Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT


Got an email from a friend the other day – a friend who tries my patience on a regular basis with right wing B.S. from the Internet. He doesn’t originate it. He just “passes it on” like millions of other folk. Most of the time, I hit “delete” and go on about my business.

But this one got through. And I can still feel anger clear to the bottom of my old feet.

This latest spurious screed was meant to instantly alarm all who received it that “Obama appoints two devout Muslims to Homeland Security posts.” One of the reactions this specious piece of crap was supposed to stir up was “My God, we’ve got Muslims in key government places.” The other – as so many of them have been the last several years – was to perpetuate “I-hate-Obama-no-matter-what-he-does-because-he’s-not-really-our-president-and-just-look-at-what-he’s-done-now!”

Funny, those are not the reactions such garbage creates in me. Or, most others I know. No, we feel revulsion. Disappointment. Shame. Anger. Emotions you feel when someone of otherwise obvious intelligence does something really stupid and really hateful without thinking.

The gist of this phony alarmist missive was that two men of Muslim heritage and faith had been appointed to key jobs in the Department of Homeland Security. Kareem Shora – born in Damascus, Syria, and Exec. Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – is now a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The other fella, Arif Alikhan, son of Pakistani immigrants and a seven year federal prosecutor in California – then Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Homeland Security since 2006 – is now Asst. Secretary for Policy Development for Janet Napolitano.

At this point, I could take several paragraphs to describe educational and professional accomplishments of both men. Suffice to say, they’re two excellent examples of citizenship, educational and personal achievement who’ve made outstanding contributions to the old U.S. of A. in many ways.

The email from my friend charged – among other things – “Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions? Was it not men of the “Devout Muslim Faith” that flew planes into U.S. buildings not too long ago? What the heck is this president thinking?”

Well, for openers, I’d guess the president was “thinking” nothing about these appointments made by a cabinet secretary with the power to do so. I honestly doubt the thousands of appointments made by cabinet secretaries cross his desk. And, if he did “think” about it, he probably told the Homeland Security Secretary “good job.”

No, the real purpose of this email was to inflame. It was meant to criticize a president – of mixed race – that the originator of this crap hates and can’t accept as a twice duly-elected head of this country. It was meant to ridicule, anger and divide. It’s been passed on millions of times. By people of little to no real intelligence.

Thousands of people – if not millions – are trying to create – then perpetuate – an anti-Muslim fever in our land. They want the rest of us to join them in their mental cesspool of racism, fear and ignorance. As we did in 1942. 1942? Yes, 1942. That was the year Idaho’s Senator Borah and others whipped the then-ignorant, racist, supremacist fury against Americans of Japanese ancestry. They pounded the drums of “true Americanism” and told us these innocents – most of whom were born in this country – were “seditionists who would attack us in our homes on orders from Japan.” They would “murder us in our beds.”

So, we rounded them all up – especially in the West – and herded them into “internment camps.” Prisons, actually, with barbed wire and armed guards to make sure they stayed there so Emperor Hirohito couldn’t order them to kill us. It brought the greatest shame to this country in the last 250 years. Racist. Ignorant. Crowd-lust appealing to our lowest instincts.

I lived through that Japanese-American tragedy. I had little friends literally carried kicking and screaming out of my grade school classroom by armed men. I can still see the sight and hear the screams. It was terrifying. It was racist to the core. It was national ignorance. It was a national disgrace. And it was WRONG!

Now, several generations later, the voices of hate are being heard again. We’re being told to fear all things Muslim – to not trust them – to disperse them – to separate them from the rest of us “Amuricuns.” Spelling deliberate.

That email this week from my friend was “exhibit A.” It was meant to undermine the president while attempting to create fear and loathing for an entire group of Americans. Other Americans. The intent was not hidden. Nor were the racial messages. Fear. Suspicion. Distrust. Anger. Hate.

We cannot – we MUST not – go back to that time of national disgrace because of a few idiots trying to stampede the rest of us. We need to hit the “delete” button more often. I know I will.

Oh, one more thing. Those two Muslim-Americans named in that “urgent” and hateful email? The ones now in positions of authority at Homeland Security? The official appointments that pose a great danger to us all? Mr. Shora was appointed June 5, 2009, and Mr. Alikhan’s was effective April, 2009. Four years ago! That’s how long that garbage has been on the I-net!

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From an opinion piece submitted here last week; the source is a security firm.

In the wake of the recent tragedies in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun control has resurfaced in the public eye as a controversial issue.

Should everyone have the right to bear arms, as mandated by the second amendment?

Or should the government step in and regulate the sale of firearms?

When it comes to self-defense, many states have extensive laws that allow a person to use deadly force for self-defense. The law, sometimes referred to as the “Castle Doctrine,” stipulates that deadly force is legitimized if a person reasonably feels they are in grave danger, in their home or anywhere else they feel they have the right to be.

