act.

This law, sponsored by Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, would actually impose civil and criminal penalties on American citizens for backing or joining any international boycott of Israel because of its settlement activities.

Let me say that again: You could legally be arrested, and charged with crimes, for supporting any international boycott of Israel. So let’s say I’m sitting here in my apartment in New York City, and I decide to sign a petition, or give a speech, or donate money, to a cause or group abroad that believes Israel should be boycotted.

Now I’ve broken the law. It would be a FELONY!

Get this, too: There are even penalties for simply inquiring about such a boycott. And they’re not messing around. The minimum civil penalty would be $250,000 and the maximum criminal penalty $1 million and 20 years in prison. Up to 20 years in prison for opposing the policies of a foreign government and doing something about it!

Forty-three Senators have already signed on as co-sponsors, including alleged free speech enthusiasts like Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. And on the other side, Mr. Popularity, Ted Cruz is a co-sponsor, as is Marco Rubio.

At first I thought this was something from The Onion. The idea that an American citizen could be arrested, and would be breaking the law, by daring to express support for an Israeli boycott, is absolutely despicable.

Free speech, anyone? First Amendment ring a bell there, Chuckie Schumer? Can you even imagine a law like this passing in our Congress in regards to any other nation in the world? Let’s say a lobbying group representing India, or Germany, or (heaven forbid) our “friends” in Saudi Arabia tried to get a bill like this passed. It would be D.O.A.

But destroying civil liberties is possible thanks to AIPAC, the incredibly-powerful Israel lobbying group in Washington, D.C. AIPAC has so many politicians in its pocket, I’d venture to say they’re the 2nd-most powerful organization in Washington, behind the NRA.

The ACLU has, thankfully, written a strong letter to Congress letting them now exactly what this bill would do, and how dangerous it is.

Read this from The Intercept about it; it’s especially chilling how many co-sponsors have no idea what they’ve signed on for, expressing that they’ll read it right away, and “look into it.”

What AIPAC wants, AIPAC gets.

This bill is an abomination. I know there are so many abominations going on in Congress these days, but don’t let this one slip by you. Call your Senator and your Congressman and tell them we still live in a free society, dammit.

**Next up today, this was so cool. At a punk rock festival in London on July 1, 65,000 fans eagerly awaited for headliner Green Day to show up. While waiting, the organizers played Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the crowd.

And 65,000 people then belted it out, perfectly, even humming the guitar solo. So freaking amazing.

**So I don’t know if you will find this as funny as I did, but here goes. With the revelation last week that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump had a secret meeting that was previously undisclosed (shocking! The Trump administration has been so transparent to this point!), and the added fact that only a Russian translator listened in, with no American ears present, made me remember a great old story my Dad re-told me this weekend.

My father was a teacher in the South Bronx in New York City in the 1960s and ’70s, not an easy time nor place to be a public school educator. One day, after months of dealing with a very disruptive and problematic 6th-grade Hispanic boy, and trying unsuccessfully to get his mother to come in for a conference, the school was finally able to get her to show up.

The mom spoke only Spanish, and for the first 2/3 of the meeting with the principal, my Dad, and other administrators, the only other Spanish-speaker in the room was the misbehaving student.

As my father and the others told the mom about all her son’s acting out in class, vandalizing school property, terrible attitude, etc., the mom sat there smiling and grinning, looking at her son admiringly. The faculty was puzzled.

Finally, a Spanish-speaking teacher arrived and suddenly solved the mystery. Instead of translating for his mother what was actually being said, the student said only that the teachers were so proud of her boy, he’s such an excellent student, we couldn’t be happier and more thrilled with him here!

In short order, the Spanish-speaking teacher set the mom straight.

Hey, you gotta give the kid credit for trying!

I’m off to Cali-forn-ia for 10 days, whoo-hoo! John Oliver with a great segment on marijuana laws’ unfairness. And the Democrats better stay strong on Gorsuch filibuster

 

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

California Dreamin, on a sunny day…

Every once in a while a person should fly from one coast to another with an excitable 2.5 year old, don’t you think?

The Lewis trio is off to sunny, drought-ravaged, liberal-loving California today, for 10 hopefully glorious days. The impetus for the trip is that my wonderful mother turned 70 a few months ago and wanted the whole family to go away somewhere nice.

Costa Rica was the first choice, but with Zika still out there and no vaccine, she was understandably wary. So then she settled on San Diego, which no one could possibly disagree with.  Place is 72 degrees and sunny 300 days of the year, who could have a problem with that?

We’re flying to L.A. first, going to hang out with some friends, including this dude who fled his home state for sunnier pastures, angering me greatly (it also angers me when he posts photos from the beach in February, but I’ll forgive him eventually.)

We’re going to stay in a rental house for a week in Padres-ville, and I’m excite to show my little guy the wonders of Sea World (I know, I know, they mistreat the whales, I’ve heard all about “Blackfish.” But I hear it’s getting better), the awesomeness of the San Diego Zoo, and probably LegoLand, where we may never be able to escape because it looks awesome with water rides on Lego boats and my son’s mind will be blown.

Anyhow, should be a lot of fun; California is a great escape from all the GOP destruction of America right now, so I’m going to try not to pay attention to the news for a few days (Call me if there’s a new war, or an impeachment hearing.

All of this is to say, there probably won’t be the usual three-blogs-per-week next week. I’ll have something for Good News Friday this Friday, then probably post some thoughts on our S.D. adventure next Wednesday or Friday, and that’ll be it until Monday, April 17.

Play nice, children.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic HBO show has been back for a few weeks and honestly I’m feeling a little let down by it; he’s still hilarious, of course, and his zebra sketch was an all-time classic, but I’m a little bothered he’s doing Trump stories every week; we get those so many other places that I come to John Oliver for the less-covered stories.

Anyway, he absolutely nailed his main story this week, a subject very important to me: The ridiculous and cruel way that legal marijuana dispensaries and users are dealt with, and how absurd so many of these laws are (I still can’t get past that pot is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, while heroin is given a lesser designation.)

Watch to the end, where we see just how impossible it is to stay within the law even if you live in a state that has passed pot legalization. Fantastic stuff, John.

**And finally today, just a few words on the national disgrace that is the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch expected to be approved this week: First, I cannot fathom Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Colorado’s Michael Bennet, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin refusing to filibuster Gorsuch with their fellow Democrats; all four deserve all the scorn and ridicule from my party that they’re getting.

This idea that Democratic Senators are bringing the Senate to a “new and historic low” as gasbag Mitch McConnell says, is ludicrious. The Senate refused to vote on a legit, bipartisan-approved candidate last year in Merrick Garland, an unprecedented move in our history, but the Dems should just roll over and approve the right-wing Gorsuch, who will move the Court right?

I know some of my friends are queasy about McConnell blowing up the Senate rules and declaring that from now on, a Supreme Court justice needs only a simple majority to get on the bench.

But you know what? Call his damn bluff. Demographics and the “leadership” of Donald Trump have made the Democratic Party’s future election prospects look bright, and if McConnell wants to blow up the rules, let him. They’ll come back to bite him in the butt in the future.

Glad Chuck Schumer and most Dems (Heitkamp and Manchin are basically Republicans anyway) are finally showing some spine here. We’re in an awful mess in this country right now, but standing up for what’s right is never a bad idea.