There is also another element to self-defense law that involves the “duty to retreat.” In jurisdictions where this component exists, the defense must prove that a criminal defendant took reasonable steps to avoid conflict before ultimately using force. Essentially, it requires that a person is only permitted to use deadly force in self-defense only when retreat is not possible, or when retreat poses an imminent danger to the victim.

Regardless, it’s imperative that you are familiar with the laws in your particular state if you own a firearm for self-defense purposes. Several states have a “stand-your-ground” law, which means there is no duty to retreat, regardless of where the attack occurs. Meanwhile, a number of other states legislate that there is no duty to retreat only if the attack occurs in the victim’s home. Furthermore, a few states may rely on case law instead of specific legislation to determine the validity of a self-defense claim.

Currently, Idaho relies on case law to interpret justifiable homicide. The state doesn’t have a stand-your-ground statute or duty-to-retreat statute, but allows a person to use justifiable homicide as a defense. Idaho’s case law, under State v. McGreevey, decrees that “One may stand one’s ground and defend … oneself … by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge.”

On the other hand, Oregon state law dictates that use of force is justified in multiple scenarios, and no duty to retreat is specified.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of other ways to protect your home than just with a firearm. Oftentimes, a quality home security system is enough to deter burglars and other would-be intruders. Today, you can purchase a highly effective wireless system for a very modest price. For example, if you take a look at www.HomeSecuritySystems.com, you’ll see that an ADT Monitored Home Security System costs you around $9 bucks per week – a price most families can afford.

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trahant MARK


Tuesday night President Barack Obama will lay out his case that Congress ought to reverse the $1.2 trillion worth budget cuts that are beginning March 1.

The White House message is that there should be a debate about the long-term deficit, but that Congress should “permanently turn off the sequester.”
That package should have balance and include spending cuts and revenues. As Dan Pfeiffer, a senior advisor to the president, wrote: “And over the long-term, we need to find a solution that does this in a balanced way. The president has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion. And he’s willing to do more. And we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Even as we look for ways to reduce deficits over the long term, our core mission is to grow the economy in a way that strengthens the middle class and everyone willing to work hard to get into it.”

Grow the economy. Those three words should be the heart of the debate because the economic evidence is that the sequester will do just the opposite. (The Congressional Budget Office calls this a “subdued” economy. And, according to The Washington Post, the administration has started preparing to reduce the number of federal employees. “The memo also told agencies to “identify the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs,” including with hiring freezes, by releasing temporary employees and through early retirement or voluntary separation incentives. In other words: Think hard about how to get rid of people,” The Post said.)

Friday the White House released new details about the stark nature of those cuts, including deep cuts to food safety, mental health, head start, teaching jobs, workplace safety, in other words, across virtually all platforms of the federal government. The total tab: $85 billion, half from defense and half from domestic programs.

“Tribes would lose almost $130 million in funding from the Department of the Interior,” the White House said. Native American program “reductions would be necessary in many areas including human services, law enforcement, schools, economic development and natural resources.”

The White House said “Indian Health Service and Tribal hospitals and clinics would be forced to provide 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits, undermining needed health care in tribal communities.”

That last line means fewer dollars for Contract Health Services, money that’s spent on outside doctors, labs, hospitals, dentists, transportation and other essential health services for American Indian and Alaska Native patients. As a study by the National Congress of American Indians reported, there is already a decrease in real dollars for this Contract Health. “For example, from 2003 to 2008, CHS inpatient admissions declined by 4.0% from 14,847 to 14,205. At the same time, billed costs per admission increased 64.0% from $16,345 to $26,873. Similarly, from 2003 to 2008, CHS denials increased 88.0% from 19,121 to 35,953. During the same period, the cost of unfunded denials increased 296% from $43,924,761 to $130,113,907. In 2008 and 2009, only half of Contract Health Emergency Fund cases could be funded, and over 1000 cases went unfunded each year.” And these numbers are before sequestration.

In addition to the direct hit that Native American programs will take there will also be significant impact to general programs. The White House says 600,000 women will be dropped from the Women, Infants and Children program. “At least 1,600 State and local jobs could be lost as a result,” the White House said. I would add an undetermined number of tribal jobs to that total.

And, at the very moment that Republicans in Congress are saying that the Justice Department, not tribes, should prosecute more domestic violence crimes, the budget for that would be cut dramatically, by some 1,000 fewer criminal cases this year.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today that the sequester is a “blunt instrument, but it’s the only one in hand.” Cole and other House Republicans are willing to negotiate where the cuts will occur, but not on the amount of cuts nor on adding any revenue to the mix.

And so the stage is set for Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho, and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. A new Facebook page has been set up at:

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